Thursday, 28 May 2020

Walks & Open Spaces in Northamptonshire

For years I have focused on parks with play equipment as my children love a swing & zip wire! However with coronavirus and lockdown play areas have become out of bounds & many people have stayed closer to home. As we are now able to drive & lockdown is easing I thought I'd share some walks & open spaces in Northamptonshire.

I've been trying to find lesser known quieter spots for our family walks & much needed PlayStation/YouTube breaks.  Often these lesser known places have no cafes/toilets etc so are not recommended for lengthy stays.  Obviously the country parks are great & we all know & love Sywell, Brixworth, and Irchester etc (and they have toilets!) but I've tried to focus elsewhere as there have been reports these places have been very busy.

Northampton Washlands (behind Riverside) is a vast open space with the River Nene flowing along side it.  There's a small marina and often horses, sheep and ducks/swans/geese.

River Nene (Brackmills) further up from the washlands you can walk along the Nene.  We walked in a loop going past Northampton Active.  You can walk all the way to Midsummer Meadow but the 9 year old wasn't quite up to that!

Upton Country Park can be busy but is a big space and the lesser known area away from the car park/football pitch is much quieter. There are currently sheep in one of the fields and is flat & perfect for buggies and bikes. There is a car park available.

Brampton Valley Way. This is a 14 mile stretch taking you all the way to Market Harborough.  We have only visited a small section but loved it.  I can recommend Draughton Crossing car park to Kelmarsh Tunnels.  Last year we also walked from The Windhover for a couple of miles & then had a break at The Brampton Halt which will be open again later in the summer (hopefully!) Several free car parks are dotted long the walk.  

Bradlaugh Fields which is not really so unknown anymore but depending on the day/time can be very quiet. 

Irthingborough Lakes is a lovely quiet spot & you can walk all the way to Rushden Lakes quite easily and grab a takeaway drink & sit on the boardwalk before your return journey (top tip from my sister).

Harlestone Firs is one of my personal favourites grower in popularity you can still easily find pockets of complete solitude and perfect on a hot day as lots of shade from the trees. Free parking is opposite.

Villages we have some beautiful villages in Northamptonshire which are perfect for a stroll away from the hustle and bustle. We visited one yesterday and found a stream for the kids to paddle in & very few people.

A few of these places do not have specific car parks so take care parking, make sure you read the signs and don't obstruct roads/paths etc.

Have fun, take care & stay safe in this crazy new world.

Emma xxx


Saturday, 2 May 2020

Binge Watch List

Binge Watch list
Since most of us have a lot of time on our hands at the moment I thought I'd share some of the things I've been binge watching.  I'm not normally a massive TV person & stick to my Holby City, Call the Midwife, Great British Bake off, Strictly etc but these a regular weekly shows on at certain times of the year.  In the last 6 weeks however I have really got into boxsets and these are my recommendations.

Manifest (Sky)
Flight 828 reappears 5 years after disappearing & many of the passengers start to hear voices & see things. 2 series so far & there will be a third.  16 in the 1st series and 13 in the 2nd.  About 50 mins each. 
Good, different to my usual thing, slightly repetitive "Have you had a calling?", easy to watch.

After Life (Netflix)
Tony had a perfect life until Lisa (his wife) dies. A dark comedy with loads of touching moments. You'll laugh & cry. 2 series both 6 episodes each and 25 to 30 mins.
I had never heard of it but saw a Netflix advert & gave it a whirl. Loved it & watched the whole thing in a week. Does mention suicide & cancer so not for everyone but so well done. Ricky Gervais at his best.

Back to Life (iPlayer)
36 year old Miri is starting life again after an 18 year prison sentence. Only 1 series and 6 episodes 25-30 mins each.
Found this via Graham Norton & loved it. Quirky, funny with some touching moments.

Save Me & Save Me Too (Sky)
Teenage Jody goes missing & her family go to extreme lengths to find her. 2 Series and 6 episodes each abour an hour each.
Lennie James is an amazing actor as Nelly (Jody's biological dad). Dark, gripping and a great cast.

I haven't binge watched these as up to date but Ru Paul's Drag Race (Netlix) about 100 episodes if you go back to the beginning and Killing Eve (iPLayer) series 3 has just started on BBC1 are both a great watch too.

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Church Farm Haven Tried & Tested

Church Farm is a large Haven site.  The site has direct beach access (shingle/pebbles) but this is quite a long walk depending on where you are located on site but a lovely addition to the site & dog friendly. Church Farm's Mash & Barrell has an enormous outside decking area overlooking the outdoor pool & if the weather is good a perfect place to sit & soak up the sun.  Younger children can run around & use the play area/sand pit & older children can use the outdoor pool with you nearby. When we visited the indoor soft play area was small but may have been updated.  There is a golf course & crazy golf on site, tennis courts and all the usual Haven activities like football, archery, aqua jets, water walkers etc.

Credit Haven Holidays
I would recommend visiting the following places whilst visiting:

Hotham Park in Bognor Regis a short 10-15 minute drive takes you to Bognor.  My kids loved this park with play areas, carved satues scattered about, mini railway (summer months only), crazy golf and cafe. You could also pop to Bognor Regis beach whist you were here.

Littlehampton seaside town with Harbour Park (funfair), skate park, spots for crab fishing and plenty of fish & chip shops. You can even catch a ferry.

Peppa Pig World an hour drive away is Paultons Park otherwise known as Peppa Pig World.  No other words needed if you have a Peppa Fan!

Wild Duck Haven Tried & Tested

Wild Duck in Norfolk has a slightly different atmosphere to most other Haven sites due to its woodland location. The main complex layout is lovely with water features and bridges.  The Sitting Duck (pub facility) is separate to the main arcade/evening entertainment space.  This has a sand pit area which is a huge hit with the kids.  There is a large wooded play area a few metres away and a treehouse on the other side of the park.  The indoor pool is basic but a good size.  We preferred the outdoor pool which was lovely & warm with beach hut style changing facilities and a play area outside.

Wild Duck Haven Review

Wild Duck really is a unique Haven site which we have enjoyed twice. For a mini tour video and idea of the layout watch below 

Nearby I would recommend the following places:

Gorlestone beach massive sandy beach which is quieter than nearby Great Yarmouth 

Bewilderwood amazing outdoor climbing and exploring adventure play.  We loved it here.

Africa Alive a zoo as the title suggests themed on Africa.  A walking safari set in 100 acres and famous for its big cats. Just a warning no elephants!

Norfolk broads the famous Norfolk broads is perfect to get out on a boat.  We had a mini 2 hour adventure & loved it.

Pleasurewood Hills a brilliant theme park perfect for the whole family. Only 8 miles away and a fantastic fun day out.  There are plenty of thrill rides for the teens Wipeout is not for the faint hearted! 

Rockley Park Haven Tried & Tested

We have visited Rockley Park Poole twice and both times luckily enough to have AMAZING weather and the best time.

I can 100% recommend Rockley Park although if you have mobility issues it might be a problem as it is quite hilly.

The site has everything you would expect from a Haven site.  Swimming pools, arcade, play areas, Mash & Barrel, Live Lounge, crazy golf and trampolines (these are paid for activities).  Rockley Park also has its own beach access which is a huge selling point.  Sometimes these beaches can be a bit disappointing but Rockley Park was lovely.  Safe and clean with a harbour, café and play area.  You can participate in watersports (paid activity) do a spot of crab fishing.

Rockley Park Review

The swimming pool was a hit with the kids with a water slide and small splash park.  I thought it was a tad small but it was perfectly adequate and in the warmer months the outside area will be open so everyone can spread out a little more.

Rockley Park has a lovely lay out and is one of the few sites where you do not need to access the arcade to get to other facilities.  It looks fresh and clean and I liked the beachy look of the main complex.

Rockley Park Review

Whilst in Poole my top things to do nearby are:

Bournemouth Oceanarium only about 25 minute drive away this Oceanarium has a vast array of creatures.  Sharks, turtles, stingrays, jellyfish, penguins and the cute otter family. £8.50 per child and £11.95 per adult.  Family tickets are available for reduced prices.

Corfe Castle nearby National Trust property which is also approx 25 minute drive.  You can climb & explore the old castle, enjoy a cream tea at the onsite cafe (amazing scones!) and see the steam train pass by.

Crab fishing at Rockley Park beach My kids loved this.  Minimal cost & onsite.  We spent hours here crab fishing, collecting shells and paddling in the sea.

If you enjoyed this Haven Tried & Tested Review check out my others.

Emma xxx


Sunday, 8 March 2020

Gravity Entertainment Northampton Review

Gravity Entertainment in Sol Central is the newest trampoline park to the scene and today we went to see what it is all about.

Located right by Vue Cinema the striking orange & purple colours mean you cannot miss it.  Smaller than I thought it has a brilliant mixture of equipment & quite a few items that it's rival Boost doesn't have.

Upon entry you can complete your waiver at one of the screens and validate your car parking ticket.  Socks must be worn & are £2.50 per pair.  Each child is given a coloured band to correspond with their time slot.  A health & safety video must be watched which included a warm up routine which I thought was good although the teen wasn't so sure.  It is £11.95 per child but online prices are discounted by 15% so £10.16 which is therefore comparable to Boost which is £10. They also operate parent & toddler off peak sessions which is £6.  Family tickets are also available for £39.99 or (£33.99 online!) this is for 2 adults and 2 children or 1 adult and 3 children.

My kids loved the climbing wall & ball bit (this was their favourite section).  The wipe out machine was a big hit and my son liked the mini football zone and befriended a younger child and they happily charged about.

The café has all the usual hot drinks and amazingly has waffles! I love waffles and they are rarely on offer. As we went at 11am I didn't try one but they looked immense.

The kids rated Gravity Entertainment 9/10 and both want to go back. I know there was some early feedback and some improvements have been made.  The slush machines were moved and hand dryers fitted.  The toilets still smelt of fresh paint! I think Gravity Entertainment is a huge positive for Sol Central and it is great to see the building filling up with businesses again.

More picture over on Instagram Instagram - Life in the Mum's Lane

**We were gifted 2 tickets in exchange for this review.  We paid for our own socks & drinks.  All opinions are my own.**

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Abington Park

Abington Park is Northampton's oldest and most popular park. It contains a museum, sports facilities, 6 all weather tennis courts (£6 per hour) a cafe, lakes, and a garden for the blind. It is an amazing focal point and used by many groups such as running, boot camp and Pokémon hunters!

There is a band stand where live music is played on Sundays during the summer, a large play area and church.  Lots of events are held throughout the year such as Race for Life, Fun Fairs, and National play day.

I love Abington Park but I am finding the play area could do with a few larger pieces of equipment for the older children like a zip wire, larger climbing frames or obstacle course (similar to Stanwick Lakes) as it does not suit teens who have outgrown the equipment. 

Abington Park

The museum was recently renovated and is a lovely old grade 1 listed building and usual open hours are 12 to 4pm and admission is free.   The museum plays host to lots of events recently the vegan fair was there in February, March brings the vintage & daft fail and April is 3d animal model making, playful puppet craft and Easter egg trail.

There is no parking but there is always room on one of the many streets the encompass the park such as Abington Park Crescent, Christchurch road or Ardington Road.


Monday, 24 February 2020

Easter 2020 things to do in Northamptonshire

Easter will soon be here hurrah! Easter Sunday is 12th April 2020 and Northampton schools break up Friday 3rd April and return Monday 20th April (make sure you check teacher training days as these differ). 

Due to the current coranavirus outbreak some events maybe cancelled or postponed.

If you are looking for things to do with kids in Northamptonshire this Easter, I've got lots of Easter events to inspire you.

With spring finally emerging and the weather hopefully warming up there's loads to do to get outside in the fresh air and hopefully get some sunshine. Below is lots of things to do in Northamptonshire during the Easter half term.  There's a mixture of indoor and outdoor to suit all eventualities because you know British weather!

Delapre Abbey, Northampton

Delapre Abbey

Saturday 4th April to Sunday 19th April 11am to 4pm.  Delapre's Chocolate Factory.  Solve the chocolate factory puzzle and earn your golden ticket.  £5 per child and £2.50 per adult chaperone. 5+ and chaperone receives an end of trail refreshment.

Abington Park Museum, Northampton
Easter Egg Trail Tuesday 7th to Monday 13th 1pm to 5pm.  A chocolate egg as a prize for every child. £1.50 per child Drop in – no booking required
Also 3d Model making Tuesday 7th April 1.30 to 2.30 and 2.45 to 3.45 £4 per child booking essential.  Playful puppet Wednesday 8th April same time and price.

Easter Egg Hunt, Wootton Community Centre

Friday 10th April 10.30 to 1.30 £3 per child which includes an Easter egg.  Will also be bouncy castle, face painting and raffle.

Easter Egg Hunt at Harlestone Firs
Sunday 5th April 11am £1 per child hosted by Ashbourne Day Nursery you must confirm attendance with them by 20th March

Easter Egg Hunt at Millennium Green Desborough
Monday 13th April 2 to 4pm  Free event near to St Giles Church

Easter Family Fun day Spinney Hill Pub
Sunday 12th April 12 to 5pm Stalls, face painting, bouncy castle, petting zoo & more.

Easter Craft Fayre Northampton Working Men's Club
Sunday 5th April 12 to 3pm Children receive a free Easter chocolate bar on entry. Entrance is free.

Vintage Easter at Holdenby
How about something a bit different a Victorian Easter! Visit Holdenby House 10 to 4pm. Sunday 12th April & Monday 13th April.  Falconry display, Magic shows, Egg rolling, Easter egg hunt and lots more.  Child admission £4.50 and adult £8 or £9.50 depending on the day.  Under 3's FREE.

Easter fun day and chocolate run 2020, The Obelisk Centre

Sunday 5th April 2020 - The run is back for the 3rd year.  Full details not yet announced. The more you run the more chocolate you get 20 laps max. 

Easter Family Fun Daventry Leisure Centre

Sunday 29th March 11am to 4pm.  Free entry.  Local stalls, bouncy castle, Easter scavenger hunt, raffle, craft station and more.

Easter Egg Hunt The Centre, Mawsley
Sunday 12th April 1 to 3pm  £3.50 per child help Flopsy find her bunnies and get an egg as a reward.

Easter Egg Decorating, Swanage Shopping Centre, Wellingborough
Wednesday 1st April 10am to 12.  In the community lounge decorate an egg with edible decorations.

Easter Trail Rutland Water
Friday 3rd April to Monday 20th April 11am to 3pm £3 per person.  Go to the Rutland Waterside Café LE15 8HD

Easter Sunday Funday, East Carlton Country Park, Corby, Northamptonshire
Sunday 12th April 11am to 3pm.  Easter Bonnet Parade, an Easter Egg Hunt and orienterring trail.  £4 per activity or £10 for all.

Great Doddington Easter Egg Hunt
Friday 10th April 11am to 1pm  £2.30 per entry, go to the hall for hot drinks, snacks, cakes and games.  Complete the trail and receive a prize.

National Trust, Multiple locations nationwide

The National Trust are teamed up with Cadbury's for Easter Egg hunts for the final year!  Our nearest locations are Canons Ashby, Stowe, Lyveden and Waddesdon Manor.  Check website for all locations and dates.  Canons Ashby is on 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th 10am to 4pm. £3 per trail (normal admission applies).

Easter Egg Trail & House Opening, Deene Park, NN17 3EG
12th and 13th April 12 to 5pm House & Gardens £12 adult and £6 child and 0-4 Free.  Child admission includes a family fun easter hunt with a prize.  

West Lodge Rural Centre, Desborough, Northamptonshire

West Lodge

10th, 11th, 12th and 13th April Easter Eggstravaganza!
Easter Quiz, follow clues around the farm which will lead you to the Easter Bunny and receive an Easter egg, paint an egg, take part in the egg and spoon race and egg painting competition.
West Lodge also has lambs, the very popular barrel ride and pig racing plus an indoor play barn.

Mini Meadows Farm, Naseby, Northamptonshire

Mini Meadows
10th, 11th, 12th and 12th April Easter Extravaganza! Feed the gorgeous lambs £1 per bottle. Egg and spoon race, make a sock bunny, have your face painted (charge applies) and watch 'Hop' in the special film zone (charge applies adults and under 1's free) Mini Meadows also has a brilliant indoor sand pit and new indoor play barn.  Normal entry charge is £5 per person.

Northampton & Lamport Easter Railway
11th, 12th and 13th Easter special at £5.20 adult and £4.20 children. Train journey & creme egg. Take a ride the Easter Egg Special trains on a 4-mile round trip. Afterwards, enjoy a walk along the Brampton Valley Way a 14-mile “linear park” along the historic Northampton to Market Harborough line, or take another ride on the train with a All Day Rover ticket. Timetable: 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00 & 16:00   

Evenley Wood Garden, Northamptonshire, NN13 5SH

6th to 13th April – Easter Eggstravaganza
Easter hunts, crafts and activities galore!

Old Dairy Farm Craft Centre, nr Weedon, Northamptonshire

Not quite Easter but a lovely springtime event.  The lambing sheds will be open Saturdays and Sundays, between the 14 of March and 5th April between 10.00am & 4.30pm.  £2 charge per person.

Castle Ashby, Northampton

11th and 12th April. Amazing Easter Egg hunt which gets very busy.  To combat this it is now ticket ONLY so make sure you book from 1st March. 10am to 12.30pm.  Tickets have been postponed due to coranavirus.

Manor House Museum, Kettering

Play day 8th and 15th April 10am to 3pm lots to do in the Manor House Museum, Alfred East Art Gallery and Gallery Gardens.

Free worksheets and trails all year round!

During the school holidays free craft table with supplies
More to be announced...

Easter Egg Hunt & Disco, Roade Football Club

Friday 10th April 2020 - The trail will be open from 1.30pm until approx. 3, following this is the Brite lites Disco.  Trail sheets cost £2 and can be purchased on the day. No need to book , just turn up and enjoy. Limited to 180 children.

Lings Forum Cinema, Northampton

Lots out to entertain the kids.  Onward (PG) My Spy (12A) more to be announced £5.20 per person cheaper with a leisure card

**Remember VUE in Northampton is currently £4.99 per person per film any time any date with a booking fee if online**

The Wizard of Oz Easter Panto 2020, The Deco, Northampton

6th and 7th April 3.30pm, 7pm and 2pm and 6pm.

All singing all dancing family panto. **Please double check all details before arriving**