North East Family Fun

A UK Family Travel & Lifestyle Blog

Monday, 26 June 2017

Sunnyhills Farm Shop & Cafe | A Service Station alternative near the A1, Alnwick

Sunnyhills Farm Shop & Cafe in Belford and Alnwick in Northumberland is a lovely place to stop off with the kids when travelling to Scotland. It's just seconds from the A1 and definitely popular. We stopped by on a Thursday lunchtime in half term and the place was packed. There were no tables left in the cafe and just a couple left outside. Luckily the weather was kind to us so we opted for some al fresco dining. 

Sunnyhills Farm Shop & Cafe | A Service Station alternative near the A1, Alnwick

The site is made up of a farm shop, licensed cafe, spacious play park and ice cream kiosk. During our visit there was also a pop-up plant sale but I'm not sure if this was seasonal.

Sunnyhills Farm Shop & Cafe | A Service Station alternative near the A1, Alnwick

Our three love it when we visit somewhere with an outdoor play park and off they ran as we ordered our food. The children's menu is good value at £4.99 for 2 courses for kids. Our total bill was £45 for 2 x adult hot meals, 3 x children's meals and a round of soft drinks.

Sunnyhills Farm Shop & Cafe | A Service Station alternative near the A1, Alnwick

Sunnyhills Farm Shop & Cafe | A Service Station alternative near the A1, Alnwick

Unfortunately, our food took 50 minutes to arrive (we weren't informed of any delays) so I wouldn't recommend this place if you're after a quick bite. If you are after something more leisurely and have a bit of time on your hands though, it's worth the wait. I'm pleased the kids had the play area to occupy them otherwise I know Jack would have been an absolute nightmare waiting that long for his lunch.

Sunnyhills Farm Shop & Cafe | A Service Station alternative near the A1, Alnwick - kids meals

When our food did arrive we were impressed with the quality. Jack's fish goujons were particularly tasty.

Sunnyhills Farm Shop & Cafe | A Service Station alternative near the A1, Alnwick - kids fish

I ordered scampi and chips with mushy peas & homemade slaw. This was around £10 I think. It was all delicious and the tartar sauce packed a real punch. I do think they were a bit mean with their chips though - for £10 I'd expect more and if you look at Heidi's plate I'm sure she received more than me! Lucky girl.

Steve went for a homemade pie of the day (mince) and thoroughly enjoyed it. Served with homemade chips, a jug of gravy and mushy peas, he was in pie heaven and would definitely recommend. There was lots of filling too.

Ice creams are included in the children's menu but as we'd had a lengthy wait for food, time was getting on and we had to be in Edinburgh for a meeting and were risking being late if we stayed for dessert. The kids played outside for a few more minutes though whilst Steve and I quickly popped into the farm shop for a few BBQ supplies for that evening's dinner.

The farm shop is home to lots of local non-perishables and treats. We picked up a stem ginger cake and bread buns plus 2 packs of Northumberland sausage from the butcher's counter. We were hoping to buy some chicken too but to be honest, the butcher's counter was a little bare and there was no chicken on offer which is a shame. Anyway, we settled for sausages and our farm shop bill was less than £10.

Overall,  I will continue to visit Sunnyhills as I like supporting local businesses rather than service stations, our food was lovely and the kids love the play area. It's not a place to visit for a quick stop off though so if you are planning to stop by, remember to take this into account.


Friday, 23 June 2017

Turma! Hadrian's Cavalry Charge in Carlisle | 1st & 2nd July 2017 | A Guide for Families

*This is a collaborative post. Please see my Disclosure Policy for further information

TURMA! Hadrian's Cavalry Charge in Carlisle | 1st & 2nd July 2017 | A Guide for Families

What is a Turma?

There's a pretty exciting event happening in the North on 1st and 2nd July. A Turma is a troop of 30 cavalrymen and horses. This Roman troop will be brought back to life in a special event as part of Hadrian's Cavalry. The event in Carlisle will host one of the largest Roman re-enactments in the UK and has been featured in both the Guardian and the Telegraph as one of 2017's must-see events.

TURMA! Hadrian's Cavalry Charge in Carlisle | 1st & 2nd July 2017 | A Guide for Families

Over 30 horses and cavalrymen will showcase their skills and manoeuvres in Bitts Park as the area is transformed into a Roman Cavalry pageant. Families are encouraged to arrive dressed in their team's colours and to pledge their allegiance to either team red or team blue in a weekend packed full of action.

What is there to do for families across the weekend? 

Visit Hadrian's Wall visitor village

  • Visit the mini Hadrian's Wall visitor village where you can tuck into wood-fired pizza or traditional Roman honey cake
  • Visit the recruiting house and choose your team - will you choose team red or blue? You'll be provided with a team flag to wave in the parade ground later
  • Walk around a Roman camp and take in the excitement and tension
  • Talk to soldiers and find out about their kit and Roman life
  • Meet and stroke the horses taking part in the Turma!
  • Take part in chariot racing (small additional charge)
  • Join in with Roman Soldier training
  • Roman Guards will be protecting the village and will happily pose for photographs
  • The village is open Saturday 12noon-8pm and Sunday 12noon-6pm

TURMA! Hadrian's Cavalry Charge in Carlisle | 1st & 2nd July 2017 | A Guide for Families
Meet Roman Soldiers and walk around their camp

TURMA! Hadrian's Cavalry Charge in Carlisle | 1st & 2nd July 2017 | A Guide for Families
Take part in Roman Chariot Racing

TURMA! Hadrian's Cavalry Charge in Carlisle | 1st & 2nd July 2017 | A Guide for Families
Join in with Roman Soldier School

Watch the Turma! 

  • The 90 minute Turma! will take place on Saturday at 2pm and 6pm and Sunday at 4pm
  • The sound of trumpets will call you from the encampment to the parade ground
  • 30 cavalrymen and horses will perform traditional manouveres and score points before the dramatic finale
  • Expect to see javelins, lances and spear throwing  - history will be brought to life in front of your eyes like never before

First Roman Re-enactment? Here's what to expect

We've visited lots of re-enactments with the kids in the past from a Knight's Tournament at Belsay Hall to Hadrian's Wall Live in 2016 and I really would highly recommend to families with children of all ages. You definitely don't need to have a keen interest in history to enjoy an event like this. Nothing beats walking around a Roman encampment to bring history to life and engage children in the past. In our school, children cover the topic of Roman's in Year 3 and I can hand on heart say that visiting events like this has definitely helped with their understanding of Roman times and encouraged them to learn more.

The battles themselves are always thrilling for both grown ups and children and are full of drama. We've never found them to be scary though and it's important to remember it's a dramatisation and not actually real but they are still super thrilling to watch. 

You can find out more information about Turma including FAQs by visiting the Hadrian's Cavalry website here.

How to get there

Carlisle is super easy to get to from the North East. We travelled by train last year and the whole journey took just 90 minutes direct from Newcastle Central Station. Bitts Park is less than 15 minutes walk from the train station. The park is also home to a splash park, skate park, play area, crazy golf and more.

If you'd prefer to drive, there are 5 car parks within a 10 minute walk of Bitts Park (see here for details). It should take around 80 minutes to drive from Newcastle along the A69 to Carlisle.

Buy tickets here 

Tickets are available to buy up until 1 hour prior to each performance. Tickets are available on the day however they are on a first come, first served basis so I would highly recommend pre-booking to avoid disappointment.

Child (aged 4 and under) - FREE
Child (aged 5 - 16 year) - £8
Adult (aged 17+) - £12
Family (2 adults, 3 children) - £35

Special Offers

Save your Turma tickets and you'll be eligible to receive discounts on many other Hadrian's Cavalry exhibitions and events across the summer including:
  • 10% off entry to the Roman Army Museum, Segedenum, Chesters Roman Fort and Vindolanda
  • 20% off AD122 bus tickets. We featured this trip last year and think it's a fantastic way to visit Hadrian's Wall
  • See here for more special offers and t&c's
  • You can also buy special joint tickets to Tullie House Museum in Carlisle and Turma (details here). We loved our visit to Tullie House Museum last year and would 100% recommend a visit. 

Let me know if you fancy this event. It looks like it's going to be lots of fun and like a good way to celebrate the start of July (and hopefully lots of sunshine).


How to plan the ultimate family holiday to Florida

*This is a collaborative post. Please see my disclosure policy for details

I will be honest with you when I say that Florida is a destination that has never been at the top of my bucket list. I like to base my holidays around good food and the great outdoors and I just didn't have that perception of Florida at all. But then my friends, work colleagues, acquaintances, readers....everyone would continue to recommend Florida to me so I decided to do a little research and do you know what, I changed my mind! I can now see why others love it and Florida is not only the best place in the world to head to for family fun and theme parks but it also has so much more to offer. Did you know for example that Florida is the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles co-exist in the wild and is the only American state to have extensive shallow coral reef near it's coast?

How to plan the ultimate family holiday to Florida

Florida seems to have everything you could possibly need from a family holiday. Not only are you surrounded by entertainment, theme parks and water parks but there is a gorgeous coast to explore, an abundance of nature on your doorstep, the sun normally shines, there are daily flights from the UK and when it comes to dining out, families are actually spoilt for choice. Who wouldn't want to holiday somewhere as beautiful as this?

How to plan the ultimate family holiday to Florida

So I've changed my mind but the more I looked into it, the more I realised that taking a trip to Florida needs a serious amount of planning. We hope to visit within the next couple of years but I've already started researching our trip. Here are some ways you can start getting organised:

Do lots of research to find the best deal

Florida is a popular destination and there's no denying that it can be expensive. I've heard of quotes of over 20k for some families. Yikes! My advice is to compare lots of sites and obtain as many quotes as possible. Check out both the large tour operators and specialist websites such at Always make sure the agent is ATOL and ABTA protected so if something does go wrong, you know you're protected. Travel Planners are currently offering some cracking deals to Orlando and I have found that booking a villa will usually work out cheaper than staying in a hotel.

Use Facebook groups 

Whenever I am planning a holiday I always scour the internet for relevant groups. They are the perfect place to ask real people for advice. It's Orlando Time has been a fantastic resource to me and with over 100,000 members, it's full of hints and tips from those in the know. I've learned all sorts such as how using Uber can save more money than car hire, where to look for dining discounts, how to access free water in theme parks and more. Members post lots of budgeting tips and daily mini blogs and photos of what they've been up to as well so it's a fab group for inspiration and to look for itinerary ideas.

Read specialist blogs

Obviously, as a blogger myself, I am a little bit biased but reading blogs is a fantastic way to gain inspiration and keep up to date with the latest activities available in Florida. is a specialist site for those heading to Disney World. You'll find crowd calendars, restaurant reviews, customised park plans and more. Another site I like is which is packed with the latest ride previews, announcements and rumours - perfect for bed time reading and getting into that holiday spirit and best to start reading well in advance of your trip. Finallly, if you prefer something a little more visual, is a fab YT channel featuring weekly videos from various parks and resorts in Florida alongside monthly round-ups. Definitely worth checking out.

Get organised with a holiday planner

There is so much to think about when planning a holiday to Florida and I think it's always best to try and get it down on paper - it will help you to feel less overwhelmed and hopefully not forget anything! Renew passports, apply for ESTAs, packing lists, itinerary, budget....there is so much to think about. I am a little addicted to buying stationery and absolutely love these Holiday Planner inserts from The Ultimate Success Planner on Etsy (Natalie is a local North East business). The FiloFax inserts include a holiday countdown, flight info, things to buy and pack lists, spending trackers and more. Perfect for keeping your holiday planning all in one place.

So there you have my top tips for planning a holiday to Florida. Let me know if you have any top planning tips or recommendations too. 


Thursday, 22 June 2017

What's On in the North East for Families & Children | 24th & 25th June 2017

Welcome back to our regular 'What's on at the weekend' guide. Before you read on, I have a small plea - North East Family Fun has been nominated for a national award! Eeek! If you enjoy reading these guides, it would really mean a lot to me if you could vote for us here (scroll to category 9). It takes 30 seconds and I'd really appreciate it.  Thank you xxxxx

What's On in the North East for Families & Children | 24th & 25th June 2017

Now onto regular business, if you have yet to visit the Hoppings, their last day is Saturday so catch it while you can! There's lots going on this weekend from our very own Glastonbury Festival to a Northumbria Police family fun day. As always, follow my Instagram Stories to see what we're up to.

Saturday 24 - Sunday 25 June | Insect Weekend | Kirkley Hall Zoo

Learn all about insects, how to spot and identify them and complete special mini beasts trail. Find out more here. 

Saturday 24 June | The Great Pirate Plot | The Word South Shields

An interactive session for children aged 7 and under (& their families) who will be taken on an amazing adventure following the secret treasure map. From £2.50. Find out more & book here

Sunday 25 June | GlasTYNEbaby | Hoults Yard

Hoults Yard will be transformed into a magical day of fun for little ones. There will be live music, a BIGG market rave, street food, soft play, street performers and more. Tickets are priced from £7 and available here.

Sunday 25 June | Northumbria Police Family Fun Day | Middle Engine Lane, Wallsend

Say hello to the local police team, shake paws with police dogs and try a military assault course. Have your fingerprints taken by cadets, meet the stars from ITV's Car Wars, meet Police horses, join in with the climbing wall, watch Karate demos and more. Find out more here.

Sunday 25 June | Medieval Day | Durham Castle 

This FREE family event will see Durham Castle take a step back in time. Expect story telling, medieval object handling, crafts, face painting, castle tours and more. Find out more here.

Sunday 25 June | BeeFest | Cherryburn

Celebrate all things 'Bee' at Cherryburn today with competitions, live music, waggle dancing, stalls and education. Find out more here

Whatever you're up to, have a fab weekend and don't forget to vote for North East Family Fun in category 9 here. Thank you 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Turtle Bay Newcastle | Children's Menu Review

*This is a collaborative post. Please see my disclosure policy for more details

It feels like Newcastle City Centre is absolutely saturated with restaurants now. It honestly feels as if somewhere new is popping up every week. My 'must visit' list is grow out of control and I don't think I'll ever manage to put a dent in it. With this in mind, you know that somewhere must be really special if we have visited on more than one occasion. Turtle Bay near the Gate is one such restaurant.
Turtle Bay Newcastle | Children's Menu Review

After reviewing the restaurant with Steve last year, we've been back a couple of times and we ended New Girl in Toon's Geordie hen party here too (you can't beat those 2 for 1 cocktails). I've also popped in for lunch with my parents as I knew they'd love it too (and they did). I've never taken H, H and J before though so we were delighted to be invited along to Turtle Bay last week to sample some of the new additions to the main menu alongside their children's menu too.

Turtle Bay Newcastle | Children's Menu Review

Thanks to Newcastle's 'Alive After 5' parking scheme, car parking is free at selected car parks after 5pm. We took advantage of this and parked at intu Eldon Square before our 6pm reservation. You can't miss Turtle Bay - it's right next door to the Gate, Tiger Tiger and just up from Newcastle's infamous Bigg Market. Because of this, I probably wouldn't visit with kids later in the evening (especially on a weekend when the area is swamped with stags and hens) but for a weekday early evening dinner or lunch it is absolutely fine. Our table was booked for 6pm on a Wednesday night.

I just love the atmosphere inside Turtle Bay. The laid back vibe, street art and reggae music immediately help your shoulders to relax and you feel as if you're slipping into holiday mode. If you watch my Instagram stories, you'll know that I recently introduced Heidi and Jack to Bob Marley and they loved singing and dancing along to his songs (and others) from the minute we stepped inside the restaurant.

Our server was fantastic with our children and they were provided with full sized activity books themed around the Caribbean. We loved the Bob Marley dot-to-dot and the Caribbean-themed word search. The activity book also featured a recipe for a special Caribbean mocktail which the kids made at home with Steve the following night when I was at The Botanist with the girls. Keep an eye on BigStevieCool soon to check out the recipe.

A big jug of water is brought to your table on arrival (never decline this - you'll need it) and once the kids were settled, I took advantage of Turtle Bay's 2-for-1 cocktail offer (selected times) and ordered their new Rum Margarita. Steve makes a mean Margarita at home and the classic version is probably my favourite cocktail. I like them pretty sour and Turtle Bay's version was still a tiny bit too sweet for me. It is probably personal taste though as Steve had a little sip and loved it and it definitely wasn't as sweet as 99% of the Margarita's I've sampled in Newcastle so it was a very good effort. Two of these for £7.15 is a bargain.

Steve was driving so no cocktails for him. He ordered a Caribbean Craft Beer (also a new addition to Turtle Bay's menu) and thoroughly enjoyed it. If he hadn't have been driving I'm pretty sure he'd have enjoyed a fair few rum cocktails but we'll save that for another night.

We made the mistake we often make when dining out and over-ordered. We couldn't decide what to begin with so went with the new Just Jerk Platter. This was packed with jerk wings, pork ribs, beef riblets, Jamaican beef patties, sweetcorn fritters, a green leaf salad and spiced popcorn. Basically ALL of the food. This platter is a real bargain at just over £13 but I think it would be better shared between 3-4 people as that's a lot of food for 2 people. We also couldn't resist the crispy chilli squid which is nice and spicy and one of my go-to dishes on the menu.

The children's menu is priced at a super reasonable £4.50 for a main course and side order. My three all decided they'd be fussy and all wanted to make amendments to their order. Typical! This absolutely wasn't a problem though and our server acted as if this was entirely normal which put us at ease and stopped us from feeling like a pain! We were asked if we'd like the children's meals brought with our starters which regular readers will know, always gets the thumbs up from us.

Harry ordered the beef burger topped with lettuce and mayo.....minus the lettuce and mayo. You can choose between fries, sweet potato mash, rice 'n' peas or salad for your side and of course all three selected fries. Harry's burger was substantial and I was surprised when he managed to finish the lot.

Jack ordered the grilled chicken breast with Carribean slaw.....minus the Caribbean slaw. Honestly, these kids don't know what they're missing! He was happy with his meal and finished it in record time so he could get back to his word search.

Heidi ordered the Flatbread topped with cheese and tomato with salad.......minus the tomato and salad. I swear my children aren't always this fussy but like most, they have their moments and I don't think a restaurant is the place to start forcing them to eat their greens as it's supposed to be a treat. Heidi really enjoyed her flatbread even if she was eating a plate full of beige food!

Onto our mains which arrived promptly. I spotted Bajan Beef Cheek Curry which is a new addition to Turtle Bay's menu and knew it would be right up Steve's street. Beef cheeks are marinated in Caribbean spices and slow cooked for 6 hours. This dish is served with rice and flatbread and is rich, flavoursome and authentic tasting. At just over £10 it's also excellent value.

I pushed the boat out and ordered Jerk Sirloin Steak which is cooked with Caribbean spices on the Jerk Pit BBQ. We've recently switched to a gas BBQ at home and although we absolutely love it, it doesn't give you that authentic BBQ taste - well my steak certainly achieved this and I especially loved the little charred pieces of fat. Delicious!! My steak was cooked medium and was perfect and not overdone. If you order from the pit BBQ you can choose from a selection of 3 different sauces so if you're not keen on spicy food, I would recommend trying the Pineapple or Coconut sauce. If you like it hot like me, go for the traditional jerk. If you're feeling healthy you can order your BBQ'd meat to be served with a Festival Salad which sounds delicious. I have fallen off the diet waggon recently though and ordered fries without thinking about it. Ooops! Must try harder. They were lightly spiced though and worth the calories I think.

We honestly would have loved to try dessert, the Passion Pie had been recommended to us by someone in the know on Twitter and I'd been dreaming about it ever since. We really were stuffed though and it would have been greedy for us to order any more food. We'll skip starters next time and make sure we save some space.

The service we received all evening was honestly 5* as it is every time we've visited - blogging or not, the service has always been spot on for us.

We LOVED taking our children to Turtle Bay and they thoroughly enjoyed it too. I appreciate that they didn't exactly try any authentic Caribbean cuisine but they still really enjoyed the whole vibe of the restaurant and it's nice that we can take our children to somewhere a little different from the norm and they'd still be catered for. Turtle Bay is well-located for the Empire Cinema and combining the two would make a lovely end of term treat or family day out this summer.

Find out more, view menus and book via the Turtle Bay website here


Tuesday, 20 June 2017

HSBC UK City Ride Newcastle | Cyclists are invited to take over the streets of Newcastle on Sunday 2nd July

*This is a collaborative post. Please see my Disclosure Policy for full details

We love free family events here at North East Family Fun and can't wait share this fantastic family-friendly event that's going to be taking over the streets of Newcastle on Sunday 2nd July. 

 HSBC UK City Ride Newcastle

On Sunday 2nd July between 11am-3pm there will be a fantastic bike ride taking place in Newcastle for big kids, little kids, grown-ups, cycling enthusiasts, fact everyone is invited with all ages and abilities welcome. 

The event is completely FREE of charge (make sure you register here) and with lots of entertainment and fun planned throughout the day, it's a fantastic way to get out on your bikes with your kids and enjoy the streets of Newcastle in a rare traffic-free environment.

HSBC UK City Ride Newcastle | Cyclists are invited to take over the streets of Newcastle on Sunday 2nd July

Regular readers will know that we've really struggled to encourage Jack into cycling. For a while, it felt like it was never going to happen and for years he was scared to even sit on a bike. We persisted though and thanks to a course we enrolled him onto through school, he is now a lot more confident and I feel like we can finally start planning to attend events like this and going out for proper family bike rides.

Now that the kids are all sorted, Steve and I need to buy new bikes too so if anyone has any recommendations, please let me know. We'll be popping along to the Let's Ride hub in Exhibition Park on Sunday 2nd July to show our support, join in with the fun and hopefully receive some decent expert advice on the best types of bikes for us to buy.

HSBC UK City Ride Newcastle | The Route

Starting at Exhibition Park, the route is 8.5km long (download a map here) and will take you past some of Newcastle's most famous landmarks including the Great North Museum, China Town and St James Park. This isn't just an ordinary bike ride though and there is lots of fun planned en-route including:

  • A Toot Your Horn Zone
  • A Sir Chris Hoy Speed Challenge
  • A Bubble Tunnel
  • BMX off-road area for kids
  • Try different bikes at the Trial Trail
  • Take things easy with a Rickshaw Ride
HSBC UK City Ride Newcastle | Cyclists are invited to take over the streets of Newcastle on Sunday 2nd July  - route map

Don't worry if you don't fancy the whole 8.5km or you don't think your kids will manage the full course - you can leave the route at any point. There's no pressure and it's not a race - the whole idea is to just have fun cycling around Newcastle.

HSBC UK City Ride Newcastle | Free Family Entertainment

There will be lots of FREE entertainment in the main hub at Exhibition Park. In the hub you can:
  • Pick up a FREE HSBC UK City Ride bib and get it personalised
  • Race on the pop-up Street Velodrome
  • Receive top bike advice from the experts
  • Try virtual reality track cycling
  • Decorate your bike and learn new skills in the kids zone

HSBC UK City Ride Newcastle | Cyclists are invited to take over the streets of Newcastle on Sunday 2nd July  - exhibition park

This Toon, Tyne and Bikes video created to promote the campaign! I spy lots of local gems including The Cycle Hub and love the passion us Geordies have for our city:

HSBC UK City Ride Newcastle is an inclusive event for all ages and abilities. If you're looking for a rare opportunity to explore our wonderful city in a unique way that is FREE and promises to be lots of fun, look no further. Pop Sunday 2nd July into your diary now, register your places and find out more details via the Let's Ride website here. 

Let me know if you fancy signing up and I may see you there. 


Visiting Dynamic Earth Edinburgh with kids | A review

*This is a collaborative post

Dynamic Earth is just off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh and a fantastic indoor attraction to visit with the kids. I would suggest that children aged 5-12 years are best suited to enjoy Dynamic Earth but all ages will get something from the day. The attraction features lots of hands-on experiences and interactive display and mainly focuses on the geology of our planet, nature and life on earth. 

Visiting Dynamic Earth Edinburgh with kids | A review

You can buy tickets on the door but I'd advise buying in advance as you'll receive a 10% discount. As Dynamic Earth is all undercover you don't have to worry about the weather spoiling plans so there's no reason not to. Online tickets are priced at £13.50 per adult and £8.55 per child which I think offers good value. 

There is on-site underground parking which although isn't cheap, is reasonably priced for Edinburgh city centre. We travelled via car after glamping at nearby Dundas Castle but after navigating city centre traffic, I'd advise trying to use public transport or walking where possible.

We arrived at Dynamic Earth at around 11am and unfortunately, we didn't get off to a good start. Although it was half term back in England, it was still term time in Scotland and there were 4 separate school trips booked in. It was SO busy with kids and very noisy. We headed down to the time machine where you begin your experience where a helpful member of staff advised us we'd be better off waiting 40 minutes and allowing the schools to go first. He suggested we headed up to the cafe until the groups had been cleared. I don't blame Dynamic Earth for this as they are a fantastic resource for schools however I wasn't keen on being delayed when we were already pushed for time so if this is going to be an issue for you, I'd probably recommend giving Dynamic Earth a quick call to check if there are any group bookings planned around the time of your visit. The coffee in the cafe was good so that kind of made up for it.

In the first part of the experience, we learned all about tectonic plates and how they have shifted over time using this very visual moving model of the globe. It was pretty cool and we all enjoyed learning how the world has changed over the years. Before long though, it was time for us to step into the time machine and as a family of huge Doctor Who fans, this is something we were all really excited about.

The time machine was so fun and as the doors opened on the other side we found ourselves in the heart of a volcano. Staff were on hand to explain what was happening and the floor actually moved below us as we watched the volcano erupt in front of us using video and visual effects. It sounds scary but it actually wasn't and we all thought it was a really fun way to learn how volcanoes work.

We survived the volcano and were taken into a room where we watched an impressive film which educated us about how glaciers form mountains and valleys. This was really informative and I think it's fair to say we all learned something. Next, it's a free flow area where you can learn about some of the animals that have lived on our planet through the ages. This area was packed with school children but as there was lots of hands on fun and mini facts dotted about the room, everyone was well spaced out so this wasn't an issue.

We wandered into the arctic zone which was super cool and we learned all about the animals that live here and the conditions they face.

I don't have any photographs beyond this point as it was too busy to capture anything without a random child stepping into shot but it's safe to say the best bits of Dynamic Earth are left until last.

First up, we entered a fantastic 4D cinema (although the 4D wasn't working so I guess it was 2D) and we travelled through earth's various climates from tropical rainforests to the dessert and even snow. We ended up being sprayed with fake snow as we 'crash landed' which the kids loved. This movie was fun for the kids and very engaging too. We landed in a rainforest and as we left the 4D cinema we walked into a mock up of a rainforest. It was fairly noisy so sometimes we struggled to hear the guide but we just edged a little closer and it was fine. Our explorer guide pointed out parts of the rainforest to us and (faux) crocodiles, gorillas, snakes and parrots moved around in front of us as he entertained us with various rainforest facts and humour. At the end we were able to watch a real life tropical rain shower in action which again was super impressive.

Our visit ended with a 20 minute show in Dynamic Earth's planetarium. There are various shows throughout the day and our visit coincided with a film featuring everything an astronaut needs to go through before they can head into space. We really enjoyed this part of our visit and I think it's something a little different to the standard planetarium shows you normally see in attractions like this. We lay back and for 20 minutes we marvelled at the astronauts above our heads and learned just how extreme space travel really is. Ewan McGregor was the narrator too and the show was both factual and entertaining. I was hoping it would inspire my three to become an astronaut themselves but they all agreed it looked too tough so won't be signing up to astronaut training anytime soon! 

Our visit to Dynamic Earth was worth £52.55. This is around £15 cheaper than a trip to Edinburgh Zoo and £12 cheaper than a trip to Edinburgh Castle so actually one of the more purse-friendly attractions in Edinburgh. We also noticed a fantastic family meal deal in the cafe - £22 for 4 hot meals and 4 drinks. We really enjoyed our trip to Dynamic Earth and spent 3-4 hours here. I love the whole immersive experience and how there were lots of little ways to pick up information rather than feeling overwhelmed. We all left with a much better understanding about geology, conservation and our changing planet and think Dynamic Earth is perfect for inquisitive children aged 5-12 years and their families. 

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