The top 25 traditional family activities and days out revealed, inspired by Winnie-the-Pooh

Who doesn't love spending a traditional day out with the family. Forget all the gadgets for a day, and spend some good old fashioned fun on a day out with the kids. Whether it's going for a picnic, skimming stones or picking blackberries, spending quality time as a family is really important.

Traditional family activities seem to be making a come-back. This weekend my husband Mark and I will be taking our two children, Amber, ten and Jacob, three, to the seaside for a bit of rock-pooling.

VisitEngland encourages families to experience life’s simple pleasures inspired by the tales of Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin.

Enjoying a fish supper on Blackpool Pier, negotiating Hampton Court Maze and taking a stroll beside Hadrian’s Wall have been named as some of England’s greatest ‘simple pleasures’ according to a new study released today.

The new study on behalf of Egmont Publishing and supported by VisitEngland asked 2,000 parents to vote for the traditional activities, attractions and days out. The results provide a fascinating overview of the activities, which hark back to a bygone age when the great outdoors was considered the ultimate family tonic.

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From learning to skim stones to fossil hunting, exploring castles and forests reaching from Northumberland to Treyarnon Bay, ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’s 25 Simple Pleasures’ were named as:

1. Enjoying a fish supper on Blackpool Pier, Lancashire

2. Indulging in afternoon tea, Devon

3. Picnicking on the shores of Windermere in the Lake District, Cumbria

4. Rock-pooling in Treyarnon Bay, Cornwall

5. Camping in the New Forest, Hampshire

6. Marvelling at Stonehenge, Wiltshire

7. Getting lost in the maze at Hampton Court Palace, Greater London

8. Taking a stroll beside Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland and Cumbria

9. Boating day out on the Broads, Norfolk and Suffolk

10. Watching the puffins on the Farne Islands, Northumberland

11. Stargazing in Exmoor National Park, Somerset and Devon

12. Taking in the vista from the peaks at the Peak District National Park, Derbyshire

13. Trying to make the Queen’s Guard laugh at Buckingham Palace

14. Watching the changing of the Guards at Windsor Castle, Berkshire

15. Fossil-hunting on Brook Beach, Isle of Wight

16. Exploring the famous White Cliffs of Dover

17. Playing Pooh Sticks at 100 Acre Wood, East Sussex

18. Rolling down the hills around Corfe Castle, Dorset

19. Visiting a honey farm in Devon

20. Skimming stones at Holy Island, Lindisfarne, Northumberland

21. Picking blackberries on Box Hill, Surrey

22. Riding a narrow boat through the canal ways, Birmingham

23. Taking in the grandeur of Chatsworth House from the park, Chatsworth, Derbyshire

24. Seeking out the deer at Richmond Park, London

25. Admiring Bamburgh Castle from the beach, Northumberland

The poll reveals that dining alfresco is a firm favourite, securing the first three slots in the top 10. No fewer than four National Parks appear in the full list of 25, highlighting our appreciation for England’s green space. Of these, two made it into the top 10.

Negotiating the maze at Hampton Court Palace was the only activity from the capital to make the top 10, although making the Queen’s Guard laugh came close at number 13. Winnie-the-Pooh’s Hundred Acre Woodin East Sussex, the original destination for playing Pooh Sticks in A.A. Milne’s classic novel, was voted into the 17th spot, closely followed by another favourite activity Pooh would enjoy - visiting a honey farm at number 19. Overall, the South West of England came out on top as the area that offers the best opportunity to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, closely followed by the South East and the Midlands.

Nearly half of respondents claim their fondest holiday memories are from time spent in England, with having a picnic, taking a walk and building sandcastles coming out as the most memorable activities. Interestingly the research shows that kids today get outside almost as much as their parents did, with nearly 50% of families enjoying outdoors activities. Parents also highlighted just how precious quality family time is, with over a third saying they enjoy at least one family outing a month.

The ‘Simple Pleasures’ campaign was developed by and inspired by Winnie-the-Pooh to encourage modern families to enjoy the great outdoors whilst celebrating our great English heritage. The activities reflect the core themes in A. A. Milne’s best-selling books, which centre around a series of simple adventures for Winnie-the-Pooh and his close friends in the Hundred Acre Wood - including playing the game ‘Pooh Sticks’.

The top 10 have inspired a new illustrated guide for families featuring brand new artwork by Mark Burgess, who coloured the original E.H Shepherd Black & White art and the latest book ‘Return to the Hundred Acre Wood’. The guide is available to download for free from the VisitEngland website.

James Berresford, Chief Executive, VisitEngland said: “It’s great that respondents’ fondest holiday memories are from time spent in England and we are thrilled that Pooh’s simple pleasures can be experienced across the country. We hope the guide will inspire families to discover, explore and enjoy the best of England this bank holiday.”

Sarah Bates, Publishing Director, Egmont commented: “Winnie-the-Pooh shares many a simple adventure with his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood so he is the perfect character to remind us how to enjoy the simple pleasures that England has to offer.”

To download the guide, visit www.VisitEngland.com/WinnieThePooh

England’s top 25 “Simple Pleasures” inspired by classic Winnie-the-Pooh tales are revealed today in a guide featuring brand new illustrations.

CBeebies Justin & Friends live tour: great show for the kids

10 Apr 2013 16:14

If your little one enjoys watching Mr Tumble, Justin's House or Gigglebiz on CBeebies, they'll love the 'Justin & Friends' live tour.           

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My husband Mark and I took our two year old son Jacob to see the show at Wembley Arena and we had a great time.

Justin Fletcher MBE brings to life many of his very funny characters, including Mr Tumble, Nana Knickerbocker, Arthur Sleep (a favourite of mine, maybe because I'm from Yorkshire), Keith fit, Lord Tumble, Grandad Tumble and even Cliff Tumble makes an appearance.

 Waiting to see the show: Mark, Jacob and Amber 

Waiting to see the show: Mark, Jacob and Amber 

Joining Justin are his friends Robert the Robot and Little Monster from Justin's House along with Nina, from Nina and the Neurons, Andy Day, and Katy Ashworth from I Can Cook, all favourite programmes on CBeebies.

The show was a mixture of clever big screen entertainment with live dancing and singing. The Hands Up song is great, see the video below.

I loved watching Jacob's face as all the favourites came on stage. He couldn't keep still, he was singing and dancing, I tried to get some photographs of him but most of them are a blur!

 All a blur: Jacob having fun singing and dancing

All a blur: Jacob having fun singing and dancing

OK, I'm just going to say it...I have a crush on Justin Fletcher, and yes my husband Mark is very well aware of it! I was a bit giddy to see him live. It seems I'm not the only mum with a crush! Mark kept looking at me when I was laughing out loud at the show! What? He makes me laugh! 

 Jacob and Adele having fun at the CBeebies Justin & Friends live tour
Jacob and Adele having fun at the CBeebies Justin & Friends live tour

Tickets are available now and are priced from £13.00 for children, with family tickets from £52.00 (for four people and subject to booking fee). For tickets and the most up to date tour information please visit: www.bbcliveshows.com.

Birmingham LG Arena, Thursday 11 April 1.30pm & 4.30pm

Nottingham Capital FM Arena, Friday 12 April 1.30pm & 4.30pm

Cardiff Motorpoint Arena, Saturday 13 April 1.30pm & 4.30pm, Sunday 14 April 11am & 2pm

www.bbcliveshows.com

 

Deadly Adventure at Longleat: Experience the new Deadly Safari with your family

If you have children aged 6 to 12 then you'll be well aware of CBBC and the great programme that is Deadly 60 presented by Steve Backshall.

My daughter Amber and I are very big fans of Deadly 60. The programme sees Steve Backshall and his camera crew travel the world trying to find the 60 'most deadly' animals in the world.

 Amber and Steve on our exclusive Safari Tour

Amber and Steve on our exclusive Safari Tour

We have watched Steve get into some hairy situations. One of them was while kayaking on a river in South Africa, he was trapped by two hippos, luckily his crew manage to save him.

He has travelled to some amazing places. Australia, Malaysia, India, Brazil and Madagascar are among many of the places Steve has searched for the Deadly 60 animals.

Amber and I were lucky enough to meet Steve Backshall at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park in Wiltshire.

The 9000 acre Longleat Estate is home to over 100 different species of animal which live within the Safari Park and other animals areas. Although famous for it's lions, Longleat is home to tigers, wolves, rhino, giraffe, camel and the hugely popular monkey drive-through to name a few.

BBC Worldwide and Longleat have joined forces to create a spectacular new series of Deadly-themed features at the world-famous attraction.

From Easter 2013 visitors to the park will be invited to go on a Deadly Safari discovering some of Longleat's deadliest creatures. Presenter Steve Backshall has voiced a brand new guide to the safari which incorporates fascinating facts and experiences from his on-screen adventures. Visitors will be given a special Safari Activity Book full of information and tasks to test their spotter skills as they explore the park, learning about vital predator prey relationships that exist in the wild and encountering some of Longleat's most famous deadly residents including lions, tigers and wolves.

We caught up with Steve on our own personal tour, where we got a sneak peek of what's to come on the Deadly Safari.

As we waited nervously at the gates to the Safari park, Steve tells my daughter Amber and me, it's the exciting calm before the storm. It's like pulling up at the gates of Jurassic Park.

As we drive into the enclosure, we became very aware that there was only a metal truck between us and 4 tigers!

It was fascinating hearing Steve talk enthusiastically about the animals, he has such a passion for them.

Steve tells us about the tigers from their size, what they eat, and we listen with interest.

I don't know which Amber is more stunned at, that we are so close to the tigers, or that Steve Backshall is in the front seat telling us about them!

As we drive through to the Lions, we learn about how they first came to Longleat in 1967.

We were lucky enough to see 8 cubs running around playing with each other and pestering their mums! There's no rest, even for a lion mum!

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As we continued our adventure, Steve told us all about the pride of 21 lions.

We then drove into the cheetah enclosure, these are Ambers favourite animal and she was so pleased to see them, and so close up.

We then moved on and joined the wolves. It was interesting to hear Steve tell us that some of the most important best known naturalists of his youth, people like Terry Nutkins and Johnny Morris, gained their knowledge from zoos and safari parks.

He thinks zoos and safari parks have a really important role to play for young people because not everyone has the privileges that he's had being able to go to Africa.

Nothing beats seeing an animal up close, seeing it move, you don't get that from a book or TV programme. It's the kind of thing that's going to stay in a young persons mind.

Steve grew up on a small farm and his parents took in animals, it's always been his passion. He was a writer and came up with the idea for a TV programme, he got himself a camera and went to Columbia for five weeks on his own, and the rest is history.

We were very lucky to get this personal tour from Steve, and it's great listening to his enthusiasm.

If you would like to see Steve in person, why not visit Longleat on Sunday 31st March and Monday 1st April 2013.

He will be presenting live animal shows throughout both days* along with Longleat's Hunters of the Sky team! Then try out your tracking skills on the Deadly Safari and become a Deadly Explorer just like Steve.

To reserve your place call our dedicated ticket hotline on 01985 845544. Lines are open 8am-6pm, 7 days a week.

Also coming in 2013 is a Deadly Challenge zone which will see aspiring Deadly Adventurers pitch their skills against those of some of the world's most lethal creatures! Can you climb like a macaque monkey, match the strength of a polar bear and dodge a vipers strike?

Most important of all, how many animals on the Deadly List can you find in a race against the clock? Check points along the way will feature quizzes and challenges from Steve Backshall who will want to see what each Adventurer has learned about the Deadly creatures they're 

With so many amazing animals at Longleat the new 'Deadly Adventure' experiences will give our visitors the chance to experience first hand all the exciting elements of the TV programme right in the wilds of Wiltshire!

Deadly Adventure at Longleat will open from 31st March 2013. To find out more please visit: www.longleat.co.uk/deadly

 Amber, Steve and Imber

Amber, Steve and Imber

Deadly 60 at Longleat Safari Park


By Amber Jennings, age 9

At Longleat, when we first arrived me and my mum went to a stadium type place called the 'Hunters of the Sky'. We met some beautiful owls and big birds of prey. Then there were lots of people taking photos of Steve Backshall from CBBC's Deadly 60, so I took loads of photos too! I was even lucky enough to speak to Steve and he showed me a Bald Eagle call Imber!

Afterwards, me and my mum went to explore Longleat. First stop, we went into the small rainbow lorikeet cage. One just came by and flew onto my shoulder! They drink nectar direct your hand.

Second stop, was the jungle kingdom where we saw lots of animals including a Red Panda, some Otters and Meerkats, one of which tried to escape!

Then we went into the butterfly house and the butterflies were flying everywhere one landed on my mums red bag! I saw one which was much bigger than the rest called a Blue Morpho which was quite impressive!

After that I had a play at the adventure castle where you have to be at a certain height to enter. There was either a monkey, tiger or a rhino, to gauge what size you were. I was a tiger.

Next was the batcave! There were bats flying everywhere, the thing that me and my mum didn't like about the batcave was that they weren't in a cage and they flew past our heads!

Me and my mum went to Longleat house and people believed that there was a ghost that lived there called the grey lady. The house belongs to lord Bath.

The best part of the day was going on a Deadly 60 safari tour with Steve Backshall how cool is that! We saw some cheetahs, lions, cubs and tigers.

The last thing before I went home was the jungle cruise there were loads of sea lions we had a chance to feed them! We saw gorillas, pelicans on their cove and 2 hippos.

I had such a fantastic day.

Visit: www.longleat.co.uk
Longleat, Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 7NW
Tel: 01985 844400
Twitter: @longleat.co.uk 
Deadly Safari at Longleat  *subject to availability

 

Down on the farm: Have a family fun day out with the kids at Kent Life

Need to blow the cobwebs off? Grab your wellies and take the kids for a family fun day out at Kent Life.

Let the kids explore 28 acres of fun from hands-on activities for kids to age-old farming traditions that bring back memories from way back when.

With animals to cuddle, tractors to ride, play areas to go wild in, fascinating historic buildings to explore and cafés to relax in, there's something for everyone. Kent Life is situated in Sandling, Maidstone in Kent.

Along with my daughter Amber, 9, my son Jacob, 2, my mum and dad, Elaine and Shaun, we set off to the farmyard first.

 Amber feeding the sheep

Amber feeding the sheep

We had bought some food for the animals from reception and Amber couldn't wait to feed them, until we got to the sheep who were fussing around her because they knew she had food. She wasn't sure if she dared to feed them, but her Nonna (my mum Elaine), showed her how to hold her hand flat, so she decided to try it. With her confidence growing she decided she would feed the goats too.

Cuddle corner is in the farmyard, where the children can sit and hold some of the smaller animals. Both Amber and Jacob stroked the cute guinea pig, then the girl who was caring for the animals brought out a chicken. Jacob cried, he didn't like it! Amber thought it was great.

Kent Life houses and breeds traditional farm animals. Their free-range livestock includes sheep, cattle, pigs, horses, donkeys, goats, poultry, rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, ducks, geese, and most recently, Alpacas; All housed in historic outhouse barns. Experience a real working farm and farmyard.

With so much to see and do, we let Amber decide where she would like to go next, with the map in her hand, she decided to go and have a look at Sandling Farmhouse.

A historical survey dates Sandling Farmhouse to the 16th century. Today, vintage chic is displayed in the 1950s homestead. An exhibition in the attic details the history of the house and its various owners and a snapshot of life in the 1950s.

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It was fascinating reading about the resident farmer of 53 years, George Brundle until his retirement in 1978.

I loved looking round this farmhouse. The exhibition is done really well, I felt like the people who lived there had just popped out to the garden and I had gone back in time and was part of their lives.

It was great to have three generations of my family visit Kent Life, we talked about different aspects of how we used to live.

We couldn't walk past the big outdoor play area without having a climb. Amber and Jacob enjoyed swinging together.

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We walked up the slight hill towards the top and half way up there is Dotty's Tea Room. A lovely little café where you can have a well earned cup of tea and a slice of cake.

At the top you will find the Grade II listed Lenham Cottages. They originally started out as Old & Water Street Cottages and they lay virtually in the path of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link until they were re-located to the Kent Life site. It took fourteen months to demolish and re-build these lovely cottages which were opened to the public in 2001.

The Cottage displays the typical home of a wartime house wife. Furniture and fittings were in short supply and rationed, so the average wartime house was decorated in a 1930's style. This WWII home shows sticky tape on the windows to reduce shatter, a basic kitchen equipped with a sink, cooker, mangle and bath tub showing the water-ration line, greenhouse and front rooms, and bedrooms displaying artefacts from an era past. Outside you will also find an Anderson Shelter.

Great for telling your children how lucky they are now with all the gadgets they have to play with!

Next to the cottages is a Chapel. The Chapel was originally built in 1897 in Cuxton, Kent and began its life as a mission hall, later becoming a congregational chapel. Like many other buildings at Kent Life the chapel was re-homed to the place it stands at now. During demolition, builders found several hidden objects under the doorway, including a child's boot! Spooky!

Speaking of spooky, Kent Life is said to be one of the most haunted museum's in the County, dating back to 1555.

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Our next stop was Petts Farmhouse. Originally located just four miles away, just south of Burham Village. It was last occupied in 1981 and after two years of careful repair and reconstruction to the now derelict building, Petts Farmhouse was restored to its Victorian splendour at Kent Life in September 1997.

As we read the sign outside it told the story of how a clay pipe, a bone handled knife, a shoe and a wooden doll were found in the walls and floors of the farmhouse during dismantling. The doll appeared suddenly on the floor. Limbless, with shorn hair and a scarf circling her neck, her mutilated body is believed to have been hidden in the plaster near the front door. The shoe is over 150 years old and was found hidden under the floorboards. A superstition dating back to Victorian times says that hiding a shoe protects the house from evil spirits. To maintain protection, the shoe has been replaced, along with a modern time capsule.

Trying not to act scared we entered the house. I did look over my shoulder on one occasion but it was my dad trying (and succeeding) to make me jump. Amber found it hilarious!

The house layout is known as a double fronted lobby entrance and consists of many rooms including an authentic Dairy Maids Scullery, front room and bedrooms filled with memories from bygone years and a display of tradition Victorian attire.

There are many other parts to Kent Life that you can explore from the Wildlife Discovery Trail and Gardens to the Oast House and Village Hall.

We had a lovely family day out at Kent Life and can't wait to go back again.

Expect to spend a good 4-5 hours there.

Current off peak prices (valid until 8th March 2013): Adults: £5, Concession: £4, Children (3-15 years): £3, Under 3's: FREE. Membership passes are available.

See www.kentlife.org.uk for more details.