Category Archives: Days Out

The Eden Project

During a four day break in Cornwall with my husband, son, daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren, we decided that a visit to the Eden Project was a must. We looked at the weather forecast and the day that was scheduled for rain, was the day we booked to go.


The tickets are priced seasonally, so the prices range:

Adults: Standard – £32.50 Peak – £37.50
Child (aged 5-16): Standard – £11 Peak – £12
Child (aged 0-4): Free all year round.

Parking was included in the admission price.

Length of time spent here:

We arrived at 10:30 AM and left at about 2:30 PM.

My Review

We have been here before but that was approximately 15 years ago, so a lot has changed since then!

The Eden Project was originally a china clay pit and was used by the BBC as the planet surface of Magrathea in the TV series, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

This lovely driftwood sculpture of a horse was at the entrance – stunning!

It was drizzling with rain when we arrived, so we headed straight for the biomes, entering the Rainforest Biome first.

The Rainforest biome was amazing, it was like stepping into a different world. The amount of different flowers, plants and trees was mind boggling, from wild bananas to oil palm to all kinds of spices.

It didn’t feel as hot as I thought it was going to be, but this was in April, I suspect that in August it is a different story!

There was a treetop walk which included a rope wobbly bridge, where at the top, there was commanding views of the whole biome from the viewing platform.

After spending a couple of hours in this biome, it was time for lunch. We ate in the main dining area between the Rainforest and Mediterranean biomes, it was a little pricey so maybe bring your own packed lunch is the way to go, but we all had a snack and a drink….

…then it was onto the Mediterranean biome.

Stepping into the Mediterranean biome, I was struck by how much lighter and more colourful it was than the Rainforest biome. In here we found grape vines, olive trees, cotton and citrus fruit. The array of flowers was spectacular:

There were some intriguing statues in this biome which were called The Rites of Dionysus. These depict Dionysus, Greek god of the vines and his followers who dance and writhe through the vines beating drums and sounding trumpets.

After thoroughly exploring this biome, we made our way back out into the gardens, where it was raining pretty steadily now and headed towards the Invisible Worlds exhibition.

This was an exhibition which explored our sense and how life is shaped by and also shapes, invisible systems.

Invisible Worlds exhibition (Picture taken from Eden Project website).

One sculpture which immediately drew our attention was the Blue (Infinity Blue) ceramic sculpture which weighs in at 20 tonnes and is almost nine metres high. It pays homage to one of the worlds smallest but most important organisms: cyanobacteria. No, I didn’t know what that was either, it says on their website:

The sculpture is a monument to these vital microscopic beings, who, along with the descendants found in the photosynthesising cells of all green plants, continue to provide the oxygen in every break we take.

The Eden Project
One of its vapour rings!

It was time to head back to the caravan and even though the rain hadn’t let up all day it didn’t matter to us, we were in the biomes most of the time. We all had a great time, the grandkids enjoyed walking around and exploring the different areas, in fact, I think we all learned something today!

Bournemouth Christmas Tree Wonderland



Amount of time spent there:

We were there for about an hour and a half.

Suggested Christmas Tree Trail

My Review:

We try and do something each year to celebrate the holiday season. For a few years we went to the London Palladium to watch the pantomime and then walk around London to see the Christmas lights, another year we went to Longleat Festival of Lights, but due to Covid, obviously last year we didn’t do anything. So this year, we decided to go to Bournemouth, which is about a 45 minute drive from us and we took our daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren to the Christmas Tree Wonderland.

We arrived at Bournemouth at about 6:15 PM, after inexplicably getting lost, even though we’ve driven to Bournemouth numerous times! The first stop was to get some fish and chips and where better to go than Harry Ramsden’s. We had a lovely meal there, the batter really is very light and tasty!

So then it was time to wander through the Christmas Tree Wonderland…

There were an array of different lighted up Christmas trees, with a few other displays as well including a reindeer, polar bear and, of course, the main man himself, Father Christmas.

We walked around the park, it was lovely to see Harry’s face as he saw each Christmas tree, he’s nearly three, so just beginning to understand what happens this time of year. He loved the bright lights and excitedly ran from one display to the next.

At the end of the park, we came across an ice rink and we stopped to watch the would-be Torvill and Deans, skating around a fairly huge ice rink. There was the usual people hanging onto the sides, gingerly making their way around the rink, and I have to say, that would be me, skating is definitely not my thing!

View of the ice rink

You need to pre-book the ice rink, there are sessions of an hour each, from 10:30 AM until 20:30 PM throughout the day and prices are:

ADULT -£12.50 CHILD – £10.50 SENIOR CITIZEN – £11.50 and FAMILY – £41.00

A quick look around the stands in the city centre, which were mainly food outlets and we headed back into the park to walk along the back path where there were even more displays to see.

Gingerbread men, one of Harry’s favourite biscuits!

One last stop at the Carousel, it cost £3 per person, but it seemed to go round forever. Harry chose his horse and held on tight!

Gee up Neddy or Coleen!

We were very impressed with Bournemouth’s light display, it must have cost the council a lot of money to stage this and for it all to be free as well is wonderful.

Didn’t we have a lovely time the day we went to… southend-on-sea

One week, from Monday to Friday on Channel 5 television, there was a television programme called, Susan Calman’s Grand Week By The Sea, where she visited five seaside towns in England: Great Yarmouth, Brighton, St. Ives, Southend and Brighton, whilst watching this we realised that the only one we hadn’t visited was Southend, so we decided to put that right and one weekend we got in the car and headed North towards Southend.

We left Southampton for our two hour and 15 minutes journey, which was broken up by two tunnels, one of which was the Dartford Tunnel, which has an easy pay online system, so there’s no need to fumble around for your debit card or cash!

We parked up and it was a ten minute walk to the seafront, where we immediately went to a viewing point to take in the view.

View of the amusement park, you wouldn’t catch me on this ride!

Southend looks like a typical English seaside town, with a huge pleasure park, hotels and bed and breakfasts, plenty of fish and chip shops, a couple of crazy golf courses and of course the longest pleasure pier in the world!

So we decided that a walk along the pier was the first thing we should do, all 1.33 miles of it. We purchased a ticket for £5.10 each, which was for walking one way and catching the train back, yes, a train!

This was the view looking down the pier, at first it didn’t seem that long, but the end of the pier seemed to take forever to get to.

It took us about 30 minutes at a leisurely walk, to walk the 1.33 miles, and once we reached the end of the pier, we felt that we deserved an ice cream and my hubby, who considers himself a bit of a connoisseur, thoroughly enjoyed his rum and raisin one!

Right at the end of the pier is the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, with a sun deck for stunning views of Southend from over a mile away. (See header photograph). There is also a RNLI gift shop and you can get up close to the lifeboats.

Image taken from the Southend Pier Railway website

From there we took the train back to the mainland, which took longer than we thought it would, but it was nice not to have to walk back again!

A walk along the seafront and we came across a crazy golf course and we decided to play a round. Hubby normally wins when we play, but today was a different story, I didn’t just beat him, I thrashed him by 14 strokes!

By this time we were quite peckish and felt it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t have fish and chips! We went to Britannia fish and chip shop on the seafront and it was delicious!

Time was getting on and our car parking ticket was nearing expiration, so we made our way back to the car park, walking through the town centre.

The journey home was different in that we didn’t go back through the Dartford Tunnel, but over the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, which I have to say is quite stunning. It is known for heavy traffic congestion, but we sailed through it.

Queen Elizabeth II Bridge

All in all, it was a lovely day out, not too expensive, it was great to walk along the promenade, people watch and have a go in the amusement arcade – your typical British Staycation!



Adult: £21.50
Senior (60+) £20.50
Child (5-16 yrs) £10.00

The tickets have to be pre-booked with the day and arrival time. You can arrive up to 50 minutes after your allotted time.

Length of time spent here:
Approximately seven hours.

My Review

We visited on Father’s Day and they were having a hot rod show, (good planning by the Events Team!!). We took a wander around the cars, our son-in-law who is somewhat of an expert in cars, (there isn’t much he doesn’t know about them), enjoyed it a lot.

My grandson loved this car with the eyes in the bonnet.

After a walk around the cars, (there was a lot of them), we stopped for a picnic lunch and then headed towards Little Beaulieu.

This play area was really well thought out, there were separate areas for the younger children, complete with a wooden bus to climb on and a sandpit. Then you had the magical wooden palace with lots of slides and secret passages and for the adults there is a well stocked on-site café,

After we had drank a cup of coffee and Harry had run around the play area, we headed off to the museum. We had to wait outside until our time to go in, we wore masks and followed the one-way system, there was lots of arrows and directions which were easy to follow. There were lots of exhibits from racing cars, to motorbikes, to buses and even children’s toys.

After a trip around on the monorail, which circled the whole of Beaulieu, we then went for a walk around the grounds. As well as holding the car show today, there was also Sculpture at Beaulieu featuring international and national sculptors.

We went to visit the Top Gear Exhibition where a lot of the cars which featured on the Top Gear programme were exhibited. It didn’t take very long to walk through this exhibition, but it was good to see these famous or infamous vehicles.

We finished off the day, where else but the gift shop!

The tickets we purchased allowed us to have an Annual Pass, this only includes entry to the Motor Museum, if you would like one to cover all the attractions, you need to purchase an Annual Pass Upgrade ticket.

A lovely day out, we were blessed with the weather, it had been raining the day before.

Me and hubby in an Instagram picture setting.

Marwell Zoo

With the current Government procedures in place, tickets are released four days ahead of your visit and these must be booked online via their website.


Adult Entry – £19.78
Child Entry – £16.19
Family Entry – £68.35
Under 3 Entry – £0.00
Carer Entry – £0.00

Length of time spent here:

Approximately six hours.

My Review

I went with my husband Phil, daughter Amy and grandson Harry. After a long time of not having gone out except for walks, we felt it was time to go and visit an attraction nearby to us and so we decided on Marwell Zoo.

Phil and I had taken Harry here before, when he was a lot smaller, so now he was walking and talking and taking an interest in everything around him, I was looking forward to seeing how he reacted to the animals.

I was surprised by how much the car park was already filling up, so we joined the queue to get in, abiding by the two metre distance and as everyone had already obtained their tickets online, the queue was quite quick.

We obtained a map of the park and after a quick toilet stop, not the cafe as it was only open for takeaways, we made our way to the penguines.



Even though we told Harry they were penguins, he insisted they were ducks, so as he wasn’t too wrong, we let it go.

There was a one-way system round the park, which people seemed to follow on the whole and when there was an inside exhibit, there were always keepers to make sure that there was a certain number of people inside at any one time.

Amy and Harry

We headed to the giraffes, where Harry got very excited at seeing them and even said, “Giraffe,” the first time he has said that.  We went inside the giraffe shed, where we could get up close and personal and Harry was transfixed by them. So much so, that we bought him a toy giraffe at the gift shop and he kept hold of it all the time.

We followed the one way system around the zoo and saw some rhinos, zebras, a cheetah, leopard and a tiger. When Harry saw the tiger he shouted out, “Roar,” which was so cute.

We stopped for a picnic lunch and then decided to go to the Tropical House to see the frogs, birds, tortoises, mice and goliath beetles and the sloth, which all were excited to see.  There was a long queue for the Tropical House, which when you have a 19 month old boy it is difficult to keep him amused, but after bribes of chocolate buttons and juice, he was very well behaved and we were soon in there.


We did see the sloth, but he was hidden in the branches of a tree, so I have used the image from the Marwell Zoo website, as you can’t see him in our photographs!

Harry loved the fish swimming in the pools and he pointed at the birds, shouting “Birds,” as he did so.

We walked around the edge of the zoo, passing a snow leopard, emus and some hippos and we ended up at the gift shop where we just had to buy Harry a giraffe.

It was a lovely day, people kept their social distance, there were members of staff manning the toilets, the cafes were open for takeaways, all in all, it was very well organised.


As we left Marwell, Harry was asleep, tired out after doing a lot of walking and no doubt dreaming all about the animals and especially the giraffes!






Bletchley Park


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We were lucky enough to receive this as a Virgin Experience Day from our son and his girlfriend as a Christmas present, which included a cream tea – the prices are:

Adults – £20.00
Concessions – £17.50
Children 12 to 17 – £12.00
Children under 12 – FREE
Family Ticket – £52.00

These tickets include an annual season pass, so you can have unlimited returns for a year.

There is free parking on site.

Length of time spent here:

We were here for approximately six hours.

My Review

This is somewhere my husband and I have wanted to visit for a very long time, but it is a good two and a half hours driving for us from the South of England, so when we received this voucher as a Christmas present, we knew that this trip was definitely on the cards.

Alan Turing’s desk

Turing’s Assistant’s desk

I thought that I would come away from Bletchley Park with my ears ringing about Alan Turing and his contribution to the war effort. Yes, he was mentioned and we saw his desk together with his assistant’s desk (I feel that not enough focus is placed on the assistants and secretaries of great people – I feel a blog coming!)

Mavis Batey (nee Lever)

But I was pleasantly surprised to see other people being recognised and their stories revealed: how Mavis Batey (nee Lever) who was just 19 when she worked on the Italian Naval Enigma machine, she broke into their framework and deciphered a message which said, “Today’s the day minus three”. She and her colleagues worked for three days and nights and discovered that the Italians were intending to assault a Royal Navy convoy transporting supplies from Cairo, Egypt to Greece. The messages they deciphered provided a detailed plan of the Italian assault.  There were short stories from people who worked at Bletchley Park describing the entertainment, what the food was like and the fact that there were many romances between staff members.  In fact, Mavis met Keith Batey, a fellow codebreaker at Bletchley Park and they married in 1942.

We took a tour of the huts, which I found really interesting, the offices were all laid out as they would have been in the war.  Phil, my husband, being a chef, loves looking round old fashioned kitchens and me, having worked in offices all my life, I love looking around offices when I get the chance, I especially like the old fashioned typewriters. I do admire anyone who can type fast on these, no spell checker, no delete button, but you do get the bell when you reach the end of a line!

We saw the Bombe, which was the electro-mechanical device that deciphered the German Enigma machine. The initial design of this was produced at Bletchley Park by Alan Turing: Gordon Welchman made the device more efficient by bringing down the deciphering time from two days to 15 minutes.

The Bombe

We had booked ourselves onto a guided tour, which was very interesting, the guide gave us lots of information about Bletchley telling us about the shift system, (three shifts per day), that there was only about 35 people working here at the start of the war and by the end there was about 9000 people. The fact that the work was so secret that the codebreakers didn’t know what the people in the next room were working on. It was an hour tour and I’d thoroughly recommend it.

IMG_0499After the guided tour was the much anticipated cream tea. You do need to pre-book this, it was fully booked on our day.  The cost is £18 on top of the entry fee and for an extra £6.00 you can have a glass of Prosecco.  The menu was:


Blue cheese & broccoli quiche
Gammon ham & cheese finger sandwiches
Smoked salmon, crème fraiche & cucumber open mini roll
Free range egg, mayo & cress sandwiches



Selection of Eclairs
Selection of macaroons
Strawberry sponge
Fruit and plain scones with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry preserves
Anna’s homemade shortbread

Your choice of:
Variety of loose-leaf teas or fresh ground coffee

We thoroughly enjoyed the cream tea and it was a lovely way to end our visit.

The lake at Bletchley Park – picture again taken by my husband (he’s getting quite good at these lake scenes!)

Our walk back to the main entrance was via the lake, where in the winter it froze over and the workers used to ice skate and play ice hockey and it was the venue for the clandestine meetings between co-workers.

pigeonMy prize for the most unusual exhibit goes to the pigeon carrier, which would parachute the pigeons to soldiers, for the pigeons to forward on messages to the troops.

All in all, a great day out, with lots of displays and interactive exhibitions to find out if you could cut it as a spy and don’t forget, if you don’t manage to see everything in one day, you can use your annual season ticket to come back another time, free of charge!











Moors Valley Country Park and Forest

Beautiful picture of the lake at Moors Valley – I can’t take the credit for it as my husband took it!


There is no price for entry but you do pay for parking:

Length of time spent here:

Just over four hours. (We had to pay the £12 for parking).

My Review

I went with my husband, Phil, (who has now gotten over the Tottenham game) and my daughter, Amy, and our grandson Harry, who was enjoying his first proper day out with us.

First stop was the cafe, (you’ll come to realise that this is how we start our days out, cafe and then the toilets). We bought three coffees, lattes, and three custard slices, this cost us £17.50 which I thought was a bit steep, but when you saw the size of those custard slices and how lovely they tasted, it didn’t seem so bad.

We planned out our day, while Harry, who has just discovered he has a voice, made squawking noises, much to the amusement of an elderly couple who were sat on the next table. It was almost as though he was saying to us, “Hurry up, I want to go and explore outdoors.” So we followed Harry’s advice and tried to find the start of the red route, which was the longest one at 5 miles (well, I had to walk off that custard slice!).

Screenshot 2019-06-15 at 15.23.39

This is the map we had picked up from reception, but try as we might, we just couldn’t find where the red route started, ended or anything in the middle. We rather hopefully followed a trail, but knew deep down it wasn’t the right one. We decided to cut our losses and followed some signs which led us back to the main area.

We decided that as it was still a bit early and the custard slice was still laying a bit heavy on our stomachs that we would go for a train ride. This was an extra cost, but Harry went free.  The costs were:

Screenshot 2019-06-15 at 15.28.48

We decided on the Adult return tickets and boarded the train. You start from Lakeside station and travel to Kingsmere station.  It was one where you sat on a bench and a miniature sized steam engine pulled the carriages. We went to Kingsmere Station which didn’t seem to take that long and disembarked to cross the bridge where you can take a train back to Lakeside station.

There was a train souvenir shop, a model train set and a tea shop. We had a quick look round and then got back on the train. The journey back was longer and we went through a couple of tunnels, which everyone seemed excited about as we all cheered as we went through!

After the excitement of the train, it was time for lunch. Again, we brought our own lunch and ate it in the picnic field by the train station. There was a Steam Train Fair going on, with lots of locomotives on display and steam engines, with a few classic cars. IMG_0425

But Harry and Phil decided they quite like the remote controlled tanks with the Action Man figures inside. I’m not sure who was having the most fun, the kids running away from the tanks or the men with the remote controls chasing the kids!

The tanks were from the Southern Armour Group, I have linked their Facebook page.

So we sat and watched the tanks while we ate our lunch.

After lunch we decided that the red route was not going to defeat us! So we walked again, with renewed enthusiasm and full stomachs and found the start straight away. It wasn’t really that hard to find as it is marked by a huge totem pole!

This time we were a lot more successful with reading the map, which considering both my husband and daughter are ex-scout leaders, is how it should be, (we’ll overlook the earlier walk!)

We followed the 5 mile route, which did prove a little tricky sometimes, pushchairs and roots poking up from the ground don’t go together well, but it was a lovely walk which ended up at the lake.

The sun had started to shine, it had been a little drizzly earlier on and we came upon a steam engine parade, when Harry nearly jumped out of his skin when one of the engine drivers tooted a whistle at him.

We rounded off the day with an ice cream, which I can say was one of the best ice creams I’ve had in a long time, but we did feel guilty as Harry isn’t old enough to have them yet, so he had to sit in his pushchair and watch us!

Harry denying us every lick of ice cream!

After that it was time to go home. This was a great day out, even though we only did the walks, there is a whole lot of other activities at Moors Valley, including Go Ape. We walked under the course of high wires and Amy and Phil decided that we are going to come back, when Amy’s husband comes back from sea, (he’s a sailor) and they are going to complete the Go Ape course. My reply was, “Good luck with that, I’ll look after Harry.” So, expect a review about that, but not my experience, theirs.




Exbury Gardens & Steam Railway



Gardens & railway £18.75 £17.50
Gardens only £13.75 £12.50
Child (3-15 years)
Gardens & railway £9.40 £9.00
Gardens only £4.40 £4.00
Gardens & railway £56.90 £49.00
Gardens only £31.90 £29.00

*Family tickets are for 2 adults and up to 3 children.

Note: If you book online you get 10% discount.

Length of time spent here:

Approximately four hours.

My Review

I went with my husband, Phil, (who was a little down after the European Cup Final match the night before, yes, he’s a Tottenham supporter!) and our first stop was the coffee shop where we both had a cappuccino and discussed our plan of action, as it did look like a very big place.

I do consider myself a bit of a connoisseur when it comes to toilets, and I have to say that the toilets here were very well maintained, even the ones inside the park, I was pleasantly surprised at how clean and modern they were.

We checked in at Reception with our online tickets and we received a map and two tickets for the train (hubby was a little excited at the prospect of a train ride).

Screenshot 2019-06-03 at 08.41.17

The map was very detailed and we decided to walk around the left of the Visitor Entrance in the morning and after lunch, take the train and then explore the right hand side.

As we started to walk around, we realised that we were probably a couple of weeks too late to enjoy the complete splendour of the rhododendrons and azaleas but the smells and the colours of those that were on display were amazing. We noticed that there was a place called Five Arrows Gallery and being lovers of paintings, decided to have a look inside. It wasn’t the art that we were expecting, they had had a competition the day before and there was different types of rhododendrons and azaleas that had been judged  and awarded places. We had an interesting talk with one of the ladies who belonged to the RHS who explained the different categories and showed us the best in show.

We left there feeling that we really should nurture our rhododendron plants in our garden a bit more.

From there we did a tour around the left hand side of the map, seeing gems such as the Burmese Bell, the Arromanches Plaque (to commemorate D-Day landings), the Sun Dial Garden and the Japanese Bridge.

Along the way we took some pictures of flowers that were in bloom, absolutely gorgeous!

After lunch, (we didn’t use the cafeteria, we brought a picnic lunch), we headed for the train station, to catch the steam train for a railway trip around the grounds.  The journey lasted for approximately 25 minutes, with a stop halfway round while they tended to the engine (I’m not quite sure what they did but it seemed to involve oil and water), but during the stop we were entertained by the conductor who told us some of the history of Exbury Gardens. It was a very pleasant trip, where we had a good view of The Rock Garden, which is the biggest man-made rock garden in Europe.

We finished off the day with a walk around the right hand side of the map, taking in the Jubilee pond, the Domesday Yew and the Rock Garden.

This was a lovely day out, it was very tranquil and it was good to get away from the hustle and bustle of normal life and just walk through the woods, hand in hand, enjoying nature at its best.


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Steam Railway at Exbury Gardens (picture is from Exbury Garden’s website)