Sunday, 26 April 2015

Margam Country Park

We visited my mum and dad in Wales a little while ago and decided to visit Margam Country Park in Port Talbot, we had a really lovely day and we had absolutely fantastic sunny weather, if a little windy. 
It was free entry, just had to pay for parking which is a bonus, there are acres of land to explore and many beautiful vistas.  The site once housed a Norman Abbey, of which the remains are still visible to explore.  I am sure we would have explored the ruins more but you know...children. We had lunch there jacket potato with beans and salad and an eccles cake after (amazingly it was suitable for vegans!)  Eating out is becoming more tricky now that I am pretty much only eating a vegan diet but most places to jacket potato with beans so not too much of a problem, just gets a bit boring. 

We went on a little train ride around part of the park which was fun and allowed us to see some different viewpoints and part of the park including a little farm area (which we didn't visit on foot) and a lake.

Some really beautiful ruins, I could have taken a ton of photographs but only managed to snatch these two. 

We visited the orangery which had the most wonderful smell ever. Such a beautiful orangey scent, it was stunning. Could have stayed in their for hours, it was so lovely and warm, very much enjoyed a bit of light therapy. 

Me with my beautiful mum and sisters.

Boris enjoyed all the attention from the family and loved running round.  There was a really big playground there for the littluns which had little houses in it, each one representing a different nursery rhyme with a little display inside.  It was cute. 

Ahhh spring!

So all in all a great day, highly recommended if you are ever in that part of the world. 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Musings on recycling on Earth Day.

As you may or may not know, today is Earth Day.  I seem to recall turning off the lights for an hour last year, or was that just me?  (trying to read stories to my son with a wind up torch, lol).  We haven't done anything special this year, but the fact of it being Earth Day reminded me of a visit we took recently to a local amenity site.

We were taking some garden waste for green recycling and some other bits and pieces, and for the first time ever we saw them moving some of the general waste rubbish (that's the stuff which is picked up on bin day and would normally go to landfill , but here in Berkshire we are lucky (not sure if that's the right word or not) enough that it all goes to a waste to energy incinerator)

It was a truly epic site, quite apocalyptic.  There were two or three enormous diggers with huge scoops that were scooping up great mountains of rubbish and moving it around. The scoops were so big that one of them had a double mattress on the arm which must have flipped up, it was just casually lying there.  It felt like some kind of post apocalyptic dystopia, or a scene from the film Wall-E.  The amount of waste was astonishing and I just couldn't get over the fact that it was all being thrown away.  There was just so much, and so much that looked like it could have been re-used.  Plastic bags torn open and their contents spilling everywhere, household food waste, bits of fabric, and a hell-of-a-lot of plastic packaging.

I left with mixed feelings.  I was torn between feeling like I would never throw a single thing away again EVER because I just didn't want to partake in this entropy any more; and feeling like really what was the point, what was the point in washing and sorting and recycling all our waste when the impact our family would be making was so microscopic it was almost negligible, it seemed futile and it was completely impossible to live in this day and age without producing eipc amounts of rubbish.

However I then stumbled upon a wonderful blog called Trash is for Tossers and I was like "oh, it is possible".  The blog's author Lauren Singer lives a zero waste lifestyle which I find so inspiring and beautiful. I can definitely do more to reduce the amount of waste I and my family.  I don't think we would be able to go totally waste free because it seems we don't have access to the sorts of amazing food places that she has where you can take a load of glass jars and cloth bags, fill them up with food and leave with no plastic (that's never going to happen at Tesco)  but I can certainly try and reduce our impact. It's a similar mindset to veganism/vegetarianism, the difference we make to the big picture is probably very small but it is still something, and I believe that our actions, however small send out positive vibrations into the world which can transform into something much bigger.

So here is to small acts, on Earth Day, maybe we can't save the world ourselves, but each person taking little actions adds up to something truly epic.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Easter Activities

Slightly out of season now but I wanted to share a few of the Easter activities we did, I actually had a load more Easter activities planned but was really ill over the period I had them planned for so many weren't executed, oh well, maybe next year.   

As a Christian family Easter is a really important time of year for us.  I love it, it is absolutely my favourite Christian festival.  It has all the excitement and joy of Christmas without the stress of buying presents and touring the country to visit family.  

Therefore it is essential to me that we get the children excited about it in as many ways as possibly to help them to understand the significance of the occasion. 

We began with a sensory box of mixed bird seed with plastic eggs and fluffy yellow chicks.  The seed, chicks and eggs all represent new life which is what we get in Christ and which is happening all around us at this time of year. 
Boris enjoyed scooping the seeds, filling and emptying the eggs with the seeds, sweeping the seeds around the box and making shapes in it with his hand.  Together we did some imaginative play with the chicks.  Biscuit liked pouring the seeds and scooping them with the eggs. 
The improved their fine motor skills, learned about volume and the qualities of materials, they also benefited from the therapeutic experience of feeling the seeds between their fingers.

We loved making this Easter garden.  The boys raced around our garden pulling up patches of moss (of which we have plenty!) and flowers to decorate.  Boris was really motivated to gather bits and pieces for the garden and understood that we were making a tomb which was where Jesus' body was laid and the cross where he died.  The activity was a bit advanced for Biscuit who mostly enjoyed pulling up plants round the garden then destroying out Easter one every time our backs were turned! On Easter morning we rolled away to stone to show that the tomb was empty.  Amazingly after a few days little seedlings began to grow all over the garden which must have come from seeds left in the compost we used (which was from out compost bin) they are tomato plants I think, they felt really significant and meaningful. 

Another sensory play experience using one of our favourites - water beads. (HERE are some more water bead activities)  I used the plastic eggs again which I bought off ebay I think (but found some cheaper in The Range) with the water beads and a bit of water at the bottom of the plastic box. The boys scooped and poured the water beads with the eggs, also filled the eggs with beads then emptied them.  This activity was a bit too exciting for Boris who decided ultimately to pour all the water and beads that were in the tub over the carpet, then to stamp on the beads to make them break into a million pieces for me to tidy up.

And of course the all-important Easter egg hunt.  I can't tell you how excited Boris was EVERY time he found an egg.  He ran up to us showing us then egg with great enthusiasm shouting "I found an egg".  Loved how he didn't realise I had hidden the eggs there just minuted before (tee hee). 

Biscuit, bless him, found half the amount that Boris did.

Anyway, I hope you all had a wonderful Easter, I am sure you still have a stash of eggs at home that your children are slowly munching through (and maybe, like me, you are giving them a little help with that). 

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