Things to do near Birmingham during the school holidays

Warwick Castle, Warwickshire

During the school holidays we were heading to the West Midlands Safari Park near Birmingham for a day out so we thought we’d make a mini break of it as I had a few more days off left.

On route to Birmingham we stopped at Warwick Castle for a few hours.  We had a fabulous time exploring the castle inside and out, the weather really made it.  There is so much to see and do, we saw several of the live demonstrations; The Bowman, Flight of the Eagles, Battling Soldiers and Jousting.  Unfortunately, we missed the Trebuchet Fireball as someone needed the toilet at that precise moment in time.

Days out - Warwick Castle

I’d really recommend a day out at the castle but my only suggestions would be to bring a packed lunch and if you decide to do the Horrible Histories Trail, finding the rats and collecting stamps, don’t wait until the last hour or you will be racing around the site with very tired legs.

Child Friendly Hotels in Birmingham

We stayed in the newly refurbished Jurys Inn in Birmingham, which have teamed up with some of UK’s biggest attractions to offer family packages that won’t break the bank.  They currently have offers with Cadbury’s World, Alton Towers and The New Sealife Centre to name a few.

If I’m honest, when we first approached the hotel from Broad Street and saw it, you can’t miss it really, it looked like a circa 1960s concrete office block.  However, once we made our way around to the car park, as it’s located on a one way street, you have to make your way down one block and then come back on yourself, we were truly impressed with the hotel.  It’s recently benefited from a £4.7 m refurbishment and is very centrally located for exploring Birmingham.

The best part for us is that it is truly child friendly.  In addition, to offering the Safari Park tickets as part of the package, they also have Jurys Little Library Service where you can borrow books for the duration of your stay.   The restaurant ‘The Grill on Broad Street’ has a Healthy Options Kid’s Menu with all the usual suspects; Spaghetti Bolognese, Pizza, and Bangers and Mash but all freshly prepared.

Plus, the adults menu is rather impressive as well, I splurged and ordered a Rib-eye steak, obviously accompanied by a glass of red wine and it was cooked perfectly.  I’m not normally a pudding person but treated myself to a piece of this gorgeous Maple Cheesecake.

Eating at Jurys Inn - Birmingham

And check out this chandelier!  It’s got my name written all over it.

Jurys Inn Birmingham

The package was on a B & B basis so we were able to fuel up with a cooked breakfast before our busy day out.  What I really liked about the hotel is that, as a family, we can still stay somewhere that is classy and a bit more sophisticated but truly welcoming to children.  There is no need to be relegated substandard budget hotels.

I also need to mention that the Hotel Staff were incredibly friendly and helpful throughout our stay.

Midlands Safari Park

Midlands Safari Park

We had a great day out at the Safari Park, which is a 4 mile self-drive route through Mini Africa in Bewdley, Worcestershire, where you will get up close and personal with White Lions, Cheetahs, Giraffes, Elephants, Rhinos and much more.  The nice thing about the park is that you can drive around as many times as you like.  At the end you can also park up and explore Mark O’Shea’s Reptile world, Sea Lion Theatre, Penguin Cove and an African Village you can walk through and see the adorable Lemurs and Meerkats.

Wallet Warning!

There is a Leisure Park with rides at the end of the Safari Park and there is no way you are going to get out of going on a few rides.  I’m not sure why, but I originally thought it was included as well but it’s not.  However, I had already promised my daughter a few rides beforehand, so I bucked up the entry cost, which wasn’t extortionate.  If I’m honest, I wasn’t overly impressed with the Leisure Park, there weren’t a huge amount of rides and they looked tired, but this may have something to do with the fact that we’ve recently been to Thorpe Park and Legoland, so it’s not really fair to compare.  But most importantly my daughter loved it.

Leisure Park Midlands Safari Park

Disclosure:  Our Stay at Jurys and Safari Park Tickets were complimentary for review purposes.  One night’s B&B based on 2 adults and 2 children sharing with tickets to the West Midlands Safari Park from £104.70

Does Life Begin at 40? (Competition)

To celebrate the release of ‘This is 40‘ by acclaimed writer, director and producer, Judd Apatow, we’re giving one of my readers a chance to win a Does Life Pegin after 40?copy of the DVD and a £100 voucher from Red Letter Days.

The film itself, a ‘sort of’ sequel to Knocked Up,  follows a married couple played by Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann as they struggle with the changes of life as they turn 40 and the alterations that occur in their relationship and family dynamic – all with hilarious consequences!

I turned 40 a couple of years ago.  I know a lot of people fear it but for the first time in my life I finally feel  comfortable in my own skin and am thoroughly enjoying it so far.  My body is doing a few things I’m not too happy about; rogue hairs, cellulite and gravity but now I just find myself laughing it off!

We’d love create a list of  ‘The Ultimate 40 things to do after you’re 40 list’.  To enter the competition simply leave a blog comment via the rafflecopter form below stating what your ‘Ultimate thing to do after 40 would be’.   Additional entries are also available.  The winner will be chosen at random.  We will then generate an Ultimate Top 40 list from your suggestions.  I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

A full list of Terms and Conditions can be found at the bottom of the form but in short it’s open to UK residents only aged 18+.

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Good Luck!

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Hatfield Farm Park Hatfield House

I was in a bit of a rush to write this up as they are open on Bank Holidays and tomorrow being one.  But for those of you who read this later they’re open Tues through Sunday and Bank Holidays from 10-5.30.

Fun for the whole family!

I’m always on the lookout for family days out, that the whole family can enjoy, not just the kids and this is one of those.  We have been to Hatfield House Farm Park before but had a truly great day out there today.  The weather was in our favour.


One of the reasons that I love it is that it is reasonably priced when you think we spent £20 for hubby and daughter to go to the cinema yesterday.  It’s £4.50 per adult and £2 per child and FREE parking.  As farms go it isn’t anything out of the ordinary, but do remember I’m Canadian and my sister is married to a rancher, with 400 cows and they think it’s hilarious that we pay to go to farms, but the adventure playground is amazing.

Hatfield House Adventure Playground, Herts

It’s set in a dip in the woods, with ample shade and a replica of Hatfield House.  As a St Albian, I’m very jealous of the quality of the playgrounds elsewhere.  I do hope our council takes note as our local playgrounds are lacking.

My top tips:

  • Start at the adventure playground, but send someone to the restaurant to grab coffee.  It’s diagonally across the car park, in the Stable Yard.  You can also get a child-lunch box (£5.50 for 5 items) and have an impromptu picnic, but to save a few pennies, you may want to bring your own lunch.  There is plenty of seating outside the playground.
  • We then did a walk around the farm, some unique breeds but wish we would have bought some animal feed at the entrance.

Hatfield Farm Park, Herts

  • If you decide to ride on the tractor, make sure, when you’re looking at the back of the tractor that you sit on the right or else  you end up looking at the car park and dual carriageway.

Hatfield House, Family Day out, St Albans, Herts

  • Take the time to wander up to the Stable Courtyard after, we weren’t interested in visiting the house or gardens, but plenty to see in the courtyard; Butchers, Toy Store, Sweet Shop, Burstons Garden Centre and a Pimm’s Stand!  Don’t mind if I do!

Miniature Railway, St Albans, Herts

  • Save the train ride till the end of the day when you’re heading for the car.  It’s included in the price of a ticket.

All in all it was great value and I highly recommend it, but do bear in mind the weather as there is not a lot of cover.


Things to do at Thorpe Park if you’re 5

‘Mummy, you know that place we went to on the weekend, I call it the best place ever!’ M age 5

Thorpe Park was originally marketed for 16- 24 year olds, so when I first invited myself along, I was a bit worried that there would not be enough for my 5 year old to do.  I had a quick look on the site and there were a few rides for kids starting from 900mm through to 1.1m.

The first thing I had to work out was how tall she was.  Luckily, she takes after her mum and dad, she’s not freakishly tall but a bit taller than your average 5 year old.  Once I got her to stand still, I worked out that she was 116 cm.  Result!  Plus, we also got her to wear her Heely’s without the wheels which gave her another 3-4 centimetres.

These are all the rides that she was able to go on.  We may have been able to sneak her onto a few of the 1.2m rides but didn’t want to jeopardize her safety.

Thorpe Park for Younger Children

Rides for 5 year olds at Thorpe Park


  • Zodiac – spinning sensation, say good-bye to your lunch
  • Depth Charge – 4 lane super slide
  • Flying Fish – Bonus, the kids could go on without parental supervision!
  • Rumba Rapids – Yes, my bum got very wet!
  • Rocky Express – I can’t believe they went on it 5 times in a row!  I would’ve been sick.
  • Mr. Monkey’s Banana Ride – My daughter’s favourite as it gave her butterflies in her tummy.


  • Logger’s Leap – a classic log flume with two drops
  • X – an indoor rollercoaster with a light and sound show

1.1 m

  • Storm Surge – swirling water ride

As you can see there was more than enough to entertain us for the day and we managed to avoid the Tea Cups.  If you count the Carousel she was able to go on at least 10 rides.

Disclosure:  our tickets were complimentary.





Win a Chocolate Making Experience (Value £50)

Did someone say chocolate?  Now that I have your attention.

Some may call me a freak but I don’t eat a lot of chocolate but I know a lot of you do.  So I thought you may like a chance to spend the day at a Chocolate Workshop making and eating chocolate with a Chocolatier.  There are 10 locations to choose from.

Alternatively, it would make a brilliant Christmas present for one of your chocolate loving friends.

It’s easy simply enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

UK residents only

All times are quoted in EST

Full terms and condition are on the bottom of the form.

Good luck!

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