The Merlin Challenge!

This week saw the start of what I’m calling the ‘Merlin Challenge 2013′. No I’m not trying to watch the TV series in one go, rather we just bought, for the first time ever, annual Merlin passes and want to see if we can max out the usage over the next year. That means visiting every attraction at least once… maybe we haven’t thought this through…

Merlin passes, if you don’t already know cover entry to 31 of the UK’s top attractions, and if you’ve ever taken your family to any of them you know how costly it can get! The annual passes should see huge savings over paying individually at each attraction…

Read on, or for the current status check the Merlin Challenge from the ‘Blog’ menu at the top of the page!Last year we had annual LEGOLand passes – which while we did use can get a bit repetitive no matter how much I (I mean, the kids) love LEGO!

NewImageSo this year we’ve taken advantage of the offer to get 25% off the Annual pass – usual price is £107 and we paid £89. Each. For everyone over 3. Ouch.
Sadly there isn’t a children’s price, but under 3′s go free at pretty much all the attractions (some have height requirements – Ellie’s a shortarse so we thought we’ll just blag it!)

So on Easter Sunday we hopped online and ordered passes for me, thescrummymummy (who’s she? My wife – check her blog at and Caitlyn who’s 4. Ellie(2) gets in free.
We chose to collect passes at SeaLife London (aka the London Aquarium) and £267 lighter we set off to pick them up. Well, cut a long story short that was a mistake on Easter Sunday – the queue was 2hours long so we went home and tried again on bank holiday Monday!

Only a short queue later we’d picked up our passes and had a great time at the newly renovated SeaLife centre. I think the biggest hit were the penguins – a new addition – who were very friendly and the kids thought it was hilarious when they followed them when they waved their hands!

IMG 0052After that we decided to bag 2 attractions in one day and hit the London Eye. We’ve been on this loads, but was nice to just join the queue and 30 minutes later we were on for the 20minute round trip (pun intended).

1 day down, and 2 places off the list straight away… This’ll be easy….
IMG 0082

So what tech should you kit yourself out with for these 2 places?
For the aquarium remember there’s no flash photography allowed – so either get a camera with a good low-light mode or a fast lens for your SLR!
A video camera might be nice, but again it’s pretty dark so you might now get great results.

For the London Eye grab your best camera and go! There’s loads of good views, a polarising filter is nice to get rid of the reflections from the capsule, but there’s so many iconic landmarks you should be able to get some good shots!
Also consider a camera with a panoramic feature, or some software like AutoPano Giga to stitch your images together for 360degree views… or some great prints for your front room.

London Panorama

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