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.

Keswick Collage 1

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!

Keswick Collage 2

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.

Keswick Collage 3

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.

Keswick Collage 4

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

 
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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

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Fun in the winter sun at National Trust Baddesley Clinton – #CountryKids

Each week Granny has one day that she doesn’t work, and since we’ve been staying with her and Grandad, she’s mainly been spending that day with us. A couple of times she’s helped us go and look at pre-schools (i.e. she’s looked after Joel whilst Andrew and I went in to have a look round), and most often we’ve been swimming because that’s something I can’t do on my own with 2 toddlers and we love a good swim. But as this week was half term, we figured that the pool would be much busier than the usual quiet parent and tots session, so we decided to visit a local National Trust property instead, especially as the weather was so nice and sunny.

We’d seen that there were welly walks advertised through the NT app at both Packwood House and Baddesley Clinton in the afternoon, but as the boys were due a nap in the afternoon, we headed off first thing in the morning to Baddesley Clinton, thinking that we could just do our own welly walk through the lovely grounds there. When we arrived it was lovely and quiet, and as we walked off around the outside of the house there was nobody else in sight.

Baddesley Collage 1

The house is interesting because it is surrounded by a moat, and this fascinated Andrew, particularly as there were ducks swimming in it. There were also plenty of puddles to splash in on the path by the moat, so this satisfied the boys’ desire to get wet without resorting to jumping in the moat! We then continued on a path beyond the house, which took us around a lake surrounded by trees. It was so beautiful – the sun glistening on the water and the trees reflecting in the calm lake. We came to a few bridges too, across streams leading into/out of the lake, which the boys loved. They both did really well at walking, though Joel’s little legs didn’t quite make it all the way round before he wanted up onto my back.

Baddesley Collage 2

Andrew collected a couple of sticks, as usual, and we came back round towards the house on the other side of it. There was a lovely patch of snow drops and the birds were out in full force, tweeting away in the tree-tops. With these and the sun, it really felt like a spring day compared to all the wet days we’ve had recently, though it was a bit nippy out of the sun.

Baddesley Collage 3

As we walked through the more formal, walled bit of garden, Andrew was getting tired, so we spurred him on with the thought of a drink and snack in the tea room – it was only 10.30 by this point. You really can’t go wrong with home baked National Trust goodies. We shared a cupcake, gingerbread lady and shortbread biscuit between us; they went down well.

Baddesley Collage 4

By the time we’d finished, the house was then open, so we headed across there to have a look around. The boys aren’t really old enough to appreciate much of it, but they enjoyed having a brief explore through the old rooms with uneven floors and interesting objects. There was an activity for kids – a welly hunt – so Andrew was tasked with spotting all the little pictures of wellies as we walked around. Unfortunately I didn’t get many photos inside as you’re not allowed to use flash and I was too busy holding hands with one of the boys. But I did just about capture them on camera in the last room where there was a dressing up box with period clothes in – they loved putting some hats on.

Baddesley Collage 5

After this, we fed the ducks with some bread that another family gave us, and then we took another short walk down to the field at the front of the estate, to see the sheep and the tractor that was driving about. Andrew was also fascinated by what looked like a local electricity generator (I’m no expert, but there was one of those ‘danger of death’ signs that I associate with electricity) – in his words: “look Mummy, it’s a lightening, a lightening”!

By this time though, the boys were clearly very tired, and we knew that the car journey home and some lunch before nap would be a good idea at this point. There was just enough time to go back via the shop and claim our prize for counting the wellies in the house – a sticker for Andrew – and buy the usual bouncy ball souvenir, which Granny and Grandad always buy for them at a National Trust property.

It was a fantastic morning out in the fresh air and almost spring-like sunshine. The grounds and house were perfect for little legs to explore, and when we move to south Birmingham, this will be one of our local properties, so I’m sure we will be back many a time in the future.

Linking up with Coombe Mill’s fantastic Country Kids linky as usual – pop over there to read about others’ outdoor family fun.

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Woodland discovery area – #CountryKids

Following on from my post last week about the woodland art activity that we did after one of our many trips to our local National Trust property, Anglesey Abbey, I thouht I’d write a bit more about the woodland discovery area there, because recently Andrew has got very into exploring it.

The property has extensive grounds that range from formal gardens to informal fields to wild woodland. Once you enter the grounds, there are signs that point the way to the woodland, which is at the far end of the grounds relative to the entrance. The signs are made from natural materials, such as cared wood and painted rocks and stones. Andrew particularly likes the rocks painted as ladybirds that signal one of the entrances to the area.

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Once inside, there are many activities to keep an active, or even less active, toddler amused for quite a while. Near the entrance, we enjoy the stepping stones, and the branches that hang from a rope that you can ‘chime’ with another branch like a xylophone and play a ‘tune’. Then as we venture further in, never taking quite the same path, we come across the tree house and the pirate ship, both built up around trees using wood, and which are perfect for a toddler who likes to climb up steps (with help of course).

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One of our recent trips was at the time of a scarecrow competition – local schools had made and displayed scarecrows in various categories like ‘the best dressed’ and ‘the scariest’ scarecrow. So that was fun to see their creations as we wandered through the woods.

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We also like the places that you can sit and have a rest (well I do, Andrew sits for about 10 seconds before turning the benches into climbing frames!) There are a few circles with benches made out of logs, one has a ‘tent’ made out of willow branches over the top, and one has a story telling cupboard inside – it’s actually a hollowed out tree stump with a hinged door fitted into the bark, and inside there are various costumes and props that you can use for telling stories. Andrew chose to be Little Red Riding Hood on one of our visits.

AA Collage 2

Of course I can’t forget the hut where we saw the picture frames that inspired us to make our own. Inside there are lots of crayons, paper and other craft materials that you can use to be creative in this middle of the woods location. Not that Andrew is too interested on one activity for more than a few minutes, but I think this is a lovely idea for slightly older children who like to stop running around for more than 5 minutes!

Even though we’ve been to the woodland discovery area several times, both before and since children, I still don’t think we’ve discovered every single part of what’s on offer there. It is extensive and has so much to offer for all ages from baby to grandparent (though I don’t think we’ve been to that bit with the boys’ grandparents – we must do that!) I’d definitely recommend it for a day out.

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Woodland art – #CountryKids

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A couple of weeks ago on a trip to our local National Trust property, Anglesey Abbey, we ventured all the way into the woodland discovery area at the far end of the extensive gardens. When I go on my own with the boys we don’t always make it that far by the time Andrew has ridden his bike through the ‘number garden’ and across the fields. But this time he chose to head through the woods on his bike and follow the signs to the discovery area. He particularly liked the big rocks that had been painted as lady birds signalling the entrance to the area.

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There are lots of activities to do in this fabulous area for children, including a tree house, a pirate ship climbing frame, stepping stones, a willow ‘tent’ to sit in, a story telling circle with benches and a tree ‘cupboard’ with masks and costumes in to help tell stories. There is also a hut that has lots of paper, crayons and other art materials for kids to have a go at colouring and being creative.

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It was in this hut that we saw some picture frames on the walls. These weren’t ordinary picture frames, but were made out of natural materials found in the wood, sticks and twigs, tied together with string and wool and hung on the wall. So we decided to pick up some of our own bits and bobs from the woodland floor and take them home to make our very own frame on the balcony later that day. Andrew was excited, and chose some sticks when I explained what we would do with them later.

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After his afternoon nap, we set to and made our frame. We tied four thick, straight sticks together in a rectangle using string and some of my embroidery yarn. Then we decorated it with some thinner more interestingly shaped twigs and some pieces of wool that we’d found in the wood as part of the activities that are suggested at the entrance. When we’d finished, we hung it up on the balcony frame using some ribbon and cord that we found in my craft box. Andrew was very impressed, and often still mentions our ‘picture’ when he looks out of the balcony door. Our balcony has transparent panels so when you look through it at his height, it frames the grass and plants behind it.

This was a fantastic way to keep Andrew’s attention for a crafty project, just the right length of time, and we get to see the result every day on our now ‘arty’ balcony 😉

 

Linking up with the fabulous Country Kids linky, if a little late this week (it’s been a very busy weekend!)
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Fun at Wimpole Home Farm – #CountryKids

We love the fact that we live so near to the National Trust’s Wimpole Home Farm near Cambridge. We’ve been several times since we’ve had kids (and a couple of times before!) and we never get bored of it. The Wimpole Estate is a large area of land with a mansion house and a working farm with animals that are reared for milk, meat, eggs and wool. There are also extensive grounds that you can wander around and picnic in.

The last time we went was the August bank holiday Monday, which was a lovely warm day and we had a wonderful family morning out before Daddy had to go to work in the afternoon. We arrived early and ours was one of the first cars in the car park, so we bought our tickets and wandered around a bit by the entrance to the farm until it opened. As National Trust members we still have to pay to get into the farm, but is is much cheaper than the standard ticket and well worth the price for a good value family day out.

Wimpole 1 Collage

An excited Andrew was looking forward to seeing the animals, so as soon as the gate opened he steamed ahead on the path down to the farm. As we approached, we stopped to see the donkeys and goats in the first field by the reception. The first thing that Andrew spotted once we were actually inside was a tractor that you can sit on and pretend to drive, so he and Joel had a turn on that together. We also stopped to watch a baby cow having its milk from mummy, and then Andrew had a go at ‘milking’ using a milking simulator – a couple of cow sized teats hanging off a bucket of water!

Wimpole 2 Collage

Next we went over to say hello to the shire horses, which were inside the stables at that point, but they also come out to do cart rides that visitors can hop on to. There were some turkeys in the stable too, next to the horses, which Andrew found very amusing, maybe because they were down at his level and he could wave to them. I think too that he hasn’t made the connection between turkeys like this and the turkey that we eat sometimes. Joel enjoyed looking at the rabbits that were across the courtyard on our way over towards the pigs.

Wimpole 3 Collage

Soon it was time to watch the pigs being fed, so we headed over to the pig sties and stood there while other visitors congregated in anticipation of the feeding session and the pigs got very excited. But nobody official turned up with the food for a while, and Andrew needed the toilet, so while he and Daddy went off, Joel and I waited and eventually saw the pigs being fed. There was a range of ages of pig, right from little piglets to teenage pigs to mummy pigs pregnant with litters more babies!

Wimpole 4 Collage

The next thing on Andrew’s radar was the small playground (shaped like a combine harvester) and the toy tractor maze – ride on tractors that you can drive around a small maze of hay bales. We spent quite a while there, and Joel enjoyed being pushed around on a tractor too. Then we headed to the bigger adventure playground that is tucked away in a wooded bit. It was still very empty at that time, so the boys had a good go on it without the busyness that I’m sure it would have had later on in the afternoon once more people had got that far.

Wimpole 5 Collage

Having expended a lot of energy climbing, sliding, swinging, running and more, Andrew in particular was getting very tired and we knew that Daddy had to be in work fairly soon, so we started to head back to the car, stopping by some more paddocks of animals (mainly sheep and chickens) on our way, waving to the inhabitants as we passed.

As always when we visit Wimpole, we had a fun family morning out, and we’ll be back again another time to do it all again. I can definitely recommend this as a great way to let babies and toddlers experience farm animals in a family-friendly setting. It’s also good for slightly older children to learn where certain foods come from, rather than just ‘the supermarket’!

 

Linking up with the lovely Country Kids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog
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Devon holiday – part 1: Outdoor fun at National Trust #specialplaces

Rather handily, Tom’s parents live in Devon, right at the end near to Cornwall, so every summer we go on holiday and stay with them. Everyone enjoys it because they get to see and play with the grand children, and we get a good rest with meals and washing provided. This year my parents came too, so the boys had a real fill of grandparent attention. We all had a lot of fun, and got up to lots of fun activities. The weather was pretty good for us, not that rain stops us, we just tog up anyway, but it’s nice to be able to get out and about in the dry. I’d definitely recommend all of the places we visited for young children, so if you’re planning on holidaying down that way with little ones, it may be worth taking notes….

This first instalment of what we got up to is all about the National Trust, which you can trust for a good family day out.

Having travelled down from the Midlands with Granny and Grandad on Saturday (we’d stopped for lunch at Tyntesfield, a National Trust property just off the M5 past Bristol, where we saw Gromit!), our first day for exploring was Sunday. We didn’t feel like driving too far, so decided on Antony House, a National Trust property just across the River Tamar into Cornwall. If we were to cross the river by bridge, there is quite a long drive around on the other side, so instead we got the ferry across to Torpoint, and Antony is just a mile or 2 up the road from there.

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We usually check the National Trust hand book or app for opening times, but as it was a weekend in the height of holiday season, I guess we didn’t think about it and assumed it would all be open from about 10.30-11am. As we drew up into the car park, there were only a couple of others there, and we noticed that it didn’t in fact open until 12 noon, and even that is only on Sundays in the summer – the rest of the year it’s only open mid week. After we thought about it some more, we remembered that this property is actually still lived in, so it’s completely understandable that they wouldn’t want the world and his wife pouring in every day all year round. But fortunately the woodland walk around the perimeter of the house’s gardens was already open, so we spent an hour wandering around the woods. There are two walks, signposted with green and blue arrows, which was perfect for Andrew who was happy to be our guide and look out for green arrows and point us in the right direction.

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By the time we’d done that, the house and gardens were open, so we headed in with our picnic and found a nice spot on one of the lawns. We ate a tasty lunch, despite the fact that Granny forgot to pack the cheese, which then became the joke of the holiday every time cheese or picnic came up in conversation! Andrew and Joel enjoyed playing on the grass too whilst we stayed in that spot for a while. I had also spotted a slide across on the grass over by the other side of the house, so we headed over there and Andrew, once he’d been brave enough to go down the slide once (it was an enclosed tube so not quite what he was used to), had a lot of fun going down it several more times in the next half an hour. Meanwhile Joel was happy to cruise around the story time benches watching Andrew occasionally.

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After all that activity we stopped off at the tea room for a cornish ice cream. The boys were getting tired by then, so we made our way slowly back to the car and headed home. The littlest one fell asleep in the car and the bigger one didn’t quite as it wasn’t a very long journey home, so he napped when we got back for an hour. Although we didn’t get to see inside the house, we had a thoroughly enjoyable day outdoors, taking advantage of the beautiful sunshine and the boys’ and our love of being in the fresh air.

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A few days later, on Wednesday, we had another trip to a National Trust property. This time we went even more local, to Saltram on the east edge of Plymouth. The weather had been very wet in the morning, though we still got to the local playground and then spent some time with Tom’s extended family over lunch. After the boys had napped, we got in the car and arrived at Saltram just as the weather was looking more promising. First we stopped by the duck pond to admire the cute ducks, ducklings and teenage ducks/ducklings. Then the plan was for Andrew to ride his bike and for us to walk around the extensive grounds, after Andrew took a quick detour into the playground before he discovered that he couldn’t very easily slide down the slide in his waterproof trousers that we’d suggested he wear in case of puddles underfoot (or underwheel).

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Andrew sped off down the track so fast that he left us way behind him. We took it in turns to try and catch him up, first Grandma and Pop, then Tom and me, while Granny and Grandad took care of Joel in the buggy. We really had to jog, or even run, to keep up anywhere near him. Occasionally he would slow down to look at something en route, like the cows in the field or a woody bit with ‘off piste’ cycling possibilities. The route goes through fields to begin with, then turns a corner to meet and run alongside the large tidal estuary of the River Plym. So at that point we made him stop and carry on next to us – the adults walking on the side of the path nearest the river and Andrew on the inside, though he kept trying to break the human barrier.

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The circular route led us back to the car, and we all headed home having had a good dose of fresh air and a brisk walk (or jog!) As always, even though we’ve been to both these places before, they didn’t fail to provide us with a good day (or afternoon) out. The next instalment of our holiday adventures will focus on the days we had at the beach.

Linking up with the lovely Country KIds linky again 🙂

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Number and letter fun in the sun – #CountryKids

With all this glorious sunshine, it’s not been at all difficult to entertain two little ones who love being outside. It’s been lovely just to spend time in the garden, and to go to our favourite parks and open spaces.

The paddling pool has been a big hit with both boys, though I can’t believe how small it looks to me now – the last time we had it out we only had an 18/19 month old as opposed to a nearly 2.5 year old and an 8 month old taking up their space in it. With some bath toys in it, this provided hours of fun throughout the week, starting at the weekend when Daddy was around; we’ve had it out both in the garden and on the balcony.

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We’ve also had some fun with numbers and letters this sunny week. Andrew is very into them, and he enjoys saying them out loud whenever he sees them written somewhere. One afternoon I took a beaker of water and a paint brush outside and told him that we were going to do some painting. He was excited, and was intrigued to watch me ‘painting’ with water on the bricks of the drive; he then had a go himself, and was fascinated to watch our artwork disappear (pretty quickly in this heat!). We painted a few things on the bricks that were warm in the sun, but his favourite was of course the letters. I heard of this idea a while ago, I think when talking to a friend at a group, but I can’t actually remember who, when or where now. But it provided some cheap and cheerful fun on a sunny day.

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The photos don’t seem to have come out as well as I’d hoped, but I think you can get the idea

One morning we popped up to Anglesey Abbey, our local National Trust property. I blogged about this for Country Kids earlier in the year when it was much colder and Andrew went everywhere with his yellow coat on. Since that time, Andrew has made a new game which we have to play whenever we go, he won’t let me get away without it! There is a path that leads through a part of the gardens with lots of shrubs in, and for each specifies/variety there is a little plaque with a number on next to the plant. I presume there must be some guide book that you can take out with you which tells you what each number is, though we’ve never done that. Andrew’s game is to ride along the path on his bike and shout out all the numbers that he spots on his way. Sometimes they are obvious, and others are hidden under leaves and harder to spot. He would happily go up and down this path all day if he could. Here is (quite a long) video of him playing this fun game!

Sun fun 5 Collage
There is also a new activity board near the water mill that tells you all about how flour is milled there. Andrew is fascinated by the wheels that you can spin around on it! One of the wheels (the far right) is a pizza – he particularly likes that one 😉

So that was our week of outdoor fun in the sun. Let’s hope the good weather continues!

Linking up with the fantastic linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog – Country Kids
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Fun at Belton House – #CountryKids

Today’s Country Kids post is more of a photo gallery than a wordy post, for a couple of reasons – it was Granny and Grandad who actually had the fun with the boys (so I can only recount what Andrew enthusiastically reported on the way home, and the photos are all Grandad’s), and the end of this week has been tiring with a congested toddler and a teething baby waking at night (so I’ve been napping in the day myself instead of writing).

Last Saturday, Tom and I were invited to the wedding of an old friend of ours from university. Although they said that Joel could come with us as he’s still breastfeeding, they were hoping that those with less dependent little ones like Andrew could find alternative childcare. Joel is now feeding a lot less during the day, and not at all when we’re out, so we decided that a few hours away from me would be fine for him too. That would be enough for us to celebrate with our friends at the church and the drinks reception but not stay into the evening. The venue for the wedding was equidistant from us and my parents, so Granny and Grandad jumped at the chance to come and meet us there and spend the afternoon with the boys. We all had lunch together in a friendly pub, and then Tom and I headed off to the church, which turned out to be tiny, and we wouldn’t have been able to easily contain two very fidgety mobile children for an hour within the old pews anyway!

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The boys and their grandparents headed off down the road to the National Trust property of Belton House near Grantham. I can see from the guide leaflet that they left in our change bag that it has huge grounds with lots to do for families. The most popular things with our boys were the little train ride and the extensive adventure playground. Andrew got to wear the train driver’s hat, and he keeps going on about the big slide that was very fast. They also enjoyed an ice cream from the cafe. Fortunately it was lovely weather so they could spend the afternoon outdoors, but there is an indoor soft play area too for wet weather days out.

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When we met back at the pub again, the three of them who can talk were all raving about how amazing Belton House is for children, and we’ve said that we’ll have to go back again one day – we have friends who live not far and go there often, so we’ve talked about meeting them there. Then I can write more about exactly what it’s like. Both boys were so exhausted from all the excitement that they fell asleep almost straight away on the journey back.

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The ball and the Abbey – #CountryKids

I love the fact that we live only 10 minutes drive from our local National Trust property, Anglesey Abbey. The Abbey is actually an old house (not a church as you might expect) set in a lovely large area of land with gardens, lawns, fields and woodland, perfect for little legs to run around in and let off steam. There is also a spacious cafe with yummy food and a toddler toy table which keeps Andrew amused for hours!

Quite often we meet friends up there, and it’s a popular meeting place in the week for mums with young children, especially NCT groups and the like. Sometimes I decide at the last minute to head there on my own with the boys when we have an hour or so in the afternoon after Andrew’s nap time with nothing particular planned and no errands to run. This is what happened earlier in the week.AA Collage 1

Andrew insisted that he take his new foam football that Granny and Grandad kindly gave him in a damage limitation effort with respect to Joel, windows and other breakable objects. Even though I said he could take an outdoor ball, he wanted to take this soft one – I’m not one to argue too much with a determined toddler when the matter isn’t a serious one.

He had a lot of fun kicking it up the paths, over the fields, along the lawns, and under the trees (avoiding the beautiful bluebells hiding under there). As we reached the lawn by the house, where we’ve seen croquet being played a few times so I knew it was alright to have a ball on, I was quite glad that it was the soft ball after all, as Andrew was keen to kick it and we seemed to be so near the old house with its delicate windows (not that he can kick it high yet, but you never know when he might learn!)AA Collage 2

Just around the corner from the house we walked into a bit of garden with a high hedge around it because Andrew spotted a few steps that he wanted to jump up and then run down the grass slope next to them. This little game lasted a surprisingly long time. There were also some urns on plinths in this bit of garden, and Andrew said hello face to face with the lady carved into the side of one!

The whole area of land around the property is full of little bits of hedged off garden, perfect for a game of hide and seek. Over the several years that we’ve been visiting the place, we’ve often discovered hidden statues as we walk through the various gardens – even having been umpteen times, we’re still to this day finding new bits of garden with plants and works of art in them, as the land is so extensive and varied.

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We have been into the house before, which is fascinating, particularly an intricate clock that chimes spectacularly every hour, but that was back in our pre-kids life. One day we’ll take the boys in, but they’re still too young to appreciate it, even with the kids activity sheets. In any case, it closes earlier than the time we usually make it up there in an afternoon, which was the case this time too.

The weather was fairly kind to us. It started off overcast and quite chilly, but Andrew was warm enough running around with his bright yellow fisherman’s coat on. It did start to rain a couple of times, but didn’t come to much, and we’re used to being out in worse than that. Joel spent the whole time snuggled up warm and dry asleep in the buggy.

As the afternoon drew closer to closing time, we headed back to the car through a short woodland walk. There was no time for a refuelling stop in the cafe today, and besides, it wouldn’t be long until dinnertime anyway, once we had crawled back into Cambridge on an unusually busy road (it’s not normally busy going into town during rush hour, but I think there had been some incident on the modern road wonder that is the A14 so cars were being diverted!) Despite the journey, we had a fun afternoon and I’m sure it won’t be too long until we pop back again.

Linking up with the lovely #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog again 🙂

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall