Out and About
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Visiting Formby and The Red Squirrel Nature Reserve

24 November 2020

We have been trying to make the most of lockdown by making sure that we get out at the weekend for some much-needed fresh air. We have a huge list of places that we want to visit in the North West For some scenic walks. A few weeks ago we decided to head to Freshfields which is also known as Formby National Trust Red Squirrel Reserve.

boys walking through the woods

It’s been a while since we visited the squirrel reserve but it's probably one of our favourites and we have been visiting since both John and I were little.  It was once home to lots and lots of red squirrels but as the years have gone on there are less and less and unfortunately we didn't see any on our visit this time. It's a nice scenic walk and perfect for some fresh sea air. 

What To Expect At The Red Squirrel Reserve, L37 1LJ
There are some walking trails to enjoy at The Red Squirrel Reserve including


boy on a rope swing


Formby Red Squirrel Walk
​Explore beautiful woodlands surrounding Formby in Merseyside, home to the rare native red squirrel. This walk is mostly covered by trees so if you choose to visit on a wet and rainy day like we did you won’t feel the rain at all.

There is lots of ground to cover and so much for little ones to explore. There are lots of hills to climb and run down and large open spaces perfect for den building.  We even found a tree swing someone had made which was lots of fun. 

woodland space

tree carvings

Formby Asparagus

Formby Asparagus

Asparagus Walk
Have a wander through the crop fields and discover how a spring vegetable helped shaped Formby as it is today. There are lots of information points along the way to read about Formby Asparagus.

boys walking over Sand Dunes



Over The Dunes
The Squirrel Reserve is a short walk away from the coastline and just over the dunes you will find Formby beach which is perfect for a nice stroll or even a paddle in the sea.

Anything Else?
The National Trust Squirrel Reserve can be reached on foot or by car. If you choose to use the National Trust carpark you will be asked to pay £7.50 if you are not a National Trust member.

Toilet facilities are open every day till  3pm however they are closed at 12:30 for a 30 minute deep clean.

There is an ice cream van selling ice cream and refreshments just located by the toilets. Card is accepted however due to poor wifi signal I would recommend taking cash too. There is also a pop-up trailer serving hot and cold drinks and some light snacks including cakes.

If you are heading to the beach upon arrival please take note of the tide times as it can come in very quickly and you do not want to be surrounded by water.

The Red Squirrel Reserve is very popular with local schools so there are lots of picnic benches and family friendly areas situated around the reserve and clearly signposted.  

Please ensure you follow social distancing rules & Government guidelines and if the reserve is busy on arrival, please consider leaving and returning at a later date. 

Check for local lockdowns / travel restrictions before visiting anywhere. 

Always check with the venue direct as things may have changed after this post was published. 

What Is Close By?
Antony Gormleys Another Place (The Iron Men), L22 1RR
Another Place is a piece of modern sculpture by Sir Antony Gormley located at Crosby Beach in Merseyside, England. It consists of 100 cast iron figures facing towards the sea.

Southport Pier, PR8 1QX
Not only does Southport have 22 miles of coast but also boasts the Grade II listed Southport Pier, the oldest iron pier in the country, standing for over 150 years.

Further Away
Blackpool Promenade, FY1 5BB
There’s nothing quite like a day at the seaside, and Blackpool is one of the best beach resorts you will find in the UK.

Speke Hall Estate and Gardens, L24 1XD
Speke Hall Gardens and Estate is a National Trust property just outside Liverpool with lots of walking trails, adventure playground and beautiful views of the River Mersey.


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Family Walk At Rivington Pike

2 November 2020

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Sometimes the best thing to do at the moment with all the restrictions and constant change to what we can and can't do is to find somewhere new to explore and have a day outdoors. We had heard about Rivington Pike a few times before so after some research about the type of walk we could expect we headed out on another adventure. 

View from Rivington Pike

To start your walk, you can park at either The Great Barn House Cafe, or on the road up to Rivington Hall Barn. We parked further away at the Barn House Cafe, as the toilets and availability of parking suited us better. This made our walk a little longer but it was good to be able to get freshened up before we started. From there you walk up to Rivington Hall Barn and your walk starts here. 

Climbing a Rivington Tree

There are multiple paths you can choose to start with, however we followed the signposts pointing towards Rivington Pike which took us around the back of the Barn, past a small waterfall and then up towards Breres Meadow, which has a well maintained path and the remains of a long dead tree that looked fun to climb on. 

Summer House

As you follow the path you will be heading towards the Terraced Gardens which hide a lot of different areas to explore.  There are maps dotted around the Terraced Gardens so that you can decide which of the areas to explore and plan your route accordingly. 

remains of a Summer House

boy walking on bricks

Within the Terraced Gardens there are many 'crazy paving footpaths' that lead to Man Made Caves, The Japanese Gardens, 2 Summer houses and the ruins of a stone Bothy - where the servants used to live. They are quite spread out, and you will need some time to be able to visit all in one day.  On the outskirts of the terraced gardens there is also Lever Bridge and Pigeon Tower that are also worth a look, and we plan to visit again shortly to be able to pick up the parts that we missed this time around.

Rivington Pike In The Distance

Once you break out of the gardens the Pike will be visible, and again there are a number of routes you can take depending on where you come out of the gardens.  We ended up at the far right end of the gardens and our route to the pike from here was quite long with the path more rocky than previous paths had been which made the walk more of a challenge. The path took us out past Bolton Wanderers ground and some great views of the local area, and then swept back round to the left and up to the Pike. 

Rivington Pike

Once at the top it was noticeable that the temperature was lower and the wind stronger. It was also very busy at the top with lots of people having made the journey enjoying the views and sitting on one of the four benches to have lunch. 

A view from Rivington Pike

Looking down from Rivington Pike

We took a different route down which took us past the Summer Houses and Lever Bridge. You could climb into the gaps in the bridge which was good for Little J who wanted to get as high as he could. We then headed down towards Lower House Car Park, which always has an Ice Cream Van there, to reward Little J for his efforts.  


From there it was a short walk back to Rivington Hall Barn and then back to the Great Barn House Cafe and Car Park. Overall the walk took us around 4 hours, with a stop for lunch at the top included in this time.  It is one of those places that you would get to know the more you visit so you can expect the walk time to reduce depending on the route you choose and how well you get to know the area. 


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Our Top Five Things To Do When Visiting The Lake District

29 October 2020

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Disclosure In collaboration with, but all views and photographs are our own.

Although we haven't done a lot of travelling this year we have had some very nice days out and overnight stays and I think that has helped us get through this very strange year. One of our favourite places is The Lake District and whilst following local guidance it's been perfect to visit as there is plenty of open space to enjoy and no matter what the weather it's a beautiful place to explore. Here are our top five things to do and see when visiting The Lake District. 

Bowness on Windermere

Enjoy A Boat Trip On Windermere
Taking a boat trip on Windermere never gets old and we have been enjoying it for as long as I can remember. You can enjoy the stunning views of Windermere from a cruise that departs from either Bowness. Ambleside or Lakeside.

Red Cruise
Sail from Bowness to Ambleside or vice versa, and enjoy this 70-75 minutes round trip cruise.

Blue Cruise
A 45 minute circular cruise from Bowness, enjoy contrasting scenery of mountains, wooded shorelines and lovely tranquil bays.

Yellow Cruise
This cruise sails from Bowness to Lakeside or vice versa. The round trip takes 90 minutes.

Due to Covid-19 all cruises now have allocated seating and you can book up to between 7-10 days in advance. A face covering must be worn on board all cruises and it's advised to check the website before you travel for any updated information.

Grizedale Forest

Visit To Grizedale Forest
The Grizedale Visitor centre is a great base if you are planning one of the walking trails as it has plenty of parking, facilities including toilets and washing area, picnic tables to enjoy lunch or snack before you set off.

The centre also has a fantastic childrens play area, and a cafe area with outside and inside seating (although inside isn't available at the moment) serving food, drinks and ice creams throughout the day.  There is also a Go Ape centre here with climbing options in the forest and Segway routes if you would prefer this to a walk.

Railway Sign

Take A Steam Train Ride
You can enjoy the scenic views of the Lakes from the comfort of a Steam Train on the heritage railway. You can combine the yellow river cruise from Bowness and enjoy a 2 hour round trip. 

Your boat cruise will take you to Lakeside where you will then board the steam train to Haverthwaite Station.

Once at Haverthwaite you can enjoy a take away snack from the tea room, browse the gift shop, take a woodland walk and the children can enjoy the large playground area.

Due to Covid-19 all visitors on board must wear a face covering and as always make sure you check out the website for up to date information regarding your visit.

Walking through the woods

Walk Through Fell Foot Park
Fell Foot Park is a huge open space where you can enjoy walks around the parkland, meadow and lake. There is cafe open inside the park and they are working hard to not only provide takeaway snacks and drinks but to offer indoor seating too. 

There is a downloadable activity sheet available from the Fell Foot Park website including a tree trail and bird spotter challenge. 

The car park is open however parking spaces are limited and at the moment there are just two toilets open. 

Please do continue to check the website before your visit.

Vegetable patch at Hill Top

Hill Top - A Visit Beatrix Potter's Home
A visit to Hill Top is a must for Beatrix Potter fans. Although the house is currently closed due to Covid-19 the gardens, shop and cafe are open. 

The gardens are beautiful all year round but in Autumn they are busting with vegetables, fruit and pretty colours. 

If you want to explore the area you can enjoy the Beatrix Potter Moss Eccles Tarn Walk. This is a gentle walk taking from Hill Top to Moss Eccles Tarn, one of Beatrix Potters favourite places to paint while her husband fished. 

Please do continue to check the website before your visit.

The lakes

The Lake District is a beautiful place to visit with so many attractions and things to see and do and we never get tired of visiting and exploring. 


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Visiting Dream, Sutton Manor

21 October 2020

For the past 11 years we have travelled up and down the M62 for both business and pleasure and every time we pass 'The big white head' I always say we must go and visit and see what it is all about, but we never had until last weekend. We are always looking for ideas for walks in the North West so we headed to Sutton Manor. The big white head which is actually called Dream is situated in the old Sutton Manor Colliery grounds and was created in 2009.

Dream Statue
Dream is located in Sutton Manor, St Helens and was the result of St Helens entering Channel 4's 'The Big Art Project' in 2008. Artist Jaume Plensa visited the site and had a vision of a piece of art coming out from the ground. He decided on a neck and head of a woman with her eyes closed as if she is meditating. He later decided to base the sculpture on a 9 year old girl representing the idea of 'future'.

Sutton Manor Woodland is very popular with dog walkers and visitors to Dream. There is a car park and plenty of road parking surrounding the area. 

Dream Statue
When entering Sutton Manor via the main entrance sign posts for Dream are dotted along the pathways however if you wish to explore the woodlands and circular paths you can choose a variety of ways. 

Some of the paths are a little steep and not very well surfaced however most of the routes are accessible. 

The Dream Statue is located in the middle of the woodlands and is very hard to miss. Other than visiting the statue there are no other facilities at Sutton Manor Woodland but it was a very enjoyable walk. 

Facts about Dream
Designed by world-famous, award-winning Catalan artist Jaume Plensa
Standing on a plinth, Dream is 20 metres, 66 feet high and is fifty times life size
The sculpture weighs 373 tonnes and sits on the site of Sutton Manor Colliery
Made from brilliant white pre-cast concrete with Spanish dolomite, the whitest marble
The plinth in the shape of a miner’s tally is 17 metres in diameter, made of 36 units
The casting of Dream by Evans Concrete of Derbyshire took a total of sixty days
A total of 6160 man hours were spent in constructing the sculpture
54 different panels each weighing 9 tonnes comprise Dream’s head
The supporting piles go 38 metres underground, nearly twice Dream’s height
An estimated 55 million vehicles pass Dream each year on the M62

Dream Statue

We really enjoyed our visit to Dream however I'm not sure whether we would visit again nor would I recommend travelling a great distance to visit. I think if the woodlands itself was to undergo a makeover to include maybe a cafe, toilet facilities, children's play area and other facilities to make a trip worthwhile then I do think it would attract more visitors per year. 


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Visiting Disneyland Paris During Halloween Season

7 October 2020

Happy Halloween Sign at Disneyland Paris
Halloween season is lots of fun and even more special if you are heading to Disneyland Paris. We really enjoyed visiting during Halloween and there are lots of tricks and treats to enjoy at the hotels and the parks to keep you busy. Unfortunately it doesn't look like we will make it to Disneyland Paris this year but if you are then I've gathered some information to make the most of your visit. 

Pumpkin at Disneyland Paris

a couple by a Pumpkin at Disneyland Paris

Pumpkin at Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Park

I'm Walking Right Down The Middle Of Main Street, USA
From the moment you head in to the park you will be greeted with pumpkins and Halloween decorations as they line the streets with tricks and treats ready to pop up anywhere to give you a spooky surprise.

Main Street is one of our favourite places to take photographs as it is always decorated perfectly for the Halloween season. There will be lots of Mickey pumpkins, ghosts and ghouls ready to be snapped. 

The decorations and music at Disneyland Paris really add to your whole experience and they do it so well.

Maleficent at Disneyland Paris
Spot A Villain
Halloween brings out the villains and you will definitely spot a few of your favourites. Halloween season is the only time you can spot some of the villains so you won't want to miss them.

Maleficent will be lurking around Sleeping Beauty's Castle so make sure you check out Fantasyland.

If you fancy seeing Captain Hook head to Adventureland and look out for the Jolly Roger.

Rumour has it that Ursula will be making an appearance this year too. We have never met Ursula so this will be on our 'to do' list if we get the chance to visit.

pumpkins at Disneyland Paris

Jack Skellington at Disneyland Paris
Spooky Selfies
Spotting your favourite character in their Halloween costume is such a good feeling. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Goofy will be escorted around the parks throughout the Halloween season ready to snap a selfie with you.

Little boy with Mickey at Disneyland Paris

Mickey and Friends Take To The Stage
Mickey and friends will also we heading to the Fantasyland theatre for some selfies. (I think this will be the Meet Mickey Theatre but will confirm)

Hollywood Studios

Who's Lurking At Hollywood Studios?
From 1 October, Jafar, Cruella de Vil, Captain Hook and other mischievous characters are invading Studio Theater for your goosebump-inducing pleasure. A screamingly good time awaits those courageous enough to spend time in the presence of these rebellious rapscallions.

tower of terror at  Disneyland Paris

The Tower Of Terror
Welcome to the dusty remnants of the once-glamourous Hollywood Tower Hotel. Going up? Hop inside the service elevator and discover the surprises that lie on the upper floors - we’re sure you’ll fall quickly for this old Hotel’s quirky charms. Oh, and make sure you strap in, you never know what can happen in a rickety old lift.

*Due to Covid19 there will be only opportunities to take selfies with the characters at a distance for the safety of staff and guests. The precise times and locations of characters can not be guaranteed.

As well as all the spooky shenanigans you can enjoy all your favourite rides. 

Disney's Halloween Festival is back for 2020 from 26th September till the 1st November. Opening times and ride closures are updated on the Disneyland Paris website under plan your visit so make sure you check that out before your visit so you can plan your days. 


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Scarefest At Alton Towers

23 September 2020

Scarefest sign at Alton Towers

On the 9th October Alton Towers will transform the resort in to a Halloween haven of all things spooky for its Halloween event, Scarefest. We visit every year and in our opinion it keeps getting better and better and we couldn't wait to see what was in store for us this year. 

Alton Towers have promised that this year it will be as spooktacular as ever with lots of thrills and chills planned. The one thing we love at Alton Towers is they provide Halloween fun for all the family. 

Family Friendly Halloween Fun

Scarefest at Alton Towers

Alton Ancestors
On Arrival you will usually bump in to the Alton Ancestors. They have left their gravestones behind and are back from the dead. One thing you should know about the Ancestors is they love to dance so make sure you check them out and even join in.

CBeebies Land Monster Ball
Join the CBeebies characters live in Big Fun ShowTime as they dance and play games. the show features Bing, Ubercorn, Peter Rabbit and many more of your favourite CBeebies friends, you can even dress up in your favourite costume.

Garden Lights Walk: Whispering Souls
We visited the Alton Towers gardens for this first time this year just as lockdown eased and I have said ever since that I hope we visit again. This year for the first time the Gardens has it's own event during Scarefest. View the gardens as never before and witness them come to life in a whole new spooktacular…LIGHT! This is a free attraction and not a live scare maze.

scarefest at alton towers

Freaky Fun Zone
You won't want to miss the Freaky Fun Zone on the front lawns.  The five super-freaky Halloween characters put on the most spook-tacular shows, with meet and greets and photo opportunities. Little ones will love this as the characters are so much fun and very colourful. 

Thrilling Frights

scarefest at alton towers

Freak Show: Toxic Junkyard
New for 2020 the Freak Show: Toxic Junkyard is an outdoor maze inviting you to venture into the Freak Show hidden den to discover the secret of the psycho clowns’ next big show.

Altonville Mine Tours
The ‘Skin Snatchers’ are the outcasts of their whole family. Rumours are they lived in that old mine. It’s deep, dark and the damp inside gives you the proper shivers. Just recently some fool reopened it – for tours! Be careful: they say those Skin Snatchers have a secret, too horrifying for words. 

The Attic: Terror of the Towers
In Alton people talk of the Governess – how she’s haunted by the death of young children. She wants revenge, and she will do it by seizing the spirits of the living in retribution. They say her ghost haunts The Attic and that’s where you’re headed.

Alton's scare mazes are award winning and definitely not for the faint hearted. Recommended for those aged 15+ and make sure you are prepared for anything. The scare mazes are an extra charge which can be pre booked online. Please note you must wear a face mask. 

We have done a few scare attractions over the years with The Attic our most recent and I can confirm they are very scary.

scarefest at alton towers

There are also many other reasons to visit Alton Towers during Scarefest including the Alton Towers Dungeon and Darkest Depths

Darkest Depths
Enjoy some extra-spooky swashbuckling aboard ‘The Mutiny’, a notoriously spine-chilling ghost ship. You’ll truly earn your golden Piece of Eight by venturing into the darkest depths, avoiding the hazardous calls of the treacherous Sirens, dodging the swords of terrifyingly ghoulish pirate mutineers and coming face to face with the Kraken – the legendary monster of the seas!

Alton Towers Dungeon
As Scarefest descends on the Towers, enter The Alton Towers Dungeon for a little less laughing… and a lot more screaming! Will you be found guilty by the Bishop of Stafford, survive a visit to the Plague Doctor and make it out of The Witch of Burslem’s Cottage? Enter The Alton Towers Dungeon this Halloween, as we celebrate the most hideously horrible time of year with your delightful peasant screams… If you dare!

Both attractions are recommended for guests age 10+ and you are required to wear a face mask

scarefest at alton towers
scarefest at alton towers

As well as as this scary fun you can enjoy your favourite rides in the dark as the theme park is open till 9pm every night during Scarefest. 

Also if you want to make the most of your visit to Scarefest you can stay over at the resort where the spooky fun continues. 


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Snowdonia View Farmhouse

8 September 2020

Snowdonia View Farmhouse

For the past few years every Summer we have come together as a family and booked a trip away for a few days. We have visited Simgill Cottage in The Lake District in the past which was a great base to explore the Lakes but this year we decided to head west and visit North Wales. Finding a property that can accommodate 14 can be tough but we managed to find Snowdonia View.

Snowdonia View is a large cottage farmhouse situated in Bryn y Maen with Conwy, Betwys-y-Coed and Llandudno being a short distance away.

On arrival Snowdonia View can comfortably park 4 cars at the side of the property and 1 at the front.

Snowdonia View Farmhouse - Dining Room

Snowdonia View Farmhouse - Kitchen
Snowdonia View Farmhouse - Kitchen

When you enter you will be greeted by a large hall/main entrance. This leads on to an open plan dining room with seating suitable for up to 16 people. The kitchen is to the right of the dining room and has everything you need for a self catering holiday. Just at the side of the kitchen are two utility rooms with washing machine and also another full size fridge.  The door from the utility leads on to the back garden.

Snowdonia View Farmhouse - Living Room
Snowdonia View Farmhouse - Living Room

Snowdonia View Farmhouse - Living Room

Snowdonia View Farmhouse - Conservatory

Back to the main entrance if you turn left you will enter the living room which is a decent size and was more than comfortable for us all.  The living room has a step up towards the back of the room leading to a pool table area and then a door into the conservatory.  The living room comes equipped with tv and DVD player and a wide range of DVD's to choose from. There is also a selection of games and books too. 

Snowdonia View Farmhouse - downstairs bedroom

There is a bedroom downstairs just to the left of the dining area. It is a double bedroom with a fireplace, wardrobe, dressing table and looks out on to the back garden. We actually popped a single bed in the room too as there was plenty of space. 

There is also a small toilet room downstairs with sink. 

Snowdonia View Farmhouse - bathroom

Snowdonia View Farmhouse - Triple Bedroom

Snowdonia View Farmhouse - Twin Bedroom

Snowdonia View Farmhouse - double and single Bedroom

Snowdonia View Farmhouse - twin Bedroom

Snowdonia View Farmhouse - ensuite

Snowdonia View Farmhouse - master bedroom
Upstairs consists of a master bedroom with double bedroom and ensuite, a double room which can also include a single bed on request, two bedrooms with two single beds in each and another room with two single beds and a third on request. There is one master bathroom with toilet, sink, bath and walk in shower. 

At the back of the property you could see horses on the field which the children really enjoyed. 

We all arrived at different times during our first evening but the property was ready and waiting for us. The owners do not live far from the property and the key was waiting for us on arrival. 

Check out time was 10am and within minutes of the check out time a van arrived which I think may have been cleaners so there is no hanging around. 

Snowdonia View Farmhouse - boy on rocking horse

Snowdonia View accommodated our needs perfectly. Some of the decor and furnishing was a little dated and could do with a freshen up but we definitely would return in future.  The property and gardens are very spacious and with 4 children travelling they had plenty of space to explore and play both inside and outside. 

For us Snowdonia View was the perfect base for us to explore North Wales including Greenwood Forest Park, Llandudno and The Welsh Mountain Zoo which were all a short drive away. 


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