Tag Archives: Birmingham

Days Out: LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham

Over the summer, with much fanfare, LEGOLAND opened the new LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham. We had a weekend away in Birmingham in September and a visit to LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham was very high on our list of things to do.

Days Out: LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham is quite similar to the one in Manchester. We visit the Manchester centre quite often, so it all felt quite similar there. We loved the Birmingham Miniland – which includes models of some of the more iconic buildings and places to visit in and around Birmingham. We’d been to Warwick Castle the previous day, so their model of the castle was an absolute treat!

Days Out: LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham

The new LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham has all of the things we’ve come to expect from a Discovery Centre. The Kingdom Quest ride is something we enjoy doing; but there’s often a queue and if you just want to get straight into the LEGO action it’s easy to skip.

The 4D Cinema (which we didn’t go in, because the boy just wanted to play with the LEGO) looked good. The queues were pretty minimal for that and I always think it’s a good excuse to sit down for 15 minutes and enjoy a mini-LEGO movie.

Days Out: LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham

Also at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham there’s the Duplo Farm, LEGO City Builder and LEGO Racers Build and Test. These are all areas where you can just dive in and build whatever you want with the millions of bricks which are there. These are obviously very popular and my son loves (really loves) the chance to sit and build with unlimited bricks for as long as he wants. It is a LEGO fans dream really.

If you’re looking for a more formal building experience, the Creative Workshop was brilliant. They run regular sessions throughout the day. Everyone is given a kit and instructions to build something (on the day we visited it was a LEGO BBQ). It’s well worth setting aside a bit of time to do one of the workshops, for me the workshop was probably my highlight.

Days Out: LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham

My son is not a fan of rides; so we gave the Merlin’s Apprentice Ride a miss in favour of half an hour of LEGO City Soft Play. The soft play is always popular. It’s well thought out, with lots of fun LEGO details and it’s soft play; so all kids like it and ultimately refuse to leave until you promise to buy them a biscuit/LEGO from the shop/a puppy.

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham is well worth visiting if you’re in the area. It’s not massive, but there’s enough to entertain you for a few hours. We loved Miniland, the Creative Workshop, all the LEGO building areas and the soft play.

Tickets are from £15 per person, but deals and discounts are available online. For more information about Legoland Discovery Centre Birmingham and Merlin Annual Passes, visit their website. Our Merlin Annual Pass gives us entry to all Merlin Attractions and it worth getting if you’re a regular visitor.

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

Days Out: Bear Grylls Adventure, Birmingham

Last weekend we went to Birmingham for an adventure or two. On our to do list was a visit to the brand new Bear Grylls Adventure centre which is at Birmingham NEC. My husband is no stranger to adventure and extreme sports, so as a special treat I’d booked him in to experience the Base Camp and to go snorkeling with sharks.

We drove from Birmingham and parked a 15 minute walk away in the designated car park. There might be closer parking, but if not, take a coat, the walk around the lake to the centre is very blowy. The Bear Grylls Adventure centre is easy to find and you can see if from quite far away as you approach. We got ourselves booked in; husband had the Base Camp + Snorkeling ticket and the boy and I had spectator tickets, he was too young to take part and someone needed to take care of him.

Days Out: Bear Grylls Adventure, Birmingham

My husband (who henceforth will be referred to as Matt, because that is his name) signed a waiver. He then went through to the lockers and joined his group. People go through the Bear Grylls Adventure in groups, so this would be a really great thing to do with a group of friends or through work maybe.

He was soon ushered off to complete the first Base Camp activity. There are four Base Camp activities which your group works their way through; Survival Maze, Escape Room, Assault Course and Target Archery. Included in the Base Camp package are digital photos, so you get a little book all about your adventure, which is a nice touch. Tickets to do the Base Camp only are £20.

Days Out: Bear Grylls Adventure, Birmingham

There are other “Hero” activities which you can add on. There are High Ropes, Climbing Wall, Snorkeling, iFly (indoor skydiving) and Scuba Diving. We went for the Snorkeling, which including the Base Camp cost £45 per ticket.

Matt went through all the Base Camp activities; this should have taken a little under two hours, but there was a problem with a group ahead of them and they ran out of time so didn’t get the chance to try the archery. The groups were led around Base Camp by a pair of guides. The guides helped everyone through, so if you struggle, there is someone there to help. Matt especially liked the Assault Course, he’s done similar things like that before and he’s a keen runner so it was really up his street.

Days Out: Bear Grylls Adventure, Birmingham

After he’d finished the Base Camp portion of the afternoon he met up with the Snorkeling group. There they were given instructions and a safety talk, he changed into a wet suit and he was plunged into a cage in the shark tank.

From our point of view, the angle and positioning of the cage made it really hard to see him. In fact from the outside you wouldn’t know there was anyone in the cage and he couldn’t see us either. The shark tank contains 14 black tipped reef sharks, stingrays and a whole shoal of colourful fish. It’s very beautiful to look at and is rightly the visual centrepiece of the Bear Grylls Adventure centre.

Days Out: Bear Grylls Adventure, Birmingham

Although he really enjoyed the snorkeling activity, he’s since said that he would have preferred to do the scuba dive. We watched a group scuba dive in the tank and it was much more interactive. But the snorkeling is probably about the right level if you’re a beginner or a bit nervous.

The inside of Bear Grylls Adventure is really well done; the floor looks like a rutted, muddy track and there are expedition trucks, crashed planes and replica crocodiles to admire. There’s also a Bear Grylls figure clinging to a rock which you can go and pose near for photographs.

From a spectators perspective, there’s not a great deal to do to fill the hours. There’s a cafe area and you can hang around in the main area waiting for your friend or in my case, husband to briefly appear before moving onto the next challenge. We did get a bit bored after a while, so if you’re just going to support someone, take a book.

Days Out: Bear Grylls Adventure, Birmingham

The Bear Grylls Adventure centre is very well put together. The activities are well organised and everything feels safe. I think the prices for the activities are very reasonable; it would be a great way to spend an afternoon bonding with friends or work mates.

If like us you have a Merlin Annual pass, then you get 25% off the cost of your adventure. I do recommend that before booking you read the FAQ section on their website and have a good think about what “Hero” activities you would like to do.

Husband left with a big smile on his face. He didn’t quite know what to expect when we arrived; but he’d scrambled through a survival maze, eaten dried insects, escaped the escape room, scrambled over the assault course and snorkeled with sharks. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon in Birmingham!

Find out more about the Bear Grylls Adventure Centre in Birmingham by visiting their website

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

Top Ten Toy Picks from Spring Fair 2016

Over the weekend I went to Spring Fair in the Birmingham NEC, if you’ve never been, it is THE event to attend if you’re a retailer looking for new suppliers and stock. I went with two hats on, as a blogger and as the Marketing and PR person for a toy shop I work for. The Spring Fair was huge, every hall in the NEC was filled with a different category, but we (me and That Lancashire Lass) were primarily interested in the children’s toys. It was a  long and tiring day, but it was incredibly interesting and I’ve got a better idea about what will be under everyone’s Christmas tree this year (too soon?). 

Here are my top picks from the toy hall at Spring Fair 2016 (Hall 5).

Hippychick Ltd (stand 5Eo1) – Pl-ug Den Building Kits, retailing from £12.99, it is an innovative den building kit, by using the specially designed hooks, suckers, clamps and pegs you can build your own indoor or outdoor den. All you need is a sheet or blanket and some imagination. 

Bigjigs (stand 5G01) – I’m a big fan of the Bigjigs wooden toys, but their “Green Toys” were new to me. The Green Toys are classic toys constructed from recycled plastic and other environmentally friendly materials. I particularly liked their selection of chunky vehicles which had a nice retro vibe. Suitable for ages 1+ I know my 5 year old would very happily play with these.

Fiesta Crafts Ltd (stand 5L04) – Fiesta Crafts are well worth looking at full stop, but my favourite new thing on their stand were their “Stickabouts”. A bit like modern day fuzzy-felt, the Stickabouts have a scene on a board and a load of “stickers” to place, but these glue-free stickers easily peel off and re-stick anywhere you want. If they stick to the wall then they easily peel off. This is a bit of a welcome sticker revelation to me, all the fun of stickers but without having to spend hours scraping them off the wall. 

Clockwork Soldier (Stand 5M49) – these are a new brand to me, but I loved the look of the products and I want mentally picturing them on the wall in my son’s room and seeing him playing with some of the craft kits. They have a beautiful range which includes space, dinosaurs, robots, superhero and dress up. I’m going to campaign hard to see these in the toy shop, I think they’ll sell incredibly well!

Keel Toys (Stand 5D20) – I can’t resist a cuddly toy, but my eye was drawn to the Christmas Elves, these are soft, cuddly and smiley Elves which would be a great gift for December, they’re reasonably priced and would be a jolly visitor from the North Pole is you were going to do Elf on a Shelf this year.

Brainstorm Ltd (Stand 5L27) – one word, StikBots. I think these are going to be pretty big this year, these are small pose-able plastic robot figures with suckers on their hands and feet which you can use to create stop-frame animations with using a downloadable app. They come in an array of colours and will be great for creative kids.

Orchard Toys Ltd (Stand 5K41)  – this stand is worth visiting just to see the Giant Railway Puzzle linked up to the Giant Road Puzzle, and the village and the airport. The Giant Road Puzzle is a classic, and they’ve recently launched a whole raft of new puzzles to accompany that and I know that these will sell incredibly well in the toy shop and kids will love making their own town and transport system at home. Fantastic.

Marbel Ltd (Stand 5K50) – the Marbel stand was showing off some of their new Hape wooden toys products, I’m not sure what if anything I’m allowed to say, but if I use the words “wooden train”, “xylophone” and “just awesome” you know what to look out for later this year. Hape products are really well made wooden toys at a good price, great for babies and toddlers.

Stepping Stones Marketing (Stand 5L47) – are the UK distributors for Lilliputiens baby and nursery toys, these are quite captivating soft toys, but with hidden surprises designed to stimulate the child’s senses. We were quite taken by the lemur cot and pram toy as well as the adorable fox, we liked the gender neutral colouring and the quality of these products.

Jamm Toys (Stand 5L10) – I’m new to Jamm Toys and I was impressed by their range, in particular the cool retro wooden scooters stood out to me, they look like Vespas but for small children. I’d be surprised if I don’t see a few of these being scooted around our local park come Christmas!

spring fair 2016

Spring Fair was enormous, if you’re going then go with a game plan, wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for a very long day. 

I’ve picked out just ten things I loved from my day at Spring Fair, but honestly there were hundreds of fantastic toys to go and marvel at. I had a really interesting time and I learned an awful lot about toys and what will be big this year. Fantastic!