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.
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.
After a brief stop for a lunch of the “ever popular” chicken noodle soup, we posed for our ” summit picture”.
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.
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!
My daughter enjoying her first surfing lesson!
As a part of my work, we run outdoor activities throughout the whole summer holidays. We deliver two trips per day, ranging from walks for under 8’s, through to mountain biking, gorge walking and coasteering for young adults, and much more in between. It’s always a very busy time and, by the end of the summer, even we can’t wait for the children to go back to school!
So, our tired little troupe of outdoor workers, fed up with wearing damp wetsuits and not wanting to see another buoyancy aid for a long while, all decided that our last summer holiday activity would be a forest day, with a small group of under 8’s from a local play centre. Relaxed, not much kit to pack and, (let’s be honest), easier than clambering up a waterfall.
This ended up being one of my most favourite activity trips of the summer.
We didn’t have to travel far, as we went to Forest Fawr in Cardiff, not far from Castell Coch. It’s a wonderful forest area, with lots of safe space for children to roam and explore while still being in constant visual contact of the staff. It’s also where the T.V. series Merlin (as well as episodes of Sherlock Holmes) have been filmed, and this is something that the children love to be able to recognise and relate to.
We loaded our rucksacks with a Kelly Kettle, fire building equipment, tarpaulins for den building, wood cookies for outdoor medals and other bits and bobs for a full day of forest adventures and exploring.
We had a short walk to the site, which has a fire circle already in place and lots of space for den building. The children off-loaded their bags, and couldn’t wait to explore the area. Luckily, we gave them each a set of waterproof clothes and wellies, because it’s easy for us to wash off the kit, and the kids all go home clean and mud free!
They really did need protective clothes, as this was the first thing they spotted!
Mother Nature providing the perfect playground!
The children spent ages balancing on the tree, carefully stepping and sliding along it. Eventually, after about twenty minutes, they finally became brave enough to stomp, squelch and jump in the mud, mud, glorious mud!
The staff stopped and took a step back, (thinking that we were the ones who were going to have to wash the kit), but all agreed that the children were having a wonderful time.
They say that one picture can say a thousand words…………
After a bit of washing off, we headed to our base for the day. There, we handed out tarpaulins, ropes and string, and then just allowed the children to create their own dens. What struck me the most, was how the children worked together and didn’t need (or seek) our help. They were so confident and comfortable in the environment that they didn’t need adult intervention.
That’s how it should be…… child-led play.
It was so amazing to watch. As outdoor workers, that’s what we strive to see. Play is such an important experience for children, as it allows them to develop in so many different ways. Seeing the children happy, confident and totally in control of choosing how and what they want to play. It was wonderful.
We spent the rest of the afternoon learning about fire-safety, and how to make fires. The children loved having the opportunity to learn how to make a fire in a safely controlled environment. It was something they’ve never been allowed to do, and to see them working responsibly in pairs, on such a risky activity, was great. Then, the staff cooked popcorn on an open fire, which was enjoyed by everyone, both young and old.
……………….and, of course, there was even more mud!
All the children and the staff had such an amazing day. It’s funny, sometimes, that people often “talk-up” activities such as gorge walking, canoeing and mountain biking. People are amazed that we get involved in delivering those sorts of activities to children and young adults. But, to this tired and weary outdoor worker, (at the end of a long summer programme), this simple yet fun-filled adventure in the forest has to be one of my favourite memories of this summer.
sometimes, the simple things in life are truly the best!
A few weeks ago, I posted all about our Summer Holiday to-do list.
I was worried because, this summer, we weren’t going abroad for a holiday, but I still wanted my daughter to have weeks of fun-filled activities, especially during our 2 weeks off work. This was the reason for creating the list, so that we would have a plan of activities, and adventures that we wanted to do. After a very busy two weeks, we were able to tick most of the activities off the list and, when I think back, we only took one of those days to stay at home and recover from all our outdoor adventures.
Celebrating National Play Day
Wednesday 6th August was National Play Day, which is a wonderful day for families and children to celebrate, and be a part of, lots of different play events running throughout the country. We spend the day celebrating with Friends of Pentre Gardens.
We had an amazing day, providing a huge range of play activities and opportunities for children and young people within the community. There were a variety of arts and craft activities, sporting games, bug hotels, jewellery making, homemade swings and hammocks from trees, team games (with the most popular activity being the homemade car made from a recycled wheely bin) and the graffiti artist Lloyd made the most amazing creations for the children to take home.
It was a huge success, with the staff being able to take a step back and observe the children playing together, making their own play experiences happen and also seeing so many parents staying to play with their children. This was a truly wonderful play experience for everyone who took part in the day, and we were so happy to be included in it.
Go foraging for wild food
One warm evening, we made our way up to the apple trees that grow near to our house. For weeks, we’ve been checking the apples to see if they are ready, and finally the time was right. My daughter made her way safely up the tree (with some help from her Dad) and, with trusty stick in hand, was able to reach up to the apples high at the top. We quickly filled a tray full of delicious, juicy apples ready for cooking. Apple crumbles, tart Normande and Tarte Tatin for tea!
Walking up Pen Y Fan
Attempting the walk to the top of Pen Y Fan was a huge challenge, and something we’ve wanted to do for such a long time. Pen Y Fan is the largest mountain in South Wales. My Dad kept checking the weather reports for a week, and we decided that the last Saturday before I returned to work was the day for us! We donned our walking boots and wind-proof coats, packed a picnic and set off. I was so glad that we were prepared with jumpers, hats and coats, because the top of the mountain was pretty windy, and we had to shout to each other to be heard. Steaming cups of hot chicken noodle soup was passed around by my Dad, and we really had a magnificent day. I was so proud of my daughter, who didn’t moan at all going up-hill, and I had such a lovely experience being out with my Dad. It was a brilliant day, giving us a wonderful family memory.
Unfortunately, we didn’t make a specific coasteering trip but there are still two weekends left to squeeze in a trip to the Gower.
However, my daughter did achieve a huge leap in improving her kayaking abilities over the Summer. She took part in her first moving-river and open-water journey with her paddling group GlamBoaters. She’s had about two months of indoor pool sessions, and so going onto the open water is a big step. I must admit that my heart was in my mouth as I watched her paddle out on her own. The first was a paddle on the River Taff and, when she jumped into her kayak, I had a moment of nerves but, after some calming words from my Mum and Dad, we were off! I paddled a Canadian canoe and stayed very close to her. Paddling on a river can suddenly present many different problems, such as the sudden change in water current, changes in wind strength and so on. I think I was more nervous than she was, as she dug the paddle in and got further away from the land. But she loved it and I couldn’t believe how far out she went, growing in confidence with every stroke. For the journey back, she jumped into my canoe and had a rest as we paddled back to her Dad, Nanny and Bampy, who were proudly watching from the bank, (drenched right through, as it was pouring down with rain, bless them).
Her next adventure was paddling at Cardiff White Water Centre. This is a brilliant place, where paddlers of all ages and abilities have the opportunity of paddling different types of waters; flat water for novices and fast-moving water for the more exprienced paddler. My daughter had some time on the flat water improving her technique, paddling on the flow from the smallest of waves. When she toppled over, she popped up quickly, giggled and then quickly gave me the “thumbs-up” just to calm my nerves. Of course, she wanted to go on the fast-moving water. She went with one of the instructors in an inflatable, two-man raft and they bounced their way down the course. It was a great evening and, being out of the pool into moving water, was so good for her confidence and kayaking experience.
Our Summer Holiday scrapbook is coming along nicely, with tickets, photos and drawings being added to the book. It’s a lovely way of remembering our trips, and will be a great “show-and-tell” experience for when my daughter returns to school.
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In work, my favourite time of the year is when we take a group of young people on canoe camp. The group work all year round, in their school, to earn behaviour points to be able to take part in canoe camp, so the young people who attend really deserve it and want to be there.
Good behaviour equals a reward.
I love it as I get to canoe in the most beautiful environment. We have two days of open-boat paddling on the River Wye, through the beautiful Forest of Dean. We camp at a lovely (and very quiet) youth camp-site, which allows open campfires, and this is great for toasting marshmallows. It’s a truly breathtaking place to be.
We were very lucky and had stunning sunshine, so there was no need for thermals or waterproofs. The suntan lotion was applied liberally before setting off and we gently paddled down the river. Throughout, we spotted ducks, swans and even saw an otter.
The late evening was spent around an open fire. We told scary stories and the adults freaked out the young people out by telling them gory tales of the wild boar that live in the forest around the campsite. Every year we tell the story, and it has become quite an “Urban Legend” throughout the school.
Trying to dry my socks in the morning sun!
The next day involved a gentle paddle, with the current slowly pushing us down to Monmouthshire Rowing Club where we exit the river. When the end comes into sight, the water fights start! This involves lots of splashing, with boats being paddled faster and faster to get away from each other. By the time we reach the end, we’re paddling in canoes full of water, with all the staff and children squelching and soaking!
It really is a fantastic couple of days. It can be hard work paddling, especially on the first day. It’s usually for about five or six hours, depending on the weather, the river levels, the wind and (of course) the different personalities within the group, but I love it.
The young people get so much out of it, and have a wonderful time. They really make the trip worthwhile, and I love their company. For my part, it’s great to be involved in something that’s so positive.
Those two days of canoe camp always reassure me that I’m in the right job, and I feel really very lucky that this is my “office” !
Yes….. we got to the top !!
Climbing up to the top of Pen-y-Fan was on our summer holiday to-do list. My daughter has been jumping at the chance to do the walk and, after we got her first pair of walking boots and thick walking socks, there was no stopping her. We waited for a dry and clear day and my Dad, my daughter and I set off with a well packed picnic and a flask of chicken noodle soup !!
The weather at our house was warm and sunny but, when we got to Brecon the clouds were set with rain and we quickly threw our jumpers on to help against the cold. We started on the family-friendly path, which is great for young children. This is a gradual path and not too steep, which makes it a good way for children to get to the top. We took regular breaks and, when we started to feel the cold, my Dad got out his trusty flask filled with chicken noodle soup and extra pasta, which my daughter loves.
After a cup of steaming soup, we headed back up the path, exchanging “hellos and how’s the top” to the passing people who had woken very early and were now on their way back down.
As we got higher, the wind started getting stronger and it was quite a surprise that we had to put on our hats and coats to stay warm.
We reached the corner of Corn Ddu and, with Pen-y-Fan in the distance, we knew we had about twenty minutes from the top, and this gave us our second wind. With a few “are we there yets ?” from my daughter, I pointed to the rocky mount that was the top, where many people were now in a small line waiting for their photo to be taken.
Of course, we wanted to have our photo taken too and, what was nice, was that everyone helped each other and offered to take photos on each others’ cameras, so that we could all get a shot with everyone in. We took in the amazing sights from all angles, but decided not to say too long as the wind was making it so bad that we had to shout to each other to be heard.
After a little while on the way back down, we were able to stop out of the wind for our lovely picnic, snacking on sandwiches and having little bits of fudge, to give us renewed strength for the journey down.
The walk down was a lot easier than going up, and we found ourselves back at the car in record time, treating ourselves to a warming cup of tea from the little stand in the car park. We sat for a while watching people coming down, and chatting about our day, all agreeing that we were so glad and quite proud that we made the effort.
So, three generations of my family went up the largest mountain in South Wales, and we were able to tick off one of the biggest outdoor to-do adventures from our summer holiday list !!
We went up a mountain, and came down victorious !! What a wonderful memory !!
Last month, (July 2014), my family and I were very lucky to be invited to visit the Royal Welsh Show in Builth Wells.
Not having been before, we were a bit sceptical, (and a little intrigued), about what to expect. The first thing that we noticed was how completely organised and well planned the event was, even from a visitors’ arrival. There were a large number of attendants, who guided visitors into a field where a park and ride system was in place. We noted our field number, then had a very short walk to a queue of buses, with only a few moments wait before we were seated and on our way to the showground. It was a brief drive to the venue, during which the driver kindly informed us what time and what bus stop we should attend when we wanted to return.
Walking through the entrance gates, we were totally overwhelmed. We were presented with so much to see and to do, that we decided to spend a short time just wandering around to familiarise ourselves with our surroundings. We did invest in a programme, which was very fairly priced and a great help. It included very useful map, along with details of everything that was happening that day, including the times and locations of venues of the attractions or demonstrations that we wanted to visit. It helped us plan everything in the day with ease.
Delicious smells of freshly-cooked foods wafted on the light breeze from the various stalls, enticing us here and there to taste little samples of this or that. This is a great way of showing people how produce from Wales is picked, packed and ultimately presented in various supermarkets. We sampled little pots of lovely curry, miniature pasties, cheeses and pickles, various ice-creams and mixed berries, all offered by different producers, sellers or supermarkets. There were also lots of cookery demonstrations, which all contributed to a great interactive experience for children to understand about Welsh produce. This was a good way of linking what we eat and where it comes from, how farmers work, and how produce arrives on our shelves.
One of our favourite displays was the put on by the RSPB. This took up a huge area offering fantastic learing opportunities and interactive activities for families. My daughter had a wonderful time pond-dipping. She was given a net with a pot, and the very friendly staff showed her how to safely dip her net into a pond, to try to retrieve some creatures to put under a microscope. She spent ages transferring her creatures into little dishes, observing their movements the microscope, and then working her way through the “spotting sheet” to identify her finds. Then we simply had to “Make A Bug Hotel”. She was given a piece of piping and natural materials to make her own Bug Hotel, that could be put into her garden to allow various wildlife to come and live in her hotel. We moved over to the tree section, where we learnt about the different trees that could be found throughout the country and their contribution to our eco-system, Finally, we were given our own Elder tree, to take home and plant in our garden.
We learned that trees don’t only produce oxygen and fruits etc, as well as habitats for wildlife, but also that if managed properly, they become materials for this like fencing, building and decorative features. We saw fantastic traditional Welsh fencing techniques, with the men building fences made from the indigenous bushes and trees etc. I loved this display of traditional crafts, and I hope that this skill won’t die out.
We watched the young farmers (ie children), showing their sheep in competition, and we were amazed to hear how some families had travelled from London and beyond, just to compete in the show. The young farmers were very confident displaying their sheep, and it was one of my daughters’ favourite parts of the day.
Another fantastic part of the day was that I was very lucky to have been sent some vouchers for Joules. For a link to the Joules site please click:
Joules are a high-quality brand that celebrate British heritage through their clothing styles. Joules started producing and selling clothes over two decades ago, when the founder, Tom Joule, started out by selling robustly-made, functional and stylish country clothing at equestrian and outdoor events. Joules had a marquee at the show, and so we decided to look in.
Thoughout the day, I’d seen and overheard so many people talking about their Joules bags full of goodies, so I was excited when I eventually found the marquee. Upon first glance at the queue of eager visitors, my heart sank a bit. I looked at my husband and thought “should we just keep going” but he said to join the queue as it was moving very quickly, and I’d been looking forward to visiting. We only queued for a few minutes and then we were in the door. It was a really good system, allowing only a limited amount of people in at a time, and it didn’t feel too busy or too full of people, especially on such a hot day.
We were able to wander around the store at our leisure, looking through the fantastic bargains. The staff were very friendly, helping people find different sizes and keeping queues down with kind words and engaging conversation. There were a huge variety of items on offer, all in every different size, which is something not normally found when hunting through bargains on this magnitude. I found two beautiful jumpers which will be really functionally warm and stylish when camping. Also, my daughter chose some comfy fluffy bed socks, which she immediately wore during her snooze on the journey home !!
My bag of goodies are wonderful, and I was very pleased. I was especially happy with my stunning yellow jumper, that I can’t wait for our next camping trip !! It’s colourful and bright, it’s not baggy but fitted, and I can wear it with a pair of jeans to glam up an outfit, or throw it on with a pair of shorts while camping. I love it !!
The clothes were beautifully-made, in a fantastic range of rich country colours and, what I liked, was the variety of styles. It can be so difficult to find outdoor clothing that’s fit for purpose, colourful and flattening for women, while still being very fashionable. Joules ticks all the boxes !!
There’s so much more to write about, including the fact that everything at the Show was very fairly priced. Usually, with events such as these, visitors are viewed as a “captive market” and subjected to the inevitable price-hike for food, drinks, etc. But everything was made available to suit a range of budgets, from the Members Tent a the top-end of the facilities, right through to outlets offering home-made pork sausage or vegetarian hotdogs for kids, priced at £1 !!
All in all, we enjoyed an amazing day, full of interactive displays and events for all ages. My daughter learnt so much about Welsh culture. She can’t wait to get back to school, to show and tell about everything she learned.
I was sent tickets for the Royal Welsh Show and vouchers for Joules for this review. My opinion is honest and unbiased.
My daughter really does amaze me with her love of the outdoors.
I feel so blessed to be able to develop her interest and love of outdoor adventures, starting at such a young age. It’s been fantastic for myself and my husband to watch her grow, gain confidence and find her own unique personality, all because of the experiences she’s had by taking part in her outdoor activities.
A good example of this is our adventure at Cardiff White Water Centre, recently.
I had to do some weekend work at Cardiff White Water Centre, and decided to make the very most of the day. When I finished my work, my husband and daughter met me at the Centre. We all changed into wetsuits and safety gear, ready for an afternoon of padding on the flat pool. It was my daughter’s first time in a kayak, and I was so nervous. I’d had a few bad experiences in a kayak while on a river (albeit in fast water) and it put me off for a bit, but I was very keen for my daughter to experience kayaking.
My husband stood in the water alongside us for those first wobbly moments. We handed my daughter a paddle, sat her in a boat and launched into the water,
She had a few nervous wobbles to start with, but after a few gentle hints, pointers and some light coaching, she got better by each stroke.
The biggest challenge was to see if she would be comfortable tipping out of her kayak and into the water. It’s a good exercise as it helps to build confidence and takes away the fear, by creating an understanding that you’ll just pop out of the boat if it should tip.
I don’t know I was worrying about, as my little water-baby threw herself into the water and emerged giggling, asking if she could do it again, again, again!
We had a gorgeous afternoon, improving her paddling techniques, playing games and tipping our boats, so that we could cool off in the water.
I was one proud Mum watching my daughter on the water, and she enjoyed herself so much that she has joined a local paddling club.
She’s started her journey; from tadpole to water-baby to an outdoor-active adventurer!!
It can be messy, muddy, wet, hot, uncomfortable, funny and enjoyable, in equal measure. It can make you happy and take certain risks that you would never have otherwise imagined. It’s educational, and a greatly diverse learning tool for all ages. You can end up with splinters and cuts, being bitten and stung and, if you’re anything like my family, you will always end the day with dirty clothes.
…and it’s a wonderful thing.
Throughout my time presenting my experiences via this blog, I have seen how superbly rewarding it is to spend time outdoors together, as a family. I believe that outdoor activities, (from a simple walk through a woodland, up to an exciting wild-water gorge walk), gets everyone involved by interacting with the surroundings and each other, and benefits children and adults alike.
The benefits even include the recalling of fond memories while sorting through some old photographs…….. I immediately remembered us all foraging for mussels and spider crabs in St Davids, Pembrokshire, or taking part in the early morning animal-feeding run at Coombe Mill family farm in Cornwall, and watching my husband, (from the realtive shelter of our tent), while he cooked spaghetti Bolognese in the rain, with only a black bag as his rain coat !
However, in current life and times, there are always going to be barriers creating difficulties in spending time outdoors. Most folks work or have child-care responsilbilites and, after a day filled with commutes or rushing around dropping children to school, making sure household chores are done, (and so much more besides), it’s no wonder that a collapse into bed, or the sofa, remote control in hand, is sometimes all the exercise one can muster.
I’ll tell you……. as much as I love the outdoors, come Friday night, after a busy week, there’s nothing better than a sofa-night, with a movie and a bowl of treats !
But, as the days get longer, and with the threat of warmer weather, we’ve started to plan family camping holidays and activities. Another goal for this year is to walk to the top of Pen-y-Fan, Brecon.
As my daughter gets older, our outdoor adventures are getting more and more challenging. It’s great for our little family to plan ever more adventures and create more memories.
Daily life will always get in the way, and the British weather will always happen, (good and bad), but it won’t stop us from getting out and having our adventures.
I guess that’s just our nature !
While on holiday in Cornwall recently, we had an absolutely amazing day out at Eden Project. We were staying at the wonderful Coombe Mill, which is very close to the Eden Project, and so we decided that we would make the most of this opportunity to visit.
The Eden Project offers so much; environmental projects which are hands-on and very child friendly. There are stunning gardens with a variety of plants and trees to see. There are also arts and music events, which are available throughout the year. It has so much to see and to do, all in one place, and everything seems to have been cleverly designed to the last detail.
So we headed off for the day and, as we drove down to the car park, we saw the recognizable domes which, in reality, are absolutely huge. We were all so excited. As we walked through the reception area, it led us on to an amazing sight. A huge, vast area. with so much to take in and to see, it felt like we had a fantastic environment to explore all day long.
To start, we made our way around the outer area, walking through the meandering paths, and taking in the landscape. It was a fantastic mix of natural materials and sculptures; (the hidden man-made trees were my favourite.) Such a delight for the senses, we really didn’t want to rush, just in case we missed something.
With every few steps, there was something new to see. We found that we were all spotting different sights, and you could hear my daughter shouting out ‘come here’, or ‘look, you missed that’. It was such a wonderful start to a journey, and we had only been at the project for about an hour.
One of my favorite things was the area which we called the tea park. You are encouraged to bring your own food, always a “plus” in my book. I always find it slightly distasteful when places only want you to eat their food and pay their prices. We had a great area with a climbing-ship for children, and even the tables were turned into a learning tool. The history of tea was explained on the tables, and this educational and interesting touch was amazing.
After slowly wandering around, we were inticed into the first dome. We chose the to see the tropical dome first, as we were told how hot and humid it would be. They weren’t wrong, and there was a great pre-thought aspect of an area offering us a free a facility where we could hang up our coats and excess baggage.
When I was younger, I spent a month living in a rainforest, and the feeling I got when I stepped into the dome was exactly that same. It was truly amazing! I have never experienced such a sight or felling. I felt like I’d stepped into a movie set and it took us a few minutes to take it all in.
We slowly wandered around, absorbing every sight, noise and smell. There was so much to take interpret. My daughter loved exploring around this area, as she was able to wander and go ahead of us quite freely. It was a real adventure for her. We saw tropical plants, such as banana trees, coffee, rubber and giant bamboo.
Another great part of the rainforest dome was the suspended platform that took us to the very top of the structure. It was 165 feet high! It became hotter with every upward step. It was an expedition in itself, climbing the wobbly steps, and looking in awe at all the plants and waterfalls below. (My husband was a bit worried as before you could make your way up the steps you had to sign a health waiver confirming that one was fit and healthy). Treading slowly up the steps, one at a time, we felt like we were on an action film-set, with every slight wobble of each step. When we got to the top, we enjoyed a brilliant view of the whole dome from all angles.
My daughter’s favourite part of the tropical dome was when one of the staff members explained to her about the variety of spices that were grown in the dome. At a life-sized sculpture of a “Spiceboat”, they spent half an hour filling the little draws with different spices, smelling each one and discussing where they’d come from, as well as the history behind each spice. My daughter was fascinated, and she ran off to different trees and leaves, smelling each of them, and coming up with ever more questions for the staff to answer.
We left the tropical dome and HAD to stop for a locally-made ice-cream to cool ourselves down. Aftrewards, we headed to the Mediterranean dome. This presented us with a completely different temperature and environment. Dry, humid and warm, it reminded us of “holidays”. As the adults were feeling a bit contemplative at this point, a welcome and lovely addition was that we were in time for the story-telling session taking place in the Citrus Grove. Cushions and mats were placed on the floor giving comfort for tired kids…. (ans adults). The story-telling was magical, interactive and captured my daughters imagination from the very beginning.
As the children listened, I was able to take in the environment around us. There were large citrus plants growing in front of us, birds flying around and tweeting their songs and beautiful sculptures dotall around us, simply adding to the stunning ambiance. The story-teller was also so whistfully lovely. She actively included the children and developed the story so that the children could be involved, and they came up with a very unusual story about cauliflower, rock and chocolate soup! At the end, she stayed and talked to my daughter, listening to her explaining where we lived and how she knew about the fabled story of Merlin. The wonderfully crafty story-teller then lovingly gifted my daughter a penny she’d found, as if to pass on the luck of ‘find a penny’. This was a really calming addition to the day.
Time began to run out for us, and so we really had to hurry as we’d not seen everything that the Project had to offer. We wanted to get a closer look at some of the environmental sculptures that were on display around the gardens, and we soon spotted one that was so cleverly put together. It was made from all types of recycled materials imaginable, such as plastic bottles and metal from cars, tyres washing machines and so-on, and so a huge sculpture of a bee could be seen from far away. This incorporated the clever environmental message of ‘message-in-a-bottle’….. my daughter loved looking at the different colours and identifying the different materials that had been used.
Our time was coming to an end, and we truly still hadn’t seen everything that the Project had to offer. One day is simply not enough, and in my opinion, I think you need two days around the Eden Project to make sure you that see and appreciate the full experience. On our way out, we were very lucky to sneak a quick look at the facility offering a curriculum-based educational learning session for children, and my daughter had great fun catapulting seeds across to a target area, and pumping air to burst balloons that were full of little scraps of paper to illustrate the science behind how seeds are pollinated and travel.
These were such simple, yet brilliant, experiments to explain how seeds can be carried through the wind, or be stuck to animals or people, then drop off to be grown in different places, and the staff even explained how seeds can be carried in poo! Of course, my little devilish-daughter absolutely loved hearing that, and it made her day complete!
We wandered slowly back to the car, really not wanting to leave. We truly had such a wonderful day, with so much to see and to do. Everything had been planned out and designed so that every need was addressed, and there was something for everyone to experience.
I also have to say a big thank you to the staff at the Eden Project. Everyone that we met and spoke to were so welcoming, and nothing was too much trouble. The staff were so engaging, especially with my own my daughter, but with the younger people generally. They answered questions, explained the wonderful things that you could see and took time to inspire the little minds with great care and enthusiasm.
I would especially love to say a big thank you to the lady at the Spiceboat, and the wonderful story-teller who really made my daughter feel extra special by spending so much extra time with her; (I’m only sorry that I didn’t get their names).
We will definitely return, and I would highly recommend this utterly fantastic day out for families who love exploring, learning about our planet earth and who enjoy ending the experience feeling like you’ve truly lived through an adventure.
Just some more of the lovely images that I took during our day
And this is my favourite photograph of the day!
I received entry tickets into The Eden Project from Superbreak in order to review the attraction, my opinion is honest and unbiased.
As the weather changes and Spring seems like it’s here, I’m listening to my daughter and her friends playing outside in the garden and its a lovely, wonderful thing to hear children having fun and playing. It has reminded me of a brilliant film we saw a while back and so I wanted to re post one of my favourite posts and highlight the amazing film that is Project Wild Thing.It taught me so much and really did instill my belief of outdoor experiences for children. I thought Project Wild Thing was amazing, and really is a film every parent should see. It really shows why children need a childhood rich in outdoor experiences.’
Finally, I went to watch the documentary ‘Project Wild Thing’. Since I saw the trailer, I knew that I wanted, (and needed), to see this film. I wasn’t disappointed.
This documentary is the positive promotion of children being in the outdoors. But it isn’t done in a ‘in your face’ kind of way. The information is very balanced, and the first part of the film is David Bond observing how even his own children choose TV and computers rather than the outdoors.
However, as much as this film gives us some contradictory, light-hearted moments that you would expect when children are in a film, it does illustrate some hard and quite scary facts. Our children are the first in history to have a lower life expectancy than their parents…… how incredibly sad is that??? This statement made me sigh with sadness and despair.
Within my job, I get to see both the immediate, and long-term positive effect that being in the outdoors has on children. We give children the chance to BE children. I have taken teenagers to the beach for the first time in their lives, with one young person asking me ‘how much does it cost to go in the water’. I see the joy from a five-year-old who lives in the city being told he can get jump in the muddiest puddle in the forest because he has wellies and waterproofs on, so it really doesn’t matter how mucky he gets.
I am lucky to be able to share these experiences with the children that we deliver these activities to. I see the benefits, on a daily basis, of the “outdoor experience”.
So, as much as this film made me ponder some difficult questions, I am going to take the positives from it. Children who regularly get the chance to be in the outdoors, benefit from improved health, reduction of stress and boosted well-being. These children also experience joy, happiness and a better mixing with their peers. They also realise the value of spending quality time with their families. I really could go on and on about this but I don’t want to portray myself as “preachy”.
If you get the chance to watch this film, please do. All the information is on the “Project Wild Thing” website. It gives some great information about where you can find activities, depending on how much time you have. It’s a film that makes the viewer think…….. about our own past as kids, about our childrens’ ability to feel a truly natural awareness of present-day life, and perhaps how we could enhance their future…. for the better.