As I’ve been working a lot of weekends completing Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, this post comes from my daughter who wanted to share a picture and some special words about a recent camping overnight trip my husband and her went on to make the most of a weekend together.
‘My Dad surprised me and told me that we were going to St Davids for a night out camping. I was so surprised as my Mum was working and we went straight away after we dropped her at her centre. The weather was sunny and I was looking forward to going swimming in the sea but with my wet suit of course! I love St Davids, it is one of my favourite places to go. Our campsite is so lovely, its right by the harbour so we can go for a five-minute walk and we are right by the sea. After we had some chips for lunch we put our tent up and then went swimming. We were in the sea for ages and even when it started to rain we stayed in because we were already wet! It was so much fun. On Sunday we hired a sit on top kayak and had a paddle in the sea. It was a bit scary as it was very windy but my Dad did all the steering on the boat. The photo I want to show was the Spider Crab we caught in our lobster pots. My Dad swims out a little into the sea and leaves the pots overnight and this huge crab was what we had the next day! My Dad is a chef so he knows how to cook and clean the crab for us to eat. It was so tasty.
We had so much fun and it was lovely to spend time with my Dad. I can’t wait to go camping more with my Mum in the Summer, we always have tons of fun.’
I loved listening to my daughters adventures when I got home, its lovely to know that even if we can’t be together we still enjoy outdoor adventures and it was great for my daughter to have some wonderful Father and daughter time together too.
My daughter had an inset day recently, so my husband and I decided to take the day off work, enjoy the sunshine and go for our first surfing day of the year!
We headed off to Coney Beach in Porthcawl, which has a brilliant beach for surfing, and the added bonus of some great fish and chip shops for hungry tummies afterwards.
We struggled and wriggled into our wet suits, and we were soon ready to run and dive into the cooling sea. There were no usual moans and groans of it being too cold, as it was a refreshing relief from the heat of the day. We had a steady 3 foot swell and, with a little push from me, my daughter caught the best waves and stood up on ther board for the first time!
She felt so happy and, yes, I was slightly envious but very proud of my little water baby.
After surfing for a few hours, we ditched the boards high up on the beach and spent the rest of the afternoon splashing around and playing in the shallows, duck-diving headlong into cool waves.
It was lovely for us all to be outside together, and we’d almost forgotten how great it was to enjoy a bit of sunshine. Of course, after we finished playing on the beach, we headed down to our favourite chip shop for a cone of freshly-cooked chips and a carton of curry for dipping.
The perfect way to end a wonderful day!
Always seeking adventures……
32: A wonderful walk on Aberavon beach. The weather was beautiful and was a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
33: Monday evening is my daughters kayaking club. She loves her club and it has given her so much confidence and skills to be safe in the water.
34: Bushcraft day in work. Learning how to light fires using different skills, then we able to boil some water on our Kelly Kettles for some warming hot chocolate!
35: A new pair of walking poles for my daughter ready for our planned walks in the half term.
36: A day I was dreading a little. We had a paddling session at Cardiff’s White Water Centre with a group and it was so cold! When my canoe got tipped in by the group I really wasn’t a very happy paddler.
37: This magnetic board is a great little thing to keep in the car. When my daughter gets a bit bored she doodles and I was very surprised to see her practicing her Maths on the way to school.
38: A little afternoon bike ride and of course my daughter wanted an ice cream in the little cafe. A lovely treat.
Last Sunday, we had a beautiful sunny day. It was a joy to be outside, with some warmth on your face and not have to have a minimum of four layers of clothing on!
We decided to visit a local beach very near to our home.
Aberavon beach is a thirty minute drive away, and is a lovely long beach which we often use in work. With the nice weather, it seemed that everyone else had the same idea! The beach was full of people out splashing in the shallows, or digging for shells and enjoying the sunshine. We had a lovely long walk, enjoying the sunshine, climbing rocks, finding new shells for my daughters collection and making funny shapes in the sand with sticks. As we got back to the car, the day was so nice that we realised it was too nice to go home.
Luckily, about ten minutes away from Aberavon beach, is Porthcawl. This also is an amazing beach, which, in season, is a favourite with surfers and beachcombers alike. This is one of my favourite places as we use Coney beach a lot and, in summer, it turns into a traditional seaside beach, with fair ground rides, donkeys on the beach, ice cream stands and, of course, plenty of places to buy fish and chips.
As the tide was well out, we made our way to the rock pools. One of my daughters’ favourite things to do at the beach, is rockpooling. We scrambled over the rocks, carefully hunted through the seaweed (looking for crabs) and my daughter found lots of caves to explore and climb through.
I used the opportunity to practice some of my beach training, and we looked for different types of seaweed and animal life that live on the rocks. We photographed dog whelks, limpets, barnacles and anemones. I also showed my daughter how (and why) different seaweed can be found at different levels on the beach. It all depends on how much sea water they need to survive. We looked at toothed wrack, bladder wrack and green seaweed that looks a lot like lettuce! It’s a good way of introducing learning, within a fun and relaxed setting.
We visited two brilliant beaches in one day. They are beautiful, clean beaches with lots of activities to fill out our day. My little beach combing daughter even managed to sneak in a cone of chips and a hot chocolate !!
I think that’s why I love living in Wales. We are very lucky, as we have everything needed for outdoor adventures. The mountains, the sea and endless forests.
But, I also think that we all have outdoor adventures near to us, we just have to take the time to seek them out. I would love to hear about the Great Outdoors near to you… !!!
It’s scary to think we are in February all ready. Its been a week full of mud and chicken pox…..
25: On a Duke of Edinburgh walk and while waiting for my group I managed to capture this little Robin just sitting in the tree. He was great company at lunch time.
26: An evening trip with a playcentre and we travelled to a local beach for a fire and toasted marshmallows. This was the beautiful sunset we saw while we warmed by the fire.
27: I came home to a lovely husband who was busy making cakes. Caramel and pineapple upside down cake! Yummy.
28: My daughter came down with chicken pox this week. Thank goodness for my Mum who helped out and I had a sleepy child who didn’t miss the alarm clock going off in the morning.
29: Sour cherry sweets were much-needed after a very cold and wet paddling session in work. Sitting in a raft for the afternoon and being splashed with river water numerous times by teenagers wasn’t the greatest of days in sub-zero conditions.
30: With my daughter being ill we had Friday on the sofa and watched family films all together. I captured her and my husband holding hands while watching The Goonies. I love this shot.
31: Another Duke of Edinburgh walk and we went along the coastal path along Llantwit Major this week. However it must have been one of the most muddy walks I have ever been on. Lots of cleaning kit come Monday!
This is of my daughter and her cousins enjoying the last few days of the lovely long summer, and making fun wherever they go. This was a lovely afternoon at Barry Island beach, rolling around in the sand, jumping over waves, playing games and enjoying a picnic on the beach.
As we’ve had such a wonderfully long summer this year, we decided to celebrate by fitting in one last surfing day, last week, at a local beach.
My daughter has done a lot of body boarding, and she was desperate to give surfing a go. Off we went to Coney Beach in Porthcawl, which is a lovely, wave-cut, sandy beach, and is a great place for surfing. All along the classic seafront walk, there are stalls selling fish and chips, and there’s a fairground offering traditional rides.
We weren’t the only ones who had the idea to surf that day, as the weather and wave conditions we perfect. When we arrived, my husband counted about 50-plus surfers already in the sea, making the most of the glorious waves.
After some quick instruction on the sand, my daughter was off and racing towards the sea. The waves were huge and, as we made our way into the surf, I watched her closely, shouting helpful encouragement and giving her board a push to get her going.
The conditions were brilliant, which made it easy for learning and catching waves. She had lots of falling into the water off the board, but each time she went under the waves, she soon bounced up again, laughed and ran back into the surf for another go. I always admire her tenacious spirit, and lack of fear when trying new and exciting things.
We spent hours in the water, and even when it started getting chilly, my daughter begged to stay in for “one more go”. It was only when we mentioned the prospect of a few rides in the fairground, and a bag of chips, that she agreed to call it a day.
We wandered through the fairground going from ride to ride. We finished the day by sitting on the beach eating a cone of crispy, fresh, hot chips.
It was great to just put it together at the last minute, as it turned out to be an amazing day, and we’d loved every minute of it.
It’s just a guess, but I know what might be on my daughters Christmas list, this year!
Today is the start of my main holiday, and I have the next two weeks off work.
I shouted a huge “yayyy” last night, when I got home !
We’re not able to go abroad, this year, but I don’t want to waste a moment of the time that we have together as a family. So, we’ve collectively compiled a Summer Holiday “to-do” list.
Activity 1: Have a coasteering trip.
Coasteering is one of the most adventurous activities that we offer, in work. Although this would be the first time that my daughter has taken part in a properly organised coasteering activity, we feel that she’s ready for it. It involves wearing a full kit of wet-suit, buoyancy aids and helmets. It reqires jumping into and swimming in the sea, and exploring the coastline of Caswell Bay, in the Gower. This is a stunning beach with beautiful clear-blue sea, little caves to swim into and is an absolute favourite of mine. Also, the cafe serves the best chips, followed by caramel ice cream and clotted cream. A perfect end to a wild day at the beach.
Activity 2: Celebrate National Play Day.
Wednesday 6th August is National Play Day. This is a day when organisations, parents and families can come together to celebrate play, and the importance it has in children’s development. I’m lucky that I will be a part of the “Friends of Pentre Gardens” celebrations. We’ll be providing a fun packed afternoon full of outdoor playing, arts and crafts, games, messy play, sporting games, face painting and costume creations. The play opportunities will be endless ! National Play Day is celebrated nationwide, with many communities holding events through various playschemes and childrens organisations. It’s a fantastic opportunity for everyone to come together and celebrate play, and adults are actively encouraged to take part in a bit of “child’s play”. It’s going to be a great day.
Activity 3: Go foraging for wild-food.
We are so lucky to have a fantastic range of wild-foods available to us, growing very near to where we live. Our local hedgerows are thick with blackberries and wild raspberries. Last year, we spent a couple of sunny evenings filling up plastic tubs with these easily rich pickings, later making homemade tarts and preserved jams. On one evening, late last summer, my husband and daughter announced that they were going “for a walk”, just about dusk. They returned a short time later with a bag full of succulent, sweet apples, and both with stupid grins…… I didn’t press the subject !
Sometimes, we venture further afield to visit a beach in the Gower, called Oxwich Bay. This is a food foragers dream. When the tide is right, you can wander up and down the shore and simply pick cockles off the surface of the beach. It’s so exciting when you find your first one, and then seek out more and ever more. To make it even more rewarding, it’s possible to walk along the edge of the beach to pick mussels clinging to the rocks. In recent months, we’ve watched how the locals use special tricks and techniques to harvest up to 20 or so razor clams at a time. This involves shuffling backwards until a black spot in the sand is located. This spot is then squirted with a very salty water solution and, a few seconds later, a long razor clam pops up out of the sand ! We come home with such a feast. We never take more than we need, but it creates a rewarding and educational day out. Nothing finishes the day off better than a bowl of steaming mussels with crusty bread. I guess it helps that my husband is a chef and has a vast knowledge of wonderful recipes ready to wow us with !
Activity 4: Have a full day out on our bicycles.
We’re so lucky to have an amazing cycle track through Cardiff. The Taff Trail follows along the River Taff, passing beautiful communal gardens, muddy trails and paths cut through wild woodland. Another bonus are myriad farm shops and traditional deli’s that are to be discovered en route. These little hidden-away treasures often serve great coffee and (of course) delicious home-made cakes that help to refresh a weary biker.
Activity 5: Record our Summer Holiday adventures.
We find that we’re lucky to have such amazing family adventures, but we rarely record our time together. Yes, we take photographs, but collating all of the pictures, tickets, recipe ideas and drawings into a summer scrapbook is such a lovely way to remember the fun times we have as a family. It also helps when my daughter goes back to school, and is able to do a show-and-tell about her holidays for her class-mates.
Activity 6: Visit a traditional beach.
Porthcawl beach is only a short drive from our house, and has everything one could want from a tradtional seaside beach. Candy floss is sold in the shops, fairground rides and the old-style tuppeny slot machines are all to be found in the arcades lining the beachfront. We always seem to be tempted, (at the end of a busy day), by fresh chips served in cones with a splash of salt and vinegar, or fresh doughnuts cooked in freshly and, of course, an ever-expanding array of flavoured ice-creams. All very traditional, but an easy and fun day out, evoking reminisces of my childhood.
Activity 7: Walk to the top of Pen-y-Fan.
Our biggest challenge, however, will be to tackle a trek to the top of Pen-y-Fan. This is the highest mountain in South Wales, and will be a big adventure for us. I’m very lucky to have taken lots of young people to the top in all weathers, and now my daughter is bursting to give it a go. So, a trip to the local outdoor store beckons. We’ll invest in some good, stout walking boots and attempt the big challenge. I really can’t wait to take our picture at the top of the mountain.
I guess I hoped to show that, with a little planning, it’s possible to fill out a holiday with all those things that are important to us….. outdoor adventures, simple but good foody treats, and quality time with loved ones.
I’ll do my best to keep you posted as we tick off our achievements but, after compiling this list, my husband has already said that he’ll need to go back to work for a rest !
We’ve just come back from having a beautiful week-long family break at Butlin’s, Bognor Regis. We went with the family aka “The Boy and Me”, and we all had a wonderful time together. We really didn’t want to come home.
While we were away, I was thinking of what theme I could choose for Country Kids this week. Although we had lots of holiday mini-adventures, one sticks out more than the others, and it came to me while I was looking through some of the photographs we’d taken during the week.
The Butlin’s site is within walking distance of a lovely beach. This was great, as we didn’t have to load up the car and drive – the beach was just a five-minute walk away.
Here comes the Country Kids story.
We were very lucky to have had sunshine during the day and it was dry for the whole week, but it wasn’t “boiling-hot, bathers” weather. However, trying to tell that to my 8 year-old daughter was impossible. All she heard was the word “beach” and it was on with the bathers (we wrestled her into a t-shirt!) and she was away, adamant that she was going swimming.
I cantered behind, the sensible mum weighed down wearing long trousers, chunky cardigan and a warming scarf, though I did manage to show willing by slipping on a pair of flip-flops. However, I had no wish to go swimming!
This supporting role fell to my husband, who packed his bathers but kept his t-shirt on, as the warmth of the water became even more questionable when we arrived at the slightly windy beachfront. He looked at me, visibly worried.
They carefully picked and scuttled their way across the pebbles and down to the water’s edge and, (yes – you guessed it), my fearless little mermaid ran as fast as she could back to the comfort of the waiting thick towel and a tight snuggle in my arms. My poor husband was left to pick his own way back over up the rocky pebbles, with very cold toes!
So, we wrapped up warm, played with shells and tide-washed sticks, had some lunch and enjoyed the sounds of the waves crashing onto the pebbles. All in all, a lovely, relaxing afternoon.
My memory was not the chill in the weather, not the damp towels, or trying to dry her feet off and get her quickly dressed when she was cold. I love how my daughter was so determined that she was going into that water!
She didn’t understand about the chill factor, or the wind, or the fact that we were only just into April. All she saw was the sun shining and realised that we were going to the beach. I loved that.
I love how children can seek out the fun element in things and always want to give things a go, in the pursuit of fun. We adults often forget that important point, along the way.
Maybe we should all try being Country Kids once in a while, and not worry quite so much about cold feet.
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I know that allowing children to take risks can be a scary thought.
Some people recoil in horror and run a mile when I explain that some element of risk for children is a good thing. In work, we spend a lot of time managing risk, and making sure that our activities are as safe as possible. It’s such a benefit to a child when they tentatively take a little risk, and the resulting confidence they gain from that experience is huge.
The element of outdoor risk, in our little family, is definitely increasing as my daughter is getting older, so I thought that an activity involving an introduction to fires would be a new and exciting experience for her.
While on holiday recently at Coombe Mill, we visited the beach at Polzeath.
It’s a beautiful beach with the most amazing panorama. There are wide open spaces for children to run and still be seen by parents. There are small cliffs and rock pools for exploring and, of course, little pools of sea water which are great for jumping in and splashing around.
We found an area that was sightly hidden and eroded into the rock face. It was really functional, as we were sheltered well out of the wind. I had brought a Kelly Kettle with me from work. The Kelly Kettle is a great way of introducing fires to children. You build the fire part on the bottom ‘bowl’. This keeps the fire small and contained.
Then, you put the main Kelly Kettle part on top of the fire. This becomes a kind of funnel. You put water into the outer “skin” or jacket and the flames send heat up through the middle of the Kettle. This heats up the water and, as the design acts like a chimney, one is able to keep putting little bits of wood directly into the fire bowl, to keep the fire going.
The interesting thing was that my daughter was, initially, very interested in learning about the fire. How it’s built, what was needed to keep it going and so-on but, rather than wanting to constantly “play” with the fire, she ending up being very aware and behaving very safely. She understood the dangers, kept her distance, didn’t put too much wood in the fire and, while waiting for the water to boil, became more interested in getting creative with bits of wood, string, cotton wool and the tub of vaseline we’d brought along to help initiate the fire!
We sat together, watching the smoke billowing lazily out from the top, and waiting for the water to boil so we could enjoy our hot chocolate on the beach.
So, when a it’s managed conscientiously, and explained simply and concisely, a little bit of risk has a great learning potential and confidence-building outcome for children. We had a lovely afternoon in a stunning environment, and our risky activity resulted in us both enjoying a delicious cup of steaming hot chocolate!
The weather at the moment is making it very difficult to get out and enjoy the outdoors. I find that we finish work and tend to hibernate. It’s so cold and wet, that it really takes a lot of effort to put on our warm clothes and get out and about.
However, after being stuck in the house for so long, and feeling like we had cabin fever, we decided to throw on our waterproof coats and brave the weather.
After finishing work early and picking up my daughter from school, we headed down to Penarth Pier. The seaside town of Penarth was where my husband grew up as a child and, being only a thirty minute drive away, it’s an easily accessible place for us to visit whenever we have a couple of hours free in evening.
As we parked the car, we could feel the wind howling outside, but we pulled up our hoods and made a dash for it. With only a hand-full of people speed-walking their dogs, we headed down onto the beach to look for interesting shells and pebbles to add to our ever-expanding collection.
It really wasn’t too bad. Yes, it was a little cold, but having the wind blowing through us was such a lovely feeling and something we had missed.
As we walked along the pebbly beach, we soon found lots of shells and unusual shaped stones. We found our pockets getting heavier and heavier as my daughter just couldn’t decide which ones she liked best.
A quick wander along the pier, looking backwards at the changing cliff face, (due to the stormy weather), seeing the rock-falls and wondering how it must have looked hundreds years ago.
After an hour, we felt the cold beginning to bite, and we were ready to head home. We’d definitely blown the cobwebs away, and it felt great.
So, with a little effort, we had our weekly dose of outdoors, came away with some more pebbles to add to our collection, and felt re-energised again.
All from just spending an hour at the beach.