Fun in the sun at Fineshade Woods with the Gruffalo Spotter App

Wasn’t the weather last weekend just stunning? A bit of sunshine can work wonders and I think almost all of us were out there in some form to make the most of us weren’t we? We had already arranged to meet friends at Fineshade Woods, which is a forestry commission forest near to where we live, and were quite pleased to be able to go there in the sunshine as we’ve only ever been on rainy or cold days before!

The biggest difference was obviously how busy it was, still we were there early enough that we managed to park and met our friends. First up was a little play on the fab play area near the visitors centre.PhotoGrid_1491833272213

Then we headed off onto their newest trail, the Gruffalo trail! They had a Gruffalo trail here previously which ended with a sculpture, but I knew this one was all about the latest app, the Gruffalo Spotter, so I had downloaded it prior to arrival. We headed off down the trail and could immediately see the difference a sunny Sunday made, as it was busy! The kids loved spotting all the signs along the way even though we sometimes had to wait a bit to get close to some of them.PhotoGrid_1491833054674

The app itself is based on an augmented reality. You scan some of the signs and then the characters from the book come to life on your device. It’s kinda cool… But I’m not that convinced I have to admit. On a bright sunny day it was tricky to see the screen… And we only had phones rather than a tablet which I guess may be better.PhotoGrid_1491832908962

But for small children, I don’t think they really got why things were on my screen but weren’t really there. Trying to get them to pose for photos was tricky too as they were standing next to a sign and didn’t really get why. Monkey grasped it a bit but LM didn’t have a clue what was going on really! It didn’t help that it was a busy day as sometimes we had to wait to get to one of the signs, which the little ones really didn’t see the point of!

Then, the worst bit for us was that the final one, with the Gruffalo… Just didn’t work. I tried a few times and restarted the app but just nothing. I don’t think we were the only ones either so it was a shame. By that point the kids were pretty hungry anyway we easily distracted them and headed to the cafe.

I don’t think the app and the downsides detracted from our enjoyment of the trail… But actually I don’t think they enhanced it either. We all loved running around and playing in the woods and looking out for clues. The images we saw and pics we took gave us a bit of a giggle but I just think that actually for my kids at least, that they would have liked something tangible they could see, more than something on a screen. It also meant I was behind my screen a lot trying to get it to work, rather than being present and joining in the fun with them.

Like I say, we had a really lovely day. Catching up with great friends and having a fun outdoor adventure in lovely woods on a gorgeous day. I’m just not sure I’d bother with the app next time!PhotoGrid_1491833176426

Have you tried the Gruffalo Spotter app? What did you think? Am I being overly negative about it or did you think the same?

 

Canons Ashby with Friends

I’m a bit late writing this post but a few weeks ago we met up with some lovely friends of ours, Sarah from Run, Jump, Scrap and family, at National Trust’s Canon’s Ashby. Living a fair distance from each other we often meet up somewhere like this in the middle, and I can’t believe that the last time we went to Canon’s Ashby was a little over a year ago! We’ve met up at other places since then but still hard to believe it was a year since the last time we were there, playing in the autumn leaves. We were particularly excited to meet up with them this time as it was to be the first time that we met the newest addition to their family, beautiful baby piglet.

We got there a little early, and it was absolutely freezing! Thankfully we were all wrapped up warm and while LM was fixated on seeing the chickens, Monkey and I ran around having a bit of a leaf fight,before we headed to the cafe for a hot chocolate while we waited for Sarah and Co.photogrid_1480069386744

After warming up and having a little snack it was time to head out and explore the grounds, after the kids had a game of hide and seek with hubs that is!photogrid_1480069491380

The gardens are great fun and the kids loved running about, though poor Gremlin took a tumble and twisted her ankle which stopped the fun a little.photogrid_1480069607336

To warm up we headed into the house itself, and headed straight to the nursery which is set up with toys for the kids to play with. They had loads of fun in there and the gorgeous piglet woke up so we got to enjoy some cuddles with her.photogrid_1480069778688

We headed for lunch not long after and after some yummy food headed back outside for a play, adults and kids alike hahaphotogrid_1480069971192

Then the rain started. We headed into the priory in the hope that it wouldn’t last too long. The kids had a whale of  a time chasing each other round the pews and generally messing with each other while us grown ups got to have a good old natter.photogrid_1480070047897

With the rain getting worse rather than better we decided it was time to call it a day. We had so much fun though as always and look forward to our next meet up :)

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Monkey and Mouse

The Stick Man trail at Fineshade Woods

Last weekend we finally visited somewhere I have wanted to visit for ages, Fineshade Woods, to do the Stick Man trail. Fineshade is about 20 mins from where we live and yet we had never been, bonkers!  So with the sun shining we donned our wellies and headed off for a walk through the woods to rectify that. PhotoGrid_1456145605528

Stick Man is one of Monkey’s favourite books so he was dead excited to follow the trail. He excitedly ran to each of the signs and was excited by every picture from the book. Hubs also used the opportunity to help with Monkey’s reading by helping him read the signs, which Monkey found great fun. PhotoGrid_1456146479242

He also loved doing the activities at each point. I thought they were great too, building nests and towers and dens out of sticks! It was nice seeing those left over by others too and the kids had a fab time playing in a den left behind by previous explorers! PhotoGrid_1456146353976

For her part LM adored exploring the woods and yep the mud. She was straight in to any muddy puddle she could find and was so happy! (She got covered though as you can imagine!) PhotoGrid_1456146566144

On the whole we had a lovely time and lots of fun as a family. Then when LM’s welly got stuck in the mud and she stepped out of it covering her leg in mud we took as it a good time to end our visit and head to the lovely top lodge cafe for a hot drink and yummy food. PhotoGrid_1456147571918

There are some fantastic play areas at Fineshade too and though we had to cut short our visit because of a very muddy LM we look back to returning soon!

What you should know about visiting Fineshade Woods. 

Fineshade is easily accessible and well signposted from the A47 between Peterborough and Uppingham.

Pay & Display parking is in operation, £1 for an hour or £3 for the day,  coins only at the moment so don’t get caught out!

You don’t need an activity pack to complete the Stick Man trail but it does add to the fun. The pack cost £3 and is available from the cafe where the staff are so friendly and helpful.

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A day out at NT Canons Ashby

Last weekend we went out for the day to meet up with the very lovely Sarah from Run Jump Scrap and her family. Our husbands go back a long way and have been good friends since school. Sarah and I have met a few times over the years and went to each other’s weddings but living so far away from each other there wasn’t really a chance to get to know each other very well. Since she started blogging it has been great as I feel I know her so much better now and that we have a lot in common. We decided to meet up and with both being National Trust members chose Canons Ashby near Daventry as it is about an hour away from us both.

It wasn’t the most beautiful of days, being a bit grey and damp but at least it wasn’t raining and the autumn leaves brightened our day.

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I always find National Trust places are great for kids and Canons Ashby didn’t disappoint as they provided us with a treasure hunt checklist of things to find. We had a good run around the garden ticking things off the list and it was great as it gave the kids a purpose while we grown ups were catching up!canons ashby 2

The gardens were lovely and surprisingly blooming despite the time of year, adding to the gorgeous autumn colours. They were tiered giving gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside.canons ashby 3

There was a croquet lawn which was the hit of the day, particularly with Monkey as it was a job to get him away from it! We grown ups had fun on there too of course!canons ashby 4

The house itself was very grand though very dark, especially on such a dreary day. One of the favourite rooms was the playroom which had toys that the kids were allowed to play with. They all had great fun on the playhorse and Sarah’s Gremlin loved playing with what we thought was a rather creepy doll – as it had lost its eyes!canons ashby 5

Monkey was chomping at the bit to get back to the croquet bless him and he played that some more with the daddies and Gremlin while Sarah and I caught up and I tried to stop LM from eating mud and stones! We eventually tempted Monkey away from the croquet with some running and hiding behind some fab bushes in the next garden. It’s safe to say we all had a lot of fun running around hiding and chasing each other!canons ashby 6

Then with tired out children it was time to head home but we all had a very lovely time and will be meeting up again soon.

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Lyveden New Bield, Northamptonshire

A couple of weeks ago we had a visit from my lovely Aunt for the weekend. In spite of (or maybe because of) all of the illness in our house we were desperate to get out and about and have some fun in the sunshine. We decided to visit a local National Trust place that we have only visited once before, on a very bleak February day, Lyveden New Bield. It was really lovely to go back at a completely different time of year and really see it in a new light.WP_20150530_032 The building itself is ever the same, an unfinished Elizabethan ‘garden lodge’ which is bigger than 4 or 5 of our house put together!WP_20150530_021

It is hugely impressive, perched on a hilltop and as atmospheric as it was last time we went.WP_20150530_16_08_48_Pro

But the gardens are totally different at this time of year as everything is lush and green. There is a tranquil moat and hilltop mounds. A maze, an orchard, woodland and fields. It really is very, very picturesque!

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It was ‘Lyveden Alive’ weekend so there was a lovely nature trail to go on and lots of lovely activities for kids including bird watching (they have a swallow nest with babies in with a webcam set up looking at it) and pond dipping. Monkey adored wandering about with binoculars on, and the pond dipping was great fun – not something I would have thought he could do yet, but with Daddy’s help to prevent him falling in he thought it was brilliant!

Lyveden alive

The nature trail, certainly helped keep him entertained throughout our visit, seeking out little doors to find letters to spell a word on our activity sheet. He was very, very proud of himself by the end and very happy with the choccies he got as a reward!

lyveden nature trail

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All in in all it was just a lovely day, nice to get out and enjoy the sunshine and have some fun together with my Aunt :)

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