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Days Out Blog

Last Minute Halloween Plans!

Posted: Friday, October 31, 2014 |Category: Tips, Great Days Out

Tonight is all Hallows eve! But if you’re still stuck with ideas of what to do tonight, check out our list of the top 5 things you can do!

Visit the London/The York Dungeons


Is there anywhere better to go on Halloween, than to a dungeon?! It’s doubtful. With Sweeney Todd giving one of his famous shaves (well… almost) in London Dungeons and Eric Bloodaxe, the last Viking King of York showing you how he’s earned his nickname, it would be hard to choose between the two! One things for certain, the Master of Tricks will be playing his mischievous games in both, so beware…

Halloween runs until Sunday 2nd November in the Dungeons, so book now to avoid disappointment!

Links to the dungeons: http://www.thedungeons.com/york/en/


Catching ghosts at Explosion! Museum of Naval Firepower

If walking around Dungeons aren’t your cup of tea, then maybe catching ghosts will be. Starting from 11am, the Explosion! Museum of Naval Firepower in Hampshire will help you create your own “ghost catcher with a simple film canister and baking powder, that will pop up and create a supernatural scare”! If that doesn’t float your ghost, if you can hold out until November 21st, you could stay overnight for a Paranormal Investigation…

Link to the museum: http://www.explosion.org.uk/ 

Bake some Halloween treats!

If you have some time before going out trick or treating, or before guests arrive for a Halloween party, bake some Halloween treats! There’s tonnes of recipes to follow online, there are loads of Halloween food puns to be made! Anyone for finger sandwiches?


Watch the scariest films

Horror and Halloween go hand in hand. There is no two ways about it. So why not gather some other friends who have no plans, stick on Omen or Nightmare on Elm Street, or whatever terrifies you the most, grab some popcorn and have a Fright Fest in your own home. Or have it on your own… if you feel brave enough.


Simply go Trick or Treating

Halloween is a lot more fun when you’re younger. Free sweets on this night, this year, every year? Amazing! So simply spreading the Halloween spirit this year to the younger generation, will surely brighten up your evening? Dress up in a make-shift, last minute costume and either go around with a younger relative, or hand out the sweets. (But please make sure the children are accompanied by an adult.

Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags:

Winter Is Coming

Posted: Wednesday, October 1, 2014 |Category: Tips

Winter isn’t all that bad. Sure, the weather is freezing, noses start snivelling and there are Christmas adverts galore; but why should summer be only the season that we love? Why should summer be the only time of year where we try new things? Why should we only limit ourselves to the summer time? There’s nothing stopping you from taking those fantastic summer nights, through to winter. Setbacks be gone. Here are a few ways to make winter as memorable as summer.

For starters, fireworks. If you have kids, the chances are, they love fireworks. The bright flashes lighting up the early darkness that winter brings, and giving us a small bit of magic for a brief second. Most of us find them to annoying (especially when you’re trying to sleep) but why not bring them back into your life? Some wait for November fifth, and go to their local firework show. But why wait? Buy a few fireworks, a few sparklers, cook some good food and pour some good drinks, gather friends, family and other loved ones and just make a night of it. It’s probably a lot cheaper than buying a six pound burger from a van, and a lot quieter (ish). But if the idea of that just sounds like a lot of work, look out for your local firework show! Quite often, there’s a lot more than just fireworks going on, and if you can be in the cold for a while, there’s always a chance you’re going to have a good time.

Which brings us to our second point of our wintery blog- Winter sports. This may be something you haven’t tried. The idea of trying to balance on skis might just sound like your idea of a terrible time, but before the end of the year is up, why not give it a go? There are plenty of indoor skiing centres scattered around the UK, including Chill
Factore in Manchester. Not only will this be a great way to keep up with your active lifestyle, but it’s a different and fun way to do so! Lessons cost money (unfortunately), so look for the closest indoor skiing centre near you and see how much they cost.

If the idea of winter sports seems like too much hard work, but the idea of lying in bed all day and watching films seems to appeal you more, then perhaps our next
suggestion will be more to your taste. Every year, the BFI Film Festival is held, every year they put on a mixture of films that will delight your inner film geek. For the horror fans out there, there’s always Film 4’s Frightfest. And never fear if you’re too far away to go, or if money is limited for you – lots of film festivals are held all over the country, and have tickets that are as cheap as £5.

Another kind of festival rolls around this time of year. The Christmassy kind. With carolling, good food and plenty of things to buy, there’s no better way to get into that Christmas spirit. Some often have a Victorian theme, which will have actors dressed in Victorian clothing, singing old carols and riding in horse drawn carriages. It will show you how the Victorians would have celebrated Christmas, back in the olden times. Christmas festivals are generally a fun day out for all the family, but if you still can’t muster up some Christmas cheer, there’s always some mulled wine to get you through.

But if the suggestion of going outside at all this winter is making you feel chilly inside, then maybe just try something new inside your home. Once summer passes, salads are forgotten about and soon the casserole dishes arrive. The hearty meals to warm you up inside are one of the few best parts about winter. If there was ever a time to
experiment with food and make something new and different, now would be the time. Look up a new recipe every week or maybe just grab some random ingredients and pull a Ready Steady Cook. However you do it, get creative this winter!

Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags:

Discover the fun and excitement to be had with the family in Blackpool this summer and beyond, including must-see attractions, activities and events.

Ideas and inspiration for summer days out with the family

Children always look forward to fun-filled days out with the family over summer, especially to Blackpool. From experiencing the Pleasure Beach roller coasters and taking exhilarating trips up The Blackpool Tower, to playing on the award-winning sandy beach and each of the three piers, it is clear to see why kids enjoy visiting the seaside town so much.

If you are planning on visiting Blackpool over the summer months and are looking for ideas and inspiration for your day trip, here are ten top activities to think about adding to your itinerary.

Blackpool Tower & Beach

1) Thrill seeking at the Blackpool Pleasure Beach

The Pleasure Beach was recently voted the best amusement park in the UK. There are activities for kids of all ages, including white-knuckle roller coasters like The Big One and Ice Blast, old classics such as the Grand National as well as Nickelodeon Land which contains rides themed around popular Nickelodeon characters – perfect for any younger children.

Guaranteed to please everybody and keep children and adults entertained for hours, the Blackpool Pleasure Beach is always a must for families.

2) Soaring skywards at The Blackpool Tower

The Blackpool Tower is well worth a visit; prepare to be amazed by the 4D cinema experience which tells the story of a child’s journey through Blackpool in a way that engages all five senses.

Your family can also head up to The Blackpool Tower Eye and enjoy breath-taking scenes across the coastline. No doubt your kids will especially love the Skywalk experience, as the glass floor seems as though you are walking on air.

3) Animal watching at The Blackpool Zoo

A popular activity for family days out, Blackpool Zoo is home to many fantastic exhibits including the Big Cat House, Giraffe Heights and award winning Gorilla Mountain. With an ever-increasing and varied collection of birds, mammals, reptiles and more, your children can enjoy discovering some of the most amazing animals in the world.

There is also a Children's Farm, where kids can play and learn about smaller animals. We would highly recommend making a special visit to the new arrivals at the zoo, which includes the Orang-utan Outlook and the two endangered Siberian Tiger Cubs.

4) Splashing around at the Sandcastle Waterpark

SEA LIFE Blackpool Boris and Betty

If your children are fans of waterslides, Blackpool is home to the largest indoor water park in the UK. There are 18 different attractions to keep them entertained, including fun pools, wave machines and water chutes. As your kids splash away in the pools, there is a burger bar and snack bar for you to take full advantage of for a few hours.

5) Exploring the underwater world at SEA LIFE

Children who visit SEA LIFE Blackpool are always wowed by the 2,000 aquatic creatures on display, including tropical sharks, sea horses, colourful fish and octopuses. For those feeling a little brave, there is an Interactive Rockpool Experience where children can hold or touch starfish. Your family should also walk through the underwater tunnel, where sharks and rays swim right overhead.

6) Becoming an Aztec adventurer at Jungle Jims

If you have younger children, a visit to the Jungle Jim’s indoor adventure playground is recommended. Located in The Blackpool Tower, your brave little explorers can swing, slide and climb through the soft play centre while you rest your feet in the Jungle Jim’s cafe.

7) Gazing up at the dazzling Blackpool Illuminations

The Blackpool Illuminations are always a favourite for parents and children as there are an array of different lights, designs and characters to gaze up at every year. In 2014, the Illuminations run from the 29th August until the 9th November. The Switch-On Festival Weekend is set to be one of the biggest Blackpool events of the year, with comedian Peter Kay switching on the Illuminations and chart toppers Little Mix headlining the show.

If you can only visit Blackpool during the daytime, visit the brand new Illuminasia. The world’s largest indoor illuminations attraction contains six interactive zones including The Mysteries of China, The Lazer Show and The Land of the Giants, where Chinese paper lanterns are used to create dazzling light displays.

8) Strolling down the beach and its piers

Central Pier

A trip to the award-winning Blackpool beach is an absolute must during summer. With ice creams to indulge in, donkey rides for the kids and plenty of paddling opportunities, it is an ideal summer’s day activity.

Also, we would highly recommend taking the kids along to the central pier for a few hours. There are classic fairground rides like dodgers, waltzers and The Big Wheel as well as The Family Bar and The Showbar, both of which present live entertainment and shows throughout summer.

9) Watching in awe at the Blackpool Air Show

Great for summer days out on a budget, this activity is completely free for all the family. You can sit on the beach and watch as planes take to the sky to perform amazing stunts, aerobatic displays and even wing walking tricks. These fine displays are carried out by incredibly beautiful aircrafts, including the finest military and civilian aircrafts from both the past and present.

In 2014, the Blackpool Air Show will take place on Sunday 10th and Monday 11th August.

10) Enjoying family time at Stanley Park

Stanley Park is well worth visiting on a sunny day if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the promenade. It has recently received a Green Flag Award 2014 - which rewards the best parks and green spaces in the UK - and a 'certificate of excellence' from Tripadvisor due to the quality of reviews earned over the past year.

The 390 acre park has stunning landscape design including delightful Rose, Remembrance and Italian Gardens, water fountains, statues and a boat lake along with an impressive Bandstand and Cocker Tower. There is also a unique Art Deco cafe offering stunning views across the greenery and a large animal farm themed play area for children.

For attractions and activities that require tickets, we recommend buying them online beforehand. This will allow you to make the most of any online deals and discounts, while helping you to avoid certain queues on the day so that you can truly make the most of your time in Blackpool.

Author Bio: Cassie Forshaw is Head of Marketing at Blackpool’s Back. Blackpool’s Back is an information website about all of the top attractions, events and things to do in Blackpool.

Posted by: Cassie Forshaw | Tags:

Top things to do with the kids in Kent

Posted: Friday, August 1, 2014 |Category: Great Days Out, Features

Let's have a look at some of the top things to do in Kent for the kids!

Diggerland –

What’s not to love about Diggerland? Kids can drive and ride trucks and diggers under the safety and supervision of professionals (Diggerland makes sure all pieces of equipment and machinery are manned).

Recommended time at attraction: You could easily stay for a whole day here and go on all the rides and activities 2 or 3 times.

Cost: £19.95 for an adult and children 90cm or over. (Pssst… don’t forget to download our discount vouchers).

Read More


The Hop Farm Family Park –

Where to start with Hop Farm? How about some giant jumping pillows? Boing! Once the kids have been bounced out, why not have a blast in the Mega blaster Arena or enter the Hop Farm’s Magic Castle! Other attractions include the Animal World and Birds of Prey Zone, kids driving school, outdoor play areas, crazy golf and the outdoor dig out zone.

Recommended time at attraction: Up to a full day.

Cost: Free to enter, activities cost around £1-£3 each.

Read More


Dover Castle –

Surely one of the best historical places to visit for kids in Britain, Dover Castle is packed with fun things to do including exploring the grounds and hidden tunnels, reaching the top of the great tower and loads of interactive exhibitions, museums and tours.

Recommended time at attraction: Between half a day and a full day. Expect lots of walking!

Cost: £45.50 for two adults and up to three children.

Read More

© English Heritage Photo Library © English Heritage Photo Library


Howletts Wild Animal Park –

Not much beats the amazement on a young child’s face as it watches a tiger tuck into its lunch! Highlights include a walkthrough lemur experience and the lowland gorillas.

Recommended time at attraction: Up to a full day.

Cost:  £23.95 for an adult and £19.95 for a child aged 3-15 years. You can also upgrade your ticket to a passport ticket on the day of entry which allows unlimited access to the park for a whole year.  

Read More

© Howletts © Howletts


Kent Life –

Kids will love all the farmyard animals which includes sheep, pigs, horses, donkeys, rabbits, goats, ducks and alpacas! The fun doesn’t end there either, with an outdoor and indoor play area, electric quad bikes, plus tractor rides for the adventurous!

Recommended time at attraction: Up to a full day. A membership pass allows unlimited access for a year.

Cost: £9.25 for an adult and £7.25 for a child aged 3-15 years.

Read More


Eagle Heights –

A birds of prey centre with over species of bird, most of which can be viewed in their daily demonstrations. There’s also a play area for kids who want to run off some steam!

Recommended time at attraction: 2-3 hours

Cost: £9.00 for an adult, £5.50 for a child aged 4-14 years.

Read More


Review any of these attractions for a chance to win a free iPad Mini!

Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags:

7 Gruesome Facts About UK Castles

Posted: Thursday, July 3, 2014 |Category: Features

1. Murder Holes –

These crude holes in the ceiling of a gate or passageway allowed defenders to batter attackers with missiles or liquids. Would you prefer to be scorched by a few litres of boiling liquid or pelted by stones?

Here's a pic of some at Bodiam Castle


2. Machicolations –

Similar to murder holes, except these are in the towers along the wall or overlooking an archway. You have to feel sorry for those poor souls going in first…

3. Bees, cows and poo –

With the development of siege engines and catapults came some quite gruesome attacking methods. Far from just firing over massive stones and heavy projectiles (which are bad enough), attackers would also fire over bee hives, human / animal excrement and even dead cows to spread disease and sickness.  

A flying cow

4. Starvation –

If an attacking army felt they couldn’t take the castle by force, or if they just couldn’t be bothered, battles simply became wars of attrition, with the besiegers desperately trying to avoid starvation by eating rats and smuggling food in by whatever means necessary. The defenders would also often have to cope with a poisoned water supply if the well wasn’t protected.

5. Jousting –

Jousting tournaments were held by nobility and were one of the most popular means of entertainment in medieval times. Although lances were blunted, jousting resulted in many deaths and broken bones, and the practice was banned by Henry II.

Here's a pic of a modern-day jousting tournament at Arundel Castle

Copyright © Julia Claxton

6. Stairwells –

The spiral design of a castle was designed as such to allow right handers above the attackers a fuller swing while those poor chaps below had their range limited by the twist. Unless they were lucky enough to be left handed, of course.

7. Torture –

Castle dungeons were places of terrible and truly barbaric torture. Captives would have been stretched on racks, locked away in tiny cages, had their tongues ripped out, been scolded by burning irons, and generally treated quite horrifically. Hever Castle was particularly gruesome.   

We've no idea what this is but it doesn't look pleasant


Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags:

The UK's Best Wildlife Spots

Posted: Thursday, May 8, 2014 |Category: Uncategorised

A Golden Eagle has been spotted in Wales for the first time since 1990, but where else can you encounter some of the UK’s best wildlife?


Cairngorms National Park –

Over 25% of Britain’s threatened species thrive at Cairngorms in Scotland, which at 3,800 sq km is Britain’s largest national park.

What’s there: The elusive Scottish wildcat, more golden eagles and capercaillies can all be spotted, along with Scottish crossbills and wild reindeer.

Tell me more: www.cairngorms.co.uk


Loch Morlich


Lundy Island –

Now England's only Marine Nature Reserve, Lundy Island is a haven for underwater wildlife and is situated 10 miles off the coast of Devon. 

What’s there: A tonne of life including basking sharks, dolphins, grey seals and porpoises. 

Tell me more: www.lundyisland.co.uk


Lundy Island
Bottlenose dolphin


New Forest –

Hampshire's New Forest is a walker's or cyclist's paradise with miles and miles of untouched woodland.

What’s there: Four species of deer; the red deer, roe deer, fallow deer, sika deer; reptiles including the adder and sand lizard, and a wide array of insects such as stag beetles.

Tell me more: www.thenewforest.co.uk


Red deer
Stag beetle


Farne Islands –

The Farnes, located two miles off the coast of Northumberland, were voted David Attenborough's favourite place to visit for wildlife in the UK. 

What’s there: Grey seals plus over 23 species of bird including puffins, razorbills and Arctic terns. 

Tell me more: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/farne-islands


Grey seal


Brownsea Island - 

Another island, this time near the Dorset coast, Brownsea Island is entirely owned by the National Trust, hopefully ensuring its wildlife remains to be enjoyed by visitors for a long time.

What's there: Red squirrel, wild peacocks, avocets, herons, sika deer. 

Tell me more: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/brownsea-island/


A red squirrel - grey squirrels have never been introduced on the island
Branksea Castle


Isle of Mull - 

The Isle of Mull is one of the best places in the UK to catch some of the rarest wildlife we have to offer, and well worth the very long trip! 

What's there: Killer whales, humpback whales, basking sharks, otters, seals, golden eagles, white-tailed eagles and short eared owls.

Tell me more: www.isle-of-mull.net


The Isle of Mull is one of the best places in the UK to spot Killer Whales
The town of Tobermory



Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags:

5 Annoying Things When Going On A Day Out

Posted: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 |Category: Uncategorised

We all love days out with the family, but we can all relate to these five things that make you question whether that day out is worthwhile after all…


1.    Long Car Journeys

Fasten your seatbelts parents; it’s going to be a long ride. Three excited, screaming kids in the back of the car as you’re speeding along the mortorway at 70mph is not want you want for three hours, but that’s exactly what you’ll be getting.


But they seem so cute...


2.    Extortionate Prices 

You thought your local high street was expensive, try that gift shop or fast food outlet and add a couple of quid to every single food & drink item. And we won’t even mention the entry prices… *gulp*


That'll be £6.99 please


3.    Queue Jumpers

There must be someone out there inventing something entertaining to do while queuing. Quite simply the dullest ‘activity’ forced upon you, your boredom turns to rage as you see an individual stroll through a queue without so much as a peep from the polite, mild mannered persons such as yourself.

4.   Poor Manners

Continuing nicely from No. 3, poor manners in any shape or form has to be one of the most annoying things when on a day out. Try not to get too stressed up, breathe deeply, and tell yourself you are likely to never see that person again…



5.    Broken Or Closed Exhibits

You’ve travelled 50 miles and your eager child can’t wait to check out that awesome new science exhibit or go on the new rollercoaster. Oh wait. They can’t. Because it’s shut. No warnings on website, no refunds, unhappy child. Extremely annoying.


I don't think we can go this way kids...


Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags:

6 Of The Best Places For Scenery In The UK

Posted: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 |Category: Features

It’s easy to forget among the travel mayhem of London’s tube strikes that the UK has some of the most gorgeous and serene scenery in Europe, and it’s right on our doorstep. Take a look at some of these photos!


1. Snowdonia National Park 

Before marvelling at these photos and checking your holiday dates, note that Snowdonia is officially the wettest place in the United Kingdom! This photographer had to wait thirteen days in the middle of July before capturing these (may not be true). 


© Crown copyright (2013) Visit Wales © Crown copyright (2013) Visit Wales


2. Brecon Beacons  

Designated an International Sky Reserve in February 2013, you'd be forgiven for thinking you had teleported into New Zealand upon visiting some of the places in the Beacons.


The Ystradfellte Waterfall
Eroded slopes dot around the Beacons



3. Cheddar Gorge

Voted Britain's second best natural wonder in the UK by a Radio Times poll in 2005, Cheddar Gorge in Somerset is one of the South West's most popular attractions. 


A winding road around the Cheddar Gorge Breathtaking views


4. Jurassic Coast

 No you won't find T-Rex bones here, but you will find almost 200 million years of geology packed in it's coastline. I know, the T-Rex bones would have been sweeter, but stop moaning. 


Durdle Door
Old Harry Rocks



5. Giant's Causeway 

In Antrim now, and only because of a ginormous ancient volcanic eruption many, many millions of years ago. Interestingly, posters of the Causeway have been given pride of place on the Paris Metro and in other French cities to try and draw potential tourists to Northern Ireland. 


© Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism © Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism


6. The Yorkshire Dales

Not just good old fashioned British countryside, the Dales draws in visitors from across the country to take in it's rural charm.


© Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority
Waterfall in the Dales



Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags:

The Top 7 Things To Remember When Going On A Day Out

Posted: Monday, April 28, 2014 |Category: Tips

Summer’s approaching, kids have spent all winter sat on their bums indoors playing video games and  you are eager to get them of out the house, but wait! Make sure you don’t forget these 7 tips or risk upset children!



1.     The weather! Just because the sun is shining where you are doesn’t mean the sun is shining two hours away! Check the weather, DOUK have a quick five day forecast for every attraction listed on our website, so do look before setting off.


  Luckily this chap has brought his wellies! Those whites are going to get messy!


2.     Are they definitely open? A website can often be slow to update, we always advise to check an attraction’s Twitter feed before leaving home as this is likely to give you the most up-to-date news. Opening times also vary throughout the year so make sure you are looking at the right information.

3.     Find out what food facilities are at the attraction. You may want to bring a picnic.

4.     Are dogs allowed? Tucker’s in the back seat looking forward to some fun family time, only the place they’ve arrived at doesn’t allow dogs! Disaster! Do always check by calling or visiting an attraction’s website if they allow dogs so you can decide whether to bring him or her along or not!


Who wouldn't let this guy in? 


5.    Are there any events running? Again, check the Twitter feed to be sure!

6.   Don’t just have one thing in mind! Check out nearby attractions and plan your day so kids don’t get bored. DOUK have a great ‘What’s Near’ feature to give you some ideas.

7.    Don’t forget the camera. It’s easily done.

A camera. Remember it (or your phone)


Posted by: Shane Scanlon | Tags:
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