With the dry weather finally making an appearance this week I’ve been determined to get out and about with the children as much as possible. So despite their being a bitter wind we have wrapped up warmly and ventured out.
I’m a member of the local breastfeeding support group where I am a mother supporter, we usually meet at a local children’s centre during term time but in holidays we all have older children and find it all a bit much in the limited space to meet there. So we try to get together and go for a walk with all the children. Due to the very poor weather during the February half term we were unable to meet up and we all missed our usually catch up. It did however make us more determined to get out and about this holidays. The last week of term we arranged to meet and do a walk to the local wildlife park and decided we would each take a picnic to have at the other end. On Tuesday evening I decided as there would be around seven older children with us on the walk it would be a good idea to have something for them to do along the walk. So I set about looking for ideas on the Internet. I thought something like a scavenger hunt or spotter list would be a good idea, while searching the Internet I came across the Woodland Trust and found a section for kids with lots of ideas for activities on. There was a section with free downloadable spotter sheets which were perfect for the walk. I printed off several so the children could have a choice.
Wednesday morning I prepared a picnic and made sure the children were warmly dressed and we set off to meet everyone else. There was a good group of us, about six mums and two workers from the children’s centre had come to join us and we had fifteen children between us. The older children chose a spotter sheet and pencil each and we set off along the riverside path to the wildlife centre. Luc, Trystan and Rowan chatted happily with the other children and they all excitedly went off in search of the mini beasts, birds and trees on their spotter lists. I think everyone was so glad to be out of our houses that we didn’t seem to notice the biting wind much. Once we reached the car park at the wildlife centre we gathered the children together again so we could walk through safely and headed up another path towards the centre and the play area. We decided that it would be a good idea for the children to have half an hour in the play area before we settled down for our picnics.
The children didn’t need to be told twice and quickly ran off to play. It was lovely to see them all playing together as none of them go to the same school and in the case of a few they had never meet before that morning. The toddlers that were walking had a go on a slide and squealed with delight at the older children playing. It wasn’t long before the older children were asking to have something to eat so we decided to head back up to the Wildlife Centre where there is a lovely grassy area outside the cafe with a gorgeous view. It’s also a safe area for the children to run around freely if they wanted to.
By the time we had eaten it was about 12.30pm and a few of the mums needed to head home. However there was an arts and craft session being held at the centre so a few mums opted to stay and take part. I decided to head back with those that were going back home as Rowan, Erin and the child I was looking after that day were starting to get tired. We popped into the centre to pick up some leaflets and use the toilets and then headed back towards the path we had walked earlier. We were slightly behind the others as Luc and Trystan wanted to try and complete their spotter lists. As we drew level with one of the hides along the path I spotted a bird wading in a stream on one side of the path. I could tell it had longish legs and a long bill but it was obscured branches and bracken. However I managed to get a picture of it on my phone. Goodness knows we were lucky to see it given the noise the boys were making at the time! I hoped I would be able to identify the bird once I got home.
By the time we got back to the car the younger two boys were so grateful to climb into their car seats, they had both done really well. Even I was grateful to sit down out of the wind. When we reached home ten minutes later all three of the younger children were fast asleep in the back of the car.
I actually forgot about the bird I had photographed on the way home until much later in the evening. I rang my dad to ask him what it could be as I knew it looked too small to be a heron. My dad said he knew that an Egyptian Ibis had been sighted at the wildlife centre and asked what the birds bill looked like. I explained I couldn’t see it but sent him the picture for him to see. He rang me back later on to say he couldn’t make out the bill either but it was possible it was a breed of Egyptian Ibis, so who knows.
Thursday was a day of two half’s, the morning was quite over cast and cold and I had to take Erin for her first MMR vaccination. We then spent the morning doing jigsaw puzzles and waiting for a delivery. I had two places in mind to explore in the afternoon just in case the weather turned wet suddenly. But by eleven o’clock it was clear that despite being over cast and windy it was going to stay dry. So we decided to have some lunch at home before heading out to the outdoor option.
After a twenty minutes drive and venturing into the neighbouring County of Pembrokeshire nestled beside the Preseli Mountains we found Dyfed Shire Horse Farm We had last visited about five years ago before we returned to live here. I had just the older two boys then and had spent an afternoon at the Shire Horse Farm with my mum. Since then the Shire Horse Farm has undergone some refurbishment so I was keen to see what it was like.
There were quite a few cars in the car park as we got out and made our way to the entrance. Children aged two years and under are free to go in so I only had to pay for myself and the three older boys as the child I was looking after was two. I paid for a family ticket which worked out cheaper than paying for an adult and three children and cost £24. Luc was handed a printed piece of paper on with a itinerary of things that were happening around the farm that day and we were pointed in the direction of the entrance to the farm yard.
The children rushed on to the door eagerly wanting to go and explore. The sun was shining there (it’s amazing how different the weather can be only twenty minutes from home). Luc spotted the stables as soon as we emerged into the yard. So we headed over to see what was in them. As we approached a lovely looking Shire horse popped it’s head over the stable door. Luc was quick to stroke him and spotted a sign telling visitors the horses name was Jackson. Jackson certainly enjoyed the attention Luc and then Trystan gave him.
On the opposite side of the yard were some more buildings, a small section were we discovered two molly lambs and two donkeys. Then next to them the Harness room which had rosettes and trophies proudly displayed along with the different harness used and various pictures of horses who had lived on the farm. The Shire Horse farm is very well known for having breed a horse called Major Mercury or Celt as he is better known. Celt is one of the household Cavalry Drum Horse. We found several information boards and pictures of Celt around the farm. The next building we went into was used for demonstrations and then there was a hand wash room where visitors could wash their hands having handled the animals.
From the itinerary we had been given I could see that the was an opportunity to help feed the molly lambs shortly so we decided to stay close to the farm yard. Trystan then spotted some trampolines and go carts so we headed over for the boys to all let off steam. Erin was getting restless in the pushchair so spotting some swings I put her and the child I was looking after in them. Erin has developed a real love of swings lately and was excited as soon as I put her in. Standing between the two children on the swings taking it in turn to push them I could keep an eye on the boys playing on the go karts and trampolines.
When I could see other visitors were starting to gather in the farm yard we headed over to join them. Luc, Rowan and the other child were all keen to have a go feeding the lambs and waited their turns. Once the milk was finished there was a chance to hold the lambs and again the three children couldn’t wait to have a turn.
Having washed hands we headed back into the farm to explore further. There was a barn full of sand and sand toys, a crazy golf course and a huge climbing frame. The children were keen to head to the climbing frame so we did. As we approached I could see it had two slides, a climbing wall and various other things on it. The children ran on in front of me, we were the only ones at that end of the farm and it remained that way for over half an hour. So the children had great fun climbing and sliding.
It was starting to turn colder again and the younger children were getting tired after twenty minutes so we headed back inside the reception building were we found an indoor play area with a large ball pool, small bouncy castle and soft play on one side and books, jigsaws and a train set on the other. The boys headed straight for the bouncy castle and ball pool. I decided to introduce Erin to a ball pool for the first time. As I put her in she immediately tried to get out again but once I let her stand up and watch the other children playing for a couple of minutes. Once in the ball pool again she seemed more relaxed and started to play with the balls.
After some refreshments we headed for the car all exhausted but having enjoyed our afternoon. There was more to do at the farm but with the time approaching for me to take the minded child home and the three younger ones tired it was time to leave. As we approached the town the view over the bay and town was breath taking. So taking the opportunity to stop briefly at a viewing point I couldn’t help but take a picture, a perfect ending to a lovely afternoon of animals and a busy two days.