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days out

The Eden Project – June 2012

Posted on 8th June 2012 in days out/ photography/ review/ The Eden Project

The only thing on our ‘must do’ list when we visited Cornwall was The Eden Project.

I have to make a teensy confession, before we went I did wonder just how interesting plants could be…

But, I am so glad we went as it was a fabulous day out for all of us and we are all really pleased to be able to say that we’ve been.

I definitely preferred the Rain Forest dome to the Mediterranean dome but both of them were amazing and filled with huge plants, trees and wildlife. I loved this flower which looked like a giant white spider!

In addition to the obvious attraction of the domes, there were several interactive areas suitable for all different age ranges, my boys (aged 10 and 12) had a great time on the velcro walls!

We stopped for sandwiches at one of the many cafes and found them to be incredibly fresh and tasty. They also offer a lunch deal for younger children which was excellent value. There were lots of areas where you could stop off for coffee or ice-creams or full on dinner and it really felt as though every need had been catered for.

Above is a photo of a giant egg like sculpture that was concealed behind a wall!

In the Rainforest Biodome we were lucky enough to see a huge Titan Arum which was just about to flower – pretty special as not only is it the biggest flower in the world, but it only flowers once every six years! You can see more about it here. I am secretly glad it didn’t flower on the day we were there as it apparently smells of rotting meat with a hint of vomit…

One of the indoor areas had lots of interactive exhibits in it where the children (and indeed the adults) could get hands on with levers, pulleys and fridge magnets!


Including one whole giant wall of fridges!

There was a trail that young children could follow to find salad and edible items and then get their card stamped at each point to win some seeds at the end. There was a trail for older children with clues to be followed which helped lead you around parts of the project which you may otherwise have missed. There was an ‘easy’ route for wheel chairs and push chairs and there was a more challenging route with more steps and steep climbs.

A family ticket to The Eden Project set us back around £65 which I was hesitant about spending but we all agreed that it was worth every penny. As you can probably tell from the photographs, it was raining on and off on the day we went but that didn’t spoil our enjoyment as a great deal of it is undercover.

Woburn Safari Park – excellent!

Posted on 7th June 2012 in days out/ family/ review


We took a ‘spur of the moment’ trip to Woburn Safari Park this week and it was excellent, we saw lions and tigers and bears!

We booked a family ticket online before we went which made it slightly cheaper and went along not really knowing what to expect as although we’ve been to Colchester Zoo several times, we’d never been to Woburn.

Driving through the animals was just amazing, it was so exhilarating to see them up close and looking as relaxed and ‘at home’ as possible. They calmly wandered around between the cars and the boys were very excited by how near they came.

We were a bit worried at one point as a wolf seemed to have walked out of his ‘area’ and found himself among the bears! But even though they were only a cars length apart they gave each other nothing more than a bit of a look! Thankfully.

We had a giggle near the bears as there is a big sign saying ‘Keep driving, bears break wing mirrors’ and as we passed it the boys suddenly fell into fits of giggles – turns out they’d misread the sign and thought it was warning us to keep driving in case the bears break wind!

The monkey enclosure was lovely, apart from all the silly people dropping sandwiches out of their windows to entice the monkeys over! Not a great plan as it usually resulted in 5 or 6 monkeys fighting on top of your car as the people in this nice shiny car soon found out!

The monkey by the back wheel had literally just slid all the way down from the roof – no doubt scratching the paintwork as it went!

We stopped for lunch in the restaurant and were pleasantly surprised by both the quality of the food and the price.

We then took a walk through the lemur enclosure followed by a swift walk around the ‘on foot’ areas as it was raining slightly and then hopped back in the car for another trip around the car safari through the zebras, giraffes, rhinos, elephants, tigers, lions, bears, wolves, monkeys, bison etc etc etc!

It was a brilliant day out that wasn’t spoiled by the rain. We did have a bit of a giggle at the guy who wanted his money back as they wouldn’t let him drive through the lions and the monkey – in his convertible! (They would have thought he was meals on wheels!)

The Royal Institution #CharityTuesday

Posted on 29th May 2012 in #charitytuesday

For #CharityTuesday today, let me hand you over to the good people at the Royal Institution! If you are in or near London why not go along to one of their family friendly fun days?

The theme of the first Family Fun Day will be Fabric and Knitting. The day will provide a hands-on, fun-filled exploration into the science, engineering and maths behind the clothes we wear. The following are just a couple of examples of the activities that families who come along could get involved in on the day:

•       SPRAY ON FABRICS – Do you ever get up in the morning and feel like you’ve got nothing to wear? Come and meet the team that has come up with a solution – clothes you can spray straight out of a can!

•       TRAID: DISCOVER THE DESIGNER IN YOU – We send 1.3 million tons of clothes to landfill each year – recycling charity TRAID will be on hand to show you how to stop wasting old clothes and instead easily upcycle them into cool designs.

•       GROW YOUR OWN ORGANS – Forget spinning fibres to make silk and other materials – discover how scientists are using the process of electrospinning to make human tissues and organs!

•       SILK VERSUS STEEL – What material would be best used for a bullet-proof vest – steel, or silk? Discover the amazing strength of unlikely materials and test out for yourselves which would win in a battle of resilience.

The Royal Institution Family Fun Day: Fabric and Knitting

Date: Saturday 9 June, 11am-4pm

What: Get hands on with the surprising science, engineering and maths behind the clothes you wear! Discover textiles up close, get tied in knots and measure the surprising strength of silk.

Where: The Royal Institution, 21 Albemarle Street, London, W1S 4BS (Nearest tube Green Park)

For more details and events see

Or you can follow @ri_science on twitter.


Muncaster Castle

Posted on 14th May 2012 in days out/ Family Fun

Last year, during our holiday in the Lake District, we had a wonderful family day out at Muncaster Castle.

The castle itself is stunning, very well-preserved and is actually still inhabited by members of the Pennington family. We were incredibly fortunate as when we looked around the inside of the castle we actually met, the very congenial and charming, Patrick Gordon-Duff-Pennington who took the time to chat to us.

Muncaster boasts a beautiful collection of owls who you can see in the Owl Centre or watch during flying displays in the castle grounds; although on sunny days I would recommend that you take a hat and lots of sun screen as the grounds are a bit of a sun trap.

The view from the path around the castle is truly breath-taking, even more so because you can clearly see buzzards flying around as they waiting for the Herons to be fed! When you go, I urge you to wait and see the Heron Feed it is simply amazing. The herons start appearing and sit in the trees or in little clusters on the ground, then when the food is thrown down to them they perform the strangest mexican stand-off! They all pretend not to be interested in the food while slowly moving closer to it until finally one of them makes a break for it which then prompts one or two of the others to go for it too and then the all pretend not to be interested again! All the while the buzzards are flying around trying to pinch the food too. Amazing and funny to watch.

On the day we went, there was a jester performing on the lawn which the children thought was brilliant. He did juggling, fire eating, escapology with a running commentary of jokes. Further into the grounds is the Meadowvole Maze which is an interactive maze for all the family; especially good for little ones.

As well as having a gift shop with lovely mementos of Muncaster there is also a plant shop and a cafe which sells the most incredible cakes!

I would definitely recommend a trip to Muncaster Castle if you are staying nearby, it was a day of good old-fashioned family fun and the drive to it offers some incredible views of the area.

Animal Rescue

Posted on 10th August 2011 in animal rescue/ days out/ kittens/ new pet

If you are looking for a new family pet, I urge you to visit your local animal rescue centre first. All the animals there deserve a loving home.

Even if you aren’t currently looking for a pet they can make a great day out.

We recently visited two nearby animal shelters, the first Mistley Place Park was a little ramshakle but the cafe was surprisingly good and it was obvious a lot of people went there simply for that. Which is great as all the profits go towards caring for the animals.

There we met lots of chickens and an enormous goat!

and lots of ducks

But they also had owls, pigs, horses, ponies, rabbits, guinea pigs, cats and dogs.

From there we went on to SESAW as they were having an open day. They had many dogs and cats all looking for a new home. We saw so many cute kittens!

It’s so easy to fall in love with the kittens but do spare a thought for the older cats too. They don’t want to live the rest of their lives in a cage – they want a home and some loving owners.

If you are thinking about getting a kitten, why not get an older cat too? They will keep each other company and will both have a lot to offer you in terms of love.

Wherever you live in the country, if you are looking for a cat  Cat Chat is worth checking first as it offers homing pages to all the cat rescues free of charge.

My two cats came from Crescent Cat Rescue – it’s really nice to know that I’ve taken them away from a life in a cage.

Magical #WinterWonderland

Posted on 20th November 2010 in #winterwonderland/ children/ days out/ family/ ice skating/ rides/ roland rivron/ roller coaster

Thursday night we were lucky enough to get a sneak preview of the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park in London. To say it was magical is one big fat understatement! It was an incredible night out that I know will have created lasting memories for my boys.

As you get close to the park the skyline is alive with brightly lit towers, rides, big wheels and all manner of exciting looking things.  I’m not sure who was more eager to get in there – the kids or me!

Amazingly it is free to enter, so if you don’t fancy the rides it’s still worth going along to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the Christmas market.

As you walk in there are some lovely Christmassy stalls offering a range of different wares for unusual present ideas. Plus a tantalising aroma which is a meld of spiced pretzels, BBQ, roasted chestnuts, hot flavoured nuts, candies, steak burgers, german sausage, hot chocolate, waffles, crepes and much more.

The children were keen to get the huge (frightening looking) rides but before we ran ahead we stepped into an innocuous looking ‘Hall of Mirrors’ I’m so glad we did, it was hilarious! Before you get to the maze of mirrors, there is a room full of different moving floors, which had us all in fits.

After much persuasion, I did manage to convince DH that ice skating was a great idea and we all donned incredibly crippling skates and headed onto the open air ice rink. We did place bets that I would be the first to stack it but it was actually DS1 who went first, and second and third and….. I think I was the third member of the family to ‘go down like a sack of spuds’. Have to say I was reasonably impressed that the ice didn’t shatter 😉  I learnt two things, one that I am not Jane Torvill and two that it is sometimes useful to have a well padded derrière!

Also spotted Roland Rivron in the ice rink, I think he was with the skating display (whether as a skater or not I don’t know as the boys were keen to get onto the scary roller coaster!) DS1 says that I scream to much on roller coasters…

As you enter and leave the park you go by a German singing reindeer – highlight of night for me, he was fab!  Just don’t laugh too much at the glimpses of me!

#Winterwonderland at Hyde Park. Witness the German singing reindeer – no day out is complete without one! Please excuse the glimpses of me and the nest of snakes that is my hair….

If the video doesn’t play for you, you can access it via the link below.

Winter Wonderland from MrsLJHall on Vimeo.

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