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

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