Throughout her childhood, my daughter has always enjoyed a variety of adventures in the outdoors. As she grows older, we have seen her adventures get slightly riskier as her confidence grows, and she develops a need to push her abilities further.
Lately, I have been thinking about this.
I’ve been sorting through some old photographs, and recently found some from last year, the first time we went gorge walking. Gorge walking is an activity where you scramble across rocks, jump into pools and rivers, swim against the currents and moving waters, work together as a team to help each other stay safe and, basically, have a day full of fun.
We go to a brilliant spot at Dinas Rock, near Pontneddfechan, which is about a 45 minute drive from Cardiff and is a great location for a day out.
That day was a lovely day and we went as a full, extended family, for a long day. We packed wetsuits for everyone, including my mum and dad, and my nephew. Another bonus to a long day out is the picnic, so we packed some lovely snacks for a full-on adventure day.
Our little adventurers, ready to go.
We arrived, changed, and made our way down a slippery slope, making the best use of good foot and hand holds. It was great to see both of the young ones helping each other – pointing out the slippery green rocks and feeling so brave as they started their adventure.
The first test was to get our feet wet and we slowly eased into the river water, listening out for the gasps from my husband and dad. The “Alpha Males” didn’t have wetsuits on, just shorts and t-shirts under their buoyancy aids! It was cold, but the first five minutes are always cold. You really have to keep moving and you really will get warmer.
We practiced floating by letting our feet float to the top of the water, and showing the children how the buoyancy aids work. Everyone was so excited, and it was such a new experience. Everyone was having a wonderful adventure.
Getting used to the river: (sorry for quality of photo’s, they were taken by my mum who didn’t know how to use the focus on the camera)
After playing around in the river, we were now warm and just wanted to explore the environment, so we headed up to the outside jacuzzi!
We tell the children that a mini waterfall is a jacuzzi, where the challenge is to put your head completely into the fast-flowing water and see how long you can stay there. The clever trick is that your helmet acts like an air pocket and you can actuallly stay in the water for quite a long time.
Our outdoor natural jacuzzi
After lots of fun, we headed to the last part of the gorge – the beautiful waterfalls.
With our working groups, we normally crawl through the waterfall and then jump off the ledge into the pool of water below. It’s such a great feeling when you see a nervous child, who has convinced themselves that they can’t do the jump, and then after lots of encouragement actually leaps into the air and plunges into the pool. Its fantastic and such an achievement, it’s a really positive part of my job.
Back to my own little adventurers, who were a bit nervous of the jump. We played around in the pool, swimming nearer to the edge and letting the water push us around. It was so much fun, bobbing around in the beautiful pool, seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces, and is such a lovely memory.
Playing around at the waterfalls
It was such a great day, to be able to take the skills from my work and be able to have the adventure with my family. My daughter loved it so much, as she thrived on the challenges of the day and you could see her confidence growing by each step and jump she took.
As a family, it was a great day and, as a parent, I couldn’t have been a more proud mum. I secretly like to think that my little poppet is a chip off’ve the old block!
It feels like we’ve had nothing but rain lately, and everyone’s feeling like they have cabin fever. Getting outside isn’t easy, and play activities are being constantly changed due to the continual wet and miserable weather.
My friend and I had arranged to meet up one Sunday, recently, and we made a vow to go outside, whatever the weather. We both agreed that the children just needed to get out and have a “blow-through”. To make the day nicer, she’d very kindly offered to make us a full, and very delicious Sunday roast, which is one of my daughters absolute favourites. It’s mine too, especially because of the bread sauce! This would give us lots of energy, and warmth in our bodies, to help us make more effort and get outside.
On Sunday morning, we woke up to blue skies and not a dark cloud in sight. It was a miracle, and I noticed how much my mood had changed because we had the windows open and a view of the clear day.
After an amazing roast dinner, (with second helping, of course), we pulled on our wellies and headed up to the forest and mountain areas of Caerphilly. Caerphilly has great walks, and all within a very close distance. This makes it so much easier to find the motivation to go for an afternoon walk.
My daughter and her best friend led the way, stomping along muddy paths, navigating through the brambles and finding good sticks to beat back the hedges to make our walk-ways clear. We got stuck in mud, made fantastic, squelching noises, and it just felt great to be outside and enjoying the good weather.
We were all very happy.
After finally completing the up-hill part of the walk, we came out onto a lovely open space, where the girls ran off and instantly enjoyed their freedom.
They were outside!
We two mum’s were able to sit back and relax, chat and catch up. The girls ran around, explored and wore themselves out. It was so lovely to see, and felt like we hadn’t seen them so free for ages. We didn’t have any shops, toys or other distractions. The girls just had an open space, and they were in their element.
After time spent at the top of the hill, we took a slow walk down a muddy slope, being very careful not to slide the whole way down! The girls took their own paths in the wooded area until they reached the really steep bits, when they edged back towards us as they needed our help.
After mastering the slippery slope, we reached the bottom and found a field with some horses. The girls loved ripping up the grass and testing their confidence feeding the animals behind the fence. As their confidence grew they would take it in turns to step into the field, taking longer strides and feeling very brave.
But as soon as a horse would move, they would quickly run back behind the safety of the gate.
As the afternoon came to a close we headed back, a little worn out but all with smiley faces. Such a lovely and easy afternoon spend with good friends, especially one who makes a mean Sunday roast!
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I find photographs add to a post and help tell a story of our family and our outdoor adventures. I take a lot of photographs, working in and enjoying the outdoors gives me great inspiration and I really do enjoy taking photographs to remind me of the amazing sights I get to see.
It can be so easy to just keep your family images on the computer so when I saw a chance to review a specially design canvas from Canvas Design I thought it would be a great way of showing a favourite family photograph. Canvas Design is a family run business and prices for a canvas start from as low as £5.99.
It was hard deciding what image to display but after some careful choosing I decided on a fabulous image that truly showed my daughter in her element. Climbing a tree in a local nature reserve.
I have never ordered a canvas print so contacted Canvas Design and had my questions answered very quickly and also clearly. Also it was great for them to inform me that my image was great quality and would be fine to use for the canvas. I thought that was a plus, personal feel to my order.
After just 72 hours my canvas was delivered. The first thing I noticed was the packaging. The canvas was packed very well to ensure safe delivery. Layered with strong thick cardboard and then the canvas was wrapped safely in bubble wrap, well thought out for such a special and fragile package.
After carefully unwrapping our canvas we were instantly amazed with the results. A fantastic image of our daughter climbing and exploring a tree. The colours were great and vivid and the pixel exchange was flawless too. It was such a lovely way of seeing one of our favourite photographs and also gives us a chance to display the image in a lovely way.
Canvas Design are offering you the chance to win your very own canvas print. The competition is only open to UK residents only and the competition will finish on Friday 21st March. Good luck to everyone!
I was sent this product for the purpose of this review, my opinion is honest and unbiased.
Where to start with my post on outdoor fun, this week!
What an amazing week we had, as our family (along with the family “The Boy and Me”) were able to be country kids in every sense, after spending a week at the wonderful Coombe Mill. I really couldn’t wait to write this post, so that I could share our amazing stories and adventures.
Though there’s so much to tell and to share about our adventure at Coombe Mill, this post will focus upon my daughter, a true country kid!
Olivia and her new hat
Our favourite part of the day was the animal-feeding run, at 09.00. We would have a very quick, light breakfast, throw on our waterproofs and wellies, then head down to meet the farmer ready to start the day.
We’ve spent many day trips on different farms where the children get a small handful of feed to throw at the animals, and that would be the sum total of their farm experience.
Coombe Mill is very, very different.
The children take it in turns to drive the tractor, (and I really do mean drive the tractor), while the adults follow behind.
Olivia waiting for the Farmer to help her drive the tractor
The first stop was at the family of pygmy goats, with the most cute baby pygmy goats we’ve ever seen. We stepped into the pen, and my daughter and her cousin were quickly given one of the babies to cuddle. They were so beautiful and, when they snuggled into her arms, she was in love!
The pygmy goats
Next were the pigs. Again, children don’t stand by the side or away from the pen. They’re encouraged to get in with the pigs, throwing them their breakfast from the metal buckets. We worked out very quickly that pigs will eat anything and everything, so we were encouraged to save our food waste for the pigs to have, the next day.
The pigs waiting for their breakfast
Next, we went onward to the chicken, geese and hen enclosure. A huge variety of birds were freely running around, all trying to get at the feed. They scurried here and there, running quickly past us and were not at all bothered by the people invading their home. The best part was the addition of two baby wallabies who live in with the birds. Staying away from the crowd, the farmer made sure that the feed was thrown up to them. This was to ensure that they had their fare share, because the greedy birds would try to get it all away from them. Opening the small coops, the children collected the freshly-layed eggs, with 8 being the best find of the week.
One busy little farmer
Up to the billy goats, next, who were ready for their food, clambering through the fence and butting the buckets to try and get it quicker.
Then we had to feed the deer.
The deer had a huge open area with fantastic woods at the top of their field. As we walked in, we were met with a small group of deer slowly prancing their way nervously towards us, trying to make sense of the strange, two-legged creatures who had invaded their space. In and arround them strutted the mighty stag, who (very strangely) was the most nervous of the bunch! These animals were magnificent, stunning and beautiful, and were my favourite of all. I really could’ve sat watching them all day.
The beautiful deer
Then, we moved on to feed yet more sheep, more goats, the two ponies, and Rolo the donkey. They were all looking for their breakfast, as they’ve worked out that the noise of the tractor coming towards them meant that food was definitely on it’s way.
What a magical start to the day.
Absolute heaven for my daughter, whose confidence grew and grew with each passing day. By the 3rd day, she wasn’t looking around for me any more, and didn’t need anyone to prompt her what to do. She was just straight in there, and behaving just like a mini apprentice farmer.
Her favourite day was when Farmer Fiona was in charge. She followed Fiona around, happily engrossed in all the farm jobs and, as a parent who encourages outdoor adventures, it was amazing to watch.
I hope that the photographs help to illustrate, and add depth to, this post. My daughter was happy, engaged and confident. She didn’t worry about her clothes, if her hair was tidy, or that her hands were a bit mucky. All that mattered was the farm experience and the excitement of being involved.
In one simple sentence, she was totally happy and satisfied at becoming the ultimate county kid.
Thank you Coombe Mill.