We often visit our local Wyevale Garden Centre and it’s got many happy memories for Monkey. It’s the place we often took our NCT and Early Days groups for lunch and play dates in their soft play area, we’ve visited Santa’s Grotto and Monkey went to a toddler music group there too. When we were given the opportunity to try out their Tea with the Easter Bunny event at the weekend, we obviously ‘hopped’ at the chance. You can book for a Breakfast event too, but I liked the idea of the afternoon event more.
We arrived at the local Bicester Avenue, Wyevale centre and Monkey was really excited. I’d given him a rough idea of what I thought would be happening during our 1 hour and half visit and the mention of an ‘Easter Bunny Egg Hunt with Alice’ was a big hit. Although this part of the activity is mentioned on the website, and there were arrows pointing to an Egg Hunt with the lovely Easter Bunny display, nothing materialised. It was only when I got home that I realised this part of the event was missing from the advertising outside the Garden Centre itself. It certainly led to disappointment on the day for us and others.
We found the Easter Bunny event room and all the tables had been laid out with family name cards so it was easy to find the correct table. The Tea with the Easter Bunny event runs from 3-4.30pm, for us, I think a slightly later time would have worked better really. I’m not sure how many children eat their tea before 4.30 really, but Monkey has hollow legs so I knew the food would get eaten come what may.
I had expected that there would be someone welcoming the event guests and explaining the schedule to us. There wasn’t. We sat at our table, my Afternoon Tea items were already in place, and Monkey had items to decorate an Easter Egg shaped cooking in front of him. There was also a lovely Easter themed colouring and activity place mat, but sadly no colouring pens or crayons. Normally I carry supplies in my bag, but as I’d seen the activity sheet was part of the package I didn’t think they’d be needed. More frustration really, I know other parents felt the same.
Waiting Staff from the main restaurant did come in offering coffee and tea to the adults and squash to the children. But it soon became clear that really we were being left to our own devices. Monkey could see my food was all ready to eat, where’s my food Mummy? I don’t know Monkey and actually I don’t know at what point it’s coming either. First thing or last thing? I understand that from an organisational point of view it’s easier to put all the cold food out before anyone arrives, but children don’t follow the same logic.
He had been given a bag of chocolate mini eggs, so we opened those and then decided that we’d decorate his Cookie whilst we waited for his food to arrive. We were provided with a cookie on a plate, along with an icing bag (no scissors were provided so cue a row of Mum’s biting the end of the bags), marsh mallows and decorations. Monkey was happy with the ‘more is more’ approach, and he did really enjoy himself.
There are various meal options available. We’d picked a cooked tea for Monkey of Chicken Goujons with a choice of mash/chips and peas/baked beans. In hindsight I’m not sure if we were meant to have added our preferred options to the special dietary requirements box on the booking form, but I thought we’d be asked on the day. We weren’t. Monkey’s meal turned up with peas instead of baked beans which he’d of much preferred. The children have access to unlimited Orange or Blackcurrant squash too, all for £9.99.
I opted for the Adult Afternoon Tea for £7.99 which included a selection of finger sandwiches, mini cakes, scone with clotted cream and strawberry preserve served with a tea or medium filter coffee. I was given a pot of tea which was lovely, but then had to ask for milk, which eventually turned up in a cup you’d get from a water cooler. We also had a mystery slice of cake left on our table. Which I figured out when I got home must have been part of the Adult Mini Tea option for £3.99. So I don’t know if that meant someone else was missing their cake! I certainly couldn’t fit it in. The scone was particularly delicious.
There was much excitement when the Easter Bunny made his visit. As much as Monkey was excited to meet him, I knew there wouldn’t be a photo opportunity. He won’t have his photo taken with any characters sadly. But the Easter Bunny tried his hardest with lots of high fives. The Easter Bunny visited every table and there were lots of photo opportunities, it didn’t feel rushed at all, which was lovely for the younger children who were in awe.
The event fizzled out to be honest, there was a crate on the side filled with Easter themed soft toys and people ended up helping themselves and just left. How much nicer would it have been for the children if the Easter Bunny had handed out the toys to the children. It would have finished the Tea with the Easter Bunny event off nicely.
Make no mistakes, Monkey enjoyed himself, but I was left rather underwhelmed by the experience. We were lucky, we’d been given free access to the event, as had Mummyshire and her family, but everyone had paid good money. I could see and hear other Mum’s leaving and making their feelings known to each other. They may well not complain officially, we are British after all, but will they return? Will they recommend to friends, at school and play groups? It didn’t inspire me to book future events outside of the blog, which is a shame. Surely, these are the people that Wyevale should have been making extra effort to satisfy so that they would come back again in the future? There were some lovely ideas, but the execution fell flat in my eyes. It could have been wonderful and having someone on hand to see that guests are being looked after is a must in my opinion.
May be it was just an off day, it was a Saturday. May be it was just Bicester Avenue? I’d love to think that others had a much more rounded experience than we did. Have you been? The Breakfast and Tea events run through until 28th March, check the Wyevale Garden Centres website for local centres and their availability.
disclosure: our tickets to this event were refunded in exchange for an honest review