Thursday, 17 July 2014

My Foursquare "achievements".

"Congrats! You just unlocked the Newbie badge."

In case you don't recognise this, this is from Foursquare - the app and site where you can record your travels near or far, checking in wherever you go and leaving tips for other Foursquare users.

Foursquare has become a bit of an obsession now. I try and check in to as many places as I can (mobile phone coverage allowing) and have unlocked a few badges, including the adventurer badge, and the shutterbug badge.

Here's a few that I would have unlocked if Foursquare made them available.....

Congrats! You unlocked The Losing Your Child at the Zoo badge.

Yes. Yes, I did. London Zoo to be precise. For about fifteen minutes. It was ok. She had one of those wristband ID tags on, and had the sense to go to the cafe and ask a member of staff for help, as instructed. Didn't stop me having heart failure though.

London Zoo human turtle
Aw look. She's so cherubic, and not AT ALL prone to going missing.

Congrats! You earned the Walk of Shame badge.

Yep. Major twin toddler meltdown as I dare to suggest we get back in the pushchair to go home whilst at a local museum. It was noisy, and the museum was fairly busy. Embarrassing.

Congrats! You earned the Downright Liar badge.

*proud face* If I'm struggling to get the toddlers to co-operate so we can get out of the door at a reasonable time, I tell them we're going to Peppa Pig World. We so aren't. But it works.

Well done! You earned the Inappropriate Art award.

You go to an art gallery and your child sees some life art. It's art right? It's not too bad, just a painting of a middle aged lady with her bajinglies out. In fact, it's just one picture among over 200. Your child has barely paid any attention to it, right? Wrong.  A couple of days later, when their teacher asks what they did at the weekend, they will draw it, bajinglies and all. In school. Well done indeed.

Congrats! You achieved the Mentally Scarring your Child For Life award.

I did. At Hornsea Mere, a local wildlife spot. Anyway, to cut a long story short, two of my children are not really as keen on ducks and geese as they were before. Or swans. Inconsiderate, feathered losers.

Hornsea March 2013 003
Geese. The epitome of evil.

Well done, you! You unlocked the Farted on by a Horse badge.

Do. Not. Ask.

And the one I want to achieve.....

Congrats! You unlocked the Getting to The Pub On Your Own badge.

I wish.

If you are a fellow Foursquare addict, you can be my friend here.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Tree Top Junior, Go Ape! at Dalby Forest, North Yorkshire

This weekend, we decided that a nice country walk is for wimps, and we headed up to Dalby Forest instead to try out the Tree Top Junior course at Go Ape!

Go Ape! is a tree-top experience with zip wires, rope bridges, and swings, and the Tree Top Junior course is the kid-friendly version. It is recommended for 6 to 12 year olds and their accompanying adults. There is a minimum height restriction, so please check their website before booking. 

Go Ape! Dalby Forest is located not far from the southern entrance, and is opposite the main visitor centre. Parking is free, although there is a £7 entry charge per car to Dalby Forest itself. The loos are in the visitor centre, so make sure you abuse the facilities before you go to Go Ape! 

You book a time slot, turn up, and you're away. You can just show up and see what's available but it is very popular and you're risking not getting to play at all. 

Right, that's the technicalities out of the way! What did we actually think?

'We' were me, two ten-year olds, and a six-year old and we all thought it was super fun and a great experience.

Your harness is attached by an instructor to the central wire and you climb the stairs and follow the wire around the course. The clamp doesn't leave the wire between you joining at ground level and the bottom of the zip wire. It's all very clever stuff. 

You go across bridges made of wood, rope, and net, or balance on planks. There are about six bridges between trees, set at least ten metres up in the air, then you get to the zip wire. It was a bit scary the first time but once you're off, it's brilliant!

If you don't like it, you can bail out here. If you love it (like we did) you go back to the beginning and take the second, more challenging route. This is around another six bridges, slightly wobblier and a bit higher. Then back to the zip wire and off again. 

I think the six-year to twelve-year recommendation is about right. I wouldn't like to take anyone younger on, and as the course is set for children, it's not comfortable for anyone much taller. Some of it is quite tricky, and you need a degree of physical fitness. 

You can go back round again for a few more goes. After an hour, we'd had our turn, so we returned our harnesses and received our Go Ape! king of the jungle certificates and badges. Winners!

Who's a clever monkey?

Have a look at our video.....

Tickets cost from £17 per person (adults and children are the same price). There are 13 locations across the UK where the Tree Top junior course is available. You can find out more and book your tickets by clicking on the graphic below.

Have fun!

Disclosure - We were given free tickets to test out the Tree Top Junior adventure, and the above graphic is affiliate

Friday, 27 June 2014

YSP Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, Yorkshire

Yorkshire Sculpture Park is just off J38 of the M1 north of Sheffield, and it is HUGE. It is the very extensive grounds of Bretton Hall, and it has been turned into a home for works of art from a wide range of sculptors, including Henry Moore, and Antony Gormley. 

It is free to get in although you do have to pay for car parking - It costs £8 per car for all day, though you can pay less for up to two hours if you're only paying a short visit. Remember your car registration plate as you pay at the visitor centre via a computerised system. 

The visitor centre is pretty impressive. It houses some indoor galleries with changing exhibitions, as well as the requisite toilets, baby changing, gift-shop, and cafe. If you pop to the reception desk, you can pick up a child-friendly map, as demonstrated here! Take a pencil so you can cross off things as you spot them. 

Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a huge country estate with a choice of walks. You can't possibly do them all in one visit, especially with little legs in tow, so we chose to explore a couple of the areas. In all, we were there for four hours. 

YSP is home to wildlife. We spotted squirrels, field mice, swans, and a lot of geese with an insane number of goslings. They were very hungry/friendly, though I did tell one adult goose off for hissing at me, and it looked mortified and behaved itself immediately. We collected a lot of goose feathers for our treasure bag. 

 The artwork is fascinating, if you like that sort of thing. The children were disappointed not to be able to climb on every single piece, but some you are allowed to get up close to. 

Possibly their favourite was the field of 'trees' made out of reclaimed household paraphanalia such as toilets, dog kennels, and yes, even the kitchen sink. I think I'm in the wrong business.

We chose to walk via the upper lake, which could have been a mistake as the paths were extremely muddy and the walk goes very close to the lake itself, which is a hazard for tots and young children. It was beautiful though, and we got to see parts of the old Bretton Hall estate including a Grecian style folly, and a wonderful shell grotto. 

From inside the shell grotto on the upper lake at YSP

The art isn't all completely child-friendly. There is some art which is life art and produces sniggers/questions/stares from my children, like the sculpture of a water nymph, shown below left.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a great place to use my nature trail spotters sheet - there is a free download for you to print out. For a country park walk, YSP is a lovely place. You can walk dogs on designated paths, and there are wheelchair/pram friendly routes. 

The only real complaint we had was the lack of picnic areas. There was a large(ish) area with picnic tables near the visitor centre, but we didn't spot any near the lake. There wasn't really any benches to sit and eat around the upper lake area we visited. 

Yorkshire Sculpture Park is very popular but it didn't feel at all crowded. There are water hazards, hungry geese, a LOT of sheep poo, and no loos apart from those in the visitor centre and the gallery around 2km away, but it is a gorgeous place and fantastic for wearing little ones out. 

Here are some more pics from our visit.

The waterfall between the upper and lower lakes at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Inside the visitor centre at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

The formal gardens at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

If you like all things Yorkshire, please come and follow our Pinterest board Kids Days Out in Yorkshire

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Father's Day: Ideas for days out with Dad

Father's Day is coming this Sunday, the 15th June.

The weather looks like it's going to be cloudy or sunny, depending where you live, and hopefully not a lot of rain. It'll be a good day to get out and about with Dad as a special family treat. 

Here's a few places we've been which are good for a trip with Dad.....

Adventure Golf - Dads love a bit of crazy golf. There are loads of places to play around the UK - we've been to Pirate Island in Castleford and we had lots of swashbuckling fun. With balls. 

Stonehenge - if Dad is a history fan, then Stonehenge is fab. The brand new visitor centre which has recently opened is a great addition to this already popular heritage site. 

Vikings! - Jorvik Viking Centre is brilliant if it rains. This museum is a trip back in time to explore York at the time of Vikings. There are also skeletons, and a piece of Viking poo! Awesome. :)

LEGO! - Dads love a bit of retro play time, and Lego offers plenty of days out options, including the Legoland Discovery Centre in Manchester. Build cars, race them, and even ride giant ones. Catch a 4D film, and get a building lesson off a Lego master builder. 

Football - Lots of football stadiums do tours, including the famous Wembley Stadium. Who's your Dad's favourite team? 

Train-spotting - If your Dad or Grandad loves trains, then a ride on a steam railway is a wonderful day out. Try the North Yorkshire Moors Railway for some fantastic scenery and a trip to the village of Goathland, famous for Heartbeat and for Hogsmeade Train Station. 

See more suggestions on our Pinterest board!

VOUCHERS!! - Have a trawl through this page and see if there are vouchers for an attraction near you. There are for all parts of the UK. You will need to check the expiry dates, and restrictions, and you will need to print them out. There are some BOGOF vouchers and also some 'Kids Go Free'. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Feature: The Story of Woburn Forest - Center Parcs

A sponsored post brought to you in association with Center Parcs

We've haven't yet been to Center Parcs. We'll get there eventually no doubt in our mission to try out every attraction and holiday park in the UK. It does look awesome.

Center Parcs have told me all about their new park - Center Parcs Woburn Forest - in Bedfordshire. It has been more than a decade in the making and Center Parcs have spent £250 million on making their latest resort perfect. They have invested more than money, having spent more than 70,000 hours training the new staff, of which 90% are from the local area. 

Woburn Forest houses over 600 lodges as well as luxury hotel rooms, and spa suites. More importantly, the resort is home to over 6,000 cushions!

A lot of the money has been spent developing the requisite Subtropical Swimming Paradise. It features three water rides, children's play pools, and Wild Water Rapids. 

Woburn Forest also has a cycle hire centre, archery, and Segway experience. There's plenty for kids to do including a play area, tennis courts, pottery painting, and a roller rink. There is also a good choice of family-friendly restaurants. 

But best of all Woburn Forest contains an Aqua Sana Spa. In fact, let's ditch the kids, forget the roller-skating and explore the six spas in peace. Sounds blissful! 

Anyone for Center Parcs?  :) 

Monday, 9 June 2014

Stonehenge, Amesbury, Wiltshire

Stonehenge review

How to introduce Stonehenge? Surely. there is no-one alive who couldn't recognise Stonehenge on a picture? 

Stonehenge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a mystery, and a wonder. It has been attracting visitors since it was built hundreds of years ago. Although archeologists and other people whose job I can't spell are able to have a good idea of when and how Stonehenge was built, we really still don't know why

Stonehenge, Wiltshire

I admit to having family living within a (small) stone's throw of Stonehenge for pretty much all of my life, yet I've never been. On a recent trip for a family gathering, we decided to have a look and see what all the fuss was about. To be honest, I was expecting to be completely under-whelmed. I wasn't, nor was I completely blown away, but I did enjoy going, and there's another tick in the box on the metaphorical landmark spotting sheet! 

Stonehenge is managed by English Heritage. They have just built a multi-million pound visitor centre about half-a-mile from the stone circle, so that they could knock down the old one, extend the car-parking facilities, and return more of the site to grass. 

The visitor centre houses all the facilities you would expect, including ticket sales, a cafe, toilets, and a gift shop. There are shuttle buses that leave from here and take about three minutes to get to the main site, or you can walk if you feel like it.

If you're thinking of taking children with you to see the stones, then there's no reason why not. Very young children might get bored, but they can't really do any harm to themselves or others, while older children would enjoy it. My nine-year old loved it, and was fascinated by the stories she heard on her audio tour - audio tours are available from the visitor centre and are included in the ticket price. 

The audio-tour, as demonstrated by a three-year old
Once you get off the shuttle bus, you walk round the stones along a grass path, and then a tarmac one. There are numbers dotted around so you can listen along on the audio tour. To be honest, without the audio tour you might not know what's going on. 

The stones themselves are pretty fascinating. For stones. You can't get closer to them than about 20 yards, but you can see enough. Or you can have a bit of a roll about on the grass.

It takes about half-an-hour to get round them, though you can do it quicker if you feel like it, or pull up a patch of grass and sit up there all day. 

Back on the shuttle bus, and we had a look around the huts which have been built to show us what life at the time of the building of Stonehenge would have been like.

Then we had a little push of a replica stone to see how hard it would have been to have moved them the 100+ miles from South-West Wales without modern machinery. 

The exhibit in the visitor centre is brilliant. It's not huge but comprises a collection of artefacts - including a skeleton - found on the Stonehenge site, and also a video wall where you are shown Stonehenge through the ages from its centre. This compensates, a little, for not being allowed into the real stone circle in person. 

Trip time - two hours.

Overall, we loved our visit to Stonehenge. It was nice being out in the fresh air and connecting with history. 

Stonehenge is signposted off the A303 north of Salisbury, Wiltshire. In fact, you can see it off the road as you pass if you don't fancy paying! Not quite the same though. 

If you're an English Heritage pass holder, Stonehenge is free entry, and free parking too. All other patrons pay £5 for parking, which is refundable with a ticket purchase. 

For more information, please visit English Heritage Stonehenge

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Pirate Island Adventure Golf, Castleford, West Yorkshire

Pirate Island Adventure Golf Junction 32 Castleford
On a gloriously sunny Yorkshire Sunday, we headed over to outlet village Junction 32 in Castleford to have a bit of a mooch around the shops, have some lunch, and most importantly; to play Pirate Island Adventure Golf!

We took our four young swashbucklers to try out a round of 18 holes on this very fun, pirate-themed crazy golf course. The whole course has 36 holes in total, and you can pay for just one 18-hole course, or for two (with a price reduction for the second course).

Pirate Island Adventure Golf Junction 32 Castleford

For one round of golf, you choose (or are allocated) one of two 18-hole courses - we got Skull Cove. It's 18 holes of crazy golf on an island theme. There are barrels, and pirate models, and a crocodile. There is also pirate-themed background music on a loop.

Pirate Island Adventure Golf Junction 32 Castleford

We had a lot of fun. It got a bit competitive. The three-year olds liked counting their 'shots' and declared 'three' when they successfully put the ball in the hole, even though I *think* they used a few more than that!

There were cages to fish out wayward golf balls, though the design of the course and each of the greens meant that wayward balls were a novelty rather than the rule. Each green is fake grass, and fake sand in the bumpers. It is all very well done.

Our favourite bit was a self-propelled raft across the water-course - the girls went first, and then sent the raft back for me Dad, and then pulled us across too. 

We got round all 18 holes still talking to each other, although the three-year olds had got bored by about hole 10. One of them sobbed when she lost her ball on the last hole (the hole swallowed it, as expected). 

The score card said Dad had won, but we didn't take any notice of it. We had a lot of fun, and it was a brilliant way to welcome something resembling a summer's day to Yorkshire. 

A quick trip to the ice-lolly cabinet, we said a great big arrrrrrgh to the pirates, and headed off to the play area just opposite.

Pirate Island Adventure Golf Junction 32 Castleford

The play area at Junction 32

For more information please visit their website - Pirate Island Castleford 

Please note, this review is of the Pirate Island Adventure Golf in Junction 32, NOT the Volcano Adventure Golf in Xscape next door (it can be confusing!). 


  • Junction 32 is signposted off J32 of the M62 at Castleford. It is a shopping outlet village, and is pretty good!
  • Parking is free and ample.
  • There are no toilets in the Pirate Island Golf facility, but there are some in Junction 32 itself, and in some of the shops/cafes. 
  • Visit time - around 40 minutes
  • Family tickets start at £20 for one 18-hole course for 2+2.
  • 3s and under are free of charge.
  • There are golf clubs of several sizes and they had one to suit all of our party, which included adults, a nine-year old, a six-year old, and three-year olds. 

Disclosure - we were given complimentary entry to be able to do this review


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