Dovestone Reservoir

Dovestone Reservoir, Greenfield,Saddleworth, Oldham OL3 7NE

I’m writing this hiding in my bedroom tucked up under my duvet with the boiler man doing his thing downstairs! We have had a bit of a crazy Christmas with a broken boiler so have spent our time between both of our parents. It’s actually been quite nice being looked after and having help with the twins (who are currently with my mum and dad while the new boiler gets put in)

Coldness in mind, I have decided to write about Dovestone Reservoir in Saddleworth. We visited in the summer on a gorgeous warm sunny day and I have to say it was just stunning. I had never heard of it, but again, was recommended to me by a friend and makes for a brilliant walk.

dovestones

We took what looked like the most straight forward route around the reservoir and it was fairly easy, there were a few little inclines but nothing we couldn’t manage with the buggy. There were also a few stones and lumps and bumps but again, the buggy was fine. I wasn’t, as I had stupidly worn flimsy flip flops..flip flops, I can’t remember a time when it didn’t feel like I had icicles on my toes! Thick socks and boots, nevermind flip flops! Anyway, yep wear sensible shoes.

I would also advise taking a picnic, there was a pretty spot with rocks and streams which would have been perfect for a spot of lunch. (or a flask of hot tea, if you were to go at this time of year!)

Worth noting, there isn’t a café and the parking was pay and display so make sure you have change.

We had a lovely time, Steven enjoyed skimming stones while I spent time shaking stones out of my stupid flip flops. The scenery was stunning, all trees and hills and shimmering water.  I really felt like I was in France, not Oldham. Oh and we lost our gorgeous Lala & Bea picnic blanket while walking around. I have a tendency to load the buggy up with stuff and most of it falls off. If you found it, enjoy it’s lovely.

(Apologies for crap pictures, this was all before i decided to start this blog. Any recent ones the pictures will be amazing, naturally 😉

We didn’t take a picnic with us, instead we went to nearby Uppermill where there are a handful of really nice pubs and a quaint little park where we had ice creams and rolled about on the grass. Definitely worth visiting too.

We are looking forward to visiting again, cannot recommend highly enough. In fact I think I might go over the weekend and see what it looks like all frosty and pretty. I will 100% wear boots.

Father Christmas @ The Chestnut Centre

The Chestnut Centre, Chapel-En-Le-Frith, High Peak SK23 0QS

Our second visit to see Father Christmas was on Sunday. We all went this time, along with my brother, his fiancée and my gorgeous nieces. They had taken their eldest last year, and couldn’t recommend it enough, so we all got tickets to go this year. Tickets were £3.50 per child and worth every penny. 


We were due to meet Santa at 11am. We met in the coffee shop, where I had a lovely coffee and a mince pie (would have been rude not to, with it being Christmas and everything) we were told we could go to the grotto, which was behind a door next to the toilets. Magical or what! We knocked, and the door was opened by a lady dressed as an otter (worth noting, the Chestnut Centre is an owl and otter sanctuary) the room was all dark with twinkly lights and lots of Christmassy foliage. They also had real live chicks, guinea pigs and even a barn owl which was sitting on a Christmas tree behind Santa. It really was lovely.


My eldest niece has just turned 2, my youngest 9 months and Luke and Thomas 13 months so this would all probably be a bit more exciting for older ones, though we all enjoyed looking at the animals. Santa was sat on an arm chair, and we took turns sitting next to him. Martha covered her eyes, Molly looked disinterested, Thomas cried and Luke loved him. Standard really. Though I probably shouldn’t have laughed quite so much at Thomas’s distress. Mean mummy.


They were each given a little present and a sticker from Mrs Otter stating they had seen Santa at the Chestnut centre.

I have to say, this was a really lovely experience. They had pulled out all the stops and the added touches of real animals was brilliant.


The centre itself, is well worth a visit, Father Christmas or not. It isn’t pram friendly though, we made the mistake of visiting earlier in the year and missed the sign stating as much so spent a lot of time lifting the buggy up and down steps and roots. Our fault entirely for not reading large signs. A must do for walking children or carried babies. Or just people without babies!

As for the Santa experience here, it was brill. We will definitely be back next year and hopefully we will all be as excited as Luke (and the grown ups in the group!)

 

Father Christmas @ Dunham Massey

Dunham Massey, Woodhouse Lane,  Altrincham, WA14 4SJ

 

We went to visit Father Christmas today at Dunham Massey. We took my Mum and Dad to this sold out event, we tried to get tickets to the Saturday but that sold out mega early, so decided on the Friday instead. I had been looking forward to this, as it has been listed as one of ‘the’ places to go to see Santa. So, it is with a heavy heart that I have to write a bit of a negative review.

 

I bloody love Dunham Massey, anyone in the area will feel the same. I have been going here since I was a wee girl and I have taken the boys numerous times so I have nothing at all against the park itself. It is fab and a must do place to visit. It’s just the Father Christmas experience. Maybe I was expecting too much, or maybe I missed something so would be really interested in other peoples’ opinions.

 

Our allotted time was 1pm, so we queued up at the Stables just before 1. Prams were left outside and you had to carry babies in, of which there were a fair few. Maybe because it was a Friday and the older ones were in school. A jolly elf gave us a ticket, number 6 and we were led into the stables. There was a little sleigh you could have your picture taken in, which me and my Dad did (with the boys too I might add). Then we were told to go into the waiting room until our number was called.


This is where it disappointed, I don’t know about yours but after being carried in, my squiggly babies wanted to crawl about on the muddy floor for a while, again, totally fine. We are used to muddy floors. It’s just that I would have expected some sort of entertainment for the children as they waited, there was nothing. No toys, nothing. I also expected it to be decked out like a grotto, you know shiny things and twinkles. Maybe even a Christmas tree or some singing. There were a few decorations around the side of the room, and some cardboard hats that must have been handmade, which were cute. Not dissing the handmade hats. In the end we let the twins loose on the floor and gave them the lids of their milk bottles to play with. My fault for not bringing toys I know. I usually do.


We didn’t have to wait too long as we were number 6. We waited in a little line outside Santa’s room and another rather lovely elf was outside and told us to wait until a bell rang for our turn. When it did, we walked in and there he was Father Christmas sat on a chair. I wanted a ‘HO HO HO Meeeeerrryyy Christmas’ you know all jolly like. He just asked if they were twins and what they wanted for Christmas, I replied jovially that we would all like a decent night’s sleep (terrible and predictable I know). It went down like a lead balloon. Anyway was a bit awkward and I asked if they were allowed to sit on his knee, he replied “if you like” So plonked Thomas down, he didn’t look amused. Picked him up again, then Luke started crying. Then Thomas started crying (note, I am not blaming Dunham Massey, or Santa for my babies crying. It often happens).


On the way out, another friendly Elf gave us some little prezzies which were very nice. Just would have preferred the presents to be given to us by Santa.

Do I sound really ungrateful and negative? I hate to write stuff like this. I mean the Elves were all great, and Father Christmas looked the part, like a traditional St Nicholas you would expect to see at Dunham and he was very polite. I just would have liked it to be, well, a tad more Christmassy.

It cost £4 per child, and adults were free so for that price I shouldn’t really complain. We had a lovely walk and a delicious slice of Bara Brith (welsh tea bread apparently) oh and Mum had an amazing bowl of mushroom soup (she said to mention the delicious soup!)

All in all, we did have a lovely day, Dunham is a gorgeous setting. I just expected a bit more, that’s all.

 

 

 

Peak Wildlife Park

Peak Wildlife Park, Winkhill, Leek, ST13 7QR

A good friend told me about Peak Wildlife Park, and I am really glad she did. It’s not close by, in fact it is on the same road that leads up to Alton Towers on your right. You will probably have driven past it on your way to Alton Towers when  life was a tad more exciting than animal parks and soft play. Although, to be fair, I probably prefer animal parks and soft play to being flung around until I puke. Weird.

The park is brilliant, really hands on. You aren’t just looking at animals in cages, or driving through gates where drugged up lions look miserable huddled together under trees. Here, you can actually walk amongst the animals and stroke wallabies should you want to. We took the pram through various different enclosures “Lemur Heights”, “Wallaby Wanderland” & “African Village” were our particular favourites. By our, I mean Steven and myself. The boys made some grunts to show their appreciation too. This place would be amazing for toddlers/younger children as it is really hands on and fun.


There are also some penguins, otters, tortoises and lots more animals to see. They also had some pigs and chickens wandering around to stroke and feed. Maybe not stroke, I mean good luck if you manage to stroke a chicken. Can’t imagine it is much fun.

For us, a HUGE bonus to this park is that it has an indoor soft play bit. It had only just opened so is all shiny and new. The baby bit isn’t huge but the older kids area looked a lot of fun. Not that I am complaining about the baby bit, the twins are more than happy just crawling around through tunnels and spinning upturned wheels. Worth noting, there are picnic tables in the soft play area so it’s advisable to bring your own lunch as the café wasn’t that great.

park-soft-play-baby

 

The park also has an outdoor play area, which we didn’t go to as it was fooking freezing, wrap up warm. Seriously it must be quite high up so make sure you have snowsuits, hats, gloves, wellies, balaclavas, and that is just for the grown ups! I jest, but it was colder than we had anticipated.

There was another craft room, which again we didn’t enter but again, looked fun for the older ones.

The only downside was the café, it was small and we had to leave the buggy outside. There weren’t very many high chairs and the food was a bit crap. Maybe I missed something, but the sandwiches were ropey and there wasn’t much choice for little ones, so my advice would be take your own.

The park is open Monday – Sunday 10am-5pm

Adults £10.95

Children £8.95

Under 2s are free.

 

Peak Wildlife park is really worth a visit, so much to see and do and the up close and personal approach is refreshing and a lot of fun. We are looking forward to taking the boys when they are a bit older. And maybe in the summer.

xxx

 

 

 

 

Walton Hall & Gardens

Walton Hall & Gardens, Walton Lea Road, Warrington, WA4 6SN

Another recommendation, we visited Walton Hall back in October and am very glad that we did. It’s a decent enough park, nice walks round the formal gardens and the not so formal ones. The twins were in really bad moods that day. Teething poops, which basically means we have to take lots of pairs of trousers and nappies with us, puts all of us in a bad mood to be fair, so what better way to cheer us all up than a brisk stroll on a freezing Autumn morning!

walton

The biggest selling point for us was the children’s farm. It was really good, quite large it had all sorts of different animals; pigs, peacocks, donkeys, chickens and red squirrels to name a few. The boys were mostly excited by the pigeons. Apparently they run regular events throughout the year for children to learn about the animals (Walton hall does, not the pigeons) so well worth checking that out

farm

The playground was fun too, as the boys aren’t old enough for slides and climbing frames, they have only ever experienced the swings, which to be fair they love. This park had a little round about for smaller people too. Look how thrilling it is!! White knuckle ride for babies.  The playground really cheered the twins up. Makes me feel guilty for not having a garden for fun stuff like swings. Instead we have a grotty back yard for not so fun stuff like slugs.

swing

We visited the Heritage café to give the boys their breadsticks, it was fine. Steven and I just had a cup of tea but the food looks pretty standard, potatoes, paninis, sandwiches. Worth noting they only had the big wooden high chairs which aren’t ideal for littler babies. TIP ALERT: We have found this a big problem with the babies, especially when they were first using high chairs, the majority of eateries only have the big wooden high chairs which are far too large for the average baby. We took our Ikea highchair inserts out with us when we went out and they worked a treat.

Worth noting, you have to pay for parking but it isn’t very expensive, £2.50 per day.

Walton Hall and Gardens is open every day of the year from 8am until dusk.

The children’s zoo 

The children’s zoo opens daily at 10.30am and closes at 5pm in the summer and 4pm in the winter.  Entry is free of charge.

Feeding times are 2pm in the summer and 1pm in the winter.

Heritage cafe 

The heritage cafe is open:

  • Monday – Friday: 11am – 3pm
  • Saturday and Sunday: 10am – 4pm

Car parking

Walton Hall and Gardens operates a pay and display car park.

Daily charges:

  • Mon-Fri: £2.50
  • Sat-Sun and bank holidays: £3.50
  • Coaches: £6.60

Walton Hall is deffo worth a visit in my opinion for the farm yard alone. The pigeons were awesome.

 

 

 

Rocket & Orange

 

Rocket & Orange, 51-53 Borough Road, Altrincham, WA15 9RA

This place had been recommended for me to try out, a café in Altrincham offering fresh, homemade food and creative play for children. Sounded ideal, I bloody love food and if I can find a place where I can enjoy lunch, and the twins can be entertained too then win win.

Rocket & Orange is situated on a residential street a stone’s throw from the centre of Altrincham. We were lucky enough to find a space outside, we left the buggy in the car but there was plenty of room in there for prams.

I have to admit, both Steven and I were hungover. We never go out, seriously it just isn’t worth it.  Dealing with two babies with a hangover is utterly utterly horrendous. I wasn’t too bad, I was just hungry. Steven, on the other hand, well he didn’t get in until gone 2am. Dirty stopout.
Anyway, the café didn’t disappoint, the décor is bright and airy, all whites and oranges with nice big windows. They had lots of things to entertain kids, especially older ones. Lego tables, giant (well, maybe medium) connect four, table football and a play area at the back with a wooden kitchen, a table with colouring and a selection of books. There were also a couple of sponge mats that the boys crawled about on. I would have liked to have seen a few more toys for babies. That’s just me nit picking. They were fine shouting at books and throwing a toy iron around. Standard.

The food was yummy, though to be fair, with a mild hangover most food is yummy. I chose the lamb & halloumi kebab with cous cous, pitta and houmus. Proper hipster me! It really was delicious. The breakfasts looked good too and they serve those until 12.30. Steven opted for a cup of tea and a coke. (We stopped at McDonald’s so he could have a cheeseburger on the way home, terrible I know and very unhipster. He really let the side down)

The boys are eating solids, well some solids. They are really picky and have mainly eaten fruit, bread, breadsticks, crackers and a few fruit/veg Ella’s kitchen pouches but since starting nursery last week they have, thank god, become a bit more adventurous. We ordered them a toddler’s meal of sausage and mash .I ate most of it, because I was a hungover pig, but they tried it and didn’t immediately spit it out and shut their eyes (they seem to think if they can’t see the food, it isn’t there) , so this means the sausage and mash was a hit!

We didn’t try the cakes but they looked delicious, the place wasn’t particularly busy either for a Sunday lunch time.

We will definitely be going back, for me this is somewhere you can relax with your children without having to worry about the noise or the mess. The food was good and there are things to keep them entertained while you nurse your Sunday hangovers.

A really good idea, just wish it was a bit closer to home, i.e. next door.

Jellybugs & Cafe Nest @ Mothercare

Mothercare, Manchester Fort Shopping Park, Cheetham Hill Road, M8 8EP

I have to admit I am pretty sad and love Manchester Fort. Having recently moved to Salford from South Manchester I stumbled across this gem of a shopping park. It is fab for babies, as in shopping for babies, especially the Mothercare there. It’s all shiny and new and I like things that are shiny and new, probably because at the moment I feel the complete opposite of these things. I feel dull and old.

Cafe Nest is situated upstairs next to the Early Learning Centre, as is Jellybugs, but I will come on to that later. The cafe is bright and airy and the high chairs are something else. It is quite pathetic how excited I now get over bloody high chairs, but really these are something else, apparantly they are made by Stokke, nice if you can afford it. We’ll stick to our standard white Ikea ones thanks.

The Menu is small but decent, note that the tea is shit. Coffee is good though. I like taking the boys to lunch there, a) because its bright and there are lots of lights and a few toys to play with, and b) you can be as messy and loud as you want and no one bats an eye lid. Same goes for the twins too.

twins-eating

They have kids meal deals, the usual sandwich, juice, pomme bears etc. The far end has a blackboard and chalk and some craft tables for older kids. They also provide microwave, bottle warmer etc. (Picture above was taken in Summer, note the bare legs. I am not a mean mum who freezes her babies during winter months. Also note the ever present breadstick. I would say breadsticks but as usual the majority ended up on the floor waiting for me to stand on)

Next to the cafe, is Jellybugs soft play. It’s small but perfectly formed. We have been twice, we went today. The baby bit is tiny, the sign says it fits a maximum of 13 children. I’m not entirely sure what size of childthey are referring to. Maybe a few Borrowers chucked in for good measure. Today, at one time there were 5 kids including my two and that was more than enough. There is a small ball pool, which my two hogged. Sorry everyone else, can’t be helped. They are obsessed with ball pools, they find them hilarious, as in piss funny. Each to their own I suppose. There are a few toys and some soft play favourites but that is that.

manchester_soft_play

It’s not cheap, time is limited to an hour and costs £3 per child. There is a sibling discount of £1. So it cost me £5 for an hours play. Not great value considering there isn’t enough room to swing a cat. However, the twins enjoyed it and the ambiance is fab there. The equipment is new and clean and the lady who worked there was lovely. The space for older children looked better and you can get a decent cup of coffee and watch them play.

luke

Also worth noting there is one toilet with baby change upstairs. If you go back down stairs there are a few toilets at the back of the store near the shoes.

In a nutshell, I have this strange love for Mothercare in Manchester Fort. Please tell me it’s not just me?!

 

 

 

Head over Heels, Chorlton

Head Over Heels, Unit 1A, Albany Trading Estate, Albany Road, M21 0AZ

We probably head to Head over Heels,Chorlton more than any other soft play centre, and that’s saying alot. Mainly due to it’s location and being the only one in that immediate area. It’s located just next to Chorlton tram stop. The car park can get full but there is always Morrison’s next door.

It’s a decent enough soft play centre, again verging on the more expensive due to having to pay for adults and the food is on the pricey side too. It can be a tight squeeze and I tend to leave the buggy in the cafe bit outside for fear of blocking the aisles. It’s also not the easiest in the way of carrying both babies into the toddler area. It’s become alot better now the boys can sit up. I just plonk one down while i open the gate, failing that there is always someone on hand to help out. Biggest downside for me is the sensory room. I have seen pictures and heard that it’s great but to get there you have to climb up the soft play equipment to get into the room which is impossible, and a tad dangerous with two babies/rugby balls under your armpits so we haven’t actually made the ascent.

chorltds

I sound really negative don’t I? It does have many positives too. The toddler section is big but not too big where i can’t keep an eye on the boys. They have some really good equipment and a ball pool and the staff are really nice too. The twins seem to like it there too, which I suppose is the main thing 😉

As mentioned before, the food is pricey but tasty and the menu is extensive. Lots to choose from for adults and children. Be warned though the inside cafe can be tight for double buggys during busy periods.

We went, totally by accident, one morning to the Kwirky Club toddler morning which is on weekdays between 9.30 and 11.30am. There were crafts laid out and we had a dance and a sing song with Big Blue Buddy. He was kind of scary, but the children bloody loved him. It was busy during this time but soon quietened down afterwards.

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Price per 90 min session
0-5 Months FREE
6 – 11 Months £2.55
1 – 2 Years £4.65
3+ (must be under 4ft 9 (1.45m) £5.60
Non Players £1.60
Discounted Extra Time £0.50 per complete 15 minutes
Discounts and Deals
Monday to Friday on School Days only
3 amazing offers in 1
1. No Time Limit
2. Discounted entry for childminders, twin groups, NHS workers, seniors, mums, dads, relatives….everyone, just £4.40 for children ages one and over. Non players only £1.50
3. Complimentary Kwirky Club toddler morning from 9.30 until 11.30 including crafts, toys and sing along with our big, blue buddy Hairy at 11.00

Chorlton Head over Heels isn’t the most twin friendly soft play centre, but don’t be put off. We do fit, but maybe avoid at weekends. The staff are more than happy to help. As are the other parents.

Cholmondeley Castle

Cholmondeley Castle, Malpas, Cheshire, SY14 8AH

Ahhh Cholmondeley Castle I bloody love you. This place was my favourite day out when I was a little girl so it was beyond lovely to take the twins there on Father’s Day this year (with their Dad of course!)

home-slider2-1

The gardens are so magical and pretty and you really feel as though you can go off the beaten track a little and explore to your hearts content. This was quite a selfish visit really, was all for nostalgia purposes but it really is a super day out. The twins will probably appreciate it a bit more when they are older.

Aswell as numerous gardens, my personal favourite being the Temple Garden, there is a playground, little chapel and a farm you can visit.

cholmondeley_castle_57b8be75ba1775809fd31d847a3e175f

They also have a little cafe which has the most amazing home made cakes, but remember to take cash as they don’t accept card payments.

It is quite a drive from Manchester, but well worth the journey. In my opinion it is a hidden gem, but that may be because not many people I know have been. More fool them.

Definitely twin friendly, wide path ways and a changing room big enough for the buggy. We didn’t use high chairs when we went because the boys were too little.

The Gardens are now closed until April 2017 but please visit when they are. You won’t regret it. (I hope!) but note it only opens on Thursdays and Sundays.

Adults £7.00
Children £4.00 (under 5’s free)
Reduction for groups of 25 people or over to £6.00 per person.

Oh and they hold Tough Mudder there, if you’re tough and you like mud.

xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adventure Forest Soft Play Centre

Adventure Forest, Unit 16 Severnside, Textilose Road, Trafford Park, M17 1WA

Brand spanking new soft play centre situated in Trafford Park, a stones throw from the Trafford Centre, Adventure Forest is great.

We go to alot of soft play centres as you will soon find out; but this is one of my personal favourites. It isn’t the cheapest and the food is pricey (but delicious) where other play centres appear dark and dingy; Adventure Forest is bright, light and airy with high ceilings and windows. The equipment is fab too, probably because it is new and hasn’t the wear and tear of other centres.

adventure-forest-play-frame

The toddler sections isn’t enormous so can feel quite full during busier periods,however the twins love it and I am able to keep an eye on them both quite easily. It has a little hidden “cave” which Thomas particularly enjoys. He loves tunnels and being under things. He has even had his dinner under the table once or twice, but that is another topic entirely.

We haven’t been in the older kids section, but it too looks great and they have a go kart section which looks ALOT of fun.

Toddler-Area-Soft-Play.jpg

They do a toddler morning, called Little Bears between 9.30 and 11.30 am. There were craft tables set up and we even had a sing song with Bruno the Bear.

They also hold sessions for children aged between 0 – 11 who have special needs or Autism.

Additional needs sessions – 2nd Wednesday of the month 4pm – 6pm

Autism friendly sessions – last Wednesday of the month 4pm – 6pm

The cafe is amazing. Not the cheapest but the food is so good. We had the cheeseburgers which cost approx £7.50 each (me and my boyfriend that is, the twins mainly threw breadsticks on the floor and spat grapes into their bibs) they were home cooked and just as good as you would find in any gastro pub, if not better.

There is plenty of parking at the front and rear of the building, the buggy fits in fine and there is plenty of room inside to navigate round the tables.

Here is a list of their pricing, busy periods are limited to 2 hours. We have only been in the week, and it hasn’t been too busy. 

Off peak (Unlimited play Mon- Fri term time)

0 – 6 months Free
Discounted price for children aged 7-11 months £2.00
Discounted price for children over 1 £3.95
Adult £1.20
Autism friendly / additional need sessions parents/carers enter for free
Off peak meal deal – Entry with unlimited play, a meal from the children’s menu and a glass of juice £7.50
Off peak offers available for organised groups who bring 5 children or more. Please contact us for further information. Booking is required.

 

Peak (school holidays, bank holidays and weekend)

0 – 6 months Free
7-11 months £2.20
1-2 years £4.30
Over 3 years £5.20
Adult £1.20
Autism friendly / additional need sessions parents/carers enter for free
Peak meal deal- Entry, a meal from the children’s menu and a glass of juice £8.50
Peak offers available for organised groups (eg child minders, holiday clubs, nurseries) who bring 10 children or more. Please contact us for further information. Booking is required.

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