Boy receiving present from Santa on the Santa Express Epping and Ongar railway

Santa comes to West Essex

You may have noticed a long gap between this post and the last. That’s because I had a brief flirtation with hosting my blog content on another website. It didn’t work out as planned, so I’m back and will be re-posting some of the reviews and content that are relevant here early next year.

The good news is that you have been saved from my overexcitable posts about Christmas. I love Christmas, a lot. So The Little One has already been dragged around endless visits to Santa which I think I can safely say were more for my benefit than his! I think by next year he’ll be more excited about sitting on a strangers lap but at least I had a blast. Here are some of my favourite moments.

Santa Express, Epping and Ongar railway

Steam train Epping and Ongar railway

Not only is there a lovely steam railway in Epping but they run special Santa trains. I have to confess when I found out about this I was very excited and was visiting their website constantly until they released tickets. And I’m happy to say it was a lovely day out. We got the tube to Epping where a beautiful old Routemaster bus drove us to the train station. When you arrive, there’s mulled wine and mince pies available for adults and juice and a chocolate bar for the kids. There’s also lots of other food and drink available to buy.

Boy receiving present from Santa on the Santa Express Epping and Ongar railway

Once on the train, Santa travels down the carriages with his elves handing out pressies. We got a really lovely teddy and all the children seemed happy with their gifts which is always a good sign. After chugging through the countryside we stopped at Ongar station for 20 minutes where a brass band were playing carols and you could have your photo taken with Santa. Overall, it was a lovely festive day out and I’m planning on making this a family tradition every year.

Epping and Ongar Railway website

Real Reindeer at Chigwell nursery

Reindeer at Chigwell Nursery

We’ve bought our Christmas tree from Chigwell nursery ever since we moved to Woodford and they have a lovely selection, although you have to get there early in the morning for the best pick of all the trees. There’s also lots of fab decorations and twinkly lights that the Little One loves so worth a trip for toddlers to have a walk around. And in the last weekend of November, they have real reindeer outside which were a big hit as they are happy to be stroked. There’s a simple little Santa’s Grotto inside but the Little One was a bit unsure of what to make of him. The visit is free though and they just ask for a small donation to charity.

Chigwell Nursery website

Santa’s horse drawn carriage at Norpar Barns

Decorations at Norpar barns

I’m a big fan of Norpar Barns which is a short drive out into the picturesque Essex countryside and I managed to spend lots of money at their Easter Barn back in Spring. So I was very excited about their Christmas tree festival. As I visited at lunch time with a friend, we left the Little One at home as he was napping which was probably a very good idea. It meant we had hands free to enjoy a free festive punch while shopping in their Christmas. It was super festive and filled with lots of beautiful decorations, so I couldn’t resist buying lots of lovely Christmas things. We arrived just as Santa was leaving on his horse drawn carriage but I imagine that it would have been magical when he first arrived out of the forest. Will try to get there in time next year.

Norpar Barns website

Hope you all have a lovely Christmas with your families and we’re looking forward to exploring West Essex together in 2015.