Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Wolseley Bridge, nr Rugeley - swans and scones

This review is a combination of two place next door to each other. 

Firstly we visited Wolseley Centre. This is the headquarters of Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, set in a large wildlife reserve and it's a fun place to spend an hour with a small child.  We particularly liked the board walk area, set between the river and the ponds, where we watched ducks and their chicks and a couple of swans.  There is also a play trail - where you can play a tune on a fish or a dragonfly, a wildlife garden (look out for the bug hotel) and a sensory garden.

The centre hosts a range of children's activities - see the website for details of Nature Tots and themed birthday parties.

We didn't go into the centre building itself, but moved to the garden centre next door.  There is a large café here with a wide menu including hot food.  The main attraction for my son was the indoor soft play area within it.  At £1.50 for an hour's play it gave him chance to play happily while I drank (pretty decent) coffee.  It's not the biggest area, but it looked fairly new.  It's aimed at ages 8 and under.

We also shared the largest scone I have ever seen (think National Trust proportions), with cream and jam.  I almost couldn't finish it.

We had a great visit on a sunny day this school holiday and discovered more of the Wolseley Centre, including the rock garden and the meadow area on the right hand side of the drive. It made a great picnic spot. We also tried the coffee from within the Centre, and still recommend the garden centre for refreshments.

Round up
Café Latte price: £2.29 for a small one
Favourite cake: That amazing scone.  And the cream and jam.  All for £2.69

Child friendly highlights: The play trail at the Wolseley Centre, the indoor play at the garden centre.  Lunch box - £4.49 for sandwich, drink and 3 other items.  Same price for hot food.
Buggy friendly: Wolseley Centre boardwalk is very good, some steps in other areas. Garden centre is all easy access.
Car parking: Free at the garden centre, £1 donation at the Wolseley Centre.


Taken together we spent a happy couple of hours at Wolseley Bridge.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Bluebell Woods, Yoxall Lodge nr Burton upon Trent

If you are reading this after the end of May, I'm sorry but you missed it for this year.  Come back in the autumn or try again next spring!  The Bluebell Woods at Yoxall Lodge are a temporary attraction, run by the family that farms the land here, open for several weeks in spring.  The site is a working farm, with several miles of beautiful woods and pasture, streams and a lake, all awash with stunning bluebells.  Try the walk of about 1/2 mile for little legs or up to 2 1/2 miles round the parkland.

The coffee is instant, in mugs, served on plastic patio furniture set out on the lawn.  But don't get sniffy, the view is great and the cake comes in generous portions and delicious.

There is a charge for this one - £4 for adults, £1 for children and under 5s free.  It's not one for bikes or balls, and not at all buggy friendly.  But on a sunny day it's a perfect place for a family walk in beautiful surroundings.

Round up
Coffee price: £1
Favourite cake: All at £2.75, we enjoyed the coffee cake and the apple cake (Victoria sponge with spiced apple filling)

Child friendly highlights: Lots of outdoor space to run around and explore.  The toilets are portloos and I couldn't spot any baby changing.  Some of the bridges have no handrails and the lake is not fenced.
Buggy friendly: Not really!
Car parking: Free (once you've paid your entrance fee) but all on gravel


We visited on a sunny afternoon and it was beautiful.  We will come back when it becomes the Autumn Woods!