What do you do when you grow up on a farm with nature all around you? When you live in a place where you can climb trees, paddle, build dens and explore with your friends til your hearts content? Well if you are Tor and Christian Carver, then you grow up and recreate it for the masses in the form of Williams Den of course – a place of adventure, exploring, and a place where you will struggle to get your kids home!

Located in East Yorkshire and just off the M62 in North Cave (very convenient), you will discover a play centre far different from the norm! Wood, sand, water, tree houses, a zip wire, mud and more combine with children’s imaginations to create the “best play place ever” and we had “the best day out” last Thursday there!

My 3 were certainly in their elements with Alice clambering over rocks to splash in the little rivers, and Megan playing spider over the nets. Ethan spent literally hours pumping water and damming it up before conquering all levels of the den. They climbed, splashed, played all day and each loved it for different reasons. But mostly they loved it for the reason it was intended – the freedom of being able to explore and do pretty much anything as they would outdoors all day long!

The Den itself is built of responsibly sourced wood, and housed inside a huge barn. It has various levels and platforms that are connected by nets, beams and bridges. At one end you will find a large sand pit and slide, to the other a little river running through the bottom and ending under a waterfall. Kids can play on, in and around any of it, provided they are being kind and careful.

Outside you are greeted with panoramic views of the Yorkshire Wolds and hand crafted picnic benches all around to enjoy lunch or sit with an ice cream. Here the adventure continues as kids can enjoy climbing on slabs of stone, nets and beams or crawling through tunnels in the mole hills. There are mud kitchens, grass hills, more sand and water play, and a couple of zip wires too.

Taking kids tree climbing, river paddling and scrambling over logs and rocks isn’t everyone’s scene or even available in close proximity, but it’s something we love to do. Irrelevant of where you live though or how comfortable you are with those things, Williams Den gives all kids and parents the opportunity to be more free range in a safer and more controlled environment. You can give your kids those experiences without venturing too far.

What we Loved the most –

 * Water play and hand pump

 * That you can take your own food in – such a bonus (though the wood pizza’s are very delish and reasonable too)

 * That the toilets are family friendly (most have an adult and child toilet in each cubical and are not gender specific!)

 * The gorgeous views and scenery

 * The nets and “spider webs to climb in”

 * That waterfall (more water!)

 * “Everything – its just the best place ever mummy!” (Ethan).

Williams Den is open every day but til 7pm Thursdays through Saturdays, and would certainly be an investment with a “Friends of the Den Pass”. We will most definitely be returning again and again as I know its a place they will get a lot out of for many more years. And it has the bonus of being only 20 minutes away!

 So whether you have a tot or young teen, and whether they daring and risky like my kids or more cautious and curious, Williams Den seriously has something for everyone at each level and age – it really is designed for the growing child. The steps are high enough that toddlers can’t get up unaided but small enough to be the start of a great adventure for older kids. Mine are very quick and co-ordinated and so shot up all over and loved every second they were there (especially the 10 mins when they scoffed the yummy ice cream!). So take a few pairs of dry clothes and towels, perhaps a picnic or money for a yummy lunch, and get exploring and clambering down at Williams Den this Summer!

* Thank you to William’s Den for inviting us to review the Den Free of charge in return for an honest review. All thoughts and pictures are my own. Interesting to note that whilst there the rain poured and despite easily 200 people being inside it didn’t feel too claustrophobic or overly crazy. All Kids seemed chilled and laid back… 

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We just got back late last night from a flying visit to Oxford (post coming soon), and it was both a great start to the Summer Holidays and end to the month of July. We had such a lovely time together there exploring the castle, streets and colleges. It was a fun little trip to a place filled with memories for Mr Smith and a place where the buildings and streets are simply beautiful! I plucked up the courage to ask passer by’s to take a few pics for us (instead of battling to try and get some awkward selfies), and so our family pictures this month are taken in the picturesque city of Oxford!

July for us has been another great month. Very busy, but great too. I can say at long last that our family has officially moved house, and we absolutely love it! Hooray!!! We have more space, more peace and beautiful surroundings. We feel most blessed.

We have been in our new home now for 3 weeks, and are just about all unpacked and settled. There are several more decorating projects I want to do to put our stamp on it – mainly the lounge, entrance hall, the conservatory and finishing off our room, but for now I have neither the time or energy so it will just have to wait until after the kids go back to school. I am just grateful we have our beds up, our stuff in cupboards and that we are all feeling chilled and settled. Our new village is such a lovely place to live and we all feel at home here. The house feels cosy and homely and we are so happy its ours so the decor and little finishing touches I envision are secondary to what we have.

Alice turned one 2 weeks ago (which I’ve yet to write about also) and I have seen some big changes in her and how she seems to want to play more with the other 2 (Megan especially). Its come at a great time as now the kids are into their Summer Holidays, they all seem to enjoy being at home together to play with Alice and each other. I hear and watch them daily, and thoroughly enjoy their little inside jokes and games together. We have all loved many little adventures already, but they love most their new garden, “The Party Shed”, and playing out with their new found friends in the Village.

Life is really good and chilled out at the moment on the family front. Life is ticking along nicely and coming together. We have a whole host of trips, adventures, places and things to do this Summer and are looking forward to a week in Italy too. We thought July was tiring with moving house, but I am guess we are going to be absolutely shattered by the end of August!

In July we are grateful for

* All of the help from friends and family to move us in/Unpack

* A year of Alice in our lives

* Lovely new neighbours and a quiet street

* A trip to Oxford

* The start of the Summer Holidays

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A few weeks ago I was driving from the coast when I saw a beautiful field of Poppies. Immediately my thoughts turned to our baby girl Poppy (our stillborn daughter in 2014) and memories and wonderment ran through my mind. I often will say how hard it is to have her missing from every picture I take, from every memory we share and from every ordinary moment of life.

With a name like Poppy it is easy to find associations and little keepsakes to help us reflect on her, but what I have wanted most is pictures. Pictures of all of my kids, pictures that remind me as the years pass by that I have had 4 kids and not just the 3 little beans everyone sees us with. The Poppy fields seemed like a great setting – a great place to show my 3rd child in pictures.

Since she has died we have used the Poppies growing at the side of roads, fields and parks, to illustrate her still living in heaven to the kids. We often will say “Oooo Poppies, maybe she’s been here and has left these to remind us!”.  It is an ordinary moment on days we see them growing, to be excited at the thought of her. The kids use them (like hundreds of others with the wars) to remember and talk of their sister.

I thought of different set ups we could have, but in the end, and with some tips from my friends at Sands, a simple family shoot in a Poppy field seemed right. As we passed some Poppy fields on Thursday I coaxed the kids out of the car for a “Practice run”, but of course things with kids rarely go to plan. Between shoving each other, whining and my battery dying (don’t get me started on that), we ended up with only a couple of semi decent ones. I look at them though and see my world in one picture. And whilst I still want to try and get us all in a Poppy field for a “Proper” family photo shoot, but for now I see the beauty of my living kids next to the simple beauties of a Poppy field, and for one ordinary little moment 2 worlds combine to capture my blessings.

I will never have all 4 in pics (or even my arms), but little moments like this along the way briefly fill my heart with joy!

The Ordinary Moments
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With the summer holidays here, and lots of adventures and travel plans coming our way, I felt like it was time for a small lightweight buggy for day trips and flying. I went for the Joie Nitro from kiddies Kingdom, and so far are rather impressed.

Kiddies Kingdom are one of the UK’s leading online baby and toddler retailers and always offer a price match guarantee. So whilst this buggy usually retails at £80 it is on their site for just over 50, which I thought was really affordable for a stylish and sturdy number as this!

I am used to my bugaboo Cam 2 that is easy to steer, incredibly comfortable for Alice and has great storage underneath. I love it for walking around towns, cities, for school runs, off road and everything in between. I am quite aware that this is far from that and for a price tag under £60 I wouldn’t expect it to be in the same league, but I was hoping for a sense of ease, something practical for travel and day trips, and comfortable for little Alice.

I am pleased to say that it ticks all the boxes for everything I had hoped for and I am really enjoying using it!

Service from Kiddies Kingdom was easy and straightforward, and once arrived, it only took about 10 mins to put together…

I wanted something light and easy to carry for when we go away, yet I wanted it to feel robust too. This is both, and looks good in the process. I love the charcoal, light grey and pink combo – it really feels “me” and matches well with my new Aldi flamingo backpack (meant to be?).  It is easy to put down, store, carry (with convenient sturdy handle) and best of all when pushing it, it feels well built and comfortable.

Steering is a lot easier than I anticipated, and it has a great height so I don’t feel hunched over (I am 5ft 8). I have used it on roads, grass and even ended up dragging it through local fields with the kids on a country walk – I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was all rather easy and straightforward and felt wonderfully robust!

The basket is ample for a picnic bag (or any bag of tat we may need to chuck on) and my back pack hangs nicely on it too (convenient). It is comfortable with the handles and swivel wheels, and has a simple break that works well too. Alice seems content and comfortable in and seems to enjoy the change of being forward facing and looking around. It has an adjustable leg rest, and the harness fits well and is quick to release/adjustable as she grows. It has a really easy to use recline which has proven good for naps. Every little detail seems to have a lot of thought in it which all adds to the convenience of using it as a quick and easy travel solution!

I think this is going to be so good for when we go to Italy next month so that Alice can still nap whilst out and about and just to dump bags on for the beach and site seeing. I also look forward to using it over summer holidays as already it has been a great asset to life for quick days out and trips to the park. I love that it has a lovely sun shield and rain covers, so whatever the weather we can get out and about without having to lug my big pram around the museums, trains, cliff tops and airports – It folds down in about 2 seconds and is very simple and quick to both put up and fold away which I find really efficient and simple.

I am so pleased with the Joie Nitro as a secondary travel and adventure buggy, and the price it was available at was a steal!

Kiddies Kingdom are filled with amazing deals and lovely products from over 150 brands such as Icandy, Silver Cross, Joolz and Joie. They are very excited to be launching their first concept store in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire this Sunday (the 30th July) where they will not only have these brands on display, but fantastic offers too to treat customers to!

The 9,000 sq ft. showroom will be the largest in Yorkshire (and in the North!) and will be including some incredible features such as a full-sized car where parents can practice their car seat fitting skills, a ‘Baby Wish List’ that can be created in order to contribute towards a gift for a new arrival, as well as an embroidery service so that customers can make their purchases extra special and add a personalised touch, as well as many other great activities!

If you are near by be sure to check it out … you too may bag yourself a shiny new buggy/stroller, car seat or even some fun outdoor toys for the kids this Summer!

*Thanks to Kiddies Kingdom for gifting us the Joie Nitro in return for an honest review. All thoughts and pictures are my own. 

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