Tuesday 24 June 2014

Our F1 Lotus Race Day Experience!

Our family love to both participate and watch sports, with the kids firm favourites being football, athletics, swimming and Formula 1.

Back in November,  I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Lotus F1 Headquarters to watch a race and enjoy some great hospitality. Whilst organising the visit, I mentioned to the manager that my children would also love to attend, and to my surprise, they said bring them along! Lotus said that they welcomed families and groups of all ages and so they said they were more than happy for all of us to come along together.

On arrival, we checked in with security who then directed us where to go. Once we had parked up, we found the entrance easily, and were given a warm welcome. A nice lady presented us all with our passes, and the kids were given a quick talk to about what they could and couldn't do.

The main area was full of Formula 1 cars that had been used in previous races, this gave us loads of photo opportunities which the kids really enjoyed. They loved getting up close with the cars, and a lovely gentleman came over and asked if they would like to sit in one. They couldn't believe their luck!

After a quick nosey round, we were guided to our seats which were organised in tables of 10. Unfortunately, one woman took one look at the kids and must have decided that they were going to ruin her experience and so requested a move to another table, which is a shame, as my kids regularly go to public events and are very polite and courteous (most of the time)! I wasn't going to let this ruin our day though. Everyone else on the table was really nice and we were told by the host to help ourselves to the breakfast buffet, drinks, and newspapers that were available.
 Once everyone had got their food, and had settled, we were given a brief talk on the background of Lotus. This was a well written presentation, which was informative but not boring, and the images and sounds that were used to support it worked well alongside it.

We were then connected via Skype with Sir Jackie Stewart, who answered some questions and gave an update on what was happening at the track. After this, we were invited to have a go on some of the simulators, the reaction test machine and also take part in a wheel change contest. The children really enjoyed the reaction test machine and although they couldn't reach the very top ones, the host of the event came over to help them out.
My husband took part in the wheel change contest, and got a fantastic time. We later found out that he was the fastest out of all of the guests and he was presented with a Mini replica helmet, which was a great souvenir to take away from the day.

After lunch, the adults were offered some champagne and orange juice for the kids, and we were taken over to another building to watch the race that was taking part that day. This was on a large screen in an air conditioned auditorium, that had very comfy seats. The doors were left open which made it possible to go in and out as you pleased, which was of great benefit to us, as it meant that I could take our youngest for a push in his pram if he got unsettled, feed him, or take him for a nappy change. The race day experience concluded following the end of the race, and all the guests were given a Lotus Bag full of goodies that included pens, hats, and keyrings.
The team were absolutely fantastic throughout the day and made us feel really welcome. The food was delicious and of a high standard and there was plenty to keep us entertained throughout the day. The kids thoroughly enjoyed the experience and couldn't wait to tell all their school friends about it the next day.

Thursday 19 June 2014

Magical Milestones!

When my first child was born (my daughter Emma), I read every single pregnancy and mother and baby magazine going to make sure I was prepared for this life changing event! One thing that I picked up on though, in almost every magazine I read, was the issue of milestones and what your baby should be doing by a certain age. I had also signed up to the Bounty and Boots Parenting emails and these too would often say 'You are now in week such and such, and your baby should now be doing this......'. As a new mum, I would often be concerned if Emma wasn't doing things by the time they had suggested, and actually ended up calling the health visitor a couple of times. I also had friends who had babies around the same time as me, and so there would often be talk of "My baby is crawling already, is yours?" or  "My baby can walk now, has your child started yet?" More often than not, my answers to these kind of questions was no!

Of course now that I am a mum of 3, I have learnt that every baby is different and develops at completely different times, when they are good and ready. Emma didnt start walking until she was 20 months old, yet my son Ben, started at 10 months. The fact that it took Emma a little longer, hasn't had any effect on her and looking back, I wish that I hadn't paid any attention to anyone else or any magazine articles that I read.

 My youngest Riley, is now 18 months old and he has just started walking independently last week. I hadn't really thought much of the concerns that I had with Emma for quite some time, until I recently saw many articles about Prince George taking his first steps. This seemed to attract many differing opinions about when babies should be walking, and although the majority seem to agree that babies will develop naturally at their own pace, I was shocked to see that there are also many who think all babies should be walking by the age of 1, or that babies that walk later have had less encouragement from their parents. 

Do you think babies should be able to do things by a certain time, or do you agree that babies should be left to develop their skills at their own pace? I would love to hear people's opinions on this, so please feel free to comment below. 

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Fun & Free! The National Slate Museum!

Like most families, we enjoy days out together, but with entrance fees rapidly increasing year on year, a day out can end up costing well over £100. We are very lucky that where we live in North Wales we have many attractions right on our doorstep and there are also a lot of places that run free activities for children during some weekends and school holidays, so fortunately we are quite spoilt for choice when looking for something to do that's quite close to home.

I recently stumbled across the website for The National Slate Museum, based in Llanberis. It is located right on the shores of the beautiful Lake Padarn by the site of the Dinorwig Quarry. The Quarry itself, closed in 1969, and the museum and visitor centre tell the story of the Welsh Slate Industry where you can learn about its history and the way of life of the people who worked at the quarry. There is plenty of parking available and there is a bus stop at the top of the road, just a short walk away.

The kids were initially put off by the name of the attraction, and made the assumption that it was going to be boring, however I had read the reviews on Tripadvisor beforehand and so thought it was worth giving it a try as everyone seemed to speak very highly of it, and we weren't disappointed.

On arrival, we made our way from the car park to the entrance, through the masses of slate and mining equipment. To get into the actual museum you do have to walk through a shop, that sells plenty of items to catch childrens attention. You have to exit through the same shop though, and so I managed to convince my kids to wait until we left so they could have longer to look around. Once we had got past that little hurdle we made our way to the workshops and buildings, and the kids were instantly fascinated by quarry life and enjoyed learning about the hard work that the workmen did, for very long hours, on a daily basis.

As much as they enjoyed the workshops and seeing all the old equipment, their favourite part of the museum was 'Fron Haul'. This is a row of quarrymens houses, that reflect the changing households through the years, which all recapture significant periods from the slate industry. My daughter often moans that her bedroom is too small, so this was a real eyeopener for her, especially when she walked into No.3 Fron Haul which represents the year 1861. The lounge, kitchen and dining room, was just one room, and the household would cook in a pot over the fire. There were some steep steps to go to the upstairs which was basically just one room, that was shared by both the adults and children in the family, and had a white sheet draped across the middle as a partition. This immediately led to the 'Where is the bathroom?' question, and "Where are the other bedrooms?". There was information displayed throughout the house which my daughter enjoyed to read and was fascinated by. There are also two other properties, reflecting the years 1901 and 1969.

The picture on the left is from the 1969 property.
My son really liked this one, as he said it reminded him of his Great Aunties house, which admittedly is quite similar.
He couldn't believe the size of the television, or that it was black and white, nor could he figure out what the big box was at the back of it, having only ever seen flat screen televisions in his lifetime.
Imagine his surprise when I also explained that there was no CBBC or Cbeebies back then either!

In addition to all the fun facts, and interesting exhibits, there are also some other great facilities, that include a lovely park that has a zipwire, which is a nice size for children. There is also a nice cafe, so that you can have a meal or snack whilst visiting. Whilst we didn't eat here, I did have a quick glance at the menu and all the prices seemed reasonable in comparison to other local attractions. There are toilets located within the restaurant which offer baby changing facilities too. Here are some more pictures of our visit:

Here is some further information regarding the attraction:

Opening hours are 10am til 5pm daily from Easter until the end of October and 10am til 4pm from November to Easter. The attraction is closed on Saturdays during the off peak season.

Entry charges: FREE

Address: National Slate Museum, Llanberis, Gwynedd, LL55 4TY.

Additional information can also be found on their own website here: http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/slate/

They occasionally have additional events and demonstrations taking place, and an up to date list of these can be found on their website on the link above.

Have you visited The National Slate Museum, or would you like to having read our review? Please feel free to leave a comment telling me what you thought.