Brent Lodge Park in Hanwell is locally known as Bunny Park. We went for a day out recently as it is quite near to us and free to enter.
It’s a large park with animals to see, a playground for the children, a maze to explore, a cafe to buy ice cream and lots of greenery all around.
The animals we noticed first were the monkeys, and my younger two were especially interested in those. There are also exotic birds and some more animals that we didn’t have time to see like the bunnies and goats, and there is a reptile house with butterflies which I think you may have to pay a small amount to go in.
Then they were very eager to move onto the playground. There is quite a variety of equipment, not so much for very young toddlers as some of the equipment is a little high up to climb, but my littler ones were fine with some help.
After the playground, we moved on to the maze which was probably my boys favourite thing. They had not been in a real maze before, but were very eager to try it out.
It’s a great place to let the toddlers run around, and really fun for them following all the path ways around and chasing each other.
When you reach the end there is a small tower with stairs, so you can go up and look out over the rest of the maze. There’s my oldest at the top, as he reached there before me!
Here they are all, hiding underneath the tower. (It’s raised a bit off the ground)
Its a lovely free day out for anyone not too far away. You don’t feel as though you are in the middle of the city, you get a bit of a rural feel and an escape from the usual hustle and bustle of life and with all the different features like the maze and the animals, it is more exciting than just your average park.
There is a car park next door which is also free to use. Make sure you come out of the car park and turn left, to take you directly into the main area of the park. The first time we went, we entered from the car park itself but that is a really long way round to get to where most of the exciting bits are. There is another playground at that end, and if you have more time to take a stroll and explore, then it would be worth having a look around that side too.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the £1 coin, MoneySuperMarket are asking UK bloggers to come up with their best money saving tips. With 30 tips per person, they are aiming to collect a total of over 1000 fantastic ways to save some cash.
Here are mine!
Savings For Days Out
Using loyalty card points to pay for days out. With Tesco Clubcard you can exchange your points for upto 4x their value in rewards vouchers, which include all of the merlin parks and loads more. You have to get organised and order your tickets in advance, but once you have them they don’t have to be used on a specific day.
With Nectar, you don’t have to order the tickets in advance you can just pay directly with the points on your Nectar card – so suitable for those last minute trips! You will get double your points value when using it on days out
Look out for Kids’ clubs at the cinema, such as Odeon where certain children’s screenings are only £2.50, or Vue for £1.75 or £3 for 3D. These tend to run on weekend mornings or school holidays.
Many bowling places also have cheap offers in the morning during school holidays – such as bowling for as low as £1, so make sure you have a look and time your visit accordingly!
Taking a picnic rather than buying meals out at attractions. You could end up saving a lot and often it may be much healthier too.
There are lots of days out which are absolutely free, for example the Science Museum in South Kensington or many of the other London museums. We go on a Sunday so no congestion charge to get there, and free parking!
Look out for free weekends at the National Trust where they open many of their properties for free, making a very thrifty day out.
Look out for local fun days or events run by the council. Sometimes there will be activities on in the library during half terms, or for toddlers during term time and these tend to be free or very cheap.
Days out in the woods, park or countryside tend to be very cheap or free. You can also use the chance to collect stones, twigs or leaves for the children to use for crafts when you get home – so a 2 in 1 money saving opportunity, as well as a chance to get some exercise and fresh air.
If you use trains, think of a Family Rail Card which gives you 1/3 off adult fares, 60% off child fares. When we used this, it paid for itself in just a couple of trips and also guaranteed us a table seat on the train, which can be a life saver while travelling with toddlers – enabling you to do activities at the table rather than fruitlessly trying to keep a wriggling little one in their seat.
Plan your days out in advance – that way you have time to get all your vouchers and offers ready, and you will know the cheap places and tips for the place you are going. When you go last minute,I find it always costs more.
Money Saving Online
Use cash back websites, such as Quidco. For those who do a lot of online shopping, these websites work out almost like just free money! For things you were going to buy anyway, you can get a percentage back by clicking through from Quidco then over time your cash back builds up and is paid back into your bank account or paypal. Since joining Quidco a couple of years ago, we have earned nearly £500 in cashback!
Use voucher codes. Always have a look through the newsletters you get sent from companies. Sometimes we may be too quick to delete them as junk mail, but hidden inside could be discount codes and savings to get you a great deal. You can also try googling for codes before making big purchases, as you never know there may be codes on the internet which are fine for anyone to use. Some of the best places to look include MoneySavingExpert and HotUKDeals
Use daily deal websites, like Groupon for away breaks or general shopping deals or Zulilly for kids deals. There are loads more similar sites too if you have a look around. You can save upto 90% off the RRP, meaning you get great quality things for bargain prices.
Get free samples online. If you follow the companies you like on Facebook, or visit their websites, often you can find free samples being given out especially for things like perfumes or moisturisers, so you can see if you like it before you buy – potentially saving you money on purchases as you will only have to buy it once you’re sure! You can even get full sized samples of grocery products, from pages like this, which will of course save you money from your supermarket bill!
Have a look on Facebook for local buying and selling groups. Similar to E-bay where you may get some great bargains but as it’s local, you won’t even pay postage. It also gives you a chance to sell some of your own unwanted or children’s outgrown items and earn some money back.
If you do decide to use e-Bay, to reach a wider audience or browse a wider range of goods – have a look out for their free listing days to save you that little bit extra.
You can also connect your nectar account to ebay, earning you money for nothing every time you shop, enabling you to have free days out at premium attractions as mentioned earlier!
Join all the loyalty schemes, and if you have a baby then all the baby clubs. Boots is one of the best – when joining the baby club you can get a free changing bag! Aptamil also give you a free polar bear toy, and cow and gate a free cuddly cow. They will also keep you up to date with offers and money off vouchers which can come in really handy.
Use price comparison websites and always look around before committing to a big purchase. It may take time but you will do the best to have a look at several comparison sites, and then also double check the prices on the companies own website, and check those who have not included themselves in the comparison. For larger purchases such as car insurance, this extra bit of effort will normally pay off.
Every Day Money Saving
Meal Planning. This is something I really need to do, I keep meaning to start. Plan your meals and stick strictly to your shopping list. I have heard from my friends who do this, that it ends up saving a lot and also cuts down waste too – so more eco friendly!
Related to the above – cooking in bulk and freezing some can end up working out cheaper.
Eating more vegetarian meals can save a lot of money, as meat is expensive and many other forms of protein such as pulses are much much cheaper.
Write down what you spend. It will help you keep track and cut out any unnecessary spending patterns that you might not have been as aware of.
Enter competitions! Whatever you win, is something that you don’t have to buy so potentially saving you loads! Of course only entering for useful things that will be suitable for your family. Those who know me, will know that I am always on the look out for great competitions and I have been lucky to have plenty of lovely prizes over the years. Just this morning I won a dvd for the kids from All Baby Advice blog. We also have some great competitions running here at In The Playroom so click here and have a look!
Walking wherever you can – saves on petrol or transport costs. Also healthier and gets the children into good habits.
Recycling packaging to use for children’s junk modelling. You can save all sorts of kitchen roll tube, sweet wrappers, bubble wrap, ribbon and tissue from packaging and it will keep the children occupied in an educational activity, for absolutely free.
Downgrade your branded food to supermarket own, or supermarket brands down to basic. On some items you won’t always be able to tell a lot of difference, and can save quite a bit!
Always try to pay off your credit card balance in full each month – any interest paid is just a real waste of money
Always be generous to others, give to charity and never let money saving turn you into a stingy person. I truly believe when we give to others, it comes back to us in one way or the other and I have seen this so many times in life.
This great competition was mentioned to me by fellow blogger Eileen from Et Speaks from Home. To find out more and if you fancy entering yourself, click here.
My links Quidco and Zulilly are referral links, all that means is that if you sign up after seeing it here and use these websites, I will also get a little extra as a thanks for introducing new members. They are genuine recommendations from me as websites I do use myself and find good.
Explore Chessington World of Adventures – a wild adventure for all the
It’s a whole world of Wild Adventures all in one place.
Discover the Serengeti in Surrey; go on the exciting new safari; or explore the ancient ruins of Wild Asia, a mythical land where families can take on the KOBRA, an awesome spinning disc ride! Go truly wild on an expedition through the Lorikeet Lagoon in amongst the exotic colourful birds. With exciting rides and rollercoasters, amazing animals and a SEA LIFE Centre – Chessington really is Britain’s wildest adventure!
Chessington’s amazing new ride for 2013
The amazing new safari ride is now open.
Initial investigations have unearthed a new land called “ZUFARI”. The only signs of civilisation are some mysterious African carvings that we believe are warnings. Journey through the extreme terrain in our off-road trucks and encounter many species including giraffes and white rhino.
MU’s delicious, rich flavour is a winner for the whole family, making it easier than ever for mums to get creative in the kitchen and keep everyone happy. MU has been exclusively sourced from Ireland, from well fed cows to fully ensure a delicious taste that will soon have your family moo-ing for more.
Available in six exciting varieties from Tesco, MU’s eye catching packaging will be loved by kids and adults alike.
Why is Mu good for you?
Plays a vital role in vision, bone growth, cell division and the immune system.
Crucial for blood and cell formation, maintaining the nervous system and protein metabolism.
Helps build strong bones and teeth. Eating 20g of cheddar cheese is the equivalent to a 200ml glass of milk.
Needed to facilitate the absorption of calcium and assist in the formation of strong bones.
Protein – Essential for forming the building blocks of the body.
The No 1 visitor attraction operator in Europe, No 2 in the world, Merlin Entertainments’ (Merlin) headquarters are in Poole, Dorset (UK). Merlin operates an international portfolio of 94 global and local attractions, among them many of the world’s best known brand names – Madame Tussauds, The Dungeons, Alton Towers Resort, LEGOLAND, SEA LIFE, Gardaland, The EDF Energy London Eye and many more as well as 7 hotels and 2 holiday villages!
On the weekend, we decided to take the kids to Peppa Pig World. We don’t normally go to theme parks without planning in advance and getting our tesco club card rewards ready, but the boys have really got into Peppa Pig lately and we really fancied a family day out so we decided to just go for it! It comes to £98.00 for a family ticket which is quite expensive! This is for 4 people, our youngest was free as he is under 90cm. Booking online would have saved £12 from that so would definitely be the better option, but unfortunately we didn’t plan in advance this time! This admission covers the whole of Paultons Park, not just the Peppa Pig World.
I don’t know whether there is any concession price for children receiving DLA and their carers, as some other theme parks do have. We didn’t ask and the website only mentions that wheelchair & Mobility Scooter dependent guests are admitted free of charge – so whether they do take other disabilities and conditions into account, I am not sure. I would be interested to know, if anyone has asked them let me know in the comments! I am also not sure whether they operate a Qbot system like some of the Merlin Parks but the queues were very short on the day we went, so it really wouldn’t have been needed at all. We did not have to wait more than 5 minutes for any ride.
When we arrived at Paultons, we went straight to Peppa Pig World. The first ride the children chose to go on was the Windy Castle which you can see in the background below. It’s actually a little scarier than it looks, it goes quite high! My 4 year old was a little scared while riding on it, but the little ones were fine. It gives you a good view of the whole Peppa Pig World so it is a good choice to go on this first. All 5 of us were able to sit together in the carriage and there was no restrictions of height or age.
The children also went on the following rides:
Grandpa Pig’s Boat Trip – this is a very gentle and calm ride, not scary at all for any more sensitive little ones. They go round and round in a boat on real water, with a slight up and down motion. Only 4 were allowed in each boat, so we had to split up and have one parent per boat to take all the children. Again there is no restriction on height or age on this ride, just a recommendation that it may not be suitable for under 12 months. All 3 of my children enjoyed this ride.
Grandpa Pig’s Little Train – Again there is only 4 allowed in each carriage, so we had to split up for this ride, and there is no restrictions so all of the children were able to go on this ride and they all enjoyed it. My boys are mad about trains so this was very popular with them. You can see my 3 year old below, excited to go on this train ride!
Daddy Pig’s Car Ride – Only the 3 and 4 year old went on this ride, with their dad. I never went on it as I was keeping an eye on the little one sleeping in the buggy, but my 4 year old tells me it was one of his favourites!
George’s Dinosaur Adventure – This was the other definite favourite. Again only my 4 and 3 year olds went onto this, the 4 year old riding alone and 3 year old together with Dad. They really enjoyed this one.
There are 2 other rides in Peppa Pig world – Peppa’s Big Balloon Ride and Miss Rabbit’s Helicopter Flight (which you can see here in the background below), which they didn’t chose to go on. There are also loads more in the main Paulton’s Park, including some much more advanced and thrilling rides for the slightly older children. My husband did try to persuade the 4 year old onto the Cobra ride, but he didn’t go for it (which I was glad – I would be so nervous seeing my little boy on such a big ride!)
Some of the other rides that were suitable for my 4 year old in the main park were the Flying Frog, the Astroglide slides, the Raving River and the Wave Runner. There are also plenty more, if you have time.
Back in Peppa Pig World, there are quite a few attractions to see other than just the rides. One of the main favourites with all 3 boys was the George’s SpaceShip Playzone. It is an indoor soft play area. There are loads of slides, and different sections for different age groups (baby, toddler and slightly older). I can imagine this would get packed out if it rains!
The playground in Peppa Pig World is also really nice. It’s very spacious and really well designed. We did this at the end of the day and the children would have been happy to spend much longer in it, if the park was not closing. Because it is so big and spread out, I don’t think it would get too over crowded so is fine for even little ones newly toddling around. Some pics below to show just a little bit of what there is!
(Excuse the lack of shoes, he threw them out of the buggy half way through the day and we never found them! This child is a nightmare for always chucking his shoes!!)
In Peppa Pig land you can also go inside Peppa Pig’s house (shown below, outside and inside!) – just note there is no buggy or wheelchair access for this.
The characters inside the house move and speak.
You can also see the camper van, but not go in it. Still, the boys enjoyed looking.
Other attractions in the main Paulton’s park, which we had not known about before but enjoyed, were all the animal attractions.
Throughout the park, as you walk around there are various exotic birds you will see – flamingos , cranes, emus and even more. Apparently there is a meerkat section too, which I have now seen on the website but did not spot while we were there.
There is also a penguin section which is located inside Peppa Pig World and you can see the penguins at their feeding time. There is a ramp which allows access for pushchairs, and there they have windows to see underneath the water so you can see many penguins coming past and diving to eat the fish.
Going through the gardens and the birds section was really peaceful and quiet. I found this brilliant, for my 3 year old. He has ASD and although he really enjoys these type of theme parks, after a little while I felt like it was starting to get a bit much for him and he was starting to melt down a bit. Lucky that I was able to put him back into the buggy and take him to spend some time quietly looking here.
My favourite bird was definitely the Toucan – so beautiful!
Another nice and quiet area in Paultons is the Dinosaur Land. You go through the path and there are so many models of different dinosaur species which you can see, among the real trees and mud. This would be great for any dinosaur enthusiasts, and is quite educational too. My younger two really enjoyed looking and pointing at these dinosaurs. 4 year old was busy on the astro slide, but I know he is scared of dinosaurs so maybe its better he missed out!
At the end of the day, tired out but enjoyed themselves!
My 3 yr old loving his new mr Dinosaur!
Overall I would say it was a good day. It’s a shame we didn’t plan and get the slightly cheaper tickets as I’m not sure its the best value at the full price but there is lots to do and the children definitely enjoyed it. The next day my 4 year old came home with a note he had written in school: “Mum, I like you. Can we go to peppa pig land again one day” So I’m sure we will be back – after all how can I say no to that? 🙂
Here’s a collection of pictures of the Graco Evo Mini in action on a few of our days out!
Here is my little tester (2o months), relaxing in the buggy at the funfair. It was quite a rough terrain, bumpy grass and some gravel too but the Graco Evo managed well with it and didn’t become too difficult to push.
Here he is again, a little more close up.
A view from above! As you can see the harness is a 5 point harness with padding on the straps. All five pieces become separate when unfastened and you slot the top and side parts together before clicking into place in the centre.
A view from the side. The hood is folded back here as it was nice weather on that day, so this allows more visability for my little boy to see the world from his seat in the buggy. When you do want to use the hood, it is a generous size and extends quite far forward to give a good coverage.
Here he is relaxing and easily able to look around and experience all the sights from in the buggy. This was at a model village local to us (Beaconsfield) The pathways are quite narrow there as you go around the attraction but we had absolutely no problems with getting the buggy through anywhere.
A good place to relax and have an ice cream or drink! He was comfy enough in the buggy and happy to sit and do this.
Also comfy enough to fall asleep at the end of a busy day out!
Looking forward to the next adventure with our new Graco pushchair!
Disclaimer: We are testing this pushchair as a part of the Graco Ambassador Competition and were provided with the item by Graco to enable us to take part.
Over the school holidays, with the weather still not being very Spring-like, we were on the hunt for some indoor activities to keep the children entertained. I came across The Look Out Discovery Centre in Bracknell, which is not too far from us so decided to give it a go.
It reminded me a bit of the Science Museum (which I will hopefully put a post up on soon as we have been a few times lately), although not the whole centre is not as big it has some quite similar elements in terms of toddler activities, but with the massive advantage that it is far less crowded! You do have to pay to go in, but the price was pretty reasonable and if you go in term time with preschoolers there are special rates for that, so would be even better.
The first thing you see when you go in is the water play room, the main attraction is a long yellow water play trough for the children with fountains, boats and all sorts of little things to experiment with. Waterproof covers are provided for the children, and also hand dryers which is a nice touch! This water play section is pretty big so plenty of room for all the children to play and move around, and not too over crowded. There also seemed to be plenty of boats to go around. My boys aged 1-4 all really enjoyed this water play. There are other water related features in this room but not as interactive as this play area so this was the one which kept most of their attention in the room.
We were really wondering how we were going to manage to drag them away from the water play so we could go and see the rest of the centre! But luckily then my 4 year old noticed the construction area opposite, so eager to have a look they agreed to come out of the water!
I was really impressed by the construction zone! I can’t see much mention of it on the website, but it is a great feature. There is a massive two story house structure, which the children can build from giant lego blocks – following the architect plans. They can make the walls, add all the tiles to the roof, move around the bricks in their wheel barrows and ride around the “construction site” on little diggers and bull dozers. Hats and luminous jackets also provided to help them get into character!
My 4 year old loved this area and it was really nice to see many of the children working together to build the walls, cooperating well and working as a team although they don’t even know each other!
My younger two really enjoyed the ride ons and there was plenty of space for them to ride around in this area.
Once you have finished in the construction area, you go further on into the main hall which has two floors. The upper one seemed to have exhibits a bit more suitable for older children so we did not concentrate on that too much, but I did see that they all seemed to be quite interactive.
In the lower level there are plenty of things to discover. At the front a giant hot air balloon which the children can activate, as well as some experiments with balls and other interactive exhibits. Again these are probably more for slightly older children. My 4 year old was interested but I would say he was definitely at the lower age range for them and an older child would learn more from it. Toward the back of this hall is a toddler section, which has a little shop area which my 3 year old really enjoyed. It also has a small ball pool and some soft play blocks and a nice relaxing area with sofa, books, giant lego and other activities suitable for little ones.
Outdoors the whole centre is surrounded by woodlands and seems to be really popular for biking. It also has an outdoor play area which we didn’t have the chance to explore as it was not good weather. I’m sure we will go back in the summer and check it out.
Definitely worth a visit for those not too far away. Makes a nice change from the usual soft play on rainy days. There is plenty to keep the little ones entertained. We were there for a good few hours and still they were reluctant to leave at closing time!
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