Family day out: Oxford University Museum of Natural History

I wonder why we don’t explore what’s on our doorstep? For years I lived in Oxford, but it took more than a decade after I left to visit the Pitt Rivers museum, and another 18 months to make it to the city’s natural history museum.

The Oxford University Museum of Natural History, to give it its full name, was definitely worth the trip up the M40 though. Free to enter (always a bonus), it’s easy for kids to get up close to the exhibits and touching is actively encouraged where possible.

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And there’s so much to see, even for short attention spans (toddlers, I mean you) in this ‘cathedral to science’ with its endless cabinets and displays under the huge soaring roof. Continue reading

Shaun the Sheep at Kew Gardens

We’re going on a sheep hunt might not have quite the same ring as bears, but for a toddler who’s still a fan of Timmy Time, the Easter Shaun the Sheep events at Kew Gardens were probably the most exciting suggestion I’ve made for weeks.

The sun was shining, and after negotiating the horrors of parking during the school holidays, we finally made it in.

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We were running later than I’d planned (not least thanks to driving round in circles trying to find a space) so we didn’t get chance to explore everything, but Shaun’s Madcap Meadow, a couple of stamps on the Spring trail and space hoppers disguised as sheep wasn’t bad in a short visit.

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Family days out over Easter

My home is currently a bunny-free, chocolate egg-free zone. But it’s not total disorgansation – with the Easter holidays about to start, I do have quite a few ideas for days out.

I’ve picked my top 10 for a piece in the Independent today, mixing castles, white rabbits, historic traditions, exploding eggs, vikings and death by chocolate, but if you’d like some extra inspiration, I’ve rounded up a few more fantastic days out for families over Easter.

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If you need something else to get you in the Easter mood, the National Trust is hiding 21.5 tonnes of Easter eggs (currently temporarily stashed in anything from a grandfather clock to a vase and piano) for their trails across the country. Continue reading

Exploring Harcourt Arboretum, Oxford

After months of freezing weather (it seems), I can’t wait to get outside and make the most of a bit of sunshine and blue skies. So even though we were a bit ahead of the Spring flowers, our day trip to Oxford was the perfect time to have a walk around Harcourt Arboretum.

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Part of the Botanic Gardens, there are 130 acres to explore (we didn’t quite get that far) including some of the UK’s oldest redwoods, rhodedendrons, wildflower meadows and beautiful bluebells which should be flowering soon.

Even with one path closed due to some waterlogging, there were daffodils and snowdrops to see, peacocks roaming and shrieking away, and enough sticks to keep a toddler happy. Continue reading

Family day out: Vlog – the London Wetlands Centre

Spring is just about springing, and I’m loving being able to get outdoors more without freezing – so it was the perfect timing for a friend of mine to have a spare ticket to the London Wetland Centre in Barnes thanks to a Living Social deal.

Minnie and I have been twice before – last January when she was newly walking then last summer for a very different family day out. This time, the weather might have been mixed but she was raring to explore and the otters were as cute as ever.

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And this time, I’ve captured it on video for my second MummyTravels vlog – check out my YouTube channel for all the latest vlogs. Continue reading