Summer Holiday Fun with FriendsLast week we headed down to the Midlands for a few days of family fun. More on the first two days later but Friday evening saw us heading over to stay with ClearlyBex and family. Our boys are great friends and I knew we'd have a lot of fun together. Saturday dawned and we headed out for the day to somewhere that we last visited when Bud was just four months old. Almost exactly four years later we headed back to Blists Hill Victorian Town in Ironbridge to explore.
Blists Hill is very close to where Bex and her family so a short drive saw us arriving there, parking and changing some money in the bank for the full Victorian experience. There was a Meccano exhibition in full swing (did you know that Meccano was a Victorian invention?) and the boys headed into there straight away. There were some fantastic creations there, with the children particularly taken by a ferris wheel that could be turned using a small handle. Both boys were given their very own small Meccano set to take home too, it was a really great way to introduce children to this classic construction toy.
From there we headed down the main street, Bud was looking for animals as always, and we popped into some of the shops to look around too. The boys enjoyed spending 1 1/2d on two ounces of sweets at the well stocked sweet shop and all of the children enjoyed meeting Casey the Shire Horse too. Everything at Blists Hill attempts to be authentic so you won't see much electronic equipment, there's not even much of a mobile phone signal to reduce the authenticity!
Lunch was bought from the Victorian fish and chip shop and eaten in the pub beer garden, this was really lovely and we all enjoyed sharing fish and chips from paper. The chip shop sells fish and chips or chips, an easy decision to make! The next place we explored was the Victorian fairground with a ride on the self-powered wooden swings for Bud and Lewis and a ride on the Carousel for me, Bex and the girls.
The next attraction was something Ian and I have really fond memories of. We went on this when Bud was four months old and, despite it being pitch black in there for a time, and a few loud bangs, he fell asleep! He managed to stay awake for this ride though. There is an additional charge for the train ride which I do find irritating. An awful lot of the enjoyment of Blists Hill requires spending money and it isn't a cheap place to visit in the first place. I think charging the £2 each per adult, and £1 per children is unacceptable really.
Last time we visited the Incline Railway Lift was being worked upon and we couldn't use it. This time we got a chance though and it was fun to take the lift up and down the steep hill. Bex showed us a walk we hadn't seen on our first visit which took us to a huge canal incline which has been unusued for over a century. It's still in exceptional condition though!
With treats from the bakery and exploring everything else we missed we headed off to Ironbrige town to have our photo taken on the Ironbridge again. It was fun to recreate the last time we were there and you can see how much Bud has grown!
The Ironbridge area is a World Heritage Site and contains ten museums in the area. If you live close enough to visit regularly then you can buy an annual family pass which allows you to visit each museum as often as you like. We will definitely be back in the future.
We've been trying out some fab BN biscuits from McVitie's and took them along on a day out to try out. They are available in two flavours - chocolate and raspberry - and are a crunchy, chewy treat.
The big smiley face makes them a big hit with children and mine have enjoyed munching them very much. I think I will be buying them in future.
McVitie's have asked me to share my tips for Summer fun so here are my tips for enjoying a day out with friends.
1. Agree on a place to visit which everyone can enjoy - museums, theme parks and sites like Blists Hill are perfect for this as they will suit children at a range of ages.
2. Set a group budget - there's nothing worse than one family flashing the cash and your children complaining because money is a bit tighter. This was inescapable on our day out as Blists Hill doesn't have a cash machine so we had to pool resources!
3. Take lots of breaks - if you have younger children this is especially important as they can get tired easily, a few points to rest and relax will sustain them.
4. Take snacks - you might want to eat lunch out as we did but little ones need constant fuelling. The BN biscuits are perfect for this as they come in a cardboard sleeve which will help to protect them from being bashed in a bag or under the pushchair.
5. Manage expectations - the Blists Hill bank is perfect for this. The boys knew that they could spend the 'old pennies' they had and that would be it. This saves whiny children asking for more and helps little ones to learn about budgets too.
6. Plan your day - there are bound to be different things that different people in the group want to do. Make sure that if you do one thing for one child then, next time, another child gets to choose. Consider splitting into two groups and meeting up later if that would work better.
7. Have fun!
This post is an entry for 42 Days of Summer Linky Challenge sponsored by McVitie’s BN. Learn more at http://bit.ly/1mRpMCL