Monday, 24 December 2012

A Day Out in Salford Quays

Last week we were invited to visit Salford Quays in Manchester to explore some of the attractions that make this such a great venue for a family day out.  We had a very hectic schedule with visits to Ordsall Hall, the BBC, The Lowry and Old Trafford.  In typical Manchester style, the weather was miserable, wet and windy, but it didn't spoil our enthusiasm for a fabulous day out.

Ordshall Hall

Salford Quays

Hidden in the heart of Manchester stands this Elizabethan manor house which is beautifully preserved and lovingly restored to showcase its former glory.  We were given a private tour where we got to see the bedrooms, the kitchen, the servant's quarters and many original features, some dating back to the 1600's.  There was a lot of interactive elements to the tour.  We got to try on some old armour and experience some of the techniques that would have been used in an Elizabethan kitchen.  We even learned about the ghosts that are said to haunt the manor.  A room full of interactive games and activities was a big hit with the children who enjoyed getting hands on with history.  Freddy was really excited walking around the building and trying out things such as turning a spit roast and grinding spices.  He was enjoying being a little historian and discovering the story of Ordsall Hall.  Ordsall Hall has a lovely little coffee shop where we enjoyed a coffee and a cake!

BBC Studio Tours

BBC, Salford Quays

The BBC have relocated many of their operations to Media City in Salford Quays. The BBC offer tours where you can get to take a peek behind the scenes and even have a go at presenting!  Kizzy and I went on an Interactive CBBC Tour for kids aged 6 and over.  We had a guided tour across the buildings where we saw the Blue Peter studio, a radio drama sound stage and various props from BBC programmes.  Kizzy had a go at presenting Newsround, reading the weather and being a CBBC presenter.  She also got to take part in a diddy Dick and Dom play.  She loved seeing herself on a TV screen and using the autocue machines.  It was really interesting to go behind the scenes and we were able to take a look into the BBC Sports studio where everyone was hard at work.  It is a fascinating place and we loved the hands on experience.  Kizzy really enjoyed feeling like a TV presenter and was fascinated by the technology used such as the green screens.  She was also very interested to find out about the use of widescreen cameras to make the tiny Blue Peter studio look really impressive onscreen!

The Lowry

Salford Quays

The Lowry is an arts and entertainment complex set in a stunning waterside location.  There is a lot for families to do including theatre shows, activities and art galleries.  There are also plenty of temporary exhibits to enjoy such as the National Portrait Gallery Comedians exhibition.  We stopped there for lunch followed by a guided tour of the Lowry Collection.  Kizzy was enthralled by the 'What's in a Picture?' session where she was guided through the process of 'reading' one of Lowry's works.  The insight into his life, his work and  his personality was really interesting.  Unfortunately we were really pushed for time and had to dash off, but the Lowry is definitely somewhere I want to explore at my leisure.  It is free to enter and many talks and activities are available which help bring the collection to life.  There are also creative workshops for young children to enjoy.  Kids can borrow a rucksack filled with games, puzzles and activities designed to take them on an adventure as they explore the art on display in the magnificent building.  It is a really family friendly venue with easy access, changing facilities and with kids well catered for in the cafe.  There are some really good shows coming to the theatre next year including Horrible Histories and Sleeping Beauty On Ice.

Old Trafford Museum and Tour

Salford Quays

Across the water from the Lowry stands the football stadium of Manchester United.  We had a 15 minute walk through torrential rain to get there but we soon warmed up when inside.  The stadium has a museum and holds guided tours.  We had a walk around the three floors of the museums looking at memorabilia, trophies, paper cuttings and football shirts from Man Utd's history.  Freddy loved looking at and handling the exhibits that included an old leather stitched ball and steel toe-capped football boot.  There was a really moving tribute to the Busby Babes who were involved in a plane crash in Munich which killed some of the team's most promising players.  The tour lasts an hour and takes you around the stadium, the changing rooms, the player's lounge, the tunnel and the stands.  Unfortunately, Freddy needed a wee half way round and we had to cut the tour short to find the toilets!  We made our way back to the Mega Store which sold loads of Man Utd merchandise.  Fans will love this experience.  It was very interesting, especially seeing the pitch in all its glory, but it is probably more suited for older children.

We finished our trip with a visit to the Lowry Outlet which is a shopping mall on Salford Quays.  It has loads of shops and restaurants and we enjoyed a hot chocolate at Costa before heading back home, exhausted after our family day out at Salford Quays.

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