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Days Out Blog

Top 5 Autumn Outings

Posted: Wednesday, September 13, 2017 |Category: Great Days Out

Judging by the weather, I’d say it’s time to say a fond farewell to summer. With the torrential rain and rapid winds, the hottest time of year is officially over, and it was a nice 4-week period, wasn’t it? (At least, I think that’s the total amount of time we had ‘summer weather’, but, hey, this is Britain after all.) As the evenings slowly become darker and the air becomes bitter, you know one thing… Winter is coming.

However, Autumn is coming first. With piles of fallen leaves coating the ground, vibrant reds and soft yellows colouring the streets and the smell of pumpkin spice permeating the air, Autumn is one of the most beautiful times of the year. Close enough to winter to not feel guilty about putting the central heating on, but this season is still one of the last opportunities to get outside in less than 5 layers of clothing.

To take full advantage of the still mild(ish) weather, we’ve put together a list of autumnal things to do in the UK, before winter arrives and chills you to the bone.

This is our list of top 5 Autumn Outings.

  1. Hever Castle - Kent

Located in Kent, this 13th century moated castle was once Anne Boleyn’s childhood home. From October 1st, visitors to Hever will be free to roam the grounds of the beautiful castle and marvel at the vivid seasonal colours. With beautiful gardens and a unique splashing water maze, Hever Castle is a sight to behold in Autumn. The beautiful Boston Ivy, that scales the side of the castle, turns a vibrant red making the castle and its grounds, beautifully photogenic.

For more information, visit Hever Castle’s website, by clicking HERE.

  1. Belton House – Lincolnshire

The 17th century country house, is one of the landmarks of what people believe to be an example of a typical English country home. Located in the countryside of Grantham, in Lincolnshire, in Autumn, the history of the house comes alive in the gardens and surrounding landscape. Visitors can only imagine how past residents may have wandered the grounds in Autumn amongst nature’s vibrant colours.

Visit Belton House’s website for more info, just click HERE.

  1. Hole Park Gardens - Kent

Hole Park Gardens, situated in Rolvenden, Kent, is one of the most beautiful gardens in the UK, especially in Autumn. The gardens light up with the colours of autumn, making this a visual experience that is unforgettable. Wander freely around the 16-acres of grounds, exploring through the seasonal colours of Autumn and even find a new sculpture carved out of an old oak tree.

Click HERE for more information.

  1. Savill Garden – Berkshire

Offering a family walk around one of their beautiful nature trails, Savill Garden in Windsor is an unmissable sight to see in autumn. Whilst walking through the beautiful grounds and park, visitors can view the famous maple trees and cherries that grow there. See the wildlife in the Deer Park as in Autumn it is rutting season, when stags lock antlers. This beautiful and exciting display of nature and wildlife is not to be missed in this colourful season.

For more information, click HERE.

  1. Hornchurch Country Park & Ingrebourne Valley – London

A vibrant mix of heritage and ecology, Hornchurch Country Park is a sight to see in Autumn. The country park is packed full of natural beauty and varied wildlife, in the autumn, the crisp air coats the ground and the fallen leaves paint the landscape, making the country park very photo moment worthy. Accompanied with a visitor’s centre full of fun activities and information, Hornchurch Country Park is an ideal day out, this Autumn.

For more information on the park, please click HERE.

Keep your eyes fixed on our events page for more upcoming Autumn and seasonal days out, coming in the near future. For more walks through nature and other Autumny things, search for the ideal day out near you, on our Days Out page.

Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags:

Escape the Kids - Adults Only Activities

Posted: Wednesday, September 6, 2017 |Category: Great Days Out, Features

Parents across the country are breathing a sigh of relief, for this Monday was the first day back at school. Time to turn over your ‘little angels’ to the hands of the educational system for another six weeks, before they are returned just in time for half term. Although it was a delight having them around every day, seven days a week, for the entire school holiday, an air of calm has arrived in your home. Until 3pm at least…

It’s good to spend time together but detachment is just as healthy as attachment, and lord knows you need/deserve some time apart. So, kick back, call a baby-sitter or nan and run for the door. You owe yourself an outing after enduring an entire summer with your kids.

To narrow your search, although I’m pretty sure you’d take anything to get away for just one day, we’ve compiled a list of Adults Only days out across the country, to celebrate the return to school.

‘Get me a drink’

The best secret a parent can tell you about how to handle children in summer, is to soothe yourself with a drink or five after a ‘fun’ packed day. The loose term ‘fun’ applies to your children’s amusement as opposed to your own, although I’m sure we all love crawling on our knees and touching sticky surfaces, no? There’s lots of things to do revolving around drinking in a more social setting than your home. If you fancy a bit of problem solving accompanied with a gin, I’ve got just the thing for you. And no, I’m not talking about having a drink whilst you help with your kids’ Maths homework.

LockedIn The Distillery – Pickering Gin Distillery

In this exclusive experience unlike any other, team up with a group of up to five friends to foil the plot against the distillery, as someone is planning to destroy it, along with the gin! (oh god, not the gin). The Edinburgh based experience is unique and is perfect way to enjoy a gin and act like the children you’ve worked so hard to get away from. For more information, click HERE.

Wine Tour - Yorkshire Heart Vineyard & Brewery

‘This? This is grown-up grace juice, you can’t have any.’ If you’ve always wanted to know how your favourite ‘parenting aid’ is made, head to Yorkshire Heart Vineyard & Brewery. For a mere £15 a head, in a group of 6 or more, you can enjoy a tour round the vineyard and even an accompanied wine tasting. The vast countryside, beautiful scenery and remote location makes this vineyard an ideal get away from home and/or your children (and a good excuse to drink huge quantities of wine). Click HERE for prices and more info.

‘A bit of relaxation and culture’

Now, remember that time you had to leave that quiet place or gallery because you’re precious one was crying due to the fact he/she was tired, hungry, wet or all three? The beauty of having children is that as they become older, you can pass the responsibility to nurseries/relatives/schools/babysitters, so you can unwind and soak in some culture. Meaning, that museum or gallery you’ve wanted to wander around without the nagging ‘can we leave?’ in your ear is finally possible. That spa trip you need can be taken whilst the kids are at school, is now possible. All thanks to Mr or Mrs. *insert teacher name*.

Modern & Contemporary Art - Halcyon Gallery

Halcyon is defined by the Oxford dictionary – ‘a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful’ i.e. a pre-child filled summer. The Halcyon Gallery allows you, however temporarily, to enjoy that peace once more, while you look at some of the finest works of modern and contemporary art from around the globe. Founded in 1982 and located in Mayfair, you can take in some world renown artists’ work as well as viewing the works of emerging artists. It might give you a new perspective on the finger painting on the fridge (oh, it’s a butterfly? I thought it was an unrecognisable blob...). For more information on exhibitions and the venue, click HERE.

Pampering Days – Oceana Day Spa

When it’s all too much and can’t quite get rid of the feeling of ice cream stuck to your skin and hair, you need to be cleansed of the summer. You need a spa day and a long one at that. Luckily, the Oceana Day Spa, located in Bournemouth, has every treatment you need to ease your tension. Bring balance to your mind and body, with a wide array of treatments to soothe the soul in a relaxing setting. For a list of treatments and additional information about the spa, click HERE.

‘Sing and Laugh it off’

Laughter is the best medicine, and let’s face it, probably better than drinking Night Nurse just to get some sleep… They say that laughing once a day could make your life span longer, so that you can live to see your little ones become successes, then cash in on that sweet nursing home, reminding them of all the times you looked after/paid for them.

Stand Up Comedy – The Stand

Now whilst some people may enjoy the simplistic humour behind CBeebies, I’m afraid it’s not for everyone. I mean, when was the last time you heard a good dirty joke without having to cover a little person’s ears? Sometimes, you just need to just be in the company of adults, hearing another adult tell adult jokes that aren’t suitable for non-adults (I don’t think I said adult enough times).

Situated in Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh, the Stand has a whole host of comedy events on every night. The Newcastle venue, being the newest addition to the family opened in 2011. The club promises to have you in stitches and not the kind of pain you get post ‘running after a rogue toddler’. The Stand promises not to disappoint, providing all visitors with an evening full of fun and laughs in high supply. For more information, click HERE.

Karaoke – Lucky Voice

When you feel close to chucking that ‘Now That’s What I Call Kids Music’ CD out the window (and then remember the music is downloaded to your phone, damn technology). While wishing that you could reverse roles and scream your favourite song at the top your lungs, well now you can. By no means a new invention, karaoke is a great way to sing away your summer blues and have a drink or two whilst doing it (Dutch courage and all). Lucky Voice is a swanky karaoke/cocktail bar with many locations up and down the UK. With over 8000 songs to choose from, you can sing the night away in the company of friends in a private room or go full Rockstar and imitate the last concert you saw (The Wiggles: Live at O2 arena), singing in front of a crowd. The choice is yours. For more information, click HERE.

Whatever the weather, no matter the time – there’s always a child free day out waiting for you! There is the small matter of passing your kids off to someone else to be looked after, but hey, that’s what school and relatives are for, right? I say we vote for a longer school day/week and shorter school holidays but that’s just me.

Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags: adults, drink, food

Ready? Set? Bake! - Five Fun Foody Places in the UK

Posted: Wednesday, August 23, 2017 |Category: Uncategorised

Summer has been fun hasn’t it? But even though it's coming to an end, there's still plenty to look forward to! With the end of summer, comes a new dawn, rising over the horizon, like a well-cooked sponge… The Great British Bake Off emerges from the fiery ovens of production onto its new home, Channel 4.

For fans of the show, it’s make or bake. Will Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig live up to the legacy of Mel and Sue? And let’s not even talk about losing Mary Berry from the show… Will Bake Off ever be the same? Or will it be better? In any case, the country's still got Bake Off fever.

But, how can the nation expel this baking fury? Bake at home? Don’t be silly… the kids might get involved and you know you’d win in a cooking contest against them (where’s the fun in that?) Alternatively, instead of watching series after series of Bake Off past, you could get out the house and get hands on. Here’s a list of fun, food related things to do round the UK.

 

Seasoned Cookery School

The Seasoned Cookery School is located in Walton Upon-Trent, in Derbyshire. I like to think of the name as a pun rather than foreshadowing the level of cooking expertise required. But in all seriousness, anyone of any cooking ability or level can come down and dive in. The school’s ethos is ‘inspiring everyone with food’ and has a whole host of talented TV Chefs at their disposal, to teach you some star techniques.

Ranging from classes in making your Indian take away into a beautiful homemade meal, preparing the perfect pastry (with help from 2013 Bake Off Semi Finalist – Beca Lyne-Pirkis) or creating cuisine to host your own swanky dinner party. The school offers a wide array of classes for everyone to enjoy. And you can pretend that the dashing, grey haired man across the kitchen is Paul Hollywood, if you please.

For more information on Seasoned Cookery School, click HERE to visit their website.

 

The Nick Nairn Cook School

Set up in April 2000, The Nick Naim Cook School now has two schools in different locations. The mission? To arm people with the necessary skills to turn ‘raw ingredients into fantastic food’. The school offers the finest classes for cooking novices to seasoned chefs.

Equipped with amazing facilities, the best tuition and even a place to grab some top shelf produce. The Nick Nairn Cook School has a class to please everyone… even Mary… what was wrong with the base Mary, soggy bottom?

To find out about the cooking classes or for more information on the school, click HERE.

Now, I hear what you’re saying. Some, love to cook and learn, and others? Well, we like to eat. ‘I’m too lazy to cook normally, so why would I want to go to school and cook?’ I hear you cry! No matter, why make, when you can taste…

 

Cadbury World

DID SOMEONE SAY CHOCOLATE? Oh, that was me. I did. Now you’re thinking about chocolate, let’s talk about a place that is MADE OF CHOCOLATE. Well, makes chocolate but I had to draw you in somehow… Cadbury World is the Crème Egg of the crop, of foody days out.

An ideal destination for chocolate lovers, the Birmingham based factory not only takes you behind the magic of the confectionary, but also teaches you a thing or too. Learn about the greatest gift from mother Nature, aside Oxygen, the cocoa bean. Responsible for making the world a more chocolatey place.

And guess what? They’ll be chocolate there. If you’re feeling daring ahead of Bake Off, pick up some chocolate on your way out and give that chocolate gateaux a go.

This tour is guaranteed to be popular, so pre-purchase your tickets to avoid disappointment. Visit the website by clicking HERE, to book tickets or find out more info.

 

Savouring Bath Walking Tour

Don’t be fooled by the name, you won’t be looking at a collection of bathtubs with legs, no. You’ll be walking around the beautiful city of Bath, soaking in the history and culture of the city, tasting the local cuisine.

Offering a platter worthy selection of tours, experience Bath like never before. Through the taste of local produce. Artisanal food and drink, sweet or savoury, there’s a taste for anyone palette. And don’t worry about eating all that food, it’s a walking tour, designed to aid you in burning off every calorie you eat… well maybe not every calorie but I’ve got to at least try and make you feel better, right?

To find out about all the different food tours head to Savouring Bath’s website, by clicking HERE.

All this talk of food, cake and chocolate has got me feeling full. Paired with that pre Bake Off buzz, I think we all deserve a drink to relax, no? Queue the distillery tour…

 

Pickering’s Gin Tours

The ideal destination for Gin Lovers, tour the beautiful distillery and learn all about how the masterful gin is created. Learn how the gin is bottled and sample all three of Pickering’s gin expressions. And, as if it couldn’t get any better. There is a bar. Finish your tour at the Royal Dick bar.

What could be better than trying and drinking gin? Throw in a little detective work to add to that excitement. Experience the event of a lifetime, LockedIn the Distillery has you solving clues with up to five friends, working together to save the distillery from destruction! I would pay just to watch five, gin fuelled adults attempting to solve clues. Think that could be an idea for BBC to fill the gap Bake Off has left? Just a suggestion…

For more information about the distillery, click HERE.

 

Now you’ve digested this five-course meal of food related fun, you’ll finally have a creative outlet for all your Bake Off needs. From cooking master classes to become a baking legend, to food tours to sink your teeth into or just to put your feet up with a nice drink from your favourite distillery, I hope I’ve eased the wait before we welcome Bake Off back to our screens.

The Great British Bake Off is back August 29th on Channel 4.

Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags:

Amazing Events this Summer

Posted: Tuesday, August 8, 2017 |Category: Great Days Out

British Summertime is a wonderful thing, when we’re managing to avoid the rain that is. Yes, come showers or shine, it’s important to keep yourself busy this time of year. But what happens if a trip to the shop isn’t entertaining enough? Or your picnic is being invaded by wasps? Look no further than us for inspiration!

If you’re in a crowded city, out in the countryside or even exploring further afield in the UK, there’s a lot going on. There’s plenty of fun to be found for adults, kids and even the whole family, so here’s a list of some amazing upcoming events this summer.

Extreme Fashion

The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London, is hosting an event on Extreme Fashion on August 20th and 29th. And no, I’m not talking nautical themed clothing, I’m talking about essential clothing and equipment for explorers to aid them in harsh conditions. At this 2-hour session, you can learn all about what those adventurers need brave the wilds of the world. You can even design your own extreme clothing for your very own adventure.

All year round the National Maritime Museum is full of fun and nautical exhibitions for the whole family. You can experience the history of the high seas, without the risk of scurvy…

To find out more about the event click HERE

Prehistoric Britain

This is one for the kids, especially if you want to show them how good they have it. Take a trip into Prehistoric Britain at the Beecroft Art Gallery on August 9th and 30th. This hour-long session in Southend-on-Sea, Essex will help educate the little ones and show them about life during the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic periods (yeah, I couldn’t pronounce those either). They’ll learn about the technology of the old world including original and replicas of prehistoric tools.

If you don’t fancy living the prehistoric life with your kids, the Beecroft Art Gallery is full of beautiful art and photography, with something different with every visit.

Discover more about the event by clicking HERE

Museum After Hours: Friday Fringe Takeover

If I told you that you could visit a museum, at night, with exclusive handpicked performers from Edinburgh Fringe and a bar, would you go? Of course, you would. You can even poke around some of the museums exhibitions in-between acts (so much culture and entertainment in one place). Spanning over three nights, from August 11th, the adults-only event showcases a different take on the Fringe.

By night, there’s an entertaining showcase of talent (as well as a bar) and by day it’s a place for the whole family. With stunning exhibitions and artefacts, a day out in the National Museum of Scotland is nothing to turn your nose up at. Just try not to drink too much the night before, it may look like a bucket but it’s probably an ancient vase…

Click HERE for more info. 

Dining Experience on board the High Weald Belle

Dinner on a train? No, I’m not talking about a sandwich on the tube, I’m talking about a luxury dining experience in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. This evening dining event, takes place on the High Weald Belle on August 12th and other selected dates. It’s the perfect way to enjoy the beautiful English countryside accompanied by dinner, without getting rained on and sitting on grass.

Spa Valley Railway not only host dinner on the rails, but offer trips to beautiful parts of South-East England by steam train.

For more information click HERE

Indian Summer

While I can’t promise you the heat of India, I can promise you a look into the amazing culture. Every Wednesday throughout August from the 16th, you can experience art, music and films inspired by Indian traditions, with a little bit of dancing thrown in too.  Suitable for adults and children of all ages, immerse yourself in the wonderful story-telling of India at The Horniman Museum and Gardens, in Forest Hill, London.

All year round, the beautiful Gardens are open to the public and the Museum is packed with beautiful natural history. There’s even an aquarium for you to explore.

For more information about the event, click HERE

Wild West Adventures

Pull the snake out your boot and hop on your horse down to Groombridge Place Gardens & Enchanted Forest. From August 21st till September 3rd, you can take the kids to experience being a Cowboy or Cowgirl in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. With action packed Cowboy shows, storytelling and singalongs it’s not a day to miss out on. And prepare yourself for the ‘yee haws’ all the way home.

The award-winning gardens are there to keep you entertained, while you let your little one loose in the ‘Wild West’. Packed with ‘birds of prey’ displays and have a go archery, there’s a lot to fill your time.

Click HERE for all the info 

The Wedding Singer

Ever wanted to go back to a simpler, more musical time? Here’s your chance. Take a trip back to the 80s, with the classic musical based on the Adam Sandler hit film. Re-live the huge hair and music of the era at the Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House. On August 22nd, find out if Robbie Hart will get his grove back and follow his dreams in the all singing, all dancing show.

The beautiful Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House only houses the very best shows and musicals at the prestigious venue. They even do tours of the theatre if you fancy yourself a history buff.

For tickets and more info click HERE

Military week and camp

Now the nay-sayers out there will tell you that you can’t enlist your child into the military. Well, I’m here to tell you, that you can! (to the Medieval Military at least). Transport the kids to medieval England, as they pitch up camp outside the walls of Bodiam Castle in East Sussex. The castle itself is a marvel of medieval building, what survives of it. It’s surrounded by an overwhelmingly, huge moat and shows a real insight into medieval architecture.

Watch medieval black smiths forge amour to be tested against the powerful bow of English archers. (No children will be harmed in the firing of arrows). Put them through their paces with medieval marches and drills between August 21st to August 25th. Join Sir Edward and his finest knights in the castle bootcamp.

Click HERE for more information

Sleep under the stars at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Ever seen an empty enclosure at the zoo and wondering what’s there? You wander over to the information about the animal and see that it is nocturnal. Some of the most interesting and fascinating animals only come out at night, and the zoo is never open for you to see them. Until now.

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire, on selected dates throughout August and September, are putting on camping events in the darkness of night. You’ll have the chance to stay overnight and explore the massive 600-acre zoo to find the nocturnal animals, under the cover of night. With park entry, the next day, included in the price and an exclusive morning park tour open to you before the public. This camping trip is perfect for all the animal loving family.

Click HERE for all the info

So, get out the house and explore the UK. Summer doesn’t have to be as dull and dreary as the weather. For a complete list of events happening all over the UK, visit our events page on DOUK.

Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags:

Quirky Museums

Posted: Tuesday, June 6, 2017 |Category: Tips, Great Days Out, Reviews

If like me, you’re constantly telling yourself to visit new places, yet find yourself frequenting the same attractions time and time again because “hey if the ol’ routine ain’t broke don’t fix it?” then this post is definitely for you!!

There are a wealth of amazing museums to visit throughout the country yet many are often ignored by people making snap judgements by their names. I will admit that when I was but a wee lass and my mum told me we were taking a trip to the Pencil Museum, I did do everything in my power to get out of it. Yet, after a while I found myself really enjoying everything it had to offer and there are a tonne of similar places throughout the UK!  

Much like not judging a book by its cover, can you really judge your enjoyment of a museum by a cursory glance at its title?  You’d be surprised at the fascination that can be found in things considered mundane. Who decided that the story behind the creation of pencils, textiles or brands was boring? Each of these places were built because they have a story to tell and I believe all of them are at least worth one visit. Plus after visiting each you will be LOADED with random facts to spam your friends and family with!! 

 

Museum of Witchcraft: Boscastle Cornwall

Do you hear the sound of cackling?

For something a little more magical in your life, you can’t really go wrong with a museum dedicated to the art of witchcraft. Home to the world’s largest collection of witchcraft related items, this is THE place to visit for fans of certain old crones. Opened in 1960 and located by the harbour in Boscastle, you can see the development of modern witchcraft and the aspects of it that have dripped down into popular media! From Mandrake roots utilised in Harry Potter, to depictions of famous witches in literature such as the witches of Macbeth as well as the fabled witch of Wookey Hole, you'll find yourself lost in a world of spells and mystery!

Click HERE to find out more

British Lawnmower Museum: Southport Merseyside

 

Ever wanted to know more about lawnmowers? Of course you do! While a title like “The British lawnmower Museum” might seem groan worthy, you’d be surprised at the number of fun exhibits there are to visit here. From records of lawnmower racing (yes that is indeed a thing) to models of expensive (luxury) model mowers, to the first solar powered motor and even a number of celebrity items, you are truly missing out if you don’t visit at least once! 

Click HERE for more information

Cumberland Pencil Museum, Keswick Cumbria

Of course I was going to talk about this one! The Pencil Museum does exactly what it says on the tin, but has a few fun surprises thrown in as well. Ever wanted to know who invented the first pencil? How about how pencils were used to send secret codes during the wars? Or maybe find out all about the pencils used to create the beloved “Snowman” Christmas short? If anything it boasts the world’s largest colouring pencil measuring 26 feet long and weighing an impressive 984 llbs!!

Click HERE for more information

Verdant Works Dundee Dundee

 

You know what Jute is? If not, do you want to find out? One of the most versatile textfile fibres known to man didn’t just make itself, and the Verdant Works was once a thriving Jute producing mill. This beautifully refurbished building is home to many stories of Dundee’s rich textile past: from the strikes against lowered wages, to the unions formed against cruel working conditions, to the tales of it’s workers and the terrible living conditions of the working class in Dundee in the twentieth century! It's definitely worth checking out!

Click HERE for more information

 

Museum of Brands, Westminster London

Today so much of our identity in wrapped up in the media we’re exposed to. Not just films and television, but the marketing media we’re seeing every day. Who hasn’t been annoyed at the constant exposure meerkats or opera singing? Is there anyone in this country who if you start singing “0800 00” at them, won’t answer “1066?”

Brands and advertising have a way of working themselves into our minds and this isn’t a phenomenon limited to the 21st century as the Museum of Brands in London quite clearly points out with it’s massive collection of over 12,000 pieces of brand and marketing memorabilia. It's guaranteed to give every visitor either a gut punch of nostalgia or (for the younger patreons) a fascinating look into  marketing campaigns from times gone by. Economic frocks and toothpaste from the war? Packaging from the original Action Man action figures? Rimmel make up from the end of the nineteenth century? If anything this museum does show that rampant materialism is hardly a trait of recent years.

Click HERE for more information

Shoe Museum, Burnham-on-Sea Somerset

There is a good chance you’ve might possibly have worn shoes at some point in your life so why not step into this attraction and learn about the garments that have been helping you get from point A to point B for so long? While a title like ‘The Shoe Museum’ really does not sound like the most thrilling place in the world, this blog is here to show you how names can be misleading (and I hope the previous five paragraphs have helped illustrate that point). This FREE to enter attraction boasts a rather impressive collection of footwear ranging from Roman sandels, to the hideous crocs of modern day, showing that this place certainly isn't any old cobbled-together attraction!

Click HERE for more information

The Museum of Piping, Glasgow, Glasgow

Is that the sound of Amazing Grace I hear? Why not take a gander into the world of Scotland’s national instrument! Everyone should have a go at playing the bagpipes before they die, and a visit to the Museum of Piping in the National Piping Centre in Glasgow gives the perfect opportunity to toot to your heart’s content. This museum is THE authority on the history of piping, with over three-hundred years of history to explore, the oldest chanter of the Highland bagpipe found anywhere in the world, as well as a huge range of different pipes to marvel at.

Click HERE for more information

 

I do hope this post has sparked some inspiration in you as I've barely scratched the surafce on interesting places to visit! (If I went into detail this post would probably be about 20,000 words long!)

If you still aren't sure as to where your next adventure will take you, make sure to check out our attractions page for a full list, as well as checking out the areas near you for all the fun going on!!

 

Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags:

Easter Holidays- Put a spring in your step!

Posted: Tuesday, March 28, 2017 |Category: Tips, Great Days Out, Features

It’s hard to believe how fast the year is going! It seems like barely a week ago I was shaking off the memories of New Year’s fireworks and writing my huge list of resolutions that I was totally, definitely going to get done this year, regardless of my previous year’s track record. Yet here we are: Spring has sprung, blossom coats the trees and the next major break for the kids is coming up fast, the Easter Holidays. Cue the panic!!!

We at Days Out UK pride ourselves on bringing you the best events to do alone or with your family, and around Easter-time there are a plethora of activities to experience throughout the UK, so I couldn’t possibly list them all, but I can try to give you a few suggestions and also point you in the direction of our EVENTS page for all the fun happening over the coming weeks.

So Easter… the season of chocolate, rebirth, chocolate, baby animals, relaxing, family and of course… chocolate. There is a lot to cover so let’s get started (Read to the end for some fun facts about Easter and let's see how many terrible egg puns I can fit in).

Egg-celent Egg Hunts!

Let’s begin with the most classic of Easter past-times, (besides feeling violently ill after overdosing on chocolate), the classic Egg hunt! 

There are ones popping up all over the country soon, bringing some sugary magic to some already amazing sites. Between the 14th-17th April, the National Trust has partnered up with the titan of sweetness: Cadbury, and is putting on their ever-popular Chocolate Egg Hunt at a number of properties throughout the UK. From Knole, to Quebec House, to Sissinghurst, you and your family can track clues around some beautiful historic properties and claim a delicious Cadbury Treat! Make sure to check out https://easter.cadbury.co.uk/find-an-egg-hunt to find the nearest egg hunt to you.

(Hunts cost £2-£3 per person to participate dependant on the venue)

For something a little different and magical, why not try a special glow in the dark Easter Egg hunt at the Cheddar Caves? Running from the 1st-23rd of April, take a trek through the beautiful caverns and see if you can find all the luminescent eggs that have been carefully hidden throughout the world famous Gough's Cave. There's a chocolately treat that await all who hand in a completed challenge form. For those looking for a real task, or for egg-stra fun, then take on the 'Hard Boiled' challenge, taking note of ALL the different colours and locations to really prove that you've got the challenge cracked! 

For a number of other egg-citing hunts and trails, make sure to check out Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace for their own activities as well as the Hever Castle Bunny Hunt and the Easter Eggstravaganza at Chatsworth Houseall running throughout April just to name a few!

 

Animals Antics 

Easter is the time to celebrate rebirth, so why not take advantage of some great Easter Holiday offers to visit all the fluffy, scaly, or feathered friends you could imagine? Knowsley Safari Park has a great offer on from 1st-23rd April, offering 20% off all online bookings so you can enjoy the vast expanse of the safari park and all the amazing animals within for an even better rate! Home to free romaing lions, giraffes, tigers, zebras, monkeys: why not take a trip this Easter and take advantage of this great offer! 

At the same time, the  ZSL London Zoo is launching it's Dear Zoo trail based on the popular children's book of the same name! Kids can explore the zoo following the beloved story's characters and take part in a number of themed activities, collecting stamps and listening to the tale at the Storytelling hub! Definitely an event not to be missed!!

April sees the launch of Willows Activity Farm's Easter Event giving the whole family the oppurtunity to get up close and personal with a number of adorable farm animals as well as some amazing themed activites like the ever popualar Pig Racing! So make sure you hop to it and don't miss out!

For a full list of fun wildlife activities occuring throughout the Easter Holidays click HERE

Magical Miscellany

Why not try some historic-themed Easter fun? While many people hear the word "history" and want to go straight to sleep, fear not, as the Canterbury Tales in Kent is running it’s own fun Easter Event from the 3rd-14th April and it promises to be an fantastic time! Be transported back to the days of Chuacer and enjoy a plethora of  activities including: Maypole Dancing, a Knight’s School, finding out all about medieval medicine and (of course) classic storytelling. The perfect way to enjoy the sunshine and partake in some of the weird and wonderful fun of yesteryear.

 

For more storytelling action, why not visit the Horniman Museum and Gardens for their Alice in Wonderland themed Easter fair over the Easter Weekend? Hop along themed trails, get creative with crafting workshops or really throw yourself down the rabbit hole with all a special Alice in Wonderland storytelling performance suitable for the whole family! 

For those looking for a more EGG-STREME activity, then make sure to take advantage of Aerial Extreme's special Easter offers. Defy gravity at these death-defying High Ropes Courses located throughout the country as you jump, climb and zip past obstacles. Best of all, during the Easter period, there's 25% off sessions at all locations when you book online.  Plus, on the 14th April, you have the chance to take on their special Easter event. All you have to do is take on the perils of the course whilst carrying a raw egg around! Simple right? For those who try it , there's plenty of chocolate up for grabs so why not see if you have what it takes? It's the perfect oppurtunity to experience a bunbelievable adventure!

If you're looking for something that's more nautical, then there are TONNES of events during the Easter holidays over at the National Maritime Museum of London and the Cutty Sark that'll make you egg-static!! From meeting famous characters from history, to sessions aimed specifically for your youngest ones, to discovering the museums through arts, music and dance as well as a number of sessions talking about culture and fun from all over the world, there is certianly not a lack of things to do either location! Clcik HERE and HERE for a full list of what's going on!

 

So whatever you feel like doing around this time, whether it's something highflying, crafty, or if you just want to stuff yourself silly with chocolate eggs for days, just make sure you're doing something you enjoy while we all pray for good weather. And from all of us at Days Out UK, have a very Happy Easter!!! 

 

 

Eggs-tremely Fun Facts!

So how about some fun facts about the most chocolatey of holidays?

  1. The world's tallest Easter Egg was 10 meters and weighed over 7,000 kg!! That’s the equivalent of over 70,000 regular chocolate eggs! Thank you, Italy!
  2. The amount of money spent on chocolate during the Easter period makes up 10 per cent of UK chocolate spending for the entire year!
  3. When do you think the first Easter Egg was made? Take second to have a guess.... It was first made in 1873 by Fry’s of Bristol and dentists everywhere I’m sure are forever thankful.
  4. The classic past time of this holiday is that of the good ol’ Easter Egg Hunt and the world’s largest Easter Egg hunt ever recorded took place in Florida where almost 10,000 children went on the hunt for over 500,000 eggs! (And that's no yolk!)

(Did you spot all 10 puns?)

 

Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags:

Mama Mia! Mother's Day Ideas for 2017

Posted: Friday, February 24, 2017 |Category: Tips, Great Days Out, Features

Ah Mother’s Day. Undoubtedly mums are some of the hardest working people around, doing so much without respite or holiday to the point where having merely one day per year dedicated to their efforts seems a little frugal of the calendar! With this day now rapidly approaching, (after we’ve gorged ourselves on pancakes but before we gorge ourselves more on chocolate eggs), I have compiled a few suggestions of things you and your mum (or other special lady in your life) might like to try on this day. I’ve tried my best to come up with a few ways to personalise this day which, like so many other holidays has become awash with commercialism so that the individuality of the day can be lost. Mothers are all individuals, so while I’m going to do my best to give you some awesome suggestions on what to do on this special day, ultimately, it’s what you think she'll enjoy the most.

From gardens, to cakes, to castles and more, there is not a lack of Mother’s day events being held throughout the UK and make sure to check out our Events Page for a full list of goings on!

 

 

Floriography and Gardens

 

A bouquet is a classic gift idea for any mother (unless they happen to have a pollen allergy in which case maybe not) but can seem a little cliché. A gift of flowers is always appreciated, so why not personalise them? After all, flowers are a unique language within themselves, so if you can, try and craft your own message! For your aid (and because I spend too much time on google) please take a gander at these suggestions for combinations. For a Mother’s Day flowers I’d suggest one or several of these:


Pink carnations or Lilies (A Mother’s Love). Both these flowers are symbolic of motherhood, so using these is always a good place to start! (Moss and wood are also symbols of maternal love, but that a big pile of moss and wood might not make your ma so pleased)
Lavender (Devotion). Besides looking really pretty and having been used to scent everything from soap to dog shampoo, the smell is also great for relaxation and I know that mothers can be more than a tad stressed at points.
Lily of the Valley (Returning Happiness) A more specific meaning, but a really lovely sentiment if you’d like to express the reciprocation of all the happiness your mam has given you over the years.
Dark Pink Rose (Gratitude). Different coloured roses have a variety of different meanings but I think those of a dark pink colour have the most appropriate meaning for this day.
Violets (Love, Faithfulness) Yet another flower with the meaning of love, but I think in a bouquet for your mum, you can’t have too many!
Pomegranate Flower (Mature elegance) … If you want to have a laugh or get slapped, I think it depends on your mum’s sense of humour.
The flower dictionary is huuuuuuuuuuge, so make sure to look up a few different meanings yourself if you want to get really specific and/or weird (e.g. Milkvetch: Your presence softens my pains)

 


Since this is a Days Out website, of course I’m going to mention some places to visit on this day as well. If a bouquet isn’t enough, how about acres of flowers by taking a trip to one of the UK’s many beautiful gardens, plenty of which are offering special events on Mother’s Day itself. From the restored West Dean Gardens in Chichester, well known for their stunning features and large variety of flora, to the acres of greenery and plant life surrounding Highclere Castle in Berkshire, or the greenery and waters Ripley Castle and Gardens and so many more! (All previous mentions have Mother’s Day events). While perhaps a clichéd suggestion, it’s a cliché for reason, because they are some of the most beautiful and thought-provoking places in the country.

 

FOOD!!

 

What says love more than food? Well, probably a lot of things, but you can’t really go wrong with something tasty. For something that is a necessity, how food is prepared can really impact it’s meaning. From a nice breakfast, to a heart-warming dinner, to delicious (or even burnt) bakes, there are a number of ways to express feelings of love and gratitude to your mum through food on the Sunday. However, if you just plain can’t cook or want to treat her to something extra special then a number of attractions throughout the UK are offering a selection of lunches and afternoon teas perfect for treating your mum to something as sweet as she is (Feel free to use that genius line on actual Mother’s Day).

Hever Castle is offering a whole weekend of fun and food for mothers: from flower pot decorating a and biscuit decorating, as afternoon tea or pre booked lunch which can be enjoyed in the surrounding of this 13th century country house once the seat of Anne Boleyn. (Lunch: £29.50 pp, £12 per child/ Afternoon Tea: £19.50pp, £10 per child)

If you’re looking for something more nautically themed, then how about a tasty tea aboard the SS Great Britain- Also offering a Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea, you can enjoy the lap of luxury in the First Class Dining Saloon aboard this former passenger steamship with scones, sandwiches, sponge cake and more! (Adult: £25/ Child: £15/ Family £70)

Perhaps you’d like to choo choo choose a nice railway lunch (shush I’m hilarious), and if that is the case the Kent & East Sussex Railway can provide. Every mum travelling on the railway on Sunday 26 March 2017 can choose from a delicious ploughman’s or cream tea including tea and coffee on either the 1.15 or 3.35 departures from Tenterden Station and will receive a beautiful bouquet of flowers to take home as a reminder of their special day! (£29.50)

 

FUN!!!

 

So what does your mam like? Animals? Crafts? Shows? Sky Diving? There are MANY special events happening throughout the UK to make this day special and luckily for you, many can be found by visiting our EVENTS PAGE, so make sure to take a gander for some inspiration. While it would be impossible for me to list them all here, I'll still give you a few suggestions of miscellaneous events to give you some ideas (plus I'm looking for some inspiration myself so it's helpful I work for a Days Out website.)

For the rustic touch, Mum’s can go free to the National Museum of Rural Life on Mothering Sunday. This venue is so much more than a museum with it also being a working farm and farmhouse with animals and attractions to enthrall all. March is the perfect time for a visit to this attraction with a tonne of new and cuddly baby animals to see and winter finally melting away to reveal the blooming of beautiful plants throughout the farm. This venue is also a perfect Mother’s Day out for you and your littlest ones with plenty of child-friendly activities and exhibits to explore.

Why not try a fun day of crafting and hands on activities at the Amberley Museum in Arundel? Set in 36 acres of the South Downs National Park, there isn't a lack of hieritage to disocver and on Mother's Day itself, there is a plethora of different things to try. From steam train trips, to pottery and craft activities, as well as birds of prey displays, there's something here for you, your ma and whoever else you bring with you to enjoy!

If you or your mam likes animals, why not try the Wild Mother’s Day weekend at Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent? As per usual it has over 100 acres of amazing wild friends to discover: From gorillas, to rhinos, elephants and more as well as free animal talks to learn all about them, but in honour of Mother’s Day, there are also free crafts to try.  With wooded walkways, the tree top challenge and the chance to really be part of conservation to protect the animals found here, it's the perfect stop for any wildlife loving mother and family.

For a fun history lesson, why not discover how mothers have been represented in media throughout history with a special Mother's Day event at the Museum of Brands . in London. With trails and talks to enjoy on the Sunday, find out all about how the idea of the mother has been used to sell everything from chocolate to dish soap and how the evolution of womens rights changed the image of how women were used advertising. It also gives the perfect oppurtunity to feel nostalgic over all a number of old advertsing campaigns which is always fun... until you realise how old you really are...

 

 

So all in all, I do hope this post has been able to give you some inspiration for you and your ma/ other special woman in your life, for something to do for Mother's Day, but whatever you end up doing, no matter how big or small, doing anything to show you care can really leave a lasting impression throughout the year. But anyway... who want to hear some Mother's Day facts??

1. Mother's Day marks the day when more phone calls are made than any other day of the year... yet Father's Day has the highest volume of reverse charge calls. make of that what you will...

2. While our current Mothering Sunday celebrations are a fairly modern incarnation, celebrations of motherhood have existed throughout history. For example: the Romans and Greeks held celebratory festivals of their mother goddesses, Cybele and Rhea. 

3. In the U.K., our Mother’s Day is the Christian celebration of Mothering Sunday, though originally it wasn’t a celebration of mothering, rather a day when one must return to their “Mother Church” on the fourth Sunday of Lent for a celebratory service. While keeping the same date, it ended up becoming a much more secular celebration where children would give their mothers gifts before this custom merged with the values of American Mother’s Day founded in the early twentieth century.

 

Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags:

With January drawing swiftly to a close, the season of love is now fast approaching. The supermarket shelves once again are piled high with novelty chocolates and stuffed animals marking to countdown to Valentine's Day. Many can feel rather a lot of pressure to make this day special for their significant other and we at DOUK feel it as out duty to inform you of some of the most romantic goings on in the country that you and your partner can enjoy. However, I’m also aware there are a great many of you who either don’t like this particular day or perhaps would prefer to do something a little different as this time of year can leave some with more of a bitter taste in their mouths. I therefore present to you, Valentine’s spots for those struck by Cupid’s arrow as well as events and inspirations for the anti-valentine’s crowd or for those looking to do something a little different this time, as regardless of your relationship status, everyone deserves for this day to be fun.

(Make sure to read to the end for some fun Valentine’s Day facts!)

Romantic inspirations

 

What screams love more than prison? Wait wait, let me explain. Not only is Oxford Castle a site steeped in a rich history, but Oxford Castle Unlocked is offering people the chance to have a very different experience with the ol’ ball and chain. One really wouldn’t expect this almost thousand-year-old ruined castle turned prison complete with crypts and cells and a general aura of mystery and death to offer anything romantic, but you’d be surprised. On Valentine’s day, couples can enjoy a romantic, candle-lit three course meal served in a the unique and intimate location of… an actual prison cell. Don’t get put off by the location! You can enjoy a delicious dinner in this fun and unique setting and certinaly isn't your average Valentine’s day dinner for sure, plus it makes the perfect setting for any history-lover in your life!

From £90 per couple

Click HERE for more information

 

 

You know what’s also romantic? Trains! (I promise I’m being serious). Sometimes when travelling, the journey can be just as important as the destination, and the UK is certainly not lacking in scenic views, so why not take a Romantic ride somewhere? There are heritage railways dotted all over the country that offer scenic views, relaxing trips as well as special dining/drink packages. Why not book dinner, brunch or afternoon tea on the Avon Valley Railway or enjoy the variety of trips offered by Dartmouth Steam Railway? Click HERE for a more comprehensive list of rail tours throughout the UK and to find ones near you. For something specifically Valentine’s themed, for those around the Kent area, the Spa Valley Railway has a Valentine’s special on the 12th of February where you can appreciate the relaxing beauty of traveling on this amazing heritage railway as well as enjoying a complimentary bottle of wine!

Spa Valley Railway Valentine's: £40 per couple (includes a bottle of wine)

 

For classic romance, how about a romantic evening under the stars? Even better, how about a romantic evening under the stars where you don’t have to go outside into the freezing cold and, more likely than not, rain? London’s famous Royal Observatory is offering exactly that on Valentine’s night itself. Discover all about the romantic sights seen in our night sky in a visually stunning planetarium show and do your own stargazing through a real 18-tonne Victorian telescope. You can also enjoy a complimentary glass of bubbly whilst standing on the famous Greenwich Prime Meridian whilst enjoying the twinkling lights of our own night sky (If we are granted clear weather.) The Glasgow Science Centre is also getting in on the Valentine’s spirit with a Valentine’s screening of “Her” starring Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson. As well as a complimentary glass of fizz and treats to enjoy during the film, the event will also begin with a stunning planetarium show exploring the surrounding cosmos. 

Royal Observatory Valentine's Stargazing: £30.00 adult, £28.00 concession

Glasgow Science Centre Her Screening: £40 per pair of tickets (18+).

 

Walks are about as much of a romantic cliché as you can get but, they’re a cliché for a reason and are a tried and true romantic activity if you can get past the blisters. For the rambler in your life, there are many beautiful locations dotted around the country perfect for Valentine’s Day strolls. I could go on for hours about the many MANY places in the country perfect for walking, but this blog post would be about 10,000 words long so instead I've made a few suggestions of some of my personal picks. For Castle lovers, Hever Castle and Gardens has its wonderful snowdrop walk around it's grounds offering a great perspective as these beautiful flowers emerge from their winter hibernation.

To see some stunning views of the coast, try one of the trails near the Giant’s Causeway if you can. Often considered the 8th wonder of the world, views across this amazing rock formation are enough to take anyone’s breath away. Made up of over 40,000 basalt steps, this natural rock formation has a number of natural features dotted along its length including the Giant’s Boot, the Wishing Chair and the Camel. Visit to find out the story behind these eclectic names.

If you’d prefer a walk that isn’t so down to earth, then the Tree Top walkway at Kew Gardens is the walk for you. Set 18 metres above the ground and surrounded by a grand canopy of chestnut, oak and lime trees, this walkway offers great close-up views of the birds and insects that make those trees their home as well as an unparalleled view of the surrounding skyline. Make sure to check out the rest of Kew whilst there for some of the most amazing and well-kept gardens in the country. Plus Valentine’s night itself coincides with one of the Orchid Late events, offering an intimate evening celebrating the bright and exotic culture of India. Click HERE for more information.

 

Anti-Valentine’s events

Now for those of you not really into the season, cripplingly lonely or just looking for a completely off the wall date idea, then why not check out a few of these rather different activities that I’ve compiled.

 

Calling all sketch artists! For a special anti-Valentine’s event, the Tower of London will be hosting a sketch-special covering all those who died in the name of love in the Tower. For all those that aren’t the biggest fans of the romance at this time of year, why not hear the tales of someone who met a grizzly end because of it a.k.a: Anne Boleyn. Enjoy the opportunity to sketch lovingly costumed models posing as ghosts at the site of her burial in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula after her execution. Capture the gruesome consequences that sometimes follow love. This is an event the proves that Romance truly is dead.

£24/£20 concessions

Click HERE for more information

 

 

If this is a time of year you'd like to escape, the why not try breaking out of the norm by visiting one of many MANY escape rooms across the UK. For those unfamiliar with the setup, the basic premise is that you ar locked in a room and usually have one hour to solve the room's puzzle to find your back back out whilst more often than not solving a grizzly mystery at the same time. Definitely not your usual Valentine's activity to be sure as well as being a thought-provoking and fun activity to try. If you haven’t experienced an escape room before,  I highly recommend it as it is the perfect activity for friends, couples and co-workers alike. See HERE  for a full list across the UK.  

 

For a more unique date idea or if you just want to bounce away your crippling loneliness doing something fun and silly then you should definitely try out one of the country’s trampoline parks. I bet some of you haven't touched a trampoline since you were kids, but as one of the biggest up and coming event industries in the country, these parks offer a number ways to burn off energy and proving that trampolining certainly isn’t just for the younger generation. Whether you're taking full advantage of being surrounded by wall to wall trampolines or enjoying the Slam dunk courts and airbags offered by many, these parks have so much fun to offer if you decide to jump in!

Click HERE for a complex list

 

What’s the opposite of romance? How about Horror! Chase away any notion of romance by taking a look at any of a number of haunted spots across the country. For the best experience, there are a number of fun tours run at night that highlight these terrifying spots and give you all the grusome details of the terrifying events that occured in these places. From the well loved Ghost walks of Yorkto the dark secrets of Lincoln, to the Witchery tours of Edinburghwhichever spooktacular tour you choose to embark on, they each ofer a horrifyingly good time and are a far cry for traditional Valentine's Day events. Halloween might be the season for spooks but with these tours, plenty of creepy fun can be had all year round. Click HERE for a full list of ghost tours available. 

 

 

Ultimately whether you love, hate or are just indifferent to Valentine’s day in general, there are a tonne of fun things you can do around this time of year regardless. While some people find enormous pressure in making this day special, ultimately (and this really might sound cliché but it is true) it is the thought that counts and sometimes the simplest and even strangest gestures can mean the most. So whatever you end up doing on the 14th of Feb, we at DOUK.com want to wish you a very very happy Valentine's Day!

Let’s finish off this post with some fun facts about Valentine’s day! 

 

  1. St. Valentine, whilst being the saint of Romantic love, is also the patron saint of beekeeping, epilepsy, plague and against fainting. (How Romantic.) What’s more interesting is the story behind Saint Valentine himself. Not much is known about him specifically as there have been multiple Saint Valentine’s recorded, but the most pervading story is that he was a Priest in Rome during the 3rd century AD who was killed for marrying Christian couples who were being persecuted at Rome at the time.
  2. Valentine’s day is the second most popular time of year for sending cards, with it estimated that on average about one-billion cards being given! Not only that, but over one-billion dollars’ worth of chocolate is consumed on Valentine’s Day in the U.S.A alone! And they say money can’t buy love.
  3. It was widely accepted by doctors in the nineteenth century that eating chocolate would help people pining for lost love… something which isn’t exactly uncommon today either.
  4. Every Valentine’s Day, the city of Verona receives over one-thousand letter addressed to Juliet from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. 
  5. The number of love heart sweets produced around the Valentine Season is so great that when put together they could stretch from Valentine, Arizona to Rome, Italy and back again. That is a distance of over 10,000 miles!!

 

Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags:

Ten Historic Must-Sees for 2017!

Posted: Tuesday, January 17, 2017 |Category: Great Days Out, Features

Hello once again from DOUK.com! With 2016 now just a memory and with the new year rolling on, I’ve taken this time to take a look back to our country’s past. The UK is a place with thousands of years of history surrounding us everywhere we go: from the ruins of medieval castles, to ancient monuments standing tall, to attractions dedicated to our predecessors, we are certainly not lacking in areas rich in historical intrigue. So why not take this year to visit some of them? This list covers some of the most interesting historical places to visit or re-visit that offer both a fun and educational experience for everyone involved (I know that historical places have a notorious reputation for being boring but I am here to assure you that that is absolutely not the case!) As a former history student please accept my humble insight into some of the best places to visit to discover all about this country’s fascinating past.

 

1. Canterbury Cathedral (Canterbury)

I must admit I’m being a little bias here as in my final year of university, I spent a LOT of time here taking notes for my dissertation. However, despite the many MANY gruelling hours I spent here mapping stained glass and marble, this building never ceased to amaze me. With Canterbury being a Christian centre of the UK and the landing site of the great Christian mission from Rome over 1,000 years ago, when built, this Cathedral became the heart of religious democracy and the post of Archbishop of Canterbury a highly sought after position by the orthodoxy. The story of Archbishop Thomas Becket’s gruesome martyrdom under the orders of the King Henry II in the thirteenth century is a famous one and this incident still stains the space of the cathedral to this day: from his saintly miracles depicted in the East end windows, to the strange pink colouring of the marble around where his tomb once stood. It’s a great shame that many of the original artefacts housed within the building were taken or destroyed during the sixteenth century reformation, including the beautiful golden shrine dedicated to Becket, however, what remains is still a marvel. From the crypts, to the stunning stained glassworks, to carvings hidden on walls throughout, a trip here has much to see and explore. If you really want to get into the cathedral’s story, make sure to join a guided tour for a detailed description of the long and vibrant history of this amazing building.

  • Adults £12.00
  • Concessions (65+) £10.50
  • Children (under 18) £8.00
  • Children with valid Voucher free
  • Family ticket (2 adults, up to 3 children) £32.00
  • Family ticket (1 adult, 2 children) £22.50

Click HERE for more information

 

2. Stonehenge/Woodhenge (Wiltshire)

As a site of mystery and magic, Stonehenge has a LOT of different history to explore. From its original construction, almost 5000 years ago, to the influence it’s had on popular culture and religion over the centuries, this site is certainly one of the country’s most well known and loved landmarks. I’ve been here enough times to practically sneeze out the entire history and label each of the individual pieces of this stone circle, yet every time I see them, these great standing stones still takes my breath away. While many consider the ‘mystery’ of Stonehenge to be very much alive, thanks to years of research, a lot of the design history and construction methods have been uncovered and you can find out all about this is the visitors centre that was recently finished in 2013. While you are no longer allowed within the stones themselves due to much damage sustained over the centuries from tourists, it is still a stunning sight to behold. The surrounding areas also have a rich history to explore, Woodhenge being an often-forgotten gem. Close to Stonehenge, Woodhenge marks the site of another henge dating to around 2300 BC. While the wooden structure has since rotted away, fear not, as now concrete posts mark the shape of the original timber posts that once supported this structure. While possibly the world's most famous named henge, I must admit, my favourite thing about Stonehenge is that it is in fact not a henge at all! A “henge” is defined as having a ditch inside and a bank running around the outside and Stonehenge is the other way around, so I’m not even sure what Stonehenge’s official title should actually be. #FunFactsWithDOUK

Since this site has been the subject of countless documentaries, films of varying quality (I highly recommend Stonehenge Apocalypse), books and even songs, if you haven’t already, you must come and see this place for yourself!

  • Adult: £15.50
  • Child (5-15): £9.30
  • Concession: £13.90
  • Family (2 adults, up to 3 children): £40.30
  • English heritage Members: Free
  • Woodhenge: Free admission

Click HERE for more information

 

3. Roman Baths (Bath)

How about looking at the ancient methods of relaxing and health treatments? The influence of Romans in Britain can be seen in many places in the UK but one of their lasting and most awe-inspiring monuments is the Grand Bathhouse located in the city named for it, Bath. The temple within was constructed in around 60AD and the rest built over the next 300 years, but continued to be modified over the centuries where people still drank the spring water for its percieved healing powers. Much of the original structure still remains today and a museum of interest has been built throughout it, giving every visitor a wealth of history to enjoy: from the Sacred Spring, to the Temple, to the original Bathing pools, to the many finds that have been discovered hidden in the bathwater. For the full experience, there are audio guides available, giving unique and interesting facts about each individual area as well many anecdotes about some of the archaeological discoveries. Make sure to try a sample of the bath water at the end of the experience and find out for yourself if the springs really do have the powers that they claim. (Don't worry, it's clean and filtered I promise). 

Janaury-June Prices

  • Adult: £15.50
  • Student: £13.75
  • Senior: £13.75
  • Child (6-16): £9.80
  • Family (2 adults and up to 4 children): £46.00

Click HERE for more information

 

4. Edinburgh Castle (Edinburgh)

For a castle steeped in a history of war, look no furthur then Edinburgh Castle! Set in the centre of Scotland's grand capital city, this site is surrounded by amazing landscapes and has a number of places within to marvel at. From James IV setting out to Flodden in the sixteenth century to the power struggles between the Douglas and Hamilton families this isn’t a site that was ever short on action! As a stronghold during many conflicts due to its gradual decline as a place of residence and increase in use as military barracks, it has had 26 sieges during its life making it one of the most besieged buildings in British history! Come and visit the famous Stone of Scone or the stone of Destiny as it is known, once stolen to England by Edward I during his violent campaigns in the thirteenth century, but now sitting proudly with the crown jewels in the castle and is only ever removed from Scotland for coronations. Make sure to join a complimentary guided tour or pick up a free audio tour to find out a number of fun anecdotes about this amazing castle.

Prices April 2016 - March 2017

  • Adults: £16.50
  • Child (5-15 years): £9.90
  • Concession: £13.20

Click HERE for more information

 

5. Westminster Abbey (London)

Yet another place I went to for my studies, standing in the heart of London for over 1000 years, Westminster Abbey naturally has a great number of amazing sites to see within. This is the place to visit for anyone interested in religious history as, next to Canterbury, this is the religious centre of the nation as well as a building steeped in the best of British history. Home to the burial grounds of a number of famous royal figures: from the virgin Queen Elizabeth I, to James VI as well as many historic artefacts including the country-wide famous Coronation Chair, originally built for Edward I to enclose the Stone of Scone, and also many famous poets buried and commemorated in Poets' Corner, one visit is hardly enough to appreciate everything to see here. The site of the abbey itself has served as the coronation church since the days of William the conqueror after 1066, but the present building dates to the reign of Henry III in the 13th century. To really get behind all the history housed within the abbey, make sure to join a verger-led guided tour which covers the Shrine, the Royal Tombs, Poets’ Corner, the Cloisters and the Nave for just £5 per person.

  • Adults: £20
  • Concessions: £17
  • Children (6-16 years): £9
  • Family (2 adults and 1 child): £40
  • Family (2 adults and 2 children): £45

Click HERE for more information

 

6. Warwick Castle (Warwick)

Who doesn't like castles? If Edinburgh castle wasn't enough for you, then along the River Avon stands the stunning remains of Warwick Castle. It was originally built by William the Conqueror in 1068 as a wooden motte and bailey structure before being rebuilt with stone in the 1100s. It was then used as a strategic military base and stronghold until the 17th century when it was converted into a country house and became renowned as a place of great beauty. Housed within are a number of well preserved grand interiors that transport you back to what this great castle was like in its heyday, with original artworks, furniture and chandeliers decorating the grand rooms. This is a great attraction to bring the whole family to as it has a number of fun activties to enjoy, from the Horrible Histories Maze where you can get lost in a number of time periods, to the amazing audio-visual expereince of the Time Tower where you can find out all about the castle's long history, to hearing about the bloody tales of the dungeons and so much more, both inside and out of this building, history is made fun for all!!

  • Adults: £19.20
  • Child: £16.80
  • Senior: £15.80
  • Family of 4: £63.20
  • Family of 5: £79.00

Click HERE for more information

 

7. Hadrian’s Wall (Northumberland)

For the ramblers in your life, Hadrian’s wall stretches for 73 miles and there are a number of fun trails to be walked along it. Originally built in 122 AD by the Romans as a fortification under Emperor Hadrian, large pieces of the original wall still remain today and have several areas of interest peppered along the length of it. From the remains of Roman towns, to a number of surviving military turrets, to many temple ruins, there are A LOT of sites to be seen along this route. If you’re in the mood to see more than one, or are looking for inspiration for your next walking holiday, you can tackle the intense 84 mile coast to coast to walk following the path of the wall, or for those wantong to avoid too many blisters there is also the easier 7.5 mile Greenlee Lough walk as well as the family friendly Steel Rigg and Sycamore Gap walk. However far you travel along this ancient structure, there is always something to see and perfectly illustrates how intense and masterful the Romans were when building both their military defences and structuring the surrounding towns.

Click HERE for more information

 

8. Caernarfon Castle (Caernarfon)

Here comes castle suggestion number three! (We're in the UK, there are a lot of them). This medieval fortress has stood proudly in North Wales for over 700 years after King Edward I began replacing the original castle wooden structure with stone and gained a reputation as being a site not to be messed with. This is one of the best castles situated within Wales and that's hardly surprising as it marked the site where the son of Edward I became the very first Prince of Wales, an act to furthur solidify his conquest and power in the country, and even marks the site where the investiture of Prince Charles took place in 1969. Looking at Caernafron it marks a more uniquely designed castle with its Polygonal towers and such grand design work was perhaps used to symbolise the strength of the English rule then present throughout the country. Today, there is much fun to be found here with the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum spread over two of the towers and events often run. If nothing else, it is an amazing piece of architecture that very much reflects the iron will of the man who built it.

  • Adult: £7.95
  • Family: £21.50
  • Concessions: £5.60

Click HERE for more information

 

9. Jorvik Viking Centre (York)

If Vikings are your thing, then there is nowhere better to find out all about their life, wars and conquests then at the Jorvik centres in York. The Viking Centre, re-opening on 8th April 2017 after extensive rebuilding work following flood damage, stands on the ground of the excavations the Viking city of Jorvik and gives you a full experience of life in York during the Viking age. If you can’t wait until April, don’t worry, as Jorvik will be hosting it’s 33rd Viking festival running from 20th-26th February! This fun-packed week has a number of different events and activities to come and see, from the opportunity to try real Viking sword combat and archery, to crafting Viking jewellery, watching re-enactments of a Viking army marching through the streets and, of course, the annual beard competition! Discover all about the terrifying army of Eric Bloodaxe in England and see just how much of culture today stems from these big bearded invaders.

  • Adult: £10.25
  • Child (5-16): £7.25
  • Concessions: £8.25
  • Family of 4: £30.95
  • Family of 5: £32.95

Click HERE for more information

 

10. The Wallace Monument (Stirling)

Why not take some time to learn all about Scotland’s national hero, William Wallace? Putting aside the famous and annoyingly inaccurate (history student sorry) representation in Braveheart, discover the TRUE story of his exploits at this the monument built to venerate him. Allegedly the site where he watched the gathering of the English army before the battle of Stirling Bridge, marvel at a great collection of artefacts from the battle including Wallace’s own sword as well as plaenty of other battle memorobilia. While this is a monument that post-dates Wallace’s death by centuries, it is the place to visit to discover all about his story. Visit the Hall of arms and see how the armies of Wallace and Edward I came to blows at Stirling Bridge and how the Scots fought through to victory.  

There are a number of events hosted throughout the year to enjoy: from re-enactments of famous moments from the battle, to treasure hunts, as well as events celebrating the anniversary of important times including Wallace’s eventual capture and execution. Despite his grizzly end at the hands of the English, there is a lot of fascinating history surrounding this figure and, when in Scotland, it would seem a shame not to find out about one of their most famous national heroes.

 

  • Adults: £9.99
  • Concessions: £7.99
  • Children (5-15): £6.25
  • Families (2 adults and 2 children): £26.23
  • Families (1 adult and up to 3 children): £22.49
  • Families: (2 adults and up to 3 children): £32.48

Click HERE for more information

 

So whether you’re interested in castles, monuments, landmarks or walks, you can see that the UK is certainly not lacking in historical places to visit with somewhere guaranteed to pique your interest. This year why not visit a few sites and see just how far we’ve come since centuries past as well as how our culture today has been influenced by our ancestors: from the language we speak, to the places we habit and even in how we live our lives!

Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags:

 

A Happy happy new year from all of us at DOUK.com! We hope the hangovers from New Year’s Eve have worn off and that you aren’t putting off taking down your Christmas tree for too much longer. While some may abhor the cold weather without the bright beacon of Christmas to keep your spirits up, there are still plenty of fun activities to try and attractions to visit this January. With the new year in full swing, this is the perfect opportunity to take some time to think of all that the coming months may have in store, and there is no better way to do that then by taking a nice scenic walk to clear your head. There are many MANY beautiful spots in the country to take a stroll, but since a blog post like that would probably end up being about fifty pages long, I’ve compiled a list of some of the best and most beautiful places to take a wintry walk in Sussex and Kent. So wrap up warm, grab your walking boots, the kids and the dog and try one of these stunning strolls!

 

Castle Capers

 

For those wanting to experience a little history as well as some amazing architecture, there are a number of castle grounds that can be explored in these areas. East Sussex is a rambler’s paradise and Bodiam Castle has a number of delightful trails to trek and explore. This 14th century moated structure still stands tall to this day and looks spectacular against the backdrop of a wintry landscape.  

Prices (Incl. gift aid)

Adult: £9.15
Child: £4.60
Family: £22.90

Sissinghurst Castle and its surrounding area also boasts stunning views and walking trails to wear yourself out before staggering home to demolish all your left over Christmas food. The Castle grounds are home to a well-loved garden to explore and the building itself is surrounded by stretches of farmland, peaceful woods and stunning lake views.

If you’re in need of ideas for your walking route you can pick up a leaflet in reception. After your walk why not enjoy the International Garden Photographer of the Year Exhibition showcasing some of the best amateur photography from around the world or regain some energy by checking out the seasonal menu offered at the castle restaurant. Surrounding the castle is a wealth of picturesque nature to explore and signposted footpaths to explore. If you’re lucky, you might even encounter a costumed character or two whilst exploring who will be more than happy to take you on a tour of the castle and explain the goings-on from the point of view of the staff. 

Prices (Incl. gift aid)

Adult: £12.40
Child: £6.00
Family: £31.00

 

Countryside Houses

Kent and Sussex also contain a wealth of countryside houses perfect for walking around. The Romantic moated manor house of Ightham Mote has once been described by David Starkey as 'one of the most beautiful and interesting of English country houses,' and even a cursory glance of the property can see how he came to such a conclusion.

With a lush orchard and garden to discover and over 580 acres of the estate to explore as well as more substantial walks to that cover the surrounding woodland in the Kentish countryside, this is not a property to be missed! There are circular walks to Wilmot Hill, covering all of the vast estate, to walks to Oldbury Hill, an Iron Age Hillfort dating from around 50BC, or, for those really looking to burn some energy why not try the walk that covers two beautiful properties, Ightham Mote and Knole!

Prices (Incl. gift aid) 

Adult: £11.50
Child: £5.75
Family: £29.00

Knole itself is a beautiful house that covers six centuries of history and isn’t short of areas to discover either. While the house is closed during the winter period, the estate is still available to explore. Make sure to check out the resident deer herd found wandering the grounds and see all the beauty found within the over 1,000 acres of surrounding parkland.

For inspiration (and so you don’t get lost), make sure to pick up a map at the visitors centre or alternatively join one of the regular guided winter walks available Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 14:00!

Chartwell- The family home of Winston Churchill has an estate that becomes a beautiful winter wonderland once the frost sets in. From the winter border of the orchard home to blooming flowers even at the coldest times of year, to a crater formed by a bomb dropped during World War Two, to a Canadian camp, there is much to be discovered across this large estate.

Make sure to visit one of the two exhibitions available to see during the winter: Child of the Commons and the Fiftieth Anniversary exhibition!

Prices (Incl. gift aid)

Whole Property

Adult: £13.80
Child: £6.90
Family: £34.50

Gardens and studio only

Adult: £6.90
Child: £3.45
Family: £17.25

 

So if you’re in and around or planning a trip to the Kent or Sussex area, there are plenty of places to take a stroll and work off the mountain of food we’re all guilty of getting through over the Christmas season. As 2017 marches on, whatever you have in store for the coming months, all of us at DOUK wish you a very Happy New year.

Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags: historical, outdoors, walks
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