March 16, 2020
Beaulieu, New Forest
In the style of the Pied Piper, the Toast Master led a smiling group of expectant children and their parents into Little Beaulieu, the new adventure play area within the grounds of Beaulieu itself. The structures and the newly laid play grass looked pristine, with every walkway swept and the slides and fireman's pole, gleaming after their last-minute polish.
The ceremony began with Lord Montagu, flanked by brightly dressed stilt walkers, emerging from within the main building of the play structure and delivering his speech in the style of The Good Old Days popular music hall TV programme of the past, before doffing his top hat to the audience.
The pyrotechnics boomed bang on cue, the cameras clicked and we were open. The children rushed in and the serious matter of playing together in the brand new attraction began.
At the VIP launch, over 200 invited guests were treated to their first experience of Little Beaulieu. Amongst them were actress Sarah Parish and her husband James Murray, along with the History Guy Dan Snow, his wife Lady Edwina Grosvenor and their young family.
The guests sampled some of the (gorgeous) food on offer at the new cafe, newly built within the play area. The runny yolk scotch eggs, the pulled Pork sliders, generous slices of cake and the fresh coffee were delivered to all. The children, between bursts of energetic play, came back to enthusiastically tell their parents of their adventures, whilst tucking into the goodies within their food boxes.
The light drizzle that fell intermittently through the morning, didn't disturb the party. The covered seating area that nestles up against the overhead monorail gave enough shelter for the jazz, blues and ragtime band to keep entertaining in the background and the parents to keep happily chatting together.
The real test however is how much the children enjoyed their morning of play and it was clear they loved it. Kids who'd never met before, working together to pass the zip wire seat to the next rider and taking turns to man the telescope lookout point, or peer through the back of the clock at the very top of the tower.
As 14.00 struck, Little Beaulieu was opened to the general public and I think we can happily declare this opening a HUGE success.