Category Archives: days out

places to take children

Namco Funscape Bowling – Tamworth, Staffordshire

Namco Funscape Bowling Tamworth
Castle Grounds, River Drive, Tamworth, Staffordshire, B79 7ND
website  / 01827 68448

Bowling, arcades, soft play and restaurants for families and older visitors. 2017 also saw the addition of a new 18 hole Adventure Golf with a medieval twist; nine indoor and nine outdoor holes.

The venue is available for family days out and private hire, including children’s parties and corporate events.

Opening Times Monday to Friday from 11am till late Saturday & Sunday from 10am till late.

Admission Prices 18 Holes Adult £6.00 Child £5.00 (under 16s) Family Ticket £19.95 (2 adults & 2 children).

A selection of food available including pizza, burgers, Kids Meal’s, ice creams, hot and cold drinks and an all important Costa Coffee on site.

 

Tamworth Snowdome Swimming Pool

Time to give some feedback on the boys favourite weekend activity this year. Tamworth Snowdome Swimming pool has a new inflatable obstacle course and the boys absolutely love it. Imagine the Wipeout course scaled down to fit the Tamworth Snowdome pool. There’s climbing, balancing, leaps across obstacles and then a big slide back in to the deep end of the pool with a splash landing.

I couldn’t find any photographs of the course on line to add to this post. It has an arctic theme including a giant abominable snowman.  In between there are glaciers to climb, and some giant swinging snowballs to duck or avoid. Unsurprisingly one or all of us don’t always make it across, but that just makes the whole thing even funnier.

The boys are already big fans of the pool. There’s a flume and three different areas for babies, smaller children, and the main pool itself. George has recently just grown tall enough to play on the flume, 1.1m and so the pair of them can move between each of the areas independently. The inflatable course and some extra floats come out at the weekend for an inflatable session. tamworth snowdome

The three of us all race onto  at the obstacle course at the same time.  Usually at least one of us will fall on the climbing wall at the very start. George and James will do their best to give me a decent nudge at this point ( because I make the biggest splash!) Then we’re off between the legs of the giant abominable snowman, and under the swinging inflatable snowballs. This requires us to get flat out on our stomachs and wiggle forwards. Finally its up the wobbly inflatable steps at the end… and a big drop into the deep end of the pool.

This term James is swimming with school which has really boosted his confidence, in and out of the pool. I remember from my school days that swimming lessons with school friends can be pretty daunting if you’re not a confident swimmer. Thankfully because he’s also jumping on and off of the inflatable obstacle course in the Snowdome pool, he appears to have developed a lot faster, and this seems to have paid dividends from his description of the swimming lessons.

There’s also an added bonus for me.  The prospect of getting into the pool with the boys has spurred me on to watch my weight and fitness a little be more that I had done in January this year. Whilst it’s mostly families in the pool, I’m still keen to avoid being looking like the unfit dad. A couple of cheeky evening runs have started to appear in my diary, and this week I’m aiming to take my kit to work with me for a couple of lunchtime runs as well.

The Snowdome has a helpful site with plenty of information about all of it’s facilities including Snowboarding, skiing, gym, and ice-skating if you want to find out more.

Tamworth Snowdome Swimming Pool

London Day Trip

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London Day Trip

The weekend before Christmas the boys and I travelled to the South East of England to visit family in Essex. Now that the boys are a little older I decided to leave some time between trains to see the sites in London. I’ve always enjoyed spending time walking through London and I had hoped the boys would too.

Our train out of the midlands travels into Euston underground and we took the connection to Green Park station. George adores the underground and loves the enormous escalators full of people, and strangely dressed buskers. His personal confidence can be a problem as he runs ahead without looking to see where George and I are, and he tries to edge as close to the speeding underground trains as he can.

Coming out into the sunshine at Green Park we walked through the park to Buckingham Palace to watch the guards and take photos. I have really vivid memories of my first trip to Buckingham Palace. To me it was a really big event. For George and James they couldn’t have looked any less interested. Even the sight of two burly royal guards, and a procession of Horse Guards didn’t spark the slightest interest. I guess they didn’t have Minecraft in my day, so we were easily impressed by real buildings!

From there we can walk along the Mall to Hyde Park which has a Winter Wonderland theme park at the moment. There are stalls, rides and a German Christmas market as well as an ice rink and big wheel. I had tried to book ice skating beforehand but it was booked up weeks in advance. In any event the boys were more interested in the giant wooden statues and stalls selling cakes and sweets. Definitely a bigger hit than Buckingham Palace.

With two hours left before our train, I let the boys decide how they would like to spend their time. Without a moments hesitation they both asked for a trip to Hamleys. Another underground trip and we arrived at Oxford Street, and a short walk brought us to the magical giant toy store. I think this is our third visit to the store , and If you’ve not already been, then I can’t recommend it enough. There are endless interactive displays on each of the floors; radio controlled helicopters flying overhead; a Nerf shooting range; magicians. The boys think it’s magical. The prices are usually a little higher than high street, so I usually set a strict limit on what they can have, or offer to order online as soon as we’re home.

Also if you’ve not visited before I couldn’t recommend highly enough that that you DON’T visit the weekend before Christmas. Absolute chaos! Hundreds and hundreds of families running round looking for last minutes gifts. To the credit of Hamleys there were staff on each set of stairs and throughout the store ushering visitors into orderly queues, and preventing little ones from getting trampled. Better still the gigantic animated  Christmas display at the front of the store was breathtaking.

After that it was back to Liverpool Street and out to the wilds of Essex.  Little legs were exhausted and tablets went on (Minecraft obvs!)

Let me know about your adventures around the capital with your little ones, and top tips for family friendly places to visit. 

For opening info for Hamleys Toy Shop:-

www.hamleys.com/
188-196 Regent Street, London W1B 5BT

 

Tree Top Juniors at Go Ape Cannock Chase

 

 

There’s nothing George and James enjoy doing more than climbing, so for James birthday the three of us treated ourselves to a day at Go Ape in Cannock Chase, Staffordshire.

Cannock Chase has the longest Tree Top Adventure & Forest Segways course in the UK. It’s set in the beautiful Cannock Chase forest which is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and receives awards for tourism.

As George isn’t yet ten we joined the Tree Top Junior Course, which is designed for young children. For anyone not familiar with the Go Ape concept; it’s a network of tree-top high wires, crossings and zip wires set high up off the ground. You and your children are connected to a secure safety wire at all times, so even if you fall from the obstacle you’re climbing, you only swing a metre or so away.

This was our first trip to Cannock Chase in Staffordshire. The views of the forest were amazing, and the facilities were good too. The area is very popular and we were lucky to come early as the car park soon filled up.

One of the best things about our day was the staff. They had already impressed me when they let me changing my booking at last moment by telephone with no trouble. That was nothing compared to the friendliness of all the staff the whole time we were there. Not one member of the team failed to introduce themselves to the boys and make them feel welcome, even though it was a cold damp Sunday morning.

I couldn’t recommend this activity strongly enough. We were entertained for hours and spent the rest of the afternoon in the busy cafe, laughing about how hopeless I was at the zip wire.

If you’re planning a trip then make sure you arrive early, with plenty of change for Cannock Chase car Park, to avoid any stress.

Birmingham Library

Yesterday Birmingham Library celebrated it’s first birthday and so James, George and I decided to do some exploring.

Birmingham Library

James and I are both book lovers and so we were eager to see everything that the library had to offer. George on the other hand thought this was the worst idea for a day out ever imagined. Some negotiation took place and a trip to The Entertainer was agreed as part of the day.

When we arrived all three of us were instantly impressed. The boys recognised the destinctive decoraction on the outside of this enormous building from the television reports last year of it’s opening and were keen to explore inside.  The entrance hall is huge with an open plan cafe on the ground floor and tall illuminated escalators going off in all directions like something out of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

Our journey started with a trip to the children’s library which is on the lower ground floor area. As well as a large collection of books and displays it also includes a Digital Gallery displaying animations and creations from local schools.

Further along on the ground floor we found the glass walled Ampitheatre from which you can look up into Centenary Square.

Having taken a look at the guide to the floors I decided that next we would take the lift to the ninth floor where there is a Skyline Viewing area. You can see from the photo above that the view over Birmingham was amazing, and for someone who has lived and work in Birmingham this was particularly interesting.

Birmingham Library

Next stop was the glass elevator on the seventh floor. Alex was absolutly hypnotised! Continying past the elevator brings you out to the Secret Garden which I think was the best part of the trip for all of us.  There is a garden terrace with plants and flowers, including seats for reading, all outdoors overlooking the whole of Birmingham. You can walk around the perimeter of the building and take in all of the views of the busy city below, including the canals, the towering office blocks, cathedral spires, and the football stadiums.

Birmingham Library

On journeying back down to the ground floor reception we switched between the lifts, elevators and stairwells just to satisfy George’s curiousity about the building. By the time we reached the ground floor the three of us were exhausted and thoroughly entertained and decided to head off for some food.

I accept that our review has missed out the most the important thing about the library which is the amazing resources that it holds. I’ve also not mentioned the The Shakespeare Discovery Room or the Book Rotunda. However to James and George the real feature of the  day was the amazing building itself which I’d encourage eveyone to visit at least once.

Birmingham Library can be found at Centenary Square on Broad Street by the Rep Theatre and Birmingham Symphony Hall.

The library opens 8am-8m monday to friday, 9am-5pm satureday, and 11am-4pm sunday.

Entry is free and there is free wifi throughout.

Facilities throughout the library were very good but I would encourage any visitors to consult the free downloadable visitors guide at :-http://www.libraryofbirmingham.com/article/visitorguide/visitorguide-summary

If you’ve visited the library or any other local midlands attraction then let us know what you thought.

 

Mead Open Farm

Mead Open Farm
Mead Open Farm

Mead Open Farm

Located not far from Milton Keynes, Mead Open Farm was one of our favourite days out in 2013.  For one all-inclusive ticket there is absolutely loads to do including Shaggy’s huge indoor playworld, go-karting, crazy golf, and of course lots of amazing farm animals to interact with.

George and James are not normally big fans of animals but you can see from our youtube clip that George got stuck in feeding the pigs and goats. Other animals included rabbits at Bunny Hop, sheep at the Sheep Racing, lambs, a miniature Shetland pony, and cows.

Mead Open Farm is very ‘hands-on’ with petting, feeding and milking taking place throughout the day. You can  join in with the animal activities including lamb bottle feeding and bunny cuddling.

James was a lot more impressed by the giant slides in the indoor play centre, with scramble nets and ball cannons. Both the boys enjoyed the outdoor 20 ft Giant’s Rock, and go karts. Sadly we ran out of time before getting a chance to play on the crazy golf.

Travel by car:-

Just south of Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire.

Call 01525 852954 or visit www.meadopenfarm.co.uk

Open daily from 10am until 6.30pm, last admission 5.30pm.
Closed 24, 25 and 26 December and 1 January only.

Free parking, gift shop and onsite cafe and tea room.

Address
Mead Open Farm
Stanbridge Road
Billington
Bedfordshire
LU7 9JH

info@meadopenfarm.co.uk

Crealy Adventure Park (and Crealy Family Theme Parks)

Crealy Adventure Park
Crealy Adventure Park

Click here to watch George on the water ride.

Crealy Adventure Park (and Crealy Family Theme Parks)

Crealy was recommended to us by another weekend parent. He explained that the ticket included free returns within the week and suggested stopping at one of the hotels in Exeter and then visiting the local beaches with the opportunity of returning to the park during the week.

We stayed at Hallloween week and there were lots of activities and shows put on. The boys carved pumpkins, visited spooky houses, and tried their luck with a haunted lucky dip. I understand that these vary through-out the year and certainly they added a lot to our visit, with the boys daring each other to go into the witches garden!

There are two parks, Devon and Cornwall. We visited the Devon park although I understand that there might have been more at Cornwall. That’s definitely one for another year.

The address for Crealy Park Devon:-

Sidmouth Rd, Exeter, Devon EX5 1DR. Tel 01395 233200

Ticket Prices and Opening Times are updated regularly on the website as well as all the latest news.

We’ve been to a few parks together including Drayton Manor (Thomas Land), and Legoland. I didn’t get the impression that Crealy was set up to compete with these parks, with expensive branding, promotions and bigger rides, but for our age group (6-9) it was ideal. The week return made it absolutely amazing value too.

What other parks would readers recommend? Do you have experience of the Crealy parks?

Birmingham Thinktank Science Garden and Museum at Millenium Point

 

Thinktank Science Garden

Watch a clip

When it comes to free activities then we are first in the queue! If you have not already been to Thinktank in Birmingham then I would definitely encourage you to go. If nothing else the building and and grounds provide a lovely open space for children, just to explore, and run around. Even befor you consider what’s on offer. The Science Garden opened in Summer 2012. This outdoor space is completely free to enter and is full of interesting, well-designed activities. Even if, like George and me, you’re not interested in the science, you can still just start messing around with things and have and really enjoyable couple of hours. If you, like James, you are interested in the scient then there is a lot of information telling you about what the equipment is demonstrating. The garden is suitable for all ages. There is a stream running through the middle with steppins stones, so I’d advise caution with younger visitors, althouth there is a separate play park for tint tota. Our favourite of the many exhibits is the one in the video clip; a giant human-sized hamster wheel. If your child can make it go fast enough it will create enough electricity to light a small bulb at one end. Sadly for James, George was more insterested in turning it into a competion about which direction to travel! The website states that there are 42 hands-on exhibits. Certainly we got through about ten or twelve in a couple of hours before the West Midlands weather got the better of us, and we took shelter in the indoor exhibition space. We decidied to take a picnic with us and so the only thing we paid for the whole day was parking costs. If you’re inclinded to stretch the budget then there is the Thinktank museum itself, as well as the Imax cinema. Birmingham Thinktank and Science Garden can be foud at Millennium Point, Curzon Street, Birmingham B4 7XG Tel : 0121 202 2222. For opening times and ticket information please follow the link.

The Gate Gallop

Each year the boys and me  visit the Gate Gallop running event in Tamworth. This year the Gate Gallop takes place on the 28th June 2015 and as always includes families, and first timers, as well as serious athletes. There are various races that take place during the day including a 10k race, fun run, and children’s run. All events are traffic free and off road. There is a bbq throughout the day with refreshments, a  bouncy castle and much more. The event takes place at:-

Anker Valley Sports Complex, Amington, Tamworth B77 3AX

Funds raised by the event are donated to local charity St Giles Hospice Registered Charity No. 509014 Marshalls for the event are provided by local club runners from Peel Road Runners.

peel road runners

 

 

 

James and George enjoy running and love taking part in the event. There is a small entry fee but they get a finishers medal and goody bag for their hard work. There is always a lovely atmosphere at the event with everybody encouraging each other on. Start Times: Children’s  9.45am, Fun Run (4.4k) 10.15am, 10k Race 11.15am Parking, Showers and Changing: Available, free at venue. First Aid: Mercia EMA will be on hand around the course and at the finish.

The Gate Gallop
The Gate Gallop