The best way to spend a festive Sunday with the family!

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I’ll admit it, most of our weekends are taken up with taxi-ing the mudlets to various clubs or birthday parties and dealing with housework, homework and hangovers. But every now and then I insist on a day trip that takes us away from the routine of the rat race. Which is how we ended up at Leeds Castle Christmas Market this Sunday with its chocolate box cute fun-fair rides for the minis, gorgeous, boutique shopping stalls for the adults – followed by a slap up Sunday lunch (with red wine) in one of my fave places to eat. If there’s a better festive family day out, I’ll eat my bobble hat!

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At the centre of the market is a vintage fairground (probably ideal for children up to 10 years old), with children’s rides and live band music.

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While Mr Muddy K sampled the Kentish Pip Cider and the children whizzed around on various rides I slipped away for a spot of shopping… I managed to pack in a bit of Christmas shopping on the brilliant boutique stalls, including two of my favourites – Fat Fox Books (cool, quirky children’s book publisher) and Squiggle, Dot & Squeeze (seriously cute creative crafting for kids).

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Squiggle, Dot & Squeeze stall – selling seriously cute crafting for kids

And if you needed yet another reason to visit this month (boy you’re a tough crowd) Leeds Castle has partnered with the owners of the Beatrix Potter brand to celebrate the final month in the 150th anniversary year of the cherished British children’s author. The result is exquisitely created installations throughout the castle – from Peter Rabbit to Mrs Tiggy-Winkle – which are just *too* cute to miss.

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The Beatrix Potter installations dotted around Leeds Castle

Don’t miss Mr McGregor’s Shed and Beatrix Potter’s study recreated, complete with the sketch books, paint brushes, diaries, fossils and feathers that were used to craft her stories. The Mini Muddies can also write their Christmas wishes on themed postcards and post them so they are delivered to her study in the evening.

Now my mudlets are a bit older (8 and 9) but even they totally loved it. What’s more all of this is included with the price of admission and – as is always the case with Leeds Castle – your tickets grant repeat admission for a whole year!

We got there mid-morning but by lunch-time the crowds had really started to build up – at which point we made our exit and drove about 10 minutes southbound to The Curious Eatery  at the Albion Inn in Boughton Monchelsea, who do a cracking Sunday lunch, washed down with good wine, see below.

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If you haven’t heard about this place, read my review here. Chef Nicole (also known as Pixie) has cooked for Richard Branson, amongst others and he recently posted on Facebook that he’s looking forward to coming and trying the place out.

Even better – there’s a little shop upstairs in here too. I kid you not. Pictured, bottom right, below, selling gorgeous shirts, knitwear and ponchos. So I bought myself a little early Chrimbo pressie. Be rude not to, right?

If there’s a better family festive day out that is as enjoyable for the adults as the bratlets, then I’m yet to find it.

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The Curious Eatery: with rustic chic interiors and a little boutique shop upstairs

Leeds Castle tickets: (Adults £24.50, Child £16.50) – allows repeated admission for a whole year. Leeds Castle, Maidstone, Kent ME17 1PL, Tel: 01622 765400, leeds-castle.com

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Kent