Snowdrops Week at Easton Walled Gardens

I make no secret of that fact that we like to get out for an adventure, whatever the weather… But I have to admit that the weather forecast for this weekend tested even our resolve! Grey, rainy,snowy and freezing… We did debate our sanity ever so slightly but after a chat over the breakfast table, the kids were adamant that we go so go we did, to somewhere we hadn’t been before, the Walled Gardens at Easton, just south of Grantham.

I saw some friends had visited last year on Facebook and thought it looked lovely, so had a bit of a nosy. When I saw they had opened for one week in February to show off their snowdrops, I was determined we would go for a visit. I have to admit I had hoped for a perfect winter’s day with blue sky… But sadly that was not to be on the day we had earmarked to go. So we wrapped up and donned waterproofs and it was off we went.PhotoGrid_1486993192113

Even on such a bleak day it was still obvious how lovely and how well cared for the gardens are. PhotoGrid_1486993514477

We loved having a good old explore, and LM particularly loved the giraffe statues… She does love a “gi-rar!” PhotoGrid_1486993862252

And the snowdrops certainly didn’t disappoint! PhotoGrid_1486994037732

There is a a lovely little hut in the gardens, which would be a lovely place to sit on a summers day… And was a lovely place to escape the drizzle for a few minutes!
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We had a lovely lunch in the tea rooms of jacket potato, baguettes and warm soup to thaw us out a little, then, after a tantrum about wearing her coat it was back outside to explore the rest of the gardens. I loved the fact that they provided balls, hoops and even quoits to play with and we certainly put them to good use! PhotoGrid_1486994665771

Then it was time to come home and thoroughly defrost ourselves and snuggle in the warm. We had a wonderful day, though with some serious tantrums and feistiness from our madam alomg the way… Though I doubt any outing would exist without those from her at the moment!

I was so glad we braved the weather, though, as we really enjoyed ourselves, and I look forward to. Coming back in the warmer months, hopefully on a sunny day!

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A winter’s morning at our local country park

We are incredibly fortunate where we live, that we have a fantastic country park basically on our doorstep. I don’t like to name it as hubs feels it is too clear an indication as to where we live, but we can walk/cycle there so easily. It is the perfect place for a family outing, to meet friends and generally have a play. Last weekend we arranged to meet some of our friends there for the morning.

It was such a clear, but very cold and frosty winter’s morning. Though it is very close it can be a bit too far for little legs to walk (especially the homeward bound leg after running and playing all day) so we decided to cycle over. I adore that LM loves being on the back of my bike, and Monkey is getting much stronger and able to cycle faster and for longer meaning we can have a bit of a family bike ride (though still a very sedate one!). It was gorgeous cycling over in the morning sun and sparkly frost.PhotoGrid_1485353769385

We had a look around at some of the ice and frozen plants, and shells etc before our friends arrived.PhotoGrid_1485354002746

They joined us for a play on one of the playareas, which was interesting in the ice, as the slide was seriously slippy, so much so that LM flew at one point bless her!PhotoGrid_1485354216821

The kids then had great fun chasing bubbles, which looked gorgeous in the sunlight.PhotoGrid_1485354309545

We then walked over to go to another playarea but at this point LM threw a mega wobbler and basically wouldn’t stop screaming. One of those times where you can’t really even work out what is wrong or what she wants you to do. Always fun. Eventually she was happy to ride on Daddy’s shoulders which thankfully gave us a break from the screaming!PhotoGrid_1485354415362

Thinking she may be cold we stopped at a cafe for some hot drinks and cake to warm us all up, before going out onto the nearby sandy play park. The kids love this park and had so much fun out there, going through tunnels, jumping off ledges, going down the slide and playing in the sand in general.PhotoGrid_1485354535511

With lunchtime approaching and knowing we had to get back to our bikes, and then cycle home, it was time to head off. I love a good cold morning out when you can then wrap up warm and cosy when you get home :)

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Hills & Holes, Barnack, Lincolnshire

A little to the north of where we live is a little known nature reserve, and a place that I love, called Hills & Holes. It is the site where limestone was quarried to build Peterborough cathedral, and quite simply this left the area with lots of hills, and lots of holes!

I know it sounds a bit odd but honestly I love it there. I have so many awesome memories of running up and down all the hills and in and out of the woods there as a kid.  Hubs did the same with his family too so it is a place we have always said we wanted to take the kids, and finally it feels like LM is old enough to start to enjoy it, so with some rare sunshine forecast on Saturday morning, we headed over.PhotoGrid_1484575491854

Monkey could not get his head round what we meant when we said we were going to Hills & Holes, and he was even more confused when we pulled up in one of the few laybys that class as parking on the edge of the village and walked through a little gate. But as soon as we got in and he saw the hills, well he was about as happy as a 4yr old gets at the prospect of an adventure!PhotoGrid_1484574948014

It’s difficult to see in the pictures just how hilly and undulating it is… but I’m sure you get the idea!¬†PhotoGrid_1484575419728

I was so proud of LM as she did so well walking up and down some of the seriously huge hills holding Daddy’s hand… ¬†Though her little legs definitely got tired after a while and she needed a carry the rest of the way.

At some times of the year there are sheep in some areas of the reserve. We wandered over to say hello and they were all staring at us and being quite friendly. But then when we carried on walking they started following us, which unnerved LM a bit bless her. We were a little perplexed and turned back to see the ram push his way to the front of the sheep and start stomping his feet at us! We weren’t really sure what to do at that point other than calmly but swiftly carry on our way. ¬†They all followed us, with the ram leading them, though thankfully at quite a distance, for some way until we went through a gate into another section of the reserve. I have to admit that I’ve walked through herds of sheep a number of times but have never been confronted by a ram before. What should you do in that situation?PhotoGrid_1484575642847

Anyway, after that little bit of excitement, as LM was needing to be carried we were getting a bit tired (carrying a toddler up and down hills soon becomes hard work!) so headed home. We had a lovely time though. I’m so glad the kids are old enough to start to enjoy it now and look forward to going back many more times over the years for some fresh air and a run around!

Things you need to know about Hills & Holes.

Hills & Holes is on the edge of the village of Barnack, just to the south of Stamford, Lincolnshire.

Parking is in a few laybys on the road between the reserve and the village itself.

Dog’s are welcome but there are signs up when sheep are in the reserve to let you know they need a lead.

It is not remotely buggy friendly or even accessible so if a little one isn’t big enough to walk themselves then they will need to be carried!

No toilets or refreshments etc. of any kind.

If you live nearby have you ever been to Hills & Holes?

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Strawberry Picking – and eating!

One of LM’s favourite ever foods, is strawberries. I honestly believe she would eat them all day every day if she could. So being strawberry season when my Mum and I were trying to think of something different to do with the kids one day I thought we should go strawberry picking!20160622_103128 (2)

We are really fortunate that literally a couple of minutes away from us in the car is a really great pick your own farm. Hill Farm does a variety of pick your own crops throughout the year but I normally miss the strawberries and by the time I get round to visiting it is plum and blackberry season. This year, despite the wet weather we have been having I was determined we would get to pick some strawberries.

After a dry day Tuesday, Wednesday was unfortunately was grey and a bit wet. We headed off nonetheless clad in waterproofs and wellies, expecting hill farm to be wet and muddy, which it was!

One of the things the kids love most about this farm is the play area. My little climbers adore exploring and sliding and climbing… And on a day like today, splashing in huge muddy puddles haha.

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After a bit of a play it was off to find some strawberries. I really love that minutes away from the suburbia where we live is countryside and views like this. 20160622_102554

Monkey loved picking strawberries and they had so so many yummy juicy ones. He even tried one which was good as he only likes eating dried strawberries (eye roll).PhotoGrid_1466608979540

Whereas LM basically just wanted to eat them haha. Hardly a surprise :)IMG_20160622_114325

Nanny was addicted to picking and we soon had so many strawberries I joked they were coming out of our ears.20160622_103645

We decided to head back when out tub was full so we could stop LM from eating basically every strawberry left in the field. She then got really mardy and bless her I think she was hot and grumpy. It was so humid and I was hot in my waterproofs so no doubt she was too. So I stripped them off and we had some cake which cheered her up. Thank goodness as she was screaming the place down by then!PhotoGrid_1466611565231

They have birds of prey on display at the farm that have been raised in captivity and rescued and they are building a more permanent site for them at the farm too. They are so beautiful and the kids loved looking at them. LM was waving hello and giggling and they had a baby kestrel who was so cute and fluffy.PhotoGrid_1466616191496

Of course the kids wanted another play on the play area so LM was straight back in the puddles and got a bit soggy, despite my best efforts! One of the lovely friendly farm dogs also came out for a play. We had planned on staying for a picnic but it started raining so then it was time to head home.PhotoGrid_1466616315281

We had such a lovely time though and the strawberries were so delicious that no doubt we will be back again soon. Do you like pick your own farms?

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Sunny Spring Days

This last week has seen some glorious weather hasn’t it? Signs that winter may finally be over, so we did the only thing possible and got put there and enjoyed the lovely sunshine and warmer days.

On Saturday we headed to Sacrewell Farm, which is such a lovely place, not too far from us, and one of our best Christmas presents as a family was a yearly membership for us all there. It is such a lovely place and we all enjoyed seeing all the animals – especially some of the newborn lambs!PhotoGrid_1457950886140

We had a good wander round enjoying the signs of spring and threw some pooh sticks in the river. I tried to get some good family shots but sadly they weren’t the best haha. Ah well.¬†PhotoGrid_1457951089605

Of course it wasn’t long before the kids found some muddy puddles… and LM once again fell in and needed cleaning up!PhotoGrid_1457951631435

We also had a little play in their wonderful soft play barn.PhotoGrid_1457951147414

On Sunday we went swimming (more on that to come in another post) and then later that afternoon went for a country walk with my big brother and his lovely wife. It was a glorious day but there was still a definite chill in the air despite the sunshine. It was lovely to get out and enjoy the fesh air though and LM walked for miles, it was amazing! Oh and yes, once again the little ones were drawn towards the muddy puddles.PhotoGrid_1457960447097

As the sun started to go down it was getting colder and there was just time for some bubble chasing on our way home in the glorious afternoon sunlight.PicMonkey Collage

Simple pleasures but so lovely to be out enjoying the sunshine – and we are all so so looking forward to spring and summer and many more lovely sunny days to come.

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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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Bretton Water Park, Peterborough

There is a little outdoor water park in Peterborough (Bretton Water Park) that I have heard about a few times, but not been to before. It doesn’t really have much information online about where it is or how to get there but in photos I had seen on Facebook etc. it looked great, so I decided to give it a go.

Bretton Water Park

 

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Ducks, Steam Trains and Boats!

Last weekend, after a quick trip to buy some fence paint we decided to stop off to feed the ducks. Somehow I’d manage to overbuy on bread and we had some going to waste so decided the ducks should have it. Rather than go to our local country park, which we visit pretty frequently, we decided to pop to another spot. It’s not far away but we haven’t been in all of Monkey’s life so far! It’s a bit quieter than our local park, has no play areas etc, but is has some other lovely things to see.

So we fed the ducks and the geese, and one beautiful swan! Monkey loved feeding the ducks but did get a bit nervous of the geese. The ones in the lake weren’t too bad but the ones on the ground are probably bigger than he is so I can’t blame him for being scared of them! I got bitten by a goose as a kid so I’m not a huge fan of them, though obviously I don’t want Monkey to know about that!

ducks

We soon used up all of out bread, and we had literally just finished it all when a mummy duck appeared with her ducklings! :( We were so disappointed that we hadn’t saved any for them, but hey we didn’t know they were there. They were so cute though!

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We are really lucky in that we live near the Nene Valley Railway which runs steam trains, and this spot has one of their stations. We had finished feeding the ducks when we caught a ‘choo choo’ in the distance, a train was on the way! We jogged over as quickly as we could to see the train up close, and Monkey loved it!

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By the end he was shouting “choo” “choo” which was very cute!¬†At some point this summer I think we’ll take a train ride with Monkey, it just goes up and down and into the city centre so wouldn’t be too long a journey, but so lovely to go on an old fashioned steam train!

After the train disappeared from view, we crossed the track and over to the river, where there is a huge lock. The noise at the lock is tremendous and Monkey loved it, ad kept shouting at the water lol!

watching water

We were in luck as there happened to be a boat going through the lock when we got there! We missed the beginning bit but daddy was trying to explain to Monkey about how it works, not sure how much he understood though!

boat

It’s a really picturesque spot and above the lock the river is so tranquil and peaceful. I can’t believe we haven’t been there in so long! As a kid I used to cycle there all the time and it links up along the river to our local country park. I’m sure we’ll go there a lot more as Monkey gets older.

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On the way back we had a quick game of pooh sticks through the lock, which was quite amusing as the sticks kept getting lost in the torrent!

pooh sticks

Then, as we were walking back, the train came back on it’s return journey!

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We waved goodbye to the train then it was time to head home for some lunch.

It was a lovely morning and reminded us that you don’t have to go too far for a lovely day out. In fact I have come up with a new acronym for days like this. A DOOOD – A Day Out On Our Doorstep! :)

Have you ever had a lovely day out on your doorstep?

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