Sunday, 23 September 2012

Sudbury Hall, Sudbury, Derbyshire

Sudbury Hall/Museum of Childhood is actually a National Trust property, but we have been there many times to the playground and café without having to show our National Trust membership, so I’m thinking that this bit is free to enter.

The big draw for children is the great play area in the woods as part of the Hall grounds.  It has a big range of things to climb, swing and slide on, including a pair of wooden houses linked by a bridge and a wooden boat which my toddler loves.  There is also plenty of running around space in the garden area and by the lake.

The café is in the old stable area and does standard National Trust fare – ie great coffee, loads of greatcakes, good choice for lunch – and all with local produce as far as possible.  If you fancy bringing your own there is plenty of picnic space on the lawn.  We went one day in school holidays to find a giant Connect 4 and chess set on the lawn.
The Museum is great to visit (even if you don’t have children) in order to revisit all those 1970s and 1980s toys you once had.  They have a copy of my Brownie handbook c1981 and a Millennium Falcon!  It’s very hands on too, so your children will be able to play and not just peer into glass cases.  Father Christmas also visits here in December (extra charge).

Added to all that is the 17th century house, the National Trust shop and the toy shop.

Round up
Café Latte price:  £2.35 for standard, £2.95 for large

Favourite cake: today we liked the chocolate crispy cakes for 50p but the scones looked great!

Child friendly highlights: children’s lunch boxes for £3.95, plenty of high chairs, microwave for heating bottles & food

Buggy friendly:  café is (although when it gets busy the additional seating is upstairs, no lift).  Woodland playground needs some off roading and can get very muddy.

Car parking:  Free in the NT car park a short walk from the Hall/Museum grounds.

Good for at least a couple of hours most times of year, but probably more if you want to explore the museum.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Fradley Junction, nr Alrewas, Staffordshire

Known in our house as “the boats and ducks” because those are the main items to see.  Fradley Junction near Alrewas in Staffordshire is the point where the Trent and Mersey canal meets the Coventry Canal.  The café next to the British Waterways car park is run by the owners, and provides a great range of hot drinks, sandwiches, snacks and cakes.  There are loads of seats next to the canal on fine days and reasonable indoor seating on wet ones.  Across the canal is a nature reserve with a buggy friendly boardwalk all the way round.  I never remember bread but the ducks don’t seem to mind.

On warm days the area is a hive of canal boat related activity and the canal locks are a source of fascination.  Don’t go if your toddler is likely to run off and throw themselves in the water as most of the area is unfenced and this would make for a stressful family outing, but if they are buggy-bound, or good walkers, this is a nice spot for a family stroll and refreshment.

Round up
Café Latte price: £2.10 for a large one
Favourite cake:  Millionaire’s shortbread
Child friendly highlights:  Children’s lunchboxes (sandwich, crisps, drink, raisins, chocolate, colouring book) for £3.60  Also smaller portions of beans on toast, egg on toast etc.  Highchairs provided.  And because they happily serve muddy dogs, cyclists, walkers and boaters, the chances are any mess your child makes will go unnoticed.

Buggy friendly:  café is but there is a gravelled area outside, canal towpaths are broad and flat but do get muddy

Car parking: £1 for the day at the British Waterways car park or free on the side of the road.


A good spot for a stroll and coffee or lunch any time of the week, any time of the year