Saturday, 26 March 2011

Grand Days Out for Grandparents

Grand Days out for Grandparents
The relationship between grandparents and grandchildren can be a very special one and time spent together is something to be savoured.  Perhaps part of the magic of this relationship comes from the generation gap and where better to explore this further than in one of the many museums in Gloucestershire. Here you can share discoveries of how things used to be compared to today, perhaps in your day, or further back in time.  So many things stay the same, such as our need for food, clothes, shelter and even toys, but the design and materials often change dramatically over time.  Many museums make special efforts to encourage family visits from all ages and offer lots of activities, interactive screens and events for their younger visitors which are fun and designed to include the adults too.
A quick browse through www.gloucestershirerevealed.co.uk will show a number of museums which cover a wide variety of subjects keeping youngsters amused with a mixture of activities and play, both indoors and out. So to give an idea of what can be done in Gloucestershire here are some possibilities to consider.
The Museum in the Park, Stroud, has a park for youngsters to play in and around. The museum has temporary exhibitions, talks and drop in activities throughout the year for all ages, so if you’re looking for things to do that you can share with your grandchildren this is a great place to be. The museum focuses on the history of Stroud and the surrounding area, from prehistoric times up to the modern day. Most rooms have areas where children are encouraged to try themed games, such as making mosaics, creating gearing systems, and using interactive screens plus there is a dedicated play area/reading room. Many exhibits are local and you should be able to tell the children about some of the domestic appliances on show and probably some of the toys too. It is amazing how quickly our own childhood memories can appear in a museum.
Outside you can wander down to the lake and work up an appetite for lunch. During the summer it is an ideal spot to stop and have a picnic or packed lunch and talk about what you have seen, while watching the ducks and swans on the water. The museum is open for the majority of the year all week except Mondays (excluding Bank Holidays).  On site are baby changing facilities, a lift plus a large car park shared with the leisure centre. Access for pushchairs is good, with ramps up to the exhibition rooms and a lift. It is suggested you allow two to three hours for your visit.

In the Forest of Dean is the Dean Heritage Centre at Soudley. Located in an historic mill building with lake, it has a mixture of indoor and outdoor exhibits. There is a good sized car park and access for pushchairs is simple, with lifts to take you to upper floors. On entering you at once start a Forest related journey from the Ice Age to the present day - beware the wolf as you enter and other furry creatures watching your progress! As you explore the site with your grandchildren you discover together the Royal Forest’s history, helped with fun activities for the children dotted about, from brass rubbing to dressing up clothes, especially in the recreated old school room.
Outside, there is more to find. The larger exhibits range from machinery to buildings, and will be the subject for discussion on how things used to be compared with our modern way of life. You will encounter a Forester’s Cottage, a Charcoal Burner’s Camp, a Free Mine and to the delight of many, a couple of large Old Spot pigs on your route around the site. A walk around the lake takes you in a loop back to the car park, past the Adventure Playground, with benches for you to sit on while the children play on the equipment.  After, head up to the family friendly cafe where you can enjoy a good lunch with decent sized portions of delicious local food and drink – high chairs are available should you want them. Although a popular spot the atmosphere is very relaxed and you feel very much away from the hustle and bustle of the modern world. The Dean Heritage Centre is open throughout the year except between 24th 28th December and you should allow for a couple of hours there.

Just 20 minutes drive away is the Dean Forest Railway, which operates through most of the year from March onwards. There is nothing like the romance of steam and you can share the excitement sounds and smells of these trains and describe a time when train travel was more glamorous and appealing. Closer to Christmas are Santa Specials, where your grandchildren will meet Father Christmas and his Elves and receive a present too. You can all get very close to the steam engines and discover the Forest landscape in all seasons from a heated carriage or get off together at one of the stops and explore the Forest walks, before returning on a later train.
There is a museum just beyond the gift shop with artefacts and larger exhibits such as a reconstruction of a rural Ticket office which may spark some memories for you. A popular "hands on" exhibit for children is the telephone exchange which in this modern world of smart ‘phones and internet is something your grandchildren will probably not have met before. How often do we get to dial numbers on a traditional ‘phone now? The Museum is open whenever trains are running and doesn’t require a ticket to gain entrance to it. The large car park at Norchard offers access for pushchairs to the shops, trains and museum. Depending on whether you ride the trains or get off them, you can spend between a couple of hours to a full day here indulging in shared nostalgia.

In Tewkesbury the John Moore Countryside Museum focuses on rural Gloucestershire and its wildlife. On entering the 15th Century building there is the immediate opportunity to stroke a fox, mole, otter and hedgehog (although they are examples of taxidermy rather than live inhabitants) with further birds and animals to be discovered over the next two floors. It is very likely that you will be showing your grandchildren animals and birds they will have never seen before. To explore the interesting and cosy museum there are quizzes for children with Moore the Mole providing you with a score at the end. A trip around the museum should take about an hour.
A few doors further down the street is The Merchant’s House another 15th Century building which was a home and shop, now restored to as near original condition as possible. Prepare yourselves for a very different experience from a modern house as there are no recognisable modern day comparisons. At certain times of the year there are guided tours where the history of the building can be further discovered by candle light. The Museum is open most of the year Tuesday to Saturdays plus Bank Holidays. The museum is very welcoming on and the staff will be happy to help you get the most from your visit. 

If you or the children like art then a visit to Nature in Art at Twigworth, north of Gloucester is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon in a Georgian Mansion built in the 1700’s. There are many different types of animals, birds, insects etc featured in pictures and sculptures will provide something different yet fun for all ages and plenty to talk about. In the garden are more sculptures in a variety of materials and the opportunity for much of the year to see an artist at work in their own studios.
The setting is very family friendly and offers specific children’s activities during school holidays. You will also find a very good cafe with friendly service, offering a range of tasty main courses and desserts, or you could just have tea, coffee and a slice of cake. There is plenty of room to bring in pushchairs from the car park outside and Nature in Art provides a warm welcome in all ways throughout the year, except when closed December 24th – 26th and Mondays.


In Bourton-on-the-Water, in the Cotswolds, you will find the Cotswolds Motor Museum. Your grandchildren may recognise Brum, the little car that starred in his own TV show, but there are lots of discoveries to make together, with vans, sports cars and even a Formula 1 racing car to see. It will undoubtedly stir memories to be shared and questions to be asked from all the family. There is a specific play area for children and the route around the museum is all level for easy access for pushchairs. The Museum is closed in January and February.


Heading further back in time is the Corinium Museum in Cirencester where you will be transported back to the past glory and splendour of Roman Britain. There are lots of things to keep the children amused here from dressing up to interactive information through computer terminals. The museum is a great blend of hi-tech (which most kids instinctively head towards) and traditional, so you should all be able to learn together about the history Cirencester from prehistoric times although the main focus is the Romans, and get a real sense of discovery and fun together. If you’re hungry you can go through to Jacks Cafe which can be accessed from the museum, but as your ticket entitles you to an all day visit you can explore more of Cirencester and return later if you wish. The Museum is open all year, except for 23rd – 26th December and New Year’s Day and has lots of child friendly activities to keep the youngsters amused. There is excellent access for pushchairs throughout the museum with good toilet facilities too, and allow between one to four hours for a visit.


In a totally different vein, in Cheltenham is the Holst Birthplace Museum, where you can step off the street and take your grandchildren back in time to a multi period house covering Victorian, Regency and Edwardian periods in different rooms. You will discover that even small houses could appear quite opulent in their reception rooms, but as you climb the stairs past the family bedrooms you’ll get to where the servants slept and the Attic room where the children were expected to stay all day away from the parents! In this room are a number of toys and games from past eras, many still recognisable by children of recent times, so have a play together as you share stories of your childhood. For a complete contrast head to the basement and show the children how it was “below stairs” with the recreated Victorian Kitchen. Here you will discover how hard the servants worked, to do things that we take for granted today like preparing food, cleaning and the laundry.


A final suggestion to visit is the Edward Jenner Museum, in Berkeley. Situated in the former home of Dr Edward Jenner who pioneered vaccination, the 300 year old house has a fascinating mix of gruesome pictures of smallpox victims, the chance for you to share the experience of exploring the spooky Attic Rooms where the servants lived (check that tours are running) and outside, the Vinery. Outside, tucked in a corner of the garden is the Grade II* thatched rustic hut that Jenner christened “The Temple of Vaccinia” where he vaccinated the poor for free against smallpox. This has always proved popular with children and is usually one of their lasting memories of a visit to the museum.
Of interest to some children is the photograph on the half landing of the stairs showing what has become known as “The Jenner Ghost”. Taken by the BBC the image of a ghostly figure appears in a doorway in the Attic. If you get a chance to go on an Attic Tour, will you be the only ones up there....?


The above is just a small selection of places that grandparents could visit with grandchildren in Gloucestershire and a way of enjoying their company for a half day or full day out. Most admissions are either free or less than £5 for an adult and there are discounts available for over 65s. It has been proven that if children visit museums from an early age they will continue to do so as they grow up and this can only benefit their general education and understanding of history and give you more excuses to spend time together in the future. What better way of learning than sharing happy experiences with an older generation who can share stories from their upbringing?
A bit of learning coupled with a visit to the shop and some cake has got to be a good thing – unless you’ve had strict orders from their parents not to over indulge them!
For more information on the above venues and other Gloucestershire Museums see www.gloucestershirerevealed.co.uk

Monday, 21 March 2011

Energy Performance Certificates for Holiday Lets

As from the 30th June 2011 short term holiday lets will need an Energy Performance Assessment (EPC).  An EPC will be required for a property rented out as a holiday let where the building is occupied as a result of a short term letting arrangement and is rented out for a combined total of 4 months or more in any 12 month period.  Prior to this holiday lets have been exempt from the requirement.  The trigger point for the requirement is at the time when the property is first rented out following the 30th of June, as an EPC can be obtained for holiday lets prior to this date owners would be wise to consider obtaining one as soon as possible.
The owner, not the agent will have responsibility for obtaining the EPC.  From July the agent will need to attach the EPC to the written particulars where these are provided.
EPC’s are potentially useful to the owners of short term holiday lets as they suggest measures which can reduce the use of energy, and as the cost of heating and lighting of holiday accommodation is in most cases borne directly by the owners, the rising fuel prices can significantly reduce the income from rents. Therefore saving energy can make a significant difference to the viability of the business.
For expert advice and help with your holiday lets, contact:
Lynn Edwards MA MCIEH MCIH

Domestic Energy Assessor

Tel: 01454 323340 or 07973 166692

Posted via email from Copper Phoenix's posterous


Marketing services

Developing strategy, practical help, training and more.



About us

Adaptable, analytical and an absolute focus on delivering your goals.



Let us help you

To find out more, please don’t hesitate to contact us.