Holidaying at home whilst pregnant: 5 of the best British destinations

Pregnancy can be tough on expected mothers, and their families. Increasingly, people try to get away for a holiday while pregnant; it’s a chance to enjoy some time together and, more than anything, relax. I remember when I was about 7 or 8 months pregnant with Squiggle, we took a short holiday together as a couple. I loved having a fantastic time relaxing by the beach and eating dinner at the harbour on the British south coast.

However, you won’t want to travel too far. Staying in the UK has loads of benefits. There’s no language barrier, travelling times should be reduced and you’ll be familiar with the food. Plus, there are some great destinations you might not have considered for a holiday before. It’s no surprise Britain is increasingly fond of staycations!

Holidaying at home whilst pregnant: 5 of the best British destinations caption with a photo of Katie from Living Life Our Way holding her large bump next to a UK harbour.

The fantastic destinations you should try include…

The Peak District

If the countryside is your true home, head to the Peak District. The great outdoors doesn’t get much better. Whether you’re happier exploring the quaint villages, enjoying some time in a cosy country pub, or exploring the peace and quiet with your muddy boots on, the Peak District is the perfect place to escape while pregnant.

St Ives

Fancy being a big kid again and making sandcastles on the beach? St Ives is a grown-up coastal destination, which has a beautiful and charming town next to the beach. Enjoy bracing walks and local food, or visit the numerous galleries and exhibitions in the town.

Plus, taking a trip to the seaside has great health benefits according to this pregnancy guide, including:

• Heightened relaxation
• Better sleep
• Healthier skin

Whitstable

Another coastal town, just on the other side of the country, Whitstable is a fishing and harbour town in Kent. It’s only about an hour by train from London, yet still feels peaceful and relaxing.

Enjoy fish and chips on the pebble beach, walking past the candy coloured beach huts. The tranquillity – conveniently located – is just what you need later in pregnancy.

Edinburgh

If you fancy a city break while you’re pregnant, Edinburgh is a fantastic choice. Whether you time your visit with the world-famous Fringe Festival or would rather a quieter time in the city, Edinburgh offers a huge range of things to do.

You can explore the fascinating architecture, visit Michelin-starred restaurants, climb Arthur’s Seat, or enjoy a concert at the castle. Edinburgh is an exciting city, with a lot of stuff going it – it’s one to plan well, to make the most of your trip. Just remember to schedule in a few breaks!

Bath

Another fantastic UK city, Bath will blow you away. The whole city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with huge cultural significance and beauty wherever you look. It’s also quite compact, so you can get around most of the main attractions on foot in a day – perfect for pregnancy.

Without a doubt, you’ll want to visit the original Roman Baths. You might not be able to take a dip in there, but the Thermae Day Spa’s rooftop pool comes highly recommended.

Have you been on holiday in the UK while pregnant? Share your experiences and recommendations with us.

*This is a collaborative post.

Costa Rica: A Nature Lover’s Paradise

Have you ever considered visiting Costa Rica? This Central American eco country is famous for its rainforests and biodiversity, so is an absolute dream for nature lovers. It has been described as “the most biologically intense place on Earth” by National Geographic because it crams 2.5% of the planet’s biodiversity into just 0.001% of its surface area. And with roughly a quarter of the country made up of protected national parks and areas, which are home to over 840 species of birds, around 2000 plants and hundreds of mammals too, it is an experience you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Costa Rica even aims to be the first country to eliminate all single- use plastics; it takes environmental issues very seriously!

It is also a great place to travel generally. As explained in this article by The Telegraph, it is a cool country to visit for loads of very good reasons. For example, in 2016, it was named the happiest place in the world by the Happy Planet Index; that is pretty awesome to say the least! Who wouldn’t want to visit?!

Title Costa Rica: Nature Lovers Paradise on faded background image of Costa Rica coastline.

Where To Stay

Enjoy a spot of luxury in one of these beautiful Costa Rica rentals. Or you could spend time travelling around different parts to fully appreciate the diversity of this fabulous country. Honest advice suggests that perhaps the capital, San Jose, is not the best place to stay and it is probably a good idea to plan as little time there as possible. However, the rest of Costa Rica sounds absolutely amazing and there are lots of fantastic location choices.

The west (Pacific side) tends to be hotter and is the more touristy side, especially with American visitors, so this might be considered easier with kids. Manuel Antonio National Park, for example, is situated right in the centre of the west coast, and is a great place for seeing an abundance of wildlife.

Costa Rica National Parks map

Source: Go Visit Costa Rica

Places To Visit

As I have said, Costa Rica is all about the stunning scenery along with an incredibly vast range of plants and wildlife. These can best be found at the numerous national parks and nature reserves, and each one has its own unique qualities. I have already mentioned a couple of places briefly, but here is some further information about a selection of the must-see, must-do nature spots…

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Puntarenas Province

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve sounds like a truly spectacular place where you can not only see an amazing array of wildlife, but you can also walk across a hanging bridge to view the forest canopy from magnificent heights. You can even zip wire over the forest!

Monteverde Cloud Forest hanging bridge above the forest canopy.

Monteverde, Costa Rica by Haakon S. Krohn (Source: Wikimedia)

There are other cool things to do at Monteverde as well; such as eat in a quirky treehouse restaurant, exciting horse riding treks or visit Don Juan’s Coffee Farm. Costa Rica Experts detail this tour on their website: “This tour gives you a closer look of the production of Don Juan’s coffee. After learning the drying and roasting process of the beans, explore other food staples of Costa Rica. Embark on a culinary journey. Discover the history of cocoa pods and make your own chocolate using traditional Costa Rican recipes. Yes, you will get to try your creations! This sweet experience continues to the “El Trapiche” (a mill made of wooden rollers), which is used as a tool to extract sugarcane juice and make tasty sweets and much more. This visit wouldn’t be complete without the chance to buy an authentic cup of Costa Rican coffee at the souvenir shop.”

Tortuguero National Park

This is home to nesting sea turtles, and respect for their needs is to be priority if visiting this park. For this reason, the area is out of bounds after 6pm unless you are with an official tour guide. During these night tours, you will see most likely see adult turtles coming onto the beach to lay their eggs. However, if you are lucky, you might even spot a newly hatched turtle heading toward the water!

As well as turtles, there are plenty of birds, fish, monkeys and other wildlife to see at this National Park. A good way to do this is by taking a boat ride along the canal. Or you can hire a canoe and paddle down.

La Fortuna, Alajuela

This is perhaps one of the best known tourist spots, because it is situated at the centre of several wonders. Top of that is Arenal Volcano, an active volcano that regularly erupts. There are also hot springs to bathe in, heated naturally by the thermal activity from Arenal. Then there is the most stunning waterfall too. Plus there are day and night tours at nearby Ecocentro Danaus, a private ecology reserve, for wildlife watching. With such breath-taking scenery and experiences, it is hardly surprising that it is a popular choice. For this reason though, I am told it can get very busy! Check out quieter times to visit if you prefer to avoid the crowds.

La Fortuna waterfall, Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park has a wealth of wildlife to discover. You can explore independently or get a tour guide. As A Strong Coffee To Go explains, even just sitting on the beach you will see animals such as sloths, monkeys and iguanas without going to any effort. But if you are keen to spot more hidden creatures, as well as gain greater insight and knowledge, then you might find a tour guide beneficial. They carry telescopes and know where and what to look for, which gives a somewhat huge advantage over an inexperienced traveller with their naked eye. Of course, you don’t need a telescope, or an expert, simply to bask in the beautiful surroundings though!

One of the beautiful birds that can be spotted in Costa Rica rainforests.

Obviously these are just a small handful of the wonderful places to visit in Costa Rica. But wherever you choose, and whether you cram in as much as you can or take things at a more leisurely pace, it is bound to be an unforgettable experience! It truly does sound like a nature lover’s paradise.

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Home Or Away? Why Both Scotland And Portugal Are On My Travel Bucketlist!

I have already written about various destinations on my travel bucketlist and for this post I have two more! These are by no means new to my list, but I haven’t blogged about them specifically until now. However, I have picked these because they will most likely be the main contenders for our next trip!

Home Or Away? Why Both Scotland And Portugal Are On My Travel Bucketlist! Image of Scotland and Portugal

Scotland is on my bucketlist because I think it has absolutely beautiful countryside and is special to me because we went there as a final trip with my mum when she was terminally ill. Portugal is largely due to Squiggle showing an interest in it because she has a Portuguese friend, but also I haven’t been myself either and would love to go. So which should we go for next; home or away?!

Scotland

Technically not a staycation yet close enough to feel like it, Scotland is somewhere I am keen to explore with Squiggle because of the abundance of outdoor space with its stunning countryside scenery and a wealth of nature and wildlife to spot. Travel to Scotland from England is relatively quick and easy too, with various modes an option depending on your preferences and priorities. I have travelled by both plane and rail previously, but would drive with Squiggle so we have the freedom and flexibility. It is roughly a 6 – 7 hour roadtrip to reach the Scottish borders from London so a stopover might well be required too!

Beautiful Scottish countryside. Image from clickstay.
Credit: Clickstay

Aside from a brief trip to Glasgow once for a conference, the only time I have visited Scotland is for the memorable holiday mentioned above. There were around a dozen members of family and friends, so we treated ourselves (with massive help from a wonderful charity) to a huge amazing chateau to stay in, much like some of the ones on Clickstay. It is so fun and unique staying somewhere so magnificent in the middle of the countryside. Of course there are slightly more modest options to stay too though!

Massive chateau in Scotland. Image by Clickstay.
Credit: Clickstay

Portugal

As mentioned already, I haven’t been to Portugal despite it being one of the closer countries to visit abroad from here in England. I kind of feel, for me at least (and when I was younger), that Portugal always seemed understated whenever holiday destinations were discussed – almost as if it were a lesser known cousin to places like France, Spain or Germany. I don’t know why that is. Maybe it had successfully avoided becoming a tourist trap (which is a good thing!) and I just hadn’t opened my eyes to less obvious options. I don’t know. But yet I gather it is a great travel choice!

Portugal coastline.
Credit: Clickstay

Portugal has some gorgeous rugged beaches that I have seen compared to the Californian coastlines, whilst also benefitting from plenty of green space too. With a warm climate for much of the year, and some parts even winter is mild, it is ideal for soaking up some vitamin D whilst enjoying plenty of time outdoors. It also has some interesting history, and it is a great learning experience to explore new countries and immerse yourself in different cultures. I am sure Squiggle would love to pick up some of the language along the way too, as she mentioned this before!

Villa in Portugal
Credit: Clickstay

I would most likely stay in a beautiful villa in Portugal, because I think it is nice to have that homely feel and tonnes of space to ourselves. Squiggle finds it abit overwhelming otherwise to be honest. One with a private pool would be preferable, as that would be a wonderful luxury that we would definitely make the most of!

So where will we end up next – Scotland or Portugal? Or somewhere else entirely? I will keep you posted! Where are you going on your travels?

*This is a collaborative post.

Top Family Vacation Destinations 2018

Are you looking for inspiration for your next family holiday? Or maybe you feel swamped by the many choices available and are struggling to narrow it down? When travelling with kids especially, picking the right destination really makes all the difference. So I asked some travel experts and fellow bloggers for their top travel destination picks, and tips, for this coming year. Here are some great ideas for your 2018 family vacation…

Top Family Vacation Destinations 2018 image of beautiful clear blue water, blue skies, mountains in background and green evergreens bordering the edge of the photo.

Top Tips For Choosing Your Destination

The one thing that came up again and again is to choose a location that matches your family interests and consider carefully what there is to actually do locally. Family holidays often flow better and are more relaxing when there is a balance of activities available, as well as plenty of room for downtime.

Whilst children don’t generally need entertaining all day, and I am a firm believer that so much can be gained from even very simple (and often free) experiences, it is helpful to put some thought into what options there will be and how you can spend your time there. So focus on researching the sightseeing opportunities and other activities available when choosing your destination, and consider how they match up to your own family’s interests.

Along similar lines, alot of families pick a destination with a wealth of different culture to explore. There is no better way to teach children more about the world than to immerse them in it! For example, A Strong Coffee To Go is heading to Thailand with her boys this year to show them something different to usual.

My Parenting Journey suggests exploring a place you particularly love at different times of year. For example, they have already spent Christmas in the Philippines and discovered their wonderful Christmas traditions. Now they want to explore nature in the summer time and spend time on their beautiful white beaches. Money Saving Journeys had a similar idea too. Having visited Venice at different times of year previously, they are looking forward to going back in summer this time.

Even if you opt for a general beach holiday, think about what you can do when you aren’t lazing around on the beach, such as some gentle sightseeing. Or if you prefer something more active, participate in some watersports. While you are enjoying the therapeutic affects of being outdoors by the ocean, you could even consider doing a quick 2 minute beach clean to help protect it for our future generations too!

Please Leave Nothing But Your Footprints sign by beach

Where To Stay

With sites in France, Spain, Holland and Italy, as well as 6 other European countries, Eurocamp is extremely popular for families. These tend to have great facilities and camping holidays generally are often perfect for children, as they offer plenty of time and space outdoors. And they are a relatively economical choice for families.

Centre Parcs also have several European sites, which also come highly recommended too. Household Money Saving points out that they are far cheaper than their UK sites and also suggests that kids might love travelling by tunnel as a great alternative to flying.

Popular Destinations

Spain is a top choice for families. This is unsurprising given there are cheap, short flights from a range of airports, a range of family-friendly accomodation options, and a huge variety of lovely locations to choose from. Whether you opt for the castles and history of Granada, or somewhere more obvious such as Malaga, Alicante or Barcelona, you are sure to find somewhere ideal for your family. Neighbouring Portugal is also a good alternative, loved by many families. Or The Spanish Islands, in particular Balearic Islands and Canary Islands, are also just as popular.

Greece and the Greek Islands are another preferred option for families. Filled with history and culture, beautiful scenic views and friendly tavernas, it is understandable why these are a strong contender for alot of families.

Other European countries are also a firm favourite with families for similar reasons. One example is Amsterdam, as suggested by Autism Kids On Tour, who has this on the list as one of their 2018 travel destinations. I have written about some of the fab things to do in Amsterdam before.

Last but not least, Copenhagen got a very enthusiastic mention from several families too. Yet another great place for families!

Beautiful Mediterrean buildings by a clear blue sea.

Staycations

When it comes to Staycations, Centre Parcs is a clear favourite for a number of families. Holiday homes are also very popular, either on independent sites or at well-known holiday parks, such as Haven. Of course UK camping (or glamping if that is more your thing!) is also a winner too!

Lamb and Bear also recommends Bluestone Wales. They reviewed it a couple of years ago and can’t wait to go back! She said it’s perfect for families and gives lots of options to keep the kids entertained.

For something abit different, Monkey and Mouse suggest booking a cottage up in Isle of Mull. This beautiful Scottish Island is the second largest island of the Inner Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland. It has stunning scenary in a tranquil setting with a range of attractions. A lovely choice to enjoy some peace and an abundance of outdoor beauty, as are the other islands surrounding it.

A row of colourful beach huts.

Packing Essentials

For the journey, especially if it is a long one, a little busy bag full of interesting items, games and activities that are compact and easy to do in a confined space is really useful. Wrapping them up to make it more exciting can be a handy tip too!

Whilst on the beach you might be mainly in swimwear, it is handy to have something lightweight and simple to throw on just to get there and back, or incase you go for a wander in between soaking up some vitamin D. A stylish kaftan is perfect for this and can help shield your skin from too much sun too. For kids, I recommend investing in SFP swimwear and hats. This helps protect them, especially when they are in out and out of the water.

Remember to take a favourite toy or two, especially if your child/ren would benefit from the familiarity. And anything else needed for routines, bedtime and so on. If any of your children are quite picky about food and you are travelling abroad, taking a small selection of their usual snacks if possible might also be useful.

Last but not least, don’t forget your usual toiletries etc… too of course. And meds if any of the family needs it. Sometimes the obvious things get missed in the excitement!

A picture of a stunning empty beach with clear water and blue skies.

Thanks to the following bloggers for contributing to this post:

The Money Whisperer, Captain Bob Cat, Life With Boys, Me Him The Dog And A Baby, Katy Kicker, Lylia Rose, Mummys Diary, Mummys Knee, Our Fairytale Adventure, Sinead Latham, Five Adventurers, Back With A Bump, Five Little Doves, From Rachael Claire, Battle Mum, Trips With A Tot, Yorkshire Wonders, LesBeMums, Reo Life.

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Free Festive Fun: Places To Visit (Hertfordshire and Beyond) 

We have visited lots of garden centres and a few shopping centres this season to enjoy the festive displays. So I thought I would write a round-up of some free places to visit this season. Ideas range from places to pop to briefly when you are short on time, to places where you could easily spend several hours, or even make it a whole day out… and it won’t cost you a penny! (Except parking in some cases).

Please note additional activities such as ice skating, grottos etc… mentioned are NOT free, there is generally a charge for these activities.

So here are our suggestions…

Christmas display with title 'Free fun festive places to visit (Herts and Beyond)'

Garden Centres

Crews Hill, Enfield

This is a whole row of garden centres, most of which have some festivities. One in particular has a large display, an ice rink, snow globe, grotto with train ride and real reindeer. Crews Hill is somewhere that you can easily spend most of the day if you wanted. You can also soak in the atmosphere in an hour or two though if you are pushed for time.

An interactive elf display at Springtime Crews Hill

Christmas lights at Springtime Crews Hill

A Christmas display at Crews Hill, Enfield

Van Hage, Great Amwell

This is another of the larger garden centres. It has an ice rink (bookable in advance), grotto and lots to see generally. It also has an animal garden onsite too.

Christmas display at Van Hage

Snowman Christmas display at Van Hage, Great Amwell

Notcutts, St Albans

Great for popping into briefly if you are passing or are nearby. The giant snowman is fab! Have tea or breakfast with Santa has a fun alternative to a grotto. (Book in advance, costs apply).

Notcutts, St Albans, Christmas door display

Notcutts Christmas section

World’s End Wyevale, Wendover (Bucks)

We visited this garden centre for the first time recently. There is a mini funfair and a huge Christmas shop, plus a grotto and winter wonderland (entry charges apply). Even if you don’t pay to go into the wonderland, as we didn’t, it is still worth a visit. It has a nice Christmassy feel generally.

Worlds End Wyevale Garden Centre Christmas display

Vanstone Park, Hitchin

This is a fun place to pop to if you have a short time to spare for a quick whizz around. There is a woodland train ride too.

Vanstone Park garden centre snowman festive Christmas display

Burston Garden Centre, St Albans

We popped here for the first time a couple of days ago. Cute displays, worth a brief visit for a little while.

Christmas door Burston St Albans

xmas display at Burston with Christmas trees and seals

Colourful festive Christmas display Burston Garden Centre St Albans

Aylett Nurseries, St Albans

This has lovely displays and some nice little interactive activities too. It is perfect for soaking in the festive atmosphere while on a time limit.

Aylett Nurseries St Albans xmas display

Aylett Nurseries festive display

Aylett Nurseries Christmas small world display

Aylett garden centre xmas festive small world display

Shopping Centres

St Albans

St Albans centre has a nice little display in Christopher Place, a traditional style Christmas Market in the Vintry Gardens next to Abbey Cathedral (with a timetable of events and activities), and there is a fun Nutcracker Trail across the city too.

Santa in a sleigh with reindeer and christmas tree in Christopher Place festive display St Albans

Centre MK, Milton Keynes

Whilst many of the activities here are at additional cost, such as carousel, train rides, grotto and helter skelter, there are also some pretty displays and a brilliant festive atmosphere generally. Plus a little snow area!

Centre MK festive display with igloo

Centre MK festive train ride

Squiggle playing in fake snow at Centre MK Milton Keynes

The Marlows, Hemel Hempstead

I have saved the best until last! This is my top pick this season because I love the theme; Santa’s Waste-Not Workshop focuses on recycling and green living. With awesome displays and cool activities that educate and inspire during what can be a very consumer-based and wasteful time of year, I think this is genius! Squiggle loved lighting up the tree using energy she generated from cycling – such a clever idea. Well done to whoever came up with this, it gets a big thumbs up from us!

Squiggle cycling to light up clean energy Christmas tree The Marlows, Hemel Hempstead

Santas Waste-Not Workshop, Marlows, Hemel Hempstead

Upcycled festive display at Santas Waste- Not Workshop, Marlows, Hemel Hempstead

Snowman display at Santas Waste- Not Workshop, Marlows, Hemel Hempstead

Seasons Geetings everyone!

Where is your favourite festive place to visit?

Dubai: My Ever Increasing Travel Bucketlist 

This is my travel bucketlist of must- do things in Dubai. From beaches to brunches, and from malls to Mosques, this list has something for everyone! Dubai is yet another destination on my bucketlist of travel goals. Read for inspiration and ideas on what to do in Dubai.

I have had Dubai on my bucket list since Squiggle was very young, after a friend moved out there and we talked alot about to going to visit her. We didn’t make it over to see her, but I did do many hours of research whilst we were seriously considering it, and in doing so it somehow found a little place in my heart.

Far more recently, my Sister in Law lived and worked in Dubai for a year or so. During that time, seeing her beautiful pictures and hearing her adventures reaffirmed its place on my travel bucketlist!

Dubai, travel, bucketlist, destinations, Living Life Our Way

I don’t really know what it is about Dubai that I have such a soft spot for; with its man-made beaches, so many imports and lack of public transport, it almost feels like a guilty pleasure! However, The Clumsy Colibri offers some great tips about sustainability in Dubai so I will get some inspiration from there, if and when we go! Destination2 also has some brilliant ideas and useful information about Dubai generally too. But anyway, here is a list of must-do things when visiting Dubai, as told by my sister in law…

Dubai, travel, bucketlist, destinations, Living Life Our Way

Beaches

Dubai beaches are probably the main attraction. Dubai has year-round sun and many free, clean, white (man made) beaches. In addition, many hotels and bars have their own private strip of beach, which are even nicer. Kite beach is a favourite because it has a great view of the Burj Al Arab and offers activities as well as a chance to relax.

Dubai, travel, bucketlist, destinations, Living Life Our Way

Indoor Activities

There are lots of indoor activities to do in Dubai, to cater for the incredible heat. Visit the Mall of the Emirates with its well known large indoor ski resort and snow centre. Or hang out at Dubai Mall, where there is an aquarium, ice rink and VR experiences. And of course you can shop, eat or catch a movie too.

Dubai Mall Fountains

Catch the evening water fountain show with moving music which is sure to give you goosebumps. Be wary you’ll need to get there early for a good spot!

Relax

Many hotels offer day access to their spas for some lovely relaxation time. That’s always worth it!

Dubai, travel, bucketlist, destinations, Living Life Our Way

Brunches

Brunches are where it’s at in Dubai. You can choose from party brunches at Atlantis or more sophitisticated affairs at places like Le Meridian.

Abu Dhabi

While in Dubai, it is relatively cheap and easy to take a trip to Abu Dhabi to see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

Dubai, Abu Dhabi, travel, bucketlist, destinations, Living Life Our Way

That sounds like quite the list! Have you been to Dubai? What is top of your list of things to do? I would love to hear more ideas too!

Dubai, travel, bucketlist, destinations, Living Life Our Way

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

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.

Cassiobury Park, Watford: Paddling Pools and Splash Park – BRAND NEW 2017

Cassiobury Park in Watford, Hertfordshire has been undergoing a huge restoration project over the last year, thanks to a £6.5 million investment with help from the Big Lottery and Heritage Lottery Fund. The transformation includes brand new paddling pools and splash park, which we were keen to check out soon after it opened! 

Cassiobury Park, paddling pool, splash park, water play, Blue Mind, places to visit, Watford, Hertfordshire, summer, families, days out

There is a main paddling pool and a smaller one, as well as a splash park and various water play features too. It has push button controls suitable for all abilities and seems to be mostly accessible (although we didn’t have any wheelchair users with us). Users can enjoy a variety of sprays and fountains of differing heights and styles, plus paddle in the pools themselves too of course! There is plenty of space both in and out of the water, and a (very) small amount of shaded areas. 

Cassiobury Park, paddling pool, splash park, water play, Blue Mind, places to visit, Watford, Hertfordshire, summer, families, days out

Cassiobury Park, paddling pool, splash park, water play, Blue Mind, places to visit, Watford, Hertfordshire, summer, families, days out

Cassiobury Park, paddling pool, splash park, water play, Blue Mind, places to visit, Watford, Hertfordshire, summer, families, days out

Cassiobury Park, paddling pool, splash park, water play, Blue Mind, places to visit, Watford, Hertfordshire, summer, families, days out

There is a sustainable park hub building that includes toilets and changing facilities, as well as a café. The hub also has a community and exhibition room, plus education facilities. For more information about the wonderful transformations that have taken shape at Cassiobury Park, see Watford Borough Council website.

Rock Hunting: Nature’s Answer To Pokemon Go! #30DaysWild 

Have you heard of the new craze? Painted rocks have been hidden all over our local area to encourage people to get outside and explore to find them. And to spread some love and positivity around; like a little act of kindness for the person who finds it. What an amazing way to put a smile on peoples’ faces! Of course, we could not wait to go out on a rock hunt to see what we could find!

painted rocks, rock hunt, St Albans Rocks UK, Hertfordshire, get outside, kids need nature, outdoors, 30 days wild, #30dayswild, #staywild, #livinglifewild

It turned out to be much harder than we thought! We knew very rough locations, and had vague picture clues, but looking for small rocks in a very large area is… well… abit like looking for a needle in a haystack! But that just encouraged us to look more closely, stay out longer, walk further and explore different areas – which is great!

Just a little note to anyone considering doing this as a set activity (e.g. home educators or organised groups for example): it would be easier, and an awesome educational activity, if they were mapped out in advance. Great for developing old school map reading skills too! (I guess this would make it more of a geocaching style activity). Of course this would rely on people not removing, or relocating, any of them. (Hopefully no one will remove them anyway though obviously, as it is meant to be an activity for everyone to enjoy!)

Also, if you were doing this, a handy suggestion might be to map them out with a small circle radius rather than a precise location, so that it still gives abit of freedom to rehide them elsewhere – as long as it is within close proximity to the original spot. I say this because Squiggle was really keen to move one to a new hiding place so we compromised and she hid it right by the next tree instead, less than a metre away!

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Anyway, they are just little tips if anyone is thinking about doing it as a home ed activity or setting it up as an ‘organised’ event. But back to our fun of rock hunting…

We were incredibly lucky to find not just one, but two painted rocks! Squiggle was delighted that she spotted them!!! The first was a beautiful heart rock…

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The second was a pretty colourful rainbow…

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We had so much fun! It is such a lovely activity and a brilliant, creative, inspired idea – love it!!! Thank you so much to the wonderful people who came up with this initiative and organised it in our area. We are so grateful! For more information, check out St Albans Rocks UK.

We then also painted our own rocks when we returned home, so we will be hiding those in our local park soon too! Thanks again!!!

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Happy rock hunting! 

Gobions Wood, Hertfordshire: A Magical Place To Explore

Today we visited Gobions Wood in Hertfordshire for the first time, which we discovered from a useful list of local nature reserves on Herts Wildlife Trust website. 

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The first section of our walk took us past beautiful meadows, where moths and butterflies fluttered around us as we walked. 

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We then reached the entrance to the wood…

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Honestly, I have never felt quite so overwhelmed (and almost intimidated!) walking into a wood. I literally got tingles down my spine and a surge of excitement in my tummy. 

Two huge ancient trees guard either side of the path as you enter, towering above everything, watching over the rest of the woodland…

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It looks like something out of a film; like walking into a Lord Of The Rings set or somewhere…

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I love the colours and the way the lower leaves create a whispy appearance, almost motioning to the path…

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Squiggle found this and asked me to take a photo…

She loved exploring…

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It is a magical, enchanting place to explore and we hope to return soon!