Walking in the footsteps of Wizards – A Harry Potter Bus Tour in London

“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good”.

Harry Potter.

via GIPHY

This is probably my favourite Harry Potter quote due to how appropriate it is regarding my children. I love them dearly, but they are cheeky little blighters sometimes. ‘Spirited’ is a more pleasant way of saying it isn’t it. Spirited little blighters, there we go.

We were asked the other week, by a lovely lady called Pascaline, if we would like to go on a Harry Potter Bus Tour of London. Pascaline is starting a new business called Culture and Adventure and she runs different tours all over the place. Keep your eyes peeled on her Facebook page for any upcoming events! I was desperate to do it because me and Luke (my eldest) are huge Potter fans, but due to being absolutely useless on the London Underground  by myself, and my kids being ‘spirited’, I have never been brave enough to take them there by myself. Anyway, it was an opportunity too good to miss so I said yes and began frantically swatting up on my underground map like Harry Potter does with his Marauders Map. If only I had broomsticks to get us there rather than Southwest Trains.

The tour lasts approximately 2.5 hours and costs £20 per adult and £15 per child (price correct at time of writing).

The day came for our Harry Potter Bus Tour and it was a glorious winters day. Cold, but sunny, just how I like it. I sorted a bag with some snacks, drinks and tissues – I was able to travel a bit lighter because Mr Knutts had the toddler for me so I could enjoy the day with the older two. No nappies and wipes this time!

We set off for the station, which thankfully is only a 10 minute walk from our house, and excitedly got our train tickets and waited on the platform for our train. The kids still love the novelty of getting a train somewhere and I love seeing their excited little (spirited) faces as they wait, full of anticipation (and mischief).

The train arrives and we hop on, managing to get seats. It’s a miracle! All is well and the boys chat with me and we stare out of the window like excited tourists…

Harry Potter Bus Tour Train

As we near Waterloo, completely out of the blue, my eldest says he doesn’t feel very well. In fact he says, “I feel a bit sick mummy”.

Great.

Bloody great.

“Ok,” I reply, “We are almost at Waterloo, just hold on until then if you can chap”.

Dear god, please don’t let him throw up on the train…

As we get off the train at Waterloo he goes ghostly white and says, “IT’S COMING!”

Action stations!

We sprint over to a bin and he manages to throw up into the bin rather than all over the platform. A minor miracle. However, he then thinks he is finished when he isn’t and throws up again down his front. Kill me now. I tell him not to worry and we will sort it out. We head out of the barriers and go to find the toilets at Waterloo. Being the novice Londoner I am, I don’t realise you have to pay to use the toilets there…and I have no change.

Nooooooooo!

I have an 8 year old lad, threatening to throw up again, who is covered in puke, and no change to get in the poxy toilets.

Thankfully, the lovely toilet attendant saw my quandary (and the 8 year old covered in puke – thankfully his body-warmer was waterproof!) and  let us in for free. I couldn’t thank her enough but she was reluctant to shake my hand when I offered it. Can’t think why? He goes and throws up again whilst I wash his body-warmer and dry it under the hand dryer. Luckily it comes up ok and as Luke appears from the toilet he announces, “I’m all better now! I don’t feel sick anymore! Can we still go on the bus tour?”

Kids.

A mystery to us all.

“Are you sure?” I ask nervously. “I can’t have you being sick on the bus tour…”

“I promise you mummy, I am fine. The sick has all gone now and I feel like eating a McDonalds so I think that means I’m better” he says.

“Right you are then. Off we go!” I say, and so off we trot.

We stop on the Southbank for a little while to have a look about and then continue our walk over Jubilee Bridge towards our bus tour start point near the Sherlock Holmes Pub.  All is still fine and Luke seems to have perked right up.

Thank goodness for that.

The bus arrives and it is an old Routemaster. Absolutely glorious. It’s bright red, shiny and completely immaculate. I do love these old buses.

 The boys zoomed up to the top deck and sat right at the front. The had planned to sit here for the last 3 days and thankfully our lovely tour guide Pascaline said it was fine to sit there. She also very kindly gave Luke and Zak a wand each which they treasured for the whole tour and have pride of place in their bedrooms now. Sadly the wands are pretend and don’t magic the kids to sleep nor do they do their homework for them, which is what my eldest had hoped for!

After 10 minutes or so, the bus set off for our first stop. The driver did very well navigating around the narrow streets full of parked cars, I was in awe of his driving skills to be honest! I’d have got road rage at numerous points.

Pascaline spoke to us on a microphone so we could all hear what she was saying, even up on the top deck. She told us some fun Harry Potter facts and gave us clues as to where we were headed. The boys loved guessing what our first stop was going to be.

When we arrived at the destination, we hopped off the Routemaster and congregated by a very large building. We were asked if we knew which place this represented in the movies. Luke shouted out random places, but wasn’t right, and then one of our fellow group members got it right. It was called Scotland Place and it was used as the location where Harry and Mr Weasley entered into a phone box to access the Ministry of Magic in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

 As we were stood listening, Luke said, “I am going to be sick again Mummy!” just completely out of the blue again. He ran off over to the building, yep, the one used in the film, and threw up.

For goodness sake.

Everyone very politely checked if he was ok and Luke said he was and we went back onto the bus again. I was mortified but he assured me he really did feel better this time…so on we went.

Routemaster Bus London Harry Potter

Our next stop was the place called Cecil Court, which was used as inspiration for Diagon Alley.

It was a beautiful little street full of curious little book shops. Had Luke not been telling me he was going to throw up again the whole way down it I might have taken a bit more in. The poor lad. We did see a shop selling some Harry Potter money there which was quite cool.

Cecil Court London

After taking some photos, we hopped back on the bus and went off to see some more of the sights/venues.

I don’t want to give all the stops and venues away in case you want to do the tour yourselves, so I won’t do a stop by stop rundown, but I can assure you it was interesting, fun and  my Potter mad boys LOVED it (yes, despite one of them being very sick).

I do just need to give a  special mention to my favourite stop on the tour however which was Leadenhall Market. This Victorian market has hardly changed since it was built and the grandeur of it is truly something to behold. It’s easy to see why they chose it as a Harry Potter film location when you’re there. I haven’t been to Leadenhall Market before but it is now top of my list for places to return to when I make it back into London. It would be magical anytime of year but seeing it all decked out for Christmas with its beautiful lights and traditional tree was really quite special.

The poor lamb managed to push on but he was sick near the steps of St Paul’s cathedral, in the Tate Modern (we all stopped here to use the facilities), Leadenhall market and again once we were back at our home town station. Needless to say the little chap went to bed once he was in and mummy vowed never to go anywhere with the children on her own again. True story.

The end of the tour was at Kings Cross where we went to see where the ‘entrance’ to platform 9 and 3/4 is. There is nothing there to mark the spot anymore but there is a pretend trolley going into a wall near the entrance to Kings Cross station which you can have your photo taken with. It was originally in the exact spot used in the films on the platform but, due to health and safety, it was moved. Sadly Luke was too poorly to do this bit but we plan to return one day to get a photo.

 I would absolutely recommend this Harry Potter Bus Tour of London. If you’re a fan yourself, or you have older kids who are (I would certainly say this is an age 6+ tour and they will only find it interesting if they have watched all the films) then you’re guaranteed a super day out. The fact the tour is on a bus is fabulous because you get to cover a lot of ground in a short space of time. Doing it by foot on your own would take an entire day and you would get very tired!

Pascaline our guide was nothing but brilliant (especially seen as I had a puking child with me) and I hope her Culture and Adventure tours go from strength to strength.

She is running another tour on Sunday 12th February 2017 and you can book your slot on the Routemaster Bus here

(If you’re unable to book for any reason, please contact Pascaline on: info@cultureandadventure.com)


Disclosure: I was given 3 tickets to attend this Harry Potter Tour in return for this review. All words, thoughts, images and opinions are my own.



Snow joke…

Ah, the great British let-down that is Snow.

We were forecast some yesterday and everyone waited with bailed breath to see if the weather forecasters had got it catastrophically wrong (yep, a bit like the pollsters did with Brexit and Trump) or whether they had actually got it right for once.

Turns out they were right. Kind of.

About 5:45pm last night, after a biblical amount of rain in the afternoon, it snowed. The kids squealed with excitement, even I pushed my face up against the window to see the magical flakes fall from the sky, but sadly the joy was short lived, as it all so often is with regards to snow here in the southern UK.

By 6:30pm, the kids had been out in it, got themselves soaking wet because it was so slippery and were moaning that their hands hurt because it was so cold.

By 6:45pm the kids had walked soaking wet shoes and clothes through the house (despite being asked to take them off at the door) so I was moaning about cleaning it all up.

By 7:30pm it had turned to slush thanks to the earlier biblical rain.

By 7:35pm my husband had phoned to say the traffic was at a standstill and that he wasn’t sure if he was going to get home because cars were sliding down hills.

By 7:40pm the kids were moaning that the snow hadn’t been very good.

By 7:45pm, mummy had a G&T in her hand.

Daddy got home 5 hours after he set off. The journey normally takes 45 minutes.

Proof enough that the England cannot cope with snow I think.


This morning we woke up to frozen slush and ice. It was pretty treacherous out there which the kids thought was fantastic.

Mummy yelled at them, “Don’t skid on the ice on the edge of the kerb!”

So they did it some more.

Mummy yelled at them, “Don’t try and skate on the black ice in the road as we cross it!”

So they did it some more.

Mummy yelled at them, “Don’t throw ice balls at each other! It isn’t snow anymore, it’s as hard as a rock and you will hurt each other!”

So, yep, they did it some more.

Such command and control I have over my children isn’t it? I do astound myself at times.


So, in conclusion, the ‘Thundersnow’ we were forecast lived up to my personal expectations of causing maximum chaos and disruption whilst letting everyone down with it’s shitness. We built a slushman, but sadly no snowman.

snow UK 2017

I posted this on my Facebook page but it made me chuckle so thought I would share it over here on my blog too. It sums up Southern UK snow pretty well I think…

UK snow




Dinosaur Week: Day 4 – Knutty Explorers: A Day out to the Natural History Museum

“Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching”.

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Day 4 of my Dinosaur week, in association with Stickerscape and Kali Stileman, see’s me tell you a bit about our day out to the Natural History Museum in London.

A wonderfully educational, fun, interactive and FREE place to visit with all the family.


I love the Natural History Museum.

The kids and my husband love it there too, so it is pretty much one of the perfect days out for us as a family.

I could spend all day just looking at the architecture of the place, let alone the exhibits. The mind boggles at how they built such a majestic building so many years ago. Cathedral like, imposing, majestic. Every corner you turn there is another ornate carving, another curiosity to catch the eye. I wonder as I touch one of the terracotta carvings, how many other people before me have studied it, have noticed it’s quiet beauty, hidden away?

The Natural History Museum has Dinosaurs galore, fabulous exhibits about how our planet came to be as well as how it works, creatures past and present that grace our land, seas and skies, and so much more. There really is something new to learn around every corner, even for mummy and daddy!


 Getting there…

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We are lucky in the respect that we live a 10 minute walk from our local train station. We walked to our local station with the kids, who were super excited to be going on a train (and me truth be told, I am still very much a tourist when it comes to London which can drive my London savvy husband a bit bonkers when I want to stop and take a photo every few hundred yards). We went to the ticket booth rather than using one of the machines and my husband asked for the cheapest way for us to get to Travelcards for the day because we would need to use the underground. It’s always good to test the ticket office and see what they can do/what deals they have on, you might just get it a bit cheaper! She told us it was best to get 2 adult travel cards and then 2 child return tickets from where we live to Waterloo, because children travel free under the age of 11 on the underground.

Once at London Waterloo, we then had to get the underground from there to South Kensington which is the closest station to the museum (the Science Museum is also just next door and the Victoria and Albert museum is also around there too so you really can have a full day out just in that small patch of London).

The journey was fine (it was a Sunday morning to be fair) and we got a seat on the train and the underground just fine – not like a weekday morning commute thankfully!

Once we emerged from the underground station, we could then see the museum sprawling out in front of us in all it’s glory.

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 Entry…

We queued for about 15 minutes at the front of the museum in order to get in, this was at about 10:30 am. Sadly, due to the world we now live in and possible terror threats, all bags have to be checked before you enter the museum so make sure you have your bag open and ready as you get close to the entrance which does delay your entry somewhat but, needs must. Just be prepared for a bit of a queue and take some drink and snacks from home to have whilst you wait.

 Entry to the Museum is free, but we did buy a special kids activity book for them to do on the way round for £5 because the proceeds go to help keep the museum free and to also pay the people that work there. The activity book was really informative, had a map in the back which the boys used to plan our route around the museum and it had lots of questions to answer to get their brain boxes working (and mine to be fair!). There are various donation boxes about the place for you to pop a few pounds in if you wish.

The whole place is wheelchair and pushchair friendly so if you have little ones, lifts are available but at busy periods, you will have to queue.

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 What did we do there?

First up, no prizes for guessing, was the Dinosaur exhibit.

We came to the museum last year but it has changed since then and the overhead walkway they used to have is no longer open. I’m not sure why that is, but we couldn’t go up there.

The first thing the exhibit takes you to now is the robotic T-Rex. This has also changed slightly from previous visits in that it didn’t seem quite as dark and noisy as it was. That said, there were still some petrified children clinging for dear life to their parents legs in there so it’s possibly a good thing that they’ve toned it down from that respect. The boys love this part of the museum and watched it for a good 5 minutes before moving on and making space for someone else to stand and watch.

You can see robotic exhibits, fossils, evidence of a real life Dinosaur hunt by studying fossilised dinosaur footprints as well as much more. You could spend a good couple of hours in this one section but, because it’s the main feature of the place, it will be busy. We had to wait for a while in order to see/read some of the exhibits but the boys were thankfully feeling patient and dutifully waited their turn. There is a lot to see and take in whilst you’re waiting and we did some of our activity book then too.


After the excitement of the dinosaurs, we went to look at the Earth Zone.

To get to the earth zone, you can go on an escalator which literally takes you through the centre of the earth. This was one of the highlights along with the dinosaurs for the boys.

Once up there you can learn all about the power of the earth, how it was formed, the rocks, elements and minerals that we can find on our planet and many other mind boggling things. This is one of my favourite bits of the museum. I find it all fascinating and the boys loved pushing the buttons on different exhibits whilst learning a bit about the place we call home.


 As the museum was now getting quite busy, it was just after midday, we decided not to go in the animals section but instead we went up to see the original cabinets on the top floor which are home to an enormous rock collection. It may sound a bit boring but this is one of my favourite parts of the museum. It’s normally quite quiet up there for starters and I love rocks. There, I said it. I have a massive collection of the things in a huge vase at home which I’ve collected from various holidays. The sheer range of different rocks we can find on our planet is astounding and you’ll be able to see many percious stones up there, as well as more ‘normal’ common ones. There is also an enormous meteorite up there which is magical to see and touch. To think this lump of iron flew from outer space, onto our planet is completely brilliant. It makes you stop and think for sure…


 We didn’t eat or drink at the museum but there are many places to choose from if you wish to do so.

Instead, we chose to finish our visit to that end of London with a walk through Hyde Park, out onto Oxford Street and then onto Soho/Covent Garden for a look around. We also looked for some of the BFG Dream Jars (these are on until 31st August 2016) but only managed to find one…

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We stopped off at Byron Burger (16-18 Beak St, London W1F 9RD) for some lunch with the kids and we would thoroughly recommend it. Great food, activity sheets for the kids, milkshakes as big as your head and  hard shakes for the grown ups if you fancy one! We can give the Honeycomb/Chocolate hard shake with Rum a thumbs up!


 We loved our day out in London.

Tired feet, aching legs and a head full of new memories as a souvenir.

Perfect.


 Until 10th October 2016, you can get 20% off all Kali Stileman Wall stickers at Stickerscape by using the code DINOKALI.

They have a wonderful range of wall stickers suitable for girls, boys and for around the home so do give them a visit online!


Disclosure: I was sent a set of Dinosaur wall stickers to review by Stickerscape. All views, thoughts, opinions, photos and words are my own.



8 Free or Thrifty things to do in Surrey…

The summer holidays can be a slog for us parents sometimes.

If your other half has to work for most of it *waves one hand in the air whilst holding a G&T in the other* or if you just don’t have the disposable income to go on a summer break, finding things to keep the kids amused for 6 weeks, for as little money as possible, can often be tough.

With this in mind, I thought I would share with you all my, ‘8 free or thrifty things to do in Surrey’ to give you some ideas and help keep you sane!

So, here goes…


1. A Day out at Stoke Park Paddling Pool

A firm favourite with kids and parents alike is Stoke Park Paddling Pool in Guildford.

It is a large, free, paddling pool with a children’s park, crazy golf (£4.50 Adults and under 16’s £3), skate park, a boating pond (for model boats) and a large amount of green space to run about/picnic on. There are toilet facilities there and parking is available nearby for a small fee. If you take a picnic, a ball game and your swimming things, you’ll be certain to have a full day out and come home with happy (and hopefully worn out) children!

Photos by Guildford Dragon News

 Postcode: GU1 1ER

Good for: Sunny Days

Cost: Allow up to £10 for parking (and maybe a few extra pounds for an ice cream if you fancy it!)


2. Abinger Hammer Village Green

Village green and River Tillingbourne, Abinger Hammer

A bit of a random one at first sight perhaps, but when I explain you’ll see why it makes for such a super day out.

Abinger Hammer is a small village in the Surrey Hills. Quaint, full of character and a picture postcard English Village.

The village green is home to a large green space, a children’s park (which was actually closed when we visited in August 2016 for repairs) and a river which cuts across the village green boundary.

The perk of this place is that the river, in Summer with little rain, is shallow and gentle enough to paddle in. The river bed is very rocky so I would recommend wearing crocs, or some other type of water appropriate shoes, but it is perfect to cool down in on a warm day.

If you take your fishing nets, some buckets and a magnifying glass, you can do some fishing or ‘pond dipping’ to see what you can catch!

The village post office, opposite the green, sells drinks and snack as well as fishing nets and buckets should you require them. There is also a dainty, traditional tea room connected to it should you require the essential sustenance of tea and cake!

Parking can be tricky, but I parked at the local village hall 2 minutes up the road as it wasn’t in use at the time and my vehicle seemed to be ok in there. There is also a car park for the local cricket club on the green which is available to park in.

A completely free, best of british, day out, in the most picturesque of settings, should you take a picnic with you.

What more could you ask for?

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Postcode: RH5 6QX

Good for: Sunny or Rainy Days! Just make sure you wear waterproofs and wellington boots if it is raining!

Cost: Free! (Unless you buy nets and cakes of course!)


3. Box Hill Natural Play Trail

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Box Hill is now world famous thanks to the London 2012 Olympic Road race route travelling up it, so inevitably you shall encounter some lycra clad posteriors during your vist! It has become quite the cycling Mecca.  Box Hill is situated in the Surrey Hills and, once at the top, it has some of the most stunning views in the county, across the countryside, out towards Dorking.

There are a number of walking trails (maps/routes are available on the National Trust Website) but I would say that Box Hill Natural Play Trail is a super day out with the kids. They can burn off some of that energy whilst enjoying and exploring the woodland!

Myself and my family have done the Stepping Stones walk, which is beautiful but, with its 275 steps down, bear in mind, what goes down must come back up…it wasn’t a walk for the faint hearted, nor is it pushchair/wheelchair friendly so do bear this in mind! You can read about our walk around this route here.

It is also a super place for sledging should we manage to get a deluge of snow this winter…

At the top of the hill, there is a pay and display car park (free to National trust Members), a visitors centre, cafe, shop, toilet facilities and picnic benches.

It’s the perfect base for a day out exploring.

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 Postcode: KT20 7LB

Good for: Sunny or Rainy days! Just wear appropriate clothing and good walking shoes regardless of the time of year!

Price: Approx. £8 parking (and spending money for cake and ice cream should you wish).


 4. Priory Park, Reigate

We have been to Priory Park in Reigate a couple of times before and it is really brilliant.

There is a huge playground, with a splash zone in the summer (not a paddling pool but a safe, non slip area where water jets and spouts allow the children to play with water), a skate park, fountained gardens, lake, an enormous amount of green space, a very modern cafe/information centre and superbly clean toilet facilities.

There is a Geocaching route around the park if you’re into that (there are 7 to find) and there are also various events held there all year round. For example the summer this year (2016) they have an inflatable fun park there for the whole summer and at christmas, there will be an outdoor Ice Rink there.

There is a large car park next to it and again, if you take a picnic, all you will need to pay for is parking to have a full day out.

It can get busy. especially at weekends, but get there early enough and you could have it to yourself for a while!

It is also the perfect place for hill rolling in summer, or sledging in winter, with its fabulous sloping hills around the edge.

Definitely a place to check out.

 

Postcode: RH2 7RL

Good for: Fair weather/Sunny Days

Price: Approx. £8 parking (plus money for ice creams and drinks should you wish to indulge)


5. Virginia Water Lake
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Situated on the edge of Surrey, Virginia Water lake makes up part of Windsor Great Park.

It’s the perfect base for a day out exploring, wildlife spotting and, if you’re keen, cycling or scooting with the kids.

At 4.5 miles, the circular route around the lake, on it’s well made, smooth tarmac paths, makes for the perfect cycle loop with kids in tow. It’s not flat, but it isn’t so challenging that it’s unmanageable.

There is a visitors centre, cafe and toilets there (all of which are modern and clean) and there are various ice cream/coffee vans dotted around the lake too.

There aren’t any playgrounds here but there are lots of different things to explore. There is a waterfall. some old Roman Ruins, the lake itself, a polo area, various interesting nooks and crannies off the beaten track to discover and a 100ft Totem Pole!

It’s a wonderful place to go and we have managed to while away quite a few days exploring this place. There is no paddling or fishing allowed there but you can do some bird spotting and if you’re lucky, you may see a Heron or two!

The lake and it’s viewing points/vistas are just glorious and it is even more beautiful, in my opinion, in late Autumn/Winter when the fog and mist hovers just above the water. It’s magical (so magical in fact, it was used to film some of Harry Potter!)

Get outside and explore this beautiful part of Surrey!

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Postcode: GU25 4QF

Good for: Days out, whatever the weather.

Price: Parking, no more than £10 (plus ice cream and coffee spending money!)


 6. Horsell Common

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My 8 year old boys favourite place for a jaunt after becoming obsessed with H.G.Wells’ book, War of the Worlds.

Visit the sandpits where the martians landed in the famous book, play on a rope swing, hunt for Bronze Age Barrows and climb some trees!

This large expanse of common is protected and looked after by the Horsell Common Preservation Society. It’s a beautiful place, with multiple free car parks dotted around it, for you to be able to park up and enjoy a stroll. If you park at the new Heather Farm and Wetlands Centre, there are toilet facilities and a cafe there (which also serves wine, winner!).

It has many walks to offer and I love the way the landscape changes from dense woodland to open heath-land. It’s a fantastic place for bug and fungi hunting, though please do not pick and eat any of the fungi you see growing just in case it is poisonous! It’s always best to just look at these things and appreciate them…

It really is a nice place to walk and if you walk from the Wetlands Centre, you can also do some plane spotting at Fairoaks Airport which is nearby. The kids always love to watch the planes take off and come back into land

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Postcode: GU21 4XY

Good for: Days out, whatever the weather.

Price: Free (unless you buy copious amounts of delicious cake at the Wetlands Centre!)


 7. Alice Holt Forest

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I love this place. Huge expanses of woodland and forest sprawl out before you, ready to be explored.

Follow the signs to go on a set walk, they have a children’s route with wooden structures to explore on the way round which makes a treasure hunt type adventure out of the walk, or just follow your nose and see where you end up!

There are always activities on for the kids at Alice Holt (they recently had a Gruffalo Trail and then a Stick Man one), there are spots for den building and there is also a wonderful play ground, as well as plenty of open space to charge about on and get rid of some energy.

Should you wish to, there is a ‘Go Ape’ here too but you will need to book this in advance and, of course, this costs extra.

A super place to take the bikes as well.

There are facilities here consisting of a coffee shop. toilets, visitors centre, cafe and bike hire.

 

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Postcode: GU10 4LS

Good for: Days out, whatever the weather.

Price: No more than £1o parking


 8. Leith Hill and Leith Hill Tower

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Again, back in the Surrey Hills, but it is so beautiful there it’s hard not to love it.

Leith Hill, the second highest point in South-east England, is my favourite place to go with the family. The views are second to none, on a clear day you can see the city of London sprawling out in front of you and it’s a view I think you’d never get bored of seeing.

There is a tower, built in 1765, there which you can go in and climb to the top (WARNING: not for those who aren’t able bodied, scared of heights or claustrophobic!) and the view from up there is simply breathtaking. There is a small fee to go up the tower to help maintain it.

The area has a fascintating history which you can read more about here. Charles Darwin is known to have conducted some of his studies in and around here as his friends owned the nearby Leith Hill Place and he used to go and stay there quite often. Also of note, the composer Vaughn-Williams lived here until 1944 and then gave it to the National Trust so everyone could enjoy it. I am glad he did. It’s truly stunning…

Take a picnic, go for a walk, sit and admire the view, get lost in the woods, take in a sunset, visit in the depths of winter. Whenever you visit, you won’t be disappointed.

There are various car parks available nearby.

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Postcode: RH5 6LU

Good for: Escaping it all whatever the weather.

Price: Parking, free along the roadside or no more than £3.50 in the car park. National Trust members park for free. Leith Hill Tower is £2 for Adults and £1 for children.


 Do you have a favourite free or thrifty place to visit in Surrey?

If so, do get in touch with me on knuttalls@gmail.com and I will include it in my next ideas post!


 Happy Exploring Knutters!

Gems.x

You Baby Me Mummy



Wales 2016: Day 2 – “A prick on the posterior…”

We woke up to sunshine on day 2…

Today was the only ‘full’ family day we would all have together, as the next day would be taken up with our men abandoning us to visit Bike Park Wales.

We had a yummy breakfast of bacon and egg sarnies but there was one major issue with breakfast…

The Wasps.

The yellow jacket clad tossers were out in force at our campsite and I was as pissed off with them as a TOWIE cast member is when they run out of teeth whitener.

Luckily, our friends had bought a tennis bat type, wasp torture, contraption which had electric rods running across it. It was called, ‘The Exterminator’ – *terminator voice*.

Basically, you press a button when you are near a wasp, this electrifies the metal rods and you electrocute the wasp. Pleasant eh?!

Now, I promise you I would never use this thing on anything other than Wasps and Mosquitoes, but my word it was therapeutic.

“Buzzzzzzzzz”, you would hear one next to your ear as you’re about to sip your cup of tea.

“Buzzzzzz”. You’ll swat it as a warning that this invasion of space is unacceptable.

It goes away, then two seconds later, it’s back again. But this time, with a couple of his mates as backup.

“Buzzzzzzz”, in my ear again causing me to spill some tea.

Line crossed.

Patience exhausted.

Right you little bastards, it’s time to meet your maker.

“Where’s the bat?” I announce in my best, ‘it’s on like Donkey Kong’, ‘I mean business’, voice.

I am handed ‘The Exterminator’ and I push the button on it to begin, ‘Operation Wasp Wack’.

I chase the little shits with the bat and feel a sense of sadistic joy when one sparks off the bat and dies. Then I get his mate, and then another one. Everyone has a go with the bat of extermination over the course of the holiday to try and rid us of the stripey flying feckers, as well as my friend setting up a wasp trap using an old juice bottle and some neat squash as bait. It did the trick, but the exterminator was definitely required to try and keep on top of things.

Anyhow, after feeling rather pleased with ourselves that we were staying on top of the wasp invasion, we must’ve let our guard slip.

My other half was sat down, a little bit forwards on his camping chair and must have had his shorts revealing his bottom a bit at the top, you know, like when you have that pair of jeans on that are really comfy but your butt does a David Copperfield and escapes out of them whenever you bend over. That.

#halfmoon

He sits there chatting then all of a sudden…

“Argh! Shit! I’ve been stung!”

He leaps off his camping chair (I’ve never seen him move so fast. No really, I haven’t…) and holds his left buttock.

“It got me! The little f*cker got me!!!!”

Me, hand on mouth, stifling a mixture of a hysterical laugh and a concerned face, offers to take a peek and see how bad the damage is. The things we do for love…

He reveals a rather red butt cheek and is wincing in agony, in between swearing. I wet some kitchen towel and tell him to put it on there and I check he’s feeling ok because he hasn’t ever been stung by anything up until this point in his life. Luckily for us all, it turns out he’s not allergic to wasp stings and it just left him with a bit of a prick on his posterior, a dent in his male ego and a red mark on his butt cheek.

Major crisis averted, but now I am faced with an even more grumpy than usual husband for the day.

After the excitement of the wasp sting, it was decided that we would go out for the day and back to a beach we went to the previous year, it was a stunner to be fair, called Rhossilli Bay. It is an enormous beach which stretches out below you when you look at it from the clifftops above, a sight to behold. The only trouble is…getting down to it. Oh, and then back up again…

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I took this photo from the top of the path which you have to walk down.

My husband decided it would be a good idea to hire the kids some wet-suits and body boards, and himself a surf board for the day, which is lovely, except we had to get that stuff, plus the usual beach crap, down to the beach.

We loaded the kids up as much as we could and then loaded ourselves up like mules. I also had to walk the toddler down so needed at least one free hand to help steady the miniature drunkard.

It took about 10 minutes to walk down but it is totally worth it once you are there. (Do bear this in mind if you have pushchairs or wheelchairs as access with these is not currently available).

Miles of golden sand, hills that appear to roll into the sea, shipwrecks on the beach, caves to explore, rock pools to investigate, waves to surf and play in, it’s the perfect beach base for the day. Oh, apart from the walk down and up…did I mention that?! 😉

(Note: If you’re a national trust member, you can park in the car park there free of charge).

We spend the day, once again, scoffing crap picnic food, paddling, surfing, body boarding (sadly not me however, I was on toddler watch), sandcastle building, rock pool swimming and cave exploring. Fun was had by all and even my husband, King Itchy Butt, had a nice day.

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After finishing at the beach, involving me and my friends husband having to do two, yes two, journeys up the cliffs so we could return the hire kit before closing time before returning back down to collect our own gubbins to take back home, we reward ourselves with an ice cream.

I have to tell you all this Ice Cream man was THE BEST ice cream man I have EVER seen. The guy had a kind of tardis Ice Cream van and, you name it, he had it. Ice lollies, ice creams, slushies, ice cream sundaes, the whole lot. He was epic and I was as excited as the kids were.

I plumped for a Turkish delight Ice Cream Sundae, my husband went for a chocolate orange sundae and the kids all went for a e-number filled bubblegum sundae offering.

Nom, nom, nom. The stuff of seaside holiday dreams people.

“Honey! Get my fat pants out! I’m having ice cream!”

We head to a pub for a quick drink before then going back to the campsite to do a BBQ. We do the usual sausages and burgers and then we get the big guns out…Marshmallows.

The kids, ok, and the adults, loved toasting the marshmallows over the hot coals. There’s something truly happiness inducing and brilliant about a toasted marshmallow.

Smiles all round.

That, followed by hot chocolates at sunset, are what childhood memories are made of in my eyes.

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Enlight1 (34)

Bedtime comes around again, and after the saga of the night before, my husband goes in with the angelically peaceful sleeper (our middle one) and I get the toddler for the night. The husband appears all smug that we have swapped kids, in the hope that he will get a super night’s sleep. Turns out, karma is a bitch and on top of his pricked bottom, he had a terrible night because our normally well behaved middle one had a bit of a restless night and windmilled himself around their air bed for the night. Oopsie… 😉

The toddler however, slept like a, well, baby! Whoop!

#mummyforthewinagain

Tune in for day 3 tomorrow…

Gems.x