Tag: days out

Visiting The British Wildlife Centre

Last week I was feeling rather ill and sorry for myself – after a whole Friday spent laying listlessly in bed I desperately needed to do something that would cheer me up. When Saturday arrived it was cold, but with brilliant sunshine – the perfect Autumn morning. And although I still felt rather under the weather, I couldn’t waste the day – we decided to pay a visit to the British Wildlife Centre.

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A Quiet Weekend In The New Forest

On the last bank holiday toward the end of August, Gareth and I decided to make the most of the late Summer sunshine and take our annual trip down to the New Forest in Dorset.

We are very fortunate to be able to visit the New Forest a few times a year because Gareth’s parents own a stationary caravan in a large holiday park down there. The New Forest is a very beautiful place and we always enjoy long, quiet weekends there spent walking through woodland or watching the sea lap against the shore. I have so many unique and special memories of Dorset and our caravan holidays but strangely I have never blogged about a trip or captured any of those moments with my camera.

On this particular bank holiday weekend I was determined that would change and I would finally share some photographs and words with you before the Summer slipped away. Who knows, perhaps this will inspire you to take a trip to the dreamy New Forest and enjoy a peaceful time there for yourself…

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My Summer: The Instagram Edit

This Summer it has been very quiet over at Pretty Little Finch. You’d be forgiven for thinking that I simply had nothing to share or write about, but in reality it has been a pretty action-packed few months. This Summer (for the most part) I simply decided to just live without getting the perfect shot and analysing every experience in a detailed 1,000 + word post. So yes, I’ve been documenting the good (and the bad) days over on Instagram, but I haven’t shared much of it over on this blog.

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Guest Post: Bournemouth Air Festival

Last weekend my lovely fiancé Gareth took a trip down to Bournemouth to watch the Air Festival. Sadly I was unable to make this trip due to other plans but I gave him my camera and asked him to capture the weekend for me that way. He has very kindly written a guest post for my blog detailing the event. The following words and images are his own. 

Growing up I always had a fondness for aeroplanes, passed on to me by my parents. As a child, we would often take the dog for a walk around the local airport watching the passenger flights come and go, wondering what far-off destination they were bound for and listening closely to the air traffic control tower on the radio. In addition to this, my dad was heavily involved in the Royal Air Force (RAF) Air Training Corps (which I also joined) and this led us to visiting a number of air-shows in my childhood. I still remember the thrill of visiting RAF Mildenhall for the annual air-show, which was the biggest in Europe at the time but sadly ceased after the fears following September 11th 2001. (more…)

A Mini Break To Bourton-on-the-Water & Stratford Upon Avon

Nestled in the Cotswolds, Bourton-on-the-Water is a village in Gloucestershire that is well known for its outstanding beauty. Before we paid this slice of heaven a visit, I honestly had not heard of it (or thought of it as a mini-break kind of destination) but Gareth had been when he was younger, had many fond memories and wanted to go back. And so, we did!

On Saturday 12th August we got in our car and made the three hour trip, blessed with sunshine and blue skies.

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A Trip To Birdland

On the 12th of August (a Saturday), Gareth and I decided to travel up to Bourton-on-the- Water and stay in nearby Cheltenham for the weekend. After everything that’s been going on lately a mini-break was most welcome. Luckily we had some Tesco vouchers to spend on booking a nice little hotel room for the night and some left over for a day trip to Birdland and a meal at Zizzis – result!

In this post I’m going to talk about our trip to Birdland, but keep your eyes peeled for posts on Bourton-on-the-Water and what we got up to over the weekend!

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100th Blog Post!

Today is a special day over here at Pretty Little Finch. If you hadn’t already guessed by the title, this post is the 100th to be published up on the blog!

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind two years really. When I first started Pretty Little Finch it was a journal of sorts. Something to help me remember the good times when I wasn’t feeling so great, and an outlet for me to share all the thoughts swirling around up inside my brain. But as time has passed it has developed and grown. Looking back at some of my earlier posts I find there’s so much I want to rewrite!

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Lost Gardens of Heligan

On the day we decided to visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan it was positively dreary and had been raining all morning. I hadn’t done my usual research so I wasn’t sure what to expect, I just knew that a bit of drizzle wouldn’t dampen our holiday plans.

Situated in St Austell, Cornwall, the Lost Gardens of Heligan is both historic and mysterious. Described as a ‘genuine secret garden’ because it was lost under overgrowth for decades, the Lost Gardens is set on 200 acres of woodland, ‘jungle’, fields and gardens. Admission is a very reasonable £14.50 per adult.

As soon as we entered the Gardens I started to feel quite excited. Exotic-looking trees loomed ahead and swallows darted around weaving in between the outside cafe tables, chirping noisily.

We decided to walk through the woods first. Upon entering we were greeted by a signpost that read ‘The Giant’s Woodland Adventure’ and a rather large head curiously peeking up from the ground.

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The woods are a truly magical place to walk through at this time of year with the floor carpeted in brilliant bluebells. As we walked we came across the Mud Maiden, a giant sleeping sculpture. She looked so peaceful laying there on the damp, mossy earth, her hair made of daffodils and ivy hugging at her shoulders.

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Eventually we came across a peculiar bee hive. Not a real, functional one but an oversized version with lots of fun facts and images of bees plastered to the walls inside. It felt as if the more we walked through the woods the more interesting and unique things we saw. It truly captured and sparked my imagination. I can’t help but think this would be the most enchanting place to visit for children.

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Finally exiting the woods we were greeted with a narrow, gravelly path, flanked either side by lush green ferns, towering trees and unusual plants.

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We walked down a steep hill, past a murky pond that was framed with flowers and plants. This part of the gardens is known as ‘The Jungle’.

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As I mentioned earlier, I hadn’t done my usual research. So I didn’t realise that the gardens had a rope bridge. Personally I’m not a fan of heights, particularly not ones of the ‘this doesn’t feel safe, my body is actually swaying’ variety. But the rope bridge, stretching across the pond, looked incredibly adventurous. Plus a tiny little child was doing it so I’d have looked pretty pathetic if I backed out. I clung on to the rope with white knuckles, managing to avoid looking down and taking small steps. I have to admit, it was actually pretty fun and made me feel like I was really in a jungle. (Apart from the bit where the man behind me over-zealously swayed the whole bridge with his clumsy steps, causing me to feel sick and the child in front to scream out… that wasn’t so fun.)

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Off of the bridge and back on to solid land we began walking down hill across a wooden path way that weaved in and out between tall trees.

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At the bottom of the hill we came across a curious structure called ‘The Witches Hat’. From here there were several paths we could have taken. We opted for the one that led down to the ponds and Kingfisher Walk as we had been told by employees that Kingfishers were regularly spotted there.

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Peering in to one of the ponds I was delighted to see lots of tiny black tadpoles darting about. Although we sat for awhile in the bird hide we didn’t catch the glossy orange and blue feathers of a kingfisher. Just a lone robin and the calls of crows overhead.

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From the ponds we walked up a treacherously steep hill (Cornwall is just basically a hill it seems) and towards the manicured gardens. The first we stopped at was the Flower Garden which, curiously enough, didn’t seem to have that many flowers in at all. Regardless it was still very picturesque and charming.

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From the gardens we walked to the farm. The strange thing about The Lost Gardens of Heligan is that it almost feels as if you are cramming several days out in to one. Just as you become immersed in woodland you are in the jungle. Just as you are exploring the jungle you are in the gardens. And as soon as you’ve taken in the neat greenhouses and carefully planted trees you’re in the middle of a farm! Yes, the Lost Gardens of Heligan is a curious place and time does feel a little irrelevant there. I think that is certainly part of the fun though.

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On the farm I was pleased to spot more chaffinches. I love these little birds but rarely get the chance to see them up close. In a pen outside we saw chickens and ducks scratching at the ground. In a barn we saw adorable piglets playing and chasing each other, sheep, lambs and cows.

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From the farm we took a dusty path and exited in to what felt like more jungle. Beautiful pink blooms flowered on the trees and it was a real pleasure to walk among them, listening to the bird song as we went.

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We came across unexpected surprises at almost every turn; little trickling water features and incredible plants and flowers like nothing we had ever seen before. This for me was pretty impressive as we have explored many gardens together.

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When we finally reached the end it felt as if we had been in the gardens for an entire day. It was actually closer to three hours. I honestly could have spent more time there though, just wandering around and taking everything in. If I ever have the chance to go again I will most definitely; the Lost Gardens of Heligan was the highlight of our trip for me and the memories of it will last forever.

 

Curious Calke Abbey

Firstly I just want to apologise for the weird publishing schedule lately; I have been incredibly busy and not putting out posts as frequently as I would like. Whilst there may be a few kinks for me to iron out, I’m going to endeavour to publish more content next month. That out of the way…

I am a big fan of impromptu trips and exploring places I haven’t seen before so, when we found ourselves at Calke Abbey on a sunshine-filled Wednesday morning I was very happy. Calke Abbey stands on the site of a medieval religious house and is a Grade I listed property that sits just outside Ashby-de-la-Zouch (AKA the home of Adrian Mole and KP.) The Baroque Mansion was passed in to the hands of the National Trust in 1985 and is affectionately described as ‘The Un-stately Home and Country Estate’.

As we were on a flying visit to Gareth’s hometown to partake in some early birthday celebrations with family members, we had the pleasure of visiting Calke Abbey with his parents which was lovely.

We started out with a walk through the grounds and up a winding hill to a wooded area, past an enclosure filled with beautiful fallow deer. As we walked we noticed fun sculptures of insects and animals which we guessed were part of a trail.

Gareth’s dad had mentioned that around this time of year the woods were filled with bluebells and, as I have always wanted to see the bluebells in Spring I was keen to take some photographs. We were in luck as the further in to the woods we walked the more we saw, the ground littered with a sea of flowers gently bobbing in the breeze.

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There are lots of different walks that you can take around Calke Abbey, and the one we took looped around in a circle that brought us up a hill then back down and around to the front of the mansion. I imagine I added quite a bit of extra time to that walk, stopping every so often to take photographs! Naturally I was particularly drawn to a tree filled with bird feeders and chirping. I was excited to spot a pair of chaffinches among lots of other garden favourites such as the little coal tit I managed to snap a photo of.

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After our walk we headed to the mansion. Entrance to Calke Abbey is £13.50 per adult. I think this is really reasonable and I would be more than happy to pay that for the whole experience, although on this occasion Gareth’s parents very kindly treated us to the day out.

I must admit, I didn’t know what to expect from Calke Abbey; I certainly didn’t expect it to be as intriguing as it was.

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Inside Calke Abbey we were immediately greeted with the site of dusty glass cabinets filled with curious taxidermy; stuffed otters with fish clamped permanently in their jaws, birds captured in mid-flight and impressive stag heads mounted to the walls. The first room was impossibly full with a wooden table at the centre set with tea things and a faux cake, a grey coat casually slung over the back of one chair. Something about this set-up left me feeling as if the room had only recently been left, as if the occupant would appear at any moment and resume tea. This left me deeply reminiscent of Dennis Sever’s house which is designed to leave you feeling as if you have stumbled upon one families abrupt exit from the property.

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On the first floor of the property the rooms are dark, lit only by lamps and flickering candles (fake of course.) There is a strange mix of opulence, disrepair and clutter. Each room seemed to be in competition with the last in terms of what it could contain. Threadbare armchairs and elaborate paintings in ornate frames sat side by side; it really was quite unique to see.

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In one room the contents of drawers from the Breakfast Room were laid out and displayed on tables. As we poured over carefully preserved insects, shells and other curios I couldn’t help but wonder about the family that had lived there and collected all this stuff with such earnest. I think that this was one of the rare occasions where a walking tour of the building would have actually been not only useful but extremely interesting.

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One thing that became obvious with each room was the inhabitants love of taxidermy.  I honestly think there were enough stuffed birds and animals on display to rival that of the Natural History Museum.  I particularly enjoyed perusing the cabinet of pheasants, even if the colour had somewhat been bleached from their initially vibrant feathers.

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I particularly enjoyed a room that resembled a tea parlour. (But really, I have no idea what the rooms purpose was.) With lots of little round tables and chintzy chairs, this dark room felt cosy yet strangely claustrophobic. I’m not sure if all the stuff was placed for us to view or if it was very much a part of the Harpur’s everyday life. The latter would not surprise me if it were the case; the sheer volume of possessions in the house would inevitably lead to clutter on every surface.

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The library was another room of interest. With shelves lined with impressive leather bound books, we were reliably informed that unlike most estates, the books were all completely readable and not fake. I particularly enjoyed the story of the Ostrich egg which was given as a 21st birthday present.

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Unlike the lower floor, the upper floors were in state of disrepair with peeling paint walls and original wallpaper that had somewhat succumbed to the damp. One ceiling looked particularly precarious with a great big crack through the plaster. We were informed this was being held up and suspended from above. Some rooms seemed to be mostly for storage, with old rocking horses, dolls houses and small nursery chairs stashed away to gather dust, unloved but intriguing all the same.

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We walked a loop of the house and ended back down on the ground floor and by a cold stone passage that led to the kitchen. This was a large, open room; still cluttered but this time with useful kitchenalia.

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In the kitchen I came across a little door that led to another side room. This room really made me think of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings and for me, was quite reminiscent of ‘The Room’. This is my favourite photograph from the day, it feels really characterful to me.

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We ended our tour with a walk through a cold, bricked tunnel and brew house, lit by an eery orange glow. As someone who enjoys exploring tunnels, caves and dark spaces I found this really interesting.

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Finally we stopped for tea and the most delicious scones I have ever tasted, complete with thick cream and sweet jam.

All in all Calke Abbey is a wonderful day out. Not restored but instead preserved, it is like stepping in to a time capsule and is deeply interesting. With its’ collection of strange and unique objects, I feel that Calke Abbey is the type of place you could visit time and again only to spot something different on each occasion. I really hope that I will have another opportunity to pay it another visit as this has been one of my favourite days out of 2017 so far.

A Trip to Hever Castle

I have always thought that it is difficult to take photographs of beautiful things; what you can capture with the camera lens is invariably different to what you can see with your own two eyes. I actually find it a lot easier to take ordinary or even ugly things and snap them in a flattering light. Anyway, I knew this would be the case when we visited Hever Castle because quite frankly the place is amazing.

Childhood home to Anne Boleyn, Hever Castle is situated in Hever, Kent and stands proudly on 125 acres of grounds and award-winning gardens. It was actually the latter that attracted us to Hever Castle in the first place as we both love to walk through manicured gardens and I adore looking at flowers. On Sunday the sun was shining and it was incredibly warm for so early in April; it was the perfect day to pay a visit.

Entrance in to the grounds and castle is quite steep at £16.90 per adult but let me be upfront about it; it’s so worth it.

Entering the grounds I was immediately enamoured with the gardens. Even so early in to Spring such a lot of work had gone in to them. Tulips bobbed in the breeze, roses were blooming and the air was thick with the scent of lavender. Upon entering we walked through the walled gardens which were immaculately kept and very impressive.

 

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We walked through these gardens for a little while, taking in the surroundings and marvelling at just how nice everything was (me desperate to capture a shot of a bee.)  On our walk we discovered that there archery lessons going on in one of the fields. There is a small fee for those who want to take part but you choose how many arrows you want to pay for and it’s very reasonably priced. Naturally Gareth wanted to have a go at this despite my protests about my lack of hand/eye coordination. In the end I relented and it was a lot of fun (even if I was utterly hopeless.) One of the great things about Hever Castle is that there is a lot to do with mazes, archery, craft activities and more to keep you occupied for the whole day; it’s a true family day out.

Afterwards we stopped for lunch at the one of the restaurants. I believe there are three of these, each serving delicious food from stone baked pizzas to handmade sausage rolls, sandwiches and cold lemonade. We ate on the grass in the sunshine.

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Later we explored the water maze which was a really fun little attraction that seemed to amuse all the children; Gareth and myself included. We were definitely giggling as we tried to avoid the spouts of water that jetted up randomly as we navigated our way to the centre and safety. I’m proud to report that we remained completely dry.

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Finally we stopped for ice creams (our first of the year; mine wild strawberry and cream his chocolate) before heading inside the castle. At first we were not sure if we should skip it, having spent a long afternoon walking through the gardens. Eventually we decided to venture inside as we had paid for it and didn’t want to miss it if it was particularly stunning.

The castle has a rich history spanning over 700 years so it is definitely not one to miss.  Inside the castle walls are beautifully decorated bedrooms, elegant libraries and dining rooms. There is definitely a feeling of opulence about the place but that aside it’s just really interesting to imagine Anne Boleyn growing up in a space like that (and then imagining yourself growing up in a space like that.)

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Overall we had a fantastic day at Hever Castle and I can’t recommend it enough. From the vibrant flowers bordering the gardens to the magnificent castle and all the interesting activities to immerse yourself in; there truly is something to please and delight everyone. I can’t wait to pay another visit to this wonderful place.

A Spring Walk at Weald

Weald is one of my favourite country parks and for good reason; whether you’re walking in Autumn, Winter, Spring or Summer it’s really beautiful and there’s plenty to see.

On Sunday I found myself home alone and without any plans. I hadn’t visited Weald this year and with the sun shining down I decided it would be a good time to take a walk.

If you have read my Spring Appreciation Post you’ll know that this season is one of my favourites. I just love all the flora and fauna that’s around this time of year. I knew that Weald would be just lovely.

With the sun warming my skin I walked down towards the deer enclosure and the vast lake at the bottom of the hill. I always like to visit the deer when at Weald as they are such sweet little creatures. You can actually buy food to feed them with at the cafe. Lots of families had spent the morning feeding the deer though, so instead of desperately seeking out the pellets in visitors hands, the deer basked in the warmth- clearly overfed! (So I didn’t bother to buy any deer food on this particular trip.)

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After spending some time watching the deer and the ducks I decided to head back up the hill to the little cafe and get myself something to eat. The cafe sells lots of goodies; soft plush animals, books and pin badges. I purchased a cup of sweet tea and a generously sized scone with butter and jam. I took my food outside and ate at one of the benches as the weather was so pleasant.

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Weald is composed of many rolling hills and hollows, meadows and woodland. After eating and still clutching my cup of tea, I trundled up another hill and some concrete steps to reach a wooded area where the floor was littered with buttery yellow daffodils and soft green moss.

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Weald was very busy with families playing football, flying kites and picnicking. Laughter and children’s excited squeals were carried on the gentle breeze and I could feel my mood lighten as I took in the scenes unfolding around me. Blossoms had started to bloom and Weald was a riot of colour once again.

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As I mentioned earlier, there is plenty to see at Weald; all that’s required is a keen eye. I spotted lots of different types of fungi, flowers and plants. As I stooped to snap a cluster of mushrooms a young child approached me and asked me what I was taking a picture of. As I pointed out the mushrooms the child exclaimed in delight “I’ve never seen mushrooms outside before!” His mother helpfully reminded him that they weren’t edible (thank God for responsible adults.)

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I walked for around two hours, taking time to sit and soak in my surroundings every now and then. I left Weald feeling much happier and positive. More Spring walks are definitely in the pipeline and I can’t wait to get my picnic basket out again!

A Frosty Trip to Langdon Nature Reserve

The ground was thick with frost this morning, but with the brilliant sunshine beaming down and chasing away the cold it was a lovely time to take a walk. We decided to visit Langdon Nature Reserve as we have driven past it a few times but have never stopped to take a proper look, plus it is only a short 15 minute drive from our house which makes it ideal.

The Essex Wildlife Trust reserve is set on 461 acres of woodland, meadows and former plot land gardens and at the very heart sits a huge, glassy lake, filled with ducks and water fowl.

A shop and cafe are nestled in the parking lot. We did not stop to eat here but we did take a quick peek and it looked very cosy, serving cakes, sandwiches and crisps as well as the all essential garden bird feeders and fat balls.

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Next to the cafe/shop was a small manicured garden with benches and lots of bird feeders. We spotted plenty of plump, well fed robins as well as blue tits, great tits, sparrows and dunnocks. Areas with bird feeders are always my favourite so we spent a lot of time here, lurking around and listening to the birds.

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Walking through the reserve we spotted lots of different species of birds – some we couldn’t identify, as well as a little mouse/water vole (I couldn’t get close enough to check!) The area was abundant with wildlife with the lake being a real hub for water fowl. The lake had actually frozen over from the cold and the ducks looked quite happy to skid and flap across the ice.

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The park also has a wonderful Peter Rabbit trail to keep younger minds occupied and happy. As someone who read and adored Peter Rabbit and friends as a child, I myself really enjoyed wandering around and spotting the beautiful wooden sculptures. Mrs Tiggy Winkle was always my favourite so I was delighted to find her!

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All in all we spent an hour at Langdon Nature Reserve and really enjoyed it. The mix of open fields / woodlands and water worked really well making it a good all round country park to walk in with something interesting to spot around every corner. In the summer time there is fruit picking in the orchard with apples, pears, cherries and more – so I will definitely be heading back then to pick some fruit!

Bird World

 

Last weekend we made our second visit to Bird World. We had throughly enjoyed it last year so decided another trip was in order.

Bird World is set on 26 acres of land in Farnham, Surrey. Large, well-built aviaries nestle among tall trees and landscaped gardens making the place idyllic even in the colder months. During the Autumn and Winter seasons opening hours are limited and certain areas of the park are closed so it’s worth checking the website before making the trip. The website can be found here.

On the Sunday we visited -my 27th birthday- it had been raining all morning and it was positively cold and drab. This meant the park was very empty – perfect for us as it enabled us to take our time looking at the birds, wandering around and we didn’t have to contend with screaming children.

It took us around three and a half hours to get around and explore everything. The park is well laid out and easy to navigate, with clear sections for different types of birds. Owls and raptors in a series of large aviaries, an outback walk through aviary with Australian birds such as budgies, zebra finches and doves that fly above your head and nestle in branches, colourful and exotic birds from around the world and vibrant macaws in a towering structure at the very heart of the park. There’s also a penguin bay and a flamingo cove to walk through as well as a little Jenny Wren farm with friendly chickens and a peacock meandering around.

We purchased some mealworms and bag of cracked corn/seed at the reception to feed the birds with and I recommend doing this as it’s a fun way to get a little closer to the birds, some of which are surprisingly friendly. And if you’re lucky you’ll catch the flashes of gold, orange and red of the beautiful pheasants hiding among the foliage of the pheasant woodland walk – although these shy birds definitely won’t be tempted out with the promise of food!

Asides from the wide variety of birds you will find at Bird World, the best thing about the park is the large and natural enclosures/aviaries in which they live. If you’re undecided about paying the place a visit, I definitely recommend you check out the photos below!

Just a quick disclaimer: the following photos are not perfect. It’s pretty hard to take clear photos of birds through bars so some are quite fuzzy. I hope this does not detract from the overall post and will give you some idea of how great Bird World is.

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My favourite bird in the park – very friendly and wanted lots of mealworms!

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Visiting Woburn Safari Park

Saturday is usually the day that Gareth and I try to have a day out and do something a bit different. This weekend he decided we would go to Woburn safari park. I had heard a lot of good things about it so was pretty excited. It’s safe to say I wasn’t disappointed – and the day was full of unexpected discoveries!

When you drive through to the park you are greeted by wandering deer and goat. You can either walk through or drive through. We decided to drive through first and then do the walking bit so we could go at a more leisurely pace and see everything.

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As we drove through the park we came across a wide range of fascinating animals. A lot of my photos were taken through the car window so are not perfect and I didn’t manage to snap everything we saw. To give you an idea of what kind of animals reside in this area, we saw bears, tigers, lions, monkeys, giraffes, elephants etc all divided up in to different sections. This was super fun but watch out for hoggers- people who stay in the same spot watching the animals for too long and blocking the road!

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My personal favourite was the lion enclosure. Such beautiful animals. The lions seemed to be everyones favourite so there was a bit of queuing – it was worth it though.

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We also enjoyed driving through the monkey enclosure and spotting the tiny babies- one even sat on our car bonnet which was a pretty fun experience!

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Having a groom on our car

In the monkey enclosure I spotted a black squirrel. I have never seen one of these before and I didn’t even know they existed – my first surprise of the day!

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It probably took us about 40 minutes to drive around and see the animals. It could easily take you less or longer depending on the kind of people that turn up on the day!

Once we felt satisfied we’d seen everything we decided to walk around. Upon entering we were greeted by a lake with swan boats.

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And we discovered some fairy mushrooms! I think these are Fly Algaric but I could be wrong. Either way I was really, really excited to see these as I have never seen them in real life before.

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The area for walking around at Woburn isn’t that large so you probably won’t need a map to get around it all. It is divided up in to different sections though so if there’s something you especially want to see it could be helpful to get one.

The first area we came across was Desert Springs. This was a series of wooden walkways through meercats (a crowd pleaser) mongoose (my personal favourite) and porcupines.

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From there we walked to the Lorikeet walk through. This was an enclosed area with a small pool, bridge, bird feeders and, you guessed it, a lot of lorikeets. You can buy nectar to feed the birds. This costs 70p and is a 70p well spent as it’s so very fun to have them land on you! One landed on my shoulder and proceeded to screech in my ear, evidently not interested in the nectar at all! As Gareth and I are bird people, we really enjoyed this one.

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After this we stopped for lunch in the main canteen area. I wasn’t expecting much to be honest, not after the poor fare we found at London Zoo! However we were both pleasantly surprised at what was on offer and how nice it was! Whilst there wasn’t much in the way of cold food (just a few sandwiches and packets of crisps) the hot food counter had a lot of delicious options on offer. Gareth got a steak and ale pie, chips and gravy whilst I got Cumberland sausage swirls, chips and mushy peas – everything tasted amazing! Although it wasn’t cheap. If you’re bringing a family and don’t want to overspend it might be best to pack something yourself.

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After lunch we stopped by the elephant meadow. There is a gallery of seats on which you can sit and just watch the elephants do their thing

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After that we visited an Australian walkthrough with lots of wallabies and rheas. This was quite a wooded area and it was fun to walk through and get just that little bit closer to the animals.

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Next to this walk through was another filled with tall trees and tiny squirrel monkeys. These were so adorable! We caught them at feeding time when there was much frenzy on the ground and the keeper gave a little talk about them. I loved the little babies clinging to mums back – how cute!

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From here we visited the family of otters. I just love their little faces and cheeky manners. These were also being fed so we were able to get a good view of them.

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There are quite a few walk-through experiences and chances to get close to the animals in Woburn safari. I think this is one aspect I enjoyed most and found quite different from other zoos I have visited. Towards the end of our day we walked through another monkey enclosure across wooden pathways- this one with various types of lemur.  And lastly a meadow filled with chickens and goats who you could stroke if you chose to (we did!)

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All in all we spent about four or five hours at Woburn – this is a lot longer than we usually spend at zoos or attractions. There was a lot to see although it wasn’t spread out over a leg-achingly long distance- it was all quite together and easily manageable to get through.

My favourite part of the day was seeing the Lorikeets and feeding them nectar. Gareth’s was seeing the lions. There is something for everyone here I think so I would definitely recommend it!

Last but not least, I’ll be making some changes to my blog shortly – so please look out for those!

 

 

 

Picking Pumpkins at Foxes Farm

Ever since we spotted the sign at the side of a dirty road some weeks ago and discovered pumpkin patches exist in Essex, we were determined to go.

For some reason fate intervened week after week and for one reason or another, to my extreme dismay, we were unable to make the short trip. However, the sun shone this morning and nothing was stopping us so we finally drove down to Foxes Farm Produce, Basildon and the wonderfully exciting Pumpkin Patch.

We arrived at around 11 o’clock and the carpark was already full with families heaving giant pumpkins in to boots of cars and excited children clad in wellies. Shrieks of laughter hung on the air as families raced ahead with wheelbarrows to find the best pumpkins.

Entry to Foxes Farm Pumpkin Patch is free – you just pay for the pumpkins you take home- and you can take as many as your arms will allow.

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Upon entering the Pumpkin Patch we were greeted with stacked hay bales – which the children clumsily clambered on, and wooden containers holding hundreds of pumpkins in all shapes, sizes and shades. There was also a stall set up serving hot food and drinks. We gave this a miss as we’d already eaten.

Further on was a sprawling field absolutely heaving with pumpkins. These had all been pre-picked for ease of collection (and health and safety) and some sat precariously in huge piles. I was surprised to find white pumpkins (or corpse pumpkins as I called them) as I hadn’t seen these before and didn’t know pumpkins came in different colours! That seems funny to think of now but at the time I hadn’t considered the possibility.

There was also a field with corn in although we didn’t really explore this- we were much too excited racing around the field, finding the best pumpkins (the best pumpkin has a nice twisty stalk) and getting caught up in the excitement around us.

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The corpse pumpkins

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The atmosphere was fantastic. Lots of families, children and couples having fun selecting pumpkins and laughing with delight. If you have children, the Pumpkin Patch is an absolute must.  We easily spent around an hour there just looking around. We wanted to get one of everything we could find so in the end selected a munchkin pumpkin, a regular pumpkin, a corpse pumpkin, a small white pumpkin that looked like a garlic bulb, and a rounded red one that looks just like a giant onion! We also picked up a pumpkin for Gareth’s nephew and a tiny one for his baby niece! In total we spent £14 pound which was a complete bargain for the whole experience.

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Omelette models our haul of pumpkins