Abbey Fields park – #CountryKids

I started writing this post for last weekend’s Country Kids linky but it got forgotten about – I know I keep saying it, but with everything else going on, this poor blog is being neglected a little. But at least I’m still keeping some kind of record of what life is like during the move so we can look back on it and see that we still did fun stuff too. So here it is this weekend instead.

Last week when Granny had a day off work, we were thinking about where to go on the lovely sunny day that it was. We knew we’d like to take Andrew’s bike so he could have a good ride, and also a good park for both of them would be nice. I haven’t been to Abbey Fields park in Kenilworth for a long time, though we used to go to the swimming pool there quite a bit as children, but recently I’d been talking with a lady at a toddler group who had just moved back to the area and was raving about how great the new playground was there. So we decided to go and try it for ourselves. And it turned out to be a fantastic place for the two of them, and although there were 2 of us adults that day, it seemed like a good park for when I’m on my own with the boys too as it has a good fence and plenty to keep them both amused.

Abbey fields 1 jpg

Joel particularly liked the small climbing frame which is a perfect size for him, not far off the ground but with various challenges for him to have a go at walking/climbing over. There’s a tunnel, a rope bridge and 2 wooden bridges as well as a slide and a few different styles of steps/ladders for him to get up and down from it. The whole thing is on that squashy astroturf type ground that is great for if they fall over on it too. Joel loves to jump – I call him jumping Joel quite often – so he was pleased with the little trampoline in the ground which is just right for him. He had a go holding onto Granny, and then had goes on his own too. Another feature of the park that he liked was the stepping log line – a series of tree stumps/logs that he could walk over and jump between.

Abbey fields 2 jpg

Andrew was mostly fascinated by these hand powered diggers in a large sand pit. They were obviously designed for kids a bit bigger than him who could put their feet on the ground, but he was determined to do it himself after some initial help from Granny when he first had a go. He got the hang of what each handle did – one moved the scoop up and down and one pulled it in and out – and by the end he was very successful at scooping sand, the only problem was he needed my help in swivelling him around to dump the sand in a different place because his legs were too short to swivel himself. Joel was interested too, until he realised that he couldn’t do it himself, he was definitely too small, so off he went and left the sand pit.

Abbey fields 3 jpg

The other part of the park that Andrew liked was the older kids bit which is outside of the fenced bit with most of the equipment in it. He’s very into ‘tubey’ slides and enjoyed the challenge of climbing up the ladder and across the rope bridge to it. Joel also wanted to have a go, but of course was way too small, so Granny took him into the basket style swing that was just opposite this rather large climbing frame. But soon Andrew was bored of the slide and wanted to go back to his digger!

Once we’d had a good amount of time on the playground, we found where the path was to go on a bike ride (well, Andrew rode, we jogged!) around the rest of the park. It took us on a route around a small lake and then up a hill. I didn’t get any photos of this – I was too busy keeping up with Andrew and Granny at the front and had Joel on my back in the sling. When we got to the edge of the park, we headed into Kenilworth town centre for a quick bite to eat and well deserved cool drink. Andrew walked once we were out of the park, but got back on his bike when we returned to the park where the car was parked after our snack – he enjoyed riding down the big hill, controlling his brakes very well, also with a little speed control help from Granny!

It was a fantastic morning out and we will certainly be back here again soon!

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

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Whitley Common Playground – #CountryKids

After a couple of weeks’ break from the #CountryKids linky that I usually join in with, I thought I’d share this quick post. Weekends have been very busy going over to our new house and sorting stuff like cleaning, shifting junk that the previous owner just left there, and preparing it for the decorator, so I haven’t had much time to blog our outdoor adventures. As the weather has been so nice, we’ve been spending a lot of time outdoors, either in the garden with the paddling pool or at the local park.

I realised that I hadn’t yet blogged about a park local to Granny and Grandad’s house where we’ve been living, the one that I find the least stressful to take both boys to on my own – Whitley Common Playground. The big park that is nearest to us is hard for me to take them to on my own because there are no fences around the playground so Joel just runs off, and Andrew tries to climb on the teenage climbing frames whilst my head is turned running after Joel – bit of a nightmare! But the Whitley park is much better for us in this respect.

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It’s not huge, but it’s the perfect height and experience level for the boys to do on their own. Obviously I’m there to help and watch them too, but I only have 2 hands and eyes in the front of my head. There is also a fence around the toddler section, which slows Joel down when he tries to escape – he has just learned how to throw his whole weight on the gate to open it, but at least I get longer to spot that and run after him than an open field! And because the climbing frame is just right for him, he doesn’t often try this on anyway. The ground is that lovely squishy astroturf too, which is great at cushioning any falls.

Andrew loves going down the fireman’s pole, as you see in the pictures above, and this is great because it’s the smallest pole like this in a playground that I’ve seen and he is getting good practice at doing this without being very far from the ground at all. He also likes playing with the clock on the end of the climbing frame, telling me what time is is, and on the other side of this there is a ship’s wheel that he likes to stand at and turn, pretending that he’s ‘driving’ a ship. There is quite a bit of space just to run around on the soft ground too, and when there are other kids his age there too, they often end up playing a game of chase on this, which he really loves.

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Joel is definitely a climber – he climbs wherever he can (or can’t!), whether that’s on furniture at home when I’m not looking or climbing frames that are really too big for him, he has no fear! But the small toddler frame at this park is perfect for him. He also likes to climb the slide, though I try to dissuade him from that, especially if there are other children trying to come down it. I think most kids go through a phase of wanting to climb slides rather than slide down them, and he is definitely there right now.

As well as the toddler section of the playground that’s within a fence, there is also an older kids’ section outside of the fence next to the common – an open field where lots of dog walkers go, which is some distance from any road so it’s quite safe anyway. Joel quite likes trying to climb up on the bigger climbing frame, as you can see above, and actually with a bit of help even this isn’t too difficult for either of the boys, and they enjoy sliding down the bigger slide at the top of it. In this section there’s also a big tyre swing that Andrew likes to go on when there are other kids his age, but Joel is happier on the toddler swings in the fenced part.

Whitley park 3 jpg

As I said, it’s not massive, but there is a variety of things to play on that are all brilliant for the boys’ current size. They don’t seem too fussed by the seesaw, which you can just about see in the distance in the picture above, though Andrew likes standing on the ground and pushing it up and down with his hands, and Joel occasionally comes by to see what he’s doing.

I’m glad that we’ve had such a good park close to where we’ve been living, and I’m glad that I’ve now written a record of it to look back on when the boys are bigger. The local park at our new house is perfect for Andrew’s age and older, which will be good for them to grow once we finally move at the end of the month.
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

52 photos – week 24

We’ve had lots of paddling pool fun recently. The slide that Andrew got for his birthday in the winter is  really coming into its own now that we can use it as a water slide into the pool. This picture is what’s technically known as a ‘doubler’ in Andrew’s language – they both go down together, and seem to like it. I think Andrew stopped himself at the end on this one though, as the water was a bit cool still and he wasn’t that brave!


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.

Garden fun 1 jpg

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.

Garden fun 4 jpg

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

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

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.

Christmas holiday outdoor fun – #CountryKids

For the past week or so, I’ve been wanting to write about the outdoor fun that we had over Christmas with Grandma and Pop down in Plymouth, but Joel isn’t sleeping very well at the moment – especially a distinct lack of naps in the daytime which means he’s very grumpy by tea time and often falls asleep in his high chair. This has left me with little time or energy after trying to help him nap using various means, so blogging hasn’t been possible. Plus we’ve been busy house hunting, which also leaves me with little time or energy! So finally, here is what we got up to outdoors over Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, the weather forecast said it would be windy but generally dry with the odd shower. We decided to head not too far down the road to Mount Batten, which is on the coast looking over the estuary towards Plymouth city centre. There is a good wide path next to the water and a barrier, so it was a good place to take Andrew’s bike, and there is also a park a little way up the hill which has a great view over the sea. We togged up with waterproofs and woolies to guard against rain and wind, and I should say that this was well before any of the high tides that were really dangerous in the south west after Christmas, as we would never have dared to go that close to the water then.

Plymparks Collage 1

Andrew absolutely loved the chance to ride his bike, as he always does, and particularly as it was near the sea and river. Joel was tired so he mainly stayed in the buggy with the rain cover on as a wind barrier so he could have a snooze. When we got to the park though, he livened up and was keen to have a go himself, chasing after Andrew and following him onto the swings and slides. The park was just the right size for toddlers, so they were very happy. On our way back from the park to the car, we saw a lovely seal asleep on a lifeboat platform near the yacht yard on Mount Batten. Apparently harbour seals are quite common here, and this one looked very happy snoozing on the warm rubber platform.

Plymparks Collage 2

On Christmas day, our time outdoors was a walk to church and back, and with all the festivities, there wasn’t time for a trip to a park. So on Boxing day, we headed over to the boys’ uncle and aunt’s house, firstly to see their pets – a lovely rabbit and 2 lively degus – and then for a walk down to the Tamar Bridge at the end of their road. Again, Andrew rode his bike whilst we all walked/jogged after him! First we headed down to the river shore underneath the bridge, where we also found a small park (only a couple of swings remain where there used to be a bigger park next to the river). Then we walked back up the steep hill (Andrew walked rather than rode his bike up), and then across the pedestrian side of the Tamar Bridge. In fact there is a split path – half for pedestrians and half for cyclists, so Andrew took to the side with the picture of a bike on, and rightly so! Joel wanted to walk, so he took to the side with the picture of a person on. It was a lovely bright day, and we all enjoyed getting out for some fresh air and exercise.

Plymparks Collage 3

Plymparks Collage 4

The day after Boxing day was our last full day down there, and as the weather was still generally fine, we decided to head to another park. Grandma and Pop had noticed a new park at one of the coastal villages – Newton Ferrars – down the road from their side of Plymouth when they were out walking there one day previously. They knew that the boys would like it and thought it was a bit different from the local ones to them because it was all made out of wood rather than metal. And they were right, it was very popular! It was a bit wet underfoot, so again we had to tog the boys up with full waterproofs, but they loved it. There were a couple of slides (one small enough for Joel and one perfectly sized for Andrew), swings, a climbing frame in the shape of a pirate ship, a bridge with holes in that you have to step over, sand with buckets to play with it and lots more.

Plymparks Collage 5

The added bonus of this park was the lovely view that we got looking across to the village centre on the waterfront – another estuary reaching into the sea. Once we’d finished in the park, we walked through the woods – where Andrew did some off-road biking, and then walked down to the water to admire the pretty view.

Plymparks Collage 6

All in all we had great outdoor fun over Christmas, at places very local to where we were staying, where Andrew could ride his bike, Joel could have a toddle, and both could play on the playgrounds – nothing fancy, just good outdoor family fun.

Outdoor fun close to home – #CountryKids

As the weather has got much nicer this week, most afternoons we’ve been outside making our own fun either at the local parks or in our garden. In the mornings we go to groups where there is usually an opportunity to play outside too, either during or after the group, when the weather is nice. But it was when I was taking pictures of the boys at the local parks (we live about half way between two) and in the garden that I realised just how important it is to us to go out so locally and have fun involving physical activity.

Earlier in the week the weather was sunny but still not so warm, hence the hat and coats!
Earlier in the week the weather was sunny but still not so warm, hence the hat and coats!

It’s not that we didn’t do it in the winter – believe me we went to the park as often as possible over the past 6 months – but when it was (getting) dark at 5pm, even our local parks were difficult to walk to in 10 minutes, play for a while and walk back, all after Andrew had woken up from his nap and Joel had finished feeding (notoriously hard to coordinate these things!)

A warmer day at the other park later in the week.
A warmer day at the other park later in the week.

As much as we love adventuring further afield and exploring new places, particularly on holiday, we do also love the familiarity of our local outdoor spots that are great for the boys. Although Cambridge is a city (ok, a fairly small one) there are lots of green spaces and parks, so wherever you live here, even if in or near the city centre, you’re never very far from somewhere that the kids can run around and let off some energy. As I said, we live in between two parks, one of which offers more for Andrew now that he’s confident on all sorts of equipment including slides, swings, seesaws, tunnels, rope bridges etc., and one of which is smaller and more contained so is easier for me to keep an eye on him whilst letting Joel go on the swing and seesaw.

I distinctly remember taking Andrew to the park for the first time when he was nearly 4 months old. I pushed him gently on the swing and it was a gloriously sunny day – that was the year that we had a lovely April and May of hot weather. Just recently I realised that although Joel has been to the park many times in his life, I hadn’t actually given him a go on anything, because he’s usually been asleep as we tend to go out when he needs a nap and he feeds mostly when we’re at home. So I’ve started trying to give him chance to have a go on things before he goes to sleep – quite tricky to coordinate timings, but we’re getting there.

Bike in garden
I’m riding on my bicycle, riding on my bicycle – in our garden

Although we live in a flat, there is a lovely communal garden (read: our garden, as nobody else ever uses it, they’re all singles and child-less couples who work all day and seem to go away at weekends) with plenty of grass and a gravel circle which Andrew loves – picking up gravel, moving it to our window sill, making shapes with it on the slabs, throwing it (until Mummy stops him doing that one!), kicking it (gently is ok by Mummy), kicking a ball on it, riding his bike around the edge and more! The grass is handy too, for these kind of activities. There is also the great game of running round and round the house of flats trying to hide from Mummy, which can be exhausting but fun for anyone over the age of 2.

Playing with balls of different varieties in the garden.
Playing with balls of different varieties in the garden.

The only downside of this garden is that we have to go out the main front door, even though we are on the ground floor and our ‘balcony/terrace’ looks out onto the garden but is separated from it by a thick glass panel that only people as tall as daddy can jump! So I can’t just open the back door and let Andrew out on his own and watch him from inside. One day we hope to have enough money to get a bigger place and we would only consider places with a garden because we can see how crucial this is for our boys. But for now we all go out together, which is by no means a bad thing, we just have to wait til we’re all ready.

Do you enjoy going to your local park? At what age did you start going with a baby/toddler? We’d love to hear from others who love being outdoors like us 🙂

Andrew trying to be like Daddy and jump the balcony/terrace wall! Plus a new found skill of looking at me through his legs. It all got a bit much for Joel and he took a nap as we played :)
Andrew trying to be like Daddy and jump the balcony/terrace wall! Plus a new found skill of looking at me through his legs. It all got a bit much for Joel and he took a nap as we played 🙂

I’m linking up with #CountryKids at Coombe Mill blog again this week

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall