Legoland Tips

Following on from my Legoland post just now, here are a summary of my hints and tips for anyone planning to go:

– There are always vouchers of some kind available for Legoland.  We used Clubcard vouchers to get our tickets.

– If at all possible, go on a weekday during term-time.  I have not gone during the school holidays or at the weekend but I can imagine it would be packed!

– It’s great for young children but if you have one who is almost 90cm, I’d wait until they are 90cm so that they can get the most out of it.

– Get there early – we arrived at 9:2ish which seemed a good time to arrive.

– We took a packed lunch, swimming things for the splash park, a change of clothes in case they got wet on any of the rides as well as sun cream and sun hats etc.  As a consequence, we took our double buggy to carry all of our things.

– Although £7.50 might seem a lot for a drink, by buying the refillable bottle with your initial drink, you can then get free refills throughout the day.  We definitely got good value for money by doing this.  Unfortunately it was only for fizzy drinks which we try to avoid with our children but it was still good value for money.

– Don’t bother getting the Hill Train down the hill.  By the time they’ve loaded and unloaded, you will have been quicker to walk to your first ride.

– We headed first for Coastguard HQ, followed by Atlantis Submarine Voyage.  We would then have headed to Laser Raiders had we managed our toilet stops more effectively at the start (make sure you go to the toilet between arrival and the gates opening).

– You can get free wifi throughout Legoland so a good website to know about is https://queue-times.com/park/legoland-windsor which gives you live wait times for the different rides.

Hopefully these tips might be of use to someone!

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Legoland

Last Friday Daniel had an Inset day.  Friday also happens to be Chris’ day off and so we decided to seize the opportunity of a free Friday in term time to go to Legoland.  We met up with some friends there and all of us enjoyed our first ever Legoland experience.

Legoland certainly has the wow factor.  As we were driving up to it, all the Lego models made the children very excited.  We got there about 45 minutes before the park opened and so were able to park relatively close to the entrance but still in the standard parking zone.

Despite it being a term-time weekday, Legoland was still fairly busy.  However, we had read up on it beforehand and were fairly well prepared and knew where we wanted to head first.  We decided not to get the Hill Train down the hill but instead walked and headed straight for Coastguard HQ (via the toilets).  Having headed there first, the queues for Coastguard HQ were not too bad and all of the children loved this ride.  One adult is able to accompany one or two children in little boats and it’s great fun although there is the potential to get slightly wet.

Once off Coastguard HQ, we followed the path round to Atlantis Submarine Voyage.  Once again, we hardly had to queue at all.  Although at first Joshua seemed quite scared of this ride (it’s quite dark going in), it was so enthralling that he soon forgot why he was crying.  You are loaded into ‘submarines’ which although are not submarines, there are windows all along the bottom so you can see all the fish (both real and made of lego) in the water.  It was absolutely incredible and a must do for all the family.  Once off the submarines, there are more tanks of fish you are able to walk through.  My comment was, if Carlsberg did aquariums…

After this we had planned to do Laser Raiders but with various toilet stops, we decided we might be best saving this till the queues had died down at the end of the day.  We therefore walked on a bit from Atlantis Submarine Voyage and went to the Dino Safari.  This was a lovely ride for the little ones.  The friends we were with have three children and whenever we came to a ride that required one adult per child, such as this one, the Legoland staff were extremely accommodating and let one of them stay at the front of the queue with the children not on the ride at the time.

By the time we had done the Dino Safari, we felt it was time to eat our picnic lunch, all of us having been up extremely early that morning.  We found a spot to sit by the SQUID surfer.  A few of us then queued to go on this although it was a fairly lengthy queue.  We then headed to Heartlake City for the 1:15 showing of the Pirates of Skeleton Bay.  Despite getting there half an hour early, it was already getting crowded but we found a nice shady spot to sit and the boys loved the show.

After getting an ice cream and a refillable drinks bottle (once you have paid £7.50 for a bottle and initial drink, refills throughout the day are free), we found ourselves walking by the Fire Academy ride.  With both Daniel and Joshua being fireman mad, we decided to queue for this ride.  This was the one queue that seemed to go on forever.  In future, I would definitely try and visit this ride at a quieter time of the day.  However, the boys loved the ride!  Be warned, parents, your involvement is necessary to move the fire engine and pump the water!

Once the imaginary fire had been safely put out, we then had a wander around Miniland to avoid the queues for a while.  This was one of my absolute favourite parts of Legoland.  I love things in miniature and, being a lover of London, I especially loved the miniature London.  The boys happily spotted the many trains moving around Miniland and we could have probably spent a good couple of hours in this section.  However, there was plenty more that we wanted to see and do.

Our friends, Sam and Sarah, took Daniel on The Dragon roller coaster and we took Josh for a play in the Castaway Camp play area.  By this time, it was getting towards the end of the day and we knew we would have to head back to Laser Raiders if we wanted to have a chance to go on this ride.  Thankfully the queue wasn’t too bad and the boys loved shooting their laser guns at the various targets as we went around on this ride.  We then headed to the Hill Train to get it back up the hill at the end of the day.

We really loved out day at Legoland and found that, with careful planning, it is possible to avoid too much queuing.  Despite this, we can definitely understand the appeal of the £15 per person Q-Bots that you can buy to ‘queue’ for you.  I think if you were going in the school holidays or at a weekend, these would be invaluable.  There was a lot that we didn’t get to do and we definitely hope to visit again sometime.

After Legoland, we had booked to stay at the Premier Inn in Slough which was fantastic and the boys both slept well.  We then spent a bit of time exploring Windsor and the local area on Saturday.  Both Alexandra Gardens (for the crazy golf) and Langley Park were worth a visit.

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A sea creature called Joshua

This week Daniel came home from school with a sea creature he had made. He had named his sea creature Joshua so that his brother would love it. It brought back memories of when he made a sock puppet called Joshua at pre-school. It’s also raised the question of how much of his arts and crafts we can keep. I have a file in the filing cabinet of some of his pictures, and some are displayed in our Articulate frames, but it’s impossible to keep everything. I know that Daniel wishes we could though…

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Questions about Daddy 2015

As usual, I’ve enjoyed asking the children questions about Daddy this Father’s Day.  It’s been fun hearing their thoughts!

1. What makes Daddy happy?

D – Giving him food.

J – Building something.

2. How does Daddy make you laugh?

D – Tickling me.

J – Tickles me.

3. What was Daddy like as a child?

D – Good behaviour.

J – A scarecrow.

4. How old is Daddy?

D – 32.

J – 5.

5. How tall is Daddy?

D – Really tall.

J – Bigger.

6. What is Daddy’s favourite thing to do?

D – Play games.

J – Work.

7. What does Daddy do when you’re not around?

D – Look for me.

J – Go on a train.

8. What is Daddy really good at?

D – Driving our car.

J – Being in a castle.

9. What is Daddy not very good at?

D – Flushing the toilet.

J – Squirting me.

10. What is Daddy’s favourite food?

D – Meatballs with chicken nuggets.

J – Chicken.

11. What do you and Daddy do together?

D – Play games.

J – Puzzles and games.

12. Where is Daddy’s favourite place to go?

D – Portsmouth.

J – The park.

13. What does Daddy like most about Mummy?

D – Going in her bed.

J – He loves her.

14. What does Daddy do for a job?

D – Work at church.

J – Opens the shed.

15. How are you and Daddy the same?

D – We’ve got the same hair.

J – We’re both boys.

16. How are you and Daddy different?

D – We’ve got different colour t-shirts.

J – Because I’ve got white hair and he’s got brown hair.

17. How do you know Daddy loves you?

D – When he gives me cuddles.

J – Because he tickles me.

18. What makes Daddy sad?

D – When there’s not enough room in your bed.

J – Writing.

19. What makes you proud of Daddy?

D – When he’s good at playing football.

J – Swimming.

Father’s Day Cards

We’ve had fun getting crafty to make our Father’s Day cards this year.  Josh has even become a tie designer for Grandad and Gramp!

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Sticky Faith

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to go to a Sticky Faith training evening that our church was hosting.  Sticky Faith pulls together research conducted by the Fuller Youth Institute in the USA which looked at why it is that so many young people give up on their Christian faith.  As a result of their research, they have put together a range of resources to support children’s and youth leaders and parents to help young people stick at their faith so it lasts through into adulthood.  I had really been looking forward to the evening and hoped that it would give me a lot of inspiration and food for thought.  Thankfully, I was not disappointed.

The evening started with a ‘Setting the Scene’ session where some of the findings of the Fuller Youth Institute’s research were shared.  Crucially, although the vast majority of adult believers first came to faith in their teenage years, 40-50% of older teens who went into further/higher education failed to stick at their faith.  Many young people don’t seem sure of what being a Christian actually means.  Two thirds of US teenagers thought it was about doing good works rather than having a relationship with God.

After the ‘Setting the Scene’ session, participants were then given a choice of two different workshops looking at how to develop Sticky Faith in young people in different contexts, Church and Community or Home and School.  I opted for the Home and School stream.

In the Home and School workshop we were told that the research showed that 83% of parents don’t talk about faith with their children.  Perhaps not surprisingly, children whose parents talk about faith tend to have more sticky faith.  They also found that parents who talk about their doubts help their children’s faith to stick and that children with lasting faith have parents who encourage individual thought.  This really makes sense to me – the more we allow our children to think for themselves and form their own opinions, the more likely they are to make their faith their own.

For much of the session, participants talked in groups, sharing ideas for providing space and time for discussion about faith.  Suggestions ranged from having no devices at a family mealtime to help aid discussion to using books written from a Christian perspective to help tackle some of the issues parents sometimes find it harder to talk about with their children e.g. sex.

Another finding that came out of the Sticky Faith research was that, for every one child, there should be five older people committed to investing in them.  Intergenerational relationships were key – being in a church youth group was not enough to develop lasting faith.  We were encouraged to think about who these key figures were or could be for our own children.

In the closing session of the evening, we were given the opportunity to meet and talk with others from our own church to think about how what we had learnt might impact on the children’s and youth work in our setting.  This was a valuable time to talk, share and pray.

The Sticky Faith training event was really excellent but there was so much to try and fit in to just a few hours.  I really want to go over some of the key findings again to fully process what it means in my own church and family situations.  I am definitely planning to try and read The Sticky Faith Guide for your Family: Over 100 practical and tested ideas to build lasting faith in kids.

Duck World

For his fifth birthday, back in February, Daniel asked if we could go to Duck World to feed the ducks.  Well I checked and could find no place called Duck World, at least not in the UK.  In Daniel’s young mind, however, there should be such a place as Duck World (and I’m inclined to agree!) and so I set about finding a suitable location that would live up to his expectations.  We settled on Arundel Wetland Centre and booked to go with the wider family in February half term.  Unfortunately, chicken pox struck and the birthday outing had to be postponed.  On Monday, however, we finally made it to Duck World!

Arundel Wetland Centre certainly lived up to Daniel’s high expectations and he announced to us that it was his best birthday ever.  The Wetland Centre is home to a vast array of ducks and other waterfowl.  We were spoilt with many sightings of goslings and ducklings including some really tiny baby moorhens.  As we arrived we purchased three scoops of food for the ducks but to be honest we could have made do with much less than that.  Many of the ducks did not seem overly hungry.  Despite this, we did find a few who were interested, some even keen enough to eat out of Daniel’s hand.

One of the highlights of the day was our trip on the boat safari.  The guide who took us on our boat safari was fantastic with the boys and pointed out things that would be of interest to them as well as the adults on the boat.  The boys also enjoyed visiting various hides around the site and seeing what they could spot through the binoculars that Gramp had lent them.

We spent the whole day at Arundel Wetland Centre and there was still more that we could have done e.g. pond dipping.  It was a fantastic day out and one that really catered for a wide spread of ages.  The paths around the site were good and it would easily be manageable with a pushchair or a wheelchair.  It’s not the cheapest day out but I would say that it represents good value for money (particularly if you take advantage of the 10% discount when buying your tickets online in advance).  Given that it is not too far away from family in Chichester, I can certainly see us visiting again in the future.

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