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Intelino Smart Train Review

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Disclosure - We were sent the products below for the purpose of this post. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our unless stated. This post contains affiliate links. 

Intelino Train Track

We have always enjoyed playing with train sets. From when Big J was little we still have both the wooden and plastic Thomas the Tank Engine sets that come down from the loft from time to time. Of course times have moved on and although the classics are usually the best there is also room to add and innovate these days with technology. 


Intelino Smart Train

Intelino have developed the 'Smart Train' which looks to build on the classic set with a number of add-ons that can help children's development in STEM and in coding, which is really popular at the moment. 

Intelino Smart Train track pieces

The starter set itself contains the Train and Wagon, 20 pieces of track, 40 colour snaps and some stickers to decorate your train. You can also buy extra packs containing track, snaps and there is also an adaptor set that you can buy that will allow you to add the intelino set to your existing wooden train track. 

Intelino Train and Track

Intelino Train and Track

Set up is easy. The track pieces snap together easily and you have enough to create a reasonably complex track if you wish. The train requires a charge before first use, but does last a long time before needing charging again.  The snaps, which are the coding instructions for the train to follow snap into the track really easily and come out again just as easily. 

The Smart train offers two different ways to play. You can choose to use a device such as an Ipad to control everything, or you can use the snaps alone to code instructions onto the track that the train will then follow. its good to have an option that is device free to give some time away from the screen. 

track pieces

To use the Snaps, you first start with a white snap piece that tells the train an instruction is coming. Next you use a combination of colours from the instruction sheet to give instructions.  You can choose the speed from three settings, tell the train to go left, right or straight on at an intersection, make the train stop, make the train drop off the wagon, make the train make different sounds and also change the lighting on the train. You can even put the train into reverse.  Its amazing to see how the train reacts quickly to the snaps, especially when you put a sequence of instructions one after the other. 

ipad

Intelino Train Track

When in device mode, you need to download the intelino app, pair the train within the app via bluetooth and then you have a very simple control panel to control everything. You can control the same things as you can with snaps all at the touch of the screen. The added benefit of pairing with the app is the ability to design your own snap instructions. This gives an extra layer of complexity for the child, and we loved the idea of choosing our own instruction for the train. 

Intelino Train and Track

Intelino Train

Overall, the Intelino Smart Train is great on its own, or when combined with your existing wooden set.  We haven't added the wooden set in yet as we wanted to explore everything that the set can do before hand. Little J has really enjoyed playing with the set and creating his own tracks, and it's been good to see him using his imagination with the snaps and coding and develop an understanding of how programs work in a simple way. 

To read more visit Intelino or view the range to buy on Amazon.

If you would like to be in with the chance to win your very own Intelino Smart Train Starter Set then all you need to do is complete the entry form below. Make sure you pop back every day after 8:30pm and check the entry form for extra chances to win. 


John
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Top Tips for Monitoring Your Child’s Progress at School | AD

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books

If you want your child to succeed in school, it’s important that you monitor their progress at regular intervals throughout their academic journey so that you can uncover any areas for improvement, while also giving them the praise and reassurance they need to encourage them to continue trying their best. In other words, if you don’t pay attention to your child’s education, you won’t be able to help them make the most of their experience in school and reach their full potential. But how do you go about monitoring your child’s progress? A pre-prep school in London has shared some advice below.

First of all, it’s important to arrange frequent catchups with your child’s teacher, even if this is just via email, to find out how they’re getting on in class. By the time you receive the once-a-year feedback at parents’ evening, it might be too late for you to make a real difference in helping your child improve in certain areas. It’s crucial that parents and teachers have this sort of relationship because it means that you can keep one another updated with anything that might be happening to interfere with your child’s academic or personal wellbeing, such as friendship problems, moving house, a death in the family or another major event. 

However, bear in mind that the teachers have tons of kids to look after and it would be impossible for them to know every tiny detail about your child, especially if they are fairly quiet. With that said, try and encourage your child to open up to you about school as much as you can so that you can hear directly from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, how they’re getting on. Let them know that you support and love them no matter what so that they feel more comfortable sharing things with you. If you reprimand them or judge their decisions, they might be more reluctant to talk to you about any issues they’re faced with.

When your child is doing their homework, try and make yourself available to them so that they can ask you for help if they need it. Without that support, your child will be more likely to give up in frustration. If they don’t ask you for help, be sure to offer instead, as they may be afraid to bother you. Getting involved with your child’s homework will give you an indication of how easy or difficult they find the subject. If they seem to struggle time and time again with the same subject’s homework, this is a clear sign that it’s not their strongest area and you may want to consider hiring a private tutor.

So, monitoring your child’s progress is as simple as getting yourself as involved as possible in their education. Not only will this help you grasp how they are performing, it will also show them how much you care, which may encourage them to try even harder as a way to impress you. So, be sure to attend school plays, sports day and other events, while also enriching your child’s education with activities at home so that you can develop a better understanding of their growth.

Michelle
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Top Tips for Helping Your Kids with Maths | AD

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maths on a blackboard
Maths is quite an intimidating subject for those who find it tough. For some people, it comes naturally but other people are more comfortable with music, art or literature. However, maths is an important part of the school curriculum and students are forced to study it until the end of their GCSEs, even if they don’t like it or find it tough. 

Fortunately, there are lots of ways that parents can help their children with their basic maths skills, and it doesn’t necessarily require you to be a mathematical genius. It’s certainly worth investing your time in this particular area of your child’s education, as Maths and other STEM related qualifications can really open up a lot of doors in terms of a fantastic future career. So, you’re probably wondering where and when to start? Here are some tips from a junior school in the Cotswolds.

Well, there’s no time like the present than starting to teach your kids maths at home. If your child is young, there are lots of nursery rhymes that can help them learn how to count, such as “Ten Green Bottes”, “This Old Man” and “Ten in the Bed”, to name but a few. You can look them up on YouTube if you’re unfamiliar with any of them and you’ll all be singing along in no time. Pre-school and Mother and Toddler groups will explore nursery rhymes and other techniques to help your little one become more familiar with numbers. 

Older children, on the other hand, may be able to help you count your cash at the till when paying for your groceries or assist with weighing and measuring next time you cook. Encourage them to play board games that involve basic sums, like Monopoly, for example. These sorts of activities demonstrate to your child not only how crucial maths is to everyday life, but also how its not as complicated as it seems and can actually be quite fun.

Numeracy is all around us and the sooner your child understands that, the more comfortable they will feel in their maths lessons. Helping your child outside of lessons will give them the confidence to see maths in a positive light and approach sums and equations with optimism. However, if you’re truly concerned about your child’s progress in maths, don’t hesitate to contact their teachers for some advice. They may be able to suggest a lunch or after school club that your child can attend to boost their maths skills, which would be particular beneficial in the run up to any important exams.

Michelle
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How Does Moving House Affect Your Child’s Education? | AD

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apple on top of books

I think its fair to say it's been a very strange 2020 so far and it looks like it could continue to be strange until at least the end of the year. John and I spent have spent most of this year of lockdown at home safe with the boys. We didn't go to work like some people, it was just us in our house for months. Having this bonus time together made us look at our home and whether we wanted to spend some money making improvements or did we want to move? We chose to make some home improvements and I'm so glad we did because with everything that has gone on this year I don't think we could have coped with a house move too. Also moving house would have a massive impact on the boys and it's definitely not what they needed right now.

Whenever a child is faced with a life-changing event, like a new baby sibling, divorced parents or moving house, it is likely that their education will be affected, even if it’s just for the short term.
The events can be very distracting for young people, and often emotionally challenging, making it harder for them to focus on their studies. However, when it comes to moving house, there are other reasons why your child’s education might suffer. An independent school in Hammersmith explore in further detail below.

There are lots of reasons why a family might move house. Perhaps they have outgrown the previous property or maybe one of the parents has to relocate due to work commitments. Sometimes it’s completely unavoidable but knowing how it affects your child will ensure you are better equipped to help support them during the transition. So, if you move to a new area and your child has to start a new school, you might notice a drop in their grades to begin with. This is because they are getting used to so many new things, including a new teacher who may have a completely different teaching style to their previous teacher. What’s more, the curriculum might be slightly different. Don’t be too hard on your child if their grades do suffer, as it will probably just be for a short while until they are completely settled. It might help to hire a private tutor in the meantime, just to help them with the move.

Your child might also have some reservations about making new friends and leaving their old ones behind, which is also something you can help with. Where possible, encourage them to meet up with and keep in contact with their old friends so that they feel a sense of familiarity, but also try and arrange play dates with kids at their new school. It’s also a good idea to encourage your child to join some extra-curricular clubs in the area where they can meet likeminded people. The more confidence your child has in terms of the social side of their life, the more confident they will feel in other aspects of life, such as in the classroom when answering the teacher’s questions.

All you can do is try and remain optimistic about the whole situation around your child so that they can feed off your energy. If they see that you’re stressed about the move and worried about what the future holds, they will have the same sort of emotions. Alternatively, if you shelter them from the stressful side of things and try and talk about all of the positive aspects of moving house and starting at a new school etc.
Michelle
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Does My Child Need a Tutor? | AD

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boy writing

All parents want to raise a happy, healthy, successful child, but that’s easier said than done. Your child might be the smartest or most popular in their class, but that doesn’t mean they won’t need a helping hand from time to time to give them a little boost in the right direction. Sometimes that helping hand comes from a private tutor. Our children have been through so much over the past 6 months having to stay at home so if you have noticed a drop in your child’s grades or perhaps a reluctance to complete homework or attend school altogether, this might be something you want to consider. 

There are lots of advantages to hiring a private tutor. Obviously, they can help your child with their overall academic performance, but there’s more to it than that. Since sessions are one-to-one, your child gets the attention they deserve and their learning experience is tailored to suit them, which is an entirely different experience to a classroom setting with 20+ other kids. The tutor might be helping your child with maths, but the confidence they’ll develop from developing their skills and knowledge can be transferred across all subjects. However, private tutors are costly, so it’s important that your investment is worthwhile. But how do you know if your child truly needs a tutor? I have teamed up with a private prep school in Surrey to explore some of the things you should look out for. 

One of the most obvious signs that your child needs some support with their learning is a substantial drop in their performance. Other signs include getting upset when discussing schoolwork, getting easily frustrated when doing homework and showing a general reluctance to attend school. Maybe the teacher has reported that your child isn’t paying attention in class or they’re not handing in their work. Don’t jump to conclusions, though, as there might be another reason why your child is struggling. For instance, they might require glasses and not be able to see the white board, which is causing them to fall behind. They might have some friendship problems that are distracting them and making it difficult to concentrate in class. Do some digging and try and figure out what might be causing the drop in grades before you hire a tutor.

Ask your child what they think about a tutor. If they are interested in the idea and admit that it might help them, then it’s definitely something to properly consider. They might say no, which could just be because they’re feeling a little shy, or it might be because they know that’s not the reason why they are underperforming. Let them know that you support them no matter what and that they can trust you with anything that might be bothering them. This should help you get to the bottom of the problem and figure out what to do about it!

Michelle
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Nintendo in 2020 - The Fun Games

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Disclosure - this post contains affiliate links. These add no extra cost to you but if you do buy through my link I may earn some pennies.

A selection of Wii GamesThis year both Microsoft and Sony will be releasing the next generation of Xbox and Playstation. What are Nintendo releasing? Nothing.  There are rumours of a Switch 2 or Switch Pro but nothing will be released in 2020.  Does that mean that Nintendo are ahead of the competition following the updated Switch Lite release late 2019, or are they behind?  Are they even in the same competition? 

I have owned Nintendo consoles since the early days of the Super NES, Nintendo 64, Gameboy and Gameboy Advance.  Right up to the later releases of the Wii, Wii U and more recently the Switch. That said, Nintendo have never been my favourite consoles and often left me thinking "how much better that could have been", although many people would disagree with me. 

However, there is one thing about Nintendo consoles that still ring true today, they have fun games. Fun games that I find myself returning to, to play with the family, especially on the original Wii.  There are so many game releases these days that look amazing, offer huge gameplay times and detailed storylines but actually miss out on the whole point of gaming.  In my opinion, the fun. 

That is why, these days, where we spend more time at home than anywhere else, I recommend you dust off your old Wii or Wii U console.  Boot it up and then play some of the games below to rediscover what fun gaming is all about. 

wii u and switch



 1 - Wii Party.  (Wii) An absolute classic and the reason why Wiimotes are still for sale on the likes of amazon. The original Wii Party has so many games modes to choose from, made up of mini games that are really fun to play for all ages and accessible to all.  We still play at least once a week and this game has been in out home since 2010. 

2 - Nintendo Land (WiiU).  Another mini game orientated fun set of games.  Makes use of the Wii U control pad to add an extra layer to the mini games.  The extra screen on the control pad is really useful for hide and seek type games. This is also played on regular basis here, originally released in 2012.

3 - Super Mario Bros. U (WiiU)  / Super Mario Bros U. Deluxe. (Switch).  There isnt much to be said about Super Mario Bros that hasn't been said a thousand times before. The game is much the same as it always has been - why change what isn't broken?

4 - Mario Strikers Charged Football (Wii). Another game that has been with us for a while. In fact since 2007 around the time we first got a Wii console. This game offers a replayability that even the most up to date Fifa can't match.  Its frustrating and fun all at the same time. 

5 - Wii Sports (Wii). The original Wii sports came packaged with our Wii in 2006. Its another one that comes out time and time again.  The Tennis is the best of the games, although the bowling is a close second. If you are looking for some quick sports action that is really fun - then look no further. 

You can still pick up most of these games for a reasonable price on amazon, however if you are looking for a Wii or WiiU you may best looking in some car boot sales or charity shops as the prices on these are really high at the moment as they are no longer made. 

Whichever you choose, there is no doubt that Nintendo still have a recipe for a fun game, and its this quality that keeps gamers coming back for more, no matter the generation of console they are using. 

Do you still own any older devices? What are your fun game recommendations? 

John
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Snowdonia View Farmhouse

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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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Michelle
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Why Choose Engineered Wood Flooring | AD

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a fireplace




We have given our home a full makeover twice since we first moved in 17 years ago. Home improvements give your home a new lease of life and it's your chance to change things around and try new things. We have moved rooms around, had an extension built, changed our colour scheme but we have always been certain that the one thing we wouldn't change was our engineered wood flooring.

What Is Engineered Wood Flooring?
Made up of many layers of laminated hardwood and finished with a top thick layer of hardwood. The top layer is also known as the 'wear layer'.

There are many reasons why we chose engineered wood flooring but if you are considering wood flooring here are our main reasons.

Family Friendly
For us this was the main reason. Our home is and always will be a family home. When looking for flooring we instantly knew carpet would not work for us. Our home is very busy with lots of comings and goings. Engineered wood flooring is durable and made to last. The flooring can withstand plenty of footfall and that was just what we needed.

engineered wood flooring


Easy To Maintain
As we are a family of four, I cannot tell you how many times the boys have spilt a drink, dropped food on the floor or walked through the room with muddy shoes on. This would have been a nightmare with a carpet but having the engineered wooden floor has made these little accidents so much easier to clean usually just with just a brush and mop.

It Looks Real
Everyone who comes to our home thinks we have solid oak hardwood flooring, we don't. Engineered wood flooring has many layers that make up the base of plywood and then the top layer is actual real wood so it looks just like the real thing.

Value For Money
I don't like saying something is value for money as everyone's budget is completely different. What I will say we found that it wasn't the cheapest on the market but for the quality and effect it was definitely the right choice for us and within our budget. It is more expensive than laminate however it is definitely cheaper than hardwood.

engineered wood flooring


It's Popular
It's become very popular in recent years which means that there are lots more designs out there to choose from. It took us quite some time to choose our design and colour based on our original colour scheme and it's actually stayed looking fresh even after years.

Warm and Cosy
People assume wooden flooring is cold however I would totally disagree. The design we chose is warm and inviting and the added bonus of having the engineered wood flooring is we can pop a rug down to give the lounge a new look whenever we feel.

What are your thoughts on engineered wood flooring? Is it the right choice for you?

Michelle




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EasiYo Yogurt Maker Review

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Disclosure - We were sent the products below for the purpose of this post. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our unless stated. This post contains affiliate links. 

A few years ago my friend gave me a pot of homemade yogurt and it was the tastiest yoghurt I have ever tried. At first I actually didn't believe her that she had made it and that it wasn't shop bought. I have never thought about making my own yoghurt before but we were recently sent an EasiYo Yogurt Maker and I was eager to give it a try and see if making our own yogurts was fun, easy to do and tastier than the shop bought yogurts we purchase every week.


EasiYo Yoghurt

The EasiYo Yogurt Maker is a very simple piece of equipment with just the yogurt maker and a plastic beaker to shake your yoghurt mix. 

Making the yogurt is very simple and requires just a few steps.

Step One
Half fill your yogurt plastic beaker with cool drinking water. Ideally the water should be between 15-20°C. Add the contents of the yogurt sachet, pop on the lid and give it a good shake. Add more water to the jar until it’s about 5mm from the top, pop on the lid and shake again.

Step Two
Push the red plastic insert into your yogurt maker as far as it can go. Next, pour boiling water up to the top of the plastic insert. Place your plastic beaker into the yogurt maker so it sits on top of the plastic insert, then put the lid on your yogurt maker.

Step Three
Now that your yogurt is inside the maker all you need to do is wait. Leave your yogurt maker on your kitchen surface the yogurt will set after 8 - 12 hours (a little longer for protein yogurt). Most people simply leave it overnight and wake up to fresh homemade yogurt in the morning. You’re nearly there before you dig in, chill it in the fridge for a few hours to complete the set.

EasiYo Yogurt Maker

Once you have followed all three steps you are ready to enjoy your yogurt. I was really impressed with the finished product. It was really tasty and it made enough for all of us to enjoy so worked out lots cheaper than buying from the shops. 

We are definitely looking forward to trying more flavours. To find out more about making your own yogurts visit EasiYo.

Michelle
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Walks In The North West

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Autumn time is one of our favourite seasons to head out for a family walk. The leaves are falling, the colours are changing and there is a fresh feel to the air. There are so many beautiful parks, woodlands and forests in the North West but when it comes to Autumn walks these are our favourites.

A pair of boot amongst fallen leaves

Autumn time is one of our favourite seasons to head out for a family walk. The leaves are falling, the colours are changing and there is a fresh feel to the air. There are so many beautiful parks, woodlands and forests in the North West but when it comes to Autumn walks these are our favourites.

Merseyside

A boy walking down a hill

Calderstones Park
Postcode - L18 3JB

Calderstones Park offers visitors 94 acres of woodland, lake and fields. Visit the beautiful Japanese and old English gardens and make sure you do not miss the one thousand year old tree.

Opening Times - 24 hours a day all year round.

Children's Play Area - Yes, there is a children's playground and also a woodland climbing area for older children.

Cafe - Yes, The Reader Cafe offers the choice of breakfast and lunch, sandwiches, snacks, salads, soups and desserts. Take some time out and enjoy two bookshelves full of books to read while eating.

Toilets - Yes

Parking - Yes there are two main car parks

Anything else - The park recently updated its facilities with The Storybarn an imaginative play space for children and families to discover their love of books, an ice cream parlour and miniature railway.

Sefton Park
Postcode - L17 1AP

Sefton Park is an ideal location for an Winter Walk. It boasts over 200 acres of landscape including paths to follow, an array of trees and even statues of Peter Pan and an Eros fountain.

Opening Times - 24 hours a day

Children's Play Area - Yes, includes a range of outdoor play equipment including slides, swings and roundabout.

Cafe - Yes, the Aviary cafe offers hot and cold refreshments and the lakeside cafe offers coffee and ice cream.

Toilets - No

Parking - Yes, there are a couple of parking areas and also on street parking too.

Anything else - There is no charge to enter the park. The park has a boating lake, the palm house, caves and waterfalls and a bandstand. Fishermen are welcome but you will need an angling licence.

Croxteth hall

Croxteth Park
Postcode - L11 1EH

The largest of the parks is Croxteth Park offering over 500 acres of woodland, paths, ponds, streams and trails. There is also the chance for you to test your navigation skills whilst orienteering.

Opening Times - 7am - 7pm for the inner park

Children's Play Area - Yes, there are two palygrounds to accommodate all ages.

Cafe - The park has two cafe's. One is situated in the main grounds and the other cafe is within the farm.

Toilets - Yes, situated in the main grounds and within the farm.

Parking - Yes

Anything else - The park has a
Country hall and Walled Garden

Jungle Parc High Ropes Adventure
Open Daily 10am-5pm

Adventurer Course
Price per child £14.00 (free for supervising adults)

Xplorer Course
Price per person £20.00 (participants aged 10-adult)
Family Ticket £70.00 for 4 participants.

Children's Farm.
Farm: Daily 10:00am – 5:00pm
Last entry 4:00pm
£5 per person
Children Under 1 Go Free

Birkenhead Park
Postcode - CH41 4HY

Birkenhead Park has influenced park designs all over the world and was the inspiration for Central Park in New York. The park is a must for a Winter walk with beautiful landscapes, unusual trees and wildlife.

Opening Times - 24 hours a day, all year round. The visitor centre is open 9am-4:30pm 7 days a week except for 25th and 26th December and 1st January

Children's Play Area - Yes, There is a children's play area located just by the Ashville Road entrance to the park with modern facilities. There is also a small rockery meant for climbing and a regular ice cream truck

Cafe - Yes, inside the visitor centre

Toilets - Yes, inside the visitor centre

Parking - There is no car park however there is on street car parking.

Anything else - Two lakes available for angling but a permit is required. Architecture Trail, Sports at the park including boules, cricket and tennis and guided ranger walks

Greater Manchester

A woodland walk

Heaton Park
Postcode - M25 2SW

Heaton Park claims to be the biggest and best park in the North West with specific walks and run trails suitable for all the family so it is a must for a Winter walk.

Opening Times - 8am till dusk

Children's Play Area - Yes, there are two play areas designed for children.

Cafe - There are 4 separate cafes offering takeaway only

Toilets - Yes

Parking - Yes, chargeable to a maximum of £3 per day

Anything else - There are a range of activities and facilities also available including donkey rides and Treetop high ropes.

Tramway museum and tram rides. You can visit the museum and take a tram ride on most Sundays and bank holidays. Tickets £1, children 50p. The museum is near the Middleton Road entrance.

Between April and September, you can hire a rowing boat or a pedalo to explore the Lake and the wildlife around it. Boat hire is available:

Monday-Friday 10am to 5.30pm (last boat goes out at 4.30pm)
Saturday/Sunday 10am to 8pm (last boat goes out at 7pm)

Alexandra Park
Postcode - M16 7JL

Alexandra Park boasts 60 acres of grassland and a £5 million transformation in 2014.

Opening Times - From dawn to dusk

Children's Play Area - yes, there are two play areas. One suitable for toddlers and another for older children.

Cafe - Yes

Toilets - Yes, during cafe opening hours

Parking - Yes, parking is available.

Anything else - There is a boating lake which is home to many ducks.

Cheshire


A dad and son den building at Delamere Forest

Delamere Forest
Postcode - CW8 2HZ

Delamere Forest is the largest woodland in Cheshire boasting 972 hectares. It is managed by Forestry England for all to enjoy.

Opening Times - Summer opening times: 8:00am to 8:00pm. Winter opening times: 8:00am to 5:00pm.

Children's Play Area - No

Cafe - Yes. There is a cafe at the visitor centre near the main car park and also The Station cafe near the railway.

Toilets - Yes.

Parking - Yes, there are a number of payable car parks.

Anything else - Go Ape, Gruffalo Orienteering, bike trails and walking trails

Walton Hall Gardens
Postcode - WA4 6SN

Walton Hall Gardens is set within acres of tranquil and idyllic parkland, steeped in local history and is the perfect space to pop on your wellies and head out for an Winter walk.

Opening Times - September - June 10:30-4pm. July and August 10:30-8pm

Children's Play Area - Yes, a large play structure suitable for all ages.

Cafe - The Heritage Cafe is open 9-5pm for takeaway only.

Toilets - Yes

Parking - Yes, chargable.

Walton Hall and Gardens operates a pay and display car park.
Daily charges:
Mon-Fri: £3.00
Sat-Sun and bank holidays: £4.00
Coaches: £8.00

Anything else - There issue much to do and see at Walton Hall Gardens including

The Children’s Zoo
Summer opening
10.30 am – 4.00 pm
Last admittance at 3.45 pm

Adventure Golf
10.30 am – 4.30 pm
Last tee off 4.00 pm

Thomas The Tank Engine Land Train

Lancashire

two people walking through the woods

Williamson Park
Postcode - LA1 1UX

Williamson Park is home to the iconic Ashton Memorial and 54 acres of beautiful parkland with enchanting woodland walks, play areas and breathtaking views to the Fylde Coast, Morecambe Bay and the Lake District fells and mountains.

Opening Times - October to March: 10am - 4pm. April to September: 10am - 5pm

Children's Play Area - Yes

Cafe - Yes. The Pavilion Cafe is serving takeaway

Toilets - Toilet facilities are open next to the Ashton Memorial and in Wyresdale Road Car Park but remain closed in the café.

Parking - There are two pay and display car parks in Williamson Park - at the Quernmore Road entrance (15 spaces, including disabled parking) and at the Wyresdale Road entrance (100 spaces). Please note that from the Wyresdale Road car park there is quite an uphill walk to the park facilities.

Up to 1 hour £1
Full day £2
Evening after 5.30pm £1

Anything else - Entry to Williamson Park grounds and the Ashton Memorial is free. Entry to the Butterfly House and Mini Zoo (available for purchase at the gift shop)
Adult £4
Child £3 (under-3s free)
Family (2+2) £13
Concessions/students £3.50

Avenham & Miller Parks
Postcode - PR1 8JT

Avenham & Miller Parks are located in the heart of Preston's city centre, yet feel far removed from their urban surroundings. The parks are connected by beautiful and scenic paths, creating one large and diverse park with a lot to offer.

Opening Times - Listed as Always Open

Children's Play Area - Yes

Cafe - Yes, The Pavilion Cafe offers hot and cold drinks, lunch options and children's menu.
April - September: Monday - Sunday: 10am - 5pm
October - March: Monday - Sunday: 10am - 4pm

Toilets - Yes

Parking - Yes. A 40-space car park for Avenham & Miller Parks can be found on South Meadow Lane, opposite The Continental Pub (PR1 8JN). There are also a number of city centre car parks to choose from, which include disabled parking.

Anything else - The park's paths circle this large green space and offer serene views from all angles. This includes views of the park's Japanese Rock Garden - a beautiful and exotic garden area created in the 1930s. Miller Park has many fascinating and historical points of interest. These include its listed water fountain, rock features, spiralling gardens, and a large basalt rock from the Giant's Causeway.

Cumbria

A field overlooking cumbria

Grizedale Forest
Postcode - LA22 0QJ

Grizedale forest in the heart of the Lake District World Heritage Site, offers the perfect Winter day out for everyone

Opening Times - The forest is open 7 days a week, dawn til dusk

Children's Play Area - Yes. Grizedale Visitor Centre has a large children's play area and there are a couple of picnic benches surrounding the structure.

Cafe - Yes, at the visitor centre for takeaway only.

Toilets - Yes, there is a large toilet block by the main car park and also toilet facilities in the visitor centre.

Parking - Yes. Visitor Centre and Kennels car parks have a pay on exit system with the current charges
Up to 20 minutes £0.00
Up to 1 hour £2.20
Each additional 20 minutes £0.45
All day £8.00

Moor Top and Bogle car parks - currently no charge

Anything else - There is a Go Ape at Grizedale Forest, Bicycle hire, 10 walking trails and 9 cycle trails to follow.

Tarn Hows 
Postcode - LA21 8AQ

Tarn Hows offers an accessible circular (1¾ miles) walk through beautiful countryside with majestic mountain views.

Opening Times - From Dawn to Dusk

Children's Play Area - No

Cafe - No, an ice cream operates most days in the car park.

Toilets - Yes, they are situated in the main car park

Parking - Yes. Tarn Hows and Glen Mary car parks are open operating pay and display.

Anything else - There are accessible paths at the lakes edge so wellies would be ideal for little paddlers.

woodland overlooking a lake



This is just a few of the many beautiful walks available in the North West and I would love to hear from you if you had any others to share.

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Michelle
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XBox Series X - Casual Gamers Guide

12 comments
Xbox Controller



Most things are now known about the XBox Series X release, due before the end of 2020 and hopefully in time for Christmas this year.  There is a lot of focus on Power, Components and many comparisons being made between the new Xbox and a high powered PC, but what does this all mean for the casual gamer, and will the Series X be an upgrade that the casual gamer needs?

There is a lot of talk around 'Teraflops' - This is basically the ability of the processor that is central to the operation of the console.  To give you a basic idea - the Xbox One S has 1.4 Teraflops of processing power and the Series X will have 12.  That is a huge increase in processing power.  Whilst the Xbox One X was more powerful than the One S, it doesn't have the power that the Series X will have. 

So power aside, what else is new? Loading speeds are going to be much faster. I'm not sure how much this affects the casual gamer, as having been playing since the days of the ZX Spectrum, loading speeds now still impress me compared to a fifteen minute loading time from a tape.  But to some it will be important and a significant improvement.   This is mainly through use of an internal Solid State Drive, with the ability to buy expansion Solid State Plug in drives to hold anything above the already included 1 TB.  This is one area that I feel could get expensive to make the most of.  I currently have an 8TB External Drive plugged into the back of my Xbox to hold all my games and those I have downloaded from Game Pass.  With games likely to be significantly larger in size than previously, 1 TB wont last long. As an example Red Dead Redemption 2 on currently generation was nearly  89GB, that is almost a tenth of your storage gone with one game.  That said, existing drives should still work, but may not take advantage of the faster load times.   One idea could be to have the games you are currently playing installed to the Console and those on the 'waiting list' or played less on your external. 

What else do we know? The console isn't everything.  Microsoft are heavily promoting the game pass service, to the point where X - Cloud is included, and all Microsoft Studios games, including Halo Infinite, are going to be available to game pass subscribers from day one, without having to purchase the game itself.  Game Pass works as more of a rental service, where you pay a monthly fee and have access to the games on game pass at that time.  As new games arrive, older ones leave and you have an ever changing library of games to play.  These are all digital games, removing the need for physical discs, and also any chance of trade in you may once have had. 

Backwards compatibility is always important. The Series X will run all Xbox One games (except those that required the Kinect) and all games from Xbox 360 and Original Xbox that are already backwards compatible so thats good news from Microsoft. 

What we don't yet know at this point are prices. And if there are likely to be any variants of the console. Sony have opted for two PS5's at launch, one with a disc drive and one without so it will be interesting to see if Microsoft do the same.   Prices are expected to range from £400 to £500 for the console, however this is yet to be confirmed. 

Although I am a casual gamer, I am hoping to be able to buy a Series X at launch. The two things that appeal to me are the new games (including Halo Infinite) and the processing power of the console. 

What are your thoughts on the next generation of consoles? 

John
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Restaurants Extending Eat Out To Help Out

18 comments
Pizza Hut

We managed to take advantage of the recent Eat Out To Help Out Scheme at least once a week in August. Not only was it nice to be dining out again but receiving a 50% deduction on the bill at the end was a nice treat. I have seen so many posts on socials of people using the scheme and I had wondered whether it would be extended into September to help continue support the restaurants. Officially the Eat Out To Help Out scheme finished yesterday however there are a number of restaurants that are extending the offer in to September too. It seems the offer has been a success and a selection of restaurants would like to continue to welcome customers in September, offering them a discount.

Here is a list of the restaurants that are taking part and the discount they are offering to their customers.

*please note this list is correct at time of posting. Always check with your chosen restaurant that they are still taking part. 

Toby Carvery
Toby Carvery have confirmed they will be continuing the discount for two weeks in to September. Receive 50% off mains Mon-Weds from 1st until 9th September. All you need to do is download the app and save your voucher to your app wallet from 1st September. Valid for up to 6 people.

Harvester
Harvester will also extend its discounts into the first two weeks of September. Receive 50% off mains Mon-Weds from 1st until 9th September. All you need to do is download the app and save your voucher to your app wallet from 1st September. Valid for up to 6 people.

Sizzling Pubs
Sizzling Pubs is extending the deal for two weeks in to September. Receive 50% off mains Mon-Weds from 1st until 9th September. Offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other voucher, promotion or fixed price menu and is not valid on delivery, takeaway or click and collect.

Pizza Hut
Pizza Hut is changing the offer slightly offering customers two for one on main meals Monday to Wednesday from September 7 until the end of the month. To take part in the offer you must be signed up to its database.

Bills 
Bills restaurants will offer customers up to 50% discount throughout September. Choose one course or two course from a special 'We're Still Joining In' Menu.

Stonehouse Pizza 
Stonehouse Pizza is extending the deal for two weeks in to September. Receive 50% off mains Mon-Weds from 1st until 9th September. All you need to do is download the app and save your voucher to your app wallet from 1st September. Valid for up to 6 people.

Tesco Cafe
Tesco will continue the scheme until the end of September offering customers half price off all eat in and takeaway items.

Yard & Coop
Yard & Coop will continue to offer 50% off food and drink up to £10 per head but only on a Wednesday in September.

Deliveroo
Deliveroo will offer 100,000 customers of small, independent restaurants £5 off a £20 order delivered on the first three days of every week in September.

I can imagine as the week goes on more restaurants may opt in. Will you be Eating Out To Help Out in September?

Michelle
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