The January blues are over (hopefully!) and Christmas is a thing of the past… it won’t be long until February is here… For us, that means…lighter evenings, warmer afternoons, bluer skies and a time when the outdoors beckons little feet to take tentative steps as the leaves are blown away.  Of course, if the forecast predicts clear skies and gentle breezes, but you show up and the sky is grey, the wind is shrill and the rain is plentiful, don’t worry, we have that covered too!  There is lots to see and do this half term, whatever the weather!

Scenario one: the presence of warmth on your face and little tendrils of escaped hair swaying in the breeze make us think summer has come early and we shall spend our weekend in an appropriate manner!

During your stay with us, here’s some suggestions of our favourite things to do this half term.  Let’s begin with a sunny breakfast in your Lodge, made all the cosier and warming by the touch of early frost still clinging to the windows outside. You have, of course, been very sensible and ordered the food from our local supermarket in advance so it is ready and waiting for you to add lashings of butter to your thick cut loaf with just a smattering of local jam - you will need the energy as you join the Furlock Holmes team at the Winchester Discovery Centre where your little ones can have a close encounter with animals of the small and cuddly variety.  They will have the chance to learn about the animals, familiarise themselves with their habits and even have one of them sitting on their laps throughout the session.  And guess what? Its free to get in and it’s only on this February half term!

After a morning of animal cuddles, you could stop for a midday break at the Discovery Centre café with its impressive floor to ceiling windows and 19-meter tapestry. If you fancy seeing a little more of Winchester itself, the Discovery Centre is only a hop and a skip away from the city’s high street where there’s a huge choice of restaurants to suit all your family’s tastes.  You can choose from Woodfire Pizza, classic Italian, Thai, Mexican, Chinese, American or traditional English.

Once your little animals have had their fill, we will continue our theme of the Great British outdoors and highly recommend Winchesters famous otters – come rain or shine they offer a beautiful and unique distraction to gently pass the time without the need of timetables and routines!  They reside in the River Itchen and are most frequently spotted near the City Mill.  Observation equipment has been installed so if they seem elusive you can still catch their antics.  It’s a lovely way to breathe in some of the beautiful outdoors without exposing little fingers to the cold for too long. 

How about an early dinner on the way back at The Plough in Itchen Abbas? – lots of delicious things for you and a wide choice for the kids – parking and highchairs included!  Fresh air can be surprisingly exhausting, luckily you have the most snuggly bed waiting for your return.

During your stay at our Lodges, you just happen to be surrounded by some of the most beautiful woodland with walking and cycling trails. You could take a scenic stroll along one of nature trails in the woodlands right outside your door.  Explore the hidden nooks and crannies that have been unearthed by the thinning carpet of fallen leaves. Listen out for woodpeckers and search for fairies in the woods – you may just come across the doors to their hidden hideouts!

Scenario two: it’s half term, the kids want something to do (as do you!) but the rain and the wind have temporarily deflated little spirits… Fear not!  You are in for a fun packed, yet cosy mini break!

If you simply long to get away and forget homework timetables, strict routines and making sure the PE kit is packed, then you are in luck!

But where to start… How about a light breakfast in the convenient and cosy kitchen of your lodge, brekkie always tastes better when eaten in one’s PJs, after all! Now you need something to do, something fun, yet inside so that your little ones can still feel their fingers 30 minutes in. Destination Space at Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium comes highly recommended!   

It is the perfect haven against the blustery weather. There is an impressive science themed show which explores the galaxy with interactive activities. Keen little minds can learn all about the latest space telescope technology and ignite the intrepid explorers within as you learn about rockets flying out into the cosmos.  The Winchester Science Centre is a wonderful choice for a family destination in itself, sparking curiosity in the minds of adults and children alike so there is plenty to do for the whole family – it has the largest standalone planetarium in the UK, two floors of interactive exhibits (we never get too old to push buttons and pull levers!) and is home to an impressive array of fascinating facts which the kids can relay to their friends at home.

In the afternoon Winchester Discovery Centre is proud to host Mama G’s Story Time Roadshow! For something cosy, sheltered and uplifting, sit back, relax and let Mama G introduce you to an exciting range of characters through stories that will appeal to the whole family; laugh out loud and be transported in this feel good show for the whole family. We think it is a half term well spent if you can watch their little faces split into grins and turn around for a cuddle with all the happiness in the room.

The theme of the day has been smoothly stepping from haven to haven, your evening is no different!  We can take all the stress out of finding somewhere to eat (which is always lovely in our fair city) but watching the windows for a break in the rain and then darting back to the car isn’t always the most enjoyable of dining experiences. Instead, chose from our Dine in Menus and have a wonderfully tasty and nutritious meal delivered right to your door, all you have to do is snuggle down, relax and enjoy from the comfort of your lodge.

After dinner, why not pop on your favourite DVD and breathe a sign of relief.  No noise of car engines, just the rhythmic sounds of the rain kept firmly outside. The British climate will not stop you from having fun and you have managed to successfully navigate the weather, made some wonderful memories and manged to avoid any chance of getting a cold.  Well done, parents!  Well done.february