Archive | July, 2015

Little Scientists at The Centre for Life

28 Jul

An amazing day at The Centre for Life. My daughters six and four absolutely loved the new Experiment Zone. Having not studied science for almost three decades, the thought of how I was going to be able to help them “extract DNA” left me a little nervous! But the instructions were so clear and easy to follow, that literally a four-year-old could do it.
There are a wide range of experiments to choose from and we’ll definitely be back to try out another. Inspiring stuff.

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There is so much to do, that you really could spend a whole day inside. We love the Little Bear film in the planetarium about the constellations. The play area upstairs can keep them entertained for an hour alone, and they never seem to get sick of the activities in the explorer zone.
My children are a little young to appreciate the Game On exhibition, but the range on show is fantastic, a real journey through gaming history. Spotting the Speak and Spell and Donkey Kong did however make me feel on the old side!
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There is a cafe and restaurant, but also a picnic area too, which I think is great so you are welcome to bring your own food too.
A top quality place for a family day out time and time again.

http://www.life.org.uk/whats-on/experiment-zone#.VbehIGRVhBc

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Family bouldering at Shaftoe

18 Jul

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Northumberland has so many natural playgrounds. We headed to Shaftoe crags for a family bouldering session.
Great for parents to have a play as well as the kids for a change!

Despite being only a short drive from Newcastle, there is something about the crags of Northumberland that makes me feel I have ventured into another world or far into the past. And the children enjoyed hearing how the rocks have their own names such as Devil’s Punchbowl and Piper’s Chair.

Parking:

From Belsay on the A696, head for Bolam Lake. Go past the lake car park on the right to a crossroads, turn left along an unmetalled road past a row of cottages. Park by the wall on the moor just over the cattle grid.

To the crags:

Follow the wall up the hill until you go through the gate, then turn left and follow the path along the wall that takes you down in amongst the rocks.

The Farne Islands

18 Jul

I definitely had camera envy and these pictures really don’t do justice to the amazing trip we had to the Farne Islands.

http://farneislandstours.co.uk/

Bolam Lake

18 Jul

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A natural playground, this easy walk round Bolam Lake has trees to climb, swans to feed and lots of places for hide & seek.
Free parking & a cafe.

http://www.northumberland.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=1894

Scowling dwarfs and ancient stones: a walk at Simonside

12 Jul

Despite being carted up hills and even the odd mountain since they were bairns in backpacks, mention the word “walk” to my kids (six and four) and the response is something like eurghhharrrgh and “why?”

So I have to get a bit more creative to lure them out to where I want to go and think “will be good for them really.”

And this week my creativity involved some stories about the ancient scowling dwarfs said to roam the hills of Simonside dressed in lambskin and a moss hat – and basically bribery of an amazing picnic once you got to the top…

But the odd whine and whinge from my own “scowling dwarfs” was definitely worth it as wow, there is some view and it is not every day you get to eat your lunch next to rock carvings said to be 4,000 years old.

For anyone not familiar with the history of Simonside, near Rothbury, Countryfile sums it up pretty well here:

“The fell sandstones of the Simonside Hills were deposited from a river delta some 330 million years ago. Weathering

and erosion have led to their dominant aspect, which makes them recognisable throughout the county. Their spiritual significance to the Bronze Age people, 5000 years ago, is evident in the burial tombs and rock carvings that adorn the slopes and summits.”

The main car park, just a few minutes drive from Rothbury, has a map of the  area. We followed the red route  (pictured below)  and it was very well signposted and easy to follow. But a shorter route which may be better for younger children is available here along with lots of extra info about the area.

http://www.northumberlandnationalpark.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/simonsidefamily-adult-lo.pdf

Points of interest:

Little Church Rock This isolated outcrop of fell sandstone is hidden within the forest. Its name may be a reference to the rock’s use as a gathering place. There is a set of cup marks in the stone on the lower right side of the rock which are thought to be man-made and could be over 4,000 years old.

The Simonside Dwarfs also known as Brownmen, Bogles and Duergar are a race of ugly dwarfs. Their leader was said to be known as Roarie. They are said to mostly appear at night, when they prey on lost travellers by showing a light to draw the traveller nearer, and then tricking them into a bog or luring them over the edge of a precipice. Read more about these little critters here:

http://faeryfolklorist.blogspot.co.uk/2009/05/duergars-of-simonside.html

 

 

 

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