It’s almost that time of the year again, Easter. Every year without fail we find ourselves at a National Trust Easter Egg hunt which are all brilliant, and well organised. This year we fancied a change. But where to go?
Easter Egg hunts are starting around now, the start of April. Most run for a few weeks, but please check the links provided for more information.
The National Trust Easter Egg hunt are great. They work with Cadbury’s, and usually have some kind of trail around the place you’re visiting. I’ve spotted easy ones for younger children and slightly more complicated ones for the slightly cockier over 7’s (read : H). They’re suitable for all and perfect for glorious sunny days. The eggs are pretty good too!
You can find more information here. There is usually a cost involved on top of your National Trust membership.
[We pay for National Trust membership every year]
Historic Royal Palaces have some trails on as well. We’re probably going to do Hampton Court Palace this year, who are doing their trail in conjunction with Lindt. I’m actually wondering if adults can do it too… It is Hampton Court’s first ever Easter trail. I love Hampton Court, and the Magic Garden has reopened for the season as of yesterday (1st April). I can’t think of a better reason to go! The Easter Egg trail is included in your admission price.
[We get free entry to Hampton Court as it is part of the CSSC scheme]
Hever Castle has an easter egg hunt, another Lindt one. I don’t think we’ll have time to do this one this year, but having had a day at Hever recently, it would be a wonderful place to wander around in the sun, especially knowing there is Lindt chocolate involved at the end. The Lindt Gold Bunny hunt is free, and they have additional activities available at a cost. Worth looking into anyway!
[We have Historic Houses Association Membership so can enter Hever Castle for free]
English Heritage also have some Easter Activities on – with all sorts of activities. They look pretty awesome, and don’t mention chocolate… Not all English Heritage places are doing it, so please check this link for more information. They also fall around the Easter weekend, rather than the start of April.
[We are English Heritage members via CSSC and the above link is an affiliate link]
We’re pretty organised when it comes to having memberships and passes for various places. It makes life easier when you can turn up somewhere having already paid. So I thought I’d go through our current ones.
National Trust. We’re still National Trust members. As far as membership and passes go, this is the one we’ve had the longest at six years now. We make our money back each year and there’s a neverending supply of places to visit. It costs us about £100 a year.
English Heritage. We’ve had this for over a year now as part of Shaun’s CSSC membership. The Civil Service has corporate membership which gives you a discount in the gift shops. We’ve used this a lot and visited some fantastic places. We enjoyed Tintagel in Cornwall when we stayed nearby. This costs us £4 a month.
Merlin Passes. We’re coming to the end of our second year of Merlin Passes. We were planning on going to Chessington or Legoland for Christmas this year. But Merlin have doubled the price making it and it’s expensive. It’s not worth it. We have enjoyed visiting places like the London Dungeon, London Eye, Chessington and Thorpe Park as well as SeaLife in Weymouth. With the price hikes and paying extra we won’t be renewing these ones next year. They were fun but we can get discounts via Shaun’s CSSC membership if we choose to visit a Merlin attraction. We still have one last trip to Alton Towers to go this year, another surprise for H! This costs us £360 a year.
Historic Royal Palaces. We took out this one on a whim and it has been brilliant. We’ve visited Hampton Court so many times this year. The best part is that you can visit the majority of the palaces in any weather, and there’s plenty to do. We’ve loved the Magic Garden at Hampton Court. I want to go back to Kensington Palace now I’ve been watching ‘Victoria’ on ITV every Sunday! Having this membership has made history so interesting for us. This cost us £90.
NUS Extra. I’ve signed up to do a course in writing a children’s book which is going slowly. I have my idea and it’s written, but I need to make the time to complete the course. The course means I’m eligible for NUS Extra membership, and it has been brilliant so far. I get 10% off in Superdrug and the Co-Op, and some excellent discounts at Pizza Express too. There is an option to add Gourmet Society membership to it but I didn’t. Then again, Shaun gets it with his CSSC membership so we’re covered if we ever need it. This cost £12.
Historic Houses Association. This is one of the memberships and passes I’m considering for next year. It would cost around £100 for the three of us but has a lot of properties around the country. We’re staying in Cornwall, we visit York too, and of course nearby there is Painshill Park.
So this is all at the moment. I think it’s a pretty good variety of places to visit and things to do. On the horizon I’m looking at Disneyland Paris passes. They make it worth it if you visit for five days and also offer some good perks and discounts. I also like their FastPass system as everyone can use it.
Do you have any memberships or passes you use that we haven’t covered? Come and suggest them in the comments below.
Are you going to Hampton Court to see Terrible Tudors from the Horrible Histories team at the Birmingham Stage Company this half term? We went yesterday (Saturday 28th May).
Terrible Tudors is the latest Horrible Histories play we went to see. Horrible Histories, how I love thee. How I wish you had existed when I was at school doing history as some of the information I’ve learned from watching the shows I’ve retained. I’ve always been convinced that had my entire schooling been in the form of a 1980s lyric I’d have got A’s in everything; but as it was, it didn’t, so I failed most of my exams. Things are so different for H. She LOVES history – my dad would have loved that she does too – he was a massive history fan and owned his own wargames business on the back of it.
So whenever Horrible Histories put on a performance nearby we do our very best to go and see it. This time it was Terrible Tudors at Hampton Court Palace; talk about a perfect setting for that period of time.
The stage is set up to the east front gardens of Hampton Court Palace – if you’ve ever been to their open air screenings of films it’s further over so as to keep the main gardens open, and has just three stalls. You have cushion hire (£1.50 per cushion or £5 for four), a Tudor Store (takes cards, there’s a fantastic Royal Historic Palaces magazine you can buy for £2.99 – and don’t forget your membership discount in this shop – I did!) and a drinks and snacks store (cash only, no discount).
The area opens up an hour before the performance, so we headed to Hampton Court for midday, going straight to the Magic Garden now it’s fully open. I’ll come to it more in detail at the end, but it was the perfect place to have a picnic while the kids got to have a play, plus we wanted to see how much had changed since we had first visited. When we moved to the theatre area they both got a bit restless as it involved a lot of sitting down waiting, plus you’re in the sun so there isn’t a lot of shelter. Not a huge problem but if you want to get a decent space to see the production you need to aim to get there early. They have requested people don’t take chairs, though cushions are fine – I was able to lie down towards the end but still see the stage.
You can have picnics in that area too, and there’s plenty of space. Each performance has around 900 tickets sold – and I believe only a couple of dates have tickets left.
Terrible Tudors is an hour long and takes you from the reign of Richard III and the Wars of the Roses to James I succeeding after the death of Elizabeth I. Obviously, the centre of the show is Henry VIII and again, lots of “and this happened just over there at the Palace” type moments because you’re right next to an amazing piece of history, learning about it all 500 years later. It has just the three actors, but gets everything across brilliantly – even I’m retaining information!
There are plenty of laughs, plenty to entertain adults and kids at the same time (to paraphrase, “Richard III, he was mean so they buried him somewhere rubbish – under a car park in Leicester because nobody ever wins anything in Leicester” – topical and us football fans all had a laugh!). They explain religion and the differences with the catholics and protestants via supporting football teams which again is amusing! Anyway, if you’re going, you’ll love it. If you’re not then hurry up because Terrible Tudors tickets are set to sell out.
Afterwards we headed back to the Magic Garden until it was time to leave. We had been given coloured wristbands – you get about three hours play in there (or alternatively you could be sitting chatting in the main area next to the arena – we got seats every time and you could see the entire play area so always knew the kids were safe), then you have to leave the park for an hour before you can come back in. It was full but not too full, and it seems like they have crowd numbers well under control.
There’s a drinking water fountain which we refilled bottles with, and the small kiosk was also popular as it was a gorgeous hot day. They ran out of Calippo’s but we spotted a delivery of more fairly soon afterwards. The toilets are now open inside the play area too, and seemed absolutely fine – with one low sink and one higher one so good for smaller children.
The water play area was fenced off – it looks like maybe some younger children fell in, so they’re revamping it at some point – understandable as it was quite open. Having said that, H and her friend still had plenty to do. The park looked wonderful and colourful as you can see from the pictures.
Hampton Court is open every day until 6pm. Horrible Histories Terrible Tudors is on every day this half term, and they’ll be back with a Best of Barmy Britain in the West End soon too – and I know there’s some productions arriving in Wimbledon soon as well. We love Horrible Histories, and love that the Birmingham Stage Company keep putting on these productions (10 years now!). It’s a great time to be young and to love history! Book your tickets here – adults are £10 and children £5.
We headed over to Hampton Court Palace, as newly signed up members of the Historic Royal Palaces gang – we figure we can visit three times and make our membership fees back, so it’s worth it.
Hampton Court Palace is somewhere I’ve visited since I was very young. My Great Aunt and Uncle lived in Teddington, and we’d stay with them whenever we visited London. This would always involve a visit to Bushy Park, with a walk through to the maze at Hampton Court. Living so close to it these days, there was no way H was going to miss out on something I’d loved when I was her age – the only question was, would it still be the same?
Having the Historic Royal Palaces membership helped a lot – they’ve just finished a 50% off entry offer, and prices are increasing – plus of course there are additional things to do when you’re there. But as the gentleman who showed us to our seats in the ticket office said, “with this membership you’ll never need to queue again” (I like it already!) We also get 10% off food and any purchases in the gift shops – every little helps!
Hampton Court has a lot to offer. There are the gardens, which are enormous and largely unaltered since the early days of the Palace, as well as the maze. Oh the maze. I would go in it when I was young, and did manage to get to the middle once in record time. Today it wasn’t to be, all I could remember was keep around the outside and you get to the middle, which didn’t work at all (even though it was the right thing to do). H has decided she has “a terrible sense of direction”!
Inside Hampton Court Palace there is so much to see – and we’re going to need to go back to finish off. Somehow, weirdly, I had never been there when we’ve visited in the past. I don’t know why, but that is no longer the case. We wandered around rooms Henry VIII will have dined and existed in – H was excited about this – one of her favourite subjects at school is history. You can see a crown of Henry VIII’s however they were starting to set up in the church part, so weren’t letting people in any more – another thing to go back and do!
Inside Henry VIII’s kitchen there were displays of cookery as well as how to make ink. H got to use a quill to write with too.
We arrived around midday, and left at 4pm, tired and having walked for ages – and yet there’s still so much to see – and having our Historic Royal Palaces membership we can go back as often as we want!
Sunday 7th February. Having had a lazy Saturday, we had a busy Sunday, heading to Hampton Court Palace and taking out a Historic Royal Palaces membership (as we intend to go to the Tower of London again this year, H claims she has never been though I’m sure she has – can’t find any photos though so maybe I was pregnant with her). For £90 a year we’ll need to do a few trips, but with the added discounts in the shops (food and merch) we should make our money back – especially with the Tower! Anyway, it was great to go into Hampton Court for the first time and walk around properly (my mum’s family came from Teddington so we’d often visit the grounds when I was little) plus the maze was still difficult – H and I got lost even though I kind of remembered what you had to do to complete it… kind of. Shaun did it straight away of course…
Thursday 11th February. Last day of term and Parent’s Evening. H did well as we’d expected and I had this Smiggle light bought as a treat for her for doing well (it was half price in the sale) – it makes a fabulous night light and is battery powered (good when you don’t have many plugs in your room). It works, too.
Friday 12th February. Again, almost forgot to take a photo, so here’s my Peak update for this week. Still strong on language I see….
Saturday 13th February. We headed into Central London, something H and I don’t do very often (Shaun does, he works there), and went to Kensington Palace, somewhere I’ve never been. I’ve been to Kensington itself tons of times, just never the Palace so knew very little about it. It’s on our Historic Royal Palaces membership and I know we’ll go back. One of the guides was casually talking about how one of the Kings who lived there pops by in his ghost form. I’m DESPERATE to see a ghost so I can believe in them, so was kind of sad he didn’t pop by to let his presence be known. We popped into the Science Museum afterwards and went to their Cosmonauts exhibition, and came home shattered. 10,000 steps done today, according to the pedometer on my phone (which is usually around the 3500 mark, so probably not the most accurate, but a good indication of how much walking we did!)