Wind in the Willows Trail at Hanningfield Reservoir-Days out in Essex

Wind in the Willows is a children’s classic novel about small animals who spend their summer days boating on quiet rivers, going on picnics with large hampers of food and being lost in the wild woods. It’s fun, adventurous and very British- A classic tale of river life and friendship.

The novels begin with Mole, a peace-loving little animal, who decides to leave his burrow after being bored with doing his spring cleaning. He ventures down to river bank and soon meets brave Ratty, grumpy Badger and an unruly Toad.

Children and adults love Wind in the Willows as it represents a quintessential British summer. We all want to stroll down by the river, picnic on the banks, sail down the river in a boat and set out on journeys full of fun and adventure.

At Hanningfield Reservoir you can follow in Mole’s footsteps, follow the trail and discover the characters from the Wind in the Willows.

The boys love a bit of excitement and anything that’s gets them out within nature. They love trekking through woods going on adventures.

With a map in one hand and a crayon in the other they were ready to go off and search for the wooden sculptures hidden within the woods of Hanningfield.

The maps and crayons are available at the visitors centre for £1.

As soon as we had left the car and headed on over to the visitors centre they were greeted by the beautiful wildlife garden, which is the home to Ratty’s boat and Toad’s caravan.

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Inside Toad's caravan
Inside Toad’s caravan

After a little stroll around the peaceful garden we headed on over to purchase our maps. We were given a crayon too as next to every wooden sculpture there is brass rubbing squares that you can create a rubbing from on the back of your map.

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The boys used their map reading skills to follow the trail and lead us to the fun, life-size characters that were numbered on the map. Teaching them navigation skills and direction.

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I love watching the boys working together as they are normally squabbling with each other.

They were so excited when they found the first one set within the trees. Once they found the character they could also read the description about each animal under the square that you used fort he rubbing. Not only were the children having fun but they were also learning facts about the animals as they went.

As we walked along we also made our way over to Lyster Hide, where we could look out over the reservoir and watch the birds fly over or swim on the water.

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The first on the trail was Badger

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Second was The Weasels

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Third was Mole

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Fourth was Ratty

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And last was speedy Toad

wiw toad

There were also other sculptures to see that had mini beasts carved into them and picnic benches to sit down and eat your lunch at.

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The whole adventure took us just over an hour, we didn’t rush around and spent time just enjoying each others company and the woods that surrounded us.

It was a lovely day out and would definitely recommend it. Parking is free but no cycling or dogs are allowed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning to accept my body

You may see me in the street, you may pass me by and smile at me. I may nod my head and smile back. I may look and appear normal. But, behind my smile, behind my eyes I am fighting. Fighting to accept what I have become. Fighting to accept where my body is.

I have a hidden disability. Something you can not see, nor do I talk about it. It’s not something that makes a comfortable conversation.

I am embarrassed of what I am; of what I have to carry around with me.

8 months ago I had surgery to remove a tumour from my bowel, from the offset of this I have a colostomy.

Don’t get me wrong I am happy that I am still alive, but it has knocked my confidence. I no longer feel womanly. I take time choosing the right type of clothes to wear. I got rid of dresses that were figure hugging, vests that were tight and my pretty little underwear sets are a no go. I can’t even leave the house without having to carry my medical supplies with me – no more clutch bags for me.

I used to have a flat tummy, even after giving birth to 3 children there were never any marks on it. My tummy was one thing that I was happy about on my body. Shallow? Maybe!

Now, I have a swollen tummy with a scar that goes from the belly button down towards the pelvis area. Either side of the scar the tummy protrudes out. I have to wear trousers, leggings and underwear that are high waisted.

I have never been a body confident person, living with a colostomy is just another hurdle for me to get over.

I am learning to chose the right type of clothing that hides my imperfections. But summertime and holidays are a scary thought.

How am I going to cope on holiday, in the heat with a bag stuck to my tummy and wearing a bikini on the beach.

I am happy that I no longer have cancer but I live with a constant reminder of what I have gone though. I carry a trophy around on my body.

I have to accept that this is me now and I have to learn to love my body again. I have to become comfortable with it. It gave up on me once, I don’t want it to do that again!

I was born to be real not to be perfect. My life is on a new path now and I need to embrace it to the best that I can.

BBQ Salmon with Vita Coconut Oil Maranade #reachforthebeach

With the Summer holidays coming up, more and more if us will be dining Al Fresco. With the hot, hazy days ahead of us, what better way to eat your evening meal on the BBQ.

We do love a BBQ!

We are always on the look out for healthier ways to dine outside. As a family we are cutting down on the amount of red mead that we eat and introducing more vegetables and fish

Vita Coco Coconut oil is 100% raw, organic and cold pressed making it the ultimate cooking ingredient. It can be used in place of other cooking oils in baking and frying, it can even be added in to your coffee or used to whiten your teeth.

This recipe is a quick and easy meal to do on the hot rocks or in the oven if the weather decides to ruin your day.

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INGREDIENTS:

Fillet of salmon

2 tbsp Vita Coco Oil

1 chopped clove of garlic

tsp of chopped chilli flakes

1 tbsp cider vinegar

tbsp of chopped mint and coriander

Pink himalayan salt

Half the juice of a lime

METHOD:

  • Place the fillet of salmon onto some tin foil
  • Drizzle over some olive oil and a pinch of himalayan salt
  • In a small pot, add in the vita coco oil, chilli flakes, lime juice, chopped garlic and the chopped mint and coriander. Mix well.

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  • Place over the top of the fillet and then wrap it up into the tin foil, creating a parcel.

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  • Once your BBQ is nice and hot, place onto the grill and cook until the salmon flakes easy with a fork, roughly about 15 minutes.

Serve with a side salad and some slices of lemon.

Whats good about this recipe is that once you have wrapped the salmon in the foil parcel it can be placed into the fridge ready to use later on in the day. Especially saving time when you are entertaining.

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This is my entry into the Foodies100/Vita Coco #reachforthebeach  competition

 

A Letter To My 14yr Old Son

Dear Son

When I found out that I was pregnant with you, it was quite a shock! I doubted myself and my ability to look after you. Even though I was 24, I thought that I was still to young to have children. I didn’t want to fail you as a parent and was worried that I wouldn’t be able to take on the responsibility if looking after a young baby.

As soon as I began to feel you move around inside of my tummy my love for you began to grow, you was mine – all mine.

The day you was born, my life changed.

The moment you came into this world you brought an ache into my heart that I had never experienced before, a love that was so strong it brought to tears to my eyes and a pain in my chest. You taught me the meaning of unconditional love.

You was a mummy’s boy and I was your biggest supporter. With every milestone that you reached; crawling, first steps, first word, first pee on the potty, I reveled in euphoria.

You was such a clever little boy. At 2 years old you showed an interest in cars and used to point out to me all the makes of them as they passed by. I had no idea where you had learned it from as I didn’t drive and had no understanding of them myself. I remember sitting on a bus one day; you was looking out of the window and was pointing out the cars as they passed us, saying their names and getting quite excited. The other passengers were laughing and encouraging you by asking you what the next car was. You knew them all!

You have, to this day, a presence about you that leaves people in awe. Such confidence in yourself, no matter what it is you try you will always put everything into it.

I sometimes wish that you were still that little intrigued boy. I often miss him, thinking about what you were like as a small boy. The way you used to line up your cars in colours, sizes and models. How we could never pass by a Bob the Builder ride that was outside the supermarket because you would shout to have a go on it. When you used to come in to my room at night and sneak into my side of the bed for a cuddle. And, you was always full of energy, running around I circles in the living room because you wouldn’t give in to your tiredness.

You was such a caring, thoughtful young boy – Still are!

You filled my days with such pure delight

Over the past 14 years I have watched you grow from a young boy into a young man. You are still caring and thoughtful. You have learnt so much but there is so much more for you to learn now as an adult. Life is a continuous journey and I am so glad that I am a part of yours. You have hopes and dreams and aspirations. Their will be challenges but I have confidence in you that you will overcome them, you will make mistakes, as everyone does, but remember, that is how we learn. You will have times of contentment and times of sadness, life has its ups and downs. You are a strong boy who will overcome them all.

This past year has been a tough one for us all, you have shown such maturity and your attitude towards my illness has been a positive one. If anyone could be optimistic about their mum having cancer its you! You tell everyone that my illness has taught you how to grow up, how to fend for yourself and how to be positive.

You have taught yourself to cook and to look after your siblings. Your attitude towards it all has been a positive one. Giving me support and showing me that you are much more to me than just my son. You are my friend.

You are an incredible, unique boy and I want you to know what an amazing young man you have turned out to be.

There were days when I was in hospital, when I woke, to find you sitting by my bedside holding on to my hand and stroking my head. You are such a caring boy. Full of love and compassion.

You have such a bright future ahead of you and I trust that you will accomplish anything you set out to do. You have a drive to succeed. You are your own person, have your own interests, thought and opinions and are not afraid of showing who you are to others. You are clever and very knowledgeable. I have no doubt in my mind that you will succeed.

Follow your heart, hopes and dreams and become the man whom I know you will turn out to be. Be yourself and accomplish great things.

I am who I am because of you. I love you dearly

Your forever loving Mum

 

Cool Summer Lemon Slush Recipe

This slush is just perfect for hot summer days, it will keep you cool and refreshed and help you beat the heat.

We have been very lucky lately with the weather and have even had a good couple of weeks where the temperature has hit above 25c. Keeping cool, without constantly standing in front of a fan isn’t easy. I promise that this slush will keep you hydrated but also cool you down.

It is quick and simple to make, which makes it an ideal drink to make with the children.

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INGREDIENTS:

Half a lemon

A few sprigs of fresh mint

Handful of ice cubes

Coconut Water

This amount would make enough for one person just double up the ingredients if you want to make more

METHOD:

Place everything into a blender, leaving the coconut water til last. Add in enough to cover over the ice and blitz away. I kept some of the rind on the lemon as this gave it that extra bitter taste.

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Now all you need to do is relax on the sun lounger with your cool summer slush in one hand, sun glasses on and a good book in the other.

NB: You could add in some gin or vodka for an adult slush

Enjoy!

Young Driver Experience – A day to Remember

Could you imagine learning to drive before the age of 17?

At Young Driver, a center that gives children from the age of 10 an opportunity to get behind the wheel and experience driving with a qualified instructor. Children can learn to drive at one of the 60 UK centers where they are taught in a specially designed training area. The training area includes; sharp bends, mini round-about, parking spaces, traffic lights, and junctions.

Young Driver follow the Driving Standards Agency curriculum, which means that what 10 – 17s learn at YOUNG DRIVER is exactly the same as they will learn on the road at 17. The children are given a Drive Diary to record their progress and this is one of the most important parts of the programme – moving forward is the aim!

Their personalised Drive Diary charts individual progress and current level of driving and is completed by the instructor after each driving session. The instructor talks them through it and explains where they could do with some more help or whether they can progress to the next step. The Drive Diary can be given over to their driving instructor when they begin their official lessons at the age of 17 and the instructor will then know what their experience level is.

 

My son, who is 14 years old, was lucky enough to be invited along to the Bluewater Center to experience for himself what it is like to drive a car. The center itself, is situated within the blue car park at Bluewater shopping center. There is a section of car park outside that is specifically designed for a  beginners’ zone, that has a full road system with traffic signs, road markings, junctions and parking zones. In this way it encourages responsible driving.

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As soon as we had arrived, he was called up by his instructor and taken along to the car that he would be driving. Before he could turn the key he underwent a safety check and was taught how to use the mirrors, signal and when to manoeuvre. He had full control over the steering wheel and pedals, however the instructor had pedals that would over power his if an accident were to happen. He started off slowly, to get used to the feel of the steering and clutch. Not long on the road and he was soon snaking in-between cones and maneuvering the car into a figure of eight in the parking lot. Whilst, he was driving he was continuously given advise and constructive criticism from the instructor. He spent 60 minutes out on the road, building up his confidence and learning some important skills of control and responsibility. He now knows how to drive safely and properly, putting him leaps and bounds ahead of other 17 year olds.

His instructor was fantastic, professional and made him feel safe at all times.

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Since his experience, he has become more road aware and is definitely more confident and prepared for when he can hit the road.

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We made a video of his experience

My son certainly left with a big smile on his face and is now eager to get behind the wheel.

I would highly recommend the experience for any young child who wants to get ahead of their peers and become a much safer driver. A very valuable and worthwhile experience.

30 minute lesson – 10-17yrs – £34.95

60 minute lesson – 10-17yrs – £64.95

To find out more about the experience or to make a booking, head on over to their website www.youngdriver.com

We was given this experience for the purpose of this review.