A Powerscourt ‘Estately’ Weekend

We were lucky enough to be invited to attend both family friendly events in Powerscourt Estate over the October Bank Holiday weekend.

First up was “Frightmare” which was run on the grounds of Powerscourt Estate by a team from Imaginosity. I genuinely didn’t know what to expect – usually the Imaginosity events are very well run but as they are aimed at children, I didn’t think it would be scary enough for my Addams Family-esque children.

Well, we were in for a treat! At the outset we were given a map and sent off the beaten track to look for clues, the first clue confirmed as being under a witch’s hat. The walk was decorated to scare, with black bags containing suspicious shapes, cobwebs, broken police cordons, and scattered debris making it instantly atmospheric.

Off the beaten track.

Off the beaten track.

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There were some great touches – rather than using a static clue, we found a real live witch who said she could ‘smell the children coming’ – fantastic! We had to repeat a few spells in German before we could see the clue. All the clues had an interactive aspect, and we met spiders, rats and pirates as we continued on our journey, with each characters giving us chilling warnings to ’look out behind’ and ‘trust no one’ etc.

Who's afraid of the big,bad witch?

Who’s afraid of the big,bad witch?

The grand finale came at the Pet Cemetery where we met the absolutely brilliant Tina Vamp and her macabre ‘dead toy tea party’. She introduced us to a vampire who played the “Monster Mash” on keyboards while Tina taught the children to dance along. Unfortunately, vampires will be vampires and so it ended with him chasing all the children to shrieks of delighted terror. Where did the final clue lead us? Back to the main house for a sweet treat, of course.

Really creepy!

Really creepy!

The Monster Mash!

The Monster Mash!

Verdict: The children were just the right level of spooked, although the vampire chase was a little too much for my three-year-old who was frightened and asked to ‘go home now!’ If you are looking for a family friendly scare at Hallowe’en, I would highly recommend this.

'I want to go home now!'

‘I want to go home now!’

    

We headed back up to Powerscourt on the rainy bank holiday Monday for the ‘Make a Scarecrow’ at The Garden Pavilion event. This was brilliantly organised and again the team working at it were excellent at instructing the children on what to do. We had Monica helping us out, whose enthusiasm was absolutely infectious.

The wonderful Monica!

The wonderful Monica!

The children were invited to make and style their very own scarecrows, with a central supply of clothes and straw provided along with hessian, string and accessories left out at each family’s workstation.Now, I am not usually one for getting involved children’s activities, but this was so much fun that the entire family got stuck in! If we were unsure of the next step there was always someone on hand to help.

Stuffing our scarecrows!

Stuffing our scarecrows!

Sorting at our 'work-station'.

Sorting at our ‘work-station’.

We started with a bamboo cross for each scarecrow, and after much stuffing, tying and gluing ended up with three actual scarecrows. They are suitably creepy and will finish off our decorations for the 31st perfectly!

SCARE-crows!

SCARE-crows!

Our verdict: Well worth the trip, the Pavilion staff put a lot into making this a fun, successful and interesting class.

Disclaimer: We were invited to attend the above events for the purpose of this review. However all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Detecting Nature at Powerscourt Waterfall

Powerscourt Waterfall

Powerscourt Waterfall

I love Powerscourt Waterfall and have been there a few times over the last couple of years with the children; however, we haven’t been there as a family for over four years. So I was delighted when we were invited to attend the Imaginosity event ‘Nature Detectives’ at Powerscourt Waterfall yesterday!

We intended on arriving early and having a quick play at the playground before meeting up with the Imaginosity team by ‘the big tree’ as instructed on the ticket. Of course, best laid plans meant that we arrived breathless and just in time. I was smiling brightly and trying to ignore the – ‘I am too old for this’ and ‘talk about a good walk ruined’ comments from our eldest and Mr Dad.

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Rainbow parachute initiation.

Quite aptly for the weekend that was in it, the meeting place was clearly marked by a bright rainbow coloured parachute which was laid out on the ground. Martina – one of the three Imaginosity staff present – welcomed us all warmly and chatted animatedly about our plans for the day. You could not help but be infused with a little of her boundless enthusiasm (which was still there at the end of the day, even when some brats children were getting  a little rambunctious).

Magnificent Martina!

Magnificent Martina!

All the children were given a sheet of clues and a pencil, told where to start and what time to return and then we were off! It was all a bit crowded and manic at the start but by the time we had reached the third clue we had all spread out and were happily going at our own pace. Everyone, that is, except my boy Conan who is nothing if not competitive.  He was bailing along following the trail and ticking off all the clues without a backward glance to us. Paul had to catch up with him and encourage him to wait for the rest of his team (a.k.a. his family) to catch up!

Bark rubbing!

Bark rubbing!

Getting caught in the 'spider web'.

Getting caught in the ‘spider web’.

Caoimhe, who was ‘too old’, didn’t take long to get into the spirit of things and was soon caught up in the trail and discovering a few fun facts that were laid out along the way. Did you know the air up at Powerscourt Waterfall is negatively charged, so breathing it in promotes a refreshed and relaxed feeling?? I do now!

We fairly powered through the nature trail and discovered a few things that were not on the list, such as the Fairy Tree which was pointed out to us by Martina – the staff didn’t rest on their laurels but popped up here and there along the trail to keep us on track. Importantly, they also gave us space to enjoy ourselves as a family.The trail ended at the waterfall where we hung out for a while, climbing and exploring, before meeting back with the rest of the crew at the appointed time.

Listening to the leaves crunch!

Listening to the leaves crunch!

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Making a wish at the bridge!

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The Fairy Tree.

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Exploring the Waterfall.

Martina and crew had some samples of wild flowers and plastic insects and bugs which were laid out for the children to examine with magnifying glasses.  Caoimhe and Conan delighted in putting  the bugs in the magnifying jar and examining them in great detail.20150524_150151

The best part of the event, according to my children, were the games at the end; they got to have sack races and play organised games with the parachute, laughing and giggling throughout. The best part according to me was that the children really did stop to look at and examine the natural world around them.

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Then it was time to say goodbye to the very popular Imaginosity team who really did deserve medals (or at least an ice-cream). Our day didn’t end there. We headed up to the fantastic playground where the children played happily for a good hour before we shared a tub of candy floss and headed home, tired but happy.  We will definitely be making a few trips back there over the Summer!

The Playground!

The Playground!

Disclaimer: We were invited to attend ‘Nature Detectives’ for the purpose of this review. However all thoughts and words are my own.

Easter Sunshine at Powerscourt!

We went to the Easter ‘Hop’n’Hunt’ in Powerscourt Gardens this year. Having spent Easter Sunday feasting and watching television, a trip up to Powerscourt was a great excuse to get out, stretch our legs and most importantly, to STOP eating chocolate!

We were booked in to the 12.30pm time-slot , and were greeted on arrival by a very friendly Easter chick who chatted to the children and happily posed for photos. We were then directed to the walled garden where two ladies from Imaginosity

The Easter Chick.

The Easter Chick.

were just starting the warm-up exercises to prepare for the hunt. The sun was shining, the children were excited and before we knew it we were donning bunny ears and climbing into sacks to hop around the garden finding clues that would lead to the eventual pay off at the ‘treasure table’.

And we're off, once we fix our ears of course!

And we’re off, once we fix our ears of course!

Our eldest volunteered to hop (a member of the family had to be ‘hopping’ at all times), while her little brother offered to write down all the letters that the clues revealed (good educational fun!) and my youngest was happy just running around in the sunshine following the herd.

The sunshine, the location and the staff from Imaginosity all helped make this a very enjoyable event. There was a slight backlash from the children though. I had told them we were going on an egg hunt, so they were a bit whingey disappointed that the clues were so easy to find. The pay-off at the end was a bit meagre too – they all received a small (but brightly wrapped) hollow egg, and the parents received a tea cake. My son felt cheated as he thought after all the clue collection and the promise of a Treasure Table, he would be leaving with armfuls of goodies!

The Treasure!

The Treasure!

So would I recommend it to others? Now, I’m not a fan of adults paying to go to kids events. However, in this case, the €25 family ticket included the egg hunt and full access to the gardens for the day. In my opinion, this ‘package’ makes it well worth the money (particularly as the sun was beaming).There is so much to do and explore in the gardens that even when your child gives out about the small egg, they’re easily distracted by a trip up Pepperpot Tower or to the Japanese Garden.

It may be a thought for next year though to put together a little basket of goodies per family, rather than choosing an egg or tea cake from a plastic tub, but that is just my opinion. Now where did I stash the children’s Easter haul??

A success!

A success!

Disclaimer: We were invited to attend the Hop ‘n’ Hunt for the purpose of this review, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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