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.
Autumn is a great time of year to get outside and spend time in nature, I have created a fun autumn activity to download and print off. So grab your coat and a pencil, and enjoy doing this kids autumn scavenger hunt with your little ones!
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!
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
As I look back through my photos from last week, I am reminded we have been on alot of adventures and had so many special moments. Choosing just a select few to share is hard! But here are my particular favourites, in celebration of childhood…
Monday: We went to a local park to play ball games.
Tuesday: Squiggle made Haven Seaside Squad finger puppets. In the afternoon, she loved doing some of her favourite songs at music class.
Wednesday: We made ourselves a pretend lagoon in the garden (with our paddling pool and lots of imagination!) Later, we went for a picnic and enjoyed watching the local wildlife together.
Thursday: We went exploring at a local nature reserve. Squiggle took a seeds and berries ID activity from Nature Detectives website.
Friday: We had a lovely day at Whipsnade ZSL Zoo. It was a very wet day but we were still lucky enough to see many of the animals close up.
Saturday: We had a lovely day out at Willows Farm. She has been hoping to return here to revisit Peter Rabbit’s Adventure Playground since June so she was very happy!
Sunday: We visited Aldenham Country Park SEN playground.
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
Whilst walking through a local woodland, I spotted on the path this beautiful bird’s nest…
I looked around for any signs of distressed adult birds, babies or eggs, or any other indication there had been a disruption or predator attacks, but it was clear it had been naturally discarded. A quick google search suggested it was therefore fine to remove it as it would be disposed of anyway.
Squiggle held it and studied it carefully, then we discussed how it was made. Look closely at the way the twigs, moss and grass on the outside are woven together, very impressive! We agreed that would be a difficult challenge even with fingers, yet birds manage it with their beaks. It really is so incredibly clever!
I researched and concluded that this nest was made by a Song Thrush. It is similar to a Blackbird’s nest on the outside but, as you can see from the photo below, inside it is hard, which differs from the interior of a Blackbird nest.
The female Song Thrush uses her chest to compact together mud, dung and rotten wood to form this hard interior. This technique is exclusive to this one type of native English bird.
It was so interesting to stumble across this exciting find on our walk. Very fascinating!
30 Days Wild by The Wildlife Trusts just announced a virtual ‘flashmob’ to help us all stay wild! Run outside right now, do something ‘wild’ and take a photo or video clip then share it online. So I grabbed my phone, went into the garden and looked for a rainbow of colours…
It didn’t take long at all; there are so many colours in our natural environment, even just in a small garden. The only struggle was blue; the british ‘summer’ let me down abit there, as there was practically all cloud and no blue sky, so I tried to get the tiny glimmer of blue there was and failed! But a fun challenge nonetheless! #StayWild