I’ve had this post in my drafts for quite a while (since the Summer to be exact). And whilst we have entered a new season, I still very much wanted to preserve and share this moment from the Summer, and just generally remember how joyful it was for little Megsie.

Megan has loved adored animals for as long as I can remember and since understanding about careers and jobs, she has told people she wants to be a Vet (or a farmers wife with 100 babies)! When Ethan went off to preschool she would ask weekly to go to the farm, and even now her ideas for birthday treats and family outings involve zoos, Sea life or animal parks. Her life very much revolves around animals, and so of course they featured several times on our Summer bucket list,.  . And it was on the last day of the summer holidays we chose to go to the Animal Park and Bird of Prey centre at Park Rose Village, Bridlington and finally accomplished the farm goal!

Here we anticipated we’d enjoy a lovely day out together, seeing the usual farm animals, along with the added bonus of birds of prey and reptiles. What we didn’t anticipate though (and what was the real highlight), was that we would have an opportunity to get up close to the Wallaby’s and have a go at feeding them! Park Rose let visitors get hands on with feeding times and animal handling through out the day and it was such an exciting and fun thing to do with the kids.

  

We arrived about 10ish and so were right on time for feeding the wallaby’s at 11 after looking round the park! It was something Megan was absolutely keen to do and over the moon about. It was fun for us all but an especially beautiful moment to see our little animal lover sat on a log making friends with some wallaby’s! She was so patient and still… so engrossed and at ease. She didn’t squeal or flinch like some of the kids did, and she didn’t tire and just lob it at them across the pen (again like some other kids did!). Instead she looked at them longingly, and waited and waited patiently and quietly taking it all very seriously. It was then that she was able to put them at ease too and make friends with the wallaby’s (as she told us afterwards) and enjoy some extra ordinary moments feeding them.

Located just outside of Bridlington it is only 20minutes for us now, and was a very reasonable family day out at only £20 for us all to get in. It isn’t vast but it is very unique, has some great things to do, and you can come and go all day with the same ticket if you wish. They also have a Groupon on at the moment for Kids to have a hands on experience with the Birds or Meerkats … if you don’t want to pay extra then just go along as a regular visit like we did (maybe this half term?) and in the mornings you can feed the Wallaby’s, handle reptiles and watch the nutty Emu’s dance around their pen!

 Seasonal Bucket lists are a great way to involve the whole families interests in outings and activities. They are a way for kids to try new things as well as doing the things they love too. I find them an excellent way to show appreciation for that season, give us some focus, and create habits of seasonal appropriate activities for the whole family. For Autumn we hope to (and have already done) …

2017 Autumn Bucket List

Bake Ginger bread
Make an Apple Pie 

Go on a Spooky Walk 
Go to a Halloween Party (or 2)
Watch a spooky movie together
Go to a fair
Go to a Bonfire & Watch some fireworks
Write our names with Sparklers 
Make something using things from Nature 
Build a fire and snuggle round it 
Go out for Hot chocolate
See a windmill

Climb a mountain 
Go on a Bike Ride
Collect Conkers

Go to a Pumpkin Farm 
Carve Pumpkins
Go on a muddy nature walk
Eat warm Soup

What traditions do you enjoy in the Autumn?

*This is not a sponsored post! 
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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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As we near the end of our Easter holidays, it’s hard to believe it’s already over. I am a little jealous that most people have another week, but then again I may be slightly excited too! We can’t complain, we have done loads and the weather on the whole has been great. Here in Yorkshire there are so many lovely places to visit, that don’t cost a lot or even better – they’re Free.

Here are our faves this Easter holiday that we went back to again this week, and that might give you some ideas, especially if like us you are on a budget!

Oakwell Hall – Batley

We haven’t been to Oakwell hall probably since last summer but it’s fantastic. Being a country park there are many little (or bigger) walks to do, and it’s mostly pushchair/bike/scooter friendly.

I went last week with a friend and Ethan on his own as Megs stayed at Grandma’s, and he spent ages den building in the woods and riding his bike. Of course he wanted to take Megs back this week, and again it was the same…hours den building in the woods, playing in the play areas, a picnic, scooter ride and playing down by the stream. It’s free unless you want to go in the hall, but if not it’s the perfect place for kids to chase nature!

Valley Gardens – Harrogate

This is a little tradition we have with cousins. We love to meet at Harlow carr and walk through the woods to valley gardens in Harrogate. This time they took their scooters, sometimes we stop off on the woods to explore. It’s always lovely.

The park at Valley Gardens is incredible. Something for every age, picnic tables and lots to do. The kids had a great time exploring, then went onto the skate park, and back again. They have a paddling pool in the summer too and we just love taking a picnic and hanging out for the day.

Tong Garden Centre

This one comes at a cost … but only a small one and I think it’s worth it. It’s £3.50 per child, and has 2 play areas, a massive sand area and now 2 bouncy pillows too. On the way out we also like to go look at the fountains in the garden centre, the fish and pet shop, and it makes for a lovely, fun, and fairly reasonable day out for under a tenner.

Bridlington Swimming Pool

Recently opened, the new leisure world is perfect for a fun swim and slide day with the kids. Its only £11 for a family ticket which I think is fab, and my kids LOVE it. Its so clean and well maintained, and they have 2 biggish slides, a splash pool with baby slides/water works which is ample, fun and easy to keep and eye on them whilst they have an element of freedom with cousins.

We went here last Tuesday, and whilst it ended in a trip to A&E (Ethan fell and punctured his lip), it is always a lot of fun for low cost. Then of course with the money you save, grab some Fish & Chips on the way home!! 🙂

A Beach walk

Walking on the beach costs nothing, and as mentioned in my Ordinary Moments Post last week, is a lot of fun for the little beach combers amongst us. We loved walking along the North beach at Bridlington from the harbour up to the cliffs at Sewerby park. The sea was calm and beautiful and all we did was collect rocks, shells and sea glass. 10 minutes further and we could have made our way up at the steps at Sewerby and had the kids play in the park, or even pay a couple of pounds into the little farm there. Either way it passes time, is beautiful, fun and of course FREE. Collect large rocks and you could make it into a craft the next day!

What Free and low budget things do you like to do in the school holidays? Maybe I can nick some ideas for the next one!

Yorkshire Tots
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It has been almost a week since I decided to brave life and venture out on our 1st day trip as a solo parent with 3 kids! I had no idea what to expect..it potentially could be a disaster, it could potentially be GREAT. Thankfully it was the latter as our trip was to a place the kids love and feel safe, a place where they are constantly occupied with one thing or another and a place where I could at times sit and feed if I needed to or join in with them…it was of course “The Rainbow Factory” and we had (as always) a wonderful day together!

The Rainbow Factory, for those who aren’t familiar, is a play centre with a difference. They are creators of imaginative play, story book adventures, theatre, music and crafts. It is a wonderful magical spot that is forever changing and never fails to capture my children’s attention. It is a place we can go and hours pass by without clock watching. I know for a fact when given the choice to go to soft play or the Rainbow factory where their choice will be placed! Other than now knowing that it is a great place to venture out as a new mum with other kids in tow, and a place that is breastfeeding and pram friendly and accommodating of children of all ages. It has some fabulous things that Ethan & Megs ALWAYS look forward to and thus make it a place we love:

 Theatre – A personal love of my own that both Ethan and Megan have quickly grown to love too. Periodically throughout the year The Rainbow Factory open for specific performances (one we saw at Christmas), but on a regular visit you will see smaller productions of well known fairy tales performed throughout the day. Megan was in heaven that on our visit it was Rapunzel…her absolute fave!

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I love that they always tweak the story to be a little different and quirky and the energy of the staff when performing is incredible! I often think it would be my dream job haha! Between the theatre performances, the kids can dress up and do their own improvisations on the stage…which leads nicely into our next love…

Dress up – The Rainbow Factory have an amazing children’s wardrobe department with princess dresses and accessories, wizards capes, and costumes from almost every kids book. They love to choose an outfit upon arrival and stay in it until they leave. Megan especially, can be seen pretending she really is that character and just loving the opportunity to be so.

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Crafts – this section of the factory, known better as “Goldilocks Kitchen” is where Ethan spends the biggest chunk of his time when we visit. Since starting school he has developed a real love for model making and crafts and he loves that here in the rainbow factory, he can sit at the little wooden tables and cut, stick, colour and make to his hearts content. It is laid out in a way that whether I am with him in there or watching the action by the stage, I can easily see both kids and therefore allow them to spend their time where they see fit!

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This time round the theme was ‘Food’ and so we made lanterns (and talked about feasts been of light as well as food) and paper plate pizzas, and then as Ethan was wanting more he made a caterpillar (the very hungry type) and a story dice. They always have at least 2 or 3 crafts on rotation and then are happy to embrace the kids that seek more creativity. They are so good at giving them projects to keep them coming back for more.

Story time – Under the story telling tree are chances for kids to sit and be captured by books galore. Whether reading themselves from a parent or during official “Story time”, it is an opportunity to feed a love of books and open the imagination to a world of adventure! Ethan and Megan love to lay on the bean bags and listen intently and stories are told in ways that truly bring it to life!

20160729_14240520160729_113500Food – the food is not a vast choice but I like that, its all lovely food and just enough to fuel you up for more fun in the afternoon. The kids love the lunch boxes (£3.99) and choosing the little things from juice cartons and sandwiches to yogurts and crisps to pop inside. I love getting a panini and tasty bevvy!

Imagination is one of the most important things to me as a parent, I embrace dress up and love it when they want to step out into the world in costume. I love opportunities to feed their imaginations and to watch the cogs turning and eyes lighting up at the endless possibilities. I love to take them places where they can let out creativity through crafts and theatre and help them build both confidence and imagination, it makes me so happy to see…and I love that they can do it all in one place, and it is a place where I can sit back and rest with the baby if needed to or jump right in with them and join in the fun. This is why we love the Rainbow factory, it is fun magical and simply wonderful for a day out, we hope you will love it too… be sure to schedule it in for the hols!

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*Thank you to the Rainbow Factory for inviting us for a complimentary visit to see what’s new! All thoughts and pictures are my own! 

 

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