Jubilee Park, Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire

THEY SAY: The water’s a glorious 86⁰F/29⁰C, whatever the weather.

WE SAY: Brilliant family fun where you can feel like you’re abroad if the sun’s out

In summer there’s no better way to spend a day than in an outdoor swimming pool. As I splashed about with my three-year-old daughter Jasmine in Jubilee Park, I felt like I was abroad.

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#Mummydaughter day

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, it was 27 degrees and we felt a million miles away as we swam. In fact we were only just over an hour from home.

As well as the baby pool which is ankle deep and perfect for babies and toddlers to splash about in and play under the huge water tap, there’s also the main large pool. Both are heated to 27 degrees – whatever the weather.

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The pool is heated to 29 degrees – whatever the weather

As well as having a little slide suitable for young children and allowing non-swimmers up to the half way marker, the bigger pool has plenty of space for older children who can swim properly in deeper water.

The pool  opens on April 30 and is open daily until September 4 each year. It runs on a timetable (link below) with – on most days – general swim opening at 12 noon.

TIP: Get there half an hour before general swim opens because  on hot days because a queue forms very quickly.

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Mummy and Jasmine having fun in the baby pool

The changing rooms are very basic and dated and instead of lockers, items are placed in a basket and handed in.

But you can’t fault the pool area. There’s plenty of land to sunbathe and relax on and sun loungers can be rented for £1.50.

Staff were very friendly and there was plenty of lifeguards on duty. Despite it being busy there was a lovely atmosphere and it was nice to see everyone enjoying themselves in the sun.

There’s also a cafe in the pool area where you can get snacks, ice creams (very generous servings) and hot and cold drinks. It’s open during general swimming times.

If you have young children remember to take toys including watering cans, buckets and spades and small inflatable’s are also allowed.

I also noticed many people took their own tents to shade from the sun, wind breaks and camping chairs to sit on which is great if you’re spending all day by the pool.

In Jubilee Park there’s also a playground with a zip wire, swings, slides, climbing frames and roundabouts.

Other amenities within the park include picnic areas, a bowling green, croquet lawn, cricket field, putting course, tennis courts and cycle hire.

The gardens are open all year. As well as the new wisteria walk and the much admired David Austin rose garden, there’s an new area of spring bulbs and additional landscaping.

You can also stay on site. Jubilee Park caravan site opens on March 18 and runs until October 23.

East Lindsey Council sold the park and the lido, to the Woodhall Spa residents for £1 in 2010. Since then it’s been run by a not for profit company.
The park is entirely self supporting and run as a charity and volunteers are always looking for donations to help it thrive.

  • Reviewed July 2016

NEED TO KNOW…

LOCATION:  Jubilee Park, Stixwould Road, Woodhall Spa. LN10 6QH
OPEN:  The pool is open daily from April until September. Check timetable here.
PRICES:  Adults £4, Children £3.
CALL:  01526 353478
VISIT: www.jubileeparkwoodhallspa.co.uk

 

 

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Sherwood Forest Country Park, Nottinghamshire

THEY SAY: The legendary stomping-ground of Robin Hood, this 450 acre country park is now part of the Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve.

WE SAY: Free outdoors day out. Bring a picnic and explore.

A great day out with the family doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

On the hunt for some family fun, my children and I, along with mum, my sister and her two children, we headed to Sherwood Forest.

Kids love nothing more than pulling on their wellies and being outside, hunting for sticks and making dens.

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And the royal forest, famous by its historical association with the legend of Robin Hood is the perfect place to do it. Admission to the country park is free with a £3 car parking charge.

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Sherwood attracts almost one million tourists annually, many from other countries. Visitor numbers have increased significantly since the BBC’s Robin Hood television series.

At the entrance to the country park is Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre with an exhibition on Robyn Hodes Sherwode, two shops and the Forest Table Restaurant.

We choose to take the circular walk through the forest and the kids loved spotting the fairy houses and carvings along the way.

Half way around is the famous Major Oak tree, which, according to local folklore, was Robin Hood’s principal hideout.

The oak tree is between 800 and 1,000 years old and, since the Victorian era, its massive limbs have been partially supported by an elaborate system of scaffolding.

The Major Oak was crowned England’s Tree of the Year in 2014, in a public vote run by the Woodland Trust.

The kids enjoyed an ice cream and a rest and then we were back on the track again, playing a game of hide and seek along the way.

The walks are accessible for prams and wheelchairs and are colour coded so you don’t get lost!

There’s also a small park, and during the school holidays a small paid-for fun fair.

Each August the forest hosts an annual, week-long Robin Hood Festival.

This event recreates a medieval atmosphere and features the major characters from the Robin Hood legend.

The week’s entertainment includes jousters and strolling players, dressed in medieval attire, in addition to a medieval encampment complete with jesters, musicians, rat-catchers, alchemists and fire eaters.

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Fun for all the family
  • Reviewed June 2016

 

NEED TO KNOW…

LOCATION: Nottinghamshire, NG21 9HN

OPEN: Car parks open 10am to 5.30pm

PRICES: Admission is free. Car parking costs £3

CALL: 01623 823 202

VISIT: sherwoodforest.org.uk

 

 

Stay, Play & Explore short breaks

THEY SAY: Short break including hotel and tickets to three attractions in Leicester and Leicestershire from just £139.

WE SAY: We saved at least £100 overall booking these days out and the hotel as one package. Can’t be beaten.

IT sometimes feels like you spend more on hotels and days out tickets on short breaks in the UK than you would a package holiday to Spain.

So I was quite excited to discover the Stay Play Explore website, where you can get a night in a hotel and tickets to three of ten attractions of your choice for just £139.

Run by tourism organisation Leicester Shire Promotions, the offer includes a large selection of hotels in Leicester and Leicestershire and the prices are fixed for all hotels, whatever the weather, so you won’t be stung once you’ve chosen your dates.

Booking was incredibly easy – you just choose your hotel and dates and then the days out tickets are emailed to you.

There’s a choice of ten attractions to choose from, with everywhere from Twycross Zoo and Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre to Stonehurst Family Farm and Swadlincote Ski Centre. (See bottom of this post for a full list)

It seemed perfect for our family because visiting new places and making memories is what life is all about for us.

Just remember to print three versions of the e-ticket off and take it with you to each attraction, where the barcode is scanned.

However, if one night away isn’t enough, extra nights can be added to your short break at the time of booking for a special Stay Play Explore discounted rate.

Our hotel of choice was the Hilton East Midlands Airport Hotel. It’s not small bed and breakfasts that are on offer – the deal includes nice four-star hotels, including brands such Hilton, Marriott and Jury’s Inn, as well as individual spa hotels.

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Additional child tickets are available to purchase and the Hinckley Island Hotel, Sketchley Grange and Hilton Leicester hotels have family rooms to accommodate two adults and three children if you’re a family of five.

We chose the Hilton because it was about halfway between Conkers and Twinlakes theme park – the two attractions we would visit that weekend.

Another good thing about these tickets is that they are valid from your date of arrival until December 31 that year, so you don’t have to visit all three attractions in one weekend if you don’t want to.

We chose to visit Conkers first, which is in the heart of the national forest. There’s a great mix of indoor and outdoor fun to be had here in the 120-acre area of maturing woodlands, lakes and ponds.

We spent ages walking around and enjoying being outside. The kids loved running through the maze and the wobbly bridge was also a hit with the children, who enjoyed running across it once they had climbed up it.

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Oliver & Jasmine with friends at Conkers

There’s also several assault course-type trails for teenagers and adults to have a go at.

There’s also a little train (at no extra cost), which takes you to a huge outdoor play area. The small water play area and the viewing platform, which you can climb to the top of for great views across the site, were also good fun. If you’re feeling brave, there’s also a barefoot walk where you can experience walking on timber, bark, coal, pebbles, wood and clay.

If that’s not enough, there are several outdoor adventure and experience days suitable for all the family, which can be pre-booked at an additional cost.

If the weather isn’t so great, there are things to do inside, too, with more than 100 indoor interactive exhibits for the kids to get stuck into.

We spent a full day at Conkers and left covered in mud and ready for hot bath!

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The rain never spoils our fun #friendsforlife

It wasn’t long before we arrived at The Hilton, which was an ideal base for us. Our comfortable room was complete with a double bed, a single bed and a sofa bed.

The hotel also has a 16m pool and, if you’ve got the energy, a fitness centre.

For tea we went to the Plank and Leggit pub down the road – it’s a Fayre & Square pub with an indoor fun area, so it was perfect for the kids.

The next day, after a lovely Hilton breakfast, we were up and ready for the 30-minute drive to Twinlakes Theme Park in Melton Mowbray for another full-on day of fun.

It’s billed as the East Midlands’ number one all-action, family tourist attraction and, for our children, who range in age from three to seven, it was perfect.

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Family fun #makingmemories

There’s so much to do, we didn’t know where to start and didn’t get through it all in one day.

It’s everything from a farm with falconry displays to a theme park with rides and indoor fun, too. If you’re there on a hot day, the water park is a must. There’s more than half an acre of wet and wild fun with water flumes, lagoons and slides. There’s even sun loungers to laze on – not that we got the chance for that!

The favourites for my children were the rollercoaster, the pirate ship and the huge sandy play area, oh and the boats, they were really good fun.

twinlakes.jpgI even found myself on a ride, flying through the air, lying on my stomach – it was surprisingly relaxing.

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The two attractions we chose are full days out in themselves, so we’ve saved our tickets for the National Space Centre and will visit later in the year.

I’ve worked out, for a family of four, the trip would have cost £35 for Conkers tickets, £80 at Twinlakes Theme Park, £50 at the National Space Centre and £80 for a hotel, so a total of £245. That’s a saving of more than £100 if booked through the Stay Play Explore website.

  • Reviewed July 2016

NEED TO KNOW…

You can choose three of the following ten attractions:

ATTRACTIONS:  National Space Centre, Conkers, Twycross Zoo, Twinlakes Theme Park, Stonehurst Family Farm, Swadlincote Ski Centre, Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre,  Bosworth Water Park, Conkers Outdoors, King Richard III Visitor Centre

CALL: 0116 225 4000

VISIT: www.stayplayexplore.co.uk