Only one week to go and the children will be at home for half term. This will be a mixture of work and play for me as I haven’t taken time off but will go into work for one day and work from home on the other two days but I do like to get a few treats organised for the girls to make sure we spend some memorable playtime together.

Top 3 things to do at half term in Kent

Leeds Castle – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Leeds castle

We haven’t been to Leeds’ Castle for a long time and last time we went it was on the run up to Christmas. Leeds Castle had organised a Gingerbread trail and the twins really enjoyed it. For this half term Leeds castle have organised a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory trail which takes you walking around the beautiful grounds of the castle (so wrap up warm) hunting down clues and solving the riddles that will lead you to giant chocolate bars each with a golden ticket inside. Each Chocolate bar will have a different coloured wrapper which you have to match with the stickers that come with your trail card.

Once the trail has been completed you can show your card to the Maze Café & Grill where you will receive sprinkles on their new ‘bubble gum’ flavoured Kentish ice cream and at the ned of your day hand in the completed trail card at the marquee and claim your mini chocolate bar prize.

Leeds castle

Top tip: Lookout for golden tickets hidden inside special ice-cream cones, for your chance to win a tour of the never before open to the public Solley’s ice-cream factory in Deal! Silver tickets will win a delicious afternoon tea in the Fairfax Restaurant.

Charlie’s Chocolate Trail is £1 per person to enter and includes a chocolate prize at the end.

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Alvin and the Chipmunks

This weekend we were invited up to Leicester Square by Twentieth Century Fox to view the brand new Alvin and the Chipmunks film, the road Chip. Well, we can safely say it’s a great fun film with the adorable, if sometimes a bit mischevious, chipmunks. The story unfolds as Dave, the chipmunks dad, has a relationship with a doctor, Samantha, that is starting to get serious. Samantha has a son and the chipmunk’s first encounters with Miles are not good at all. They want to stop this relationship going ahead. When they find an engagement ring they set out to sabotage the relationship that takes them on a cross-country journey, through Texas and New Orleans (dad loved this bit best) finishing off in Miami. Of course they are also running from a ‘baddie’ who will keep uyou entertained throughout the film too.

Visit Canterbury

The beautiful city of Canterbury is only a 30-minute drive for us so I  am planning on introducing the girls to this amazing city over half term.

Canterbury was a major pilgrimage site in the Middle Ages. Ancient walls, originally built by the Romans, encircle its medieval centre with cobbled streets and timber-framed houses. Iconic Canterbury Cathedral, founded in 597 A.D., is the headquarters of the Church of England and Anglican Communion. With intricate carvings and stained-glass windows, it incorporates Gothic and Romanesque elements.

Canterbury cathedral

There is a lot to see and do, a list I will write here and hopefully tick off over the next few years so I hope it comes in handy for you too.

1. Canterbury Cathedral
2. The Canterbury Tales – Chaucer’s stories brought to life
3. Canterbury Roman Museum
4. Howletts Wild Animal Park – about 15mins drive outside of Canterbury
5. The Historic River Tours – great tours of the city on water
6. The Beany House of Art and Knowledge – museum and gallery
7. Westgate Gardens – lovely formal gardens by the river
8. The Goods Shed farmers’ market – by Canterbury West Station
9. The Marlowe Theatre (town centre) or Gulbenkian Theatre (University of Kent campus)
10 Shopping! Whitefriars shopping centre and many independent shops to enjoy

Please find lots of other top tips all over the country from some of my favourite blogs and above all, have a great half term!Helen gives you three unusual days out with kids at half term if you’re in and around London, plus a bonus craft activity for a pyjama day!

Helen gives you three unusual days out with kids at half term if you’re in and around London, plus a bonus craft activity for a pyjama day!

Penny has three easy creative projects to do at home which could also fire their imaginations for bigger activity, because we love it when one thing leads to another.

Alice has some simple but successful tips for keeping kids entertained on the beach even in this cold February weather.

Becky has 3 thrifty and simple ideas for half term happiness

Kirsty can help families in Hertfordshire, who need inspiration to help keep boredom at bay!

Cass shares her favourite three ways to have fun at half term without spending a penny!

Joanne shares three indoors ‘days out’ incase of horrid weather

Michelle introduces you to three fun seaside towns in East Sussex

Joy explains 3 ways that throwing a party can help with half-term entertainment. 

Emma has three ways to enjoy half term on a budget

Sarah showcases five different ways you can entertain the little ones in Norwich this half term

A visit to a National Trust property is always fun in half-term, here Michelle shares with you three of her favourites.

 

weekend in Rye East Sussex, panorama

Back in September 2008 when the twins were 10 weeks old, we decided to go on our first holiday since the girls had arrived, a long weekend in Rye. It was only going to be a 4 day break  and we didn’t want to stray too far from home but be in reach of a quick journey back if it all proved to be a dreadful idea.

weekend in Rye old twon

We decided on a weekend in Rye, East Sussex, a pretty town built on a hill that in years gone by would have been on the shoreline, today Rye is separated from the sea by one and a half miles of drained marshland and is the joining point of three rivers which form a picturesque harbour.

weekend in rye harbour

Rye once played an important role in the defence of the south coast of England but these days the warships are long gone and replaced by a local fishing fleet of private boats and yachts moored up, bobbing peacefully close to the town. The stretch along the river is a beautiful walk as is the town itself, where you can walk to the top of the hill and take in the panoramas from the high point or stop at a local pub for a bite to eat.

We stopped off for a fabulous pub lunch at the King’s Head Pub also known as the Top O’ The Hill pub.

Top 5 things to do on a weekend in Rye

  1. Climb to the top of the tower of St Mary’s parish church for breathtaking views.
  2. Visit Rye Harbour Nature reserve
  3. Visit Ypres Tower museum
  4. Take a walk around Lamb House
  5. Follow the 1066 country walk – this will take more than 1 day.

On a three day sojourn in 1573, Queen Elizabeth I bestowed the title ‘Rye Royale’ and the town attracted many authors, musicians and celebrities of the day. Walking around the town you can discover many quirky things like this house called ‘The House Opposite’.

weekend in rye village - door

The timbered houses are separated by cobbled streets and connected by secret passages used by smugglers and highwaymen in years gone by. Rye is full of secrets and mysteries and is a huge favourite amongst film crews in search of historical settings for film productions.

Rye is a popular weekend destination and well worth a visit if you’re looking for a fun weekend away.

We stayed close by at the Park Holidays resort Rye Harbour and it proved to be an excellent base for the south coast. A walk from our home towards the coast led us past this fascinating hut in the Rye harbour nature reserve.

Rye harbour nature reserve

Rye harbour nature reserve

A short drive took us into Rye where we walked the cobbled streets with our massive buggy and discovered the beauty spots of the town.

rye - the weekes family

We ventured to Hastings for a day out and another time we drove to the town of Battle famous for the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and home to af abulous castle that I shall take the girls to soon.

Hastings mari and buggy

The entrance to Hastings pier with its Union Jack whipping in the wind.

Hastings Pier

Recently Babyworld shut down and I was able to import my pregnancy diary and my baby diary. Hence this peek back in time. Babyworld and Baby Centre were lifelines for me when I was trying to conceive and later when I was pregnant with the twins, I am sad to see Babyworld go but in the meantime I am rewriting the diaries and adding to them like this post here. Which has inspired me to pull the Time Traveller Linky out of hibernation.

If you have a post you’d like to link up then please add it to the Linky below.

If you’d like to read my twin baby diary, here are the completed entries so far.

Twins 5 weeks old

Twins 6 weeks old

Twins 7 weeks old

Twins 8 weeks old

Twins 9 weeks old

and to finish off some lovely twin photos I found from that break. This is how we slept the twins for the first three months of their lives, in a single cot widthways. This is the travel cot we took to Rye with us.

Twins co sleeping in travel cot

 

Alice taking a nap after her bottle of milk in our static caravan at Rye.

Alice having a snooze

 

Bessie falling asleep on her bottle.

Bessie bottle fed

 

Thinking ahead we bought the girls some winter jackets which, as you can see were still rather large on them but warm :)

twins in buggy 10 weeks old

 

TimeTraveller

Dreamland timeline

You may have heard whispers of Dreamland this summer, a colourful fun fair in Margate, Kent that has thrilled families since the 1920’s. We had heard both good and bad opinions and so when Dreamland invited us down to try out the Frosted Fairground for ourselves we jumped at the chance as it’s only by seeing something yourself can you make your own mind up.

Dreamland has had it’s ups and downs since opening its doors in the 1920’s, it’s gone through good periods and bad, one of which led to it’s closure and consequently a Save Dreamland campaign for those who still believed in the fun fair’s future. In fact if you ask anyone have they been to Margate they will automatically mention Dreamland.

I can remember going as a child, I remember the steep slope down to the entrance, I remember the bumpy slide and the long walk up to the top for my second bumpy ride down. I can also remember the Scenic Railway rollercoaster and holding my breath as the train hurtled over the wooden bumps and down to the ground again.

I discovered the Scenic Railway had been awarded a Grade II listing in March 2002 and further intrigued to discover that the Dreamland Trust’s vision was to focus on the historic rides that have thrilled families for decades.

Dreamland - view from the big wheel

The Frosted Fairground

Our day started shortly after 10am having parked the car right next to the funfair (Car Park: £4.00 for 24 hours) and made our way into the main building to meet the Dreamland crew. We were given wristbands that allowed us on all the rides and an important appointment to meet Santa and his Elves in the Hornby Hobby workshop at 4pm.

It was cold but we were wrapped up warm and prepared as we could be for a day out in the frosted fairground. Our first chosen ride was the Big Wheel, each seat spins up 35 metres and from the top you have a marvellous view over Margate beach. The Big wheel is pretty central to the park and so you have a great view of the entire park from the top.

Dreamland food court

We tried the Gallopers carousel, the Hurricane Jets, the Cyclone Twist, the Dodgems and of course the bumpy slide ‘Born Slippy’

A trip on Monotopia was good exercise and we loved the Maze hall of mirrors.

The Scenic Railway was a lot of fun as you can see below. It is an amazing structure and the small booth by it sells pieces of reclaimed wood made into clocks and cubes.

As you can imagine the girls went on every single ride they were allowed to and sometimes two or three times, it was whilst waiting for them on the Jumping Pirate Boats that I found this little gem …

If there is one thing I can assure you, you will not get bored, there is a roller skating rink, a fabulous amusement arcade, plus as you walk around the fairground there are lots of pop up acts, I watched Aladdin and Cinderella pop ups, I saw dancers and singers on the bandstand and of course we visited Santa and his elf workshop before leaving.

For all of the rides at The Frosted Fairground you will need tokens which can be bought at the kiosks in the park or the entrance, here’s an idea of how many you will need for your day out.

Dreamland tokens

All in all it was a fabulous day and I would thoroughly recommend it but do wrap up warm as it can get quite chilly.

Dreamland - Santa and the elves workshop

Disclosure: We were invited for a day out to Dreamland – The Frosted Fairground for the purpose of this post, all words and opinions are my own.

Alum Bay Isle of Wight

Back in April Mum celebrated a birthday, it was a nice, big, round number and as a gift my brothers and I decided to organise a weekend away in a huge house where we could all stay together. We decided on a large house on the Isle of Wight called Greystones situated in Freshwater Bay. It had 7 bedrooms that could easily sleep us all comfortably plus it had lots of living spaces so if anyone did need a quiet moment there were plenty of rooms to choose from. We were a party of 8 adults and 4 children, two of them teens.

We had to book a minimum of 3 nights Friday – Monday and in November and we paid around £550. Of course this meant the booking of ferries to and from the island but that was a very simple online booking with either Red Funnel or WightLink for around £50-70 return.

Some of us decided to make the most of the Friday and arrived early in the day but we had to wait for Paul to finish work and the girls to finish school, then we had to battle the M25 and the M3 which is so slow these days. We didn’t reach base until 10pm in the evening.

The house was very well kitted out, toilet paper was provided as was salt and pepper, tin foil, tea, coffee and sugar. Lots of essentials, the beds were made but we had to take our own towels.

The home we chose was also dog friendly, Baxter wasn’t allowed to go up to the bedrooms but there was a wonderful back garden for him to sniff till his heart was content.

The Needles, Isle of Wight

The Needles Isle of Wight

The weather was against us on Saturday morning so we had a lazy cooked breakfast and spent the morning completing the children’s homework and chatting amongst ourselves but come lunch time we were eager to get out and explore. Luckily the skies cleared and we made our way over to The Needles in Totland, a world famous landmark of extraordinary beauty.

Although the skies had cleared the wind was very strong. We parked at the bottom of the hill and walked up towards the viewpoint. The area is also a national trust site home of the Old Battery and the New Battery, a Victorian coastal defence and secret rocket testing site above the Needles Rocks.

Isle of Wight images

The walk is worth it, you pass up the hill and get the most spectacular view of Alum Bay, famous for it’s multicoloured sands and further on you reach the viewpoint for The Needles which is stunning. The coastguard called out to us to put Baxter on his lead, his directions weren’t because dogs have to be on a lead but more because too many go over the cliff tops.

Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight

Freshwater bay Isle of Wight

Once back in our cars, photos taken and the cobwebs well and truly blown away we decided to take a look at Freshwater Bay, our closest beach. A short drive away and in November plenty of parking spaces, we walked to the water’s edge, the sun was setting and bouncing off the white cliffs and the sea was coming in rough and ready, in fact a freak wave caught one lady out very close to me and drenched her from head to toe.

Dinosaur Fossil Hunt, Isle of Wight

Dinosaur fossil hunt Isle of Wight

Sunday was the day we had our Dinosaur fossil hunt booked with a private guide. Oliver, a paleontologist, met us in the car park of Brook Chine as the tide was about to turn. We learnt this is the best time to go fossil hunting as the high tide has moved the beach around and leaves lots of treasures as it withdraws. Oliver showed us some examples of fossils he owns and explained what to look out for, he was incredibly knowledgeable of the area, the timeline and anything to do with dinosaurs and fossils. In a nutshell dinosaurs walked the beaches – that weren’t beaches back then but muddy flats. In fact he even showed us some of the casts made from their footprints which was pretty amazing.

dinosaur fossil hunt isle of wight

We walked back and forth along the beach and between us all we collected quite a haul including dinosaur bones, sponges and traces of fish bones that are over 135,000,000 years old. You are allowed to keep anything you find on these trails.

I’d like to say this was an immensely enjoyable experience, albeit the weather was pretty dim, everyone in our group from granddad to the twins had a thoroughly good time. I’d definitely recommend it.

dinosaur fossil hunt images

Lunch at The Taverners, Godshill, Isle of Wight

With some of us having return ferries booked for late afternoon, all that was left was to enjoy a delicious pub lunch all together. A table had been booked in advance for us at The Taverners in Godshill as we were such a large party. This pub was dog friendly and their food was highly rated, their meat is local as is all of their produce, the chips are hand cut and triple cooked and it is popular with locals as well as tourists – the best sign of a great pub. I went for the potted shrimp for starter and the Roast Beef Sunday special, it was all delicious. I’d thoroughly recommend the place and advise to book ahead as the place was packed to the hilt with hungry guests.

There is no disclosure as this was a family weekend away, all paid for by us. I wanted to share it with you as we enjoyed it so much.

Trevella view from our caravan

The first term back to school is usually a pretty hectic one, new school or teacher, new clubs starting up and a plethora of emails and newsletters coming from the school, each one of us in my family is tired and ready for a break by the time autumn half term swings around. Dad had already booked the week off way back in the year and we received an email from Trevella Park in Cornwall asking us to come and visit them. We grabbed the opportunity and a few emails later had booked a week for visiting Cornwall over autumn half term.

Trevella Park dog friendly caravan

Trevella Park

Trevella Park has a wide selection of accommodation possibilities from lakeside lodges, glamping, eco domes and fields with electric hook up for caravans and tents. Whichever solution you choose all of the facilities are open to everyone. As we were taking Baxter with us we were allocated a dog friendly 2 bedroom static caravan which was in the main park with the outdoor swimming pool and children’s park on the green in front of us. This was marvellous as the moment we arrived, both the girls and Baxter were itching to stretch their legs so we were able to unload the car whilst they played outside, Baxter on a lead of course!

I thought it was a lovely touch to find a doggy welcome pack waiting for Baxter which included a bed, a bowl, some treats and some ecological poop bags, thank you Trevella that really was a lovely thought.

Trevella reception

On site we were able to buy a few necessities at the shop, visit reception for information on what was on and where to go and use a laundrette if we needed to. There is free WiFi all over the park (thank you!) and although the swimming pool was closed there were two playgrounds, one with a zip wire which was hugely popular with the twins. There is also fishing in the lake, crazy golf and Ranger Activities organised for the children including pond dipping, crabbing, fishing, bug hunts and rock pooling.

They have a collection of animals for the children to look at and also a pretty cafe which serves food and drinks, from breakfast to take away dinners.

Trevella Park cafe

Once we were settled we decided to walk to the nearby beach Crantock. You can walk directly from the site, it’s a beautiful walk but we hadn’t bargained for how long it was and had both girls moaning and one crying at one point. However once they reached the sand they brightened up, their ‘sore legs’ forgotten and happily walked all the way back, kids eh?

Crantock beach is a wide expanse of sand and a vast bay stretching out to the Atlantic, the surf was excellent and the beach is dog friendly too.

Crantock Beach Cornwall

 

App for Cornwall

You may think there isn’t a lot to do at this time of year but let me assure you visitors are spoilt for choice. The first thing I did was to download the App for Cornwall This allowed me to find all sorts of ideas of things to do during our stay, dry days and wet days, also in our case, as we were taking Baxter with us, dog friendly places to visit.

On that note I must add that Cornwall is really really dog friendly, Baxter was able to come with us on nearly all of our trips and days out and we managed to find plenty of places to eat who would accept dogs too.

Trevella Park weather rock

 

Things to do in Cornwall

As you can imagine we managed to do a lot during our stay at Trevella Park and I shall write about them individually. Please also see my Top five beaches in Cornwall post as they still stand family favourites.

Take a look at the Best Days Out in Cornwall website or download the app and you’ll discover there’s a huge list of possibilities, we knew we wanted to get lots of belly boarding in (them not me) but I was also hoping to get out and about a bit. I’m pleased to say we managed a bit of everything, here’s a quick snapshot of what we got up to.

Newquay

Newquay bridge beach

Fistral Beach

Fistral Beach Newquay, Cornwall

Blue Reef Aquarium

Blue reef Aquarium Newquay

Cornwall Gold

Blue reef Aquarium Newquay

Hell’s Mouth

Hell's Mouth Cornwall

Poltreath Beach

Poltreath harbour

Land’s End

Land's End Cornwall

The Minack Theatre

Minack Theatre Cornwall

Mousehole

Mousehole Cornwall

St Michael’s Mount

St Michael's Mount Cornwall

The Lost Gardens of Heligan

Mud maiden gardens of Heligan Cornwall

Mevagissey

Mevagissey harbour Cornwall

Porth

Porth Cornwall - climbing rocks

Disclosure: Trevella Park invited us to stay for 4 days in a static caravan, they also gave us two press passes for The Best of Cornwall for the purpose of this post and others that follow. All opinions and words are my own.