Category Archives: Days Out

Days Out: Launceston Castle, North Cornwall

We are frequent visitors to Cornwall and we’ve visited Launceston many times over the years, but we’ve never visited Launceston Castle. The boy has been learning about castles at school, so whilst we were in the area we decided to pay a visit to the castle and learn a bit more about life there.

Days Out: Launceston Castle, North Cornwall

Launceston Castle is in the north Cornish town of Launceston. You can’t miss it, it’s right on the top of a hill and really dominates the surrounding landscape. It is believed there has been a castle on the site for around 1000 years. Launceston Castle was built after the Norman conquest but was redeveloped by Richard, Earl of Cornwall in the 13th century and was originally his administrative headquarters.

Launceston Castle is a motte and bailey style castle. The castle has a fairly unusual design. It has unusual keep consisting of a 13th century round tower which is set within an earlier circular shell-keep. The top of the tower is reached by an internal stone staircase and once you are up there you’ll find breathtaking views of the town and the countryside beyond.

Days Out: Launceston Castle, North Cornwall

Although Launceston Castle doesn’t have any on-site parking, you can park in nearby car parks. You access the castle through the 13th century southern gatehouse which leads you up to the bailey where the ruins of the great hall, kitchen and hall can be seen.

Days Out: Launceston Castle, North Cornwall

Making Marvellous Memories at Just So Festival 2018

At the start of the summer, my Facebook timeline was full of memes about how we only get 18 summers with our children and how we need to make the most of them. This is summer number 8 for us, and the annual highlight of our “making the most of our time together” is always the Just So Festival. It’s three days away together, entirely unplugged; learning, exploring, enjoying and just loving everything the festival has to offer.

The Just So Festival 2018 has had a tiny shake up. All the old favourites were there, but just enough things had changed to keep it fresh for the families like us who come year after year.

Making Marvellous Memories at Just So Festival 2018

Back in July we went to the Timber Festival, run by the people behind Just So, but aimed at a slightly older crowd with more of an ecological bent. There were some really fabulous things at Timber which thankfully made their way to Just So too. Things like The Lost Words, The Moth Hotel, Hammer and Chisel and the Coppice Maze.

A couple of the areas had been jigged about, the (fabulous) Flamingo Lounge was up near the Village Green and seemed more popular than ever. Hurrah for the Pirate King was a surprising but wonderful opera-ballet-pirate mash up with added unicorn. Modern Warrior was a great opportunity for everyone to get involved in a spot of martial arts style dance and The Silent Disco was a particular highlight (do not miss this if it’s on next year).

Making Marvellous Memories at Just So Festival 2018

Down by the lake, there was a re-named area called Roll up! Roll up! which had more of a circus theme. There were circus skills workshops running throughout, trapeze artists, a custard catwalk, the amazing Band at the End of the World and the incredible Bullzini Family running high-wire workshops and putting on a spectacular performance.

Making Marvellous Memories at Just So Festival 2018

I really enjoyed the Idlewood area this year, the Woodland Library had moved in and there were lots of colourful hammocks lashed to the trees where you could recline and relax with a good book. There were also theatre performances, Tai Chi and a chance to meet the Fairy Queen.

Making Marvellous Memories at Just So Festival 2018

The highlight for me, was as always the Spellbound Forest. Tucked away in the woods, perched on a log around the campfire, listening to ancient stories told by Ian Douglas, watching Mr Foppletwig and Professor Pumpernickel variously perform amazing magic tricks and scientific experiments and campfire songs with Ian Mackintosh. It’s so comfortable around that campfire, it often feels like hard work to tear yourself away and explore what else is going on.

Making Marvellous Memories at Just So Festival 2018

And there is so much going on. There are three packed Just So days and it’s almost impossible to get round to everything you want to see and do. I always end up having Just So regrets about things I have missed. Things people tell you about after they’ve happened. You make a mental note of it for next year and hope for the best.

Just So is such a remarkably safe space for families. It’s safe in a way that you can send a pair of 8 year olds off into the woods to do a Barefoot Walk for 10 minutes and know that they will come back filthy, with damp socks and full of the spirit of independence. It’s safe in the way that you know that everything they see and do will enrich them in some way. It is safe, because it just is.

Making Marvellous Memories at Just So Festival 2018

We sang, we danced, we ate, we laughed, I might have had a little cry of loveliness too. We had late nights, early mornings. We were filthy, we were covered in sand, custard and feathers, but we were happy and we were free. Just So is three wonderful, magical days a year which we remember incredibly fondly and look forward to above and beyond anything else.

See you round the campfire next year?

To grab your tickets for next year’s Just So Festival, visit www.justsofestival.org.uk.

Days Out: The Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, Cornwall

We’re currently holidaying in Cornwall, and keen to make the most of our Merlin Annual Passes, this week we had a drive down to Gweek to visit the Cornish Seal Sanctuary which this year is celebrating 60 years of seal rescue, rehabilitation and release.

The Cornish Seal Sanctuary is part of the SEA LIFE group of attractions and set in the picturesque Helford Estuary, by the village of Gweek, in Cornwall. It’s probably the most southerly Merlin attraction in the UK; but well worth remembering to pack your passes for if you have them.

Days Out: The Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, Cornwall

One of the most exciting reasons to visit the Cornish Seal Sanctuary was that I’d spotted on their website that it was dog friendly. It’s harder than you’d think to find attractions which are genuinely dog friendly, so were delighted to get through the door and see so many happy dogs on days out with their families.

The sanctuary is located on the fairly steep side of the Helford Estuary. There is a safari bus to take people from the top to the bottom of the steep hill, but it isn’t by their own admission the most accessible of attractions; though they’ve tried their best and help is always at hand if you need it. Me, being unsteady on my feet took the safari bus option with my son, whilst my husband walked the dog down to the bottom. He beat us there and back both times, but the bus is brilliant for little legs, or unsteady adult ones.

Days Out: The Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, Cornwall

The Cornish Seal Sanctuary is the first port of call for local seals who have been injured or who are ill. Each year around 50 seals are taken in by the sanctuary and given the care they need to get better. Most go on to be released back into the sea, but some have life changing injuries or conditions which can be best managed at the sanctuary.

At the sanctuary you can find common seals, grey seals, penguins, otters, sea lions as well as ponies, sheep and goats. There is also a rockpool area to explore and a wildlife walk through the woods. There’s a lot of learning to be had, from conservation work, to things we can do at home to help the plant. We found this very interesting and a great talking point.

Days Out: The Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, Cornwall

The self-led tour begins at the seal rescue hospital. We skipped the hospital as there were no seals in there, which is a good thing and carried to the bottom of the hill where there are a number of different pools; the common seals were in a new-ish looking pool next to the nursery pool which held the youngest pups in the sanctuary.

There were various talks and experiences throughout the day. The feeding sessions seemed to be the most popular; watching the resident seals in the convalescent pool get fed their fishy lunch whilst we were given a talk about the seals and what had happened to bring them to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary was especially interesting. The feeding of the penguins was also great fun.

The woodland walk was a really great addition. There’s a 500 metre walk to Otter Creek, but along the way there are lots of signs with facts and activities on. It’s also great for dogs (on leads) to stretch their legs in the cool shade of the woods.

Days Out: The Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, Cornwall

There are both permanent and temporary residents in the seal sanctuary, so the number of animals to visit can vary. However it is really well done, there is always a programme of events and a permanent selection of seals, penguins, sea lions and otters to see and learn about. The wildlife walk was great, very informative and a great place for kids to run off a bit of steam.

We were also really impressed with the cafes on site. They were not wildly expensive and we enjoyed a good lunch, though you can take a picnic if you’d prefer.

We had a really enjoyable and informative visit to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary. It’s a genuinely dog friendly family attraction in Cornwall which we all really enjoyed visiting.

Find out more about The Cornish Sea Sanctuary by visiting their website.

Disclosure: We are Merlin Annual Pass Ambassadors this year. All images and opinions are our own.

What’s on our Summer Bucket List for 2018?

I am more happy than you can imagine that the summer holidays are here. Sure, it means more work for me, juggling my job and child care, but it’s so nice to be able to just hang out with my boy for the summer and just do nice things. I’ve been thinking about some things we can do together and as a family over the summer. This blog post will serve as an informal plan for us and a summer bucket list of suggestions we can pick and choose from. Having a list of options is always a useful thing, especially when you’re stuck for inspiration or ideas.

What's on our Summer Bucket List for 2018?

We’ve got some day trips planned; a holiday to Devon and our annual jaunt to Just So Festival to look forward to, so here is our summer bucket list for 2018.

summer bucket list for 2018

⇒ Visit Manchester Museum and look at the frogs
⇒ Visit and explore Ordsall Hall in Salford
⇒ Go crabbing and have fish and chips in Appledore in Devon
⇒ Visit Tintagel Castle and find out more about King Arthur
⇒ Fill the paddling pool with gelli baff and have a paddling pool party
⇒ Visit Launceston Castle in Cornwall
⇒ Visit Tamar Otter and Wildlife Centre in Devon
⇒ Go back to Wild Discovery at Ribby Hall in Lancashire
⇒ Go glamping in a yurt in the Lake District
⇒ Take part in the dog show at the Woolsery Agricultural Show
⇒ Go to the playground in the park and have a picnic
⇒ Visit Westward Ho! and see if the shipwrecks are still visible
⇒ Sing around the Just So Campfire
⇒ Visit the Gweek Seal Sanctury in Cornwall
⇒ Go on some treasure hunts using a Treasure Trail maps
⇒ Visit the castle fort in the park in Bideford in Devon
⇒ Count the stars at night, when camping at The Just So Festival
⇒ Rest, read and reconnect
⇒ Visit Elizabeth Gaskell’s House in Manchester for family fun
⇒ Bake and decorate cakes for our nice neighbours
⇒ Join the Tribal Tournament at The Just So Festival (we are buzzing!)

What are you going to get up to this summer? What’s on your summer bucket list?

What's on our Summer Bucket List for 2018?

Family Festival Review: Timber Festival 2018

Over the weekend we went to the Timber Festival 2018. This was the first ever Timber Festival in the National Forest and we weren’t exactly sure what to expect. We’ve been to other festivals organised by Wild Rumpus, such as the Just So Festival, so we expected something fairly fantastical and we were not disappointed.

We arrived in the National Forest on Friday afternoon and we were directed to the small accessible camping area where we pitched our tent and then went to pick up our wristbands. We had a quick look around the top end of the festival site, but I had to go back to the tent to change out of my sandals and into my walking boots as the site was hillier and rougher under foot than I was expecting.

Family Festival Review: Timber Festival 2018

After an evening of merriment with our friends, we were raring to go on Saturday morning. We consulted our festival maps and decided to explore the more far-flung areas before the sun rose too high. We headed off to Halcyon Days so Ben could go on a bug hunt with the RSPB and then over to The Coppice to try our hands at stone balancing and to explore the coppice maze. The Coppice was a lovely area with some really interesting things to do, but it was quite far from the main areas, so we only went there once.

Family Festival Review: Timber Festival 2018

After exploring the upper area of the festival site, we walked down the hill, past the Nightingale Stage where there was a dance class going on and into The Common. This was where there were lots of rural crafts going on, such as whittling, clay crafts, willow weaving etc. The group of small boys went straight to the straw bale house building area and got stuck in. It turns out that a good grounding in LEGO building can help you when it comes to building a house out of straw. Just keep an eye out for hungry wolves!

Beyond The Common was Field Notes; an area packed with food and drink vendors and a lovely beer tent (at reasonable prices). It was here where we found most of our meals. There was a large marquee in this area which hosted discussions, speakers and the keynote speaker – Stuart Maconie. I saw Stuart a few weeks ago giving a talk about one of his books, I was excited to hear him speak again and I was not disappointed. Interesting, thought-provoking, honest and funny, if you get the chance to go and see him, do.

Family Festival Review: Timber Festival 2018

One of our favourite areas at the Just So Festival is the campfire area in the Spellbound Forest. The Timber Festival 2018 version of the Spellbound Forest was The Canopy. Just So favourite, Storyteller Ian Douglas was around the campfire several times each day and into the night, delighting everyone with his wonderful stories. It was a smaller, more intimate gathering than at Just So, which made it extra special. Ian is frequently accompanied by Dieter Wadeson aka Mr Foppletwig, who delights everyone with his slightly mad science experiments. Also around the campfire were some brilliant bands and singers, most notably Fishclaw and The Concordia Ashby Choir who performed their version of Africa By Toto and had everyone joining in. Brilliant.

Family Festival Review: Timber Festival 2018

Near the campfire there were three other wonderful little areas of note. The boys loved the Hammer and Chisel area where children (supervised by a parent) could get their hands on real tools and worked together to build a wooden play area. The Museum of the Moon was incredible. Hidden in the trees was a giant moon. There was a subtle soundtrack on a loop playing music and the sound of a rocket launching. It was incredible and it looked stunning lit up at night.

Family Festival Review: Timber Festival 2018

Just past the moon was the Eyrie Stage; a small woodland stage which hosted the most wonderful, eclectic mix of music. It was a real treat to listen to the music; especially Jason Singh who played some wonderful music based on birdsong, insects and environmental sounds.

If I had stuff to complain about, it would be that the site isn’t quite as accessible as it could be. The hills were a problem for me and my chum who both have some mobility issues. Things felt a little bit far apart; so the wonderful Coppice area only got visited once because twice would have been too much for me.

I’m not going to complain about the weather, this was the first festival I’ve been to where I’ve not suffered from rising damp, but it was so hot. I was very thankful they’d made drinking water freely and plentifully available at lots of places around the site. Plus there was a shower block close to where we camped, which was bliss in this heat.

Timber Festival 2018 was a wonderful experience. We felt immersed in nature and the surroundings; we spent time with our wonderful friends, the boys all ran about playing; getting filthy, battling with sticks, learning about insects, whittling, building straw houses, balancing on slacklines. They experienced life as a virtual reality owl; they listened to ancient stories around the campfire, learned some mad science stuff; danced to incredible music and generally got filthy and went a little bit feral for a few days. It was brilliant.

Family Festival Review: Timber Festival 2018

As ever, we were sad to leave, but absolutely delighted to have been part of such a wonderful festival. I would say although it is family friendly, it’s not really pitched at really little ones. The boys in our group were aged 7-10 and they were in their den-building, stick-fighting, adventurous element. It’s the family festival to go to when you feel you’re too old for Just So. I think we’ve got a couple of Just So years left in us, but we also cross over well into Timber. We loved it, we’re already looking forward to next year. Timber Festival 2018 had such a cool, folky atmosphere; it was the perfect way to wind down and have some summer fun with the family.

Sign up to the eNews at www.timberfestival.org.uk to be the first to hear about dates and early bird release tickets for 2019.

Want to hear what other people thought of Timber Festival 2018? Here are some other reviews which you might enjoy from The Brick CastleThat Lancashire Lass and We’re Going On An Adventure.

We were invited guests of Timber Festival 2018 and we were given tickets in exchange for a review. All images and opinions are our own.

Days Out: Lymm Historic Transport Day

Over the weekend we went to the Lymm Historic Transport Day. The Lymm Historic Transport Day has been an annual fixture in the Cheshire town for a number of years and attracts thousands of people.

Days Out: Lymm Historic Transport Day

We arrived in Lymm just before noon, we had missed the drive-in parade of vehicles, which was a shame. We parked in one of the park and ride fields and a vintage bus picked us up and dropped us off near the main event field. As we walked up the lane to the field we were tempted into the LEGO Expo in Scout HQ. It was a large room full of wonderful LEGO creations which had taken months to build. The boy was in his element, it was excellent.

Weighed down with several bags of LEGO, we headed to the Lymm Historic Transport Day main event field. There was so much to see and do, you could happily have spent the day exploring everything there was to offer. Row upon row of classic vehicles of all kinds; cockpits, cars from movies (Ghostbusters, Jurassic World, Lightening McQueen from Cars and the Batmobile were all there). There was a vintage ambulance and fire engine, modern-day fire bikes and all kinds of bicycles and mopeds.

Days Out: Lymm Historic Transport Day

There was live entertainment in the form of 40s and 50s music; plus an Extreme Mountain Bike Show, the Return of the Lymm Dinosaur, model car racing and the chance to explore all of those classic cars and other vehicles.

Once we’d done a tour of all the vehicles, we grabbed a bite to eat from one of the food stalls and sat in the shade for a while. The Lymm Historic Transport Day had organised a Spitfire fly-past, so it was eyes to the sky waiting for this iconic plane to fly over. We were not disappointed, it flew over twice and we were all in complete awe.

Days Out: Lymm Historic Transport Day

It was a gloriously sunny day, so we put on more sun-cream and headed off to have a go on the little narrow gauge steam railway. We do love steam trains, so this was well worth queuing up for.

The boys then joined the queue to have a go at driving a digger whilst I had a look around some of the stalls. I got back to the boys just in time to watch the small boy take his turn at driving the digger and trying to find the rubber duck. He did really well and this was probably the highlight of his day.

Days Out: Lymm Historic Transport Day

We celebrated his digger driving success by having some ice cream in the shade (it was a very sunny day). I wanted to go and see the canal boats and some of the other vehicles scattered about the village, so we left the main event field to explore Lymm. We were glad we did, it’s such a pretty village and we found a yard of full of large steam-powered traction engines which were very interesting.

The small boy loved the canal boats and declared that he wanted to go on a canal boat trip, so I’d better add that to our list of things to do. There was the Historic Sail Past at 4.30pm; a flotilla of canal boats and barges bringing the Lymm Historic Transport Day to a close.

We were starting to flag; the sunshine was getting the better of us, so we bought a bag of chips from the chip shop in Lymm village, sat on a shady bench and watched the world go by for a few minutes before catching the Park and Ride bus back to our car.

Days Out: Lymm Historic Transport Day

The Lymm Historic Transport Day was a brilliant day out. Tickets Are £5 per adult, £3 per child or £12 for a family of four. It was terrific value, there was definitely a full days worth of things to see and do. It’s so well organised, I couldn’t fault a single thing about the day. Lots to see and do for all of the family, we will definitely be back next year!

Lymm Historic Transport Day is separate to, but happens at the same time as the Lymm Festival. This year, highlights of the Lymm Festival include Tim Brooke-Taylor, John Suchet, the Family Garden Party, Open Gardens event, Martin Edwards (crime writer) and much more. You can find more details on the Lymm Festival website.

For more information about Lymm Historic Transport Day, visit their website.

Capture the good times with a Merlin DigiPass!

We are Merlin Annual Pass ambassadors and our Premium Passes give us so much family fun each year, they really do pay for themselves over and over. Recently Merlin have added an extra bonus for Premium Passholders, read on to find out more about the DigiPass.

Normally £50, the free DigiPass enables Premium Passholders to get unlimited action shots of themselves having a blast on awesome attractions, such as the brand new Wicker Man at Alton Towers Resort, Tiger Rock at Chessington World of Adventures Resort, The Walking Dead: The Ride at THORPE PARK Resort and the LEGO NINJAGO Ride at The LEGOLAND Windsor Resort. What’s more, existing Merlin Annual Passholders can also get an additional £20 off all Premium Merlin Annual Pass renewals as well as the free DigiPass if they renew before 1st September, so it’s about time everyone was in the frame!

Capture the good times with a Merlin DigiPass!

A DigiPass enables passholders to get unlimited action shots on specific rides at Merlin theme parks – Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, LEGOLAND Windsor and Chessington World of Adventures.

The Merlin Annual Pass opens the door to 32 incredible attractions around the UK; so wherever you live, you’re guaranteed to have the ultimate passport to fun! Passholders can enjoy the Coca-Cola London Eye, which shows breath-taking views of the capital; SEA LIFE Aquariums and Sanctuaries with creatures from all around the world; Madame Tussauds, where visitors can take a selfie with A List celebs and national icons, and so much more.

Capture the good times with a Merlin DigiPass!

My friend Jen from My Mummy’s Pennies is a huge fan of the DigiPass. She’s kindly let me use some of her DigiPass photos for this post so you can see them in action. They’re great momentoes of the day. The photos are available for 12 months, so once you have them taken, don’t forget to download them.

The DigiPass sale starts at 10am on Thursday 14th June and will be ending at midnight on Saturday 1st September; so don’t wait around; snap up this offer so you can enjoy a summer of memories before the summer holidays disappears in a flash!

For more information please visit www.merlinannualpass.co.uk.

Capture the good times with a Merlin DigiPass!

I’m a Merlin Annual Pass Blogger Ambassador. I was not paid to write this post.

Eight Unmissable Family Festivals for 2018

The last few years have seen a huge increase in family festivals in the UK. We’ve been to a few of them, this year we’re going to both the Timber Festival and Just So Festival. There are a few other festivals happening over the summer, here’s our pick of fabulous family festivals this year…

Timber Festival, 6th – 8th July

July sees the first ever Timber Festival.  Timber is set to be an extraordinary new camping festival exploring the transformative impact of forests. Music, art, philosophy and sustainability. Timber takes place on the 6th – 8th July in Feanedock, in the heart of the National Forest. The Timber Festival is set to be a thought-provoking three days in the forest, getting back to nature and learning to love the woods.

Eight Unmissable Family Festivals for 2018 / Preview: Timber Festival - a brand new family festival!

Just So Festival, 17th – 19th August 

Taking place on 17th – 19th August at the Rode Hall Estate in Cheshire this year’s Just So Festival is packed with familiar old favourites and an array of exciting new things to see, do and experience. Step out of your everyday life and enter a wonderland of world-class literature, arts, theatre, dance, music, comedy and creative pursuits together as a family. Immerse yourselves in a weekend full of magical midnight feasts, curious creatures, raucous pillow fights, hidden retreats, top-notch food, drink and boutique camping options and breathtaking beauty.

The Good Life Experience, 14th-16th September

The Good Life Experience is located Hawarden, Flintshire. The festival was founded by friends Cerys Matthews, Steve Abbott and Charlie and Caroline Gladstone. It is a celebration of great food, axe throwing, campfire cooking, group sing-a-longs, comedy, beer, raucous music, poetry, literature and so much more. It’s a real back to nature experience for the whole family!

Bluedot Festival, 20th -22nd July

Bluedot is really unique festival, located in the incredible grounds of Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, it’s an event that brings together science, education, music, food and culture and wraps it up in a big festival shaped bow. This year the headline acts at Bluedot are The Flaming Lips, Future Islands and The Chemical Brothers and each day is packed with really interesting things to see and do.

Geronimo Festival / Eight Unmissable Family Festivals for 2018

Geronimo Festival, 30th June – 1st July

Geronimo has been going for a few years now. This family festival features the stars of CBeebies and lots of old favourites, plus a host of new activities. When we visited Geronimo in 2016, we loves the arena area which had different shows on throughout the day. There are lots to see and do, but do take a picnic!

Lymm Festival, 21st June -1st July

Lymm Festival is a 10 day festival which runs each year in the lovely Cheshire town of Lymm. The Lymm festival features a wide range of events celebrating various aspects of the village, from the amazing Transport Day where the village is filled with all kinds of transport, old and new including the Batmobile and steam engines; to foodie events, music, literature, comedy, charity dog walks. We’ll be going along this year, so do have a look at what’s on to see if anything floats your boat!

Foodies Festival, various dates

The Foodies Festival does an annual summer tour around the UK, but sets up camp in Cheshire each July. It’s a real celebration of global food with stands and stalls from all over the world. We have visited the festival a few times over the years and it’s an interesting day out for foodies; they even have special cooking sessions and demonstrations for children!

bOing! International Family Festival, 25 & 26 August

The bOing! International Family Festival returns to Canterbury this August Bank Holiday to celebrate its 5th birthday in style, with its biggest and best line up yet. bOing! showcases the very best in theatre, dance, music, films created for all ages across Europe. This (mostly) free family festival is a brilliantly theatrical day out for all the family.

There are so many great family festivals on this summer, whatever you’re interested in, there’s bound to be something to suit your family. Which festivals are you going to this year?

Meeting the Japanese Spider Crab at SEA LIFE Manchester

When we heard that SEA LIFE Manchester were unveiling a new exhibit, we had to go down and check it out. SEA LIFE Manchester is one of our favourite places to spend a few hours and we were keen to meet the new resident –  a Japanese Spider Crab!

Meeting the Japanese Spider Crab at SEA LIFE Manchester

Japanese Spider Crabs can measure over 5 metres claw to claw, and can live to up to 100 years old! There are three Japanese Spider Crabs at SEA LIFE Manchester in a huge new tank area. Given they can grow up to the size of a small car, even though they seem huge, they still have plenty of growing to do.

Meeting the Japanese Spider Crab at SEA LIFE Manchester

The hard shell of the Japanese Spider Crab helps to protect them from larger predators such as octopuses, but giant spider crabs also use camouflage. The crab’s bumpy shell can help them to blend into the rocky ocean floor. They really are incredible creatures. Almost nightmarish in appearance, but apparently they are quite placid creatures. It felt really special to see these deep-sea creatures close up.

SEA LIFE Manchester has been given a bit of a makeover since we were last there just before Christmas. A few things have been moved about or refreshed, with, I’m pleased to say, another jellyfish tank in the building. You can crawl through the fluorescent world of the floating moon jellyfish in their brand new 360-degree doughnut tank. I adore jellyfish and we always spend lots of time watching them swim about. They’re very relaxing to watch.

Meeting the Japanese Spider Crab at SEA LIFE Manchester

We also stopped by the Jurassic Ranger area to have a look at the fossils. The Ranger expertly told us all about the fossils she had on display and let us touch some. She also gave the kids a sharks tooth each to take home with them as a souvenir. It was really interesting to find out more about sharks and sharks teeth, especially as that’s one of his topics at school this year.

Meeting the Japanese Spider Crab at SEA LIFE Manchester

SEA LIFE Manchester is one of our favourite places to visit. I’m pleased to see it’s been given a little makeover in parts. The centre is packed full of beautiful, weird and wonderful creatures; it’s well worth a visit for a few hours if you’re wanted a few hours of wonder and awe.

Find out more about what’s on at SEA LIFE Manchester on their website.

Meeting the Japanese Spider Crab at SEA LIFE Manchester

Disclosure: We are Merlin Annual Pass Ambassadors this year. All images and opinions are our own.

Days Out: Adventure Golf at Bents Garden and Home

We are big fans of Adventure Golf, we always try to play a round when we can. Last year we went to Bents Garden and Home to play their Jurassic Cove Adventure Golf. This week we visited again, they’ve recently extended the dinosaur golf to include nine extra holes of pirate golf, this we had to see!

Days Out: Adventure Golf at Bents Garden and Home

Bents Home and Garden is a huge garden centre with lots of things to do. To get to the Adventure Golf you need to head through the garden centre and go outside, go left when you get outside and you should see the Jurassic Cove Adventure Golf shop building. Go in, pay and collect your club and ball as well as your score card.

Days Out: Adventure Golf at Bents Garden and Home

The dino golf was originally just 9 holes, with the pirate extension it doubles the number of holes to 18. The first 9 are dino, the last 9 are pirate. I think the dino holes of the adventure golf at Bents have been re-jigged a little to freshen them up. The dinosaurs were epic, they’re so well done, some of them move and roar and even though we’d seen them before we were all so impressed.

Days Out: Adventure Golf at Bents Garden and Home

The pirate extension was very well done, it moves from a dino landscape into a water filled pirate world. There’s a big pirate ship which they’ve incorporated into the course, as well as a whale, crocodile and a host of pirates, some of which looked quite familiar.

Days Out: Adventure Golf at Bents Garden and Home

The pirate golf is very well done. Each hole is reasonably tricky, without being too hard. My 7 year old had the most fun playing all 18 holes of Adventure Golf. I liked the little details; like incorporating the pirate ship into the play and having to putt the ball into a hole in the whale’s mouth.

If I had to find something to criticize; it would be good if they had a sign suggesting what a good par would be (the ideal number of shots for each hole); just so you know how well, or not so well you’re doing.

Days Out: Adventure Golf at Bents Garden and Home

Depending on how busy it is, the course should occupy the family for around an hour.  There’s also a small shop where you can buy dino and pirate themed toys, most of which are inexpensive. Outside there’s a playground near the cafe where the kids can play while you have a drink.

The Adventure Golf costs £21 for two adults and two children. Information about their opening times and prices can be found on their website.

Disclosure: We were invited guests of Bents Garden and Home and we were not asked to pay for our golfing session, though we have paid previously and would do again.