Recently we visited Hatchlands Park, which is a beautiful National Trust site in Guildford, Surrey. Being a huge fan of Sylvanian families, Squiggle was keen to do the Sylvanian Families nature trail, open until the end of this year.
There is a small charge to enter the park, including the Sylvanian Families Trail, of £6 per adult and £3 per child, or £15 for a family ticket (these prices are for park only, cost to enter whole site including house is extra. Prices are on the website here). National Trust members get in free.
The trail has a series of signs as you walk through the wood, each with nature questions and clues from members of woodland Sylvanian families. There is a more difficult question at each stop, making it fun and informative for all ages.
We did get abit confused when we reached the end because there was no obvious finishing point. We probably should have realised from the number of clues but even so, a clear indication, such as a finish sign or message from one of the Sylvanian families, would have been a nice additional touch.
Regardless, we really enjoyed the trail and the wooden sculptures were lovely. Squiggle got so excited each time she spotted one and loved cuddling them!
Whilst we were there, we also went to Hatchlands Park playground. It has lovely natural play features, including a wonderful treehouse. Squiggle really enjoyed playing here and it fitted in beautifully with the surrounding natural environment.
Southend On Sea in Essex is a popular seaside choice for many. It boasts stretches of both pebble and sand beaches, play water fountains, play areas on the sand, plus a brand new lagoon for paddling and swimming.
For those looking for a little more action, there is a Sealife Centre on the seafront, an award winning funfair, indoor play centre, pier, traditional style amusement arcades and a large selection of shops, restaurants and cafes.
For us, it is a relatively short drive away from Hertfordshire that offers us a fun and relaxed day out by the sea, so is definitely a winner!
For more information about Southend, including special events, things to do and places to stay, see Visit Southend
Three Shells Lagoon at Southend-on-Sea in Essex is a newly built man made lagoon that opened this summer. The lagoon is the size of a football pitch and is 1.1 metres at its deepest points.
Despite visiting in the last week of September, it was still warm enough to wriggle into our swimsuits and go for a swim. It was cold, but we soon got used to it! Squiggle enjoyed practising her swimming skills in the sea water, as well as paddling and splashing around in general. I think it’s wonderful to be able to enjoy swimming in a natural environment, whilst not being entirely in the open water with an inexperienced young swimmer. I imagine it would also be great for learning water sports.
One thing I did wonder about was how the lagoon water is kept fresh and hygenic. So I did some research and found the design quite interesting. “Sheets of welded metal inside the rock walls retain the seawater when the tide comes in, whilst rubberised material at the base of the wall will prevent silt and mud from entering and exiting the lagoon. Valves have been installed into the wall so that the lagoon can be emptied and refilled, ensuring a high quality of regularly-replenished bathing water.” (Southend government website) For further information about the lagoon www.southend.gov.uk
As the summer clutches on for one more burst of sunshine before autumn descends, I thought I would share some information and photos about Morris Playing Fields in London Colney, Hertfordshire. This is a popular summer destination amongst locals, mainly because it has a small outdoor paddling pool that is great for warmer days (or not so warm days too, if you are anything like us!)
The paddling pool has a walk-in shallow end and steps for the deeper end, which is approx 1 metre (disclaimer: this is my own estimate so no idea on actually accuracy of this statement!)
The only downside is, because it is a very small local outdoor paddling pool in a confined space, that it can get extremely busy and this can be abit too overwhelming or overstimulating for some children, especially those with SEND.
However, if the visit is timed right, during a quieter period, it is a lovely place to play!
The paddling pool is in a fenced off area behind the separately enclosed playground.
There is a small carpark adjacent to the playground that serves this and the paddling pool, as well as sports facilities at the playing field itself.
The playground has a variety of equipment, suited to a range of ages in the younger age bracket. I believe there is another facility for older children/ teens at a different nearby site but I have not yet visited this.
It has a slightly retro feel about it, it reminds me of the playgrounds I visited as a child. Very old style, but well loved all the same!
The helter skelter slide is a particular favourite…
For more information about Morris Playing Fields see pdf flyer
There is plenty to do at Paradise Wildlife Park. In addition to the wide variety of animals, there are also various other areas such as soft play, paddling pool, sand pit, construction area, go carts, train, woodland walk, bouncy castles and several play areas, as well as shows, talks and feeds. There are also various ride-ons and games for additional cost. The price is reasonable in my opinion, in comparison to similar days out, especially given the amount of facilities included in the price and the high running costs of the zoo. However, there are often discounts available through groupon and similar sites, which makes it somewhat more affordable. More information about Paradise Wildlife Park can be found on their website https://www.pwpark.com
Ruislip Lido is a great place to visit during the summer, with lots of (FREE!) outdoor fun to be had; including a splash park, sandy beach, large play area on the sand, woodlands and a train ride (charge applies for this).
If you are visiting with young children, or those with SEND, please keep in mind that the play area is next to open water and not enclosed. Also, no paddling or swimming is allowed in the lido itself.
We think Ruislip Lido is a lovely place anytime of year (although please note it is practically entirely outside, but we don’t mind- that’s what waterproofs and layers are for!) For further information, visit their website here.
Ok, I admit that Sylvanian Families might sound like a very loose connection to the 30 Days Wild theme! But this lovely day out is held in a picturesque village, set up by a little river with ducks and other wildlife, with a pretty flowery backdrop for the character meet and greet. It was very scenic! It was really nice to visit somewhere different, as well as the excitement for Squiggle of a Sylvanian themed day out of course- as has been mentioned on this blog many times before, she is a big Sylvanian fan!
Of course there are many others in and around Hertfordshire, this is not a comprehensive list! Others I have heard of but never visited are Harpenden outdoor pool, Letchworth splash park/ paddling pool and Hitchin outdoor pool. Plus, of course, there is natural water play such as the stream at Wheathampstead, Stanborough or Cassiobury and plenty of beaches within an hour or two (driving or train) too!
I have been to Combe Haven a number of times previously, over the course of many years, and have always enjoyed it anyway, but I have to say it has it has really cleaned up its act in recent years! With the option of lovely newer style caravans (with central heating as standard), great new play areas in Seaview Village, Rory’s Adventure Playground redesigned this season and new outdoor nature sessions for kids too, the whole site has a far more ‘natural’ feel to it than it used to. And we are really impressed with all of these improvements!
A quick tour of the caravan we stayed in (new style)…
Quick outside tour of the site…
Rory’s Adventure Playground…
Play areas at Seaview Village and outside the entertainment complex…
Indoor activities include arcades, sports centre (not pictured) soft play and indoor swimming pool (pictured from outside)…
There are character shows during both daytimes and evenings. The seaside squad and funstars were brilliant, they do a great job…
Character meet and greets…
And last but certainly not least, we were there for Rory’s birthday celebrations, which Squiggle was thrilled about!
Great holiday, would definitely recommend, and we hope to return again soon!
Squiggle had a lovely day enjoying the festivities at Willows Farm in St Albans. The main downside was that even during school hours it was alot busier than we would have hoped as it seems a popular destination for school trips at this time of year. That aside, we really enjoyed the range of Christmas activities on offer as well as the usual Willows fun.
It was not possible to take full advantage of the developments they have made recently to the sand area, that now includes additional features for water play, but it looked brilliant. Also looking forward to the future developments planned for the adventure playground, on the theme of Peter Rabbit.
From an SEN point of view, we appreciated the fact that disabled tickets did not have the same restrictions as other ticket types on the internet advanced booking system. Such a simple thing made a big difference and says alot about their attitude I feel. So big thumbs up for that! The staff generally seem understanding towards SEN families and have a positive attitude, based upon our experiences there anyway.
Father Christmas was very accepting of Squiggle’s additional needs too, and he interacted with her beautifully. The only issue was the difficulty with waiting in the queue, especially when other customers unfortunately lack the same understanding, but thankfully it wasn’t as long to wait as it can be at times so we were fairly lucky with that. The larger toy shop was a big improvement, a far less claustrophobic experience than previous years!
Overall, really pleased with our visit, fantastic day out. Feeling very festive now!