Keeping the children entertained in the school holidays can be pricey. Shopping trips seem like an expedition with reluctant little ones. Sometimes though, a shopping centre goes the extra mile to make it a bit easier. We headed to Crowngate Shopping Centre in Worcester over half term to make the most of their free kids club.
Kids club at the Pod
For two days during half term, Crowngate arranged for a local independent business to come into the Pod and run free children’s activities. The first day, children decorated a ladybird house. We attended on the second day, to decorate bird houses. On both days, participants were allowed to take home what they’d made.
I was pleasantly surprised to see the variety of ages of children taking part. There were two large bench tables set up, which filled up quite quickly with older children and younger teens. There were also some tiny tables, perfect for little ones which was where my two decided to sit.
We were welcomed as soon as we arrived, and the girls were given bird houses and pens. Some children were only in there for a few minutes but others, like mine, spent over an hour absorbed in what they were doing. For the first time ever, Lia concentrated really hard on drawing and colouring. The finished result was the best art work she’s ever produced and I’m so glad she was allowed to take it home.
Afterwards, we headed to the park with the bird boxes in tow to take some nice photos of them before we hang them up. We don’t really have anywhere for them at home. Instead, I think we’re going to spray them with lacquer as instructed by staff at the Pod then the girls will take them in to school to hang up there. They can’t wait to see if a bird chooses their box as a nesting spot.
About Crowngate Shopping Centre
Crowngate Shopping Centre can be found in Friary Walk and Chapel Walk. Friary Walk’s stores include Mothercare, New Look, Iceland and Ryman. We arrived a little early for the kid’s club so we could have a walk around the shops. The girls were very taken with Ryman and I’m quite proud to be raising the next generation of stationery fanatics. Their love of a brand new notepad will serve them well.
Within Chapel Walk, you’ll find large stores such as Debenhams and Boots, alongside independent stores including Cornucopia and Ganesha. It’s also home to Bill’s Restaurant, which was where we headed for lunch.
Lunch at Bill’s Restaurant, Chapel Walk
I’ve never been to Bill’s before and was pleasantly surprised as soon as we went in. Rustic furniture and surroundings help to create a relaxed atmosphere. Our servers were all incredibly helpful and friendly, putting the children at ease straight away and offering advice on the menu. I decided on the veganuary set menu, whilst the girls went for the children’s three course lunch.
We ordered some olives, hummus and breads for the table to start and immediately fell out over the olives. There weren’t loads of them and flavouring and grated lemon rind on them made them absolutely delicious, which did lead to an undignified feeding frenzy. Alongside that, I had an amazing vegan duck salad which was quite spicy and tasted fabulous. The girls had hummus and vegetable sticks. It was obvious that they enjoyed them because Lia insisted on finishing the hummus with a spoon.
Main courses at Bill’s restaurant
I was nearly swayed from the vegan set menu by an interesting sounding burger, but was sure I’d made the right decision as soon as I saw my butternut squash stew. Made with coconut, mixed grains and loads of fresh kale, it felt healthy and satisfying.
The girls both decided on macaroni cheese. They’re not vegetarian, but will frequently choose the vegetarian option when we’re out. This was beautifully presented and both girls enjoyed it. I personally felt it could have done with something with it like some garlic bread or vegetables, but they were happy.
For dessert, I was delighted to be offered coconut ice cream with mango sauce. It tasted as good as it sounds and it was nice to have a vegan dessert option as I often just have a coffee. Lia went for the strawberries and bananas with chocolate dipping sauce, while Libby opted for the chocolate brownie. Whilst they were eating dessert, they were quieter than they’d been all day and within a couple of minutes, it was gone. I’ll take that as a recommendation.
About the Pod at Crowngate Shopping Centre
The Pod is a gorgeous community space that launched in November last year. It’s open daily during shopping hours and customers can pop in any time to enjoy the eco-friendly interactive space. It’s a great place to relax while you’re out shopping, with plant-walls and grow-and-learn areas. There’s also a selection of books to read on the book tree in the centre of the Pod. Visitors can even pledge their commitment to be kinder to the environment by leaving a note on the tree branches about their sustainability and recycling efforts.
The Baby of the Year Competition has just launched in the Pod, so from 10am to 4pm each day until Saturday 2nd March, families can bring their little ones to have their photos taken. The public can then view the pictures from Wednesday 6th March to Friday 8th March. Crowngate Shopping Centre are in the process of planning the next 12 months of activities for the Pod, so keep an eye on their social media and website to find out what’s on.