Easter at Willows

Today we went to Willows Farm for their Easter event. We were hesitant to go over the weekend in the middle of the Easter holidays as we know how busy it gets on weekdays during this popular event but Squiggle loves Willows (especially at Easter!) so we braved it anyway. And actually it wasn’t quite as packed as we might have imagined and all went smoothly so we are very glad we did, it was a lovely afternoon.

 

There were various Easter events and activities going on, as well as the usual facilities they have available, so a family could certainly easily fill an entire day there. There was far more to do than is possible to fit in just a few hours but we were prepared for that and prioritised the Easter events, having been a few weeks ago to enjoy the regular facilities anyway. They do however schedule shows and activities to be on twice a day, once in the morning and again in the afternoon, so it is entirely possible to only go for half a day and still make the most of what is on offer for Easter. The schedule is well organised to provide a natural flow to the visit at a reasonable pace for a young child without it becoming too much. We left just before closing feeling very happy with our visit indeed!

 

The farm itself is decorated in a spring/ Easter theme with lots of pretty displays throughout…

Easter
Easter hay bales
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Easter displays

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was an Easter egg hunt in the Easter Gardens….

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Collect a basket and find five different colour Easter eggs
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Search for the eggs hidden around the Easter Garden
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Keep searching!
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Once all five colour eggs have been collected they can be exchanged for five small chocolate eggs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were several different shows, including ‘Scarecrow and Friends’ (a lovely introduction to some of the farm animals via a simple game of guess the clues with some basic information about the animals and an action song at the end), ‘Bunny Hop’ (action songs with the Easter bunny on stage) and ‘Singalong with Curly’ (action songs with Curly the pig on stage)…

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Scarecrow and Friends
Bunny Hop
Bunny Hop
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Singalong with Curly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was even sheep racing…

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Sheepstakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Squiggles favourite, cuddles from the characters…

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Meeting the Easter bunny
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Cuddles with Woolly sheep

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also found time to fit in a couple of the regular activities including looking at the animals (there are lots of newborns and young babies to see at this time of year of course!), holding a guinea pig, sand and funfair rides…

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Funfair rides

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Baby goat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Guinea pig handling

Sapphire Gymnastics (Hemel Hempstead, Herts)

A couple of weeks ago we held a home education group at Sapphire gymnastics in Hemel Hempstead for the second time. It has a good variety of equipment to cater for a range of ages; facilities include balancing equipment, ropes, bars and rings, spring board and box, trampoline, soft play and bouncy castle. There are two sites, we have not been to the new Mark Road site yet but the pictures look very impressive so we are keen to visit this one sometime too. The following photos are of our home ed group held at the original Park Road site next to the sports centre. For more information see Sapphire Gymnastics website www.sapphiregymnastics.co.uk

 

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Balancing
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Balance beams
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Trampolining
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Swinging on ropes
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Bars
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Bouncy castle slide
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Soft play

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Fun at Sapphire Gymnastics
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Haven: Wild Duck Holiday Park, Norfolk

Last week we went on a short break to Wild Duck Haven Holiday Park near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. We have been to a couple of other Haven sites before but this particular one was new to us. I was very pleasantly surprised by it, I found the entire park rather more ‘toned down’ than some of the others I have previously been to and the natural woodland surroundings were beautiful. It was a peaceful environment to be in, whilst still having various facilities on the doorstep (along with the ducks, rabbits and squirrels all around us!) We very much enjoyed our stay and I would happily return to this site. See the website for further details http://www.haven.com/parks/norfolk/wild-duck/

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Our caravan surrounded by woodland
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Inside the caravan (the central heating throughout was particularly handy for a cold wet October!)
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The ‘centre’ of the site with an entertainment complex, restaurant, fish and chip shop, Spar shop and swimming pool.
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Duck statues (there were real ones to of course!)
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Watching the waterfall.
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Playground in the middle of the woodland.
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Climbing on the web.
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Another playground.
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Practising climbing skills
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Sandpit play area.
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This huge wooden tree house was hidden away in the middle of a pretty woodland walk.
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Chilling.
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Tree climbing
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Sitting in a tree.
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We found some chestnuts on the woodland walk.
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She also enjoyed having a ‘tea time party’ with Rory the Tiger, including party games such as pass the parcel, musical statues and musical bumps.
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Last but not not least she loved joining in the disco and meeting the Haven ‘Seaside Squad’ characters.

A Trip to Weymouth, Dorset: Haven and Sealife Centre

We stayed at Weymouth Bay Haven holiday park, which Squiggle particularly enjoyed. Nearby there was a sandy beach at Bowleaze Cove, which also had a quiet little funfair. For more information about Bowleaze Cave see website www.bowleazecove.co.uk and for further details on the Haven site we stayed at view the Haven website here.

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Making a beach collection
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Footprints in the sand
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Enjoying the funfair rides
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Helter skelter slide with her grandad
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She was most excited about going on the funfair wheel (or in her words a mini London Eye)
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Exploring on a nature walk.
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Playing outside at Weymouth Bay Haven Holiday site.
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She enjoyed going swimming and meeting characters on-site at Haven (although not at the same time!)
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Trying out the dancing game

However, the highlight of the trip for us had to be the Sealife Adventure Park in Weymouth. Although it was very expensive it was a fantastic day out and we would definitely love to return! It is also worth noting that Sealife Adventure Park is part of the Merlin group so annual pass holders get in free. For more details see their website here.

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Giant crab
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Sting ray close up
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Walk through tunnel, beautiful giant turtle
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Fascinating ‘sea worms’ and shrimps
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Jelly fish
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Learning about crocodiles
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Fun educational facts
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It also has an excellent splash park and paddling pool, one of her favourite bits of course!

Princess Diana Memorial Playground, London

Princess Diana Memorial Playground is in Kensington Gardens next to the palace. It has an excellent range of equipment suitable for children under 12, all adults must be accompanied by a child. There is a queuing system for when the playground reaches maximum capacity but on the plus side this really makes a difference to the playground not feeling too over-crowded, especially during peak season when other places can often be uncomfortably packed. Further details of this playground can be found on the website https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/kensington-gardens/things-to-see-and-do/sports-and-leisure/diana-memorial-playground

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There are giant musical instruments set in pretty natural surroundings.
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Lovely natural wooden playground with lots of equipment.
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Sensory garden
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Wet sand
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There is an impressive pirate ship in the centre of the playground.
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There is a stream to paddle in with a stone crocodile.
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The playground is set in beautiful surroundings and it has a wonderful calm vibe.
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Great shade for a warm day.

Summer Fun: Parks and Paddling

Editors Note: Update 09/05/16 See here for latest information on splash park and paddling pool opening times for summer season 2016 and links to official websites

 

 

 

We have enjoyed visiting a range of places over summer and we especially loved finding fun places to cool down on the wonderful hot days we had! Here are some of the places we have been over July and August…

 

This is Stockwood Park Discovery Centre in Luton. It has an interesting museum and lovely playground, free entry. (The bus is not always there and was not open during our visit unfortunately, she still loved running around it though!) http://www.lutonculture.com/stockwood-discovery-centre/stockwood-discovery-centre/

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Highfield park in St Albans has lots of green space and hidden pockets containing little play areas dotted around, plus there is also a tree trail. The leaflet for the tree trail is available at Charters Health Club. “The Trail is 3km (2miles) long and follows a circular route. The trail identifies 25 different trees, each with a numbered way marker, the leaflet provides you with interesting facts about the various trees.” The Highfield Park summer fete this year included an agility show, much to Squiggle’s delight! There are a few other events held at the park throughout the year. http://www.highfieldparktrust.co.uk/index.php/visiting-the-park-mainmenu-33

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This is Leighton Buzzard park. As well as a lovely playground suitable for a range of ages it also has an excellent splash park to. Squiggle loved it but it was far too busy to get any pictures!

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This is Morris Playing Field in London Colney. It has a small paddling pool and play area, as well as a football pitch and tennis courts.

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We enjoyed a day trip to Southend to paddle in the sea and play in the sand. There is a small children’s climbing frame on the beach next to a large fun fair. This picture makes it look rather less crowded that it really was though!

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We also enjoyed looking for crabs, Squiggle was fascinated watching them…

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We love Verulamium park. Lots to do in this massive beautiful parkland including feed the ducks (duck food can be puchased from Inn On The Park cafe), let off steam in the play area and cool down in the splash park (again too many other people in the background of our pictures to publish them!) There are also tennis courts, football pitches, an outdoor gym and Roman remains. http://www.stalbans.gov.uk/leisure-and-culture/parks-and-green-space/parks/Verulamium-Park/

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Wick nature reserve in St Albans is a hidden gem for us. Popular with dog walkers and families alike but this place never seems to get very busy as many locals don’t even know about it! There is a little play area, small woods and green space. Great place to go exploring!

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Having lived in St Albans for most of my life, this local recreation ground on Sherwood Avenue had remained secret from us until this summer.

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Fleetville park in St Albans has recently been refurbished in the section aimed at older children and also now has an outdoor gym.

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Cassiobury park in Watford has a lot to offer. A paddling pool area with three large paddling pools (one heated), a lovely playground, miniature train (£1) and river walks (also good for paddling and watching canal boats).

 

 

 

And of course plenty of opportunities to splash around in the paddling pool at home…

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Last but not least, this does not technically belong on this post as it is not a park (nor a place to paddle) but the indoor beach at Centre: MK (throughout August only) was definitely worth a visit to.

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Van Hage- it really is more than just a garden centre!

We went to Van Hage today, not for the first time, but I really think it deserves a mention as a great (and FREE) family trip out. In addition to things you might typically expect to find in a garden centre there is a lovely animal garden. They have a range of animals there and offer opportunities to interact with some of the animals at weekends and during school holidays (see website for details). There is even a miniature train ride (small charge of 80p per passenger applies).

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Stroking a snake at the reptile encounter today.
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She had the opportunity to touch a lizard.
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The chickens roam around freely and some are happy to be touched.
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They have a lovely range of animals.
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Looking at the giant bunnies and goats.
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She was able to stroke a tortoise today as well.
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We enjoy looking at the pretty displays.
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There are fun facts and activities in the animal garden.
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She learnt she was about the same height as a penguin.
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There is lots of useful information available.
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There are lots of flowers to look at to of course!
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The pet shop has a resident cat.
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There are lots of interesting things to look at in general.

 

Definitely worth a visit! See website for more details of events and activities http://www.vanhage.co.uk/garden-centres/great-amwell/