24 August 2016

Looking at Lilies at Stackpole

We visited Stackpole about 4 years ago on another holiday and walked around Bosherton lakes, the famous lily pond and across the headland down to the sea spending the day there admiring the views, playing on the beach and hunting for wildlife. This time we went for an afternoon stroll, parked at Stackpole Court and walked down along the lakes down to the lily pond and the famous bridge. 

Stackpole is part of the Pembrokeshire coastline, a large area originally about 12,000 acres comprising of farms fields, coastline, woods and lakes as well as the lost Stackpole House. The Stackpole estate is now much smaller with much of what remains having become part of the National Trust which now manages the woodlands, lakes and coastline.

Apologies for the pictures in this post most of them have been uploaded from my phone as I didn't take my camera that day.

We headed through the wood from the car park and found ourselves looking at old buildings which looked like they could be holiday cottages in a large grassy area which I believe used to be the old Stackpole House. The children found some swings and had a short go before we started walking down to the lakes.

We followed the path down along the lake, looking out for wildlife. We spotted several herons, ducks and birds too. There are apparently lots of otters in the area and although we didn't see any I did hear some otter barking sounds coming from underneath where we were standing at one point.

Following the path down, the Little ones playing with sticks and climbing muddy banks, we reached the bridges heading across the headland and down to the sea. After a short sit down we continued on down to the lily pond and bridge to take in the view.

The lily pond bridge is famous as there are thousands of lilies growing around it, the view is amazing and so beautiful. In winter the water level in the reserve rises so that the bridge is impassable and all that can be seen is a bit of the fence and in the heat of the summer the water level drops very low and the bridge can be meters above the water. This time there was still a fair amount of water compared to last time we visited when the water was very low.

There were lots of fish in the lake and shiny water beetles too. We watched them for a while then began to head back up, Little 3 was rather tired and nodded off in the pushchair.

Once we were back up, it was coffee, squash and cake all round while Little 3 ran around the grass exploring and the girls took turns on the swings. 

We only walked a couple of miles on what is a huge estate, there are many car parks in different places and with the beach, headlands, lakes and small towns there is lots to explore, we will certainly go again next time we are in Pembrokeshire.

21 August 2016

The Little Ones go wild at Wild Place, Bristol

Those of you that know the Little Ones know that they never sit still, all three of them love nature and animals and that they are at their happiest when they are free to run, play, explore and get close to nature.

Not far from us is 'The Wild Place Project', somewhere we had not yet visited despite it being seconds off Junction 17 of the M5, well this week the Little Ones got invited to the official photo session for the opening of their new exhibit- Gelada Rocks.

The Wild Place Project is a little different to a normal zoo, it hopes to inspire families to enjoy nature with its emphasis is on outdoor adventure, play and learning. There is plenty to do at Wild Place for young children and as well as exploring and playing there are animals to see too. Wild Place is working towards protecting threatened habitats around the globe.

We rocked up bright and early before normal opening hours and headed over to the new exhibit where we met the project's director. The girls were eager to see the Gelada baboons and were not disappointed. We watched as the baboons ate, chased, groomed one another and chatted in their funny language. 


Then while the Little Ones went off to play like baboons on the play rocks we got chatting to the director who told us all about the baboons and Wild Place.

Wild Place has been open 2 years now and while they have achieved a lot in those 2 years they still have access to an enormous amount of land and some big ideas to develop it so each time you visit you never know what more you might find.

Eventually it was time to stop watching the baboons and head off to see what the rest of the park had to offer, but first we had to prise the Little Ones off the play rocks.

Even Little 3, who loves to climb, was safe on the lower ones and pleased when he reached his sister at the top.

The Little Ones didn't want to stop playing and look around but the great thing about Wild Place is that there is somewhere to play around every corner. Walking back along the path from the exhibit there was a den building area and then some balancing beams, over/under bars so we stopped at each of those while the girls played before we coaxed them along to the next bit. Soon they were running ahead looking out at what was next to find and play on while we caught up and looked at the animals in between.

Congo Bongo Play area

By this time it had been AGES since breakfast and so we popped into the cafe and  tucked into coffee (for Mummy and Daddy) and yummy huge chelsea buns and muffins, perfect for a refuel before hitting the play fort and swings.

One of my favourite animals is a Meerkat, but who doesn't love them. We stopped and watched these little guys for ages listening to a talk and watching them get fed, it was great to have glass around the enclosure so Little 3 could easily see in from the pushchair and there was a sand pit for the Little ones to pretend to be Meerkats themselves too.

Playing as a Meerkat.
The barefoot trail was a huge hit with the Little Ones, remove your shoes and follow the circular trail over slabs, straw, bricks, logs, pebbles, safety glass among other things and finally into the mud (there is a tap to wash muddy feet). The girls kept wanting to go back over and over.

Little 3 took a lot longer to get around as he stopped to sit in most of the pits to pick bits off his feet and inspect what he was standing on, as soon as he stepped into the mud he went on his tip toes and wanted to get out but the girls loved running up and down in the mud pit.

As we wandered around we saw a donated Chelsea garden, a maize and a butterfly maze, information about declining forests and displays about helping other countries become self sustainable. Much of it was physical so there were things for the children to touch and look at not just lots of signage.

The Wild Place Project is home to a number of different animal species, they all looked happy and content with plenty of space and places to hide away from the public in their enclosures. We even managed to spot a tiny newborn Okapi which is part of the giraffe family with huge ears and a stripy rear. I can't remember having seen one of those before and we have been to a fair number of animal places.

A giant spider's web perhaps?
We had our picnic lunch in a lovely field which had been opened up, we sat under a shady tree and the Little Ones had a run around too. One thing I liked about 'Wild Place' was that there were lots of places to sit, there were benches and picnic tables around every corner and a couple of open grass areas with logs to play on or similar. It felt like we were being invited to just come and take a seat and have a leisurely lunch while the children played.

After lunch Little 3 gave in to tiredness and had a snooze while the girls climbed a fallen tree to get a better view of the wolves. Little 2 climbed all the way to the top spindly branches (with daddy ready to catch her) while Little 1 sat gingery lower down.

We all enjoyed walking around the lemur exhibit, after leaving the pushchair outside, we were within inches of them. Little 3 enjoyed watching some eating while I cooed over 2 tiny twins as they practiced climbing and jumping all over their parents.

We spent the whole day at 'Wild Place; watching the animals and letting the Little Ones play several times on all the play things. It was a great day out for us, the Little Ones were thoroughly shattered and all fast asleep in the car on the way home. 

N.B We received complementary entry to Wild Place in return for this post however all views are our own honest thoughts.

16 August 2016

The Little ones play Robin Hood at Carew Castle

In the past 18 months or so the girls have shown a lot of interest in buildings, houses and castles and having driven past Carew Castle a few times on holiday when getting back to our caravan the Little Ones were keen to go.

It was a damp and dreary looking morning in Wales but the weather app promised better weather to come  so we donned the layers and raincoats and headed to Carew Castle.

We headed inside the Castle first to escape the drizzle, and began to explore and climb the windy staircases, the girls were imagining being princesses and locked up in the tower as well as pretending to be Robin Hood and Maid Marion. By the time we had looked around it had stopped raining and had began to brighten up.

With it being the summer holidays there was plenty laid on for children, the girls took part in a craft activity to create their own foam lance and face mask although Mummy and Daddy ended up doing most of the lance making.

There was a Robin Hood event going on too. We saw several people dressed up and at the front of the castle there was an archery range set up where you could pay to have a lesson, from Marion herself! There was also a fun children's learn to sword fight class and later on while we were having our picnic we watched a group of children running around and hiding pretending to spot enemies and learning how to call using grass and owl sounds although we didn't see any information about either of these so we unfortunately missed them both. The girls didn't mind though, they were too busy pretending to be Robin Hood and lance fighting in the grassed over moat!!

In the afternoon the weather brightened up and the coats and cardigans were shed. Carew Castle also has a huge tidal mill and very large millpond attached to it so we were persuaded into buying some icecreams by the girls and walked the pleasant short stroll around the millpond to the mill.

The millpond is tidal and one of the best crab fishing spots in the area, so they say. There were lots of people crab fishing along the bridge, they had caught quite a few big ones, the Little Ones took time to watch and inspect all the buckets but were not keen to have a go themselves.

We headed into the Mill, it is not in operation anymore but the machinery is still there and has been restored along with an exhibition and interactive displays the Little ones enjoyed. It was interesting to look around and see the water wheel under the building.

The Little Ones favourite part was making their own flour from wheat provided and they got to take home a little bit in a bag too.

We spent most of the day at Carew wandering around the castle and mill, having a play and a picnic and strolling around the millpond, it wasn't that expensive to get in either, we paid £13.50 for a family ticket, a great day out was had by all.

13 August 2016

Children's classic, Spot, review and giveaway

'Spot, Spot, loveable Spot, he's soft and cuddly and he smiles a lot...' It may be 25+ years since I heard that theme tune but this week I have been singing along to it again! As soon as I heard the introduction I remembered the words, I used to watch it on VHS (showing my age now!) as a small child as well as read the books.

''Eric Hill’s loveable puppy, Spot, has been an integral part of early childhood since he first appeared in the classic lift-the-flap storybook Where’s Spot? in 1980. A firm favourite with parents and pre-schoolers, Spot’s toddler-like behaviour introduces children to new experiences through friendship and play.

Spot is truly international and his adventures have been published in over 50 languages (including sign language and Braille editions) selling over 60 million books.''

Spot has always been a children's classic in my eye. Little 1 was given the original 'Where's Spot?' book for her first birthday and it has been passed down and now sits on Little 3's book shelf, he loves the flaps and we read it regularly.

This week Little 3 has been sent a bundle of Spot goodies, a new book, dvd and a puppet, this is because Spot is back and he now has his own website and app too.

The new website funwithspot.com is bright, fun and super easy to navigate. There are some simple games for the young ones and downloadable baking bits and colouring sheets too. Little 2 has had a go on the games and loves the cake game. A simple game of matching the items needed to bake by clicking on them and then decorating the cake by dragging the decorations to it. Little 3 is a bit too young for them but he liked tapping the screen to see what would happen.

Little 3 had been playing with his Spot goodies, he was drawn to the puppet and keeps getting him and hugging him, he thinks it is great fun to put him on and off his hand and kiss him. Little 1 did a little puppet show for him which he thought was hysterical.

We have all enjoyed reading our new Spot book 'Spot's lift the flap Peekaboo', a lovely chunky board book with large cardboard flaps where Spot's friends can be found hiding and peeping out. Although she can not yet read, Little 2 has been telling her brother her own version of the story which has been lovely to watch.

The dvd has been a hit in our house too, even nearly 7 year old Little 1 has watched a couple of episodes with her brother but it is the two younger ones that have asked for it on several occasions. The simple story and bright graphics catch their attention as I can not help but hum the theme tune as each episode begins.

Spot has a new interactive app 'Spot on the Farm' out now on iOS devices. Join Spot and his friends around the farm as they feed and care for the animals, it is great for toddlers. 

We have been asked to run a giveaway for one person to win a Spot book and dvd of your own so if you would like to win please enter the rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

N.B We were gifted our Spot bundle in return for this post. All views and opinions of the products are our own honest thoughts.