A journey to health and wellness

I’ve written previously about how I lost a sense of self over lockdown. A year of sitting at home with nothing to do but bake really had an impact on my waist line which in turn had an impact on my identity.

As the world tentatively re-opened I decided I needed to turn things around and completely overhauled my lifestyle. I started at home with thirty days challenges for myself. Some based on fitness and others on my mental health, and some just for fun. I also began to change the way I eat and incorporated exercise in to my routines.

Then the summer holidays arrived and all routine went out of the window. With a four year old snack monster it would have been easy to slip back in to old habits and I certainly struggle to find time to head to the gym but I was set a little challenge by the team at Everyone Active. We participated in their week long everyone is family challenge – designed to promote health and wellness and make it fun for all the family.

There are four different week long programmes you can choose to participate in, each with a range of activities designed to make it fun for families to engage in sports and healthy activities together, at your local leisure centre or even from the comfort of your own home.

We chose our activities together from the adventure programme (of course) and decided to attempt a family swim session first of all. Arlo and Paloma are both aged 4, Lincoln is 6 and Logan is 9 so it’s been a challenge finding activities this summer which are appropriate and engaging for all of them to enjoy, but they all love the water so it was a great place to start.

On our first visit to the leisure centre we noticed the clip and climb walls and not being the type of kids to shy away from a challenge they insisted we book in for a session. With even the little ones feeling confident and wanting to brave the heights. There’s nothing more energising than getting to the top of a wall! We had a great time cheering each other on and conquering the heights.

This week we have also been participating in fun together outdoors – the activity planner suggested a bike ride but I couldn’t get four in the car to take to the park so we opted for scooters instead – the beauty of these activity plans is that they’re flexible and can be adapted to suit your family. We have been touring our local area and enjoying open spaces. I wear my fit bit and keep an eye on my step count so even if I can’t get to the gym I know I can hit my 10,000 step target which is easily achievable when chasing after these kids.

Of course I managed to squeeze in a couple of hours for myself, and I’ve been doing group exercise classes. I find working out in classes to be really motivating, I always want to finish the sets and pull another rep out of the bag when I see other people beside me putting the work in. I’ve been attending group classes since gyms’s opened their doors back in May and the support from others attending the classes is incredible too. It can be really intimidating attending a class for the first time but my advice is always to just go for it.

After all of this activity it seemed only fair to book in to visit the spa at Bromsgrove Leisure Centre, purely to give the place a thorough review. A couple of hours to myself relaxing and enjoying a treatment is just what I need after all of that hard work!

Everyone Active has leisure centres across the U.K. with a full schedule of family friendly activities and adult workout out classes to enjoy this summer holiday – and beyond. Check out your local leisure centre and find out what’s on, you could start your own family challenge, get the kids active and start your wellness journey.

Membership provided for the purposes of review however all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.


Take a walk with us around Bittell Reservoir

This secret beauty spot is on the very edge of Birmingham, I consider the canals at the Hopwood to be the border, I don’t know if that’s official or not but we always used to cross the canal and joke “now we’re in Brum, and now we aren’t” because when I was a kid it was the furthest I went on bike rides without parents. Now it’s a space that I love to take Arlo, especially through lockdown because I loved that it didn’t have a play area and we had no end of issues walking past those in our local parks when they were all taped up.

You’re unlikely to encounter crowds of other people as this space is really outdoors. There’s no cafe or toilet facilities so I suggest beginning and ending at either the Hopwood pub or one of the pubs in either Barnt Green, or thr Lickey Hills which gives you great free parking, and the chance to get food, a drink and use the loos. If it’s been raining recently then west suitable boots / wellies as this walk takes you along trails and bridle paths.

Our favourite spot to begin is where the waterways walk meets the Lickey Hills Trail and we wander along the road beside the streams and fishing pools, it’s a delight to spot the nesting swans, and eventually the cygnets ad they hatch. Just behind the water are rolling fields full of sheep and as you get to what appears to be a dead end you find a green gate and you might meet a cow or two.

At this point in time you can choose to go left or right, left takes you up towards the reservoir which has an open expanse of water behind a tall dam so do not let children run ahead! Or you can choose to go right along the bridle path. We usually go right and follow the muddy path. At first you feel as through you’re walking in the woods and a small stream sits alongside the path which is perfect for splashing.

On the left of the path is some beautiful woodland and at the right time of year you can spot a sea of bluebells which remain untouched as the woodland is private and can’t be trampled through, unlike most other bluebell woods, so it’s a sight to behold. Then eventually the path brings you out to walk beside the lower Bittel Reservoir, access to walk around it is gated off, however at various points along this path you can pause and view local wildlife – we have spotted Egrets from this spot.

At the end of this bridle path you can decide how tired your legs are. If you want to continue on then you can follow the full Barnt Green Waterways route which is a 5km wander through countryside, and back up and around round the lower reservoir however if you’re accompanying little legs are tired then you can take a shortcut here and walk up the Bittell Farm road to your right (observing the traffic) and then head straight back up to the Upper Bittell reservoir. If you started at the Hopwood then you’ll be beginning your route here.

From the road you can get good views to both stretches of water and then eventually take a left opposite the farm house. You’ll spot chickens, sheep and llamas in the field and know when to take the turn, and then wander up a trail past the animals, eventually finding the horses in the field and getting a great view across the railway line and beyond. There’s plenty of grassy space here to enjoy a snack stop too.

You climb over the stile and head down a pathway to come back down to the reservoir and the view across the water which greets you is always phenomenal. This is by far one of favourite places to wander in Birmingham because there’s just so much for little ones to experience. Every time we visit we encounter something new – from a new plant species to identify or a friendly cat from the farmhouse following us along the trail. There’s just something so fabulous about being outdoors and we feel so lucky to have this wonderful place on our doorstep.

The best parks in and around Birmingham for nature walks

When you’re half way in to the summer holidays and running out of ideas for things to do then a trip to the local park is the easiest thing to organise. Take a backpack with your lunch and some water, pop the bike or scooter in the car boot and away you go. You can keep kids amused for hours outdoors, especially if there’s a play area but we enjoy going a little off the beaten track and finding places to explore nature, especially after our trip to the theatre to see Sarah and Duck last week Arlo has been requesting to feed the ducks every morning.

I’ve collated a list of our favourite places to visit and I’ve printed off a selection of RSPB resources from twinkl.com which we use on our adventures, usually scavenger hunts and bird spotting sheets work best but you can find practically anything to suit your trip, we can spend all day outdoors and most of the time Arlo doesn’t want to come home.

Twinkl are offering a 6 month Ultimate account worth approximately £50 to one lucky entrant! Twinkl is a digital resource library offering over 750,000 educational resources that support parents and teachers across practically all subjects and age-groups. Thousands of these are available at no cost but, with an Ultimate subscription, you can unlock Twinkl’s full range of materials including their interactive games, 3D AR models and even receive printed original eBooks sent straight to your door.

Terms and conditions apply – This giveaway is live until midnight on 31st August. The winner will be selected at random.

Twinkl have created a family staycation guide with resources linked to places to visit all across the U.K. Middleton Lakes which is the closest site to me are featured and Twinkl are working alongside the RSPB with resources crated for The wild challenge, which is a great way to keep kids busy. The idea is you complete nature related challenges, upload pictures as ‘evidence’ after registering on the RSPB website and then earn your medals. Tap the infograph below to find out more.

Your evidence can be photographs or even examples of your children’s art work, and twinkl resources are perfect prompts – you can get creative and enjoy making memories together. There’s minibeast hunts, rockpooling guides, snail art and all sorts of fun project inspiration.

You can complete most of the activities by exploring parks close to home, hence I’ve created a lost of some of the best parks in Birmingham which is full of hidden green spaces if you know where to look. You can have a grand outdoor adventure in the middle of the city, its not just about feeding the ducks.

Whilst I’m here, bread isn’t the greatest thing for ducks so stick to small quantities and try taking out oats with you instead. I always keep a box in my car boot so we can take a pit stop whenever we pass a duck pond.

Without further a do, here’s our top parks in and around Birmingham for you to explore:

1. The Leasowes

Postcode: B62 8DH

Free parking here on site, with a small play area and plenty of open space to explore. Woodlands, grasslands, streams and lakes. This site is a designated site of scientific interest and a must visit. No toilet facilities available.

2. Sutton Park

Postcode: B74 2YT

Parking is free (various sites)

Sutton Park is a huge National nature reserve and you could live in Birmingham your whole life and still not have the chance to explore it all. Feeding the ducks is great fun but if you’re lucky you might spot wild grazing horses too!

3. Cannon Hill Park

Postcode: B13 8RD

Car park: fees charged (pay via RingGo app)

This park in central Birmingham is easily accessible via public transport and home to two pools, with swan boats for hire. There are play areas and other paid for activities such as mini golf, a fun fair and a train.

The MAC is on site with a cafe and toilet facilities for users.

4. Edgebaston Reservoir

Postcode: B16 9EE

Car parking is free on site.

There’s a surfaced 2k route around making this ideal for scooters and pushchairs. The Edgbaston Watersports Activity centre is on site for more high octane adventures.

5. Earlswood Lakes

Postcode: B94 5RZ

These are for more of a natural experience, the trails around the lake can be quite uneven and muddy but here is the place to spot a greater variety of wetland birds and take great photographs.

6. Chase Water

Postcode: WS8 7NL

An environmentally friendly attraction that includes a visitor centre, lakeside cafe, activities such as wake-boarding, sailing, water skiing, nature walks and nearby heritage steam railway

7. Rowheath Pavillion

Postcode: B30 1HH

Parking free.

One of our favourite local parks with a beautiful small pool to wander around and an expansive lawn behind the pavilion for picnics. They have a brand new natural woodland themed play area which is great for clambering on. Every weekend you can find street food vendors serving an array of treats, and there’s a licenced bar and cafe on site too. Toilet facilities are available in the sports block.

8. Bittell Reservoir

Postcode: B45 8BH

On street parking (please respect the local community). It’s easier to start a walk from Barnt Green station and follow the North Worcestershire Path. This is a country route and not suitable for prams and can get very muddy. This reservoir is the home of the Barnt Green Sailing club and there’s public walkways around one side of the reservoir and then up and around country trails. You’re out on your own here with no toilet facilities etc so plan ahead. It’s worth the effort for the views and the wildlife. Read our walkthrough here.

9. The canals

The network of canals throughout Birmingham provides ample opportunity to find ducks and maybe even go fishing – it’s a different way to get from one place to another and see the city wandering along the towpaths. You could try going from the Mailbox to Broadstreet right in the City Centre, or head out to places like Alvechurch Marina. Some areas are nicer than others, plan your routes ahead.

10. Arrow Valley

Postcode: B98 OLJ

Parking is free. This park in Redditch has just added a brand play area which Arlo loves. There’s also gym/exercise equipment and fabulous trails around the lake to enjoy a leisurely stroll or a fast paced jog. The park often hosts funfairs and other events too. There’s a cafe and toilet facilities on site.

11. Sanders Park

Postcode: B61 7JP

Bromsgroves most beautiful park, with a great play area, duck pond and skate park plus cafe and toilet facilities. There’s a bandstand which often hosts events, a bowling green and tennis courts available to hire too.

12. The Vale

A small pond nestled amongst the student Village in Edgbaston, on Edgbaston Park Rd. There’s no designated parking but if you’re local or happen to be visiting the city this is a nice outdoor space to explore, and I’ve even been down to rescue a lost parakeet in this area so you might get lucky and find some more tropical birds to add to your lists.

13. Edgebaston pools

Postcode: B15 2RT

Accessible via paid entry to WinterBourne House and Gardens, so this isn’t a free day out but a nice trip to take, maybe with grandparents who would enjoy the beautiful gardens too.

14. Bournville Boating Pond

Postcode: B30 1QS

On street parking available. This small pond is home to the local model boat sailing club which meets most Sunday’s and its a sight to behold. A great spot to pause and feed the ducks, and have a stretch of the legs especially if you’re visiting nearby Cadbury World. If you’re around in the evening you might spot the local herons too. No cafe or toilet facilities.

15. Sandwell Valley

Postcode: B71 4BG

Parking: small charge

This vast expanse of woodland offers plenty to explore, with lakes perfect for spotting nesting herons in the spring if you head off the beaten track. There’s Forge Mill Farm on site along with huge play areas, a splash pad and plenty of activities to enjoy.

16. Kingsbury Water Park

Postcode: B76 0DY

Parking: £4.50 all day

A vast area of multiple lakes to explore – to get around I recommend hiring bicycles which are great fun. There’s the Echills Wood Railway, two huge play areas and a visitor centre and cafe with toilets on site too.

Other places to explore in and around Birmingham are:

Cofton Reservoir, Cofton Hackett, B45 8GW

Thimblemill Pool, Thimblemill Road, Smethwick, B67 5RG

River Rea, Mill Lane, Northfield, Birmingham, B31 2RT

Moor Pool, Moor Pool Ave, Birmingham B17 9HN

Shard End Lake in Norman Chamberlain Playing Fields, Kendrick Ave, Shard End B34 7SA

Sarehole Mill, Cole Bank Rd, Hall Green B13 0BD

Valley Parkway, Bournville Ln, Birmingham B30 2HP

Frankley Reservoir, Birmingham B32 4BN

Beacon Park, Swan Road, Lichfield WS13 6QZ

Swan Pool, West Bromwich B71 4BQ

Fradley Pool Nature Reserve, Alrewas, Burton-on-Trent, DE13 7DN

Ryton Pools Country Park, Ryton Rd, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Coventry CV8 3BH

Holly Wood Nature Reserve near Great Barr, B43 6EA

Meriden Park, Moorend Ave, Chelmsley Wood, B37 5TB

Malvern and Bruetons Park, Warwick Rd, B91 3HA

Elmdon Park, Tanhouse Farm Road, Solihull, B92 9EY

Bourne Pool, Wheats Garden Centre, Chester Rd, WS9 0PW

New Hall Valley Country Park, Wilde Green Rd, B76 1NL

Plantsbrook Local Nature Reserve, Eachelhurst Rd, B76 1DZ

Witton Lakes Park, Gipsy Lane, B23 7AS

Swanshurst Park, Yardley Wood Rd, B13 0TB

Newbridge Farm Recreation Ground, Yardley Green Rd.

Kingfisher Country Park, Cole Valley Rd, B28 0DG

Ward End Park, Ward End Park Rd, B8 3PH

Trittiford Park, Priory Rd, B28 0TB

Moseley Bog, Wake Green Rd, B13 9YP

Moseley Park, Alcester Rd, B13 8HJ

Pype Hayes Park, Chester Rd, B24 0NR

Grove Park, Harbourne Park Rd, B17 0BJ

Kings Heath Park, Vicarage Rd, B14 7TQ

Handsworth Park, Holly Rd, B20 2BY

Perry Park, Perry Avenue, B42 1RP

Kings Norton Park, Pershore Rd South

Small Heath Park, Coventry Rd, B10 0PL

Manor Farm Park, Bristol Rd South, B31 2AB

Brookvale Park, Park Rd, B23 7YT

Lifford Reservoir (off tunnel lane) B30

Salford Park, Lichfield Rd, B6 7SS

Shenley Fields, Shenley Fields Rd, B29 5AL

Lickey Hills, Warren Lane, B45 8ER


Family days out for a tenner in Birmingham

We are deep in to the summer holidays and I’m already on the hunt for days out which don’t cost the earth and keep the kids busy. Arlo is four now and I can no longer take advantage of “kids under three go free” – we’ve visited all of our local parks for play areas and scooter rides which are a great free day out (aside from car parking). We also have some big trips to look forwards to but it’s nice to be able to pack a lunch and head out and about for a little adventure without breaking the bank. Heres a selection of our favourite things to do which come in at less than a tenner per child!

1. RAF Cosford

It’s free to book a visit – select your time slot on the website. Just pay £5 for parking, it’s an additional £5 for the 4D cinema experience. 40 mins drive from central Brum this is an awesome day out and fun for all the family.

2. Bowling and a Burger

Ten Pin Bowling at Star City is offering a summer holiday deal which includes one game of bowling AND a burger with a side of chips for £5 which is an absolute bargain!

3. Thinktank

Okay tickets are £10.25 but for this you get access to Mini Brum, the science garden and four floors of exhibits which will take you all day to explore. You can’t say fairer than that!

4. Catch a movie

Check your local cinemas for kids showings, my local cinemas have some great offers:

  • Cineworld – movies for juniors £2.50
  • Vue – mini mornings £2.49 (book online)

5. Conkers

This outdoors adventure playground is great for kids with mountains of energy. Kids tickets are £7 and you can spend all day with the enchanted forest play zone, the tree top walk and there’s even an indoor interactive zone for when rain halts play

6. Umberslade Adventure

Another outdoorsy activity – this playground in the middle of the forest has a low ropes course, a commando course, zip lines, a dedicated den building area and ply areas for little ones all for £7. You can choose to participate in additional activities on site for a small extra fee.

7. Mini golf

Adventure Mini Golf at Star City is £5 for under 5’s and £8.50 for over’s, or head to Mr Mulligans at Broadway Plaza for a weekday round of twelve holes for £6.50. Tree Top adventure golf in the city centre starts at £4.50 and they have a 2 for 1 offer on at the moment.

8. Fun on the farm

There’s lots of different animal themed attractions in around the Midlands, check out my recent blog here with details of our top ten children’s farms to explore. Forge Mill at Sandwell Valley is a great value mini visit, where you can feed the animals in the yard – adults £3 and kids £2.50 and then of course explore the parks and surrounding lakes for the cost of a car Park ticket.

9. Bounce

There are a variety of trampoline parks around the city but for a really fun experience then the inflatables are called for – check out Inflatanation which is £9.99 or Infla Ninja for a glow in the dark experience at £8.99.

10. Stay Cool at the snow dome

When the weather outside gets unbearably hot then head to the snow dome to cool off. Entry to the snow fun park is £9.50 for kids and adults are from £4.95 and they also do parent and tots sessions for under 4’s which are £12.

We hope you find your own fabulous adventures, share your experiences with us on social media by tagging us on Instagram or Facebook and if you have any more suggestions let us know and we can add them to the blog!

For free days out to explore nature check out my guide to parks in Birmingham here

Sarah and Duck at the outdoor amphitheater

The Mac has done it again. Our first experience of live theatre in over a year was simply delightful. We were transported in to the whimsical world of Sarah and Duck, the BAFTA award winning children’s show for an hour on a summer afternoon. The setting for this performance is the outdoor amphitheatre at the MAC in Cannon Hill park which is just perfect because you can meet ducks before and after the show walking around the pools in the park. Click here to book your tickets this weekend.

Just before the show started we had the chance to read a book we bought from the merchandise on offer which included several of the story books and of course plushie versions of Sarah and Duck themselves.

The performance features all of the much loved characters recognisable from the books and tv show, even the flamingo and they’re all bought to life through skilled puppetry, designed by Lauren McEwen. Seeing how the stage props came together was magical in itself, turning the construction of the big top circus in to a song and seeing it spring in to life was like watching masterful design in action. The attention to detail was incredible and nothing went unnoticed by Arlo. Transforming the stage set in to a zoo to meet the penguins, and then back to the big top after a huge gust of wind blew it over, and then back to the park bench was masterful.

The show was engaging throughout, set at just the right pace for pre-schoolers. Continued repetition of words and phrases, sing along moments, a and audience participation kept Arlo occupied and interested in the storyline. I’m surprised at just how many references to the show the writers Pete Glanville and Sarah Gomes-Harris managed to include. If you love Sarah and Duck then you’ll know what I mean when I say the moon and the ribbon sisters were spot on!

The Mac always hosts great performances and the opportunity to experience a show in the amphitheatre doesn’t come around often, so head over this weekend – the performance is outdoors so be prepared with sun cream and/or waterproofs as it’s so unpredictable.

The Sarah and Duck show is on tour so head to their website to check out if they’re coming to your town.

Ten children’s farms worth visiting in the Midlands

Are you looking for childrens farms in the West Midlands? Here’s a selection of some of our favourite places to visit farm animals in and around Birmingham.

1. Attwell Farm Park

Attwell Farm Park is relatively new on the scene but it’s been a favourite of ours for a while. A beautiful farm park in Worcestershire. There are the usual range of farm animals to meet and greet outdoors and in their huge barn, plus there’s a cow shed and a barn outdoors with smaller animals such as bunnies and pigmy goats. The reason Arlo loves Attwell Farm Park is because of the extras, they have a huge bouncing pillow, a decommissioned fire engine and a newly revamped outdoor play area – plus indoor soft play, ride on tractors and a giant sandpit in the play barn. A small on-site cafe serves a delicious array of well priced snacks too.

2. Umberslade Farm

Umberslade farm was one of the first we ever visited. They host animal talks throughout the day which are announced with a ringing bell. The farmyard pigs have the funniest names and the barn is home to lambs and calves which you can feed at the right time of year. My personal favourite is the shire horses, whereas Arlo loves the ponies because he had a trekking experience (book separately) as a Christmas treat last year. They have a wonderful indoor play area which is made from natural wood and a brillInt outdoor park area with climbing frames for all ages. The on-site cafe serves food and hot drinks too. Make sure you head out past the duck pond to greet the chickens and say hello to Curly Sue, Umberslade Farms oldest pig. If you fancy a long walk the Estate has very scenic views.

3. Hatton Country World

This is one of the more expensive family farm days out in the Midlands but it’s a worth visiting, especially around Easter time when it’s lambing season and all the baby chicks are around to meet too. When it comes to animals there’s no shortage of creatures, with snakes lizards and exotic animals as well as the usual farmyard animals. My favourite event is the sheep grand national which is thoroughly enjoyable to watch, and Arlo loves the bird of prey shows and experiences.

Hatton is also home to a shopping village and hosts regular events such as the drive in movies and arts and crafts faulted throughout the year.

4. Oak Tree children’s Farm

Oak Tree farm in Walsall is a low cost alternative, it’s £3 for a little bucket of animal food, it’s the kind of place to spend a couple of hours on a quiet afternoon, with a small play area and plenty of room for a picnic and treats from the cafe available.

5. Forge Mill Farm

This little farmyard is based on the Sandwell Valley site and is just that, a small yard with the usual farm animals but in the most beautiful Victorian setting. Adults entry is just £2, kids £1.50 and under 2’s are free. You can buy bags of animal food for under £1 and wander around as many times as you like. We like to spend about an hour here before trekking across the bridge and around Sandwell Valley Country Park and the Swan Lake.

6. Bodenham Arboretum

Okay so this isn’t a place where the children’s farm is the main attraction, but in the middle of the grounds there’s a working farm yard and so you can enjoy a lovely wander around the pools and through the “deep dark woods” before meeting the cows, chickens and donkeys and heading back towards the main pool to spot the fish and ducks.

7. Rays Farm

This is a little further out for us but a wonderful place to explore. The goat pen is a must – if you crouch down they will jump on your back. Rays farm has owls and a giant sandpit but the feature which sets Rays Farm apart is the woodland walk, which features the most beautiful wooden fairytale sculptures and is one of the best places for bluebells and wild garlic in the Spring.

8. Little Owl Farm

In Stourport this farm has one of our favourite petting experiences with the chicks and guinea pigs and have the friendliest and most patient teams. They have an indoor play area, cafe and all important ride on tractor too.

9. All Things Wild

Not just a farm, if you’re needing a full day out with more animals than you can date to dream of then this is the ideal place. Their dinosaur field alone is better than the WMSP exhibition. (Disclaimer: the dinosaurs aren’t real)

They have two outdoor play areas, an indoor soft play and the “biggest and bestest” mud kitchen ever! (According to Arlo). My favourite however is the barefoot Walk.

10. Sedgley Adventure Centre

This is the place to visit for forest fun, a whole new area to explore for outdoor lovers, and the main attraction is mini golf surrounded by Animals which you can pet. It’s quite a surreal experience I must admit but so much fun to be had. This isn’t a huge place to explore but great for a couple of hours.

We hope you find your own fabulous adventures, share your experiences with us on social media by tagging us on Instagram or Facebook and if you have any more suggestions let us know and we can add them to the blog!

For days out under £10 click here and for my guide to parks in Birmingham great for nature lovers click here

Visiting the Confetti Fields

This blog is going to be full of pictures, and I’m not even going to apologise for it.

The confetti fields have become some what of an Instagram sensation of recent years because of course it’s so beautiful everyone wants to get themselves the perfect new profile picture (including me). I first visited with Arlo’s as a baby and the sight of the vast spread of Delphiniums in all sorts of colours overwhelmed me. I wasn’t prepared, but of Course baby Arlo had 2/3 spare outfits in the bag and so we had a little photo shoot in the glorious sunshine.

If you’ve never heard of the Confetti fields, they’re owned by The Real Flower Petal confetti Company which is based in Wick, just past Pershore (a village worth visiting on its own merit) in the Midlands. The company makes wedding confetti from Delphinium Flowers which is of course a fabulous environmentally friendly product and as a side hustle, which has become a viral social media sensation, the company began opening up its fields for visitors to capture the flowers in full bloom just before the harvest.

This of course occurs for a short time and varies year to year based on weather conditions. Now this not so secret place has become a number one spot for photo opportunities and so when tickets are released they sell out fast – at this time of writing there are opportunities to visit but please check the website.

So the practical things to consider when visiting: this place is a field and as such is bumpy and muddy in places so you need to be prepared for this. Pack sturdy shoes, try a baby carrier if you want to walk down through the flowers as a pram won’t fit. The company provides portaloos and has a small pop up cafe which sells cake, ice cream and coffee’s – I strongly suggest bringing a picnic and a blanket to make the most of your time here. Arlo managed to find a fab spot to rest and enjoy his chocolate brownie.

The delphiniums really are the star of the show and as we visited on opening weekend we were met with an array of colour, you can see the potential in these flowers to bloom even brighter over the next few weeks of summer with buds waiting to burst all over. This year however we spotted a wildflower meadow as we arrived which was worth pausing to explore and photograph. If you’re planning on posting your pictures to Instagram then the best place to find the best hashtags is Catherine’s article here from her blog, The Growing Family. Get all these beautiful photographs out for the world to see.

This year due to social distancing restrictions the tickets were checked by the team upon entrance to the car park, which was a really efficient way to manage things and avoiding any long queues just to get in to the field. We had an arrival time and it was suggested to spend two hours at the fields to help maintain number levels and make it fair for everyone. This was plenty of time to walk in and around the fields twice and zig zag off the beaten paths too.

At various vantage spots around the fields props have been carefully placed, from haybales to the lookout tower and a vintage tractor and bus, there’s so many views to capture it’s impossible. In fact I put my phone away for half an hour just to enjoy myself and the atmosphere.

We played hide and seek together and raced along the back straight of the field where we met the team members working hard and driving back and forth to pick flowers and load them on to the wagon for sale at the exit. Everyone we met working seemed happy, and how could you not be surrounded by such beauty?

Arlo is a lover of nature and constantly outdoors, so he was in his element and I snapped away capturing him enjoying himself, and we watched from a distance as professional photographers set up shoots with models and extravagant costumes. (I think he was convinced that the fairies were real).

One thing I did do was pack a magnifying glass, an egg box and a scavenger hunt resource for him to play with – and he literally lay down in the ditches to greet all creatures great and small – he didn’t stay clean for long but I didn’t mind as he was having a great time. If you’re planning to visit to get some pictures then it’s worth considering what kinds of things will keep the kids busy and enjoying the day as we spotted a lot of disgruntled kids on our walk around.

As we left the field I chose to purchase two bouquets, one for us at home and one for nanny – Arlo wanted to carry the gift proudly but the bunch was bigger than him – at £10 these are extremely reasonably priced, cut fresh and hand tied by a team working at out in the middle of the fields all day.

On our way back to the car we decided to head over to the wildflower meadow and Arlo ran off miles ahead. He was most impressed with the ladybirds and bees in this area, not to mention that this field had the “whole rainbow of colours.”

The confetti fields are only open until 4th July this year so head over to their website to book

Think Tank at Millennium Point

Finally one of Arlo’s favourite places to visit in Birmingham has re-opened and we were delighted to be given press tickets to visit and explore this weekend. Navigating around the ever changing roadworks in the city centre was a nightmare but eventually we found the car park and arrived at five minutes before our ticket time. The entrance is within the millennium point complex which is also hosting a vaccination clinic and so the main entrance is now on the ground floor.

We’ve been learning all about space and the solar system and so our new Grogu plushie came along with us and Luckily we managed to book slots for a planetarium show- we chose “the little star that could.” (slots are very limited due to social distancing so plan ahead for this). As soon as we finished checking in which was a simple process, we began to follow the one way system which was marked out with unmissable red arrows, and we head out to explore the ground floor.

This space has some awesome machines. Of course Arlo is a bit too little to pause to read the signs and understand all of the science behind the installations but he enjoyed it none the less. With life size train engines and cars, not to mention fully functioning pistons and various interactive displays with buttons to press this was a fantastic place to start exploring. There’s really something for everyone here, and on previous visits his grandparents have enjoyed the tram, which they recall from when it actually ran in and around Birmingham.

We took the stairs up to the first floor which gave us an awesome view of the spitfire which hangs in mid air. The spitfire was manufactured in the city and it makes me proud to see exhibits which not only help to give kids a science lesson but also help deliver a bit of local history too. It’s great that the exhibitions feature so many different points of interaction and it gave me great pleasure to see Arlo enjoying new things over a year after our last trip. I feel as though we could return time and time again and learn something new.

There’s more to see on this floor, which focuses on science and Industry with a huge collection of exhibits. There’s so much space at ThinkTank we had no trouble social distancing and I noticed that the team were very present wearing gloves and cleaning the interactive displays regularly. Arlo wanted to touch everything, from changing tyres to rewiring robots. There’s so many screens activated with buttons which offer short informative clips relating to exhibits this it’s impossible to cover it all in a day.

The new our changing planet instillation was a space which Arlo really enjoyed on the next floor. I think it’s aimed more at older children in terms of educational value but the visuals really intrigued him. He’s been learning about “trash” and recycling at nursery and talks about this a lot at home so looking at the display about plastics opened up a valuable discussion opportunity.

There was more to explore on this floor, with huge displays detailing everything you need to know about the human body – from digestion – where to help push food along to the stomach before finding out about the contents of large intestines and colon and pressing a button to make a fabulous splash and flush noise. Each exhibit includes different sensory opportunities, designed to be interacted with. This was spot on for Arlo’s age and we spent a lot of time on this floor, because there’s more to see.

Arlo remembered the animals and ran around this display enough times to make me feel dizzy. By this point he had got the hang of the arrows and I found that they have been arranged in the most useful way to take you through the exhibitions. This floor is also where the gift shop is. I must say that gift shops are usually my worst part of the day but Thinktank has a wonderful selection of bits and bobs. Plenty of toys with educational value, beautiful books and pocket money toys which don’t break the bank. I even asked if I could come and visit the shop (thinking of birthday gifts) without having to pay entry and they said yes!

The top floor takes us up to Mini Brum which is easily Arlo’s favourite place. It’s a fully immersive role play for kids, with areas for construction, a doctors surgery, a cafe, post office, super market, mechanics, train station and so much more. Each space is built with little people in mind and inspires imaginative play. I personally would pay to come to ThinkTank just to visit this space with a toddler. Again this space had a queue system entry to allow for distancing and the team were constantly cleaning toys and equipment without intruding.

At some point in the day, about four hours after we arrived Arlo decided that he was feeling peckish and we we went back down to the ground floor and enjoyed table service at the cafe. I ordered an adults hot dog meal at £7 and a kids snack pack which had a sandwich, a carton of juice and other bits he could choose including cheese and grapes for £4.95. Service was efficient – mid meal I had to stop to rush Arlo to the loos and the lovely team helped us find the nearest ones and get back to our table with no problems at all. During the meal Arlo noticed other children playing outdoors in the garden.

The science garden is one of Birmingham’s best outdoor spaces for little ones – you won’t find a traditional play area here – every single apparatus delivers a science lesson and buckets of fun, although if you have a child like Arlo you might want to take a change of clothes as the water tables are bound to be splashed about in.

This fascinating structure captured his attention for such a long time, the frame has a series of different mechanisms – pulleys, winches and wheels to be turned which when played with cycle a series of balls around the frame, and as the balls move around they hit bells making noises. It sounds really simple, looks really complex and it made the cogs in Arlo’s brain turn.

At our booked time slot we made our way back up to the top floor with our snack of dehydrated space food to visit the Planetarium. Tickets are £2.59 and there were several different shows on throughout the day. We watched a 25 minute show about a little star, an average star with no name as he journeyed through the universe – we eventually discovered was our sun and had an introduction to various different types of stats and all of the planets in our solar system too.

Arlo really enjoyed the show, it was his first experience inside an auditorium post lockdown so I wasn’t sure if he would sit through, but it was pitched at just the right level for his age. He’s obsessed with all things space related and so to come out of the planetarium and explore the exhibits with the Mars rover and a full size spacesuit was slightly overwhelming for him.

Then by the time we got to the interactive robots he could barely contain his excitement, he ran from screen to screen pressing buttons to make the displays light up and spring in to life. Once we had explored every floor I asked Arlo if he wanted to go home but he wanted to go back and revisit some of the spaces again, and so we went up and down in the lift – of course back to the digestive system to listen to the toilet splash once more.

Tickets to ThinkTank are bookable online, adults £14, kids £10.25 and under threes go free.

Tinktank is open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am-5pm. (During May half-term the museum is open 7 days 10am – 5pm)

Visitors can become a member of Birmingham Museums and get 12 months free entry to Thinktank Science Museum, plus other amazing museums in Birmingham!

Thinktank is part of Birmingham Museums Trust, a charity that cares for the city’s collection of over 1 million objects and artworks across nine venues, bringing people’s stories alive through exhibitions, special events and activities. All proceeds from your visit to Thinktank, help Birmingham Museums Trust continue to educate, inspire and entertain! 

All things Wild

Yesterday we visited All things Wild, a family attraction based near Evesham in Worcester. I have nothing but positive feedback for this place as we had such a wonderful time yesterday and we can’t wait to revisit. Of course yesterday the sun shone down and for the first time in forever we were wandering around in our t shorts for most of the day which certainly helped matters as of course everything is outdoors at the moment and the indoor attractions are closed.

This however had no impact on us as there was so much to do. When we arrived at our pre booked arrival time slot we were greeted by a friendly attendant at a small outdoor kiosk, and Arlo was given a wrist band to enter. The first thing he spotted was a fabulous wooden play area, and he would have been happy to run around this all day but as soon as he spotted the enclosure behind with meerkats and porcupines he realised that there were animals to see and off he ran.

The grounds are marked out in a one way system with arrows and no entry signs which makes it easy to wander around, and at various points there are short cuts so that you can skip around and get to your favourite places. I think yesterday we went around three times in total. At first Arlo ran around at speed just wanting to see everything and then when we got back to the beginning he said he wanted to go back to various places.

So where to begin? Just past the first few animal enclosures which are all beautifully maintained with healthy and happy animals we went through to a huge meadow, lawn and second play park area. This location of the grounds had everything, from a mud kitchen of childhood dreams, to a barefoot trail, musical instruments, a go kart track, mini golf and more. I did notice that throughout there were plenty of hand washing and sanitising spots and notices to politely ask guests to take only ten minutes at each area. With so much to see and do this isn’t a challenge.

Just beyond the open field there is a nature trail with some magnificent bug houses to explore and of course Arlo took his time wandering around here with big houses great and small along the route, plus all manner of sculptures, and informative signs to read. There are worksheets for trails you can print from the website in advance of your visit as around the site there are stamps to collect and so many things to spot.

Just after the nature trail we found the entrance to invite us to step back through time. I knew that this was a dinosaur attraction but I was not prepared for just how wonderful this would be and neither was Arlo. As soon as we got to the bend in this woodland path and could see the field ahead of us full of enormous dinosaur sculptures we were in awe.

I can’t even describe how excited Arlo was, he of course can identify all sorts of dinosaurs but we came across some new ones to add to his encyclopaedic knowledge.

Each dinosaur had a very handy sign with how to pronounce its name and more information about each creature. We also spotted interactive prompts throughout this area which were perfect for his age. “Can you stretch as tall as a diplodocus?”

There were Picnic benches and spaces spotted throughout the park providing plenty of room for families to picnic and maintain social distance, and it was a pleasure to greet so many families enjoying their days out on our travels. At the end of the dinosaur trail Arlo really enjoyed the play areas, mainly because they included lots of sand pits.

He was happy to clamber on board a real digger and then also play in a digger themed sand pit with a slide right beside it, placed in the shadow of a real army helicopter. It’s the stuff of his childhood dreams to see all of these things and get to look at them close up, and this is all before we properly had a chance to meet any animals. By this stage it was time for a snack and so we paused at the vintage bus shack for cold drinks and ice cream before setting off again.

Just behind the bus Arlo spotted some “creatures” and so it didn’t take long for us to set off again, following the one way system around a series of paddocks and enclosures. I was expecting children’s farm animals, and was more than happy to meet chickens and goats etc, but I wasn’t prepared to come across camels and zebras here too, never mind everything else!

The variety of animals All things Wild has to engage with is immense. Arlo didn’t know which way to look and was totally in his element as we ambled along at our own pace. Every so often Arlo would spot something new and run off ahead to investigate, the design of the enclosures is fantastic for little ones with viewing windows at just the right height throughout the park.

Most of this area has very wide paths and so people could pass by us safely as we took our time greeting all manner of creatures from parrots to monkeys, and again picnic benches spotted around for rest spots, by the end of the day I’d easily covered my 10,000 steps and more. The pathways are all flat so easy for strollers and pushchairs to navigate.

The farm yard walk through experience with the friendly goats was a highlight for Arlo as they crowded around us for attention, and he confidently stood right in the middle of them all. Then we went on to meet donkeys and a pony and bunnies – and we also spotted a lovely little collection of Fancy mice just like Bingo, Arlo’s mouse at home before coming to another hand washing station.

After this area we washed our hands after handling the animals and I was expecting to be back at the beginning again, but we turned left and went on another route, which took us through an Australian themed area with kangaroos, Emu’s and all sorts just before we came to the boundary line where there were more goats to greet along a beautiful trail, and just opposite some Rhea’s. Now Arlo knows the difference between a Rhea, an Ostrich and an Emu and will talk about this for an hour if you ask him.

We paused under the blossom trees beside this path to have another snack, but before I could pack up Arlo was off again as he spotted something in the distance, and he ran back to tell me he’d found some lemurs. I did spot signs here and back in the Australian yard for walk through animal attractions which are closed for the time being but this didn’t dampen our day at all, Arlo didn’t even notice and so the next time we get a chance to visit and I tell him he can walk through enclosure with parrots – he’s going to be beside himself.

We got back to the beginning after two hours and Arlo had another run around in the play park, and I got us some chips from the take away cafe (and I noticed an insane looking indoor soft play area behind some closed off screens). There were plenty of benches around the play park and two structures, one for the little ones and one for older children so Arlo enjoyed these for a while before coming over to tell me he wanted to see the dinosaurs again, and so off we went. The second time we wandered around the grounds we spotted so much more we’d missed out because there is just so much to see.

Arlo’s favourite spot was another sandpit which had a hidden dinosaur fossil to find. We’ve been making our own fossils with clay at home and it made his day to discover T Rex teeth.

There were swings and more sandpits and of course a second chance to visit the ice cream kiosk at this stage before heading back to see more animals. My personal favourite were the beavers, I don’t think I’ve seen any before and didn’t realise they were so big.

There was also a huge selection of birds and parrots Arlo took his time watching, especially because we found the parrots, with an African Grey just like Sam at home. We also spotted Macaws and Hawks in different spots and now we were mid afternoon some of the monkeys and other animals we didn’t spot earlier were out and about in their enclosures.

We were enjoying the warm weather and so for the remainder of the afternoon we wandered around again taking shortcuts and headed back to the meadow and play area, where Arlo became head chef of the mud kitchen. I watched him from a distance just enjoying himself and playing happily with other children also making the most of the sunshine and then we both took off our shoes and went along the barefoot walk together – a fabulous sensory experience.

We had such a wonderful time here and I honestly can’t recommend it highly enough. At the end of every day I ask Arlo what his favourite things were and last evening he told me “everything” before reeling off a list of animals. He eventually fell asleep in the car on the way home exhausted from our day and clutching on to his dinosaur toy purchased from the gift shop.

The tickets were £14 each – amazing value for money, car parking was free. There are toilet and hand washing facilities, a reasonably priced take away cafe at the main entrance, along with the ice cream kiosk and picnics are welcome. Even with the indoor attractions closed this makes for a fantastic day out and is now on the top of the list for recommendations of family days out in the Midlands.