Half Term Ideas – London Theatre Show

So half term is here and if your looking for something extra special to do last minute then check out Today Tix great priced tickets for top London Theatre Shows, I can highly recommend The Lion King 🦁 and so many others too, I currently have my eye on Frozen ❄️ maybe I should take my beautiful niece? 👸🏼

Bakewell Pudding or Bakewell Tart

The 17th century creation of the Bakewell Pudding was an accident when an order for a strawberry tart was mixed up by the cook when she spread of a layer of jam and then placed the egg mixture into the pastry before cooking. The mix up ended up being a huge success with a local entrepreneur acquiring the original recipe in order to commence a business of her own.

Mrs Wilson set up The Original Bakewell Pudding Shop and you can still visit and taste the amazing Bakewell Pudding today, why not take a seat at the restaurant, take one away or even receive one in the post.

Bakewell Tarts a variation on the pudding were a later 20th century creation. The pudding a buttery puff pastry case, topped with a layer of seedless strawberry jam and finished with a soft set custard of eggs, sugar and almonds against that of the tart with its sweet shortcrust pastry, layered with seedless strawberry jam, a pale fluffy frangipane sponge filling of eggs, almonds and sugar and finished with a layer of white fondant icing and half a glace cherry. The Mr Kipling Bakewell Tart would be the image many people have of a Bakewell Tart with many variations are now in existence, lemon, chocolate and too many more to list here. But trust me there are many fabulous ones available from so many other places.

So are you team Bakewell Pudding or Bakewell

Half Term Ideas – Muddy Puddle Jumping

February Half Term Ideas – time to get walking and maybe jumping in muddy puddles. It’s cheap it’s fun and the kids won’t forget it. I mean really let them have fun, go prepared take spare clothes a towel and don’t forget your wellies ❤️

Chinese New Year – The Year of the Tiger

Lasting up to 16 days with the first 7 considered being public holidays (January 31st – February 6th 2022) the Chinese New Year follows the Lunar Calendar. New Year celebrations close with the lantern festival on February 15th celebrating family reunions and society.

2022 is the Year of the Tiger the third animal in the 12 year cycle of animals in Chinese astrology. Tigers are said to be vigorous and ambitious, daring and courageous, enthusiastic and generous, self-confident with a sense of justice and a commitment to help others for the greater good.

Every Chinese New Year is one of five elements, water, wood, Fire, Earth and Meatal with 2022 year being water.

Now it’s time to move into the year of the Water Tiger….

Check out what animal you are:

Rat: 2020, 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972

Ox: 2021, 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973

Tiger: 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962

Rabbit: 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963

Dragon: 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964

Snake: 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965

Horse: 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966

Sheep: 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967

Monkey: 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968

Rooster: 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969

Dog: 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970

Pig: 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971

Half Term Ideas – Go for a Walk

Why not explore one of the fabulous walks in Kent, a few lovely ones are:

Samphire Hoe created by the Eurotunnel in 1997 is a lovely place to explore with the sea one side and the grassland the other often grazed by animals. With 200 species of plants and more than 200 species of birds it’s a haven for many and made from the discarded waste land material from the Eurotunnel; a total of forty five hectares of land was reclaimed from the English Channel utilising five million tons of spoil from creating the tunnels in the cliffs.

Brockhill Country Park with a lake, meadow, play area and picnic site its a great place for a walk. There is also a café if you would rather someone else take care of the refreshments.

Grove Ferry Picnic Site is nestled along the banks of the River Stour and the great location to start a walk. You can either explore the river banks or head to the Stodmarsh Nature Reserve which is just over the road. And if you’re  looking for some additional fun you could look to enjoy one of Canoe Wilds half term paddles.

Shorne Woods Country Park has a vast 292 acres of beautiful woodland, wetlands and meadows waiting to be explored. With trails to suit all levels it’s a great place for many to visit and boasting an eco-friendly visitor centre and restaurant you will be kept busy all day. There is also picnic and play areas to be enjoyed.

If your looking for a seaside walk Deal to Kingsdown is a lovely beach walk with space for cycling and walkers so you could even bring your bikes. Maybe you could enjoy a refreshing drink at the Zetland Arms Pub and there is often the ice cream van to be found along the way and some great fish and chip shops. The walk is easy to follow and parking is available at various places along the front at Deal and along to Kingsdown. Walk towards the beach and then follow the wide footpath/cycle path  along the beach.

So I’m going to wrap the walk ideas up as I could go on and on however I will add more places to walk in coming months. The ones above are ones that I enjoy going to over and over at different times of the year. If you follow my Instagram account I am always sharing places to walk.

If you would like some inspiration Explore Kent have some great mapped walks so take a look.

Half Term Ideas – Train Rides in Kent & Sussex

First in the February half term ideas is a train ride. Great for all weather a train ride in Kent or Sussex it’s an excellent day trip out exploring the hidden gems off the roads.

Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway the famous one third full size steam and diesel locomotives take you on a 13½ mile journey along the Kent coast and countryside ending at the only desert in Britain that is Dungeness; classified Britain’s only desert due to its dryness and spectacular lack of surface vegetation.

Bluebell Railway heritage railway runs through eleven miles of the stunning Sussex countryside boasting vintage steam locomotives and carriages. With so many amazing trips available from the roaming rover or the pullman dining packages. There is also half term ice skating sessions available – 12 – 27 February 2022 at Sheffield Park Station.

East Kent Railway a once industrial line the four mile round trip through the lovely scenic Kent villages of Shepherdswell and Eythorne is a relaxing fun journey for all. Note that trains only operate on Sundays. Update: trains aren’t running until Easter however the cafe is open Wednesdays Fridays & weekends.

Kent & East Sussex Railway  is a 10½ mile light railway that whistles you through the stunning countryside and also onto the beautiful Bodiam Castle so you could also have a castle visit too. Half term fun celebrates Waterbirds in the Wealden countryside and free children’s onboard activities.  

With so many more train journeys to be discovered in Kent, Sussex and across the UK I can’t fit them all here so I will share some more with you soon.

Scottish Burns Night

25th January 2022

Burns Night is a celebration of the life of Robert Burns, born in Ayrshire in 1759, Robert Burns is Scotland’s national bard (poet).

Auld Lang Syne is perhaps Burns’ most famous work and is one of the most widely sung songs of the English language, with many of us singing Auld Lang Syne on Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve).

Burns Night celebrations range in formality some much more relaxed than others but main parts would include:

Piping in the guests – to bagpipes or traditional music

Reciting of the Selkirk Grace – recited after the guests have entered the room and are seated at the table and before the haggis is piped to the table.

Some hae meat and canna eat,

And some wad eat that want it,

But we hae meat and we can eat,

And sae the Lord be thankit.

Piping in the haggis – guests stand to welcome the haggis to the table!

Toast to the haggis – honouring the most important ingredient of the meal

Time to enjoy the Burns Night meal

The ‘immortal memory’ – an account of the life of Robbie Burns, followed by Burns’s songs and poems often read by guests around the table.

Toast to the lassies – a traditional thank you to the women involved in the preparations (and a light-hearted homage to Burns’s love of women).

Finale is singing Auld Lang Syne.

And how about a traditional Burns Night Meal? This would include, Cullen skink, Haggis, neeps and tatties followed by Clootie dumpling. Why not try making your own Burns Night meal by using the these recipes. I think I will try making the Clootie dumpling this year.

Bishops Glen Reservoir

Travelling to London – Day Trips

I get asked a lot about how I travel to London so here are some tips for you if you’re going for a day trip to London.

Having used the train on many occasions and experiencing the rising costs I wanted to share with you alternative ways to that you can travel to London (I travel from Canterbury in Kent).

Drive, Park and Uber Boat – Park & Glide

This is a cost efficient way to take the family. You can purchase a ticket online for parking at the O2 car park 3 and the Uber Boat from Greenwich Pier. Included in the price is the River Roamer Ticket to hop on and off all day across all of the Thames Clipper Piers. It’s a great way to start exploring London along the River Thames – keep your eyes open for iconic landmarks.

Prices as of today are (17/01/2021):

Adults X 2 £36.70

Family 1 Adult + 3 Kids £33.00

Family 2 Adults + 3 Kids £39.50

Book your Park & Glide here.

Thames Clipper Boat Map

Drive, Park and Tube

Parking at the O2 is something that I have done many times, I normally used the Station Car Park but currently this is closed or was the last time I went a couple of weeks ago. You can still park in the O2 car parks they will just direct you to an alternative car park often the Car Park for events is used in the day. You will get a ticket as you enter the car park and pay on exit.

Parking at the O2 – non-event parking charges detailed at the bottom of the page.

A short walk to North Greenwich tube station where you can get your tube to anywhere you wish. Tube Map available here.

I use the Tube Map app to plan my journeys when I am in London.

There is now a emissions charge for vehicles that don’t meet the required standards to drive in London and surrounding areas (the area keeps expanding). So you will need to check if your vehicle meets emissions and safety standards required to drive in London, or if you need to pay a daily charge. The zone have extended and I would recommend checking each time you visit to avoid being caught out and receiving a penalty. Check your vehicle.

Hope that this helps, please just message me on Instagram if you have any other questions.  

Blenheim Palace at Christmas

Christmas at Blenheim Palace is something not to be missed. This was my first visit to Blenheim Palace and it out did all my expectations.

It was extremely well organised and they had good covid19 measures in place.

On arrival we took a look around the Christmas market; a selection of businesses set in the classic wooden huts selling their wares. We brought some delicious cheese which even though its November will keep, making them ideal Christmas presents. We also picked up some chutneys, preserves and loose tea. We then grabbed a beef pitta and rosemary fries to eat which was delicious.  

Before we started our Christmas experience we went off to take a look around the grounds of Blenheim in the daylight. The grounds are extensive and have many hidden gems not only the collection of ancient trees dotted around 2000 acres but the, formal gardens and the walled garden containing the maze, play area, butterfly house and more.

We then set out to explore each room of Blenheim Palace where the rooms had been beautifully set out as scenes from the Nutcracker. It was so very magical walking through the rooms, it felt like we were in a real life fairy tale.

As we left the palace, we picked up a drink and started our walk through the ‘After Dark Illuminated Trail’. With over a million glittering lights and lasers lighting the trail it’s truly spectacular, the colour changing roses, the atmospheric fire lanterns and festive sound tracks. Festive bars dotted are around to enjoy a drink and a stunning fire pit to toast marshmallows, they have thought of so many beautiful touches creating ever lasting memories for you and your family, I know we have created wonderful memories from their Christmas experience.

Get your tickets here.

We now have an annual pass we will be back again to explore more of Blenheim Palace and grounds in the near future.

Explore Llangollen

LLangollen is a fantastic area to take in the Welsh atmosphere, stunning scenery and the beautiful River Dee.

You can take a trip on the train, have a picnic by the river, take a walk with nature and look in the many independent shops in the small town.

There is an 11-mile canal corridor from Horseshoe Falls in Llangollen to Gledrid in Shropshire that crosses aqueducts, goes through tunnels and along viaducts and sits across two countries (Wales and England) with World Heritage status and mostly located in the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Standing at 39m high The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal World Heritage Site is only a short distance from Llangollen. The aqueduct took 10 years to construct (1795 – 1805) at a cost of £38,499. With 18 tapering stone piers and 19 arches it is a truly beautiful piece of engineering. Holding 1.5 million litres of water the aqueduct holds enough to fill 8,572 bath tubs!  

‘Pontcysyllte’ pronounced Pont – ker – sulth – tay, is the Welsh name for ‘the bridge that connects’

Walks

The Old Railway Walk at Trevor is a gentle 2-mile stroll in the Dee Valley taking in sites such as the natural rising spring Fynnon Oerog renowned for its ‘healing powers’.

Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail runs adjacent to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. At 177 miles passing through 8 counties and crossing the boarder between England and Wales over 20 times, Offa’s Dyke Path is a unique journey. Why not head on up and take a short walk along a section of the path, taking in the beautiful views.

Walk the LLangollen canal, easy to follow and plenty of beautiful views and nature to see. There is a selection of places along the canal where you can get a drink and an ice cream or if you’re looking for a meal you won’t have to venture far from the canal. Check out the Canal and River Trust website for more information on the Llangollen Canal Walk.

Boat Trips

Take a leisurely boat trip with Llangollen Wharf Horse-Drawn Boats one of the longest established visitor attractions in North Wales.

The Anglo Welsh have a delightful round trip across the 126 feet high Pontcysyllte Aqueduct with spectacular views across the Dee Valley.

Boat Hire

Maybe you would like to captain your own boat, with many companies offering reasonable hire rates this is a great way to explore the canals. A few hire boat options are:

Crest Narrowboats

 Anglo Welsh

Black Prince Narrowboats

Water Sports

Have your own paddleboard or kayak? Then head to Horseshoe Falls for a trip along the canal. Check out the Pontcysyllte Paddle the Right Way Leaflet for all the information you need.

Food & Drink

There is a lovely local selection of places to eat for all tastes and budgets:

The Chain Bridge Hotel – Dining

The Corn Mill

The Wharf Tea Room

Chatwins

Cottage Tea Rooms & Bistro

This is only a small selection of eateries with plenty more for you to get discovering.

Places to Stay

Looking for somewhere to stay? Here are a few options:

The Chain Bridge Hotel

The Hand Hotel

The Wild Pheasant Hotel & Spa

Gales of Llangollen

Airbnb

So why not get planning your trip now, I know that I will be making another visit again this year, why not follow my Instagram account to follow my travels.

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