Enjoy a magical day out at The Trentham Estate

Italian Garden Summer from above

Famous for its gardens in particular and open all year round, today I visited The Trentham Estate. Boasting not just beautiful and scenic gardens, I found this attraction a fun place with many activities and things to do for the whole family. Whether you’re a shopper, a gardener, an active person or someone who just wants a fun day out with the kids in either summer or winter – The Trentham Estate has it all.

I found this attraction one of the easiest to get to due to it’s easy to spot location on a main road and due to it being frequently signposted on brown and white signs throughout the city. There is ample free parking for visitors on site, and if you are arriving by public transport there are various bus links which you can use. The 101 runs every 20 minutes, along with the X1 every 60 minutes, and is a short drive by taxi or bus from Stoke-on-Trent station if you are arriving via train.

When I entered the Estate, I instantly noticed there was a Premier Inn on site which makes this an ideal location if you are looking to stay overnight in Stoke-on-Trent. There is also a Frankie and Bennys restaurant if the unlikely event occurs that you do not fancy anything to eat at one of the many high quality cafés that the Trentham Estate has!

Prior to visiting the gardens, I decided to visit the Shopping Village, as this (along with the Garden Centre) is one of the first attractions you see upon entry. When you hear the phrase ‘Shopping Village’, like me, you might Trentham Retailinstantly think that this is just a variation of the name ‘Shopping Centre’ to make it stand out and seem more unique. However, a ‘village’ is exactly what this shopping venue is. Hosting a variety of shops in around 60 timber Lodges, you are sure to find an array of brands, from big names like Bench and Superdry to the Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Thorntons, to much smaller names. As this is Stoke-on-Trent, no retail experience would be complete without a range of famous pottery industry names! The Trentham Estate has various pottery stores for famous names such as Aynsley China, Portmeirion, Spode and Royal Worcester.

One of the best features I found in The Trentham Shopping Village were the eclectic range of stores selling a wide range of products, from pet products right through to stores selling knitted fabric products. Other stores in the Shopping Village are Holland and Barrett and a Brown andTrenthamShoppingVillageAug11Bench Green, selling a variety of quality produce, from Artisan and ethical, right through to locally produced food and drink. Carrying on with the food and drink theme, there is also a massive sweet shop and even a Whiskey Shop! In my opinion, The Trentham Shopping Village is a foodie heaven! The Shopping Village also has a variety of cafés and restaurants if you’re looking for somewhere to relax after all of that shopping. You’re sure to find something you fancy, as I saw there were venues to cater for any meal – if it’s a light snack, breakfast, a dinner or a family lunch. There are big names from Pieminister all the way to a traditional Fish and Chip Shop.

Next, I decided to take a trip to the gigantic Garden Centre. To be honest, I’ve been to quite a few garden centres in the past but so far I’ve seen none as big or versatile as this one. A haven for all gardeners, or even house proud people, you are sure to find a purchase. From indoor and outdoor products, there is plenty to keep you occupied and browsing for at least an hour. Not only does the centre sell typical garden centre products like plants and flowers, it also sells a range of outdoor and indoor decoration for your home, along with clothes and games, books and DVDs for children. To keep the kids occupied, there is also a children’s play area for them too.

If you have enough of shopping and want somewhere to relax and have a bite to eat, the Garden Centre also gives you a variety of options of where to eat and drink. There is largely an Italian theme throughout the centre, and this is reflected by the types of restaurants and cafés they have. There are two restaurants in total, one called the Terrazzo del Giardino, and the largest restaurant, the Six Arches. The former serves a large variety of Italian food and wine overlooking the Italian Garden with space to sit outside on the terrace. The latter is the largest restaurant serving a variety of food for breakfast, lunch and in the afternoons, home-baked cakes and cream tea. There is also a café, which I visited, called Café Bello. Again, this is Italian themed, serving a selection of delicious Italian snacks, including bruschetta, Panini’s and pastries, along with a selection of hot and cold drinks.

Now that I had visited both the Shopping Village and the Garden Centre, next it was time to visit arguably the main attraction – Trentham Gardens. I must admit, when I visited the weather wasn’t very good (surprise, surprise – British weather!) however it was still spectacular, and I imagine even more spectacular in the summer when the weather is a lot warmer and the sun is shining! I think this part of the Estate is the most family friendly, with an array of activities to keep the children entertained. With so many activities to fill a whole day, this attraction is certainly value for money.

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I accessed the Gardens through the Shopping Village, and they were easily signposted. I firstly visited the Italian Garden, which is apparently the largest perennial plantings garden in Europe. This stunning garden made from Chelsea Flower show Gold medalist Tom Stuart-Smith, is definitely worth a look and in my opinion, one of the highlights of the attraction and should definitely not be missed.

As I mentioned previously, the Gardens are very children orientated with plenty of activities. First off is Trentham Lake, which is suitable for both adults and children alike. You can take part in boat rides, including chartering you own rowing boat! But if being on the water isn’t your thing and you prefer to keep your feet on dry land, there is also a pathway where you can take a walk around the lake. There are miniature train rides at OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAcertain times of the year. The Lake and in fact the whole of the Gardens themselves are interactive with children, as it is encouraged to see if they can spot ‘The Trentham Fairies’. The Garden’s are also perfect if you are bird or nature lover, as Trentham is known for the wildlife that can be found there. Notably Badgers, Hedgehogs and Foxes are amongst the many wildlife creatures that reside there.

Next, I visited the Eastern Pleasure Ground and the Western Pleasure Ground. The Western Pleasure Ground I found was the most child orientated, as this is where there is an adventure playground perfect for the kids, parkland and an amphitheatre which doubles up as an ice rink in the winter months. This amphitheatre is also where Trentham host Hot Summer Saturday events through July and August. This is also the part of the gardens where the child friendly maze and the Barefoot Walk is located.

Children in Barfus

The Barefoot Walk is an exciting attraction which is fun for the whole family, as we all know kids love getting messy! As the title suggests, you take part barefoot, and go on a scenic walk over a variety of textures such as mud, bark, logs, hay, grass and pebbles.

Other activities for both adults and children alike is Aerial Extreme. A High ropes adventure course, perfect for family days out and anyone looking for a bit of adventure. This is a perfect family day out where no experience is needed.

Trentham Monkey Forest is one of the main attractions within the Estate, and enables you to see how they live in a natural environment and up close across acres of breathtaking Staffordshire woodland. This attraction is open seasonally everyday from the 23rd of March up until the 3rd of November, and opening times vary depending on the day.

I would recommend this attraction to anybody, whether you are an adult on your own or with children. With plenty of things to do, you could easily spend the whole day here, and even then you would struggle to see everything!

Admission into the Gardens is £8.50 for an adult, and £7.25 for a concession and a child between the ages of 5-15 years. Also, family tickets can be purchased for £29.50 or £22.00 depending on the amount of adults and children per family.

Admission prices for the Monkey Forest slightly vary at £7.50 for an adult, and £7.00 for a concession. For children between the ages of 3 and 14, admission is just £5.50 and children under the age of 3 get in for free.

Jon and his familly on path with monkey on rail

For more information about this great attraction and to see a full list of events held at The Trentham Estate, visit our website on www.visitstoke.co.uk

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The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Diamond JubileeThe Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is just around the corner in June 2012. Did you know that the manufacturers chosen to produce the fine china for the Royal College are based in Stoke-on-Trent? We’ve already put together a great Royal itinerary that you can download so you can see some of the commemorative ware actually being made. The tour takes in Moorcroft, Emma Bridgewater, Wedgwood Visitor Centre and Museum, and the Trentham Estate. Download your copy of the intinerary.

Don’t forget we are still running our ‘Does your gran look like the Queen’ competition. All you have to do to enter is to send in a picture of anyone you know who looks like the Queen. Click here for more details on how to enter and some of the great prizes.

Happy Easter

Easter in Stoke-on-TrentIf you’re out and about in Stoke-on-Trent over the Easter weekend enjoy some of the great 2 for 1 special offers available at some of our fantastic attractions including Trentham Monkey Forest and the Wedgwood Visitor Centre and Museum.. One day is just not enough to see everything that the area has to offer. Click here to see the special offers.

Stuck for ideas about where to visit or want to know what’s on over the bank holiday weekend? Simply search our event listings.

The Best of British in Stoke-on-Trent

Best of British 2012The Olympic Games, the Diamond Jubilee, 200 years of Dickens and 50 years of James Bond: it’s going to be a special year for Britain, and one which will put the country under the spotlight like never before. So where – in Stoke-on-Trent and “The Potteries – can visitors expect to find the “Best of British”? Well here’s our very own “Top 12 for ‘12”.

1. Emma Bridgewater.  No other ceramic designer has captured the traditional mood of Britain quite as well as Emma Bridgewater.  So it’s not surprising to learn that she won gold in the “Best of British” category at the recent House Beautiful Awards.  Her range of Jubilee ware has just been launched – and universally acclaimed.  Best (of British) of all, you can go behind-the-scenes at her factory in Stoke-on-Trent to see it actually being made www.emmabridgewaterfactory.co.uk

2. The Wedgwood Visitor Centre and Museum.  Created well over 200 years ago, Wedgwood has become an icon of British design, and now boasts an award-winning Museum and Visitor Centre at its headquarters in Stoke-on-Trent.  An official supplier of merchandise for the London 2012 Games, they are also producing a fabulous range of ware for Her Majesty’s Jubilee.

3. Jan Constantine at Trentham Estate.  Yet another great contemporary British designer, Stoke-on-Trent based Jan Constantine led from the front when it came to putting the Union Flag on the textiles and soft furnishings of a nation.  More recently, she has opened her very first flagship store, in the Trentham Shopping Village.

4. The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery.  As well as boasting one of the finest ceramic collections in the world, The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery is now also home to the Staffordshire Hoard – the finest collection of Anglo-Saxon treasures ever found in this country, and an incredible piece of British history.

5. Moorcroft Heritage Visitor Centre.  A British ceramics factory, with British artists, and all made in England!  Said to be the finest art pottery in the world today with a Global Collectors’ Club of around 10,000 people, Moorcroft pushes the boundaries of British ceramic art.  The Moorcroft Heritage Visitor Centre in Burslem, meanwhile, is a ‘must see’ for anyone interested in art history and the living world of the applied arts. 

6. The Titanic Brewery (and its real ale pubs dotted around The Potteries!).  Named after the ship which was skippered by Hanley-born Captain Edward Smith, it offers the very best of British real ales. 

Best of British 20127. The Wizard of the Dribble.  At No.7 (what other number could it possibly be!?), the first knight of British football, Sir Stanley Matthews is one of The Potteries greatest ever sons.  And while Potters fans might argue that their beloved Premier League side are still the Best of British, visitors to the Britannia Stadium these days will be treated to the sight of one of the very best football statues commemorating the Wizard of the Dribble in full flight.

8. Burleigh.  Another iconic British brand, this is the last working Victorian pottery factory in the UK.  Still using techniques from yesteryear, all of the ware is hand-made in Stoke-on-Trent, the world capital of ceramics.  The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, meanwhile, is embarking on an ambitious and long term conservation and regeneration project of the site over the next couple of years. 

9. Paddington Bear.  Yup – a good old marmalade-eating bear from South America, but as British as a nice cup of tea in London town!  Just look at the latest range of Spode ware

10. The Spitfire Galley.  Do we really need to say anything more?  Stoke-on-Trent was the birthplace of engineer and aircraft designer Reginald Mitchell CBE, who designed arguably the most famous combat aircraft in British history – The Spitfire.  Step inside the renowned Mitchell Gallery in the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in the city centre and you’ll actually come face-to-face with a Mark XVI Spitfire.  The story of this remarkable aircraft and its Stoke-on-Trent designer is one you’ll remember forever. 

11.  Trentham Gardens.  In four years time the whole Olympic Games circus will have moved-on from London, to Rio de Janeiro.  And while Brazil celebrates the greatest show on earth, Britain will focus (amongst other things) on the 300th anniversary of the birth of the great British garden designer, Capability Brown…one of the famous names behind the magnificent Trentham Gardens, in Stoke-on-Trent.  But you don’t need to wait four years.  Come any time, and you’ll be able to see his influence on an estate which now boasts one of the most-visited gardens in the UK. 

Trentham Gardens

12.  Moorland Pottery.  Step inside any gift shop, or departments store in a UK city, or town, and chances are you’ll see an example of Moorland Pottery’s designs which capture the very essence of Britain.  If you’re not familiar with their ‘Stokie’ ware, ‘Scouser’ ware, ‘Geordie’ ware, ‘Brummie’ ware, and ‘Yorkie’ ware, take a look at their website, or visit their showroom in Stoke-on-Trent, to enjoy some Best of British humour!

Does your Gran look like the Queen?

To celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee we are running a fab photo competition. All you need to do is send us a picture of anyone you know who looks like the Queen, with their permission of course. All entries will be put on our Facebook page and the best photograph will win a piece of Diamond Jubilee commemorative ware made in Stoke-on-Trent and attractions tickets including an annual membership for two for the Trentham Estate and an Alton Towers family pass. Other prizes include a Sid Kirkham print and Emma Bridgewater Diamond Jubilee mug. The person doesn’t have to be a perfect look-a-like – so get creative with your entries!

Just send your images to images@stoke.gov.uk with the information required on the entry  form – click here to download it. Or complete the form and send in a disk with the image to the address on the form.

Its that easy to enter! You can find more details about the competition by clicking here.

Good luck!

Stoke-on-Trent creates crown jewels for for the Diamond Jubilee

Diamond JubileeStoke-on-Trent hopes to be one of the jewels in the crown in the run-up to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this year. As World Capital of Ceramics we are aiming to be the destination of choice for anyone looking for distinctive ways to commemorate this once-in-a-lifetime event.

Wedgwood, Moorcroft and Emma Bridgewater are just some of the famous names where you can go behind the scenes to see the commemorative ware being created and where it’s possible to buy souvenirs and collectables in over 25 factory shops including Portmeirion, Churchill and Aynsley.

Follow in the footsteps of the Royal Family in Stoke-on-Trent at the Wedgwood Visitor Centre and Museum, Moorcroft Heritage Visitor Centre, Emma Bridgewater, Anysley China, Portmeirion, The Trentham Estate and The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, which will also have its own special exhibition in 2012.

Diamon Jubilee, Royal WorcesterLast year’s Royal Wedding showed just how popular commemorative ware still is around the world.  And while that provided the nation’s pottery industry with a much needed boost, there was also a noticeable increase in the number of both domestic and overseas visitors who made their way toStoke-on-Trentand The Potteries.

It’s no accident that the manufacturers chosen to produce the official fine china chosen by Her Majesty The Queen for The Royal Collection are also based in Stoke-on-Trent.

Find out more by going to www.visitstoke.co.uk/royal.aspx.

Half term fun

February half term is only a couple of weeks away and there is plenty going on in Stoke-on-Trent to keep all the family happy.

  • Experience the white knuckle rides at Alton Towers, open everyday during the holiday from 10am to 4pm.
  • Love is in the air during half term at Trentham Monkey Forest as the team will be on the look out for a winning photograph and caption that they believe captures a display of true romance amongst the forest’s Barbary Macaque monkeys. 
  • There are FREE animation workshops and film screenings during the Stoke Your Fires Film Festival at the Mitchell Arts Centre.

Trentham Monkey Forest

That’s just a taster of what’s on during February, click here to find out more.