Category: days out

Half Term with the kids – what’s on

We’ve reached October and half term is just 3 weeks away.  I don’t know about you but I’ve already started scouring the local papers, FB events and general media for half decent events we can add to our calendar.  If you haven’t the time for searching then check out my discoveries below, in and around the West Midlands area.  You may find something that will entertain you.

Half Term Activities – October 2017

Open weekend at the Bonded Warehouse – Stourbridge

Stourbridge canal open dayFriday 21st & Saturday 22nd October, 2017
There is free admission to the site and there are a number of attractions which include classic vehicles, traction engines, amusements, canal boat trips, fairground organs and a craft fair in the Bonded Warehouse.

 

Halloween family fun at Arley Arboretum – Arley, Worcestershire

Kids go free at Arley ArboretumMonday 23rd – Friday 27th October, 2017
KIDS GO FREE – Your little one can explore the Arboretum, searching high and low for clues on our Ghoulish Graveyard Trail! The trail costs £2 and includes a prize.  There will be face painting and glitter tattoos in the Halloween Activity Tent, where there will also be a colouring competition for kids to enjoy.  There are lots of FREE children’s activities too…  Join in the Dinosaur, Fairy and Pre-school Woodland Animal Trails, conquer the maze to reach the castle and play in the adventure playground. Plus enjoy the extra challenge of the spooky night time maze!  Forestry Adventures Clubs and extra evening sessions also available and the tea room will be open in the evening for hot sandwiches and tasty treats.

 

Half Term Halloween at the Avoncroft Museum – Bromsgrove

Kids celebrating Halloween at Avoncroft MuseumMonday 23rd to Friday 27th October, 2017
Creep down to Avoncroft this half term for spook-tacular fun!  Get into your spookiest costume and fly down to Avoncroft to create creepy crafts, carve pumpkins and make your own witch or wizards broomstick! Complete your scary outfit by getting your face painted too! Brave the Halloween trail around the the extra spooky museum grounds – do you have what it takes to find all the clues? Mwahahaha!  Normal museum admission applies, please note that some of the activities on site may have an additional charge.

 

Manor House of Witchcraft and Wizardry – West Bromwich

Witch at the Manor House, West BromwichMonday 23rd October, 2017
There are lots of things going on at the Manor House this Halloween for all witches and wizards in training. Attend magic class, story class, see some animals or make some spooky crafts.  Admission 50p per child, adults accompanying a child free. There will be a charge for some activities. Last entry is 30 minutes before closing.  Where an activity or event is staged inside one of our buildings, if the maximum capacity is reached we reserve the right to refuse entry.  Pushchairs are not allowed inside the Manor House.  The Manor House has no disabled access at present

 

Little Skippers: Halloween – Dudley Canal Trust and Tunnels

Child doing Halloween craft at the Dudley Canal TrustTuesday 24th to 27th October, 2017
Hugely popular school holiday activities and boat trip are back for more family fun this October half term!  Join Little Skippers for a 45 minute boat trip followed by things to make and do. This half term they’re bringing Halloween crafts and activities to entertain in true spooky style.  Get hands on with potions kits to make an animal-inspired super power potion, then make yourself a witchy or wizardly hat to get you properly into the Halloween spirit. Create a creepy creature to add to the display, or take home with you.
Tickets are just £4.75 each and include the boat trip as well as activities for children and a hot drink from The Gongoozler for adults. The boat departs at 10am – visitors are encouraged to arrive by 9.50am to check-in before their trip.

 

Pumpkin Parlour – Becketts Farm, Wythall, Birmingham

Pumpkin Parlour poster at Becketts FarmTuesday 24th to Sunday 29th October, 2017
Your little monsters will be responsible for scooping out the pumpkin brains, choosing their pumpkin face and pinning out the template and then finally covering in skeleton dust so that the masters (that’s you Mum & Dad) can do the carving.  Fancy dress is optional, but there will be an extra treat for any little goblins, ghosts & witches that make a ghastly effort!  £2 entry per child.  You can buy pumpkins in the Farm Shop (or you can bring your own) and carve it there so no mess in your kitchen at home!  * All children require adult supervision whilst carving pumpkins (At least 1 guardian per 2 children).

 

Himley’s Halloween Hunt – Himley Hall & Park, Dudley

Pumpkin in the autumn leaves at Himley ParkTuesday 24th October, 2017
The ghouls and ghosts of Himley Hall have escaped onto the park. Find them all and claim your spooky certificate. A chance for the kids to let off some steam during the half term holidays. Children must be accompanied by an adult.  Free event

 

Trick and Treat – Red House Cone Museum, Wordsley

Ghost, Witch and devil trick and treating - Red House Cone MuseumFriday 27th to Sunday 29th October, 2017
Trick and Treat around the Cone. A safe and fun family event. Decorate a goody bag and then see who or what you can find around the site with treats. Pre-booking required. Kid friendly.  Free entry, £3 charge for crafts

 

 

Self-led Halloween Trail – Severn Valley Country Park, Alveley

Spooky Halloween tree against moon silhouette - Severn Valley Country ParkSaturday 21st to Sunday 29th October, 2017
Follow the Halloween trail around the park. See if you can solve the creepy clues to win a lolly! Trail map £2.00 each and are available each day of the school holidays from the visitor centre 11am-3pm.

Halloween Story & Crafts Session

Wednesday 25th October, 2017
There are 2 sessions of this event 10am-12pm & 1.30pm-3.30pm.  Enjoy the popular Halloween story ‘Room on the Broom’ with rangers and volunteers. Also, mix up some spooky potions and make yourself a wizard’s hat and witches broom!
Please dress for the outdoors. Children £3.50, Adults free. Please call 01746 781 192 to book your place. Please call 01746 781 192. Under 8s must be accompanied by an adult. Suitable for ages 4 and upwards.

 

Thanks for stopping by! x

Toddler friendly day trips in the Heart of England – Part 2

Ludlow & Arley Arboretum

So further to my last post, onward to part two of our summer holiday day trips.

Ludlow

Ludlow is a picturesque market town in Shropshire.  Situated on the River Teme it is filled with quaint timber framed buildings and has a castle that dates back to 1085.  We started off our day by managing to nab a parking space on the roadside in the Linney.  It was extremely busy due to the Summer holidays so our luck was really in.  It turned out to be the most ideal spot, a lovely grassed area by the river and alongside the Green Cafe.  The sun was shining so we settled down for a picnic lunch on the grass and mom popped to the cafe to get a cuppa for us both.  Eliza had a great time running around and we popped down by the riverside to see the ducks.

 We’d been to Ludlow many times before but never visited the castle so I thought this might be something a little different for Eliza.  We walked up the steep path from the Linney along Dinham and Ludlow Castle was directly at the top of the hill.  Only £5 each for adults to enter and children under 6 were free.  I have to say at this stage that at no point could I have envisaged quite how much fun Eliza would have.  With her little ladybird backpack she wandered around the castle grounds, in and out the castle ruins, up and down staircases (with Mommy’s help) and even the darkest, spookiest looking crevices without a hint of fear.  She had a permanent smile on her face and couldn’t wait to see the next surprise the castle had in store.  Who would have thought a 2 year old could get so much from a castle of all things?!

Eliza’s little legs were feeling a little worse for wear after her tour of the castle so we found a lovely little cafe directly opposite called the Castle Lodge Buttery and stopped in for tea and cake (are you noticing a theme here?).  We had a slow walk back down the car, or so we thought, as upon arriving Eliza decided she wanted to run around again so we spent another half an hour on the little green where we’d eaten lunch.  Wonderful day out and definitely our first castle of many!

Arley Arboretum

This is one I kept hearing about from other visitors and their upcoming events also kept popping up on my facebook timeline so one day my friend and I decided to give it a go with the kids in tow.  First off I have to say that I stuck the postcode in my SatNav as although I’d visited Arley many times before I didn’t know exactly where the Arboretum was.  Well, it turns out neither did the SatNav as it took us around the back of the park which had no vehicular access.  One conversation with a local later and we were once again on our merry way, in the right direction this time.

Arley Arboretum is situated in Worcestershire near the town of Bewdley and is home to one of the Severn Valley Railway stations.  You can actually see the steam trains from several locations as you walk around the arboretum.  What attracted me to Arley Arboretum was their child friendly outdoor activities.  Aside from the usual play areas (yes, there was one of these too) they offer a range of different ‘hunting’ trails.  We chose to do the Fairy trail on our visit but there were others too such as the Dinosaur Trail and Woodland Animal Trail for the little ankle biters to take part in.  We picked up a sheet on our way in and then followed the directions to hunt for fairies and answer questions on our way around the arboretum.  Both Eliza and her friend loved hunting for the next fairy and looking up into the trees to see who could spot it first.  The cost again is only £5 per adult to enter and children under 3 are free.  Just a note thought, that the arboretum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

In addition to the various trails there was a small maze which was ideal for younger children, a play area, several picnic areas and a sensory garden.  The sensory garden was still under development but there were a few bits and pieces for the girls to play with including some hanging chime bars.  We stopped for a quick picnic lunch by the play area and we could see the trains whooshing along down in the valley.

We were a little short on time on the day we visited so I’m sure there were other areas that we missed.  Eliza was quite intrigued by the fountain as she’d never seen anything like this before.  A bit apprehensive too though as I think she thought she was due a shower and was not very keen on the idea!

The arboretum has a lovely cafe which also doubles as the ticket office on your way in.  We had a super lunch and the rainbow cake was to die for! There are other activities on offer for kids including a Forestry Mini-Adventure Club.  This is at an additional cost to the normal entry fee but definitely worth considering if you have the time.  If you look on the Facebook page too there’s always information on upcoming seasonal events such as Halloween or Easter.  Download the full information leaflet here.

Thanks for stopping by! x

Toddler friendly day trips in the Heart of England – Part 1

Bidford-on-avon & Tenbury Wells

After a stressful start to the Summer holidays I made it my mission to have a few decent day trips, well, at least once a week with the littlies.  I don’t know about you but I’m certainly not a fan of soft play areas and most town play areas are generally heaving given the first glimpse of sunshine.  So my challenge was to find a few fun places to visit.  Fun for them AND for me!

Tenbury Wells

Tenbury Wells is a small ancient market town with a multitude of quaint black and white buildings and history galore.  It’s a place I’d only ever driven through until this Summer when Mom suggested a day out there.  Very scenic location, Tenbury Wells is situated alongside the River Teme that separates Worcestershire and Shropshire.  The drive there alone was worthwhile.

Tenbury Wells bridge
Bridge at Tenbury Wells – Photo from www.tenburywells.info
Black and white buildings in Tenbury Wells
Tenbury Wells – Photo from www.geograph.org.uk

So, our day out with a toddler and baby started with a trip to the play area at the Burgage.  This is a fab little park and although it was Summer holiday time it was not busy at all.  Eliza had a fab time playing on the slide and running in amongst the coloured ‘pencils’ before we all sat down to a picnic at one of the tables within the play area.

a slide in the childrens play area at Tenbury Wells

Childrens play area at Tenbury Wells

Time for a cake break

After lunch we popped to the nearby loos (yes toilets, essential with kids) and then headed into the high street just a few yards away.  We walked the length of the town and popped into a few gift and charity shops.  The whole walk only took us about 45 mins.  On our way through the town we looked for a suitable place for a quick cuppa and slice of cake but a lot seemed a little tight on space for 2 buggies.  We struck lucky though when we found The Spotty Dog Tearoom.  We had a lovely cream scone and Eliza had a delicious slice of Victoria sponge cake that the lady was happy to serve as smaller slice suitable for a little belly :).  Again, great facilities for a family and plenty of room for us to manoeuvre buggies with ease.

Inside the Spotty Dog Tearoom in Tenbury Wells
The Spotty Dog Tearoom

The Burgage Recreation Area

After our snack we headed towards the bridge and turned right along the riverside path that leads past Tesco and onto the Burgage Recreation Area.  We followed the path and Eliza stopped to give us a little impromptu ‘Frozen’ performance in the small shelter overlooking the river. We carried on in the direction of the play area stopping along the way to sing songs and look for fairies in the trees.  This is a fantastic tree lined space and again not at all busy.  We discovered that there was a second play area right next to the one we stopped at originally.  This one was simply fab for Eliza, it was aimed at the under 8’s so everything was just the right size for the littlies with a super wooden climbing frame with bridges and puzzles to solve.

The younger children's play area at Tenbury Wells
Young play area at Tenbury Wells – Photo from www.tenburytown.org.uk

We sat on the grass and played games and had lots of fun taking photo’s and trying to get Freddie to keep his hat on!  All in all a super little place for a fun day / afternoon out when the sun is shining.

Bidford-on-avon

The bridge at Bidford-on-avon
Bridge at Bidford-on-avon

One of our favourites is Bidford-on-Avon, as we visit here at least 2 or 3 times every year.  You can park right on the riverside with plenty of space to run around with a ball, kite or just the dog!  There are a few picnic benches and an absolutely super play area (along with an outdoor gym area that many parks have nowadays).  There’s a small toilet block and we often take a stroll over the bridge for fish and chips from Seafoods chippy.  If the mood takes you, you can walk right along the riverside away from the main parking area and watch the wildlife and boats pass by.

Playing Frisbee at Bidford-on-avon
Riverside park at Bidford-on-avon
Toddler running with ball at Bidford-on-avon
Plenty of room to run around

Thanks for stopping by! x

A ‘first’ at 36

For a while now, ‘A’ has been driving me mad to go horse riding.  I have to say this is something I’ve wanted to do myself for as long as I can remember but I did wonder if at the age of 36 I was a little too old to be potentially ‘falling off’ a horse.  After a little discussion I finally decided to do a bit of searching online to see if I could find a suitable place for us to experience our first pony ride.  I came across a site called horsetreks.co.uk part of livetheadventure and after a few emails back and forth we booked a 45 minute hack.

The Ginny Hole centre was located in Stottesdon which was nearly an hours drive from home.  Far too much time, I have to say, to weigh up the pros and cons of why I’d finally decided to do this.  ‘A’ was seriously looking forward to it though so I figured it was now or never.  When we arrived the staff that greeted us were so friendly they immediately put us at ease.  We discovered that I would be riding ‘Apache’ and ‘A’ would be on ‘Thunder’.  We laughed when we heard the name of ‘A’s horse as I had mental pictures of a huge black stallion, rearing up and neighing!  It turned out that both Apache and Thunder were very lovely black and white cob horses that were extremely well behaved and calm and nothing like the the image their names conjured up.

As it turned it, ‘A’ and I were the only riders on this particular hack and as we’d never so much as sat on a horse before they decided it would be a good idea for us to each have our own member of staff to accompany us on the ride.  This was great as it filled us with a lot more confidence.  We were given directions on how to ‘steer’ the horse and get him to move and then off we went for our 45 minute walk.

We were told that the horses are extremely clever and that usually within 5 to 10 minutes they have a notion of what type of rider is ‘onboard’ and if they feel it’s a novice then they decide to ‘try it on’!  Apache tried this a couple of times by eating the hedge as we walked along and then doing some serious head shaking.  I never realised that it could be quite so difficult to control a horse.  You watch others doing it and it looks so simple, but even managing to keep your balance at such a height can be tricky if the horse decides to have a wobbly moment.  We did attempt a little trot on the way back up the lane which was fun but blimey was it knackering and we only did it for a couple of minutes!

I’m very pleased to say that neither of us fell off and both returned with our limbs all intact.  After seeing how high you are on the horse’s back falling off would definitely be the last thing I’d aim to do.  We both had a fabulous time at Country Treks.  I can’t see myself competing in the 2016 games but it’s really something I’d like to try again at some point and ‘A’ has said the same.  Horses are such beautiful and intelligent creatures, it was a real honour to be so close to them even if it has taken me 36 years to get around to it.

Image
‘A’ and I with ‘Thunder’

Lazy days of Summer

After returning from holiday to ‘not so great’ British weather imagine our joy when the forecast was for the temperature to reach the dizzy heights of 24c!  Woo hoo!  As we still had a few free days from work we decided to make the most of the dry spell and headed off to Bidford-on-avon for a picnic and afternoon by the river.

A walk along the Avon

Arnold having a lazy afternoon

Frisbee!

Arnold gets his own ice-cream

We arrived around lunchtime and tootled off for a stroll along the river to let Arnold stretch his little Border legs.  We ate lunch and then spent a lovely, lazy afternoon playing games, reading and doing the crossword.  And what trip to Bidford would be complete without a trip to the chip shop for tea.  By the time we left for home it was around 8.30pm which meant we were treated to the most beautiful sunset throughout our journey.

The following night, although cloudy, we enjoyed a smashing barbecue in the garden followed by an evening around the chiminea.  Many, many games of pictionary and uno followed then lo and behold the cloud shifted and we were left with an evening of star gazing.

‘A’ & ‘P’ enjoying a night in the garden

Saturday saw us taking a drive out to Mom and Dad’s caravan as they’d decided on a short break near Enville.  Another leisurely afternoon ensued with an attempt at our 2nd barbecue of the week.  Unfortunately the wind had other ideas leaving us to use the small caravan oven to cook for 7!

I’ve only just realised that I’ve not yet told you of my new addition, so now seemed a perfect opportunity.  Her name is Glinda (as in ‘Wicked’/’The Wizard of Oz’) and she’s a beautiful Ice Blue Mini Convertible.  She arrived just before our holiday so I’d not had much chance to test drive her.  However, Saturday’s sunny trip to Enville was a superb opportunity even if it did mean we had to take two cars to enable us to transport all of our junk!  It was worth it though, nothing more exhilarating than powering down the country lanes with the wind in your hair.

‘Glinda’

A sunny but wet day out in Wales

A couple of weeks ago ‘P’ finally managed to book his White Water Rafting experience at Canolfan Tryweryn that I bought him for his 40th birthday last year.  As luck would have it, his choice of weekend was superb as the weather was far better than most we’d seen so far this year.  The location of Canolfan Tryweryn couldn’t have been more perfect.  Situated in Bala, North Wales the surrounding countryside was just lovely, made even better by the fact it was warm and the sun was shining.

After a talk on rafting instructions and safety, ‘P’ was then bussed up to the start point to begin his rafting session.  The children and I sat at the centre, where there were picnic benches and cafe facilities, awaiting ‘P’s first run down the river.  A few of the participants in ‘P’s raft had missed their slot which meant that rather than having a full raft, there were just two others and the instructor.  This unfortunately meant that some of the tricks that are carried out on the river weren’t successful as the raft simply wasn’t heavy enough.  This didn’t stop ‘P’ having a fabulous time though.  He had 4 runs down the river in total which I thought was extremely good value for money.

The children and I walked Arnold along the trail that follows the river.  This allowed us to take up different vantage points for snapping pictures as ‘P’ whizzed past!  By the time he was finished he was completely knackered, but he did say he’d love to go back at some point and give the kayaking a try.

I’d really recommend Canolfan Tryweryn to anyway who’d love to give rafting a go.  The venue was smashing and all the staff extremely pleasant and helpful.  We’ve already said we’ll go back and have even talked about the prospect of group rafting.  I have to say though, it’s one occasion when I’m more than happy to ‘walk the dog’.  Water and I don’t mix and the thought of being drenched from head to toe does not appeal in the slightest.

Welcome back weekends

We decided that 2012 would see us making a little more of our weekends.  It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of housework, DIY and general ‘vegging’ as the weekend passes by. Running our own business we also seem to spend a lot of time planning our workload for the coming week and before we know it, Sunday evening has arrived along with the ironing of school uniform and work shirts.

Arnold, for one, has been rather pleased by the new approach to our weekends as the last two have seen us taking him on a countryside ramble and a walk by the canal.  Last Saturday we headed to Abberley nr Great Witley in Worcestershire armed with a circular walk we’d downloaded from the web and our O&S map.  I will be the first to admit here, that our map reading skills aren’t the best and ‘P’ out and out refuses to look at the map at all due to his ‘inability’ in this area.  Now, you’ve probably guessed where I’m going with this, we did get kind of lost due to turning left instead of right at a very strategic point.  Never the less we had a lovely walk finding our way across country fields, past farms, animals and many, many (many) stiles.  The stiles themselves gave us a new challenge as most didn’t have Border Terrier sized access therefore leaving us to pass Arnold back and forth between ‘P’ and myself.  I think he was starting to get a little narked towards the end of our 90 minute walk, God knows how St Bernard owners get on?

One of the few stiles with Arnold access

At the end of our walk we stopped at the Manor Arms in Abberley village for a quick half.  Although it was January 7th and 5pm, we sat outside with our muddy boots and muddy dog and didn’t once feel the cold.  The landlord was extremely welcoming and we can’t wait to pop in again.

Try visiting Walking Britain to download details of the same walk.  Maybe you’ll have more luck at map reading :).