Crafting on the Edge at Kinver

Today’s adventure was a jaunt out to Kinver Edge, maintained by the National Trust .

We discovered a hillside covered in woodland and red sandstone. Kinver is famous for the Rock Houses that are there, which were lived in up until the 1950s, plus there are lots of caves and woodland walks to explore.

What attracted us today were the craft sessions being run – for £2 a child.

The boy was instantly captivated by the caves the crafts were being run in, and was only interested in building his own cave. Luckily the volunteers had everything from glitter to paper plates, twigs and leaves and a vast array of scrap paper and material.

With a paper plate, greenery and some sparkly bits, he crafted this ‘cave’ compete with a treasure bag hidden beneath the ‘camouflage’. Then he was off into the caves again!

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The girl was much more focused, and straight away headed for the rabbits and sparkles! She quietly chatted away with one of the helpers, and gradually produced a pretty woodland/countryside picture – my favourite bit is the bird.

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And then she was off into the caves as well!

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We were planning to then investigate the Rock Houses and the rest of the woodland, but behaviour, attention span and the weather began to deteriorate so we called it a morning.

The children definitely enjoyed themselves and I’m disappointed we didn’t get to explore further – but it’s only 30 minutes away, so it’s another adventure saved for another day!

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Hurtling Round Hartlebury

I’m on mummy duty for a couple of weeks, and I was mooching around Twitter looking for some ideas about a day out, and came across a link to Hartlebury Museum in Worcestershire for kids go free – thanks as always Sally! (click here for Raring2Go! or click here for Sally’s Twitter feed )

It’s a lovely place. With the Raring2Go! Voucher, and my boy being under 5, I only had to pay for me – £5.00, plus a £1 each for the children to do the craft activities.

There is tons going on, this week it’s all about the Romans, so we made Roman ‘clay face pots’

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We also had a good mooch around the museum, looking for ‘A-Z’ treasure hunts, and along the way we discovered some fantastic items:

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The children also had the chance to have a go at some archery (£2 for 4 arrows) and they adored this, so we had to do it twice!

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Especially as they both got bullseyes!!

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We got the chance to learn how to write in Roman Cursive script as well:

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And dress up a Roman Soldier:

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We had a lovely picnic, it stated dry enough for us to eat in the picnic area, plus I got to put the children in the stocks!

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We then had a little wander around the ‘Old Moat Coppice’ which is a small nature trail and picnic area – very pretty and a great place for hide and seek!

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We’ve had a great day – and the children want to go back next week for the ‘Greek’ crafts!

Rain, Planes and a Great Day Out

So it’s Easter Monday.

A Bank Holiday.

It’s tipping down with rain – of course!

What can we do, to give the kids a breath of fresh air, and not enter into soft play hell? (Don’t get me wrong, there are days when soft play centres are lifesavers, but not on a rare day when we’re all together as a family).

We chose to do what every family in the Midlands does on a rainy day (or so it seemed!) – we went to the Royal Airforce Museum in Cosford. As it’s a National Museum, it’s free to enter, although you do have to pay for parking (£2 for up to three hours, £3 for three to eight hours, which is very reasonable, and I recommend you pay the extra £1 for all day). Their website is here

A Bomber (and children)

RAF Cosford has a special place in my heart, as my Grandad was based there in the 1950s as an RAF engineer. This meant my mum and uncle were born in the RAF hospital that was there. I always stare at the pictures from that era hoping to see Grandad and his pipe peering out at me!

We arrived just before lunchtime, we had planned to take a picnic, but as it was wet, we chose to buy a sandwich from the cafe there, ‘Refuel’.The children had ‘Ration Packs’, which was a five piece pick and mix lunch bag for £3.75, and there was a good variety of sandwiches, snacks, yoghurts and fruit to go in. Me and my husband just had a sandwich, crips and a drink, although the hot food looked delicious. The hot meals did look a little pricey, however the portion sizes we saw were massive.

After purchasing a guide book and picking up the quiz for the Cold War exhibit, we were off.

The first hall is called Test Flight. In the entrance hall is a timeline charting British aviation history, starting in 1912. We paid particular attention to the period between 1939 and 1945 as my daughter is going to be studying World War 2 next term. My boy was fascinated by the Hindenberg diasaster, and proceeded to explain to everyone around him that “the gas blew up and it sploded”. When you enter the main hangar, there’s plenty of planes to look at, but what every family heads straight for (so be prepared to queue) is the interactive Fun ‘n’ Flight section.

360 Degree Panaorama of Test Flight Hangar

This section is full of aviation science exhibits that you can play with, like controlling the airflow around a helicopter rotor to get it to hover in one place, or the ‘drop zone’ where the task is to get the plane to drop an ‘aid parcel’ in a small area. You can also test out different materials for strength and flexibility, or play an touch screen quiz about the logisitics of flight. There’s also a ‘Black Hawk’ simulator if your stomach can stand it! It’s great fun, and very interesting understanding what the experiments demonstrate.

Helicoptor Rotor Control

The next hangar is called ‘War Planes’. This hangar is full of planes and other vehicles used in various wars from World War 1, right through to the recent Gulf Wars. This section was what my daughter was fascinated by, and she made me take hundreds of photos to take to school. She was interested in the Luftwaffe planes, as well as the RAF ones. My eye was caught by an Argentinian plane that was used in the Falklands Conflict as I remember it. (Gosh I’m getting old!).

This gave rise to explanantions of ‘Suck, Squeeze, Bang, Blow” for jet engines and also what breaking the sound barrier means and sonic booms; my daughter looked at me and said: “how do you know so much about planes?” Ah the innocent days where children think their parents know everything!

Look out! The bomber doors are open!

Then it’s onto the National Cold War Exhibition. This is where the quiz kicks in, and is very clever. There are questions about finding markings on tanks, missing words from displays, word searches and pictures to draw based on exhibits. Children were clutching them all over the place, and avidly reading displays about the Berlin Wall, Trabants, tanks and looking for the mystery pictures.

Trabant - Professor Z from Cars 2!

This area is massive and covers many aspects of the Cold War, including video displays about the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Space Race as well as the more familiar aspects such as the Berlin War and the patitioning of Germany after World War 2.

This hangar also hosts the gift shop, and although there is the usual tat (huge pencils, keyrings and fudge), there’s a vast selection of gifts, book, DVDs and toys. I purchased a ‘Ration Recipe Book’ for £4.99 – watch me morph into a 1940s housewife. My boy now has a tank and two aeroplanes, and my daughter has some colouring and loads of things to take to school ready for their topic work.

The last hangar is called Hangar 1. This is a mixture of all kinds of aircraft, uniforms, missiles of varying shapes and sizes, medals, models, artwork – I could go on and on! The one other thing I’d point out in this hangar is the ‘Airfix’ Spitfire built by James May and the pupils of Thomas Telford School as part of his Toy Stories Series – it took my husband pointing out that it was the model for me to realise it wasn’t a real plane.

James May's Airfix Spitfire

After three and a half hours, our four year old was getting a little fed up, so we decided to call it a day. My daughter was still full of questions and curiousity, as were my husband and I.

It’s a fascinating way of looking at modern history and watching technology evolve. It’s well run, clean, tidy, fun, educational, undercover and ,best of all, FREE!

The sign of a good day out!