A trip to Conkers and Pizza Hut
We visited Conkers a few weeks ago. Conkers is a family attraction at the heart of The National Forest. It’s emphasis is on the natural world and our environment. This is the second time we’ve taken the boys. We rarely visit places like this and on this particular visit we used our Tesco clubcard vouchers so it was a very cheap day out. Many years ago I worked at Conkers as an education ranger, the job wasn’t great, working with school children was very rewarding, but exhausting, the litter picking and changing bins was miserable. So my views of the place was not especially great. But since visiting the site and a parent, I see it in a totally different light. It is a fantastic and exciting place for children, although I would say it’s probably better for children aged five to early teens, our boys are just a bit too young.
There is so much to do and it’s very spread out across the site, hence it being a bit overwhelming for pre-school age. You could easily spend a full day here. The one thing that really lets the place down is the food, would not recommend eating here. The service is pretty bad (25mins wait for a baguette and we were only the third table there), the price for the quality of food is very expensive. I would definitely recommend taking a picnic. There are lots of picnic spots, although not many indoor spaces to eat, so fingers crossed for a dry day.
The best part for our boys was the train, they were so excited about this! The train connects the two sites, the main site, Discovery, which is much larger and newer and Waterside, which personally is my favourite.
Discovery Centre houses a large exhibit, teaching about nature over four seasonal areas, energy production and use, a simulated tree top walk (may make you want to vomit) and the Enchanted Forest.
The Enchanted Forest is an area where children can climb ropes and scrambled along high level walkways, surrounded by giant bugs. This is best for children over 5, it’s quite dark and the music is creepy with loud screaming noises, The Farmer wanted to go home at this point. Outside at Discovery are many areas to explore around the lake.
Our boys enjoyed the water play and the Archimedes screw. We also had fun climbing to the top of the large viewing tower. We could have explored more, there’s an assault course, suitable for much older children and adults and also a sandplay area. We decided to head over to Waterside instead.
The first activity at Waterside has to be the adventure playground. It has some huge climbing towers with big curly slides.
There is a smaller climbing section for little ones, but how do you persuade a two year old not to follow his four year old up the massive tower? After, we explored the trails, this is my favourite bit, I love the woodland walks around Waterside.
The boardwalk over the swamp is great and the paths are very peaceful. It’s not so much fun for little ones I guess, when they’ve just been running around a playground.
They did find some good sticks though. The Farmer was starting to flag at this point, he’d not seemed quite himself all day, evidently later on we found out he was suffering with a tummy bug, poor fella. Another ride on the Conkachoo cheered him up, then another go at splashing in the water play before heading home. To make our day into more of a special treat, we went to Pizza Hut for tea. We’d been given some vouchers at Christmas, so thought now would be a good time to use them. I’ve not been to Pizza Hut since I was a student, when about 20 of us piled in, ordered children’s meals, just so we could get endless supplies of ice cream from the ice cream machines……Anyway we ordered some sort of set menu thing which gave us salad, pizza and a side dish.
It was way too much food and as I began to realise, not my sort of food at all. Of course with The Farmer having a bug, he didn’t eat at all. The leftovers were piling up, I felt quite guilty. Whilst I really appreciate being given vouchers to go there, I don’t think we will return. Saying that, there is nothing wrong with the place, the staff were incredibly friendly and helpful with the boys, the service was brilliant, it’s just not our sort of food unfortunately.
Writing this and remembering our day is making me feel shattered, we were certainly very tired after this long day out! We will hopefully return to Conkers again in maybe a year or two when the boys are a bit bigger, I think they will get much more out of it then too. Now it’s time for me to scoff the freshly baked chocolate brownie and drink copious amounts of tea.