Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

Sometimes it’s really easy to be lazy on the weekend. I am extremely guilty of this. My commute amounts to 15 hours a week on top of working full-time so by the time the weekend rolls around I just want to sleep, eat and maybe catch a film. And of course there is the boring stuff to do – food shopping, household chores, y’know the drill.  However, I always regret this come Sunday night/Monday morning. Nothing worse than a wasted weekend. So me and David decided to take a leaf out of Lynne from Cocktails and Daydreams book (blog) and join the Alphabet Dating bandwagon.

Alphabet Dating is basically where you plan dates according to the letter of the alphabet you are one. So could be aquarium, art, arcade etc… you get the idea. A nice suggestion is to take it in turns to plan so it’s a surprise for the other person.

For our first date we decided on A for Arboretum. Westonbirt, The National Arboretum is located between Gloucester and Bristol in the Cotswolds and is home to some 15,000 trees, 17 miles of pathways and even plays host to concerts.

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

The treetop walkway is a new addition to the park and offers views a birds (nest) eye view of the start of the Silk Wood section of the forest. We took the Summer Trail around the Silk Wood which was 1.6 miles and took us just over an hour at a leisurely pace.

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

The above image is of a 2000 year old lime tree and a sculpture made from cuttings from it. Really! Even though it doesn’t look like what you might expect.

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

What’s the Time Mister Wolf? I loved this tree sculpture. There were a few dotted about (including the Gruffalo) so it would be cool for them to add to this.

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

After this walk we stopped at the cafe for lemonade and scones, which were lovely. However, this rather pleasant a civilised morning came to an abrupt end when I discovered a tick on my wrist! I think that it hadn’t quite burrowed all the way in as it wasn’t engorged (vom) and David was able to pluck it out of my arm fairly easily but I was absolutely horrified! I have a fear of bugs so it was all I could do not to burst into tears.

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

We did then walk around the Old Arboretum Summer Trail (1.2 miles) but we had a bit of a case of the heebies so the pace was picked up quite significantly! The Old Arboretum shows subtle differences in how trees used to be managed and displayed. There lots of information as you walk round and additional activities for kids to do such as a digital “Tree Quest” if you so wish.

Days Out | Westonbirt Arboretum

Entry to the Arboretum was £9 each which I did think was quite dear. Luckily the prices in the restaurant seemed fairly reasonable, so not the cheapest day out but not the most expensive either. We did pack a picnic but unfortunately the weather wasn’t great and we didn’t like the fact that the picnic tables were just in the carpark. Had it been a nicer day (and I hadn’t already had a tick trauma) we might have just sat on a blanket in the Old Arboretum part of the park which doesn’t allow dogs so is generally quieter.

We’ll definitely revisit Westonbirt. I think the Enchanted Christmas Illuminated Trail looks wonderfully festive and I would love to see it. Plus all the ticks will be dead by December!

Overall, we enjoyed the first instalment in our Alphabet Dating adventure. I just hope the next one doesn’t involve any insects.

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Days Out | Bourton on the Water

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I’ve been doing a bit more exploring of Gloucestershire. Recently we went to the most chocolate-box-twee village I’ve ever seen, Bourton-on-the-Water.  It reminded me of Sandford in Hot Fuzz. Loved it. We even saw Morris dancers! It was packed with tourists and we were only there for a couple of hours but we did visit two of the main attractions – the Model Village and the Motoring Museum.

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There was a model village of the model village within the model of the model village. #villageception.

The Model Village was £3.60 for entry and it was a fun 20 minutes pretending you were a giant. The models had a really high attention to detail so it was really well done. The models and the grounds are well maintained and you an tell that they kept them up to date with new signs etc.

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Next we went to the Cotswold Motoring Museum. Admission was £5.25, which was good value considering how deceptively large the museum is. Plus, it’s absolutely packed!

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The museum has absolutely everything – cars (of course), vintage signs, petrol pumps and motoring accessories. It also has a large toy collection, not just cars (although I loved the matchbox car display above), a real mixed lot. And it’s home to Brum – the little car from the TV show where he would go on adventures around Birmingham – does anyone remember that?

Quite a fun afternoon in all!

Days Out | The Kelpies

Days Out | The Kelpies

I’ve been dying to visit the Kelpies at The Helix ever since they were unveiled early last year so I was really pleased when we were able to squeeze in a trip on our last holiday home. Placed at the entrance to the Forth and Clyde canals, the 30-metre tall sculptures by Andy Scott pay monument to the horses who powered Scottish agriculture and industry for so many years.

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Like it’s mythical namesake, the Kelpies have a shapeshifter like quality to them with the stainless steel cladding transforming with the sky or lighting up at night. I’d love to go back and see them on a bright sunny day, at dusk, for the lights at night… they are an endlessly fascinating addition to Scotland’s waterways. Have a look at more photos here.

Bow down your strong heads to taste the water,

Stretch up your long necks to face the sun.

– Jim Carruth

What do you think of the Kelpies? Let me know your favourite public sculptures around the UK – I love building lists of art I must see.

Dinosaurs Return at Edinburgh Zoo

Dinosaurs Return at Edinburgh Zoo

Last week I went to another of Edinburgh Zoo‘s Zoo Nights – after hours access for adults only with extra food, drink and entertainment. As with the one I went to last year it was a fantastically organised night and we did enjoy a cheeky tipple, but the highlight was the Dinosaurs Return exhibition.

Dinosaurs Return at Edinburgh Zoo

Neatly coinciding with the release of Jurassic World, the Dinosaurs Return exhibition features realistic and almost life-size animatronic dinosaurs. It features well known dinos like the Triceratops (top) and lesser known beasts such as the… er… whatever the above one is called! Sorry!

Dinosaurs Return at Edinburgh Zoo

The Parasaurolophus had a whole nest of hatchlings – so cute! The zoo had gone to the extra effort of making sure that the plants used in the exhibitions were as close as they could get to what the animals would have really had. I think that was such a great touch, especially for a temporary exhibition.

Dinosaurs Return at Edinburgh Zoo

Our Canadian friend who was with us was excited to learn that there was a Canadian dinosaur there – the Edmontonia. The zoo also gave information on similarities to non-extinct animals, the obvious comparison here being an armadillo.

Dinosaurs Return at Edinburgh Zoo

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The T-Rex was always going to be the star of the show and this one looked awesome! Even if it didn’t have feathers. 

Dinosaurs Return at Edinburgh Zoo

It was also pretty fun to run around taking #SelfieSaurus pics.

I really recommend heading down to Edinburgh Zoo before 1st November to check out the exhibition. It’ll go down a treat with all kids – young and old! It by far exceeded expectations and if I was still in Edinburgh I’d definitely go again before it closes.

Dinosaurs Return at Edinburgh Zoo

Not a dinosaur, but a bonus pick of one of the adorable penguin chicks at the zoo. As if you need another reason to visit!

Days Out | Legoland Windsor

Bit of a different post as I don’t have much to say. Just wanted to share some photos for my trip to Legoland Windsor recently for all you LEGO geeks out there. It’s mostly for younger kids (especially the rides) but it’s still fun to go and see all of the amazing creations.

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We went on a couple of rides – the river rapids style one in the Land of the Vikings, the Dino Safari and the Atlantis Submarine Adventure (in an Sea Life aquarium with non-LEGO sharks) but mostly we were happy to wander about and look at stuff.

And we had to visit the shop! David got himself the Ghostbusters car, think it’s the best set we have. Really fun day.

Bristol | Outlaw Artisan Craft Show

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A few weekends ago I sacrificed my beloved Saturday lie-in for an early train to Bristol for the first Outlaw Artisan Craft Show in the city.  Based in the Passenger Shed, it was a weekend of  craft sellers, demonstrations and workshops. I booked myself a couple of workshops, making sure I also had plenty of time for my favourite activity – shopping! The entry fee was £6 and the first couple of 100 people who arrived were given a copy of a recent Mollie Makes or Homemaker magazine.

Bristol | Outlaw Artisan Craft ShowMy first workshop of the day was bookbinding with Tim from Camel Winter Books. All the workshops were paid and this one was £15 which included making two notebooks to take away with you. We were told a bit about the basics of bookbinding, for example, how to tell the grain of the paper (crucial for folding purposes), the best tools for the job, and some simple techniques. It was lovely to hear from someone who was so obviously passionate about their craft and to hear that it doesn’t necessarily have to be an expensive activity. My results were mixed, the pages are not exactly neat but they’re bot definitely passable!

Bristol | Outlaw Artisan Craft Show

The Demo Theatre had a line-up of makers who demonstrated their crafts with little how-tos for any one who was thinking about giving it a try, or was just interested in the process. Demonstrations included ink rolling, making a terrarium and making a non-sew tutu for the little ones.

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The Make and Take Theatre was halfway between the workshops and the demo theatre and free to attend. Your table had all the supplies you needed to make along with the crafter on stage. I went to the wool pom-pom with Thimbleson. Apparently all you need to do to make a delightful little pom-pom is wrap wool round a fork, tie it off, and cut. Easy! Well, my first one was a total fail, it fell apart immediately! Luckily, I was sat next to a very nice lady who helped me to get the hang of it. Thank you nice lady!

Bristol | Outlaw Artisan Craft Show

There was a few options for food including Vietnamese street food, but I couldn’t resist the call of the epic looking pastries and cakes at The Cornish Hen stand. I had the best sausage roll, a chorizo scotch egg and an enormous slab of chocolate while I had a flick through my Mollie Makes magazine and listened to the musical entertainment.

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My last activity of the day was the Screen Printing workshop with The Art Troupe. This was £10 and although I have done screen printing before, it’s been over 10 years, and I was interested to see how it could do done on a small scale at home. The answer – an embroidery hoop for your screen – duh! I thought this was so clever and will be giving it a go at home for sure (once we get a bigger place). I didn’t have a plan for my images so I ended up making a fairly basic stegosaurus and an orca design. I have to say I really like the orca though!

Bristol | Outlaw Artisan Craft Show

Of course, I had to buy myself a few goodies. From Ladybird Likes, I bought a dino bracelet and a set of motivational cards, stickers and badge – I need a helluva lotta motivation at the moment! I bought a cute/creepy cat x-ray necklace from Buku Forest Studios and a dinosaur brooch and a lucky dip set of cards from Hannah Stevens.

Bristol | Outlaw Artisan Craft Show

And my favourite item/splurge of the day was this cheetah necklace from Sstutter. The detail is just incredible – it has geometric etching on it, it’s just so beautiful and unique. Deffo found a new favourite shop!

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All in all, I had a fantastic day at Outlaw. I really enjoyed the workshops and the friendly atmosphere. The next one is in August in Falmouth, so if you’re in that area, definitely check it out. I have my fingers and toes crossed that they’ll be back in Bristol before too long.

Days Out | Gloucester Cathedral

Days Out Gloucester Cathedral

Days Out Gloucester Cathedral

Days Out Gloucester Cathedral

Days Out Gloucester Cathedral

Days Out Gloucester Cathedral

Days Out Gloucester Cathedral

Days Out Gloucester Cathedral

Hurrah! I finally went out and did something in Gloucester! A few weeks ago David’s parents were over visiting and we decided to pop into the cathedral for a ‘quick look’. I’m not usually one for cathedrals however, Gloucester Cathedral is something else.

Gloucester Cathedral is a spectacular, sprawling Gothic building with some astonishingly beautiful examples of stained glass artwork. It is famous for it’s cloisters which featured in Harry Potter so visitors can imagine themselves in the halls of Hogwarts (or something, haven’t actually seen it).

It was really interesting to explore as it’s such an iconic place in English history – Henry III was crowned there in 1216 and it is home to the tombs of many historical figures such as Richard II. You can also take a tour up the tower so stunning views over Gloucestershire – I think we’ll go back on a sunnier day to experience this!