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.

 

leeds castle

Leeds Castle in Kent has 1000 years of history, quite a lot to cover and I’m sure you’ll appreciate that it will take quite some time to discover everything so on our first visit, which happens to be just before Christmas we had an overall tour. A taste of everything to come, as Leeds Castle sells annual tickets which allow you to return again and again and discover this beautiful castle in all seasons and at all events throughout the year.

leeds castle bedroom

Christmas is a truly wonderful time at Leeds Castle, the rooms are dressed with beautiful trees and this year each tree was decked with lots of gingerbread decorations in celebration of the Biscuiteers who have created the most wonderful display of gingerbread figures including Leeds Castle in miniature, seen here

lees castle gingerbread castle

There are two trails, one in the grounds with 8 clues to work out the perfect gingerbread recipe and one in the castle where children must discover the hidden gingerbread men in four of the rooms.

I loved the fact that the Gingerbread men to look for were called Jolly Henrys in honour of King Henry VIII who spent so much time here with his first wife Catherine of Aragon.

Leeds Castle gingerbread men

Walking through the castle you get a fabulous idea of how it was to live in it. The fabrics are sumptuous, the ornaments are luxurious and I felt it was a real privilege to be able to take a peek inside. The Gingerbread trail made the twins want to rush ahead a bit to discover the next room and I could frequently hear ‘Come on mummy. You’re so slow!’

Leeds castle maze and grotto

Finished the castle we continued on our Gingerbread Quest in the grounds and this took us up to the maze – great fun especially the exit via the grotto all decorated in shells, and on to the play area where the girls had a good run around. Although the music was a bit dramatic and frightened the girls :)

leeds castle grotto collage

There are a few eating places to choose from and many had bought snacks or picnics with them so you could make a great day of it.

Leeds Castle Christmas Market

leeds castle christmas market

Our journey back to the car park took us past the Christmas market and the fun fair. We bought 12 tokens for £10 and each ride was 2 tokens. The rides were long and the girls throughly enjoyed themselves. The market has lots of stalls selling all sorts of produce including wine, gin, cheese, slippers and jewellery. There are also food stalls and drink stalls with mulled wine and mulled cider.

Annual Tickets

All annual tickets grant repeat visits for a whole year from the date of issue, with the exception of special ticketed events, you can use your ticket to visit as many times as you like. Small additional charges may apply to activities at all events. Prices are valid until 31st March 2015.

Adults £24.00
Senior Citizens/Students & Visitors with Disabilities £21.00
Children (4-15yrs) £16.00
Infants (under 4yrs) FREE

Day Tickets

Day Tickets are only available to purchase until 4th January 2015.
Day Tickets can be upgraded to Annual Tickets at the full price of an annual ticket on the day of your visit at the Ticket Office. We do not provide a postal service for ticket upgrades & tickets cannot be upgraded online.

Adults £19.00
Senior Citizens/Students & Visitors with Disabilities £16.00
Children (4-15yrs) £11.00
Infants (under 4yrs) FREE

 

If you missed out on the Gingerbread trail which finishes on the 23rd December, don’t worry you can follow the Winter Trail until 4th January. Keep an eye on the website for future fun family events.

Disclosure: We were given Annual passes for the purpose of this post and many more to follow throughout the year. For the extra few pounds I would advise investing in an annual ticket and returning throughout the year. I will be.

Go Ape Leeds Castle

We were recently asked to go and visit Go Ape and report back on our findings. In case you haven’t heard of Go Ape it’s the most amazing tree top adventure and there are various sites around the UK, the closest one to us is Go Ape Leeds Castle so we set off for a 4.30 appointment and luckily for us it was a beautiful sunny day (good for photos).

Go Ape Leeds Castle

You drive into the grounds of Leed’s Castle and the Go Ape reception is right by the car park and very easy to find. We made our way over and were asked to sign forms and acknowledge all of the safety procedures.

I was able to leave my sunglasses and purse in a bag at reception to pick up later and I was asked not to take photos on my smartphone whilst in the trees, again for safety reasons – if it drops on someone below it would really hurt.

Go Ape Leeds Castle

So with my camera across my body and family in tow we made our way to the Junior Tree Tops starting point.

We were fitted out with harnesses and once again the Go Ape staff ran us through important safety procedures before allowing us to start the trail.

Dad and I decided to top and tail our party with the twins in the middle and dad led followed by Alice.

Go Ape Leeds Castle

We arrive at our first departure point and stretching out in front of us are two ropes linked with planks of wood, a wire to hold onto as you walk and the wire where your harness travels at shoulder height (it’s for kids after all) dad and Alice shoot off, Alice better at it and more confident than poor dad who has to ask her to slow down. Then it’s me and Bessie.

Bessie looks at it and freaks out, completely refusing to take another step, ‘I’m frightened mummy.’ ‘I don’t want to do it.’

We hadn’t even started yet and I wanted her to try so taking the first steps across, I led the way one hand holding hers the other holding on to the wire for dear life.

Go Ape Leeds Castle

It is a bit nerve wracking stepping out seeing the ground a long way off below you but I kept holding onto Bess and coaxing her across the rope bridge to the other side.

When she arrived I congratulated her and repeatedly told her how clever she was. she picked up and slowly slowly she gained confidence as we walked around. 

I noticed other mum’s having similar problems at various stages of the course but all managed to help their children out and complete the course.

Go Ape Leeds Castle

The course is made up of 3 loops, the first one is an easier course with wires to hold on to, specifically put there until you gain confidence.,for this reason you repeat the loop twice. In fact once Bessie had gained her confidence there was no stopping her.

The third loop is slightly more difficult with no wire to hold on to but we all managed.

The best part of course is at the end of each loop you get to zipwire down to the bottom. I was a bit scared first time round to let go and throw myself off the platform but I did and actually I loved it.

Go Ape Leeds Castle

Verdict

We loved it.

The girls unhooked at the end pleading to have another go. They couldn’t because we were the last customers of the day but they made us promise to take them back at some point.

We had a fantastic time and would thoroughly recommend the Go Ape experience. I think for first timers it’s best if the children are accompanied, I imagine next time we’ll be able to let the twins go alone, much to dad’s disappointment.

Costs £17.00 per child, same rate applies for accompanying adult.

there is also a more advanced Tree Top adventure for older kids.

All details here Go Ape

Disclosure: We were offered 1 adult and 2 children’s places for the purpose of this review

Go Ape Leeds Castle