Category Archives: Days Out

15 Fantastic things to do in Blackpool

Living in Manchester and having been a semi regular visitor to Blackpool since I was in a pram, so I like to think I know the town reasonably well. We recently visited the area for a weekend of glamping, so I’ve compiled a list of some good stuff to do in the area.

The Blackpool Tower – the tower is such an iconic place to visit. I always like to race up to the top to see how far I can see. The tower is packed with attractions and things to do, you can happily spend a whole day here.

The Sandcastle Waterpark – don’t forget your trunks! The Sandcastle is a brilliant place to spend the day with the family, riding the slides and splashing about.

Blackpool Tower Dungeon – Not for small children, but if you love being spooked, a visit to the dungeon is a must.

Blackpool SEA LIFE Centre – being beside the sea, this SEA LIFE Centre gives visitors a great, and often hands on idea about the creatures which lurk beneath the waves.

The Ultimate Review Round up of Merlin Attractions in the UK

Madame Tussauds Blackpool – a rainy day activity for sure! Visit all your favourite famous faces, and have a drink in the replica Rovers Return.

The Blackpool Tower Circus – the show changes every year, but it’s always funny, frivolous and fabulous. It’s a brilliant family show in a beautiful theatre.

Coral Island (other arcades are available) – I can never resist a trip to an arcade, it’s a great place to spend up your loose change and win a few prizes with the family.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach – spend a day riding the roller-coasters at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Classic seaside fun!

Blackpool Zoo – one of the best zoos in the UK, Blackpool Zoo has everything from a children’s farm, to elephants and sealions.

Blackpool Rail Trail and Walk – For keen walkers and explorers, the Rail Trail sounds excellent. The Rail Trail begins at Blackpool North station and takes you along the streets lined with local shops, down onto the Promenade and beyond. It’s a great way to explore the area and see things you might usually miss.

Blackpool Comedy Carpet – the comedy carpet is probably my favourite place to visit in Blackpool. It’s 2,200 metres square of comedy quotes from 1000 of our favourite comedians. Every time I visit I seem to find something I’d not seen before. It’s a real treat and is located in front of the Tower on the Promenade.

15 Fantastic things to do in Blackpool

Blackpool Lifeboat Station – The Lifeboat Station is on the Central Promenade. It’s one of only two RNLI stations to house three inshore lifeboats – an Atlantic 85 and two D class lifeboats. There’s a visitors centre and shop and a visit to the lifeboat station is a great place to learn more about this lifesaving charity.

Blackpool Illuminations – Were you even brought up in the north if you didn’t go and see the illuminations. Bigger, brighter and better each year, the illuminations are a solid tradition.

Heritage Tram Tours  – take a ride along the world famous tramway aboard a piece of moving history! It’s a fun way to see the sights aboard one of their vintage trams.

Marton Mere Nature Reserve – a short drive from the town, but a must for nature lovers, Marton Mere Nature Reserve. There’s an otter enclosure, pond dipping zone, an inspirational eco-garden and the opportunity to enjoy close-up encounters with around 100 species of international water-birds as they swim, feed and wander in wetlands custom-designed to mimic their natural homes.

Blackpool is so much more than these 15 attractions and things to do I’ve picked out. Have I missed any must see things? Please comment below to add to the list!

15 Fantastic things to do in Blackpool

Days Out: Aysgarth Falls, North Yorkshire

Over half term we went glamping for a couple of days in North Yorkshire. It was a blissful few days and we were blown away by the natural beauty of the area. We were keen to take in as much of nature’s beauty as we could, so we hopped in the car and drove to Aysgarth Falls.

Aysgarth Falls are in Leyburn, North Yorkshire and are a set of three magnificent waterfalls on the River Ure. The falls cascade over the series of broad limestone steps which are divided into three stages; Upper Force, Middle Force and Lower Force. We didn’t really know what to expect as we’d just seen them listed as a nice walk in the glamping site welcome booklet; so we laced up our walking boots, set the sat nav and drove there.

Days Out: Aysgarth Falls, North Yorkshire

We were unsure where to park; so we drove through the village and up to a cafe and car park over the top of the falls. There is a car park which overlooks St Andrew’s Church, a Grade II listed parish church which is known for its unusually large churchyard. The church has a number of fittings that were rescued from Jervaulx Abbey at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. When we arrived there was a public event on at the church, but we were keen to see the falls so we didn’t go in.

We walked down the road to the top of the falls; the pavement really narrows off here, so if you have small children it’s worth keeping them close. Crossing the bridge over the River Ure, you can find a footpath which is you turn left takes you to the Upper Force; turn right and you find the official car park, a visitors centre and tea room, and the path to the middle and lower falls.

Days Out: Aysgarth Falls, North Yorkshire

We took the path to the Upper Force, a couple of minutes walk and the path opens up to a beautiful sight. When it’s been raining the falls thunder with cascading water; but it had been fairly dry recently, so it lacked the promised power. It was however still very lovely. These are the only falls you can paddle in; and families were walking across the shallows in wellies or bare feet.

The Upper Force are a fine spot for a picnic too. I’d popped to a bakery in Bedale on the way, so we had a selection of sandwiches and baked goods to tuck into. Disappointingly not everyone tidies up after themselves, so there was a bit of litter about, which was a shame considering the amount of natural beauty we were surrounded by.

After our picnic, we walked up river a little. It was very peaceful and away from the paddling families there were birds and insects and peace. Plus a chance to skim stones on the glassy river and so much beauty.

Days Out: Aysgarth Falls, North Yorkshire

We decided that we would walk down and see the middle and lower falls. We weren’t sure how long it would take, but we were in no rush. Following the footpath, we passed the visitors centre, crossed a road and entered the woodland through a gate. The walk through the woods is well signposted, with a nice path which is suitable for buggies. Wheelchair users will find accessing some areas a bit tricky though as there are some steps.

We walked down to the lower falls first, figuring we would catch the middle falls on the way back. This turned out to be a great idea. We followed the footpath down towards the bottom; there was a viewing platform where you can get great views of the lower force. Further along you can get closer to the falls, but the stone is uneven and I didn’t want to risk a fall. The boys scampered around with confidence though. To return to the path, you can either go back the way you came or climb a flight of steps. It’s quicker to climb the steps if you are able.

Returning to the path, you head back the way you came; after a few minutes walk you will find the middle force, which again is down a set of steps to the viewing platform. If you don’t want to tackle the steps, you can still get a fine view from the footpath.

Days Out: Aysgarth Falls, North Yorkshire

There are benches and places to rest along the footpath. Once you’ve done the walk, you have earned the right to tea and cake at the tea shop at the Visitors Centre. The Visitors Centre itself is well worth a visit. There are displays and information about the geology of the falls and surrounding area; as well as information about the wildlife of the area.

The walk is a fairly easy one. My 8 year old didn’t complain and enjoyed the woodland walk and seeing Aysgarth Falls. It was fine for me too, though I was cautious walking over the stone near the falls. We all loved visiting one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the UK.

For more information, visit the Aysgarth Falls National Park Centre website.

Days Out: Aysgarth Falls, North Yorkshire

Five Family Festivals for Summer 2019

AD/ Summer is coming and festival season will very soon be upon us. We love nothing more than packing up for the weekend and heading off to a festival somewhere. Immersing ourselves in music, theatre, arts and culture of all kinds is just a brilliant way to spend a family weekend. I’ve picked out five family festivals for summer 2019.

Timber Festival – 5th, 6th and 7th July, National Forest at Feanedock

The 2018 Timber Festival was really special. There was a huge moon in the woods, amazing music, storytelling around the campfire. The boy went on adventures, climbed trees, built a den, explored and grew in so many ways. It was an experience we are very keen to repeat, so we’re going again this year.

What to expect at Timber Festival 2019

The festival programme has just been released and it looks fantastic. There’s something for everyone, I’m especially looking forward to slipping into a hot tub in the woods, then checking out the willow maze, the woodland cinema, some of the great music and woodland crafts going on. My son will love stories by the campfire, foraging for food and just generally kicking back and enjoying some time off grid in the woods. You can read our full preview here.

Bluedot Festival – 18th – 21st July, Jodrell Bank, Cheshire

Bluedot is an awesome four-day spectacular combining music, science, cosmic culture and more beneath the Lovell Telescope. The headliners include Kraftwerk 3-D, New Order and Hot Chip, ground-breaking sets from the Grammy-nominated likes of Jon Hopkins and Tokimonsta, science and culture talks from Liz Bonnin, Helen Pankhurst, Jim Al-Khalili and Tom Shakespeare, and much more. As well as top-notch music, there are all kinds of brilliant family things to do. You can find the full line up here.

Deer Shed Festival, 26th, 27th & 28th July, North Yorkshire

I know several people who go to Deer Shed every year and absolutely rave about it. Deer Shed is three days of family friendly music, comedy, sports, arts and science in North Yorkshire. It’s almost sold out for this year, but you can find more information here, and maybe bag the last remaining tickets!

Making Marvellous Memories at Just So Festival 2018

Just So Festival – 16th, 17th & 18th August, Rode Hall Estate, Cheshire

We’ve been Just So enthusiasts for as long as we can remember and this year sees the Wild Rumpus team celebrate their 10th Just So Festival. Just So is an incredibly special place, it’s a really laid back, brilliant family festival, with so much going on for all ages.

There’s always too much going on to cram into three days, but there are a few completely unmissable things, such as; Hope and Social, Bushcraft in the Spellbound Forest, The Moth Hotel, Circus Skills, Family Yoga, the Rowing Boats, Bollywood Dancing, David Gibb, Ghost Caribou, Bubble Hour, Midnight Feast, Ministry of Games and the biggest ever game of Pass the Parcel! You can read our full preview here.

Lakes Alive – 6th – 8th September, Kendal

Lakes Alive is a free annual festival centered around Kendal in the Lake District. We went along for the day last year and we were astounded at the amount of free events available during the festival. This year’s Lakes Alive promises to be a weekend of amazing installations, vibrant illuminations, intimate performances and digital delights. If you’re in the area, do make a point of going along. You can read our review of last year’s festival here.

Days Out: Exploring the Lakes Alive Festival

What family festivals will you be going to this summer? I’d love to hear where you’re off to, please do comment below!

Disclosure: I have included some festivals we will be going to where we have been given complimentary tickets in exchange for a review. 

Five Family Festivals for Summer 2019

Days Out: The Castle, Bude in Cornwall

Despite the name, The Castle isn’t actually a castle, but a fine building located close to the beach in Bude, Cornwall. It’s more of a heritage centre than anything else; but one worth visiting if you’re interested in the history of the area.

The Castle was built by and was the home of noted Cornishman, Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, who was a pioneering engineer and inventor; surgeon, chemist, lecturer, consultant, architect and builder in the Victorian era. In 1830 he set about building a new house in the sand hills of Summerleaze Beach. The house was built on an innovative concrete raft foundation; making it the first building of its kind in the UK. The house still stands today, though it has been extended and converted into the art gallery and heritage centre.

Days Out: The Castle, Bude in Cornwall

The Castle is free to enter and contains displays and information about Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, shipwrecks and the history of lifesaving in the area. Battles and the English Civil War, the Bude Canal and Railway and the geology of the area. There is a really interesting display bout the second world war too. I really like that the building is packed full of history, right up to the present day. There’s a lot packed in and it’s a fine way to spend an hour or two.

Downstairs there is a large room dedicated to the history of Bude. I especially liked the display which showed how long it takes for litter and plastics to biodegrade. There are also examples of the geology of North Cornwall and my favourite bit, a selection of artefacts from boats which were wrecked in Bude. There’s also a fascinating display about the life of Archie Jewell who was a local boy who worked as a look-out on the Titanic.

Upstairs is the Cafe Limelight; a lovely cafe with panoramic views from its conservatory towards Bude Canal, the harbour and Summerleaze beach. There’s also a good gift shop and two galleries which host an ever-changing exhibition programme showcasing the talents of local artists and craftspeople.

Days Out: The Castle, Bude in Cornwall

It’s a fine place to stop off for a while if you’re visiting Bude. I like to pop in each time I’m in the area for a look around and a cup of coffee in the cafe. It’s obviously a popular hub for local people and the galleries are always worth visiting.

It’s not a castle, so don’t visit with expectations of medieval stonework and tales of kings and queens. What you will find is a good heritage centre full of interesting pieces of local history; a great cafe and a real hub for local artists.

The Castle, Bude is open daily between 10am – 5pm and it’s free to visit. It’s located at The Wharf, Bude, EX23 8LG. For more information, visit their website.

What to expect at Timber Festival 2019

AD/ Last year the first ever Timber Festival was held in the beautiful and unique surroundings of the National Forest at Feanedock. It was three days of music, arts, creativity and philosophy in the woods. Timber Festival 2019 is returning this year on 5th, 6th and 7th July, and we are excited to be going along for the ride!

Timber is located at Feanedock, a 70 acre woodland site in the Midlands. The woodland has been transformed from a former coalfield to be part of the first forest to be created in England for over 1,000 years. It’s a truly unique site and it’s growing by the day.

What to expect at Timber Festival 2019

The 2018 Timber Festival was really special; there was a huge moon in the woods, amazing music, storytelling around the campfire; the boy went on adventures, climbed trees, built a den, explored and grew in so many ways. It was an experience we are very keen to repeat, so we’re going again this year.

The festival is divided into eight distinct areas; The Eyrie Stage, Field Notes, As the Crow Flies, Elemental, Halcyon Days, Shivelight, The Canopy and The Common. Each area has its own thing going on, so for example, the Eyrie Stage is dedicated to the best in spoken word and live music and in Halcyon Days you’ll find all kinds of circus skills and woodland games.

If you’re planning on going to Timber as a family with children, then your plan for the weekend will probably be very different to an adult group.  Last year there were a number of really memorable things which we all loved; I’m pleased to see a lot of them back again this year.

What to expect at Timber Festival 2019

Unmissable things to do at Timber Festival 2019!

Bushcraft Survival – Discover your inner Bear Grylls in these handy workshops!

Visit the Perfectly Edible Binner Table for ‘Binner’. They will be cooking up a vibrant 2-Course Dinner made entirely out of food that would otherwise have been sent to landfill.

Foraging for Modern Humans will show you how to do it safely and ethically and explores why she believes that foraging is still important for 21st century living.

Visit Shivelight and relax with some Laughter Yoga; Tai Chi; Reiki or Forest Bathing; or just chill out with a book in the Woodland Library.

Shimmer in the Elemental area is an immersive diffusion system includes a 12-channel sound experience that uses copper-alloy cymbals as speakers to control the intensity of light to manipulate pattern and shapes.

Families would enjoy the Willow Maze and the Woodland Cinema, both in the Elemental area.

What to expect at Timber Festival 2019

Inside the As the Crow Flies area, you’ll find storytelling legend, Ian Douglas perched around the campfire telling his tall tales. For a bit of mad science, Dieter Wadeson is hilarious and dangerous in equal measure. If you are around the campfire as the night draws in, get your toes tapping to the Campfire Bands.

Visit the Moth Hotel have a go one the Giant Marble Run. There are also Slacklines to balance on, trees to climb and the ever popular Hammer & Chisel area, where kids can get building.

The Eyrie Stage was a bit of a hidden gem last year. Tucked away in the woodland, this stage was really popular with an eclectic mix of music and artists. This year you can enjoy BBC Radio 3’s Elizabeth Alker curating the Saturday programme; The Coal Tits; The Screeching Bluejays; Woodland DJs; MUHA and The Roots Community Choir.

In Field Notes, you’ll find the best of nature writing, storytelling and cutting edge ideas; from Stuart Maconie talking about writing his book, The Long Road from Jarrow; Gwenno who is Single-handedly raising the profile of the Cornish language and music from Another Sky, Otto & The Mutapa Calling and Cut A Shine.

What to expect at Timber Festival 2019

There are a million more things to see and do at Timber Festival; and new acts are being added all the time. To see the full line up and for more information about Timber Festival, visit the website.

Timber Festival 2019 will take place on 5/6/7 July 2019; at Feanedock, near Ashby de la Zouch, in the National Forest.

Disclosure: We been offered tickets to the Timber Festival 2019 in exchange for a preview and an honest review.

Days Out: Visiting Barley Hall, Medieval House, York

A couple of weeks ago we went to York for the day and we really packed a lot of history into our time there. As well as visiting the JORVIK Viking Centre, one of the things we did was visit Barley Hall; a medieval townhouse tucked away in the back streets of York.

Barley Hall is a reconstructed medieval townhouse which was originally built around 1360 by the monks of Nostell Priory near Wakefield. Later it became a high status residence in York.

Days Out: Visiting Barley Hall, Medieval House, York

The first record of the Snawsell family living in Barley Hall in 1466. The Hall was the residence of someone of a very high status, and William Snawsell was a goldsmith and coiner, and later the Lord Mayor. In his household lived his wife and three children, who were attended to by around 12 servants. Barley Hall was later split into separate dwellings in the 16th or 17th century. Eventually it was bought by York Archaeological Trust in 1987 and restoration work began.

When Barley Hall was restored in 1987, York Archaeological Trust modeled the Hall on the household of the Snawsell family during the reign of Richard III. The Hall has high ceilings, exposed beams and replica furnishings throughout.

Days Out: Visiting Barley Hall, Medieval House, York

Today it is a popular museum for visitors and school children to learn more about domestic life in the medieval period. I really enjoy learning about domestic history, about how people lived and what they ate; so a visit to Barley Hall was right up my street.

The Great Hall is the biggest and most splendid room at Barley Hall. The family would sit at the raised table at the front of the Hall; with lower status people taking their place on the side tables.

Days Out: Visiting Barley Hall, Medieval House, York

My favourite areas were where the servants worked. The dairy and the larder were really interesting to me and I spent some time exploring them. Upstairs Barley Hall currently has a special exhibition – Magic and Mystery. There were lots of interactive activities for children to do, and lots to interest adults as well.

As well as interesting displays, there was a medieval dressing up box; a make your own wand activity and you’re challenged to find the magical properties of plants, stones and wood; plus add the correct stamp in your own booklet which you can take home and keep. I especially liked the section devoted to the uses of herbs for healing and in magic. We certainly learned a few things about medieval magic!

Days Out: Visiting Barley Hall, Medieval House, York

Barley Hall is not huge, but there’s enough to interest and entertain there. It’s great for children as the history is really hands on too. The exhibitions change from time to time, so it’s worth checking before you visit to see what’s on. It really is tucked away in the back streets though, so you might need a map to help you find it.

If you’ve got a little time on your hands and you’re in York, a visit to Barley Hall is an hour or two well spent!

For more information about Barley Hall, visit the website.

Days Out: Visiting Barley Hall, Medieval House, York

More than 10 reasons to go to Just So Festival 2019

AD/ This year the Just So Festival celebrates 10 years of festivaling in the UK. The Just So Festival has been a summer highlight for us for many years. Each year the festival gets bigger, better and bolder. They’ve just released their 2019 festival programme, so I’ve picked out slightly more than ten excellent reasons to go to the Just So Festival 2019.

More than 10 reasons to go to Just So Festival 2019

More than 10 reasons to go to Just So Festival 2019

1/The Tribal Tournament

Underpinning the whole of the Just So Festival, the Tribal Tournament is an excellent excuse to dress up and buzz like a bumblebee, strut like a stag or flounce like a fox, or a fish. Each tribe picks up points over the weekend and only one team will be crowned kings of Just So 2019.  Pick from owls, foxes, frogs, stags, lions, bees or fish. Dress up, or not, it’s all good fun. We’ve been bees the last two years, will we still be buzzing this year?

2/Campfire Stories with Ian Douglas

For me, the campfire is the beating heart of Just So. It’s a wonderful place to gather around the fire, listening to Ian’s seemingly endless repertoire of stories and chilling out for an hour or so. There’s always something going on around the campfire, see what tickles your fancy and plan a couple of visits there each day, you won’t regret it!

More than 10 reasons to go to Just So Festival 2019

3/Silent Disco

The Silent Disco was one of my absolute highlights from last year. Dancing around with our friends and family, all in headphones, all fairly tunelessly singing our hearts out and dancing our socks off. Brilliant fun and genuinely hilarious. Dig out your dancing shoes and get down to the disco!

4/Fire Garden

New for 2019 is the Fire Garden. I’ve seen this at the Timber Festival and it’s an incredible sight. As the sun sets, the new orchard near the Social will be illuminated with an installation of metal and fire. Small cauldrons suspended in wondrous patterns will guide a path through the orchard. It’s a truly wondrous sight, not to be missed!

5/Boutique Camping

We always camp in our trusty tent, but we keep promising ourselves that one year we will push the boat out a little and stay in one of the yurts, bell tents, vintage tents, camping pods or new for this year – a Gypsy bowtop caravan! Although, if boutique camping isn’t for you, camping at Just So is nowhere near slumming it, with hot showers and nice toilets, there’s even a place you can bath your baby!

6/Weleda Treats and Treatments

As a busy mum, I always take time to slip away to the Weleda tent for a pampering hand massage and half an hour of festival tranquility. Visit the Weleda ‘Nice Cream Van’ on the Village Green to discover more about the amazing properties and powers of our native plants.

7/Lantern Parade

Over the weekend, take some time to make your own lantern from willow and paper; then join the lantern parade and light up the woods as you wind through the trees of Rode by night. It’s a beautiful sight and even more exciting if you’re in the thick of it.

8/The Big 10th Birthday Bake Off

Bring your very best homemade cake to the New Curiosity Shop on Friday before 6pm to enter. The best cake will win its baker a family weekend ticket for Just So Festival 2020! All of the entries will then make their way to the volunteer tent, as a special treat for the people who make the festival fabulous.

9/Wonderland

New for 2019 is the Wonderland stage, which first made its appearance at Timber Festival last year. Head into the woods to enjoy author talks, music workshops and night-time DJ sets in the intimate Wonderland area.

More than 10 reasons to go to Just So Festival 2019

10/Hammer & Chisel

Wild play rules at Hammer & Chisel, a unique woodland playground. Under the supervision of our forest play experts, create your own world or add to what’s there using pallets, ladders and ropes; help put together a maze of walkways, dens and secret spaces. Pick up your tool of choice and get ready to build in the brilliant Spellbound Forest.

11/Best of the rest…

At the Just So Festival there’s so much to see and do, there are surprises around every corner and try as you might, it’s impossible to see and do everything you’d like to. Given the chance, you should also seek out Hope and Social, Bushcraft in the Spellbound Forest, The Moth Hotel, Circus Skills, Family Yoga, the Rowing Boats, Bollywood Dancing, David Gibb, Ghost Caribou, Bubble Hour, Midnight Feast, Ministry of Games and the biggest ever game of Pass the Parcel!

More than 10 reasons to go to Just So Festival 2019

Tickets for the Just So Festival special 10th birthday are selling fast. To celebrate its 10th birthday, Just So Festival are offering free weekend tickets to ten year olds. For more information or to book visit www.justsofestival.org.uk.

Just So Festival takes place on 16/17/18 of August 2019 at the Rode Hall Estate, Scholar Green, Cheshire.

Disclosure: We been offered tickets to the Just So Festival 2019 in exchange for a preview and an honest review.

Days Out: Visiting the JORVIK Viking Centre, York

Since it opened in 1984, the JORVIK Viking Centre in York has been a popular place to visit to learn about Viking life. I remember going there on a school trip a few years after it opened. I was really taken with the recreation of a Viking settlement, complete with sounds and smells!

Over half term I took the boy for the day. We were visiting York for the JORVIK Viking Festival and we figured the JORVIK Viking Centre would be a good place to start. We arrived bright and early, which was just as well as on busy days the queue to get in can snake around the square.

Days Out: Visiting the JORVIK Viking Centre, York

When you enter, beyond the ticket office you walk down a flight of stairs (a lift is available) and enter a large room with a glass floor. Underneath the glass floor you can see the remains of the archaeological dig which the site it built upon. Around the walls there are information panels telling the story of the JORVIK Centre and some pieces which they uncovered during the dig.

A guide dressed in Viking clothes welcomed us and talked us through what we were standing on and what you can see through the glass. He also told us about the 2015 flood which filled the centre with water and closed it for almost two years. The JORVIK Viking Centre reopened in 2017. The closure meant that they could refresh and update the centre; so it’s almost how I remembered it, but more modern and a bit better.

After you’ve explored the room with the glass floor, you join a short queue for the Time Warp. This is probably one of the most famous things about JORVIK. You climb into a car and it takes you back to 975 AD to a Viking settlement. There’s commentary to listen to and it takes you through all the sights, sounds and smells of Viking life. There are mannequins which I’m told are now modeled on the faces of actual Vikings; which makes things feel even more authentic.

Days Out: Visiting the JORVIK Viking Centre, York

All life is there in the Time Warp, from women cooking and shopping, and children playing; to butchers and fishermen at work. It really brings the living conditions to life and was a real talking point for my son. The old Time Warp which I remember really stayed with me, and this is no different. It’s a really accessible way of teaching Viking history.

From the Time Warp you move to the artifacts room which has over 800 finds from the site; with interactive displays and the chance to learn about life in the 10th century.  There are several Viking guides to greet you and talk to you about life as a Viking. When you enter the room you’re met by displays of two excavated skeletons, the information about them is incredible. There’s even a piece of fossilised poo on display, gross things always excite the children and this was no different.

There’s an interactive screen where you can learn about Viking musical instruments and listen to them being played. You can also watch Viking money being minted; try on a helmet and find out more about Viking combs; (apparently the Vikings were a tidy bunch, bathing weekly and keeping their hair and beards neat and tidy). There are lots of artifacts to look at, it’s fascinating and I would have liked to have really taken my time to look around it.

Days Out: Visiting the JORVIK Viking Centre, York

Beyond the artifact room is the gift shop, which is excellent. If you manage to leave without buying a Viking shield for an 8 year old, you’re a stronger person than me.

The JORVIK Viking Centre is an excellent way to bring history to life for children. It’s really well done and I’m pleased that it has been brought up to date following the flood. The 12 minute long Time Warp is the real attraction here. It’s the kind of thing I’d like to do twice, just to see the things I missed the first time. I know that visiting the JORVIK Viking Centre will really help my 8 year old’s understanding of the period, and that’s never a bad thing.

For more information about JORVIK Viking Centre in York, visit their website.

Days Out: Visiting the JORVIK Viking Centre, York

Days Out: Visiting the JORVIK Viking Festival

Vikings are very much the flavour of the month in our house. We’ve been doing a lot of reading about Vikings, and the boy is learning about them at school. What better way to bring some Viking learning to life than to take a trip to York and visit the JORVIK Viking Festival.

The JORVIK Viking Festival takes place every February, and the start of the festival fell during our half term. This year the JORVIK Viking Festival runs from 20 – 27 February 2019. It’s a family friendly festival and the largest event of its kind in Europe. There are historic encampments, talks, tours, combat displays and much more, all during half term week. This year the festival has a special focus on the untold story of women in the Viking age.

Days Out: Visiting the JORVIK Viking Festival

We arrived in York bright and early on the second day of the festival. Parking near the JORVIK Viking Centre, we were surprised at just how busy it was so early in the day. Just after 9am there were queues stretching around the courtyard to get into the Jorvik Centre. If you are planning to go, it’s probably an idea to pre-book fast track tickets beforehand.

Visiting the JORVIK Viking Centre is a great place to start. The Viking guides talk you and walk you through the archaeological dig; you go on a time travel ride which takes you through a Viking village and all life within it; and there’s a fascinating artifacts gallery to explore.

During the JORVIK Viking Festival, there are a number of areas within York where you will find Viking goings on. All of the events and activities are listed on the website, but we picked up a booklet which listed everything and had a map, and we found that much easier to follow.

Days Out: Visiting the JORVIK Viking Festival

From the JORVIK Viking Centre we went to nearby Parliament Street where the Viking Encampment was located. The encampment is set up with Viking stalls, where you can watch craftsmen make wooden bowls, jewellery and Viking combs, as well as blacksmiths at work and even a Viking tattooist. At one end is a large tent where little ones can try their hands at making some Viking crafts. There’s even a Viking long-boat to have a look at. We really loved this area and returned to it several times during the day, the boy and I especially liked watching the wooden bowl making.

Days Out: Visiting the JORVIK Viking Festival

Before lunch, we visited Barley Hall, which is tucked away in the backstreets of York. Barley Hall is a reconstructed medieval townhouse which was originally built around 1360 by the monks of Nostell Priory near Wakefield. Extended in the 15th century; Barley Hall went into a slow decline and was eventually bought by the York Archaeological Trust in 1987 and restored into the museum we see today.

It’s a really interesting museum, and during the Viking Festival, it is playing host to a number of special events and exhibits. We went along to see the Seers and Shamans: Magic in the Viking Age exhibit. There were lots of interactive activities for children to do, and lots to interest adults. It’s such an interesting museum, especially if you’re interested in domestic history.

Moving on from Barley Hall, we headed over to the St Sampson’s Square Stage to watch a Viking Shield Maiden do battle with a Viking Warrior. This was really interesting and my boy loved watching them battle. They battled and then talked us through each move and why they’d made each move. We learned a lot about how Vikings fought, and it was good to see some axe wielding and sword swinging close up.

Days Out: Visiting the JORVIK Viking Festival

We’d filled a whole day with Viking Festival fun, but somehow we’d hardly scratched the surface. There was so much more that we wanted to do and we were all regretting not booking a hotel for the night and staying another day. Next year perhaps.

The programme of events for the JORVIK Viking Festival is packed and varied; with something for every kind of Viking enthusiast. If you’re visiting it’s worth deciding beforehand what you can’t miss and what you’d like to see and do. Book ahead for anything the programme recommends you book for and do spend some time on Parliament Street, it’s brilliant.

The full programme of events for this years JORVIK Viking Festival is available at  www.jorvikvikingfestival.co.uk

 

Days Out: Visiting the JORVIK Viking Festival

Read my preview of the 2019 JORVIK Viking Festival here.

Days Out: Taking a tour of Ordsall Hall, Salford

Last week I took some time out, met up with some friends and took a tour of Ordsall Hall in Salford. I’d been once before, during the summer to one of their outdoor theatre events. I’d had a very quick look around, but I knew I had to go back and have a proper look. I was not disappointed.

Days Out: Taking a tour of Ordsall Hall, Salford

Ordsall Hall is a Grade 1 listed Tudor manor house which was first recorded in 1177. Since then, it has been home to Medieval and Tudor nobility, butchers, farmers, and Earl, an artist, priests, mill workers, cows and even several ghosts! It has an incredibly rich history and as a result is a fascinating family museum. There are rooms laid out as they would have been many hundreds of years ago, a cafe and some absolutely stunning organic gardens.

When you first enter the grounds, you’re greeted with the sight of the stunning Tudor manor house. There are quatrefoils (the white motif which looks like four circles overlapping) covering much of the exterior and lots of ancient carvings in the woodwork. The detail carries on inside.

Days Out: Taking a tour of Ordsall Hall, Salford

From the reception area, you walk into the impressive Great Hall, which is a glorious space. The walls are covered with original wooden paneling, the windows include a stunning oriel window which dates from around 1600. There are also two huge but relatively modern windows which were installed in 1897 by the then owner, Earl Edgerton of Tatton.

From the Great Hall, you can explore the Star Chamber, a bedroom with an intricately carved four poster bed and a ceiling covered in brass stars. The bed itself was the wedding bed of Sir John Radclyffe.  The room is quite lovely and thanks to the guides, we learned that the marks on the fireplace were where previous inhabitants had sharpened their swords.

Days Out: Taking a tour of Ordsall Hall, Salford

Upstairs we were led into the Solar Room which would have been where the lady of the house slept and spent her day. As the name suggests, the room is really light and bright. There’s another four poster bed and a wardrobe full of period costume, which visitors are encouraged to try on. This room is very hands on and children especially are encouraged to explore.

Upstairs from the Solar Room what is known as the Coat of Arms Room; this is because there is a huge stone coat of arms above the fireplace. The room was originally where the wet nurse would have slept. Again, it’s a lovely light room which they’ve decorated with wallpaper recreated from a scrap they found when they were renovating the hall. Every room is heaving with history.

Along the corridor from the Solar Room is the Italian Plaster Room. This is not open to the public, but it had a glass door so you can look inside. The room is named for it’s ornate Italian plaster ceiling which dates from around 1380. The impressive geometric plaster ceiling is the work of Venetian artists and it’s incredibly beautiful.

From there we made our way to the kitchens which were constructed in around 1600. The kitchens feature recreations of the cooking implements and the food they would have prepared and eaten. This was an especially interesting part of the building because I’m interested in the history of food.

Days Out: Taking a tour of Ordsall Hall, Salford

Climbing the staircase near the kitchens, you make your way to the attic where the servants would have slept. There’s a noticeable change in the temperature and quality of the original construction. There are two large-ish attic spaces, each with a small fireplace in. They most likely slept dormitory style and would have had very little personal space or privacy.

There are a number of permanent and temporary exhibitions on at Ordsall Hall. It’s well worth visiting the The Frederic Shields Gallery upstairs which has a number of interactive exhibits about the hall, its history and the surrounding area.

Outside there are formal gardens which looked neat and tidy in February, but back in the summer they were lush and very beautiful. There’s a small orchard; a WW1 garden and a lovely lush lawn which is where their outdoor theatre shows are performed.

Ordsall Hall have a full progamme of events for all ages, and regularly run guided tours of the house (£3.50 per person). You can explore by yourself, but going on the guided tour gives you so much more information and insight than you would normally. I found out so much more from the tour guides than I ever would have by just mooching around by myself.

I’m a massive fan of small hidden gems like Ordsall Hall. It’s surrounded by modern houses. If you’ve never visited before, the sight of this Tudor manor house in the middle of a fairly normal looking housing estate in Salford takes your breath away.

It’s also incredibly easy to get to on public transport. I got the tram to Exchange Quay and it’s less than five minutes walk from there. The hall and the grounds are free to visit, and it’s a real treasure. They do rely on donations, so I made sure to put some money in the donations box.

I am wowed by Ordsall Hall. I’m going back over half term with my son to take part in some activities and give him the tour. He’s already excited about the prospect of encountering one of the resident ghosts!

For more information about Ordsall Hall, visit their website.

Days Out: Taking a tour of Ordsall Hall, Salford

Disclosure: Ordsall Hall is free to visit. I have not been compensated for this post; I’ve only written about it because it’s an incredible place to visit. I’m a big history lover. If you love history, you need to visit. It’s free.