The sand park – #CountryKids

Whilst we’ve been living at Granny and Grandad’s house, we’ve done lots of park trips, just like we used to back in Cambridge. The nearest park to us here in Coventry is the War Memorial Park, which is the biggest in the city. In fact, considering it’s only a 10-15 minute walk from the city centre, it’s easy to forget you’re in a big city whilst walking through its green fields.  We love it because it’s perfect for bike riding and getting a good walk in the open air, and yet it’s so close to home. Not to mention that it has an aviary, a skate park, and a couple of nice cafes.

Right in the middle is Andrew and Joel’s favourite bit: the ‘sand park’ as Andrew calls it. This is a play area that, unsurprisingly, has sand on the ground. It hasn’t always been like this – I remember playing there as a child and it was bark chipping underneath the climbing frames etc. The sand means that it’s almost like a mini beach, which is a nice idea for kids living in one of the most central cities of the UK, miles from the actual beach.

Sand park 1

Andrew in particular likes to play with the sand in the main bit of the park if we remember to take implements or if he finds some there. There is also a smaller section to one side, also with sand on the ground, that has buckets and pulleys, so you can lift sand off the ground and transport it around the climbing frame and do various things with it like put it down chutes, through a mill and through a colander. This provides lots of entertainment, and is just the right size for Joel to climb on too.

Sand park 3

It’s not quite like the beach in that there is no water most of the time. During the school summer holidays they open up a water area that has fountains another water features that the kids can run through and play in. I don’t think we’ve ever actually seen this working though!

Sand park 2

Generally the boys really enjoy this park, but I tend only to go there if I’m with another adult these days. The trouble is that most of the equipment is a little too old for them apart from the one section with buckets, and they both try to climb on the sections meant for older kids and teenagers, which I find stressful on my own. So we usually go to another park when it’s just the 3 of us. I’m sure this phase will pass, and we can go back there the 3 of us when they’re older. The sand is a lovely feature though, even if it does get everywhere – including all the way home!

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

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!

Boat Collage jpg
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.

Swim Collage jpg

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.

Cycle Collage jpg

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.

Run Collage jpg

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

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.

Coombe Collage 1

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.

Coombe Collage 2

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.

Coombe Collage 3

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!

Coombe Collage 4

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.

Coombe Collage 5

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

 

 

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.

Slide Collage 1

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.