Thursday, 8 August 2019

Hidden Cheltenham...

With school runs a distant memory, 9:30am felt early to be meeting up with friends in town, but it forced us to be up and at ‘em and was the start of a free, fun filled day! 

We spent a happy hour at Cheltenham Children's Library (with baby bounce and rhyme going on in the background) choosing books for the summer reading challenge, reading and doing some of their activities. After returning the old books and borrowing the new, we all headed across the way to The Wilson for a play in the World of Wonders Gallery. Dressing up, colouring in and making music were the favourite activities, and again we spent a cheerful hour having fun.

Next up, we had decided to follow the Hidden Cheltenham trail, having picked up the map last week. We waved goodbye to our friends, then headed out.

The first clue is in the reception area at The Wilson and they advise you to take a photo of it so you don’t forget the instructions. This turned out to be great advice all the way round, as some of the clues are multi step and it’s good to be able to check what you need to look for or do.

The trail is around 2 miles and I thought scooters would be a good move, so I could pull Ace along on his if he got tired. Between clues, the scooters were a godsend, but I didn’t realise that you actually had to go inside some of the shops, so they were a bit of a pain at times (especially in Tiger as we missed the clue on our first circuit, so had to negotiate the narrow aisles twice).

Everywhere we went, we were met cheerfully and some of the stops even had activities or treats for any children taking part in the trail. Shout out to Middletons for their colouring station and free sweet bowl and also to Lakeland for their lovely gift of an icing bee making kit (another free activity for tomorrow).

The trail itself was very interesting and I definitely learnt some new Cheltenham facts on the way round. It also made me visit parts of town I hardly ever venture into. The route was a little haphazard at times, we were frustrated with having to go back on ourselves at times and Ace didn’t like going past green spots with the ‘wrong’ numbers on, only to come back to them a while later. I will add that this was sometimes due to me wanting to take a safer scooting route, away from main roads.

Including a picnic lunch and a few pit stops for snacks and water, the trail took us around 3 hours. If your children are older, you may need less time, but equally the trail could last all day if you stop to browse in the shops it takes you to or further explore the areas you are led to. We liked the distance updates dotted around some of the stops, Honey was especially motivated by these.

Our last stop was back at The Wilson to swap our trail sheet for goody bags. The kids were excited to find bubbles, balloons and glow sticks in the bags. If you have more than one child, just be aware that the contents of the bags may vary, for example Ace had a beach ball in his, while Honey had a WarHammer figure instead. This initially caused a little friction, but after a quick chat, both were happy with their lot!

As we went round, Honey and Ace also managed to collect another few stickers on their 'No child left behind' summer challenge sheets, so don’t forget to take yours too if you head off on the Hidden Cheltenham trail!

My only suggestion for the Hidden Cheltenham trail, would be to have the option of following the it digitally. Our map and answer sheet were rather tatty by the end and nearly blew away a couple of times when I dropped them due to hand holding or scooter wrangling (having now visited the website, the map is available to download if you sign up for the trail online). It would have been great to have had the option to follow the trail via QR codes and an app where you could also record your answers and unlock the clues, especially as I had to have my phone out to keep track of all the photos of the clues anyway. 

All in all, I would recommend the trail to anyone living in or visiting Cheltenham. It's a great way to see the town and a fun, free way to spend a day. 

Honey wears... Dress by Mini Boded (preloved)
Ace wears... Cargo shorts by frugi

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