Ribby Hall Village at Christmas, Preston, near Blackpool

As we drove into the five-star luxury holiday park for our Winter Wonderland mini-break, the Christmas lights were twinkling as far as the eye could see.

Situated in more than 100 acres of landscaped grounds, the village-feel complex has a mixture of self-catering holiday cottages and lodges, with several lakes and is surrounded by a woodland trail.

We stayed in a Ruby Cottage, which sleeps six people in three bedrooms. It was very modern and spacious, with a new kitchen and bathrooms and very cosy – making it home from home.

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Our cottage at Ribby Hall Village

More reviews: The Polar Express Christmas train ride 

We were very impressed, it was ideal – clearly everything had been thought of, there was even every kitchen utensil you could possibly imagine – including a rolling pin if you get the urge to bake while away! Back in the real world there was plenty of wine glasses and champagne flutes which were perfect for my Prosecco!

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That’s one well-stocked drawer, at Ribby Hall Village

We had patio doors leading to a terrace area with gorgeous field views – the perfect place for the kids to feed the visiting ducks.

Included in the price of the holiday is entry to the indoor swimming complex – complete with slides and a designated toddlers pool with toys.

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Meeting Santa and the ducks at our cottage, at Ribby Hall Village

There’s a full programme of events for each week of the year – with individually priced activities – so there’s plenty to do.

Open 365 days a year, Ribby Hall is a fantastic getaway any time of the year, but it does feel extra special at Christmas.

The highlight is Santa’s Treehouse – you won’t be able to get away without a visit as it’s lit up in the heart of the resort. Its lights put Blackpool Illuminations to shame and make it really magical.

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Santa’s tree house at night, Ribby Hall Village

If the kids weren’t excited enough, they got to climb the stairs to the top, where they were encouraged by an elf to knock on his door before entering.

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At Santa’s tree-house at Ribby Hall Village

MORE REVIEWS: Thomas Land at Drayton Manor at Christmas

And you won’t come away with the usual naff toy either – every child was given a lovely, quality teddy elf, which will last years. I know the present will be something different, but equally as special for Christmas 2016 – but I won’t ruin it by telling you what!

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Inside Santa’s tree house at Ribby Hall Village

My nephew is convinced his is a magic elf – sent from the real Santa to report back on his behaviour and my children have slept with them every night since.

We booked a few activities before we went and my four-year-old son loved the balance bikes indoor session and my nine and seven-year-old nephew and niece really enjoyed laser tag.

TIP: Download the programme of events before you go and book your activities in advance

One event that was definitely worth paying the extra for was the Frozen Tea Party.

Think afternoon tea with mini sandwiches and exquisite cakes – beautifully presented with cookie decorating and a colouring competition – followed by party games with Anna and Elsa.

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Jasmine Lovell with Elsa at the tea party at Ribby Hall Village

Held in the beautiful Lavender Tea Rooms, this wasn’t just a treat for the kids.

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Scrumptious: Food at the Frozen Tea Party, Ribby Hall Village
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The Frozen Tea Party at Ribby Hall Village

MORE REVIEWS: Family holiday to Menorca

Available during the Winter Wonderland programme is everything from breakfast with Santa, baby ballet, mini golf and segway sessions to Santa’s story supper time, archery, bike hire and junior fencing – to name a few, not forgetting the park.

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My son, Oliver, 4, tries out the balance bikes session at Ribby Hall Village

There’s also a panto once a week – oh yes there is – and it’s free for all the family and a free family Christmas movie showing, on the big screen, in the Bar & Grill.

MORE REVIEWS: Sundown Adventureland (summer & Christmas)

For a nice family meal, I recommend the Bar & Grill. The food is excellent and far exceeded our expectations for a family restaurant, and it’s also in the same building as the nighttime show, which all four children really enjoyed. There’s also a more formal restaurant, a tapas bar and Harrison’s Bar which is for over-18s only.

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The combo at Ribby Hall Village
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Disco in the Bar & Grill, Ribby Hall Village

It was only when we came to leave I realised we hadn’t left the resort in three days despite only being a ten-minute drive from Blackpool. If you fancy going, there’s still some availability for pre-Christmas breaks.

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Lewis and Emily outside Santa’s Grotto tree-house at Ribby Hall Village
  • Reviewed December 2015

NEED TO KNOW…

INFO: Holidays at Ribby Hall Village start from £279 for a family of four, based on midweek stay between 18 Nov  –  22 Dec 2016. Ribby Hall Village’s Winter Wonderland is open from the end of November until the beginning of January – where families can enjoy a fun festive break and visit Santa in his magical treehouse up until 24th December.

Ribby Hall Village is open all year-round, 365 days of the year.

LOCATION: Ribby Road, Wrea Green, near Blackpool, Lancashire PR4 2PR.

CALL: 0800 1070336

VISIT: www.ribbyhall.co.uk

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Elsham Hall, Gardens & Country Park, North Lincolnshire

THEY SAY:  One of the most imaginative gardens in England. There is a sensory garden, great drifts of bulbs and wild flowers.

WE SAY: Plenty of open space to run about. Perfect for a few hours of outdoor fun.

IT was meant to be summer when we visited Elsham Hall but despite being August it threw it down! We had to keep stopping for cover, and even ate lunch under a parasol to shelter from the rain – but it didn’t spoil the fun.

I like days out at places like Elsham Hall because it reminds me that great family days out don’t always have to include hours travelling in the car and big theme parks.

Sometimes all kids need is to pull on their wellies and splash in muddy puddles and that’s exactly what we did when we visited.

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We packed up a picnic and took my niece and nephew, aged five and seven, and my two children, aged three and 18 months, and we had a great time.

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Never too cold for a cocktail sausage!

There’s an adventure playground, animal farm, woodland trail and a walled garden, not to mention the wild butterfly garden and the carp and trout lakes where you can feed the fish.

Located about 20 minutes from the Humber Bridge it’s easy to find and parking is free.

The attraction opens in March and always hosts a lambing Sunday and closes in September.

I’ve noticed a lot of the reviews of Elsham Hall online are negative, noting there isn’t that much to do, and while I agree it may not be a full “day out”, and it is one that should be enjoyed at a slower pace, there was certainly enough to keep us occupied for a few hours, even on a rainy day.

I think days at places like this are what you make of them, but if you like to be entertained, choose to visit at a time when there is something going on because throughout the year there is all sorts, from Easter egg hunts to bank holiday fun days.

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The park dates from 1790 and today is well known for the peacocks that freely roam the grounds.

Having bought fish food in the shop at the entrance, my nephew Lewis was keen to find the fish to feed first.

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And we didn’t have to look very hard, from the viewing platform dozens of carp immediately swam to the surface to take the food.

We spent quite a while feeding them on the first viewing platform we reached, but just around the corner there is also another bridge platform.

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Mummy trying not to fall in!

We enjoyed walking through the butterfly garden and the animal farm area was also another favourite for us.

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Main courtyard at Elsham Hall

There is a guinea pig house and we also met Eddie the turkey, who struts his stuff freely, but he did scare my youngest.

The staff are really friendly and helpful and allowed my niece Emily and my son Oliver into the area where the rabbits are kept so they could stroke them.

They were asking all sorts of inane questions, as kids do, but she was very patient in answering them.

There’s also a small farming museum, and an indoor old school where my kids enjoyed sitting at the desks and drawing.

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If you visit on a Sunday you will also be able to see the working blacksmith.

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  • Reviewed August 2014

Need to know…

LOCATION: Brigg, N.E. Lincolnshire, DN20 0QZ

OPEN: March until September and bank holidays.

PRICES: Adults: £5.75. Children: £4.75, children under 2 are free. Family ticket – £21. Family season ticket £45.

CALL: 01652 688698.

E-MAILenquiries@elshamhall.co.uk

VISIT: www.elshamhall.co.uk

Rand Farm Park, Rand, Lincoln

 

THEY SAY: Kid-focused farm with animals to feed, tractor and trailer rides and indoor and outdoor play areas.

WE SAY: Great family day out. Outdoors and indoors. If we lived closer I’d get a season pass.

I ADMIT I was slightly nervous as my eight-year-old nephew flew through the sky like a superhero when we visited Rand Farm Park. (I couldn’t imagine how I would it to my sister if he ended up with a broken leg!

But as soon as he saw the Sky Rider, he had his harness on quicker than you could ask “Do you want a go?” so I didn’t really have a choice about letting him on or not. He loved gliding through the air on the first attraction of its kind in the UK and I breathed a sign of relief, until my six-year-old niece decided she wanted a go too.

Anyone taller than 1.2m can have a go and it’s included in the price of entry. Let’s hope it stays that way, too!

As the title suggests, Rand Farm Park is a farm, but also has plenty of other attractions, including adventure playgrounds, water wars, summertime sledge racing, go karts and huge inflatable pillows to bounce on.

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 Oliver, 4, and Jasmine Lovell, 2, on the summertime sledges 

There was so much to do my two children and niece and nephew were literally running from one thing to the next all day.

We also got a chance to try archery for the first time, which was great fun, but it is definitely more difficult than it looks.

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There’s also indoor play if the weather isn’t so nice, but luckily we visited on a hot day so spent the entire day outside.

The farm is impressive. It’s not just a few cows and sheep, there’s a full farm and most of the animals live in cosy, covered pens, ensuring you can still meet them at any time of the year.

There are also lots of animals outside in the paddocks, including alpacas, donkeys, goats, sheep and cows.

We visited in the school holidays when there’s a full animal activity programme, so the children got to hold rabbits, guinea pigs and chicks and feed the lambs and calves with milk bottles. We then saw a full milking demonstration in the diary, which takes place every day at 1pm.

There’s also a chick hatchery, where you can see all stages of the lifecycle, from egg to chick. My four-year-old son particularly liked walking the length of the room seeing in each cage how they grow. I didn’t point out what happens to the ones in the last cage!

TIP: There are plenty of picnic areas and even an indoor area where you can eat your own food, so you don’t have to spend a fortune when you get there.

We had a fab day out and it’s easy to see why the farm has won so many awards for being a great attraction. Click here for the park map.

The farm is also unique in that it also offers farm-stay holidays for schools and groups, with a purpose-built dormitory.

TIP: The farm is suitable for anyone who is disabled and all areas have easy access with wide aisles and ramps.

If you live close enough you can also host your childs birthday party at the farm. Packages start from £12.95 per Child and each birthday party lasts 2 ½ hours.  Plus, you can stay and play at Rand Farm Park after your party. Click here for details.

  • Reviewed August 2015

Need to know…

LOCATION:  Rand, Lincoln, LN8 5NJ

OPEN: All-year-round. Peak season: seven days per week. From 10am to 5pm.

PRICES: Under-twos free. Anyone over two £8.95 online or £9.95 at the gate. Family ticket: £32.50 online or £37.50 on the gate.

CALL: 01673 858904

VISIT: http://www.randfarmpark.com

 

CBeebies Land at Alton Towers Resort

THEY SAY: CBeebies Land is the only place where you can meet all your favourite CBeebies characters. With free entry for all children under three.

WE SAY: A must if you have pre-school children!

IF you have pre-school aged children you must take them to CBeebies Land. Must. We went two days running and the kids would have gone back for a third.

Based within the Alton Towers Theme Park in Staffordshire, the world’s first CBeebies Land is full of TV character rides and attractions.

TIP: Children aged three and under go FREE! You can get their tickets online or at the turnstiles

As soon as you walk into the magical land, you hear the familiar theme tunes to your children’s favourite shows and almost feel as if you have stepped into your TV. Trust me, your little ones will love it.

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It really is a magical place for young children, where they can do everything from driving Postman Pat’s van, to taking a gentle boat ride through the In The Night Garden set.

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View from one of the rides

TIP: To get into CBeebies Land you have to pay the Alton Towers entrance fee because there’s no separate entrance. CBeebies Land is inside Alton Towers so even if you’re taking very young children to CBeebies Land you might as well explore the entire theme park. There are several rides for smaller children 

Seeing my three-year old son’s face light up as he drove Pat’s famous red van was worth the visit alone.

Postman Pats van

The ride takes you through Greendale, picking the right parcels to deliver to the village’s favourite residents as they drive along.

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Driving Pat’s Van!

Next was a visit inside Justin’s House. The Pie-O-Matic Factory is full of fun chaos where you can shoot foam balls at each other, go down slides, and basically just run about in a stupidly colourful room. I think the rules are, there are no rules.

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Justine’s mad house!

My personal favourite was the In The Night Garden boat ride. Despite the fact the theme tune completely does my head in, it was actually quite serene floating along looking at the different characters, including seeing Upsy Daisy waving and blowing kisses and the Tombliboos playing peek-a-boo. Everyone was there to find, including Igglepiggle.

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View from the Boat Ride

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We also visited Mr Bloom’s allotment and Nina and the Neurons Science Lab, as well as Charlie and Lola’s home on Crocodile Street.

In CBeebies Land, as well as all the rides, there is also a pre-school-age-friendly outdoor park and a sensory garden where you can follow Mr Tumble’s spotty bag trail and look out for some special objects as you wind your way through the woodland and garden.

 

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Adventure Playground in CBeebies Land

It was a hot day when we were also lucky enough to see the ZingZillas live on stage at the Big Fun Showtime. We sat on the grass to watch the show and chilled with a drink and it felt like a kids’ festival. It was fab.

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Big Fun Showtime is a good place to get some shade too
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First-ever festival fun

TIP: There are are two baby changing facilities available in CBeebies Land for both Mums and Dads to use. There are private feeding rooms in the toilets located in Big Fun Show Time and in the toilets located next to Justin’s House.

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Oliver and Jasmine Lovell with Charlie and Lola

Under threes can experience all of CBeebies Land except for Octonauts Rollercoaster Adventure and Justin’s House. Despite the fact my children are only three and 13 months old, we still went into the main Alton Towers theme park too and found rides suitable for them. Head over to Cloud Cuckoo Land and Sharkbait Reef By Sea Life for rides and attractions suitable for younger children.

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Driving School in Alton Towers

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The park offers an unrivaled selection of theme park rides and attractions for the whole family. It’s not difficult to see why Alton Towers is the UK’s leading theme park.

If you can be bothered to go on the bigger rides, you can get the Parent Queue Share passes. One parent queues in the usual way, and gets the pass stamped by the ride attendant. Parent two meets parent one after the ride and takes the pass to the ride host via the access point to enter the ride.

Click here for the theme park map.

STAYING OVERNIGHT

We choose to stay overnight in the Splash Landings Hotel, which is on site. It was definitely worth it because if you pay to stay and to enter the park you can get tickets for the next day for free. It meant we didn’t have to rush it all in one day and could make a proper mini-break out of it.

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The family rooms have bunk beds and a double bed

In the Splash Landings Hotel there’s also early-evening entertainment, led by the Kids Club crew. There’s no big stage – it was more of a platform, but the staff entertained the kids whilst we had a pre-dinner drink.

TIP: Book your evening meal in the hotel early on – we arrived and expected to be seated and had to wait until 9pm to eat. #mummyfail

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Kids Club crew leading the kids fun

Plus, those who stay in the hotel are given access to the theme park an hour earlier than those with day passes, so on our second day we made sure we were in the park for 9am and were able to try every ride in CBeebies Land before everyone else was let in at 10am, when the queues became really long.

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View from our hotel room

We also paid for waterpark passes – if you have time, this is a must. The waterpark is inside the Splash Landings Hotel and is perfect for all ages.

TIP: If you stay over, you can park free of charge

 

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Splash Landings Waterpark
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Mummy and Jasmine at Splash Landings Waterpark

TIP: Alton Towers has its own app  if you want to check the map and queuing times

  • Reviewed May 2014

 

Need to know…

LOCATION:Alton Towers Theme Park, Alton, Staffordshire ST10 4DB. Three hours’ drive from Hull.

OPEN:March to November. With certain rides open for Christmas breaks. See website for full details.

PRICES: For the main theme park prices start from £37.80 for an adult and £34.20 for children aged three and over for a one day ticket. Under three’s go free.  Cheaper online.

FACILITIES:

  • Buggy Hire: Single £7, Double: £10. Buggies aren’t suitable for babies.
  • PARKING: Standard: £6 per day. Express: £16 per day.
  • Baby changing rooms and feeding rooms
  • Lockers

VISIT: www.altontowers.com

Call: 0871 222 3330.

SIMILAR ATTRACTIONS:

Flamingoland, North Yorkshire

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Cannon Hall Farm in Barnsley

THERE’S always one who falls in the mud on a day out! Luckily at Cannon Hall Farm the toilets are like something you would find in a five star hotel so you can at least clean yourself up in comfort!

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Oliver comes up with a good way to dry his bum after falling into a puddle!

But even the constant rain which lasted all day couldn’t stop us having a brilliant time.

I thought we would be the only ones mad enough to brave the cold weather so I was amazed to see how full the car park was when we arrived.

Clearly people knew Cannon Hall Farm is an all-year-round attraction with plenty to do, come rain or shine.
The highlight of the day for me was the sheep racing. As a family we’ve been to plenty of farms where you can watch animals racing, but at Cannon Hall farm it’s a cut above.
Firstly, you check the odds and place your bets in the bookies before taking your viewing position.
To add to the excitement, there is full grand-national style commentary as the sheep make their way around the course.
Then those who backed the right sheep have the chance to win a free pass back to the farm on every single race!

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Oliver and Jasmine watch the sheep racing

We also got to see a lamb which was born that morning – but with about 800 lambs born there every year that’s not unusual.

There’s always a chance of seeing a live birth because the farm also averages two or three litters of piglets every week.

You’ll also see a variety of different breeds of goats, lamas, alpacas, Shetland ponies, and even the reindeer stay at the farm all year round.

There’s several adventure playgrounds with slides, towers, climbing frames and zip wires with different sections for different age groups.

 

There’s also a tube maze which I’ve never seen before. It’s the largest in Europe and was a favourite for my children.

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The kids loved feeding the animals through the food shoots by pouring the feed in and turning the handle to release it to the animals below. There’s also a tractor ride to enjoy, milking demonstrations and small animal petting sessions.

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Oliver feeds the goats

Despite their being food available from the cafe, there’s also a large indoor picnic area if you want to take your own and a lovely farm shop on site.

And if you prefer to be indoors there’s the Hungry Lama Indoor Play Area which is probably the nicest indoor Playzone I’ve ever been in.

It has all the usual slides, tubes and play equipment but it had a different feel about it to other soft play centres.
It was clean, serving quality food with farm produce featured heavily in the menu and as well as serving a range of drinks, is also licensed.

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Indoor fun!

The only thing that could have made our trip better would have been less rain! Will definitely be back – especially since we won a free pass!

LOCATION, TIMES, PRICES, CONTACT AND WEBLINK

LOCATION: Cawthorne, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, S75 4AT

OPEN: Every day except Christmas Day. 10.30am until 5pm.

PRICES: @£6.95 per person. Family ticket £25. Under 2s free.
CALL: 01226 790427

VISIT:  www.cannonhallfarm.co.uk

FACILITIES:

  • Farm shop
  • Cafe
  • Indoor picnic area

Continue reading “Cannon Hall Farm in Barnsley”

Menorca

AS THE kids happily splashed about in the pool while we toasted our arrival with an all-inclusive cocktail, I felt really happy and relaxed and just knew this was going to be a brilliant family holiday.

Abigail Rhodes Oliver and Jasmine Lovell

I was in Menorca with my friend Jade and her daughter Abigail, 6, and my children Oliver, 4, and Jasmine, 2.

It’s a tall order taking little ones abroad single-handed, so our wish list included a hotel geared up for families, somewhere with a short flight and short transfers and a holiday that wouldn’t break the bank.

After what felt like days of internet searching, I found a great package deal for Hotel SunConnect Los Delfines in Cala’n Forcat, Menorca, with Thomas Cook, via Airtours.

With two pools, plus its own splash park with slides, daytime activities, evening entertainment and a choice of board options, the hotel ticked all the boxes.

Our holiday started the night before our flight at the Crowne Plaza Manchester Airport Hotel where we chose to stay to take away the stress of motorway driving on the day of the flight.

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It was even worth the 6am flight!

From our bedroom window, we could see the airport, so as soon as we checked in, we felt as if the holiday had begun. The five of us shared a family room and there was plenty of space and we are also both able to leave our cars there while away.

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Water fun!

In Menorca, we shared a two-bedroomed apartment, which was ideal for us. It was minimalist and modern, very clean and had a kitchen and lounge with Sky TV.

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Didn’t take us long to find the wine tap!

There was also an on-site kids’ club, which caters for children aged from three to 11. We didn’t use it, but had we wanted to, it was provided by Thomas Cook free of charge. In the main hotel, there was also a teen chill-out lounge with computers.

We chose to go all inclusive – it’s just far easier with kids and it’s also a good opportunity to get them to try new foods.

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Hotel Sun Connect, Los Delfines

The only downside was that the hotel only has one restaurant, which is self-service. The food was absolutely fine – but nothing special. We found having three meals a day in the same place a bit repetitive, so we had a few leisurely breakfasts on our terrace after shopping at the local supermarket and ate out a couple of nights, too.

The hotel was neither luxury nor budget, it was somewhere in the middle.

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That moment when you get them both to sleep at the same time! #andRelax

It has a great location on a street tucked behind the main road through the resort, so it’s quiet, but also just a stone’s throw from the main drag.

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They were ready for the water! Oliver, 4, Abigail 6 and Jasmine, 2.

Cala’n Forcat is almost like a resort of two halves, with the hotel in the middle. If you walk from the hotel with the coastline on your right, it’s fairly derelict.

You can see what once would have been a bustling part of the street, which now has boarded-up bars and restaurants. In the opposite direction, the street comes to life with bars, restaurants and shops.

The beaches are all small beautiful coves and our favourite one had the most amazing quirky beach bar, which was like something straight out the Caribbean with cool music and the most fabulous cocktails.

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In summer!
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This is what you call a beach bar!
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Children happy, parents happy #perfect
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Mummy with Oliver & Jasmine #makingmemories
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This is how we roll! Who needs a man to carry the bags?!

If you want to go further afield, Thomas Cook offers plenty of excursions so you can see the sights and experience the culture.

We chose the animal park excursion (21 euros for children and 32 euros for adults) which included a visit to Lloc Zoo, followed by an afternoon at Cala Galdana – famous for its blue-flag beaches. The kids loved being at the zoo, where there’s a wide range of exotic animals from all over the world, and Jade and I loved seeing another part of the island and having a full day out.

Oliver at the zoo

Overall, we found it to be a very friendly family-oriented place to holiday, where we made some amazing memories, and, despite being two girls on our own, we felt very safe.

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Mummy and my gorgeous girl #makingmemories

NEED TO KNOW…

LOCATION: Hotel SunConnect Los Delfines in Cala’n Forcat, Menorca

PRICES: Prices start at £321 per adult and £161 per child for seven nights, based on family of four sharing a one bed apartment on a self-catering basis.

CONTACT: Thomas Cook (Airtours): visit http://www.thomascook.co.uk or call 0844 4125970 or visit the nearest Thomas Cook or Co-operative Travel store.

Airport Hotel: Crowne Plaza, Manchester Airport. M90 3NS.

 

Bridlington Birds of Prey and Animal Park

THEY SAY: Award-winning family da out to see birds of prey, meerkats, sheep, goats.

WE SAY: A chance to get up-close to birds of prey.

IT WAS my daughter’s first birthday when we decided to venture to the animal park in Bridlington.

Luckily, it was one of the warmest days of the year so far, and, in search of fun for four children of different ages, we chose a ride out to the family-run park.I have to say, in April I didn’t expect to need sun cream but we did!

In a wonderful woodland setting, the award-winning park offers adults and children the chance to experience being close to nature and have lots of fun with the wonderful animals and birds of prey.

On arrival I was confused as to exactly where it was situated, but then we realised the animal park is actually within Rose Park Village, (a separate business) and the centre is located behind the big café.

Both attractions share the same car park, so don’t worry you have gone to the wrong place.

As soon as we arrived at the animal centre we were given a programme of events, with everything from pig racing and a wallaby talk to small animal holding and flying displays.

We were able to have a walk through the woodland and see all the animals, feeding them as we passed, before taking our seats for the flying display.

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First birthday fun!

Even Jasmine, who was celebrating her first birthday, and my son, Oliver, who is three, were interested in watching the birds of prey flying past at very close quarters.

The older children with us, my nephew Lewis, seven, and niece Emily, five, were interested to hear the detailed talk given by the keeper.

Next was the pig racing, but, much to the disappointment of Lewis, we managed to miss it because it was on a big field behind the wood and there weren’t any signs saying where everything was. We will know for next time.

The kids loved seeing and feeding all the animals, including meerkats, wallabies, lambs, alpacas, sheep, pigs, donkeys and goats.

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Jasmine and Mummy

There really was something for everyone. There are also plenty of tables so families can take their own picnics.

If you want a more up-close experience, you can book either falconry courses or animal encounters. The falconry courses are for all ages, with one-to-one tuition from experienced falconers. Whether you require a great experience or are thinking of getting your own bird of prey, the experiences are tailored to suit your requirements.

The animal encounters offer the chance to meet the furry friends, which is fun for all ages.

All the animals at the park are rescued and love lots of attention.

The park can also be used to host birthday parties and schools and groups are welcome.

TIP:  Look out for deals, for example Dad’s enter free on Father’s Day

The park isn’t massive, but we made more of a day of it by visiting the Rose Park Village attractions, which are on the same site.

ROSE PARK VILLAGE

A favourite for our children was the motorised car track. For £1 a go, your little ones can whizz around to their heart’s content on the mini F1 racing track. One of the cars was faulty but the children didn’t mind taking it in turns on the one that worked.

20140416_120037Other activities include a nine-hole crazy golf course and an indoor adventure barn, which has tractor rides inside, although this was closed when we visited.

There is also an outdoor area attached with a zip wire and swing ropes and a football challenge, but this does need a bit of a revamp.There’s also a mini-town with a mini school, tea room, lego shop, jail, wigwam & much more.

The outside toys are open and free all day. The Barn will open accordingly to The Cafe opening times and weather permiting.

There is also a large market-type shop on site and a café and ice cream shop and places to have a picnic.

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My Mum with all the kids!

If you want to stay over, Rose Park is also a caravan park. Prices start at £15 per night, and the site is billed as peaceful and relaxing.

  • Reviewed April 2014

Location, times, prices, facilities and contact

LOCATION: Covert Lane, Carnaby, Bridlington, East Yorkshire, YO15 3QF

OPEN: Seven days a week, from 10am to 5pm. Last entry at 4pm.

PRICES: Adults £4.95, children aged two to 15 £4. Under-twos free. 10 per cent discount for families of four.

FACILITIES:

  • Cafe
  • Ice cream parlour

Call: 01262 673653.

Web: www.bridlingtonanimalpark.co.uk

SIMILAR DAYS OUT:

Woodside Wildlife Park, Bridlington

Tropical Butterfly House, Leeds

The Web Adventure Park, York

The Web Adventure Park, York

 

THEY SAY: Yorkshire’s biggest entertainment venue.

WE SAY: A fun day out, with an indoors play centre and outdoors farm and park area. Better on hot days because you can make use of the outdoors splash park

 

There’s several attractions at the web adventure park. Three are included in the price. These include:

  1. CREEPY CRAWLIES

This is included in the price of entry to the Web Adventure Park.

The Creepy Crawlies indoor play centre is the place we headed to first because it was chucking it down when we arrived. It’s complete with slides, tunnels, disco area and a giant inflatable obstacle course.

It was perfect for us and had something for my baby and three-year-old son, as well as my five-year-old niece and seven-year-old nephew.

Baby Jasmine played for ages with all the toys in the pre-walkers’ section. My son, Oliver, was in his element in the under-fives area complete with smaller slides and ball pool and the older children were straight in the main area where they found one of the biggest four-lane Astra slides in the country.

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Also on offer inside Creepy Crawlies are soft-ball cannons, dressing up, musical instruments, craft, puppets and messy play. For the parents, there is lots of seating and an award-winning café.

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TIP: A two hour maximum play time may be imposed during extremely busy days.

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OUTDOOR ADVENTURE PARK

This is an acre of secure outdoor park and entry is included in the price of the Web Adventure Park. It includes a huge sand & water play area, netted climbing forest, ride-on’s for little ones, a den building construction zone, landscaped gardens, jungle bridge, wacky swings, and role play area.

If it’s hot, go prepared to splash and paddle! Don’t forget a change of clothes and towels. The area has pumps, dams, streams, an archimedes screw, squirty ducks and a paddling area. There aren’t any changing areas though.

It was too wet for us to make use of this area, but I imagine in warmer weather it would be brilliant. There is also a quad bike and a go-karts race track for an extra charge.

 

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Thankfully we remembered the wellies

The outdoor adventure park closes when it gets dark.

TIP: The water play area isn’t fenced off or staffed so children must be accompanied by an adult.

ANIMAL ZONE

This is directly outside of the Creepy Crawlies indoor play centre and is included in the price of the Web Advanture Park.

So when the kids were ready for a break from sliding, jumping, running and swinging, we braved the cold to see lots of cute animals.

Oliver loved stroking the donkey and there are also alpacas, called Sugar and Spice, a pony, goats, chickens and rabbits.

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The children loved watching the staff feed and muck out the animals and the friendly team were on hand to tell us all about the different creatures.

My niece spent most of her time in the chipmunk viewing tunnel while shouting “Alvin, are you there?” #toocute #memories

On site there’s also extra attractions which are paid for separately. These include:

WIRED HIGH ROPES: £17 per session

I could do nothing but laugh when my sister agreed to climb the high ropes with my nephew because she had no idea what she had let herself in for! #evillaugh

The high ropes challenge is 8m above ground at its highest point and you could hear her screams across the park as she attempted to keep up with her seven-year-old son.

Lewis powered ahead shouting, “Come on, Mummy, you slow coach”, as Claire lagged behind. Here she is, top Mummy points for getting the harness on and having a go! Luclkily I had a ten-month old baby to look after the pressure was off me getting involved. #phew

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Claire and Lewis were only allowed to take part once they had listened to a safety briefing and signed a disclaimer.

Both were harnessed and secured by a belay and lanyard system, but that was small consolation to Claire as she navigated the balance beams, hanging platforms, spider’s web and snake bridge.

If your children are daredevils, this is the place for them.

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A warning though, the finale is a zip wire and I didn’t think my sister was going to make it. As she tried to build up the courage to take the leap to get herself off the platform a little boy behind her could be heard saying “just go for it”.

TIP: Wired is for children aged seven and over.

Afterwards we were straight back inside Creepy Crawlies for more indoor fun for the children and a well-deserved hot chocolate for Claire.

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Jasmine and Mummy in Creepy Crawlies

THE SUMMIT £17 per hour session

This is a vertical challenge wall and consists of  Jacobs ladder, Crate Climb, Gladiator Challenge and Leap of Faith.

FRESH BEAUTY

There’s also a beauty salon on site. I doubt you would get the chance to visit on a family day out though!

 

Location, times, prices, facilities and contact details

LOCATION: The Arena, Cliftongate Business Park, Wigginton Road, York. YO32 2RH.

OPEN: Every day. Check website for different times for each activity.

PRICES: Entry to Creepy Crawlies, the outdoor adventure park and the animal zone: Children aged 1-3 £4.75. Children aged 4 – 15: £6.75. Adults: £1.50. Babies £1.

Wired and the Summit: £17 per person, per hour, per attraction.

FACILITIES:

  • Parking: Free
  • Baby Changing Facilities
  • Cafe

E-MAIL: info@webadventurepark.co.uk

CALL: 01904 692221.

WEB: www.webadventurepark.co.uk

 

 

Hall Farm Park, South Kelsey, Lincolnshire

THEY SAY: A real working farm and lots of things to see and do outdoors and indoors.

WE SAY: A must-visit farm with plenty to do and where else can you walk a goat?!

HERE’S how I’d like to portray the goat-walking was for us on our day out to Hall Farm Park:

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But the reality was more like this: Complete chaos! Don’t. laugh.

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Never work with children or animals, and definitely not both at the same time! #goatgate

It seems I wasn’t the only nutter who attempted to take two children and a goat for a walk on my own – the mother in the background of the first picture is also on her own – but she looks like she’s nailing it! Oh well! We had a great laugh, even if it was at Mummy!

We’ve been to tons of farms up and down the country, but we’ve only ever come across goat walking at Hall Farm Park in Lincolnshire. (There’s probably all manor of health and safety reasons as to why this is!)

Our goat was called Treacle and, although he enjoyed jumping up, we did make it to the end of the purpose-built grassy course – with a little help from staff along the way, who kindly offered to take our picture too!

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One goat, two leads, what could possibly go wrong?

As you would expect at any farm, there is a variety of animals to meet, indoors and outside, in the paddocks, including cows, horses, sheep, wallabies, llamas, mini pigs and donkeys.

You can even bottle-feed the lambs, which is a lovely experience for children – if they’re strong enough to keep hold of the bottle. Those lambs are strong and go hell for leather to get their milk!

TIP: See the farm map before you go, here

Another favourite for us was the tractor ride, which takes you to the working farm to visit the cattle. My children loved feeding potatoes to the cows and singing along with the Old MacDonald music on the trailer.

As well as the farm, there are also outdoor adventure play areas with ride ons and stuff to climb.

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We loved Keith’s Krazy Karts, where you can pedal solo or do as we did and get a two-seater bike to cycle around the track. It’s hard work for the pedaling adult though!

There’s also a great under-fives’ area with a climbing frame, swings, ride-ons and play houses.

We also played crazy golf, which has a farmyard theme, at no extra cost which was a pleasant surprise. I hate having to say no to the ‘extras’ they spot because we’ve just paid a fortune to get in!

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Indoors, there is Barney’s Play Barn, which my son declared “fantastic” as he walked in.

Whizzing down the giant slide in inflatable rings was definitely a highlight for my two children. Jasmine may only have been two, but she was up the hill and down in the tyre faster than you could say “Do you want another go?”

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They also enjoyed digging in the giant sandpit and playing in the small soft play area, which was added in 2013.

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Inside the barn, as well as being able to play on the ride on tractors and trikes, kids can also try their hand at games, including giant connect four.

There’s also a bouncy castle and plenty of seating areas for you to put your feet up – yeah right, if only!

If you’re feeling hungry, there’s a tea room, but there are also picnic areas both indoor and outdoor if you want to take your own.

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Excuse Jasmine’s scowl, she was having a great time, really.

The farm isn’t massive – we took a picnic and about four hours was long enough for us. If it rains, I’d imagine the indoor barn would be packed but, on a hot day, I’m sure you could spend longer there.

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As we were leaving, Oliver asked me if we could get a goat and call it Treacle – I told him our garden wasn’t big enough. Can’t have a goat taking over at home, but we will go back to see him!

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There’s also a new woodland walk where you can taking in the farmland and wooded areas. Make sure you look out for the hidden boxes to see if you can guess the identity of the inhabitants. Quiz sheets are available to take with you so you can try your hand at solving the nature puzzles.

  • Last reviewed March 2015

 

Location, times, prices, facilities and contact details

LOCATION: Caistor Road, South Kelsey, Lincolnshire LN7 6PR

OPEN: Daily from 10am to 5pm, except Wednesdays in term time. Every day in school holidays.

FACILITIES:

  • Parking: Free
  • Wheelchair hire
  • Baby Changing Facilities

PRICES: Adults and children over two years, £5.90. Children under two, free. Family ticket, £22.50

Call: 01652 678822

E-MAIL hallfarmparkoffice@keme.co.uk

VISIT: http://www.hallfarmpark.co.uk

 

 

Tropical Butterfly House, Sheffield

THEY SAY: Encounter the exotic. South Yorkshire’s top wildlife attraction.

WE SAY: All you need for a reasonably priced day out, whatever the weather.

It’s always difficult finding somewhere to take the kids when the weather is cold and unpredictable. But if you are anything like me, you will only be able to stand so many indoor play centres – even if they do guarantee to keep you dry.

The ideal venue during the wet weather is an outdoor place where the kids and run around and let off steam, but one that also offers indoor activities – just in case.

After a little internet search, I stumbled across Tropical Butterfly House, Wildlife and Falconry Centre, which is near Sheffield, and promised indoor and outdoor activities. There#s plenty to do – see the centre map here. Its currently ranked number 1 on Trip Advisor for ‘things to do’ in Sheffield.

We had never been before, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, nor do I know anyone who has been. But, with the promise of seeing everything from butterflies and monkeys to meerkats and lemurs, we were on our way.

On arrival we were handed a map and list of daily animal encounters that were available at no extra charge and there seemed to be plenty going on, despite it being winter.

First on our list to visit was the indoor Tropical Butterfly House which is like stepping into a rainforest where you can wander among free-flying tropical butterflies, exotic birds and Egyptian fruit bats.

The children were mesmerised watching the butterflies flying through the air in front of our noses and were also able to feed worms to the colourful rainbow lorikeets as they swooped to their feeding station.

It was also inside Butterfly House we met Darwin and Pedro, the impressive spectacled caimans, as they basked behind the glass in their private pool. My son Oliver’s favourite was the dark world of mini-beasts and creepy-crawlies, where he was able to watch the snakes and glow-in-the-dark scorpions.

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Oliver, 3, feeds the birds

TIP: There’s indoor and outdoor picnic areas available around the centre.

We then took a wander to the outdoor Meerkat Mansion, where we were in time for a talk by the specialist keeper and were also able to see them being fed. The meerkat family began with just Mr and Mrs Meerkat but, over the years, the population has expanded to a family of 14. If you are a fan of meerkats you can also pay extra to have them to yourself in a Meerkat Mayhem experience.

One of my favourite parts of the day was when we took a break from the animals and had fun in the play park. For better weather, there is a huge outdoor sandpit, full of toys, and a massive outdoor adventure playground, complete with towers, slides and more. Our favourite were the motorised cars (£1 a go) and the cycle track, where you can choose to ride different types of bikes, trikes and tractors.

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Baby Jasmine, 10 months old

TIP: The centre is fully accessible to wheelchair users except for a small corner of the Butterfly House which can be viewed from an alternate platform.

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Fun for adults too!

If it happens to chuck it down while you are there, head for the indoor activity centre where you will be able to keep the children entertained with games including air hockey, puzzles and activities. It’s not massive, and isn’t an indoor play area with soft play but it does have tables with activities.

There is also a craft centre inside, which is open at weekends and during school holidays and offers something for everyone; whether you want to make your own crown, paint or do some colouring-in. Most of the crafts and activities are free to participate in and there are some which carry a small charge, including face painting and other activities where you get to keep what you’ve made at the end.

Glitter tattoos and face-painting are also available to purchase and there is also a disco room, which can be used for parties.

After lunch in Butterfly Café, where we enjoyed a good-value meal, including delicious home-made scones, we headed to Lemur Heights. We were able to get up close in a guided walk through the Lemur enclosure, which is said to be the leading lemur exhibit in Britain.

It’s home to ten charismatic ring-tailed lemurs and three red-ruffed lemurs, which are in the top 25 most endangered animals in the world.

We also saw a parrot display, where the birds rode skateboards and played basketball.

 

The indoor Farm Barn, home to goats, chickens, ducks, geese, a Shetland pony and giant continental rabbits, is also worth a visit.

TIP: Buy the animal food for the farm animals at the admissions kiosk or at the Jungle Gift Shop on the way in so you don’t have to go back later on.

We spent the best part of a full day at Tropical Butterfly House and the weather wasn’t even warm. We will definitely be going back to explore more in summer.

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Baby Jasmine and the croc!
  • Last reviewed February 2014

 

Location, times, prices, facilities and contact details

LOCATION: Just five minutes from the M1 junction 31. Woodsetts Road, North Anston, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S25 4EQ

OPEN: All year round.  Monday to Friday:10am to 4.30pm. Weekends, school and bank holidays: 10am to 5.30pm.

PRICES: Adult: £9.75. Child: £8.50. Under-twos admitted free.

Call: 01909 569416.

WEB: www.butterflyhouse.co.uk