Wild Family Fun

Tales of living, working and enjoying life in the outdoors


Outdoor Things To Do Around Cardiff – For Free

As we all know, days out can be a very expensive for families trying to entertain the children, so it’s wonderful when a family are able to have a day out that only costs the price of a picnic and an ice cream!

Amelia Trust Farm is a working farm in the Vale of Glamorgan, where children can explore and discover the countryside, and also experience what a working farm is all about. A very special part of Amelia Trust is that it provides an environment where disadvantaged young people can work with skilled staff and volunteers on the farm in an outdoor education setting.

We were very lucky to visit on a lovely sunny day and, as soon as we arrived, the children were immediately off to the play area. The great layout of the play area means that we could find a picnic bench, sit down and unload the bags, while watching the children’s safety as they climbed over the tractor and slid down the slide.

It was soon time for lunch, and it was lovely to enjoy your own picnic food in a wide open space, sitting in the sunshine.

With full tummies, we wandered off to spot the farm animals as we went along and all the children loved the freedom to run ahead of us, leading the way. The piglet trail is always a firm favourite, as it leads to the wooded area. My nephews enjoyed hiding behind trees, waiting to jump out at us. Their screams of ‘BOO’ could be heard a long way away!

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The next walk was to the pond, at the furthest point of the farm. It’s a good track for pushchairs for little ones, and not too far or up-hill. Just before the pond is my daughter’s favourite bit, which is a little obstacle course made from simple wooden planks, but they played on it for ages. Balance beams, a wobbly plank and stepping stones make for a fun challenge, that they just wanted to go on again and again. It’s a very simple, but effective, outdoor adventure course.

The children eventually arrived at the pond, and loved sitting watching the ducks. They made quacking noises, and then tried jumping back and forth over a little stream feeding into the pond. Inevitably, it ended with her falling in, and getting covered with mud. I always use old trainers for these types of walks, and the poor old washing machine always gets a work-out after these muddy adventures!

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We headed back, as time was coming to an end and we had promised the children an ice cream in the on-site cafe. For a great day out in Cardiff, Amelia Trust Farm is such a great place to visit for an inexpensive, educational day out.

All in all, a brilliant day out that doesn’t break the bank!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

A surprise camping trip

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. 

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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.’

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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.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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

Camping in the Sunshine!

Our first Duke of Edinburgh Bronze expedition was upon us and, for many young people, it was their first time camping and having to look after themselves away from home. It’s always a huge learning curve for everyone involved, and the staff often end up feeling a bit like stand-in mums and dads for the weekend.

As we weren’t staying too far away from home, my husband and daughter joined us for the adventure. We stayed at one of my favourite campsites, which is Biblins Youth Campsite. This is a Foresty Commission campsite situated in the gorgeous Wye Valley, near Monmouth. It’s a beautiful area right on the banks of the River Wye, with no mobile phone signal or WiFi, and so it has a realistic feel of being isolated from everything.

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Finding some fun, back-to-nature style.

The weather was beautiful and the sun was out, which always makes camping that little bit more special. After a day of walking, the groups started to drift into the campsite. They were all happy to reach the end of day one, and were looking forward to an evening of relaxing and fun.

After the tents were up and they’d cooked a variety of meals, (some a lot better than others!), a football appeared and many of the boys piled onto the large field, energy levels recharged. Of course, my little girl joined in, and “managed” to get a few goals in.

The great thing about Biblins is that it allows open fires on the site and, when everyone got a bit tired, we settled down to a roaring open fire and (of course) we toasted marshmallows.

Later, as the fire died down to just the pulsating glow of embers, we were able to gaze upward into the clear night-sky, seeing a speckled tapestry of brightly-sparkling stars, and even the occasional orbitting satellite.

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It was the perfect night, watching the stars and enjoying tasty treats.

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This early-morning picture reminds why I love waking up to a beautiful, crisp start to the day.

The second day started with a few moans about aches and pains, but knowing that they were walking to the finish-line gave them the boost they needed to set off. I had a lovely surprise at my checkpoint, as I was able to sit enjoying the scenery and watch Canadian canoeists paddle slowly by on the Wye.

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Periodically, each group would pass through my checkpoint, and I’d make sure that they were refreshed, and then safely cross the bridge to continue on their way.

As each group finished, everyone was happy to see the mini buses at the end, throwing off their rucksacks and jumping on the buses ready to get home for cooked meals and clean clothes.

We were only out for one night, but the feeling and the atmosphere when camping at Biblins is just perfect. It’s a quiet and easy campsite, with no frills or fuss, but the setting is just amazing.

It always reminds me of why I love camping, and that it’s a great way of spending really great family-time together.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Climbing At The Cardiff International White Water Centre.

Cardiff International White Water Centre have recently added a new outdoor climbing tower, to complement the multitude of various outdoor activities that take place at the centre. As I supply support services at the centre, I was lucky enough to be included onto the taster session that they were running, in order to try out the tower with adults and children from the public.

My daughter loves climbing, and has tried out a few different places in Cardiff. The idea of climbing outside on a sunny afternoon was really exciting for her, and she couldn’t wait to have try. We joined six other volunteers, suited-up in our harnesses, and were off to the tower we went to test our climbing skills and have some fun.

After going through the safety talk, we were partnered-up and tried a bit of bouldering, so that everybody could get used to the wall and become familiar with the different holds and techniques required. The partners were encouraged to be spotters, and made sure everyone was safe in case of a fall off the wall.

It was then time for climbing.

My daughter jumped at the chance of being first, and quickly got ready with the ropes to be the first one to climb the wall. It was good that her partners belayed while she climbed, which meant that everyone was involved in the activity, and no-one was standing around. The instructors and volunteers all gave encouragement and help by shouting positive messages of encouragement, and spotting routes and holds that my daughter could reach.

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She soon got to the top.

There were a few tricky bits, but she was able to swap feet to get to better holds, and began to stretch to reach further with each climb. It was great that everyone got involved as, in some climbing sessions, the focus of attention can be only on the climber. By having the group involved with the belaying and applying the safety elements of climbing, it meant that everyone had a role and everyone supported each other in achieving their climbs to the top.

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Picking a route, and going for the top!

We all had four or five climbs each, which was enough for us, as arms and legs started getting a little tired. In total, the session lasted about an hour and a half, which is the usual duration of the session when it’s open to the public. I really think that’s plenty long enough, especially for children, as we all finished on a positive note without too much stress on our limbs, and the climbing becoming “top-hard” because we weren’t becoming too fatigued.

A climbing session of an hour and a half will cost £15 per person. I think it would be a great treat for a birthday party, as everyone is involved and the tower has climbs for all abilities. I find if my daughter really enjoys an outdoor activity, then a treat like this where she is outside, taking part in a physical activity and having fun can be worth the price once in a while.

With the added bonus of being outdoors in the fresh air, (and right next to the rushing water events), it’s a climbing activity that my daughter wants to do again soon. Now that Summer’s on the way, this is sure to get us outside and enjoying loads of family fun!

Further details on some amazing outdoor activities and adventures Cardiff International White Water Centre offer can be found: www.ciww.com

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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

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



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

Not Letting Winter Get in the Way

Recently, BritMums ran a photography project, (via Twitter and Instagram), to get families outdoors and enjoying themselves even though it’s Winter time.

The challenge was to take a photo a day, adding the hashtag Hibernot. This is a great word, as the weather currently really can put even the hardened outdoor lovers off from venturing outside.

I loved sharing my photographs on Instagram, and it was really worth the effort and meeting the challenge to push ourselves to make the effort, and get outside every day. It also showed me that you really can enjoy the outdoors in all and any weather, to a greater or lesser extent.

It really isn’t hard work. We made sure that we were wrapped up warm, we had a good set of waterproofs and (of course) a flask full of hot soup to keep the cold at bay!

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So, just because the Winter’s here, we shouldn’t hide away. Let’s try to embrace the challenge of Hibernot!

 Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



Mud Mud Marvellous Mud - Outdoor Play Party

A Very Lucky Day in Work

I wanted to share an experience that I recently had in work.

My job involves providing adventurous activities for children and young people throughout the Cardiff area. Many of the children I work with sadly don’t have the opportunity to get outside of the city, and aren’t able to experience different environments. For me, outdoor fun, adventures and play is a very valuable and important part of childhood, so I’ve seen and been a part of some wonderful activities and experiences with the children I work with.

Especially this week…..

On Tuesday, I had a very exciting text saying there was snow in Brecon, and that we were going to take a group on the hunt for snow. I didn’t think that we’d see much, as Cardiff was very wet and nothing had settled in the night like the weatherman had promised.

I was very wrong…..

As we drove along the road to take us to Brecon, the view was white. Everything was covered in snow. Not just a dusting, it was thick, thick snow!

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Our first view from our mini bus

We parked opposite the Storey Arms outdoor centre, and the group got on their waterproofs, hats and gloves and everyone ran as quickly as they could to the nearby hill.

We all took turns in sledging, (thank you to my husband for my shiny new sledge!), and all you could hear were the screams and laughter from the group,(oh, and the staff!).

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I think the staff were having more fun….

However, the best and my most favourite part of the day was when a staff member explained to me that one of the new boys in our group was rarely allowed outside to play. This was a very new experience for him. We found out that, at the age of eleven, it was the first time he’d ever built a snowman. So, we just sat and watched him enjoying the snow, throwing snowballs and launching himself down the hill. Just behaving like an eleven year old should, having fun. He was simply playing. I was so grateful that I was able to share and experience this day with him. It’s such a positive element to my job and really does cancel out any of those other “rubbish” days.

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I wish I was allowed to share some photographs with you of the boys in the group, because everyone is so happy and it makes me smile when I look at them. Everyone has the biggest and best smiles on their faces, and it’s a privilege to be a part of it.

It was a really happy day, and a very special outdoor adventure for me!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



Mud Mud Marvellous Mud - Outdoor Play Party

We found snow!!!

We’ve just returned from an amazing walk up Pen Y Fan! The best part was that we had snow at the top of the mountain!

My daughter has been watching the news reports, praying that we might get some snow in Wales. As we drove around bend in the road to Storey Arms in Brecon, she let out a huge squeal as she could see snow on the top of Pen Y Fan!!

We met some friends who’d never walked up Pen Y Fan, so it was very special to be able to take them up, in these beautiful conditions.

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The start of our walk was slow and steady, but everyone was so in awe of the clear blue skies and beautiful walking conditions of the day.

As we got to Corn Ddu, (the first peak), the layers and extra jumpers went on as the wind picked up. The girls were still determined to reach the top.

After taking it slowly and steadily on the uphill path, (due to the ice), the girls had smiles when they saw the top of the mountain, and the crowds of people milling around waiting for their picture to be taken.

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After a brief stop for a lunch of the “ever popular” chicken noodle soup, we posed for our ” summit picture”.

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Over to Corn Ddu and down the rocky path, we started our descent with lots of happy chatter. We were all full of the Christmas feeling due to the weather, and the fact that we were, at last, out in the snow!!

It was a lovely day out, and it’s made the Christmas holidays a little bit more special for us.

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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Learning for Life