Today we visited a local pick your own fruit farm. We love growing our own food at home of course, but we also love the fun of visiting the PYO fruit farm too! It had only just opened for the season so there were quite alot of people there, but there was an abundance of delicious fruit that was ripe for the picking! I took some pictures of the fruit, which you can find in my photo gallery. And here are some of Squiggle collecting various fruits…
By the way, does anyone else see a smiley face strawberry with a big nose…
What have you been doing so far this weekend, and what plans do you have?
Ok, so I got abit behind in blogging about our 30 Days Wild adventures. We have still been very much taking part, and I have posted on social media about a couple of things, I just hadn’t got as far as writing about it here! So I thought I would do a quick round-up post instead to catch up!
On Friday, we went for a lovely family walk through a local nature reserve called The Wick. It is a lovely area of ancient woodlands that local residents are working hard to protect and preserve.
The highlight was when we came across this old log and Squiggle looked at it and declared it looks like a rabbit – which it really does! I love her creative mind.
I also paused to grab a few photos during our walk too…
On Saturday, we took a day trip to Whitchurch for the annual Sylvanian Shopping Weekend. It is a pretty village and the event is surrounded by beautiful natural settings with lots of wildlife. We had a wonderful time!
On Sunday, I planted a virtual seed on Grow Wild UK. Squiggle also took this photo in a local park…
Also on Sunday, one of our furbabies went off exploring and hadn’t returned for several hours. By evening I was wondering where he had got to, so I went out to call him. I heard a high pierced sound and when I looked up there was a bat circling right above my head!!! I have seen lots of bats round here before, but I have never heard one – to be honest, I didn’t think humans actually could hear them! I thought their pitch/ frequency was out of the range of human hearing… but I know what I heard; I was shocked, but very exciting!
Earlier this week, I spent time looking into more sustainable products to help us progress with our journey towards a more plastic- free and less waste, green living, lifestyle. I am hoping to collaborate with some brands soon to write an essentials guide – so more on that soon hopefully!
Today Squiggle enjoyed splashing around in the lake at Ruislip Lido…
And that brings me up to date with our wild adventures!
What adventures have you been up to recently? Tell me in comments or leave your posts in my linky!
Now, I am the first to admit that I am not a regular cyclist. However, I do love being outdoors and I also like a challenge! So when Inntravel set a cycling adventure challenge; to explore our local area by bike, creating a cycle route, then share what we discovered, I was more than happy to take this on!
Inntravel are a holiday company that have been offering cycling holidays in Europe since the late 1980s. They arrange the hire of a high-quality bike and you cycle self-guided from one welcoming hotel to the next, following detailed maps and route notes while your luggage is transported ahead. Inntravel plan all their biking holidays carefully, making sure that each route is tried and tested, preferably using quiet roads and country lanes. They try to ensure the routes are enjoyable and interesting, giving you the chance to take in the beautiful scenery and gorgeous views.
Our cycle route went from London Colney (Hertfordshire) across St Albans to Verulamium Park, via Highfield Park then onto the Alban Way. This is a fairly short linear route that covers approximately 5.5 miles each way, so only about an hour or so of cycling in total, but with ample opportunity to pause and take in some of the nearby attractions, or stop for food and/ or refreshments.
Heading from London Colney high street, the route takes us over a fly-over, which cyclists need to dismount for, onto Nightingale Lane then into Highfield park. The park is a lovely place to explore or have a picnic. There is a tree trail and history trail, as well as a maze.
Leaving the park, the next step of the route takes us down bike lanes until we reach the Hill End Garden of Rest that leads onto Alban Way. Alban Way is a cycle path that has been created from an old railway line that joins Hatfield to St Albans.
The Alban Way disjoints briefly at Orient Close where we cycle down a quiet street. There is generally very little traffic though so it is a peaceful ride back onto the Alban Way again.
Just past here is an opportunity to dismount if you wish to and follow the footpath along a small section of the River Ver Trail to discover the wildlife and explore Sopwell Nunnery. We loved doing this! Alternatively you can stay on the cycle path until you get to Cottonmill Lane.
At this point there is some road cycling including crossing a fairly busy intersection (there are traffic lights though). On the other side of the road, is Westminster Lodge and the entrance to Verulamium Park using the cycle path that runs from the athletics track, through the park – where we take in the beautiful views of the Abbey Cathedral in the distance, as well as the scenic views and historical attractions across the rest of the park – onto the Roman Verulamium museum at the other end.
Verulamium park has a wealth of Roman history to enjoy, including the mosaics/ hypocaust, remains of the Roman wall, theatre and the museum. If history is not your thing, you might enjoy a walk around the lake or visit the Wildlife Trust centre instead.
Before heading back home along the same route, you can also stop for refreshments at the Inn on the Park, nip into Ye Olde Fighting Cocks (rumoured to be the oldest pub in Britain) at the other end of the lake, head down past the museum to pretty St Michaels Village that has a selection of delightful pubs, or grab a bite at the well-known Waffle House.
After our local cycling adventure, I really the idea of a cycling holiday. Slow paced and relaxing, yet active, with plenty of time to be outdoors and a chance to enjoy exploring new places; that all sounds ideal to me! Plus I like the fact that with a cycling holiday, you don’t need to stick to circular routes or have to turn around and head back to your original destination because your luggage is forwarded onto your next destination. Also as they are not groups cycles, they can be personalised with your choice of selected routes for the day and travel at your individual pace. It sounds great for any level of cyclist, including very occasional complete amateurs like myself!
Disclosure: This post is in collaboration with Inntravel.
We have been on many outdoor style holidays, staying at campsites or holiday parks. We tend to be caravanners and often, but not always, opt for locations by the beach. We have had lots of precious moments from waking up to see rabbits hopping about outside our window, to exploring Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door for the first time last year, and discovering adventurous nature paths from our holiday site to the beach.
However, I reflect back on our very first holiday as parents – a caravan trip to the seaside – and we were so unorganised and unprepared! Don’t get me wrong; there are lots of special memories from the trip – Squiggle’s first touch of sand, putting her toes in the sea for the very first time, sleeping away from home with her for the first time ever. It was wonderful in so many ways.
But the caravan was basic with no heating, so it was very much like camping in a tent. Plus it was out of season too, so not very warm- and as new parents we forgot so many camping essentials! We even had to dash out in the evening to get supplies; we were literally banging on the window of the nearest store just as they closed up, begging them to let us in for 2 mins to make a quick purchase – cue a supermarket sweep style grab for blankets and extra thick sleeping bag! Oops!!!
Halfords have created a useful Guide To Camping with lots of helpful essential packing tips, so luckily you don’t have to make the same Rookie mistakes as we did! There are also suggestions for campsites; from beach lovers to cycling and outdoor adventures, wild camping, and caravanning sites, plus other camping ideas too – there is even a playlist if you need some musical inspiration!
What are your top camping tips? I would love to read them! Leave me a comment.
*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Halfords.
For my own favourite nature spot, I was torn between green and blue, so eventually decided I simply had to choose photos of both!
The first photo is a local park that is one of my very favourite nature spots, largely just because I spend alot of time here. The tree in the photo is straight up one of my absolute favourite subjects to photo because it is so photogenic- it always comes out looking so magical!
The second picture was taken at Donna Nook in Lincolnshire last November for our annual visit during pupping season. Whilst not recent, or the best photo ever, it is one of my most favourite spots on earth for feeling truly connected with nature and wildlife. It is an amazing experience.
The final photo was taken a few days ago at Southend-on-Sea. I didn’t feel that I could possibly post about my favourite nature spots without listening to my #BlueMind and therefore including the beach that we visit most regularly! This isn’t my favourite capture of it if I am perfectly honest, there are more striking photos of it on my blog photo gallery, but this is the most recent so I stuck with that!
Where is your favourite nature spot? Share it today to be part of World Environment Day!
We woke up super early last Sunday morning and watched the sunrise out of an upstairs window. It was really relaxing and a lovely feel – good way to start the day! Here is a speeded up video clip of it. (Note to self: window cleaner needed 😉 Ignore the dirty marks!)
We then went to Southend-on-Sea for a day out at the beach. It was so empty and peaceful early Sunday morning. Squiggle had fun playing on the beach, paddling in the sea and looking for crabs.
We then walked along the seafront, past Adventure Island funfair and the pier, to Three Shells Lagoon. Squiggle enjoyed a lovely morning paddle/ swim in the lagoon. Unsurprisingly it was very cold apparently!
We also spotted bird footprints in the sand and we spent a few minutes doing a quick beach clean too, as there was alot of litter around sadly.
Here are some other photos I took from the visit too….
I admit that many of past travel adventures have not been organised with sustainability in mind. In my younger years, I was far less environmentally minded than I am now, so if I had ever used an eco- friendly company or visited a ‘green’ city it would have been nothing more than a happy accident to be honest!
However, I do remember with fond memories one trip along the west coast of USA, which included a stay in San Francisco. Whilst I didn’t realise it back then, I know now that this consistently ranks high up in the greenest places within USA. This doesn’t surprise me with its sustainable food choices, a clear emphasis on the environment and clean transport system. Having reflected on the many places I have travelled, I think this is probably the one that was most eco- friendly. I would definitely love to visit again and see how it has progressed even further in the last decade!
Of course times change and these days I am far more mindful of how my actions impact the environment. For future travel, it would definitely be a major factor in our plans. I would love to explore the world in the most eco-friendly way possible, maybe driving around in an electric camper, visiting beautiful scenic spots off the beaten track, as well as lovely environmentally-conscious towns and cities too. I have a long bucketlist of places I would love to visit all over the world, with Galapagos Islands (closely followed by Alaska) at the top of that list. Closer to home though, there are two places within Europe that are also high on my bucket list; Amsterdam (Holland) and Reykjavik (Iceland), both of which are very eco-friendly.
I have heard all about Reykjavik from various friends who have have visited this gorgeous place recently, and I admit that I have spent hours pouring over their stunning photos. As Green Tourist explains, a major source of the city’s power is from the geothermic activity in this area, which makes it very energy-efficient. Cycling and walking are the most popular forms of transportation, plus hydrogen buses are used rather than vehicles that rely on fossil fuels too.
The geography of Iceland is interesting and makes it a wonderfully unique and breathtaking place to explore, with the geysers and beautiful waterfalls, as well as the point where you can walk between two tectonic plates. I would love to stay in one of their glass domes and hopefully maybe even get to see the Northern Lights if we are lucky. That would be incredible!
The second on my European bucketlist is Amsterdam, Holland. I know a couple of people who have lived here and they have shared many stories about what a brilliant place it is! Most people either walk or cycle around the city, there are very few cars, making it a clean place to visit or live in that sense. Apparently most residential homes and businesses also use, and often generate their own, clean energy too.
There are lots of unusual places to visit in Amsterdam, such as the KattenKabinet (cat art gallery) and the Bloemenmarkt (flower market), as well as lovely quaint little cafes and eateries. I am sure visiting Anne Frank’s house would be a truly memorable experience too. Apparently there are also many wonderful outdoor walks to explore, taking in the pretty sites. And I personally would love to stay in one of the fantastic houseboats on the canal, that I have seen in many photos. They look amazing!
Of course there are many other European destinations on my bucketlist, as well as travelling the rest of the world too, but these are two places that particularly capture my attention – and my heart! Happy travels everyone!
Where is top of your travel bucketlist? Or have you been to an absolute dream place? Tell me your story in the comments!
*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. Thank you to the friends who have contributed their wonderful stories and lovely pictures, fuelling my wanderlust further!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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).
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.
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).
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!
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.
Do you have a favourite place to visit for that wonderful festive feeling? Please share yours with me in the comments section!