Welcome to my new monthly travel series! I post a lot about my local city, Leicester, but what if find yourself in a new town or city with the smalls and you don’t have a clue where you should go, where you should eat? Well don’t worry, my network of parenting bloggers have you covered and will help you tour their town, with the best place to go if the weather is good, the best place to hit up if the weather is bad and yummy independent restaurants and cafes, to eat with your brood. This month, we’ll be discovering Worcestershire, Glasgow, Chelmsford and The Peak District
WORCESTERSHIRE – Natalie from PlutoniumSox shares her favourite places from in and around Worcester
I’ve lived in and around Worcestershire for most of my life. As a parent though, you start to visit places you haven’t been for years. Because children are brilliant at reminding you how wonderful things were the first time you saw them.
Our default day out whatever the weather is National Trust Croome. This is one of the larger National Trust properties with two cafés, a stately home to look around, expansive grounds and two play areas. The landscape was created by Capability Brown and it incorporates both a small river and a pond. Its wide, well-surfaced paths make it an ideal place for children to cycle. It’s accessible for those who can’t walk long distances due to a buggy service that runs once every few minutes between the entrance and the stately home. It’s also dog friendly and there is a large, undercover outdoor seating area at the café by the entrance where you can sit with your dog to enjoy a traditional National Trust cup of tea and slice of cake.
We’re not huge fans of staying inside when it rains. If you’re looking for something to do that is totally indoors, you could try the 360 Soft Play at the Kingfisher shopping centre in Redditch. It’s by far the best soft play in the area, with dodgems, a dressing up area and a small carousel as well as the standard soft-play frame. It’s set in the shopping centre which has a couple of chain restaurants to eat in. Paying for parking at the shopping centre is like pulling teeth, with certain machines only accepting cash.
If you’d prefer to go somewhere that is both outdoors and indoors so you can get some fresh air but duck inside when it rains, Avoncroft Museum of Old Buildings is a good call. It has lots of buildings from different eras that were deconstructed in their original location and reconstructed at the museum. There’s also a collection of telephone boxes there, including a Tardis! There’s a small café and if you bring a picnic but find yourself caught in the rain, they open up the hall for picnickers. We got married at Avoncroft back in 2011 and had a blessing in the tiny church there after the service. Interestingly, this made my dad feel particularly old since he had once repaired the organ at the church when it was at its original location on Bringsty Common. It was also the first place he’d driven to after passing his driving test.
There are some amazing cafés and restaurants around Worcestershire and it’s impossible to pick just one. So, I’ll tell you about three of my favourites. The first is Cottage in the Wood in Malvern. This is a hotel tucked away up a drive and located right on the side of the beautiful Malvern Hills. Do pick a window seat in the restaurant, the views are spectacular. The restaurant serves delicious food using local and seasonal products as much as possible. The cocktails are quite spectacular as well, and they also serve afternoon tea.
Next on my list is another one in Malvern, an unassuming coffee shop called Terrace on the Hill. During the daytime, they serve simple but delicious breakfast and lunch menus. They also have incredible cakes and their afternoon tea comes highly recommended. On certain evenings, Terrace on the Hill serves a seven course tasting menu. It’s very reasonably priced at just £39.50 per person and they offer a vegetarian option.
The third independent restaurant I love is Chesters in Worcester. A great atmosphere, very reasonable prices and a huge range of vegan options makes it worth a visit. Chesters is Mexican themed with great cocktails and it’s incredibly popular. So, if you are going in the evening, do book first.
PEAK DISTRICT – Next we have Jenny, from TraveLynn Family, who lives in the picturesque Peak District.
The Peak District is all about hiking! There are so many fantastic hikes on our doorstep, and we love nothing more than getting rugged up with walking boots, and heading out into the hills with an OS Map. Our favourites are the Nine Ladies Circle through Stanton Moor Peak or the walk starting next to The Robin Hood pub in Baslow, with spectacular views from Birchen Edge. These walks are only 2km long, perfect for little legs and detailed in my post – Short walks for young kids in the Peak District.
When it’s bad weather, we still head out for a hike. It’s all about wearing the right clothing! But, there are those few days where the weather is absolutely torrential. This is when it’s a good idea to explore one of the Castleton Caves, deep underground.
The best place to eat is Hassop Station Cafe, which is right on the Monsal Trail. Take your bikes down and enjoy a ride along the Monsal Trail, before grabbing a bite to eat at the cafe. There’s a kid’s menu, as well as a playground, and sheltered play area for wet days. There’s also a fantastic book shop, if you get a moment away from the kids to browse.
GLASGOW – Lynn from Glasgow With Kids takes us around this bustling city
Hello! I’m Lynn and I blog over at Glasgow With Kids about all the things I do and places I go with my kids in and around Glasgow. Here are a couple of my favourite things to do when we’re getting out and about.
Glasgow is absolutely full of parks and beautiful outdoor spaces. (It’s not called the “dear green place” for nothing!) We are spoiled for choice. Kelvingrove Park is one of our favourites and one of the most iconic place in the west end. We’ve spent so many days here; in the sun and the rain and the snow (excellent sledging opportunities here too). From the top of the hill it overlooks Kelvingrove Museum and Glasgow University. There are a couple of playparks, a lovely wee cafe next to one of them, a skatepark that’s always heaving, a fountain (that you’ll find hordes of kids in on a hot day), and lots of space to run around and play.
Our favourite thing to do when the weather is rubbish is to head to the Glasgow Science Centre. It has 3 floors stuffed full of science based activities and exhibits, plus workshops and shows throughout the day. Their under 7’s area is a big enclosed ‘pirate ship’ with building blocks, trains, loads of buttons to press, dress up, puppets and a big water play area. Some days we spend hours just in this one part without seeing anything else!
Depending on what time of day it is, dictates where we eat. Our absolute favourite place to eat brunch is Cafe Strange Brew in the Southside. It’s a small but exceptionally busy cafe serving up eggs like you’ve never had in your life, and with a queue out the door most days. An absolute must for anyone visiting Glasgow!
For a family friendly and relaxed dinner, we love Paesano. Best pizzas I’ve ever tasted. You’ll probably need to wait in a queue for this one too, but it’s totally worth it.
CHELMSFORD – Finally, we have Josie from Me, Them And The Others showing us around Chelmsford
Chelmsford is the County town of Essex and was granted city status for the Queens Dimond Jubilee in 2012. We moved here in 2004 as a young couple with no children, it’s pure luck that it turned out to be a great place to raise children!
The best thing to do when the weather is good (although you can do it in bad weather too, they open all year) is visit Natural Foundations. Natural Foundations is a play venue whose mission is to get children outside playing. They have a huge range of toys, as well as non toy items for children to explore. Sessions are unstructured, it’s all about child led, free play and getting back to nature. It has mud kitchens, building materials, sand pits, marshmallow toasting and water play. They sell teas, coffees and snacks but you are also welcome to take your own. It’s a great place for toddlers to explore but my 6 and 8 year olds still love it now.
On a rainy day we like to head to Jump Street. It’s essentially a trampoline park but also has an excellent soft play and a great range of climbing walls. They have sessions for under 5s, so that little ones can jump without fear of bigger children landing on them, as well as open jump sessions that anyone can attend. You can book just one thing or book a combination deal if you want to combine more than one activity.
If you’re looking for somewhere to eat then ACanteen is a great choice. It’s a lovely place for adults but also welcomes children. The portions a large and the quality is good. It also offers takeaway if you want to grab something and go and eat it in Central Park which is just round the corner.
That’s it for January, be sure to check back on the last Saturday of each month to find out where we will be next…