Charlotte’s holiday homework is to keep a diary, so she’s been helping me out on the blog this week. We tried to find out some facts I never knew about Whitby, including snakes and monkey puzzle trees…
- A monastery was built in AD657 by King Oswy of Northumbria. It became one of the most important religious centres in the Anglo-Saxon world under the Abbess Hild. She ruled over both men and women in a double monastery called Streaneshalch.
- It is said that sea birds flying over the ruins of the abbey tip their wings in honour of Hilda while the presence of ammonite fossils on the shore at Whitby is explained as the remains of a plaque of snakes which Hilda turned to stone.
- Whitby Abbey was the inspiration for a famous scary book called Dracula by Bram Stoker that was written 1897. Lots of people come to Whitby at Halloween.
- Some people say there are 199 steps, some say 198 and others 200. so they say you have to try and count them for yourself!
Things we want to try next time we go back:
- Mummy would like a necklace made of Jet
Jet Shop W. Hamond says: Unlike most gemstones, Whitby Jet is actually fossilised wood, similar to our present day Monkey Puzzle or Araucaria Tree, which has been compressed over millions of years.
The colour of Whitby Jet is unique; its blackness is so intense that the expression ‘as black as jet’ has been a commonly used phrase for hundreds of years.
Queen Victoria had a necklace made of Whitby Jet
Read more about it here: Whitby Jet
- Katherine and I want to bring our buckets and spades and go down to the beach and ride on a donkey in the summer.
Other facts we found out about Whitby:
- By 1795 Whitby had become a major whaling port. The most successful year was 1814 when eight ships caught 172 whales.
- The famous explorer Captain Cook learned how to be a sailor in Whitby and his ship the HMS Endeavor that he sailed to Australia and New Zealand was built in Whitby.
Our toes may be numb but what a lovely day we had in the snow at Beamish. While I think the unexpected snowfall and the trip to the traditional sweetshop may have been pretty influential – according to my daughter this was “the best time I’ve had while I’ve been six…”
My gran was born in one of the Francis Street terraces, which were moved to the Beamish “Pit Village” from Hetton-le-Hole. Sadly my daughters didn’t get chance to visit with her, as she passed away last year. But we thought her birthday, this weekend, would be a nice way to keep her memory alive.
And it did just that as, as soon as you step out through the entrance at Beamish, you enter into times past, wandering in and out of homes, shops and community buildings, all wonderfully recreated and helping my children to imagine what life was like for their great gran when she was a young child too.
The site is vast and the kids loved the trams to take you from place to place.
It was a bit breezy on the open top mind!
This was our first trip, but thanks to the ticket lasting a year it was nice to feel you didn’t have to cram everything into one day to get your money’s worth.
Armed with my guidebook I have already started swatting up on my history and the remarkable collections on display all ready for our return visit.
A family ticket for 2 adults and 2 children costs £48.50. If we go four times in a year that works out as £3 each a visit, which I think is pretty good value for money.
To find out more and plan your trip visit Beamish
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.
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!
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.
I love Woodhorn, I really do. A fascinating and fun trip through mining history, banner displays, the Pitman Painters exhibition, arts and crafts and even a ride on a miniature railway to a feed ducks on a lake, it’s a great day out with the kids…. and apart from the parking it’s free! My kids love walking through the Coal Town – and never seem to tire of opening and closing the door to the outside loo (you’ll see why…) They love the noises and sounds and the interactive nature of the museum that brings it alive. And if that wasn’t enough they have touring exhibitions too like the brilliant Retronaut photographs dubbed “Victorian selfies” and the recently arrived Brick Planet lego display.
A trip to Seven Stories has never failed to disappoint but the current Julia Donaldson exhibition has got to be the one of my favourites. I wasn’t the only mum queuing up to get a sneaky picture of myself next to the legend himself too. As well as stepping into the world of many of her most famous books, there are also fascinating displays that reveal how her ideas made their way to the page.
There is floor after floor of top quality children’s entertainment. The wood beamed book-filled attic is the reading hideaway I could only have dreamed of as a child along with a dressing up corner packed with everything from gruffalos to dragons and princesses.
Although my two and four year olds were a bit unsure the first time they entered the Vikings Guide to Deadly Dragons with Cressida Cowell exhibition it didn’t take them long to get into character and were soon seated in their viking ship, helmet on head and shield in hand like it was the most normal thing in the world.
Seven Stories really does allow you to immerse yourself in the books in the exhibitions and everything is there to be explored by little hands and there’s never a question of not being allowed to touch anything.
Even for the clumsy crafter like me, the art and craft room on the bottom floor always offers some kind of activity so that your little one can leave proudly clutching their hand made souvenir, from viking helmet to aeroplane.
And of course, after all that reading and playing there’s a cafe on hand too.
Prices for an adult are £6.50 but an annual pass seems good value at £26.00
under fours are free and a child ticket costs £5.50 or £21.00 for a pass.
Katherine meets Mrs Tiggywinkle in Beatrix Potter World, Windermere.
Most organised toddler activities I go to leave me with a ringing in my ears and the urge to go and lie down in a darkened room. Often added to the woe is the knowledge that I’ve paid a small fortune for my children to either cower in the corner and if I’m lucky have chirped up about five minutes from the end of the 45 min session. And, guess what, we’re signed up for a whole term, so they will come back and they will enjoy it next week…
So, what an hour of bliss was Newcastle’s Dance City’s Dancing Babies. With no need to commit to every week, like you do at many pre-school classes, you are just told to get there early to make sure you get a place. We were about ten minutes early and that seemed fine.
The Dance instructor explained each week has a theme and he led us on a journey ‘e2’80ldblquote up to space this time ‘e2’80ldblquote and the children were encouraged to perform actions linked to the storytelling. The girls were captivated by his guitar playing ‘e2’80ldblquote a lovely change from loud dancing CDs of some classes. The instructor also wasn’t too strict, which is good, so if the younger ones preferred to be fascinated by looking out the window rather than what was going on inside, then that was fine. It wasn’t a class for learning dance moves, more about movement and physical expression. Although I still would have quite liked a lie down afterwards, it was more because the soothing singing and music was sending me off to sleep.
Facilities-wise, we called in to the cafe for a coffee and tea cake. With four kids and buggy it was pretty cramped and they only had two highchairs so there were none free as most of the other mums had the same idea. We didn’t try them, but they do kids lunchboxes for around ‘c2’a33.50.
Since we were in the city, we went crazy and did a dance-culture combo and crossed over the road for a quick round of the Discovery Museum. This was youngest daughter’s first visit to the water room, where they can splash in a child-size model of the River Tyne. There are aprons, but they can’t really keep them dry ‘e2’80ldblquote so bring a change of clothes.
We then headed to the under 5 soft play, just a small corner, but good for the younger ones. They spent longer at the gravity ball equipment ‘e2’80ldblquote where they spent ages placing the ball at the bottom then watching it shoot up and whizz all the way down. It’s a brilliant place for them to explore, with so many child height levers to pull and buttons to press.
If you were after a roomier cafe area, then I’d recommend saving lunch for the Discovery, as it’s much less cramped. And if you are tight (like us!) they have a new picnic area, right by the Science Maze, where you can dish out the cheese sandwiches in peace without having to be looking over your shoulder for an eagle eyed cafe attendant.
You could spend ages in the Discovery just letting them wander round, but they were running out of steam so we called it a day and headed back to the car. We parked in the Grainger Town multi-storey, which is 80p and hour and right next to Dance City.