Kenilworth Castle

Exploring Kenilworth Castle with the Kids

Since visiting Scotland and some of its magnificent castles back in February, we have got a real thirst for history.

Visiting castles with children is lots of fun, not only do you get to pretend you are knights of the realm, or a real life princess, you can climb the ramparts, investigate the history of the castle, or simply take in the atmosphere. Most of the castles we have visited also have some of THE best hills for rolling down too!!

Over the weekend we were on a Stay, Play, Explore break in Leicestershire and were invited by English Heritage and Mumsnet.com to visit Kenilworth Castle which is located in the town of the Kenilworth, a short drive away in Warwickshire.

Kenilworth Castle was constructed from Norman through to Tudor times and offers a real “WOW” factor as it comes into view.

You enter the castle from a long track which is where they used to have jousting tournaments – cue some galloping children upon their imaginary horses racing up and down the track. Once inside the grounds there are many different parts of the castle to explore and the kids radiated towards the old Tudor stable block where they pretended to be put in jail.

Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Castle has been linked with some of the most important names in English history and was a favoured residence of the Lancastrian kings. Today, with its Elizabethan gardens, its impressive Norman ‘keep’ and John of Gaunt’s Great Hall, it is the largest castle ruin in England, perfect for exploring.

Kenilworth Castle

The castle is sat on top of a large hill, perfect for rolling down and the kids made the most of the dry and sunny weather by rolling from the top to the bottom. The castle grounds are accessible for buggy’s and wheelchairs but if you want to explore the ruins, there are a lot of stairs to navigate – some modern wooden stairs with viewing platforms and some fun original stone spiral staircases so be prepared for some climbing.

Kenilworth Castle

There were lots of information plaques dotted around, explaining which part of the castle you were in, or looking at and giving you information about events that happened in the castle. Isaac especially enjoyed finding out all about what happened in the castle whereas Eliza and Sebby were content finding all the nooks and cranny’s and seeing where they could make their voices echo.

Kenilworth Castle

One of the castle’s most famous periods was the 16th century and Elizabeth I visited several times. In 1575 her and her entourage were lavishly entertained for three weeks with pageants, music, dancing, fireworks, hunting and feasting and there is a fabulous display of paintings and information about the event in Leicester’s Gatehouse.

Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Castle is also home to the Elizabethan Gardens, a recreation of the garden built by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, for Elizabeth I’s visit in 1575. It is a stunning garden and I can only imagine what it would look like in the summer when all the flowers are in bloom.

Elizabethan Gardens

On our visit to Scotland we were intrigued by tales of the Civil War and here we discovered that Kenilworth was taken by the Parliamentarian army in the opening month of it. Although the castle didn’t see much action, the army wanted to make the castle untenable and so the north wall of the keep was destroyed and the outer curtain wall beyond breached. In the years after the Civil war the mere, that once surrounded the castle, was drained, trees were felled, and interiors stripped out and sold, leading to further destruction of the castle.

Kenilworth Castle

Visiting castles with kids opens up their imaginations and during Easter, English Heritage will be running a series of Easter Adventure Quests across the country, where families can meet a costumed character, solve clues and win chocolate rewards.

I really would recommend visiting an English Heritage property as a fun family day out and you can read about our visit to Bolsover Castle here.

I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. I have received a voucher in return for writing this post.

Country Kids

Thomas Land

A Winter Visit to Thomas Land

We were first introduced to Drayton Manor when Sebby was a newborn but it was our second visit where we really fell in love with Thomas Land and all the park had to offer. There is nothing better than seeing your child gasp with awe and excitement around every corner as they spot their favourite characters around every corner.

Last weekend we were invited to Drayton Manor, home of Thomas Land for an exclusive event where we got to ride our favourite characters before members of the public were allowed which meant no queues, not that I have ever found them that long on our previous visits.

We followed Sebby’s lead and soon found ourselves flying high aboard Jeremy’s Air Academy.

Thomas Land

Flynn’s Fire and Rescue was next up, although it was too cold to shoot the water jets we enjoyed the ride all the same. Sadly Sebby was just too short to ride Captain’s Sea Adventure, so we watched and waved to Abbey, Isaac and Eliza instead before another flying lesson but this time aboard Harold the helicopter.

Thomas Land

Nothing would persuade the older kids to go on the troublesome trucks rollercoaster although they did bravely ride Bertie Bus and Diesel’s Locomotive Mayhem for the first time, before a more gentle drive in Sodor’s Classic Cars and Winston.

Thomas Land

Around Thomas Land there are a few booth’s where you can win prizes and we decided to have a go at the hook a duck. The joy on Sebby’s face when he won, with Abbey’s help, a James cuddly toy was brilliant and seconds later he met Sir Toppam Hatt too – that was certainly the highlight of his day.

Thomas Land

No trip to Thomas Land would be complete without a ride on some trains and we also boarded the Blue Mountain Engines and got to ride in Clarabel, pulled by Thomas of course.

Thomas Land

At the other end of the line is the chance to ride on Terence the Tractor and see the Thomas & Friends™ Exhibition in Farmer McColls Farm.

Thomas Land

Sadly the bigger rides at Drayton Manor were closed, but the zoo was open and we got to see some very real looking dinosaurs as well as snakes, monkey’s, meerkats, lynx and a rather hungry looking black panther who was pacing his cage.

Drayton Manor

I was really impressed with the facilities in the park too. The toilets and baby changing rooms were modern, warm and clean and the restaurants served reasonably priced food with a family meal deal costing £20 for four (season pass holders also get a 20% discount on food and in the shops).

Thomas Land

It may have been a cold and grey day, but it felt warm and sunny thanks to the excitement of all the children and we cannot wait to come back soon, do some of the bigger rides too and experience the what the rest of the park has to offer.

We were invited to Drayon Manor Theme Park as guests in exchange for this post.  This is our entry for the brand ambassador role for 2016.  

 

Cadbury World

A Christmas Party at Cadbury World

Last year we went on holiday to Newcastle Under Lyme and spent a week exploring various locations up North. One of the destinations I wanted to go to was Cadbury World but sadly we ran out of time so when Carnival Cruises announced that we would be having a Christmas party and that it was at Cadbury World we were very excited!

The drive up to Birmingham took around three hours and was uneventful. We were hopeful for a glorious sunny day but as we approached the site at Bourneville it decided to cloud over, but a bit of rain has never spoiled our fun.

We met up with the Carnival Cruise team and my fellow bloggers right beside a giant chocolate Christmas Tree which looked good enough to eat. The kids were transfixed on a giant cracker above their heads that was pouring out sweets but sadly none reached the floor.

Cadbury World

Once everyone had arrived it was time to start the days events. Our first port of call was the 4D cinema where we got to dive into a bowl of liquid Cadbury Dairy Milk, ride the Crunchie Rollercoaster and take to the skies in a Cadbury Creme Egg airship piloted by the Caramel Bunny. It was good fun although Eliza didn’t like it but I am hoping she will overcome her fear next summer onboard Carnival’s Vista as we will also be able to experience a 4D cinematic adventure at their Thrill Theatre.

Our next stop was more up her street with a visit to the Santa Experience. Santa had his very own show and crashed onto stage from the Chimney. The kids really enjoyed his magic tricks and a fun sing-song before getting a gift from the cheeky elves after the show.

Cadbury World

After the show finished we had some time to kill so had a look in the Bourneville experience which showed us how the original workers lived, worked and played before sampling a delicious Cadbury’s Hot Chocolate.

In a large Marquee it was then time to watch Sleeping Beauty in pantoland as Princess Aurora celebrates her birthday. There was be lots of fun and silliness from the Palace handyman Silly Billy, lots of “boo’s” for the Wicked Queen who tried to ruin the party, but with the help of the magical Chuckle Bean Fairy, a rather good looking Prince and a wonderful audience, Princess Aurora achieved her ‘happily ever after’? I am hoping for some fun shows with Carnival too as they have their very own theatre production company Playlist Productions.

After a break for lunch it was time to take the tour, where we were given enough chocolate to sink a battleship on entry (this may be a slight exaggeration). The smell as we entered was out of this world and we learned how they make their famous chocolate in a special-effects cinema presentation.

cadbury world

After the story you get to take a tour of the factory where photographs are not allowed. It was fascinating watching the machines as they packaged chocolate and sent it around the factory on huge conveyor belts. There were things to do for the kids which broke up the tour like some chocolate tasting and the Cadabra ride where you step into Beanmobiles and enjoy a gentle ride through a chocolate wonderland full of familiar characters as you discover the magic of Cadbury.

Cadbury World

The final part of the journey is the Purple Planet which is a fun interactive experience in a world of digital chocolate delights! Eliza, Isaac and Sebby really bonded with Isla and Noah from Mummy Constant and were busy throwing some shapes in front of a giant screen and then mirrors.

Cadbury World

You exit Cadbury World through their huge shop which is packed full of all their favourites at discount prices so we stocked up on some Christmas stocking fillers. The kids were excited at all the sweet stuff on sale, so I I know they will love ‘Cherry On Top‘ which is a ‘sweets and more’ candy store on Vista.

I had wondered why the Carnival team had taken us to Cadbury World for our Christmas party, but with all the things to do I now understand why and it was lovely to bond with the other members of the #CarnivalFamily team.

Thomas land

To Sodor and Back at Thomas Land

I may have mentioned it before but Sebastian is Thomas the Tank Engine mad so one of his birthday presents was tickets to go to Thomas Land at Drayton Manor. We last went to Thomas Land when Sebby was just 3 months old and really enjoyed exploring Thomas Land, the zoo and Drayton Manor Park itself but they opened the new Thomas Land expansion earlier on this year and we were keen to see what they had done. We set off nice and early to get to the park for opening at 10.30am and arrived at 10.15.  Sebastian’s face was …

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Gadget Show Live 2015 Review

We were lucky enough to go to the Gadget Show Live this year not once, but twice.  We won a family ticket to go on the Sunday thanks to tiredmummyoftwo but sadly Hubby was working so when I was also offered a pair of VIP tickets from Joe Blogs Network and Currys for his day off I jumped at the chance. Hubby and Kian set of at 6am Wednesday morning and found it only took 2.5 hours to get there – a much shorter journey than he thought it would be, so was there in good time for the opening and …

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