Archive for June 2014

Gardening with zero budget!

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Really pleased with what Mr MoaB and I have managed to create today in a corner of our back garden and we haven't spent a penny!

The previous owners' of our house were obviously not green fingered. The back garden is just a square box. There's one shrub and that's it. No borders, no trees, no plants. Nothing. Not very inspiring!

One corner was particularly forlorn - just an uneven mound of dirt and weeds. We had a lovely Apple Tree given to us by Little Miss A's grandparents when she was born so we put this in the corner, but it didn't really detract from the sorry state of the ground it stood on!

We came up with the idea of a rockery but then we took a big gulp when we saw the price of stones in the garden centre. We'd be looking at around £100+!! As we didn't have a Plan B for the corner, I decided to put a post up the local Freecycle website just on the off chance. Having never used this site before, I wasn't sure what to expect but a couple of people responded to my post so one evening we went off to pick up a car boot full of slabs from a really nice gentleman in Ford.

We got some really nice round slabs with different designs - flowers, birds etc. which were pretty grubby but cleaned up well after a quick spray with the pressure washer. We've placed these to create a stepping stone path for Little Miss A between the back door and the grass to break up what is just a very expanse of gravel. She still usually ends up walking on the gravel with barefeet rather than the flat stones - she's got tougher feet than me!

Earlier in the week, we dug the corner area over and Mr MoaB had a 'smashing' time with the other slabs to break them all up. Today, whilst Little Miss A was napping, we got busy putting the stones in. We kept placing stones, moving them around, changing them over, moving them around a bit more. We could have been out there for hours rearranging them all! We did finally agree to call it a day and leave them as they were!

We put over some sacks of newer soil that my Mum had donated after re-doing her garden tubs recently. She'd also kindly bought us a couple of rockery plants today at a car boot sale. I'm hoping they'll grow and spread quite quickly, as they look a bit lost at the moment!

The last thing was to plant a packet of seeds that I'd been sent after responding to a post on Facebook from Ella's Kitchen who were giving away packs of Bee-Friendly Wild Flower Seeds. Luckily I was one of the 10 people they picked to receive the seeds. A great freebie!

So here it is...

It already looks so much better and once some flowers grow it's going to be a huge improvement. Feeling good that we've done something to:
a) improve the garden
b) provide some texture, colour etc. for Little Miss A (when the flowers grow!)
c) encourage wildlife into the garden

All without spending any money! Roll on the next garden project!

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NCT Nearly New Sale - Aylesbury

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Just relaxing this evening after helping at another successful NCT Nearly New Sale at the Grange School, Aylesbury. If you've never been to one before, you're missing out on the chance to get some great bargains!

My first experience of one of the Sales was just before Little Miss A was born and I was really impressed by the scale of the Sale and how it was set-up. I've been to lots of table top sales, car boot sales etc. in the past but the Nearly New Sale is very different to these. Since that first one, I'm now a Volunteer, a Seller aswell as a Buyer at these Sales.

The Sale is spread across 4 rooms and there is such a massive choice of items. You can fill your child's wardrobe, stock up their playroom (or toy boxes if you're not lucky enough to have a separate room to contain their toys like us!), add to their book library, and so much more.

In the Main hall are clothes all on hanging rails and sorted by sex and age. It's brilliant. You know whether you need boy or girls clothes and you know what age you need so you can just immediately head for the relevant rails and get looking! You'll also find swimwear, shoes, vests, sleepsuits, socks, hats, plus maternity clothes and books in this room.

The Dining room contains all the children's toys and books, with the toys all sorted by age range. There's a separate room for all the Big Toys - things like trikes, scooters, outdoor toys, baby playmats etc.

Then finally there's a Nursery room which is where you need to head if you're pregnant - you could pretty much get nearly everything you need to furnish and stock a nursery! There's also things like potties, reusable nappies, baby sleeping bags, bedding and lots more.

Every item is clearly marked with the price. So you don't have to keep asking how much things are and you don't need to haggle. If you're happy with the price, you put the item in your shopping bag. All the items are of good quality and at a fraction of the cost of new, so I challenge you not to have filled at least one shopping bag (even if you only had a couple of things on your list!). There's the added bonus of being able to pay by chip & pin so when you have bought more than you thought, you don't have to worry about not having enough cash!

You might not realise, but the whole Sale is organised and run by volunteers. The rooms are set-up on the Friday and then all the Sellers bring their items for sale in the morning of the Sale and these get put out in the relevant rooms. Then the Sale commences and hundreds of items get sold. Once all the Buyers have left, there's then the task of getting any unsold items sorted out into boxes for the Sellers to collect, taking the rails down and getting all the rooms back to how they were, ready for the school day on Monday.

I really enjoy being a part of these Sales. It's great to do something for the NCT charity and it's nice to meet new people who are volunteering and be part of a team creating what we like to call a 'one-day pop-up shop'! After all the hard work that's put into the set-up, it's a buzz to see the Buyers coming in and picking out lots of items.

Over the past year since I've been going to these Sales, I've saved a fortune on things for Little Miss A. I'm now selling things that she's grown out of and I always make more money than I spend - win, win!

Date for your diary! The next NCT Nearly New Sale is on Saturday 8th November. See you there!

If this post has inspired you to sell and/or volunteer then do get in touch. All the details of this and all the events we organise can be found on the NCT Aylesbury Facebook page.

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The Gruffalo Trail in Wendover Woods

Monday, 23 June 2014

There's no such thing as a Gruffalo! Or is there!?!

Today we took a stroll through the deep dark wood! Well, Wendover Woods to be more precise. We were on the hunt to find the illusive Gruffalo!

We've been reading the book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler to Little Miss A for a little while now. Though Little Miss A and I did do the trail a few months ago, that was before the giant Gruffalo sculpture had arrived. This was unveiled as part of the 15th Anniversary celebrations on 7th June.

The trail is clearly set out on a marked path. The path is mostly flat which means it is possible to take a sturdy buggy around if you need to. I had our pushchair but Little Miss A walked most of the trail by herself, with just a few tumbles here and there. Be prepared for puddles and mud if it has been raining though. We were ok as the weather has been so dry recently. 

We took a copy of the book along with us so that I could read extracts as we went along and I thought it would help as Little Miss A could relate the pictures she's familiar with in the book to the characters on the boards.

As you make your way along the trail, there are lots of boards with suggestions of Gruffalo themed activities to try out. For example, creating a piece of Gruffalo ground art or making movements like the animals in the story.

Little Miss A is still too young for the activities, but that didn't stop her hunting high and low for the Gruffalo!

You have to keep your eyes peeled for the animals as you make your way along the trail and then of course, as you near the end, there's every chance you'll encounter the Gruffalo himself!

I couldn't actually get Little Miss A to stand next to the Gruffalo. She just kept running away or around him! 

We did get photobombed by the Gruffalo though!!

There are Gruffalo Trails in woods throughout the UK. The trail is in place until 30 September. Full details can be found on the Forestry Commission website. The Gruffalo himself is doing a tour and will be at Wendover Woods on Thursday 7th August.

If you've not been up to Wendover Woods, then be aware that there are car parking charges. There's a great children's playground, a den making area and a fantastic cafe that's well worth popping in to - Cafe in the Woods.

If you're familiar with the book then the Trail really is a great thing to do to bring the story to life. I heard one mother say to her child 'you've seen the Gruffalo three times already recently!' and I'm sure that this won't be our only encounter with the Gruffalo this summer!

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Zoomania Indoor Play Centre - Review

Friday, 20 June 2014

All this week Zoomania in Aylesbury has been offering free entry. It was the last day of the promotion today and when I saw a post saying that a few Mums were meeting up there this afternoon, I thought it would be good to take Little Miss A along for a play.

Zoomania is an indoor play centre for children up to 11 years. For the older kids, there are playframes and slides, a football court, ball maze and more. For the smaller ones, there's a dedicated section with a playframe, ball pit and a couple of Little Tikes cars to drive around.

Zoomania Indoor Play Centre

As it was a nice afternoon, they actually had a door open to an outside area. I had a quick peek out here and there's a really nice wooden climbing frame plus a play house. There's plenty of seating and tables around the centre and outside. There's a cafe and you can only consume food and drink bought on the premises, but this is the case at most play centres.

The last time we went Little Miss A was much smaller and less independent. This time she could really make the most of the Under 3's section and had a go at everything, several times. Of course, her favourite was the slide!

The centre offer different activity sessions each day (weekdays only) including messy play, arts & crafts and musical games with Zilo (the Zoomania character). So next time we visit, we'll have to try one of these out.

Considering that entrance was free today, it wasn't as busy as I thought it might be. Think we timed it right though as we went at 2pm so we left before lots of people would be arriving with their kids after school.

Normally it would cost £2.50 for Little Miss A, so it's not that expensive. Price varies by age. It was obviously a bonus that it was free today! Zoomania is a good option if you're looking for something local to do for an hour or so that will burn up some energy! 

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Billy Goats at Bucks Goat Centre

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

A Mummy friend mentioned that she was going to The Bucks Goat Centre and asked if we wanted to join her. We jumped at the chance to visit as we haven't been there yet and the weather is so nice, it's great to get outdoors as much as possible and make the most of it!

The Centre is just a 15 minute drive away, just on the outskirts of Aylesbury. We met up in the car park and headed in to explore. It's great that the little ones can toddle about themselves without holding on to us now, although towards the end they did want carrying (they're definiltey getting heavier!).

As soon as we went in we had our first up close and personal encounter with a Goat who was free to just roam around. Little Miss A was pretty brave and got up quite close to him!

The first part you come to is a big barn with a variety of animals inside. There are sheep (which gave the toddlers a bit of a fright with their noise!), pigs, rabbits and ducks. There are lots of baby animals - the bunnies were particularly cute. We spent some in here petting a few of the animals and making lots of animal noises. I think there was a bit of rendition of 'Old McDonald had a farm' at one point!

Then we moved back outside into the sunshine. There are lots of different pens. The first has a donkey and some goats. Then there was a pen where you could actually go in with a Goat and her kid. On our wander we also met some alpacas, a pony, more goats (well, it is the Goat Centre after all!), a llama and some guinea pigs. So a good variety.

That just left us time for a bit of play in the playground area. Little Miss A was straight into the sandpit (think we bought a lot of sand home with us as she had turn-ups on her trousers!). She also really enjoyed bouncing on the trampoline with her friends.

Entry into the Goat Centre costs £4.50 per adult. Under 2s are free so that's good for us. You can also purchase a bag of animal food but we chose not to. There is a cafe at the Centre, but I'd taken water and snacks for us. The cakes did look good though - maybe next time!

A really nice afternoon with friends in the sunshine. Well worth a visit!

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Carry on Camping at Town Farm

Monday, 16 June 2014

This year we invested in a new family tent. Mr MoaB and I have been on lots of camping holidays together but our 3 man tent just wasn't big enough for a travel cot and extra paraphernalia needed for a toddler. So it was time to upgrade.

Back in April, we did a trial run of putting the tent up in our back garden. It was up for about a week in the end. Little Miss A loved it and would spend ages going in and out, around the bedroom cubicles etc. Surprisingly she didn't fall over the guy ropes that often!

Whilst the tent was up, we spent one night sleeping in it with Little Miss A. It wasn't terribly successful as it turned out to be a really cold night (it had been warm all the rest of the week - typical!), so she didn't want to sleep in the travel cot and ended up sleeping in with us on the blow-up mattress.

Therefore, we were keen to try again and see we all got on with a proper camping trip. We've been talking about going away for the night for a while and the opportunity came this weekend as Mr MoaB had 2 days off together.

We chose Town Farm which is near Ivinghoe Beacon. It's just 25 minutes drive away, so no distance at all but it's a really nice setting and has amazing views!

We called up on the day and asked for a tent pitch. Being a Sunday, there were no problems. I think if you're staying a Friday or Saturday night, you have to book 2 nights but we could just stay for 1 night. It costs £10 per adult per night.

Packing up the car was a bit of a challenge - definitely a tight squeeze to get it all in. Unfortunately you need pretty much the same amount of stuff for just one night as you do for a whole week. We're going to need a rethink when the time comes that Little Miss A wants to take a bike etc!

When we got to the campsite we were greeted by Charles who was really friendly and helpful. He showed us where to pitch our tent and gave us a spot away from the other couple of campers (possible knowing that a small tot might just make some noise crying at some point in the night!). It was also right near the children's playground which seemed good at first but then Little Miss A kept wanting to take herself off there so one or other of us had to keep running across the field after her!

Pretty impressed by how quickly we managed to get the tent up. Always made easier when you are doing it in the dry and it's not pouring down with rain. The tent was up and the beds were made within half an hour! Next priority - a cup of tea!

Little Miss A was really excited to see the tent again. She spent so much time just going in and out and sitting in there. She did keep missing the lip of the doorway so invariably fell in or out of the tent or both! She was definitely in her element with so much space to potter around.

After spending a bit of time wandering around the campsite and appreciating the views, plus a bit of time at the playground, it was already time for dinner!

It's always a case of very early nights when we're camping. Unfortunately, after initially settling ok in her travel cot, Little Miss A woke up when we went to bed and wouldn't re-settle. So again, she ended up sharing our bed. To be fair, it was a cold night so at least I knew she was warm enough. However, it meant that I got very little sleep and it was very much a case of 'the little one said roll over' as I was literally on the verge of falling off the bed for most of the night. We need a bigger mattress!!

Apart from the whole sleeping arrangements thing, I think it''s safe to say that Little Miss A likes camping! It would have been all too easy for us to put off our trip finding an excuse; it's not worth it for one night or it's a bit too cold... I'm so glad we didn't use these and went. Roll on the next camping trip!

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Fabulous fun on the Forest Segway

Friday, 13 June 2014

Spent a really brilliant time today riding a Segway. Loved it!

Mr MoaB needed to pay a work visit to Black Park, so Little Miss A, Grandma and I tagged along for the day. Whilst there he'd arranged for me to have a go at the Go Ape Forest Segway

After a short safety briefing, you're let loose to drive the segway. It's a bit of a strange sensation and takes a little while to work out how far forward and back you need to lean, but after a few circuits of the practice loop, I'd got the hang of it!

The group then set out into the Forest. Initially your speed is restricted with a setting on the segway, but then once the instructor is happy that everyone is okay, then the setting is changed to allow you to go faster and the steering becomes much more sensitive.

You travel along a variety of tracks through in the woods - some where you need to avoid tree roots, potholes or mud puddles; others which are wider and smoother where you can really pick up a bit of speed (I preferred these ones!). 

I've been wanting to have a go on a segway for a couple of years now, so really pleased that I got to do it today. I enjoyed the Forest Segway for Free thanks to Mr MoaB, but normally it costs £35. 

It's definitely a unique way to travel around the Park. I highly recommend having a go on a Segway if you ever get the chance! I'm now the proud holder of a Forest Segway licence!

Black Park is really nice just for a day out and a wander. It took about an hour to drive there. There are lots of walks, cycle tracks, a lake, a children's playground and 2 cafes.

After my segway session, we headed round the Lake where we enjoyed our picnic lunch and then let Little Miss A loose in the children's woodland adventure play area. This is one of the best playgrounds I've come across so far. A huge variety of equipment. Little Miss A was in her element as she got to go down 3 different slides (plus there was one she didn't try - next time!).

We've enjoyed a really lovely family day in the sunshine! I have a feeling we'll be visiting Black Park again very soon.

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Red Kite Walk - Certainly lived up to its name!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Last August we went on a great walk where we saw a large number of Red Kites. As we've got Mr MoaB's Mum staying with us, we thought we'd do this walk again.

We definitely weren't disappointed by the number of Red Kites we spotted. We saw some on the car journey there, a few on the walk itself, but then a huge number as we were driving back. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The walk starts from Studley Green which is about 35 minutes drive from Aylesbury.

Not very money saving but we enjoyed a fantastic cooked breakfast in the garden centre. Conveniently this is where the walk starts from and there's loads of free parking. The breakfast really set us up well for the walk and we ended up carrying our packed lunch the whole way only to eat it at about 3pm when we got home!!

We then set off on our 'Red Kite Walk'. We used the instructions from a printed leaflet but this is available on the Chilterns website. Here's a direct link to the Red Kite Walks leaflet.

When we did the walk last year, this first part was where we saw the greatest concentration of Red Kites and we were taken aback by the number in one place then. So we were a little disappointed to only spot 4 or 5 at the same spot this time.

The main part of the walk is through Bottom Wood. Here's Little Miss A telling her Daddy which way to go!

You walk for about 1 mile through this wood. It really is a lovely place. We were the only ones there and all you can hear is lots of different birdsong. We spotted a few muntjac deer and even a little mouse!

We chose this walk last time because it says that it's suitable for all terrain pushchairs and there are no stiles or gates. As Little Miss A was only 4 months old then, we took her in the pushchair and also used a carrier some of the way. It was certainly fine with the pushchair before but definitely not now. The paths have got really muddy and churned up so it was a case of picking our way through the 'least' muddiest parts in a lot of places. You need walking boots, that's for sure.

It was nice and cool in the Wood and as we emerged out, we quickly noticed how hot it had got. The next part of the walk is quite open with little shade so we tried to keep up the pace a bit more to get back into the next Woods and some shade. Easier said than done now that Little Miss A is wanting to walk herself more rather than be carried.

We were amazed by how much walking she actually did today. It was really uneven underfoot and as I've said, pretty muddy in places, yet she walked with such confidence and stability. Amazing! Very different to the little baby doing the same walk last year!

We did see a few more Red Kites as we continued on our way. A short walk through another wood including quite a steep bit - somehow I found myself carrying Little Miss A for this climb. I needed to catch my breath at the top - she's got so much heavier now!

The good thing about this walk is that it's circular so after about 3 hours walking, we arrived back at the car. We were just driving out of Studley Green when we suddenly saw the most phenomenal number of Red Kites flying above us. We pulled the car over and realised that someone had put some food down which was attracting them all. What an absolutely amazing sight!

We watched for quite a while and were treated to a spectacle as they dove down for the food. One after the other, after the other.

So all in all we weren't disappointed by our 'Red Kite Walk'!! Difficult to say how many we saw, our best guess is around 40. I think we'll be hard pushed to see as many at one time again!

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Being a girl racer at Rogue Racing

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Some of my money-saving ways have obviously rubbed off on Mr MoaB as today we went Go-karting at Rogue Racing in Aylesbury for Free!!

He decided to organise this as a surprise for me. We've got his Mum staying with us for a few days so she was on babysitting duties with Little Miss A giving us the chance to spend this rare time just the two of us.

It's been a good few years since I've been in a go-kart and it is very different to normal driving but a whole lot of fun. I think I am a bit too conservative when I drive a go-kart, so I did get lapped by Mr MoaB, but I still enjoyed being a bit of a girl racer! I must admit there was a slight incident with me and the crash barrier - let's just say I've left my mark with a bit of a dent in one of the barriers!!

Mr MoaB managed to get a reciprocal deal with the go-karting track, so we enjoyed 30 minutes track time for Free. It would have cost us £30 each so the boy done really good getting us this for free!

I really appreciate that he went to the trouble of organising this for me. A nice surprise! It was fun to have time together on a daytime date! Thankyou Mr MoaB!!

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Whizzing around at Whizz Kidz

Monday, 9 June 2014

A few of my Mummy friends and I decided to take our little ones to Whizz Kidz in Thame this afternoon.

If you've not been before, this is a large Indoor Activity Centre with a giant play frame, toddler play frame, soft ball pit, a bouncy castle and more.

Our first visit to Whizz Kidz was in half term and it was absolutely manic but today we almost had the whole place to ourselves, which was great. This meant we could let the toddlers do their thing and 'toddle' about. It's amazing watching them together and how mobile they all are now. They are getting so confident and are starting to 'whizz' around more. It certainly keeps us Mums busy chasing after them!

Our little ones are managing to get up and around the toddler play frame themselves now. They spent quite a bit of time going around and down the slide. Then it was into the Little Tikes cars - they still need a helping hand from Mum to push them. After going in the ball pit, it was on to the bouncy castle. They all liked this!

As it was quiet in the Centre, we took them down the bigger kids slide a few times which definitely brought some big smiles from the little ones.

There is a café that serves drinks and food. Quite often they give you special offers for refreshments. Today we had a free squash and biscuit, plus half price voucher for a tea or coffee.

Being a very sunny afternoon, it was very hot inside. It didn't seem to trouble the toddlers, but us Mums were feeling the effects. We took advantage of the free squash and biscuit for ourselves (Little Miss A doesn't have squash yet!). So if you go on a warm day, be warned and wear loose, light clothing.

It's worth signing up to the Whizz Kidz email database as they send you special offers. I was sent an email recently that gave us free entry today, plus the drinks offers. Normally it would be £3.00 (off-peak). They also gave me a voucher for half price entry next time we visit in June.

Whizz Kidz is a good place to go once in a while for some fun play!

P.S. Those who are regular readers may have noticed that 'Baby A' has become 'Little Miss A'. Have made the switch as can't really call her a baby anymore!

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On the buses - Day trip to Oxford

Friday, 6 June 2014

A few weeks ago, it was 'Catch the Bus Week'. During this period (28th April - 4th May), Arriva Buses were offering a Free Day Saver ticket. All you had to do was download their app and enter a promo code. Thought it must be worth getting the free ticket as there was a long time frame for when it had to be used.

We opted for an 'All Shires' day ticket and both my partner and I downloaded the app on our phones so that we had the same free ticket.

We decided to use our ticket today and go to Oxford on the buses. We set off this morning and caught a bus to Aylesbury Bus Station and then got the 280 bus which would take us all the way to Oxford. Baby A actually fell asleep on the first bus but luckily didn't miss the entire journey. She seemed to enjoy looking out the window and waving at the other bus passengers!

It takes about 1 hour 15 minutes to get to Oxford by bus. It goes through Stone, Haddenham, Thame and then a few places I'd never heard of such as North Weston and Tiddington, before travelling on to Wheatley and into Oxford town centre.

So although the bus does take a bit longer than going by car it was a nice way to go as neither of us had to concentrate on driving, we could take in the scenery and places we passed through and then we didn't have the hassle of finding somewhere to park when we got to Oxford.

We got off the bus at the Carfax Tower and headed straight to M&S to get Baby A freshened up in the baby changing facilities (always a safe bet that M&S will have good, clean facilities).

The previous time we went to Oxford, we went round on the tour bus. This was before we had Baby A. This time we wanted to explore more of Oxford by foot and I found a short walking tour in a Visit Oxford and Oxfordshire booklet that we had lying around the house.

The tour was just right for what we wanted as it took us past a few of the colleges, along by the river a bit, past the Botanical Gardens and then through some of the backstreets. Oxford is one of those places where you really have to look upwards when you walk around as there is so much amazing architecture.

My favourite landmark on the walk was the Bridge of Sighs:

Baby A had a little bit of a meltdown on the bus back to Aylesbury. She didn't want to sit still and wanted to walk about on the bus. She was also a bit overtired. A few snacks and distractions soon calmed her and the rest of the journey passed uneventfully.

So all in all a great day. It was fun and a bit different to go to Oxford 'on the buses' and we spent a lovely few hours wandering around in the sunshine.

The whole day cost us the price of our picnic lunch and 2 shop bought coffees (my partner persuaded me he needed these for the bus journey!). The bus tickets would have cost us £8.50 each, so a fantastic saving!

We found out about the bus ticket promotion originally from the weekly email sent by Money Saving Expert. If you don't already subscribe to this email, then I highly recommend it. It's packed full of advice and deals like this one.

I have also liked Arriva The Shires on Facebook in case they have a similar promotion in the future. I'll keep you posted on my Facebook page if they do!

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A Flutterby with a Butterfly at Butterfly World

Thursday, 5 June 2014

My partner had a work meeting at Butterfly World near St Albans today so Baby A and I tagged along. It's not somewhere I knew about before so it was nice to go along for a visit.

Whilst my partner was busy in his meeting, Baby A and I enjoyed a lovely couple of hours wandering around all the different areas, all planted to attract lots of wildlife.

First of all we wandered in and out of the Designer Gardens. Lots of small gardens each with a different theme. Very sensory for Baby A with lots of colours, a massive variety of plants, many different textures and a mixture of scents.

Then we walked around the Antennae Walks. As it was a weekday, there weren't that many visitors (mostly school parties) so we were the only ones wandering around this area. Lovely and peaceful to walk around in the sunshine. The end of the Walk brought us to the large Ant sculpture. Not sure Baby A was that keen on him as couldn't get a picture of her stood with him!

After a quick play on the slide, we went into the Tropical Butterfly House. Immediately as you enter, you see different varieties of butterfly flying around and then as you start to look more closely, you begin to spot others that are perched on leaves, stems of plants etc. Baby A and I spent quite a long time in here as it was a safe environment for her just to potter about and there were lots of different butterflies to spot. Baby A didn't stand still long enough for a butterfly to actually land on her but I had one on my shoulder for a few fleeting seconds.

It was pretty warm in the Butterfly House so we took another stroll around some of the gardens before heading off to find my partner and have lunch. Before leaving, we re-visited the Butterfly House briefly so that Baby A could show Daddy some of the butterflies, as he really couldn't go to Butterfly World and not see a single one!

Butterfly World is just 35 minutes from Aylesbury, so not far at all. Fortunately, we were able to go in for free with my partner - bonus! I took Baby A around in her buggy and it's all very accessible. She got out and walked around a bit too - it's amazing how steady and confident she now is on her feet.

So all in all a great few hours exploring and enjoying all the different plants and wildlife.

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Fantastic nature walk from Great Kimble

Sunday, 1 June 2014

We enjoyed a fantastic walk today with Baby A. It's a really varied walk both in terms of terrain and the diversity of animals, insects and flora we saw.

We found the walk on the Chilterns website. It's described as a Box Wood Walk as you pass through the largest native box woodland in the country. However, the walk is so much more than just Box Wood!

Interestingly, we've just watched Countryfile on BBC1 who were in the Chilterns and they've just done a feature on the Box tree. Very good timing for us to learn more about what we've seen on our walk!

The walk starts from Great Kimble so we parked in a layby where the instructions for the walk begin. There's a bit of an uphill climb first off - certainly got the legs going! Within just a few minutes we stopped in our tracks as a muntjac deer crossed our path. A lovely sight.

We passed through Chequers Knap grassland and met another animal - this time a cow came towards us!

The next part of the walk took us along the edge of the valley with some amazing views.

After descending 58 steps (they were really quite muddy and slippy so we had to take care), we were at the base of Beacon Hill. We decided against the climb to the top as it was a hot day and there was no shade. We'll save it for another time!

As we continued along, our next encounter with animals was with some sheep. The route took us past a lovely old church and then through more fields. There were lots of wildflowers which were attracting several different varieties of butterflies.

Something that we enjoyed on the walk was the large number of kissing gates - and of course, you have to kiss. Baby A smiled every time though she had no idea why she was getting so many kisses!

After a short walk along the side of the road, the route went up a track and through a private garden. Feels a bit odd walking through this, but it's a public footpath. They really have an amazing garden and keep it well maintained.

The next section of the walk is through some more fields. We paused for our picnic lunch in some shade along this part, before picking up the path again which took us back to Great Kimble.

So along with the muntjac deer, cows, sheep and butterflies, we also saw a Red Kite, Longtail tits, other birds, squirrels, rabbits and 2 donkeys. Not bad on one walk.

We followed the instructions on the Box Wood Walks leaflet printed from the Chilterns website. They were really easy to follow. We chose the Northern circular walk which took about 3 hours in total with our stop for lunch. We'll definitely be using the leaflet again to do the Southern walk soon.

Just a note - you need walking boots and long trousers for this walk as there's some narrow bits with nettles and some pretty muddy parts.

So smiles all round on this walk. It was thoroughly enjoyed by all three of us!

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