Blakeney Point Seal Boat Trip

Ever since we moved to the North Norfolk Coast of the UK, we have been wanting to go on a seal trip to see the seals at Blakeney Point and Scolt Head Island.  When we first arrived, we visited the baby seals at Horsey Beach in the winter – and then the next year we visited them again. Both times were great, but taking a boat out to see them on the Point was a bit different and new.  But I never wanted to do it in the winter months – too cold!

We took the Bean’s Boat out but there are two others which depart from Morston Quay too – Temples and Ptarmigan. Clearly the last one was not too warmly welcomed and is new competition as they passed us and waved at our crew – who didn’t wave back.

It was very windy and the seas were choppy so there were many splashes which came into the boat, but I was positioned in an okay spot with Maebh so we were mostly dry.   Soren had a head full of salt water from the start and being a huge water fan – he didn’t mind!

When we arrived out at the point, we came to small colony of common seals basking in the sun.  Normally in the winter there are hundreds upon hundreds of common and grey seals who come to have their babies. Naturally there were some very curious ones who flopped around a bit in the waves – a bit like a Labrador.

On the way back into shore, we spotted a guy water skiing – the kids got a kick out of him.
As it was Nils’ sister’s 33rd birthday, she treated us all of us which was extra special!   Afterwards we went back to celebrate with a cake and the rest who chose to skip the boat trip.
before-three-little-hands-candles blowing-out-candles2 blowing-out-candlse candle3s candles candles2 cousins cousins2 footbal96 footbal97 footbal99
I highly recommend this as a nice family adventure in beautiful, North Norfolk.    You could wait to see the weather and book but they recommend booking ahead of time – your choice!

North Norfolk Wizard Maze & Play

On Sunday, we had some rain/wind storms from the remnants of ex-hurricane Bertha, but in this area it was really not bad.   Parts of the UK were hit with bad flooding. But on Monday the weather was like a perfect fall day – sunny but a bit of wind to give you a cool breeze.  As the afternoon rolled in, a few light showers came but overall it was great weather to spend on a farm.

We took the kids to North Norfolk Wizard Maze & Play just down the road and had a great time.  It’s a tiny place with some animals, hay-bail pyramid, two giant bouncy pillows, ride on tractors and a corn-field maze with a trail inside, etc.  It’s no Davis Farmland (as that is a 1 in a million place) but could be compared to Russell Orchards and/or Smolak Farms but without the pick your own fruit aspect or pumpkin patches.    It’s only open from July 24 to early September to coincide with when the kids are out of school and as we didn’t go last year, we took advantage of the weather and headed there.

We heard that the corn maze could be tricky and some one wrote on their Facebook wall they had been inside the maze for 2 hours, so that as first up.  At first you think you know the way you have been but after a while all the paths start looking the same and you start questioning if you have already been down that path.   A few pieces of trash like a 7UP can left there or better yet which blew in during the storm helped give me a clue that I had not been there before.

After we found all the letters, we spelled out the pirate-related word and the kids got their prizes on the way out.  They each got three tattoos which they were excited to put on when we got home.  I offered to help them, but they insisted that they could do it alone.  Yep, off the went and moments later two crying kids returned with only one of the six tattoos affixed.  

Once the maze was one, they were all about the bouncy pillow.  I even had a turn on it and was funny to bounce near Maebh as I could send her up very high.  We ran into a girl from the kids’ school, whom they played with for a bit.

Both kids love going on the ride-ons so spent some time doing that and of course, for Soren it was much easier and more fun.

Working together to solve the “porky” puzzle.

The four of us took the tractor ride which was a little loop through a corn fled then some circles – but both kids had loads of laughs . While we waited, we took a few photos which ended in some photo bombs.

 And OF COURSE, I had to take a few photos of the animals – especially the many chickens  Maebh kept asking why is that giant white one in there – the turkey! 🙂 

It was a nice few hours of family fun. Next up Dinosaur Adventure Park

Open Farm Sunday @ Holkham Estate & Wells-Nex-The-Sea

Today was such beautiful weather, we took the kids towards Wells-Next-The-Sea by way of Holkham Estate first. As today was part of Open Farm Sunday, they had loads of family-friendly things going on at Holkham. Many years ago, when in France, we visited and enjoyed all the local cheeses… but this time it was less food focused (or at least on this farm).

The kids started off with a quiz which at the end they could win a “prize” which turned out to be tomatoes – and as many as we liked so we took eight!

Both kids did the obstacle course set up by the local Beaver/Scout group.  Only difference (despite speed) was that Soren jumped over the sticks and Maebh crawled under, but both did it and loved it.   A fun idea for something to do at the school’s summer fete.

I really liked the Border Collie who spent his entire time just watching the herd of sheep get sheared – sweet!

They had a Touch a Truck type set up with all the large farming equipment.  All kids were in heaven!

We then took the 20-minute BUMPY tractor ride around fields where they pointed out their various crops.

After we walked over to the new (well new to us) playground area.  While it was geared towards older kids 5+ Maebh managed on parts and they both LOVED it!

After the open farm day, we headed towards Wells-Next-The Sea.  Our plan was to do some crabbing at the quay but first had a picnic at the Pirate Ship Playground.  Instead of crabbing, we hopped on the little train and headed down towards the beach area.

We first stopped at “Abraham’s Bosom” – an outdoor leisure area with a boating lake, trampolines & mini golf.  We spotted it several times while at the pine woods in Wells – the place with the boating lake and mini golf, but never entered thinking it was part of the Pinewoods Holiday Park there – which it is not.  Each kid had a session on the trampoline despite the warmth and we left to go to the beach.   Sadly, was not impressed and will not return.  While there was not a specific one reason, but I felt like it was a family’s garden in a caravan park and we were imposing in their personal space.   I like the Cromer boating lake much better.

So here we were at the beach without beach clothes, so the kids took off their clothes and paddled in the sea in their underwear.

Woodland Holiday Park

Late afternoon, after the kids returned from Oliver’s Super Hero’s party dressed as Spider Girl and Batman, we quickly changed and and headed back out.   (I didn’t take any photos – but they were all very cute. Three Captain America’s, a few Batman’s, one spiderman and two spider girls – 30 kids in all it was crazy yet fun!

As the sun as shining and the thunderstorms had passed so we thought it would be fun to head to Mundsley beach for a bit.  However, when we got there it was actually a bit chilly so we stopped in the fun fair for a few minutes – as we only had small change.

and .50 p was wasted on those grab games which rarely actually pick anything up.  They got ONE package of sugar lips which were inhaled by Soren but they loved it as you can see on their faces.
Afterwards, we stopped at Woodland Holiday Park in Trimingham to check it out. We had read that their facilities like pool, pub, games room, entertainment were open to the public.  They didn’t have any entertainment going on yesterday, but I took a copy of their upcoming events so we can check out “Andy The Clown” in July.  However, between the playground, games room, playing bubbles, frisbee and football with three other six year old boys, they had a great time.  And as it was starting to get late, we had a small dinner there – which was okay but we didn’t expect much.

We’ll definitely be back.  Tennis courts cycle hire, the pool area looked great, they have a nature trail where the kids learn and answer questions to get a stamp – a bit like the brass rubbings at Blicking Estate.  They also have a stocked, fresh water fishing lake, which I’m sure Soren would love.  Only need to figure out who is going to take the poor fish off the line.  I remember using a pair of pliers and breaking off the part of the hook which can rip their mouths so they come right off.

Here is a map of the park.

Crab & Lobster Festival – Cromer

Last year, we took the kids to the Crab & Lobster Festival in both Cromer & Sheringham. We all had a great time and so of course, we returned (but only to the Cromer portion) this time.

The kids started off getting their faces painted.  Maebh asked for a butterfly as she was one last year (her first time ever) but Soren asked to be a Dutch lion, which they couldn’t do so it quickly became a tiger, but he loved it!

The Punch & Judy show was happening in the same tent and just as we were finishing their faces it began – but Soren says he hated it and was quick to escape.  Maebh, however, asked to stay for a few to watch it.
While Soren and I walked around we came to the Bee guy who is at every event.  He loves spotting the “queen bee” which was conveniently marked and had a turn at rolling his own bee’s wax candle.

We spotted Sheila, Maebh’s teacher, so we did the Tombola table with her and between the two kids won THREE things – lucky us, more junk!

Part of the appeal of the Cromer portion of the festival is that the kids love to go on the rides including the trampolines, blow up slide, water walker ball and paddle boats/canoes.

 Soren tried the water walker last year and had a lot of fun, despite it being difficult.   Maebh even requested to go inside this year. I assumed she’d only last a couple seconds and want out and that was pretty much it. Once in, she realized how hard it really was, but as she had the confidence to go in and try it I didn’t want to spoil it for her.
And then the slide….

Next up was chips (french fries) from No. 1 Cromer outside by the seaside – very British!

And then onto the Cromer Pier where the kids “helped” crabbers with their catch.

As we were leaving the pier a Coast Guard helicopter flew over the town and circled back.  Was very neat to see…

It was a nice day for all.

National Trust: Blickling Estate Winter Walk

On Sunday, our 12th wedding anniversary, we spent a couple hours walking around the lake at Blickling Estate.

Last time we walked Blickling Estate, we did the Mausoleum Walk – hard to believe it was back in October, seemed like just yesterday.  As I’ve said before, there are some spectacular trees on the National Trust properties… so of course, I took photos of many of them.

And neat tree stumps for climbing.

The walk around the like was nice… the kids had some fun running ahead to look at the brass rubbings and made fun of some of the fishermen who just sit in tents all day long, alone waiting for a bite.  I don’t mind fishing, providing there is some talk, sunshine, and fish to catch – this way is BORING!

We started off walking around the lake and as we were approaching the house, we didn’t see a way to get across to the house gardens until much later in our walk, we learned you walk the perimeter.  It makes sense when you think about it (paying admission or membership).  What we didn’t want was to have to walk back the entire distance.  Now we know!

We walked by the orangery which I love!

Before it got dark, the kids were able to have about a half hour of play in the orchard playground…

and the bubbles I packed came in handy.

On the way out, we had a pint for the road at the Buck Arms … there Soren & Maebh made themselves home among the toys in the snug.

While this place is nice in all seasons, when we had a visit to the house and garden in full bloom it was especially great!

City of Norwich Aviation Museum Visit

We stopped at the City of Norwich Aviation Museum on the way to Norwich.  The museum is located on the site of the former RAF Horsham St. Faith airbase (which is now Norwich International Airport).

We didn’t know what to expect, but it was a nice visit though it was quite windy and chilly outside. Our  My first question to the volunteer at the desk was “Can we go inside the planes?”  I don’t recall his reply but was probably something like “Ah no you can’t!”  he he   So we gladly paid the “reduced” winter rate of £8.00 for our family visit.

[Speaking for myself] I’m not an aviation enthusiasts nor do I know much about the various units, planes, squadrons, airbases, etc, but learned that RAF Horhsam St. Faith and many of the local bases here in North Norfolk, played an active role during the Second World War operating various types from Blenheims and Spitfires to Mustangs.  It was also home to the US Air Force during the war with B24 Liberators and P47 Thunderbolts.  While it has been closed since the early-60’s.

Inside there were tons of exhibitions and various aviation equipment, including special top secret RAF 100 Group and the history of electronic warfare.  Outside there was a dozen or so civil and military aircraft, some of which were gigantic.  I don’t know all their names, details, etc, but all those can be found online at the Aviation Museum Site.

23 bases were here in small, rural North Norfolk!

Soren pointed out that this plane matches his sketchers.

Red helicopter landing at Norwich airport – these take the workers to the offshore stations.