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…
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…
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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…
The second was a pretty colourful rainbow…
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!!!
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….