Tag Archives: green parenting

Cycling holidays with children

10 Aug

skim-3Cycling holidays needn’t involve weighty rucksacks and endless cries of “are we there yet?” Cycling with children can be so much fun. It takes the stress out of holiday traffic, will save you money and will guarantee that the children will sleep well at the end of the day.

There are holiday companies who will arrange a cycling holiday for you. They will provide bikes, maps and accommodation and will pick you up at the end of a day’s cycling to take you back to your hotel. There’s no need to break the bank though. If you are on a budget you can organise your own break using some of these tips.

Find a good base. Whether that is a tent, a cottage or a holiday park, ensure that you are in the right location for all the best bike routes. A good way to research this is to look up cycle routes and then find a base that is centrally placed. This Sustrans Book lists all the best routes along with an idea of the level of expertise required.  It will also point out good places to stop along the way, or detours that you can make to extend your day.

Plan your days out. Agree as a family on where you would like to visit, how many hours you will spend cycling etc. Do some research on your chosen cycle route. Are there cafes or playgrounds that you can visit along the way? Will you go via a beach where you can eat a picnic? Are there some lovely gift shops in the area where the children can spend some pocket money?

Know your limits. Stick within your capabilities as a family. You may yearn to go racing off on a 20 mile coast to coast but if your 3 year old is still plodding along on a balance bike then you just know that is going to end in tears.

Have the best gear that you can afford. Pannier bags are a great investment. It takes the strain off your back and means that you can load up with lunch, snacks, drinks, spare clothes, nappies, maps, more snacks.. you get the idea.

Use suitable bikes. Children and adults need bikes that are the right size for them. If you are not sure ask at your local bike shop. Your leg should be almost fully extended when your pedal is at the lowest point, otherwise you will start to feel the strain.

Balance bikes are a great first bike and we cannot recommend them highly enough. They teach your child from the off that cycling is all about balance. Stabilisers will just give a false sense of security and when you take them off they will have no idea how to balance.

For babies, the Weeride or a similar front-facing seat gives your child the best views and enables you to feel more connected to them during your ride. We also felt much safer with this frame-mounted seat as it does not affect your center of gravity and cause you to topple over.

weeridecollage

Weeride bike seat

Be prepared. Make sure that you carry with you a puncture repair kit, mobile phone and first aid kit plus enough food and drinks to fend off any child/adult meltdowns.

There are some areas which we have tried and would recommend. The Peak District is a fantastic base and my blog post from a couple of years ago has lots of information on this. I would also recommend basing yourself near The Camel Trail in Cornwall. This is a very flat, family friendly route and is great for days out to Padstow. Exeter is also a good base. This cathedral city offers everything you need for a fun day out with a huge choice of amazing restaurants. The City Museum is definitely worth a visit! From Exeter you can take the Exe Estuary Trail to Dawlish or Exmouth. A really lovely route, some of it is on quieter roads.

We’re heading to France this year and basing ourselves in Burgundy with access to many cylce routes via the Canal du Nivernais. We will let you know how we get on! Which family cycle routes would you recommend?

‘Amazing’ Magazine review and give-away!

6 Apr

amazing cover.jpgRecently we were asked to review an educational magazine for children aged 7+.

I had my reservations about this because because I have purchased ‘educational’ magazines before and they have never really interested my children, despite both being avid readers.

I was pleasantly surprised when our Amazing magazines arrived. They have a very ‘comic’ book feel about them and the cover is very bright, colourful and captivating with a horrible history feel about them.

I instantly liked the issues that I was sent. They are easy to read and full of useful facts, puzzles and even recipes.

Amazing inside.jpg

The content of these magazines is based around the national curriculum and includes English, Maths, Science, Arts and Humanities, along with many other subjects. I really liked the section on Personal Development which included information on Special Educational Needs. This subject is explained in very simple terms that children can understand and I think reading this would really encourage greater understanding among children and their peers. I’m so glad to see this included.

Of course the real testers were Lily and Thomas (now 9 and 7 years). I gave them a magazine each and they read them cover to cover in bed that night. Thomas wanted to jump out of bed there and then and make a catapult as suggested in his magazine! We have since made this and it works great (video to follow!)

Amazing.JPG

I asked Lily for her own review of this magazine and this is what she told me:

“This Amazing magazine is awesome! From Roman Gladiators to Chariot Races, from Latin to a Roman word search. There are puzzling anagrams and poetry. i like page 26 because of the real ‘Roman Life Rap’. It’s fun to read but also educational. The step by step instructions for building a catapult have really come in handy!”

By Lily Dixon aged 9, nearly 10!

We have 10 free copies of Amazing magazine to give away! To be in with a chance of winning, please email me at tracydixon244@gmail.com. The first 10 readers to get in touch will be sent a copy direct from the publishers.

If you love the magazine as much as us, subscriptions can be purchased with a discount of 10% by using the discount code WOW10. Check out the Amazing website for details.

 

Book Review: The Ultimate Guide to Green Parenting

12 Oct

book cover

Like no other Green Parenting book I have ever read, The Ultimate Guide to Green Parenting is more like an Encyclopedia for the eco-conscious.

From real nappies, co-sleeping, breastfeeding and vaccines to green travel and the green home – there are so many subjects covered in this book.

Each issue is tackled with a science-based approach and is backed up with hard facts and well-balanced advice.

The book covers all the essentials and is a great reference for both new or existing parents. The author tackles some previous so-called ‘expert’ advice and gives you proven facts to enable you to make your own decisions.

I really wish I had this book when I was pregnant. It would have made all those decisions such as which nappy to use so much easier! There is a great section on ‘Green Birth’ which would be very empowering if you are considering a birth outside of a hospital setting. Again, it is backed up with evidence, research, facts and figures.

I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who would like to make greener choices for their family. It would also make a great gift for a new parent.

Book Review: The No Nonsense Guide to Green Parenting

17 Sep

book cover

We were recently sent a copy of a new book which is due to be released in October. The No-Nonsense Guide to Green Parenting is a refreshing change from some of the ‘preachy’ parenting books that we find on the shelves. The book gives ideas and inspiration for raising your child in an eco way.

It is delivered in a fun and practical way, yet is still backed up with research and ideas for further reading. It is humorous, colorful and imaginative and very easy to read. It includes information on natural play, an eco-friendly home and garden, foraging, tips to avoid screen time, making greener choices for your family and many more.

It gives ideas for small or large changes that you can make and recognises that you don’t need to implement all of them to make a difference. There are simple projects such as making bird feeders or designing a bog garden.

This book confirms that you don’t need to be perfect to be a green parent, you just need to get outside, have fun and get muddy!

book spread

Autumn crafts and fun!

3 Dec

I LOVE autumn! I know my husband thinks I’m crazy but I do! I love Bonfire Night and Halloween, I love kicking up the leaves on a cold crisp day and I love to see frost glistening on the ground. I also love autumn crafts and there seem to be so many for this time of year. Natural materials are in abundance and we always have a collection of pine cones, various nuts and leaves scattered around the house in autumn.

We have been really lucky with the weather and have been getting out and about so much. Probably too much as the housework has been neglected. But as the song goes.. you’ve got to make hay whilst the sun shines! We recently went to a Christmas Fayre at Saltram house, it was a gorgeous sunny day and we were in T-Shirts!

leaf play 2

leaf play

If you are looking for simple autumn crafts then glittery cones are about as simple as you can get. You can either use glitter glue or use PVA glue and then sprinkle with glitter. It is best to bake your pine cones at about 160 degrees for 20 minutes. This will kill any little bugs that you can’t see and dry out any resin.

glittery-cones

For Christmas, these lovely pine cone fairies are so sweet and look lovely hanging on our ‘twig tree’ each year.

pinecone-fairy

I have been wanting to try these clay leaves for some time. Again, they are really easy to make and I think quite effective. I let the children decide how they wanted to decorate them. I did have to bite my tongue as I was really hoping for some nice red/orange autumn colours but they had other ideas! Still, I think they look lovely and they are very proud of them.

finished leaf 2

 

finshed leaf

To make the leaves we used air-dry clay. Pick some leaves that have some good thick veins on them. Place the leaf with the veins facing downwards into your clay. Then take a rolling-pin and roll this over your leaf a few times. You need to press quite firmly to ensure the print transfers to the clay.

rolling pin

leaf print

leaf print 2

When you have your outline, cut around the outside of the leaf print with a craft knife. Place the leaf inside a small bowl with some cling film between the clay and the bowl. This will allow it to dry with a slight curve to it and will ensure that it does not stick to the bowl.

drying

When your leaf is dry, paint it with acrylic paint and then give it a coat of PVA glue to make it nice and shiny and to preserve the paint. I picked some fresh new leaves so that they could copy the colours.

leaf colors

Thomas and Lily added a touch of glitter which I think looks just like frost. We used the Extra Fine Glitter for this.

It is quite expensive but you don’t need very much of it and it really does come in useful for so many crafts.

finished leaf 2

I think I might have to make my own now in some nice autumnal colours!

For more autumn craft ideas, check out this earlier post.

Dover Castle and other Kent adventures

16 Nov

At half-term we enjoyed another fun-filled trip to Kent to visit the in-laws. Trips to visit Grandma and Grandad are always much-anticipated and the 5 -6 hour journey is always filled with cries of ‘are we there yet?’ As soon as we arrive the children race around to the garden to see what delights Grandad has in store for them. This time there was a treasure hunt awaiting their arrival which took them all around the beautiful garden. See this post for more on this magical garden.

A new archery target was just too tempting and we’d hardly had time to unload the car before they were shooting off their arrows. They both love archery and it definitely helps having an ex-archery instructor as a Grandad! This time he had added to their collection, a hand-made quiver.

lily-archery

t-archery

It’s so addictive that even I had to have a go!

mummy-archery

The following day Grandad’s home-made zip wire was installed which gave them hours of pleasure. On some visits there is also a pirate-ship fashioned out of scaffolding poles, spare planks and bits and bobs that he keeps in his Aladdin’s cave (otherwise known as ‘The Shed’).

We spend as much time outside as we can when we go to Kent, come rain or shine there is always something to do. This time, on a chilly day we headed to Dover Castle. Nick and I visited there around 10 years ago but we’ve never been with the children so it was a real treat. Visiting the castle is not cheap, for a family of 4 it would have been £50! We decided to bite the bullet and invest in membership to English Heritage instead. This means that as well as visiting the castle we can visit numerous other historic sites throughout the UK. We can also go back to Dover Castle as many times as we like in 12 months. Joint adult membership (you can also take up to six children free of charge) is £86 but if you enter the code ’20off’ at checkout you can get 20% discount. You can also get English Heritage Membership by using Tesco’s Vouchers.

We had a great time here, it was SO busy that unfortunately there were parts of it we didn’t get to see, including the underground hospital and the secret wartime tunnels. If you can go outside school holidays I would definitely recommend it but of course that’s not possible for most of us now (note to self.. don’t go off on a rant about school holiday rules!)

castle

kids-castle

lily-window

dungeon

throne

group-dover

Inside Dover Castle, with Grandma, Grandad and Great Uncle Stephen.

During our visit we also enjoyed a walk on Shakespeare Cliffs, taking in Dover Harbour Beach. A blustery chilly walk with amazing views and a chance to blow away the cobwebs!

daddy-tom

tom-walking

grandma

grandparents

 

 

Craft It Up Christmas. Book review

10 Nov

A few weeks ago, I was sent a review copy of the lovely book Craft It Up Christmas Around the World
I LOVE craft books but am often disappointed when I buy one which is full of the same ideas and crafts that I have seen a million times. Craft It Up Christmas however, is full of new crafts which I have not come across before. They are all influenced by Christmas traditions from around the world and the book includes fun facts from countries which have inspired each project.

The step-by-step instructions are clear and easy to follow, with great photographs showing you how the end product will look. My favourite craft is definitely the ‘Pay it forward’ advent calendar and we have been busy making this the past couple of days. We have tweaked it slightly and this is now going to be our ‘kindness advent calendar’. It includes ideas like ‘making a present for someone’,’phoning a relative and asking how they are’ and ‘feeding the bird’s. The great thing with this project is that you can get it out year after year, if need be you can always changing the wording inside each little envelope.

pay-forward

 

The children were able to help make this on a rainy day. They loved getting involved and thinking of ‘kind’ things that we could do for other people. Writing and sorting the numbers was also great for improving Thomas’ numeracy skills.

Kindness calender collage

This was a very easy project and luckily we already had everything we needed to make it. Many of the projects in this book can be made with items that you will probably already have in the house. There are crafts for all ages and for both beginners or more experienced crafters.

We are definitely going to try the yummy Snowman Cake Pops. They look adorable!

These almost look too good to eat!

These almost look too good to eat!

 

We are also going to try making this framed Christmas Tree  because I just can’t resist a button project!

christmas-tree

Craft It Up Christmas Around the World is a great book for all ages!