Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The Oxfordshire Museum, Woodstock, Oxfordshire

This museum is excellent for young and old, and for any kids who love dinosaurs. We have been a few times and the displays often change so you're sure to see something different each time. They also have a changing exhibition which is currently "Revealed: The Underwear Revolution" any Gok Wan fans must attend (he even gets a few mentions) or those who love period costumes.
Charlotte is a little too young to appreciate hold you in pants... but there were some dressing up clothes so that's always a hit.
There is a new interactive dinosaur gallery, Charlotte is actually quite scared of dinosaurs so almost ran out screaming, especially when mummy fed the dinosaur! but to dress up as a dinosaur with a tail... that was impressive and then it was her turn to scare the little girl who came in the room after us, oops.
The other rooms are about the history of Oxfordshire and its really hands on for kids with computers, displays, drawers they can open and things they can touch.
There is a great cafe, but its very small. If the weather is good though you can go sit in the lovely gardens with your coffee and cake (or dinosaur lunch box).
Access for buggies, there are lots of stairs and no lift, just a wheelchair stair lift so best suited to mobile toddlers. Found out more about the museum here.

Sutton Courtenay Environmental Education Centre, Oxfordshire

If you have school age children in Oxfordshire, or were yourself, you are likely to know about this place from school trips. But during school holidays they also have various family activities which you can just drop-in on for a small donation.
We went along to the Easter Egg hunt and had a great few hours exploring, and trying to find the "eggs". The "eggs" were egg shaped cards with pictures of animals on that you had to match with the pictures given when you arrived. Once all were found you got to decorate a biscuit with mini-egg included. There were also craft tables set up, where we got to make a birds nest.
Charlotte loved exploring the grounds, diving in and out the trees, looking for frogs in the pond, finding hidden birds and eggs (toy ones) amongst the tress. There is a dinosaur, a great sound garden and willow sculptures which are always popular. Along with finding almost all the "eggs" we also found some real birds eggs and a jaw bone of a rodent. We took the bone back to the staff/volunteers who were great but just could not work out what animal our bone belonged to.
Sutton Courtenay Environmental Education Centre is run by BBOWT, and you can find details of all their upcoming events here

Monday, 11 April 2011

The Living Rainforest, Newbury

If you have been to the Eden Project in Cornwall and loved it you may initially be slightly disappointed at The Living Rainforest but don't be put off. Eden Project is on a huge scale and The Living Rainforest is a lot smaller and more personal.
The Living Rainforest is a good place to go on cold or miserable days, its warm inside the 2 large greenhouses and there is a nice cafe adjoining it with a play park for letting off steam. The best time to visit would probably be the summer though, with the butterflies, waterlilies and flowers in full bloom but on hot days could get too warm for some.
There's lots to keep little ones amused, scuttling from one area to the next. A pond to look in, some monkeys, snakes, birds flying around (and more but won't spoil it for you). Fact sheets and to do sheets are provided suitable to the child's age. Another bonus is pay once and you get free admission for the year so go back as many times as you like. All areas are pushchair friendly too so suitable for younger and older children.
Visit their website for more information

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Cotswold Farm Park, Gloucestershire

In a slight change to my blog I'm also going to cover family days outs, a mention of any places we go that we enjoy, or don't.
First up is Cotswold Farm Park, which has been re-branded this year as Adam Henson's Cotswold Farm Park, Adam Henson being one of the presenters on BBC1 Country File. This may either make you go yeah I want to go, or oh dear, but please don't be put off as it's an excellent day.
It was a very cold and blowy April day we went and the wind really does pick up on the top of the hill there, but there was quite a lot of indoor stuff making it an all weather attraction. The joys of spring was in the air with the baby lambs, and the chance to feed them really won a certain little girl over. I've never seen a bottle of milk disappear so quickly. Then being given the chance to cuddle a rabbit followed by a tiny chick, she couldn't tell you which was the best as shes still so excited, but loved how soft they are.
Also went on a tractor ride, or farm safari as they call it. The ride bit though bumpy was good but the commentary (by Adam) was poor as we couldn't make a lot of it out above the tractor noise, but what we could hear was really interesting. Other farms we have visited the tractor stops in each field for the commentary which would have made more sense here.

If you know anything about rare breeds there are quite an assortment here, very large fields for the animals to roam and some playful goats will come over to the fence for a bit of fuss. There is the usual animal feed you can buy and the sheep will come and nibble from your hand.
For those tiring of the animals there is lots of play equipment dotted around, sand pit (with buckets and spades provided, very handy) a woodland nature/agility trail and a maze.
There is a cafe there and also drink/ice cream kiosks dotted around. We ate in the cafe and the food was very nice, and a good slice of real ham in the kiddie box sandwich. Bit disappointed you can't select what crisps/drink/cake/fruit etc you want in your kiddie lunch box though.
Next to the farm park there is a campsite, which I know a friend of mine intends to visit this year.
A really enjoyable, but cold day, was had by all.