Mothecombe beach – #CountryKids

The weather forecast for the week that we were on holiday in Devon wasn’t as amazing as it had been earlier in the summer, so we decided to go to the beach on our second day there, the best looking day of the forecast, just in case we didn’t get another chance.

Grandma and Pop had recently invested in a new blow up dinghy, since the one that Daddy and his siblings used to uses kids finally bit the dust last year when we were on holiday. One of the best beaches for small children that we’ve been to near their house is Mothecombe – the beach on the Erme estuary is fantastic, because it’s so shallow, you have to go out a long way before you can’t stand up any more as an adult, and at low tide, you can walk across the estuary so it’s not even deep enough to swim in. This makes it ideal for a row in a dinghy with little ones.

We got there quite early and were the first ones on the beach. Not surprising given that it was spitting slightly with rain, though was fairly warm still. We found a good spot and got our various bits of entertainment out – buckets and spades, bats and balls, football, kites, sand castle flags, and of course the boat with pump and oars. Pop and Daddy set to and blew up the boat, while the rest of us played in the sand and paddled in the sea – it was high tide so there wasn’t as much beach then as there was later in the day.

Once the boat was in working order, the boys both went out a few metres from the shore with Pop rowing, They absolutely loved it, and wanted to keep doing it several times for the rest of our time on the beach that day. Most of us adults had a turn to be in the driver’s / rower’s seat with either one or two boys with us.

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We had lots of fun doing all sorts of activities on the sand and in the water. Joel was quite happy to sit and play with the sand, putting it into buckets with his hands and throwing it about. It’s the longest I’ve seen him sit doing something for a while. Of course he did get up and play too, and also destroy Andrew’s sand castles, as is typical behaviour for each of them.

We had the obligatory British picnic lunch on the beach too, although at that point it was clouding over and just after we’d eaten we had a short and light rain shower, similar to a few that we’d had earlier in the morning, but it was the kind of shower that by the time you’d got a coat on, it was over and sunny again. The boat came in useful as a shelter for the boys though, with an adult at each end holding it up!

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Joel was getting tired after lunch, but we’d decided to see if he would have a nap in the buggy as everyone else was having a lot of fun. And he actually did fall asleep during a short push in the buggy. That gave the rest of us a chance to have a rest too, except those who were taking it in turns to row Andrew in the boat.

By about 3pm, the tide was about half way out and there was much more beach, not that we had to share it with many people because it wasn’t very busy at all. Andrew and I went on a walk along the estuary shore, and got to the bit where you can walk across at low tide. We could have walked across then, because there was only a shallow bit of water to walk through, but we knew there wasn’t too much time left on the beach because we had to get back home for 4.30pm. So we walked back across the beck, following the footprints that we’d made on the way. Except when we were not quite back, we saw a sand bank higher than the water level out to sea slightly. So we waded through the shallow water, and came to our very own ‘island’ that had no footprints on yet. Then it was just a short walk back through the water to the part of the beach where the others were sat.

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Gradually we packed up all our stuff and set off up the hill to the car park. Joel stayed asleep until we got to the car, and Andrew fell asleep in the car! It’s the sign of a good day when Andrew naps these days. I’d definitely recommend Mothecombe beach for little ones. It’s so quiet, not many people seem to know about it, or would rather not have the walk down (and up) the hill to (and from) the beach, but we think it’s worth it.

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

Water park fun – #CountryKids

Last Sunday morning we went to our local park – the War Memorial Park in Coventry. Andrew had been a bit sick earlier in the morning, but he wasted to go out and get some fresh air, so we thought a trip to the park would cheer him up rather than our usual Sunday morning activity of going to church, where anyone sitting in the pew in front of us may have ended up being showered in sick – at least in the open air such an incident would be more easy to deal with! Anyway, he was generally ok, if a little slower and less bouncy than usual, and he slept for quite a while in the afternoon when we got back, so he must have been ill.

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Andrew was happy to play quietly in the huge sand pit that is the playground, burying Daddy’s legs and then having his own legs buried, while I ran around after Joel, who allowed his legs to be buried just the once.

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Joel was all over the place, as usual, on the slide, the round about, climbing up the grassy mound to the slides, running down it, sieving sand, lifting it up in buckets etc. etc.! He even had a go at pushing Daddy around on the round about. Then another family noticed that there were a couple of guys in council uniforms opening up the water park area next to the sand park. This has been there for a while now, but I’ve never seen it open. There is a sign on it saying that it’ll only be open in school summer holidays, so I thought maybe they were just cleaning it or preparing it for the summer holidays in a few weeks. But before we knew it, there was water shooting up all over it and the other family were in and splashing about. So we followed….

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This really cheered Andrew up. If I hadn’t have seen him more ill in the morning, I would never have known! He was running about all over the place, splashing in the water, getting very wet. He particularly liked running under the fountains that made arches up and over him. Joel, on the other hand, was a little scared of the shooting water, so preferred to run around on the bits that weren’t working yet – about half the water features were working and half weren’t, but as it was only us and one other family there, there was plenty of space for us all to run around in the wet bits.

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We’d taken a change of clothes, so when Andrew decided he’d had enough of the water, I stripped him off and put on his dry clothes. He’d also spotted and ice cream van by that point and asked for an ice cream. I told him that an ice lolly would be ok (sugar and water was probably just what he needed), so he happily munched on that. Joel doesn’t like ice cream – I think it’s too cold for him – so I got a soft ice cream in a cone and he ate the cone for me (which I’m not fussed about!) Considering the morning had started so miserably, we were glad to have had such a fun morning out, and see this water park that has been shut so many times before.

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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Joining in with the fab #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog

52 photos – week 18

This week we seem to have a water theme for this photo post. Andrew was fascinated by the fountains in town earlier in the week, and wanted to stand and watch them for ages. Joel is fascinated by the water butts in the garden, and I have to limit how much he turns them on and off so as not to waste the water that they collect, the very point of having water butts! Here he is trying to put the broom back for me, which lives between the butts. And with the amount of rain we’ve had in the past couple of days, it’s been quite a watery week overall!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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

 
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Experimenting with colour – #minicreations

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Recently it’s been mostly dry and sunny enough to go out in the garden or to the park after Joel’s afternoon nap. Yesterday, however, it was pouring with rain, so I had to think of something we could do indoors other than the usual toys that Andrew had been playing with whilst little brother was asleep. We’d done baking recently, and so had Granny so we have an abundance of cakes/biscuits, so that was less appealing. The other day when I was browsing Pinterest for something, I can’t even remember what exactly, I came across a cool science experiment to teach kids about colour mixing (it certainly was nothing to do with what I’d searched for at least). I didn’t pin it at the time, but remembered the concept, and recalled it just at the right moment.

When searching for it again last night, I found the pin! As you can see, the simple experiment involves filling two glasses with water and putting a small amount of different colour food colourings in each one, then sticking a piece of kitchen roll into each glass and the other end of each piece into a third glass. Over time the coloured water seeps up into the kitchen roll and down into the empty glass, where the colours mix and create a new colour.

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The two colours that I could find in the cupboard were red and blue. The boys were fascinated to see what I was doing during the setting up, and to see that the colours were soaking up into the kitchen roll. We talked about odours and Andrew heaped me position the glasses whilst Joel flapped his arms in the high chair. It was quite a wait, however, until there was any sign of a new colour in the third glass, so we left it and went back to playing, and it had even stopped raining enough to go in the garden for a bit.

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By tea time there was enough coloured water in the third glass to see its colour, and by bedtime it was a lovely deep purple, which I dipped a piece of kitchen roll into and it came out an almost Cadbury colour (purple is on my brain at the moment 😉 ) This morning when I shows him at breakfast what had happened, Andrew was very impressed! The magic of colour mixing.

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This was an educational activity to spend some time on during a rainy afternoon. I’ve since started a ‘rainy days activities’ board on Pinterest, and will look for some more fun activities to pin. Give me a shout if you have any on Pinterest that I could add.

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Linking up with the fab mini creations linky over at KidGLloves blog
Mini Creations

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Conkers: a fun family day out – #CountryKids

For his birthday, Tom was given a family ticket to the Conkers centre near Ashby de la Zouch. My Grandma had seen an offer online and decided to buy this for Tom for us all to enjoy. We had to use the ticket within 30 days of its purchase, so despite the slightly dodgy looking weather forecast, we decided to go for it this weekend, because there was no guarantee it would be any better next week when we had to use it by. But actually I think we picked a good time of year to go – it was very quiet, there were hardly any cars in the car park when we arrived and left, and this meant we had lots of parts to ourselves or with very few others around; I can imagine it gets packed on a warm sunny day and we’d have had to queue for the train ride, for example.

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We started off by walking out of the main entrance building – the Discovery Centre – and around the edge of the lake that’s just in front of it. As we neared the train station, a train was just pulling up, and as there was no queue, just one family on the platform getting on board, we decided to hop on it there and then – once Andrew has seen a train, it’s very hard to drag him away again anyway. It was a lovely little ride, and the boys enjoyed looking out at the trees, tracks, tunnels and other bits of the park that we could see. This took us to the other side of the park, to the Waterside Centre.

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Right next to this station is a huge adventure playground, with equipment for all ages from toddlers to pre-teens. The boys were off there as soon as they dashed off the train, trying to climb up the tall towers first before coming back down to the climbing frame and swings that were more their size. Andrew likes watching older kids on aerial runways, so although he felt he was too small for the long one here, he was happy to watch me have a go and cheer me on! We stayed here for a good half hour or so, with a few intermittent spots of rain, and other people coming and going during that time.

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Next we went into the Waterside Centre, mainly to use the toilets and nappy change facilities, which were all very quiet too. We spotted a table with a craft activity going on downstairs, so we took a look – they were indeed providing the materials to make your own Gruffalo mask! As Andrew is a big fun of the Gruffalo (I thought there was no such thing?!), we had to stop and make our own, which was just right for his age, with some help from me to read the instructions and direct him with the glue. We also spotted a table next to the craft which had all the culinary dishes mentioned in the Gruffalo book – roasted fox, scrambled snake and Gruffalo crumble – made out of junk modelling stuff and papier mache. They were brilliant, just how you could imagine a Gruffalo meal looking.

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Then it was time to go back outdoors for a bit, and walk along the trails on this side of the park. We walked around another small lake, then into the woods. It looked like a great place to build dens and play hide and seek, particularly in the summer when the trees would have leaves on and cover the area with foliage more than on this winter’s day. The path was suitable for a buggy, though we used the buggy for transporting our bags rather than the boys – they both walked some of the distance, and then one by one they got up onto our backs/shoulders as they got tired. It was just the right length of walk for us with kids whose legs are on the smaller side, though there are many more paths to explore on the other side of the park near the Discovery Centre, which is bigger than this side.

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We came to an opening with a covered outdoor amphitheatre. This is where we had planned to eat our picnic lunch, after I’d tweeted the centre the day before and asked if they had anywhere sheltered to have a picnic. This was a good recommendation – it kept us sheltered from the wind and kept Andrew amused with all the steps up and down that he insisted on doing whilst eating his sandwiches! There was of course plenty of space to sit down; nobody even walked through the amphitheatre whilst we were sat eating, looking terribly British with our outdoor picnic in winter.

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Having done a fair amount of what was on offer over this way, we headed back to the train which took us back to the other side of the park. Again there was just one other family and us on the ride. The rain became more set in as we got off the train and walked around the lake where we had started off the day, but it didn’t really bother us – we were all togged up, and Andrew had a whale of a time jumping in some awesome puddles that came to the top of his wellies in places. One place we could shelter for a bit was a covered viewing tower with a view across the park. The boys enjoyed going up the stairs, and we could hardly drag Andrew away, as he insisted that he wanted to keep going up and down them over and over again.

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We looked on the map that we’d been given at the entrance, and noticed that there was a labyrinth a little further round, which was enough to entice Andrew away from the fascinating steps of the viewing tower. He had done a lot of walking though, and at this point he got into the buggy for a ride around the labyrinth. There was a ‘spot the fairy’ activity as we went round, and Andrew was put in charge of counting up the fairies pinned to the walls. It was quite a long maze; at each turn we wondered how far it would be until the end, but eventually we came to the middle – a fairy house.

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As everyone was getting tired, we headed back to the Discovery Centre for some indoor fun. There is a lot to see and do in there! We learned all about different aspects of the environment in the fantastic hands-on exhibition. The giant model of a leaf was particularly popular with the boys, as we got to stand inside it and look at the cells and press buttons to see the various parts that air, water and sugar pass through – this took me back to A-level biology, this would have been a great place to go to get to grips with plant cell functions. I can imagine that this gets used for school trips in the week, it’s an interesting place to learn and all done very thoughtfully. Of course our boys didn’t learn as much detail as older kids would, but it was accessible on many levels, and they just loved looking at all the interactive displays and getting the sensory experiences.

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In amongst the educational bits, there is an ‘enchanted forest’ soft play area, up above some of the displays in a dimly lit (but in a good, mystical way) environment. It was only suitable for preschoolers upwards, so Andrew went up (with a bit of help from me to begin with to suss it out before he knew it was fine on his own), and Joel stayed down with Daddy, running around the fun exhibits, and finding the toddler play-tree in the cafe. Again, the soft play was all really well thought out, with lots of enclosed rope bridges and bits to climb over as if he was in the tree tops. Considering he had been flagging outside, he managed to regain a fair amount of energy to run off in the soft play – he always has a reserve of energy for soft play it seems.

There was also a Pirate entertainer hanging around in the big foyer, but unfortunately we weren’t there at quite the right time for his shows, though Andrew did get very excited about the balloon sword that he got from the Pirate’s stall. As Joel hadn’t napped all day, we knew that he was getting exhausted with all the running around, and decided to slowly head back to the car. It was hard to drag Andrew away, but the encouragement of a drink and a biscuit was a help, and he’d earned it with all his running around too. There was just enough time to call in at the gift shop and buy the inevitable bouncy ball – the boys’ favourite kind of toy souvenir.

All in all it was a fab day out, with activities indoors and outdoors for children of all ages. It’s well worth the entrance fee (which we of course received as a present). If you live near enough, there is even a yearly members’ ticket, which I think would be worth it if you could go more often than us. We will definitely be back again, and when the boys are a bit older, there will be different things for them to enjoy and get out of it.

Disclaimer: I received no incentive to write this post, and the views expressed are my honest opinions of our day out.

Winter garden fun – #CountryKids

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

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

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

A walk by the river – #CountryKids

I love the location of where we currently live – we can walk into Cambridge city centre in about half an hour (if Andrew goes all the way on the buggy board and we don’t get stuck behind tourists walking at ‘tourist’ pace!), the supermarkets are just 10-15 minutes walk, there are plenty of toddler groups within 20 minutes walk…. and also in just 5 minutes we can walk from home in a definite urban setting to a lovely rural environment with cows in a field next to the River Cam.

There is a round-trip walk from our flat, which goes along this river and across a common, and is perfect for an afternoon stroll with a baby and toddler – since having kids I’ve walked this route so many times that I can’t remember how many, either getting them off to sleep as babies or wearing Andrew (and soon Joel) out as a toddler. This week I took some photos to show what we see on our way round. Andrew is easy to spot with his pink buggy which he likes to push around the circuit, and I find it keeps him walking/running longer than if he doesn’t take it.

Walk 1

After a short walk up the road and down an alley, we come out, across a cattle grid for bikes, into a field that often has cows in (they rotate the exact bits of common that they graze on, so aren’t always in the same place). The river is at the far side, in a dip, so you can’t see it until you get closer, though if the rowers are out, we see 9 heads moving at high speed across the far end of the field! (8 rowers, 1 cox.)

Walk 2

Part of the fun of walking through this bit of field, down towards the river, is looking out for trains that pass along on the left side and go across a bridge over the river. As it’s the main line out of Cambridge, we regularly see several trains on one walk. As we get nearer the river, we can look down stream towards an old village called Fen Ditton, which we can also walk to if we go that way. Most of the time we carry on with the river on our right though, and head towards Cambridge centre.

After going under the railway bridge on a pedestrian and cycle boardwalk over the river, we come to an enclosed field with 2 horses in it. We usually stop and say hello to the horses, who are friendly – so much so that this week one of them decided to lick our buggy rain cover!

walk 3

Navigating the cattle grids (for bikes) with a buggy can be fun, though we’re getting to the stage that Andrew can almost walk the whole route and I take Joel in the sling, so I’m looking forward to not needing wheels (except maybe Andrew’s bike) for this outing! Once we’ve got through these grids, there is another field in which the path goes right next to the river, and more cows often graze there. Other animals about include plenty of ducks and some swans, as well as several dogs being walked/run in the field.

Apart from dodging cows and dogs, if we walk there towards the end of the afternoon, particularly on a Friday as we did when I took these photos, we also have to dodge the many bikes that speed home from town along the path. It’s not really a problem as the path is so wide, but I do find I need my wits about me when walking with a lively toddler, pushing a buggy, and also when the cows are standing on or near the path.

walk 4

The other mode of transport that we see lots of in this stretch of river is boats. There are house boats, canal boats and, of course, rowing boats – sometimes just single or double, and at the weekend often the 8 rowers plus cox boats (most of the college training happens early in the morning except at weekends, and although we’re up early, we don’t often make it down to the river until later in the day!)

walk 5

When we get to the foot bridge over the river, we go the other way (not crossing the river) and walk towards the park, and if we have time we stop for a play. Even if Andrew is starting to flag from walking at this point, he always seems to have enough energy for the park. Then it’s just a 10 minute walk back along the road home again.

We love being able to do this walk and never get bored of it and the views that we get on the way. We’ve walked it in all seasons: snow, rain, wind and sunshine. When we eventually move from here one day, we’ll miss this walk a lot.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall