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Things to do in Staffordshire

Amazing, fun things to do in Staffordshire, days out in and around Staffordshire to help keep you and your whole family entertained for hours! Family days out and great places for kids to go in Staffordshire.

Boot Camp – What Was I Thinking?

When we signed up for a boot camp weekend, did we have 'The X Factor' in mind - celebrities, make up, sparkles and champagne?

Maybe, but the setting of Aylestone Park when it was minus 1 degrees and muddy couldn’t have been further from our dream of a good time!

First Things First...

Still, we were there and if not raring to go -or at least prepared to have a go! That is, until two ‘fitties’ appeared in Lycra and sinews!  There were five of us altogether along with Rob our boot camp commander. I was easily the oldest and least fit.

First things first. Rob called it a warm up and warm up we did - surprisingly quickly! Next, we were off on a 15 to 1 circuit. My comfort zone is whiteboards and lists, so I was lulled into a false sense of security when the whiteboard came out with the list of 15 to 1 different types of exercises. All appeared to be reasonably easy like the ‘get ups’. All you have to do, is get up (again and again and again). With the two fitties off like greased lightning and Emma and Sam not far behind them, I embarked on the challenge. Rob was brilliant, when he saw me struggle, he adapted the exercise. When I skipped bits he turned a blind eye and when I came to a shuddering stop he helped me finish with dignity.

Suddenly, it was mid morning break! Sitting in the car, getting our breath back and refuelling, Emma and I could barely speak. We did manage to convince ourselves we were having a good time though despite being covered in mud.

Boot Camp - What Was I Thinking? First Things First...
Boot Camp - What Was I Thinking? Running - No Thanks...

Running - No Thanks!

I won’t go into huge detail about the individual exercises we did but I will say that at the beginning, when we had a quick chat with Rob about what why we’d signed up and what we wanted to get out of the weekend, I had mentioned in passing that I didn’t do running! Incredibly - and down to his coaching and encouragement, I found myself not only running on the Sunday morning but enjoying it. Not only did I run on the flat, but uphill as well! (I don’t think I mentioned that Aylestone Park is on the side of Aylestone Hill.)

By the time we’d finished the two days, Emma and I were not only proud of ourselves but proud of each other too and vaguely talked about doing it again! Oh and I learnt that Tabata is not something to eat but the fastest, most effective exercise routine I’ve ever encountered. I wouldn’t mind giving it another go some time! Yep, definitely a different way to spend a weekend in January!

Outdoor Gym

The last thing I would have guessed would be a magnet for us on holiday was the gym on the beach. But, standing on a piece of equipment under a blue sky, exercising and gazing at the sea seemed briefly like a little bit of paradise!

Even when not on holiday, it is easy to go to a local outdoor gym. There are hundreds of local council-funded outdoor gyms that are free-to-use all year round as councils hope it will encourage a healthier community. Some are in beautiful settings too. Many of our Treasure Trails go past them.

Boot Camp - What Was I Thinking? Outdoor Gym

Have you tried an outdoor gym? Let us know in the comments below, on Twitter or Facebook.

15th March 2019

Posted In: Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Bristol, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Devon, Dorset, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Isle of Wight, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, London, Manchester, Merseyside, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Oxfordshire, Rutland, Scotland, Shropshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex, Things to do, Tyne and Wear, Wales, Warwickshire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire, Yorkshire

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A Clue Writer’s Paradise at the National Memorial Arboretum

We write our treasure hunts using permanent plaques memorials and markers. The National Memorial Arboretum has over 300 significant memorials, with half a dozen or so added every year. This, along with more than 40,000 maturing trees, makes it a clue writers paradise. 

Explore, Discover and Remember

The National Memorial Arboretum is the brainchild of David Childs who was inspired by a visit to the National Arboretum in Washington DC in 1988. The UK’s arboretum was officially opened in 2001.

It is an incredible 150 acres of lawns, wild areas, trees and gardens. There are lakes, ponds and two rivers. Walking around I got the sense that it teemed with wildlife.

The guidebook lists loads of birds, mammals, fish and insects all seen at the site. I only saw a jackdaw and a couple of ducks though. There are guided walks, buggy tours, a land train and a children’s sensory play garden there. So much to do! 

Explore, Discover Remember - A Clue Writer's Paradise at the National Memorial Arboretum
The past is the key to the future - A Clue Writer's Paradise at the National Memorial Arboretum

The Past is the Key to the Future

Soon after arriving we joined the land train tour. It slowly wound its way around with a running commentary on the memorials we passed. We followed that with a talk from one of the volunteers. The stories are varied and interesting and there is so much symbolism. In the Millennium Chapel is a beautiful wooden carving called The Storyteller which is very appropriate. 

One story I loved is of the avenue of trees called The Beat and is where the police memorials are. The trees that line the avenue are all horse chestnuts as that was the wood used for truncheons. There is one tree planted for every police force in the UK.  At the entrance to the police memorial garden is a chestnut grown from a conker collected from the grounds of Drayton Manor Park. This was the home of Robert Peel, the founder of the modern police force. 

I came across a time capsule buried under one of the paving stones. Due to be opened in 2116 it would be interesting to know what they buried in there last year. Maybe some of the items available in the shop. I bought a guidebook, a foldaway shopping bag and a packet of poppy seeds. 

Lest We Forget

Every good outing involves refreshments. Afternoon tea had been booked for us. After all that emotion around the memorials we were ready for it. Sandwiches, scones and cakes were quickly devoured before heading out again.

This time for a walk to see some of the memorials not visible from the main paths. The most poignant is called 'Shot At Dawn'. 306 British and Commonwealth soldiers were shot during WW1 for desertion, cowardice, striking an officer, disobeying an order, casting away arms or sleeping at post. We now know many were suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

Symbolically the memorial is on the eastern edge of the site where dawn strikes first. It is an incredibly emotional spot with 306 posts arranged in the form of a Greek theatre around the statue. This symbolises the tragedy of these events. The six trees facing the posts represent the firing squad. It has left me with a lasting memory. 

Lest we forget - A Clue Writer's Paradise at the National Memorial Arboretum

I tried to find a memorial to spies but unsurprisingly couldn’t. But if you fancy doing a spy mission, then the nearest one is at Alrewas. A day trip combining a visit to the arboretum and a walk around Alrewas would make a full and fabulous day out for all the family.

2nd August 2017

Posted In: Ideas, Staffordshire, Things to do

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