Monday 15 October 2012

Half Term Activites in Oxfordshire

So its almost half term, wondering how to stop the little ones getting under your feet. Take a look at just some of the (mostly Halloween themed) things going on in Oxfordshire.

BBOWT - Family fun days at College Lake, Woolley Firs and Sutton Courtenay. This years theme of course is haunted habitats and Halloween hallalabloo. As we have said many times before we LOVE the BBOWT family fun days as do many others.

Millets Farm - has a Halloween howl attraction all week where the maze is transformed into a spooky world along with bouncy castles, trampolines, chocolate apples and CSI:Millets. Something for every age.

Oxford Playhouse - for the younger ones there is story telling and craft activities or for those older children who love amateur dramatics or need some confidence building there are a number of drama workshops.

Museum of Oxford - has activities for the big draw going on and for the Halloween theme there is a Halloween Horrors Exploration Station, make your own vampire bats and witch's cat masks, and Halloween Hauntings.

Abingdon Museum - has something different organised on 31 October “Creative Clay” where an artist will help children draw on clay tiles, taking inspiration from the museum objects and exhibits.
The finished tiles will be taken away at the end of the day to be fired in a kiln and will return to the museum to form a big ceramic drawing.

Oxfordshire Museum - 30 Oct and 1 December there are activities for the Big Draw inspired by the museum.

River and Rowing Museum - has a big big bug experience which sounds excellent and for older ones learning about weather. Again they have activities for the big draw inspired by the museum.

Science Oxford Live - Now this sounds exciting "The Halloween Show" for kids 6+ on the 31 October.

Cotswold Wildlife Park - has lots of pumpkin people and a pumpkin trail along with interesting facts about bats, owls and wolves.

Cornerstone Didcot - has so many workshops going on paper penguins (which will go into their Christmas exhibition), sound effects for film, clay sculpture, mash-up choir and youth dance.

Oxford University Museum of Natural History - Winnie's Dinosaur Day, how fun does that sound for young ones. Witch and Dinosaur activities and Korky Paul visiting.

50 Things - Or if the weather is good why not go out and explore and tick off some of the things on the National Trusts 50 Things site. I'll start you off with some ideas of where to visit.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Trunki: Penelope the Princess Carriage

When we brought Charlotte a Trunki (Penelope) for her birthday we were a bit unsure of how much it would get used. She's 4 years old so we were wondering if she was still in the right age group for a Trunki. Would her legs be too long for pulling around? Would we ever use it for sitting on? Would it just be in the back of the cupboard for ever?
Well 9 months later and its been used plenty. We brought it knowing we had some holidays coming up, and its first trip was to Lanzarote. Charlotte loved filling it with her toys and hiding Barbies' shoes in the secret pockets (which I thought would be too small for anything useful but kids find a use), we downloaded the activity packs from the Trunki website and packed that along with lots of colouring pencils.
At the airport she was happily pulling "Penelope" along, oblivious to the people shooting in each direction not wanting their ankles bashed by her mad weaving. As the airport filled up we decided her pulling it was not the best idea so it was on our shoulder the rest of the trip.

On-board the plane and Trunki easily slipped under the seat on board our Thomson flight and was great for toys and snacks to keep her entertained. Our only downside with the really limited space on-board short haul flights you have to be good at opening and closing well without everything tipping out, but the clips for the case could do with being the other way around. You need the teddy bear straps to be on the top but when you go to close it the closing clips trap in the side. Took a bit of mastering that one.

"Penelope" happily sat in our apartment all week being ridden around on and storing our weeks worth of toys and books and colouring bits. We did the trunki diary every day and also learnt a bit of Spanish thanks to the trunki passport downloads, excellent idea that.
On the way home "Penelope" really came into her own, we were the last bus for our fight arriving at the airport and stuck at the back of an hour long queue. But with wand in hand, tiara on head and a princess carriage to sit on the hour long queue went easier than you can imagine, and she didn't have to stand up when the queue shuffled ahead at a snails place. More a princess glide on "Penelope". We even got comments of how well behaved our daughter was!

Since "Penelope's" first outing she's also made it to Disneyland Paris, a few trips to Cornwall and plenty of overnight stays at grandparents. Its big enough to fit clothes in for a 2 nights overnight stay, or enough small toys, books and teddy for a longer trip. Its amazing what we can squeeze in.
Was she a good buy, overall yes. We may not use her for the pulling along but she is great for sitting on in airports, wonderful for kids to get involved in the packing (if it doesn't fit in "Penelope" it doesn't get taken) and the designs are really appealing. I think we will still get a few more years use out of "Penelope" before she wants something a bit more grown up.

Monday 1 October 2012

Carnglaze Caverns, St Neot, Cornwall

We have been visiting Carnglaze Caverns for some years now, but the last two years Charlotte has been the perfect age for exploring the gardens. She's not quite so interested yet in the history of the caves.

The caves were once a slate mine, and you can go around 3 caverns that have been created by the miners, there is a natural lake in one cave with crystal clear water. You have to wear hard hats when in the caves, always a giggle when you look silly. It gets quite chilly and sometimes damp down there so a jumper and flat shoes are a must. There are quite a few steps, and its quite dark so not great with very young children as you will be carrying them.

The top cavern is known at the rum store as this is where the navy stored their rum during the second world war. Along one wall there is a collection of minerals from the south west. The main part of the cavern is often used as a concert venue due to the amazing acoustics, along another wall are hard hats signed by artists that have performed there, local, international and some famous names.
The caverns also have a wedding licence, you will see unlit tea lights dotted around, these are lit up for weddings and it must look truly magical all lit up, there is even a boat on the lake that can be used for weddings.
Carnglaze used to give organised tours around the caverns, but in recent years have gone for self guided tours, it would be hard to get lost, you are armed with a torch and map and you can follow the signs easily. There are information boards dotted around (and light switches if someone has turned some of the lights off) to read giving you an idea of what it would have been like working by candle light 200 years ago.
Above ground is Charlottes favourite part, the Enchanted Dell and gardens. Its a lovely walk through little paths that weave up the hill side above the caverns and then back round exiting at the car park. Along the way you will find lots of little fairies and woodland folk.

There is a number of picnic benches if you want to take some food on a lovely day and there are 2 lovely little gift shops to visit.