Thursday, 31 March 2016

Would We Dare To Meet the Dragon at Caerphilly Castle?

We wanted to go somewhere fun today. Would we dare to meet the Dragon at Caerphilly Castle? I've lived in Cardiff for over 40 years and have never been to Caerphilly Castle although it is less than 5 miles away. So what tempted me to visit today? The dragon? My new senior citizen CADW membership? All of those but we just want to take Bear to see the wonderful places on our doorstep.

Would We Dare To Meet the Dragon at Caerphilly Castle?


Monday, 28 March 2016

A Very Quiet Week. Just Sand and Water

Last week I decided to split my week up into separate posts as I had far too many photo's for one roundup. Then typically,  this week has been very quiet. Bear has been a little poorly with a cough and cold so with the weather being awful we stayed in lots.

Bear had loved playing with rice so I bought a water and sand table that he can have outside when it's warm. As soon as it arrived the weather changed to rain and very cold but he did get into the garden long enough for me to take some photos and post them here.

A Very Quiet Week. Just Sand and Water. toddler playing with sand in a tray on decking

Sunday, 27 March 2016

#MySundayPhoto Number 13

#MySundayPhoto Number 13 is of Bear taking a break. He has been full of cold and it's made him a bit weary. Although he loves moving rice about he just needed to sit down and have a snack to recharge.
I just love how little he looks.



Friday, 25 March 2016

A Cardiff Garden In March

Welcome to a Cardiff garden in March. They say that March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb and I would normally agree but this year March started settled and warm, then last week it was freezing and today it is glorious sunshine with a weather forecast of wind and rain. I suppose it's because it's Easter and most people have a long weekend.

In the garden this month birds are building their nests, seeds are sprouting and the weeds are trying to take over. We've managed to get out and prune the Hydrangeas and Fuchsias. Lets hope the weather allows us to get out and weed the garden.

Enjoy the sunshine while it lasts and lets hope April doesn't bring too many showers.

A Cardiff Garden In March Crows nesting in an Oak tree
Crows Nesting in the Oak


Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Messy Fun With The Smoby Water and Sand Table

Bear just loves playing with water and quite often "washes his hands" at the kitchen sink and we both get a bit wet. I had some Amazon vouchers* saved and had been thinking of using them to buy him something for the garden that would hold water and sand and then he could make a complete mess without worrying. There are a lot of tables available that are much cheaper than the Smoby Water and Sand Table (£47.99)  but this got the best reviews.

Messy Fun With The Smoby Water and Sand Table Toddler playing with sand on decking in the sun
Bear having fun in the sunshine


Monday, 21 March 2016

Planting, Postman Pat and a Picnic

We've had a busy week full of planting seeds, Postman Pat and even had a picnic. We've been out for walks and iced biscuits at Tots club. Our weeks are now too busy to squeeze all the lovely photo's into one post so I've decided to write individual posts about where we go and what we do and link them all up in our weekly round up. Just click on the links to read more.

This week we learnt how to plant seeds and searched for giants at Fforest Fawr Sculpture Trail.

Planting, Postman Pat and a Picnic.  toddler planting seeds into flower pots
Planting sunflower seeds with Grandad. Just 3 to each pot please!
We spent many happy hours watching Postman Pat with his daddy when he was little. Reading the books, again and again. I realised just how long ago it was as Pat now is married and has a son of his own. Bear particularly likes Jess, the black and white cat. Now I've got the tune in my head and it'll probably stay there all day.

Planting, Postman Pat and a Picnic  toddler close to TV watching Postman Pat
Watching Postman Pat. 

Planting, Postman Pat and a Picnic Toddler sat at feet of adult watching TV
Bear made himself comfortable with Grandad

It was nice and sunny and Bear was desperate to get into the garden. We only have sunshine on the decking for part of the day so wanted to make the most of it and had a little picnic. It was freezing! Bear loved it and he just doesn't seem to get cold like I do.

Planting, Postman Pat and a Picnic. toddler standing on decking with blanket and cushion

Then at Tots club he iced a biscuit. He didn't know that they could be eaten so he didn't try any but just loved the little balls and carried some around putting them into things.

He so confident now too. Joining in with the songs although to misquote Eric Morecambe; he knows all the right moves but not necessarily in the right order.

Iced biscuit with butterflies and coloured balls
Iced biscuit

Toddlers laying down and one standing up singing
Bear dancing when he should be sleeping because he likes the dancing best.

toddler stood on toolbox at bathroom sink
Just love his curls  
Bear now likes a nap just once a day and he likes that to be between 10am and 11am and for about 2 hours. He also likes to sleep in his cot. He will nap in the car but it can take ages for him to fall asleep and then he will only nap for about half an hour, so cot it is. On Thursday I was a bit slow to take him up. I think he's giving me a huge hint.

toddler lying on bottom step looking very sleepy
I'll just sleep here then

So we've had a very busy week. We were going to try out our first messy play but Bears naps fall when they are on. I've ordered some things so we can have messy play at home, I must be mad! I'm hoping the weather will get warmer and we can do them outside. I'll let you know how we get on next week.

Have you tried messy play? I'd love to read your suggestions in the comments.


Sunday, 20 March 2016

#MySundayPhoto Number 12

#MySundayPhoto this week is of Bear in a wooden sculpture of a wizard. We went for a walk around the Fforest Fawr Sculpture Trail near Cardiff. The trail is deigned to stimulate children's imaginations. There is a giant that lives in the woods but is never seen........

Bear on the other hand was blissfully unaware of the story or of hidden giants but just wanted to sit on things. He sat on logs. He sat on rocks. He tried to sit inside the carving but there was nothing to sit on.

The wonders of childhood.

#MySundayPhoto Number 12 toddler inside a wizard carved from a tree trunk



Saturday, 19 March 2016

A Walk Around The Fforest Fawr Sculpture Trail Near Cardiff.

On Thursday we went for a quick walk around the Fforest Fawr Sculpture Trail near Cardiff. It is in woodland just behind Castell Coch and has a large free car park. We had planned to go further afield but Bear has decided that his daily naps will start between 10am and 11 am and last for about 2 hours. This is great when we are at home but cuts the day short if we want to venture out. Bear only likes to sleep in his cot although he will nap in the car but usually for only about half an hour or so.

The weather was lovely. Sunny and not too cold so we parked the car and set off. As it was woodland I expected lots of mud so put Bear into his puddle suit but the trails were dry and really good for buggy's.

The trail is designed to stimulate a child imagination. Something lives in the woods but is never seen.....

The Fforest Fawr Sculpture Trail Entrance of carved dragon and wizard and toddler running towards it.
Lets Go!

The Fforest Fawr Sculpture Trail good paths with a toddler standing looking at the trees
Was that a giant in the woods? Or just a bird?

The Fforest Fawr Sculpture Trail toddler taking a tumble

The Fforest Fawr Sculpture Trail Toddler on back in leaves and trees smiling and looking up
I'm OK! Just thought I'd have a look at the sky.

toddler holding a stick
Great place to find the perfect stick

Carving of big giant head with big nose
Big head with big nose!

carving of a little mouse peeking out of a flap in the tree
A little mouse peeping out

sculpture of a naked woman hugging a boar like creature
Is this Beauty and the Beast? Bear thinks it's a pig *grunt grunt*

toddler touching the wooden sculpture
Lots of interesting things to touch...........

toddler exploring the inside of a hollow tree carved into the shape of a wizard
.....or climb into

view across grass towards mountain and town, Caerphilly, in the valley
Views towards Taff's Well can be glimpsed through the trees

den made from sticks with toddler inside
Who lives here?

carved dragon with man and toddler sat on it and bat sculpture behind
You can ride a friendly dragon

sign describing the trail.
Even the explanatory board for the Fforest Fawr Sculpture Trail is carved

We had a great time and it was so quiet with very few people about. One thing our photo's do not show is the amount of dog mess in bags left everywhere. It is such a shame because it is a lovely place and the sculptures are great fun but it did make me cut our walk short. Hopefully Natural Resources Wales will clean it up so that it continues to be a great family friendly place to visit.

Have you been to the sculpture trail?

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


Wednesday, 16 March 2016

How to Sow Seeds for Absolute Beginners


We were in the garden, as usual, when I remembered I had some seeds that I needed to sow. Bear loves helping so we did it together. If I can do it with a 17 month old helping it can't be that difficult!


Monday, 14 March 2016

Is It OK To Leave a Child Alone?

Is it OK to leave a child alone? If so, for how long? Is it against the law?

I was watching BBC breakfast this morning and was horrified to hear that there had been over 500 arrests of people leaving children unattended. The age range of the children was from 6 weeks to 15 years.

The law doesn't give an age when it's OK to leave them alone but the NSPCC  says that all children are different and that parents should use their judgement and not leave a child who is at risk. They continue to say that some children are old enough at 13 but others are not even at 15 years old. Babies, toddler and young children should never be left alone.

I was appalled that a baby of 6 weeks was left alone although in some ways they are probably not as much at risk as a toddler or 5 year old. Who would leave their baby alone? I just could not imagine it.

So is it OK to leave a child alone?

I must admit that I have left one of my children under the age of 15 alone. My son was in High School and very sensible. He wouldn't open the door, cook food or have hot drinks when alone. He had a child-minder that I paid for and lived in the next street but he felt he was too old to be there with the toddlers and his sister who was 5 years younger. So I let him stay at home.

I bought an answer machine so he could hear who called before answering and had strict instructions that he only answered the phone to his child minder, his father or me. There was no internet in those days so I didn't need to worry about what he was doing on-line. Day time TV was also very tame and so this wasn't a worry either.

He didn't give us a moments worry. He knew he could call his child-minder and she would be there in a flash, or he could go to hers. At his age I would have been out with my friends playing in the woods, the park or swimming. We used to get up and go out all day and come home when we were hungry. He was not at risk.

My daughter....that's totally different! She would have burnt the house down or opened the door and let strangers in. She might have decided to bake a cake, go to town by herself or wander to a friends house. She was not left alone.

Is It OK To Leave a Child Alone? Three boys running across a field in black and white

Only two generations later and now we keep our children close. They don't play outside and if they do an adult is always there. They don't build dens or jump across streams without adult supervision. No riding bikes down dangerously steep hills or using rope swings across abysses.

When I was young it was just as dangerous. There were paedophiles and child murderers. Children didn't play alone, they played in groups and there were adults about. Mothers who didn't work. Fathers who worked outside. They may not have their own child in sight but would not hesitate to help someone else's child or question any adult that was loitering near children playing. There were many eyes watching us but we just didn't know it.

I wasn't left alone at home because my mother was there but I played in woods with my friends. Built dens, jumped streams, rode bikes and more. Babies were put into a pram and put outside the front door to sleep in the fresh air

My son played in the street with friends.

My grandson will probably not play outside with his friends without an adult.

What do you think? What age is it OK to leave children alone?


Sunday, 13 March 2016

#MySundayPhoto Number 11

#MySundayPhoto this week is of Bear. We had a fantastic morning at Dyffryn Gardens near Cardiff and took loads of photo's. What I love about this photo is that he is surrounded by acres of lawns and trees and there is so much to look at and enjoy and he finds a drain!

He saw it and paused then thought about it and had a little peek. I told him it was OK to look at the drain so he crouched down to see the water. I just love the way little ones make us look again at ordinary things around us.


Saturday, 12 March 2016

Dyffryn Gardens - A National Trust Toddler Paradise

Dyffryn Gardens is in the Vale of Glamorgan just a few miles from Cardiff. They are Edwardian gardens and a Victorian mansion managed by the National Trust. The sun was shining and our first visit to messy play had been cancelled so we thought we'd use our National Trust subscription and go to Dyffryn Gardens instead.

Dyffryn Gardens National Trust entrance
Dyffryn Gardens National Trust Entrance with the playground and cafe on the right

We arrived early and the car park was quite empty. There were squeals of delight coming from the children playing in the playground. We had a quick look as we walked by but the equipment was a little too big for a 17 month old so we carried on over a little stream into the shop/reception.

Dyffryn Gardens National Trust stream beside the toilet block building

We are members of the National Trust so entry for us was free but looking at the prices on the door it seemed a tad expensive, £7.80 per adult and £3.90 per child, children under 5 go free.

We were greeted by a friendly face who offered two plates of food to try. They were made from recipes from their cookbook and the chocolate cake was amazing!

Dyffryn Gardens National Trust Entrance and plants for sale
Lots of lovely plants for sale

The gardens are behind a Victorian Mansion house that is open to the public but today was all about exploring the gardens. The gardens are made up of themed Edwardian "rooms", a glasshouse, Arboretum and lawns. Too much to see in one day for a toddler so we just followed Bears lead and went where he took us.

Dyffryn Gardens National Trust Map
Map with the garden rooms on the right

Toddler stood on tree stump holding stick
A stick and a tree stump! Toddler Paradise.

We walked down the long drive and around to the back of the house where there are fantastic views across the croquet lawn.

Dyffryn Gardens National Trust view down drive towards mansion house in the distance
Long walk past the rockery towards the house and gardens

Dyffryn Gardens National Trust Mansion house
Dyffryn House

Dyffryn Gardens National Trust view across the lawns.
View across croquet lawn

Dyffryn Gardens National Trust back of the Mansion House
Terrace at back of the house

There is so much for a toddler to do. Splash in puddles; look down drains; admire a man on a bull; discover gateways and steps; wander paths; play in the fountain.

back of the house with steps and a toddler enjoying a puddle
More toddler delights. Wellies and a puddle.

toddler crouched looking into small drain in the path
Bear doesn't need mansions or lawns to make him happy -  a drain will do.

A statue of a man on a bull with a toddler looking at it and pointing
Bear loved the bronze statue and that little fence did not keep him away for long!

Places to explore.

toddler on path between a hedge and a border looking amazed
Bear mimicking the birds that were abundant in this spot.

toddler leaning into a round fountain with classical statues behind
No fishes but fascinating anyway

There is lots for us older folk too! A seat in the sun; signs to let us know what's happening; a view at every corner; a cafe for refreshments; super clean toilets; a shop to spend our money in with lots of plants on sale..

Seating with cushions under a balcony with artwork and statues
Seating with soft cushions in my favourite garden room  - the Pompeian Garden

Sunshine on a small lawn with a fountain and columns
View from the cushioned seats. The sun was so warm we could almost have been in Pompeii

white painted benches either side of steps
Lots of seating for the weary

Wire globe on pedestal with wooden trellis and arches behind
A wire globe and paths that make you want to wander

view through white painted wooden trellis of man pushing buggy and yew hedges and arches into the distance
Each garden room has stunning views towards the next

View of columns with vine stems and at the far end the white painted trellis
Looking back past the vine walk

Two Fir cones carved from a tree stump with classic columns above
A bit of fun around every corner but Bear was in his buggy as he was too tired now to walk
Dyffryn Gardens National Trust side of mansion house through yew trees
The side of the mansion house glimpsed through the yew trees

Dyffryn Gardens National Trust view to the rear of the house from the vine walk
The rear of the house from the vine walk

slate signs describing the history of the North Park in English and welsh

sign describing the work to be done on the rose garden, in English and Welsh

comical sign "slippery surface" of stick man falling over dropping hat and walking stick

For the gardeners there are huge herbaceous beds and magnificent trees. The scent of the Sarcococca confusa - scented box filled the air although the flowers are so insignificant we had to search for the shrub.

picture of sarcococca a green shrub with small white flowers
The scent from this Sarcococca confusa - Sweet box; just filled the gardens

sign under wisteria tree poetically describing the shrub as an old lady dowager
A wisteria with a poem

close up of the poem wizened old dowager, Lady wisteria, leaning on her sticks,is resolute though skeletal, still her hair, in lilac, lemon and white tresses, stirs in the summer breeze......Tony Curtis
Even some poetry

A magnificent oak tree fills the frame
A magnificent oak

A scots pine clinging onto some rocks with its roots exposed
A magnificent Scots Pine clinging onto the rockery

A huge yew tree next to the main path to the mansion house
A magnificent Yew tree

We left feeling relaxed and happy. Bear thought he still had energy to run away but he was truly worn out and fell asleep in the car just as we got home.

back of toddler walking away
Bear thinks he has energy left.....

picture with reflections of a toddler asleep in a car seat
........but he doesn't. (Reflections as this picture was taken through the window once parked at home)

There is so much to this wonderful place that you could easily spend the day here. There are a lot of steps and some open, unfenced water but the gardens are magnificent and we will be back often.

Do you have a favourite National Trust place that you love to visit?

*We have held National Trust membership since May 2015. We paid for it ourselves and will be renewing again this year.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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