Posts Tagged ‘Dorset’

Weymouth Sea Life and the Jurassic Skyline  

22 December, 2016

During our holiday back in September we went to visit the Weymouth Sea Life centre in Dorset. The first thing that shocked me as I was researching what to do on holiday was how expensive the tickets were, especially as the price for my 3 year old was the same as for an adult! Luckily there seems to be a few offers around if you look for them, and I found one that got us in for about half the price and included tickets to go on the Jurassic skyline tower too.  Then another blow as I realised you had to pay for parking on top of the entrance fee.

Our final sucker punch of the experience we didn’t find out until the day itself.  We had booked over the phone and the person I spoke to asked what entrance time we would like as apparently you have to book in half hour slots – I guess so they can control the flow of people entering.  So we had chosen 10am thinking we wanted to make the most of the day given the price, and according to both the person on the phone and their website that was the earliest opening time.  On the day we arrived for 10am, and after a short struggle with paying the car parking fees over the phone as we didn’t have enough change, we headed for the door… to find a gathering group of rather annoyed looking people.  It turns out they weren’t opening until 11am that day! So both their own website and the person we spoke to on the phone (who had insisted we pick a time) had got the opening times wrong.  Which meant we had an hour to kill hanging around, and had paid for an hours more parking than we need to have.  Needless to say we didn’t start the day in as good a mood as we could have!

Luckily the day we went the weather was good, which meant we could make the most of the different parts of the park, and our spirits picked up.  The sea life park itself was one of the larger ones I had been to and Isaac enjoyed some of the interactive elements – such as the small waterfall which gushed over the path in the rockpools area.  The park was laid out with a number of different buildings which meant that had the weather not been great you could still have enjoyed a lot of the park, but to get your money’s worth you really need to go on a dry day.

dorset6One building housed what was known as the New Ideas Zone where they had around 4 different interactive exhibits. The purpose being to see what went down well with the public that they might adopt in other parks.  One area of this had lots of different pools and cameras on long leads attached to big TV screens so that you could explore the different pools. Isaac loved this so it was the one we voted was a good idea!

Going in September meant the area with the children’s rides had closed as it was out of season (although the price was still the same!) but luckily we caught the last day of the Splash Pools being open. Another big hit with Isaac as he spent ages running in and out of water jets and going down the slide – despite it feeling freezing to us!

dorset15After some lunch in the restaurant we headed to the Skyline Tower.  It’s about a half hour walk from the sea life centre – there is a little train, but you have to pay extra so we decided to walk there and catch the train back when we were tired.  Sadly however, the train stops running about mid afternoon so we ended up walking back too!  The ride in the tower is about 15 minutes, and it was nice to fly up and see the coastline, although I don’t know that I would be bothered to go had it not been included in our tickets.

Overall, we did have a really lovely day and I would go again, but it is a shame that a few small things could have made our experience even better.  Definitely do a search for offers and double check what is open when and what is included before you go though!

The Dinosaur Museum in Dorchester

23 November, 2016

So the flyers said it was an award winning museum… and it certainly sounded cool, boasting life-sized reconstructions and hands-on displays.  So as we were looking for something a little more sedate, and trying to avoid the swimming pool and play areas following Isaac’s 24 hour sick bug we thought we’d give it a try.

dorset59As we drove up I could see a dinosaur outside – and yes it was large – but something in my head was making me wonder whether these “awards” were a bit like Rhod Gilbert’s Award Winning Mince Pie. (Which if you haven’t seen I highly recommend!)  It may have been that the building looked smaller than my house and the dinosaur outside was just literally that in a little fenced off courtyard by the building.  But we carried on in.

Inside, we paid up for the three of us – £22. We were handed a sheet of paper and pencil for Isaac, along with a magnifying glass.  It turned out that hidden through the museum there were a number of “clues” (letters) which spelt out something. On completion of the treasure hunt you got a prize.

Inside the museum was made up of about 5 rooms on two floors – rooms about the size of those in a normal house. Three of them were packed with all sorts of displays – from life size dinosaurs to fossils. One room had a large TV screen showing some short documentary. And then final room was a sort of kids interaction room – e.g. it had a number of boxes you could put your hand in to guess what was inside, or a couple of things where you had to guess whether a dinosaur would feel like this or that.

dorset63Overall we were there a lot longer than I expected given how small it was – but mainly because Isaac thought it was insanely funny to keep squeezing the horn inside one of the boxes. We sort of tried to encourage him to find the clues, but he wasn’t really interested.  Our “prize” at the end was a cheap plastic medal.

I can see they had tried to put on interactive displays, and there was a couple of iPads dotted around to make it look like it hadn’t all been there since prehistoric times, but overall I felt it was possibly more suited to school visits.  Paying £6 for Isaac, at just 3 years old, felt too much as he really was too young to appreciate most of it.  I think they should have made it free for under 5s.

Warmwell

19 September, 2016

dorset5Spent a lovely week (well bar 24 hours of Isaac puking in a cafe, McDonalds and his bed in the middle of the night!) staying in a lodge at Warmwell in Dorset. Our lodge was one of the further ones from the centre of the camp which made it quiet, although to be fair the camp never felt crowded at any point. We hit it lucky with the weather for the week too.

The park had lots to keep Isaac entertained, including free toddler sessions, a big pool with wave machine and flume, a giant soft play centre with bouncy castle/obstacle course, outdoor play areas and a ski slope… although one of his favourite pass times was stealing money from Daddy to play the Whack a Minion game in the arcade!
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We spent most days going out and about exploring, rather than staying on site, but it was nice to have plenty to keep Isaac entertained where we were at base camp.  He absolutely loved the swiss bob sledges and the staff at the ski centre were friendly and didn’t clock watch so we certainly got our money’s worth too. It’s a shame that things on site opened or started quite late (usually about 10am) so it meant if you wanted to do those it was difficult to do as well as going out somewhere.

Overall a lovely place to stay, with plenty to do in the area. Some of the entertainment was a little cheesy, but you could avoid that if you wished.  The food in the restaurant was good and reasonably priced – we wanted to try the fish and chip shop too but that seemed to close quite early and we missed it the night we fancied going.  The shop opening hours were also quite short, compared to I guess what seems the norm everywhere now – there was a Coop a short drive away, but I’d recommend getting your shopping in early to save the need for any evening drives.

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Upton Country Park – a hidden gem!

15 September, 2016

dorset18On Thursday through some magic googling I had managed to find mention of a “Nature Tots” event which sounded good.  It was running at Upton Country Park near Poole.  The park is free to get into, and parking is free, although there is a box for donations.  The Nature Tots event was £3 and turned out to be great!

We started off on a Butterfly hunt – they had hidden photographs of butterflies all the way through the park and gave each child a scavenger hunt sheet so they could tick off each one they found.  Then we headed back to the hut for some craft fun – creating butterflies – before heading out again on a real bug hunt with our magnifying glasses.  The whole session was about 2 hours long and Isaac absolutely loved it.  Isaac got given an RSPB badge at the end – it was their first ever session, of what I think now runs weekly – shame we don’t live closer!

dorset29After the Nature Tots we went for lunch in the café.  They unfortunately didn’t seem to have any kind of children’s menu, but we asked if they would do a child size portion. Someone disappeared off to ask, and came back and said they could do something for us which was nice, but shame they didn’t have something as standard as it might put many people off eating with kids.

After lunch Isaac enjoyed splashing around in the Walled Garden Splash Fountain, and climbing on the wooden play trail.

The park was really lovely, and a real hidden gem. Everything was nicely integrated in the park, feeling natural and yet fun for all ages.  We had a whole day’s entertainment for not much money and we could easily have spent more time there.


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