Category Archives: Days Out

Days Out: Rockpooling in North Devon

Earlier this week my husband and son went rockpooling in North Devon with the National Trust. They returned rosy-cheeked and brimming with enthusiasm for what they’d found and experienced. In a rare guest post, my husband shares their wonderful morning in Woolacombe. Over to Matthew…

A few weeks before we came down to Devon on holiday, I was beginning to keep an eye out for things to do. I saw a link somebody had shared on Facebook about guided rockpooling with the National Trust in Woolacombe. The “Rockpool Rambles” looked quite interesting and I thought that both me and the lad could learn something.

Days Out: Rockpooling in North Devon

We holiday in Devon quite a lot and we tend to plan ahead a little bit, but also take each day as it comes especially with the weather. On one of the days the rockpooling was scheduled it was going to be mixed weather, so we decided to hop in the car, head to Woolacombe and take our chances.

Days Out: Rockpooling in North Devon

When we arrived, the heavens opened. Undeterred, the lad and I put on our waterproofs and sandals and headed down to the Combesgate part of the beach. Here, our guides, Ed and Dave met us and our fellow rockpoolers and gave us our nets and buckets and a short briefing about what to look for and a couple of things not to do such as climbing on the rocks covered with barnacles as they’re very rough and feel like a cheese grater if you happen to slip on them.

Off exploring we went and we quickly came across some sea lettuce, followed by our first starfish of the day. Ed and Dave pointed out that the barnacles make a snap, crackle and pop noise, so we listened out for that too. Around the corner there were starfish aplenty; along with beadlet anemones and small hermit crabs, as well as limpets and mussels.

Days Out: Rockpooling in North Devon

There were excited cries from the group as small fish were seen darting for cover in the pools. Rockpool prawns were seen, captured and temporarily put in buckets while we examined them. The lad did very well to find a secluded rockpool and a snakelocks anemone in the water. We lifted a stone and out popped a five bearded rockling. By the end of the session, the clouds parted and the sun came out. The best was saved till last when a little red octopus was spotted swimming across one of the larger pools. It was a wonderful sight and one we will remember for a long time.

The guided rock pooling is a fantastic way to spend an hour and half. It costs just £1 per person, and it probably can’t be bettered.

Days Out: Rockpooling in North Devon

The little red thing you can see in the photo above is a little octopus. What a find!

For more information about Rockpooling in North Devon and the Rockpool Rambles run by the National Trust, visit the NT website.

Exploring Bude with a Treasure Trails map

Every summer for the last 15 years we have holidayed near Bude in North Cornwall. It’s an area we both know pretty well, we have both separately been coming here since we were babes in arms. It’s stunning, when the sun shines there is nowhere better and there are things to do if you can tear yourself away from the beach. Now we have the boy and the dog to entertain, our holidays are less book-beach-pub and more play-paddle-ice cream. Today we decided to do something different, we downloaded a Treasure Trails map, explored Bude and discovered something new about one of our favourite places.

Exploring Bude with a Treasure Trails map

The Bude Treasure Trails map has a murder mystery theme and we’d picked it (there were a few different trails in the area) because it was short and dog friendly. The route should have taken 90 minutes and was only 1.5 miles. I’m not sure if the distance was accurate, but I clocked up 9000 steps on my fitbit during the walk. 

We began in the car park near the Tourist Information Centre and made our way up to St Michael and All Angels Church (I’m going to be a bit vague about the route, lest I give any clues away). Fortuitously, we arrived at the church during coffee morning, so we left clutching courgette and poppy-seed buns to nibble as we walked.

Exploring Bude with a Treasure Trails map

The map and clues took us on a winding route down by the Bude canal and over to Bude Castle – a building I’ve never explored before but one we will be visiting properly later in the week. We ambled into town, up the high street and across to the headland with stunning views over Summerleaze beach, the famous Bude Sea Pool and beyond. 

The route took us over 3 hours, but we had several pit-stops along the way; coffee at Bude Castle; a spot of lunch at Life’s a Beach, overlooking Summerleaze beach and of course the coffee morning at the church. 

Exploring Bude with a Treasure Trails map

We discovered some beautiful, secret, interesting parts of Bude we’ve never noticed before. The Treasure Trails map encouraged us to look up, look down, look at nooks and crannies and to really take note of our surroundings. Plus finding out who dunnit was pretty fun too!

Top Tips for doing Treasure Trails 

⊗ Take a pen
⊗ Don’t entrust your only pen to the person most likely to lose it
⊗ Put your map in a plastic pocket to protect it from the elements
⊗ Wear shoes you’re comfortable walking in
⊗ Don’t forget your sun cream (and brolly)
⊗ Allow extra time for coffee breaks and ice cream

Order your Treasure Trail online and either print it out yourself, or they can send you your trail in the post. There are 1000 trails to choose from across the UK, you can search for a trail on the Treasure Trails website. The description helpfully tells you how much walking (or sometimes cycling or driving) you will need to do; how long it should take and if the trail is accessible or not.

Each Trail is an A5 booklet of 8 pages and costs £6.99. They have three themes; Murder Mystery, Treasure Hunt and Spy Mission. It depends on your location which theme you’ll be given, but all the details for each trail can be found on their website

The Treasure Trails are a brilliant way to spend a few hours exploring with your family. We had such a fun time together. Our six year old has been asking (and asking, and asking) about doing another one tomorrow – a ringing endorsement if ever there was one!

If you’re visiting Bude and would like to follow the trail we did, you can find it here.

Exploring Bude with a Treasure Trails map

Note: We were given this Treasure Trails map for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own. We loved it and we’re sure your family will too!

Days Out: Jurassic Skyline Tower, Weymouth

We’re on holiday in Devon this week and the weather hasn’t been great. We’d brought our Merlin Annual Passes with us, so when a wet day was forecast we decided to drive to our nearest SEA LIFE Centre in Weymouth. We were also drawn to Weymouth because we wanted to visit the Jurassic Skyline tower which promised 360° views across the Jurassic Coast. 

We arrived at the Jurassic Skyline tower which is on the end of Weymouth Pier. The staff in the ticket office did warn us that due to the weather we wouldn’t be able to see much, but we’d driven for three hours (130 miles) to get here, so we had to try it. Unsurprisingly given the weather, there was not a queue. We showed our Merlin Passes and we were waved through to a sheltered area where we waited for a few minutes for the gondola doors to open. 

Days Out: Jurassic Skyline Tower, Weymouth

We were ushered in and we were the only people in the Jurassic Skyline gondola. The gondola has a bench to sit on and windows all around, so on a clear day you should be able to see for miles. Sadly it was raining heavily and visibility was very poor. Apologies for the really dull, dark photographs, but they are a true representation of the day we visited.

Days Out: Jurassic Skyline Tower, Weymouth

The Jurassic Skyline gondola rises smoothly up the tower and does a full 360° rotation twice with an informative commentary throughout. You can buy an information pack for £1 which can help you pinpoint the sights along the coast and it gives you some more information about the Jurassic coastline.

Days Out: Jurassic Skyline Tower, Weymouth

It costs £7.50 per person and the whole experience took around 20 minutes. On a good clear day I think it would absolutely be worth the money. If I could have seen more of the coastline I probably would have done it twice just because I enjoyed the experience so much. The ride up the tower was smooth and even though I’m quite scared of heights I felt perfectly safe, even with strong winds buffeting the tower.

Days Out: Jurassic Skyline Tower, Weymouth

It’s a shame the weather was so bad and the visibility so poor on the day we visited the Jurassic Skyline. Better luck next time!

For more information about the Jurassic Skyline in Weymouth, visit their website.

I’m a Merlin Annual Pass Blogger Ambassador. I have been given a Merlin Annual Pass to do this review with my family.  I wasn’t paid to write this post.

Taking part in the Dog Show at the Woolsery Agricultural Show

Today we went along to the Woolsery Agricultural Show in North Devon. Despite a drizzly start to the day, the sun shone for the most part. We saw the show advertised and on a whim we decided to go along and enter our nine month old pup in the dog show. It was not purely for pedigree pups, but scruffs, crosses and mongrels were welcome to enter too. We entered with no real expectation of success. Penny is a lively pup with fairly uncertain parentage, so we didn’t rate her chances against seasoned, well-groomed pups whose owners knew what they were doing.

Taking part in the Dogs Show at the Woolsery Agricultural Show

There were 15 classes to enter and rosettes would be awarded to the first six placing dogs in each category, with the first place dog from each being put forward to Best in Show.

1. Best Puppy any breed – 6 to 12 months old
2. Best Large breed
3. Best Small breed
4. Best Cross-bred
5. Best Rescue
6. Best Veteran – 8 years and over
7. Best Condition
8. Best Scruff
9. Best Child handler – 12 years and under
10. The waggiest tail
11. The most appealing eyes
12. Best pair (match or mismatch)
13. Prettiest bitch
14. Most Handsome dog
15. The one the judge would most like to take home with them 

Taking part in the Dogs Show at the Woolsery Agricultural Show

We entered a few categories, we faced disappointment in Best Puppy. Penny was very nervous as it was her first time in the show ring and showed herself up by hiding from the judge. Undeterred we entered her for the Best Cross-Breed and we were delighted when she came 4th.

We had some time before her next category – Best Scruff came up, so we stretched our legs, explored the Woolsery Agricultural Show, found some lunch and gave Penny a nice cool bowl of water. We were sure she would do well in Best Scruff since she is a big gangly scruffy thing, but we were wrong. She failed to place at all in Best Scruff. Maybe she’s too pretty to be scruffy? A change of plan was required, if she’s too pretty to be scruffy, should we enter her in the Prettiest Bitch category?

Reader, we did just that. After some deliberation, we were astonished when the judge handed us the 1st rosette. Penny is the prettiest bitch in Devon (or at least the prettiest bitch entered in that category at the Woolsery Agricultural Show). We were absolutely delighted!

Taking part in the Dogs Show at the Woolsery Agricultural Show

Because we’d come first in Prettiest Bitch, we were put forward for Best in Show. We were certain she wouldn’t win that one and we were right. There was stiff competition, with some dogs there being proper pedigree show dogs, as well as a small collection of scruffs and mutts. We were happy just to be there. 

We were thrilled, we hadn’t expected to come away with any rosettes, but to come home with a 1st and a 4th was amazing. We’d only gone because we thought it would be a fun thing to do and it really was. Have we got the dog show bug? Probably, but we have got some work to do before next year!

Days Out: Blackpool Sea Life Centre

The small boy and I love visiting Sea Life Centres. We share a love of jellyfish, stingrays and sharks so wherever we go in the UK, if there’s a Sea Life Centre nearby we will be there! Earlier this year we had a couple of days in Blackpool and while we were in town we took the chance to visit the Blackpool Sea Life Centre. 

Days Out: Blackpool Sea Life Centre

Blackpool Sea Life Centre is on the promenade, about five minutes walk down from Blackpool Tower. There are ticket deals to be had, so if you’re planning to go buying tickets in advance, or multi-attraction tickets are a good bet. We have a Merlin card, so we just showed those on the way in and we were given a guide and waved through.

Like all Sea Life Centres, Blackpool Sea Life Centre is laid out in zones – Rockpool, Atlantic Depths, Quayside zone, Stingray Adventure zone, Kingdom of the Seahorse, Submarine Explorer, Rainforest Adventure zone, Shark Mission and Ocean Tunnel and lastly the Jurassic Seas zone. 

Blackpool Sea Life Centre

We have been to Blackpool Sea Life Centre before and we really like spending time in the Ocean Tunnel and the Stingray Adventure Zone. When we visited this time, we spent quite a lot of time with the octopus.

Whenever we’ve seen octopus before they’ve always been hidden away in the back of the tank having a sleep. This time the octopus was curled up in the corner at the front of the tank. We stopped to have a proper look at this amazing creature and we caught its eye. We’re not sure if we spooked it (we don’t tap on tanks or anything) or if it just wanted to show off for us, but we had a good five minutes with it swimming around and puffing itself up for us. Thank you Mr Octopus.

Blackpool Sea Life Centre

We also spent quite a lot of time watching the stingrays. There was a really good viewing area where you could pop your head in the domes inside the tank and watch all the fish and stingrays swim by. Sadly we’d just missed the stingray feeding session, but it did mean we had the area almost entirely to ourselves for a little while.

Blackpool Sea Life Centre is a really good sized aquarium with a fantastic collection of weird and wonderful creatures. It’s slap bang in the middle of Blackpool prom and the perfect place to take the family if it’s raining, or too sunny, or if you just want to spend a couple of hours feeling chilled out watching the creatures.

If you time your visit carefully you might catch them feeding the sharks. Or you could go backstage to find out more, or maybe catch a special talk. My tip is to go as soon as it opens when it’s quiet and it feels like it’s just you and the fish. 

I wonder which Sea Life Centre we’ll visit next?

Blackpool Sea Life Centre

For more information about Blackpool Sea Life Centre visit their website.

I’m a Merlin Annual Pass Blogger Ambassador. I have been given a Merlin Annual Pass to do this review with my family.  I wasn’t paid to write this post.

What’s on our Summer Bucket List for 2017?

I was speaking to a teacher this morning who excitedly told me there were “seven more sleeps” until the school holidays begin, this is a number which fills me with terror and excitement in equal measure. It may seem like a long time to fill with activities, but I think those six weeks will go in the blink of an eye. I asked him last night what he wanted to do over the holidays and together we came up with a summer bucket list of sorts.

We have some sketchy plans for the six weeks our six year old son will be off school and out of routine. I want him to relax, have fun and enjoy being six. We also want to really work hard on getting him ready for the big leap into Year 2, so lots of reading, some work books and lots of counting in twos, fives and tens. 

During the school holidays we are going on holiday in North Devon (right on the Cornish border) and there’s lots to do there. We will be going to the Just So Festival in August and Ben and I will be leaving Daddy and the dog at home and going to Ribby Hall for five days. In between we have trips out and fun things planned, plus plenty of rest days at home so we can chill out and get bored.

What’s on our Summer Bucket List for 2017?

⇒ Build sandcastles on the beach in Devon
⇒ Sleep lots (Ben’s suggestion)
⇒ Visit Ben’s cousins in Devon
⇒ Go to the playground in the park
⇒ Visit Westward Ho! and see if the shipwrecks are still visible
⇒ Go crabbing and have fish and chips in Appledore
⇒ Visit the Sealife Centre at Weymouth
⇒ Have lunch at the River Cottage Canteen in Axminster
⇒ Go on some treasure hunts using Treasure Trails maps
⇒ Visit the castle fort in the park in Bideford
⇒ Go fossil hunting in Lyme Regis
⇒ Count the stars at night, when camping at The Just So Festival
⇒ Go for a dip in the Bude Pool
⇒ Sing around the Just So Campfire
⇒ Visit Elizabeth Gaskell’s House in Manchester
⇒ Feed the animals at Wild Discovery at Ribby Hall 
⇒ Bake and decorate cakes for our nice neighbours
⇒ Build a bug hotel for our garden
⇒ Have a Cornish pasty picnic on the beach
⇒ Join the Tribal Tournament at The Just So Festival (we are buzzing!)

What's on our Summer Bucket List for 2017?

Check back at the end of the summer to see how we got on!

What’s on your summer bucket list?

Family Festival: What’s on at Just So Festival 2017?

The Just So Festival is now in its 8th year and 2017 promises to be a vintage one for this award-winning family festival. Produced by Wild Rumpus and taking place on 18th-20th August at Rode Hall in Cheshire, the Just So Festival is a wonderful melting pot of music, literature, arts, theatre, dance, comedy, storytelling, magic and adventure, with new and exciting sights, sounds and things to do. This annual, intimate, weekend-long family festival is an imaginative outdoor adventure like no other.

Family Festival: What's on at Just So Festival 2017?

Just So veterans will recognise the familiar festival goings on, such as tales from storyteller extraordinaire, Ian Douglas as well as campfire music and songs in the Spellbound Forest. There’s a full programme of extraordinary events happening throughout the weekend. Experience the wonder of the Woodland Theatre. Encounter lands, creatures and characters beyond your wildest dreams in Tales of Animalia. Visit Away With The Fairies, an enchanting secret fairyland where sprites make mischief up in the trees and you could with luck meet the Fairy Queen.

Sing and dance your socks off at the Footlights stage with over 20 brilliant artists and bands performing over the weekend, including Just So legends The Baghdaddies. Dance the night away in the Jitterbug tent where you can learn to dance the CanCan, Charleston, Circus Swing, Flatfooting, Bollywood, Ballet, Tap and Jive, not forgetting the retro disco.

Explore the universe at The Observatory.  Learn about the constellations with Star Gazing sessions led by an astronomer, make an array of star and moon shaped lanterns to parade against the twilight sky. Explore the High Seas and enjoy some family yoga, tai chi, meditation and take a wooden rowing boat out on to the tranquil lake.

Family Festival: What's on at Just So Festival 2017?

The littlest Just So adventurers should head directly to The Peekaboo Garden – an entire area of art, music, paint, clay, dens and bubbles and top notch facilities for the under 4’s.

This year Just So are introducing some exciting new areas to explore. By the lake you’ll find the Silver Screen – an area dedicated to your favourite family films, recreate iconic dance scenes, join in a chorus line or become an extra in a Just So production. In the Social Barn next to The Social you’ll find insect eating, foraging and the first ever Just So jelly fight. Not to mention peculiar picnics, barmy dinner parties, a food funny face challenge, plus the legendary Just So Midnight Feast and The Great Just So Bake Off.

Discover the new Forgotten Courtyard. Tucked away in the ruins of the Old Tenants’ Hall is Rode’s beautiful Italian Garden complete with a fountain, Italian cypress and olive trees. Find this secret spot in the grounds of Rode Hall and take part in workshops, provocations, debates and talks. Meet some of the UK’s favourite children’s authors and find out more about the world around us.

Family Festival: What's on at Just So Festival 2017?

Take yourself out of your day-to-day lives and experience a weekend of pure magic and wonder. At the heart of Just So is the now famous Tribal Tournament. Join in with the most bonkers competition in the land as festival goers of all ages dress up as a fish, frog, fox, owl, lion or stag and compete throughout the weekend to see which tribe comes out on top.

Whether you’re visiting for a day, or camping for the weekend, the Just So Festival is just the ticket for fantastic family fun. Get creative with clay, make a paper lantern, sing, dance, explore and immerse yourself in the magic and creativity of this wonderful family festival.

Families planning to come to Just So 2017 are being advised to buy tickets earlier than usual this year, with tickets selling at a record rate for the 5000 capacity August event.

For information and tickets visit 

Nine reasons to go to the Just So Festival this year

Summer Sale! Grab a bargain Merlin Annual Pass

The Merlin Annual Pass BIG SUMMER SALE starts at 10am on Thursday 1st June and ends at midnight on Monday 3rd July 2017. So there’s never been a better time to start planning adventures for your family this summer. With access to 32 top attractions across the UK, grab a Merlin Annual Pass in the sale for just £119 per person.

Escape this summer to the Alton Towers Resort, home to some of the world’s most iconic rollercoasters.  While you’re there, visit CBeebies Land which has new additions for 2017, including a live and interactive show hosted by the fuzzy puppets from The Furchester Hotel and the Go Jetters Vroomster Zoom ride which little thrill seekers will love.

Big Summer Sale! Grab a bargain Merlin Annual Pass

Go in search of The Gruffalo at the Chessington World of Adventures Resort. Visit Sea Life Centres across the UK; explore the wonders of the ocean and come face to flipper, fin, tentacle, turtles, sharks, rays and octopuses.  Or start your ninja training at the new Lego Ninjago World at the Legoland Windsor Resort.

Among Merlin’s attractions are; Sea Life Centres, Madame Tussauds, Legoland, The Coca-Cola London Eye, The Dungeons, Gardaland Resort, Legoland Discovery Centres, Alton Towers Resort, Warwick Castle, Thorpe Park Resort, Blackpool Tower, Heide Park Resort, Sydney Tower Eye and Skywalk.

Big Summer Sale! Grab a bargain Merlin Annual Pass

We have had so many wonderful days out with our Merlin Annual Pass. It’s very easy to quickly clock up excellent savings, especially over the long summer holidays. So whether you’re planning a staycation or just some fun family days out, a Merlin Annual Pass is a great way to maximise the good times this summer.

See what you can save on your Merlin Annual Pass

Big Summer Sale! Grab a bargain Merlin Annual Pass

For more information or to buy passes in the Merlin summer sale, please visit

I am a Merlin Annual Pass Blogger Ambassador.  I was not paid to write this blog post.

5 things to do during Whit week half term 2017

The Whit Week Half Term falls under the sad shadow of the Manchester bombing. I live 5 miles away from the arena, and we’ve felt the emotional reverberations of the atrocity. The mood is defiant but subdued. Everyone I know wants to stay at home, holding their kids close where they can keep them safe. But generally kids don’t always love being stuck at home and will want to do something over the half term regardless.

For us our half term fun will be had on the fringes of the city. Whilst I’m happy to visit the city centre myself; for the next week or so at least we won’t be going in as a family. I know we can’t wrap our children up forever. We can just make sensible, informed choices and get on with life and live it well.

If you’re keen to avoid the city centre with your kids for now, I’ve selected a few out of town things to do in Manchester over the Whit Week Half Term. I’ve not included them here, but there will be lots of things to do over the Whit Week Half Term in the city centre, at the Whitworth Art Gallery, the Museum of Science and Industry, and at the People’s History Museum. However you choose to spend half term, enjoy it.

Waterside Arts Centre, Sale

We will be going to see The Three Musketeers at the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale on Friday 2 June. Presented by The Three Half Pints;  Fresh from Justin’s House and Spot Bots, we will be joining CBeebies’ favourites in this hilarious new slapstick adventure of chivalry, swordplay and suddenly falling over!  For ages 5+

5 things to do during Whit week half term 2017

For ages 3+ catch Julia Donaldson’s famous book The Scarecrows’ Wedding, brought to the stage by Scamp Theatre. Running on Friday 26, Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 May. Scarecrows Betty O’Barley and Harry O’Hay decide to get married and Harry sets off for their wedding day essentials. This truly heart-warming adaptation promises wit, drama and wedding bells!

On Thursday 1 June, Waterside will be screening Sing-a-long Trolls.  Bring the kids and sing your socks off to Trolls hits such as Can’t Stop The Feeling and True Colours.  Come along in Troll-themed fancy dress or costumes in bright rainbow colours. Prizes will be given out for the best outfits!  Tickets just £5 (or £2.50 for Family Club members).

Based on the fabulous new book by Steven Lee and with magic designed by Paul Daniels, Don’t Dribble on The Dragon is a spectacular musical adventure about growing up and the importance of family is the perfect feel good show.  For ages 3+ on Saturday 3 June.  Steven will also be signing copies of Don’t Dribble on The Dragon after the show.

Salford Quays Culture’s Summer Showcase

Over half term, endangered species from land and sea migrate to the metropolis of MediaCityUK, in the form of four gigantic sculptures for Quays Culture’s Unnatural Borders exhibition, which will run from Saturday 20th May until Monday 29th May.

Four large sculptures represent endangered species – Polar Bear, Whale, Red Squirrel and a Bee. By day the sculptures tower over the public on large separate plinths. When the sun sets at 9pm they are illuminated with stunning visual projections, bringing a magical show of light and illusion to these 3D animals and their location. Day or night, these sound pretty awesome and worth seeking out, especially if you’re visiting Media City for other reasons too.

5 things to do during Whit week half term 2017

Catalyst Science Discovery Centre

Ok, so this means a bit of a drive to Widnes, but the boys go here often and they really enjoy their visits. This amazing science centre has three interactive galleries to explore as well as a stunning rooftop observatory. During this half term they have two interactive workshops for budding scientists to enjoy.

Ludicrous Liquids – A chance for young scientists to get some hands-on fun in the lab, experimenting with interesting and surprising liquids. How many colours can you get into your rainbow straw and do you make a lava lamp? Hands-on workshops at 11am and 2pm

Fantastic Plastic – One of their most popular hands-on sessions. Enjoy working with an amazing plastic material to make a keyring to take home. Hands-on Workshops at 12 noon and 3pm.

Wythenshawe Community Farm

Join the Junior Farmer’s Club and learn how to care for the animals on the farm. Groom and feed Pip the friendly pony, feed and muck out the pygmy goats and collect the eggs from the chickens. Available on Thursday 1st and Saturday 3rd June from 1-3pm. The cost of the session is £10, for more information or to book phone 0161 946 0726.

Read about one of our previous visits to Wythenshawe Community Farm here.

Wythenshawe Community Farm

SHIFT Digital

Over Whit week half term, Shift Digital will be running a series of free events in libraries and other venues in Cheshire. If you’ve got kids who are into coding, computers or science, it’s well worth taking them along.

Join Shift for Superhero Sewable Circuits on Wednesday 31 May at the Electric Picturehouse, Cross Street, Congleton. Make your own light up superhero mask. Learn the basics of e-textile sewable circuits and stitch light up LEDs onto felt to customise and create your own design. Ages 7+ FREE Places limited – to book call  01260 270908.

Minecraft fans should go to PatternCraft at Congleton Library on Tuesday 30 May  – 10am-12noon / 1-3pm. Go along and create 8 x 8 punchcard designs; feedback your card into the reader and by the magic of python code converting the physical holes in to binary files of 0’s and 1’s, build it on a minecraft map. Drop In – FREE – All Ages Call 01260 375550.

At Holmes Chapel Library on Thursday 1 June 10am-12noon / 1-3pm, learn to program the Micro:bit LED display and create interactive bitmap art that responds to movement and button presses. Ages 7+ FREE Places limited – to book call  01477 689550.

The full SHIFT programme – including talks, workshops, professional training, tech meet ups, art installations, family events and drop-in coding sessions – is listed on their website:

We hope you have a great Whit Week Half Term. If you’ve got any ideas for other fun things to do, please do mention them in the comments below!

Nine reasons to go to the Just So Festival this year

The Just So Festival is an annual, intimate, weekend-long family festival is a wonderful, creative, arty, family outdoor adventure like no other. We go each year and it is such a highlight. I look forward to it all year long; we can’t wait to get there and we are always sad to leave.

Now in its 8th year, the 2017 this award-winning family festival just gets better and better. Each August the Just So Festival pitches up in the gorgeous grounds of Rode Hall in Cheshire, filling three days with music, literature, arts, theatre, dance, comedy, storytelling, magic and adventure. We always leave feeling inspired, rejuvenated and completely reconnected as a family.

Nine reasons to go to the Just So Festival this year

Produced by Wild Rumpus, the Just So Festival this year takes place on 18th-20th August. You can go for a day, or you can camp for the weekend. We have done both. We loved camping at the festival so much, being under canvas really adds to the adventure.

Why should you go to the Just So Festival this year?

ONE – Around the campfire
There’s so much to do at Just So, it’s hard to pick favourites. But we loved being around the campfire before bedtime, singing our hearts out with Scout Master, Ian Macintosh and listening to stories told by Just So legend, Ian Douglas. It sends you off to bed feeling happy, content and smelling vaguely of wood-smoke.

TWO – The first ever Just So Jelly Fight!
This year for the first time, in the Social Barn next to The Social you’ll find insect eating, foraging, jelly bean architecture and the first ever Just So jelly fight. Get ready to join in with the messiest, stickiest and most ridiculous of food fights.

THREE – Tribal Tournament
Just So veterans will know all about the famous festival Tribal Tournament. Festival goers of all ages dress up as a fish, frog, fox, owl, lion or stag and compete throughout the weekend to see which tribe comes out on top. Join in the Wild Rumpus Parade at the end of the weekend where the winners are crowned!

FOUR – Food, glorious food!
The range of food available at the Just So Festival is incredible. The Social area is where most of the food stalls are, but there are more on the Village Green and in the High Seas area. If you wanted to you could eat something wildly different for every meal at Just So. Our favourites are the grilled sweetcorn from Cotswold Corn Roast, ice cream from Ginger’s Comfort Emporium and hot dogs a-plenty from Piggy Smalls. Though other food vendors are available.

Nine reasons to go to the Just So Festival this year

FIVE – Do the Jitterbug!
Strut your stuff at the night time retro discos in the Jitterbug tent – dressing up is encouraged! If daytime dance is more your thing, you can learn to dance the CanCan, Charleston, Circus Swing, Flatfooting, Bollywood, Ballet, Tap and Jive. 

SIX – The wonderful Rode Hall Estate
The Rode Hall Estate is beautiful and absolutely perfectly designed for the wonderful goings on at the festival. Explore the grounds and find hidden magic around every corner. New this year is the Forgotten Courtyard, a beautiful Italian Garden tucked away in the ruins of the Old Tenants’ Hall complete with a fountain, Italian cypress and olive trees. Find this secret spot and take part in workshops, discussions, debates and talks, plus meet some of the UK’s favourite children’s authors there.

Plus this year the Rode Hall Tea Rooms will be open for homemade breakfasts, lunches and cakes made from the organic produce grown on the estate. I heartily recommend their Staffordshire Oatcakes and steaming mugs of tea!

SEVEN – Carry on Camping, or glamping if you prefer
I didn’t think I’d be a happy camper, but I was. In our first family camping weekend, we whispered into the night under the canvas, cooked sausages on our little camping stove and snuggled up like caterpillars in our sleeping bags. 

With toilet blocks and actual real life showers with hot water, the facilities are excellent. If you have tiny tots they have their own special baby bath time available in Peekaboo. 

For campers who fancy a touch of luxury, there are a range of glamping options available to pre-book and campervans and caravans are welcome. Come for the weekend, camp, have fun, go off grid, get twigs in your hair, let go, have fun.

Nine reasons to go to the Just So Festival this year

EIGHT – Award winning Accessibility
I have chronic pain and nerve damage. I can’t really feel my feet and legs, so accessibility is important to me. The Just So Festival organisers have thought of everything; from accessible camping, refrigeration for medication, wheelchair charging points as well as accessible toilets and changing areas.

I used many of the accessible facilities last year I can say hand on heart they accessibility is excellent and is seamlessly woven into the fabric of Just So.  It’s a truly accessible event. And that’s exactly how it should be for everyone, everywhere.

NINE – Lively live music!
Down by The Social, you’ll find the Footlights stage with over 20 brilliant artists and bands performing over the weekend, including Just So legends David Gibb, The Baghdaddies and singer, Laura Oakes. 

These are my nine reasons to go to the Just So Festival this year. These are only nine of about 900 wonderful reasons. There’s so much to see, do and experience there. Immerse yourself in the magic and creativity of this wonderful family festival. Leave feeling inspired, rejuvenated and completely reconnected as a family.

Tickets for this intimate and fabulous family festival are selling fast, so make sure you book your tickets as early as you can. 

For information and tickets visit up with the adventure and follow Just So on Twitter and Facebook.

Nine reasons to go to the Just So Festival this year

My blog post about my accessibility experience at Just So can be found here.