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Outdoor Days

Make the most of the nice weather because we all know winter days drive us crazy.
I love just getting in my car and discovering new places. If you’re lucky enough like me to live in South Wales then here are a few of my favourite places to go for a nice walk:

Penllergaer Forest
Right on my doorstep Penllergaer Forest is full of surprises. Originally the home of John Dillwyn, the forest was the grounds of a huge manor house. The gardens were landscaped to have lots of different features. In recent receipt of a grant there is work going on now to restore the gardens but you can still see so many beautiful sights. Walk across the top path and look down on the lake or walk on the lower path across the recently restored Llewellyn Bridge. See caterpillars, birds and beautiful water features. You can walk all around and end up in a lovely cafe. Nothing nicer than ending a nice walk with a coffee in the open air. Water for dogs available.

Forest Map

Cadle Mill

Part of Penllergaer Forest, the area of the forest in Cadle is a hidden gem. Lots of different paths to take which lead to a small waterfall and to the most beautiful lake I’ve seen. The paths are flat so ideal for little ones and it’s just quiet and beautiful.

Loughor Estuary

Another hidden gem just hidden behind the Reverend James Public House in Loughor is the beautiful Loughor Estuary. You can eat a picnic on the surrounding parkland or walk along near the water collecting sea shells. It’s such a peaceful spot where you can really appreciate nature.

Lliw Reservoir

When you drive in to Lliw Reservoir you are immediately struck by its tranquility. Great expanses of water covering two different reservoirs are bordered with different paths- some suitable for wheelchairs, prams and those who like a flat walk. Across the reservoir are more difficult walks which are ideal for rambling. There are hidden benches where you can enjoy a picnic, an old flour mill and a lovely cafe. It’s a favourite place of mine to walk.

Cwmdonkin Park

A favourite haunt of Dylan Thomas, Cwmdonkin Park is a great expanse of green with many hidden treasures- a giant slide, a pavilion cafe, sculptures, a play park and peace and tranquility. Simple but you’ll stay for hours

Margam Park

For about £20 you can visit Margam Park as many times in a year as you like (Excludes Bank Holidays). You could not find better value. Margam Park is a magical place where you discover something new every time you visit. There is a land train, a farm, wooden sculptures, a cafe, a shop, a castle, a lake, a play park, a discovery centre, a fairy tale village, abbey ruins, a church, a greenhouse, an orangery and probably more than I’ve mentioned. It’s an amazingly beautiful place that changes with the seasons.

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Beat The School Holiday Rip Offs

This is the first time I have booked a week off work in THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS!

No problem-I thought. I’ll beat the price hikes by holiday companies and beat the system. I’ll book a Sun newspaper £10 holiday. So I Googled the passwords and avidly got to work booking my July holiday.

I chose Devon first- plenty of dates available-in 2015!

Then I chose Somerset- plenty of dates available in October!

Ok I’ll stay close to home-a holiday park up the road in South Wales. Not a sausage! I give up!

Lots of exclamation marks I know but it was very frustrating indeed.

Deflated I knew I had to book a full price holiday. So typing in Devon holiday parks I got to work searching. The prices varied from an eyes on stalks £1,000 for a week to the lowest of around £679 for a week.

I just didn’t have that sort of money and more importantly I didn’t feel like a week in a caravan was worth that sort of money-just because it was July.

So my next step was to wait for a last minute holiday. I set a budget of £300 which I might add made a private caravan owner laugh when I turned down her caravan for £490.

And I waited. Every day I scoured Teletext holidays.

My friends started going on their holidays and I started to think my frugality was going to get me the Worst Mum Of The Year Award.

We’d have to stay at home.

The Monday before my week off began my luck came in.

I found a holiday cottage in Brixham in Devon within budget. My first choice of location. It started life as £627. I’m winning. I checked Trip Advisor and the location had over 6 marks out of 10. Great.

The packing began. My little girl started counting down her sleeps.

Then I began to worry- I must have done something wrong to have got this. Once on the motorway to go to Devon I had to pull in. We’d gone less than 10 miles. “I think I’ve booked the wrong dates” I said. I pulled the car in and checked the confirmation. No. I’d booked it right. Phew. Off we went again.

We arrived in Devon and I was half expecting poor accommodation. To my delight we opened our cottage door and found lovely clean sheets in the beds, a nice clean apartment, two nice bedrooms, beautiful views out to sea and a patio door opening to a little garden.

And there the holiday began. We had a fantastic time and my little girl had lots of those precious ‘first experiences’. She went on a ferry to Torquay, had a horse carriage ride on the beach, went crabbing on the harbourside and went on a pirate ship.

I wanted to share my journey with you because I found the huge hike in prices really shocking.

Bide your time and set a budget- I’m sure you’ll have a holiday like ours.

I’m off again in a few weeks time. £1 camp sites offer this time- can I do it all again?

I’ll let you know

Thank you for reading my blog.

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Don’t skip breakfast

Don't skip breakfast

I always start the day with breakfast with my daughter. I may not have long but I always make sure there’s orange juice, cereal and fruit on the table in the morning. I lay the table the night before. Don’t skip breakfast if you can. It will start the whole families day off well. I always have three types of cereal- weetabix, cornflakes and porridge plus a bowl of fruit. It means you can have choice without thinking too hard. Weekends are scrambled eggs and toast in front of the TV for a treat. Have a good week everyone

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A crafty picnic.

I love picnics. There’s something special about eating outdoors and to top it all there’s no washing up and no cooking involved. I’d love to be a posh picnicker-my friend had some Bollinger and some French cheese in her picnic photo. Ooooh lovely!

My family are just as happy with some bits and pieces I’ve dug out from the fridge. I always take fruit, cheese and bottle of the water so we eat healthily. A few sandwiches, low fat crisps like Quavers, maybe some pasta salad and a nice ‘small’ treat too.

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We spread the picnic out on the blanket and off we munch. What I really love is that my little girl who’s 2 and a half can choose what she wants to eat. And she can help lay out the plates and napkins too.

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It’s a nice way to have quality family time.

After a picnic what better way to explore the countryside or beach than filling up our buckets with shells, feathers, stones and leaves. I love doing this and my little girl loves filling up her bucket (Sadly though she is a collector of stones so she collects them and I pick up the nice things for a picture)

Collecting re-enforces learning and by taking things home and talking about them it also creates wonderful memories.

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A really simple and easy bit of fun is to create a nature trail checklist so your little one has to find the objects on your sheet-I draw a leaf, a branch, a flower and a stone on a piece of paper. My daughter finds each one and puts them in her bucket to take home. There are some great free resources online which I print off for sunny days like today:

The Woodland Trust Nature Detectives has a great page on free downloads split in to seasons. All sorts of ideas for you:

http://www.naturedetectives.org.uk/download/summer/

Keeping a toddler entertained is hard work- letting them run free outside to explore and collect takes so much pressure off you and everyone enjoys.

Give it a go-pack your picnic basket or your carrier bag up with goodies and go exploring!

Have a fun time x