Something fun for everyone this summer...
Molly's Guide columnist Sam Curtis has lived in Lincoln for more than 17 years, after moving from her hometown, Boston. With an eight-year age gap between her teenage daughter, Lottie, and five-year-old son, Louie, some of her biggest parenting challenges arise from the constant struggle to find things that will keep both children entertained over the six-week summer break, which is now very much on the horizon.
Here, she lists some of her favourite things to do, see and experience in and around the city.
Where to play
Active Nation Birchwood, in Birchwood Avenue, Lincoln
With its brand new Active Play centre and funky hi-tech climbing wall, this place is perfect for keeping both of my children engaged. The soft play area is situated directly opposite the climbing walls, so while my thirteen-year-old challenges herself on the climbing walls, my son can bomb around the tubes and slides of the soft play. The cafe serves Costa coffee and there's free Wi-fi, too, so it's a winner all round for me.
Where to Visit
As cheesy as it sounds, Skegness is one of my favourite places to take my kids. I tend to go off the beaten track and especially enjoy wandering around the dunes at Gibraltar Point, no matter what the time of year.
We recently visited Skegness Aquarium, too, and I was impressed by the whole experience. There are fishy friends to look at displayed in a variety of beautiful tanks and a few furry critters to meet and greet, too. Plus, my teenager enjoyed it thanks to the endless selfie opportunities posing with a shark in the background.
Another local attraction we all enjoy is Woodside Wildlife Park. We often visit two or three times a year and have already been to see the new penguin attraction which opened recently. The open layout allows visitors to get really close to these comical birds as they dive and swim in their enclosure. Just be warned, you might get splashed.
Where to eat
There are so many amazing eateries in Lincoln but for a special treat Ethan's Steakhouse and Sushi bar, off Doddington Road in Lincoln, is always a hit with my family. We time our visit so we can make the most of the Early Diner offer, between the hours of 3-6pm, Monday to Friday. Not only is the food delicious and healthy but watching the Tepanyaki chef make prawn tails fly through the air and a plume of steam rise from an onion 'Choo Choo' train never fails to impress, plus it's happy hour at the bar at that time and that includes cocktails.
And on those sunny days we are all hoping for - head to Daisy Made to sample one of their bespoke ice cream flavours. Word to the wise - eating a scoop of bubblegum ice cream will turn your tongue blue.
What to read
Both of my children enjoy reading - although Louie is perhaps more likely to leaf through a book than his sister. We have a few bedtime favourites - Winne the Witch always raises a giggle and because of his obsession with snakes, Louie will often be found poring over his animal encyclopedia. And, if he really wants to delay the lights going out for a little while longer, my tenacious child has realised that requesting Oi Dog!, Oi Cat! or Oi Frog! by Kes Gray will buy him at least another ten minutes of 'awake time'. The books in this series are hilarious and I love reading them aloud but there's no skipping ahead to the end or missing any words out. If you've read them, you'll understand what I mean!
What to cook
I am not a skilled cook by any stretch of the imagination (in fact I have a unique skill for burning pizza, much to the amusement of those who know me well) but I do find catering for a family relatively easy during the summer months. This is the time to dust off the barbecue and make sure the freezer is stocked with a few essentials - burgers, sausages, king prawns, so as soon as the sun comes out you can announce 'tonight, we're dining al fresco' - which seems more exotic than yelling 'teatime, come and get it'. Picnics in the back garden always go down well, too and the beauty is, if you serve everything on paper plates there's no washing up to do.
What to watch
For me, the summer months are about getting outdoors and enjoying fresh air and sunshine but, let's face it, there's a strong possibility that it's going to rain. Don't you love the Great British Summer?
So, it's a good idea to have a wet weather back-up plan. I consider a trip to the cinema a treat because it can get quite pricey but there are a couple of crowd-pleasers worth seeing on the big screen this summer, like Toy Story 4 which was recently released to rave reviews. Meanwhile, Disney fans can look forward to the live version of the Lion King (in cinemas from July 19). It's always worth checking out The Venue Cinema at Lincoln's Bishop Grosseteste University, as ticket prices are reasonably priced at £7 per adult and £5.50 per child (it is also worth noting if you are a Lincoln Mums cardholder one child goes free with a paying adult).
The school holidays can be a drain on the Bank of Mum and Dad, so take advantage of some of the free (or almost free) activities taking place in the city this summer. Dog-loving families will enjoy Woofest which takes place on Saturday, July 13 - a family fun day and dog show in Waddington, close to Lincoln, including a fun fair, dog classes, and beer tent - raising funds for the RSPCA.
Or, celebrate the spirit of 1940s Britain in Lincoln's Cathedral Quarter with two days of period and vintage activities and displays during the city's 1940s Weekend, held on August 10 and 11. When we attended this event a few years ago, my eldest child was 'arrested' by a police officer dressed in his wartime uniform - it was a highlight for me (her less so).
What not to miss
Fans of dinosaurs won't want to miss the chance to come face-to-face with a roaring, snorting full-size T-Rex this summer.
An exciting new exhibition from London’s Natural History Museum will be on display at The Collection museum in Lincoln from July 13 until September, 8. Visitors will be able to meet their favourite dinosaurs in Dinosaur Encounter at The Collection – with fossil replicas, impressive dinosaur models and animatronics.
So, here's to a totally roarsome summer, come rain or shine!