Coronavirus · Days Out

Emberton Country Park (Summer 2020 Review)

I have been taking my children to Emberton since they were very little, it is such a lovely day out, and is only just outside of Milton Keynes (on the way to Olney). Set in 200 acres of unspoilt parkland, with five lakes – two large lakes (for fishing and sailing), 2 play parks, a sandpit, outdoor gym, bird hides, a cafe and a campsite – so much to do you can spend all day here.

Emberton has been reducing its restrictions based on Government guidelines, and our visit last week, felt just like old times.

If you visit in the next few months what you need to know is:

  • The cafe is only open for take-away service.
  • The campsite is open but is subject to social distancing restrictions.
  • When they reach capacity in the car park they will close the gate to new entrants (so bear that in mind if you plan to go late in the day on a sunny Saturday, for example).
  • Toilets are open
  • All play parks are open and free to use (including the outdoor gym)
  • Fishing is allowed (with permits)
  • Parking costs are £4.50 for the day (you cannot leave and come back though).
  • Opening times are 9:15-4:45pm each day currently (but best to check their Facebook page in case this changes).

We had a lovely morning, we walked round to the park in the middle, the one with the pirate ship, as that is our favourite. As soon as we put our bags down the kids ran off to play together, it was so sweet watching my son (aged 8) carefully hold the hand of my daughter (aged 3) as she climbed the steep steps up to the slides – he took great care of her all day.

Hubby and I were actually able to sit and watch them play, and also read a few chapters of our books – this is unheard of in previous years when Savannah was younger, and before Savannah when Nate didn’t have anyone to play with.

After about 80-90 minutes in that park the kids biked and we walked back towarsds the cafe for an icecream and a cup of tea, to fortify us for the outdoor gym, the sandpit and the stone pit. I forgot our bucket and spade (darn) but they had fun burying each other and digging around the dinosaur bones (pretend).

We decided to go home for lunch, though if we had chosen to stay all day, there are plenty of lovely big fields perfect for picnics, and even the socially distanced kind, and we didn’t make it over to the park that is further along – this one would have been good for Nate, as it had some large and tall climbing nets and things for older children mostly. There is also a beautiful lake in the middle and stunning walks to make a full day of it.

More information:

  • Emberton Country Park – Postcode: MK46 5FJ
  • There are two sets of toilets, including disabled facilities.
  • The summer camping season where the park is open every day runs from 1st April to 31st October (outside of this they are only open for a few hours on the weekend).
  • 5km of walks and trails
  • 5 lakes
  • 1 minute drive from the market town of Olney (where they have the best afternoon tea at “Teapots of Olney” highly recommend).
Cinema · Coronavirus

Going to the cinema (during lockdown)

Corona virus lockdown restrictions were eased on 4th July to allow restaurants, cafes, parks, pubs and one of my favourite things to do: the cinema, to open. On 4th July Odeon opened up again for the first time since March. Cineworld has announced that they will not be opening until 27th July.

I could not wait to go, so on Sunday I took myself down to our local Odeon at the Stadium MK (Milton Keynes) to see the movie “Dark Water”.

Tickets

Odeon recommends that you purchase your tickets online (the ticket will be sent to your email for printing or (easier) show them the barcode on your phone, which they will scan. You can purchase tickets in the cinema but they do not take cash, card only.

On arrival I noticed a one-way system and hand-sanitiser, plus they had screens around the tills AND the server wore a face-mask. All very reassuring. However, it was difficult to hear the guy under the mask, plus I kept moving my face toward the edge of the plastic screen – what is that? Must be a psychological barrier in my mind or something.

I did wonder how they would manage social distancing in the cinema, how would they assign seating, how could you go to the toilet and brush past someone in your row? This article on the BBC news site explains how.

The usher showed everyone to their seats (I remember when they used to do that all the time). There were only six other people in the screen, but strangly two of them were in my row, which considering how empty it was, I was surprised. I actually had to stand up and move into the aisle so that they could sit down, luckily they didn’t use the toilets lots of times (or any actually), because that would have been annoying. Aside from that the seating was fine.

Food

The food is limited but not eliminated – phew. I do love a snack in the cinema. The menu compared to usual is massively reduced (like restaurants too I guess). Odeon had the biggest range of snacks I had ever seen (vastly more than Cineworld); everything from fried chicken to waffle fries. However, they have slimmed it down to the essentials such as nachos, popcorn, drinks, bags of chocolates and sweets (though no pick n mix) and no icecream counter (though some packets like Magnums an Cornetto’s in a freezer). You are allowed to bring in your own food (not sure if that is a Covid only change to the rules?), but not hot or smelly food. Wow, I remember when I was a kid, smuggling in food at the bottom of my bag or under my coat (ooops sorry Odeon/Cineworld)…ahhhh a simpler time.

Films

I saw “Dark Water” – which I would describe Mark Ruffalo (leading man) as the male Erin Brockovich. The movie was fascinating actually, about how the company who makes Teflon (DuPont) has been poisoning everyone in the world (though mostly Americans) with its products because if the chemical (PFOA) that makes up Teflon gets in your body, it can never be removed; and in large doses can lead to all sorts of cancers. Very sad, capitalism at its worst! I will not say what happens to the people in the small town, or the company, as I have decided no spoilers in this article. It was worth seeing – if only to see Anne Hathaway’s 80s hair (love her) and if you enjoy legal battles.

As well as the upcoming blockbusters, most of which I have never heard of such as Tenet (shrugs) but I have heard of: A Quiet Place II (cannot wait for that one!), Odeon are also showing some classic movies such as The Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Interstellar ooh and I just noticed that Bohemian Rhapsody is back next week – whooop!

I was worried by how empty is was, so I guess if you feel happy with the measures they are taking to try to protect us, best you support your local cinema, otherwise… (sad face).