Family day out at Norwich Castle – the ups, the downs and the sausage rolls

Family blogger, Sally White with her sons, William Oliver, five, and Alex Oliver, two, at their home

Family blogger, Sally White with her sons, William Oliver, five, and Alex Oliver, two, at their home at Wymondham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

Family wild about days out? Family driving you wild? Join our new writer Sally White as she shares the wonders of East Anglia with her two young sons – and you

Norwich Castle

Norwich Castle - Credit: Sally Oliver

Meet Sally White, mum of two, high school teacher, lover of cake and museums, blogger, and now days-out writer for this newspaper.

She will be dedicating some of her precious spare time to checking out the best places for family fun across East Anglia. From cafes to castles and play parks to pools, Sally will be helping five-year-old William and two-year-old Alex to assess the top choices for racing around, dressing up, refuelling and re-enacting historic and not-so-historic battles.

Sally began recording some of the day-to-day highlights of her sons' lives, and particularly their adventures on days out, because she feared that otherwise they would remember vanishingly little about the years of toddler fun they enjoyed.

The mini reviews developed into a blog and today it is a laugh-out-loud compendium of recommendations, confessions, tips, triumphs and hacks.

William and Alex enjoy dressing up at Norwich Castle

William and Alex enjoy dressing up at Norwich Castle - Credit: Sally Oliver

From the perils of mixing over-excited offspring, and parents, with fireworks, to stealing her children's chocolate, her posts are a nits-and-all, love-infused account of the worries and wonders of family life.

Now Sally, who recently moved from Norwich to Wymondham with her husband, Andrew, and the boys, will be bringing her humour and honesty to accounts of days out around East Anglia.

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So what makes an ideal day out?

'Somewhere the children can run around,' is top of Sally's wish list, although this is countered by a family love of boats.

Museums score highly and, for the boys, a soft play area and access to trains and cafes are a big bonus. Other than that Alex loves curling up with a book and William cannot conquer enough castles.

Which brings us neatly to a trip to a castle.

We Capture A Castle

Telly and snacks can get us to about 9.30am on a weekend morning but past that point the kids start bickering/going full on feral so we have to get out and about. Our number one top spot for a day out is Norwich Castle.

Our love for this place runs deep.

Until I had children I hadn't even noticed the Castle. It was just some lego block on a rare Norfolk hill.

But now? Now I'm a convert and my children are addicts. My older boy (five) got given some birthday money recently and turned to me, eyes sparkling, 'Mummy, I can buy a sausage roll at the castle!' Like I say, the love runs deep.

So, if you've not been (what is WRONG with you?) here are five reasons why you should:

1) The Keep: there's a well to drop coins down (save your coppers in advance), there's a table for colouring (you can diddle about on your phone and make intermittent critiques of their work) and there's a dressing up box (photo op.)

2) Stuffed animals: it sounds macabre but it is actually an impressive display. My little one (two) likes naming the animals and running from the lions. My five year old still laughs at the collection of poo smells.

3) Cafe. Good cake, jacket potatoes, ok coffee, delicious slabs of flan, fabulous sausage rolls, strong tea. And however much I order I've never had to pay over £20 (museum pass holders get 10% off bill: we're like a secret club.)

4) The paintings. For when the children are becoming a bit frantic and you've got sausage roll burps, go to the galleries. They are quiet and the paintings are incredible.

5) You can buy an annual museum pass (from £30.60) which gets you unlimited admissions into 10 museums across Norfolk. It's free to get in if you're a teacher or with Arts Fund and Children's University passports, and only two quid to nip in an hour before closing.

Whether you're looking for a bribe trip, a place for the grandparents to take the kids for a while, or a place for a play date and some culture, the Castle is the one for you. If you're looking for a spot of fine art and a quiet day's learning, I advise avoiding school holidays because that's when the boys and I are playing Romans v Boudica and leaving a trail of pastry crumbs. Apologies in advance.

Sally is a teacher and blogger. For more ideas for days out and parenting-musings, visit her website

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