Wild Family Fun

Tales of living, working and enjoying life in the outdoors

The Big Lunch

The Big Lunch was a nationwide event that was recently celebrated, and was intended to bring people together to meet each other, share food and celebrate the communities that people live in.

I was very lucky to be invited to the Grangetown (Cardiff) community Big Lunch, when the Friends of Pentre Gardens held their own Big Lunch celebration, which included a fabulous selection of play sessions for the younger people, as well.

My husband made a lovely picnic to get us started, including sandwiches, fresh vegetable crudites and dips, thick slices of sponge cake and, (of course), a huge plate of cheese and pineapple on sticks! This is a firm favourite at our picnics and they were eaten very quickly. We put up more tables and, as we did, more and more people trickled out from the neighbouring houses, bringing tasty cakes, drinks to share, more delicious sandwiches and lots of nibbles for children to enjoy.


The most wonderful thing was the variety of food that we were able to taste and enjoy from different cultural backgrounds. We had homemade spicy onion bahjis and pakoras, polish biscuits and cakes, middle-eastern cheese scones and sweet pastries. There was such a variety of tastes for everyone to sample and enjoy, and it was a great way for children to see what other cultures eat. This was such a positive aspect of the day.

With all the great play activities freely available, parents sat, chatted with friends and watched happily, as their children got messy with the paint wheel, played and created pieces of art with loose materials, played friendly team games with bats and balls, and then took turns to relax on the homemade swing and the hammock.


It really was a lovely afternoon. We counted about seventy families, all enjoying a shared lunch in the sunshine, and all the children of the community enjoyed the opportunity of playing together in the park. Food and play are great media for uniting people in equal harmony.

I really enjoyed being a part of this event, and I really hope that we get to do it again next year!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

My Sunday Photo


With a normal household bin, a spinning wooden plate on the inside, then just a sheet of paper and a little paint, we were able to make the most colourful creations at a local outdoors play scheme recently.

All the children loved this simple, but brilliant creation! This is one of my favourite and most colourful pictures!


365 Project Week 3

Week three of the 365 project. A very busy weekend with snow, indoor surfing and of course my daughters birthday celebrations….


11: A Sunday bike ride, our first epic mountain bike as my daughter called it! A very cold day but it was really worth it, we had a great day biking.

12: A quick selfie waiting for my daughters kayak club to start. Normally I hate selfies {and photographs of me} but I love this one of me and my beautiful daughter.

13: I took part in a willow weaving course on Tuesday.  It was fantastic, and I learnt how to make baskets. It was so relaxing and I didn’t want it to end.

14: Snow day!! This was taken in Brecon just in front of Storey Arms. A brilliant day of sledging, snowball fights and hot chicken soup to warm our hands.

15: Thursday I was training to be able to teach indoor surfing at Cardiff’s White Water Centre. A full day where I had to learn how to spin, move left and right without hitting anyone, kneeling, perform tricks and the hardest one was having to stand up on a paddle board. I did it for about a minute and got very excited and fell not very gracefully to the floor.

16: It’s my daughter’s birthday weekend and she started her celebrations with a sleepover with some friends. A long night for Mum and Dad but lots of fun with cocktails {non-alcoholic of course!} and laughter and giggles long into the night.

17: A quick peek at the birthday cake. A wonderful friend makes the most amazing cakes, last year was the Tardis and this year my daughter will be having this scary but brilliant shark cake! I can’t wait for her to see it.



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Hallowe’en Fun

Hallowe’en saw us enjoying a wonderful party, with traditional celebrations, at Friends of Pentre Gardens. We held our usual arts and crafts in the hall, and children could make crafty bits to decorate their homes ready for Hallowe’en, and also make some costumes with Hallowe’en inspired materials, like foam grave stones, flying bats with teeth made from plastic forks, fabulous orange pumpkins, and white lace materials used for capes and corpse-brides!


The start of our spooky Tomb Stones!

In the outside area, we held all the messy (and very fun) traditional party games. The children had so much fun putting their faces into flour attempting to get their tasty treat, also apple bobbing, trays where hands (and sometimes faces) were plunged into gooey stuff, in order to get a sweet. There was also polo-sucking, eating cream crackers in one minute, and my favourite was the Mummy wrapping game.

This was a team game where someone must stand still and be covered (head to toe) in toilet tissue to be created into a Hallowe’en Mummy! These were such wonderful and messy activities, seeing all ages and abilities working together to, ultimately, just have lots of fun.



What I love about this community playscheme, is that we see a lot of parents staying to play with their children. This is lovely to see, and that makes the project so successful within the community. It’s wonderful to see the interaction between the parents, and it’s always great to see parents crawling on the floor, hunting through the craft materials, and making creations for themselves.

Here’s looking forward to the Christmas party!

Learning for Life

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Encouraging Wildlife In Nature

Recently, my daughter had the opportunity to make her own ‘Bug Hotel’. This is a great activity, that encourages animals and wildlife to live in your garden. A Bug Hotel can attract a variety of insects and other creatures, and help to develop the bio-diversity of your garden.

All the materials needed were very basic. They included a piece of pipe, some dried out leaves, twigs and sticks etc, (all of which can be found in any garden or hedge), and some old newspaper. Beetles, centipedes, spiders and woodlice all love to live in the decaying wood and bark.


My daughter filled the pipe with the natural materials and newspaper, then bound it all together. It was such a quick and simple activity, and was suitable for all ages. The younger children were getting encouragement from parents, and the older children were really focusing on the design of their hotel.


Once completed, the hotel needed to be placed into a dark and cool area of our garden. We decided to place it by the corner of the shed near to the trampoline, as it would offer much-needed shade, and is away from the ‘traffic’ of the garden.


We have to leave the hotel for a few weeks, and then we can investigate and look to see if any tiny animals or insects have “checked-in” to stay.

This was a wonderfully engaging activity, and something we can return to and monitor throughout the summer holidays. My daughter intends to make keep a scrapbook about her hotel, to share with her class when she returns to school.

We’ll keep you posted, so watch this space !!


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Finding Play Space In The City

A friend of mine is involved with an amazing community-based project called ‘Friends of Pentre Gardens’.

It’s a brilliant project that was set up to promote local green park space for the community of Grangetown, in Cardiff. Its’ aim is to keep the area safe, clean and user-friendly, and to deliver a fantastic outdoor playscheme which promotes free-play for the children who live in the community. The initiative also works together, (with the help of the Parks Department), to improve and maintain the park, by planting flowers and maintaining the trees and bushes, as well as to generally promote the area for the enjoyment of the local community.

It’s a wonderful project, as it gets children to play outside safely in spite of living in an urban area.

Recently, I took part in one of these play sessions.

Set in the park, we provided an afternoon offering a range of play opportunities for children to take part in. There were many different types of play activities on offer and all were freely available to the children for them to choose.

My favourite element of these events is arts and craft activities. The materials are fantastic, and fit nicely into the idea of using objects that aren’t necessarily ‘shop bought craft’. The materials come from a local scrapstore, which provides a huge variety of recycled objects collected from firms around South Wales. Paper and card, off cuts of material, plastic discs and tops of bottles, and all shapes and sizes of cloth. Items that most people would think of throwing away, the organisation called “Recreate” collects them and sells them in job-lots to the public.

It’s a really clever way of introducing children tothe concept of recycle and re-use.


The children are able to rummage through bags of treasures, seeking out inspiration to create their own personal craft creations.


Because the scheme is set in a green space, the children have the opportunity to play cricket, ball games and sack races, or whatever their imagination lets them discover. The staff are there to encourage and facilitate play experiences.

My daughters’ favourite part of the day was the make-shift swing and hammock. Both were made from recycled materials….. an old net and some strong elasticy-type material. Tied around the trees in the park, the children spend ages swinging back and forth on the swing and taking it in turns to relax, (and be bounced very high), in the homemade hammock. Two very simple but very effective ideas that the children adored and it was the last thing that was taken down at the end of the session!


We had a wonderful afternoon, and my daughter loves going to the playschemes. She enjoys having the freedom to play and explore. It’s a fantastic project that’s a huge benefit to the community and the dedication of the volunteers and staff is amazing.


It’s a great project that allows children to be free and, most important of all, gets everyone to play together!

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Sticks and stones might well break bones, but shells & driftwood excite me!

Every time we come back from one of our outdoor adventures, my husband and I find that our coat pockets and bags are filled with interesting stones, shells and unusual sticks that my daughter has collected. It happens every time, and our garden is littered with memento’s from our beach and forest visits. I hate throwing some of them away, as it reminds me of certain days out and the fact that my daughter spends hours placing them around the garden. It really is special having them on display.

I have been thinking of how I can display them properly without them all looking like just another pile of shells on the shelf. The first idea came while I was wandering around one of our local bargain stores near our home. I spied a lovely clear glass vase which seemed like a bargain at £3.50 and so I snapped it up. When I got home, I filled the vase up with all the variety of shells from our beach visit, and had a very colourful and personal memory display…..


Next were the pebbles. My daughter had a friend over to our house, and with some craft googly eyes, felt pens and glue, they created their very own garden rockery stones, which they decided will protect the animals who visit our garden. Again, very simple, but a good recycle activity that was quick, and ultimately brightened up our garden.


Our biggest challenge is the driftwood. Collecting unusual driftwood is one of my husband’s hobbies. We love finding pieces while at the beach, then deciding what could be created, and how we get to achieve it. Our shed is full of random bits of driftwood, in all shapes and sizes, ready for creation.


Our first project is turning a big piece of driftwood into a large, free-standing photo frame. A visit to a local timber yard meant that we could shave the back of the driftwood flat, so that it would sit against the wall more securely and, visually, would look a lot smoother and cleaner. The next job will be sanding down the wood and, if the weather stays like this, I will be sitting in the garden , enjoying the sun and getting creative. I’m really excited with this project and can’t wait to see the results.


Watch this space……

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My Forest School Adventures

It’s been a very busy time, running my Forest Schools sessions. I’ve been trying to get ready for my assessment, but it’s given me such a variety of outdoor experiences and adventures that I never would have predicted. It’s been great!

This week, I had a lovely experience with one of the boys from the group, and I’d love to share it. The activity was ‘Tree Faces’.

For this activity, all the children have is a ball of clay. They have to create a face on one of the trees in the forest. They can use twigs, fallen leaves, stones (etc) to decorate their faces, but we introduce a rule of “no use of living plants or trees” for the activity. This develops the learners’ sense of respecting nature. This is such a lovely activity where children can work with a partner, or on their own, and just take some quiet time to develop their own, individual creative skills.

A selection of our masterpieces!


All the children created wonderful faces on the trees, and I had a lovely time wandering around looking at them and chatting to the children. I asked them about their ideas and influences for their pieces of art.

My favourite part was talking to one particular boy. He’s getting so much out of Forest School. He jumps on the bus, so very excitedly each week, and I can’t believe how his imagination seems to grow with every activity. After taking a photograph of his creation, he came up with a wonderful ‘Tree Faces’ story that was an amazing example of his imagination.

Meet Frank….


 ‘Frank is a tree monster that lives at Forest School all the time. When we go home, Frank stays there so that he can watch and protect the forest. When horrible people sneak in at night-time, Frank will make scary noises and shout really loud. His blue eyes light up and frighten the horrible people who leave the litter and don’t tidy up after themselves. When they have gone, Frank turns nice. He talks to the birds and all the animals who live in the forest. He watches them to make sure they are safe and is there in case they can’t find their way home. He loves it when we come to Forest School, because he loves seeing all the children play nicely and he knows he doesn’t have to shout, as we tidy up after ourselves and never mess up the Forest.’

This was the lovely story he told me about his tree face. He was able to create such a wonderful story with just a little bit of clay, some natural resources and some free time.

The difficulty in promoting Forest Schools (and the ethos of the setting) is that some people mistake it for just playing in the woods.

They don’t fully understand the learning that comes when children take part in the sessions. This activity could be used as a tool back in the classroom to develop a childs creative writing. The child that I spoke to had the start of a brilliant story, and he came up with it all by himself. When we returned to the woods for the next session, he went straight over to Frank, asked how he was and was everything ok in the forest. It was amazing to see, in a child that has difficulty in a “traditional” classroom setting.

Clay tree faces…. a simple, but effective, activity that sparked the wonderful imagination of everyone……. and speaks to us all.

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A piece of wood and some string!

To help me qualify as a Forest Schools Leader, I’m currently running six practical Forest School sessions with the children from a local Primary school. The sessions aim to provide a variety of learning experiences, including outdoor arts and crafts. This week, the activity was to combine woodland crafts with an introduction to the use of tools.

To achieve this, we made individual Forest Schools medals!


To start the medals off, I cut small discs of wood using a bow saw before the session, and the children would use a gimlet (which is a type of hand-held device) to make a hole at the top for the string to be threaded through. This helps to introduce tool use in gradual and manageable steps.

Making sure we wore gloves and that we worked on a secure surface, the children couldn’t believe that such a small tool would go through the wood to make a hole. First, we marked the area with a cross. Then by pushing down and twisting at the same time, we created a cork screw effect and the hole started to appear.


With very little effort and determination the children were able to twist all the way through. They were amazed and really very happy when they had made a neat hole all the way through the piece of wood.

Next came the drawing and design of their own medals. Each would be totally special and uniquely individual.

When we added the string, a brilliant and very individual wood craft medal was created by each child to take home in celebration of their day’s woodland activities!

This was an activity that took only 30 minutes, but seeing all the children going back to school in the mini bus, each proudly showing off their medals hanging from their necks really was a lovely, happy and satisfying sight.

A very simple but effective teaching-activity and, of course, I had to make one as well!


And here it is!!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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