by, 08-27-2009 at 03:38 PM (952 Views)
Hey, I've customised my blog! Hope you like it!!!
So, I'm taking 2 weeks well earned leave from work. Since my husband was made redundant a few years ago, and we decided that he would become a house husband (and freelance web developer on the side), we've not been able to afford to go away for a holiday, but this is no problem because there's bags and bags of fun, free things to do nearby and it's a great opportunity for us to actually do them. Sadly, this week my hubby has had to work but as he spends most of his time with the kids it's been a great opportunity for me to spend some quality, fun time with them. I'm hoping that next week he can join us in our activities.
So far this week we've taken a couple of trips. The first was to the Royal Armouries in Leeds, details here if you're interested: http://www.royalarmouries.org/visit-us/leeds
The Royal Armouries is a really fun day out, even better for being free (as are most of the museums in UK). It's sited in a really modern building, on several floors all of which are accessible via one central 'Tower of Steel', being a circular stairwell decorated with armour, swords, axes, pikes and the like. Certainly a chilling introduction. There are many permanent exhibits including a poinant war exhibit, tournaments, the history of hunting, oriental armoury (think samurai!), and a special exhibit about the Tower of London which terrified my children!!!
The best part of the Royal Armouries are the regular 'interpretations' - live action features including re-enactments of sword fighting, getting up close and personal with some of the exhibits (guns, which my nine year old son was scarily well informed about!), jousting, falconry and a special talk by poor old Ann Boleyn. I especially enjoyed the falconry - having now discovered the meaning of the phrase to 'cadge a lift' (a 'cadge' being the glove used by falconers), my daughter loved the menagerie, where she could get a closer look at the horses and the birds:
and my son loved the crossbow gallery, and the chance to have a shot himself (I'll make an archer of him yet!!). Some of the enactments carried a small charge (falconry and jousting) but the vast majority of the activities are totally free. If you're ever in the area I'd recommend it as a great day out, there's something for everyone and the exhibits alone could keep you occupied for hours. I'm hoping it was a good taster for the Tower of London, which we're hoping to visit next year when my daughter will be better able to cope with the long, busy days involved in a London trip.
But today was the best day! Today we went to Rivington, which is about a 15 minute drive from home. Rivington is a lovely place; I love getting up close and personal with the great outdoors, and if you're an outdoorsy type of person Rivington has definitely got something for you.
Rivington is best known for Rivington Pike. Situated on the highest point of the West Pennine Moors, the Pike was part of the old beacon network - buildings placed at regular intervals across the country in which fires could be lit which would be visible at the next beacon site and the next, sending a message across the country (those who are familiar with Lord of the Rings will know what a beacon network is!). The Pike was known to have been lit as long ago as when the Spanish Armada approached England's coast, and as recently as the end of the Great War.
Well, of course if you're going to Rivington you absolutely have to climb up to the Pike, whether there are 5 year olds present or otherwise!! If you can see the picture above clearly enough you might be able to see my two kiddie leaping up the stairs like mountain goats!!! Needless to say the view from the summit is excellent; although you can't see it in the photos we could see Blackpool Tower today, which is something like 50 miles away!
of course, there are also the obligatory clouds:
As well as the Pike, Rivington has excellent gardens though you do need to be fairly sturdy on the pins before attempting a stroll around the park. There are plenty of steps, rocky screes, tumbledown buildings, woods, trails and waterfalls. It's a popular place for mountain bikers and riders, as well as walkers.
Not forgetting the spooky old buildings...
My kids made up some great stories around that building including a wicked old witch and her evil trolls, lazer eyed robots and poison-web shooting spiders!
As well as the hills there's also a reservoir at Rivington which is accessible via the recently built 'Go Ape'. For those not familiar with Go Ape, this is an aerial assault course - great fun but not for the weak hearted or those afraid of heights!! My husband and I had a go at the Go Ape at Grizedale Forest in the Lake District a couple of years ago. You can read about it here: http://www.goape.co.uk/
Next year my son will be old enough to try out Go Ape at Rivington. I can;t wait to take him. But today we had to content ourselves with getting him to climb his first tree (needless to say, Mum had to go first!)
We also had great fun skimming stones on the reservoir, and both the kids had a go and, better still, succeeded!
All in all we walked, climbed, wobbled, slipped, skimmed and skidded for a hearty 4 hours, travelling a distance of around 6 miles. A fantastic day out, completely free of charge...well, except for the well earned ice-creams from the Great Barn before slumping back to the car and home to a nice cup of tea.
Next week, the beach (hopefully) and the zoo....