Sunday, 30 July 2017

Great Yarmouth Heritage Walk

We recently went along to a Great Yarmouth Heritage Walk to hear all about the Glorious Memories of Great Yarmouth's Golden Mile.

This guided walk commenced at Wellington Pier and took us on a 1.5hr walk, taking in the sights as we made our way down to Britannia Pier. 

Our guide, Len (a very informative character who definitely kept us on our toes as he lead us along the walk) met us at the entrance of Wellington Pier, equipped with his notes and old photos and postcards which we could use to compare the sights from today and yesteryear.

Taking place regularly from April to October, Heritage Guided Walks, led by an official Great Yarmouth heritage guide, are one of the most interesting ways of discovering more about the area. and is very reasonably priced at £4 per adult and £1.50 per child (under 7's go free!) There are several other walks available (11 in total I believe) throughout the town and borough, details of these can be found here.

As we followed Len, he told us snippets of information about the town and seafront. He would stop at places of interest and chronicle the history of particular buildings or famous habitants. 

We encompassed the Winter Gardens, once a beautiful and thriving social arena, today it is a sorry sight crying out for restoration. 

Across the road, the grand Carlton Hotel, built by Charles John Palmer, a local man and previous Mayor of the town. His business was also responsible to the building of many of Great Yarmouth seafronts iconic buildings - The Assembly Halls and Wellington Pier being part of this.

As we made our way along to front we heard the theatrical history of the Windmill and what transformations the building had gone through over the years. Chris and I shared memories of our childhood at the Windmill when it housed "Wally's Windmill" a fantastic multi level play area.

Now the building houses a crazy golf, but many of its original beautiful features can still be seen.

We detoured from the immediate Marine Parade and along to The Hippodrome Circus. We love this place and always try to catch the seasonal shows. 

We spent some time here hearing about the original circus owner, George Gilbert and his passion for the production. Built in 1903 the Hippodrome Circus once overlooked the beach, however nowadays an amusement arcade has been squeezed in front where the gardens once sat.

We rejoined the seafront on the next road and crossed back to the beach side, here we heard about the old skating ring where the Marina Centre now stands and stood back to take a look at what was originally Goode's Hotel, a very grade red brick building which drew the crowds to visit the healing powers of the sea!

Nowadays the building houses another amusement arcade and upstairs a bar (which I believe is now closed?
Time for a walk up the Jetty, the original wooden jetty was pulled down in 2012 as it was deemed too costly to repair, instead a concrete walkway now stands in its place, a poor monument to the landing place of Lord Nelson following battle in 1801.

Whilst we were on the jetty Len told us tales of some of the maritime history of the town: the navy, the sea merchants, sea disasters and some of our local sea life - squint off into the distance and you can make out Scroby Sands with its seal inhabitants.
We continued our final stretch to Britannia Pier, which we strolled along taking in the views. 

Along on the walk with us were two holiday makers, they expressed their surprise at how neither of the piers actually reach the water. This is a fairly recent change, I recall working on the pier 20 years ago and the sea was certainly under the pier then, so far up that the theatre sat above the sea.

As we reached the theatre, we were told how the previous theatre destroyed by fire in 1958. Len told us how he had been part of the building firm that put up the theatre that stands here today, it is in fact the fourth theatre that has stood on the pier.

Here we finished our walk. Chris and I had thoroughly enjoyed it, the girls had started of well but began to get restless in the last 20 minutes. Chris actually admitted later that he had not been looking forward to it at all and had considered trying to get out of it but was so glad he had gone and he is now looking into dates to book onto our next Heritage Walk - the Quayside and Seaside at Gorleston-on-sea! He can't wait!

I would highly recommend the walks to people who are interested in delving into the towns history. 
The Greater Yarmouth area has some fantastic history and architecture to admire, and some colourful stories of local characters to go with it. It did prove to be a real eye opener though into how the town has changed over the years.

Make sure you check out the website for details about the Heritage Walks and to find out what else is available in Great Yarmouth or find them on Facebook.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Phoenix Pool Party

Fancy something different for your child's birthday party? 

Our girls have both enjoyed pool parties in the past and were recently invited to one for their friend.
The party was held at the Phoenix Pool in Bradwell. The pool has been there since the 1970's but in September 2016 it reopened after a £1.9m makeover.

The Phoenix has its own free car park with ample space for visitors.
It is open daily but swim times and party booking availability varies, so check out their website to find out full information.

Upon arrival to the party, the children gathered in the foyer before a member of staff then directed them to the changing rooms, these are family changing facilities, with lockable changing units and two large changing areas which are generally used for groups. There are plenty of lockers and clean shower facilities.

Once everyone was changed we were taken through to poolside, the pool party bookings give you exclusive use of the pool for 1 hour, plus an hour in one of the function rooms for food and cake (these are not included in booking.)

The pool was set up with a large inflatable crocodile for the guests to climb on and slide off, there were also balls and floats of various types - some big enough to sit on.

The party mum took some extra inflatable balls and foam water squirters too.

The pool looked lovely and tranquil - just right for 30 children and adults to jump in!

Whilst the party was running there was pop music played and the lifeguards interacted with the kids, splashing water over them and trying to wobble the inflatable to make them slip from the top. 

There were 3 lifeguards who stayed poolside throughout, plus another one who came in intermittently, I must say it did feel nice and safe.

After the party, everyone changed and we were taken upstairs to a function room, this is obviously used for a fitness class at times too as the equipment was stored around the edges. The room was very large though and the children had plenty of space to run about, sit and have their party food and drink.

It was a fun party and nice to do something a little different, especially as the girls are getting a bit older.
For more information visit the Phoenix Pool website or find them on Facebook.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Emily went to Fairy School at Terra Natura.

Terra Natura Animal Park is situated near Benidorm in the Costa Blanca, Spain. 
We recently visited and whilst we were there Emily spotted an intriguing little building, adorned in pink, purple and sparkles! At first it was the cute bike she wanted to see but then she spotted the Fairy School information!

We ventured inside and were cheerfully greeted by Miss Fairy and her helper. 
We soon found out that a session costs 8 Euro and includes:
Fairy make over
Dress Up
Photo shoot
1 x large Photo

Although Miss Fairy was quick to give the information over, there was no hard sell, she welcomed several people in during our session just to browse and play, with a cheery goodbye when they left.
We were informed that the session would last 30-45 minutes (this ended up being approximately an hour to an hour and a quarter.)

The room was split into different zones:


Make Up


Play and Photo Area

After Emily had selected her costume and changed behind the privacy screen she had a pampering session where her Fairy Make Up was applied. They use Snazaroo face paints which I know Emily is ok with.

Next it was time to accessorise! No less is more when it comes to adorning a fairy in this place.

Once this was done, Emily got to explore the Fairy play and photo area, using props - wands, stuffed animals and dance ribbons (she loved these!)

I managed to snap a few poses whilst we waited for the photographer to arrive (she took about 10 minutes once Emily was ready.)

Once the photographer had set up we were asked to stay behind the barrier, we could watch but this obviously made it a bit harder to get photos, this way they get to sell you extra haha.
Emily seemed to thoroughly enjoy being a little model, and took it all in. 
The photographer certainly put in a lot of energy into making Emily feel special.

Lastly it was time to change and we were given a ticket to go and view our photos (near the park exit.) We paid the photographer directly, I only had a 10 Euro note and she had no change but she put a note on the ticket and sure enough our change was given to us when we went for the photos.

There were so many lovely photos to choose from, we were able to choose one in a 20cm x 15cm print which was included in the price.
We then chose another print which cost 7 Euros.

They photos are high quality and were edged in a pretty boarder.

Such a cute experience and fantastic value for money in my opinion. 
They had costume ranging from baby sizes through to 11/12 years and both in girl and boy styles - you might perhaps have a little elf! 
There were also some animal costumes if you perhaps wanted to be a woodland animal and I did spot a stunning, colourful Bird of Paradise which would have fitted Mollie but she didn't want to join in.

I'd say the ideal age for this would be 4-9 year olds, old enough to get involved but young enough to enjoy it without feeling self concious.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Dinky Town - Oulton Broad Lowestoft.

We recently sent our little friend Issac to Dinky Town in Oulton Broad. Dinky Town is a fun indoor play area, not your usual soft play but an area where your child can explore, play and learn using their imagination.

Situated on Bridge Road, Oulton Broad, with onsite pay and display car parking (£1 per hour), this play centre is easily accessible and convenient. Parking is also available at Nicholas Everitt park, about 5-10 minutes walk away.

They are open daily, however during the summer they open Tuesday - Saturday. Full details of times and prices can be found on their website.

Dinky Town is split into 8 areas for tots to enjoy:

From pushing their own trolleys in the supermarket and using the check out, children love working the till and filling their shopping bags.

Whipping up some delicious snacks in the Dinky Town Diner! The working toaster and microwave here is a big hit with little ones.

On the day Issac visited with his Mummy and Daddy it was pretty quiet, but even on busier days the play centre is so spacious that children have plenty of space to play happily. 

Issac really enjoyed dressing up and driving the fire engine, there were also several ride on toys which children could drive around the "road" and a zebra crossing to let those passing cross safely.

Feeling "poorly?" then don't worry Dr Issac is available to see patients! He had great fun using the computer and putting his patients on the examination bed.

Budding builders can also dress up in the high-viz jackets and use the tools to build walls in the construction zone! 

As you can see from the photos, the play equipment is high quality and everything was spotless, the staff worked tirelessly to maintain their high standards.

For the parents there is plenty of play side seating so you can relax and keep an eye on your little ones as they explore. Refreshments where you could purchase hot and cold drinks, plus cakes, biscuits and ice-cream, all reasonably priced.

There is an area set aside for breast-feeding mums and for the small children to play safely whilst the older children play, this contained toys suitable for non-walking babies.

The toilet was clean and tidy, baby changing unit was clean and well organised with nappy sacks and wipes available. They also had a step for younger children to use too.

Issac's Mummy said "Issac really enjoyed the supermarket and putting items through the tills. The flexibility to move between the zones was lovely. He could play very happily for the 90 minute session. He was safe to play in the zones whilst we enjoyed a drink. We had great fun playing altogether. The staff were very friendly and helpful. They were on hand to make sure we were all happy. Definitely be going back"

To find out more information then visit Dinky Town's website or find them on Facebook where you will find updates and special offers.