Our son wrote his own summer bucket list this year with just a few ideas of our own on there. One thing I loved doing as a kid was going to pick fresh strawberries. It’s something our 5 (nearly 6) year old had never done before so I popped it on the list. There’s not a huge amount of choice in our area so we made the 50-minute drive to the Balloon Tree Farmshop and Cafe in Stamford Bridge near York. We were all glad we went and before we left we all said we’d like to return again soon. Next time to eat there and spend more time chilling by their lovely playground.
This was day 37 of our #80dayschallenge to have at least 80 days out in one year.
Review of the Balloon Tree Farmshop & Cafe, near York
When we arrived there was actually a man in a high vis vest helping cars find car parking spaces. The car park is perhaps too small for how popular this place has become but there were a few spaces free when we arrived around 2 pm on a Sunday.
Fruit Picking at Balloon Tree
At first, we weren’t too sure what we were supposed to do as there are no signs. We noticed lots of people coming from the direction of the shop with empty punnets so we figured that must be our starting point. There is a little shed here where you can collect empty punnets. We went for 2 plastic and one made of cardboard as we had our hopes set on strawberries, raspberries and peas.
We then headed in the direction of the Fruit Trail. There’s plenty of big signs pointing the way to what they have available to pick. Obviously, the fruit picking is seasonal but they update their website, Twitter and Facebook regularly to let you know what you can pick.
What can you pick at the Balloon Tree
They have PYO strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, red currants, black currants, white currants, blackberries, blueberries, plums, rhubarb and some vegetables such as pulling peas, asparagus, broad beans and runner beans. (All subject to availability – you can always phone to check if you are coming from a distance.)
We headed to the main strawberry field. On first glance, we weren’t sure if there would be many strawberries but there were probably thousands. They were all mostly tucked under leaves and not visible on first glance. You are encouraged to not eat them as you pick and to wait until your produce has been weighed and paid for.
We then head for the pulling peas. There was plenty to be found but I wish we’d abandoned our first haul. Someone recommended picking from further away as they were bigger and sweeter. It was only later when we tried the peas at the top and compared them to the ones at the bottom that we realised how right he was.
After picking lots of peas we collected a large punnet of strawberries we headed for the big cloche covered tunnels at the bottom end of this field. Here we found rows and rows of raspberries. We barely had to move to pick them there were so many. I’m not a massive fan of raspberries but these tasted wonderful. Far tastier than what we buy in the supermarket. The same goes for the strawberries.
Once we’d picked everything we headed indoors to the wonderful farm shop and here our produce was weighed, which we then paid for. We spent £12 on 3 full punnets which lasted us a week.
Animals at Balloon Tree
When you walk around you will spot a lot of dropped fruit. Nice looking fruit as well. We spotted a couple of goats and we may have sneakily fed them a gooseberry. Their website does, however, state that you can buy animal food from their shop which I recommend you do instead. They only had two goats in the animal corner during our visit. Two very hungry goats!
Playground and Cafe at Balloon Tree
It was a lovely warm day when we visited the Balloon Tree. We had already eaten lunch but we fancied chilling out for a bit and letting our son run off to play. As well as plenty of tables indoors they also have plenty of tables outdoors. We were allocated a table and you then have waitress service to your table. It was a little slow but when you have little ones off playing it doesn’t really matter too much. The food that came out looked wonderful. We have already decided to return for lunch, let our son play for an hour or two and then go fruit picking.
I couldn’t photograph all of the play area as there were too many kids about.
The playground at the Balloon tree is lovely. There’s a small wooden climbing frame with a slide. A larger wooden play tractor also with a slide. Plus a smaller wooden tractor to play on, balance beams and a small digger with sand to move around. Our son had a fantastic time playing and he made so many friends. I thought we’d never be able to prise him away.
I can highly recommend one of their cakes which we took away to eat at home. They are baked on-site and they have won awards for their cakes. They are also licenced to sell alcohol. The cafe is open seven days a week and serves breakfasts, speciality teas and coffees, lunch and light bites.
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