Wednesday 27 November 2013

warm wet weather gear for kids

We love to get out for a walk what ever the weather and Charlotte also has a forest school session at school once a week so this time of year we are in need of something warm and dry to wear.
We really needed a new rain coat for her and ended up in Millets finding this perfect 3 in 1 jacket by Peter Storm.
look at the lovely warm and bright coat
 It has a lovely furry cream inside jacket which is ditachable from the waterproof outer shell so it will do for most of the year round. She loves the very bright pink of it, it really is as bright as the pictures show and the snuggly warm jacket inside is great for keeping the cold out. It's got plenty of pockets, inside and out, and a good sized hood. There are clips and zips to hold the two jackets together and even a pocket and clip for an ipod and headphones.

Whilst browsing the store we spotted these water resistant fleece lined trousers, again by Peter Storm.
water resistant trousers
 Leggings just aren't warm enough and jeans aren't nice to wear when they get wet so these look ideal for exploring days. They are a bit boyish looking, combat trouser style. But I don't think Charlotte has picked up on that yet and is happy to wear them as they keep her warm.

fleece lining
 We haven't tried them in the rain yet to test how water resistant they are. The first time she wore them she let the bottom of the leg drag on the ground and the fleece lining adsorbed quite a bit of moisture, but most of the time they will be worn with wellington boots. The trousers have an adjustable elasticated waist which is excellent for my skinny girl.

jacket and trousers in action
Bring on the cold damp weather my girl is read to go.

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Bucklebury Farm Park, Bucklebury, Berkshire

This is a fantastic farm park that a friend recommended we visit. We had never heard of or seen the place advertised before considering its not far from us.

It wasn't too hard to find, there were no brown signs until you are on-top of the farm but Bucklebury is well signposted. There is a large car park and nice walk to the entrance, passing a stream, chickens and sheep along the way. The indoor areas all looked new with benches for packed lunches, and a play area at the end. Next door was a lovely new cafe and new (but basic) toilets beside that.

slides and soft play
 Outdoor hand washing facilities were really good, and we liked the pictures of how to wash your hands properly on the indoor toilet, would like to see them outside too. Lots of antibacterial stops provided along the way too.

We picked up a couple of bags of animal feed, and headed straight to the petting area. We returned a few times to check up on crunchie and badger, charlottes favourite hamster and rabbit during the day as they were so lovely. There was a really helpful member of staff on hand to assist and answer any questions.

Staff also warned us to look out for the escaping goat. We did a wonderful circular walk taking in most of the animals and giving them all a feed. Donkeys, deer, pigs, sheep, goats, alpacas, ponys, wild boar, guinea pig, rabbits and llamas. There were so many to see. We did find the escaped goat too - approach with caution!

goats and reindeer
 There was a woodland adventure area with dens and an agility course, an outdoor play area, inflatable pillow, trikes, go carts (readitdaddy and I didn't really race each other like 10 year olds!) and a zip wire.

outdoor play area
 There were 2 nature walks with markers pointing out interesting facts about the age of the trees, types of trees or the animals or birds who might feed in that area. There was an excellent look out (if slightly scary to climb) on one walk with a view across the valley and the deer.

nature walk
 The tractor ride was excellent, going out to feed the deer and the staff again were excellent and really knowledgable, happy to answer any questions. Charlotte got the chance to help collect eggs from the chicken shed, and again the staff were really great.

up close to Big Ron on the tractor ride
 We had lunch in the cafe, which was wonderfully warm on a cold wet day. The food was really nice some really yummy bread with my soup. But I did find woody/stalky type bits in my soup, I brought this up with the lady clearing the tables and she said I'll be back... but didn't return! The cakes were excellent though which compensated a bit.

feeding sunny the deer
We had such an excellent day and were there for hours, we will definitely be going back. Even the cold wet November weather couldn't dampen what a great day we had. 

Sunday 24 November 2013

Hill End Outdoor Education Centre, Oxfordshire

A trip to Hill End brought back many memories of school trips and guide camps for readitdaddy and I (obviously not guide camps for readitdaddy, unless there is something hes not telling me!).

Spotting on twitter that they were having a craft fair and also forest trail we couldn't wait to go along and take Charlotte.
Following the footpath round the site brought back so many memories. We love the big hill end sign that welcomes you from across the field as you arrive.

spot the hill end sign and domes in the distance
 We had a good look round the craft stalls and brought a couple of christmas presents. Then went for an explore around the site having a peek at the accommodation blocks and trying to remember which ones we stayed in. The new dome buildings were made a few years ago to prove that unskilled workers could build houses. A fantastic idea and wish one was open to have a look inside.

lovely afternoon light through the trees
 After having a climb on the play areas we marched up to the top of the hill, trying to avoid the rather speedy cows, to have a look at the fairy ring and the wonderful views.

top of the hill
 We walked back down the hill to grap a yummy cake. Sadly it was the end of the day (we arrived a bit late) so we didn't think we would have time to complete the forest trail, so did a little detour on the way out and explored the water conservation garden then to look at the willow sculptures and Charlotte and readitdaddy getting lost in the willow maze.

willow sea serpent!
 We had a quick look at the agility trail and completely failed in our attempt to get through the spider web and then it really was time to leave.

we did spot a couple of jokes along the way
 We had a fab hour exploring and remembering how much fun we had there when we were little and Charlotte now can't wait for her turn to come in a few years time when school goes to visit.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Monday 11 November 2013

Tackling the 50 things to do before your 11 and 3/4 list

We love completing things from the 50 things to do before you're 11 3/4 list. The scrapbook is often in my handbag and we've almost memorised the list so we are always on the look out for fun things to do. We will write up the scrap book and get our stickers and then come home and update the 50 things website. Without realising it Charlotte not only is having lots of fun outside exploring, she's also mastering her writing, typing, keyboard and mouse skills.

So what things has Charlotte managed to complete so far.

1. Climb a tree - finding that perfect tree can be tricky but once mastered she doesn't stop.
a great tree to climb at Harcourt Arboretum
2. Roll down a really big hill - I love how when ever we find a slope big or small you will find a gaggle of kids rolling down again and again.

a perfect slope at Greys Court
4. Build a den - we are yet to build the perfect den but we have started a few in different places, or cheated and added to others we have found along a walk
we spotted this den at Wittenham Clumps and "improved it"
9. Eat an apple straight from a tree - couldn't wait to do this one
We found a large orchard at Upton House
14. Dam a stream - we got caught in the rain and whilst sheltering under the trees spotted a perfect place to make a dam
our dam at BBOWT Lashford lane fen
16. Make a daisy chain - a perfect reason to sit and relax for a moment in a lovely field and make daisy chain crowns.
a princess at Basildon Park
19. Play pooh sticks - of course we had to go to "the" place to play this, Days Lock, Little Wittenham.
Days Lock
22. Explore inside a tree - Harcourt Arboretum has some wonderful old trees for this.
I'm going to disappear
23. Visit a farm - what better day to visit a farm than go to see the baby lambs.
Earth Trust lambing day
24. Go on a barefoot walk - we don't have grass in our back garden so this was actually really exciting for Charlotte. Such a simple thing that we hadn't actually thought about.
no stopping her at Chedworth Roman Villa
26. Hunt for fossils and bones - we didn't have to hunt for this we spotted it on a walk. Charlotte took it to school to show her friends.
found at BBOWT Lashford lane fen
28. Climb a huge hill - we are often going to the top of wittenham clumps to look at the views across Oxfordshire. The hill at Cliveden was one heck of a climb too, all worth it for the views.

top of Wittenham Clumps
41. Plant it, grow it, eat it - thanks to the fab lunch bag and seeds with Charlottes national trust lunch at Hughenden we got to grow some cress
growing cress
42. Go swimming in the sea - we cheated and went abroad for this one, to the lovely warm waters of Tenerife and even had fish swimming round our feet
getting deeper

 There are a few things I've missed out but a great start and given us some fab ideas to make our walks and days out more interesting.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

The places we visited this summer

Since taking out National Trust membership earlier this year our weekends have been transformed. Friday night we can be found reading the NT bible and the app to check out whats on near us and find interesting places to explore. So where did we go this summer?

Greys Court  - A wonderful 16th century mansion with so many different walled gardens and also a donkey wheel. We loved looking round the house, and the guides in each room were really great with Charlotte pointing out interesting things for her to look at. The house had such a homely feel to it, you could still imagine the boys playing there. We enjoyed climbing the great tower and looking across the grounds and then exploring all the different bits of the garden. I could have easily sat for hours reading a book by the pond, it was so peaceful and beautiful. The hidden play area was fantastic. A Greys fort, slide, archery, and games, all hidden amongst the trees.

Walled Gardens of Greys Court
 Basildon Park - Which I reviewed earlier this year, and we have since been back to for a big walk. We got to explore the extensive grounds on our second visit which gave some wonderful views looking back across to the mansion. There were lovely seats on the walk in just the right spot for a sit down. There were log bridges and dens to explore along the way so Charlotte wouldn't get bored, we almost got chased by cows through the last field... which stopped any "my legs won't carry me any longer" grumbles. It really wasn't that long a walk!

View across Basildon Park
 Hughenden - we visited on a re-enactment day which made it a lot of fun. Punch and Judy shows, dressing up, Zulu Dawn re-enactment. The house was such a contrast with the stunning upstairs rooms and then the war room downstairs, the ice house bunker which use has only just been discovered was amazing. The formal garden was lovely to sit in and the walled garden was great for children to explore and find the hidden things. Charlotte also made us go on a walk to find the dog graves, we weren't the only parents to be dragged along to check these out thankfully.

Hughenden gardens
 Upton House and Gardens - From the start Charlotte was made to feel welcome, having a map to herself and being shown the special trail for children to follow to the house spotting the characters along the way. She was so excited. We loved exploring the house with the balcony that looked down over the games room. We sat for some time playing snakes and ladders, it was nice to have a room where you can sit down and touch things. The dressing up room was a big hit, and the oh so glamorous bathroom. The contrasting garden areas were lovely to walk round, if a little hard climbing back up. The kitchen garden on the hill side with the lake at the bottom which can't be seen from the house was a surprise. The sunken garden was our favourite for sure, but wish we could work out where the smell of toffee was coming from.

Upton gardens
 Cliveden - We have now visited twice as the grounds are so huge, and we still haven't seen it all. I reviewed our first trip earlier on this year, and the second time we went back to explore the long garden, secret garden and war memorial garden, and of course the excellent slide on the south terrace.

plenty of statues at Cliveden
 Stowe -  fantastic magical grounds with something round every corner to explore. The grounds are so vast it will take a couple of visits to see it all. Before you even get to the grounds your journey starts at the New Inn, with parlour rooms, games rooms and kitchen from the 1700's. The one thing we found stopping us enjoying it quite so much was the one set of toilets right at the start, not great with a young child. The map said there was a second but these were closed.

Stowe grounds
Chedworth Roman Villa - I blogged about this earlier in the year and keep saying we will go back again soon as it was such an excellent day. Its really educational for children and has a wonderful lawn to picnic on. There are plenty of things going on at weekends with traditional skills being shown off.
layout of the formal villa rooms
Waddesdon Manor - Readitdaddy and Charlotte went for the day by themselves. We have visited a few times over the years but this was the first time they have been inside the house and were really wowed by it. The grounds are fantastic for walking round with children and the play park is great.

Big bird at Waddesdon
Now where shall we visit next?