Sunday, 12 January 2014

Weston Park and The Ponderosa

Weston Park Museum and The Ponderosa 

We took a little break from the set downloadable walks this week (due to it being freezing and very wet) and went to Weston Park Museum instead.  We do this maybe every couple of months and, only at the end of last year, realised we could walk 3/4 of the way home by going through the Ponderosa.

It's really easy to get to.  You can get the tram to the University Tram Stop and walk (10 mins ish) or get the number 51/ 52 bus which stops outside the door.   You can drive but it has no designated car park, the area can get really busy so it's not guaranteed you will be able to park close by.

Weston Park museum is fantastic because it's. .... FREE!!!!!!!   It's open every day, including Bank Holidays.
Monday-Friday 10am–4pm

Saturday 10am-5pm
Sunday 11am–4pm

At the weekends, school holidays and Bank Holidays  the 'teaching area' upstairs is open  for the public to picnic in (fantastic idea given the weather).  If you don't fancy a picnic it does have it's own reasonably priced cafe.

Weston Park is fully wheelchair and pushchair accessible. All exhibitions and displays are on the ground floor of the building and the upstairs activity rooms are easily accessible via the lift. If you don't need (or want) to take your buggy with you you can park it in the main foyer. There are also lockers at the main entrance with are £1 but this is refundable. Brilliant as it means you don't have to carry a picnic around with you.

The Museum has ground and upper floor toilets in various places with disabled access and baby change facilities.

There are many permanent displays at the museum, yet you still find something you'd not noticed every time. The feature display changes roughly every 6 months and Santa comes to the Winter Wonderland in December.

Our first stop this week was the History Lab exhibit. We've always avoided this one in the past, tho am not sure why, I think it looked boring.  Far from it, the boys loved it. 

Ben enjoyed putting the puzzles together to see what the hidden objects were and both loved one of the many dressing up areas in the museum as they transformed themselves into 'people from the old days'.


The next stop was the What On Earth exhibit. Sadly this exhibit has had technical issues since before Christmas which means a lot of the lighting is out. This means the really great underground animal hunt is spoilt as you can't see in the caves, likewise the kitchen hunt it out.

The area used to house both a beehive and ant colony, sadly the great British winter has killed off the bee population. It is still interesting to watch the ants hard at work tho.

As you walk though the ancient lands part of the exhibit it is brought to life by sounds of creatures in the undergrowth .... even at 5 years old Ben will only go through holding my hand as it's a little bit scary.

We found fossils in there this week which we'd never noticed before.

And Ben discovered the magnifying glass.  This is a great piece of equipment with various (dead) bugs in it.  You can zoom in and out to investigate their structure. 

The last exhibit that keeps the boys attention is Sheffield Life and Times.  This tells the story of the city from the point of view of people who lived here.  First stop, Burton's Butcher's Shop in Attercliffe.  Where the kids can don aprons and serve sausages and eggs up while you listen to the tales of how helpful the family run business was and how central it was to so many people's lives.


For details on the other displays, including the current Colour Coded temporary exhibit check out their website.

We headed upstairs for our picnic (and to make use of the free wi-fi) which the boys polished off super quickly. I was then informed it was time for desert .... hmm shame I'd not bought any .... that's ok mummy .... we can have Ice Cream.
Ice Cream!!!!!  It is January it was around 4' outside and my 2 wanted Ice Cream.  ah well who was I to argue.  So off we headed downstairs to be greeted by a magnificent display of local Yorvale Ice Cream.  Banana for me (with real banana pieces), Mint Choc Chip for Noah and a cone of Strawberry (with strawberry puree) for Ben.  The verdict .... every bit as amazing as they look and none left!!  


Fed, watered and raring to go we took our crusts and last 2 slices of bread and headed off to find the ducks.

They have made a lovely area for the pond in Weston Park, complete with duck house and a sign to show you it is THEIR home.


There are 2 bridges over the pond, and of course... we had to walk over both of them.

We then headed down through Weston Park and crossed the road into the very muddy (as expected, hence the boys in their wellies!), but very pretty, Ponderosa.  

The top end has large play equipment for older children, which used to include a zip wire (sadly this has now been vandalised).

As you head through woodland you emerge into vast open green space.


Following the footpath you come to a lovely play area for children (which I forgot to take a photo of).
New this year is an outside gym so the adults can work out while the children play (and you can still keep an eye on them).

I tried a couple them out and must admit it is something I would go on.

Coming out of the Ponderosa, cross the road and we were at the back of Tesco, ideal to pop in for a loaf of bread and milk before getting the tram home.

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