National Pet Show: A Fantastic Day Out For Pet/ Animal Lovers!

This past weekend saw the return of the National Pet Show to Excel, London. For those who have never heard of it, this event hosts tonnes of pet-related stands with information, advice and products, as well as lots of talks, activities, shows and demonstrations. Of course, there are lots of animals too! 

National Pet Show, Excel, London, days out, events, pets, family fun, animal lovers, freedom to learn

We went to this event once previously, when Squiggle was much younger, back when it was held at Earls Court. (Blog post here). We had a lovely time and Squiggle remembered it well so we were excited to return!

National Pet Show, Excel, London, days out, events, pets, family fun, animal lovers, freedom to learn

We have only been to Excel once with Squiggle before, to watch the Paralympics in 2012, and I don’t think she recognised it. I personally really like this venue because it is spacious and has good facilities. Events can be very crowded and overstimulating for a child with autism, so it is good that the venue is big enough that it is possible to find a space in a quiet corner if needed. Plus, as it is located by the docklands, there is also somewhere calm outdoors to go for some fresh air if it does get too much. 

National Pet Show, Excel, London, days out, events, pets, family fun, animal lovers, freedom to learn

The pet show itself has a huge range of animals to see. I didn’t get a photo because s/he was attracting quite a crowd but Squiggle adored seeing the hairless cat, as well as many other rare breeds. I loved this funky dreadlock looking dog, a bergamasco, which is certainly not a breed I had come across before. So gorgeous though!

Perhaps a slightly unusual highlight but, for me personally, one of my favourite parts was getting inspiration for our new bunny housing. We have already got the actual enclosure itself, but we spotted some great ideas of what else we could include for enrichment!

National Pet Show, Excel, London, days out, events, pets, family fun, animal lovers, freedom to learn

Squiggle also loved the opportunity to meet some more exotic pets in the reptile section, such as Terry the tegu, a python (I think?!) and a very giant tortoise. It was lovely to experience these magnificent creatures close up and hands on! 

National Pet Show, Excel, London, days out, events, pets, family fun, animal lovers, freedom to learn

Over at the More Than stand, there was a little display going on by this cute little poodle pair. I gather there were other appearances spotted here too! I also liked the park theme with children’s games, such as Connect 4 and Jenga. A nice little chilled out spot in the midst of the hustle and bustle!

National Pet Show, More Than, Excel, London, days out, events, pets, family fun, animal lovers, freedom to learn

As I already mentioned, there were lots of demonstrations and shows. For example, we saw this golden retriever display and got to meet them afterwards too.

National Pet Show, Excel, London, days out, events, pets, family fun, animal lovers, freedom to learn

There were lots of stalls with useful information too, such as various animal charities. We enjoyed meeting the therapy pets, including this beauty. I think a therapy dog would be amazing. But I also feel that any pets are great for autism, anxiety etc… They are so therapeutic! 

National Pet Show, Excel, London, days out, events, pets, family fun, animal lovers, freedom to learn

There were loads of children’s activities too. Stories, colouring, meeting animals, talks, games and even an exciting future vet activity with Noel Fitzpatrick. There was also a weaving activity; Squiggle was most excited about the huge rabbit that had been created!

National Pet Show, Excel, London, days out, events, pets, family fun, animal lovers, freedom to learn

Tickets cost from £13.91 for a child ticket. However, Littlebird often have deals available, so it is well worth checking if there are any discounted tickets. Also, carers get free entry to assist those with disabilities so if this applies to you then do get in touch with them.

As well as the London dates, the show is also held at NEC in Birmingham each November too (next dates are 4th and 5th November 2017). It is open all day from 9.30am to 5pm, with a schedule of different shows, talks, demonstrations and appearances throughout the weekend.

It is a really fun day out. A fantastic event for those with their own furbabies, wannabe pet owners or general animal enthusiasts! 

*Thank you to More Than for the complimentary pair of tickets we received. All thoughts are opinions are my own.

Willows Activity Farm Easter Eggstravaganza 

Willows Activity Farm Easter Eggstravaganza event is a fun day out that we have been to every year for a number of years and yet it still works just as well as it is suitable for a range of ages. This year we were lucky enough to get a free family ticket through Herts Big Weekend but we did wonder whether this might affect the size of the crowd. Luckily, although it was busy, it didn’t seem particularly packed. And there is plenty of space and lots to do which helps it feel less crowded too.

Willows Activity Farm, Easter Eggstravaganza, Hertfordshire, Easter, events, days out, places to visit, family fun, Living Life Our Way

The schedule of events is carefully timed so that you can still do the majority of activities and shows even if you are only there for half a day, like we were, but there is certainly more than enough to do for a whole day out too. We were able to do everything we wanted without feeling rushed from one thing to the next but without much spare time to fill either! 

Willows Activity Farm, Easter Eggstravaganza, Hertfordshire, Easter, events, Lilly Bobtail, meet and greet, days out, places to visit, family fun, Living Life Our Way
Squiggle meeting Lilly Bobtail

Some of the highlights of this particular event include the Bunny Hop show, Easter Garden egg hunt, meet and greets with Peter Rabbit, Lilly Bobtail, Benjamin Bunny and Easter Bunny, and various shows by Peter Rabbit and friends – including a brand new show featuring all three characters on stage together. We didn’t see this particular show but we did watch the Bunny Hop show with the Easter Bunny.

Squiggle loved this show and got really into it. One song in particular about chocolate really made her laugh and it was really catchy; she has remembered alot of it to sing to herself after just hearing it that once! 

Willows Activity Farm, Easter Eggstravaganza, Hertfordshire, Easter, events, Bunny Hop Show, days out, places to visit, family fun, Living Life Our Way
Bunny Hop Show

The Easter Garden is open for most of the day, daily throughout the Easter Eggstravaganza event. Here you are given a basket on entry and then search the garden to find five different coloured eggs. Once you have completed the hunt you can exchange the five eggs you found for yummy chocolate prizes. 

Willows Activity Farm, Easter Eggstravaganza, Hertfordshire, Easter, events, days out, places to visit, family fun, Living Life Our Way
Easter Garden

This is also where the Easter Bunny makes an appearance for meet and greet sessions, so be sure to check the schedule if you want to time your visit right! (Entry to Easter Garden is only permitted once). 

Willows Activity Farm, Easter Eggstravaganza, Hertfordshire, Easter, Easter Bunny, meet and greet, events, days out, places to visit, family fun, Living Life Our Way
Squiggle meeting Easter Bunny

Other activities also available at Willows include Peter Rabbit playground, agility course, sand pit, funfair rides, bouncy castle and slide, animal encounters, tractor ride, indoor role-play village, tractors, soft play, and arts and crafts. Plus of course lots of animals! There is also a large cafe and gift shop. For further information see Willows Activity Farm website.

100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 25 (Our Round-Up So Far)

So we are now 1/4 of the way through the #100daysofhomeed challenge! I thought this might be a good time to do a brief round-up of some of the activities we have done since the challenge started. No doubt there is a tonne of stuff I have forgotten but here are a few of the things we have been doing…

Literacy

  • Punctuation and grammar – Squiggle was reading the side of a cereal packet whilst having a snack. She asked about the use of apostrophies, which she has now been using correctly since. It also led onto further discussions about punctuation and grammar, and covered alot of ground! I love how such amazing valuable learning opportunities can arise naturally from even the simplest of everyday tasks.
  • Writing – Squiggle wrote some tips on green living/ protecting the environment.
  • Scrabble – We played this for the first time recently, great for spelling!
  • Squiggle has written lots of letters to her friends and characters, and wrote cards for Valentines Day.
  • She also frequently writes shopping lists etc…
  • Squiggle regularly writes her own stories.

Maths

  • Squiggle has written a list of some of our maths resources and we have played most of these games/ activities since the challenge started.
  • Valentines Day – Squiggle did lots of themed maths activities from the Twinkl website.
  • Squiggle has been playing shops;  involving real money, working out cost/ change etc…

  • Science Experiments/ STEM

    • Squiggle has been doing some of our Dyson STEM challenge cards, including ‘invisible writing’ with lemon juice and using coke to make coppers shiny.
    • We have also experimented with growing crystals.
    • Squiggle figured out how to make herself a basic microphone using household objects using her knowledge and understanding of sound, vibrations, amplification etc…

    STEM, science, #100daysofhomeed, #LoveHomeEd, 100 days of home ed, activities at home, freedom to learn, Home EducationScience experiments/ STEM challenges

    Geography

    • Squiggle has been learning more about different countries and continents.

    Geography, maps, continents, #100daysofhomeed, #LoveHomeEd, 100 days of home ed, activities at home, freedom to learn, Home EducationGeographyGeography, maps, continents, #100daysofhomeed, #LoveHomeEd, 100 days of home ed, activities at home, freedom to learn, Home Education

    Technology

    • Squiggle has been creating some digital art on my phone using PicsArt app.
    • She has written alot of emails to myself and her dad.
    • She has typed lists etc…
    • We use the internet together for research.

    Digital art, Pics Art, technology, #100daysofhomeed, #LoveHomeEd, 100 days of home ed, activities at home, freedom to learn, Home EducationDigital art

    Creative activities 

    Sports

    •  Squiggle has played lots of sports in the garden and we have also been to the athletics track too.

    Music

    • Squiggle has been to her regular music class.
    • She has been putting on performances at home, including singing with her new mic!

    Days out etc…

    Places to visit, Whipsnade, zoo, #100daysofhomeed, #LoveHomeEd, 100 days of home ed, Days Out, freedom to learn, Home EducationWhipsnade Zoo

    • Nature Walks – We have enjoyed countryside walks observing the earliest signs of Spring.
    • We have been to parks and playgrounds.
    • Garden Centres – We loved seeing the wildlife and the wood carving sculptures outside this garden centre.
    Vanstone Park, garden centre, wooden sculptures, #100daysofhomeed, #LoveHomeEd, 100 days of home ed, activities at home, Days Out, freedom to learn, Home Education
    Garden Centre

    Life Skills

    • Squiggle has earned money by doing tasks. She has a Go Henry account and has been using that to learn about having an account/ dealing with money.
    • We have also discussed the basics of running a business. She then practised some elements of this by ‘hiring’ me to do things (such as drawing her a picture for example) which I then invoiced her for, and she paid me – and vice versa. 
    • We talked about other aspects of running a business too, such as making ethical and eco-friendly choices, and we even discussed giving back to the community / helping others by giving x % profit to charity. 

    There are loads more things I’m sure but that’s all I can think of right now!

    Seaside Trip and Signs of Spring #LivingLifeWild

    On Sunday we went to Southend-On-Sea for a day out at the seaside. We love the fresh sea air, sand under our feet and paddling in the water – at any time of year! Here are my photos…

    #livinglifewild, wildlife, childhood unplugged, nature, outdoor adventures, seasons, seaside, days out, photography

    #livinglifewild, childhood unplugged, nature, outdoor adventures, seasons, seaside, days out, photography

    #livinglifewild, childhood unplugged, nature, outdoor adventures, seasons, seaside, days out, photography

    #livinglifewild, Southend on Sea, childhood unplugged, Days Out, nature, outdoor adventures, photography, seaside, seasons

    I have also added a couple of new albums to my photo gallery. I have added my Winter Collection (I thought I would finally share my photos of this season before it is over!) and Signs of Spring Collection too, as we have been out on nature walks over the past couple of weeks observing the changing seasons and spotting the earliest glimpses of Spring popping up. 

    Thank you to Mammas School for sharing their snow walk blog post and beautiful photos of Sweden on Instagram and to Eps and Amy for sharing a lovely spot to go for a walk in West Sussex. 

    Check out our hashtag #LivingLifeWild on Instagram, there are lots of fantastic photos! Here are just a couple of my faves…

    #livinglifewild, childhood unplugged, nature, outdoor adventures, seasons, seaside, days out, photography

    Remember this linky will be open throughout March. I look forward to reading your posts!

    #LivingLifeWild


    Home Security Tips For Peace of Mind

    It’s that time of year when people are thinking about booking a holiday, and starting to plan ahead for their next trip. As stated on Police.uk homes with no security measures in place are five times more likely to be burgled than those with simple security measures. Therefore if you spend alot of time on days out or travelling, or if you are simply planning  your next holiday, it is important to think about home security. There are many ways to leave your home more secure when unattended. Here are some top tips for home security to leave you feeling reassured while away from home… 

    home security, travel, days out, holidays, living life our way
    Stock Image

    Simple Measures

    • Make sure all doors and windows are locked, including gates.
    • Leave keys and valuables out of sight.
    • Be part of a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme or informally agree with neighbours to look out for each others’ properties.
    • Have a visible security system in place, such as this Panasonic outdoor camera.
    home security, travel, days out, holidays, home, living life our way
    Stock Image

    Night Security

    • Arrange for curtains to be drawn at night then opened in the morning.
    • Make sure you have good outdoor lighting. Outdoor solar lights are relatively cheap and eco friendly.
    • Put indoor lights on a timer or use an app to control them.
    home security, travel, holidays, planning trips, home, living life our way
    Stock Image

    Holidays/ Travelling

    • Arrange for Royal Mail to hold your post using their keepsafe service. (Or ask a trusted friend/ neighbour to keep it safe for you).
    • Have a neighbour park their vehicle in your driveway.
    • Avoid using pet sitting companies that advertise their services on their vehicle – this also alerts potential thieves that you are away!
    • Avoid talking about specific details of your travel plans publicly or posting about it on social media.
    • Remember all of the simple security measures and night security tips above also apply here too. 

      Happy travels everyone! Do you have any top tips to share?

      This is a sponsored post. It also contains an affiliate link. 

      5 Places in Hertfordshire to Visit For That Festive Feeling

      Are you trying to find festive things to do with the kids that will get you all into that Christmas spirit? Here are five places to visit in Herts for some family fun that will leave you feeling wonderfully festive…

      1. Willows Farm Santa Spectacular

      We go to this Santa Spectacular event every year and it’s a fantastic day out. Not cheap but plenty of festive fun to be had! More information on my previous blog post here.

      2. Notcutts, St Albans

      Notcutts is a nice place to pop into on a tight schedule, because you don’t need much time to enjoy the festive magic yet is still well worth a visit if you are local, mainly for the giant dancing snowman! I have heard santa also visits on occasion, sometimes even for breakfast or tea with guests! (Event must be booked in advance). 

      Notcutts, St Albans, Hertfordshire, Christmas, Santas Grotto, snowman

      3. Ayletts Nurseries, St Albans

      I have already written about this lovely local garden centre, because it was Christmassy enough to warrant its own separate post! Great festive atmosphere.

      4. Van Hage Garden Centre, Great Amwell (nr Ware)

      Again, Van Hage is so fabulously festive that it has a post of its very own! With an ice rink, grotto and wonderful Christmas displays, it is enough to take the scrooge out of anyone! 

      5. Christmas Drive or Walk

      Earlier in December, St Albans Christmas market would probably have taken this spot. But a Christmas walk or drive to see beautifully decorated houses is something that we all really enjoy and is a well-loved activity for many families. Our personal favourite is Beech Road in St Albans, who are raising money for Mount Venon Marie Curie Cancer Wing with their amazing display, but I’m reliably informed by Diary of an Unexpectant Mother that there are also brilliantly decorated houses on Brocket Road near Lemsford and lovely lights on Handside Lane in Welwyn Garden City. Amy from The Smallest of Things also suggests Blair Close in Hemel Hempstead too. Wherever you walk or drive, you are bound to spot plenty of festive sights! 

      Beech Road, St Albans, Hertfordshire, Christmas, festive house, charity fundraising, go fund me, living life our way

      And two more just outside of Hertfordshire…

      Centre: MK (Milton Keynes)

      There is an excellent Christmas event in Middleton Hall, which is situated within this large shopping centre. There is a carousel, train, snow globe and huge igloo which houses santa and his elves. The activities charge separately and aren’t cheap, but it does mean you can pick and choose, and it is a great treat. Plus, even if you skip any of the parts that cost and just have a general wander, it is still beautifully festive.

      Crews Hill Garden Centres (Enfield)

      If you aren’t familiar with this area, Crews Hill has a long row of garden centres. It’s a fab place for garden or outdoor enthusiasts at any time of year, but during Christmas it becomes a mini winter wonderland. Don’t miss Springtime nurseries, which is particularly festive! It has real reindeer, plus an indoor train ride to visit the grotto, an ice rink and a snow globe. 

      Springtime nurseries, Crews Hill, Christmas, garden centres, Living Life Our Way

      Do you have a favourite place to visit for that wonderful festive feeling? Please share yours with me in the comments section! 

      Willows Farm Santa Spectacular (St Albans, Herts)

      Santa Spectacular Willows Activity Farm is a great day out at any time of year. But Squiggle particularly loves their festive event Santa Spectacular, which runs daily from the last week of November until Christmas eve. There are a variety of seasonal activities on offer, such as ice skating, writing a letter to Santa, Festive Wood Ride, shows, making a cuddly toy, and of course an opportunity to meet the man himself! In addition, there are also some new activities for this year, including elf school, snowball shoot-out and a 3D film sleigh ride. We didn’t do anywhere near everything, but that is what is so nice about having so many options, families can pick and choose what they most want to do! 

      Willows Activity Farm, Santa Spectacular, festive event, Christmas, santas grotto, Father Christmas, days out, places to visit

      We visited on a weekday in November so it was fairly quiet. At the entrance we were greeted by an elf, which I’m sure many children would be delighted by! For a minority of children it might be slightly daunting to be approached on arrival, but the other elf and the lovely lady at the ticket kiosk were aware of this and discreetly addressed it by calling her over to give us some space. I must say I was really grateful for their help and support in starting our day off on the right foot! For most though, I’m sure it is a great welcome that adds to the festive atmosphere and magic of Christmas. 

      Once in the farm, we headed to the magical ice rink first because this is one of Squiggle’s favourite activities to do there. When we arrived, it had just opened and was still empty so we had it to ourselves! Squiggle can no longer fit into over-the-shoe style skates so she wore proper ice skates for the first time, which she was very excited about. The rink is synthetic, which makes it less slippery than real ice, but the polar bear and penguin supports are handy for less experienced skaters of any age! 

      Willows Activity Farm, Santa Spectacular, festive event, Christmas, santas grotto, Father Christmas, days out, places to visit

      Squiggle was keen to meet Santa so we made sure to fit that into our day next. We got very lucky and found it completely empty! This meant we were able to browse the cute Christmas scenes and displays on the way through to the grotto at our leisure then go straight in to see Father Christmas as soon as we were ready, with no queuing. 

      Willows Activity Farm, Santa Spectacular, festive event, Christmas, santas grotto, Father Christmas, days out, places to visit

      Willows Activity Farm, Santa Spectacular, festive event, Christmas, santas grotto, Father Christmas, days out, places to visit

      Willows Activity Farm, Santa Spectacular, festive event, Christmas, santas grotto, Father Christmas, days out, places to visit

      Willows Activity Farm, Santa Spectacular, festive event, Christmas, santas grotto, Father Christmas, days out, places to visit

      We had a quick chat with Santa in his wonderful homely grotto, then he presented Squiggle with a key to his magic toy shop (where they can choose any toy they want!) and the photographer took some photos. Squiggle then hurried excitedly to the toy shop, which is filled with a good selection of toys to suit a variety of interests and ages, where she promptly found a cuddly toy seal – that she had just told Santa was on her wish list! (What luck!!!) We also purchased a couple of the professional photos taken because own cameras are not allowed in the grotto. They certainly weren’t cheap but they are lovely photos!

      Back outside, there was a meet and greet with a gorgeous real husky dog. This seemed like a good cue to go and make our own cuddly toy version, which included in the entrance price. This is also where you can write and post a letter to Father Christmas, but Squiggle opted to do this at home instead when she was less distracted!

      Willows Activity Farm, Santa Spectacular, festive event, Christmas, santas grotto, Father Christmas, days out, places to visit

      Dotted around Willows, both inside and out, are lots of festive displays that really add to the atmosphere. For example, this one is next to the ice rink by the entrance to the grotto.

      Willows Activity Farm, Santa Spectacular, festive event, Christmas, santas grotto, Father Christmas, days out, places to visit

      Aside from the festive fun, there are plenty of regular Willows Farm facilities available too. Squiggle let off some steam in the indoor soft play and outdoors too, including the fab new Peter Rabbit Adventure Playground that opened earlier this year. We also popped into the animal barn quickly to see the animals, including the reindeer.

      Willows Activity Farm, Santa Spectacular, festive event, Christmas, santas grotto, Father Christmas, days out, places to visit

      It was a fantastic day out that we all really enjoyed. For more information, and to save money by booking tickets online, check out the Willows Activity Farm website. We are feeling very festive after our visit, Merry Christmas everyone! 

      Willows Activity Farm, Santa Spectacular, festive event, Christmas, santas grotto, Father Christmas, days out, places to visit

      Peter Rabbit Adventure Playground, Willows Farm (St Albans, Hertfordshire)

      Peter Rabbit Adventure Playground at Willows Farm in St Albans, Hertfordshire is a million pound plus development based on the famous Beatrix Potter characters and CBeebies animated series. It opened its doors in April 2016, the year that marks the 150th anniversary of author Beatrix Potter, who has captured our hearts and imaginations for over 100 years with her well-loved children’s tales. It is also the only one of its kind in the world, how exciting!

      Peter Rabbit Adventure Playground, Willows Farm, Hertfordshire, places to visit, days out, Beatrix Potter
      There are different sections within Peter Rabbit Adventure Playground.

      There are different sections within the Peter Rabbit Adventure Playground, such as Mr McGregor’s Garden, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle’s kitchen and laundry area, Mr Bouncer’s Great Invention, Jeremy Fisher’s Musical Pond, Lily Bobtail’s Nature area, Benjamin Bunny’s Tree Top Adventures and of course Peter Rabbit’s Secret Treehouse too!

      Peter Rabbit Adventure Playground, Willows Farm, Hertfordshire, places to visit, days out, Beatrix PotterPeter Rabbit’s secret treehouse is set around a 100 year old ash tree.

      I particularly love Jeremy Fisher’s Musical Pond with its lovely little range of interesting instruments. These are good for various age children I imagine, and they are a great sensory activity.

      Peter Rabbit Adventure Playground, Willows Farm, Hertfordshire, places to visit, days out, Jeremy Fisher musical pond, musical instruments, SEN, sensory activity, Beatrix Potter
      Jeremy Fisher Musical pond

      We haven’t ventured into Mrs Tiggy- Winkle’s area yet because Squiggle is usually too busy playing in the other areas but I have had a quick peek and it looks lovely, particularly for younger children. I wonder if the confined space of the indoor bit might get abit much for some SEND children during busier times but it did look like there were some great sensory activities in there too. We also haven’t explored Mr McGregor’s garden yet. This area includes opportunities for ‘heavy’ lifting of giant radish, which is another great sensory activity. It all looks like alot of fun!

      Peter Rabbit Adventure Playground, Willows Farm, Hertfordshire, places to visit, days out, Mr Bouncer Great Invention, interactive technology, Beatrix Potter
      Mr Bouncer’s Great Invention

      Mr Bouncer’s Great Invention is an interactive latest technology feature where children can play games about colours or calculations, and dance to music. It reminded me somewhat of a fancier version of the dance-off style arcade games or dance mats you can buy for use with consoles at home! It is a nice activity but it can be difficult during busier times if multiple children try to play on it at once. Also, the sound effects coming from here combined with the various other sound effects nearby is potentially overstimulating and I think could easily cause sensory overload for some (SEND) children. The activity itself is certainly a great game though if you have the chance to properly play it! 

      One thing I feel could be improved is that it would be far better if the various interactive ‘noisy’ features were more spread out or if there were less of them. Ideally it would be useful if there was more control over them too! Obviously during busier periods this perhaps wouldn’t make much difference, as most likely everything would be in use for the majority of the time regardless, but during quieter times it would be really beneficial if the interactive features could be interacted with rather than automatically activated. For example, Benjamin bunny seems to ‘talk’ at you everytime you get close, as do various other things. I’m sure many SEND children would be much more comfortable if they could choose for this to happen and feel able to move about freely without inadvertently setting off noises around them. However, this does not stop Squiggle enjoying this fantastic playground! (Although I suspect it may do for some).

      Peter Rabbit Adventure Playground, Willows Farm, Hertfordshire, places to visit, days out, Lily Bobtail's Nature Area, bug hunting, nature, Beatrix Potter
      Lily Bobtail’s Nature Area – Bug Hunting

      Another part I especially love is Lily Bobtail’s Nature Area. I am not sure why this section, or the rest of the playground, isn’t actually made from more natural materials, rather than just made to ‘look’ that way. I assume this is due to durability and maintenence I would guess but I don’t know. Either way it does have a lovely natural vibe to it that I really like. Counting the rings on the old tree stump to discover the age of the tree is interesting!

      Peter Rabbit Adventure Playground, Willows Farm, Hertfordshire, places to visit, days out, Lily Bobtail's Nature Area, old tree stump, nature, Beatrix Potter
      Lily Bobtail’s Nature Area – old tree stump

      We haven’t caught any of the shows yet, although they are on at regular times daily, but we did meet both Peter Rabbit and Lily Bobtail (during two separate visits) which was a massive highlight for Squiggle; she loves character meet and greets! 

      Peter Rabbit Adventure Playground, Willows Farm, Hertfordshire, places to visit, days out, character meet and greet, Beatrix Potter
      Meeting Peter Rabbit
      Peter Rabbit Adventure Playground, Willows Farm, Hertfordshire, places to visit, days out, Lily Bobtail, character meet and greet, Beatrix Potter
      Lily Bobtail hugs

      In addition to the actual adventure playground itself, the Peter Rabbit theme continues in other parts of the farm too; including indoor imaginative play at Cotton-Tail Village and the outdoor assault course Peter Rabbit Woodland Trail.

      Peter Rabbit Adventure Playground, Willows Farm, Hertfordshire, places to visit, days out
      Peter Rabbit Woodland Trail

      All in all, Peter Rabbit Adventure Playground certainly adds a brilliant new dimension to the overall Willows Farm experience! Entry into Peter Rabbit Adventure playground is included in the general ticket price for Willows Activity Farm, and the cost of this varies throughout the year. See website for further details, and book online to save! 

      Christmas at Van Hage, Great Amwell, Hertfordshire 

      Van Hage is a large garden centre in Hertfordshire. It has a massive free car park and the garden centre itself covers a very generous sized area, both indoors and outside. In addition to the huge selection of brands and items for sale, there is also a restaurant, miniature railway (small additional charge), free animal gardens and various events.

      Van Hage, Great Amwell, Hertfordshire, places to go, things to do, days out, garden centre, animal gardens
      Van Hage animal gardens
      Van Hage, Great Amwell, Hertfordshire, places to go, things to do, days out, garden centre, animal gardens, wildlife
      We love these DIY wildlife ideas!

      During the festive season, they also have a very popular ice rink. Sessions can be booked online in advance, which is essential during busier periods. There are dedicated parent and toddler slots and a very limited number of SEND sessions too. Prices vary, but most sessions cost £10 per adult or £8 per adults, with certain concessions available, plus there is an additional charge for supports from £5 each. Further details are on the website.
      Van Hage has a great Christmas selection, with cute displays and a Santa’s Grotto. I don’t know what the actual grotto experience is like as we haven’t visited, but the rest of the garden centre certainly helps us to get into the Christmas spirit!

      Van Hage, Great Amwell, Hertfordshire, places to go, things to do, days out, garden centre, reindeer, family fun, festive, Christmas, winter
      Giant reindeer at the entrance
      Van Hage, Great Amwell, Hertfordshire, places to go, things to do, days out, garden centre, festive, winter, Christmas, family fun
      Van Hage at Christmas

      More photos from a previous visit can be found here.

      #Blogtober 2016 – Day 20: 5 Things About Hertfordshire (Visitor Attractions, Days Out, Things To Do)

      Hertfordshire has a wealth of parks, nature reserves, conservation areas and other beautiful outdoor spaces, important historical sites, major attractions, and other lovely places to go and things to do. It is just outside of London, with easy routes into the capital city, so that is also an added draw to the area.

      I could easily pick far more than five things to mention but rules are rules, so here goes…

      1. Roman Verulamium

      St Albans is home to the ancient site of Verulamium, a large Roman town, features of which are still present today. There is a hypocaust with beautiful mosaics, Roman theatre (considered one of the best examples in the country), an award-winning museum, and even remains of the Roman wall within Verulamium park itself. There are also Roman baths in Welwyn. Great for history enthusiasts!

      Other historical places in Hertfordshire include Berkhamsted Castle, Hatfield House, Celtic Harmony Camp  and Knebworth House.

      Days out, places to go, things to do, family fun, home education, history, blogtober

      2. Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio Tour 

      Much of this world famous movie series was filmed at Leavesden, which is now home to the hugely popular WB studio tour. A must do for any Harry Potter fan. Film fans might be interested to know that Elstree studios and Pinewood studios are also nearby.

      3. St Albans Abbey

      This stunning cathedral is voted top by Tripadvisor for things to do in Hertfordshire. It has the longest Nave in England, bell tower, extensive medieval wall paintings and gorgeous glass painting, The Rose Window, unveiled by the late Princess Diana in 1989. People have been visiting the shrine of St Albans for over 1700 years and it is a national pilgrim site.

      St Albans Clock Tower is also nearby.

      4. Parks and Nature Reserves

      There are plenty of beautiful outdoor spaces to visit in Hertfordshire. Some of the most notable places include Cassiobury parkVerulamium parkAldenham Country ParkAshridge estate and Fairlands Valley Park to name just a few.

      Days out, places to go, things to do, family fun, autumn, nature, blogtober, living life our way
      Cassiobury Park, Watford

      5. Family Days Out

      Paradise Wildlife ParkWillows Activity FarmNatural History Museum at Tring and Hatfield Aviation Museum are all popular days out within Hertfordshire, with many more nearby in neighbouring counties and London boroughs.

      Days out, things to do, family fun, blogtober, living life our way
      Willows Activity Farm, St Albans

      #Blogtober16