Making The Most Of Your Outdoor Space During Winter

[AD] These crazy times that we are currently in have bought a huge range of changes to all our lives and we are all having to adapt to this new way of life.

One of the big things that is so hard for many is not being able to see family and friends. During the summer things were slightly easier as you could happily meet up outside, picnic and socialise in the sunshine. Now that we are having to meet up outside again, things are going to be a little tricker with the cold and wet weather.

There are however ways around this and getting your garden ready to enjoy in any weather is something a lot of us are looking to do.

I have left a few tips below on things you could do to transform your garden this autumn/winter and I would love to know if you have had any differ to ideas you have already put in place.

Cover – Instead of shielding from the sun, the winter means we need our gardens to protect us from the wind and rain. An awning coming off the side of the house or a gazebo which is perfect for keeping out the rain and the wind.

Lighting – With the nights drawing in now it’s important to have good lighting for the garden to make it look cosy and so you can move around safely.

You can do this by getting a professional in and running lights from your mains, or solar powered lights scattered around will be just as affective.

Underfoot – Trudging across a boggy lawn isn’t something any of us want to do, so making sure you have somewhere sturdy and level to congregate on is a must. Once you have the firm footings in place then you can make it your own with your choice of paving slabs or tiles.

Heat – There is nothing worse than being outside and not being able to enjoy yourself because of the cold, and there is absolutely no need to suffer anymore as there is such a huge range of patio heaters and fire pits on the market, so you can enjoy your garden whilst keeping toasty!

Seating – Having somewhere cosy to sit is a must and there are plenty of options out their. Outdoor sofas are my favourite and I love snuggling up on ours with a few blankets to keep us warm.

Entertainment – Something to keep the kids…and the adults busy is always a good idea and there are lists of outdoor games available such as giant Jenga and noughts and crosses that will keep you entertained for hours.

Storage – Moving the inside outside is a great idea, but you need to think about storing everything as you don’t want to have to be dealing with soggy cushions and blankets! Investing in a watertight storage system is a great way to have peace of mind that everything will be safe and dry.

Four Beautiful Garden Trends

[AD] When it comes to clothes fashion, make up, or interiors trends we are used to seeing these changed regularly along with offered advice and tips on how to keep things up to date.

However there are some parts of our lives we might not think about updating as much as others, such as gardens. Rest assured though there is a trend for everything if you look for it. So when it comes to gardens there is plenty to choose from of you are looking for some new garden inspiration.

Here are some of the most beautiful garden trends, which can help you transform your garden into something you enjoy.

Botanical Gardens

Starting with a classic that will never go out of style, the botanical garden trend is perfect for those who like their garden to feel like a jungle, or one of those immaculate National Trust gardens you have to pay to visit. The general theme of a botanical trend is lots of plants and flowers, and any accessories that tie in with the theme. Think gorgeous leaf prints on outdoor cushions or stunning floral flowerpots. Whatever you choose the botanical garden trend will never fo out of style; it will always only enhance your garden! Treat yourself to some new trees or some delicate lights to dangle in the garden to transform it into a cosy place.

Indoors – Out

A stunning new trend for gardens operates on the idea of bringing what you would originally be an indoor style right outside! This can apply to almost anything, but most lovers of the ‘indoor – out’ style have been mainly searching for ideas on outdoor kitchens and outdoor bars in 2020. While this is very much a sign of the times right now, not being able to go out much, or at all, this is an excellent trend when it comes to making full use of the space on the property and enjoying what you have.

You can base you ‘indoor – out’ style on any room you like – your imagination is the limit. Just make sure you think about the very interchangeable weather we are often blessed with when using things outside!

Wildlife Friendly

Those who love the garden are Turing it into a sanctuary for wildlife. This includes but does not go beyond your mainstream birdbath and seed feeder that is annually hung on the tree. It is much more common now to build ‘insect hotels’ which are designed to help anything from hedgehogs to wood lice! Planting wild flowers and plants that can help to sustain wildlife, which also happens to be a stunning addition to any garden. And don’t forget there are options now to build homes for toads and frogs to shelter from the winters bite! The one thing that’s unique to this trend is that is focuses less on clearing and cleaning up the garden, and more on how wildlife can benefit from the stray plants or the unruly compost pile! It might not be as ascetically pleasing as others, but helping our wildlife is a beautiful trend that should continue. For those who want to go that extra mile for their little pals, consider getting a pond. A pond is one of the best places for wildlife to flourish, just make sure to keep it clean and use a quality, branded filter such as OASE filters to keep the environment healthy.

Cosy Accessories

There was almost definitely a time where the only thing that might have been expected to be in the garden was the odd shovel or a shed, but so many things have changed since then, and a garden is essentially room with its own right. This tied in with the ‘outdoor – indoor’ trend, can see people bringing some new sought after furniture and accessories into the garden such as day beds and fire pits.

For those who love napping, there is no reason not to enjoy the last of the summer sun simultaneously, and for pits offer gear long into the night, which are both perfect for making the most of your garden before it gets too cold.

Good, Safe Fun At Hever Castle

[PRESS TRIP] For those of you that follow me regularly you will know that we are all big fans of Hever Castle and we were delighted when they opened their doors again after lockdown.

As with anything we have done since restrictions have been lifted, we approached our first visit back with caution, but from the get go I needn’t have worried.

Pre-booking is essential, and time slots need to be selected to allow for small streams of people to enter at one time. This worked really well and we were able to get in quickly and easily.

Once we were inside the grounds there was plenty of room to run free and take in the beauty of the gardens.

All of the usual attractions aside from the maze are open with limited numbers allowed in for 30 mins at a time. Once your time is up there is a clean down before the next group of people are allowed in.

Of course this meant there was some waiting around and we didn’t get to spend as long as we usually would at each section. But I was happier to know that we were going into a place with limited numbers that was clean rather than having to stress about trying to social distance the children like I have at other places we have visited.

The play area is actually split into two sections and we manage to fit in two trips to both whilst we were there, with a cooling of session in the water maze in between which is always a favourite of ours.

We didn’t go inside the castle on this visit as the weather was just to glorious to miss so unfortunately I can’t comment on how long it was to get inside. However we did sit for a good while watching and feeding the huge fish!

Along with lots of other people we took a picnic and plotted up next to the water so the children could enjoy feeding the ducks whist we ate.

There were still plenty of food options if you prefer to eat there and of course lots of ice cream stops which we had to partake in!

It’s become a bit of a tradition for us to finish the day with a stroll through the wooded area which we always fine super quiet and the boys love as the can go off track, play by the steam and of course get covered in mud!

I can honestly say I was more than impressed with all the measures that have been put in place at Hever Castle to allow you to still have so much fun, whilst keeping you safe.

The castle will be getting its coating of autumnal leaves now and we can’t wait for our next visit to see this!

Outdoor Activities For Children During Lockdown

I now have no idea what week we are on in lockdown but I do know that during this time we have all been trying to find ways of coping with being around each other 24 hours a day and for me I have found structure is key and trying to give the children some kind of home learning has been a must.

I am no teacher and so with the help of work set by school and the wonders of the internet I have been trying to find ways to keep the children happy and engaged.

We have been lucky to have been blessed with this wonderful weather and have tried to utilise this as much as possible and taking our home learning outside.

  • Most homeschooling activities can be done outside as it allows children to have freedom of movement, increases their physical development, helps build towards a healthy and activity lifestyle and hopefully makes them happier and more motivated to learn.
  • I have compiled a few of our favourite activities below and hope you find something that’s a good fit for your family to try:

    Den Building – The boys love building dens, so this was a great excuse to get something set up in the garden where they could play and read independently.

    Skipping – Skipping is a great way to get them using their gross motor skills as well as burning off a lot of steam!

    Climbing Tree – This is great for them to challenge their dexterity and build their confidence.

    Digging In The Dirt – All kids love to dig around in the dirt and without knowing it they are getting a real sensory experience. From making mud pies to hiding and finding different objects this is a great exercise.

    Getting Out For A Walk – The government is still allowing us out for 39 mins exercise a day, and we can use this time to clear our heads, strike up conversations to check that your little ones are coming with this situation and make it into a game by spotting different things on the way.

    • Planting – It’s the perfect time to plant seeds and flowers in the garden which can turn into a science lesson by talking about the lifestyle of plants and then drawing and labelling what you have planted.

    • Still Life Painting – There are so many things that can be painted in the garden, just pick something that catches your eye and get painting.

    • Rough And Tumble – This might not be for everyone, but my youngest two literally can’t keep their hands off each other; so for me allowing them to battle it out for a while works. It’s a way for them to relive stress, read social cues, make decisions on their own and of course have a good cardio workout!

    • Nature Collage – Take some time to walk around the garden and pick up anything you find interesting to create a masterpiece with.

    • Painting With Water – A big pot of water, some paint brushes and some space on the patio, a wall or a fence will allow children to create their own murals with no mess at all.

    • Shadow Drawing – Grab some paper and some objects that will create good shadows…our favourites are dinosaurs; position them on the paper so that the sunlight casts a shadow on the paper and the draw around the shadow.

    • Make A Bug Hotel – Find a space in the garden where you can put together as pike of bricks, logs, sticks, tiles and just about anything else mini beasts can create a home. The children can then go back and take a look at the insects and write up their finding.

    • Scavenger Hunt – Write a list of all kinds of different objects you might find outside such as leaves, flowers, rocks and set the kids a challenge to find them all.

    Bug Hunt – Lift up rocks, dig around in the leaves and see what insects you can find and them write down and discuss your findings.

    Tree And Leaf Rubbing – Grab some paper and crayons and find all kinds of different tree barks and leaves to rub over with the crayons and compare the different textures.

    Giant Bubbles – If you have a tuff tray or something large enough to hold a hula hoop then make up a bubble mixture using washing up liquid and water. Place the hula hoop inside and make as many giant bubbles as you can.

    Outdoor Gym – Nature gives us a huge array of items we can use to build our own outside gym which allows the children to left off steam and build gross motor skills. Stepping stones from logs, a rope placed between two objects to limbo under, a bench to do tricep dips from a just a few ideas. Let me know what else you would use!

    A New Adventure At Hever Castle

    [GIFTED] Hever Castle has been one of our favourite places to go over the Christmas period, but for some reason until the other week we had never visited during the summer so I was very excited to see what it would hold at this time of year.

    We arrived in the blistering heat with some friends and I was amazed at how stunning the gardens were in full bloom and as always the boys loved running off through each and every pathway that connects them.

    We had a pretty swift walk as the children were eager to get to the new adventure playground that was a new addition to us.

    As we arrived the mixture of wood and sand immediately appealed to me and the children took off within seconds to explore.

    There was a huge sandpit with areas to climb and hide and in and as we walked through we discovered rope bridges, slides and a huge castle at the top which the boys absolutely loved.

    Mine tend to get itchy feet pretty much anywhere we go and I was asked we spent a whole three hours there without a moan or groan…well aside from a couple of sand throwing incidents!

    There is a coffee hut inside the play area which allowed me to have a natter over a drink whilst the children played.

    We filled up on ice cream at the main cafe before heading into the maze which is always a big hit.

    Next up was the water maze which again isn’t something we have had the pleasure of enjoying before.

    It was so much prettier than I was expecting and was formed of a huge rock formation covered in foliage with pathways running around the outside with water squirting out at different times to surprise the children.

    I wasn’t prepared so my lot went in fully clothed but I think that was half the fun!

    Our last port of call of the day was to take a look out over the lake and to make some wishes in the fountain.

    I love the serenity of this area and a row in one of the boats in on our list for our next visit.

    Hever really does cater for all ages and because of this it is one of my favourite places for a day out with the whole family. There is action and adventure for the kids whist the chance for the adults to take in the beauty and the amazing history the whole place is steeped in.

    There is always something new to see and experience and a whole activities that run throughout the year such as the Knights And Princesses School that is running right now.

    A trip here would make the perfect treat to end the summer with.

    Their Own Little Space:Evermeadow House Playhouse

    [AD] Being a large family means that it is not easy to find time to yourself.  As adults my husband and I can factor this into our day, but for the children this can be hard to do and I try as much as I can to make sure they all get a little time to themselves, but with the reality of busy lives this isn’t always easy.

    The youngest two really enjoy each others company…aside from the arguing! And they are both the ones the older children try to escape from for a bit of peace and quiet!

    This is where having a little area in the garden that they can slope off to has been such a great addition for us and we have been able to do this with the help of the lovely people at Big Game Hunters who supply just about anything you could want for oudoor play.

    They kindly sent us their Evermeadow Playhouse House to try out and it has been absolutely perfect!

    Neither my husband or I own any DIY skills so the thought of errecting a playhouse sent my husband packing and me grabbing the phone to enlist the help of my poor Dad.  I actually didn’t need to panic though as one big box arrived full with our playhouse and instructions that did exaclly what it said on the tin(well box).

    The panels have been made to simply slot together and with each pannel being numbered this was an easy task. The screw holes were in place and with the help of a power screwdriver the house was errect within under an hour. Even the windows were already in place so it really was a super easy build.

    The house comes in its origianal state wood wise which allows you free reign on the colour you would like it. I was expecting the boys so go for something bold but they surprising they wanted to leave it natural so I just gave it a few coats of wood preserver to protect it from the weather.

    The house is suitable for ages 18mths to eight years and has plenty of room for my youngest two to play inside together with their toys.

    We have plans to get some cute plant pots outside, a doormat and some big cushions to make it a little cosier inside so keep an eye out over on Instagram for all our updates!

    Easter Fun At Morden Hall Park

    I think this has to be the first year for as long as I can remember that we haven’t taken part in a National Trust easter egg hunt and I have to say that I’m pretty sad about that! The Easter weekend just seemed so fun that we didn’t get a chance to fit it in.

    That said we couldn’t get through the holidays without a trip to one of their properties and we decided on Morden Hall Park as its been a good while since we’ve had a visit there.

    After a pitstop at the cafe for coffee and cake we were greeted at the main entrance by a super friendly volunteer who set about telling us how we could join in wth the Duck Trail which allowed the children to set off around the grounds in search of different species of ducks, ticking them off on their sheet as they go and showing them some food along the way.

    Morden Hall Park has had a lot of work done to it since we were last there and absolutely loved the wooden pathways and lookout points that had been added to the wetland area.

    The boys spent ages dipping in sticks and trying to find the crocodiles my Dad had told them were lurking beneath!

    We played Pooh Sticks on the bridges, ran through all the open spaces, climbed trees and got covered in mud…exactly what a day should be full of!

    Morden Hall Park is also perfectly positioned for a short walk to Deen City Farm where the children got to feed and get up close to lots of lovely farm animals from pigs, sheep and even ferrets.

    The children were filthy dirty and thoroughly worn out after a wonderful day and Morden Hall Park certainly come with a big thumbs up from us.

    Country Kids

    Hunting For The Yeti At Riverhill Himalayan Gardens 

    Wooded pathways, stacks of branches, and plenty of mud are just three of the things that make my lot happy and luckily enough they are plentiful at Riverhill Himalayan Gardensin Kent.

    We had our first trip there last week and on the way I had a car full of bemused children trying to work out why we were off to the Himalayas by car!

    Upon arrival whe picked up our maps at the kiosk and I grabbed a seat outside the cosy looking Riverhill Cafe that I had earmarked for later in the day.

    I planned a rough idea of where the day was going to take us while the children took up residence in the ‘Toy Shed’ that made the perfect play area to keep the little ones amused while the adults have a sneaky piece of cake.

    I had put a little to much faith in the wonderful British weather and arrived with a summer dress and flip flops which probably wasn’t the best attire.

    Fortunately though they are fully prepared here for the unprepared such as myself and have a lovely little area they you can borrow a pair of wellies from.

    We headed into the woods where the children all climbed to their hearts  content until we came across the fab adventure playground.
    There were climbing walls, slides, tree houses and so much more to explore and they all spent a good hour here enjoying all it had to offer.

    Ready to explore some more we entered the woods again with a pit stop for some den building before we made it to Little Everest Viewpoint.

    The view from the top was stunning and the perfect place to stop for our picnic.


    Refuelled we headed back down the hill towards the hedge maze.

    I’m not a huge fan of mazes and tend to freak out a little if I can’t see an exit. Luckily enough the hedge maze is low and was easy for the children…and me  to navigate.

    The rain decided to come and say hello so we decided to take cover in the activity tent where they all got the chance to make their own clay creations.

    With an unusual calmness from my lot I took the chance to grab a coffee and some delightful carrot cake from the cafe whist they created their masterpieces.

    Scattered throughout the grounds were lots of interesting sculptures with the huge scaffold tube sphere being a real pull for the kids.

    Our final stop of the day was the stunning gardens full of wonderful flowers, an abundance of fruit and veg and hidden wrought iron gates that are always some thing I love.

    Riverhill Himalayan Gardens was an absolute treat to discover and we will need another visit very soon as we didn’t manage to find the illusive yeti who is said to be hiding in the woods.  
    *we were given tickets for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest options.

    Country Kids

    Bringing The Inside Outside

    As you are all well to aware the weather in the UK is extremely hit and miss and when we do get the odd spell of sunshine we all need to make to most of it.

    One way to do this is to make the garden an extension of your home and get as much use out of it as you can.

    We are always trying to bring the outside in by filling the house with pot plants and floral fabrics so why shouldn’t we switch things around and take the comforts of our home into the garden.

    For me being in the outdoors is the perfect way to spend time as a family.

    The poor wifi connection and lack of TV and computer screens allows us to enjoy quality time together whist enjoying the sunshine.

    The great outdoors also offers so many benefits such as helping to improve concentration, relives stress, improves vision, boosts your immune system and many more things why would you not want to make the most of your time out there.

    The added bonus now is there are so many great products on the market to make your garden an inviting and comfortable place to be.

    Gone are the days of flimsy plastic tables and chairs that always have the tendency to buckle under to much weight.

    These have been replaced with cosy ratan sofas and sturdy tables and chairs made from all kinds of different materials that replicate indoor furniture perfectly.

    To this you can add plenty of throws and cushions to make for an even comfier experience and creating a welcoming  splash of colour.

    Something that makes me want to make the most of my time outside is the addition of mood lighting in the form of candles and solar power lighting.

    A few candles lit on the table can keep the bugs at bay is you find some citronella  candles and solar power bulbs placed in the tress and shrubbery allow you to stay out well after the sun goes down.

    The garden really can be a feast for all your senses from the smell of fragrant flowers to the sound of the early morning bird call.

    It’s a place to relax and unwind so why not make your garden a little haven to enjoy as a family.

    What would your dream garden include?

    *collaborated post 

    Cultivating Little Ones Green Fingers

    The sun has been raising its head a little over the past few weeks and after a winter of neglect it is time to get out into the garden and get it ready to enjoy over the spring and summer months.

    The garden is the perfect place to teach your child so many wonderful things, so why not don your gardening gear and see what your garden has to offer.

    A company that covers functional yet fun clothing for adults and children alike is Engelbert Strauss. They supply high quality pieces that will withstand being out in muck and grime of the garden whist still looking good.

    Stimulates The Senses – The colours of the flowers, the scent they give off, the texture of the dirt and the taste of the fruit and veg that can grow there will engage your children’s sense of smell, taste, touch, sight and sound.

    Builds Motor Skills – Digging with thier spades, filling up the watering can and picking out weeds will all help to build your child’s gross and fine motor skills.

    Learning About Lifecycles – From planting that very first seed to watching a flower grow and then eventually wilt and die, will teach your child the importance of the lifecycle of plants.

    The same thing can be done with fruit and veg. Simple things like strawberries and tomatoes are easy to grow and the children will love being able to watch them get bigger by the day and then enjoy the fruits of their labour once they ripen.

    Our local garden centre is full of great items to get things started and allows the children to be immersed in the whole process right from the start by picking out the seeds or plants at the garden centre and taking them home to cultivate them all by themselves. 

    Bug Hunting – Children love a bug hunt and what better place than just outside your backdoor is there to explore where all the creepy crawlies live.

    So with the Easter holidays approaching why not keep these things and mind and set up a few activities to enjoy outside.

    How about growing some juicy strawberries, planting some seeds to see who can grow the tallest sunflower or make a list of some of the most common mini beasts and see how many you can find.

    *collaborated post