Category Archives: Days Out

Exploring RHS Garden Wisley

We had a really fantastic day exploring RHS Wisley today.

We have been to Wisley a few times before and hold membership but we have tended to stick around the main garden part and the glasshouse. Today as the gardens were very busy we ventured further and discovered so much more!

We arrived at lunch time and enjoyed our picnic on one of the lawns before walking towards the lake. We saw some very cute ducklings and some huge fish! Just past the lake we stopped by a Buddleia so I could take some photographs while Gordon and the kids had a few wheelbarrow races and played Hide and Seek.

Wildlife at Wisley

Playing with DaddyAfter I had secured several butterfly shots and the kids had exhausted all the hiding places they could find we carried on walking and followed the signs towards the bird hide and Pinetum. We have not been to this part of the gardens before so there was lots for the kids to explore. We found pine cones of all shapes and sizes and some interesting trees to play under. At the end of the Pinetum we found the Heather gardens, which we beautiful and full of bees and butterflies. The beds were arranged with small paths between them and the kids loved running through these “mazes” and finding different ways in and out.

Wisley GardensAfter running through the Heather we reached the bird hide (but didn’t see any birds) and explored the bug garden. We saw more bees and butterflies before starting the walk back to the cafe as we were all in need of ice cream!

On the way back we walked next to the river. We spotted a rabbit hole, collected yet more pine cones, found some bird feathers we need to identify tomorrow, ate blackberries and saw some impressive mushrooms.

Wisley Gardens 2By the time we reached the cafe we were all quite worn out! But ice cream gave the kids a bit more energy and so the final place we went today was the play area, where they climbed, balanced and scrambled while Gordon and I sat down for a bit!

Wisley Gardens 3We had a lovely day at Wisley today. Every time we go I am reminded what a beautiful place it is with so much to do for everyone. We’ll definitely be going back soon.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Let’s Go Fly a Kite

A lot of people I know have written “bucket lists” for the summer holidays – a list of things to do and places to go. Now while we aren’t really on any summer holiday I still thought it would be nice to get a few ideas of things the kids would like to do over the next few weeks and really try to do these things.

Both Jasmine and Thomas have mentioned things recently that they would like to do; Jasmine wanted to make soup and we managed that last week, Thomas has asked to make bread and hopefully we will do that this week. Thomas has also asked to go swimming and Jasmine wanted to go kite flying.

Today we ticked kite flying off the list.

We went to Epsom Downs, somewhere we haven’t been before. It was a lovely warm day, not as hot as it has been recently. The sky was really beautiful.

Kite flying 1

We found somewhere to base ourselves, under a big oak tree so we had some shade. Unfortunately we seem to have picked a very still day to go kite flying! There was hardly any breeze at all. Luckily Gordon had packed a frisbee and a football as well as the kites, so the kids burnt off some energy and happily played with these for a while until we felt some wind.

kite flying 2As soon as we felt the breeze we got the kites ready. The kids have two kites each, a pocket kite and a Brookite single line fun kite. Gordon had also taken two of his kites to try and fly.

We got the Brookites out first and Jasmine and Thomas both flew theirs. It takes quite a lot of work getting the kites in the air when there isn’t much wind so we only managed two at a time today. I tried to get one of the pocket kites up for Ben but it wasn’t quite windy enough to manage on my own.

kite flying 3After another short break for football and frisbee the wind picked up again and this time Ben flew the pocket kite and Jasmine flew her Brookite butterfly again. The wind came in fits and starts and it was hard work to keep the kites in the air. When they were up they flew beautifully, but they didn’t stay up for long. It gave me and the kids a good amount of exercise though, running up and down the hill trying to get them flying!

kite flying 4After a good stint of wind we decided it was time to pack the kids kites away and get Gordon’s out. He only flew his smallest one, but it is still quite big and impressive to watch.

kite flying 5

We spent all afternoon out and had a really lovely time. We can’t wait to go back on a slightly windier day!

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Another day, another lavender field

After a very lazy morning this morning we met up with friends at another local lavender field this afternoon.

Mayfield Lavender is a family run lavender farm about 10 minutes from our house. It is free to visit and you can walk through the lavender, soaking up the amazing smell and view. There is a shop and cafe, where you can relax with an ice cream or purchase lavender products, gifts and plants.

Today we walked round the fields, well actually the adults walked round the fields while the kids ran, wrestled and chased each other round! They hid amongst the plants, spotted bees by the hundreds, saw many different butterflies, played Fruit Salad and Duck, Duck, Goose and had a wonderful time.

It is a lovely place to visit and we will definitely be going back soon.

Mayfield Lavender

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Lavender Picking

This weekend was our local lavender harvest fair. We went for the first time last year and really enjoyed it so we were keen to go back this year.

We arranged to meet our friends from Caterpillar Tales there but we were so late with everything this morning that we ended up arriving just as they were leaving! We chatted for a few minutes and they invited us over to their house once we had finished instead.

We collected out bucket and scissors from the Carshalton Lavender stall, and found a good spot in the field to start cutting our lavender.Lavender HarvestWe had been there about 20 minutes and collected about a handful in the bucket when all of a sudden Ben was crying and holding his hand. There was a lot of blood and he had obviously cut himself with the scissors. We rushed him to the first aid area and they did a great job of bandaging him up and keeping him calm. At this point we hadn’t managed to stop it bleeding so really thought we were going to have to take him to A&E to get it seen to.

Gordon went to pay for the lavender we had harvested and the lovely ladies who did the bandaging gave all 3 kids a lavender cake for being so good! We kept Ben’s hand elevated and walked back to the car.

Ben had calmed down quite a lot by this point so, knowing how busy A&E could be on a hot Sunday afternoon, we decided to go to Caterpillar Tales house as they only live 2 minutes away from the fields, and have a better look at the damage Ben had done. If it was still bleeding we would leave Jasmine and Thomas there and take Ben to A&E, but if not we would clean it and dress it again ourselves, knowing Caterpillar Tales would have a fully stocked First Aid box!

Thankfully, it had stopped bleeding. Once we’d cleaned it up a bit It didn’t look as bad as I had feared either. It is a bad cut, but not quite as big as I first thought, so we bandaged it up again and he went out and played happily with his friends for the afternoon. Poorly FingerWe enjoyed a lovely afternoon with our friends and Ben was only slightly disappointed that he couldn’t play in the water! He did play in the sand pit though so when we got home we changed the bandage for the third time and the cut looked much better still. I think as it is such a clean cut it will heal very quickly. Fingers crossed anyway!

I still don’t really know how he managed to cut himself. He uses scissors regularly at home and has never come close to doing this sort of damage! He did tell me just before he went to bed that he was “being silly and the scissors snipped me” so maybe it wasn’t quite as accidental as it could have been.

I guess sometimes they just have to learn the hard way don’t they, especially as a headstrong 3 year old! I don’t suppose he will do it again in a hurry!

 

 

 

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A picnic and fruit picking

Yesterday we spent a lovely day at Claremont Landscape Gardens and Garsons PYO Farm.

We started off at Claremont, arriving at lunch time and enjoying a delicious picnic in the shade by the lake.

Once everyone had eaten we set off round the lake to discover and explore. The kids and Gordon walked up the hill, all the way to the top, and ran back down again! Then we headed over to the woodland, explored a ditch, hunted for grasshoppers and found a cherry tree with some delicious cherries growing on it that Gordon and Ben enjoying tasting!Claremont 1As were walked round the grassy area and woodland we counted butterflies and recorded our results with the Big Butterfly Count. We saw lots of Ringlets and Small Whites and a Gatekeeper.

We continued round the lake, watching the fish jump out of the water to catch flies and the dragonflies zipping around. At one point we stopped to watch a dragonfly flying around the edge of the water and Jasmine noticed a Southern Hawker Dragonfly laying eggs in the bank right below where we were standing! We watched  it for quite a long time, having never been that close to a dragonfly before we were all amazed by how big it was!Southern Hawker DragonflyWe walked round the lake and back to the car park, and then drove the 5 minutes to Garsons Farm.

We have only been to Garsons once so far this year, for the asparagus picking, so there was lots we wanted to get today! We started with gooseberries and raspberries then went to the redcurrant field. Next was carrots, peas, mange tout and finally cucumber.Garsons PYOWhile the kids do enjoy picking the fruit and vegetables, they also enjoy taste testing what they can! I don’t mind them eating a few, however I try and make sure most of what they pick goes into the punnets!

It was so late by the time we’d finished at the farm that we decided to eat out at Pizza Hut, the kids favourite! After dinner of pizza and ice cream we went home, well past the kids normal bedtime but well worth the late night as we’d had such a lovely day.

Once all 3 kids were tucked up and asleep, Gordon and I started the long process of removing the redcurrants from the stems, ready for me to make jam today.

And that is where I must go now, The fruit was stewed and the juice strained over night. Now to begin my first jam of the year.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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The Village Fair

On our last full day in Sheffield, on Saturday, we went to the annual fair held in my mum and dads village.

The Stannington Carnival has been running for as long as I can remember (and it is a while since I lived there now!) but has got much bigger over the years. It is held in the village hall and 2 big fields full of stalls, games and rides.

When we arrived we wandered round the first field and the kids spotted the “Win a prize every time” hook a duck and fishing games so they had a go on each of these and won themselves some prizes. In the second field we stopped at the Sheffield Fire and Police Museum stand and had a look round some fire engines and a police car.Carnival 1When we were ready to move on to something else I think Thomas got distracted with one last look at the fire engine, but he didn’t tell us. As we walked round the corner I suddenly realised he wasn’t following us and we couldn’t see him. We had a very scary few minutes searching round for him. Gordon looked round the fire engines again, I looked round the neighbouring stalls but for a few minutes we had no idea where he was. Luckily the volunteers who run the fair are wonderful and had seen him and spoken to him, and we spotted him as he was being taken to the Lost Children tent. I’m not sure who was more scared, me and Gordon or Thomas. It was a horrible few minutes, but at least that was all it was and we found him quickly!

Once we were all back together we stopped and got everyone a drink while we recovered!

Jasmine then spotted a large bouncy castle slide and her and Ben asked to go on. Thomas thought he might have a go as well so I paid for all three, but he changed his mind so Jasmine and Ben got a couple of extra go’s each! Despite the look of terror on Ben’s face on the photographs they both loved it!Carnival 2After several turns on the slide we walked over to the classic cars and had a quick look around them before going to get an ice cream for everyone.Carnival 3Next to the ice cream van, the Punch and Judy show was about to start so we stayed to watch that for a bit. Just before it started there were some circus type toys for the kids to play with and Thomas and Jasmine both had a go on some bucket stilts. They were pretty good on them!Carnival 4It was boiling hot on Saturday and after about 20 minutes of the Punch and Judy show we were just too hot so decided to walk back and do one last “prize every time” game before going back to my mum’s house loaded with plastic toy prizes!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Fun at Magna Science Adventure Centre

Today we went to Magna Science Adventure Centre. We went for the first time in January (you can read about it here) and the entry ticket is valid for a year, so being back in Sheffield again the kids were keen to go.

When we got there we were told about the new exhibition, all about sound. We went to look round this first and had fun making different sounds with different instruments.Magna 1After the sound exhibition we went into the main centre and went into the Earth Pavilion. The kids had been talking about this for days and were really looking forward to using the diggers and blasting the rocks again! We spent a good 45 minutes working in the quarry!Magna 2After a picnic lunch outside, we went back in and had a look round the Water pavilion. This had changed slightly since we were there in January and they now have a water cycle display, which I thought was really good but I don’t think the kids even looked at! The kids had a great time playing in the water.Magna 3After indoor water play we headed outside to Aqua-Tek and Sci-Tek. These outdoor areas were closed in January so we had left plenty of time for the kids to play today.

Thomas went straight into Aqua-Tek and had a wonderful time splashing, running and jumping through the water and spraying water cannons. Ben went in for a few minutes but he had spotted a sand pit in Sci-Tek, so this is where he wanted to be! Jasmine didn’t want to get wet today so she played in the sand as well. Ben also explored some of the climbing frames and slides.Magna 4When Thomas had finished in Aqua-Tek we all went further down the playground in Sci-Tek and found more to explore. Even Gordon had a go at some of the climbing!Magna 5We had a great day at Magna again today, and especially liked the outdoors areas. I can see it becoming a regular place to visit when we are in Sheffield!

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Big Nature Weekend at Leith Hill

Today we drove to Leith Hill to take part in the Big Nature Weekend/BioBlitz event, run by the National Trust and Surrey Wildlife Trust.

Leith Hill is the highest point in Southeast England and is set within the Surrey Hills. It is within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is also designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The event was held in the Rhododendron Woods, a beautiful landscape created by Caroline Wedgwood, the sister of Charles Darwin.

The bioblitz began yesterday evening, when they started with moth trapping and bat surveying. This morning, bright and early, they began trapping small mammals and investigating the moth traps. They also started bird ringing. Of course, we weren’t up late enough last night, or early enough this morning to join in with these activities but we arrived at lunch time today and filled the next four hours with bugs, moths, newts and much, much more!

Our first stop after arriving was the main tent, where they had all the moths and bugs in containers, nets or on egg boxes. We saw a huge selection of different moths, from small to really huge!MothsTop left: Poplar Hawkmoth. Top right: Lime Hawkmoth. Bottom left: Elephant Hawkmoth. Bottom right: Peppered Moth.

These moths pictured made the biggest impression! I was amazed at how beautiful I found the elephant hawkmoth, and Jasmine really liked the peppered moth. Both Thomas and Jasmine got to hold one – Jasmine held a peppered moth and Thomas held a lime hawkmoth.Holding mothsNext we went to the Amphibian and Reptile Group stand where they had newts, snakes, slow worms and tadpoles to see. For most of us this was the highlight of the day because we got to touch a grass snake and a slow worm, and they had a great crested newt in their newt tank! They also had an Adder, which Jasmine asked if she could touch. We quickly explained that it probably wasn’t a good idea because adders are poisonous!

The kids spent a long time looking at, and stroking, the snake and slow worm while I chatted about great crested newts. For anyone who doesn’t know, due to enormous declines in range and abundance in the last century, the great crested newt is strictly protected by British and European law. They had to have a license just to have them on display in a tank today! So it was a real privilege to see it.Newts and snakesAfter reptiles and amphibians we went to see the birds next. They were catching the birds in large nets and then measuring, sexing, ageing and ringing them before releasing them again. We were lucky enough to get there just as they were coming back from checking the nets.

One of the lovely volunteers brought each bird for us to look at once they had collected their data and talked to us a little about it before releasing it. We saw a greenfinch, a nuthatch, 3 siskins and a goldfinch.BirdsOnce all the birds had been released we decided to have a go at the trail around the woods, so we got our map and set off. The rhododendron woods are beautiful, full of life and so much to see. As we did the trail the kids loved looking out for all the markers and answering the questions. The trail was really well thought out and perfect for the kids. Ben was getting a bit tired so he spent some time in the buggy, but mostly they all explored and discovered and chatted and explored some more!Rhododendron woodsOur final activity of the day was pond dipping. We saved the best till last! The kids all got stuck right in, and this produced Jasmine’s highlight of the day because she saw the long-awaited dragonfly nymph. She has been waiting and waiting all year to see one so she was very happy!

Again we got chatting to the volunteers and they were all wonderful with the kids. They let both Thomas and Jasmine hold the newts and move them into the pond dipping trays. They talked to them about what they had found and were just generally lovely. Sadly, by this point of the day the camera was running our of battery so I only got a few photos.Pond dippingI think Thomas and Jasmine could have stayed by the pond, dipping and chatting all day! We had several last go’s before we finally managed to get them away and back to the car!

We all had a great time today and I am really pleased we went and joined in – we almost didn’t go at one point. We will definitely be going back to Leith Hill to see more.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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A Plan for 2013 Revisited

On 4th January this year I wrote this post. I listed places I wanted to visit this year, things I wanted us to do.

Somehow, it is now 11th June and we are heading at full speed to the half way point of the year. I want to take a moment to revisit my list and see what we have done and what we still need to do. I want to decide which places I definitely still want to visit and which, if any, can be crossed off or bumped to a “maybe” list.

Here is my list, with the places we have visited marked off.

  • Natural History Museum
  • Science Museum
  • Sea Life Centre
  • London Zoo
  • Whipsnade Zoo
  • Dali Exhibition (Southbank)
  • London Cable Cars
  • Grant Museum of Zoology
  • Horniman Museum
  • Goodwood Revival or Festival of Speed
  • Covent Garden
  • RHS Garden Wisley
  • Royal Observatory Greenwich

We haven’t done terribly well have we!

Actually we have. I just seem to have ignored my original list! We have visited our “usual” places (Richmond Park, Morden Hall Park, Box Hill) very frequently, we have been to a couple of other National Trust properties (Claremont, Polesdon Lacey) and we have visited several other places including Chatsworth, Rare Breeds Centre, British Wildlife Centre, RAF Museum and Magna.

It seems I just need to stop ignoring my list and plan.

So, which of the original places can be “bumped” or removed? As much as I hate to do it, Goodwood will have to be removed. The Festival of Speed is being held on a weekend that Gordon is working a night shift and the Revival is on whilst we are on holiday, so we can’t attend either of these.

Other than that I don’t want to change the list at all. I still want to make an effort to visit all these places, but maybe I should amend it to have the “must visit” places at the top and the “if we have the time/money” places lower down.

Top of my list will still be the Natural History Museum. I really, really want to take the kids and I know they will absolutely love it. The kids also want to go to the Science Museum again. I need to pencil in dates on the calender to do these trips because these really are “must visit” places.

Next would be one of the zoo trips, either London or Whipsnade. This will be totally cost dependent though. Do they do a Home Educators discount?

Covent Garden and the Dali Exhibition can be done on a day trip into London any time. Again, I should just pencil a date on the calender shouldn’t I!

That leaves the Horniman Museum, London Cable Cars, Royal Observatory Greenwich and Grant Museum of Zoology, which I guess are the “if we have time/money” trips.

As with my post in January I am writing all this down in the hope that I will do something about it. In fact, tomorrow I am going to have a look at the calender and pencil in two or three dates for the “must visit” places.

I know we have done a lot so far this year and we have enjoyed all the places we have been to. However, I don’t want to look at this list again in another 5 months and realise that, despite going to lots of different places, we still haven’t managed most of it!Days Out 2014

 

 

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Continuing our National Trust week

Yes, today we visited another National Trust property; our 3rd this week! Today we went to Polesdon Lacey in Bookham.

With its stunning views of the Surrey Hills, large grassy areas, woodland walks and adventure playground, Polesdon Lacey is a great place to go for a day enjoying the outdoors. We have been a few times before and we have found something new to see and do every time we’ve been.

Today we went with Caterpillar Tales mummy and youngest so we stuck to a walk we have done before, knowing it was child and buggy friendly! We actually walked the route of this years Easter Egg Trail.

In our usual way we arrived at lunch time so the first thing we did was have our picnic. Once sandwiches, crisps, veggies and cakes had been eaten it was time to explore. The kids couldn’t wait for us to tidy and pack away so they found a nearby rhododendron that made the perfect den for them to play in.Rhododendron DenOnce we managed to coax them away from their den we headed down Admirals Walk. Along the way we balanced on logs, clambered over tree stumps, admired the bluebells and hunted for bugs. We also stopped off in the bird hide but for the first time ever we didn’t see any birds. I don’t think the kids were that bothered really, but I was disappointed because previously we’ve seen a lot of different birds there.Admirals WalkOur next stop was Squirrels Corner, an adventure playground made from natural materials. All the kids had a great time here and went round the course several times each! They also found the chalkboards and some natural chalk to do a spot of drawing.

Squirrels CornerWhen we left the playground we walked back to the house over the lawn and through the woodland. I showed the kids how to pull grass seed off the wild grass growing high, something I used to love doing as a child! They spent a long time picking grass and spreading the seeds and blowing Dandelion Clocks on the lawn! Then there was more climbing and exploring in the woods.Lawn and WoodsWe ended our day at Polesdon Lacey with the ever popular rolling down a hill! This will never fail to entertain my kids and is quite amusing to watch as 2 of them haven’t really got the hang of it and end up going sideways most of the time!Rolling downhill

Today we completed 1, possibly 2 new challenges from the 50 Things on the National Trust list; we rolled down a really big hill (#2) and we went bird watching (#44) although we didn’t actually see any birds.

Next time we go I want to have a go at Geocaching. Polesdon Lacey is a popular place to do this it seems and they have recently added more caches. I really don’t know much about it at all (other than it is a high-tech treasure hunt)  but it is on the 50 Things list and sounds fun! Anyone want to give me any hints and tips please?

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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