Comic Relief chief Mark Woods on his perfect Surrey weekend

Best-selling author and head of creative for Comic Relief, MARK WOODS lives with his wife and two young sons near Wimbledon. So, who better to give us his top recommendations for what to do with the kids when it gets to the weekend?

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine May 2012

Best-selling author, successful journalist and head of creative for Comic Relief, MARK WOODS lives with his wife and two young sons near Wimbledon. His latest book, Babies and Toddlers for Men, is out now. So, who better to give us his top recommendation for what to do with the kids when it gets to the weekend?

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THE weekend: a time for relaxation, reflection and recharge. Unless you have small children that is, then it’s a chance to soak up their ever growing little personalities before the next working week.

While the countless parks and commons dotted around the county and beyond all play their part, and the bright flashing lights of Chessington World of Adventures are occasionally succumbed to, there’s one destination that we increasingly find ourselves at: Brooklands near Weybridge.

The first purpose-built motor racing circuit on the planet, Brooklands opened in 1907 and over the next 30 years was key to the land speed record being pushed ever higher and also became a centre for aero manufacture.

The Second World War saw the site requisitioned by the government and a combination of disrepair and the odd Luftwaffe bomb meant Brooklands’ racing days were over. Sad for committed petrolheads but good, it turns out almost 70 years later, for parents.

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There’s certainly plenty going on there today, with the extensive transport museum being the most famous attraction. Not only can you sit aboard Concorde, not only are there buses, bikes and biplanes galore, but there are also cars that look an awful lot like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Imagine!

That’s far from the only reason my brood regularly request a trip down the A3 on a Saturday morning though. 

More motoring wondersSome bright spark next door at Mercedes also came up with the idea of turning something as morgue-like as a car showroom into a child-friendly world of automotive wonder where the doors are always open and no one tells you off if you put a child in the driver’s seat.

There’s also the chance for toddlers to really get behind the wheel and drive around a mini track in electric powered Mercs themselves (if you are thinking why didn’t we have stuff like that when we were five, I’m with you all the way).

Around lunchtime, three white-suited Stigs appear in reflectively visored helmets and take supercharged motors out on to the skid pan, too!

It’s an impressive (and, for the most part, free) family attraction – but not this, the museum or even the ice cream van that seems to be there in all weathers constitutes the main reason we’re so regularly at Brooklands.

Towards the perimeter of the site sits an old part of the track that has been turned into a children’s raceway.

Scooters and roller skates transport their squealing passengers around and this kinder track is also the finest place in the county for parents to help their little ones break their own land speed record and learn to ride a bike.

The place is full of mums and dads trotting behind helmeted youngsters. If they are anything like as sentimental as me, their parental chest-bursting pride will be mixed with a little sadness too as they watch the wobbly new biker ride away – one step nearer independence.

Who’d have thought an old concrete track could have me welling up! Thanks Brooklands, it’s been emotional.

Babies and Toddlers for Men – from Newborn to Nursery by Mark Woods is published by White Ladder Press and priced at �10.99 (ISBN: 9781905410910).