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Explore somewhere new in the school holidays
Looking for a great day out but don't want to travel too far from Birmingham? The county of Shropshire is really close to Brum - you can reach the largest town, Telford, in as little as 40 minutes. Here are my top 10 summer days out in Telford and Shropshire:
1. Royal Air Force Museum Cosford, Shifnal
Collection: See aircraft and displays at RAF Cosford
There is a massive collection of aircraft and displays at the RAF Museum, and during August visitors can take part in a free Secret Spy Trail which guides young detective around the National Cold War exhibition. On August 9 there is a Summer of Spies workshop for children aged 10 – 14. During the morning session participants will be introduced to the world of spies, espionage and cyber-attacks. Working in groups, youngsters will work against the clock to stop a simulated cyber-attack; deciphering hidden messages, analysing evidence and decrypting files to identify the individual behind the attack. In the afternoon teams will unravel a potential global crisis by solving cyphers, intercepting secret messages and piecing together clues to diffuse the threat. The workshop cost is £20 per half day, £30 for the full day (plus booking fee).
Go on safari at the National Trust property on August 15 and 29. A tractor and trailer transports visitors through the Deer Park, giving them the chance to find out more about the wildlife that lives at Attingham Park and Country Estate. Tickets are £4 (adults) and £3 (children) in addition to usual admission prices.
The beautifully landscaped gardens of Weston Park host the V Festival (taking place on August 19 and 20 this year) but the opulent 17th-century mansion is filled with fine art. Visit on August 6 or September 3 for a special behind the scenes tour, where you can delve deeper into the history of the house on a guided tour of areas that are not usually accessible to the public. Tickets are £5.50 in addition to usual admission prices.
Embrace your British heritage and enjoy a traditional afternoon tea at Haughton Hall in the quiet beauty of rural Shropshire. Served daily from 1pm – 4.30pm, the meal includes freshly-made sandwiches, scones, cakes and fancies plus a choice of speciality teas or coffee. Dating from 1718, the hall is situated in 35 acres of beautiful gardens and woodland. Afternoon tea is priced from £16.95 per person.
Back in time: Experience Victorian life at Blists Hill
Visit Blists Hill and find out exactly what Victorian life was like. Over the weekend of August 19 – 20 the town will be 'in steam', giving visitors the rare chance to get up close with an array of Victorian steam powered machines, all of which will be in their full working splendour. The town's replica of Trevithick's 1802 Coalbrookdale locomotive will be running, while other museum engines in steam will include 'Billy', a 1903 Wallis & Steevens road roller, the Merry Weather fire pump and the Fielding oil engine, as well as portable and ploughing engines. The impressive Blists Hill Ironworks steam hammer will also be in operation. Normal admission charges apply.
6. Oswestry Balloon Festival at British Ironwork Centre
More than 50 weird and wonderful shaped hot air balloons will fill the skies at the first Oswestry Balloon Festival on August 26 – 28, creating spectacular displays for spectators. Pilots and their teams will be taking part in the 'Key Grab' race, competing to swoop in on a specific point and take the keys to be crowned the winner.
Racing: The Ironbridge Coracle Regatta on the River Severn
The 30th Ironbridge Coracle Regatta on August 28 will feature races on the River Severn in three categories: novice, intermediate and expert. There will also be polo, fish kebabs and the popular 'have a go' where visitors can try their hand at paddling a coracle.
8. Telfood Feastival, QEII Arena, Telford Town Park
Tasty: Enjoy the Telfood Feastival
Featuring more than 100 food, drink and craft exhibitors, Telfood Feastival on September 2 and 3 is bursting with local produce, a tasting theatre and plenty to keep the little ones entertained, including a cooking bus, circus lessons, a disco dome and bug eating. Tickets £6 (adults), £2 (children).
9. Proms and Prosecco in the Park, Chetwynd Park, Newport
The perfect opportunity to pack your picnic basket and enjoy an afternoon and evening of classical music on September 9. Local performers and some of the best talent across the country will feature, with the event timed to coincide with the Last Night of the Proms. Tickets from £17, children free.
The annual meeting place for country sports enthusiasts, the Midland Game Fair on September 16 and 17 celebrates all aspects of country life. Featured are field sports competitions, gun dog events, clay shooting, live music and family entertainment. Tickets from £18, under-16s free.