Brockhole Visitor Centre, Lake District – #CountryKids

I know I seem to be stringing out posts from our holiday in the Lake District just before Easter, but we had so much outdoor fun, that I really want to share it all and give each place a post of its own. Today I’m writing about Brockhole Visitor Centre near Ambleside on the shores of Windermere. We’ve been there every year whilst holidaying in the Lakes since we’ve had kids, because it’s a fantastic place for families. This year was the busiest I’ve seen it, probably because it was just before the Easter bank holiday weekend, and usually we don’t go during the North England school holidays. But there was still plenty of space and it didn’t feel ‘too’ busy, just more people than we’re used to when visiting.

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This year was the first that Andrew was really keen to go on all parts of the playground. It’s not far from the entrance, and as soon as he saw it, he rode his bike straight over there, ditched the bike, and ran up onto the boat climbing frame, which looks like one of the steamers that go out on Windermere. Once Joel was down from my back, he too followed and climbed up onto the boat using the stairs. In the playground there are the usual swings and slides, plus various climbing frames and other equipment, suitable for all ages. Being his usual daring self, Andrew all of a sudden shot up the big kids’ climbing frame and was swinging across rope bridges in the tree tops (all with safety nets, he couldn’t actually go anywhere downwards), then he came down the tube slide, which he was very proud of because he’d previously been put off one that was too fast for him.

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Joel was happy with the little kids’ stuff – swings and small slides as well as generally pottering about and watching the older kids play. We stayed there at the adventure playground for nearly an hour. Grandma and Pop were due to meet us at Brockhole a bit later than we’d got there because they were dropping the boys’ aunt at the station to go home, so it was handy to wait in the playground near the entrance until they turned up nearly an hour later in the end. Opposite the playground, we’d noticed that there was a small, temporary bmx bike track set up for kids to have a go on, and there were some older children having a go on the bikes provided. I wandered over to ask if Andrew, at 3 years old, could have a go using his own bike, and they said of course he could. So when we managed to drag him away fro the playground, we headed over to the bike track. It was on the grass, so quite hard for him to pedal, but with Daddy’s help, he completed the course no problem, and the guys running it were amazed how well he was doing without stabilisers for a 3 year old.

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After the fun of the bike course, we carried on with Andrew riding his bike, and took the path that leads round by the shore of the lake. It’s always hard to keep up with him these days, but Daddy just about managed it with a jog whilst the rest of us trailed a little further behind. The weather wasn’t quite so nice as it had been that day, so the lake was very choppy and high winds were blowing on shore making it quite chilly on the lakeside. This didn’t perturb the boys though, who as soon as they saw the crazy golf course, wanted to have a go. There weren’t many other people playing (not surprising given the weather), so we said that we’d go and get a couple of clubs and balls from the centre and they could ‘play’. And by ‘play’ I mean not score or do it properly, but just whack the ball with the stick wherever you can, sometimes picking up with your hands if that’s easier to get around obstacles! Crazy golf really is cray when our boys are playing it! It was great fun though, and Andrew didn’t want to leave it when we said that we should carry on because we were all getting tired and hungry for lunch.

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Despite the wind down by the lake, we found that up by the visitor centre building itself was much calmer weather-wise, and behind the building was even more sheltered. There we found a ‘picnic’ area with a few logs to sit on, which was a perfect place to eat our lunch. We decided after this to head back to the house, because we had packing to do for the journey home the next day, and the boys were both tired, so much so that they both napped on the way home – it hardly happens for Andrew these days.

In previous years we have gone into the centre and looked around the child-friendly exhibition all about the Lake District history and geography, and also had a drink in the lovely cafe there. But it was much busier this year and the boys were perfectly happy to spend all the time we had there outside. We’ll definitely be back in future years, it’s a great place to keep going back to.

Linking up with the fab #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog as usual 🙂

A walk around Rydal Water – #CountryKids

One thing that we were amazed about when we were on holiday in the Lake District recently was just how much Andrew was willing to walk. He can be a bit fussy when we’re at home, walking some of the way to places but not reliable enough for me not to take his sling to hop him up on my back if he gets tired. One day in the week away we decided to do a walk around Rydal water, up above the lake on Loughrigg terrace for most of the way, except at both ends when we came down to the waterside to cross the river. On the map this is about 3 miles, plus some climbs. Although we took his sling, Andrew walked pretty much the whole way, only being carried for a couple of 5 minute periods. He was our little mountain goat 🙂 I think his bargain walking boots for 99p off eBay might have helped spur him on, and the odd go-faster snack.

The walk was relatively easy, but with stunning views on the way round. We found all sorts of nature to look at and pick up. Andrew took a liking to a stick that was just the right size to be a walking stick for him, and Pop got out his pen knife to carve him a handle by stripping the bark off it at the top. At one point we spotted a tree with a hollow trunk, so Andrew hopped up inside it and thought this was hilarious. Joel was on my back for the first part of the walk until we stopped for a picnic lunch half way round, and then did some walking himself. High up on the terrace we got some amazing views down to Rydal Water on our way around.

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At the far end of the lake we came back down to the water level and had our picnic by the river that runs between Grasmere (lake) and Rydal Water. We then walked along this river towards Grasmere, and crossed over a bridge that was fantastic for Pooh sticks, just before the lake itself. We stopped on the shore of Grasmere for a little while, so the boys could have a play. Andrew was keen to try and learn stone skimming techniques from Grandad and Pop, and Joel was fascinated with a rather large rock that he could sit on and jump off! The weather was quite warm by this point, so we were happy to stand around for a bit. The view across Grasmere towards the village of the same name was lovely.

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As we carried on, we walked up again onto the terrace on the other side of Rydal Water, to continue our circular route around it. The views back across the lake were still fantastic, with fewer trees in the way on this side. Both boys were walking on this side for a while, until Joel got tired again and went back on my back, though as I said, Andrew was keen to carry on walking himself. As we neared the end of the lake, towards the car park where we had left the cars, the path came back down near the lake shore again. This was another great excuse to try some stone skimming, and Joel even went for a little paddle in his boots. Both of them clearly found this a lot of fun!

The walk was just the right length for a day out with toddlers, and we all enjoyed it with the views and the weather being particularly good to us.

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Linking up with the fab #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Watendlath tarn walk – #CountryKids

A few days into our Lake District holiday and the weather looked lovely when we woke up. We looked at the forecast too, which said it would be nice all day so we decided to head off into the fells and do a family friendly walk. We drove the cars from Keswick to Rosthwaite along the side of Derwent Water through Borowdale. There’s a handy Ntaional Trust car park at the foot of the fell that we wanted to walk up, though it was pretty full and we only just got enough spaces. Once we’d togged up with walking boots (including Andrew’s absolute bargain Karrimor ones from eBay), various layers of jumpers/coats and the slings, we headed off up the path, saying hello to the sheep grazing in the field as we walked past them.

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First there was quite a gentle, winding climb, and then it got steeper, but Andrew was amazing and walked most of it, except one carry in the sling from Daddy at the steepest part. We took our time and took in the breath-taking views. Behind us we could see the snowy summit of Scafell Pike, highest peak in England, and the very green valley floor around Rosthwaite and surrounding villages. There were plenty of sheep grazing in the lower pastures, and the odd few on higher, rockier ground.

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We passed between two craggy hill tops on either side, and then we were at the highest point of our walk. There was a gently undulating walk over the top of the fells and then we had a short downwards walk towards Watendlath tarn and village/hamlet. The views of the tarn (small hilltop lake) were stunning as we came down, and Andrew was still keen to walk all of this, holding hands and taking it slowly over the rocky rubble path on the way down. Once we were down, we just had to nip over a quaint bridge and we were on the right side of the stream to find a nice picnic spot by the tarn.

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The boys (and all of us) were ready for a break and some ‘go faster’ lunch. We even made a couple of doggy friends who came over to sniff at our picnic and lick up the crumbs. Joel was itching to walk/run around having been in the sling most of the way on the harder walk, so we were glad we had his backpack reins to keep him out of the tarn, though the shoreline was very shallow so he had a little paddle with his boots on.

All fuelled up, we headed to the tea room for a drink, though the boys and I were hoping for an ice cream because it was really quite warm by then, but their seasonal delivery was only due in the following day so we just missed it! Nevermind. It was a beautiful tea room to sit outside at – there were lots of little birds flying around and coming to pick up crumbs off the tables and the ground.

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The return walk was back the way we came, so a bit of a climb to begin with, then a gentle undulation, then a steeper descent. This time the views over to Scafell were in front of us, when we could look up from watching where we were stepping down. Andrew wanted a bit of a carry towards the end, but he’d done incredibly well. Joel was so tired he had a nap in the sling near the end of the walk, and didn’t wake up when we transferred to the car – he must have been shattered from all the fresh air.

We had an excellent day out, and it was lovely to get fell walking with the boys so that they could experience this important part of holidaying in the Lake District.

Linking up with the fab #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog as usual

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Whinlatter Forest Park – #CountryKids

On the second day of our Lake District holiday, we decided to visit one of our favourite places not far from the holiday home – Whinlatter Forest Park. As the name suggests, there are lots of trees, and several paths that wind their way through them on the hillside. There’s also a Go Ape! course in the tree tops, and the park is popular with mountain bikers who hare up and down on the trails through the forest.

Once we’d parked in the already pretty full car park (it was a relatively good weather Sunday in the Easter holidays, so everyone was out), we made our way up to the visitors centre. Granny spotted a sign which said that there was currently a Gruffalo trail in the woods and that we could get an activity sheet for it from the kiosk. So we queued up and got our sheet, then set off into the deep dark woods in search of a Gruffalo!

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Andrew was tasked with spotting the signs that had an arrow and a picture of the hairy creature with terrible claws and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws. We made our way through the winding paths, guided by Andrew’s navigational skills. Every now and then there was an activity log by the side of the path, which encouraged the kids to think about things related to the Gruffalo story. For example we had to match up animals like a mouse, snake and fox to their different homes, use our five senses to notice things in the woods, and write our names using sticks. This was all very fun whilst being educational and teaching us all about the forest. The sheet that we’d got from the kiosk was handy to write our answers to the activity questions down on, but in the end we forgot about this and decided it would be useful to repeat the activities when we got home to see how much Andrew could recall from the experience.

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One of the activities was to collect 10 natural things from the forest floor. So as we walked, Andrew collected various items like stones, twigs, leaves, feathers and bark, and stuck them in the pockets of his yellow mack until they were full to the brim. We also had some lessons on tree-related things from Pop, the tree consultant, including the resin that we could see seeping out from holes in one tree’s trunk. Despite the first half of the walk being uphill, Andrew was keen to walk most of it, though he did get tired and hitch a lift in the sling on Daddy’s back near the top, then he got out again later on the way down. We joked that Daddy blended in well with the woodland with his squirrel print fabric sling.

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Joel was mostly happy to be carried in his sling on my back, but as we neared the top of the walk, he got restless and wanted out, so he then walked all the way down again with Pop holding his reins, which was quite a way for little legs. The route back down the hill brought us through the adventure playground. This is a fantastic area for kids (and grown-ups!) of all ages. There are climbing frames and swings, but also some more unusual pieces of playground equipment including an Archimedes screw that picks up water from a stream and drops it off onto a wooden run which you can dam up in places and then release the water. Andrew was fascinated by this, and Joel liked the look of it so much that he climbed in! There is also an area of the park with gravel that you can shovel into buckets and tubes and then lift them up using pulleys onto the climbing frame which has chutes where you can drop the gravel down again. This was also popular with the boys — the adults as well as the kids!

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At this point we were nearly back down to the start again. Once we’d had a good go on the playground, we decided that we’d all earned a nice drink and snack in the cafe. Clearly everyone else had thought this too so it was packed, but it was just about warm enough to sit outside with coats on, and actually we got a lovely view of the bird feeders hanging near the cafe, which were attracting lots of little birds to the seeds.

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We had a lovely day out, and learned some interesting facts about the forest and its wildlife. Did we find the Gruffalo? Well no, but didn’t you know, there’s no such thing as a Gruffalo! 😉

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Derwent water & Friars Cragg – #CountryKids

Well we’ve made it up to the lovely Lake District for our annual Easter holiday here. Since our journey in the car was quite long yesterday, especially for the boys and an even longer one for Grandma and Pop who came all the way from Devon, we decided that a quiet day walking from home rather than going in the car was in order for us all. So we headed off into Keswick town centre, just 10 minutes walk from the house. We had a look at the market, looked in a few shop windows – including the Peter Rabbit shop, and then wandered down to the lake – Derwent Water – just beyond the town centre. We walked through Hope Park on the way, and found a special path over a stream with stepping stones.

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There are lots of ducks, geese and swans that congregate on the shore at the top of the lake. Luckily for them, we’d taken some food and the boys started throwing food for them to eat, being careful of the slightly menacing-looking swan. The ducks didn’t seem too bothered, but I guess they are well fed by all the tourists who go to feed them every day. Joel seemed more interested in the water and the boats, whilst Andrew was concerned with the bird-life, walking up to ducks and giving them food. I remember he did similar last year, and couldn’t understand why the ducks ran away from him as he tried to walk up to them and get close to feed them. Some things never change!

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As we walked on further, Andrew started to get tired, he had walked all the way from home so it wasn’t bad going, so he hopped up into his sling. Meanwhile Joel was happy to stay down from his sling where he’d been since we left home until arriving at the lake, and he had more of a walk along the lakeside. After a few more minutes walk, we came to Friars Cragg, a rocky outcrop into the lake, where you get amazing views over Derwent Water and the surrounding fells. The land here and other areas around the lake are owned by the National Trust, so they are well maintained and great to walk in. The weather wasn’t brilliant, but I quite like the scenery with threatening clouds, it still looks beautiful.

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After we’d admired the views and taken a few photos, both boys got into their slings and we heeded back into town. Granny and Grandma kindly offered to buy Andrew something from the National Trust gift shop – a bouncy caterpillar and a sticker book. We walked back through Hope Park again, and tried to go in the cafe there but it was full! So we headed to another cafe in town that has a handy toy corner, which the boys really enjoyed in between sips of drink and mouthfuls of yummy shortbread biscuit.

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On our way back home, we had more of a look at the market and bought a few bits and bobs between us. The boys were well and truly shattered and we’d all had a good lot of fresh air, so after some warming soup for lunch, we had a restful afternoon, before heading back out to the park with Andrew’s bike later in the afternoon. He rode it almost all the way back from the park on his own, no hands from Daddy, so he’s definitely got more confidence and won’t be going back to the balance bike now.

Linking up as usual with the fab #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s lovely blog

 
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Charlcote Park, National Trust – #CountryKids

As I’ve written several times before, you can always trust the National Trust for a good day out. At the end of last week, before I got ill, we decided to go to Charlcote, a local property near Stratford-upon-Avon with Granny and her brother, Uncle Uncle Richard (two uncles make a Great Uncle), who is over visiting from Australia. The weather forecast didn’t look great, but we don’t mind togging up if wet, and in the end it didn’t actually rain until mid afternoon, just as we were leaving, so that was a bonus.

We took Andrew’s bike – the balance bike again as he’s really still not keen to be let go of on the pedal bike, even though he can do it perfectly fine when riding around the cul-de-sac at home, but we’re planning on taking it away with us next week when there will be 4 adults to each child so he can have a good crack at it and shake off the fear! The grounds at Charlcote are extensive, and these huge fields are fantastic for him to ride his little bike around. We spotted some deer as we headed away from the house towards the lake – in the distance in the bottom right picture.

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We walked all the way around the small lake, and back round to the one end of it where there is a small waterfall where the water runs out of it. The water then runs under a bridge, so we stopped and had several rounds of Pooh sticks. The bottom right picture below is Andrew leaning over trying to see his stick come through – I had to hold him tight otherwise we risked a man overboard, he was that keen on looking for the sticks! Joel was happy to do some walking and then see the sights from on high – either shoulders or then in the sling on my back.

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We stopped and had some lunch in the restaurant there as our little biker was getting very tired and hungry. The boys had one of their favourites – bangers and mash. After we’d refuelled, we headed over to the West Park, the other side of the house from where we’d been, where there are even more extensive grounds to explore. We saw some sheep that are reared on the land belonging to the house, and another group of deer in the distance – this one had lots of little cute fawns 🙂 There are some lovely views back to the house from this side, and we could see it through the trees as Andrew rode on the dirt tracks that are perfect for a bike.

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On our way back towards the house, Granny spotted an old tree that had a hollow trunk. It was just the right size for Andrew to get into, which he thought was brilliant. He sat down in his little hideaway and invited us in. There was no way we could fit through the little hole in the trunk that he had, but when we went around the other side, there was a bigger hole that an adult could fit through, so Granny went and hid in there with him. We just about managed to persuade him to come out again and head back to the car.

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Overall this was a fantastic morning-to-mid afternoon trip out, and we all got lots of fresh air amongst some very pretty scenery. It’s been a while since I last went to Charlcote, and we didn’t make it into the house itself this time, but I’m sure we’ll be back with the boys again in the not too distant future, now that we live nearer this property again.

As ususal I’m linking up with one of my favourite linkies – #CountryKids over at Coombe Mill’s blog

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Triathlon result!

Thursday was the big day: Andrew completed his mini toddler triathlon in aid of Sport Relief. I said last week that I would blog about how it went, so here I am!

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I think both boys might have been expecting some boat rowing to feature in the events too 😉

We set off just before 9am to Newbold Comyn Leisure Centre in Leamington for the aquatic bit. After filling in a form to give us permission to take photos, we got changed and Andrew kept his t-shirt on over his costume so we could take some photos with it on the poolside. He was keen to jump i, so while Granny got into position to take some action shots on her camera, the boys and I got into the pool at the ‘beach’ side, and made our way across to the side wall. Andrew swam with his noodle float all the way across to the other side and back again, encouraged by me a few steps ahead of him, holding Joel who was laughing him on too. Despite an almost detour around the island in the pool, he achieved two full widths of the pool, which is about 20m in total. After that we had our usual fun swimming, and Granny joined us in the water so we could each keep an eye on one boy whilst they were swimming and splashing.

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When we’d finished, it was time for a quick refuel and then back home for some rest and lunch. Once we were ready again, we headed out to the Memorial Park in Coventry. Andrew’s task was to ride his bike over there, around the top field in the park, and back home again – approximately 1 mile in total. While we were there, he also completed his run – approximately 500m across the top field. This was the part that he needed the most encouragement for, I think he was getting tired, but I jogged too and cheered him on.

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He can’t have been that tired though, because he still had an extra reserve of energy for his usual go on the playground too! This brought a welcome opportunity for Joel to burn some more energy too, as he’d been in the sling for the bike riding and running. We stayed at the park until it started to rain and everyone was getting worn out. Andrew completed his cycle home and then enjoyed a special treat snack and drink whilst chilling out on the sofa.

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So there we go: one mini triathlon complete, one very tired but happy athlete having spent the day doing what he loves – burning energy in the pool and the park! And that’s what Sport Relief is all about – getting active, having fun, and raising life-changing cash.

If you’ve enjoyed reading about our 3 year old’s sporting challenge, please consider donating whatever you can to Sport Relief via our Just Giving page. To find out how the money will be spent by Comic Relief, have a look here. Thank you!

Also linking this post up, as usual, with the fab #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Toddler Triathlon for Sport Relief

I’ve been hearing all about the charity that is Sport Relief through the adventures of Team Honk on twitter and their blog. Then when Granny came back from Sainsbury’s with a red Sport Relief t-shirt for the boys and their cousin, it gave me an idea for helping to fundraise. On the back of the t-shirt there are three words printed at the top: run, swim, cycle. Aha, I thought, that’s a triathlon, and wouldn’t it be cool if Andrew did a mini triathlon and we got people to sponsor him. He loves all 3 of those activities, and would be more than wiling to spend a day doing them. So here’s the plan…

On Thursday 20th March, we will head to Newbold Comyn Leisure Centre in Leamington for the aquatic bit and then come back to the Memorial Park in Coventry for the terrestrial bits. Andrew will:

– swim 2 widths of the splash pool (roughly 20m)

– cycle (on his balance bike, not confident enough on his new pedal bike yet) to the park and around the top field in the park (approximately 1 mile in total)

– run across the top field in the park (approximately 500m)

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In training – on the bike
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Leggings made by Mummy, upcycled from two of my jumpers. Thought they went well with his t-shirt. They’re really Joel’s but just about fit Andrew too 🙂

Now comes your chance to help this charity, who give shelter to young people living on the streets or affected by domestic abuse in the UK and who give the chance of an education and fresh water to children abroad in poorer countries – these are just some examples of what they do. I’ve set up a Just Giving page where you can sponsor Andrew in his mini triathlon attempt. Any amount, whether £1 or £10 can make a difference, and we’d be very grateful if you could spare some change.

I will of course do an update on the blog when he’s done it, and let you know how much we’ve raised. I’m sure we’ll all have a lot of fun, especially a very active Andrew.

Linking up with #CountryKids as usual

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Coombe Country Park – #Country Kids

This week the boys and I went to Coombe Country Park near Coventry – a park that I used to go to quite a lot as a child. It’s changed over the generation in terms of the details like playgrounds and the visitor centre, but overall it’s still the same big country park that I remember. Coombe park is home to Coombe Abbey, which was built as a monastery in the 12th century and later became a royal home following the Dissolution of the Monasteries. For several generations it was owned by the Earls of Craven, and then was bought by the city council in the 1960s and the grounds were opened up as a park. The old building is now a hotel that is a popular venue for weddings.

The park a fantastic space for the boys to explore, including a playground that’s perfect for the two of them, and plenty of paths and open space to run and ride bikes on. Last week I wrote about how Andrew is coming along well with his pedal bike, but when I’m on my own with them both, it’s better for all of us if he’s still on the balance bike, because he still needs help from me for his pedal bike and Joel gets everywhere so needs my constant attention.

The first exciting thing that we came to when we got out of the car in the car park was a load of HUGE puddles! More like mini lakes than puddles really, which the boys of course loved to wade/cycle in. Andrew even got one of his wellies stuck in some hidden mud in a puddle at one point, so I had to wade in and rescue him! Good job I had wellies on too.

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There is an impressive long driveway leading up to the hotel, lined on both sides with a row of trees. It was a beautiful sunny (though chilly) day, and we noticed that there were plenty of spring flowers popping up underneath the trees – daffodils and crocuses were what we spotted. The shadows that the trees were creating on the grass were fascinating for the boys, gently swaying as the trees moved in the cool breeze.

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The next exciting thing that we came to was the playground. This is new since I used to come here, and the boys love it. They particularly like the little huts to sit down in at the top of the climbing frames. There are also plenty of bridges to walk across and slides to shoot down. It is well suited to their age range, as well as to older children. In the week it’s pretty quiet, and we had this practically to ourselves until our friends came to meet us.

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After a good hour on the playground, we went for a walk/ride around the park. I didn’t get loads of photos of the walk this time, because I was chatting to our friends and trying to keep Andrew in sight (easier said than done on his bike!) because there are a couple of lakes and streams. We forgot some bread to feed the ducks this time, but usually the lake in front of the hotel is a great place to do this and the boys enjoy it. This week there was plenty of mud to squelch through in the woods and in the open field at the far end of the park. We all got well and truly covered!

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Once we’d made our way back to the visitor’s centre near the playground, it was time for lunch, and we’d decided to eat in the cafe there with our friends. I’ve not eaten there before but it was very reasonable – good simple sandwiches and hot snacks like beans/egg on toast – we paid less than £10 for the 3 of us to eat. In the visitor’s centre opposite the cafe there is a room for kids that has various activities where they can learn all about the wildlife and nature of the park. Andrew particularly likes the game of snakes and ladders with the spinny wheel for dice, and there are lots of things to do like colouring and sensory experiences. It is very well done and we found it hard to drag our toddlers away from this when we had to go.

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All in all it was a fantastic morning-to-lunch out – I think it’s a sign that we’ve had good fun when we have to leave our wellies outside when we get home because they are still so muddy underneath despite trying to wash them in puddles! I’m sure we’ll be back there many more times as the boys grow up, just like when I was growing up.

As usual I’m linking up with the lovely #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog – which is particularly appropriate this week on the grounds of names!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

 

 

From balance to pedal bike – #CountryKids

A while ago I blogged about how Andrew loved his balance bike and was very good at riding it. Well he still does and still is, but for Christmas he was very kindly given a big boys’ pedal bike by Granny and Grandad. We’d noticed that he was getting quite big for his balance bike – the Early Rider lite – which he’s been riding for over a year, since just before his 2nd birthday. The saddle is on the highest position and his feet are well and truly touching the ground. At about the same time, he’d been noticing the big girls and boys of Cambridge riding on their pedal bikes, and decided that he too wanted to have a go. So we suggested to him that he wait for Christmas and see what surprises might come his way.

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And he wasn’t disappointed. Well, not until he got on it, tried to pedal off and fell off! I think he thought he’d just be able to do it as amazingly as he’d been doing his balance bike. That put him off a little, so we encouraged him to get on it step by step, doing just a few minutes on the drive with it each day and using his balance bike for longer trips out. We’d heard a tip that not putting the pedals on straight away helps kids get used to the new, heavier, bigger bike, whilst still acting like they’re riding a balance bike. It was also just a tad too big for him at first. But without pedals he was happy to sit on the cross bar and push himself around with his feet, just like he’s used to.

Bike collage 2 jpg

Then one day a couple of weeks ago, when out riding (i.e. pushing) in the cul-de-sac with Daddy, he asked to have the pedals on. So they were quickly whipped on before he had chance to change his mind, and off he went, with Daddy holding the back of the saddle as he pedalled. He did really well, and over the next week, with more practice, he got even better at pedalling. So much so that when I took him out with his new bike one afternoon this week, all I had to do was lightly hold his coat at the shoulders – he was providing all the balance himself and I could easily have let go, but he liked the security of feeling my hands on him, even if just a little, because when I took them off for a second he screeched at me to put them back! And he didn’t fall off in that time.

I’m now trying to convince him that he really doesn’t need us to help at all, we’re not doing anything vital, but I think it’ll take a little more confidence. I’m sure one day soon though, I’ll just let go and he won’t notice, then he’ll pedal off into the distance. I’m already finding it hard to keep up with him on his balance bike – jogging after a 3 year old on a bike with a 15 month old on my back in the sling is a great workout – but once he’s off on his pedal bike, I think his speed with only be rivalled by me on my bike (which, incidentally, is in storage since we moved – there’s less need for it in Coventry than in Cambridge).

Despite the temporary lack of confidence, overall I think the skill of balance that his first bike has taught him has been key in him learning to ride a pedal bike so young. We’d heard that a balance bike was a good idea in this respect, but now we’re seeing for ourselves that it really is true. I remember learning to ride a bike without stabilisers, and I was quite a bit older than he is now. He will never even have been through the stabiliser stage, going straight from balance to pedal bike. I would definitely recommend this if you’re keen to get kids riding young.

Now we’ve just got to get Joel on the balance bike and we’ll be off on family bike rides before we know it!

As usual, I’m linking up our outdoor fun with the fantastic #CountryKids linky over at the Coombe Milll blog

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall