Sunday Summer Stroll in Tring Park

Thursday, 27 August 2015

We've visited Tring Park a couple of times before in Spring and Autumn, but not in Summer! We rectified that last weekend!

It was a nice sunny morning when we set off. We took our usual route of going up hill towards the Obelisk and then to the Summer House Folly. Little Miss A definitely remembers our last visit as she immediately wanted to play hide & seek in the Summer House Folly, which we played last time!

Little Miss A did so well to walk up the hill. I thought she'd give up and ask to be carried. Walks are so much fun with her. Today she was climbing lots of trees!

It's such a lovely park for a walk with some really great views. Each time we notice different things. This time I spotted this owl face carved into the arm of one of the benches. Not noticed him before!

We were out for a couple of hours and just as we got back to the car it started raining. Phew - we were lucky!

There are some new animal sculptures somewhere in the Park but we didn't find them on this visit. We'll definitely be back again soon to search for them! Maybe we'll be brave and go in the Winter so we've been to the park in every season!

You can read about our Spring Stroll and Autumn Stroll here. You can also find out more about Tring Park on the Woodland Trust website. Also, you can pick up a children's activity book for the Park if you visit the Museum.

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College Lake Revisited

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

We haven't visited College Lake in Tring for a while but as the sun was shining on Saturday we wanted to get out for a local family walk so we thought we'd go back.

When we arrived we saw that they had a Trail Map available to find the lost pages of the Warden's Diary, so we picked up a map.

We started off going into the first bird hide. This time we actually remembered to take our binoculars with us. Little Miss A always looks through them the wrong way round, but I think she could see something through them!

Just as we were leaving the first bird hide, a volunteer asked Little Miss A if she'd like to help him to feed the birds. Little Miss A took her role as a special helper very seriously and did a great job!

It really is a nice circular walk around the Lake. There are lots of hides to visit along the way. The Trail is a great addition for children as they need to spot the lost pages.

A few times Little Miss A rested her legs and had a bit of a carry on Daddy's shoulders.

It was such a hot day and there isn't that much shade around the Lake, but we kept hydrated. We didn't spend any time in the interactive and educational areas on this visit but it seems like there have been some new additions.

My favourite shot of the day:

On our last visit, Little Miss A had to be carried in the back carrier. It was such a different walk this time as she could walk round herself! It's so much more fun now! The Lake is a great choice for a family walk and we'll be back again soon I'm sure!

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Visiting Brilliant Bristol

Monday, 24 August 2015

Recently I was contacted by Visit Bristol and invited to spend some time in the city experiencing some of what it has to offer. I've visited Bristol a couple of times before but on work trips so never had the chance to really see that much or do any of the attractions. This opportunity was too good to pass up.

We decided to visit Bristol at the end of our holiday after visitng Mr MoaB's family up North. We didn't think we could do or see enough in a day so we booked ourselves a hotel for the night so that we could do more.

We arrived in Bristol early afternoon and headed straight towards Blaise Castle. The Castle grounds are open year round but the Castle itself is only open on selected Sundays in the summer so we were fortunate to be there on a day when we could go inside and climb to the top.

There are some great views from the top. You can see 5 counties from the roof: Gwent; Glamorgan; Monmourth; Gloucestershire and Somerset. Little Miss A really enjoyed exploring the roof. It's not a big space but had a couple of empty rooms that she kept going in!

After making our way back down the hill, we spent some time in the Playground. It was very busy but this didn't matter as there was lots of equipment to have a go on. She spent most of the time in the Pirate Ship climbing frame in a large sandpit. The car park and Castle are free so this was a great place for us to spend some time getting some fresh air and stretching our legs after our long drive down to Bristol. 

We then thought it was time to head off to find our hotel. After checking-in, we headed straight out again to have a wander around and find somewhere to eat.  

Within minutes of us being out we found our first Shaun the Sheep statue. We managed to see 11 Shaun's and you can read more here about the Shaun in the City statues that we found on the Trail.

We took a little stroll around through Millennium Square, over Pero's Bridge and around in a loop. We spotted this great Wallace & Gromit wall art along the way. 

It was then time to find something to eat before it got too late. We chose Za Za Bazaar. I've eaten here before on a business trip and it was a great meal. It's an all you can eat buffet with lots of international cuisine on offer from Indian to Chinese, from American to British (a roast dinner of course!) and more! I absolutely love the decor at each food station. It's fab!

The really difficult part is deciding what to eat and not filling up too quickly with your first plate of food. You can pick from the various dishes and there are also chefs on hand to cook other dishes fresh to your liking for instance, I had some noodles cooked and could choose how spicy to have them and what vegetables and meat to have mixed with them. It was great to give Little Miss A a taste of different things but of course her favourite bit was the desserts section!

To walk off a bit of our food we took a slightly longer route back to our hotel beside the docks. It was a lovely evening to have a wander.

The next day we had breakfast in the hotel, checked out and then made our way to the Bristol Aquarium. Little Miss A has never been to one before but does have a fascination with fish when we've seen them in other places, so it was great to have the opportunity to take her to see lots of varieties of fish and sea creatures. 

We were fortunate that when we got to the Coral Sea display, a talk and feed was just about to start so we learnt more about the coral species and fish and saw them being fed. 

It was Mermaid Monday so we even got the chance to meet not 1, but 2 mermaids. Little Miss A only wanted to pose with one of them!

We were really fortunate with the weather whilst we were in Bristol and therefore we had brought with us Little Miss A's swimming stuff so that she could have a splash in the water features in Millennium Square!

There is a really great Whale sculpture in the Square and what you can't tell in these photos is that the waves are made out of thousands of plastic bottles. 

We grabbed some lunch on the go before getting on the Tour Bus with the Bristol Insight Open Top Bus Company. These tours are always a great way to see a city as they drive round so many different parts of the city and you learn a lot from the on-board Guides along the way. It's impossible to cover so much ground on foot. We hopped on the bus at the Centre Promenade. We decided that we'd get off at 2 stops to see a few more Shaun's but otherwise we'd stay on to see the key sights of Bristol. Little Miss A actually dozed off for a little bit on the bus - I'm not surprised after all the running around she'd done in the Aquarium and splashing in Millennium Square.

If you're looking for somewhere to visit, then I highly recommend Bristol. We only scratched the surface of what there is to do! We were really lucky with the weather during our visit but even if it's not sunny, there's plenty on offer indoors such as the Aquarium and the At-Bristol Science Centre. Thankyou to Visit Bristol for giving us the great opportunity to see some of the city. We'll have to visit again to do more of it!

Disclaimer:  Visit Bristol kindly paid some of our expenses and for our entry into the Aquarium and our ride on the Open Top Tour Bus. We paid for our own hotel accommodation and other expenses.

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My Sunday Photo 23-08-2015

Sunday, 23 August 2015

This is my favourite picture of this week.

A bit of a different type of shot from me this week. It was taken yesterday on a family walk at College Lake in Tring. I think this picture encapsulates the beauty of the Lake.


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Shaun in the City - Bristol

Saturday, 22 August 2015

I remember seeing pictures of the Shaun the Sheep sculptures when they were in London earlier in the year and had hoped that we might get the chance to see them. The trail finished before we got the chance to get to London so when Visit Bristol offered us the chance to go to Bristol to see the Shaun's along with some other attractions, I jumped at the chance.

The Shaun the Sheep sculptures have been designed by artists, designers and celebrities and are all sponsored by different companies and organisations. They will be auctioned off to raise funds for The Grand Appeal and Wallace & Gromit's Children’s Charity, supporting children in hospitals across the UK. There are 70 statues all around Bristol on the Shaun in the City Trail. I think it's more achievable to see more Shaun's in Bristol as I heard that they were a lot more spread out in London.

We couldn't believe how Little Miss A reacted to seeing the Shaun's. She was so excited and if she spotted one coming up she ran towards it. She actually posed for photos with almost all of them and she never poses for photographs!

On our first afternoon in Bristol we came across 5 Shaun's.
1) Dolly - this one was a couple of minutes away from our hotel. It looked like he was covered in Smarties. It was a great texture to touch!
2) Life Aquatic - we found this one outside the Aquarium and it was covered in fishes and other sealife creatures.
3) Air Fleece - this Shaun was tucked away in a corner of Millennium Square.

4) Beach Boy - a really fun Shaun with a 'rubber ring' as Little Miss A kept describing it. This one was on Centre Promenade.
5) Green Poems for a Blue Planet - along the walkway of the Watershed was this Shaun which had lots of messages about being environmentally friendly.

The following day we managed to see a few more Shaun's by getting off at stops on the Open Top Tour Bus. Firstly at the museums and then at the train station which is actually where our favourite ones were.

6) Rex - this Shaun is like a dragon so we did lots of 'roaring' whilst we were this one!
7) Flock 'n Roll - a really bright Shaun with the Union Jack on it.
8) Arabian Lights - the only Shaun that is actually indoors and is housed in the Bristol Museum. It actually lit up inside!
9) Alright Me Babber? - the first one we found outside the Train Station.

10) Great West Shaun - our favourite Shaun that we saw as it was like a locomotive steam train.
11) Bristol Express - another train themed one which had lots of lovely detail.

We also saw a bonus Shaun on the last Tour Bus we went on - a mini one!

We did spot a few other Shaun's from the top of the Tour Bus but obviously couldn't get good photos of these ones. 

We were so surprised by how much Little Miss A seemed to enjoy finding the Shaun's. She doesn't really know who 'Shaun' is, but after we'd seen each one, she kept asking for 'More Shaun'!!

You can download a Shaun in the City Trail Map here. The maps are available at a few locations in the city but when we went both places we tried to get a map from had run out. The best way to do the Trail is using the App on your phone. Do this in advance though when you've got a good wifi connection. Find out more details here. 

The Bristol Shaun in the City Trail is on until 31 August so there's only a couple of weeks left. If you can make it to Bristol, then do go. It's a fantastic thing to do with kids! I only wish we'd had more time to see some more!

You can read more about our family trip to Bristol here.

Life Unexpected

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Gregson Green Scarecrow Trail - Holiday 2015

Thursday, 20 August 2015

We definitely didn't have this on our list of things to do whilst we were on holiday but when we found out about it we just had to go on a Scarecrow Trail!

It was held in the village where Mr MoaB is from and was a fundraising event for the Gregson Green Community Centre. There were over 40 houses to visit on the Trail. We didn't quite manage them all but saw most of them!

So many people had put so much effort in to their scarecrows. Mr MoaB's sister created the Kermit the Frog and it had taken her hours to make. Her kids were meant to help but lost interest after the straw stuffing part. I know she was up until really late several nights to finish him off. I think she did a fab job!

They were all fantastic but these were our 2 favourites. The Mad Hatter's Tea Party as the scarecrows themselves were amazing and it had the loveliest props. The most popular with the kids including Little Miss A was the Minions one. I can't believe they made 8 different scarecrows in total. It must have taken them days to do!

It was great to see that so many people had got involved and that it really was a community event with lots of people out and about on the Saturday doing the Trail. Young and old were out seeing the Scarecrows. We all enjoyed the Trail and it was nice for me to see more of the village that Mr MoaB grew up in!

They were certainly lucky with the weather for this event as it poured with rain all day the day before. That's why some of the scarecrows had the additional accessory of an umbrella to keep them dry!

I really hope the event was a success for the organisers and helped raise lots of funds for a new Community Centre. Thankyou to all those involved as this was such a fun thing to have done and definitely an unusual activity that you don't get to do on your average Saturday!

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Astley Park, Chorley - Holiday 2015

Following on from our fantastic day at St Annes Beach, our holiday continued with a day out with more of Mr MoaB's family - his Mum, sisters and niece & nephew.

We packed a picnic and went to Astley Hall & Park in Chorley. We visited this park a few years ago but had not been back since. I'd recently spotted on Facebook that they'd opened a new play area which looked amazing so I was really keen to re-visit and I'm so glad we did!

The grounds have lots more additions since we last visited. As you enter the grounds, there are some lovely sculptures including an award-winning exhibit from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show - 'The Evaders’ Garden'. The installation is well worth a look and there is a really interesting story behind it.

As we passed the lake, we spent a bit of time spotting the different varieties of ducks. Unfortunately we'd forgotten to take anything to feed them with - next time we'll have to remember!

We then made our way to the new play area. Wow! It's the best designed playground we've found! It's all wooden and has a Royalists & Roundheads theme - there's thrones, a horse & cart and even a hog to roast!

We had kids of 2, 6 & 9 and they all equally enjoyed exploring the play area and had all the different equipment including slides, swings, climbing frames and zip wires. The playground does suit all ages. On the day we visited, there was also a bouncy castle with slide next to the play area (charge applied) which Little Miss A had a blast on with her cousin.

My photos don't really do the play area justice as I've had to be selective with so as not to show other people's children. Therefore take a look at this Astley Park's Destination Play Area Photo Album on the Chorley Council Facebook page. 

The original small playground has been retained so kids can enjoy both! There is a small kiosk for refreshments along with toilets. There is also a Pets Corner with a few animals to see. We visited this last time but didn't get the chance to go in on this occasion. You can also visit the Hall, museum & art gallery plus there is a larger cafe. There's lots more of the grounds that we haven't explored yet including a wooded area.

The grounds are free to go into and it's free car parking so it's a great family day out on a budget! If we lived nearer, we'd definitely be regular visitors to the Astley Park Playground! We'll definitely be back on future visits to see the family in the future.

Life Unexpected

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