Category Archives: Days Out

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.

What’s On at the 2019 JORVIK Viking Festival

Thanks to my love of the TV series, The Last Kingdom, and my son learning all about Vikings at school, we’ve been reading a lot about life as a Viking. One way for us to learn more about Viking life is for us to visit York for the day and take in some of the JORVIK Viking Festival. The JORVIK Viking Festival happens every February, around half term and it’s a full on festival of all things Viking.

I’ve been wanting to go for a few years, but this year we are going for the day and I honestly can’t wait and neither can my 8 year old.

What's On at the 2019 JORVIK Viking Festival

What’s On at the 2019 JORVIK Viking Festival

This year the JORVIK Viking Festival will be taking place on 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. So what’s on at the JORVIK Viking Festival?

Have-a-go sword (10am – 4pm daily, Spark:York – £5 per child)

The sword was one of the most important weapons for any Viking warrior, and training in its use started young! Skilled teachers will take children (aged 5 – 12) through basic training in fun battle workshops. Pre-booking is recommended.

Poo Day! (10am – 4pm, 20 and 27 February, DIG – included in entry)

Guaranteed to be germ-free, participants in Poo Day discover how important human waste is to understanding diet and health. Visitors will even have the chance to make their own replica poo fossil!

Little Diggers (10am, daily except Saturday, DIG – £5 per child)

Perfect for the youngest budding archaeologists in the family (ages 3 – 7), each day the Little Diggers team will help them explore treasures from the past, from Viking hoards to food and clothing.

Family walking tour (1pm, daily except Saturday, starts from JORVIK Viking Centre – £5 adult, £4 concession, £15 family)

With 4500 years of history to work with, this family friendly tour is packed with fascinating facts about York’s colourful past; led by one of JORVIK’s own Viking guides! Expect to hear about everyone from Roman Emperor Constantine and Eric Bloodaxe; to Robin Hood and King Arthur in this hour-long wander around the streets.

Viking Encampment (10am – 4pm daily, Parliament Street – free)

The Vikings were a people who liked to travel and they have set up a camp in Parliament Street for the week of the JORVIK Viking Festival. Meet traders and crafts people and get the chance to handle replica artifacts and weaponry in this interactive Norse experience at the heart of the city.

Birds of Prey at Barley Hall (10am – 5pm, 22 February, Barley Hall – included in entry)

Birds of prey featured heavily in Norse sagas and Viking mythology; get up close with these stunning creatures at Barley Hall. Meet a variety of ravens, owls and falcons in the medieval Great Hall, and learn about their significance to the Vikings in the accompanying exhibition. Visitors will also enjoy Seers and Shamans: Magic in the Viking Age, a special extension of Barley Hall’s Magic and Mystery exhibition.

What's On at the 2019 JORVIK Viking Festival

Strongest Viking Competition (11am, 23 February, St Sampson’s Square – free)

Pick your champion and cheer them on in these trials of strength and endurance to find JORVIK’s strongest Viking! This annual competition pits warrior against warrior in a series of challenges that will leave muscles aching for days!

March to Coppergate (1.30pm, 23 February, starts from York Minster – free)

Watch a fearsome Viking army of over 200 warriors dressed in their finest combat gear parade through the streets of York. Watch them form a formidable column of combatants, making their way from York Minster to Coppergate, and on to the Eye of York. 

Annual Best Beard Competition (3.00pm, 23 February, St Sampson’s Square – free)

Natural-grown, woolly, cardboard – young and old; male and female beards of every description are welcome to compete in this annual celebration of fabulous facial follicles! There are prizes and trophies for the best entries – voted by the audience – with participants registering on the day.

Battle Spectacular at Folkvangr Fields (6.45pm, 23 February, Eye of York – £15 adult, £11 concession, £44.50 family)

The biggest event during the annual JORVIK Viking Festival is the Battle Spectacular; featuring drama, music, combat and concluding with a stunning firework finale! Wrap up warm and take your place around the Eye of York, in the shadow of Clifford’s Tower. It’s an unforgettable evening where the forgotten sagas of the most extraordinary women in the Viking world are brought to life by a cast of over 100 warriors.

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

10 family friendly things to do in Cheshire #ExploringCheshire

Living in South Manchester, we are lucky to have the whole of Cheshire virtually on our doorstep. It’s a beautiful, lush green county, with bags of history, acres of natural beauty and more interesting things to do than you could shake a stick at.

When it comes to days out with the family, Cheshire has a diverse range of options and something to suit everyone. I’ve pulled together a list of 10 family friendly days out and things to do in Cheshire which are ideal if you’re visiting for the day, or if you live there and want to explore the county a bit more.

Days Out: Lymm Historic Transport Day

10 family friendly things to do in Cheshire

Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo is a world famous attraction; famed for its commitment to conservation, the zoo has a large and diverse collection of animals. It’s also got a monorail and each December hosts The Lanterns, a wonderful night time walk where the zoo dazzles with wonderful light displays.

Delamere Forest

Delamere Forest is managed by the Forestry Commission, there are recreational trails, a visitors centre and a cafe. There’s a nearby train station too. Plus there’s a Go Ape there for the more adventurous members of your family.

Ness Botanic Gardens, Neston

Owned by the University of Liverpool, Ness Botanic Gardens is home to a fantastic horticultural collection which includes show gardens, a Victorian-style potager and an Alpine house and cafe.

Jodrell Bank Discover Centre, Macclesfield

Jodrell Bank is owned and run by the University of Manchester and it is the home of the Lovell Telescope, the third largest steerable radio telescope in the world. It’s open to the public and has a visitors centre, exhibits and gardens to explore, as well as the chance to have a look at the Lovell Telescope up close.

10 family friendly things to do in Cheshire Jodrell Bank

Blue Planet Aquarium, Ellesmere Port

The Blue Planet Aquarium is a marine and freshwater aquarium located by the Cheshire Oaks retail and leisure complex in Ellesmere Port. It’s a fabulous day out, lots of fun and an interesting under-sea adventure for everyone.

Roman Tours, Chester

Take a fascinating walking tour of the ancient city of Chester with an authentic Roman soldier as your guide. Learn all about Roman history in this informative, educational and interactive experience for all ages.

The Ice Cream Farm, Tattenhall

On warmer days, a trip to The Ice Cream Farm in Tattenhall makes a refreshing change, with over 40 flavours of ice-cream to try out, children’s play areas, farm animals and quad bikes, there’s no better place to chill out in the summer.

Just So Festival, Congleton

Now in its 10th year, the award-winning Just So Festival is the most wonderful family festival; with weird and wonderful things around every corner, lots to stimulate young minds (and not so young minds). Just So is the highlight of our summer, go for the day, or camp in the grounds of the wonderful Rode Hall. It’s the perfect way to unplug yourselves and let go for a weekend.

Lymm Historic Transport Day

Each summer, the ancient Cheshire town of Lymm is host to the Lymm Festival. Alongside the main festival, the Lymm Historic Transport Day is a real highlight for transport enthusiasts across Cheshire. With steam engines, vintage vehicles, diggers, bikes and even batmobiles; Lymm Historic Transport Day is a real treat, the Spitfire fly-over last year was a real highlight!

Days Out: Lymm Historic Transport Day

Dunham Massey

Cheshire is spoilt for National Trust properties, one of my favourites is Dunham Massey. It’s got long flat footpaths which are great for walking, scooting or cycling on; plus a magnificent hall, beautiful gardens and a deer park. It’s got a fairly new visitors centre and cafes galore. Wrap up for a winter walk, or slap on the sun-cream in the summer. Year round, it’s a great place to visit!

Laurus Homes have created a useful infographic which explores new Cheshire developments, the great things about living in Cheshire and the history of the Cheshire property industry. If you want to take a look, you can click here and download it for yourself.

There’s so much to do in Cheshire; we have friends and family over the border, so we visit often and it’s definitely on our list of places to move to when we retire.  If you’re going on a family friendly day out in Cheshire, where are you planning? I’d love to hear your suggestions, pop them in the comments box below!

10 family friendly things to do in Cheshire #ExploringCheshire

This is a collaborative post.

20 family friendly walks around Manchester

At this time of year, there’s something really nice about wrapping the family up and going for a winter walk. Being stuck in the house all day is a recipe for boredom and I know if I don’t get my lot out at least once over the weekend, chaos will ensue. Finding family friendly walks isn’t always easy, but where is good to go and easy to get to from Manchester?

Having a dog means we are out a few times a day in the park or down by the river anyway, but packing a flask and some treats, clambering in the car and setting off to explore somewhere a little bit further afield can be a fun but budget day out. If you’ve got buggies to contend with too, finding good paths to push a pram along can make all the difference on a country walk.

20 family friendly walks around Manchester

With the help of some other Manchester based bloggers, I’ve gathered a list of good family walks in and around Manchester, each with a little write up or review, so you know just what to expect when you’re planning your walk. Some of them are in and around National Trust properties, so if you’ve got a membership card, it’s worth checking and taking it with you.

20 family friendly walks around Manchester

Abney Hall – a lovely little walk, pond dipping optional. Cafe and free parking.

Alderley Edge – magical walks, huge views across Cheshire and beyond and a little bit of folklore and magic too!

Boggart Hole Clough – is a large woodland and urban country park in Blackley, Manchester

Clayton Vale –  is a natural wildlife habitat and a Local Nature Reserve.

Clifton Country Park – is a local nature reserve in the Irwell Valley at Clifton. Home to a fairytale trail!

Delamere Forest – managed by the Forestry Commission, there are recreational trails, a visitors centre and a cafe. There’s a nearby train station too.

Dovestones Reservoir – is on the very edge of the Peak District National Park and it a gorgeous place to walk with the family.

Dunham Massey – deer park, house and gardens. Lovely flat paths and lots to explore (National Trust).

Etherow Country Park – boating late, flat paths, cafe and good family walks to be had.

Fletcher Moss Park, Didsbury – woodland walks, a botanical garden, a nature reserve, a great cafe and walks by the river. What more do you need?

Jumbles Country Park – reservoir, wooded walking paths, a cafe and year-round fishing.

Lyme Park – (National Trust) deer park, hall, mill and a brilliant playground, miles of walks and a cafe!

Lyme Park 20 family friendly walks around Manchester

Macclesfield Forest – lovely woodland walks with views to match!

Rode Hall – snowdrop walks, bluebell walks and a regular farmers market, plus the best cafe ever!

Sandstone Trail, Cheshire – one of the most popular long distance walks in the North West.

Speke Hall – (National Trust) a Tudor manor house with a maze, woodland walk and gardens to explore.

Tandle Hill Country Park – is a large country park with woodland areas, sweepings views and a countryside centre.

Teggs Nose Country Park – explore the meadow, moor and woodland areas around the 380m high hill, ideal for walking and cycling.

Werneth Low Country Park – panoramic views are offered from this grassy hilltop, which also features a country park.

Yarrow Valley Country Park – 700 acre parkland with a lake, waterfall, adventure playground, cafe and a visitors centre.

I’ve made a map with every single walk I’ve mentioned above in it, so you can find everything easily. Just click on the map and away you go!

Don’t forget your flask and waterproofs, this is Manchester after all. Where are you going on your next walking adventure?

20 family friendly walks around Manchester

Days Out: Visiting The World of Beatrix Potter

Late last year we visited the Lake District for a short break. It’s an incredibly beautiful place to visit and a few days in the lakes really is good for the soul. While we were there we visited a few attractions, went on a steam train and spent an afternoon at The World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness-on-Windermere.

The World of Beatrix Potter is tucked away just off one of the main roads through Bowness. There’s no parking on site, but plenty of parking around Bowness. The attraction is often very busy, so if you’re able to go early in the day, that might be better. There is a queuing system and people are admitted in batches.

The World of Beatrix Potter

In groups you’re ushered through to a room where you’re shown a 5 minute film introducing you to Beatrix Potter and her stories and illustrations. The doors from the film room open to the main exhibition where the sights and sounds of Beatrix Potter’s much loved characters are brought to life.

The main exhibition takes you on a journey through scenes from her books, some of the scenes are slightly interactive with the smells and sounds you’d expect if they were real. The scenes are really well done and the character are exactly as they were drawn.

The World of Beatrix Potter

The main exhibition includes; Jemima Puddle-duck’s woodland glade; Mr Tod’s underground home; The Tale of Pigling Bland; Mrs Tittlemouse; Squirrel Nutkin; The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit; Mrs Tiggy-Winkle’s Kitchen; The Tale of Two bad Mice; Miss Moppet; Johnny Town-Mouse and Samuel Whiskers; The Pie and the Patty-Pan; Tom Kitten; The Flopsy Bunnies; The Tailor of Gloucester; Benjamin Bunny; The Tale of Ginger and Pickles; The Tale of Peter Rabbit; Mr McGregor’s Greenhouse and Mr. Jeremy Fisher on his lily-pad boat.

About half way around the main exhibition, there’s the chance to step outside and explore The Peter Rabbit Garden. For me this was a real highlight, despite the fact it was out of season and not especially lush. I think in the spring and summer the garden would look fantastic.

The Peter Rabbit Garden is a small show garden filled with all kinds of things from Beatrix Potter’s world; from the lettuces that Benjamin Bunny, Lily Bob-Tail and Peter Rabbit would eat; to the gooseberry bush where Peter got caught in a net as he tried to escape Mr. McGregor. There’s a beautiful bronze sculpture in the centre which shows the three children releasing the figure of Jemima Puddle-duck. It’s a tiny space which is absolutely crammed with little hidden gems and beautiful plants. It’s a treat for any garden enthusiast.

The World of Beatrix Potter

The World of Beatrix Potter also includes a Virtual Walk which enables you to explore the Lake District without leaving the spot. There’s also a Beatrix Potter timeline and more information about her life. There’s a really good shop for gifts and a tearoom which we didn’t get the chance to visit.

When we visited it was really, really busy and felt busier because there wasn’t much space inside the exhibition. There were an awful lot of pushchairs in the narrow space and you felt a little pushed along by the flow. I’m not sure the exhibition which opening in 1991 was designed to accommodate pushchairs and prams in any numbers, which is a shame. There is a buggy park in the foyer, but sometimes it’s not practical to park up and go without your pushchair.

Despite the crush, we really loved The World of Beatrix Potter. I’ve been reading her books since I was a child and reading them with my son has been a real joy. It’s somewhere everyone should visit at least once on their lives.

If you’re visiting the Lake District, The World of Beatrix Potter is an iconic place to visit. For more information about opening times, admission prices and what’s on, visit the website.

We paid for our visit in full.

The World of Beatrix Potter

The Ultimate Review Round up of Merlin Attractions in the UK

If you’ve got a Merlin Annual Pass, you might have some favourite places to visit with it. A lot of passholders tend to visit the same two or three attractions, but it’s good to branch out a bit if you get the chance. This year we have been Merlin Annual Pass Ambassadors and we’ve made a conscious effort to get out and about a bit more, using our passes on holidays and weekends away to get the most out of them.

The Ultimate Review Round up of Merlin Attractions in the UK

There are (I think) 32 UK attractions you can gain entry to with a Merlin Annual Pass. Whilst we’ve not managed to visit them all, we’ve had a lot of fun trying. Below is a list of all the (current) Merlin Attractions in the UK along with links to a write up of a visit there, either by myself or another blogger. It’s a cracking to do list if you’ve got a Merlin Annual Pass. How many have you visited?

The Ultimate Review Round up of Merlin Attractions in the UK

Alton Towers Resort
Bear Grylls Adventure – the newest and most adventurous attraction!
Blackpool Tower – Our review back in 2016.
Blackpool Tower Circus – We loved this, definitely worth seeing if you’re visiting.
Blackpool Tower Dungeon
Chessington World of Adventures Resort
Edinburgh Dungeon
JURASSIC Skyline – We visited on a cloudy day, but loved it all the same.
LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham – The newest LEGOLAND is a treat!
LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Manchester – Our own favourite LEGOLAND!
LEGOLAND Windsor 
London Dungeon
London Eye
Madame Tussauds Blackpool – See all your favourite famous faces!
Madame Tussauds London
National SEA LIFE Centre Birmingham – Worth a visit to the National Centre.
SEA LIFE Blackpool – Plus Behind the Scenes Tour!
SEA LIFE Bray
SEA LIFE Brighton
SEA LIFE Great Yarmouth
SEA LIFE Loch Lomond
SEA LIFE London
SEA LIFE Manchester – Lots to see and do under the sea!
SEA LIFE Sanctuary Hunstanton
SEA LIFE Scarborough
Seal Sanctuary Gweek – This is a real treat for Seal fans!
Shrek’s Adventure!
Thorpe Park Resort
Warwick Castle – Seriously good fun for castle enthusiasts!
Warwick Castle Dungeon
Weymouth SEA LIFE Adventure Park – A very different SEA LIFE experience.
York Dungeon

What’s your favourite Merlin Attraction?

The Ultimate Review Round up of Merlin Attractions in the UK

Days Out: The Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway

Getting out of the city and out into the countryside for the weekend is an all too rare thing. But this year we’ve managed two jaunts to the Lake District; the first to Keswick for a spot of glamping and the second to Coniston. During our visit to Coniston, we took some time to explore the southern lakes a little more. My son is a steam train enthusiast, so we visited the The Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway and we loved it so much, we went back again the next day!

As a child I spent an awful lot of time in the southern Lake District. My Nan had a caravan there and my Uncle liked to fish; so we would spend lots of our school holidays going on day trips and long walks. I remember my time there very fondly, especially our annual visits to The Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway, so it was great to share that with my son.

Days Out: The Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway

On arrival at Haverthwaite Station, it felt like nothing at all had changed in 30 years. Of course it had, whilst original features abound, there are the kind of modern conveniences that people expect; like clean modern toilets, a nice cafe and a gift shop.

Most visitors arrive and park at Haverthwaite Station which is near Ulverston and really easy to find. The steam trains run regularly, but if you find you’ve just missed one and you’ve got to wait for the next one, the cafe is very decent and you can always have a mooch around the gift shop. The station itself is really pretty to explore and there’s a play area for little ones too.

Days Out: The Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway

On the day we visited, Haverthwaite Station was playing host to The Owl Sanctuary. There were a selection of owls and a few handlers talking to the visitors about them. My son was lucky enough to hold a tiny one. He adores owls, so he was in his element.

Days Out: The Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway

Soon our steam train rolled into the station and it was all aboard for our journey to Lakeside at Windermere. We clambered aboard ‘Repulse’ and got comfortable in the original carriages. The journey itself isn’t an especially long one and takes around 20 minutes; but it takes you through beautiful countryside, pauses in Newby Bridge, then through some woodland and eventually to the edge of Lake Windermere.

Most people get off here and either go on to explore the aquarium, or go on to get the steam boat across Windermere. We stayed on the train and returned to Haverthwaite Station.

Days Out: The Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway

Periodically, The Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway have special events and special days. The day after our first visit was one of these special days. As it was sort of on our way home, we returned to do the whole thing all over again, but with a few child friendly activities, dressing up and sing songs. This was the icing on the cake for my son and our two visits to the railway have really cemented his love for it. I know that come spring, we’ll be back.

I have very fond memories of going on The Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway when I was a child, and now my son does too. It really is a brilliant attraction, made better by having things to see and do at either end. It really was the highlight of a very brilliant weekend in the lakes.

For more information about The Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway, visit their website.

Note: we paid for our tickets in full, I’ve just written about it because we loved it!