Fun Party Venues Ideas

As signs of Spring start to appear all around and the sun begins to make an appearance, there is no doubt that many of us are now looking ahead to summer; busy booking holidays, festival line-ups announced and summer events organised. Whilst I don’t personally have a do to arrange myself this year (although my 40th appears to be coming round rather quickly – only a couple of years before I will be organising that! Eek!) a few of my friends are already in the throes of summer party planning around London. 

River Thames, London, Big Ben, party venues, summer parties, stock image, venueseeker, Living Life Our Way
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If you are one of the many people looking to get your party on this summer, Venueseekers is a handy site for finding places to hold an event in and around the capital. See their website for more info: Party Venues London. And here are just a few of their fun venue ideas in central London to inspire you and get you started…

River Thames, London, St Pauls Cathedral, party venues, summer parties, stock image, venueseeker, Living Life Our Way
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Madison: This award-winning New York style restaurant and bar overlooks St Paul’s Cathedral. It holds 120 people (seated) up to 900 (standing).

Oxo Tower: Floor two of the famous OXO tower is a brilliant place to hold events in the summer, with riverside balconies and stunning panaromic views of the Thames from inside too. It can hold functions for anywhere between 50- 400 people, with the adjacent gallery offering additional space for larger parties.

The Artillery Gardens: If you are looking for somewhere to host a larger function, this venue holds up to 2000 people and is very cool, it even has a funfair! Well worth checking out. 

If you are looking for somewhere near London but a little more suburban, here are a few other ideas…

St Michaels Manor, St Albans, Hertfordshire, party venues, summer parties, stock image, venueseeker, Living Life Our Way
St Michaels Manor (Credit: Jenny Murray)

St Michaels Manor: Set in the heart of historic St Albans, surrounded by pretty parkland and next to a lake view, this lovely manor hotel is popular for weddings and other functions. It is a short, direct non-stop train route into London and is situated not too far from the St Albans City station so is ideal for those travelling from further afield. 

Four Seasons Hampshire: Set in the countryside with amazing views over Dogmersfield Park but yet highly accessible from London, this lovely venue has ample natural daylight flooding the indoor spaces and an outdoor terrace that can be used for functions too.

Do you have a summer party venue recommendation? Leave in comments!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

#Blogtober 2016 – Day 23: Favourite Time of Year and Why

When I first read this theme, my mind automatically jumped to seasons and I spent ages trying (unsuccessfully!) to pick my favourite. Then I re-read the title and realised it could be any time of year, for any reason, not specifically seasons. But then I figured my mind actually translated it into that for good reason; we spend alot of time outdoors in nature, absorbing our natural environment, observing the seasons and appreciating the ever-changing beauty of our natural world throughout the year. So for me personally, my favourite time of year would be based on that, rather than a special occasion or anything else. 

But which is my favourite season then? I genuinely love them all for different reasons. When (and if!) it snows in winter it is so much fun, plus I enjoy the peaceful silence on winter walks. Spring is beautiful, so filled with new life, and brings with it hope for our future. Summer fun, splashing around in water in warm sunshine, it so therapeutic; and the nature all around is so easy to spot too. And then there is autumn, with its beautiful colours and refreshing sense of change. Each is so important to me in its own unique way.

If I really had to pick one? I guess I would go for autumn. I love the changing of the season from summer to autumn, when some days it is warm and others there is a distinct chill in the air. I love the stunning autumn colours and the sound of crisp leaves underfoot. I love hunting for conkers, acorns and sweet chesnuts. And I love how nature teaches us about the beauty of change, to accept so easily when it is time to let go and get ready to embrace the new! 

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Autumn colours at the park

Aside from the seasonal aspect, I admit I do also love it when the schools go back and our favourite spots become peaceful again! But also, last but not least, I choose autumn because I try to live in the moment, and that is where we are at right now. Ask me at a different time of year and you may well get a different answer!

#Blogtober16

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

Places To Go: Summer at Ruislip Lido

Ruislip Lido is a great place to visit during the summer, with lots of (FREE!) outdoor fun to be had; including a splash park, sandy beach, large play area on the sand, woodlands and a train ride (charge applies for this).

If you are visiting with young children, or those with SEND, please keep in mind that the play area is next to open water and not enclosed. Also, no paddling or swimming is allowed in the lido itself.

Here are my photos from our latest trip…

Days out, places to go
Ruislip Lido- Squiggle took this photo herself from the play area on the beach.
Places to go, things to do, summer, water play
Splash park
Places to go, days out
Squiggle found some shells on the beach!
Places to go, things to do, nature, wildlife
Beautiful blue damselfly in the woodland

For more photos, including the beach play area, please see my previous blog post here: Ruislip Lido autumn 15

We think Ruislip Lido is a lovely place anytime of year (although please note it is practically entirely outside, but we don’t mind- that’s what waterproofs and layers are for!) For further information, visit their website here.

Paddling Pools and Splash Parks (Herts and surrounding area)

Summer Fun: Parks and Paddling is one of my most popular blog posts and, rather unsurprisingly, has had alot of hits this past weekend! So here is the latest info for this season…

 

● Cassiobury Park paddling pool: closed for refurbishment

 

● Verulamium Splash Park: Now open 10-6pm daily until Sunday 11th September 2016  www.stalbans.gov.uk/community-and-living/communityleisure/play_areas/splashpark.aspx

 

● London colney (Morris Way) paddling pool: opens 28th May. No further info.

 

● Paradise Wildlife Park lagoon: Now open daily. This is part of the wildlife park (no separate entry)- admission costs apply www.pwpark.com

 

● Leighton Buzzard splash park and beach: Now open 10am-6pm daily www.leightonlinslade-tc.gov.uk

 

● Ruislip Lido: Now open daily until end of September www.hillingdon.gov.uk/ruisliplido

 

Of course there are many others in and around Hertfordshire, this is not a comprehensive list! Others I have heard of but never visited are Harpenden outdoor pool, Letchworth splash park/ paddling pool and Hitchin outdoor pool. Plus, of course, there is natural water play such as the stream at Wheathampstead, Stanborough or Cassiobury and plenty of beaches within an hour or two (driving or train) too!

Leighton Buzzard Splash Park

Leighton Buzzard Splash Park

 

Happy splashing!

Paddling Pools and Splash Parks

During the summer months Squiggle spends alot of time playing in water. This fulfills her sensory needs and is also part of her therapy in other ways too. We have visited various splash parks and paddling pools…

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Our Week in Pictures: Water Play

Water play is therapeutic and relaxing for Squiggle but it is so much more fun when it’s outdoors and on a large scale, so there is nothing like sunshine to brighten her mood, just for that reason alone!

 

 

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Naturally Growing Foods

We have really enjoyed discovering what fruit is naturally growing in our garden over the past couple of months, we have been lucky enough to have a delicious range of food including raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, tiny wild strawberries and crab apples. We also visited our local ‘Pick Your Own’ fruit farm a couple of times where we picked (and enjoyed eating of course!) yummy blackberries, red currents, black currents, gooseberries, raspberries and strawberries. See website http://www.hawkswickfruit.co.uk/ We now plan to expand this interest further by growing some more of our foods in the future.

Reaching up to pick crab apples from the tree in our garden
Reaching up to pick crab apples from the tree in our garden
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Tiny wild strawberries growing in our garden
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Picking gooseberries from the fruit farm
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We enjoyed picking our own fruit from a local fruit farm

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!

Princess Diana Memorial Playground, London

Princess Diana Memorial Playground is in Kensington Gardens next to the palace. It has an excellent range of equipment suitable for children under 12, all adults must be accompanied by a child. There is a queuing system for when the playground reaches maximum capacity but on the plus side this really makes a difference to the playground not feeling too over-crowded, especially during peak season when other places can often be uncomfortably packed. Further details of this playground can be found on the website https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/kensington-gardens/things-to-see-and-do/sports-and-leisure/diana-memorial-playground

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There are giant musical instruments set in pretty natural surroundings.
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Lovely natural wooden playground with lots of equipment.
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Sensory garden
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Wet sand
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There is an impressive pirate ship in the centre of the playground.
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There is a stream to paddle in with a stone crocodile.
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The playground is set in beautiful surroundings and it has a wonderful calm vibe.
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Great shade for a warm day.