Warwick Castle And The Knight’s Village

If you are looking to visit a castle this Summer, then you really need to take a trip to Warwick. Without doubt, Warwick Castle is one of the finest examples of an habitable castle in Britain, with beautiful state rooms, rising towers and battlements that you can climb and enjoy, and expansive grounds which, this summer, are housing a War of the Roses jousting arena and  a Horrible History play. Warwick Castle is a magical, mystical place that has over a 1000 years of history attached, and is a wonder for adults and children alike. And, what is even more exciting is that you can now stay in the Knight’s Village and expand your castle experience into an overnight stay.

The Knight’s Village

The Knight’s Village is set in the grounds of Warwick on the bank’s of the river Avon. The village is made up of Knight’s Lodges and glamping tents, and has it’s own car parking area and reception. The village also has a banqueting hall where you eat breakfast, and can also book in for dinner if you decide you want to eat onsite, although Warwick town is only a short walk away (around 10 minutes) and the helpful staff will recommend places to eat in the town.

The whole Village is wonderfully landscaped, with lodges all clearly numbered and easy to get to. Each lodge is warm and cosy, with central heating for days when the weather is not so good. We stayed in lodge 127, which had a double bedroom and a room with bunk beds, plus an extra pull out bed for the children. The lodges also have a bathroom/wetroom with a shower. Toiletries from Elemis are provided, as well as plenty of soft clean towels. The feel of the lodges is that they have been built to a high spec, and feel luxurious. There are tea and coffee making facilities in each room, as well as gorgeous ginger and chocolate cookies and shortbread – a really lovely touch.

What I really loved about the lodge was the little touches that added to the medieval experience. Above the double bed was a shield and ornamental swords that just fascinated the children. In the children’s bedroom was a Bayeaux style tapestry that virtually covered one wall. There were also objects of Hunter’s regalia and coats of arms in the room, giving the lodge an authentic feel.

In addition to the decor of the lodge, the grounds are just so idyllic and beautiful, with acres of grass giving a safe place for children to play games. Each lodge also has a terrace area where you can sit and relax, watching the sun going down on the River Avon.

But it is not all about peace and quiet. Each evening there are displays and entertainment along the banks of the river. Knight’s fighting duels with swords and axes, Princess school where you can learn about deportment and curtseying, and old fashioned toys and games to practice. There are archery lessons and lots of photo opportunities with the dashing knight’s. It is old fashioned fun and we loved it.

To find out more about a stay at the Knight’s Village, click here.

Warwick Castle Summer Fun

There is just so much to do with Warwick Castle. The inside of the castle is full of history and stories of the famous owners and inhabitants, from Warwick the KIngmakes, Fulke Greville and Henry the VIII. The Great Hall is truly magnificent, with suits of armour that delight young children. The Time Tower is a great way to learn about the history of the castle, from it’s early beginnings as a Fort belonging to Ethelfleda, the Lady of the Mercians, to modern times under the ownership of the Tussauds group.  For younger children, the Princess Tower lets children solve a puzzle, this is perfect for the under 8s.

Horrible History

One of the most popular areas with children is the Horrible History maze. You collect a book in order to collect the stamps at each different section of history. Each area has a reminder of horrible history, from a Viking ship, to Tudor stocks, right up to the trenches of World War one. Once you have collected the stamps you can then collect your reward from the Courtyard Shop.

The Horrible History theme continues with the Horrible History show, an hilarious look at the life and times of Warwick with appearances from Louis Walsh and Keith Lemon, along with rap, dance and very funny sketches.

The War of the Roses Jousting

A definite highlight this Summer is the War of the Roses joust which takes place in a specially built arena. You chose your side, from the Yorkists and Lancastrians, and then learn all about the key battles and characters of the Wars, from Richard III to Margaret of Anjou, from Henry Tudor to Elizabeth of York, all the time watching the exhilarating jousts which feature real feats of bravery, from flaming jousts, to riders who hang from their horses just attached by their stirrups. The joust is amazing entertainment, and a glorious history lesson all in one.

Food

The grounds are perfect if the day is sunny and you want to take a picnic, but if not the pizza and pasta restaurant is great. Set within the castle itself, the restaurant is self service buffet style, and hot and soft drinks are also included in the price. The staff are friendly and helpful, and were more than happy to provide plain pasta for my niece when we requested this.

Warwick Castle is the perfect family fun day out, with so much to do and learn. Definitely a one to visit this Summer.

To find out about admissions, opening times and events at Warwick Castle this summer, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Safe and Affordable Days Out For The Summer Hols

The English School holidays are just around the corner, with my boy Joe breaking up in just over a week’s time. I personally love the six weeks holiday, a chance to get to spend some real quality time with my boy, but have to admit that it can be a really expensive time. Theme parks, the cinema and general days out do not come cheaply, and has you have six weeks to fill, you may find that you bank balance looks decidedly unhealthy at the end of it. Fortunately, there are some activities and places that you can visit that won’t break the bank.

Visit your local park and playground

All kids love to spend time in a children’s playground, and if it one that has climbing frames, activity trails and outdoor exercise equipment, so much the better. A lot of money has been spent on council run, local parks, and many now have a great range of activities that you can use or free. We love to use both Cannock Park and Brunswick Park in Wednesbury which have activity panels, a great range of swings and slides, and also have soft surfaces  and fantastic playground solutions that can make those little playground accidents a little less dangerous. Another great option in the Midlands is the beautiful Baggeridge Country Park, which is full of natural beauty, with large lakes that you can fish for newts and tadpoles, great walks and a lovely playground.

Go Swimming

There are some amazing pools that have slides and lazy rivers, splash pools and larger pools for serious swimming, but these can be expensive. However, you can also use your local pools and have just as much fun. Take your rubber ring, your beach ball and your floats to a local leisure centre, many of them offer free swimming for children, and some will even have special days with inflatables, so you need to grab yourself a timetable. Leisure Centres also offer other activities including free tennis lessons. (You can find out more about the free sessions here.)

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Find a free town trail

Taking your children into town during the holidays can fill parents with dread. Expensive trips around the shops are not ideal when you are trying to stick to a budget, but there are other ways to fill your time in town centres, There are a lot of town trails going on this summer, not least the Wolves in Wolves trail, where you collect your map and search for the 30, beautifully painted wolves that will be on display around the city of Wolverhampton.

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Dinosaurs in the Wild – a trip back in time at The NEC

Last night I traveled back 67million years in time to Time Base 67, a groundbreaking research facility that is finding out all that needs to be known about the Cretaceous period, and the dinosaurs that roamed and ruled the world. No, I haven’t gone mad, I’m talking, of course, about ‘Dinosaurs in the Wild’ a groundbreaking mixture of show, theme park and hands on experience that will open at the Birmingham NEC this weekend, and is sure to be the hit of the Summer with both adults and children alike.

Dinosaurs in the Wild is an experience that is so real you could almost believe you have traveled back in time. A mixture of CGI effects, animatronics and real life actors playing the part of scientists, lab workers and tour guides, you are taken through lots of different stages relating to dinosaurs, from a lab where you can examine dino dung for teeth and bone fragments, to a dinosaur autopsy which is funny rather than too gruesome. You meet dinosaurs who are nocturnal, farting and snoring whilst they sleep, and see dinosaur eggs being looked after prior to hatching, even meeting a newborn pterodactyl.

 

The whole attraction is well thought out, and there are so many things to see, which is why, even at 70 minutes long, you could still go back and keep noticing things.  The attraction works well at suspension of belief, with safety films telling you to be careful at windows (if you can see a dinosaur it can certainly see you etc, etc), and even the 3d glasses are described as radiation glasses, with a warning you must put them on immediately when told. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the piece de resistance, the viewing platform where you see the dinosaurs in their natural environment. It is very lifelike and doesn’t shy away from the true reality of nature, a rather cute baby triceratops being eaten shocked me, although the kids in attendance didn’t seem to mind so much.

I don’t want to give too much away, but Dinosaurs in the Wild is very, very good, a definite must visit for the upcoming school holidays.

With Nina Wadia from Eastenders and The Kumars

With Donna Air

Dinosaurs in the Wild, Hall 2, Birmingham NEC

24th June – 23rd August

Click here for more information and tickets.