Wild Family Fun

Tales of living, working and enjoying life in the outdoors


My Sunday Photo

The sun is shining and the skies are blue!

A walk to Penarth Pier with an ice cream in one hand is what Sunday’s are made for.

Lets hope this beautiful weather is here to stay.

Photalife

My Sunday Photo

Happy Mothers Day to all!

I think I’m the lucky one as I get to share my adventures with my outdoor – loving beautiful daughter.

She makes every experience just that little bit more special.

 

Photalife
March 12, 2017

Tips for Happy Hill-Walking

A friend recently asked me if it was possible for anyone to walk the path to the top of Pen-Y-Fan.

She thought it was mainly for committed outdoor walkers, or people with lots of hill-walking experience. I explained that anyone can access the walk and, in fact, I see many people of differing abilities walking Pen-Y-Fan. However, there are some quite simple, yet essential things to consider, that will help to make your walk safer and more enjoyable.

Leading from our conversation, I thought I’d post some things that I hope will help to make a day-walking experience easier, and a bit kinder to any children on the walk.

Tip 1:

Check the weather report.

The Met office website is really simple to access and understand, yet a comprehensive source of information. I always check the night before any trip, as well as on the morning of my walk. The weather can change quite suddenly, and you may need to adapt in order to be properly prepared. If you want a good view at the top, wait for the weather to be clear. There’s nothing worse than getting all the way to the top, and find that everything is shrouded in thick mist or fog! It also helps when deciding upon the correct clothes to wear for the day and, if the children are coming on the walk with you, good weather helps to make the whole experience more fun and engaging.

Tip 2:

Always have breakfast!

It sounds like such a silly, common sense thing to advise but, on any normal day, you might usually be able to get away with just grabbing a quick breakfast bar, or missing breakfast altogether. Not if you want to have the energy to fulfil a happy days’ walking! By having breakfast, you’re giving your body the best possible start to get you up that mountain. Without that start-up boost, it won’t be long before your energy levels start to drop and pretty soon after, you’ll feel like giving up before you’ve even properly started.

Tip 3:

Have a good pair of walking boots, or really sturdy footwear.

You don’t have to buy a very expensive pair of boots, as many outdoor shops have a wide selection, and at a range of reasonable prices. They can also give advice if you ask before buying. However, if you do buy a new pair, make sure you wear them before your walk to help them become supple, as I’ve seen many people get blisters because they’ve walked in stiff, brand new boots. Another good tip is to wear a thicker pair of socks. I wear a thin liner sock, and then a thicker walking sock over this. It helps to reduce blisters and makes for a more comfortable walk, but it really is down to personal choice. I’ve also seen many walkers trudging up the path of Pen-Y-Fan with completely inappropriate shoes and I really feel their pain. But if you take care of your feet, they’ll take care of you.

Tip 4:

Take a rucksack and wear the straps on each shoulder.

I often see lots of people struggling up hills and mountains with handbags, carrier bags etc, and it looks as if it’s such an awkward pain. Again, you don’t have to spend a lot. Most children have a good school rucksack these days, and that’s all you need. You then have something decent to adequately carry your lunch, a spare jumper, bottle of water and maybe a hat and gloves depending on the time of year. I do tend to carry a small first aid kit, but that’s completely up to you. However, things like wet wipes and some hidden sweets or chocolates can make the day more comfortable, especially if you have children with you. Wearing one strap slung over a single shoulder promotes a lop-sided, slouching walk, which can become irritating and tiring. On a prolonged walk, you should wear both straps over your shoulders, as it helps with a more comfortable “even walk”.

Tip 5:

Plan your route.

Proper planning prevents poor performance. You really ought to know where you’re going, how long the walk should take, and if it is suitable for the ability of your group. You want to enjoy yourself, so if this is a new experience for you, or if you want an easy, relaxing walk, don’t choose somewhere that takes all day or, for example, is continually up steep hills, as descending can be just as taxing as going up! A little light research can reap real rewards, as a good walk will make you want to go again, and each time possibly try something harder. It really is meant to be enjoyable and fun.

Tip 6:

Go with friends!

This will make the day much more enjoyable, and you’ll have massive motivation to get to the top. You’ll help each other, share lunch, chat on the way and find it a lot happier and easier having friendly, familiar faces by your side.

Tip 7:

Take it a pace that everyone is happy with.

If you’ve planned the whole day for the walk, take the whole day. I love taking the time to enjoy the environment, pacing myself to incorporate a few necessary rest breaks, and chat to any fellow walkers. I  can then complete any walk without looking like a red tomato, and completely out of energy. Also, it may take a few reserves of determination and energy leftover, just to return from a good walk.

Tip 8:

Never underestimate the importance of a hat, gloves, a waterproof coat and spare jumper.

Sometimes, I’ve left Cardiff when the sun is shining and the weather’s quite hot. By the time I’ve driven to Brecon, the sky is overcast and the cold has set in. Again, this is where checking the weather is essential, but Mother Nature seems to just love throwing a “curve-ball” now and then! Mountain summits can have completely different weather ststems from that at the bottom. Often, when you reach the top, the wind is quite invigoratingly strong, and you’ll be so happy that you packed a warm hat, gloves and a spare jumper. Equally, don’t forget that in warmer weather, you’ll need a sun hat, sun tan lotion and plenty of  bottled water for hydration.

These are just a few tips that might help if you’re new to walking, especially if you’re keen to venture out into mountainous or even forestry areas. Over the years, I’ve followed and developed these simple tips when I prepare for a walk, and it’s always made my day safer and more enjoyable.

My last tip is to just have fun and enjoy yourself! Walking is a wonderful activity and can be tailored to suit everyone’s abilities. The health benefits are encouraging, too.

Regular walking strengthens your heart. It reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke. The Stroke Association estimates that a brisk, 30-minute walk every day helps to lower and control the high blood pressure that causes strokes, potentially reducing the risk by up to 27 percent.

So, what’s stopping you!

 

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

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Here’s my little action-girl, waterproofs on, and walking underneath a waterfall.

It may not be the best quality of photograph but, when I saw it, I was reminded of how much I absolutely love my daughters’ spirit for adventure. She makes an adventure out of every day, and I love being a part of that.

I guess that’s why we always enjoy our outdoor adventures.

OneDad3Girls

My Sunday Photo

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The warm weather is on its’ way! We found this gorgeous little creature hiding in sticks, while we were on a walk. It’s great to see the changing of the season, and wildlife starting to show themselves again.

OneDad3Girls

365 Project Week 8

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39: A nice relaxing Sunday and I had to take this photo as proof. My daughter watching a movie and picking from a bowl of salad. Yes salad, my husband and I were amazed!

40: A brilliant start to the half term holidays. Lots of lovely outdoor fun with a full day of Forest Schools. Lots and lots of mud.

41: Another busy day and a walk to Skirrid yr Eira waterfalls in Brecon. A long but lovely walk without any moans and groans.

42: We took a group of children to Porthkerry park on Wednesday. Another great day in the forest and we all ended up to our knees in the stream splashing and having lots of fun.

43: A day of cooking at home. Lovely banana cakes and strawberry jelly ready for homemade trifles.

44: We met up with some friends today and all went for a walk to Caerphilly mountains. It’s a great place to explore and is right on our doorstep. Of course the girls found the muddy puddles and were straight in.

45: A morning game of Bingo with prizes as well. First to a line and then for a full house!

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Half-term Outdoor Fun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Learning for Life



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

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!

365 Project Week 2

Here are my photographs of my second week in the 365 challenge

First week back to work after a lovely Christmas break, lots of lovely walks but as its January all the layers were on!

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4: A walk to the local shops is never just a five-minute walk with my daughter. We live near some lovely woods and have a little duck pond near our house so we always end up having a quick detour for an explore.

5: My first day back in work and every month we have to go through all our equipment {there is a lot!} and do the necessary health and safety checks. It’s the not so exciting part of my job.

6: Tuesdays are always Duke of Edinburgh evenings. This week we were getting ready for our first day walk which is coming up soon. Route cards at the ready!

7: A beautiful day of navigation in week. It was very, very cold but the views were amazing.I even captured a little rainbow in the distance.

8: This is normally the cave entrance at Porth yr Ogaf in Brecon. However after all the heavy rain fall through the evening, nobody was caving that day.

9: An afternoon to a local Forest to have an explore on Friday afternoon. A definite day for the Kelly Kettle for hot drinks to keep the cold away.

10: My daughter still enjoying her Christmas presents. A quiet time of colouring her new school bag in. A very clever present.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

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