Last week, we went on a family bug hunt organised by Highfield Park Trust.
It was a lovely morning; the hunt was well organised, fun, engaging and informative. We both learned lots of new things!
There were 17 questions, which could be answered by finding the different information cards hidden around the park.
For example, did you know ants use their head to block the entrance to their nest to keep intruders out?
Squiggle found out that a male wasp is called a drone.
I had no idea that a praying mantis only has one ear and Squiggle was very surprised that woodlice has 14 legs.
There were sweet prizes for everyone who completed the quiz, which Squiggle was very happy about! But not as excited as she was when she spotted that they had some of their delicious apple juice for sale, made locally from apples collected from the park orchard.
The bug hunt also inspired her to create one of her own back at home, in the garden for her toys.
Even a cat came to join in the fun and followed her around finding them all!
I am quite selective over what goes in my IG gallery, so I really like pretty much all of the photos in my collection tbh. But of course for this post I am going to pick ones of Squiggle and not just use it as an excuse to showcase my photography lol 😉 So I do have five favourites that stand out as I scroll down my feed. Here they are in no particular order…
When I first read this theme, my mind automatically jumped to seasons and I spent ages trying (unsuccessfully!) to pick my favourite. Then I re-read the title and realised it could be any time of year, for any reason, not specifically seasons. But then I figured my mind actually translated it into that for good reason; we spend alot of time outdoors in nature, absorbing our natural environment, observing the seasons and appreciating the ever-changing beauty of our natural world throughout the year. So for me personally, my favourite time of year would be based on that, rather than a special occasion or anything else.
But which is my favourite season then? I genuinely love them all for different reasons. When (and if!) it snows in winter it is so much fun, plus I enjoy the peaceful silence on winter walks. Spring is beautiful, so filled with new life, and brings with it hope for our future. Summer fun, splashing around in water in warm sunshine, it so therapeutic; and the nature all around is so easy to spot too. And then there is autumn, with its beautiful colours and refreshing sense of change. Each is so important to me in its own unique way.
If I really had to pick one? I guess I would go for autumn. I love the changing of the season from summer to autumn, when some days it is warm and others there is a distinct chill in the air. I love the stunning autumn colours and the sound of crisp leaves underfoot. I love hunting for conkers, acorns and sweet chesnuts. And I love how nature teaches us about the beauty of change, to accept so easily when it is time to let go and get ready to embrace the new!
Aside from the seasonal aspect, I admit I do also love it when the schools go back and our favourite spots become peaceful again! But also, last but not least, I choose autumn because I try to live in the moment, and that is where we are at right now. Ask me at a different time of year and you may well get a different answer!
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.
For most people this is probably a really straightforward one but our lifestyle is abit different due to Squiggle’s needs. We tend to have very loose routines, which can be easily adjusted as required, rather than a tight schedule. We enjoy the freedom and flexibility that home education allows, to do things at our own pace and go with the flow when needed. This really helps Squiggle feel able to actually do more, without too much pressure.
Squiggle does have a very simple but fairly rigid evening routine though. We have dinner, tidy up, bedtime snack, brush hair, strokes with one of our cats, clean teeth and goes to bed. This is a routine that she has developed herself, to help her to feel ready to sleep.
I have blogged about our home ed week before so this theme ties in with that. You can read more here. We love our lifestyle!
Ok, my daughter! She is the first and only thing on this list in reality. But that goes without saying, so I will try to pick something less obvious. The planet? Definitely cannot live without that! Friends and family? To be honest, I think that one is a given too.
And I am assuming for the purpose of this question that essentials (food, water, clothes, shelter) are taken care of already. If not I would go for those. It reminds me of that show that was on recently, when the participants were stripped of literally all possessions including essentials (except shelter) and could choose one thing per day. What was it called? It was interesting viewing, quite thought provoking! But I don’t think that was the intention behind this topic. So I’ll keep thinking…
Freedom. To live life our own way, to travel, and even to educate my own daughter and for her to have that freedom to learn in her own way. That is the one thing that I couldn’t live without.
(That answer was cheating? Maybe! I really couldn’t think of one non essential material item though lol 😉 But if I HAD to pick, I think I would definitely go for my phone!)
The season is changing. This past week we have spent some days on the beach, swimming in the sea, whilst other days we have been hunting for conkers and looking for signs of autumn.
I love this time of year. It has an air of peace and tranquility about it that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s like everything is shedding remains of the past and preparing to start afresh, hopeful for the future. Wonderful.
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
During a nature walk, Squiggle and I were lucky enough to a spot lavae, pupa and adult ladybirds, including a mating pair, all on the same plant. Such a wonderful real life demonstration of the lifecycle of a ladybird! We studied them closely for quite sometime, fascinated by our exciting discovery. Squiggle was interested to know that the two ladybirds were making eggs that would then complete the lifecycle before us.
If you look closely enough you will notice that nearly the entire lifecycle of a ladybird is captured in this one photo!