Woodland Walks

In our family we all love a good woodland walk. Sometimes our kids moan that they can’t be bothered, but if we promise to get wet in our wellies, that usually gets us out of the door.

We have really enjoyed exploring our local area during the lockdown and the further restrictions. It has forced us to spend more time locally and really appreciate what is on our doorstep.

Prior to lockdown, weekends were often more chaotic and driven by things we had to do. We have missed the children’s parties and the social events that we had planned. However this has made way for more relaxed and enjoyable times together.

I think the children need time to chill out at the weekend, but I do insist we all get out for some fresh air at some point. Most weekends we find ourselves getting outside to enjoy a woodland walk. I am amazed how many massive woodland areas we have discovered within a couple of miles of our home.

Things to Bring on a Woodland Walk

I always pack a rucksack with snacks and drinks and I have recently added a first aid kit along with wipes and sanitiser. If we have driven to our walk then I often bring spare socks and shoes in the car for when we get back with soggy wet feet or muddy boots.

Things to Do on a Woodland Walk

Building dens (or discovering dens built by others) has become a fun part of our walks. 

Wildlife hunts – we have been lucky to spot a deer as well as squirrels and rabbits.

Bird watching – we have a book and tick off the birds that we spot.

Artwork – we have brought some paper and pens and all drawn something whilst out and about.

Crayon rubbings – this can be fun on marked trails or simply rubbing on tree bark.

 

The Woodland Trust offers some advice on getting out for woodland walks if you click on this link – Woodland Trust.

Family Day Out at Anglesey Sea Zoo

Anglesey Sea Zoo StarfishWe had a great day out at the Anglesey Sea Zoo during our Summer holiday in Anglesey. Our kids loved getting close to the sea creatures. We have been to various Sea Life Centres over the years and this is a similar set up.

I checked the website prior to going to make sure it was open and to check for any special Covid advice. The numbers are limited, there is a marked route around the place and visitors are asked to wear masks. we found that most people were wearing masks and following the routes whilst a couple of families just ignored all the advice, which was a shame for the staff and owners of the place.

Sea Creatures at the Sea Zoo Anglesey

The kids loved looking at all the tanks of sea-life and they particularly liked the lobsters and the starfish.

Seahorses are always a hit with the kids, although there were just a few small tanks with seahorses.

The jellyfish tanks were spectacular with short facts about them alongside the tanks.

Food and Drinks at Anglesey Sea Zoo

There is a cafe serving food and drinks on site.

I don’t know if we caught them on a bad day, but the service was shocking and the food was very average. We waited over an hour for basic lunch items. The coffee was poor, which made the wait feel even worse. Maybe Covid was to blame (like so many things)!

Extra Outdoor Facilities for KidsAnglesey Sea Zoo Octopus

There is a decent play area outside, including wooden obstacles to climb and play on. Also there are some bikes and trikes for younger ones to play on. There is an inflatable bouncy castle with slide and obstacles. Due to Covid restrictions, numbers were very limited and kids had a short turn. Luckily it was quiet and a bit cold during our visit so there weren’t many kids about and our kids got on the bouncy castle quite quickly. I wouldn’t have fancied queuing on a busy day.

Anglesey Sea Zoo also has its own crazy golf course which is an additional cost.

The sea zoo is a fairly small site, but there is enough to see for a wander with kids for an hour or two. We paid just over £30 for a family of four which we felt was good value, especially given that we returned for free for a second visit. We booked in advance due to Covid and paid by card on the door.

See the link for the Anglesey Sea Zoo to book your place.

Overall this was a good place to visit as our kids loved it so much that they asked to go back again later that week.

Family Holiday in Cottage in Anglesey, North Wales

We had a great time in Anglesey this Summer. We spent a week staying in a cottage near Pentre Berw. When I was searching for accommodation I liked the remote location of the cottage whilst being close to lots of beaches and local attractions. Normally I would prioritise being close to other families so that our kids could make friends, however this has been no ordinary year and being in a quiet location with lots of space and just one family nearby seemed ideal. Our cottage was smart with everything we needed. We had plenty of safe outdoor space allowing the kids to play out and play on their scooters.

Anglesey Beaches

Broad Beach near RhosneigrWe were blessed with some amazing weather which meant we spent most of our days exploring the beautiful beaches nearby. Many people had recommended Newborough Beach, so we headed there on our first day. When we got close, we were advised by men in high vis jackets that it was full. We headed West and we found ourselves on a beautiful quiet beach called Traeth LLydan (also known as Broad Beach). This stunning beach is near Rhosneigr and was perfect for us. We brought our own food most days as there are no shops or facilities on the beach, however there were shops and restaurants in Rhosneigr. There is an RAF airfield near to Rhosneigr and we saw the most amazing display whilst on the beach one day.

We also visited Benllech beach one day, but this was too busy for me. There were lots of people setting up camp with little regard to social distancing. I decided it was time to leave when a family arrived and practically prodded me and my daughter with their windbreaker poles. We parked in the town and there is a very steep hill down to the beach, which meant a long trudge back to the car. The beach itself was pretty and there were rockpools to explore, but I preferred the quieter beaches on the South coast of Anglesey.

Eating Out in Anglesey

We did not eat out as much as we would normally do on a holiday due to Covid restrictions and concerns. We did get out one afternoon to an amazing restaurant called the Oyster Catcher in Rhosneigr. It is located close to our favourite beach (Traeth Llydan) and the food is amazing and the views are spectacular. There are various seafood dishes, as well as family favourites. I had a great big dish of mussels which was gorgeous and the kids enjoyed their freshly cooked nuggets and sausages. We all loved it and the staff were doing all they could to maintain social distance and help customers enjoy their meals safely. If you can only have one meal out in Anglesey then this may be the best place to go. Check out the website for the Oyster Catcher in Rhosneigr.

I had a list of restaurants that I wanted to try so I am hoping we can get back there in the near future. The Sea Shanty Cafe in Trearddur Bay looks amazing with a great big selection of ice creams.    Also Catch 22 in Valley looks like a lovely restaurant with good quality food and a nice setting.

Days Out in Anglesey

There are lots of visitor attractions on Anglesey including the Anglesey Sea Zoo, the Pili Palas Nature World, Baumaris Castle, Beaumaris Gaol, South Stack RSPB Cliffs and various nature reserves. Some of the nature reserves were closed due to Covid and Beaumaris Castle offered limited restricted access to visitors.

Our kids loved the Anglesey Sea Zoo and we even returned (with free entry within 7 days of first visit). The cafe was a bit of a disaster for us as we waited about an hour for basic lunch and the coffee was poor, so I couldn’t recommend eating there, although Covid restrictions may have played a part. Pili Palas is a fun day out for the kids and my girls loved the talks about the animals.

Beaumaris Gaol Anglesey day out

Beaumaris Gaol is an unusual family outing, but I had read lots of positive reports on Tripadvisor so we decided to visit. We wore masks in line with Cold requirements and numbers were limited as the cells and corridors are quite small. We quite enjoyed the short tour. It is a Victorian prison with a dark history, but there are some interesting tales and our kids liked it.

South Stack is worth a visit as it is beautiful. We couldn’t get right inside the lighthouse due to Covid restrictions, but it was worth the drive for a pretty view and there are lots of puffins to spot in Spring.

Anglesey or Cornwall?

We have enjoyed family holidays in Cornwall and there are more larger family attractions in the area, but I thought Anglesey was more beautiful, a lot less busy and for us, it is much closer to home. The main attractions and beaches are easily within an hour’s drive, while everything felt like a long journey in Cornwall. Overall I kept feeling that Anglesey was a better location for a family holiday than Cornwall. We were blessed with lots of beautiful weather and we haven’t always been so lucky in Cornwall so maybe this affects my preference.

Alpaca Trekking in West Yorkshire

During the Summer we spent a day trekking with alpacas in Oxenhope, West Yorkshire.

Alpaca trekking West YorkshireMy husband heard about Thornwood Alpacas and Care Farm from a colleague at work and we thought this sounded like a great activity for our family.

On a cold wet morning we travelled to Thornwood Alpacas and Care Farm for our guided walk. The farm is in Oxenhope near Haworth and is well signposted once you get near. We arrived along with a handful of other people and we were greeted by the owner Lucy Thornton. She was lovely and clearly loves her alpaca adventures. Lucy introduced us to our guide Meg. She talked about the alpacas and answered any questions people had.

We were there with our two young daughters and the lady selected the alpacas that she felt were most suited to each person (or pair).

Alpaca Walking in Oxenhope

We walked with Kai and Theo who were both very cute and a bit cheeky. They were friendly and calm as we connected their harnesses and they were clearly used to walking with children.

Walking alpacas in the Yorkshire countrysideThe alpacas like to be together so they don’t run away, but they can get a bit preoccupied then suddenly rush to get back to their group, as my daughter discovered.

We walked around the fields and gave our alpacas carrots and snacks at various intervals. They tend to move at a steady pace unless they decide to have a little sprint to catch up with their buddies.

It was a lovely walk in the Bronte countryside. The weather was disappointing, but it did not stop us having a lovely time. We would have loved to enjoy a nice warm drink after the walk, but there was no cafe open nearby. I think there is normally a tea rooms open, but this was closed during our visit due to Covid.

This is a lovely not for profit organisation and the money raised funds various educational and well being projects. I would certainly recommend Thornwood Alpacas and Care Farm if you fancy a scenic walk in the countryside with a cute and cheeky alpaca.

Canal Boat Hire for the Day in Skipton West Yorkshire

On a sunny day in July 2020 we enjoyed a family day out on a canal boat in Skipton in West Yorkshire.

We had a great day out on the beautiful Leeds and Liverpool Canal. We booked our Canal boat with Pennine Cruisers as my brother recommended them.

Captain Your Own Canal Boat

Canal Boat Hire for the day in SkiptonWe arrived at the canal basin in Skipton at 9am for a short briefing before setting off down the canal South East towards Keighley. My husband and brother quickly learnt how to control the boat and they did a great job of manoeuvring us down the canal and managing the swing bridges. There are no locks on this stretch so we didn’t need to worry about that. I had a short turn controlling the boat, which was ok, but I wouldn’t have felt confident driving it alongside parked boats or passing others coming the other way.

There were 9 of us altogether, including my family of four my brother’s family and grandparents. We all enjoyed the day and it was lovely to enjoy the scenery at a slow pace with plenty of space to sit or read or colour in. We were lucky to get a mainly sunny day. I did wonder how our experience may have been hindered by bad weather. It was lovely to sit at the front of the boat enjoying the sunshine and the views. The kids even climbed on top to enjoy a rooftop tour down the canal.

Skipton Canal Boat Sights

There is a war memorial not far from Skipton right on the side of the canal and we stopped to take a look. You can park up anywhere along the canal whenever you fancy. It was interesting to read about the seven airmen who lost their lives during WW2. There are details about this at the following link – Yorkshire Aircraft.

We saw lots of birds and wildlife including herons and squirrels. There were some lovely views of woodlands and beautiful valleys.

Food and Drinks on the Canal

Around midday we enjoyed a lovely lunch of pies and picnic snacks along with Champagne and homemade scones with cream and jam (thanks to my Mum). There was a hob on board allowing us to make hot drinks, which was nice. The cupboards contained all the basic items you would need to make a simple meal and there was crockery and cutlery as well as a sink to wash up. There is also a toilet onboard.

There are various places to stop and eat and drink on the canal, but we were unsure which places would be open so we played safe with our own food and drinks.

We were told to return back to Skipton for 4:30pm. We had ventured a bit further than expected when we turned back towards Skipton, but luckily our captains made good progress and we arrived back to Skipton at exactly 4:30pm.

We paid just under £200 for the day and we felt this was good value for an amazing experience.

 

Welly Walks in West Yorkshire

Welly WalkWe have discovered the joy of Welly Walks this Summer. As a family of four, we have always enjoyed getting outside and going for walks, but recently we have been getting our wellies on (all 4 of us, not just the kids) and walking in our local streams and rivers.

Many of the wellies for young kids are short, sitting just above the ankle, but we were lucky to get hold of some Hunter wellies for my five year old, which come  a lot higher. This means we can all enjoy getting into the water and exploring together. I also bought welly socks for each of us as this makes the whole experience a lot warmer and more comfortable.

Recently we encouraged our extended family to join in the fun so we have all put on our wellies to go and explore.

Welly Walks Wildlife

It is a fun way to discover wildlife. We are lucky to have nice clean waterways close to where we live. The kids have spotted frog spawn and tadpoles as well as fish, crayfish and insects such as boatmen and pond skaters. We have looked up various creatures to discover what they are and we looked after a couple of tadpoles before returning them to their natural habitat.

Welly Walks Adventure

With limited options for entertaining the kids due to lockdown restrictions, we love getting outdoors for an adventure. Welly Walks are a great way to have a fun and free adventure with the kids.

Discover Welly Walks Near You

If you are wondering where would be good for a Welly Walk, then the National Trust may be able to help with a list of local welly walks. We usually set off wandering from home, but I would like to check out the suggestions in the National Trust’s Welly Walks in Yorkshire.

Kings and Queens of England for Pub Quiz

As I continue to fail miserably at my monthly pub quiz, I thought I would take a look at the Kings and Queens of England.

Most of my History knowledge comes from Horrible Histories on CBBC, so I could do with a little help. I studied GCSE History, but our main topics were ‘Medicine Through Time’ and ‘The American West’. This means I have a very bizarre niche awareness of Custer and His Last Stand and the development of antibiotics. However if I am asked about the World Wars or Kings and Queens of England, I’m usually a bit clueless.

I have recently discovered The Crown, which I wasn’t expecting to enjoy, but I do. It is interesting to see a personal side to people we all think we know. I know it’s partly fictional, but I feel like I am learning something. I know that my knowledge of English Kings and Queens is pretty poor, so hopefully putting this list together will help me remember some of them.

Windsor Monarchs

  1. Elizabeth II – 1952 – present
  2. George VI – 1936 – 1952
  3. Edward VIII – 1936 – 1936
  4. George V – 1910 – 1936

Saxe-Coburg-Gotha Monarch

5. Edward VII – 1901 – 1910

House of Hanover Monarchs

6. Victoria – 1837 – 1901

7. William IV – 1830 – 1837

8. George IV – 1820 – 1830

9. George III – 1760 – 1820

10. George II – 1727 – 1760

11. George I – 1714 – 1727

Stuart (restored) Monarchs

12. Anne – 1702 – 1714

13. Mary II – 1689 – 1694

14. William III – 1689 – 1702

15. James II – 1685 – 1688

16. Charles II – 1660 – 1685

Commonwealth Monarchs

17. Richard Cromwell – 1658 – 1659

18. Oliver Cromwell – 1649 – 1658

Stuart Monarchs

19. Charles I – 1625-1649

20. James I – 1603 – 1625

Tudor Monarchs

21. Elizabeth I – 1558 – 1603

22. Mary I – 1553 – 1558

23. Jane Grey – 1553

24. Edward VI – 1547 – 1553

25. Henry VIII – 1509 -1547

26. Henry VII – 1485 – 1509

 

I think this is far back as I want to go on my first investigation of the English Kings and Queens through time.

As I compiled the list there were a couple of things that caught my eye.

Who was Jane Grey?

How come Mary II and William III are listed as Monarchs from 1689 with Mary II ending her reign in 1694 and William III going on until 1702.

Who Was Jane Grey?

So, having done a little digging, I am reminded of the tale of ‘the Nine Days’ Queen’. Lady Jane Grey was Queen of England and Ireland from 10 July until 19 July 1553.

Edward VI nominated Jane to the throne in his will while on his deathbed. Jane was Edward’s first cousin, once removed. The former heir was Edward’s half-sister Mary and she was Roman Catholic. Sisters Mary and Elizabeth were removed from the line of succession based on illegitimacy. Following the death of Edward, support for Mary grew. Jane was deposed and later convicted of high treason. Jane and her husband were executed on 12 February 1554.

Joint King and Queen

Mary II and William III (William of Orange) became joint King and Queen in 1689. This followed the overthrow of Mary’s father King James II who was Catholic.

The cousins married in 1677 and the marriage was hoped to improve relations between England and the Netherlands after the Anglo-Dutch wars. Mary was just 15 when they married and William was 27. Mary had been writing passionate letters to a girl from the age of nine until she was forced to marry William. She cried for two days when she was told she must marry her cousin and she cried throughout the wedding.

Mary was invited to take the throne after the deposition of King James II (Glorious Revolution of 1688). This reign was the start of a move towards parliamentary rule. Mary did not want to rule alone, so they took the throne together. She had no surviving children, but suffered at least three miscarriages. She died aged 38 from Smallpox in 1694.

There is loads of interesting information about previous relationships within the monarchy and how each monarch came to be. I have just read about Mary II and William III. Anyone who thinks the current Royal Family are going through turbulent times needs to take a look at previous monarchs and their time on the throne.

So, what are the chances of me remembering these Kings and Queens with dates? I don’t think I’ll remember much, but the stories around William and Mary are more memorable for me.

 

New Year, New Family Goals

Welcome to 2020!Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

I hope you are feeling well and ready for all the fun and challenges that the new year will bring.

New Year’s Resolutions are not really my thing, but I have a few general goals I like to remind myself at the beginning of the year.

I love to spend time together as a family and want to make the most of our time with our young kids who are quickly growing up.

More Time Outdoors

We all need time outdoors and it is really easy to miss out on time together outside. Even if it is just a ten minute wander up to the local park, I want to try and get out more with the kids.

Eating Together at the Table

I like to eat together as a family at the table whenever possible. The after school activities can make this difficult, but it is something to aim towards.

Eat Healthier

Wherever possible, I like to make homemade meals. Clubs and evening activities are my biggest problem in making meals from scratch as we are often rushing from one thing to the next. When I’m on form, I like to make a good stir fry, but preparation can take time. We are not keen on the finely chopped veg that comes in packets as we like chunky vegetables and different textures.

Avoiding Garbage Viewing

Like most kids, mine are easily absorbed with utter garbage on YouTube and Netflix. I understand the need for downtime and I am happy for my kids to watch television and iPads at times.

There are some great programmes and apps designed for kids. For example Horrible Histories, Operation Ouch, CBeebies apps, most of the CBBC programmes etc. However the kids often stumble into rubbish content. They are then exposed to massive amounts of advertising and potentially inappropriate content.

They love to dance around the living room to music videos but again, I find some of the content very questionable and I hate to see young children copying inappropriate moves from music videos. Often ones that are supposedly aimed at kids ( I’m looking at you Little Mix, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift).

Regular Games Night

We only have one evening in the week where we don’t go out to clubs and activities. I try to make sure we have some family time rather than just lose the night in front of the television. The kids love to play games with us and I am going to try and make sure we all make time for this. I feel really bad when get to the end of the week without having sat around the dining table with a family game. Our current favourites are 5 Second Rule, Cluedo, Monopoly Junior, Game of Life Junior, Yahtzee and dominoes.

Good luck with any New Year’s Resolutions or Family Goals that you may have.

 

Cottage Holiday on Farm in North Devon

We had a great family summer holiday in North Devon in July 2018. Our accommodation was one of six cottages on a working farm near Barnstaple.

Every year I think hard about what we want from a holiday. This year’s top priority for me was a separate bedroom for the kids. They are an absolute nightmare to get to sleep when we are all squashed into a small room. A common feature of the All Inclusive package holidays that we have tried. I wanted the kids to be amongst children of a similar age. They make friends quite easily and it is an important part of our holiday. I did not want a busy noisy place. Another desire was for somewhere that felt safe, with a little freedom to roam about and explore. I like sunny weather, but I was prepared to compromise if I could tick all my other boxes. Lower Hearson Farm was a great choice for us.

Each morning and afternoon, we met farmer Graeme and other guests to go and feed the animals. We all loved this and it was a good reason to get up and out early (9am).

All the children were welcome to have a cuddle and stroke with Fudge the guinea pig. Then we went to feed the hens and checked for eggs. We then went to the hungry squealing pigs and fed them and the sheep.

There was plenty of space for the kids to play and there was a trampoline and play area, as well as picnic benches dotted about so we had a few barbecues during our fortnight. We were lucky to meet some lovely people during our stay and the kids made friends with kids of a similar age throughout our stay.

We were within an hour’s drive of lots of lovely places. We had several days out during our fortnight. The local beaches were stunning and we made the most of them on the sunnier days.

We particularly enjoyed Croyde Beach and Woolacombe. Ilfracombe was worth a look for a day out. The Milky Way was a hit with the kids with lots to see and do. I wrote a blog post about our day out – Family Day Out at Milky Way.

Clovelly was a beautiful village. I wrote a blog about our day out in Clovelly too. Barnstaple was our nearest big town and there was a nice park, a welcoming ParkRun and some nice restaurants and shops, as well as supermarkets.

Exmoor Zoo was another fun day out with lots of talks and hand-son sessions. My kids loved meeting the cute pets and the creepy crawlies and feeding the wallabies.

The one thing I did miss was the hot sunshine of the Canaries or other holidays abroad.

I love the feeling of stepping out into warm sunshine in the mornings. However the weather was ok and some days were lovely. We did have some rain, which I accepted was likely and we had indoor crafty stuff for such days. In fact, we left glorious sunshine up North (weeks and weeks on end of glorious sunshine), to meet heavy rain down in Devon.

Our crazy heatwave of 2018 was very unexpected, but made me less in need of a sunny break so our family holiday in North Devon was a lovely break in a beautiful area.

Pub Quiz – Top Selling Singles

Best Selling Singles Ever

With my poor performance in a monthly pub quiz, this list is an attempt to fill my brain with some commonly tested music trivia.

Best selling singles of all time is a popular question in a pub quiz. So here is the definitive list – with the caveat that there are various alternative lists depending on how you define “best selling”.

This list is the top selling physical singles.

Top Ten Best Selling Singles

The number one best selling single of all time is White Christmas by Bing Crosby. This was released in 1942 and sold 50 million copies.

The second best selling single is Candle In The Wind 1997 by Elton John. This sold 33 million copies.

Number three top selling single is In The Summertime by Mungo Jerry. This was released in 1970 and sold 30 million copies.

The fourth top single is Silent Night by Bing Crosby. This was released in 1935 with sales of 30 million.

Number five on the list is Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and His Comets. Important to note “His Comets” as a tough quiz master might knock off half a mark if you write “The Comets”. This was released in 1954 selling 25 million.

The sixth best selling single is I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston. This was released in 1992 with sales of 20 million.

The seventh top selling single is It’s Now or Never by Elvis Presley. This was released in 1960 with 20 million copies sold.

Number eight in top sales is We Are The World by USA For Africa. This was released in 1985 selling 20 million copies.

The ninth best selling single  is If I Didn’t Care by the Ink Spots. This was released in 1939 with sales of 19 million. This song is an old classic that I was not really familiar with before having a little listen on You Tube.

At number ten, we have Yes Sir, I Can Boogie by Baccara, which was released in 1977 and sold 18 million copies. I was surprised to find this one in the list as it doesn’t seem a likely massive seller to me.

So, that is the top ten selling singles of all time. It is surprising to me how old the top selling singles are and that Bing Crosby makes the list twice including the number one spot.

Good luck of you are doing a pub quiz any time soon and if you’re reading this whilst doing pub quiz then it’s very naughty to cheat.