Tag Archives: Cheshire

Preview: Just So Festival 2016

One of our annual summer highlights is the Just So Festival which is held for three days every August at Rode Hall in Cheshire. The festival began in 2010 and this will be our third year there. It’s a weird and wonderful melting pot of music, storytelling, theatre, magic and adventure. We love it and this year will be our first full weekend there.

The Just So Festival 2016 takes place on 19th, 20th and 21st August. You can dip your toe in and go for a day, or fully immerse yourself in the festival experience and get a weekend ticket, or even book a camping ticket so you can stay over and enjoy the night time adventures including the lantern parade, pillow fights, the night sky spy and a magical midnight feast. 

Just So Festival 2016

The Just So Festival from Wild Rumpus is a three day treat for all the family, guaranteed to fuel your imaginations, it is packed full of wonderful sights and sounds, things to see and do and it’s a truly memorable event for all the right reasons.

This year there’s the outdoor cinema showing Labyrinth, Swallows and Amazons and The Wizard of Oz as well as circus workshops, Suitcase Stories, Travelling Treasury and other theatrical treats, such as the latest show from festival legends Les Enfants Terribles and stories around the campfire from the wonderful Ian Douglas.

Just So Festival 2016

This year we’ll be camping and I’m very excited about that. I’m already picking out some of the things we simply cannot miss at the Just So Festival 2016. Here are my top picks –

  • Sky Spy – join the Whizz Pop Bang magazine team for the ultimate bedtime wind down. Spotting patterns and shapes in the stars and trying to get a sense of just how vast our universe is. 
  • Ian Douglas – Campfire Stories
  • Les Enfants Terribles and their new outdoor show The Fantastical Flying Exploratory Laboratory
  • Samba Drumming Workshop
  • The Gruffalo visiting the Spellbound Forest
  • Midnight Feast on the Village Green with stories from Ian Douglas, songs from David and midnight shenanigans
  • Making Clay Faces and Bushcraft Wands
  • The Baghdaddies – one of the most fun bands I’ve ever seen live!
  • Circus Skills Workshop
  • Relaxation workshops including Indian Head Massage, Tai chi, Family Yoga and Laughter Yoga. 

There are hundreds more things to do at the festival, with something going on for all ages, from tiny babies to adults. 

One of the fun (but non-compulsory) elements of the festival is the famous Tribal Tournament. You and your family can dress up as a fish, frog, fox, owl, lion or stag and take part in the Tribal Parade on Sunday night to see which tribe comes out on top! Some of the costumes are amazing and it’s something we’ll need to put a bit of thought into as the festival approaches!

Just So Festival 2016

The Just So Festival is a wonderful, creative, imaginative, fantastic weekend for the whole family. It’s a lovely opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors, meet some mermaids, dress up, be silly, be creative, learn, enjoy, explore and just be together as a family. I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

The Just So Festival 2016 will take place at Rode Hall, Congleton, Cheshire on 19/20/21st August. For more information, or to book tickets for the Just So Festival 2016 visit their website.

Preview: The International Cheese Awards 2016

This year will be my third visit to the International Cheese Awards at the Nantwich Show. It goes without saying that this fantastic event is the highlight of my foodie year. Last year I had the privilege of being asked to be a judge and I must have done something right, as I’ve been asked to judge again this year.

Judging takes place on trade day, which this year is on 26th July, and the massive International Cheese Awards marquee is thrown open to the public on 27th July.

This year is the 119th International Cheese Awards, which are held as part of the Nantwich Show in Cheshire. This year there have been a record breaking 4956 entries across literally hundreds of different categories of cheese, with entries from small artisan producers, to huge dairies and supermarkets.  Last years Supreme Champion  was the Greenfields Dairy Crumbly Lancashire Cheese, and I can personally vouch for this beautiful cheese, it’s a regular in our shopping basket!

Image-1

On show day (27th July) the demo kitchen is in full swing, with a host of familiar faces returning to this year’s show – including James Martin, Sean Wilson and Will Holland. Book your tickets for the demos in advance (£5 on  the Nantwich Show website) – they always sell out so quickly! Plus there’s a whole marquee of cheese to sample and explore.

As well as hosting the The International Cheese Awards 2016, the Nantwich Show is a brilliant day out for all the family, there’s so much to see and do, the Nantwich Show is apparently the biggest agricultural show in the UK, with everything from cows, sheep, pigs and pigeons to horticulture and honey. Check out the vintage cars and agricultural machinery as well as the latest in tractor technology! I know my boy would love it there!

Tickets are available on the gate priced at £18 for adults, £7 for children, £13 for senior citizens and family tickets for £45. However, if you book via the Nantwich Show website in advance, you can get discounted tickets (£15/£5/£10/£35). Your ticket covers admission to both the biggest cheese awards in the world and the largest one-day agricultural show in the UK, making it even more of a bargain!

The International Cheese Awards 2016

I can’t wait to get my judges coat on again and get sampling some of the finest cheeses from across the world. If you like cheese and want to learn a little more about the industry, I really can’t recommend the International Cheese Awards 2016 enough. It’s a HUGE marquee of cheese, and an experience every cheese lover should experience at least once in their lifetime.

You can find out more about the International Cheese Awards 2016 on their website, and you can find out more information  and buy tickets to the Nantwich Show here.

Review: Geronimo Festival, Tatton Park 2016

Over the Bank Holiday weekend, we went to our first Geronimo Festival at Tatton Park. The sun was shining, we’d heeded the warnings about queuing traffic and left a bit later than we’d planned. The weather was glorious and we knew we’d be spending the whole day there, so it didn’t much matter to us if we were an hour or so late.

We arrived to a packed site, the parking was a fair bit away and with my mobility problems, I was worried about how tough the day would be and I was glad I’d asked my OH to bring my chair. There were no queues to get in, I guess leaving it a bit later meant that most of the crowds had already been through.

Geronimo Festival

There were maps available just through the entrance and the site seemed fairly logically laid out. Our first mistake was only bringing snacks and not a full picnic, so I settled down near the Geronostage Zone to watch Mr Bloom with the boy whilst my OH joined a queue, a queue which he stood in for an hour and 45 minutes, returning with some cold and odd tasting corn on the cob and some cold but tasty lentil curry and rice. We were not impressed and in hindsight we should have just had burger and chips from the fast moving queue or taken a proper picnic.

Geronimo Festival

The boy and I sat in front of the Geronostage Zone stage and watched a variety of acts, the sound quality wasn’t great and the boy got a bit bored and ended up just running around, even Swashbuckle couldn’t hold his attention. It was clear that we needed to move on to something which floated his boat.

Geronimo Festival

I was keen to go at watch the Imaginary Menagerie show from Les Enfants Terrible’s, a show which I’ve seen before but really enjoyed. We settled down to watch it and he was utterly gripped and engaged by the whole thing from start to finish. Afterwards we explored the site, dipped into the craft tent, popped to the fairly nice festival toilets, looked at the stalls – the boy got a dinosaur tail, and saw a whale and a big dinosaur. We grabbed a coffee to power us through and ambled over to the Arena Zone.

For us the Arena Zone was the best thing about the Geronimo Festival, we watched the Motorcycle Imps display team roar their bikes over ramps and through fire, the boy was rapt. After the motorcycle display we wandered around meeting a huge puppet giraffe, a disco nun on a motorised piano, some horsey ladies, a scary dinosaur and much more, these were probably my favourite parts of the Geronimo Festival, accidentally stumbling upon some incredibly bonkers sight.

Geronimo Festival

Towards the end of the afternoon we were keen to take part in the Jedi Training, we arrived early and bagged decent seats in the tent, but there weren’t enough lightsabres to go around and disappointed, the small and tired boy lay down on the floor and didn’t want to join in, so we left the tent which was probably for the best as we ended up watching a fantastic display in the Arena Zone – the Horsemen of the Knight. Ben has talked of virtually nothing else since, watching the galloping horses in the joust and the Knights in combat, it was probably the highlight of our day.

Geronimo Festival

Geronimo Festival

Once the Knights had finished we stayed put to watch the Sheepdog Show. I’m rather fond of this and I’m sure I’ve seen this shepherdess work at the Cumberland Show, herding geese and ducks and showing off the skill of the dogs and their handler. Once that was finished everyone seemed to be packing up and going home, so we did the same.

Geronimo Festival

The weather had been very kind and had given us a great day, but Tatton Park was heaving and it did feel a bit like there were just too many people there. The day had been a sell out so it was busy and there were big queues. After queueing for so long for food we were all queued out, so refused to even consider queueing for anything for more than a couple of minutes.

If I were to go again I would plan my day better, I’d take a proper picnic, I’d focus less on the Geronostage and spend more time around the Arena Zone, I’d also explore more of the things happening in the fringe. There were aspects of the festival I really loved and things I was indifferent to, but I think all festivals are like that. There are so many things to do, see and join in with that there will always be things you like and don’t like, and so much you just don’t get time to see or do.

There was so much for the kids to do and Ben did enjoy himself, he ran around a lot and discovered and learned new things, his horizons were expanded and his imagination fuelled, which is one of the biggest reasons for taking him to events like this. The Geronimo Festival is a unique family experience and if you can experience it then I think it’s worth a visit.

Geronimo Festival

You can find out more about the Geronimo Festival on their website.

We were invited guests of the Geronimo Festival and were not asked to pay for our tickets, all images and opinions are our own.

Win a pampering facial at Beauty Bee, Bramhall

Last month I had a lovely treat at Beauty Bee in Bramhall, Stockport. I booked myself in for a pampering facial and it was incredible. You can read my full review here, but the picture below and the look on my face in the “after” photo probably tells you everything you need to know. Read on to find out more about how you could win a pampering facial at Beauty Bee, Bramhall for yourself!

Win a pampering facial at Beauty Bee

Beauty Bee are located at Moorend Golf Driving Range in Bramhall and they offer a selection of deep tissue and sports massages to the golfers, as well as a full range of beauty and pampering treatments to non-sporting types too. Abby has worked as a beauty therapist all over the world and specialises in  Oncology massage, as well as facials, massages, waxing, manicures and pedicures.

I can’t recommend Beauty Bee enough, I had an amazing facial and Abby has a very calming and caring way about her. I’m really pleased that Beauty Bee has kindly offered the prize of a facial to one of my blog readers, one of you lucky lot will get to experience a Beauty Bee facial.

Win a pampering facial at Beauty Bee

Beauty Bee is at Moorend Golf Driving Range, 177 Woodford Rd, Bramhall, Stockport, Cheshire SK7 1QE Phone: 07876 032125. You can find Beauty Bee on Facebook. They also offer treatments on selected days at The University of Manchester.

SPECIAL OFFER: Maternity Mondays at Beauty Bee – 30% off all treatments if you are on maternity leave and book in on a Monday. 

Win a pampering facial at Beauty Bee

To be in with a chance to win a facial at Beauty Bee in Bramhall, Stockport simply enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Please note that the prize is for the facial and does not include any transport or accommodation, so winners need to ensure they can get to Bramhall themselves. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5.The winner will win a pampering facial at Beauty Bee in Bramhall, Stockport. Transport and accommodation are NOT included.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 16th June 2016.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner may be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode.
9. The winner’s name will be available on request
10. Your email address may be passed on to to the promoter for marketing purposes, you may unsubscribe at any time.
11. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
12. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

Five things to do in Manchester in May Half Term

It only seems like five minutes since the kids when back to school after Easter and the May half term is just around the corner. It’s often hard to think of things to do to entertain the troops. Playdates and trips to the park always feature heavily, but it’s good to have a few bigger things in the diary too.

I’ve picked a few things to do in (and around) Manchester with the kids this May half term. We’ll definitely be popping along to some of these.

The Lost Carnival

If you’ve ever been to the Just So Festival, A Day at the Lake or event The Lost Carnival last year, you know that Wild Rumpus know how to put on an event. Last year we went to The Lost Carnival which was in Bury, this year you can experience an evening of wonder in Crewe, and trust me, it is an experience to remember for all the best reasons.

This year features a “Battle of the Carnivals” between the rival carnivals, The Ingenues and the Birds. Together they will meet for a thrilling evening of spellbinding theatre and enthralling installations, circus, music, visual trickery and sideshows galore. Last year was so good it gave me goosebumps and this year looks set to be even bigger and better!

The Lost Carnival will take place on May 28/29/30 (4-9.30pm) at Queen’s Park, Crewe, Cheshire CW2 7SE. Early Bird tickets cost £10 per ticket. Under 3s go free. Carnival goers should dress for the weather, and wear sturdy shoes.

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre & SEA LIFE Manchester

Over the May half term, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre and SEA LIFE Manchester at the Trafford Centre will have lots to entertain families come rain or shine. better still, guests only have to buy one ticket and will have the freedom to explore two brilliant attractions!

In the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre visit the brand new play area, City Builder. Visitors can create their own buildings and structures in the City Builder zone. The only limit is your imagination!

For movie enthusiasts, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre has another new 4D movie starring the LEGO Nexo Knights. Experience this fantastic new 4D film with all the elements – wind, water and smoke – bringing the battle to life all around the cinema.

May Half Term

Down at SEA LIFE Manchester, families can dive deep to the fascinating world of new exhibition, Octopus Hideout and spot the star of the show, the Giant Pacific Octopus called Hank and his Cephalopod friends. A visit to SEA LIFE is always a fascinating, fun and educational day out.

For more information and to buy tickets, visit the LEGOLAND website and the SEA LIFE website. 

Roald Dahl’s Tremendous Adventures at Tatton Park

From Easter until the end of 2016, Tatton Park is is bringing Roald Dahl’s imagination to life, with a host of children’s trails and events for all the family. Join Danny the Champion of the World in the gardens, Fantastic Mr Fox at the farm and Matilda in the mansion and you’ve got to be careful of The Enormous Crocodile out in the parkland!

We’ve already visited and explored the farm at Tatton Park where we found Fantastic Mr Fox, and we’ll be visiting again over half term to explore some of the other fabulous Roald Dahl goings on. You can read the full preview of the Roald Dahl adventures at Tatton Park here.

May half term

For more information visit tattonpark.org.uk/RoaldDahl.

GeronimO Festival at Tatton Park

The Geronimo Festival is on at Tatton Park (May 29th and 30th) and will feature CBeebies star live shows, a full circus, 3 theatre companies, amazing bands, a full county fair arena including jousting, sheep shearing, motorcycle displays, funfair rides, tortoise encounters, spy school den building and 100 other amazing activities.

This year CBeebies megastar Justin Fletcher will be there, as well as Mr Bloom, presenters Andy Day and Alex Winters and Cook and Line from Swashbuckle. As well as Les Enfants Terrible who present their Imaginary Menagerie. We’ve seen this show before and it is fantastic, so we won’t be missing that particular festival highlight! You can read my preview here.

For more information or to buy tickets visit www.geronimofest.com.

What else?

Manchester is a lively, vibrant city full of museums, art galleries, things to see, do and explore. Just a short drive out fo the city you have a wealth of unspoilt countryside and fresh air to fill your lungs with.  

If the weather is decent then you could visit and explore outdoors at Dunham Massey, Lyme Park, Delemere Forest or Quarry Bank Mill. There’s Manchester Museum to explore; the Museum of Science and Industry, The Police Museum, Manchester Airport Viewing Park, Stockport Hat Museum, the air-raid shelters; as well as Wythenshawe Community Farm and the utterly fantastic Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire.

There’s lots to do this May half term, do you have any interesting ideas for things to do during May half term?

Days Out: Finding Fantastic Mr Fox at the Farm

This year Tatton Park in Cheshire have a full programme of events to celebrate 100 years since the birth of Roald Dahl. Being epic Roald Dahl fans, we hot footed it down to the farm at Tatton Park to see if we could find our friend, The Fantastic Mr Fox.

Fantastic Mr Fox

The farm is a short walk from the main car park at Tatton Park. I have some mobility problems, but it was a virtually flat walk on a good tarmac road and I found it fine, even  in the rain.

At the farm you pay to get in (£6 per adult and £4 per child) and you’re free to explore the farm. We had a good wander around and found cows, pigs and piglets, chickens, ducks, chicks, rabbits, orphan lambs, goats (lots of cheeky goats), horses and much more. There are a large number of permanent displays and things to do at the farm which make it good value to visit anyway. 

This year they’ve added a few fabulous features to fit in the Fantastic Mr Fox theme. When you enter the farm you’re given a map to help you explore and find Fantastic Mr Fox’s Den. Dotted in and around the farm are a few key features from the famous Roald Dahl story. Can you find Farmer Bunce’s Duck & Goose Shed? Farmer Bean’s Secret Cider Cellar or Farmer Boggis’s Kitchen? There’s also a craft room where you can shelter from the rain and design an invitation to Mr Fox’s scrumdiddlyumptous feast.

Fantastic Mr Fox

After you’ve explored the farm and (spoiler alert) failed to find the den, there’s only one more place to look, and that’s the Woodland Playground. The Woodland Playground is a great little spot to let the kids run wild. There’s a storytelling circle, an insect hotel, a den building corner and an adventure playground to explore and conquer. The small boy loved it and set to work building a den of his own. 

We managed to spot a fox’s tail hanging from a tree and following the signs found Fantastic Mr Fox’s Den. You could clamber inside and have a little sit down if you wanted, but the boy wasn’t keen, there was too much adventure going on elsewhere!

Fantastic Mr Fox

We had gone to Tatton Park wanting to explore a few of the Roald Dahl attractions, but we had far too much fun at the farm and didn’t have time to look at anything else – a treat we’ll save for another day.

To our shame we’d not read any of the Roald Dahl stories to the small boy (now aged 5), so we picked up a copy of Fantastic Mr Fox from the farm shop, took it home and began reading it together that night. We all loved it. It was nice to re-visit a story I’ve not read for *coughs* 30 years, and it was even nicer to read it to my boy who loved it as much as we did. 

The farm at Tatton Park is great, but it does have one failing – there’s no cafe so you can’t get a hot drink and have a sit down. You can buy crisps and biscuits etc from the farm shop, but it was a cold wet day and I was desperate for a hot mug of tea. So maybe take a flask if you’re just visiting the farm.

The small boy does enjoy a visit to the farm and this was even more special because we were looking for Fantastic Mr Fox. I think this is a marvellous addition and a real must for Roald Dahl fans. We are really looking forward to going back and exploring what else Tatton Park has to offer Roald Dahl fans this year.

A seriously good facial at Beauty Bee, Bramhall

When Beauty Bee opened in Bramhall a few months ago, I started to hear from friends how good it was. As something of a facial addict I decided to book myself in for a treat and to see if the buzz about Beauty Bee was correct.

Located at Moorend Golf Driving Range in Bramhall, it might at first glance seem to be an unconventional location for beauty treatments, but Beauty Bee offer a selection of deep tissue and sports massages to the golfers, as well as a full range of beauty and pampering treatments to non-sporting types too. Once you are in the Beauty Bee treatment room you’d never guess you were in a golf club and it has the benefit of having more than ample free parking too.

Beauty Bee

On arrival Abby greeted me and escorted me into her treatment room, it was warmly decorated and very comfortable. We sat and chatted about my skin and if it had any problems, then she left the room while I got undressed and I made myself comfortable on the treatment table. Abby wrapped me in towels and a blanket and offered to put the heated blanket on for me, but I was warm and comfortable enough without it.

I’d booked myself in for the Prescription Facial (£30) and Abby took a good look at my skin. It’s fairly normal, combination skin which is a bit dehydrated around the eyes and starting to show a bit of wear and tear (I am 40 this year so it’s time I started looking my age, if not acting it occasionally).

Abby explained that she would be using products from The Potion Shop, a Manchester based company who make organic and paraben free skincare products.

Beauty Bee

It was at this point I largely zoned out and just relaxed into my treatment. I was aware that for the best part of 45 minutes I was being pampered to death. My skin was exfoliated, massaged and treated to hot towels and lots of TLC. Towards the end of my facial, Abby applied a face mask and put chamomile and lavender soaked pads on my eyes whilst she gave my hands and forearms a massage. It was blissful.

My skin felt amazing and was really glowing. As you can see from the before and after photographs below, my skin is a much more even tone, it’s less shiny and I look incredibly relaxed afterwards.

Beauty Bee

The treatment lasted just under an hour and it was an excessively good pampering. Abby clearly loves her job and is very passionate about what she does. I can really recommend Beauty Bee and the prescription facial, I adored my treatment, the look on my face in the second photo is all you really need to know – I will definitely be booking to go back again soon!

SPECIAL OFFER: Maternity Mondays at Beauty Bee – 30% off all treatments if you are on maternity leave and book in on a Monday. 

Beauty Bee is at Moorend Golf Driving Range, 177 Woodford Rd, Bramhall, Stockport, Cheshire SK7 1QE Phone: 07876 032125. You can find Beauty Bee on Facebook. They also offer treatments on selected days at The University of Manchester.

What’s On: Roald Dahl’s Tremendous Adventures at Tatton Park

Growing up I was an avid reader, I’d devour book after book and my favourite author was most definitely Roald Dahl. His books always filled my head with extraordinary tales, and as he wrote in James and the Giant Peach – “a  little magic can take you a long way”. This year to celebrate 100 years since the birth of Roald Dahl, Tatton Park in Cheshire are embarking on a magical journey to celebrate his works.

From Easter until the end of 2016, Tatton Park is is bringing Roald Dahl’s imagination to life, with a host of children’s trails and events for all the family. Join Danny the Champion of the World in the gardens, Fantastic Mr Fox at the farm and Matilda in the mansion and you’ve got to be careful of The Enormous Crocodile out in the parkland!

Tatton Park

I can’t wait to take my son to explore and discover the world of Roald Dahl, we’ll be visiting next weekend so do keep an eye out for our review. In the meantime here’s a run down of what’s going on at Tatton Park this year.

Roald Dahl at Tatton Park Events include –

Cover to Cover: Roald Dahl around the World  Sat 19 Mar – Sun 30 Oct
A fascinating mansion exhibition displaying illustrations of Roald Dahl book jackets from across the world and throughout time.

Phiz Whizzing Trails: Fri 25 Mar – Sun 2 Oct
Danny the Champion of the World in the Gardens
Fantastic Mr Fox at the Farm
Matilda in the Mansion
The Enormous Crocodile in the Parkland

Fantastic Mr Fox Activities at the Farm Tue 26 Jul – Fri 26 Aug
Mr Fox invites you to spend the most marvellous summer day joining him in a farmyard packed with fun. Go on a journey to find the den, get creative in the writing hut, be entertained, listen in to storytelling and enjoy one of your best days ever!

Danny the Champion of the World Outdoor Theatre at the Old Hall *Sat Aug 27
Enjoy this thrilling family performance of Danny the Champion of the World as he masterminds the most incredible and exciting plot to save his Dad from danger.

Roald Dahl Big Picnic Day Sun Sep 11
Pack a picnic and come and celebrate the month Roald Dahl, the world’s best storyteller, was born. Bags of activities to make for a splendiferous time.

Willy Wonka Outdoor Cinema* Sun Sep 11
A late summer screening of  Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory starring the legendary Gene Wilder as Wonka. Grab your golden ticket and bring a picnic.*

A Frightsome Halloween Sat 22 – Sun 30 Oct
“Witches are easily the most dangerous of all the living creatures on earth.” This half -term be spooktaculary entertained by a park full of Roald Dahl witchy mischief….and plenty of mice!

A Gloriumptious Christmas Mansion* late November – December
“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it”. Step into the Christmas mansion and into Roald Dahl’s magical world as his extraordinary storytelling weaves itself through the grand staterooms and into the bustling servants’ quarters.

It looks like it’s going to be a jam-packed whizzpopping year of all things Roald Dahl – I can’t wait to explore and reminisce and I’m looking forward to taking the small boy on some fictional adventures and into a world of pure imagination. 
Tatton Park

Days Out: Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire

Most people will be familiar with the Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire as the place where Stargazing Live is filmed. Jodrell Bank is owned and run by the University of Manchester and it is the home of the Lovell Telescope, the third largest steerable radio telescope in the world. It is open to the public and has a lovely new visitors centre as well as exhibits and gardens to explore, as well as the chance to have a look at the Lovell Telescope up close and personal.

We visited Jodrell Bank one sunny but bitterly cold day in February. It’s not actually that easy to find as the signposting is few and far between, but if you look for the giant telescope and head towards that you’ll eventually find it (or just use sat nav like normal people). There was ample parking in the car park and it cost £7 per adult and £4.95 per child to get in, which we felt was good value for money.

The visitors centre is not huge, it houses the cafe, shop, reception and a display room with information about various parts of the universe as well as a clockwork Orrery, something I’d never seen before but instantly wanted to have one in my house. An Orrery is a mechanical model of the solar system. There was a handle at child height which we turned and watched the planets and the moons on the ceiling move around. It was something quite special and we spent a lot of time looking at it and talking about the planets.

Jodrell Bank

From the visitors centre we went outside, there were gardens to explore, but as it was very cold we decided to head straight for the outdoor science experiments area. There were a number of large scale experiments to try, each with a plaque explaining what to do. We particularly liked the “Whispering Dishes” or parabolic reflectors, two dishes opposite each other, but some distance apart, one person would whisper into the dish and the other could hear it. It was brilliant and very popular. 

Jodrell Bank

We were close to the base of the telescope, there is a large fence around it so you can’t actually go and touch it, but you can get very close. The Lovell Telescope is huge and the dish measures 78 metres across, I was in awe of the size of it, even though I remember visiting as a child.

Jodrell Bank

Having spent around an hour outside conducting experiments in the cold, we headed into the Space Pavilion to have a look at some of the indoor exhibits and to discover how the scientists at Jodrell Bank use radio telescopes to learn more about distant objects in space. 

Jodrell Bank

There were lots of hands on exhibits to look at and play about with, as well as a little room where you could sit and watch a film about space. The boys loved it in here, the was lots for them to look at and learn about. I felt the Space Pavilion would have benefited from having someone there to help explain and demonstrate some of the exhibits, but I like to have things explained to me. 

Jodrell Bank

After a few hours exploring we felt ready for a hot cup of tea and some cake, sadly the Planet Pavilion Cafe was heaving, so we headed to the shop to buy some space souvenirs and experiments we could try at home, then hopped in the car and left.

Jodrell Bank

We’d had an especially lovely afternoon at Jodrell Bank. We’d explored both the observatory and the outer edges of the universe, learned a little bit about science and got some fresh air. It was a great afternoon out and we are planning to return in the summer when it’s a bit warmer.

For more information about Jodrell Bank visit their website.

Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, The University of Manchester, Macclesfield, Cheshire, Sk11 9DL

Days Out: Etherow Country Park, Stockport

Last week, one particularly sunny day we hopped in the car and went to Etherow Country Park, located on the far flung edges of Stockport. We’d not been before but we’d heard that it was well worth a visit for a walk, and if we went on a weekend there was a high chance we’d get to see the boating lake in action.

We arrived just before lunch and parked (pay and display, but not ruinously expensive). The boy and I wandered over to the lake to check out the local bird life, there was the usual selection of Canada geese, ducks, some swans and a few more colourful interlopers. There were also three little model yachts pootling about on the lake which were quite fun to watch.

etherow country park

We watched the birds and the boats for a while, there were lots of small children throwing bread for the ducks, but proper duck food is available from the little garden centre near the cafe if you forget your own.

We decided to walk down the path to the weir and back around the lake. For the most part the path is tarmac or firm ground and is accessible. The path runs along a small waterway so you can watch the wildlife and waterlife as you walk. There are lots of ancient ferns, undergrowth and interesting bushes and trees all around and it’s clearly a popular spot for local families and dog walkers alike.

Walking up to the weir you pass a few reminders of the industrial heritage of the site, Etherow Country Park was once a thriving cotton mill and various bits of machinery and gears remain. You can hear the weir from some distance away, the roar of the water is something to behold and I can’t help but think Stockport Council are missing out on a trick here, not making use of the water power at the weir. 

Etherow Country Park

Walking back to the car park we decided to skirt around the other side of the lake, by that time a few yachts were out catching the wind. The lake is surrounded by beautiful views all around and even in bleak but sunny February it was breathtaking, you’d never know you were so close to civilisation!

By the time we’d got back to where we’d started, the boys were hungry, so whilst I went to the garden centre to pick up some plants, they popped into the busy cafe for coffee and sandwiches.

We’d enjoyed our morning out, the walk is a good length for a five year old, with enough to interest them along the way. The walk we did was not long, but you can walk up beyond the weir and explore the woodland further up if you want. We’ll be returning later on in the spring for another walk up to the weir.

Etherow Country Park & Local Nature Reserve, George St, Compstall, Stockport. SK6 5JD