We have been incredibly impressed with what the kids are absorbing so far. For the most part, they want to read information on the places we’re going, ask to listen to Rick Steves podcasts (they have been indoctrinated), and move to the front of guided tours to make sure they can hear what is being said.
Missa B has been writing an incredible journal filled with details that we forgot the moment they were said. Getting JJ to write a journal has been a lot more painful. As JJ has to talk about EVERYTHING, it takes about 10 minutes for him to write a sentence.
So, we’ve resorted to bribery. At the end of a country, Missa B gets 25 cents per page written. If JJ can write about a day (at least 4 sentences) without asking how to spell anything except proper nouns and only asking if he can’t remember something about a day, he gets 1 Euro. It may seem unfair, but I’m not thinking JJ is going to earn too much, and we’ve promised to make it fair for each of them. Not sure what that means at this point, but we’ve got time to figure it out.
They have endured a lot of adult-focused tours, but there are times when we head somewhere that is truly kid friendly. Two of these experiences during our earlier days in England included Warwick Castle and Ironbridge.
We had been told by many people not to miss Warwick Castle (my British ex-roomie laughed at me when I pronounced the second “w”). Think Warick. Why they put the other “w” in there, I have no clue.
I think the thing we enjoyed most about Warwick Castle is that it appeals to adults and kids alike. If you look at their website, it looks pretty over the top. The fact that it is owned by the same parent company as Madame Tussaud’s doesn’t help. So I was expecting a lot of goofy shows and a theme-park feel. When you walk around the corner after buying your ticket, you can’t help but be awed by the castle itself. And since it was the first castle of the trip, it was that much more impressive.
The first thing the kids did was put themselves into the stocks:
Once inside, we enjoyed a history tour/talk on the castle grounds that covered 1,100 years of history in an hour, an awesome longbow show, two outstanding falconry shows, and one goofy musical show (can’t have it all perfect). The highlight, however, was walking the ramparts of the castle and up and down several towers from the 14th century. It was definitely interesting making our way up the tiny spiral staircases! I saw one dad carrying his daughter down a 39 meter spiral staircase and was extremely grateful we are past that stage.
We didn’t get as much time inside the castle as we would have liked as they were closing it a bit early for a wedding. A wedding in a 1.100 year-old castle — how fun is that?! We did have enough time for Missa B to try on some armor, so she was pretty thrilled.
Overall, a fantastic day — we got there before it opened and left when they kicked us out. The kids were a little loopy by the end of the day, but they slept well that night!
After we left the area of Warwick and Stratford-Upon-Avon, we drove to Telford, England to visit Ironbridge over the next two days. There is pretty much nowhere to stay in Telford, so I booked us into the Holiday Inn. It was fantastic! Most of the hotel had been recently renovated, so our room was freshly redone. The pool was a welcome treat for the kids who wore themselves out swimming shortly after our arrival. Because they were so tired, we decided just to eat in the hotel. Turns out that the kids’ dinners were free. And, the food was great! Overall, a great place to stay.
Next morning was Ironbridge — the first bridge made entirely out of cast iron. The bridge itself is interesting to see, and apparently even more interesting to climb.
But, there is so much more to see than the bridge. Ironbridge is made up of a series of museums. The first museum we visited was Blists Hill — an open-air museum which is a recreated Victorian town. The first place you visit upon entering Blists Hill is the bank where you can exchange your money for Victorian money (you can change back what you don’t use). You get a sheet giving you all the details on the money so you can figure out how to use farthings, halfpennies, sixpence, etc., but honestly, it is pretty confusing! It made for a good math lesson for all of us when the kids wanted to buy sweets at the sweet shop or a souvenir from the blacksmith.
Our resident mathematician, JJ, decided to do a “maths” scavenger hunt which was quite challenging and kept him extra busy throughout the day.
The recommended time for Blists Hill is 2-4 hours. We stayed 7. Go figure. We all had a blast spending time in the shops, viewing the blast furnaces from the Industrial Revolution, and learning about life 100 years ago.
The following day, we went to Enginuty, a science museum. Lots to do there, so we explored a bit, went to another museum for lunch, and then came back and explored some more. There was something for everybody, especially Hubs.
Definitely a worthwhile stop in the middle of the English countryside.
Next stop: York!