Aylett Nurseries: Celebration Gardens and Butterfly Corner

One of the free places we have visited a couple of times recently over summer is Aylett Nurseries in St Albans, Hertfordshire. It is good for kids; sometimes they have activities and events specifically for children, and generally is family friendly. 

At the moment, they currently have a butterfly corner but you will have to hurry – it closes on 17th September! It is very small but is still a lovely little experience that adds to the visit. It is interesting to watch the butterflies feeding on the fruit and having them fluttering around you. Here are some of my favourite photos taken in their butterfly corner last week…

butterfly, insect, pollinator, nature, places to visit, Aylett Nurseries, Hertfordshire, Living Life Our Way

butterfly, insect, pollinator, nature, places to visit, Aylett Nurseries, Hertfordshire, Living Life Our Way

butterfly, insect, pollinator, nature, places to visit, Aylett Nurseries, Hertfordshire, Living Life Our Way

butterfly, insect, pollinator, nature, places to visit, Aylett Nurseries, Hertfordshire, Living Life Our Way

butterfly, insect, pollinator, nature, places to visit, Aylett Nurseries, Hertfordshire, Living Life Our Way

butterfly, insect, pollinator, nature, places to visit, Aylett Nurseries, Hertfordshire, Living Life Our Way

butterfly, insect, pollinator, nature, places to visit, Aylett Nurseries, Hertfordshire, Living Life Our Way

According to the website, the Celebration Gardens are open all year round but the best time to visit is when the flowers are in bloom of course. We have only just discovered the Celebrations Gardens over the last month, which was perfect timing! Their multi award winning Dahlias are particularly beautiful, and we also love the wild flower section too. Here are a selection of photos from the Celebration Garden in August…

Celebration Gardens, Dahlias, flowers, outdoors, get outside, nature, places to visit, Aylett Nurseries, Hertfordshire, Living Life Our Way

Celebration Gardens, Dahlias, flowers, outdoors, get outside, nature, places to visit, Aylett Nurseries, Hertfordshire, Living Life Our Way

Celebration Gardens, Dahlias, flowers, outdoors, get outside, nature, places to visit, Aylett Nurseries, Hertfordshire, Living Life Our Way

Celebration Gardens, Dahlias, flowers, outdoors, get outside, nature, places to visit, Aylett Nurseries, Hertfordshire, Living Life Our Way

Celebration Gardens, Dahlias, flowers, outdoors, get outside, nature, places to visit, Aylett Nurseries, Hertfordshire, Living Life Our Way

Celebration Gardens, Dahlias, flowers, outdoors, get outside, nature, places to visit, Aylett Nurseries, Hertfordshire, Living Life Our Way

Celebration Gardens, Dahlias, flowers, outdoors, get outside, nature, places to visit, Aylett Nurseries, Hertfordshire, Living Life Our Way

Celebration Gardens, bug hotel, wildlife, insects, outdoors, get outside, nature, places to visit, Aylett Nurseries, Hertfordshire, Living Life Our Way

Celebration Gardens, wild flowers, flowers, outdoors, get outside, nature, places to visit, Aylett Nurseries, Hertfordshire, Living Life Our Way

Celebration Gardens, Dahlias, flowers, outdoors, get outside, nature, places to visit, Aylett Nurseries, Hertfordshire, Living Life Our Way

For more information about opening hours, news and events see Aylett Nurseries website.

The Pocket Money Debate: How Much, How Often and What For? 

We have recently been discussing pocket money and debating whether it should be earned or given? If it is to be earned, what should it be for? And how much is reasonable?

Personally, I feel that the concept of earning money is important. It helps to promote independence and a good work ethic. But I struggle on what it should be given for because I feel it has the potential to also encourage an expectation to be paid for things that I feel should be done for other reasons. 

After all, we should all help to keep our home clean and tidy because it is a shared space; we all live here, so we each have a responsibility toward it. And we should behave with kindness, respect and consideration toward others simply because it’s the right thing to do. It is intrinsic – at least I certainly feel it should be – is it not? What about for educational activities then? But does that then make them a chore, rather than doing it out of interest and curiosity and for the simple love of learning? I feel this way about sticker charts and the like, so surely money is no different. 

But, at the same time, I do also firmly believe that our main goal in life should be to find our passion. In an ideal world, people can do what they truly love and make money from it, but it doesn’t really feel like work or a ‘job’ because they would choose to do it anyway. In my eyes, that is the dream to aim for! So does paying pocket money for things the child would do anyway actually reinforce this mindset and therefore is a good thing?

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The fact is, I don’t actually have any answers! I think the best approach is probably different for each child, and family, depending on their priorities and personal set of values. And I also suspect the answer chances at different points throughout childhood too.

We have played around with a few different ideas over time, with varying levels of success, and certain pitfalls after a while too! One choice we are happy about though is setting up a goHenry account so she could have her own card and also be able to shop online with her own money. I think this is really good for independence and teaching essential life skills. You can set up a goHenry account online quickly and easily, and it gives options to write tasks and/ or transfer a set weekly amount so is quite versatile. We have found this works well for us! If you sign up through the referral links in this post, you get free custom goHenry card worth £4.99 plus 1-month free

I also asked some fellow bloggers on their opinions of pocket money and here are some of the responses I received:

Two Hearts One Roof ~ OK my little one is too young for pocket money, but I will be doing the same as my parents did for me. I had £5 a week in my money box and £5 in my savings towards holiday spending money, or if I really wanted to save for something big. Then I could earn extra doing chores or helping out my parents, neighbours or grandparents. I spent a lot of sunday mornings ironing as I could do that in front of the TV and I didn’t mind. Mum would price a whole basket depending on how difficult it would be and how many items. Our dude will have the same system when he is old enough. Plus any money from grandparents or for birthdays/ xmas – half goes in savings and half to keep on hand. We already do that and he is 1; half is in savings and half for something now.

Whimsical Mumblings ~ My little ones (2&3) have a ‘kindness’ reward chart and get a star everytime they do something kind. When the chart fills up I give them a pound or two to put in their piggy banks.

My Boys Club ~ We started our boys off in 50p for washing the car or making their beds each week etc. We pay for all their activities, clothes etc but trying to teach them the value of money from a young age.

Dark Tea ~ We started giving our daughter pocket money when she was 7 (she’s almost 9). She gets £2 and has to save half of it. She occasionally earns more by doing chores above the normal such as mopping floors and helping in the garden.

Champagne and Petals ~ We don’t really do a weekly pocket money. My 8 year old gets money for doing little jobs around the house. Feeding the cat, making his bed, opening his curtains. Or helping in the garden and washing the cars. No more than £5 a week. However as he gets older and is wanting to spend money on things then I’m sure it will increase, as will the jobs he has to do to earn the money.

Pack The PJs ~ My two get £5 each, weekly, paid direct to their GoHenry cards. All we ask in return is for them to take some responsibility of their stuff and their rooms. We have stopped it in the past when they’ve been a bit disrespectful of their belongings (or each other). It works well – it also means they have on average £50 to spend if we go out. When they spend their own money you notice that they stop and ask themselves if they really need it before committing!

Family Travel With Ellie ~ I have recently started a Go Henry account for my 10 year old son. He gets £2.50 per week and the gets an extra £2 if he cleans out the rabbits and and extra £2 if he mows the lawn/ cleans the car or similar. It’s a great adaptable account , he gets a debit card with it which gives him a sense of responsibility and independence.

Neon Rainbow Blog ~ We also use Go Henry for our 11 year old, he gets a card which is contactless and an app to track his chores. I get an app too which I can load ‘tasks’ onto so each time he ticks off a task, the money goes from my parent account to his Go Henry account. He does things like tidying his bedroom, hoovering, dishwasher, plus we give him perks for things like homework, SATs results, good manners, selfless deeds.

Hello Cuppies ~ My son is 12 and he gets £35 a month and it transfers straight to his bank account which he then has to manage himself. It does come with conditions though; no discredits from school, no missed homework and all chores done. I think we’re quite generous but this does have to pay for quite a lot of little luxuries which do add up.

Frugal Family ~ My teenager gets £50 a month which she uses to buy anything that I consider non-essential. My son gets £5 a week as he’s younger and doesn’t go out as much with his friends yet. I don’t pay them for doing jobs around the house as I think that should be an automatic thing, seeing as they make more than their fair share of mess. But I do link pocket money to behaviour, so if they suddenly refused to do their jobs or had a bad attitude then they wouldn’t be paid.

* goHenry is an affilliate link which means I generate a small revenue from referrals. All thoughts and opinions about goHenry are my own. Thank you for the support. 

Home Educating The Mad Lads by Victoria Musson – Jones: Review and Giveaway

Home Educating The Mad Lads is written by Victoria, who is mum to 3 (very soon to be 4!) young children. She started home educating in 2015, when her eldest would have been due to start primary school. You can read Victoria’s previous Q&A with me here.

Home education, freedom to learn, #lovehomeed, 100 days of home education, book, review, author, Home Educating The Mad Lads

Victoria decided to write the book because when she was first considering home education she didn’t really know anyone who was doing it and was surrounded by people telling her how mainstream school was the best and only way. This caused her to doubt herself and led to indecision and heart ache. She looked online at books on the subject but she felt that they were all written by ‘experts’ which she found both intimidating and unhelpful. What she really wanted was the advice and experiences of a real life home educating parent. So she turned to reading blogs and found the real life reasoning she was after; in fact she found them so useful that it inspired her to start her own blog. When she begun receiving messages from other parents saying her page had helped them decide to home educate she thought a book might be helpful too. Plus she generally enjoys writing and blogging too!

Home education, freedom to learn, #lovehomeed, 100 days of home education, book, review, author, Home Educating The Mad Lads

Home Educating The Mad Lads is a down to earth, honest and raw story of this home educating family. Victoria writes from the heart and shares her personal story of her own school life, recounts her eldest’s preschool and nursery experiences and the many reasons that led them to decide on home education. 

The book is a quick, easy read that features snippets from her blog, useful information about home ed and glimpses into their lives. It is very relatable, and I think is especially handy for people who would rather read print than screen; I know there are certain members of my family who I struggle to persuade to even read my own blog simply because they have such a strong preference for the printed word, so I think a blog style book is a great idea! 

Home Educating The Mad Lads book can be purchased through Amazon (RRP £5.79). You can also find their blog over on facebook.

Victoria has kindly also offered the chance for one lucky reader to win a copy of the book. Enter via rafflecopter below. Competition closes 2nd August 2017. UK only. Other T&Cs apply. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure: This book was sent to me for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own. This post also contains Amazon affiliate links. This does not cost anything extra to anyone purchasing through these links.

Fungi Facts – #30DaysWild

I received an email from Grow Wild (Kew Gardens) recently all about fungi. There are free downloads on their website with lots of interesting information and even a fun(gi) quiz to do too! So I decided my challenge for today would be to do a mini project on fungi, then share with you some of the fascinating facts I learned!

So here are 5 cool things you might not have known about fungi…

  • Fungi is closer to a creature than a plant.
  • Fungi can be found in space!
  • We depend on fungi to survive.
  • Fungi has been around for millions of years; it preceeds dinosaurs.
  • Chocolate, amongst other food and drink, contains fungus!

Fungi, The Wildlife Trust, 30 days wild, #30dayswild, #livinglifewild, nature, wildlife, home education, freedom to learn, natural environment, outdoors, get outside, go explore, Living Life Our Way

    Here is an ode to fungi too…

      Learning About Bees #30DaysWild

      As I mentioned briefly in a recent post, I started reading abit more about bees – initially beekeeping in particular. However, I then found some lovely resources that I wanted to share with you all about bees. After all, these hardworking pollinators are vital to us yet are in need of greater understanding and protection!

      Bees, pollinators, facts about bees,#LivingLifeWild, #30DaysWild, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts, home education, freedom to learn, wildlife, nature, insects

      This short blog post by Raising Little Shoots has some great YouTube links. One of them demonstrates how sometimes tired, thirsty bees are in need of some sugar water to help revive them/ give them the energy needed to fly off. We did this ourselves recently, with a few drops of sugar water on a spoon for a little bee in our garden who was crawling around but was clearly exhausted. Afterwards, he went on his merry way!

      Global Guardian Project also have a special edition capsule all about bees, which you can read more about on this blog post.

      Do you have any bee facts? Please share them, it would ‘bee’ lovely to read them! 

      Where’s Wildlife: Nature’s Version of Where’s Wally! (Post includes Linky) 

      We have a wild patch in our garden. I love it because from a distance it doesn’t look like there is much there but the closer you get, the more you spot that there is actually an abundance of wildlife. So I decided to turn it into a 30 Days Wild activity; nature’s version of Where’s Wally? 

      How many minibeasts can you spot in each of these photos? 

      What about this one?

      I was going to share some closer up pictures as part of this post, but I have just decided that on second thoughts, rather than give away the answers too quickly, I will post my close up photography in a separate post later! So look out for that coming soon!!! In the meantime, how many things have you spotted? Tell me in comments! 

      Here is week three 30 Days Wild/ #LivingLifeWild linky,remember you can link up as many posts as you want! I will read and comment on them all 💚


      Wildlife in Our Garden: Hedgehog Sighting

      Early this morning, just after dawn, this little fella made his way across our garden and into our bushes. We have never seen a hedgehog in our garden before – infact I don’t think any of us have seen one in the wild ever full stop! SO excited!!!!

      hedgehog, #30dayswild, The Wildlife Trusts, #livinglifewild, 30 days wild, wildlife, british wildlife, hedgehog sighting, garden, urban wildlife, nature, childhood unplugged, freedom to learn, home education, get outside

      This is Squiggle’s photo, she was thrilled to see him, she was the one who spotted him first!

      hedgehog, #30dayswild, The Wildlife Trusts, #livinglifewild, 30 days wild, wildlife, british wildlife, hedgehog sighting, garden, urban wildlife, nature, childhood unplugged, freedom to learn, home education, get outside

      It would seem to be the day for spotting these adorable little creatures for the first time! Over on instagram, The World Is Their Classroom posted this…

      It is so wonderful to see British wildlife making an appearance up and down the country! The Wildlife Trusts website has some useful information and fun activities about hedgehogs, including a handy PDF download too. Squiggle made a hedgehog hideaway today to encourage and protect our new friend!

      DIY Seed Bombs – #30DaysWild

      Squiggle and I made seed bombs, as a more unique way of planting the wild flower seeds we were sent from The Wildlife Trusts in our 30 Days Wild pack. It is a really simple, fun activity… and all you need is clay, soil and seeds! 

      Firstly, get a small lump of clay and flatten it out.

      Living Life Our Way, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts, seed bombs, grow your own, nature, wildlife, environment, green living, #30DaysWild, #LivingLifeWild, campaign, childhood unplugged, outdoors, freedom to learn, home education, get outside

      Next, put some soil on top…

      Living Life Our Way, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts, seed bombs, grow your own, nature, wildlife, environment, green living, #30DaysWild, #LivingLifeWild, campaign, childhood unplugged, outdoors, freedom to learn, home education, get outside

      Then add some seeds on top…

      Living Life Our Way, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts, seed bombs, grow your own, nature, wildlife, environment, green living, #30DaysWild, #LivingLifeWild, campaign, childhood unplugged, outdoors, freedom to learn, home education, get outside

      Mix it all together…

      Living Life Our Way, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts, seed bombs, grow your own, nature, wildlife, environment, green living, #30DaysWild, #LivingLifeWild, campaign, childhood unplugged, outdoors, freedom to learn, home education, get outside

      Roll it into a ball…

      Living Life Our Way, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts, seed bombs, grow your own, nature, wildlife, environment, green living, #30DaysWild, #LivingLifeWild, campaign, childhood unplugged, outdoors, freedom to learn, home education, get outside

      Now you have your own DIY seed bomb!

      Living Life Our Way, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts, seed bombs, grow your own, nature, wildlife, environment, green living, #30DaysWild, #LivingLifeWild, campaign, childhood unplugged, outdoors, freedom to learn, home education, get outside

      Throw the seed bomb into your designated area to plant it! 

      Living Life Our Way, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts, seed bombs, grow your own, nature, wildlife, environment, green living, #30DaysWild, #LivingLifeWild, campaign, childhood unplugged, outdoors, freedom to learn, home education, get outside

      If you don’t have any clay, alternatively you can also use flour instead. I tried this method by myself just out of interest. Begin by mixing the seeds into the soil. Then mix 1/3 flour with 2/3 soil/ seeds, using a small amount of water to make it ‘stick’, and roll into balls. 

      Living Life Our Way, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts, seed bombs, grow your own, nature, wildlife, environment, green living, #30DaysWild, #LivingLifeWild, campaign, childhood unplugged, outdoors, freedom to learn, home education, get outside

      Have you ever made a seed bomb? If not, why not give it a try! 

      #30DaysWild #LivingLifeWild

      World Environment Day 2017 – Connecting People To Nature 

      Today, 5th June 2017, is World Environment Day. The aim of this campaign is to connect people to nature. Of course, for those of us who are taking part in 30 Days Wild, this is something that we are already doing throughout this month anyway!

      However, I would like to set everyone a challenge to do today. As suggested on the World Environment Day website, share a photograph of your favourite nature spot using hastags #WorldEnvironmentDay and #WithNature to celebrate this event. Let’s create the world’s biggest nature photo gallery!  

      World Environment Day, #worldenvironmentday, #withnature, Living Life Our Way, 30 Days Wild, nature, wildlife, environment, green living, #30DaysWild, #LivingLifeWild, campaign, childhood unplugged, outdoors, freedom to learn, home education, get outside

      There is also an excellent app – inaturalist– that is using photos to carry out citizen science research. So do consider sharing your photos with the online community there too; you can learn something new whilst also taking part in this important research.

      Do you have your own event planned for World Environment Day today? I would love to hear about it, please share in comments!

      #WorldEnvironmentDay #WithNature #30DaysWild #LivingLifeWild 

      Nature Walk – #30DaysWild 

      Squiggle and I regularly go on nature walks. Being situated in an urban location doesn’t mean we have to deprive ourselves of nature. Despite living on the outskirts of a city, we are lucky enough to have parkland and green spaces on our doorstep. Natural environment is essential to our wellbeing. I feel it is therefore important to take the time to appreciate the natural world around us – perhaps even more so because sometimes we have to actively seek it out. 

      So we slow down, we pause to observe, we talk about what is around us, and use all our senses to explore. We emerse ourselves. That sense of wonder and curiosity that young children have, that excitement of a new discovery – find that within yourself again!

      I love looking at things close up or from different perspectives. I also really enjoy taking photos, and I feel it helps me to do this. Some people say taking pictures distracts them from being in the moment, but I feel the opposite; photography helps me to connect further – deeper – and keeps me focused, in the moment for longer.

      On that note, I’ll leave you with some photos from our latest nature walk the other day…

      Living Life Our Way, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts, nature, wildlife, environment, green living, #30DaysWild, #LivingLifeWild, campaign, childhood unplugged, outdoors

      Living Life Our Way, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts, nature, wildlife, environment, green living, #30DaysWild, #LivingLifeWild, campaign, childhood unplugged, outdoors

      Living Life Our Way, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts, ferns uncurling, nature, wildlife, environment, green living, #30DaysWild, #LivingLifeWild, campaign, childhood unplugged, outdoors

      Living Life Our Way, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts, lambs ears, nature, wildlife, environment, green living, #30DaysWild, #LivingLifeWild, campaign, childhood unplugged, outdoors

      Living Life Our Way, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts, nature, wildlife, environment, green living, #30DaysWild, #LivingLifeWild, campaign, childhood unplugged, outdoors

      And one from Squiggle too…

      Living Life Our Way, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts, nature, wildlife, environment, green living, #30DaysWild, #LivingLifeWild, campaign, childhood unplugged, outdoors

      Remember, you can link up your 30 Days Wild posts here, I love reading them!

      And if you are stuck for inspiration, as well as looking at 30 Days Wild website or app, check out Grow Eat Gift‘s post with 30 brilliant wild ideas!

      #30DaysWild #LivingLifeWild