The Garden Centre Group invited us to have either breakfast or afternoon tea with the Easter Bunny, and once asked Lara jumped at the chance! We opted for afternoon tea at the nearest centre to us, Findon (Worthing). The girls were very excited ahead of the event!
We hadn't visited this garden centre before, and were delighted to find that they have an indoor play area for the children, which we will certainly be visiting again. It is just the right size for our girls (aged 2 and 4), and I know I could safely 'park' them in there whilst I went off to order lunch and then took up residence at a table nearby. I understand that this facility is offered in several of The Garden Centre Group's branches, so well worth checking out your local stores.
When we arrived the tables were laid with cheery yellow cloths, and Steve and I were quickly offered tea and coffee, with water or squash for the girls. From the start we had the impression that nothing was too much trouble and the staff were there to ensure we had a lovely afternoon. They had even written us an Easter card!
Lara soon made friends with the other children there for tea, and both she and Sophia made the most of the play area, whilst Steve and I entertained the baby and chatted. There were lots of big balloons for the children to play with which they loved, and they did occasionally pop back for another sip of water!
After a while our afternoon tea stands arrived, and looked duly splendid! For the girls there were sandwiches (vegetarian and gluten-free options available); Smartie-topped cookies, gingerbread men and a packet of gluten-free star-shaped, sugar-topped biscuits. All of these biscuits were individually wrapped so ideal to take home to space out over the next few days, a thoughtful touch. The girls were very impressed with their selection, a definitely notch above the mini adult cake stand they are usually presented with when we got out to tea. Lara even said, "I think they like children here." Wise beyond her years when it comes to eating out!
The adult cake stand was definitely something to write home about too, with a lovely selection of veggie sandwiches; big fruity scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream; and slices of chocolate and Simnel cakes. Yummy! And excellent value at £7.99 each.
After plenty of time to eat - and admire - our tea, the children were invited to make Easter cake nests, helped by the restaurant manager and another member of staff. Sophia opted to have hers spooned into the cake case for her, before munching all of her Mini Eggs separately, whilst Lara made her own. Tatiana got very excited watching it all and will definitely be expecting to make these next year, I think! Can you make out Sophia's hamster cheek in the second photo?
The girls were very pleased with their Easter nests, although somebody's ended up with only one egg in it...
Then it was time for the piece de resistance, the arrival of the Easter Bunny. After some traditional calling for the character to arrive, he boinged towards us. Sophia doesn't do the whole big dressed up animal thing well, and Lara was feeling a little reticent too, so the only one to have their photo taken with Bun was Tatiana. Of course, the other two were quite happy to receive their gifts from the Easter Bunny though!
Lara and Sophia both received a gorgeous little cuddly bunny, a gingerbread bunny biscuit and a big chocolate lollipop. Amazingly they still managed to open and munch those after all that tea, must have been all the running around in soft play!
The girls' tea experience was £9.95 and included time in the soft play area, their food, gifts, cake-making and meeting the Easter Bunny, so all in all great value for money. Plus they had a fantastic afternoon, so I would highly recommend checking on The Garden Centre Group website to see if there are any events near you (running until 24th April). A really fun experience, for breakfast or afternoon tea, highly recommended.