Yeah, yeah I know it’s only September BUT if you want to take your child to see Santa and you want it to be worth it, then you gotta get in quick…seriously all the December weekends at Ruxley Manor are already gone!
Anyway, last Christmas, Small Monkey was two and a half and showing an interest in Santa. Wooo…exciting!! The two years before that I just took him up to Winter Wonderland. It’s free, and he wasn’t getting the whole “Santa” thing anyway, but unless you get in early there can be a lot of queuing and it’s fairly rushed, I still have some cute pics though. So yeah, he was finally interested so I thought, now lads, now the fun begins and true effort is required. I tried booking Selfridges and Hamleys, granted it was October I think, so my efforts were futile. So in the end I was saved by another Mother (anuvva Muvva..hee hee) on a Netmums chat…mmm…could’ve been good old Facebook either though and heard about Ruxley Manor Garden Centre.
From Waterloo, it’s about 55mins by car, or 1hr 20mins by public transport, which is a pain but it really didn’t seem that long. You will need to sign up online to book an allocated slot, adults are £4 each, Small Monkey’s age is £10, and the visit lasts about 45mins. Obviously, with it being a garden centre, there are fabulous Christmas grottos and displays everywhere. The miniature railway set up is just beautiful to look at, so do go and have a nose around. Oooh and they have their own resident reindeer!
Now the fun stuff! I really wasn’t sure what I was expecting for £10, I thought “ah he’ll get a nice picture with Santa and some little knick knack at least” but both myself and hubby thought the time to get there and the £20 (for all of us) was well spent. At the entrance to the grotto we were greeted by an Elf and given the first stamp in our “grotto passports”. After a short wait our group (it wasn’t a big group, just the right amount of people) was led through the magical doors to Santa’s grotto by……MRS CLAUS!!! Yep straight into her cosy, log cabin kitchen, where, accompanied by elves, all the children were sat down to make their very own magical reindeer feed. There was also a Jingle Bell sing-a-long where instruments were handed out, annd of course, you got your passport stamped. Well I dunno about anyone else, but I was delighted and my Monkey looked like he was enjoying himself too. Now there is a little bit of time at the end, if people get their acts together, where you can get a cheeky pic with Mrs Claus. They are quite happy to take pics but you are on a tour and you don’t want to get left behind.
Through the next door, we are met by another group of extremely happy elves and we’re all asked to take a seat at the wooden tables. We were then told the story of “the Night before Christmas”. Like I said, I hadn’t a clue really what I paid for but the elves then started handing out little pouches and boxes of markers and crayons. The Monkey would be making his very own Christmas bauble. The also handed out some extra pictures for the kids to colour in too. Ah shur it was great, the elves bopped about here and there spreading Christmas cheer and stamping passports. I mean just look at his bauble…my child is an artiste! He coloured that in himself, we never touched it….yep…I am extremely proud of that bauble lads! We then gathered by the doors to meet the Big Man himself.
We were led into a room with a bench all around the edge and lots of cushions on the floor for the kiddies to sit on. Aaah, you’d want to hear the oohs and aaahs when the kids discovered who was asleep by the fireplace. Their little faces were something else lads seriously. You can’t put a price on that. Santa had a little chat with the crowd, answering questions, asking questions, you know the usual “have you been good and make sure you be good, don’t forget to put the reindeer food out and a bikkie for him” kinda thing. Of course as the kids had been so good he decided to give them all a present and OMG, the presents only came down the chimney!!! Delira!! Each child was called up individually and given their present. The kids under 3, as Monkey was, got quite a nice Christmas Elf
each but you could tell from the boxes coming down that the older kids got something more exciting, say. (On booking online, you’re asked your child’s sex and age, so the present given is suitable, which is lovely). It was so lovely seeing my little man go up to get his pressie from Santa…I think my eyes were wet. As the present giving was wrapped up…heh heh…do ya see what I did there?..the elves came back to help each child or family have their picture with Santa, stamp passports….annnd all the parents were given a BABY CHRISTMAS TREE EACH!!! We got a lovely picture in the end even though our original take got mislaid…on leaving Santa to collect our photo it gets a bit crazy. We actually got to meet Santa again as our picture had to be re-taken.
Once the tour was done, we had a wander back to the reindeer, took in the fabulous light displays and thanked God we don’t live in an actual house with free reign outside. Have ye seen “Deck the Halls”?? I was really good too and only bought a snowman to go on my fireplace. We also spent ages looking at the miniature railway and Christmas town display…I dunno what happened to my pics of that but it was beautiful.
So there ye go guys, if you’re in the southeast London area, I’d highly recommend Ruxley Manor to visit Santa. We really enjoyed it and look forward to going again this year.
Love Donna x