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11th August 2017
By Chloe & Pippa Giles (aged 10)
It was a glorious summers day when we visited Pleasurewood Hills Family Theme Park, situated in Corton, Lowestoft just 10 mins from the seaside town of Great Yarmouth, and features 35 rides and attractions!
It was easy to park when we arrived mid morning, the staff were all really friendly and enthusiastic, we got our wristbands with no problems and headed into the park.
By the time we left the car park was packed, however it never felt busy inside the theme park, and we hardly had to queue for rides. I can only assume that being set within the 52 acre site of enclosed coastal parkland meant we were all very well spaced out around the site.
We encountered a lovely train ride round the site so we could take in everything on offer, and then travelled from one side of the theme park to the other via a chair lift enjoying the most amazing views for miles.
So having taken in a good look at what was on offer from the tallest, fastest and most extreme roller coaster in the East of England to the Timber Falls log flume that soaks you, great for a hot day!
We decided to checkout the brand new ride Rootin Tootin Target Trail ride which has just opened. It is an exciting new interactive family ride, suitable for adults and children of all heights and ages (under 1.1 metre must be accompanied by an adult).
Rootin Tootin Target Trail, an indoor UV dark ride situated on Main Street, is a laser shooting game which has been installed in the park just in time for the high season. The turnaround is incredibly fast for a major family ride, with many parties involved in its creation, including the award winning Studios East, an international theming specialist company based in Great Yarmouth, and Lagatronics BV of the Netherlands, who are electrical interactive specialists and have assisted many major theme parks with installations across the world.
Kate Wood, marketing manager for the park said, “Rootin Tootin Target Trail is an engaging family addition to the park that everyone who visits can enjoy.”
The theme park offers a great day out for family with children of any age range, including Sealions and Parrot shows, a Kiddie Zone for family’s with young children. To extreme rides for the older braver adrenaline thrill ride seekers!
My daughter and her friend are both ten, and were perfect for the height restrictions, so were able to go on the rides they wanted with out any trouble, there favourite being a very very tall waterslide (Wavebreaker) that they flew down in what looked like a rubber dingy, they asked me if they could go on it and I said no problem, I will wait at the end with the camera, thinking they would be coming back down the steep steps they had just encountered to the top. To my amazement they came at high speed and speechless with their breath taken away as direct result of the rush of air due to the speed of the slide, saying they LOVED IT!!! I was still in shock watching! However, this was one of the less extreme rides!
We ate our lunch at Sharky’s Fish and Chip Shop, we just had chips and slushies, about a ten for the three of us, not to bad. They also offered all day coffee for £6 with a FREE mug which my husband would have loved, and lots of places you could sit and enjoy your own picnic if you wanted to bring your own lunch.
A portion of the park does not open until 12 noon, we were only able to stay a few hours, but you could easily spend all day at the Theme Park and still not get round everything, it closes at 17:00, and there is so much to see and do for all ages.
The addition of the new Rootin Tootin Target Trail ride is just the latest investment at the theme park, which will be followed by a brand new indoor children’s play area this autumn.
The park is also planning the re-introduction of the Castle Theatre, being renovated later in the season. The castle will see the long awaited return of a full length feel-good family Christmas show, “Woody’s Christmas Spectacular” featuring the much loved Woody Bear and Friends.
Pleasurewood Hills is open from
Easter - late October and if you book
online via their website you can
take advantage of savings
on ticket prices at www.pleasurewoodhills.com.
Cambridge has a new Climbing Attraction that is simple and safe - but still gives both young and adults that all important adrenaline buzz.
We arrived on a Sunday afternoon to experience 20 unique climbing challenges that twist you around and turn you, raise you up and offer all round indoor excitement.
First, staffer, Jack gave a dozen of us a safety session, some children; some adults. The centre is well staffed with Cambridge students among others providing good cover.
Clip ‘n Climb Cambridge gives you a mental and physical workout via its well thought out and sufficiently varied climbing challenges. They will keep everyone from age 4 upwards to experienced climbers engaged – climbing commando style on a range of features.
These are the Jungle Gym, and higher features like the Skyscraper. You can take the Speed Climbing challenge, light up the board on the Checkerplate, race your friends up Face to Face, plus many more.
For a small extra outlay you can amaze (yourself?) with your daring and sign up to experience two 'extreme' challenges, Stairway to Heaven and the Vertical Drop Slide. I tried both but the Stairway was awesome as, with the reassuring presence of full safety back up, you could step around on essentially thick topped poles 15 feet above the ground. It feels amazing and that was definitely my highlight.
It's brilliant for confronting any fear of heights.
No climbing experience is necessary and full training is given. All equipment is provided: automatic belay devices take in the slack as you climb and then lower you gently to the ground. Our daughter Pippa, 9, did well trying as many climbs as possible and really enjoyed herself.
The centre was fully booked when we visited and in fact booking in advance is required.
There are limited parking spaces onsite but there is a public car park at Cambridge Leisure just round the corner.
Finally, Clip ‘n Climb serve great coffee in the café! I had a nice strong latte. It was sublime, and Pippa liked the blue/pink slushy, and said “this is the best feature I have done”, and she has done many!
Unit 34 Clifton Road Industrial Estate, Cambridge, CB1 7EB
Telephone: 01223 941 700
By Henry Giles
By Henry Giles
We were on the outskirts of Soham in Cambridgeshire to visit South Angle Farm Park in the peaceful Fen hinterland towards Wicken.
David, who runs the site with his wife Leona - herself a qualified zoologist - is clearly not only highly knowledgeable, but loves his eclectic residents and was quick to show them to us. A teacher by training, David lost no time handing a very adorable small bunny called Lady to Pippa, 9. This set the trend for a tour of his menagerie one by one and I for one had soon experienced a number of firsts.
Hold a tarantula: tick.
Hold an American grass snake: tick.
Have a chinchilla called Ben nestle on my left shoulder? Well okay I hadn't reckoned on that but this seriously cute and extraordinarily soft animal was welcome and Pippa thought so too.
Also on the bucket list you never knew you had was a close encounter with a blue - tongued skink. It had lovely cool smooth plates or scales on its belly and looked like a short, fat snake. Oh and a (very) blue tongue, of course. A bit like it had been sucking a leaky biro.
The Farm has been up and running for three years and is well set up to cater for schools, Brownies, and David even takes animals on tour, to meet the residents of local care homes. Another initiative they participate in is Lion Learners where they will travel across the east of England and further to bring their 'fluffy animals, reptiles and minibeasts' to your own educational event or party.
It's important to emphasise what a lovely spot Farm Park occupies, with walkways, wooded copses and great touches of humour like a giant 30ft long snake made from plastic plant pots.
Larger animals outside include goats, horses, pigs, alpacas and loads of rabbits and guinea pigs.
And another attraction is you can basically book the place for your school class or party, enjoying this secluded haven and enjoying cafe facilities housed in wooden outdoor buildings.
Public summer events this summer/autumn include Fairytale week, August 15-19; Carnival week, Aug 22-26; Halloween, October 24-28 & Christmas events in December.
Sadly Pippa missed the chance to complete her Big 5 safari haul of African animals to get a prize at the shop on the way out. But it was a good excuse to come again!
South Angle Farm Park
Angle Common, Cambs CB7 5HX
Tel: 01353 720932
By Melayna Wilder
By Melayna Wilder
Based in Hertfordshire this is a super day out. Day entry into Ventura Wildlife's Zoological Gardens is a reasonable £22 for a family of two adults and two children.
It is beautifully set out, with bark enclosures for the animals. Lovely bamboo plants are a feature and everything looks shiny and NEW!
The zebra and donkey were adorable, and the ever-popular activity of face painting was on offer, among other pastimes, for the children.
It was a truly enjoyable day for me, my husband, our two-year-old son, and our four-week-old baby.
Van Hage, Amwell Hill,
Were Going To The Zoo, Zoo, Zoo
Were Going To The Zoo, Zoo, Zoo
Well now they are eight, and my daughter had won free tickets to Colchester Zoo in the school raffle, so off we headed for the most fabulous day out!
We fed Elephants, Parrots, went in with Butterflies and Wallabies!
We saw Giraffes, Hippos, Meerkats, Lions, and Pink Flamingo’s from the land train!
We also watched the Sealion display!
Later we ate a super lunch at the wrap bar!
Colchester Zoo was a fantastic day out, and well worth a visit.
I would rate this 10 out of 10!
Fishing with my daughter
By Henry Giles
By Henry Giles
The last time I had fished Grafham I had been fishing alongside Sandy Leventon, for many years the editor of Trout and Salmon magazine and we had each caught some trout off the dam wall. Most important, we had enjoyed doing so together. Now, five years later I was back with my eight-year-old daughter Pippa and we were here on an ‘experience day’ visit to the famous Midlands reservoir, just off the A1 about 20 miles from Cambridge.
Pippa had first waved one of my trout fly-rods around at the age of two and I always felt she had what it took! This time, armed with a catch-and-release trout ticket (if you catch any fish, and I may as well break it to you: we didn’t on this occasion), you have to put them back. The other paperwork you need is an Environment Agency rod licence and we were able to buy a special tester licence just for the day, priced a reasonable £3.75.
It was hot, but by the time we got to the water it was 4.15pm and we were soon fishing from the bank at Gayne’s Cove, and following the walkway down to the dam. Pippa was able to flick the fly out and we also tried a bit of ‘Dad casting, Pippa retrieving’ which worked well as far as it went.
Mum turned up with puppy Lucky who would have enjoyed the day more had he not been suffering from a stomach bug! He was well enough to pose for a nice photo, however.
Sadly the dam wall behind us prevented a good ‘back-cast’, certainly an easy one, and I’d be lying if I said Pippa wasn’t a little frustrated that she had to wait while I cast but at least she then was able to try out her form of ‘sit-down fishing’, sitting on the slope of the dam as she retrieved the fly-line.
As if on cue fish started to show (Mum and Pippa saw them first) but all of them beyond our range. At least they were feeding which was encouraging.
But sadly, although an angler further down the dam caught a nice 3lb silver rainbow trout, we were unlucky on this occasion.
We are going again in August, however, and will try then.
Fly-fishing is recommended, but make sure you ask for some help at the fishing lodge and show that you mean it as the fishing world can seem a bit closed to the ‘casual visitor’ so it is hopefully worth persisting.
Grafham Water is run by Anglian Water.
Grafham Water Fishing Lodge
Telephone: 01480 810531
Lee Valley Boat Centre
A Day Out For All The Family
By Mel Wilder
A Day Out For All The Family
By Mel Wilder
We drove and the parking was excellent, and with handicap access. However, Lee Valley Boat Centre is situated within the picturesque River Lee Country Park, also very close to Broxbourne train station.
You can hire a range of boats at very reasonable prices, from a pedalo, rowing boat, to a five seater electric pleasure craft that we travelled the river in. Lifejackets are provided for infants to adults.
They offer a dinner cruise in a covered boat, but all the other boats would appreciate fair/warmer weather as all boats had open tops.
There were lots of ducks expecting treats along the way and the shop had some cute little duck food boxes for sale! We unfortunately passed on buying some so Cameron had to share some of his treats.
They have some very appealing May Public Passenger Boat Cruises coming up, you can give them a call on 01992 462 085 to book on.
Monday 4th Bank Holiday Cream Tea Cruise. (15:00). (Availability).
Sunday 17th Sunday Lunch. (12:30). (Availability)
Monday 25th Bank Holiday Cream Tea Cruise. (15:00). (Availability).
Friday 29th Fish & Chips Evening Cruise. (19:30). (Availability).
If you haven’t been to Lee Valley Boat Centre before, it’s a super attraction, suitable for all ages. There's plenty to see and do. I'd go again, though a bit hard with a fussy baby.
The paddle boats looked fun - if you have extra energy!
And they are directly across the river from a fantastic looking pub with excellent food!
EOE always advise just checking opening times and prices, as there is nothing worse than having disappointed kids!
Old Nazeing Road
Telephone: 01992 462 085
Visit Lee Valley Boat Centre's website
By Emily Butters
By Emily Butters
Segway’s are extremely Ecofriendly and have zero emissions, running up to 24 miles on 14p of electricity! I went to SegRally Norfolk and my experience was for 1 hour and 20 minutes (this was the summer rate if you book in the winter it is just for an hour) and if I’m honest, I didn’t think that would be enough to get to grips with it all and still have time to enjoy the experience.
I can hold my hands up now and admit how wrong I was!
We started off by signing a disclosure and filling in our emergency contact details(!) and were then told about the experience that was about to take place. All the fun stuff that we could do and the not quite so fun stuff that we would be penalised for.
We were even told that the previous week someone dislocated their knee by being stuck in a machine. Nothing like striking fear into us before we even started! Everything mentioned was fair and was there to keep ussafe. Once the talk was over, we were handed our protective gear. You get a helmet, backprotector, elbow pads and knee pads.
Then the fun bit – the machines were brought round!
When you get on a Segway, you have to get on dead in the middle of the machine. Not too far to the front otherwise you zoom forwards and not too far to the back otherwise you shoot in reverse. You climb up and get your balance.
The automatic thing to do on a Segway (always to the amusement on the on lookers) is to try and balance yourself. This is not needed and actually makes it harder to balance. You have to trust in the machine and it does the balancing for you. If you do try and balance when the machine is trying to work, you proceed to rock constantly on the spot trying to counteract each other.
Feet down now, and on to hands! The Segway machine is very sensitive. If you so wished you could steer with your little finger all the way round – although I wouldn’t advise this. The handlebars are a little bit like a bikes but with these you have to steer side to side to turn.
Before you are let loose on the track you are guided through all of the above by an instructor, and then get to practice on weaving through some cones up and down.
Once the instructor believes you are safe, you queue up ready to start the rally! Now the rules are simple for this – no overtaking, watch the tree stumps and do not come within 3 meters of the next person.
The course is basically in a forest so you have to navigate uneven surfaces, boggy land and hills. All a little different to the Segway you see in the city! You are allowed to do 10 laps around thecourse and then your times up. Although the course isn’t tiny, I believe that my group of 7 people was a few too many on the course as you had to keep slowing down to keep your distance round it as we simply didn’t all fit going at a decent speed throughout. I don’t believe this detracted from the fun but did make you a lot more aware of your surroundings.
Once you have completed your laps you get a certificate and are required to pose for a picture taken by one of the instructors and then you are allowed to order either a magnet or a keychain. These are then sent in the post to you later on that week. They are a nice little keepsake to remember the day well.
Taking in to account the whole day – would I recommend this experience to other people?
Yes there are risks to giving it a go, but if you respect the machine and your surroundings there doesn’t pose any real danger to the rider.
It’s a strange experience trusting in a machine as much as you need to do with this but i’ve never experienced a feeling quite like it. It’s given me the hovering bug and look forward to trying Segway in another location!
Book YOUR Segway experience on EOE's Gift Experience page HERE!
Have you ever wondered how Robin Hood felt?
By Henry Giles
By Henry Giles
Whether your interest is clay pigeon shooting, quad biking, fly fishing, air rifles, going as a group of friends or on a corporate day or as a stag or hen party, East Anglian Activities offers an enjoyable outdoor set-up on a variety of locations in the region.
Our chosen day was near Bury St Edmunds and the sport was archery. The day had been given as a birthday present for a friend and we all set off sharing a car to get to the site which is near Army bases in the area. On arrival there was a pleasant reception area in one of the barns with coffee on tap, which was a good start.
Admittedly there was a slight set-back in that although we were bang on time for our slot, there was a wait of 30 minutes or so for our instructor to turn out to take us a short walk to the range.
The tuition was good, clear and we lined up in groups of five to shoot at the targets. All adults except for two young lads who set up nearer the targets.
The session, to a backdrop of clay-shooting in the field behind us, was enjoyable, if somewhat brief, and I'd recommend it as a good way to enjoy the countryside and try something different. We lined up and released three arrows each. Some missed the higher scoring circles, one or two early ones flew past the targets into the bank behind (actually the dam wall for the fly fishing lake there), some bounced out, which doesn't count, and let's just say one or two hit the bullseye, one of those undeniable Yay! moments.
All in all an enjoyable afternoon, full details and prices on the website but a range of packages include archery and clays combo, adventure voucher Suffolk for four people and even what is described as glamping - a two night stay in a luxury forest pod.
Treasure Hunt At Ickworth HouseBy Henry Giles
(Go to www.geocaching.com and download it free) and a pocket full of small toys, gifts and trinkets for swapping. "As Jo also says, this is a good activity for families and the geocaching element certainly is completely free.
And while we were unsuccessful here, probably because of renovation work on the church which stopped us access to the crucial log under which we hoped to find the geocache (well that's my theory and I'm sticking to it!), this served merely as the prelude to Chloe's excellent work in finding the location of our geocache and the photos here illustrate what you can expect: