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The boiling sun has been beating down over Britain and one of the things that has taken a beating from the heat is: my husband’s much-loved garden. He is always out there watering, pruning and planting new flowers, fruits or veggies, he is just naturally the green fingered type. Last weekend he was a little down due to his garden looking a little crispy around the edges and although he has been watering it he hasn’t been excessively watering due to the water meter prices rising, the rain water collection barrel being empty and the looming doom of the hose pipe ban. So, me and the kids took him out to cheer him up and there was only one place that could make a Gardening Man happy… The Garden Centre!

The garden centre of our choice was Hillier’s Garden Centre which is located just on the outskirts of Eastbourne on the way to Hailsham or down the wiggly road as my kids like to call it (Hailsham Road, Stone Cross, BN24 5BS). From the outside Hillier’s looks like a group of metal warehouses, not very flowery looking, that is until you step inside. Once inside you are surrounded by gardening supplies, camping equipment, homeware, candles, books, shoes, speciality cakes and treats, jams, preserves and so much more, it is an adults form of heaven.

Of course, our first port of call was to head to the gardening section where my husband found some Roses that he wanted for the front garden. Me taking a liking to cooking at the moment (Doesn’t happen often and not always successfully either) found a group of herbs that just had to be snapped up for my kitchen window sill and the girls both found a Cactus plant each for their rooms. After buying the essentials our tummies began to rumble like a thundering storm in the distance. My Magpie-eyed eldest was happy to point out the café come restaurant area that was hidden near the camping section, and before I could even protest that this place was probably too expensive for lunch she had run over to the menu and had chosen what she wanted. The Hubby who was now looking a little happier and not so down shrugged his shoulders at me, this meant that today I was in front seat and it was my choice if we ate here or not. Looking at the hungry faces of my children and my own stomach calling made up my mind, “Find a table sprogs, mummy’s getting food!” A small cheer erupted as they ran to a table by the back door, so they could look at all the lovely flowers whilst we ate and be wafted over with by a small breeze that erupted every time the doors opened… Bliss.

I sauntered up to the café line and waited my turn then ordered, 2 kids tuna sandwich meals (which came with crisps, drink, apple and CAKE!) A sausage and mash for the Hubby and Tuna Jacket potato for me, along with 2 cappuccinos. I held my breath as I waited for the price, expecting them to eat my purse in the process, but the whole meal came to £25 which in my book isn’t that bad, especially since meals out at other venues in the summer holidays has cost me around £40 a time (Inwardly I’m crying the whole six weeks at how broken my bank account looks, haha). The wait wasn’t too bad even though the café area was busy, and the kids got to bring their cakes to the table before their sandwiches arrived which kept them out of mischief for a minute or two. When the food did arrive, my eyes were really pleasantly surprised. A lot of cafes can be a bit splash dash when placing food on a plate, but this place made it look delicate and delicious.

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Hubby’s sausage and mash looked divine, neatly nestled sausages on top of the mash, with a sprinkle of peas and gravy. He dug right in and nodded his approval, “This is some sausage and mash”. And for him to say that it must be yummy, for sausage and mash is his all time favourite meal and he has tried a many in different cafes and restaurants and quite often is disappointed by bitty sausages or lumpy mash, but not this time, this time he was happy telling me the mash was oh so creamy, and the sausages had not one gristly bit.

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I soon tucked into my Jacket potato with tuna, homemade coleslaw and salad garnish. Now I love a good spud (Who doesn’t right?) but sometimes places use old potato’s or don’t cook them quite enough or even too much (Can’t stand a soggy potato) but this one was cooked just right, and I liked the fact that I got to add my own butter, as although I like butter I cannot stand my potato swimming in it. The tuna was yum, especially when mixed with the creamy homemade coleslaw which had just the right amount of crunch. And the salad garnish, although small was yummy too with a drizzle of French dressing which again mixed with the tuna was also yum.

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I have to add I was also extremely pleased with the kid’s meal. Some places just throw a lunch box together with things my kids don’t like such as raisins, a mini chocolate roll and stale crisps and a box of crayons but at Hillier’s they made the kids feel like mini adults. They placed it out nicely on a plate for them with the apple chopped into chunks, a posh packet of Pom Bears which all kids seem to love, a fruit shoot and of course their sandwiches (Remember the cake has already been eaten). Both my girls loved their lunch which for them is unusual as they try to eat as little as possible in the hopes of devouring sweets and chocolates later, but it was either the food or the thrill of buying their own plants for their bedrooms which made them hungry for lunch.

The atmosphere in there was also friendly with the staff welcoming the children, even though there weren’t many children in there. They smiled as the kids chose their meals, when they looked around all the plant life and asked questions over what the plant was, where it came from and what did the seed look like and even when mummy was having a heart attacked as they approached the candle and glass posh looking section the staff still smiled.

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Now although a Garden Centre like Hillier’s is not really a grand day out for kids it did make a nice change for us as a family and giving the girls their £2 for their Cactus’s made them feel grown up. I would highly recommend Hillier’s for their food, the friendly staff and gardening bits and bobs. Plus, it made Daddy super happy again and we always need a happy Daddy, right? (Especially when mummy needs a few extra pennies for a spa day she’s been thinking about…Right?)