King of the Wild Things: Dean Heritage Centre

I remember as a young boy, when the Dean Heritage Centre opened. We took a school visit, to discover the rich history of our locale. The blink of an eye, and thirty years have passed us by. This time instead of being a small boy, exploring our rich heritage, I am now guiding my own son down memory lane.

The wonderful museum, with around 20,000 pieces on show, is the main attraction here. JB showed a little interest in a few of them, but as a two year old I didn’t expect much. 

However, dotted around there are little workstations, furnished with crayons, pencils, and pictures ready to colour. A wonderful touch, designed to give older children, and us parents, a chance to discover the cornucopia of history the Forest of Dean has to offer, while the little ones doodle.

From Iron Age, through Roman and Saxon times; the industrial revolution, two world wars, and a gallery dedicated to the life and works of our local playwright, Dennis Potter.

  

Now I’ve wet your appetite, lets move on the the meat and potatoes of why we were here in the first place.

The Dean Heritage Centre have a Hungry Caterpillar trail, running until next Easter, winding through the woods, finishing at an adventure playground.

All the stops along the way feature a large wooden caterpillar and the fruit that has been eaten. They are marvelous creations from the on-site chainsaw carver, Clayton Ryder.

  

The playground is exactly as I remember it, although smaller for some reason, but the look on my sons face, put me in mind of how I felt, playing there, all those years ago.

Can you find all of the sugary treats that gave the hungry caterpillar tummy ache? 

 I know if I’d eaten a cake this big, I would be suffering for a week! They are hidden in and around the playground, and my little cherub was so excited when he found them.

Along with the Hungry Caterpillar, you will find, a coal mine, traditional charcoal burning, (the last weekend of August), and lots of other wood carvings. You will find pieces from previous trails such as The Gruffalo, and Room on the Broom. 

  

  

There is also a bug trail, and if you don’t like our eight legged friends, then I suggest you turn away now.
  

Did I mention the great archives library they have on site? Surely I mentioned the ferret walks, and the Pigs?

There is literally loads to see and do here, they have an art gallery where they showcase great local artists, and many other attractions on certain dates. Check out the Dean Heritage Centre website for further information.

All in all, a great escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life, whether that’s into the magical past for you, or the wonderful world of books for your kids.

King of the Wild Things is a series of posts about the wonderful places your children would love to visit in the Forest of Dean. Check out other posts in the series by clicking the following links.

Perrygrove Railway

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#BeardsForBabies II

As most of you are probably aware, over the last month I have been growing a beard to raise money for the Lullaby Trust, and today, (26th June), is the final day. The day that all involved reveal to the world the fruits of their labour.

 The fresh faced fizzog of your fatherly friend.

Before the big reveal, I must first give a big shout out to all those that got on board, growing facial fuzz, for such a great cause. You guys rock!

But more importantly than all of us scruffy urchins, I’d like to give a huge thank you to all the people that have donated their hard earned cash to help. Even if there was a little persuasion on my part. 😉

 

Through my Just Giving Page, and at work, my friends and family have raised a whopping £155 to date. I am truly overwhelmed by your support. Thank you so much.

If you would like to help, please click the link above and help out. The page will remain active.

For those of you who are new here you can read about what the Lullaby Trust stand for here, and you can read my thoughts about sudden infant death syndrome on my post.

Well, it’s time to cut to the chase, (pun intended), and reveal this years official #BeardsForBabies beard.

I thought I might do something a little special to thank you all for your support, and decided to have a little fun with the beard, so this years official beard is…drumroll please…the mighty mutton chops!

 

Puts me in mind of all those wonderful bare knuckle boxers. Who’s up for some fisticuffs? 😂

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Day of the Dad

What’s that you say? “Day of the Dad”? Surely you mean “Dawn of the Dad”?

Nope…Day of the Dad. More commonly known as Father’s Day, or in this case in particular, the name of the event I attended on the weekend. 

An informal pre Father’s Day, Father’s Day as it were. A chance to leave the family at home and chill with my peers in the dad blogging world.

The event was the brainchild of Al Ferguson from The Dad Network, and I must say, a bang up job Al. Great idea, great venue, great food, and most importantly great company.

  

Located on the bridge of the Tatershall Castle Riverboat in the little village of London, I got to meet up with a great bunch of dad bloggers, and vloggers, from across the UK, to share a beer, and a few anecdotes about life, kids, and blogging.

  

We had the pleasure of a visit from a couple of reps from The Lullaby Trust, who came down to witness first hand, the wonderful array of beards on show, and chat about the wonderful work they do.

The support for their #BeardsForBabies campaign has been truly amazing within the dad blog community, either that or they’re just a bunch of scruffy oiks! 😉

  
Two weeks growth, and the itching has just about stopped now.


The thing that surprised me most about the day, was the fact that even though there were no kids on board, the dads just couldn’t help but play with the Lego! It had me perplexed right up until the end of the day, when it was revealed that there was a £25 Etsy voucher up for grabs.

  

All in all it was a wonderful day out with a chance to to meet and greet all the great dad blogs I follow, and be introduced to some great bloggers I’d yet to come accross.

If you would like to see what we all got up to at Day of the Dad, there was a film crew on board, and it will be a feature on the Chrissy B show this Friday, for their Father’s Day special.

To all the dads out there, here’s wishing you a great Father’s Day this Sunday, and I hope to meet you all at the next Day of the Dad bash for some more fun! (A little bird tells me it will be June 11 ’16).

Well, until next time droogs, don’t forget to show your support for the Lullaby Trust and all those poor dads with itchy facial hair, mine is here.

Be dobby, smeck grimly, and skvat jeezny by the sharries droogs!

Dohigh.

The Pembrokeshire Coast

Last week we took a well earned break, and introduced the little boy to a traditional British beach holiday.

This year, as last, we visited the Pembrokeshire coast, staying at the excellent White Gate Caravan Park. This five star rated park is set in the quiet, and aptly named Pleasant Valley, and is mere minutes away from the coast and sandcastle heaven.

Our hosts, John, Charlotte, and their lovely little boy made us feel welcome from the get go, and were more than happy to help us achieve the perfect holiday experience, letting us know what is going on in the area. They definitely deserve the five stars they have been rated.

A visit to Pembrokeshire would be incomplete without a visit to at least one of the fifteen castles in the area. Last year we visited Manorbier, a sort of a trip down memory lane from my boyhood. This year we visited the daddy of them all Pembroke Castle.

  

You can imagine the excitement for a little boy, running around this massive castle, exploring all the little nooks and crannies. There is also lots to entertain older children, and adults alike, as the castle comes to life to explain its rich history.

The British weather being what it is, you can always expect a drop or three of rain, even in June, and this week was no exception. Luckily for us it was only the first couple of mornings, so it didn’t dampen our spirits.

  

With the rain freshly cleared up, off we trotted to Anna Ryder Richardson’s Manor House Wildlife Park, to visit the rhinos, and tigers. Unfortunately, the Sumatran cats aren’t yet at the park, but there are still plenty of other animals, to keep the little ones entertained, including lots of lovely meerkats trying to sell insurance to the visitors.

With the sun now out, complete with hat, (hip hip hooray,) we got to hit the beaches! Starting from left to right, along our little bit of coastline, we have Tenby, Saundersfoot, Wiseman’s Bridge, (our closest to White Gate,) Amroth, Marros, and Pendine. They are all beautiful beaches, and depending on which you chose, you can have all the hustle and bustle of Tenby, or you can have the beach to yourself at Marros.

As with all beach holidays it’s not just the bucket and spade that’s compulsory!

  

As you can imagine a week of sun sea and sand, meant that we HAVE to eat ice cream, CONSTANTLY! It’s the law, don’t you know.

No matter how much fun you can have at the seaside, (and we had lots!) it still wasn’t the crowning jewel of our holiday, oh no, that prize goes to Folly Farm.

  

When it comes to farm parks, I’ve seen more than my fair share over the last two years, but all pale in comparison. Don’t get me wrong, in the eyes of a two year old they are all wonderful places where bunnies can be petted, and soft play areas are as big as football pitches, (in their eyes), but Folly Farm goes that one step farther and appeals to the child buried deep within the hearts of us parents. 

I know for a fact that most dads would jump on this little digger in the sand pit, alongside their toddler and dig holes. Across the other side of the path at Folly Farm is dad heaven.
 

Once little Harry has learned how to milk a goat, why not show him how this little family feed.

   

And if your family tire of watching the zebra and giraffe graze, or the penguins swimming around under water, then I guess you could take in the adventure playground that IS the size of a football pitch.

  

If you manage to do all that, and still have energy/time left in the day, then the indoor fairground is worth a visit. Some of Britain’s oldest steam powered carousels, waltzers, and ghost trains, are not only on display, but you can ride them to your hearts content.

   

     

Dotted around this large fairground, you can find a hall of mirrors, hook the duck, rifle ranges, and all the old stall games your grandparents would remember playing in their youth.

All in all, I’d say that in our busy week in Pembrokeshire, we only covered about a third of all the activities available.

Bare in mind that most things are off the agenda with a toddler, due to age, or height restrictions, and you can start to imagine what fun can truly be achieved with the likes of roller coasters and lazer quests or paintball.

I think there will be many more visits to this area over the next 20 years, and we will never tire of it!

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Crazy Baby Names

Have you missed me while I’ve been on holiday? Or rather have you missed this weeks adventures with JB? More on that next week. 

For those of you needing a fix, fear not. There is a brand new post of mine out there in the Blogosphere. Sure it’s a little late from my usual Friday, but as the saying goes, ‘it’s better late than tarred and feathered’ ?!

This week I am the guest blogger on Honest Mum’s online parenting magazine! (Truly honoured, thanks Viki). Each month Viki features a dad blogger in her brilliant #WhosTheDaddy series, and this month it’s my turn to be Ray Winstone, so if you see me with a sock in my hand, you’d better avoid me like the plague.

Go take a look and send some love Viki’s way.

Don’t forget, this month I am raising money for the Lullaby Trust via growing #BeardsForBabies and you can donate on my Just Giving page. Don’t forget to tick the Gift Aid box so that a further 20% is added to your donation.


This is my freshly shaven head and chin, and you can follow my progress into beardy-weirdness via my InstagramTwitter, or Facebook accounts.

Here’s me a week later trying to look thoughtful. I know, I know…

  

…still, it’s for a good cause so please, please, please, click the Just Giving link above to help bereaved families with their loss.

Well, as Porky Pig is fond of saying “Th-th-th-that’s all folks!”

#BeardsForBabies

During the month of June I will be leaving the razor and badger brush hanging from its stand, and growing some facial fuzz to raise money for the Lullaby Trust, and the great work they do for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SUDI.

What is SUDI/SIDS?

‘Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy’ is used to describe all unexplained baby and toddler deaths, before a post-mortem is conducted. It has all but replaced the old phrase ‘cot death’, which was in fact rather misleading, as not all deaths occur in the cot.

A post-mortem will reveal an unforeseen problem, such as an infection or metabolic disorder, in less than half of the cases, and these unexplained cases are referred to as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or unascertained.

  
The facts and figures shown in the graphic above are truly shocking, but also very reassuring, that we can take some simple steps to reduce the chances. 

Around 270 infants die every year, and this number could be halved, if all mothers stopped smoking during pregnancy. Don’t get me wrong, as an ex smoker I know how hard that battle is, but just this message alone would give me the urge to keep battling that craving.

The greatest inspirational fact on the graphic, and I would say, the most important, is that over the last 25 years, the mortality rate has dropped by a whopping 70%, just from one campaign. ‘Back to Sleep’.

Back to Sleep

This campaign outlines a few things we can do to drastically reduce our child’s chances of SIDS.

  • Always put your child to sleep on their back. A child sleeping on their front is six times more likely to be affected.
  • Always place your child in their own cot, or Moses basket. Bed-sharing is very dangerous, especially if you are very tired, smoke, have been drinking, or taking drugs.
  • Have your baby sleep in the same room as you. This can reduce your child’s risk in half. Especially during the first six months of life. 
  • A clear cot. All your baby needs is a firm clean mattress and bedding. No pillows, loose blankets, or anything that could cover your baby’s face.

Bereavement

As well as getting all this useful information on how to care for your child out there, they also help and support the families of those that have tragically lost a loved one.

If you, or someone close, is going through this right now, then please, either ring 0808 802 6868 to talk to a trained professional, (weekdays 10am – 5pm, weekends 6pm – 10pm). Or read this Helpful Guide that will explain everything you will need to know and deal with, both in the immediate future, and longer term.

  
I’m sure you will agree with me that this message needs to be shouted from the rooftops, as it were, and that this charity needs all the support it can get.

That’s why I have chosen to take part in the #BeardsForBabies campaign. Let’s face it, I’m not going to be running a 5K anytime soon, (maybe 5 meters to the biscuit barrel and back).
Anyway. Fellas, are you joining me in growing a beard to raise awareness and a little money for this wonderful charity?

If you answered yes, then visit Just Giving, set up a page, and share it on Twitter etc.

If you answered no, then maybe I can shame you into visiting my Just Giving page, and making a comfortable donation for my efforts.

Forgo Friday’s frappaccino, and forward those funds to help those less fortunate than yourselves, for my soon-to-be furry face!

I will be posting the odd picture of my progress on my various social media sites, so that you can see what will eventually look to be my head on upside down. So come and link up with me on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook.

Update 26/06/15:

See how I got on growing my beard and raising money here.

Until next we meet droogs, be dobby!

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