Tag Archives: Staffordshire

What is the Blue Badge?

blue badgeThe Blue Badge is the highest level of qualification there is for guiding in the UK. It takes between one and two years of study to earn. Each badge covers one region, which includes several counties. For example, mine is for the Heart of England which covers the counties of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands and Worcestershire.

The course covers guiding techniques for walking tours and coach tours, and how to research and design a tour as well as all the relevant knowledge. Guides are expected to be able to talk about national level topics such as history, education, politics, architecture and art, in addition to having specific local knowledge.

The assessment process is rigorous with 4 written exams, 4 practical exams and coursework. There is also an additional exam for anyone who wishes to guide in a language other than English.  I took the language exam for German, so that is also covered by my qualification.

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The Monkey Forest

For a fun, family day out, the Monkey Forest in Staffordshire is a good choice.

As you enter, there are information boards telling you about the monkeys that live here, where their natural habitat is, what they eat, and so on, as well as information about conservation work. There is also an explanation of what the monkeys’ facial expressions and sounds mean.

After that you are free to wander around the 60 acres of woodland. Although some of the slopes are quite steep, the paths are well-maintained, so it is possible to take pushchairs and wheelchairs around.

macaque monkey at the Monkey Forest in StaffordshireThe monkeys here are not tame, nor are they encouraged to be, so don’t expect to pick them up and cuddle them. However, there are benches dotted around, so if you sit quietly and watch you will see them playing together close by, and sometimes they will run right past your feet. If you look closely as you walk around you will also notice some of the monkeys observing you, and if you are lucky you may even see baby monkeys clinging on as their mothers run across your path.

It’s a great chance to see monkeys living almost as they would in the wild, and is educational as well as fun.

For more ideas for places to visit, see the Highlight of the Month on our website www.iabtours.com

Ash End House Children’s Farm

Located in Middleton, near Tamworth in Staffordshire, Ash End House Farm is a fun day out for all the family. Where else could you go on an egg hunt, feed a lamb, play ten-pin bowling, cuddle a goat and jump on a huge inflatable pillow all in one place?

Ash End Children's FarmThe entrance ticket entitles children to take home their own egg and to sit on a horse or pony. It also includes a bucket of feed for the sheep, goats and chickens.  As well as the animals you would expect to find on a farm, there are rabbits, guinea pigs and even a llama!

In one of the barns you will find an incubator with eggs and fluffy pigs, in another you will find huge pigs, and in another a variety of pedal cars for the little ones to play in.

There is a small café where you can buy hot and cold food, and there are picnic tables outside for those that want to take their own food.

A definite recommendation for children (and adults) of all ages!