Eilidh's Birthday Weekend
Our mini break visiting Alton Towers, Buxton, Macclesfield and finsihing in St Andrews for Eilidh's Birthday!
Eilidh’s 8th birthday.
I swear the years are just getting quicker, it doesn't feel like anytime ago that we were celebrating her 7th birthday but that's just how time flies isn't it?
For Eilidh’s birthday this year she gave us no indication as to what she would like. She murmured something occasionally about wanting new Heelys but like most other children she changed her mind constantly. If you're anything like us, you'll be in the same predicament as us - the kids have far too many toys, clothes etc that there's no place left for these things to live! For birthdays instead of buying more toys and games that will essentially be forgotten about moments after they've been opened we opt for experiences! Sometimes we'll get an annual pass for a zoo or aquarium etc (which is great because you get the use of this all year round)! Other things we have done is book classes or activities like last year Eilidh attended two weeks of tennis lessons during the summer holidays which she loved! We also encourage family (mostly just our parents) to do the same if they ask what the kids would like for birthdays and Christmas.
So this year we decided to take her to her favourite place, Alton Towers. We’ve visited Derbyshire / Staffordshire nearly every year since she was about 6 months old. We love the area, there’s always something new or different to see and lots of places that are definitely worth a trip!
We booked a cottage in Wirksworth which was about 15 minutes from Matlock Bath. Wirksworth itself was a lovely little village - we found a park which was really pretty right next to the river. We were only staying two nights so we didn’t get much of a chance to explore but what we did see was lovely!
The first night we drove along to Matlock Bath for fish, chips & ice cream. It was such a beautiful evening that we stayed out waaay past the kid's bedtime but that’s just what tends to happen on holidays right?!
When we got back to the cottage and had the kids bathed and into PJs we were chatting about all the things to come the next day. Honestly one of my favourite parts of a holiday, asking the kids what their favourite bit of the day was or what they’re most excited about for the next day. Oscars face of excitement telling him how we’ll get the monorail to the park and how there would be big rides and the best ever doughnuts (seriously they’re a MUST if visiting!!) it’s moments like this that I remember as a child and it gives me that warm fuzzy feeling as a mum knowing how excited they are! Eilidh was chatting about how she can’t wait to get on the runaway mine train and the river rapids. Telling Matilda how she would see Upsy Daisy and Iggle Piggle - everyone was pretty excited!
A Day at Alton Towers, Staffordshire
A few of you asked how it was having the three kids at Alton Towers for the day and had some questions about suitable ages, height, cost etc so I thought I would add them in here!
Being a family of five can be expensive when visiting places like Alton Towers, while I definitely feel you get your monies worth it's still a costly day out! It was just under £200 for us all for the day. If you go back for a second day it's considerably cheaper which is great because there is so much to see and do you could definitely spend more than one day.
We decided not to bring our own pram this year, Matilda hardly goes in it anymore and it has just become a toddler prison is her mind so there's lots of upset screaming so unless it's really needed we don't take it. However Alton Towers is huge, lots of walking, lots of people so we hired an Alton Towers buggy. Matilda loved it (of course she did!!) I think she thought it was a cosy coupe so she was happy to get into it! We got the single buggy which was £10 for the day. In hindsight, we wished we had just gotten the double for an extra £5 as we always end up piling jackets and bags into the pram. ** Oscar would sometimes have a little rest from walking, he'll be 4 in June and the buggy was plenty big enough for him too**
Personally, I think Alton Towers is great for all the family. There's a wonderful atmosphere within the park, staff are all very friendly and helpful and they accommodate families very well!
Alton Towers is home to CBeebies Land, its the first main area as you arrive at the park which is handy for families with young children. There are a few rides that are suitable for all the family in here like the 'Get, Set, Go' ride (I still call it Squirrel Nutty from old school Alton Towers days!) there's also a Postman Pat ride which kids can 'drive' postman pats van around a little track. There's Matilda's favourite the In The Night Garden boat ride where she waved frantically to Upsy Daisy! The best thing, according to Oscar, was the mini Octonauts roller coaster. It was a great fun little ride which I went on with Eilidh and Oscar. Matilda was too small, there are height restrictions around most of the park so it's maybe best to plan ahead before making a visit to make sure your child is over at least 0.9m as there isn't much for adventurous little thrill seeking preschoolers otherwise! Cloud Cuckoo land is also pretty good, its got less there than it used to have but they have a lovely traditional carousel and the 'Frog Hopper' which Eilidh and Oscar both loved.
Some of the bigger areas of the park are still worth a visit with little ones, there are lots of interesting things to see and do without the rides if they're too little. When we've been down in the past we normally go as a bigger group with my mum and sister so getting on some of the bigger rides was easy as we would just swap and take it in turns to have a go while one person stayed off with the kids but this year just being the two of us adults we decided not to bother with the bigger rides, however, if you are going as a twosome with your little ones Alton Towers staff are very accommodating with their 'Parent Queue Share Pass' meaning that one parent can queue in the normal way while the other stays off with the kids and then they can switch quickly using the share pass without having to queue up again! You can find more about Parent queue share here
Not a thrill seeker? Here are some other places to visit in the park
Aquarium, it's actually VERY good!
The gardens - they are beautiful (we've never actually wondered through them but passing overhead they look incredible)
Food, I know it' not technically something to do but for me, it counts as an activity!
If you're visiting with a baby the park has very good baby changing rooms (the ceiling has lights on it and you can play music, I know, WOW) There's also breastfeeding rooms around CBeebies Land and all of the cafes and restaurants are breastfeeding friendly! There's also baby food available at the Lunch Box Cafe in CBeebies Land.
If you want to check out the rides they have and height restrictions the website is really simple to navigate. I'll put a link here (handy, huh?)
I hope you've found this little insight helpful! If you have any other questions or wonderings please just leave me a comment!
What are your top tips for a day at the theme park and what's your favourite UK Theme Park?
After a fun-filled day at Alton Towers, the day before and G and I enjoying a Netflix* binge the night before we wanted a quiet-ish day. We had planned to go to Sheffield and visit Butterfly House which we've been to once before and really enjoyed it but we ended up in Buxton, which is one of my favourite towns!
* we're watching Arrow and really into it, what are you watching?
We explored the Pavilion Gardens, I love the conservatory area its full of amazing plants and the biggest Monstera I've ever seen! We then took the kids to the play park, of course, but it was really nice to just all be together, spending quality time just us.
A trip to Blaze Farm, Macclesfield
This was an absolute fluke find, with hungry kids and it being a lovely warm day I did what anyone else would do in my situation, googled 'ice cream farms near me', YES GIRL!
We're so glad we found this place, it was a family run farm with two little cafes, outdoor play area and a really great nature trail. It was FREE to visit just no picnics allowed!
The ice cream was amazing I had Elderflower and Raspberry which was out of this world, I wish we could've brought some home with us! It was so incredibly light and fluffy and flavours were perfection. Eilidh and Oscar had their usual of chocolate and Matilda had her manilla vanilla.
We sat in the outdoor picnic area with incredible views over the countryside, there was a huge slide which I'm sure was actually a plastic pipe but the kids had great fun playing on that while Matilda drove her tractor - it was such a strange coincidence that it was actually from Alton Towers which they used to have instead of the new postman pat ride, odd right?!
Once we ate our lovely toasties we decided to explore the nature trails that led around the farm there were a few stiles over the walls, which are always a bit of excitement for walks with children, anything remotely exciting or different to keep them moving on!
There was a brilliant 'Twigloo' which really captured the kid's imagination they immediately wanted to go in and play one of their games, usually starting with Oscar taking the register! They played in there for such a long time while we had a little chat just us two (mainly about the long bloody car journey home!!)
Once we left the Twigloo we followed the trail to another stile which crossed into a sheep field full of beautiful baby lambs, who doesn't love lambs? Well, Oscar apparently, there was a little lamb who had lost his mama so it was a bit scared and bleeting running towards us and Oscar just freaked out and got so upset that we had to carry him over the field it was equally a shame as well as being bloody hilarious! Ps, the lamb found his mummy.
So after his traumatic experience with the lamb can you imagine what is was like walking through the field with ducks and chickens? Now most of you know we keep chickens at home, Oscar regularly claps them, yes, you can pet a chicken, carries them, yes, you can hold a chicken, (some of ours actually squat down and wait to be lifted!) We assumed he would be absolutely fine. Heck no! He screamed and ran past them, actually nearly ran into the pond he was trying to get away so quickly! Like most top mums I was there showing support and taking his picture, the poor soul.
After our visit to Blaze Farm - I’ll put a link to it here if you want to check it out. We had the long car journey looming over us.
We hadn’t really thought it through and ended up hitting Manchester around 4pm on a Friday, a Friday?! Who travels on a Friday?! (If you haven’t seen Michael McIntyre you won’t get the reference - also why have you not watched Michael McIntyre?!) anyway, yes so travelling through Manchester at peak time took forever it was nose to tail traffic for what seemed a mini lifetime. Is it just us that doesn’t organise for the journey home? The journey there we had snack bags for each child, toys, games and lots of other amusing car journey items but we tend to forget about all of that for the journey home! So with three overtired, feeling car sick, grumpy children we made our way back home. Half way there though we decided to throw ourselves a curve ball and drive an extra 70 miles to our caravan in St Andrews. What idiots. We stopped in Carlisle for the worst chippy we’ve ever had and let the kids have a run around in a park we found close by then it was back in the car for the rest of the journey! ** We eventually made it to the caravan about 11.10pm - which is crazy late for our kids we’re pretty strict 7:30pm bedtime parents (you need that alone time right?!) so we basically all just climbed into bed praying for a lie in the next day....
It was definetly a few days to remember and most importantly Eilidh had such a good time away celebrating her birthday. What do you like to do to celebrate birthdays? Do you buy presesnts or do more experience type gifts like us?
** just incase you are ever in a similar situ please don't give your 1 year old a lipstick to play with, its definetely not worth the half an hour peace (she was COVERED)