Somehow, our little girl is suddenly of an age where she is starting to enjoy proper family days out. When she was tiny, she was perfectly happy to come along to things not aimed at families or children; just the sounds and shapes and colours of things were interesting enough to her. But now she is toddling about, my curious little girl loves to point and exclaim ‘ooh’, sounding like a little owl.
And so recently, we have started to explore some of the local offerings for families or children, and it has been the most wonderful thing to see her engage with and enjoy them. On Saturday, we took her to Barleylands in Billericay. We nearly didn’t go as it was spitting with rain, but happily it soon cleared up.
We went with the main intention of taking her round the farm park, as just now she loves nursery rhymes and stories about farm animals. Often during the day, she toddles over to her books, chooses one, carries it over to me, puts it in my lap then sits down and looks at me expectantly…and more often than not it is Farm Babies or On The Farm or similar.
Anyway, she fell asleep in the car and had a lovely nap, so we decided that we would get some lunch first, as she had slept longer than we expected. There is a craft village at barleylands, and that is where the cafe is, so on the way to lunch we had a little explore. The first thing that caught my eye was a blackboard for a children’s book shop. Well of course, we had to have a look! We popped up in the lift and in to Nutshell Studios. It is a small but utterly lovely independent children’s book shop, run by someone who clearly loves both books and children! The lady greeted us with a lovely smile and immediately said hello to Jessica (who beamed back!) and asked us a few questions about her age and what she likes, before pointing us in the direction of books she might like. They were kept on some shelves next to a huge tree she had made out of twisted brown paper. The branches came out into the room to form a canopy and were hung with bunting and paper lanterns. Dotted around the shelves were little knitted animals and characters from books. I could have happily spent hours there! And of course, we came away with a book for Jessica- a nice robust board book about….farm animals!
Lunch was lovely, and she really enjoyed the farm and the animals, but if you live nearby and have children, the book shop really is worth a visit on its own! I wish I had taken some photos to share with you, but I was so entranced I forgot! Here are some from the farm instead…