A trip to Puzzlewood

My sister has been asking if we can have a day out in Puzzlewood for as long as I can remember, and we finally got to go on a beautiful autumnal day last September. Puzzlewood is, just like Eastnor Castle, another example of a hidden gem right on our doorstep, and as soon as we’d paid a visit I spent the rest of the week trying to figure out why on earth we hadn’t been before!

Puzzlewood is an ancient majestical wood out in Coleford, Gloucestershire and covers approximately 14 acres of land. Here you can also find evidence of open cast iron ore mining dating from as far back as the Roman period.

Many Hollywood films have filmed scenes filmed here, including Jack the Giant Slayer, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Huntsman: Winters War. Several popular series are also filmed here, including Doctor Who and Merlin. If this isn’t enough, the forests of Middle-Earth which feature in J.R.R. Tolkien’s books The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are said to be inspired by Puzzlewood! Tolkien was a frequent visitor to the Forest of Dean and even worked there in the late 1920’s.

Game of Thrones fans were also delighted when an iron throne appeared in the middle of the wood in the run up to the release of the final season earlier this year. HBO hid six iron thrones in six countries across the world and challenged fans to hunt them all down by providing the treasure seekers with cryptic clues to find them.

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The first throne was hidden in Puzzlewood on 20th March, however it was only there for a few days until April 1st. The clue to find the throne was a picture of it in a mossy wood with the wording “seek the Weirwood in this Kingdom on Earth”. There was even a spiral pattern on a rock nearby which matched the symbols used by the children of the forest from the series. This was a tricky clue and so a second clue followed shortly after, with the wording “put together the puzzle pieces to go find this Godswood”.

Puzzlewood hosts themed events throughout the year – when we visited in the autumn there was a Halloween Pumpkin hunt going on! There were 13 hedgehog pumpkins onsite and each one of them has a letter on its spikes. You need to make a note of all 13 letters to see if you can figure out the names of two famous witches/wizards who have been to Puzzlewood!

On your way round also keep an eye out for the dinosaur feet, magic doorway, the spooky tree, the secret caves, the balancing beams, the hidden bench, the crocodile and the little seat….all of them make great photo opportunities!

The ancient wood is full of winding pathways, beautiful trees and fascinating rock formations. Some of the ravines are really deep and the moss covered rocks can be quite slippery so tread carefully!

If this isn’t enough for you, there’s also mazes to get lost in and a few farm animals to visit whilst you are there. I would highly recommend going to visit this incredibly magical place, and if you get the chance to go in the autumn when the leaves are changing colour on a bright day with a warm autumnal breeze, this will make it all the more magical!

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A spot of Llama trekking!

If like me you are always looking for some interesting and different days out, then I have just the thing for you!

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How stunning is Bowie??

I come from a family who adore animals and although I enjoy visiting farms and safari parks, sometimes they start to become very much the same old, same old.

A lot of these trips out are weather dependent and if you time it wrong and it’s a really rainy day, you don’t even get to see the animals come out of their shelters half the time, never mind actually interact with them! Mind you, who can blame them!?

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I came across an advert on Facebook advertising days out with llamas through Briery Hill llamas and, as I had seen a few videos going round on social media showing just how loveable and hilarious llamas were, I thought it would be brilliant to give it a go!

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Bossy Rossi! He’s not actually bossy as such – but he is definitely the boss!

I booked two spaces for my Sister and I to go during our week off together. It was £35 per person and we expected to be part of a larger group of maybe around ten people. We were over the moon when we arrived and it was just the two of us!

We had the whole place to ourselves and received full on superstar treatment!

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Hello there!

When we arrived we had a short introduction to all of the llamas, their names, ages and characters. We could then choose a llama we wanted to take out trekking, which was a really difficult decision to make as they were all so beautiful and all so different!

After much deliberating we finally decided on taking Bowie (Bowie was pretty much a dead cert to be chosen, you can see why from his pictures!) and the snooty scamp of the group, Macchiato!

Lisa (the owner) and an employee, Jade, also offered to take Rossi out with us so that we could switch llamas half way around if we wanted to! So we had a really good trio for the day!

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Beautiful Bowie!

After getting the boys all ready to go and giving them a bit of a grooming session so that they could get to know us, we wandered off on our llama trek across the fields and through the nearby woodland.

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We picked a perfect autumnal day for it, the llamas were lovely and gentle and stopped a  few times for a quick snack (Mr Macciato was renamed Snacky Macky!!)

As you can see, we also had time to stop for a few photo opportunities with them which was great!

After a slow mosey on back to the farm we gathered all 14 of the llamas together so we could feed them.

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What a beautiful face!

Cue fourteen lovely looking llamas surrounding you with puppy dog eyes like it had been such a long time since they were last fed! It was a lovely experience.

The owner told us that they were going to soon introduce a new “llamas and lattes” experience and asked us if we would like to be guinea pigs for this new package so of course we jumped at the chance!

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We were taken into the dining room of the beautiful house and served a latte with a llama shaped cocoa sprinkling and a llama shaped ginger biscuit! The perfect end to a lovely morning!

The company also offer an afternoon tea or cream tea service after you have been on your llama trek and, judging by the latte and biscuit, we had when we were there, I would imagine this would be well worth paying a visit!

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Snacky Macky at his finest!

Please check out their website! After visiting them I started following them on their Facebook page which you can find here. I noticed the other day they’ve added three new lovely members to the llama pack! They are called Limon, Rubio and Cirillo!

We shall have to rebook now so we can meet the new boys on the block!!

A hugely recommended day out – plus if you are looking for a great but unusual Christmas present why don’t you book someone their very own llama experience??

Painswick Rococo Garden

We live literally down the road from this beautiful place but have only this weekend got round to visiting it! I visited here around 13 years ago when member of my husbands family got married but didn’t have the opportunity to explore it properly.

We thought about visiting after a a report was shown on the news that it was the time of the year where their famous snowdrops make an appearance. They tell you when they are all in bloom to keep a look out for the particularly tall Galanthus Atkinsii which was discovered in the 1800’s by an estate worker.

So what is Rococo? A style of art and architecture originating in France and and Italy in the early 1700’s, rococo was a development of the baroque.

The Garden’s restoration was led by Lord and Lady Dickinson and started in 1984, at which point it was a wilderness of trees and brambles. The Garden became a charitable trust in 2012.

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We visited on a Saturday and arrived at around midday. It was already rather busy by this time but we didn’t have to wait long to get tickets. Tickets are £6.20 per adult but if you choose gift aid entry tickets they are £7 each and Painswick Rococo Garden can claim much more tax back from the government if you choose this option.

They provide you with a map when you buy your tickets but to be honest you don’t need it. You follow the walk paths around the gardens and along the way you come across the following:

Eagle House

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Snowdrop Grove

The Fish Pond

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The Maze

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Plus you will also see Beech Walk, The Gothic Alcove, The Bowling Green, The Plunge pool, The Kitchen Garden and finally; the Red House which is where wedding ceremony’s are hosted.

I’ve seen mixed reviews about the on site cafe at Rococo Garden – we were willing to give it a try but it was jam-packed from the time we arrived until the time we left (which must be a good thing I suppose!) so we didn’t get the chance to try it on this occasion.

Overall a very nice day out which gets you out in the open air and gives you the opportunity to take some lovely photos. We all said when we were there that its the type of place which you could visit several times a year and it would be completely different dependant on the season.

Another thing I thought was brilliant was they hold events such as an Easter Trail and Shakespeare performances of As You Like It (30th June 2017 and 1st July 2017) and A Midsummer Nights Dream (21st July 2017). I really think my sister and I will come back for the Midsummer Night’s dream performance!

Find out more information about visiting Painswick Rococo Garden and the events they have on here.

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