Seaside Trip and Signs of Spring #LivingLifeWild

On Sunday we went to Southend-On-Sea for a day out at the seaside. We love the fresh sea air, sand under our feet and paddling in the water – at any time of year! Here are my photos…

#livinglifewild, wildlife, childhood unplugged, nature, outdoor adventures, seasons, seaside, days out, photography

#livinglifewild, childhood unplugged, nature, outdoor adventures, seasons, seaside, days out, photography

#livinglifewild, childhood unplugged, nature, outdoor adventures, seasons, seaside, days out, photography

#livinglifewild, Southend on Sea, childhood unplugged, Days Out, nature, outdoor adventures, photography, seaside, seasons

I have also added a couple of new albums to my photo gallery. I have added my Winter Collection (I thought I would finally share my photos of this season before it is over!) and Signs of Spring Collection too, as we have been out on nature walks over the past couple of weeks observing the changing seasons and spotting the earliest glimpses of Spring popping up. 

Thank you to Mammas School for sharing their snow walk blog post and beautiful photos of Sweden on Instagram and to Eps and Amy for sharing a lovely spot to go for a walk in West Sussex. 

Check out our hashtag #LivingLifeWild on Instagram, there are lots of fantastic photos! Here are just a couple of my faves…

#livinglifewild, childhood unplugged, nature, outdoor adventures, seasons, seaside, days out, photography

Remember this linky will be open throughout March. I look forward to reading your posts!

#LivingLifeWild


#Blogtober 2016 – Day 6: Favourite Present Ever

I struggled with this theme at first (again, why am I finding this challenge so hard?!) but then I realised I was actually just thinking about it the wrong way and that’s why I was drawing a blank!

I’m not really into getting gifts, weird I know! Don’t get me wrong, I have had some lovely gifts over the years, and I really appreciate them. My dad is very generous. My daughter chooses me wonderfully unique presents! I remember a lovely bracelet from my mum too, for my 16th or 18th (I forget which!) A funny home-made photo book from a close friend for my 21st birthday. These thoughtful things come to mind when I try to think back to what people have bought me.

But the first thing that really came to mind when I read the theme was finding out I was pregnant shortly after my 28th birthday. Or my 30th birthday, when I stayed home with my lovely little girl, playing all day, then went for a lovely family meal. 

Seaside, sea, beach, weymouth, birthday
Squiggle walking along the beach in Weymouth

Or my birthday just gone, when I spent the day in glorious sunshine by the sea in Weymouth on holiday. No presents, one homemade card- from my little girl of course. Everything was stripped back; such a simple day. But it was one of those rare days when everything was just absolutely perfect all day long; when the universe works so completely in your favour and everything is just a dream. Relaxed. Happy. And so very blessed. What more could I ask for than that? So, that is my answer- that was my best present ever!

#Blogtober16

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

Southend On Sea in Essex is a popular seaside choice for many. It boasts stretches of both pebble and sand beaches, play water fountains, play areas on the sand, plus a brand new lagoon for paddling and swimming. 

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

For those looking for a little more action, there is a Sealife Centre on the seafront, an award winning funfair, indoor play centre, pier, traditional style amusement arcades and a large selection of shops, restaurants and cafes. 

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

For us, it is a relatively short drive away from Hertfordshire that offers us a fun and relaxed day out by the sea, so is definitely a winner! 

Seaweed, childhood unplugged, get outside, outdoors, days out, places to go, things to do, family fun
Investigating the beach

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

Family fun, places to go, things to do, family fun, outdoors, get outside, childhood unplugged
Collecting shells

Three Shells Lagoon, Southend-on-Sea, Essex

Three Shells Lagoon at Southend-on-Sea in Essex is a newly built man made lagoon that opened this summer. The lagoon is the size of a football pitch and is 1.1 metres at its deepest points. 

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

Despite visiting in the last week of September, it was still warm enough to wriggle into our swimsuits and go for a swim. It was cold, but we soon got used to it! Squiggle enjoyed practising her swimming skills in the sea water, as well as paddling and splashing around in general. I think it’s wonderful to be able to enjoy swimming in a natural environment, whilst not being entirely in the open water with an inexperienced young swimmer. I imagine it would also be great for learning water sports.

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

One thing I did wonder about was how the lagoon water is kept fresh and hygenic. So I did some research and found the design quite interesting. “Sheets of welded metal inside the rock walls retain the seawater when the tide comes in, whilst rubberised material at the base of the wall will prevent silt and mud from entering and exiting the lagoon. Valves have been installed into the wall so that the lagoon can be emptied and refilled, ensuring a high quality of regularly-replenished bathing water.” (Southend government website) For further information about the lagoon www.southend.gov.uk

May 2015

Memories from May…

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Seaside fun
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Physical development
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Creative movement/ interpretive dance- a plant growing
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Planting more fruit and veg in our growing area
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Sensory fun and physical games in the garden
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General fun in the garden
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Playing various sylvanian games, including measuring the height in hula hoops.
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Maths- 'going shopping' for bunny food
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Music class
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Local playgrounds for sensory input and physical exercise
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Designing her own playground for her toys in the garden
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Reading- letters from penpals, my list of things that I found in the garden (a reading and writing observation game she made up herself) and 'shop' price list
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Writing- letters to penpals, birthday cards and letters to mummy from her toys
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Drawings (we also went to art group but no pictures of that)
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Making a playmat for her toys based on a map she drew
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Squiggle invented this rainbow game
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Designed own mini skittles game
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Van Hague- peacock spreading its feathers
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Living Crafts at Hatfield House
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Butterfly World
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Park walks- spotting nature and exploring
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Who lives in a house like this? Discussion about habitats
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More park walks- Squiggle decided her toy cat Rain was interested in flowers so we took her on a flower walk
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Mini topic on flowers- Venn diagram, parts of a plant, following written instructions, making own book and designing own activity
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Willows Farm
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Fun at the fair

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Cassiobury park

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Squiggle's party

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Happy 7th birthday to my wonderful little girl. Mini tea party at home with buffet, cake, pass the parcel, musical chairs, pressies and playing! Plus a bike ride too.

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A friend's birthday party

April 2015

Ok, since I have gotten lazy about blogging lately here is April all rolled into one…

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Spring walks
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Highfield Park, including some of the tree trail with friends
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Growing our own food
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Science experiment- celery in food colouring
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Sand and water play
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Problem solving- how to patch up a leak with resources available
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Art group- foam marbling
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General garden fun
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Squiggle designed a carrier bag kite and parachute
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Quality time with our cats
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Observing and discussing the sky above- including clouds, rainbows, sunrise and sunset
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Playdate at home
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Writing
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Princess Diana Playground, Kensington
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Aldenham SEN playground
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Designing own games and activities
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Art and crafts
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Fun at a park
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Physical games- cone activities
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More playground fun- with grandad
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Butterfly World
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New 'Music Meadow' at Butterfly World
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Seaside- yes, she did steal daddys cardigan for a short while!
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Art group
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Art group- butterfly symmetry painting
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Art and Science! Put a few drops of food colouring into milk. Then put some washing liquid on a cotton bud, dip it in and let the colours disperse. Makes an interesting 'painting'
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Exploring instruments- lots of singing and dancing too!
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Park with a friend

We also did lots of Easter activities, which I blogged about separately, and have been to music class but haven’t got any photos of that! Last but not least, we did various circus themed activities, but that needs it’s own post!

November: Part One

These are some of the things we have been doing so far this month…

character drawings 01.11.14
Drawing various characters she has created in a variety of outfits 01.11.14
fishing 01-11-14
Fishing for coins in the bath- a game she designed herself 01.11.14
water scales 01-11-14
Squiggle started off using her balance scales to compare volumes of water. This then led to a discussion about measurements of solids and liquids, and the units they are measured in. She then decided to experiment with comparing the ducks and water combined. She observed that when the water was the same volume each side and therefore balanced, that the two ducks did not weigh the same. This was not what she predicted because they look the same and are the same size, but she the concluded one of them must have water inside adding to the weight. She then tried to push the duck down into the water and was amused that it popped back up again so we discussed why this happens. She also noticed the water level rises as she did so, which also led to a discussion on water displacement. 01.11.14
white water rafting 01.11.14
We went to watch white water rafting at Lee Valley. 01.11.14
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Caldecotte lake 02.11.14
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Watching watersports on the lake 02.11.14
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Photos at the lake 02.11.14
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One of my favourite photographs of Caldecotte lake 02.11.14
cuddly toy cat game 3-11-14
Cuddly toy cat game 03.11.14
paradise park play area 4-11-14
Paradise park 04.11.14 physical exercise and a spot of map reading too
paradise park animals 4-11-14
A few of the animals at Paradise park 04.11.14
paradise park monkey 4-11-14
We were lucky enough to spot a two day old newborn baby gibbon clinging to mum 04.11.14
sylvanian school game 5-11-14
Squiggle used her Sylvanian families to act out a day at school. This led to some very interesting questions, such as why do the children need to wear a school uniform, who decides what it should be etc… We then had a very balanced discussion about the differences between school and home education. She was able to articulate very well why she personally feels home ed is much better suited to her needs. 05.11.14
southend 6-11-14
Southend beach 06.11.14
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We found this great resource at the beach playground, it is simple explanation of the weather cycle. Squiggle enjoyed learning how clouds form and how it rains. This led to further discussion about weather, the sun and also how stars form too 06.11.14
southend boats 6-11-14
Boats at Southend 06.11.14
southend more photography 6-11-14
Some of my favourite photos from our trip to Southend 06.11.14
southend photography 6-11-14
Scenic photos of Southend 06.11.14
fireworks fleetville 7.11.14
Local fireworks display 07.11.14
fireworks crabtree 8.11.14
Watching fireworks with a friend 08.11.14
fashion garden 9.11.14
Playing in the garden 09.11.14
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Picnic in the garden 09.11.14
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Fun at Bopping Babes disco 09.11.14
sylvanian imagination 10.11.14
Small world imaginary play 10.11.14
sylvanian ayletts christmas display 11.11.14
Acting out Ayletts Christmas display from last year 11.11.14
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We then visited Ayletts garden centre to see this year’s display 11.11.14
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Notcutts garden centre 11.11.14
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Squiggle made her own Christmas sticker book 12.11.14
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Sylvanian family decorating for Christmas (wearing clothes she made for them for winter) 12.11.14
duplo treehouse 13.11.14
Duplo construction (tree house playground) 13.11.14
clarence park 13.11.14
Clarence park 13.11.14
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Squiggle designed a multi pack of cat treats 14.11.14
cats 14.11.14
Squiggle then asked the next day to go to the pet shop to buy the cats a treat 15.11.14
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Chilling together
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Van Hage garden centre 16.11.14
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We popped to Stanborough lake briefly on the way home 16.11.14

 

In addition to these activities, we also practised estimating (time mainly) and discussed the difference between a guess and an estimate. We have also played a game several times that she invented whereby we try to recall what we were doing x number of days ago. This proved to be a fun memory game and we enjoyed talking about past events, as well as doing the maths to work out how many weeks, months and sometimes years ago the day was. I also discovered she didn’t know what a typewriter was when she found a miniature toy one (then again, why would she know!) So we discussed technology and how it has progressed, which she found very interesting.

 

A Typical Week in Home Education?

In reality there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ week for us, we are interest-led and we tend to go with the flow as we feel this suits our needs as a family. The freedom to do this is one of the many reasons we love home educating. I will share more of our personal educational philosophy sometime but that is really a separate subject so I will leave it for now. However, this post aims to give a flavour of the type of thing we might find ourselves doing and a rough gist of what our week might look like. So here is a brief summary of our week:

Saturday

In the morning Squiggle played outside in the garden with her dad. She also picked some blackberries then helped to clean and feed our rabbits. After this we decided to head to the seaside at Southend for the rest of the day.

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Playing on the beach
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Collecting seaweed
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Paddling in the sea

Sunday

We spent some the day at home then decided to pop to Milton Keynes shopping centre for a little while (where she particularly enjoyed the caravan show and studying the inside of a working clock)

model plane 21.09.13
This is the model plane she made at home

Monday

We went to London Zoo for the day.

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We enjoyed seeing the star fishes and seahorses in the aquarium
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Iguana in the reptile house
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The gorilla striking a pose!
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Petting farm
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Squiggle spent a long time playing in the water fountains with an acorn. She had fun designing a science experiment to see which fountains could hold the acorn up in the water. She did lots of investigating how easily the acorn moved in the little stream as well.

Tuesday

We played at home for a while (self- directed learning) then we decided to go to Paradise Park for the rest of the day.

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She decided she wanted to play with some coins that had been left on the table so this led to learning to recognise and sort different coins. We also had a discussion on the value of things.
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Watching how the otters behave
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We enjoyed watching the white tiger take a bath

Wednesday

We had planned to go to a local park to meet up with some friends in the morning then we also went to Leighton Buzzard park in the afternoon.

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Fleetville park
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Counting the shapes then setting the dial to the correct number
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Developing her climbing skills and confidence
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These stepping stones wobble to make this more challenging.
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Balancing skills

Thursday

We stayed at home today so I produced a hidden parcel that had arrived recently, which she was very excited about. It was a zip wire for her hex bugs! This of course inspired her to play with these for sometime, including lots of exploration and discussion about how they work. Activities she later chose included playing Reading Eggs and Maths Seeds on the laptop.

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Hexbugs
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Maths seeds

Friday

Most of our day was spent at the scout hut for art group then ‘meet up and play’.

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Exploring clay at art group
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Doing scratch art

A Trip to Weymouth, Dorset: Haven and Sealife Centre

We stayed at Weymouth Bay Haven holiday park, which Squiggle particularly enjoyed. Nearby there was a sandy beach at Bowleaze Cove, which also had a quiet little funfair. For more information about Bowleaze Cave see website www.bowleazecove.co.uk and for further details on the Haven site we stayed at view the Haven website here.

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Making a beach collection
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Footprints in the sand
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Enjoying the funfair rides
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Helter skelter slide with her grandad
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She was most excited about going on the funfair wheel (or in her words a mini London Eye)
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Exploring on a nature walk.
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Playing outside at Weymouth Bay Haven Holiday site.
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She enjoyed going swimming and meeting characters on-site at Haven (although not at the same time!)
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Trying out the dancing game

However, the highlight of the trip for us had to be the Sealife Adventure Park in Weymouth. Although it was very expensive it was a fantastic day out and we would definitely love to return! It is also worth noting that Sealife Adventure Park is part of the Merlin group so annual pass holders get in free. For more details see their website here.

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Giant crab
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Sting ray close up
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Walk through tunnel, beautiful giant turtle
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Fascinating ‘sea worms’ and shrimps
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Jelly fish
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Learning about crocodiles
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Fun educational facts
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It also has an excellent splash park and paddling pool, one of her favourite bits of course!

Summer Fun: Parks and Paddling

Editors Note: Update 09/05/16 See here for latest information on splash park and paddling pool opening times for summer season 2016 and links to official websites

 

 

 

We have enjoyed visiting a range of places over summer and we especially loved finding fun places to cool down on the wonderful hot days we had! Here are some of the places we have been over July and August…

 

This is Stockwood Park Discovery Centre in Luton. It has an interesting museum and lovely playground, free entry. (The bus is not always there and was not open during our visit unfortunately, she still loved running around it though!) http://www.lutonculture.com/stockwood-discovery-centre/stockwood-discovery-centre/

Discovery centre 28.07

 

Highfield park in St Albans has lots of green space and hidden pockets containing little play areas dotted around, plus there is also a tree trail. The leaflet for the tree trail is available at Charters Health Club. “The Trail is 3km (2miles) long and follows a circular route. The trail identifies 25 different trees, each with a numbered way marker, the leaflet provides you with interesting facts about the various trees.” The Highfield Park summer fete this year included an agility show, much to Squiggle’s delight! There are a few other events held at the park throughout the year. http://www.highfieldparktrust.co.uk/index.php/visiting-the-park-mainmenu-33

highfield park fete 13.07 (21)

 

 

This is Leighton Buzzard park. As well as a lovely playground suitable for a range of ages it also has an excellent splash park to. Squiggle loved it but it was far too busy to get any pictures!

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This is Morris Playing Field in London Colney. It has a small paddling pool and play area, as well as a football pitch and tennis courts.

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We enjoyed a day trip to Southend to paddle in the sea and play in the sand. There is a small children’s climbing frame on the beach next to a large fun fair. This picture makes it look rather less crowded that it really was though!

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We also enjoyed looking for crabs, Squiggle was fascinated watching them…

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We love Verulamium park. Lots to do in this massive beautiful parkland including feed the ducks (duck food can be puchased from Inn On The Park cafe), let off steam in the play area and cool down in the splash park (again too many other people in the background of our pictures to publish them!) There are also tennis courts, football pitches, an outdoor gym and Roman remains. http://www.stalbans.gov.uk/leisure-and-culture/parks-and-green-space/parks/Verulamium-Park/

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Wick nature reserve in St Albans is a hidden gem for us. Popular with dog walkers and families alike but this place never seems to get very busy as many locals don’t even know about it! There is a little play area, small woods and green space. Great place to go exploring!

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Having lived in St Albans for most of my life, this local recreation ground on Sherwood Avenue had remained secret from us until this summer.

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Fleetville park in St Albans has recently been refurbished in the section aimed at older children and also now has an outdoor gym.

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Cassiobury park in Watford has a lot to offer. A paddling pool area with three large paddling pools (one heated), a lovely playground, miniature train (£1) and river walks (also good for paddling and watching canal boats).

 

 

 

And of course plenty of opportunities to splash around in the paddling pool at home…

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Last but not least, this does not technically belong on this post as it is not a park (nor a place to paddle) but the indoor beach at Centre: MK (throughout August only) was definitely worth a visit to.

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