Opened in August last year, Green Trunks Garden Centre is more than just a garden centre; it also houses Bugtopia – a hands on experience with the weird and wonderful world of bugs and reptiles.
Linda McKeown took her children along to find out more.
It was half term week and I was looking for something different to entertain my children who are aged six, four and one.
The weather was cold and wet, so what to do?
Then I remembered a neighbour mentioning a while back about Green Trunks Garden Centre which lets kids get up close with nature.
Based in Cransley, near Kettering, it was a relatively short journey and on the way my eldest two, Kai and Ella, talked excitedly about what they would encounter there.
We arrived just after 11am which meant we missed the first meet and greet session and would have to wait until 1pm for the next one.
However, the sessions were proving so popular that a midday session was put in place, so that brought a smile to our faces!
To bide the time we had a walk around the garden centre and came across some guinea pigs and terrapins – as well as a little wooden climbing frame with slide, which amused the kids for ten minutes.
The café was a little busy but we managed to get a seat to have a drink before we headed to the midday session.
The Bugtopia meet and greet takes place inside an outdoor hut so the damp weather wasn’t as issue.
With seating for up to 40 people, there were lots of excited children (and adults) and Jozef – owner and today’s guide – was fab at putting any fearful children at ease when the insects and reptiles started coming out to visit.
First up were the stick insects. They are quite odd little things really but were relatively small.
Ella and Ruby were happy to just look while Kai dug in and held a stick insect, letting it crawl over him. I even had a little hold too!
Next up was the millipede which was pretty docile compared to the stick insect.
From the slow came the fast, as out came the cockroach.
Again Kai plucked up the courage to hold this (while I must admit, I didn’t want to do the same myself!).
Ruby is a little too young to get hands-on, although she took an interest in what was going on.
I was surprised Ella didn’t want to get too involved though. However, she did pluck up the courage to briefly hold the chameleon.
It was a beautiful little thing but having it climb your hand gives a strange sensation as it clasps its feet on your fingers!
At the end of the session we all got to have a stroke of the very large bearded dragon which was draped over Jo’s shoulders.
Each meet and greet session lasts 45 to 60 minutes and costs just £3.50 per person which is extremely good value for money.
The sessions run at 11am, 1pm and 3pm on weekends and during school holidays and at 4pm in school term time, weekdays.
Bugtopia is an indoor experience so it’s open rain or shine, which is great if you don’t want to explore outside when the weather isn’t great.
And with different bugs and reptiles coming out each time, no session is the same, so you’ll be left planning your next visit before you even reach your car!
“We’ve travelled to Australia and taught our children about nature, so we decided to bring the experience we have, here to Green Trunks,” explained Jozef, who runs Green Trunks with his wife Natalie.
“It’s educational, gets the adrenaline pumping and lets children learn as well.”
If, however, you’re not sure if your little ones will enjoy the experience, then why not take them along to the mini meet and greet sessions which take place at 11am on Tuesdays and are perfect in helping to build confidence and awareness. It’s £2 per session with parents also receiving a free tea or coffee.
Before we headed home, we popped back to the café to have some lunch.
There’s plenty on offer from breakfast, sandwiches, baked potatoes, pork shank with cider and apple sauce plus hot and cold drinks.
There are lots of new and exciting things happening here.
Coming soon are giant plated lizards. And so popular is the café that it’s being extended to include a ball pit to help entertain the kids while you eat!
Normal opening times are Monday to Saturday, 10am-5pm (although closed Wednesdays for schools) and Sundays 11am to 5pm.
However, due to current refurbishment works taking place, it’s best to visit their website at www.greentrunks.co.uk or call 01536 799778 to find out the latest information about opening times.
Where to find them
Green Trunks is based on Loddington Road, Great Cransley, Kettering NN14 1PY.