Ten Easy Ideas for Outdoor Play

Regular readers may remember that at the start of the year we put a lot of time and effort into Operation Garden renovation. Turning our junk heap of a garden into a nice place to be. We hoped it would be ready in time for the summer, so that a lot of time could be spent outside enjoying it. With me being pregnant we were particularly keen on this idea as it would mean that there would be days where I could easily occupy Monkey outdoors, without having to go anywhere! The good news is that we managed this and have already been spending a lot of time out there, doing various activities (I will list some of our favourites below).

For Monkey’s birthday in May we bought a second hand climbing frame on ebay complete with swing and slide, to have in the garden. Unfortunately with all of the illness that surrounded his birthday weekend we never actually put it up, and with one thing and another we just hadn’t ever got around to putting it up! This all changed last weekend though and we finally have a lovely climbing frame in use in our garden!

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A visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew

Last weekend we visited my Auntie Maggie, who lives in SW London, for the weekend. Both of my parents grew up in that area and we visited fairly regularly as kids and had lots of days out and things, so there is a lot of memories there from my childhood, and I look forward to sharing some of those places, and memories with Hubby & Monkey over the years.

On Sunday we visited the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. We always drove past the entrance to Kew on our route through London so I have a lot of memories related to it, and the last time I had been was many years ago with my Granddad, when he was in the early stages of Alzheimers. Quite a while ago. It is somewhere we talk about a lot as a family though as my Aunt actually volunteers there!

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Playing with Granny

A few weeks ago we had a little impromptu family BBQ. It was partly to christen out new garden furniture, but mainly just an excuse to have a get together. Not everyone could make it but it was only informal so no big deal.

Monkey always loves having his family around and he always gets loads of attention from his aunts, uncles and grandparents. They all love him to bits and he is so lucky to have that. He had lots of fun with everyone there but I just wanted to share this lovely little moment of fun he had with his Granny. Running around the garden doing aeroplane arms. He loved every second of it and it was very lovely to watch.


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Re-creating the beach at home

We spent a lot of time enjoying the beach while we were on holiday, and I was loving how much Monkey was enjoying it, and how occupied he was with building in the sand. Now we are home and the nearest beach is over an hour away and too far to go for a day other than as a special event really! So with the sun shining last week I decided to re-create the beach feeling at home.

We got the paddling pool out and filled early in the morning in the hopes it would warm up. Last time we tried the paddling pool the water was just too chilly for Monkey and he didn’t like it. I thought it was worth a try though. I then got out his sand table, which he does love but is a bit small for making castles etc in, and then decided to use our Tuff Spot for added beach style fun.

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Adding some colour to the garden

A big project for us this year has been our garden. Regular readers will know all about Operation Garden Renovation and the time and effort we have put into turning our garden from this:


(although at this point we had already removed the approx. 15 conifer trees that covered the perimeter of the garden) to this:


The work is still ongoing though and we have started planting the garden… and we have been looking at some other ways of adding some colour to the garden! There is a trend at the moment for using some non-traditional colours to paint fences and woodwork, and, well, both hubby and I love it! So we decided we would go for it and add some colour to the garden.

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Fun Outdoors in the Sun

We have had lots of warm weather lately and it has been really lovely to get outdoors and have some fun in the sun. Monkey, and I’m sure most kids, just love being outdoors, running around, exploring and doing all sorts. The great thing is that there are so many ways for them to play outside without having to spend any money.

This is just a few of the things we have been up to outdoors while the sun has been shining!

Playing in his new playhouse! A good old second hand purchase from ebay, and a slightly early birthday present for Monkey which he loves!! Lots of peepo and playing house. Hours of fun in there at the moment, and a nice shade spot if the sun gets too hot 🙂

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Playing in sand and water next door with his friend

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Popping out for an ice cream on his trike! As Monkey would say, Um Yum!


Playing in our newly renovated back garden – having fun in the sand pit

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And, slightly random, but after giving the buggy a good scrub I left a sponge out there and now Monkey lives giving the floor a clean, hehe 🙂


We also got the paddling pool out at the weekend, and I think the water may have been a teeny bit cold for him as it was a bit of a trauma at times, but he did have fun in there too! (Though I think Daddy got more wet than Monkey did!!)

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There’s also just been some general running about with a ball now that we are actually allowed to go on the new grass!

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And of course, some fun picnics and playtime at the park!

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Helping Daddy Dig!

Now that the landscaping has finished in the garden renovation, we are starting to think about plants! Money is a little tight at the moment though, so as it was my birthday I asked people for plants and garden centre vouchers, and thankfully, a few people obliged, yay! So we popped out last sunday and bought our first few plants!

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Unfortunately the the beautiful hydrangeas are actually a birthday present for hubby’s sister in law, lucky thing, it’s only unfortunate, because I am jealous of them lol! We did buy a hydrangea, but ours won’t flower until later in the year.

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Anyway, we realised that before we planted them, we needed to dig over the beds. One is really full of clay, and another is a lot drier, which is slightly bizarre as they are all basically the same but hey ho. So Daddy, with a lot of erm “help” from Monkey spent a while out there digging over the beds, to combine the two a little, and then we will add some compost when we actually plant them.

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Monkey had a lot of fun though and needed a good bath before nap time that day as he was covered!

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Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?


Operation Garden Renovation #7 The Landscaping is finished!

Yep this is it, big reveal time! Although the garden is far from finished and we still have a lot of work to do, the landscaping work has now been done.

First of all a reminder at what the garden looked like before. Huge ugly conifers, shed and arbour off to one side and a dodgy uneven patio.

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Now though, we have opened it all up! We have a lovely wavy patio out the back doors and round behind the conservatory.


With a tree in the corner this is the only area of the garden that ever gets any shade, which is why we thought we would use it for the patio. We will (eventually) buy a nice new patio table and chairs out there as ours is a hand me down hubby got from a friend before we even met! It’ll do for now though!


The best thing about our lovely new garden is our new huge bit of lawn. We knew that the layout of the old garden made it feel smaller than it is, but in truth we had no idea quite how big the garden would look with everything gone. It’s huge! Yay!



Its still very new so we can’t walk on the turf at the moment, but when we can I know Monkey is going to love playing out there! We’ve deliberately not put any beds on that side of the garden so that he can have a big expanse to play on. I think the garage wall could do with a nice colourful mural at some point too! We will see what we can come up with!

So there we have it, the big work has been done, and thank goodness, Monkey and I have already been out there with his sand table and bubbles, we are going to have so much fun out there this summer, and I am dead excited about it!!

The landscapers have been great and done an amazing job, but there is still a lot more that we want to do to make it ours, Operation Garden Renovation is far from over!

The fences need painting, we have tons of plants to buy, soil to dig over and then the actual planting all of the plants. We want to buy some planters and some outdoor play toys for Monkey. But, well, we can’t afford to everything all in one go, getting the landscaping done has been expensive enough! So the rest of it will be done in bits and bobs, probably over the next few years, though we hope to get some more done this year.

So what do you think?

Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?

Operation Garden Renovation #6 – Work begins!

Regular readers will know that we have been renovating our garden. It has been a real labour of love and we spent about 5 weeks on the clearance side. We decided to get landscapers in to do the actual um… rebuilding of the garden as we know our limits! We couldn’t get booked in quite as early as we would have liked and a few rainy days put them a bit behind schedule (boo :() but we have now started and they are making excellent progress!

They started by digging out where the patio is going to be. It’s amazing how much dirt they have removed from just that area – basically an entire huge skip just of soil! Sadly we don’t have any pictures of the skip so you’ll have to take my word for it! One of neighbours did ask if they could have some of the soil for their garden, and of course I said yes! Why not?


Then they laid stones down for the foundation of the patio, and flattened with a very noisy vibrating machine.


WP_20140409_19_20_35_ProThey then re-rotivated the old lawn, as the grass had re-seeded itself since we did it! Their machine was much more heavy duty than ours so it is milled a bit finer than when we rotivated it. They also dug an edge, as they are going to be lining the edge of the lawn with blocks too, to keep things neat and tidy. then they brought some big piles of sand in and we were under strict instructions not to let Monkey loose in the garden while we waited for the stones to arrive!




So then it was a matter of waiting for the stones to arrive so they can get laying! Eek! It’s so great to see some progress finally! With the combination of the arrival of warmer weather, and all the problems with my pelvis, I can’t wait to be able to just go in the garden with Monkey! Thankfully we’ve been spending some time in my neighbour’s garden but I am so looking forward to a summer of fun in the back garden!!

And just quickly, in other garden news, we have buds on the bluebells! Woohoo! Very excited Hello beautiful bluebells outside my kitchen window 🙂



Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?

A spot of weeding in the sunshine

As the clearance stage of Operation Garden renovation is over, and we are waiting for our contractor to start work on making the garden pretty again, we have been enjoying a bit of a rest from garden stuff. However the front garden has definitely been a bit neglected and is in serious need of some weeding and TLC.

So with the sun out on Saturday we went out for a spot of weeding in the warm weather. Monkey helped a bit too, though mainly he just played in the mud. We didn’t mind him entertaining himself though 🙂

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It was good to see some soil around the plants rather than just weeds!


It was also lovely to have a good look at some of the plants. There were a few shrubs that we thought hadn’t survived after our long summer last year and the very wet winter, but to our delight even the most dead looking plants have got some beautiful green buds.


I love the little flowers on this gorgeous shrub too, Spring is well and truly here, hip hip hooray!!


Unfortunately we have quite a bit more weeding yet to accomplish but we at least made a good start. I’m just looking forward to my bluebells flowering now!!

How does your garden grow?

Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?