Flying high with Legoland

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Families can book in to enjoy the UK’s first flying theatre ride at the LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort at the end of this month

Gates will open to the new multi-million-pound land, created by kids for kids, on Saturday, 29th May.

Standing at over 25 metres tall, the Flight of the Sky Lion ride is at the heart of LEGO® MYTHICA: World of Mythical Creatures, the hotly anticipated new land which marks the park’s single biggest investment since the resort opened 25 years ago.

Aboard the Flying Theatre ride, families will be taken under the Sky Lion’s wing and transported to the parallel universe of LEGO MYTHICA, where mythical creatures come to life. Standing at 13 metres tall, the equivalent of 325 LEGO Minifigures, are two drop towers and prepare to get wet on Hydra’s Challenge steering your own vessel.

Also not to be missed will be the 13 mythical creatures made from more than 1.7 million bricks by a team of 15 master builders over f 8,649 hours – almost a full year of building. Adorning the Flying Theatre building will be the model of the Sky Lion, Maximus, made of 685,530 bricks. Using the resort’s new augmented reality technology, watch the mythical creatures come to life before your eyes using the LEGOLAND App.

Helen Bull, divisional director at the resort, said: “The country has never needed escapism more than right now and we’ve worked closely with children and their families to make sure our new land delivers thrills for everyone.”

The Resort’s existing 4D Cinema will feature a new and exclusive LEGO MYTHICA film. To book tickets, visit www.legoland.co.uk


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Take our Horrible Histories quiz

Liz Nicholls

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Pinch punch first of the month… it’s April’s Fools Day! This is a tradition that some say dates back to Chaucer here in the UK. It is celebrated in various guises across the world, including in Poland, where it is called Prima Aprils and parts of French and Dutch-speaking Europe where there is fish-themed fun for Poisson d’avril or Pesce d’aprile.

Tradition dictates that practical jokes or hoaxes are played upon the unwitting, before noon, ideally, before the prankster shouts “April Fool!”… However, we’ve all lived through such surreal & challenging times over last year that we’ve decided we don’t have the energy for pranks today!

So, instead, to celebrate the Horrible Histories live on stage this month with Car Park Party, we’re bringing you some Horrible Historical Facts courtesy of Horrible Histories, the world’s bestselling children’s history book series.

Which of the following historical facts is an April Fool??

Take our quiz, inspired by genius author Terry Deary and comment below

• The Georgian era was when toilets first started to come indoors. They were usually put into cupboards though some were placed into dining rooms

• Georgian women favoured the very pale face look and would achieve this with a concoction that included vinegar and horse manure!

• The wealthy Georgians loved sweet foods, so it’s no surprise their teeth often fell out. However, they were able to replace them with real teeth purchased from a donor – sometimes one that was not even still alive!

• The Georgians considered crime scenes as entertainment and would enjoy visiting to gawp at a dead body in the room where it was discovered. 

• George III was thought to be mad though he actually suffered from a condition called porphyria. One of the symptoms of this is doing a blue wee!

• The Victorians thought that arsenic would make their skin look younger and be a tonic for good health. It’s actually a deadly poison.

• Victorian women had a reputation for fainting. It wasn’t because they were sensitive souls, it was because their corsets were tied so tightly they couldn’t breathe properly. If it was extra tight, it also could displace their organs!

• Charles Darwin was a famous Victorian who travelled the world to study exotic animals. He also liked to eat them and was known to have consumed iguanas, armadillos, giant tortoises and a puma.

• Victorians wore black clothes a lot of time. This was not because it made them look slim but rather because the air was so dirty it would not show!

• It was not uncommon in Victorian times for photos to be taken of relatives after they had died. Sometimes other family members would pose with the corpse to make it look alive.

Car Park Party Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain and Gorgeous Georgians and Vile Victorians shows are at various Covid-safe locations between Monday 12th & Monday 3rd May, including Newbury Racecourse, Crawley Lingfield Racecourse and Windsor Racecourse. Tickets on sale at www.carparkparty.com starting from £39.50 (+ £2.50 booking fee)



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Half term fun for families

Liz Nicholls

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Half term fun for families & children with Surrey Wildlife Trust

Half term is here: Hurray! We know it’s been tough times for parents this winter & that (whisper it) you might not exactly be jumping for joy at the prospect of filling extra time with your children.

But Surrey Wildlife Trust have some great resources to help you spot & encourage wildlife in your own garden or outdoor space, as well as activities you can enjoy online or in one of the 70 Surrey wildlife reserves the charity manages.

England’s most wooded county, Surrey is impressively diverse and possibly the richest of all land-locked counties in terms of numbers of recorded species.

This includes a stunning mixture of landscapes to explore in Surrey, from the beautiful chalk meadows and rolling hills of the North Downs, to the vast heathlands of the Thames Basin and sprawling wetlands in the east of the county.

Visit surreywildlifetrust.org & keep your eye on our social media feed to find out about courses & how you can identify nationally scarce mammals, birds, insects and reptiles that share this gorgeous county with us.

Another half term idea is building a family time capsule with the kids, read our tips here

Build a lockdown family time capsule

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Kirsty Prankerd, from photo keepsake retailer Write From The Heart, explains how to build a time capsule with the kids.

If you’re currently looking for an educational family activity that will keep the kids busy during lockdown (and who isn’t at the moment?) then why not try building a time capsule?

Not only is this great fun, but it can help encourage the kids to learn more about the past, and to imagine their futures. Here, I’ll share my tips for creating a capsule as a family.

Make it educational

Before you set out to build your time capsule, you’ll need to decide how long you want to wait until you re-open it. Then, ask a few questions and get your children to use their imaginations.

For example, how old will they be when it’s re-opened? What might they be doing? What will the world be like in the future?

Find a sturdy box

Of course, before you can assemble your time capsule, you’ll need to find a strong box that will keep everything safe for a long time — preferably one that’s water- and air-tight. If you’ll be burying your capsule, it may help to double up and use multiple boxes to help provide an added layer of protection. Placing photos, letters, and newspaper cuttings in plastic wallets will also help to keep them safe.

Decide what to include

You can include any objects that you think might be interesting to revisit years into the future.

All of the following items are perfect for a time capsule:

Money. A few coins and notes will show future generations how money has changed over time.

A list of prices for everyday items, e.g. a pint of milk. This is a great opportunity to teach slightly older children about how the value of currency changes

Newspaper cuttings.

A few handwritten diary entries describing what an average day in lockdown is like — perfect for getting the kids to practice their writing skills!

A family photograph.

A note or letter to your future selves.

Find a spot to stash or bury it

Finally, you’ll need to find a place to buy or stash your time capsule. Remember, you don’t necessarily need to bury it in the ground if you don’t have access to a suitable location. Instead, you can always stow it in an out-of-the way place like an attic or storage space.

Once you’ve buried or stashed your time capsule, remember to make a note of its location so you don’t lose track of where it is!

 

Let us know how you get on and send any photos of your time-capsule in the making to

Foster care in lockdown

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Lockdown has been challenging for many of us, for lots of different reasons, and none more so than for Sarah and Darren who are Oxfordshire County Council foster carers, who were staying at home with five children.

They were home schooling all of them as well as keeping them safe and well and happy! As with many foster children they all have specific emotional needs and two of the children have ADHD and are on the autistic spectrum.

We all know that children manage better with routine and for many foster children change is something they find scary and confusing, so to suddenly find their lives changed overnight to not being allowed out, no school, and so many other changes that happened they would have been extremely anxious and unsettled.

You might wonder what lockdown would look like with such a busy household.

The children were kept busy, Sarah is very creative and knows the children are happier when busy. They have fun, they bake, create and paint and garden!

Sarah says, “We do so many things including foam painting the french doors, obstacle course in the back garden and we have planted runner beans, tomatoes and many herbs. We have really enjoyed learning with the children along the way”.

Sarah and Darren were also home schooling so became teachers too, but they obviously did a marvellous job as one of the children got “star pupil of the week”! In total the two younger children have 35 rewards from their school!

It is truly amazing and inspiring to see what they have achieved as a family.

Our foster carers do amazing things and rarely want us to give them any kind of shoutout because, its just what they do. But I think you will all agree that they very much do deserve our thanks and recognition. Throughout these unprecedented times they have given these children everything they need and deserve which is to feel, safe, loved, cared for and to have fun!!

Foster carers offer a safe environment for children who are not able to live at home for however long that might be. We need more carers in Oxfordshire and would welcome to hear form you if you are interested to find out more.


Get in touch with Oxfordshire County Council by email:
Call: 0800 783 5724

Or visit their website

LEGOLAND®’s World of Mythical Creatures

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The World of Mythical Creatures is coming to The LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort in spring 2021 with the opening of a multi-million-pound new land where mythical LEGO® creatures come to life.

LEGO MYTHICA: World of Mythical Creatures will feature thrilling new attractions and experiences, including a never-before-seen UK ride.

Created for kids by kids, the parallel universe of LEGO MYTHICA marks the Resort’s single biggest investment since it opened 25 years ago and will see children’s imaginations and creativity run wild as mythical LEGO creatures come to life in front of their eyes.

Revealed in a video on LEGOLAND Windsor’s social media channels, you’ll be teased into a mythical portal to another world opening for the first time. In a hint to the creatures that families may find in this parallel universe, huge footprints shake the Resort, a winged shadow flies overhead and the 30 second film ends with an ice storm engulfing LEGOLAND Windsor’s entrance.

Working in partnership with Kids Industries, the LEGOLAND Windsor team behind the new the land spent a year discussing and testing ideas and concepts with seven to 11-year olds and their parents who influenced everything from the final ride experiences, names and characters.

Thomas Jellum, Divisional Director at the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort, said:

“What better way to celebrate our 25th birthday than by unveiling a completely unique experience like nothing else we have launched at the Resort since we opened.

“At the heart of LEGO MYTHICA: World of Mythical Creatures will be epic rides, including a UK first, and breath-taking mythical creatures designed to capture children’s imaginations and inspire them to build and play.

“Our new land has been two years in the making and co-created with families to make sure it delivers what children and their parents want from a theme park in 2021.”

 

LEGO MYTHICA World of Mythical Creatures is currently under construction at the Resort and is set to open in spring 2021. The new land will be found between Heartlake City and the Resort’s LEGO-themed hotels.

For more details and to book tickets to the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort, visit www.legoland.co.uk/mythica

Surrey Hills

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The Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is looking forward to welcoming people back to visit but stress this is not the time to come and enjoy the countryside.

They want to reinforce the Government’s message in the releasing of lockdown measures in the countryside and encourage you to use the greenspaces closer to home and observe social distancing rather than travel distances.

Heather Kerswell, Chair of the Surrey Hills AONB Board comments:

“As we move out of the lockdown period over the coming months we look forward to welcoming visitors back to the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“We know you will be keen to return to the Surrey Hills but just for now please stay local! This will ensure we all respect Government safety measures, local communities and wildlife.

“As freedom returns and we embrace a new normal, we will be keen for everyone to come and enjoy the benefits of natural beauty while supporting the local business community who very much need our custom at this time thank you.”

This very slight lifting of lockdown measures will still see many businesses remain closed, particularly those catering for the visitor such as attractions, hotels, restaurants, cafes, pubs, public toilets etc. The worry for many rural communities is people descending on beauty spots and picturesque Surrey villages making social distancing difficult and therefore increasing the risk of spreading the disease.

Chris Howard, Chairman of the Tourist Board – Visit Surrey added: “Whilst we are all anxious to get back out into the countryside, it is worth bearing in mind that facilities are still very limited due to the coronavirus restrictions. This means a lack of open toilets, and places to get food.

“Plan your outings carefully and get to know some of the amazing places right on your doorstep. Remember, the lockdown rules have only been tweaked slightly.”

Stephanie Fudge, National Trust General Manager for the Surrey Hills reinforced this saying that while the National Trust has been working on reopening plans, the safety of staff, volunteers, visitors and local residents is the priority.

She said: “Any reopening will need to be gradual and phased and visitors’ experience is likely to be different from usual, including the need to manage volume at our pay for entry places. Countryside car park opening will also be phased.”

Surrey Hills AONB has set out some key guidance points for accessing the Surrey Hills over the coming months:

· Keeping yourself and others safe is paramount and we encourage you to adhere to guidance set out by DEFRA in their Countryside Code.

· We are aware that many visitors who love to walk and cycle will have greatly missed the Surrey Hills landscape, the views and the well-known beauty spots. We encourage you to use countryside sites close to your home rather than travelling. Over the coming weeks and months we will see carparks and facilities gradually re-open and we urge you to check before you travel that car parks are open and would advise you away from the more well-known sites which may become congested and therefore difficult to socially distance.

· Please be aware that our local farms are under great seasonal pressures during this time and we would encourage you to respect their needs by keeping dogs on leads and follow all designated foot paths and bridleways to keep yourselves and farm animals safe.

· During the lockdown period, nature has had an opportunity to thrive and we ask you to look after nature by being extra cautious. Please stick to footpaths and bridleways so as not to disturb ground nesting birds and other wildlife.

· We encourage you to continue supporting local during this time of transition and want to highlight all the wonderful products and services available on our doorstep in the Surrey Hills. Take a look at our list of businesses offering home deliveries, online support and services, gifts and inspiration.

 

Click for further information on the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)

Oh yes it is…

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Pantomimes are many children’s first experience of the theatre and what a way to start!

Dashing heroes, beautiful heroines and villains you can boo and hiss at, they really are great family fun for all. Karen Neville offers up our guide to some of the star-studded highlights and those on the local stages…

CHOOSE YOUR AREA:

Birdland Park

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If you’re looking for a day out to avoid all the pre-Christmas chaos that already seems to have taken hold, how about a day out at Birdland Park & Gardens?

A pandemonium of parrots has flocked there in recent weeks with some colourful new residents moving in to the park which is now home to 16 different parrot species.

The Cotswold-based wildlife attraction has constructed six new aviaries with two more to be completed in the coming months where visitors can view the new species including the kea and long billed corella.

As part of the new features Birdland in Bourton-on-the-Water is also raising awareness about the conservation and welfare work being done by the World Parrot Trust. The charity is currently focussing on raising funds and awareness to help support the endangered scarlet macaw.

Birdland manager Simon Blackwell said: “We’re very pleased to be able to support such a worthy cause here at Birdland.

“The conservation work the World Parrot Trust undertakes is vital in raising awareness about the risks faced by all parrot species in the wild which include loss of habitat and capture for the illegal trade in wild birds.

“The additional aviaries which have been constructed here are already home to a pandemonium of parrots, the collective term for a group of the birds, and they’ve settled in really well,” he added.

There are 387 species of parrots, known scientifically as Psittacine, and most species are native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Australia, Asia, Central and South America and Africa.

For video of just some of the attractions at Birdland, click here:

Half term at National Trust

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Autumn is the perfect time to get outside with the family and create unforgettable moments this October half-term. With all kinds of family-friendly events, woodland adventure days and spooktacular Halloween trails on offer, the kids won’t get bored at the many National Trust properties in the area.

Here are just a few ideas for you –

The Vyne, near Basingstoke, RG24 9HL (just over the border in Hampshire) 
01256 883858
Young witches, ghosts and all manner of things can wander The Vyne’s gardens enjoying Halloween trails for all ages. Two mysterious trails will keep under 7s and over 8s entertained. Families can embark on their challenge by paying normal admission and £2 for each Halloween trail sheet at Visitor Reception from Saturday 26th October to Sunday 3rd November, 10am-5pm
Halloween spotter trail (up to age 7)
In the gardens, collect your £2 activity sheet from the Halloween tent and look out for 10 photos of animals mistakenly linked with witchcraft. Return your completed sheet to the tent for a chocolate prize. £2
Halloween rune trail (ages 8+)
On this mystical adventure through The Vyne’s gardens, decipher 16th-century runes to reveal a secret word. Collect your £2 activity sheet from the Halloween tent and look out for ten signs hidden around the gardens. Each sign will translate a symbol into a normal letter. Write each letter in the corresponding box on your activity sheet to work out the mystery word. At the end, return to the Halloween tent to collect your chocolate prize. £2

Hatchlands Park 
There’s a whole host of activities at Hatchlands Park this half term including plenty of pumpkins for you to carve and a new trail in the parkland. The little ones can scamper about in the tree house and bug burrow. Explore Wizard Wix’s Willow Warren and get to grips with hand-crafted willow tunnels, domes, balance beams, sculptures and a totem pole.
October half-term trail 
Saturday 26th October to Sunday 3rd November, 10am-4pm
Pick up a sheet from reception to discover forgotten folklore and seasonal superstitions on a trail through the parkland and claim your pumpkin prize at the end. £3

Dapdune Wharf 
As darkness falls on Saturday 26 October, test your fitness and your fears in the 2k night time run around the haunted Wharf and island. Look out for the witch of the Wharf and a string of spooky surprises on the way. 2k run, jog or walk.  Soup from 4.30pm, warm up from 6pm.  Run starts at 6.15pm
Dressing up encouraged.
£2.50 for bowl of soup and fun run.
Booking essential, call 01483 561389

Petworth House and Park 
Visit Petworth House and Park this October half-term and join in some awesome autumnal fun. Take part in the fun, imaginative trail, helping a little bat plan a party. Plus make your own Bat Box at one of our craft days over half term.
Autumn Trail 
26th October – 3rd November, 10am-4pm
It’s party time at Petworth! One of the young bats is throwing a huge spooky Halloween bash for the creatures in the Pleasure Ground but he can’t find any of them. Some of the animals are just too scared of bats to come to the party. Can you find them and discover if bats are as scary as they think?
Find all of the animals and answer the questions on the trail sheet to complete the trail and win a prize.
The trail is suitable for children aged 5 and upward and is accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs. Prizes can be claimed at either Church Lodge or Car Park Receptions. £3
Spot the pumpkins 
Pumpkins have been spotted growing in the strangest of places at Petworth this Autumn. Some have even popped up in the mansion! Can you help find them for our house team? Find them all and get a sticker reward. £3
Halloween Crafts ‘Make Your Own Bat Box’ 
29th, 30th and 31st October, 11am-4pm
Come to one of the autumn craft sessions and build and decorate your very own bat box to take away and hang in your garden. £5

Find out more

For more details about these and other events at National Trust properties