The Botanical Gardens

Now that spring has finally made an appearance there’s an abundance of colour bursting in to life at the Botanical Gardens. We have been visiting the gardens since the 1980’s when I was a little girl so trips to the gardens are always nostalgic for me. There’s some areas of the gardens which remain unchanged and every time we visit we find a new corner to explore. This is a great place for us to visit with grandma now that we are allowed to meet up outdoors.

The peacocks greeted us as soon as we arrived. After checking in at reception we took a sideways route straight to the corner of the gardens as the glass houses remain closed due to social distancing requirements, but on a bright spring morning we were happy to remain outdoors, and we began to walk along the footpath to the left towards the bird houses.

An array of feathered friends could be heard chirruping from across the lawn as Arlo was delighted to make the acquaintance of a Macaw and a cockatoo, running around the bird houses several times and calling us to show us new birds he spotted each time.

The peacock seemed to follow us around and stood proud admiring the topiary bush of himself from the aviary and then appearing suddenly in flower beds as we wandered around.

We followed the paths around the circumference of the gardens, through a woodland walk and down to the school gardens which appears have just been replanted with vegetables. The butterfly house area right down the bottom was closed off but we did see freshly prepared beds ready for planting and so I expect this area will be in full bloom come summer time.

The “secret pool” at the bottom of the woodland walk and fern trail was a hub of activity for some blackbirds and Arlo enjoyed bug hunting amongst the roots of some of the more established trees, and this was the only area we encountered mud – most of the gardens are easy to explore with footpaths suitable for prams and strollers. There are some alternative little side paths to explore so it’s worth little ones wearing wellies.

We paused along the way for elevensies under a blossom tree. Throughout the gardens you can find peaceful rest stops like these benches but in busier areas such as the play area and main lawn seating areas are closed off for now to aid social distancing, it’s worth bringing along a picnic blanket for lunch on the lawns if you’re planning an all day visit.

We arrived early at about 10am and so we had the place to ourselves when we first arrived, lots of space for Arlo to enjoy being Arlo, we noticed pretty quickly that visitors arrived in droves and by the time we left the car park was full, but there’s plenty of space outdoors to explore.

We picked up a scavenger hunt trail from reception on our arrival and so Arlo was kept busy looking for different textures and nature finds throughout the gardens.

My absolute favourite spot is the pond which is abundant with fish, the magnolias scent was glorious and filled the air and we spent a while spotting goldfish and just enjoying the tranquility of this space. It’s hard to believe that you’re a stones throw from the city centre here.

The play area is another of our favourite areas, some of the spaces are sectioned off and Arlo was a little disappointed to not be able to play in the sand pit or on the big slides but I promised him we would roll down the grass lawns together so he didn’t remain downcast for long. We wandered up past the historical gardens and the fountain to find a brand new alpine rock area before heading to the promenade at the top of the lawns.

We had hot chocolates from the cafe hatch at the top of the gardens which is open for takeaways and then decided to do another circuit of the gardens taking a different route entirely, and chancing upon new spring blooms from different views. The gardens are well established here and there’s a huge variety of beautiful plants for garden fanatics to enjoy and so it’s ideal to visit with the grandparents.

We can’t wait to revisit in the summer when rainbows of flowers fill the space and hopefully live music will be able to go ahead, as planned. The restoration work on the bandstand has finally completed on and it’s looking absolutely beautiful at the moment. You must book online for visits to the gardens. Adults entry tickets are £6.00 and under 5’s are free. There is also a £2 charge for parking.

Cycling at Kingsbury Water Park

We had a wonderful afternoon at Kingsbury Water Park, we opted to hire bicycles to make sure we could see as much of the space as possible – and with fifteen different lakes and 600 acres to explore we will most certainly be coming back again.

The best bit about Kingsbury for Arlo was the play park area, and this is why we visited in the first place, as we had been visiting Middleton Hall just around the corner for the Easter trail. Kingsbury has one of the best play areas in the Midlands with multiple climbing frames to suit all ages – Arlo got a great chance to run around and whilst watching him from a safe distance I noticed Big Franks Cycle hire was open and so I went to enquire about hiring bikes on the spur of the moment.

You can hire bikes after filling in a short form and providing your driving licence as ID, there’s no need to book, but of course they are very busy and you might have to wait for a bike to become available – they have a range of different options, this three wheeled contraption with a seat and a safety buckle for Arlo was the machine of his dreams. He sat and enjoyed the high life taking in the views and munching on his snacks whilst I pedalled around the lakes.

There’s three different cycling routes you can take, the staff at the cycle hire were happy to give us advice and so we opted for route three, (the longest one) despite it being many years since I’ve ridden on a bike we were assured it would take us about an hour and this was spot on, even though we paused a few times an route to feed the ducks. The trails themselves were easy to cycle with surfaces paths throughout, all wide enough to pass walking families safely.

Whilst concentrating on cycling I couldn’t take many pictures along the way but the views were glorious even for an overcast day. We encountered people fishing and horse riding and we also passed alongside the Echills wood railway which is having some renovation work done whilst closed (due to distancing restrictions). I’ve promised Arlo we will come back and ride the train as soon as we can. Following the train route we found another fabulous adventure play park to explore at the end of a cycle trail and paused here for ice cream from the van and to meet some geese and moor hens.

It’s £4.50 to park at Kingsbury for the full day, the cafe is open at the moment for takeaway food and the toilet facilities are also open and you can purchase a day fishing permit from the visitor centre. Check out the Facebook page for the most up to date visitor information.

The bicycle I chose was £14 to hire for an hour. There are various different bicycles at different prices to hire for varying lengths of time.

Exploring Middleton Hall

This beautiful Manor House and it’s grounds is certainly worth a visit if you’re in the Midlands, it’s just around the corner from Kingsbury water park, and makes for a delightful couple of hours outdoors. The hall is currently closed due to covid restrictions but with spring in bloom there’s plenty to explore within the grounds. On our visit this week we were delighted to be able to complete the Easter egg trail.

With nine eggs to find Arlo was ready to explore the grounds. The beautiful lake which you are greeted with as you enter the drive way is a sight to behold and the backdrop to the gardens. Before we set off I paused to grab hot chocolates from the cafe which is offering. Takeaway service.

We started our egg hunting on the nature trail, following a path alongside the lake and were greeted with our first egg very quickly. Giant and brightly coloured they are easy to spot from a distance. Each egg had clues which we had to solve to find letters which were then unscrambled to receive a treat at the end of the trail. With a little bit of help from Mummy Arlo was able to spot the clues – I noticed that families were enjoying solving the clues together, with older children participating. Some of the puzzles had us adults scratching our heads!

Along the nature trail we also spotted lots of fairy doors and ladybugs hidden in the trees, Middleton Hall is going to be hosting a fairy trail soon if you don’t have time to head out this Easter – this gives us an excuse to return again another day. Once we were satisfied we’d found all the eggs along the nature trail (HINT – it’s worth heading right to the bottom of the trail) we retraced our steps back to the lawn, pausing to explore the bug hotels for inhabitants along the way.

The lakeside path took us through a beautiful orchard next, which was ablaze with daffodils. We wandered through the trees and found some more eggs and clues to tick off our list and pausing to take in the views across the lake and feed the ducks too. Arlo loves being outdoors and exploring, and he was absolutely thrilled to find a door to a “secret garden” not far from this spot.

The walled garden is on the verge of bursting in to colour, it’s fascinating to visit places like this several times a year to see how things grow and change and appreciate the effort which goes in to maintaining such a beautiful space. On one side of the garden there’s rows upon rows of flower beds and we found another egg and clue hidden in a corner. Arlo’s has been planting flowers at home and so he’s very interested in plants, flowers and all of the colours at the moment.

On the adjacent side of the walled space there’s a wonderful herb garden. We took our time here as the clue had us hunting around in the flower beds and whilst we were there we set about smelling the leaves of some of the more unusual herbs growing and having a little bit of a sensory experience too.

Once we solved this clue we had eight letters and were almost sure of the answer but had one last egg to find to complete the task and so Arlo ran off, hot on the trail because he’d spotted this one on the way in and then he proudly took his clue card across to the yard claim his prize, and he also got a sticker because he found a golden egg on his travels.

Middleton Hall is open from Wednesdays to Sundays to visit, adults tickets are £7 and under fives are free. Visits must be pre-booked online and the Easter trail is running up to the 11th April. Click the image below to head to the website.

You can also purchase plants and once restrictive lift visit the courtyard which has an array of small businesses hosted in the stables and a lovely new coffee shop too.

The Easter trail at Trentham Gardens

We have been out and about again today and this time our travels took us to Trentham Gardens, which are amongst the finest in Britain. A week ahead of Easter there has been a Beatrix Potter themed trail added to the grounds.

You can book online to visit the gardens. Tickets are £12 for adults and under 3’s are free. The Easter trail pamphlet is an additional £2.50 and can be exchanged at the end of the trail for a treat. We took the pre booked line at the entrance and avoided all of the queues, you do have to select an arrival slot time but if you’re early the ice cream shop is open and there’s also toilet facilities to use at the entrance.

Trentham Gardens site has a wealth of activities to participate in, we were given the winter and spring spotters guides and a historical one too, and it was fascinating to see the remains of Trentham Hall too. The extended site also includes a garden centre and a shopping village which will hopefully bounce back to life as soon as restrictions lift and with free parking this in itself is a grand day out, that’s without mentioning the monkey Forest and Tree Top Adventures (must be booked separately) which are also set to re-open shortly. There really is something for everyone here.

The extensive grounds at Trentham circulate the beautiful lake which has a mile long walk you can amble along at your leisure and there’s plenty to see and do. Arlo took along his own camera today and was busy capturing the ducks as well as spotting the infamous Jeremy Fisher along the trail.

The upper flower garden is where the majority of the Peter Rabbit trail was located so all of the markers can be found along paths which are easy to navigate with pushchairs, and it’s not too challenging for little ones. With such a vast area to explore we found that we had plenty of space and didn’t at feel like our social distancing was compromised. It feels as though spring is about to burst in to life with daffodils and early bulbs blooming to bring the first wave of colour through in the gardens.

Arlo was delighted to explore the display’s created for every single character, we were looking for letters on wooden eggs to complete a puzzle. He’s just starting to recognise letters and so as soon as he recognised a character from the books he ran ahead to find the “abc” for us. Then once he finished examining the displays he looked up to see the surroundings he would pause to catch his breath. The placements have been very carefully chosen with lots of open space and to take you around to some of the best corners of the gardens with great vantage points.

We also decided ahead to purchase the fairy trail pamphlet for an additional £2.50 – these permanent sculptures by a local artist are dotted around the gardens and the lake and you will encounter many of them if you keep your eyes peeled whilst looking for Peter Rabbit and friends. There is a one way system now around the gardens so some of these are harder to spot if you’re determined to finish the trail but this change helps the social distancing. Wanda the mermaid is a new addition and can be found basking in one of the fountains.

Hunka Munka the mouse was holding the last clue to find, and once we had all the letters we had to unscramble them to find a word to complete the trail. (I won’t post the answer spoiler.) The walk took us about an hour as we paused to feed the ducks in the stream and ambled slowly along and we then got the chance to play in the adventure park – the slide, maze and the barefoot walk remains closed but all of the other apparatus including the sandpit were available for Arlo and others to enjoy. We also went up behind the maze in to the open field where sheep were grazing just to say a quick hello.

We retraced our steps back to the lake and noticed that the Italian tea rooms were open to provide takeaway food and that there are also “pods” are being set up for family bookings which will provide fabulous views across the lake for afternoon tea. The toilet facilities here are also open. We sat and enjoyed our picnic and trail treats watching the nesting moorhens before continuing our casual stroll – I hardly noticed I’d achieved my 10,000 steps for the day.

We can’t wait to come back and visit as the seasons change, we want to finish the trail and visit monkey forest next time. I highly recommend Trentham Gardens as a Midlands based family friendly attraction. Click below to book.

Bodenham Arboretum

Bodenham has become another one of our most favourite outdoor places to explore, and is a hidden treasure of the Midlands. As you turn in to the main drive you’re greeted with a landscape of rolling hills and in spring time there’s plenty of lambs to see skipping in the fields.

The visitor centre is adjacent to the main pool, and it’s a sight to behold as you walk down from the car park you feel

As though you’ve totally escaped to the wild – I highly recommend purchasing duck food to scatter in to the water because you will meet swans, ducks, geese and also some giant fish at this first pool and there’s also a visitor centre / farm shop with takeaway food options and toilet facilities.

We usually choose to follow the five pool trail which takes you right around the edge of the grounds, through woodland and past (of course) five pools and the interconnected streams. There’s plenty to see along the route – which in its entirety is about 4km, but you can cut back to the main pool and visitor centre at any time.

Along the route there’s a huge variety of trees and plants to see, and some great open spaces with breathtaking views for miles over the open country side. As you head along the winding trail there’s something new to be found around every corner.

My favourite place is down in the valley alongside the stream where there’s a fabulous den and some logs across the water to balance on. It’s a great place to pause and when we have visited there has literally been no one around so it feels as though you’re totally alone. This is the spot where we usually end up reciting our favourite stories.

Bodenham is also home to a working farm which has a variety of animals, which during Spring time is a wonderful place to visit to see the lambs and calves. Of course this area is Arlo’s favourite place. You can cut short the woodland walks and head straight to the farmyard from the main pool, otherwise this area of the grounds is at the end of the five pool trail.

On the opposite side of the big pool there’s further extensive grounds to explore at your own pace. We found a hidden bridge to a small island which was a great picnic spot, a gazebo surrounded by daffodils and we also found the beginnings of another trail which we have earmarked to explore in our next visit. We can’t wait to see the beauty of spring emerge at the Arboretum.

To find out more, including visiting times and entrance fees head to their official website:

Entrance prices are £6.50 for adults and £3.50 for adults with free car parking. There’s no need to book. The toilets are open and basic food and drink is available for takeaway. The restaurant is however closed at the moment.

Umberslade Farm Park Pony Experience

We find ourselves in the midst of tier three right now just before Christmas and many of our planned activities have been cancelled. I’m heartbroken for all of the businesses struggling right now amidst the chaos of 2020 and am also delighted to see places such as Umberslade Farm try to make the most of things.

During the summer we visited and went on a 5k trek around the grounds and I noticed recently they are offering a one hour toddler pony experience for £35. This is a completely unique experience and I haven’t managed to find any horse experiences in Birmingham for children Arlo’s age and he is animal mad so of course I jumped at the chance to book this up.

The £35 booking fee is for the entire family and this can include up to six people. I organised this for a day we would be taking care of Paloma, and they both loved every second. Prior to arrival Charlotte had sent us an email to remind us to wrap up warm and prepare for mud. The thermometer was reading just one degree today but we set off out for our trek regardless.

Just before we met Charlotte at our agreed time slot we had a chance to grab a drink from the cafe and a quick run around in the park. The pigs were also nearby to say a quick hello and then it was time for our experience to begin. Charlotte led us to the main barn, the goats we had fed when they were tiny back in February were jumping up to say hello, as were the donkeys…. the llamas looked like they could take or leave us if I’m honest and as we walked past their fluffy turned up noses we met our pony for the first time.

Peppa our beautiful white pony was chosen by the kids because she looks just like a Unicorn. Charlotte gently encouraged Paloma and Arlo to take the reigns and lead her out of the barn and across the yard to a stable where we got properly acquainted. We were the only family and so had the entire place to ourselves, which meant the kids got a really special experience.

Peppa was given a good brush and then dressed with her boots, saddle and matching bridle – this experience enabled the kids to get up close to the pony, and so by the time it came to put their helmets on they were feeling extremely confident and rearing to go.

It was Arlo’s turn first to leave the stable yard on Peppa and head to the bottom of the famous Umberslade estate drive, we walked along chatting away happily together before we paused for a swap, and Paloma then got in the saddle to take the lead on the trek up the hill through the muddy puddles – eventually we discovered a breathtaking view just in time for the sunset.

We had a chance to take some pictures together at the top before changing for the kids to take a second turn each riding as we head back retracing our steps. Peppa seemed delighted to splash through all the muddy puddles and walked faster back because she knew she had a carrot to look forwards to. Having the chance to view the estate from this vantage point at sunset was just magical.

We returned back to the yard safe and sound at the end of our hour and said our goodbyes to Peppa, both Arlo and Paloma were entirely overwhelmed and sat in the car all the way home chatting about their experience. We had such a beautiful time and we really hope that we can come back and continue to visit Umberslade and all of the other animals in the not too distant future.

December is sold out but keep an eye out on their Facebook group and website for updates

All aboard the Severn Valley Railway Santa Special

We had the most magical day aboard the Santa Special at the Severn Valley Railway, there’s simply no better way to meet Santa in the Midlands!

We booked our tickets months ago because these are usually a sell out and opted to book a table for four of us. Myself, Arlo, Nanny and Grandad. There are also compartments available for families for up to six people – babies can sit on laps but they don’t receive a gift from Santa. Steam trains alone are magical – but at Christmas it’s like being on The Hogwarts Express in a Harry Potter movie!

Our heritage steam train was specially decorated with beautiful bunting throughout and each carriage was named for one of Santa’s Reindeers, and was ready and waiting at the platform for a prompt departure. The station was just as spectacular too.

We chose to arrive almost an hour early to ensure that we could get a parking space – it’s £4 for the day to park at the station. A brass band was playing, a miniature railway was running around a glorious tree and there so many wonderful original features around the station to look all beautifully decorated for Christmas.

We browsed the gift shop, bought some traditional sweets for the journey and soaked up the buzzing atmosphere, and to make sure boarding was efficient, an MC announced four families names at a time to call them to board the train. We had just enough time to test out Santa’s sleigh to make sure the cushions are comfy enough for the big man himself.

There was no rushing and everyone got a chance to enjoy the platform and board the train comfortably. The trains themselves are beautiful and well preserved. Grandad was delighted because they were just like he remembered trains as a child, with little details such as the door handles and window slides, and all of the original fixtures and fittings were “just like they used to be when I was a child ” It was lovely for grandad to be able to share these memories with Arlo.

It was easy to find our reserved table and lovely to see a decorated biscuit and mince pies left out for us as well as a kids activity book and drink, we stashed our belongings in the overhead space, which was decorated with bunting and baubles along the entire length of the carriage and so we settled in for the journey.

Once everyone was on board we all heard bells ringing and got a glimpse of the big man himself walking along the platform to board the train accompanied by his elves and huge sacks full of toys! This little glimpse meant that all the children were reminded to be on their best behaviour.

The Railway takes you along the Severn Valley and there are some glorious views to be seen, especially on a crisp winter Morning, however the most delightful exclaims for the children came when we went past the elephant paddock at West Midlands Safari Park.

We visited the Safari Park yesterday and for some reason the stars aligned and we happened to be in the elephant paddock as the train went past which I captured on film, but today we were far to busy waving from the windows…. but you get the idea from the clip!

The Santa Special doesn’t stop on the outward journey like it does for the usual timetable however there is an opportunity to leave the train at Bewdley on specific return trains to explore the village.

We went through all of the stations slowly enough to see all of the beautiful decorations and to be greeted by people just like in “the railway children” – we were content to watch the world go by and I packed a bag of toys to keep Arlo occupied on the journey. He was extremely well behaved and I think he has earnt his place on Santa’s “nice” list.

This is the first year Arlo has been truly aware of Santa and Christmas and so this experience was magical for him, and just fabulous for me to see it all come to life as a parent.

Throughout the journey a lovely elf popped in and out of the carriage to remind us to listen out for Santa’s bells and raise a chorus of jingle bells from all of the passengers every now and again, and we also encountered the drinks cart and enjoyed our complimentary hot chocolate (with an optional baileys tot for the adults).

A magician appeared almost out of nowhere and had us all intrigued as he managed to trick all the children by making coins appear and disappear, pencils appearing from behind ears and then turning tuppence into a pot of jam! No idea how he did that and all the grown ups were just as intrigued as the children.

Suddenly we heard a knock at the end of the carriage and the sound of bells grew louder…. Santa’s arrival was announced – he visited every group, taking the time to have a good conversation and Arlo waited patiently for his turn, leaning around the seats and waving his beloved sleigh bell for attention – and then amusing our carriage companions with his own rendition of jingle bells whilst everyone else waited patiently for their turn.

As soon as Santa arrived to greet us Arlo became overwhelmed and was a little bit shy however Santa was extremely patient and had a lovely manner, eventually finding common ground comparing their bell noises, and giving high fives before posing for pictures and then reaching into his sack to gift Arlo a beautiful leopard toy.

Santa’s assistant also gifted us some unique tree decorations as a memento of our day, and the elves who were taking the responsibility for the toy sacks were friendly and chatty as they worked their way through the carriage too – Arlo was beyond excited and overwhelmed by the whole experience.

Before we knew it we arrived back at Kidderminster – Santa was happy to pose for a selfie in front of the steam engine with all of the children waiting and the driver blew steam and the whistle much to everyone’s delight.

The smell of roasted chestnuts inside the station greeted us and we got the chance to soak up more of the festive atmosphere, check out the gift shop and meet the deputy Station Manager to give our positive feedback from our trip.

We had a wonderful morning and most certainly recommend this Santa Special to families across the West Midlands, we will be back to explore the railway and more stations in the summer!

We’re going on a bear hunt – theatre performance at The Mac

This morning we woke up at a ridiculous hour (even earlier than usual) because of the clocks going backwards. Despite my best efforts to stay in bed for a lovely Sunday lie in – it wasn’t going to happen.

By 9am we had had breakfast with dinosaurs, done lots of stickers and stamping and we had read “we’re going on a bear hunt” a dozen times – with lots of songs and actions.

At some point in my sleepy haze I remembered that a flyer had popped through the letter box about a theatre production at The MAC – and so I checked ticket availability online, packed up our bags and we decided to go on a real bear hunt.

Parking for the Mac is plentiful, it’s the same car park for Cannon Hill Park, and is neighbouring the old Nature Centre. I use the parking app’s and there’s a reasonable charge of £2.81 for four hours.

We arrived early, purchased our tickets from the reception/shop area and had time for a second breakfast in the cafe. It was packed but we managed to place our order efficiently, find a table and our food was served in ten minutes – we munched our toast before we heard the sound system give a five minute warning for performance time.

We clambered up the stairs and into the Foyle theatre which is a lovely small theatre with padded bench style seats which were surprisingly comfortable. The seating was unallocated but despite being second row from the back, as it’s such an intimate space this wasn’t an issue. You don’t need to rush to get a good seat and then keep a child occupied for a long time, unless of course you’re in a large group and wish to sit together.

The lights dimmed, and four actors marched in to the room chanting the familiar “we’re going on a bear hunt” rhythm and as soon as they did Arlo was transfixed.

I won’t give you much detail about the performance itself but suffice to say it was a mesmerising show, and truly captured the spirit of the story. The puppets were beautiful and operated in a really unique style which portrayed realistic movement – if you like spoilers then you can check out the official YouTube channel – there’s no filming/photography allowed during the show.

The addition of music was lovely, and delighted Arlo, and when eventually the bear was discovered, it was fabulous to have him bought around to greet everyone in the audience with a roar.

The 45 minutes passed by quickly and I was surprised at how well behaved Arlo was during the whole performance. Being child friendly there was no problem with him loudly roaring and pointing out the different animals which appeared – in fact at a couple of stages audience participation was required and encouraged.

Little Angel Theatre productions are based in London but have various touring shows so check the website as there might be an opportunity to catch a show near you!

I now feel confident that we can go and enjoy more experiences like this together, at £13/£15 per ticket I was reluctant to book ahead originally as it’s hard to predict what kind of mood Arlo will be in, but I no longer have this qualm and am going to make sure I book dates for future events in advance as I’m sure they will sell out. I have no doubts Arlo will share my love of theatre and the performing arts in the future.

We used the changing facilities at the MAC which are always spotless before heading out to walk around the duck pond in the park as we still had plenty of time on the parking meter – and Arlo was happy to chant “we’re going on a bear hunt” and roar at some passers by with delight! Despite visiting Cannon Hill park regularly since I was a child, it always surprises me at how such a beautiful place can exist in the middle of our busy city. If you are visiting it’s a lovely escape from the hustle and bustle, and worth checking the “what’s on” guide.

To book tickets in Birmingham click here

Seals in the City

We were invited to a special evening at the Sea Life Centre in Birmingham to celebrate the arrival of Miley and Boo.

Miley and Boo, who each have medical conditions which will prevent them from ever surviving in the wild, have been fostered from Sea Life Centres in Hunstanton and Scarborough respectively in order to make critical space within rehabilitation hospitals for the coastal sites during their heightened “pup season”, when demand for rescues of common seals in Britain is at an all-time high.

Boo is a five year old who was rescued as a pup with lots of health problems, and despite attempts to rehabilitate, it’s best for him to be kept in the safe care of animal handlers. Miley was rescued at two days old as an abandoned pup and has an underlying thyroid condition which requires daily medication.

Together they now live in a purpose built facility in Birmingham where their presence will help educate millions of visitors about conservation of our oceans.

Their new rescue facility is awe inspiring to behold, as a visitor you get a first glimpse from a pathway through a window where you can see Miley and Boo tumbling and spinning around under water.

The sea life centre itself is designed to be a one way walk through, so before you meet the Seals there is plenty of opportunity to meet other wonders of the world beneath the sea. In fact the first animals to greet you on your visit are Pablo and his pals the Gentoo penguins.

En route there are rock pools, cat fish and sharks to meet, and my personal favourite the seahorses. We opted to head for a “behind the scenes” experience where we learnt lots about how all of the fish are fed. Very interesting for the parents and older children.

As you continue on your journey through the centre, you turn a huge corner and are greeted by a panoramic view of the seal facility, where you can really appreciate the size of the enclosure, and there’s a fabulous little tunnel to climb through for a fully submerged viewing experience – and the seals seemed to love all of the attention, interacting with us as we watched.

There’s plenty more to see and do at the Sealife centre, with the underwater shark tunnel and a 4D movie experience too so you can spend a good few hours soaking up the atmosphere and learning along the way.

The centre publishes a full schedule of feeding times to get a close up experience with informative team members happy to share lots of information.

For tickets and to find out what’s on head to the website. There are various offers including reduced price tickets for toddlers with parents, as well as themed events during the school holidays.

If you are visiting the midlands be sure to take advantage of the combination tickets with other local attractions including the Lego Land discovery centre and Warwick Castle.