01 02 03 The Princess and The Pickle: Southern Baby Event and Family Day 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Southern Baby Event and Family Day

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Yesterday saw thousands of families attend the Southern Baby Event and Family Day, sponsored by Matalan, at Fontwell Racecouse, West Sussex.  I was there and this is what I thought…

The venue was reasonably easy to get to, but was not signposted very well from the direction we were going, so it took us a little while longer to find than we’d expected.  When we arrived, there were plenty of parking spaces and we didn’t need to queue at the entrance as we had already registered online.  It was a lovely sunny day and lots of families were making the most of the last bit of pleasant weather before the Winter decides to kick in! 

There were a number of competitions running throughout the day.  The first was the longest rider of the Surf Simulator.  The Princess didn’t quite win that one, lasting only a few minutes, but she had fun trying!  The second competition was to ‘Pimp Your Wheels’ and have the best decorated buggy!  Unfortunately we didn’t have time to do this, nor did I see a single buggy throughout the day that had been decorated (I’m sure there must have been a few but I must have missed them), which is a shame as it was a great idea for a competition.  The third competition was for the cutest photo taken by Rare Moments Photography on the day, or from their visits to Matalan stores in the previous weeks.  This caused a bit of confusion on the day for quite a few people, as there was also a similar Matalan Model competition running alongside it, but it was quite clearly stated on the website that there were two separate competitions. 


The photography studio was set up in Fontwell house and we arrived there early as we had expected a large queue.  However, there were two separate ‘studios’ set up and The Princess and The Pickle were having their photos taken within minutes of walking through the door.  Unfortunately we could not get The Pickle to smile (he’s not a morning person!), despite the best efforts of the photographer, who was very professional, fun and lively and he certainly made The Princess laugh!  The photos still turned out very nice and we were surprised how many had been taken in such a small amount of time.  The only problem here was that we had to wait 50 minutes in a queue to be able view our photos.  I don’t think this was the fault of the photography company, as they had 3 computer screens set up, it was just down to how long people took to choose their prints.

The Princess enjoyed a ride on the Ferris Wheel and the Teacups, while The Pickle was fascinated by the Cuddle-Me-Do mobile farm animals, especially the pony, which we had to eventually drag him away from kicking and screaming!


The only real issue I had with the event was how much the website emphasised the word ‘FREE’.  Yes, it was free parking, free admission and there was lots to look at, such as the mobile farm, plus some free activities and classes.  However, it could turn out to be a very expensive day if you have a large family – face painting, for instance, was £4 per person, the ferris wheel £2 per person, teacup ride £1.50, £3 to have your photo taken with an owl, and I feel the website should have stated there would be charges for quite a few of the activities.  Let’s face it, you can’t take a child somewhere like that and then not allow them to do all the fun things that burn a hole in your wallet!  The ‘free’ Matalan goody bags were also only given out to people who signed up for a Matalan reward card on the day.

Unfortunately I went along expecting much more of a ‘free family day out’ than a baby trade show, which it mainly was.  Having said that, there were lots of lovely stalls to look at, some from companies I hadn’t heard of before yesterday, selling great Christmas gift ideas.  I will probably go along next year but with slightly more cash!  All in all, it was a well organised day, with plenty to do, but did end up costing us a fair bit more than expected.

Further information about the event can be found at www.southernbabyevent.net and details of Rare Moments Photography at www.raremomentsphotography.co.uk
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