On the way home from our weekend break in Butlin's on Monday, we decided to break up the journey with a visit to a National Trust venue. We picked The Vyne in Basingstoke as it would be a perfectly timed mid-way and mid-day break, and I'd also recently seen MummyMummyMum's post about the new Tolkein-inspired play area; The Hidden Realm.
The Hidden Realm is a new play area, only opened since the beginning of April, and inspired by the well-loved book The Hobbit. Tolkein is thought to have based his tales on the ancient, gold ring on display on site, and so it was an obvious theme for a play area to occupy the once abandoned area of walled garden. Over the past six months, it has been transformed into a unique fantasy landscape for children with elements of jungle, mountain and stream, based on the Middle-Earth landscapes.
When we arrived there were only a couple of other children playing and so we pretty much had free run of the place, the perks of weekday visits! It amazes me how much has been fitted into such a small space, bridges, tunnels (with inter-connecting communication pipes), slides, stepping stones, fireman's pole (very Middle-Earth), and the best bit (for me anyway) was a dammed stream with a standpipe nearby to allow the children to play with the water.
I really hope that the National Trust start building some more of these themed play areas in their venues, such great fun and a joy for both adults and children to enjoy.