Wind in the Willows Trail at Hanningfield Reservoir-Days out in Essex

Wind in the Willows is a children’s classic novel about small animals who spend their summer days boating on quiet rivers, going on picnics with large hampers of food and being lost in the wild woods. It’s fun, adventurous and very British- A classic tale of river life and friendship.

The novels begin with Mole, a peace-loving little animal, who decides to leave his burrow after being bored with doing his spring cleaning. He ventures down to river bank and soon meets brave Ratty, grumpy Badger and an unruly Toad.

Children and adults love Wind in the Willows as it represents a quintessential British summer. We all want to stroll down by the river, picnic on the banks, sail down the river in a boat and set out on journeys full of fun and adventure.

At Hanningfield Reservoir you can follow in Mole’s footsteps, follow the trail and discover the characters from the Wind in the Willows.

The boys love a bit of excitement and anything that’s gets them out within nature. They love trekking through woods going on adventures.

With a map in one hand and a crayon in the other they were ready to go off and search for the wooden sculptures hidden within the woods of Hanningfield.

The maps and crayons are available at the visitors centre for £1.

As soon as we had left the car and headed on over to the visitors centre they were greeted by the beautiful wildlife garden, which is the home to Ratty’s boat and Toad’s caravan.

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Inside Toad's caravan
Inside Toad’s caravan

After a little stroll around the peaceful garden we headed on over to purchase our maps. We were given a crayon too as next to every wooden sculpture there is brass rubbing squares that you can create a rubbing from on the back of your map.

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The boys used their map reading skills to follow the trail and lead us to the fun, life-size characters that were numbered on the map. Teaching them navigation skills and direction.

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I love watching the boys working together as they are normally squabbling with each other.

They were so excited when they found the first one set within the trees. Once they found the character they could also read the description about each animal under the square that you used fort he rubbing. Not only were the children having fun but they were also learning facts about the animals as they went.

As we walked along we also made our way over to Lyster Hide, where we could look out over the reservoir and watch the birds fly over or swim on the water.

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The first on the trail was Badger

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Second was The Weasels

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Third was Mole

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Fourth was Ratty

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And last was speedy Toad

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There were also other sculptures to see that had mini beasts carved into them and picnic benches to sit down and eat your lunch at.

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The whole adventure took us just over an hour, we didn’t rush around and spent time just enjoying each others company and the woods that surrounded us.

It was a lovely day out and would definitely recommend it. Parking is free but no cycling or dogs are allowed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterdays World: Great Yarmouth Day Out

Step back in time to experience the bygone era, Yesterdays World: Great Yarmouth will take you on a trip down memory lane. Journey through time experiencing the recreated life size shop displays and street scenes, sit in an air raid shelter or take a ride on the 19th century carousel, there is something for everyone at Yesterdays World.

Situated along the golden mile of Great Yarmouth experience an amazing 125 years of British social history magically brought back to life. Discover over 150,000 nostalgic artefacts set in 20,000sq ft of themed areas plus virtual and interactive exhibits.

The museum recaptures the past with many displays on show and fantastic memoribilia dating from the 18th century right up to the 1970’s. Discover fascinating facts from historical characters and see for yourself how life has changed since the nineteenth century. Displays include life size wax figures of King Henry VIII and his wives, also Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy in the Silent Movie Theatre. Watch classic silent movies from these famous stars. Sit in the NEW Anderson shelter display and experience a WWII air raid! Take a walk through the recreated life size street scenes and shop displays, taking in the evocative sounds and smells of past.

From the moment you step in to the Museum (before you even pay)  right through to exiting through the Victorian themed Tea Room, you are taken back into history. As you enter the Museum you can see straight away some of the superb displays with some fantastic memorabilia

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Having a go at an old arcade game
Dad has a good chat with Winston Churchill
Dad has a good chat with Winston Churchill

Once you pay for entry you take the stairs to the first floor, where you can meet King Henry vii and his wives, visit the Queen’s throne room and find out about Victorian life.

 

You then take a walk down the corridor where you can see displays of HG Wells Time Machine, Jekyll and Hyde, Frankenstein’s monster and a fabulous collection of vintage cameras

 

Next take a walk through The Village Green and stroll through the Carpenters workshop, The Wheelwrights workshop and the Apothacary. Browse at the large selection of agricultural tools, trade bicycles and ailments. Listen to the short video in each area and experience what is was like to live in those days.

To continue the historical journey in the past, walk down the stairs and turn left onto the Station Approach. Here you can walk onto the Railway Platform and listen to the steam train arriving, look around and absorb in the atmosphere of WWII evacuees.

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Walk away from the Station Approach and look at the Victorian shop display fronts down Memory Lane, there are many artifacts to look at here like old banknotes, old toys and a tobacconist. The boys particularly enjoyed looking at the Toy Shop and was happy to see that their was brick building toys available back then.

Leaving Memory lane, walk back past the Train Station and onto Blitz street. Here you will be able to read about WW2, sit inside and air raid shelter and listen to the air raid siren or take a look at what a trench looked like.

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The best part of the tour has got to be the Carousel Parade, not only do you get to take a ride on a stunning 19th century restored carousel but you can walk inside the shops, which are full to the brim of memorabilia, and take a good look around.

The boys loved the Wall of mirrors and had so much fun standing in front of them and seeing how much their body shape changes with the different curved mirrors. Dad really enjoyed looking around the bike shop, as a cyclist he is very interested in bikes and he also enjoyed sitting down in the silent movie theatre and watching a classic Charlie Chaplin Movie.

Before you exit the museum you are taken through a Victorian style tea room, served by waiters and waitresses dressed in themed clothing, you can sit down and enjoy a cream tea before you leave. The Tea Room has been voted by local tourist as one of ’50 best places to eat by the sea’, you can visit the Tea Room at anytime and no need to walk through the museum to sit and enjoy a  tasty treat. We was served tea/coffee and cake after our walk through the museum, the waiter was friendly and the tea room was clean and comfortable. The choice of cakes was ample and they cater for children too by selling fruit juice.

The menu
The menu

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Yesterday’s World is a lovely and interesting day out, there are lots to see for all ages with many interactive displays for the children to get involved.

The Museum is currently looking for a Chief (child) Ambassador, Do you know a child under 8 that can user their imagination to help showcase the past to the visitors of the future? Take a look here for more information

Admission  Prices

  • Adult £6.95
  • Senior £5.95
  • Student £5.45
  • Special needs £5.45 ( Carer £2. 00 )
  • Child ( 4-15 years) £5.45
  • Family ticket ( 2+2) £22.80 – Extra Child £4.45

Or for what we had was a

See & Tea Ticket

  • £8.40

Enjoy the attraction for as long as long as you like and then follow it up with a slice of cake with a pot of tea or coffee

Open from 10.30 – 5.00pm

 We was supplied with family tickets for this review, photos and opinions my own.

LolliBop announces it’s new home for 2014

LOLLIBOP 2014 ANNOUNCES HATFIELD HOUSE

Wow! Look at all of that green, I can just imagine all of the Lollibop colourful buntins, stalls and stages making this amazing place looke even more brighter than it already does. Hatfield House has so much space, I can only imagine that this year is going to be EPIC!

 Hatfield House

LolliBop, the UK’s biggest kids festival, has announced its 2014 festival will take place at Hatfield House, August 15-17. Situated in Herfordshire, just off the A1 or a 22 minute train journey from London Kings Cross, the stunning country house and gardens of Hatfield House offer an incredible array of spaces to house LolliBop’s vast activity and entertainment programme.

Renowned for bringing some of the biggest names in children’s entertainment to its live stages, LolliBop also plays host to science and educational zones, crafts areas and adventure activities. The 2014 lineup promises to be more diverse; exciting and extraordinary than ever before, with a host of brand new names, partnerships and play never before seen at LolliBop.

Hatfield House is famous for its beautiful gardens and attractions, including the incredible sundial garden and fountains, a magical woodlands and the famous knot garden adjoining the Tudor Old Palace where Queen Elizabeth I spent much of her time as a child.

Festival Director Gareth Cooper said: “For a family destination, Hatfield House can’t be beaten. LolliBop has taken place in numerous locations over the years, and we firmly believe our home for 2014 is our best yet. The setting is breathtaking – with stunning gardens, lush green areas and a woodlands just waiting to be explored – it’s allowed us to open our imaginations and programme an event like never before.

“We’ve been working hard to secure some of the best-loved names in children’s entertainment. The 2014 lineup will be jam packed with big names for the main stage, alongside an unprecedented number of live theatre performances; plus sporting activities; creative workshops; nature talks and brand new areas and acts, never before seen at LolliBop.”

Hatfield House is one of the Treasure Houses of England, making it one of the top 10 most magnificent palaces in all of the UK. With good motorways links, extensive on site parking and just a five minute walk from Hatfield train station, LolliBop 2014 is more accessible than ever before.

I am looking forward to hearing and sharing with you all who will be on the line up this year

LolliBop Early Bird tickets go on sale on March 28, priced £17.50pp.

www.lollibopfestival.co.uk / facebook.com/lollibopfestival

Brought to you as a firm supporter of LolliBop 🙂

Pools Playground Victoria Park

Last weekend we packed up the car with the bikes and travelled into London, 7.5 miles away, towards Stratford so that we could spend the morning in Victoria Park.

I grew up visiting the park, my mum used to take me and my siblings there all the time, we used to go for walks around the lake and play in the park, but apart from the odd trip there to watch a couple of children football matches I haven’t really gone back to explore the area. Paul had recently been in a running race that was held in the park and came back telling us that it had changed and that there was now a really good play area for the children to explore and play in.

We only took my bike which has the child seat attached to it and Joseph’s bike as Paul and Jak was going to have run around the park whilst we cycled. We decided to go and explore the play area first, we had parked on Cadogan Terrace which was near to the play area. Victoria Park is split into two, with a road going through it, the larger part of the park is called East park this is where the Pools playground is and the smaller part, West park has a boating lake.

The first part of the park that we came to was an outdoor water play area (not on because of the time of the year) The boys were running around over the shaped mounds on the floor pretending to play pirates, Oliver found a tunnel made from sticks to run through

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The boys were enjoying them self so much that we didn’t realise that there was more of the play area to explore, Daddy pointed over towards a mound of bolders, which looked like a mountain, he told the boys to go climb them and see what was on the over side. I could hear and see children on the top but had no idea what was beyond them.

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They were climbing and running over the mountain, chasing after each other and then they realised what was on the other side

 

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There was the longest, highest slides I have ever seen outdoors in a playground (apart from at funfairs), lots of sand to build castles in, different shaped rope climbing frames, wooden houses, roundabouts, balancing logs, rope swings, musical aparataus and much more. The first thing the boys did was try out the slides, these were Oliver’s favourite

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The dot at the top is Oliver

He went up and down so many times I lost count, that was until a few children ruined it for him by sending sand down with themselves, when it was Oliver’s turn he ended up getting lots of sand in his eyes and wouldn’t go on it again 🙁

He didn’t cry for long though as he realised there was lots more to be doing, he quickly made his way over to the spinning top but he wasn’t interested in sitting ontop of the spinning top, all he wanted to do was play with the stones

Joseph loves to climb so he spent his time climbing on the rope frames, trying to get the top so he could be King of the Park.

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Oliver loved running along the magic carpet, he said he was running away from the crocodiles and the carpet would take him to his house where Mummy would keep him safe.

The park is a fabulous place to visit to escape the hustle and bustle of shopping in the city.

Next to the play area is a hub where you can buy refreshments, We bought ourselves a coffee and sat and drank it whilst watching the boys playing on the spinning top

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Jak found some square shaped rubber boxes that made a note when you jumped on them, he ran across them trying to make up a song

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After exploring the park and trying out pretty much every play apparatus there was we got onto our bikes and went for a cycle around the perimeter of the park. The canal runs along the edge, so we did have the option on cycling along it but I am not a very confident cyclist and as I had Oliver in the child seat on my bicycle I thought it would be best to stick to the cycling path in the park

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Joseph taking a break from cycling

We had a lovely morning in Victoria Park and will definitely be returning in the Summer when the water area will be open.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Defending Londons River at Tilbury Fort

Looking for somewhere to visit in Essex?

Why not have a day out at the English Heritage site Tilbury Fort!

Tilbury Fort
Taken from English Heritage site

The great artillery Fort was built in the late 17th Century to prevent hostile ships from sailing up the Thames and to prevent land attack. The fort is one of England’s  finest surviving forts from the 17th century complete with its circuit of moats and bastioned outworks still surviving. During the First World War, the fort became an important supply base for field army equipment, accommodating and supplying troops destined for the trenches.

Although not all of the fort’s buildings survived there are still the Gunpowder magazines, Guard house, North east and west bastion and the officers barracks to look around which all group around the parade ground where the troops would have drilled, trained, inspected, exercised and sometimes were punished. On the parade ground now you will see some of the army vehicles used and some anti aircraft artillery guns spotted around the paved parade. My boys loved looking at these historical artifacts and pretended that they were fighting each other across the parade.

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The foundations of the soldier barracks are clearly seen in the above picture.

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My boys were really excited to be able to touch and explore the vehicles and artillery guns and even had the chance to play with a gun on the east curtain where they could rotate and adjust the height of the gun to aim it at the passing boats on the River Thames, they even had a full view of the banks across the shore at Gravesend.

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A lot of the guns have moving parts and children are encouraged to play and explore them, this was a favourite of the boys and they spent quite a while (even though it was wet and windy) playing with them. Surrounded by the parade are lots of grassy banks that are brilliant for children to run up and down on.

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The walls surrounding the fort have openings in them which are called embrasures, these are where the artillery could fire through.

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Tilbury Fort has so many nooks and crannys to explore that it kept my boys busy for hours even in the rain! They really enjoyed exploring the magazines in the North East Bastion which were built underground and are protected by grassy mounds, within these passages were storerooms that stored shells and cartridges.

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There is an array of gunpowder barrels on display in the magazine houses which the boys likes to climb all over, so glad that they are just for show as I’m sure they would have set them off lol.

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The officers quarters still stands around the parade ground although they have been rebuilt and altered several times, inside these houses are wartime memorabilia of military items. We looked at an old kitchen stove,disposal kit, gun display, an array of gas masks, an officers bedroom (which Jak added that it was quite big) and there were a collection of manikin’s dressed in the old army uniform.

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We had a lovely day at the Fort even though we got soaked through from the torrential rain, it is definitely a place that we will be returning to in the summer, scattered around the parade ground are benches that are ideal for picnics, there is a gift shop that also sells hot and cold drinks.

If you are a big Sharpe fan you would love it here as this is the set where the TV historical drama was filmed during the Napoleonic Wars, the Fort is located half a mile away from Tilbury Town.

Costs: £4.60/ Adult,  £2.80 /Child or £12.00 for a family of 4.

Please check the website for more information on opening times

Justin Fletcher Goes Live at Lollibop

JUSTIN GOES FOR GOLD AT OLYMPIC PARK

As a LolliBop Ambassador I promised to bring you the latest news of new line ups for LolliBop, the UK’s biggest day out for kids. Well i am pleased to announce that the one and only CBeebies Superstar Justin Fletcher will be performing at this year’s event. How exciting!

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Taking place in its brand new home, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the BAFTA –award winning star of CBeebies will be performing live for LolliBoppers on Saturday August 17 and Sunday August 18 ONLY.

Justin Live! promises an all singing, all dancing extravaganza guaranteed to bring the house down.

LolliBop’s event manager, Jenny Kane said: “Justin Fletcher is top of the charts when it comes to kids entertainment and our new venue deserves to host the number one superstar of CBeebies. We’re delighted Justin is able to be a part of LolliBop 2013.”

The all-mouse reggae band, Rastamouse and Da Easy Crew, are also confirmed for Friday August 16, as part of a busy summer touring the nation. Last seen at LolliBop 2011, the cool, mystery-solving mouse will be back on stage performing his latest hits for fans throughout the day.

LolliBop, The Big Bash for Little People

 

Another new addition to the LolliBop 2013 line up is everyone’s favourite postman, Postman Pat and of course, Britain’s most famous black and white cat, Jess! They will be at the festival over the three days meeting pint sized festival goers.

LolliBop promises all the fun of a festival without the hassle of camping. With an incredible line up, all aimed at children under the age of 10, LolliBop combines the hottest names in kids entertainment, as well of hundreds of activities, workshops and interactive areas.

The 2013 programme also includes Dick and Dom, Skylanders, Science Museum Live, Cloudbabies, The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Peppa Pig, Poppy Cat, the Wot Wots, Transformers, The Go! Go! Go! Show, the Mr Men and Little Miss Village Green Event and Shaun the Sheep’s Championsheeps. LolliBop’s live theatre tent – The Lollipalladiam – showcases performances from pioneering and internationally renowned companies and artists. There is also a brand new Discovery Zone, Meadows area, Enchanted Woods, Lolli Promenade and much more.

Tickets are on sale now, from £20pp.