#Blogtober 2016 – Day 28: Favourite Instagram Photo(s)

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…

"Time spent amongst trees is never wasted time" ~ Katrina Mayer 🌳💚

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When it's 15°C and raining but you're so happy because you really love water… 😊💙 #bluemind #MakeASplash

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“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.” — Edward Abbey

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#Blogtober 2016 – Day 23: Favourite Time of Year and Why

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! 

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Autumn colours at the park

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!

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#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.

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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

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Sylvanian Families Trail, Hatchlands Park (Guildford, Surrey)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

National Trust, days out, places to go, things to do, family fun, outdoor activities, living life our way

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!

National Trust, days out, places to go, things to do, family fun, outdoor activities, living life our way

For more information see their website www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hatchlands-park/features/sylvanian-families-trail-at-hatchlands-park

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.

National Trust, days out, places to go, things to do, family fun, outdoor activities, living life our way
Treehouse
National Trust, days out, places to go, things to do, family fun, outdoor activities, living life our way
Balancing
National Trust, days out, places to go, things to do, family fun, outdoor activities, living life our way
Den seating
National Trust, days out, places to go, things to do, family fun, outdoor activities, living life our way
Climbing

All in all, it was a fun day out!

FREE PRINTABLES: Autumn Scavenger Hunt

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!

Nature activity sheet, nature hunt, home education, resources

Download it here…
Autumn Scavenger Hunt

#Blogtober 2016 – Day 15: Timeline Of My Day

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. 

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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! 

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Stay Wild: Changing Seasons

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.

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Day out at Southend-on-Sea beach

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.

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Signs of autumn

Days Out: A Trip to the Seaside (Southend On Sea, Essex) 

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. 

Days out, things to do, places to go, family fun
Water play fountains

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. 

Places to go, days out, family fun, childhood unplugged, get outside
Beach, overlooking pier and funfair

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! 

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Investigating the beach

For more information about Southend, including special events, things to do and places to stay, see Visit Southend

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Collecting shells

Three Shells Lagoon, Southend-on-Sea, Essex

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. 

Swimming at Three Shells Lagoon, Southend on Sea, Essex
Squiggle was laughing at how I reacted to the cold water initially- but she wore a proper wetsuit, I didn’t!

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.

Swimming at Three Shells Lagoon, Southend on sea, Essex
Three Shells Lagoon

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

Precious Moments From Our Week (Living Arrows)

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. 

Squiggle was so excited when she scored!

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.

Squiggle stood in this tree watching a squirrel.

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.

Squiggle observed the sealions swimming around underwater and showed them her cuddly toy sealion!

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!

Squiggle was thrilled to meet Lily Bobtail for the first time.
I love this action shot!

Sunday: We visited Aldenham Country Park SEN playground.

Living Arrows