Mr C has chosen the most perfect week to have off work this week; day after day of unseasonably warm weather and extra long sunny days following the clock change last weekend. Days like these are designed for old fashioned family days out and that's exactly what we did today.
Bekonscot Model Village and Railway is in the lovely Buckinghamshire town of Beaconsfield, just off the M40; only about 40 minutes from St Albans. Originally started in 1929 the model village contains pretty much everything you can imagine - shops, houses, sports fields, boating lakes, harbours, a mine, a zoo, a hotel, church, castles and it's all linked together by an adorable model railway with frequent trains running around the site. There's a working windmill, cable cars and fountains and so many fine details that you could spend hours trying to take it all in. For the adults there were also some great comedy shop names to watch out for too!
The overwhelming thing is the wonderful old fashioned feel that everything has. It does feel like a bit of a time-warp as everything there just seems so perfect. Along the edge of the racecourse part of the village you do see a policeman chasing after a handbag snatcher, but it still seems so innocent compared to the crimes you read about in today's papers.
When you arrive at the village there's a one way system that guides you round the site past all the buildings and landscapes. Little Miss C was fascinated to see all the small buildings and particularly liked seeing all the zoo animals, but what kept her attention most was all the moving things around the village like the trains and other vehicles. There was also quite a bit of water and flowing water in particular that all kids of her age love.
The village also has a lovely childrens playground and tea room that is cleverly hidden away at the end of the one-way system round this site. The beauty of this is that children don't get distracted by it until they've gone round the rest of the site first. It's not a big playground, but seemed to have exactly the right amount of things in it to keep the children amused. All of the kids that we saw there were burning off plenty of energy before their journeys home.
There is also a ride on railway that runs throughout the main season for which there is a small extra charge for over 2s (just £1 each). This is a decent length round trip and runs on demand - today there was just three of us on the train we went on and again LMC completely loved it.
The old fashioned theme continues into the tea room where there was a good simple range of things available at very reasonable prices. For kids it was lovely to see some simple sandwiches like plain ham, cheese and strawberry jam. You can also bring picnics onto the site and eat them along with everyone else rather than having separate areas for people who have bought food on site and those who haven't. This is particularly great for when there with kids.
If I have to have one complaint about Bekonscot it has to be one small thing in the tea room. I went in first to get something for myself and LMC and came back with some sandwiches for her and a Cornish pasty for me. After them being in the news so much recently it just seemed to jump out at me from the chalk board. When Mr C went in the same happen to him, although he came away disappointed because it seems that they only have one Cornish Pasty a day and of course a certain someone had just been in there and bought that day's! I know it's only a small visitor's attraction, but still - just one pasty a day???
Overall this was a fantastic day out. Beautiful and simple and not overpriced like many attractions for children seem to be these days. All the models were in first-class condition and also had that nice "homemade" feel to them. The facilities were excellent (as long as you overlook their pasty stinginess!) and LMC really enjoyed herself. I can definitely see us going back there and as she gets older I can see her noticing more and more details on each visit.
Disclaimer: We paid our own admission to Bekonscot today and I have received no payment for this review.