Wild Family Fun

Tales of living, working and enjoying life in the outdoors


December 19, 2015

StayCation: British Holidays

ParkDean Holidays have been running a lovely competition about the “Best Old Holiday Photo”.

This is aimed at encouraging people to share their childhood photographs of nostaligic holiday memories. The competition was created due to the number of people staying home and having holidays in Britain. It really got me thinking that, as a family, we’ve had the most wonderful holidays exploring different parts of Britain, and I think it’s fantastic that more people are choosing to stay home for their holidays.

More information, and also if you are keen to share your own family photographs, can be found at this link: http://www.parkdeanholidays.co.uk/take-me-back/

This post has given me lots of fun, thinking about past holidays which I had as a child. But, for me, the one that stands out the most was a family holiday to the Isle of White. It was a similar set-up to Butlins, where there were chalets and all of the entertainment was on site, which was great for a big family group.

When I say a family big holiday, this included mums, dads, cousins of all ages, aunties, uncles and, of course, the matriarcal Nan, and we all went together. I think that I was only about seven at the time and, looking back, it’s only certain pivotal events that I can vividly remember.

We travelled by train and all the children piled into one carriage. This left the adults to a small respite of momentary peace and quiet, free from all the excited, screaming children, (high on sweets and anticipation), all eager to get arrive at our destination.

My other fond memory is of having the biggest pool I’ve ever seen, with free access on the site. My Dad would take us down to the pool every day. He was a big kid, himself. He would throw all of us children across the pool, like skimming a stone, then have the whistle blown at him by the lifeguard telling him to behave.

However, it’s been really difficult to find any photographs from that holiday. Of course, we didn’t have digital cameras back then, with a back-up to our computer and everything saved quickly and with ease.

We definately didn’t have that ease back in the day. But one of  my cousins did manage to dig out the most lovely picture of that holiday. Sadly, it’s not showing all of us who were on holiday together, but I can vividly remember the afternoon that we were all instructed to have family photographs taken.

We were all posed within a nearby field, and ordered to “move places”, “look at the camera” and “smile” by the professional photographer on site. The children were so bored, and it was a real mission for the parents to get us smiling and looking happy! It felt like we were all there for ages, but this particular photo is so lovely, and so and important.

Sadly, my Nan has now passed away and so, seeing her here with her grandchildren all smiling and laughing, is just a perfect memory of a great holiday. The whole thing reminded me of what a wonderful woman she was.

She curled my sisters’ and my hair with old rags, one evening. Then she said she was going to the shop for milk. When we started to get worried that she was gone for hours, we eventually tracked her down to the amusement arcade, pumping coins into the machines. Taking no nonsense from one of my cousins, she chased him back to his room, were he spent the rest of the night in shame!

I never thought I’d see my Nan run, ever!

I know that it’s not in focus, or as crisp as a current digital image, but it’s so touching how such lovely memories can come from just one photograph.

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It’s been lovely composing this post and thinking back to our happy family holiday, compared to my own current familys’ holidays.

We, as a new family, have spent the most amazing times holidaying in this country by camping in some beautiful areas and discovering which holiday locations suit our own little family.

A quick confession is that our passports have recently expired. We’re in no rush to renew them, with so much of our own fantastic country to explore that we’ve never seen before.

I hope that this post inspires people to think about having a holiday in this country.

I know that you can all create those extra-special, “once-in-a-life-time” family memories that you’ll cherish forever.

 

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

My Sunday Photo

We had a wonderful day out at this week at Cardiff International White Water Centre. Indoor surfing was just one of the amazing activities that my daughter took part in, and she loved it!

CIWW is such an exciting, fun and adventurous place to visit in Cardiff.

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I have so many more adventures, which I’ll share with you in future posts.

For more information, prices and activities, please contact the friendly staff at : http://www.ciww.com

OneDad3Girls

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 New Year “To Do” List

I’m not very good with New Year resolutions, and never understand the whole “dieting, no drinking”, et al, that people try to start on this one day. However, I do like the idea of goals and challenges. It’s a good way of trying out new things and having some brilliant adventures. So, as an outdoor-loving family, we’ve come up with a list of goals that we’d like to achieve this year!

1: Explore Wales. I’m so lucky to live in Wales, as we have some of the most wonderful beaches and forests. We want to discover new places this year, and I also want to share areas I visit in work, by taking my family.

2: Learn outdoor crafts. I’m currently taking part in a willow weaving course and I’m loving every moment. I made a variety of Christmas decorations and a cute little basket. I’ve booked myself onto more courses to improve my skills. It’s great learning and developing new skills. However, my house is slowly filling up with my creations!

3: Grow and cook our own foods. When the weather gets a little better, we really want to take the time to grow and cook our own foods. My husband is an amazing chef, so we have the knowledge to create wonderful dishes. It also teaches my daughter where foods come from, and also encourages us as a family to eat healthily.

4: Take my daughter kayaking on rivers. Her kayaking is improving so well, now, that she is desperate to experience paddling on open moving water. We had a very brief experience, last year, and she was fine (though I was slightly nervous). My husband really wants to join us, so it’ll be a great excuse for a family adventure.

5: Improve my map reading skills. I’m starting to feel that I’m not pushing myself with my map and navigation skills. A colleague is trying to encourage me to go walking on my own, and get confidence in navigating for myself without safety blanket of having other people around. Strangely, I keep avoiding this one!

6: Camp more. We love camping so much, as a family and, as no major holidays have been planned this year, we’ll be doing more camping in new areas throughout Wales. We’re even buying a new tent, so it’ll have to be used more than a few times, this year!

There are a few other things that I want to do for myself. Like everyone, I suppose, I’d like to get a bit healthier. I’m not a big fan of diets to lose lots of weight, but would like to start a yoga class, or swim more. However, I do have a huge challenge that I’ll be aiming to achieve, this year.

Climbing Ben Nevis.

It came out during a conversation with my boss a few months ago and, rather than rolling around laughing on the floor, he said “You’ll be fine doing that”. So, it stuck in my head for a few days, and then I mentioned it to my husband. He said, “Brilliant, when do you want to do it? Let’s start planning”.

That’s how it started. So, later on, during the summer this year, I’ll be climbing Ben Nevis with a good friend of mine and, of course, my wonderful adventure-loving daughter, who said I’m not allowed to do the walk without her.

That’s our little New Year “to do” list of adventurous, fun-filled challenges and goals for the coming year.

I’m going to try to complete my list, and the other really great thing is that I get to share all my adventures on here!

Our summer holiday to-do list!

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.

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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.

Coasteering

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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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



Learning for Life

Our Summer Holiday.

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 !

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Learning for Life