Garden fun – #CountryKids

After quite a few weeks of blogging about our out and about adventures for Country Kids, I thought it would be good to do another garden fun post, especially because this week I have really appreciated the fact that we now have a garden (admittedly this particular one is temporary, but we do have one at our new house too). The first two days of this week were very showery, so the garden was the perfect place to be in the afternoons after nap because we could just nip back in again or shelter under the gazebo if the rain got too heavy for a little while, then go back out again when it stopped. Wednesday afternoon I realised just how much we appreciate going in the garden – a case of you don’t know just what you’ve got til it’s gone – because it was absolutely pouring with rain the whole afternoon and even the boys didn’t want to go out in that, so got very wound up inside, and trying to entertain a 3 year old and 19 month old with the same indoor activity for a few hours is tricky. So now I am so grateful when we can just open the door and get out in the garden.

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One of Andrew’s favourite role play games at the moment is to pre tent to be an ice cream seller. He stands behind his kitchen and shouts out “Anybody want an ice cream?” loudly and repeatedly until someone takes him up on the offer. He then takes a shuttlecock for the cone, and various coloured balls act as ice cream scoops of different flavours. Recently his ice cream business has branched out into toasties – white discs that go in the giant connect-4 game which come apart and he can sandwich some knid of filling inside for you. In these pictures, Joel was also joining in with this game, even if he didn’t realise it: Andrew said he was doing the washing up, which is fair enough because he was standing by the sink.

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The slide that Andrew got for his birthday in the winter and which will come with us to our new house rather than staying at Granny and Grandad’s house when we move is always popular with both boys, even though it says from age 2 – things like that don’t bother kamikaze Joel. Recently Andrew has taken to going up the ladder behind Joel and making them do a “doubler”, that is slide down the slide together, Joel at the front and Andrew at the back. They both seem to like it, even if it does take Joel by surprise sometimes. They both like sliding down it in the most unconventional ways too, like Joel has on his front in the bottom right picture here.

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The seesaw is also popular, even if not always as a seesaw. Joel likes turning it on its side and climbing over it like it’s a climbing frame! Andrew likes it when I get on too.

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A popular game this week has been the junior putting golf set that Great Grandma bought for them last week. Here you see them using a rather large bouncy ball rather than a small plastic golf ball, which was hilarious to watch! They did do a pretty good job at sharing it though, which isn’t always the case these days, though it does help that we have (at least) 2 clubs. Andrew got more annoyed with the wind than with Joel, as it kept blowing the green strip up until we weighed it down.

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Andrew is still not really into doing much drawing or painting – he’ll happily cut and stick but he’s not so fussed about colouring with crayons or paint. But I thought it would be a good idea to try and encourage him to do a bit more by getting the paints and his easel outside. He had a bit of a go this week and painted a penny farthing (the orange picture) and a rocket (the purple picture), two of his favourite vehicles. Joel was eager to get at the paints, but I only had enough pairs of hands to supervise one lot of painting at a time, and by the time Andrew was finished, Joel wasn’t bothered and was off playing in the garden. In general Joel has shown more interest in colouring and painting when we’re at groups than Andrew has. I’m interested to see if Andrew becomes more interested in these things once he goes to pre-school in September.

Linking up our garden fun with the fab #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s 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.

Charlcote Collage 1

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.

Charlcote Collage 2

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.

Charlcote Collage 3

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.

Charlcote Collage 4

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

Winter garden fun – #CountryKids

There are many reasons why we are enjoying living at Granny and Grandad’s house temporarily. One of these is the fact that they have a nice garden with lots of space to play. Having come from a flat, though we were lucky enough to have almost sole use of the communal garden there, it’s a real luxury just to be able to open the door and run out to play, knowing that the boys are fully enclosed. With the weather being so rubbish this week, and us being ill at the start of the week, it’s been good just to be able to get out between showers without going too far and getting drenched.

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The boys’ main point of interest this week and last has been the slide that Andrew got for his birthday. I know they like slides at the park, but I guess with other equipment there the fun gets spread around, whereas in the garden this is THE thing to climb on! (They haven’t taken to climbing the trees…yet!) I love how kids like nothing better than repetition – somehow doing the same thing over and over again entertains them for hours. Andrew can of course do it entirely unaided, and how dare I offer to help! Going down on your bottom forwards is for wimps, so instead we see all angles attempted, though some (like head first on tummy) he’s discovered aren’t too comfortable. Joel tries to do the whole slide thing himself, and has a good go, but as it’s really meant for 2-6 year olds, the steps are quite big for him, and an arm stretched out to Mummy appears. He’s not afraid of the relatively steep drop for his size though, and laughs as he whooshes down.

Slide Collage 2

Although the slide is brand new, the older garden toys still get a look in. Joel is particularly fond of the seesaw, probably because it’s just the right height for him to get on and off himself, which isn’t the case at the park. What you see behind the seesaw in the pictures just below is a Little Tikes toy kitchen – there’s a bit of a story behind how we acquired this… Granny and Grandad were walking down the road near to home one day and spotted this kitchen in a skip on the drive of a house. It looked in perfect working order, if a little grubby, so they knocked on the door and asked politely if there was any chance they could have it. The man at the door said of course they could, it used to be for their grandchildren but they have now grown up, and he even offered to drop it round to our house in his van! So with a bit of a clean up with the hose, it’s now got a new home to get loved by another set of grandchildren, who love playing with (toy) kitchens. Those are the pots and pans that came with it scattered on the grass. A good bit of recycling that would otherwise have ended up at the tip.

Seesaw Collage

Talking of recycling, the boys are always fascinated by cardboard boxes and other such ‘interesting’ bits of rubbish. The slide came in a big box, which when flattened out on the grass became a ‘trampoline’ for a while. They had great fun jumping up and down on it, rolling balls over it and generally treating it like a toy rather than something to go in the recycling box. It’s amazing how far a little imagination can go when it comes to cardboard!

Box Collage

It’s particularly good to have an enclosed space outdoors for Joel, because he is surprisingly fast for his age and I find I need eyes in the back of my head when out with the two of them on my own at the park. Of course he can still get into mischief in the garden – like when he takes an interest in the compost bins (pictured bottom right below) – but generally it’s a pretty child proof environment. On this particular day he was getting tired towards the end of our play outside, so at one point just lay down on the grass and kicked his legs in the air – pity he never adopts this pose when I’m actually trying to change his nappy rather than running off immediately!

Joel garden Collage

Another of Andrew’s favourite ‘toys’ that isn’t a toy is the water butt and watering can combo. Ever since he learned how to get water out of the tap on the butt, he’s keen to water the plants at every opportunity, even if they clearly don’t need watering (he obviously hasn’t realised how much rain we’ve had recently!) But despite the fact that he didn’t really need to water the garden, it was alright to be emptying some water from the butt, because there was a blockage at some point between the two butts (one doesn’t have a tap on so just flows into the other, if all is well) and Grandad needed us to get rid of a bit of water so he could investigate. So we filled a few watering cans and poured them onto the garden or then down the drain once the plants were well and truly saturated. Andrew took charge, showing Joel how it’s done.

Water Collage

No post about garden fun could be complete without a word on the various forms of food and drink that are on offer for local wildlife, mainly birds, though squirrels get their oar in too, and Grandad has created a ‘hedgehog home’ out of scraps of tree and other foliage at the back of the garden (which you can just about make out in the bottom left picture below).Andrew is often intrigued by the nut holders and other equipment that is rigged up on the lawn, and likes to help Grandad mend it and top up the food/water when necessary. There’s even a tray on the lawn at their height for putting food out like scraps of bread and fat (pictured on the top left). I could write a whole post about bird watching with kids in this garden, or better still get Grandad to write it – he blogs at Garden Twitter.

Animal food Collage

Although it’s been cold and wet recently, we’ve still had fun togged up in the garden whenever we can, and now the evenings are getting noticeably lighter, it’s so positive to be able to get out even after afternoon naps for an hour or so. Roll on spring! We’re also looking forward to having a garden at our new house, where the new slide will live and where I’m sure we’ll have many more good outdoor times to come.

I’m linking up with the fabulous Coombe Mill blog for #CountryKids again this week.

In the garden – #CountryKids

In case you missed my recent posts, or haven’t seen me for a while, we’re in the process of moving from Cambridge to Birmingham. One of our reasons for moving to a more affordable city is that we can buy a house with a garden instead of our current flat. I would love to be able to open the back door and let the boys out to play, because they love being outdoors running off energy. Having said that, we do have a very nice communal garden that we share with the other 7 flats, and as none of them have children, we’re the only ones who are ever out there playing in it. But we do all have to go out and come in together because it’s not completely fenced off, and we can’t just pop back in easily if one of us needs to fetch something or go to the loo, for example.

One morning this week we hadn’t got any particular plans, and I asked Andrew what he wanted to do. His answer was to go in the garden, so we did! I knew that Joel would want (or rather need) to nap at some point after another of his spectacularly early starts, so I wore him on my back and wrapped us all up warm. He did eventually drop off, after watching Andrew run around a bit first.

Garden Collage 1

It was lovely to spend a couple of hours playing and bike riding, and I took some pictures to remind us how great this space has been. It’s nothing fancy, but the gravel circle in the centre has provided hours of entertainment over the few years we’ve been here – digging, hiding balls and other bits in it, crunching it and swishing it with our feet, kicking balls on it (and inevitably kicking gravel too!), walking/running around the brick border, making letters/numbers/patterns with the stones on the bricks… and much more!

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There are also a couple of man holes that Andrew often stands, jumps and dances on; it’s a bit like being on some kind of podium! The grass is of course great for running around on, or riding a bike on, though he prefers using the large and quiet drive in front of the flats as his bike riding territory. Talking of bikes, for a while there have been a couple of ornamental metal bikes in the garden (I think a couple of ex-residents left them when they moved out and they used to be on their balcony) – Andrew thinks these are hilarious, and loves to put his bouncy balls in the basket on one of the bikes and ‘ride’ it around, or rather drag the bike around whilst walking with it under his legs.

Garden Collage 5

Whenever we go out in the garden (or to a park), there is one rule that cannot be broken: we must take balls with us! These can be bouncy balls, footballs, tennis balls, fluffy balls – whatever balls we have that are easily find-able at the time of departure. If any children do come and live in these flats at some point, they will probably end up finding some balls lodged underneath fences, balconies, bushes etc., as I’m sure we don’t have nearly as many as we should do anymore. Andrew loves hiding small balls in the gravel, kicking any balls around the grass, and trying to throw one or two before I catch him and suggest that we save that for the park as there are too many windows in sight.

Garden Collage 4

At just less than 3 years old, Andrew just about understands the classic game of hide and seek. There are only a couple of good hiding places, most notably a long thin passage to the side of the block of flats where it doesn’t quite meet the fence – perfect size for a toddler hider. The other popular place to hide is behind the bins, but more because he knows I won’t come too near due to the smell, which doesn’t bother him apparently!

Garden Collage 3

We’ve had a lot of fun in this shared garden since the boys were born, and we have some good memories of outdoor fun very close to home in this period of our lives. Water balloons and gardening are two other blog posts that spring to mind. But looking forward to next year, we’re also excited to be searching for a house with our very own garden, and thinking about all the fun that we can have when it belongs to us 🙂

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I’m linking up with the amazing Country Kids linky again – I’ve not been so consistent at linking for the past month or so since we found out we’re moving, but I hope to be joining in again more often in the new year.