#47: Cook On A Camp Fire (Country Kids)

One of the must-does for our break this week to Coombe Mill in Cornwall was to visit the beach and cook on a fire. Luckily we had the wonderful Wild Family Fun with us, whose job as an outdoor activity facilitator means she's a bit of an expert at starting a fire with vaseline and cotton wool.

So while I explored the rock pools with The Boy and his cousin, Mr. TBaM and The Boy's aunty set to starting the fire up in order to boil up some hot water using the Kelly Kettle she'd brought with us. A Kelly Kettle is an ingenious system which requires a fire to be lit in the metallic base, and then the 'water-jacket' kettle is placed over the top. It ends up with a fire chamber which creates an upward chimney draft ensuring efficient and rapid boiling even in windy or wet weather. And it was very windy that day! [Read more…]

When Only The Beach Will Do

Crashing waves.

Frothing,  foamy, Neptune's white horses.

Gusting winds.

Sand blowing diagonally through the air.

Squeals of laughter from a gleeful and playful family enjoying the abandoned swathes of golden sands.

When Only The Beach Will Do

All that squelchy sand is a blank canvas for running, jumping and falling over in.

When Only The Beach Will Do

And do you know where he went after he's verified how saturated and sand encrusted his gloves were?

Yep, right to 'give mummy a cuddle'.

Linking up to Country Kids, Outdoor Play Party and Flashback Friday

Clothes In The Wash, Me In The Bath!

This has always been our motto with The Boy.

From a young age we've encouraged him to explore the natural world and allowed him to get as mucky as he wants to outside. Clothes after all are to keep us warm and protect our bodies, if they get dirty then they go in the washing machine. If The Boy gets dirty then he goes in the bath.

As far as I am concerned, there really is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. And there really is no excuse for preventing children to have fun in the natural environment. Least of all getting clothes dirty.

Which is why when the sun broke through the clouds last Sunday we met up with my brother and his family at the local nature reserve. Apart from a three minute downpour when we were feeding the swans, the sunlight was revitalising and much needed.

Especially for showing the way when climbing trees.

Clothes In The Wash, Me In The Bath

But then of course all that rain that we've had makes for some glorious squelchy fun. Mud, glorious mud.

Clothes In The Wash, Me In The Bath

So after some jumping up and down in muddy puddles, sliding down muddy banks and trying to catch squirrels, we had a small accident.

Clothes In The Wash, Me In The Bath

This is why we have a washing machine.

Linking up to Country Kids, Outdoor Play Party and Flashback Friday

Winter Sunshine

We love going to the beach at any time of the year, but it's incredibly difficult to find the enthusiasm when it is pouring down, and there's been a terrific amount of precipitation recently! However, last Sunday when the sun made an appearance and reminded us all of how wonderful the Winter sunshine truly is, we set off further down the coast with my brother and his family to explore Ogmore beach.

The main beach was packed but we actually headed around the coastline a few hundred yards to a beach which is a bit tricky to get down to and therefore has less visitors. The point about how tricky (in wet conditions) it is was made when I slipped on the muddy path walking down and ended up with a derriere covered in mud within three minutes of leaving the car!

Winter Sunshine

However once we were down on the beach, the sunshine was warming and the conditions idyllic. We set out our picnic blanket and sat down on the rocks chatting and munching away on pasties and grapes while The Boy and his cousin roamed amongst the rockpools, collecting pebbles and creating some beach art.

Creating Beach Art

As witnessed in many episodes of Doctor Who, this stretch of coastline has a wonderful strata in the cliffs and the beaches are crammed with rockpools galore. The perfect place to find crabs or starfish!

Exploring Rockpools

Ogmore beach is well known for the wonderful array of fossils in the rocks and cliff-face, and under the guidance of my sister-in-law who has been beach schools trained, we all set to the task of finding a variety of fossils. Finding what was once a fish, or a barnacle-like creature, is absolutely amazing and so rewarding; it reminds you of your place in the history of our planet.

Finding Fossils


country kids

A Winter's Day On The Beach

It feels like weeks since the weather has been anywhere near pleasant enough to enjoy when out and about, indeed it was last year for us! The last day of 2013 saw The Boy and I pop down to the beach for a scoot and cycle. As we curved around the hillside road leading down to the beach, I saw that the tide was at its lowest for quite some time, and so we drove home again to pick up my wellies as I didn't feel that my trainers would survive the beach.

I was right.

A Winter's Day On The Beach 1

After a quick cycle on the pier, where The Boy discovered why cycling down a ramp at speed into a pole isn't a good idea, we picked our way across the smooth, round, grey pebbles and over the swathe of sand. I thought that we'd be stopping to examine the rock pools which are visible at low tide, but the lure of the squelchy mud at the water's edge was too much for a four year old boy to bear.

A Winter's Day On The Beach 2

And that's when it happened.

In the one second when I didn't have my camera trained on him, he went and did the winning Candid Camera moment.

A Winter's Day On The Beach 3

Thank God I'd put his waterproof trousers on him!

And it didn't just happen once, he seemed to have balance issues that day and he fell over another three times.

A Winter's Day On The Beach 4

After a joyous two hours on the beach, it was time to squelch our way back to the car for the big clean-up operation. But look how much fun we had!

A Winter's Day On The Beach

Linking up to Flashback Friday, Country Kids and The Outdoor Play Party

Exploring The National Trust: Lanhydrock, Cornwall

This time of year is so very cold, dark and oppressive that I find it very difficult to summon up the energy and desire to be the super mum who is proud of preaching, "There's no such thing as bad weather you know, just bad clothing." Because actually there is such a thing as bad weather, you just have to have the will to brave it, accept it and face it. Call it the post-Christmas blues if you like, but I'm struggling to pull on my thermals and wellies.

However I'm beginning to think of the wonderful places that we do visit in the more agreeable weather, especially as it gives me the will to think about adventuring when it's 20°C lower than my preferred temperature.

[Read more…]

The Best Playground (Country Kids)

Considering what an advocate of outdoor play I am, I've found it increasingly difficult since The Boy started school to get out and about more than once or twice a week on a school day. When he comes home from school he's utterly exhausted and collapses on the sofa for half an hour or so, vegetating in front of the television while chomping down on a snack. Invariably by the time he's recovered enough to do anything it's pitch-black outside.

I must try harder next half-term.

However, while we have managed to get down to the nature reserve to feed the swans once a week or popped to a park, we seem to have neglected the best playground around; our back garden. With a climbing frame and slide set, plus a swing, there's really not much more he needs to create some fun and games in his own time. Therefore on Christmas Eve morning, when things were becoming a little fraught in the house, I sent The Boy out with Mr. TBaM to rediscover how easy it is to get 15 minutes outdoors a day.

The Best Playground

Watching him through the kitchen window as I made our Christmas cake, it struck me how more physically aware and confident he is than six months ago when he first had the climbing frame. The Boy now scampers up the side of the frame easily and balances at the top with no problem. The swing seems to have become a challenge for him; how many acrobatic moves can he perform on it? Standing on it gave me a few palpitations, and then I saw him jump off the seat…

He ended the play with an attempt at flying. Because he's four and if he wants to believe he can then I'm not one to stop him!

country kidsOutdoor play party

A Bicycle Made For Two

In the Spring of last year, my husband started a new job seven minutes walk from our house. Having spent the previous seven years commuting to work with anything from a fifteen minute to an hour long drive, this was a massive novelty for him. Therefore, when after three months he realised that he'd used his car three times, he decided to sell his car as it was no longer needed.

A month later his boss moved the office to Cardiff Bay.

And Mr. TBaM was left without any way of getting to the new office!

However, as he has The Best Boss In The Entire World™, this wasn't a problem because his boss just bought him a (rather expensive actually) new bike to use. When he was placing the order he also purchased a tag-along bike seat for The Boy. At the time The Boy was too young to use it as he'd only just started cycling on his own bike with stabilisers, but recently TBBITEW™ threatened to sell it due to lack of use, so we decided The Boy was old enough!

The best place in the area to try out something like this is the barrage in Cardiff Bay; no cars are allowed on it (except authorised vehicles) and it has a long, fairly straight and flat road which sees very little pedestrian or cycling traffic. We took Mr. TBaM's bike down as well as the tag-along, in the boot of my car, not telling The Boy what the plan was. At first, he was concerned as he thought it was a new bicycle for him without a front wheel, but he was overjoyed when he saw what it was!

TheBoyandMe: A Bicycle Made For Two

They cycled back and forth across the barrage about eight times in the half an hour we were there and every time The Boy passed me, he had the biggest grin and sense of achievement on his face. There were several times when Mr. TBaM actually stopped cycling and The Boy continued peddling, he was so strong that he was pushing them both along. We'll need to adjust his seat a little as it was slightly too high, but he managed brilliantly, and we're also hoping that it will teach him a little bit more about balance so we can build up to removing his stabilisers!

I'm going to be ticking this one off for the National Trust's 50 Things: Go on a long bike ride (it was very long for him!)

country kids

A Perfect Sunday Morning

Last weekend, we ventured down to the south coast of England for my sister-in-law's wedding in Highcliffe Castle. In the morning, prior to the ceremony, we decided to check out the venue and discovered that beyond the raindrops pooling into miniature lakes in the car park, was a small woodland which offered some steep steps down onto a beach. Hoping for dry weather the next day so we could further explore, we went off and did 'the wedding thing' like dutiful family.

The next morning was one of the most beautiful days of this Autumn so far; brilliant azure skies with wispy clouds, sunlight glistening on a turquoise sea, and diamonds sparkling in the golden sunlight. We raced down to the castle's car park, debated wellies and donned them in case of squelchy mud, and then headed through the woodland where we found the best climbing tree we've seen in a while.Highcliffe beach 1

Locating the steps down to the beach, we trotted down them and discovered an astounding view across the English Channel from the Needles to Hengistbury Head. This is when we discovered that the wellies had been a good decision.

Highcliffe beach 2

As we walked along the water's edge towards the beach huts of Friar's Cliff, dogs raced around us picking up pebbles and balls thrown by their owners, excited to be allowed on the beaches again. The Boy hunkered down and decided to build a sandcastle, digging down with his bare hands to his uncle in Australia. He didn't get very far, mittens aren't the best tools for sandcastle making it seems.

Highcliffe Beach 4

At Friar's Cliff, the beachward drift has been haltered with groynes which are perfect for little boys to practise their balancing arms!

Highcliffe Beach 3

It was a magical hour or two, really refreshing after the excesses of the day before. We've been so intent on finding trees for climbing and collecting conkers from, that we've forgotten how magical the beach is at this time of year; the tourists have gone, leaving the locals to enjoy what's on their doorstep.

Highcliffe beach 5

Linking to Country Kids.

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