Days Out · Family

Things to Do as a Family in Inverness 

Inverness

Photo by Lewis McCracken on Unsplash

Scotland is a beautiful country with so much for families to see and do, and Inverness is no exception. Nestled on the northeast coast, where the River Ness meets the Moray Firth, it’s the largest city and the cultural capital of the Scottish Highlands. Inverness is steeped in history and natural beauty, and is a great base for exploring the surrounding area. With this in mind, I thought I’d share some of the best things for families to do when visiting Inverness:

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Days Out · Family · Gaming

Tips for Preparing an Entertainment Centre in London

Tips for Preparing an Entertainment Centre in London
Photo by Carl Raw on Unsplash

The evolution of family centres in London has been greater than anyone could imagine. From arcades and playgrounds to laser tag, miniature golf courses and trampoline parks, family entertainment centres have evolved from occasional stops on the way to must-see destinations.

This profitable industry has continued to grow in recent years, even with advancements and access to technology. With smartphones and computers consolidating their presence in everyday life, the need for quality time in families is increasing. Creating a family entertainment centre is a fun and timeless way to profit while giving back to the community.

What is a family entertainment centre?

Many structures fall into this category, but few people understand what a family entertainment centre really is and how it can bring enormous value. A family entertainment centre (CEF) is a small-scale amusement park, usually indoors, that combines traditional play elements with innovative and creative structures that all children dream of. FECs incorporate elements that are mentally and physically challenging for children, with multiple levels, tunnels, ropes, water, and other design components that tap into children’s imaginations. These centres are usually independent structures or extensions of existing ones.

Types of Family Entertainment Centres found in London

Although you may not have heard the specific terminology of family entertainment centre before, you have been watching and playing them for a lifetime. Mini golf courses, laser tag centres, go-kart tracks, zip lines, and bowling alleys are examples of different FECs. The spaces have evolved into larger and more exciting experiences that have elevated the entertainment industry in London. With modern designs and innovative concepts, there is much more to consider when creating a CEF. Possible entertainment centre options include:

  • Children’s Museums: With interactive designs, children’s museums can encourage children to explore and learn in location-based centres.
  • Trampoline parks: As one of the most recent advancements in the evolution of CEFs, trampoline parks offer a way to exercise while improving balance and concentration.
  • Arcades: Get back to the classics with this old CEF. A game-filled environment encourages social participation and active play for the whole family.
  • Inflatable centres: Inflatable centres are one of the easiest structures to add to any indoor or outdoor environment. With soft foam play areas, you can offer obstacle courses and games within a creative play space.
  • Children’s Discovery Centres: This inquiry-based environment can foster independent discovery, exploration, hands-on learning, collaboration, and problem solving. These elements are the main attractions of discovery entertainment centres for children.

Tips for Creating a Family Entertainment Centre

Like any other industry, family-oriented entertainment has its own advantages and considerations. Fortunately, there are specific tips and tricks that will help bring your visions to life. Now that you know the basics of the industry and your creative wheels are turning, let’s dive into the best ways to start your FEC.

First you need to investigate. Although this advice may seem like a no-brainer, many entrepreneurs in the family entertainment industry fall short on the little details. Research begins with identifying your target audience and creating an in-depth analysis of their interests and ends with finding financial backers and obtaining building permits.

Build a Presence in Your Community

The decisive factor in the success of your CEF will be in the strength of your surrounding community. Trust, reliability and a supreme customer experience are crucial when building a strong relationship with your clientele. Do this by focusing on local marketing efforts, offering special discounts, and partnering with other businesses and schools to sponsor neighbourhood clubs and events. Another good way to create a lasting presence in your area is to organize special events, such as birthday parties and school field trips. The possibilities of involving your neighbours are endless. But one thing is for sure: if you invest in your neighbourhood, people will invest in your business.

Seek Professional Help for Setting Up Your FEC in London

When setting up your own family entertainment centre, if it’s your first time, it’s advisable to seek professional help in order to receive some guidance. This can be in the form of a business advisor or even an expert and renowned firm in the industry of family entertainment such as the crazy golf theme design offered by Plonk Golf Studios.

Interactive Challenge Courses

Building an interactive challenge circuit will appeal to older audiences and differentiate your business from the competition. This type of family entertainment centre differs from the others in that it offers the thrill of an adventure ride while staying within a contained play area. A structure like The Hive uses obstacle-based challenges with a friendly competitive edge for teens and young adults. Other structures like adventure spheres use climbing patterns, interactive light shows, and colourful designs to immerse younger guests.

Christmas · Days Out · Family

The Most Interesting Plans for Christmas in London

Christmas in London
Photo by Jamie Davies on Unsplash

Ready to spend the best holiday of your life this Christmas in London? Then take a look at the places, plans and venues suggested below! You’ll have a blast regardless who you travel with, be it friends, partner or family.

Winterville at Victoria Park

Winterville at Victoria Park is another London Christmas fair offering fun and activities for the whole family, such as an ice rink, children’s fairground rides, horse or carriage rides, a Ferris wheel, a Christmas market and shows, as well as food stalls.

Kew Gardens Light Show

The Royal Botanic Gardens of London Kew Gardens celebrates Christmas every year with a light show that you cannot miss if you travel to London with children at Christmas. It is a magical tour through the botanical garden illuminated with many spectacular Christmas lights from late November to early January. It is an event that always sells out quickly, so you have to buy tickets in advance on their website.

See Christmas lights in London

To see the most spectacular Christmas lights in London you will have to go to Oxford Street, Regent Street and Covent Garden Square. The Winterfest festival in Wembley Park is another highly recommended destination in London to see Christmas lights with children. Artists from around the world have created pieces of art that combine Christmas lights with sounds and a multi-sensory experience. You will find the tallest LED Christmas tree in London and impressive walkways with interactive sounds.

Another fun way to see the Christmas lights in London is by riding the roofless bus that runs through the most iconic streets and places of London decorated with lights: Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, The London Eye, Big Ben and Regent Street, among others. The bus departs from Golden Tours Visitor Center at Fountain Square and Buckingham Palace Road.

Christmas at London Zoo

ZSL London Zoo also transforms at Christmas to offer Christmas at London Zoo, a magical experience for its visitors. When it gets dark, the park is illuminated with a million Christmas lights that create a magical and very festive atmosphere. The little ones will love it walk inside the illuminated tunnels. There is also Santa Claus and there are activities for children, such as Christmas movies and children’s crafts.

Christmas Crazy Golf at Plonk Golf

An alternative to indoor fun plans to try with your family and children is the crazy golf games at Plonk Golf! Crazy Golf in Camden is a great for family bonding during Christmas thanks to the venues fun and enjoyable crazy golf courses that are there to both entertain and challenge.

Ice skating in London

There are several ice rinks in London decorated with Christmas lights to skate with children in the open air, which are worth a visit at Christmas to experience a magical and very Christmas atmosphere with the family. The Eyeskate ice skating rink on The London Eye is one of the most impressive, since while you skate you have the London London Eye’s giant Ferris wheel as a backdrop.

Other ice rinks to skate in London with children at Christmas are Somerset House Ice Rink, The Tower of London Ice Rink, Canary Wharf Ice Rink, Broadgate Ice Rink, Natural History Museum Ice Rink, Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink and the famous ice rink ice in Winter Wonderland.

Days Out · Family · Liverpool · Travel

Loving Liverpool After Lockdown

Liverpool
Photo by Conor Samuel on Unsplash

If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll probably know that as a family, we’re big fans of Liverpool. Obviously, the main love is Liverpool FC, but we’re also in love with the actual city of Liverpool and the people who live there. Husband and I often joke that we’d feel way more at home in Liverpool because of the politics and attitudes of the people up there and we’ve even sat and trawled through Rightmove, fantasising about a move to the North West where housing costs are so much more affordable.

Travelling right now is out of the question (we’ve barely left the house since this time last year!) and we certainly won’t be going anywhere until it’s totally safe. We can’t wait for lockdown to end so that we can visit our spiritual home again, and this in mind, I thought I’d put together a little list of some of the places that we’re planning to go:

Anfield

Anfield Stadium, Home of Liverpool FCI mean, come on, this one was a no-brainer, right?! Husband has been to Anfield to watch Liverpool play many times but I’ve only been once and I was pregnant with BB at the time, so I’d love for us to go back as a foursome and watch a match. There is NOTHING in the world like the sound of The Kop singing You’ll Never Walk Alone to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

World Museum Liverpool

World Museum Liverpool

The World Museum Liverpool is the oldest of all of the museums and galleries in Liverpool and is famous for its great collections, its history of innovation and the family-friendly experience that it offers. From science demonstrations to a packed aquarium, this is something that all four of us would absolutely love.

Mersey Ferries

Mersey Ferries LiverpoolHave you even been to Liverpool if you haven’t taken a ferry ‘cross the Mersey?! Aside from the fact that the boast themselves look like something that Paul McCartney saw in an LSD-fuelled dream, the Mersey Ferries have been an iconic way to see the shores of Liverpool for decades. Plus, with an adult return fare costing less than £4, it’s a cheap and cheerful way to kill a couple of hours in the City.

Knowsley Safari

Knowsley Safari LiverpoolI’ve gotta admit, as a family we’re suckers for a zoo or safari park and being in lockdown has made us really miss visiting this sort of attraction. As well as the car safari, which has wolves, tigers, giraffes and more, there’s a foot safari section of the park which is more like walking around a zoo, so you get the best of both worlds. I know for a fact that we could lose a whole day wandering around somewhere like this!

That’s the list so far! Have you been to Liverpool? What was your favourite thing to do there? Do leave me a comment with any recommedations below, I’d love to hear from you. In collaboration with Hotels.com, but all views are my own.

Days Out

London on a Budget – Our Day Trip

Living in the South East means that we’re able to pop into London with relative ease, thanks to trains which go directly into the city from our local train station. Husband and I had a rare day together in the Christmas break and we decided to go to London for a bit of quality time together. Being the festive season, we didn’t have a huge amount of spare cash, so we set aside a budget of £75 to see if we could have a great day without spending too much. We’d looked up hotels near the Shard to see if we could find a super cheap place to stay, but it wasn’t in the budget this time.

Borough Market London

The first expense was our tickets; from where we live, two off-peak railcards which let us travel in and around London cost £46, which obviously took up a lot of our budget, but this just meant that we had to be more creative about what we did while we were there. Our first stop as Borough Market. We didn’t realise, but we actually spent a good hour walking around before we decided to find somewhere to eat, just taking in the sights, sounds and delicious smells of the place.

We’d heard about The Breakfast Club from someone we know who works in London and it’s just a short walk from Borough Market by London Bridge, so we headed there for their famous “Cabbies Breakfast”, a bargain at £7.50 each. It’s a really quirky, cosy little spot to eat and we really liked the place. It didn’t feel too London, if that makes any sense at all?! The food was delicious and finding a meal of this size for less than a tenner each is pretty much unheard of in London.

The Breakfast Club LondonBy the time we’d finished eating, travel and food had set us back £61 all together, so we needed to find something free or cheap to do in the area. The most obvious choice? A museum! However, we chose a museum with a difference – The Old Operating Theatre Museum.

Entrance to The Old Operating Theatre Museum was just £6.50 each, which was within our remaining budget and we both have an interest in history and medicine, so it was the perfect place to go. The museum is actually located inside one of the turrets of St. Thomas’ Church and contains an amazing array of old medical bits and pieces. After the climb on a very narrow and steep spiral staircase, the spacious area at the top holds the wonders of medicine as practised years ago. We had a lovely time, learning about the history of the place and seeing the apparatus, some of which looked like torture devices!

The Old Operating Theatre Museum LondonWith just £7.50 left in our budget, we decided to go for a little wander around, doing some window shopping and grabbing a coffee while we walked. After a while, we headed back to the station to begin our journey home, really pleased that we’d managed to have a really full, fun day out in London, on what we thought would be a tight budget. But actually, if you’re thoughtful about where you go and how you spend your money, it’s possible to have a great day out in central London without spending a fortune.

If you know of any hidden gems which are either free or very cheap to visit in London, do leave me a comment below as I’d love to repeat the experience. We may even take the girls with us next time, if we’re feeling VERY brave!