Belfast-based, style loving mum of 3. Fashion, Lifestyle, Food & Fitness

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Days Out - Seaforde Butterfly Farm

For the last 2 weeks of the summer holidays, I've not enrolled the kids into any activities. They've been doing bible clubs and sports camps on the few weeks that I needed to work but I've set aside this week and next for just days out and time together....in an effort to bore them with my company so they can't wait to go back to school!

We all love each other really...

So today we went to the Seaforde Butterfly Farm & Gardens which we've driven past hundreds of times and always wondered about visiting. It's a bit expensive for NI - it would have worked out at about £30 for all 5 of us to go and I wasn't sure if my son would really appreciate it or indeed if I would (wrong on both counts)

In the end, it was just myself and the 3 kids who went so it was £24 for access to both the butterfly house and the gardens. I'm not sure if it's worth it to just do one or the other - you would really need both to make a day out of it. We arrived just after it opened at 10am and there were only a couple of cars in the carpark so we had the place to ourselves.
This was what greeted us when we entered the hot and humid butterfly room....stunning!
and really from then on, it was a continuous stream of 'ooh-ing' and 'ahh-ing' and WOW from all 4 of us as the most exotic and colourful butterflies flew around us and landed on our heads and shoulders and even in my son's case, right on his glasses!
After about half an hour, we moved to the second tropical room which contains turtles that live around a lovely indoor pond full of colourful carp and goldfish.
There were also a few parrots and some smaller birds. The kids had so much fun talking to the parrots - they were really sociable.
Then the kids found a smaller room which had a couple of tarantulas, giant snails, a scorpion etc...oh and a big python too! I wasn't so keen to hang around here...
My idea of HELL in a glass case

We spent over an hour moving between the three rooms - the kids kept wanting to go back into the butterfly room and I was happy to oblige. There were benches and places to sit and once you got used to the tropical temperature, it was quite pleasant...
Trousers - Hush (past season)
Sandles - Next (via eBay)
Navy T-Shirt - Gap
Denim Jacket - Vero Moda
Backpack - Mipac ℅ Menarys (has been a GODSEND this summer - thank you Menarys!)
Then it was out to the gardens for a walk around the maze, which kept the kids entertained for ages. We enjoyed our picnic down near the pond in the pheasantry - which sadly had no pheasants that we could see. But it was all in the most gorgeous surroundings with the walled garden reminding me of The Secret Garden - with its big wooden doors and tunnels.
After heading up the spiral staircase to the top of the small tower and getting a 360 degree view of the whole place....
....we went back into the butterfly room for another hour. The kids just never tired of spotting the butterflies and having them land on their heads.

On the way home, I got the kids to rate the trip and the 12 year old said it was one of the best days of his life...now that's something for a 'too cool for school' tween boy to say! Naturally, the girls just adored it and wanted to go back again the next day. All 3 agreed, it was a 'core memory' (that's for those of you who've watched Inside Out)

I have been asked so many times since I posted about this on social media - 'is it worth a visit?' Hence this blog post - I wasn't planning to write about it - it's a bit off-piste for me but it's a good way to answer everyone's questions in one go.

I do think it's worth visiting. It's old fashioned....I would say it's the same as it was 10 years ago and I wasn't wowed by the shop and the ticket desk on arrival. But the playground and picnic area at the front are new and lovely and surrounded by opportunistic peacocks - which were completely unfazed by toddlers chasing them around the place!
The business person in me thinks what potential it has but the reality is that it's a part of an estate where a family lives and it's only open during the summer months. They clearly don't want it to be a major tourist spot as it couldn't cope with huge crowds. There's a quaintness about it that I loved and you could tell that the butterflies and gardens are a passion for everyone involved. It was like a step back in time and as the day went on, I realised I loved how it hasn't been modernised or computerised...it was a proper old school day out and it did my heart good to see how the kids who were there (not just mine) were blown away and properly wowed by nature.

So do visit...it's not somewhere you'll go to regularly - I reckon we'll go again next summer but it's probably a 'once a year' kind of trip. Try to go on a weekday, early on so you get the place to yourself. Bring a picnic and a full battery on your phone. And make sure your storage has plenty of room for the photos. And enjoy!

Ax
Note - there is a coffee shop but we didn't go into it. I'm sorry I didn't as I can't report back on what it's like but perhaps if you're reading this and you've been, you could leave a comment. Thank you! 
Full details on opening hours and prices on this link: www.seafordegardens.com 
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2 comments

  1. I didn't know about this place - pleased to find out about it. I love butterflies - there's a collection similar to this at Chester Zoo near us and we visited again last Sunday. I love the big blue ones - there are lots of those at Chester zoo. We're coming to NI next week - really looking forward to it as we haven't visited since Christmas which is the longest time ever for me and I miss it.

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  2. Beautiful pictures! I went there around 1987 (!!) wearing a bright pink jumper. The butterflies LOVED it and all flocked to me. Consequently I have a phobia of moths and butterflies 😁

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