Mamma's School

Home Education Adventure

Category: Days Out (Page 1 of 2)

Submarines, Swimming Pools, & Our New Island Home.

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Saturday morning and we decided to be tourists.  The museums of the county have been free for the whole year, so we were keen to take advantage, and headed towards the submarine museum.  This is a lovely building, and done really well with lots of interactive features for children (and buttons to press for twin 1, who if ever came across a big red button saying “do not press”, wouldn’t ever hesitate in pressing it immediately).  It is also a bit of home from home, having a submarine museum in the town we have just moved from in the UK.  One thing about Sweden is it doesn’t expect you to dress for the weather outside (8 degrees today and blowing a gale), and then lug all your outdoor gear around indoors.  All is very civilised, and you hang your coat up on the coat stand, and pop your packed lunches and overflowing day sacks into lockers.  Obviously in winter months, this system comes into its own, with freezing temperatures outdoors, and cosy ones indoors.  We spent a lovely relaxed three hours looking around.

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After our museum visit, we decided to leave the other sights on the little island, for another day (for example there is a longboat museum there too).  What we were keen to do is show the children their new soon-to-be home, so we headed out to the island it is on.  We drove around the island showing them the sights (they were pleased there was a restaurant serving pizza on the island), and they loved the house and garden, from the outside at least.  We then showed them where the förskola was (for the twins), and the main skola was for our little lady.  They just happen to be next door to each other, and both in lovely wooden buildings too (well a lot of the school is, with a bit of brick as well).  There was instant babble from the back of the car about how they would wave and shout to each other (what they hadn’t realised is that there is very little in the way of boundaries between the two, so we are not sure how segregated they would actually be).  The plan at the moment is, whilst the twins don’t need to go to förskola, as I am at home for them, they will do at least a couple of half days per week when places come up, to help them get into the swing of the language too.  All three couldn’t believe the amount of outdoor equipment, nearly equating to a full on park – swings, mini houses, slides, football goals etc and lots and lots and lots and lots (getting the idea??!!!!) of  outdoor space 🙂

In the evening I got down to business researching ballet classes (for our little lady and twin 1), modern and jazz for our little lady (she’ll have to go to the arts college), scouts (although we are looking at British Guides In Foreign Countries, we are also investigating Swedish Scouts as a possibility to immerse her into her Swedish contemporaries), and gymnastics (for our mini men).

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Sunday saw a day of torrential rain, so we decided to check out the local swimming pool, and what an experience!!  There are no limits on the amount of people in the pool, so consequently no waiting around.  The children’s pool and main pool are full of various floats of all shapes and sizes; there were boat ones that you could sit in, duck ones you could ride and many many more.  As well as this, in the main pool there were 3 different heights of diving boards, with no rules for entry in the pool – bombing, somersaults, belly flopping, diving, any which way goes!!  Our little lady had a go on the 1 metre springboard, before trying the 3 metre springboard.  Dadda was expecting to need to give her some encouragement, but to his complete surprise she walked to the end and leaped straight off!!!  Everyone had access to everything there, and the main thing was everyone enjoyed their time in the pool.  There are also no restrictions on how many children I can take in on my own either.  Also, it seems, as long as there are parents in the same room as the swimmers, albeit sat on loungers on the side fully dressed, that counts as having the parent present!  The one thing that our little lady struggled with was the changing area.  They are split, male and female, so when we arrived I sent the boys in with Dadda so he didn’t get away with a nice quiet changing time (!), and the little lady and I headed into the ladies’…..shoes off at the doorway and onto the shoe rack first though.  Once in there I plonked our things down on the bench and started changing, to which a little voice piped up, “but where are the individual rooms?”…..ah….welcome to Sweden hunny, where everyone’s in and out of the communal showers stark naked and then drying off in the open changing room!!!  Needless to say, it’s going to take a while for her to adjust as she did the whole Brit-on-a-beach wobbly changing under the towel routine!!

We finished the weekend off with another quick drive to recce the lekplats (playgrounds) that I had located on our island, so that I could then find them on my own (sense of direction not being my best talent!!).

Calm at Furzey Gardens

img_9621Furzey Gardens is exactly what it claims to be; “a haven of peace and tranquillity in the heart of the New Forest”.  Not only it is beautiful gardens with meandering walks, it is a fairy land with lots of hidden doors, fairy ferries, and lovely touches like miniature wellies outside a fairy’s home waiting to be put on.  The trees are gnarled and interesting for the children, and there are also very intriguing and curious places and spaces to play.

img_9626We set off on a walk down towards the lake, searching out fairy homes as we went.  Dotted all around the gardens are various interesting buildings the children can play in, thatched mini roundhouses with ladders going up to a little upstairs, a long tunnel to crawl through, a boat called Tiggywinkles to play in, and much much more.  All blending in so nicely with the surrounding area.  We arrived at the play area in time to stop for lunch, and the children enjoyed going off and eating in the various den like places.  It really is such a wonderful place where children’s imagination can run wild with their play.  Another beauty of the den like structures, is they are made so it is virtually impossible for adults to gain access, therefore giving the children a sense of it being secretive and hidden away from grown up eyes.

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We did have one aim to achieve though in the day.  I knew the gardens had a good supply of conker trees, and wanting to tick off “play conkers” from the National trust list, we went out collecting some to bring home.  That’s a job for another day, but at least we have the supplies now!  Beautiful, big, shiny, conkers.

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We had such a lovely, relaxing day in the outdoors.  A huge amount of imaginative play was done by the little people, and the grown ups, although tired and a bit under the weather, had a laid back, chilled out, restorative calming day 🙂  Not a lot of packing was achieved today, but we are still riding high from the fact our home was let on its first viewing yesterday, and today Dadda made us fully fledged Swedes by purchasing the family car (so he can fetch us from the airport), a Volvo!!!!!

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WWT Slimbridge.

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We gave just got back from an amazing adventure for the day to WWT Slimbridge in Gloucestershire.  This is a fantastic place as somewhere to wander freely amongst the wildlife, whilst great conservation is going on as well.  It’s also a place for serious bird watchers, as well as for nuturing a child’s interest, and the two types seem to mix well there (other places we have been, a child gets such a black look if they just sneeze in a hide shelter).  As Sir David Attenborough has said about it “If there is one place that can be regarded as the birthplace of worldwide conservation, it is surely here at Slimbridge”.

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There was a rather dramatic start to the day, with mini man no.2 cracking his eye socket on a hand railing that stuck out a lot on a corner, which resulted in an instant swelling that threatened to close his eye within minutes.  This resulted in me dashing through the waiting queue to try and locate an icepack, and when no one could find one instantly for me, I grabbed a cold can from the chiller and started holding it to get the swelling under control while an icepack was located.  Once I’d established his eye socket was probably in tact and he had calmed down, we were able to go and enjoy the place!  The children picked up Nature Explorer passports, where they could collect stickers from various things in the day, and once they had all of them, they’d get a big gold one for the front.  It involved all sorts of activities from watching and listening about the otters being fed, to doing some pond dipping, making a nest for some eggs, to going for a canoe safari to name some of them.  It gave us a little structure to our day too in such a vast place.  We spent 6 hours wandering the place, and there was plenty more we could have done that we didn’t.

z170We headed for our new found obsession first of otters, and they were just as delightful here as they were yesterday in the New Forest.  Again, we were all fixated and the the mans talk was really interesting and he was very good with the children, getting them involved.  We then headed off to build some nests, and learn about what makes a good nest.  This was a self led activity, and the children used the sticks, and the straw, and finally some eggs, to make what they thought were lovely cosy nests.

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The whole time we were pottering around the children were getting up close and personal with all the various wildlife, and intermittently feeding them from the seed bag that had been purchased.  They could get a good look close up, and enjoyed seeing all the different colours and variety there were.  Another favourite were the many types of flamingos they have there.  Beautiful creatures.

The children were also able to do some guided pond dipping, and as it was so quiet (end of the summer holidays), they had the lady running it all to themselves for guidance and knowledge.  This is always a favourite activity with my trio, and today their trays were bursting with life, and to their delight, they all managed to catch some stickleback fish.

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We ended the day with a lovely canoe ride (although after a rather large amount of crashes from my paddling, I was sure my four year old twins could have done it better!).  But it was a fantastic added bonus to be able to take a canoe out on the water, for up to an hour, around some waterways, with ducks, swans, and chicks paddling alongside you.  It was so calm and peaceful too away from everyone pottering around the site (although I’m not sure the wildlife felt the same way after they had to avoid me a few times!).  It also means tomorrow we can tick off 2 more things in our National Trust books – go bird watching and canoe down a river.

I have only managed to touch on a few things we have seen today, but it gives you an idea of the scale of the place, and how much wildlife there is to investigate.  It’s been a long day, so I am not going to list everything, but I’d definitely say it is worth a visit (and we used our little lady’s blue peter badge for her entry, so we’ve used that three times now).

I’m now off to read some travel documents and sort things out, as I’ll be off to Sweden in about 36 hours!  Around lunchtime today, we realised the house we had been bidding on had slipped away from us, and we were running out of options fast.  So, we returned our attentions to a house Dadda had viewed previously but looked a little “tired”.  He’s not happy to make a decision about this one on his own, so I’m going on a rather rapid trip there and back again, to make a joint decision whether we go for it, and add a little extra work on top of an international move!

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New Forest Wildlife Park

z152Today we took a visit to the New Forest Wildlife Park.  We visited with another family we are friends with, making 2 pairs of 4 year old twins and 6 children between us!  We had a lovely day, and the whole place has a calm and laid back vibe about it, making it a much more relaxed day out than some other places we have been to visit animals.  It is a place to visit owls (a lot of different breeds), Bison, deer, wallabies, wolves, butterflies, many types of otter, water voles, hedgehogs, harvest mice, ferrets, polecats, foxes, sousliks, wild cats, boars, lynx, and badgers.

We started the day with some owls, which always fascinate me and then the butterfly house.  The children loved the butterfly house as usual, but what made it really special was the fact the butterflies seemed to like them just as much!!  They were landing on them, letting them examine them on their hands, and they really took a lot away from that interactive experience.  The butterflies were most obliging!

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z153After the butterflies we headed to the otters.  I think I can safely say, after spending around an hour observing them, all four of us are otter obsessed.  They are very cute (even though they have a sharp nip!).  They love to juggle stones, and they even get “favourite” stones (maybe our little lady is an otter at heart!!).  They walk around with the stones under their armpit so no one else can pinch their favourite stone, and then squirrel them awz151ay somewhere, creating a pile of

 

favourite stones!!  They were fascinating to watch, moving as a group with a rather adorable squeaking sound.  They rough and tumbled each other, played in the water, and generally looked like they loved to get up to a good dose of mischief!

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One our other favourites were the wolves.  They were beautiful and graceful, although the whole idea of seeing wolves had scared our little lady a lot beforehand, and I am not sure I’ve mentioned to her yet they live in Sweden!  The whole experience was a fantastic day out, and there was a lovely play area for them to indulge in while we ate lunch too, all blending in to its surroundings, but involving a lot of climbing and heights, so right up my trios street!  I would definitely recommend going here, for anyone that wants a calm, unrushed day out, indulging in looking at animals that we don’t usually see in places we visit such as zoos and farms.

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My Stream Idyll is Found….

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…..Although it could have done with a little more water in the river bed!  I had a tip off about a little place in the New Forest called Linford Bottom.  So, today we headed over there with a like minded family we are friends with to check it out.  When we arrived, I was very puzzled as to where all the water was in what seemed quite a wide river in places, with quite a bit of erosion to its banks too.  It’s not as if we’ve had the most amazing hot summer with no rain!  So, we left the cars in the forestry commission car park and walked along the river bank, or even along the river bed, until we came to a small body of water.

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walking across the dry river bed

It actually turned out to be the perfect place.  It was well hidden and far enough away from most people who arrived and tumbled out of their cars and stayed next to the car park, so we felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.  The water consisted of one very small part, and one larger part that they could wade through up to thigh height in.  The smaller body of water made it easier for them to catch the very fast moving tiny fish with a net (another national trust mission ticked off!), and the bushes surrounding the other larger bit of water provided brilliant hiding places for their water fights, as well as making it all very pretty and scenic.  There were nice grassy banks for us to chill out on too, letting the children just get on with their play with no worries they were disturbing anyone.

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When we first arrived they all spent a good long time catching the fish and examining them, and then progressed onto a very long game of water pistols, and water fights.  They had an absolute blast running through the water and around the bushes.  They also did some playing with the water and the beach toys.  This was such a lovely place for them to do their thing, and play in nature, and us grown ups to sit back, enjoy the brief summer weather and chill out, knowing they were happy at their play.  My three little people have flopped into bed (one only just made it to bedtime, we thought we’d broken mini man no.2 again after a hectic 3 days and then a fun day in the sun today) all asking to return there before we leave the country, and tomorrow will see us head off for sandy beaches and sand dunes….if summer is only going to last a few more days then they WILL be found out on the beach!!

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Admiring Beautiful Butterflies on Mamma’s Day

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Today is Thursday, so it’s Mamma’s Day, and we only have 2 more of these left (after today) before our mini men finish pre-school, so I looked for somewhere for us to head off on a little adventure.  We headed over the Earnley Butterflies and Gardens, near Chichester, which promised butterflies, gardens, animals, reptiles, and ship wreck artifacts!  The photo above I have included as a rather random, but interesting fact (but I have noticed the spelling mistake!).  It is quite a small place, and we easily spent all morning taking everything in before heading into the play area for a picnic.

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First up we investigated the butterflies.  We were intrigued by the cocoon cupboard as there were several butterflies in various states of emergence and lots of variety too.  The butterflies were large and not intimidated by our presence.  We also managed to find some butterfly wings on the floor of previous occupants, which our little hoarder daughter collected up (not sure how long they will last), and the entire butterfly she found is now behind picture frame glass in her bedroom – not sure how long that will last either!

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Next we pottered into the aviary, where amongst some exotic birds, we met a very cheeky chappy, who rather liked nibbling flip flops!  I’m not sure it was the healthiest of diets for him, but he was most insistent.  Dadda came away with chunks missing from his, obviously very tasty, footwear.  They have a collection of mini gardens from Japanese to Seaside, and Urban to Rose, and whilst they were a little basic, we enjoyed meandering through them doing the children’s quiz.

We then went to check out the reptiles, who I felt rather sorry for as their accommodation was a bit bland and rundown, so we had a quick tour and headed back out to see the owls, guinea pigs, donkeys, rabbits, and tortoises, who were housed much better, but I felt the owls accommodation could be made a little more interesting.  A lot of the reptiles and animals they take on as unwanted pets, so at least they are getting a home.

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We found the ship wrecked artefacts in a building beside the play area and they were very interesting to look at.  There were some things that were in very good condition, considering they had been on the bottom of the seabed.  Plates, cutlery, medical syringes and equipment, shot balls, amongst other things.  We did enjoy our day, but even in our relaxed meandering style the whole trip only took just under 4 hours being there (and an hour of that was our little lady eating lunch!), so don’t plan to stay the whole day there as it is quite small.  I’m pleased we have visited, seen what is there, and now we can tick that off our list.

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Fun on the Farm.

ff5This photo shows our little lady pinging water bombs at one of her best friends, so you can tell from that, that this was no ordinary day out at the farm 🙂  Our mini men are friends with the little sister of our little lady’s friend, and to celebrate her fifth birthday, we all headed off to Finkley Down Farm.  The main attraction of the day was the visit to the farm by Chase and Marshall from the Paw Patrol Team….all three little people are huge fans, and the older girls didn’t seem to mind having the chance to meet them either.  Predictably, the earlier meet and greets of the pups were bursting, so we chilled out and just followed where the children led us, and played the waiting game choosing to see the pups later on.  Funnily enough the children didn’t head straight for the animals, but enjoyed a very long play on all the different equipment.  They particularly enjoyed the trampoline (which after about 20 minutes they asked us if they could come off, like we’d forced them on there!), the tall tower slide, a zip line, and a huge sand pit full of dumper trucks, little spades, enormous spades, and various buckets.  After some lunch we then headed to coo over baby calves, goats, guinea pigs, and rabbits…one guinea pig had been having a great time.  36 little female guinea pigs were put in the guinea pig house.  However, unfortunately, one had been sexed wrong, and suddenly Finkley Down Farm has seen a huge explosion in its guinea pig population :-0  After that little bimble it was time to head over and meet the Paw Patrol Pups, Chase and Marshall.

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Our boys adore these pups, and our little lady isn’t far behind in her admiration.  So this was a dream come true for them, and even mini man no.1 put aside his fear of grown ups in oversized children’s character outfits, to chat to them and touch them.  Lots of “whys” as to where the rest of the team were, but they finally agreed that perhaps they were a bit busy on a rescue mission.  Next up the older 2 girls lobbed water bombs at each other and then we all headed for a well deserved ice cream.  The final thing on the children’s to do list was a pony ride, and whilst the queue wasn’t that long it took a very long time to get to the front.  But being 5 friends together, they amused themselves really well, and soon it was their turn.

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ff1We have now put to bed three very worn out children from a very fun day out with their friends 🙂

Happiness is When you Meet your Heroes!

Paw Patrol came to Finkley Down Farm today and we headed over there to help a friend of the mini men celebrate her 5th birthday.  The mini men adore these pups, and even mini man no.1 over came his fear of grown ups dressed as oversized children’s characters, to get close to them 🙂

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A Visit to Hurst Castle.

IMG_8857A visit to Hurst Castle was on the agenda for today, somewhere I have wanted to take them for a long time, but have needed to feel a little bit more confident the twins wouldn’t leap of the first lot of ramparts they climbed!  Just getting to this destination is a whole adventure for little people, as once you have parked your car in the Keyhaven car park, you need to hop on the Hurst Castle ferry that takes you across to the castle in around 15 minutes.  The clouds separated to reveal blue sky as we arrived at the ferry, and I had high hopes that we would at last have a little sunshine for our trip….that lasted approximately half an hour, but we had fun anyway.

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IMG_8880When we arrived, our ferry driver noticed that the flag had not yet been hoisted, so he asked if the children would like to help him with that.  That was quite an experience to kick the day off with, and they were thrilled (and I think it went up the right way up!).  After that we just proceeded to make our way around the castle, investigating every room, cubby hole, shell storage area (which were in plentiful supply), and display.  There were WWI displays, there were WWII displays, as well as Henry VIII and King Charles information, and lots about lighthouses amongst other things as well.  I think the children have come home very keen on learning more about lighthouses and have quite taken to them.  They had a good time learning about light refraction and how the different lenses helped the light move and shine, amongst a lot of history lessons 🙂 Now they just need to sort the historical order out of everything they’ve seen today, or else who knows what version of history they have swimming in their heads!

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We had planned to go onto the shore after looking around the castle, and spend some time with the shingle, sea, and grasses looking at wildlife as well, however, the children all had much more stamina for all the displays, information, and steep wonky step climbing than I anticipated. Consequently we spent over four hours exploring the castle alone, by which time we needed to head back to the shore for the ferry to return to Keyhaven…it has a rough timetable, but it’s better to not be in a hurry to get back!  Plus, having made the mistake of dressing for summer, all be it with hoodies and coats on, our toes were more than a little chilly by now, and even a huge mug of steaming hot chocolate hadn’t quite thawed them out!!  We had such a lovely adventure though, the weather didn’t dampen our spirits or our day, and we feel quite proud of the adventures we can now achieve together…..even though I think I have used up slightly more heartbeats than an average day with the 2 four year olds running around the roof!!  We are looking forward to returning soon, with the plan of walking the just over 2 mile route out along the spit, playing on the shoreline out there all day, and then catching the ferry back.

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Day 20 Immersing Ourselves in Tropical Nature.

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Our adventure for the day, may well not have technically been outdoors in nature, but we were definitely immersed in it, exploring another environment other than our damp and windy UK one.  We couldn’t ignore Tropical World in Leeds right on the doorstep of where we were staying.  The first piece of good news was the admission price.  Going anywhere as a family of five usually requires a bank loan, but here under 5’s were free (which I thought was fantastic as the mini men were definitely as amazed as the rest of us), and it wasn’t overpriced for the other three of us (the bad thing was queuing in the gift shop to enter with three little people formulating a real time shopping wish list).

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The colours were so vivid, bright, and had you transfixed.  The butterflies were the first things we saw.  Huge, beautiful, brightly coloured ones, flying all around us.  I loved an electric blue variety, but they were very hard to catch on the camera.  There was also a cupboard full of cocoons.  Having grown their own butterflies from caterpillars recently, the children were struggling to take in the shear volume of cocoons and the size of the butterflies.

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IMG_8543The fish were another area that we spent a lot of time in.  There was one in the large tank that seemed to play a very good game of peekaboo, sliding himself up to see the children, and then back down to hide, and then up again, many, many times.  Again the colours were beautiful and very striking.  I was amazed at the variety we could see at Tropical World, as there were many other species too in the form of birds and reptiles amongst others, and specifically meerkats, bats, crocodiles, and to the trios delight, Rapunzel’s little reptile, Pascal 🙂

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This has whetted our appetite for a trip that was already planned for the autumn (to tie in with what we will be looking at in science) to a more local Tropical World.  It is an amazing way to study another ecosystem, and will also be a good way to keep warm on a cold autumn day 😉

 

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