Tag Archives: Days Out

Caerphilly Castle [PHOTOS]

Day Two in Wales and after an overnight stay in Cardiff, it’s just a 20 minute drive north to the town of Caerphilly.

Our destination today is Caerphilly Castle. The second largest castle in Great Britain and certainly quite an imposing structure.

The castle was constructed by Gilbert de Clare in the 13th century as part of his campaign to conquer Glamorgan, and saw extensive fighting between Gilbert and his descendants and the native Welsh rulers. Surrounded by extensive artificial lakes – considered by historian Allen Brown to be “the most elaborate water defences in all Britain” – it occupies around 30 acres (120,000 m2) and is the second largest castle in Britain. It is famous for having introduced concentric castle defences to Britain and for its large gatehouses. (I copied all of that off Wikipedia)

These days, much of the castle is still intact with plenty of towers to climb and grounds to meander through. Whilst there aren’t loads of interactive exhibits, it is still interesting and lets be honest, what better way is there to discover a castle than to actually wander around it at your own pace.

We visited on a Sunday morning and it took us a good couple of hours to explore what is a large area but did notice that it wasn’t very busy which did surprise us. As such there was plenty of space for kids to run around and explore (because what can be more exciting for little people than exploring a real castle)


Tintern Abbey [PHOTOS]

And so we begin.

As discussed just last week, our family quest to explore Great Britain has begun and our first weekend takes deep into Wales.

This is Tintern Abbey. Dating back to 1131AD in the county of Monmouthshire just off the A466 Monmouth to Chepstow road (you really can’t miss it) on the banks of the river Wye. Whilst it is somewhat of a ruin these days, it is still an imposing structure and one can only imagine what it must have been like when it was still intact.

If you are in this part of the world, it really is worth stopping to have a look round and an hour or two is plenty to see all it has to offer. Kids will love it to as there is loads of room for them to run about and let off steam.

Beside the seaside! Beside the sea!

On Friday afternoon I was on the tube heading out of Hammersmith when a guy got on holding a bag of chips wrapped in newspaper and by the smell, I am guessing they had been smothered with vinegar and salt.

The smell that filled the entire train was just AMAZING and you could tell that everybody on the train was now envious of this highly unhealthy but mouth-wateringly delicious food.

Skip forward 24 hours and it’s a Saturday morning in January. It is a clear and sunny but very cold day. What are we going to do today?

My mind wandered back to the man with the chips. The thought of chips led my imagination to thoughts of sitting at the end of the pier eating chips from a newspaper because chips (and fish) always taste better at the seaside. Indeed the very smell conjures up images of beaches, amusement arcades and so on.

We’re going to the seaside!

Right now! Continue reading Beside the seaside! Beside the sea!

A day out to the Frampton Marsh RSPB reserve

So the getting active, having fun and so forth continues at pace.

Today was an unusual Sunday in that we were all up quite early yet had nothing planned. The weather forecast was cold but dry so a day out was called for.

But where too?

By late morning we found ourselves at the RSPB saltmarsh at Frampton Marsh near Boston. Again, this is one of those places we drive very close to most weekends yet in five years, have never visited.

This is an area that the RSPB have developed over the last few years to attract huge numbers of birds and ducks and wow have they been busy.

Continue reading A day out to the Frampton Marsh RSPB reserve

London Science Museum – A Day Out

So in my last post (that did not contain any New Year resolutions) I did say that I intended to travel more, spend more time with the family and have more fun.

So true to my word, on Saturday morning you would have found all of us standing on a rather cold and grey Peterborough railway station platform all set for a day out.

Now when Sam was Five, he got wind of this place in London that was full of REAL dinosaurs! Somebody at school had mentioned it and of course that really got his attention. This magical place he was talking about was of course the London Natural History Museum and that sparked his interest in museums.

Since then we have been to the NHM a few times and of course there is the London Science Museum next door. Again full of tons of stuff that can keep a young boy amused for weeks on end.

Even better is that these museums are free making for a very cheap day out. They are even happy for you to camp out in the middle of the museum and eat your packed lunch.

So for those of you like me who probably last visited these places on a school trip when you were nine, they have certainly changed although just to keep you happy, this still lives right in the middle of the NHM

A dinosaur

But onto the Science Museum

London Science Museum

It’s worth pointing out that this place is huge. You could visit every weekend of the year and not even scratch the surface. They also keep adding new stuff and having various non permanent exhibitions throughout the year.

The latest addition is an area called Atmosphere. To quote the Science Museum themselves

The brand-new atmosphere gallery is a fresh and exciting way to make sense of the climate – the science of how it works, what it’s doing now and what it might do next.

In atmosphere you’ll step into a different world, with its own land, oceans, ice and, above your head, its delicate atmosphere. Follow the five fast games and see your actions played out before your eyes in this immersive and interactive gallery.

Explore our climate-changing world as you travel through the landscape.Go back in time to find key climatic moments in the Earth’s multibillion-year history. Uncover the secrets of ice cores and stalagmites, then head for the future to wonder at the latest ideas for a low-carbon life.

More than a hands-on gallery, atmosphere reveals some of the key instruments used by today’s scientists, reports on some of the latest climate news, and gives you the chance to dig deeper into the story of our changing climate.

The Science Museum developed the content for this gallery through extensive research and engagement with scientists and experts, including expertise from the Met Office as a principal content contributor.

I must admit, a lot of thought has gone into this and you can see why the kids think it is great

The Atmosphere Area The Atmosphere Area

The Atmosphere Area The Atmosphere Area

Now you can sit and debate the for and against arguments around climate change being man made or it being something that is going to happen anyway. Certainly there was a strong bias towards the argument that climate change is man made and that there is something we can do about it but you know what, when an educational exhibit can get Sam this engaged, focused and interested, you have to take your hats off to the people behind it

A very focused Sam

So moving beyond the Atmosphere exhibition to some of the longer standing areas, there is loads of stuff on how our lives have changed over the years

Stephensons Rocket

With large scale items such as trains and planes as well as space ships, cars and loads of hands on displays with levers to pull and buttons to press.

I am sure museums were not this much fun when I was Sams age and by the very fact that Sams perfect day out normally includes a museum (or Lego) these days then I think we have got him hooked.

So if you are visiting London (or if you live there) and regardless of if you have kids or not, you simply must go. Being free there is little excuse. The tube stops outside the front door, it’s open all year round, it’s inside so you won’t get wet and did I mention it’s free.

It’s even got a shop where you can buy the obligatory pencil if you want to recapture the memories of your last school trip.

You can find my full photo album from the trip by clicking HERE or on any of the images above.