IMG_7742I have made it a bit of a mission of mine to find a child friendly stream, for paddling in and relaxing by.  So not too deep or too fast, full of wildlife, and a good surrounding area for chilling out and running around.  The idea being that there is safe, unstructured play fully immersed in nature.  I wanted to recce places first though before I went with our over enthusiastic twins, just to check it was all manageable.  Hence our little lady’s Mamma Day adventure for this week.  After a bit of Googling I had a couple of places to try, and today headed out towards Lyndhurst in the New Forest.

IMG_7748I had also recently been given this fantastic book by a mother of one of our little lady’s school friends.  Walks in the New Forest.  There are 20 walks in it, divided into three sections: short (up to 3.5 miles), slightly longer (3.5-5 miles), and longer (5 miles or more).  I chose a shorter one near the stream we planned to visit, that suggested allowing an hour and a half to achieve it in – I planned 2 as I was with a child (who likes to stop and look at everything), and we did it in 1 hour 20 minutes.  We had a fantastic walk, we even think we heard cuckoos.  We definitely saw horses and cows.  We walked through woods and over heathland, with lots to investigate on the way.  I was quite relieved to find we did in fact end up back at the car.  Despite having some brief military experience in my past life, I am most definitely not relied upon for my map reading skills….I have been known to set off on Easter egg trails and completely walk past the marked egg locations due to not realising how close everything was, and on other occasions crawl through hedges to try and find my way!  It’s always a bit more nerve racking doing it with a small person in tow, as being lost and doing detours would probably not make their day.

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When we reached the car, we then headed 10 minutes drive to the stream opposite the Balmer Lawn Hotel, still in The New Forest.  This we found to be a lovely spot, and we spent a very happy and relaxed three hours there.  The little lady was content to wade around in the water, trying to dam the rather large stream, watch herons fish, try her hand at catching the very fast very small fish (she did…she caught 3 and 4 skater flies, much to her delight), or just chill out reading her book in the sunshine.  The stream is lovely and wide, with a shingle island in the middle making it even more interesting, and is quite shallow in the area by the car park.

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I would definitely return to this location in The New Forest with my mini men in tow, but it wasn’t quite the idyllic setting I was searching for, and will continue looking, even though I’d happily return with them to this spot.  The car park is quite small, so I can imagine in holidays and weekends with sunny weather this fills up very fast.  There are also no toilets, or bins.  Now whilst I do not have a problem with taking my rubbish home with me, I do have more of an issue with taking my bagged up dog deposits home!  The Forestry commission car park we started our walk from was also binless, so they were carted around for the day 🙁  I think a few more bins in The New Forest are needed!

One thing I have found since she left school, is that between us we have a more positive relationship.  It wasn’t bad before, but like any parent/child relationship some days all you feel you are doing is hurrying them up and telling them off.  This would happen a lot after a school day, and within about 10 minutes she was in a scrape with me.  I think this was down to having to contain herself for such a large amount of the day, and follow rules and regulations, and conform.  Now, I feel like I have my little lady back.  She is more easy going, and laid back about life, and not getting herself into trouble (she naturally wants to please and has never been outrageously mischievous, but after a school day she seemed to be consumed with frustration).  I think this has to do with being more in control of what is happening in her life, less rules to follow, so less pressure on her all day long, and not having to conform, but being allowed to be true to herself.

New Forest Adventure, The New Forest, New Forest Walks, New Forest Days out, www.mammasschool.co.uk