Wednesday 8 August 2018

CBBC Summer Social Review 2018 Croxteth Hall And Country Park, Liverpool

Lat weekend we were guests of CBBC and Croxteth Hall And Country Park for the CBBC Summer Social. The weather was on our side, dry and not super hot, and unusually gates opened at 9.30am, so we set off bright and early, in time to take a few photos before the crowds really descended.

The CBBC Summer Social is a festival for families with children aged around 0-11, and loads of children's TV favourites were there. It was lovely to find the whole site is really flat and relatively compact, especially when you consider what they managed to fit in!

Croxteth Hall itself is a gorgeous building which was last a home in the 1970's, and is now as an amazing open house, with a beautiful Victorian walled garden, a real working Home Farm and a nature reserve. Entry was included in the Summer Social admission.

We started off by getting our bearings. The huge block of portaloos was beautifully placed right in the centre of the site, and the field where the main Summer Stage looked HUGE without people - it looked very different when the acts were on stage, but it was never crammed like a music gig can be. Everyone had space and it felt very safe. Numbers of guests on site all day seemed really comfortable and we only saw queues for the Meet And Greets.

We hadn't booked anything as my boys really prefer to see how things are before they agree to it, so the entire day was our own. We all wanted to go around the Hall, so we headed there, stopping to look at all of the books waiting for the authors to come for Awesome Authors and book signings during the day. I recognise one of those...

The Hall was awesome. To walk round takes about 45 minutes and there were volunteers everywhere to tell us about what we saw. Secret staircases, prize-winning dogs, a 1000 bottle wine cellar that isn't in the cellar and Peaky Blinder's shower. It was fascinating.

When we came out you couldn't have had a bigger change really, because we took the kids to the playground to let them run about and were treated to a performance from the brilliant Mr Wilson's Second Liners. If you ever get a chance to see them, do. All your 90's favourites played by a dancing  brass band and sung by a bloke with a loudhailer. I bet Ian Brown is gutted he didn't think of it himself.

Lunchtime! We had spotted a sign, or rather my 9 year old epicurean had, promising Hot Gammon Baguettes for £3.50. This was at the Home Farm Cafe, and the staff couldn't have been friendlier. I felt like I was with friends. They also cooked me a Spicy Bean Burger and I never felt I was a trouble.

At first we weren't going to go around the farm, but I'm so glad we did. Again, the visitor area was spacious, but didn't involve lots of walking, and the animals were gorgeous and looked beautifully cared for.

In the afternoon we explored everywhere. We caught Dr Ranj on the CBeebies stage, The Next Step on the Summer Stage and checked out the Summer Sociable which is where the Meet And Greets took place - they were numerous and free, by pre-booked tickets and any spare time at the end was 1st come, 1st served. I think that's a brilliant way to do it.

Both Everton and Liverpool Football Clubs were there with soccer skills for budding players, meanwhile there were bedtime stories happening nearby, and just across the way a Worst Witch School experience. There really was something to suit any child.

One of the big highlights for us, and not just because we caught Mr Wilson's Second Liners for a second time, was The Clangers Garden. The weather was gorgeous and watering cans were on hand so that all of the children could water the flowers.

The Clangers Garden was in fact The Walled Garden, which has an amazing array of fruit trees and bushes, and some incredibly old and gnarled examples of espalier trees, grown for easy picking of the fruit.

In the centre of the garden was a huge maze of wildflowers, Mother Clanger's Garden, with The Soup Dragon's Tent full of little Clangers. I love wildflowers, so I could have just sat and enjoyed them all day...

We had a really excellent day. It was slightly more commercial than other 'all-in' festivals we've been to, but very reasonable. Rides were £2 each and very few, so our boys didn't harass us for money all day. Ice creams were £2.50, which is standard, and there were hot and cold drinks available all over the site for about £1.50.

There was so much more we could have seen - we didn't do meet and greets, my son was too shy to talk to authors, my boys aren't currently 'into' any bands really and they weren't bothered by a lot of the CBBC TV stars, but there was so much on offer that we didn't need any more, and we went home laughing and chatting and full of our day out. I highly recommend it next year!

The CBBC Summer Social should be back again next year, and hopefully so will we. You can catch the highlights on watch again if you are quick. Check out the BBC Summer Social webpages for updates and links.

For a completely different day at the same event, take a look at what the gorgeous young women from Family Days-Tried And Tested did during their visit. 

My 9 year old was so impressed he even bought himself a souvenir to add to his mug collection.

Only our entry to the BBC Summer Social was free for review. 

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