Wild Family Fun

Tales of living, working and enjoying life in the outdoors


A Surprise Surf Day.

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!

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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.

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The perfect way to end a wonderful day!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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.

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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.

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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

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The shadow of my daughter jumping on her trampoline had me laughing out loud. I couldn’t believe we’d captured this on camera!

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My Sunday Photo

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Always seeking adventures……

OneDad3Girls

Thank goodness for wellies!

A good pair of wellies has always been a must-have in our house. I can still remember the first red and white pair my daughter had, as soon as she was able to walk.

What follows is the reason why wellies are so important to us! A simple afternoon walk in some local woods with friends turned into the most muddiest wet-welly walk.

With just a rucksack packed with drinks, snacks and a few choccy sweets, we spent hours wandering around the forests at Caerphilly mountain, and exploring local nature reserves and pathways.

As my daughter grows older, I am so happy that she’s found friends who enjoy the outdoors and still have a passion for exploring. We’re finding that, as she gets older, we’ve started having discussions about boys, make-up and how she feels that things are changing slightly as she grows up. Having this lovely day out made us all forget school issues and other worries, and the girls just got outside and had fun. Nobody moaned, and there were no groans about getting muddy and having dirty hands. Just lots of lovely, squelchy muddy puddles, and competitions to see who could get their wellies stuck first!

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We saw huge tree root structures, a few tree trunks with wild mushrooms growing on the side, and even found a small pond for a bit of exploring and bug spotting.

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It was a very easy and relaxed afternoon out and, luckily, only twenty minutes from our home. At the end of our adventure, my daughter and her friends couldn’t wait to get home, pull on their pj’s, and enjoy a hot chocolate and some lovely homemade biscuits as a treat.

So, our walks are the reason my car boot has a permanently muddy box tucked away inside, and I always carry spare clothes for my daughter in the car!

I hope she never grows out the joyous freedom of jumping into a muddy puddle!

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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



Mud Mud Marvellous Mud - Outdoor Play Party

365 Project Week 9

Wow week 9, so glad I’m keeping up!

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46: A morning of homework, ready for the start of school after half term. Space is this terms theme.

47: I feel like I’m living in mud lately. This was the view of my poor boots just after 20 minutes of walking in work on Monday.

48: A lovely day of introducing orienteering to a new group on Tuesday. Cosmeston Lakes in Penarth is very close to Cardiff and a great place to introduce groups to the outdoors.

49: I helped out at my daughters school today. They have introduced a Co Op healthy eating project. It only costs £3 for a bag of delicious fruit/vegetables or salad. A brilliant project to promote.

50: Baking, baking , baking! Welsh cakes and shortbread biscuits ready for the St Davids Day competition in school.

51: The winner entry {hopefully}.  At least we get a nice treat if we don’t win,

52: The new addition to my daughters bedroom.  A glitter ball! Every night is a disco night.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Half-term Outdoor Fun

Half-term holidays are great for my work, as the children we deliver activities to have all day to be in the outdoors with us.

We can have longer outdoor activities and adventures, and so we decided to use a whole day of Forest Schools activities for our group on the Monday of the half-term. We use a local woodlands near to Cardiff so; along with my daughter, my sister joined us with her two boys, who were all so excited to take part.

We donned our wellies and waterproofs, (ready for the mud and the puddles), and carried our equipment to our little hide-away area at Cosmeston Lakes near Penarth. The first priority was to build a shelter as it was due to rain, and it’s always good to have a “dry” area for bags, equipment and lunch.

We had a variety of activities planned, and the children loved having the ability to choose what they wanted to play with. They loved having wild freedom and soon dumped their bags and were off playing in mixed groups.

We made tree monsters from clay, made dens from tarpaulins and string, hunted for a variety of bugs, (observing how and where they lived), made bows and arrows, waded up the nearby stream, (splashing each other along the way), made a make-shift swing with a rope and two trees, and toasted marshmallows with the fire from our Kelly Kettle. It was great to see how the generational gap was filled, as all the children and adults played together.

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New friends were made and hands got dirty and everyone had so much fun.

We were all disappointed when it was time to go. It was a fantastic start to the holidays, and my sister said she was amazed that (apart from her packed lunch) the day didn’t cost her a penny and her boys had the best day ever.

So much so that they wanted to join us on our next activity the following day!!

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I really do enjoy our Forest School days. Everyone involved has so much fun, and it’s a great excuse for me to eat lots of toasted marshmallows!

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A muddy, wet forest…… what’s not to love ??!!

{Sadly I am unable to post images of the children I work with, all images are of my daughter and my nephews from todays adventures.}

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Learning for Life



365 Project Week 7

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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.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Why I Love Living in Wales!

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.

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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.

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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… !!!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

 

Learning for Life

Is “Risk” a Benefit within Play?

I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time and, after completing my Forest School training, I now feel suitably qualified and confident enough to talk about “risk” within play.

My training covered so much about why risk is important within play, how we can manage risk, the value of risk assessments (a vast and lengthy topic), and what are the benefits of “risk” within play. For someone like me, who’s worked in play and outdoor pursuits for many years, it can be easier for me to accept that risk is a part of play, and that children need it to develop many important skills.

I’m comfortable with my daughter taking risks. We mange her adventurous nature. We teach her about appropriate behaviour and boundaries. I feel she’s developed a safe and responsable attitude to risk-taking. She knows how far she can climb up a tree and what branches are safe to take her weight. She understands when that, we go kayaking, Mum is there if she falls out and because she has on a buoyancy aid, she’ll pop up to the surface and I’ll be there to keep her safe. I believe these are important life skills for the future.

But what are the benefits of risk within play?

Children develop their emotions and intelligence through play. It offers a chance to enhance a variety of important developmental needs such as emotional development, social interaction, physical improvements, confidence skills, as well as communication and language skills. And that’s just a small example of what play opportunities and play experience offers to children.

Risk will always be a factor in most forms of play.

It can be a scary word to use. When working for a Local Authority, it means that it is easy to become caught up in lots of red tape, when trying to convince people and parents that allowing children to engage in well-managed risky play is a benefit. I wish that I had a penny for each time I’ve had a conversation with a parent, who vehemently says “My son is not going out for a walk in the woods as it’s too dangerous”.

Of course, (as with all things in life), there will always be a danger. However, our activities are always risked-assessed, and there are always a minimum of 2 well-trained, vigilant and responsable staff present. We provide appropriate outdoor kit and clothing, and (really) why would I let anything happen to a child under my care. I wouldn’t accept any misfortune to a child as an outdoor worker, or as a parent. Luckily, the majority of parents we work with trust us, and know us well enough to accept that their children will be well looked after when they’re out on an activity with us and, most importantly, those children will be safely supervised while they have fun, being left to their own imagination!

What we’ve found, in recent months, is the heightened level of health and safety, and risk assessment that we must go through, in order to show how well we have assessed our activities. We constantly re-assess those qualifications needed to run any activity and, as professionals, we continually look at every aspect and potential danger, in order to ensure that all our activities are as safe as they can be.

However, I understand why we have to do this, (and to complete mountains of paperwork), as it protects us, and the people that we take out on various activities. Sometimes, I do wonder when will risk assessments, and the “cotton-wool” society in which we live, stop worrying quite so much.

As my father keeps telling me, it’s not like it was in the 70’s, when kids played in the streets ’til dark, came home when they were hungry, and we all looked out for our youngsters. But, we can, (and do), do our best to keep that spirit alive, albeit within “managed risk” activities.

365 Project Week 5

It’s scary to think we are in February all ready. Its been a week full of mud and chicken pox…..

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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!

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

365 Project Week 4

We’re into week 4 of the 365 project and I’m really enjoying capturing a photograph a day. So what’s been happening this week…..

18: My daughter’s 9th birthday and after a busy weekend of celebrations we really needed a day enjoying the lovely weather. A lovely walk to Three Cliffs Bay in the Gower, finished off with a Sunday roast.

19: The building I work in, famously known as stores has no heating. When you go inside you put your coats and hats on. Monday morning and my gorgeous and very warming lunch was cheesy beans on toast, white bread as well. Delicious.

20: In work we challenged our group to build and protect an egg. A variety of materials we given to them to protect their egg, and then my colleague stood on top of our mini bus and dropped their precious egg from a height. Scrambled egg all round once the egg had hit the deck!

21: A wonderful night at St Davids Hall in Cardiff for the Duke of Edinburgh presentations. Young people who had gained their Bronze, Silver and Gold awards came together to celebrate their achievements. It was lovely to be a part off.

22: As part of my daughter’s birthday present, she wanted her bedroom made over into something a little more grown up. My daughter had a slight obsession with sharks and I was overjoyed that we found a brilliant shark duvet set for her new room.

23: A busy week so Friday night was sofa night. PJ’s on, popcorn, a film and snuggles together.

24: Duke of Edinburgh season has started and Saturday and Sunday were our first days our walking. We went along the coastal path along Nash Point, it’s a beautiful walk and a great start to the year.

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TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky