Mini-golf, make-believe and magic for a grand day out
ILOVE MY grandchildren. All three of them. But keeping them busy and exercised during the Pesach school holidays can be challenging. The weather has a tendency to make many activities difficult. A mixture of mud and matzah crumbs left over from a Pesach outing can also play havoc with the interior of your car. And calls of “are we there yet?” as we crawl through the drizzle along the choked North Circular towards the coast and rural Essex are sufficient to drive even the most doting grandparents to distraction.
Despite the grey weather, nothing will stop them from enjoying themselves once we have arrived. From building mud castles on the pebbly beach at Southend on Sea, wading up to their knees in the murky waters of the Thames estuary and spending their pocket money on slot machines, everything is great fun when you are sufficiently small and unjaded.
Damp and tired as the kids were on our last visit, on the way home we stopped off for a trek through the enchanting and ancient tree-lined footpaths of Epping Forest. We also gazed at the mysterious “Lost Pond” near Loughton Camp, where ancient Britons led by Queen Boudicca are said to have halted the Roman legions in their tracks. Mind you, the kids seemed more interested in the fish that could be seen flitting to and fro under the moss-covered water than they were in any notion of ancient history. As we left the forest, there were squeals of delight as they spied a herd of cows crossing the road in urban Wanstead.
If, like we and our grandchildren, you are happy to risk the rain, there are many other outdoor activities to tire out the youngsters. And for those living in north west London they do not necessarily involve a long drive. Try Aldenham Country Park, Hertfordshire, where the energetic can tackle the lakeside walk, pony rides, nature walks and a free playground. There is also a chance to meet Winnie the Pooh in his “100 Aker Wood.”
The park has a petting zoo, where children are invited to help feed the animals. Nearby is an indoor play barn with a climbing wall, bouncy castle and kiddie rides.
Also popular with the Jewish community (and with our grandchildren) is Shenley Park near Radlett. It has a play area for children, apple orchards and a delightful two-acre walled garden where events often take place and children delight in rolling down its grassy landscaped slopes. Its woodland walks are the perfect way to ensure your grandchildren end the day worn out but happy.
If you want to sneak in a bit of shopping while entertaining the family, it is worth noting that Brent Cross is holding a spring festival from March 31 to May 2, with stilt walkers and face painting on selected weekends. There will be rides and attractions for all ages, including bumper cars, roller coasters, a water ride and a merry-goround. Every evening, there will be a spectacular luminaire light display, featuring a giant observation wheel with interactive LED light show.
VIP visitors will include Peppa Pig and George on April 16 and Paw Patrol’s Chase and Marshall on April 30 (these are both Sundays). Full details can be found at thespringfestival.co.uk
If the grandkids are sporty, perhaps challenge them to a game of crazy golf. What? It’s a sport. A great venue is Captain’s Bay nine-hole mini golf course in Mill Hill, north west London. Tee off with your grand kids and prepare to be humiliated.
Crazy golf is also available indoors
Catch the spring-festival amusements at Brent Cross