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Category: Travel, Holidays & Days Out

  1. My very honest review of Cotswold Wildlife Park

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    At the end of August I visited Cotswold Wildlife Park with the kids, my mum and sister. It’s a place that I’m familiar with and I’m sure I’ve been once per year since having the children. We have fond memories of going with my late mother-in-law and enjoying a picnic in front of the rhinos. It was at that moment we told her we were expecting another baby - Reuben. I’m sure we went a second time with Ben’s mum and we also went with my mum. Bella even went on a school trip there! In this blog post I will share my very honest review of Cotswold Wildlife Park.

    My very honest review of Cotswold Wildlife Park 5

     

    My very honest review of Cotswold Wildlife Park 3

    I even remember the first time I went with my husband Ben as we totally planned it wrong! Having been to a few other zoos and wildlife parks that only took a few hours to wander around, we decided to head to Cotswold Wildlife Park near to lunchtime. Big mistake! There was so much to see that we couldn’t fit it all in!  According to the website today it says they are home to one of the UK’s largest zoological collections.

    You can probably guess this is going to be a highly positive review as I’ve been so many times! I usually prefer to go somewhere once and then try somewhere new, but this is a place we like to return to every year as it’s such a wonderful family day out.

    There are so many animals to see. Bella absolutely loves the penguins and my favourites are the giraffes and wolves. The experience with the animals is very interactive. It’s possible to go up to head height with the giraffes to really experience them. For the wolves there’s a wooden bridge over their enclosure.

    My very honest review of Cotswold Wildlife Park 1

    My very honest review of Cotswold Wildlife Park 7

    The children’s farmyard is also great. It’s a petting zoo and you can even go in with goats! We have more great memories here such as a little perhaps two year old Bella clinging to Ben as she was scared of the Pygmy goats!

    One part of the park I love is the gardens, plants and flowers. It’s exceptionally maintained and always looks beautiful. I can always tell a lot is invested into the upkeep and it’s always spot on. Some gardens in similar attractions leave a lot to be desired, but at Cotswold Wildlife Park they are always on point. The cactuses and tropical flowers always stand out to me as well as the ginormous leaves which look larger than our three year old Reuben!

    For the kids there’s also a humongous activity playground which is hard to drag them away from! For around 50p each, if I remember that correctly or maybe one pound, we had a ride around the park on the Bella train! It’s actually called Bella!

    My very honest review of Cotswold Wildlife Park 6

    My very honest review of Cotswold Wildlife Park

    My very honest review of Cotswold Wildlife Park 4

    The park is always so clean and well maintained which definitely makes a big difference. We normally take a picnic, but there’s plenty of food options there with a large restaurant. 

    It’s a great family day out and I really can’t think of any recommendations for them or any negatives, which is rare.  I’ve barely even touched on the number of different animal exhibits, but visit their website for more information and to learn more: www.cotswoldwildlifepark.co.uk

     

    More honest reviews

    My Very Honest CBeebies Land Hotel Review
    Peppa Pig World Review 2017 (and where to stay for under £100 for 2 nights)
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    A Kid Free Weekend: Hot tub glamping and zip wire fun at Chepstow Quarry
    My Very Honest LEGOLAND Windsor Review
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    My very honest review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in the Cotswolds

    My very honest review of Cotswold Wildlife Park (1)

  2. My winter bucket list

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    It’s that time of year when we all start thinking of winter activities.  I’ve already done nearly all my Christmas shopping and it’s wrapped and waiting in our attic!  I love to be prepared and get the winter expenses out of the way as early as possible so we can enjoy a stress-free December without money worries.  We can then relax in December and take part in some activities and festive meals out knowing everything else is already paid for.

    I’ve been looking into Santa trips for the kids and want to try and book a local boat trip with Santa.  Every year I try and take them to see Santa in a different place!  Last year was on a steam train, the year before in Prezzo (he came and sat with us at our table!) and the year before was in a gypsy caravan at a local bird park!  Talk about variety!

    My winter bucket list - skiing

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    I do get very excited about winter and Christmas as I look forward to the children being excited leading up to the big day and on the day itself.  Wrapping up warm and cosy and eating delicious food in front of our log burner is also so fun. Plus Ben gets a few days off work and for me I have around a week with no work or very minimal work, so it’s the only time of the year I truly get to switch off and relax!

    Every year there are some winter activities that I want to do and still haven’t got round to doing!  Here are the winter type sports I really need to do:

    Skiing

    I have never ever been skiing!  We have a dry ski-slope in Gloucester and there are real indoor snow centres just under 2 hours away from us.  I’ve always been a little fearful of trying to ski as I fear I’ll just be rolling down the hill and not be able to get the hang of it!  I also can’t just go and try it out at any of these centres as you need to be able to ski before using the slopes.  So I’ll need an adult lesson, or pack of lessons, to get me started.  I don’t know if I’ll have time to schedule this in this year, but it is definitely on my bucket list!  Who knows, I could be an expert at skiing and I just don’t know!

     Image of three girls ski jackets from Simply Hike online outdoor gear websi

    Girls ski jackets from Simply Hike

    Soon the kids will even be old enough to try skiing, so I may even learn with them!  I’ve just been looking online and it is possible to book family ski lessons so this is definitely a fun activity for the future once Reuben is a year or so older.  Many centres also offer ‘learn to ski in a day’ type courses and they provide food too (this is a great Christmas present idea, hint hint).  All you need to do is turn up in some warm and waterproof clothes such as girls ski jackets, waterproof trousers and a war hat.  Then they’ll provide the equipment and then you’re on your way!

    Tubing

    Something that looks super fun at the ski-slopes, and doesn’t require any ski knowledge at all, is tubing - whizzing down the slope in a massive inflatable ring or ‘doughnut’!  They can be linked together so you can go down together as a couple or a family, or with your friends!  It looks so fun and I’m actually considering this for mine and Ben’s next kid-free date!

    Outdoor ice-skating

    I love ice-skating!  Ben and I went ice-skating this year on one of our dates and it was so much fun, though the place we chose was like a youth club and we were the oldest there!  But, for the past few years both Gloucester and Cheltenham have had outdoor ice rinks and we have totally missed them.  It’s not often we go to town and we usually have our children with us, so with Reuben only being three now he was always too young for us to partake in things like this.  I’ve no idea if the ice rinks will be back this year, but I really hope they are and we can plan a visit.  Bella, now six, might even fancy a go!

    Those are the three activities I really want to try this year or next.  Hoping I can tick off tubing and outdoor ice-skating this year.  I’ve just text Ben to ask if he wants to go tubing when my mum has the kids next which is October. 

    With childcare and some planning these activities should be pretty easy for us to arrange, aside from the ski lessons they are not too expensive.  However, I also have some dreamy winter bucket list ideas which do cost and arm and a leg, but hopefully one day we will make these happen:

    My winter bucket list

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    Visit Santa in Lapland

    Now, I’m not one for the cold at all, in fact I absolutely detest it, but one day I would love to take the kids and visit Santa in Lapland!  There are 3 or 4 night breaks available with the magic of Christmas at the heart of many tour operators.  There are real reindeer rides to go and meet Santa, husky sledding, toboggan fun, igloos to visit and more.

    See the Northern lights

    I would absolutely love to see the Northern Lights and this can be tied into a magical Santa Lapland trip in Finland or it can be arranged separately with one of the best places apparently in northern Norway to see the spectacle.  They look so magical – colourful whimsical beams and wisps of light across the night sky.  Some scientists predict they’ll fade over the next ten years, so we’d better plan this one soon so we don’t miss out.

    Not too big a bucket list for winter and I may be able to tick two off this year!

     

    Related

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     My winter bucket list

    Collaboration

  3. My very honest review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens

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    Today we were very kindly invited to Sudeley Castle and Gardens for the children to try their autumn trail and play in the adventure playground – a huge wooden fort!  The castle is located in Winchcombe so not far from us in Gloucester at all.  It’s within Gloucestershire and set amongst the picturesque Cotswolds.  In this blog post I will share my honest review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens.

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

     

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    I’ve been to the castle before, but too long ago to properly remember much about it.  I vaguely remember going as a child and again in my early twenties with a friend.  I rightly remembered this castle is more about the gardens and an exhibition, rather than being the castle itself that can be explored such as looking around dungeons, original rooms and climbing towers.  You are able to go in the castle, but to see the exhibition which is more like a museum of artefacts from the 15th century castle and lots of information about the various people who lived there, including being a royal residence of King Henry VIII and later lived in by his sixth wife Katherine Parr who is buried in its chapel.

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    I do find it all very interesting and I would have explored the exhibit more, but I had a three year old and six year old tugging on my arm to get outside to do the nature trail!  It would be great to somehow make the exhibit more entertaining for younger children, but perhaps they will enjoy it more once older.  Bella also found it a bit spooky!  To be fair, we didn’t see the whole exhibition as we exited perhaps half way through or so as the kids were so desperate to go outside, so I can’t comment on it fully.

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    We did have a great time exploring the gardens and doing the nature trail.  The autumn nature trail definitely gave the children something fun to do and allowed us adults to explore the gardens with entertained children!  They were so excited every time they located a bird box which contained a wildlife stamp for their autumn trail sheet.  There are ten stamps to find all around the gardens and an information card in each bird box about the wildlife that is on the stamp.  Amazingly the first stamp was of a dragonfly and as we started walking away a dragonfly flew right in front of us!  It couldn’t be more perfectly timed!

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    The gardens and the autumn trail definitely made our day. There are so many beautiful trees, plants and flowers to see, but also ponds filled with koi carp.  We all equally enjoyed the pheasantry and even spied a peacock resting on top of one of the aviary’s.  Sudeley works closely with the World Pheasant Association and currently houses 16 rare and endangered species of bird from around the world.  We spied some really beautiful pheasants with really striking colours.

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    The children’s day was probably made by the awesome adventure playground.  There is a brand new wooden fort which was completed in March this year.  It looks amazing and the kids loved climbing up the staircases to various levels, attempting the climbing wall and whizzing down the slides.  There’s also a zip line which is Bella’s favourite park activity right now, so she was in her element!  There’s a 10 piece obstacle course suitable for big kids and adults, as well as a smaller obstacle course for the little ones.  The kids had a blast running around and trying all the different wooden climbing frames and obstacles. 

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    Next to the adventure playground is ‘Lost in the Willow’ a living willow maze which is more like tunnels created from the leaning willows to run through and explore, finding the huge badger cleverly twisted out of sticks in the middle.  There are certainly a lot of outdoor things for the kids to get involved with at Sudeley to explore nature and learn more about wildlife.  Dotted around the gardens, paths and walks are several animals made from wood such as a deer, snail and elephant.  There are also a few metal sculptures to spot such as twisted leaves and snowy owls.  For the ages of my children, the outdoors was definitely a lot more fun and inclusive.

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    The castle also holds many events each year and we just happened to pick a day of the Classic Car Rally to attend.  We had no idea this would be on, so it was a surprise.  The kids loved looking at the cars too, even three year old Reuben who like the ‘nengines’ best!  I’m pretty sure my husband Ben enjoyed looking at all the cars too!

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    One event I haven’t been to, but I’ve heard great things, is their ‘Spectacle of Light’ event which looks quite amazing.  I searched the hashtag #spectacleoflight on Instagram for a peek and the entire castle grounds are lit up with light shows and displays all over the place.  It looks so magical for both adults and children so I’ll definitely pencil in a visit one winter.

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    Overall we had a lovely time at Sudeley and were glad we had the opportunity to visit.  The new adventure playground is spot on – the kids could quite happily play there all day!  The autumn trail was fun for the children to complete as we explored the castle grounds and Sudeley should definitely consider leaving a trail in place for the children all year round.  It’s currently only on this September to October.  I’d love to return one day and I think to make the most of a visit with children it’s best to coincide it with an event such as the Spectacle of Light or one of their many Halloween or Christmas craft workshops.

    Book tickets and find out more information here: https://sudeleycastle.co.uk/

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    A Kid Free Weekend: Hot tub glamping and zip wire fun at Chepstow Quarry
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    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th