Forest Holidays: Our Winter Retreat to Forest of Dean

Back in January we decided to book a last second escape to the Forest of Dean for a winter retreat at Forest Holidays. This was our first time visiting but it came recommended from friends who have stayed at a different location on one of their other sites. Squiggle’s anxiety was high, so we figured some extra time relaxing outdoors might be just what we all needed. It didn’t work miracles in that regard (but then again, I am pretty sure they don’t claim to either though!) but it was still a lovely holiday! Here is our review…

Title written on image of Forest Holidays cabin.

The Cabin

There are three main styles of cabin; golden oak, silver birch and copper beech. The main differences between them are that silver birch has a hot tub, and golden oak has both a log burner and a hot tub. We intentionally wanted to avoid having a log burner for personal reasons, and silver birch was fully booked, so that made it pretty easy to choose!

Despite copper beech being their cheapest (and most basic) option, we were absolutely amazed by the size of the cabin! The whole place had a wonderful air of luxury about it, whilst also feeling very homely. I loved how beautifully in keeping the decor is; very natural. I was very impressed! And everything is eco- friendly wherever possible too, which we were really glad to see.

Eco friendy kitchen kit

I was quite worried that it might be chilly in winter but the underfloor heating took care of that! If anything, it was actually abit too warm when we arrived but the thermastat was easy to use and had separate settings for each room too, so that was soon remedied. I don’t know how hot the cabins might get in a heatwave with all that glass though! But given that they seem very well designed overall, I am assuming there are measures in place to maintain optimum temperatures. We were certainly able to do that during our winter stay anyway, despite having both sunny days and snow in the time we were there! They are really cosy and it is easy to feel right at home there.

Here is my video tour of the cabin…

The Setting

The cabin we had was in the meadow so it was very open, whereas some of them are tucked away amongst the trees. Honestly, in my opinion, regardless of where your cabin is situated, you can’t go wrong.

Our view from the cabin. A meadow with cabins spread out.

The site is in a beautiful location, in the Forest of Dean, with stunning scenic walks all around. Regardless of the time of year we visited, even in Winter, we couldn’t fail to be in awe of the forest setting. Here are just a few of my pictures taken, the first onsite and the others literally a few moments walk off the main site…

Stunning forest setting of the Forest Holidays site.

Beautiful views at the Forest of Dean

Winter scenes at Forest of Dean

Forest of Dean

By the way, the sheer drop on the above photos is less breathtaking and more heartstopping when your autistic child suddenly bolts!!!! Especially if you happen to suffer from vertigo as well, like I do! So I recommend if you explore this area with a young child, or one with SEND, that you not only have nerves of steel, but a very tight grip of their hand!

We don’t have a dog personally, but the site is very dog- friendly and it would be the ideal holiday to take a dog if you are an owner. This is probably also worth noting though if you are nervous around dogs though I guess! Squiggle loved seeing all the dogs about going for walks, she was delighted!

Facilities

Forest Retreat

The Forest Retreat is the main hub where you check in and book activities, and is home to the shop and restaurant. It also has pottery activities for children.

The shop sells a lovely range of gifts, books and activities that are carefully chosen to be perfectly on theme for the nature of the holiday. It also sells a wonderful selection of food and drink; including an extensive range of cider, wine and beer, fresh produce and a range of Cook meals for easy self- catering dining options.

Forest Retreat photo strip showing selection in store.

Food

The menu has plenty to choose from, to either eat in the restaurant or take away. The food was consistently good and service was prompt.

Bike Hire

Bike hire is available onsite from £28 per break per adult or from £25 per child. It is recommended you book these in advance. We didn’t hire bikes on this occasion but Squiggle did ask about it (towards the end of the holiday!) so we would definitely consider it next time.

Cycle Hire building from the outside.

Play Area

The play area was sectioned off during our visit as they were carrying out work on it. It looked more suitable for younger children, but Squiggle would have had a quick go if it were available no doubt!

Bug Hotel

Granted not really one of the facilities per se (at least not for humans!) but I wanted to mention the bug hotel anyway. We have seen these in many places but this one is particularly well made!

Large bug hotel with information sign. Squiggle is stood next to it.

Activities

There are a range of forest ranger led activities available for various ages. Some are shorter at 90 minutes in duration, whilst one survival course is half a day. As well as daytime activities, there is also a night-time ranger adventure so you can spy on the nocturnal forest inhabitants after dark! Dogs are allowed on some of the activities but not all courses, and some have a minimum age for children, so do check details before booking. There are also a selection of activities off- site that can be booked through Forest Holidays as well.

Squiggle on the winter trail.

Squiggle wasn’t up for any of these due to her anxiety, so we opted to do their self- guided seasonal trail instead. This cost £6.95 and she got a prize at the end for completing it. This was a really engaging activity. She started off reluctant to join in but as soon as we got to the first few stops and solved the clues she was hooked! We really enjoyed it and it was definitely one of the highlights of our holiday.

Seasonal trail clue

Local Places To Visit

There are numerous walks nearby surrounded by beauty and tranquility. Aside from that, there are several local places to visit that might be of interest. Forest Holidays have some suggestions of what’s nearby. I would really love to visit Clearwell Caves and also Puzzlewood sometime in future.

We did go to Beechenhurst, mainly to go on the sculpture trail. However, Squiggle was very near tired and nearing meltdown, so we didn’t actually find any sculptures and ended up just having a quick wander instead. I would love to return when it is better timing for her though; it looked like a lovely place to spend a day and I really want to see the sculptures – from the photos they look brilliant!

One thing I will remember from our trip though was that, as we drove up into the carpark, something moving in the forest caught my eye. As I turned to look I thought at first it was dozens of rabbits scurrying into the bushes. But then I realised, whatever they were, they weren’t hopping – they were running. It was a huge group of baby wild boar!

Now I know they are very common to the area and especially at that time of year, but I had never actually seen any before. I was so excited! They were gone in a flash; no time to grab a camera or even point them out to Squiggle, but that was a personal highlight that I will always remember.

We also visited Symonds Yat briefly, on the bank of River Wye. I took a few photos, but I could have taken many more of these stunning scenic views…

River Wye

Stunning scenic view of river Wye

Symonds Yat

In Summary

We really enjoyed our stay at Forest Holidays and loved exploring Forest of Dean. We are very keen to return here sometime in the future, and also would like to try other Forest Holidays locations too. We would definitely recommend it – at any time of year!

Last but not least…

Here is a video clip I put together summarising the highlights of our holiday:

*Disclosure: I was given a discount when booking this holiday in exchange for a review post. However, as always, I have expressed my honest opinion and all thoughts are my own.

A Day Out in London With Kids: Guest Post by Emma – Wanderlust & Wet Wipes

I love London. I loved living there when I lived there (even though I was always ready to leave for our next adventure). Now that we live away, I especially love going back there to visit. It really is a city with something for everyone with millions of outdoor and indoor options for every eventuality.

There are museums and parks, soft plays and cafes, buzzing restaurants and historic sights, shopping galore and sniff new buildings…. Not to mention the ever popular riding public transport (true story – we actually did this one afternoon)! You could spend a couple of crazy busy weeks there and still not do everything! If you’ve only got the one day, here’s what I would do for a day out in London with kids…

A Day Out in London With Kids - a guest post by Wanderlust and Wet Wipes title with faded image of London background

Early morning
We’re usually pretty jet lagged when we arrive so the kids wake up crazy early. A cup of tea on the sofa while they watch CBeebies makes me feel right at home! Since we stay in Putney, I usually try to go for a walk or a run along the river. The views are stunning across the water and you can usually watch rowers skimming along as you run.

Breakfast
Back home and we are ready to go pretty early having been up with the birds. Living the Middle East, we always go for big breakfasts with lots of pork products! My current favourite places are Muriel’s Kitchen and Carluccio’s.

Morning
There’s so much to do in London with kids, it’s ridiculous. I’m a huge fan of the museums partly because they are free but mostly because they are such amazing resources for parents. Our favourites are the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum which are conveniently right next to each other and down the road from Muriel’s Kitchen! I really want to try out the Transport Museum next time we are home as I think the kids will be the right ages for it by now.

Lunch
If the weather is nice, I say you can’t beat a pub lunch in a place with a really nice beer garden. Sitting in the sun with a proper pub grub type of meal is one of my ideas of heaven!

Afternoon
In the afternoon heading to the Tower of London is always a winner. You can download their app and complete a digital mission or you can do one of their activity trails. Alternatively head over to the London Eye for spectacular views of the capital. If the weather is nice and you want to make the most of being outside, take advantage of one of the many hundreds of parks (1700 apparently!) and let the kids run off some energy.

Dinner
There are literally so many options if you’re just coming off the Eye. The South Bank is packed with family friendly restaurants like Wagamama, Giraffe and Ping Pong. My kids can be quite fussy eaters so it’s great to have a place where I know there’s somewhere that we can all eat something!

Head home via public transport (to keep the kids happy) for a well earned, good night’s sleep.

Aerial image of London river Thames

About Emma
Emma’s a pushing 40, travel-mad mum to 2 young kids (aged 6 and 4) and a crazy dog. Originally from the UK she’s lived in 10 cities across 5 continents all over the world. She currently lives in Doha, Qatar. Emma started blogging about her family travels in 2017 when she had an epiphany about how to have successful adventurous family holidays.

You can follow Emma at:

Blog: wanderlustandwetwipes.com
Twitter: @wanderwetwipes
Facebook: facebook.com/wanderlustandwetwipes
Instagram: instagram.com/wanderlustandwetwipes
Pinterest: pinterest.co.uk/wanderlustandwetwipes

Days Out in Newcastle Upon Tyne

Are you planning a trip to Newcastle? If it is your first time visiting (or even if it’s not!) here are my ideas for a fun packed, family- friendly day out in Newcastle…

Days Out in Newcastle title with image of Tyne below

(Please note I have not yet been to all of these places myself, some are still on my travel bucket list for next time we visit Newcastle!)

Life Science Centre

This science museum is situated in Times Square right next to the train stations and is also close to a large carpark, so it makes a good starting or finishing point for your day if you are based outside of town (Toon!) It looks like an absolute must if you have kids; it is full of hands-on activities. Be warned though, I hear it gets busy!

Quayside Walk/ Open Top Bus Tour of Gateshead Quays

From the Life Science Centre, take a walk along the Quayside to enjoy the scenic views. Once you arrive at Guildhall and Merchants Court, jump on an open top bus to cross the Swing Bridge then continue your sightseeing along Gateshead Quays.

Quayside walk with views across the Tyne river.

Baltic Centre For Contemporary Art

Jump off the bus tour at Baltic Art Centre to take in the sights of River Tyne from new heights via their viewing platform. You can also grab a bite to eat for lunch while you are here. If you have time, check out their current exhibits too of course!

Open Top Bus Tour (Continued)

After lunch, hop back onto the open top bus tour to travel past the impressive Sage building and across the famous Tyne Bridge. I am not a fan of heights myself, but despite that I still recommend it! End the tour at Market Street.

Sage Gateshead

Sightseeing or Shopping?

Depending on how late in the day it is, you could fit in a quick visit to Laing Art Gallery. It also has a recently refurbished play space for younger children, so good if you have little ones. You could also see Greys Monument or check out Blue Carpet Square. Another option would be to take in a theatre show at Theatre Royal.

If shopping is more your thing, there are plenty of shops around to choose from and a large shopping centre or three. Whilst the huge intu Metrocentre is further away, you could grab a bus or cab there. Or just head to nearby Eldon Square intu instead. If you prefer boutiques and specialist shops, then definitely pop to Eldon Garden Shopping Centre. Alternatively, visit Grainger Market for something abit different.

Eating Out

After all that, finish off the day enjoying a delicious dinner at one of Newcastle’s many restaurants. There are loads to choose from! If you are looking for discounts on food, as well as activities and attractions, then check out Groupon to see what deals they currently have on things to do in Newcastle. Enjoy!

A photo of Newcastle at night. Colourful lights illuminate the river Tyne

Have you been to Newcastle? Where would you recommend? Tell me in comments!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Top Tips For A Plastic-Free Picnic

As I mentioned in my previous post, one of the launch day events for Plastic-Free St Albans is a Plastic-Free Picnic at Highfield Park. This is also an awesome way to celebrate Earth Day too. So whether you are planning a picnic for this reason, or having one on any other day, here are my top tips for a plastic-free picnic…

Top Tips For A Plastic-Free Picnic

Shopping

Firstly, choose items that are sold loose or in recyclable packaging. Avoid plastic packaging as much as you can! It is hard to do, which is why there are several campaigns focused on holding shops and supermarkets more accountable for this too. If you are feeling abit rebellious, you could unpackage everything after you pay, before you leave and give the rubbish back to them… maybe it will help them to take the hint!

Better yet, head on down to your local eco store, if you have one, with your refill jars and avoid the supermarkets with all their unnecessary packaging full stop!

(Oh, and wherever you shop, don’t forget to take your reusable bags, obviously….)

Plastic Free St Albans eco friendly reusable bag organic cotton sustainable bag

Packing Your Picnic

Transporting

Use an old style wicker basket to carry your picnic! Or choose from one of the many reusable bag options available. This one is easy; just don’t use a plastic bag! Moving on…

Containers

Tuppaware containers are ok as they aren’t single- use plastic. However, there are even better alternatives! Stainless steel containers are more environmentally- friendly and will most likely last you longer too.

Keeping it Fresh

Rather than cling film, use sandwich bags or reusable wax wraps. These keep food fresh very effectively and are much kinder to the environment.

Reusable sandwich bag

Plates, Bowls and Cutlery

Taking your own cutlery that you use at home is a good choice. You don’t actually need different cutlery just because you are eating outdoors! But if you do prefer to use something else, invest in a reusable bamboo cutlery set if possible.

For disposable cutlery options, as well as bowls and plates too, choose eco- friendly items such as from The Blue Speck. They are 100% biodegradable and sourced directly from plants.

Drinks

Take a flask along with a reusable cup for hot drinks. For cold drinks, take along a reusable drinks bottle. If you need a straw, invest in a reusable one made from metal or bamboo, or buy disposable alternatives to plastic, such as paper straws.

Reusable eco friendly cup

Other Useful Info

Low Tox Box also has a fab zero waste starter kit. It contains several reusable bags, spork, cup and straw for £30 plus P&P. They also plant a tree for every box sold and send a certificate too.

Enjoy your plastic- free picnic!

Click here for more zero waste tips

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.

Organising An Eco-Friendly Children’s Party 

Are you holding a kids party, and considering ways to make it more eco-friendly? It is not an easy task, as I discovered when trying to organise Squiggle’s 9th birthday party a couple of months ago! You need to get a bit creative if you don’t want to leave behind piles of plastic, wrapping paper, and litter. In some ways we succeeded, others we need to work on for next time! Here are some thoughts…

party, eco, environmentally friendly, kids party, celebrations, events, green living

Eco- and Kid-Friendly Catering

  • Opt for reusable plates, bowls and cutlery instead of disposable options. Alternatively, create personalised party food packages wrapped up resuable food bags or wraps, or even in scarves or bandanas. They not only make colourful decorations for the table, but this approach can subtly assist with addressing allergy issues/ dietary requirements of young guests, plus they’ll double as napkins and the children can take them home afterwards.
  • Prepare fruity drinks ahead of time, using jam jars with sealable lids. It saves on packaging and if the weather’s hot and you’re outside, they’re easily kept cool in a cool box or even a bucket filled with ice. Use sustainable straws (e.g. paper or reusables) rather than plastic, and make the drinks more exciting by adding chopped or sliced fresh fruit such as strawberries.
  • Picnic or buffet areas set aside from other activities help to keep the mess and left overs in one place. They make supervision easier too, so if anyone needs help they aren’t left on their own. Dressing up metal barriers (which you can hire from staging and event specialists) with paper bunting or streaming creates a separation from other areas while maintaining the celebratory atmosphere.
party, eco, environmentally friendly, kids party, celebrations, events, green living
Squiggle’s 9th party

      Green Ideas for Party Activities and Take Home Gifts/ Favours

      It is traditional to give the party-goers some kind of goodie bag or favour to take home, but it doesn’t have to affect your pledge to organise an eco-friendly party.

      • How about giving each child a small plant or sapling they can take home and put in their own garden? If you wrap each root ball in hessian, there’s no waste at all since it can go on the compost heap when it’s no longer needed. This is even better if any of the party activities have a similar theme of planting and growing.
      • For example, you could make ‘plant pots’ by halving empty cardboard roll tubes, then decorate by painting before planting their seeds. Plug each ‘pot’ with balled up newspaper so it will hold some compost. This creates an activity and a gift to take home in one. 
      • Or make seed bombs at the party to take home! 
      • Recycled plantable seed paper, for instance, is also an interesting novelty for children.
      • Nature crafts are fun activities. Have a scavenging hunt with a pile of twigs, mosses and grasses, then make some nature art.
      • Hold a bug hunt. Make a short list of insects to find, with prizes for all who find some, then invite children to draw or paint their favourites.
      • You could even get everyone involved in planting a special ‘celebration tree’ as part of the party!
      party, eco, environmentally friendly, kids party, celebrations, events, green living
      Nature art

        Other Tips

          • Use Japanese blow up paper balloons rather than latex or foil balloons. These last a long time and are more environmentally friendly.
          • Reuse decorations. If you don’t want the same theme year after year, pass your old decorations on and source ‘new’ secondhand ones on your chosen theme. Better yet, also opt for decorations that are made from sustainable materials too!
          • If it is a particularly large party and you plan on having several different activities going on at the same time, or maybe with specific start times if you’re holding competitions or races, it might mean guests are quite spread out at times. Setting up a PA system to make announcements will keep everyone informed and save you a lot of running round. I remember once we had Squiggle’s party on a huge field; that would have been very handy then! 
          party, eco, environmentally friendly, kids party, celebrations, events, green living
          We held a party on this large field a few years back

            Eco-friendly parties are taking off in popularity, not just because they are good for our planet and build empathy for our natural environment, but also because they’re fun and children enjoy them! 

            Can you think of other eco- friendly party ideas? Tell me in comments! 

            *Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Alistage. 

            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…

            The Wildlife Trust, 30 days wild, #30dayswild, #livinglifewild, nature reserve, nature, wildlife, natural environment, woodland, outdoors, get outside, childhood unplugged, visit Herts, places to visit, Gobions Wood, Hertfordshire, things to do, family fun, explore outdoors, Living Life Our Way

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

            Pick Your Own: Fruit Farm Visit #30DaysWild

            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…

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            childhood unplugged, fruit farm, pick your own, PYO, places to visit, Herts

            childhood unplugged, fruit farm, pick your own, PYO, places to visit, Herts

            childhood unplugged, fruit farm, pick your own, PYO, places to visit, Herts

            childhood unplugged, fruit farm, pick your own, PYO, places to visit, Herts

            By the way, does anyone else see a smiley face strawberry with a big nose…

            strawberry, smiley face fruit, fruit farm, pick your own, PYO, places to visit, Herts

            What have you been doing so far this weekend, and what plans do you have?

            Cycling Adventures: Exploring St Albans 

            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.

            #cyclingadventures, InnTravel, slow holidays, cycling, cycle route, St Albans, Hertfordshire, active lifestyle, wellbeing, outdoors, get outside, selfie

            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.

            #cyclingadventures, InnTravel, slow holidays, cycling, cycle route, St Albans, Hertfordshire, active lifestyle, wellbeing, outdoors, get outside

            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.

            #cyclingadventures, InnTravel, slow holidays, cycling, cycle route, Highfield Park, St Albans, Hertfordshire, active lifestyle, wellbeing, outdoors, get outside
            Highfield Park
            #cyclingadventures, InnTravel, slow holidays, cycling, cycle route, Highfield Park, maze, St Albans, Hertfordshire, active lifestyle, wellbeing, outdoors, get outside
            Highfield Park (with maze to the left)

            #cyclingadventures, InnTravel, slow holidays, cycling, cycle route, Highfield Park, St Albans, Hertfordshire, active lifestyle, wellbeing, outdoors, get outside

            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.

            #cyclingadventures, InnTravel, slow holidays, cycling, cycle route, Alban Way, St Albans, Hertfordshire, active lifestyle, wellbeing, outdoors, get outside
            Alban Way cycle path

            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.

            #cyclingadventures, InnTravel, slow holidays, cycling, cycle route, Alban Way, graffiti art, St Albans, Hertfordshire, active lifestyle, wellbeing, outdoors, get outside
            Alban Way by Orient Close

            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.

            #cyclingadventures, InnTravel, slow holidays, cycling, cycle route, Sopwell Nunnery, green space, St Albans, Hertfordshire, active lifestyle, wellbeing, outdoors, get outside

            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.

            #cyclingadventures, InnTravel, slow holidays, cycling, cycle route, Verulamium Park, St Albans, Hertfordshire, scenic, views, active lifestyle, wellbeing, outdoors, get outside
            Views of Verulamium Park (from Roman Hypocaust)
            #cyclingadventures, InnTravel, slow holidays, cycling, cycle route, Verulamium Park, St Albans, Hertfordshire, historical, Romans, history, The London Gate, active lifestyle, wellbeing, outdoors, get outside
            Cycle path near The London Gate

             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.

            #cyclingadventures, InnTravel, slow holidays, cycling, cycle route, Verulamium Park, St Albans, Hertfordshire, active lifestyle, wellbeing, outdoors, get outside

            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.

            #cyclingadventures, InnTravel, slow holidays, cycling, cycle route, Waffle House, St Michaels Village, St Albans, Hertfordshire, active lifestyle, wellbeing, outdoors, get outside

            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.

            Family Fun Day – Finding The Wild! 

            On Sunday, we went to a family fun day at a local college. Whilst that was in itself far from wild, we did find a couple of nature related things going on!

            The main thing was finding our local beekeepers. This also led me to read more about beekeepers afterwards, especially from an ethical point of view. I found an interesting blog by a beekeeper about how approaches can vary and some are less ethical so I would like to know more about the practices of the ones we saw now. It was educational for Squiggle to see them though anyway!

            Beekeepers, local honey, family fun day, #LivingLifeWild, #30DaysWild, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts, wildlife, nature

            We also spotted some woodcarving, which is such an awesome skill! Squiggle loved the rabbit…

            Wood carving, family fun day, #LivingLifeWild, #30DaysWild, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts

            There are a few less ‘wild’ photos too! Building a wall…

            Building a wall, bricklayer, manual skills, family fun day, #LivingLifeWild, #30DaysWild, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts

            Building a wall, bricklayer, manual skills, family fun day, #LivingLifeWild, #30DaysWild, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts

            Inflatable assault course…

            inflatable assault course, family fun day, #LivingLifeWild, #30DaysWild, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts

            Fun games…

            Games, family fun day, #LivingLifeWild, #30DaysWild, 30 Days Wild, The Wildlife Trusts

            There were also sheep, birds of prey, funfair rides and dancing demonstration, plus lots of other things that we didn’t get round to as well!