How to make the most of your money at the West Dean Chilli Fiesta

Chilli Fiesta 2017

We last went to the West Dean Chilli Fiesta in 2015 so we thought it was time to head back this year. What shocked me a little was how much the tickets had increased in price and how almost unaffordable it has become. Given that I wanted to look for ways to make the most out of your ticket price.

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The main jist of the festival is around chillis (obviously) so there are a hundred odd stalls selling everything from chilli chutney to beer, ice cream and plants. Most of these stalls offer free tasters of their wares so you can spend the day wandering round tasting chilli products without buying anything. It is done by lots of people but equally if you taste something amazing would you really be able to resist?

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Honister Via Ferrata, Galleny Force and the Stone Circle

Catch up on days 1, 2 & 3!

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Our last day in the lakes was to be spent doing something neither of us had done before. We had previously tried and failed whilst in Canada so knew it was time. I am of course talking about the Honister Mine Via Ferrata.

A via ferrata translates as iron road and originate from the alps. Simply put it is a steel cable which runs along a mountain route to allow climbers to clip on to reduce the danger of falling. There can be steel cables, pegs and ladders which can make it exciting yet easier for non-climbers to traverse peaks.

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The land of Beatrix Potter

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After a lovely first day our second real day in the lakes also happened to be Easter Sunday. As expected it was raining which did scupper our plans slightly as we would have loved to have attempted to climb Scafell Pike (highest mountain in England.) It just wasn’t meant to be this time round, still, it’s a great reason to head northwards again in the future.

After a leisurely breakfast we hopped in the car for the short drive to Hilltop Farm – home to the one and only Beatrix Potter. Along with writing children’s books, most famously Peter Rabbit, she was also a firm believer in the countryside and brought up a lot of the Lake District area. When she died this was handed over to the National Trust. 

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Though of the day

Can’t wait for our Lake District retreat. Cozy cottage, hills, lakes and down time. Its been a year since our last “digital detox” in Scotland and I’m looking forward to some fresh air and relaxation!

We have a few adventures coming up that I’m looking forward to writing about plus I’m planning on having a go at some iteninary posts too!! Watch this space.

Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour, bookshops and performers

As part of my Christmas present my in-laws got me a Gin Parlour Experience in London which involved drinking gin. Which everyone knows is one of my favourite activities. As it involved gin we needed to stay in London which meant we were going to make a weekend of it! I’ve written about our day at London Zoo so here is a round-up of the rest of our time.

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Given that gin was the order of the day I was very excited!

Before we got to the zoo we headed to a bookshop I’d read about that specialised in travel literature. The Marylebone store of Daunt Books was the closest to the zoo, I was glad we made the trip. It actually ended up being the first of two travel bookshops we stopped at but it was the prettier of the two. Filled from top to bottom with travel books, new and second hand it was a travellers paradise.

DSC_0007DSC_0009My dream one day is to have a huge travel book collection but today neither of us wanted to carry anything heavy so reluctantly we left without our body weight in books.

To get to the zoo we walked by through Regent’s Park which was lovely, if not a little covered in Saturday morning runners!

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London Zoo!

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As part of my Christmas present my in-laws got me a Gin Parlour Experience in London which involved drinking gin. Which everyone knows is one of my favourite activities. As it involved gin we needed to stay in London which meant we were going to make a weekend of it! More on the Gin Experience and our weekend in general to follow but I decided to put a whole post together on London Zoo!

I love going to zoos, I enjoy seeing the animals but more so I enjoy hearing about the different conservation efforts. We were blown away by Vancouver Aquarium and hadn’t been anywhere since so I had high expectations.

London Zoo is set in the north of Regents Park in Central London, a 10 minute walk from Camden Town. Entrance to the zoo is expensive…like £30 per adult ticket expensive. However! If you travel to London by train and have a ticket (or the reservation coupon) plus a downloaded voucher from 241 London241 London you can get in 241! Which if you’re as good at maths as me meant we only paid half price! Bonus!!!!

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Bucket List Item – River Cottage Experience

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Imagine our delight when we opened our Christmas gift from one of my sister-in-laws to find a River Cottage card and a gift card enclosed. Bucket list item for a few years – now we had the perfect excuse to get one booked! So we did just that, signed up for a one day course for the beginning of May.

After much discussion we decided on the River Cottage Experience day. It gave us a bit of everything, cookery, animals, vegetables and a dinner in the evening cooked on site in their iconic dining room. We were extremely excited!

The day started with an early morning drive through a few counties ending up on the Devon, Dorset border – a drive I enjoy as I always know we will end up in some beautiful countryside.

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Apple Affair 2015

So, with China only a few weeks away it was time to do something to fill in the time. After the enjoyment of the Chilli Fiesta in August we signed up quickly for the Apple Affair at West Dean.

We had high hopes of a day filled with apples and fun just like the Chilli Fiesta and it was fun and a nice day (read couple of hours) out but…..I wasn’t blown away. They could have taken it much further, done more with the apples, had more activities going on to really highlight the apple harvest. Our only criticism of the Chilli Fiesta was that there wasn’t enough “free” stuff that was included with the price of the ticket and this was certainly true of the Apple Affair.

Yes we got to walk around the grounds and the gardens which are lovely, there were some wonderful stall holders, cookery demonstrations and a music tent which did make it enjoyable but that was really it.

It was a shame considering it could £9 ish per adult ticket (including gift aid) as we only stayed for a couple of hours, it might have been different if we had children to run around with but we don’t. The event did have a wonderful community feel with the villagers of West Dean. The atmosphere may have been better had it only been a 1 day event but hey ho that’s just our opinion.

We did get some lovely pictures and did see many many apples!!!

Have you been to the Apple Affair? Did you have the same thoughts? Any better ideas for apple festivals in the UK? 

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