Paradise Wildlife Park – ‘A unique attraction in Hertfordshire’

If you’re looking for a great day out for the whole family, Paradise Wildlife Park should definitely be on your list. Situated in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire just off the A10 (near junction 25 on the M25) or if you’re travelling by train, they offer a pick up service from Broxbourne station (£3 per person, under 2’s go free).

Tickets are cheaper if booked online (have to be done at least the day before your visit) and there are normally discount codes available (PWP20 currently giving 20 % off – at time of publication). Cheaper prices are offered for kids, senior citizens and disabled (carers too) visitors – click here for more info. If you live locally you can also purchase annual passes which can be paid in one lump sum or monthly – I have one of these and have been over 20 times since March.

OK, what all can you see at Paradise Wildlife Park ?? As you can see by the map below, its quite a large park with many attractions.

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My daughter LOVES dinosaurs and as ‘WORLD OF DINOSAURS’ is right in front of you when you enter, i’ll start here.
This attraction opened in March this year – here you can experience 30 life sized, moving, ‘breathing’, roaring dinosaurs. Take a walk through the woods (and back in time) experiencing these big animals, there is also a dino train (Tickets £2 per person over 2 years old or free with an annual pass) that takes you through the World of Dinosaurs – be carful as some dinosaurs spit ! Don’t forget to see if you can uncover a dinosaur skeleton before you leave..

Another favourite of ours, especially during the warm summer we had was Paradise Lagoon. A lovely splash pool with slide and turfed picnic area. They have a little hut selling inflatables and ice creams which is a big hit with the little ones. Picnic tables are available meaning you can bring lunch from home and enjoy it whilst the little ones cool down in the pool.

Before heading over to the animal section there is a lovely play area with slides coming out of fire trucks and trains, climbing frames and an area with equipment adapted for wheelchair users too. There is another play area in the animal section which is covered. It has a climbing frame, sea saw and slides. If the weather isn’t great there is an indoor soft play area, Tumble Jungle with a cafe and coffee shop for mums and dads to rest and refuel.

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There is so much to see and do in the animal park, we love feeding the goats and sheep the fresh food (available to buy from the kiosks for £1), then over to BIG CAT TERRITORY.  If you’re lucky you may be able to see some of the big cats being fed which is awesome!

BCEYou can also feed the big cats / wolves – £199 during the week (£249 on weekends) – which is often half price for annual members ! After welcome drinks, you receive a health and safety briefing. Once in position you will feed your cat of choice through the bars of their enclosure.  The experience lasts 30 mins. The price includes access to the park and is wheelchair accessible too.
Click here for more info.
If you don’t fancy feeding one of the big cats / wolves, there are a few other animal experiences on offer (Meet the Red Pandas, Meerkats, Lemurs, get up close and personal with a sloth just to name a few). More info can be found here.

My daughter loves the penguin enclosure as well as the outback trail too. The monkeys are playful and loud and can be heard from almost all over the park – they’re definitely worth a visit.

We absolutely love our days at Paradise Wildlife Park, there is SO much to do there that even having gone 20 + times there are still bits of it we’ve not visited. If you’re looking for a fun, educational day out – Paradise Wildlife Park is for you!

 

 

 

 

Standon Calling Festival – a fabulous family day out

This year we were lucky enough to be able to visit our local family-friendly festival, Standon Calling in Hertfordshire, for the second time. Two years’ ago we went for the whole weekend and had a fabulous time, this year we were given day passes so we headed there on the Saturday. We had a large group of people with us this year, ranging from 9 years through to the 50s. What a perfect day out we had, with something for every age group. I have never thought of visiting a festival for a day, as usually we do the whole camping thing but if you can’t then it’s still worth a visit for the day.

We arrived about midday, wanting to be in time for the fancy dress parade. The costumes were literally ‘out of this world’! Excuse the pun ha…

Our boys spent two weeks perfecting their cosmic astronaut outfits, and really believed they were going to win with their creations…

Alas it was not to be, unfortunately for them there were many more awesome and show stopping fabulous outfits that they didn’t get a look in!

They didn’t seem to mind as they were totally in the zone and amazed at how great everyone looked, they forgot there was even a prize to be had.

The boys, Freddie and his friend Finley, both aged 9 were absolutely buzzing from start to finish, from dodgems, to bumper balls, music and dance and much more…

I did notice a big difference in what Freddie enjoyed this year in comparison to two years ago when he was 7. At 9 he seemed much more interested in the music and live acts than the children’s area. Now this is when I wondered if it was his age, or the fact that we didn’t camp and only went for the day. Every time I suggested doing an activity his friend and he were too focused on the acts on the stages. Music is a big part of their lives and their current idol, George Ezra, definitely stole the day for them.

There really is something for all ages at Standon Calling: here is a little look at what was on offer this year…

If you are thinking of visiting next year then why not grab some early bird tickets:

Weekend tickets are now available with entry to the festival from 12pm on Thursday 25thJuly 2019. Price includes camping in the general camp site or family camp site (car parking must be purchased separately). If you are looking for a little more luxury then opt for the Lavish Lands camp tickets, slightly more expensive but with hot showers, extra toilets, free parking and nearer to the festival.

Early Bird weekend prices (including booking fees) are:

£128.84 per adult

£118.12 16/17 yrs

£107.39 13-15 yrs

£38.74  4-12 yrs

£6.56   0-3 yrs

Pre-payment tickets and boutique camping tickets will be on sale soon and day tickets on sale spring 2019.

We are so excited to see what is going to be next years theme and will definitely be attending whatever the weather and hopefully camping again if our diary allows!

Some images courtesy of Standon Calling.

Standon Calling – was our first ever family-friendly festival & we are going back this year!

The festival season is well and truly under way and family-friendly festivals are a plenty, it’s so hard to choose which one to take your kids to. We are attending a few this year and will have a round up at the end of the year, but for now we are talking about Standon Calling in Hertfordshire 27th– 29thJuly. We are so lucky to be going this year and two of our boys , both 9 years, are especially excited…

We live in Hertford and so our local kid friendly festivals are Standon Calling and new kid on the block Wilkestock. Our first ever festival with Freddie was two years ago when we spent the weekend at Standon Calling. My husband was a little dubious about attending a festival let alone with kids, he loves music and now, after a few iffy outings, actually likes camping so when he agreed to come to a festival I was so excited!

The past

Then we camped, saw Rag and Bone Man for the first time, dressed as pirates, met Kelis and more, including our dog winning happiest Festival Dog!

We have very fond memories of 2016 and so are super super excited to be attending this year.

The Future

The theme is ‘the Future’ and this weekend we plan to make our outfits, all will be revealed soon, just not sure which world to go for yet!

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The family programme looks better than ever and I am sad that we are only able to go for one day this year. There is the Panic Circus Big Top, Family Yoga, Welcome Family Disco, Campfire with Marshmallows, Trimbus Play Bus, the Hidden Wardrobe, Baby and Toddler Space, Tweens and Teens Workshops, Craft Zone Garden with interactive fun, kid friendly performances including Horrible Histories Live and Andy from Cbeebies and his smelly socks, library, Woodland Tribe and not forgetting the swimming pool and costume parade!

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As you can see it looks like a jam packed family weekend and that’s without mentioning the brilliant acts that are taking place this year! Including Paloma Faith, the Cuban Brothers, and local talent man George Ezra, who is the highlight for Freddie this year. George is his current idol, and he seems to think he will be able to give him a hug! –  love the innocence of children and famous people!

To top it all the weather looks set to be sun sun sun – we think that the boys and of course we, are going to have a blast!

Look forward to sharing our fun with you at the after blog party!

Day tickets have now sold out but there are a small amount of adult weekend tickets left – visit the website for information Standon Calling tickets

 

 

 

Magic Garden – Hampton Court Palace

If you’re looking for something different to do as a family and you’ve not visited the Magic Garden at Hampton Court Palace, move this day out to the TOP of your list.
We’ve had some amazing weather over the past few weeks and i’m not sure about you but I just want to be outdoors in the sunshine. My little girl is definitely an outdoor child. She loves playing outside, loves a sandpit and is a definite water baby so when I saw some pics on a friends Instagram, I knew this place was perfect for her.

We left home just after breakfast to be there as it opened, at 10am. You cannot book tickets for the magic garden in advance so I wanted to get there early, especially as it was looking to be a beautiful sunny day. The cost is £7 per adult and £5.20 for children over 3 years old. Under 3’s go free.

MAGIC GARDEN MAP

Upon arrival, you are greeted by a magical childrens paradise. There is a dragon, towers, castles, a secret grotto and much more. Each area represents something different; myths, legends and stories and provides a different way for your family to explore the palaces history.

There is a buggy park on your right as well as a little cafe that sells drinks, sandwiches and coffee. There are a few tables and chairs (some covered and some out in the sun) that overlook the tournament areas and tower. There are loads of places to sit and watch your kids have the best time.

I would definitely recommend bringing the following items so that you can let your kids run wild and not have to worry.

–  SUNCREAM
– CHANGE OF CLOTHES
– SWIM SHOES
– TOWEL
– WATER BOTTLE  – there are 2 drinking water fountains in the garden.

Georgia absolutely loved splashing in the fountains and spent most of her time there – so much so that we didn’t even make it to the Maze (which is also included in the ticket price )

We will definitely be heading here again over the summer as we do have to visit the Maze, i’ve heard this is brilliant too.

Toilets and baby chance facilities are found to the right just as you walk in. If its peak season or a busy day when you visit your stay may be limited to 90 minutes. They have a coloured wrist band system and tell you what time you need to leave by. You can come back later that day if capacity allows (say after visiting the maze) which is quite a nice touch. If you have a ticket to visit the Palace itself, entry to the Magic Garden and Maze is included too. You are not allowed to picnic in the garden due to them wanting the area to be enjoyed by the kids (not having picnic set ups get in their way) and there have been rumours that the Dragon could eat your picnic blanket and all your yummy goodies if he see’s you setting one up.

One of the dragon’s top tips was to have fun, and we certainly did.

For more info click here

In The Night Garden Live – a fab family day out!

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We recently booked tickets for Georgia to go and see In The Night Garden Live – she is almost 2 and In The Night garden has been quite a big part of her life as nana introduced us to it when she was around 5 months old. Every night before her milk we watch an episode of it regardless of where we are. It’s our thing and such a nice way to have a cuddle and end the day.

I wasn’t sure if she was ready for it after booking Panto tickets at Christmas and poor daddy spent the whole show in the restaurant with her as she didn’t get into it at all. I thought that as she was a few months older and this was going to be full of her favourite characters she may be more engaged. I was excited to see how Georgia would react to her favourite characters right there in front of her and larger than life, so booked the tickets and here’s how we got on.

 

You can still see the shows at 3 venues – we went to the O2, but this showing has now finished. It is now moving to Richmond Old deer park from 16 June until the 1st of July when it heads up to Birmingham (7-22 July) and Manchester (28 July – 19 August).

There are 2 shows, the Ninky Nonk show and the Pinky Ponk show. The show lasts around 50 minutes and each show follows a different story line – but don’t worry, they both feature all the characters.

There are 2 options when buying your tickets, Standard (from £12.50 pp) and Premium (from £20 pp).  If you choose premium tickets you will get to sit in the first 5 rows. We booked standard seats and were seated in the 6th row. Its auditorium style seating so you can see from any row.

Georgia was a bit taken a back when it first started – the characters really are quite large so I think the standard seats were better for us anyway. She came around and was eventually smiling and dancing away to the songs she’s listened to every night before bed. The ticket price includes a souvenir activity book which Georgia loved.

When booking your tickets in advance you can pre book a Goody Bag worth over £60 for only £29 which is a great saving. If you don’t book it in advance you can buy one on the day for £39.00 – they really did look decent – here is what’s inside:
goody bag

Another add on is to ‘meet a character’ – this happens after the show and you will have a private 2-3 minute meeting with your chosen character. A great opportunity to give your favourite character a cuddle or get a selfie. The cost is £15 per character – you can meet either Igglepiggle or Upsy Daisy. Looking back, i’m glad we didn’t book this as I don’t think Georgia would have cooperated. The slightly older kids were loving their meetings on the day and came out with smiles from ear to ear.

Upon arrival, your tickets are checked and you’re directed to collect your goody bag and then line up in Premium or Standard seating rows. The gates open 30 minutes before the show starts. There is a bar where snacks and drinks for both kids and adults can be purchased.

vSit back, relax and enjoy watching your little ones take it all in.

Before you leave the Showdome you have another opportunity to be persuaded by your kids to spend some money. Shirts, memorabilia and balloons are available to buy. My tip would be to bring your kids’ In The Night Garden character from home so that they don’t try and get you to buy them a new one before you leave.

All in all it is a very well run and organised event. We were emailed 3 days prior with instructions on how to get there, where to park, info on baby changing facilities and where to park your buggy. They even tell you the walking time (at buggy pace) from the parking area to the Showdome.

Georgia loved it and it really was a lovely family day out. I would highly recommend it to friends with little ones who like the show.

 

Don’t miss out – book your tickets here

 

Why not visit Inverness and Loch Ness for your next family holiday?

I have only ever visited Inverness and Loch Ness once before and it wasn’t a family holiday but a work trip but still the memories I have from this stunning part of the country are locked firmly in my head. It was spring, the day was fresh and bright and Loch Ness looked stunning. It’s no wonder that the city of Inverness and Loch Ness are two of the most popular destinations in the UK, however families in the south of the UK tend to head for the southern coast line maybe. If you are reading this and living in the south, this little overview will help change your mind and tempt you in taking a family holiday in the Scottish Highlands.

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I doubt there are many people of most ages who have not heard about the myth surrounding Loch Ness. Kids will love the adventure and mystery of searching for Nessie, a boat trip on the Loch is a must!

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There are lots of forts and castles in the area to explore. Urquhart Castle is located on the sore of Loch Ness and offers more than 1000 years of history! The Castle is open throughout the year; visit the Urquhart Castle website for details.

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The beautiful scenery and countryside is there for adventure, fun and exploration but if you are looking for something a little more structured, why not visit one of the many child-friendly attractions around Inverness and the Loch Ness area.

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Landmark Park is a Forest Adventure Park for all ages and is open all year (check the Landmark Park website for opening times). Climb aboard the Runaway Timber Train for a rollercoaster thrill ride or explore The Lost Labyrinth with its bubbling mud pools, dangerous creatures and magic waterfall. The Wee Monkey Trail offers a fab challenge for 2-5 year olds whereby The Tarzan Trail and Ropwrox will appeal to the older children and adults alike.

Getting back to nature for a while take the Funicular Railway, the UK’s highest, and grab a bite to eat at the top, or try your hand at one of the many snow sports on offer.

For sea lovers head to the coast and one of the local sand dune-backed beaches or join The Dolphin Cruises in Inverness to see the majestic dolphins in their natural habitat from land or sea.

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This is merely scratching the surface on what Inverness and Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands have to offer for a fun-filled family holiday. I know we will be planning a visit very soon!

Visiting with babies and toddlers couldn’t be easier either, staying at one of these fabulous cottages featured on the Holiday Tots website.

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This collection of child-friendly holiday cottages offers the perfect base for exploring the area of Loch Ness, Inverness and beyond. The owners are fully committed to the principles of The Children Welcome Scheme and have been approved by Visit Scotland to cater for the needs of children. They provide stairgates, cots, baby bath supports, sterilisers, the list of baby and toddler equipment really is extensive.

Within the grounds there is an enclosed play area with sunken trampoline, swing and sandpit plus an ice cream bar and café for an end of day treat after a day of sightseeing. If you do not want to cook, the owners provide a home-cooked meal service and also have a stock of frozen meals available. More details on the Holiday Tots website.

We think that this area of Scotland, Loch Ness and Inverness, is an overlooked little gem of a location for a family holiday. Full of adventure, magical mysteries, history and stunning scenery, it promises to be an amazing holiday destination for all ages.

Spring to West Sussex for a short family break

West Sussex is perfect for a short spring break with the family as it is located less than two hours’ drive from London and an easy train ride , just. 1 hr 10 from Victoria  to Shoreham-in-Sea.

Boasting beautiful countryside and coastal scenery, West Sussex is also officially the sunniest country in the United Kingdom according to the Met Office records.

There are plenty of child-friendly beaches here, perfect for a brisk walk in wellies wrapped up with scarf and hat on a fresh spring morning. As the weather warms the layers of clothing can disappear and the kids can rummage in the rock pools looking for interesting sea creatures and build sand castles too!

 

West Wittering beach

West Wittering beach has been a family favourite of ours for years. Boasting Blue Flag status, West Wittering offers high quality water, shallow lagoons when the tide is out, and plenty of sand for castle building, all making it perfect for toddlers and young children as well as older members of the family. There is ample parking, especially during the spring, and a dog-friendly section too. During the winter the beach café is generally open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays ( do check before you head off if this important to you).

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Littlehampton beaches in West Sussex offer an alternative family vibe to West Wittering. Littlehampton itself is a bustling seaside town with award-winning architecture, stage by the sea, award-winning beaches and a seasonal miniature railway. If you are looking for family-friendly events they seem to kick off in April. The Littlehampton beach is a mixture of sand and shingle and there are plenty of amusements for all ages.

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West Sussex is also home to some beautiful and historical market towns, villages and stately homes. Steyning village stands out as possibly one of the prettiest towns in West Sussex with lots of charm and full of independent retailers. The children will love browsing through the interesting shops looking for a gift for a friend or family member back home.

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Arundel Castle is a popular  family-friendly day out, the castle and gardens open on 1st April

Late summer evening shadows on the Downs near Goodwood

The South Downs National Park is perfect for a family adventure. It offers 1,600km2 of amazing views, rolling hills, ancient woodland, market towns and villages, lowland heaths, country pubs, rivers and attractions for everyone.

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Springtime in the South Downs National Park is such a beautiful time to visit with plenty of bluebells to be found!

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Why not get the kids involved in the John Muir awards. Children and adults of all ages are encouraged to explore and create their very own National Park. There are lots of missions your family can take part in. For details visit the John Muir Mission Explorer page of the South Downs National Park website.

Child-friendly holiday cottages in West Sussex

If you are looking for a child-friendly holiday cottage for a short spring family break to West Sussex look no further. These two child-friendly cottages are located within walking distance to this area of the South Downs National park and the River Adur with its woodland trails and miles of beautiful countryside and only 10 minutes’ drive from Shoreham-on-Sea.

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There are two cottages both of which are ideal for families of up to four. They can also be rented together to offer accommodation for up to eight as the interlocking door can be unlocked to create a four bedroom holiday cottage. Within the gardens there are toys, swing, animals to feed and there is also a tea barn and artisan bake house open at various times throughout the year (and swimming pool open May to September)

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Steyning is located just 5 minutes from here and the owners also have a lovely cottage in the heart of Steyning itself. It has two bedrooms and is ideal for a family of six guests who are welcome to use the facilities at the main house.

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The owners can offer babysitting and beauty treatments in any of their cottages. All the cottages are baby and toddler friendly with stairgates, cots, highchairs, baby bath, monitors, toys etc.

Child-friendly holiday cottage in Steyning, West Sussex

More family days out in West Sussex…

Here are some more ideas for a fab family day out during Spring (or any time of year) in West Sussex, all are close to the holiday cottages above:

 

Lambing at Coombes farm

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Stans Bike shack is fun for a pit stop before a lovely walk or cycle along the downs link.

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The wetlands centre in Arundel is a great day out, with family friendly events throughout the year including Puddle Jumping Championships – spring half term 2017!

Petworth Park has wild deer and the house is national trust and always runs great fun events in school holidays and also nearby Knepp Castle has wildlife safaris which are great fun, they do dawn/dusk/bees and other animals. The owners of the cottages went on a deer rut safari there in Oct and say it was great fun!

West Sussex is beautiful any time of year. Springtime here is just as stunning as other seasons, you can just feel everything waking after its long winter sleep, buds on the trees, bluebells in the woods and spring lambs popping up in the fields and maybe some puddles to splash in too!

What are you waiting for!