Our mystical short break to Lee Valley

We found a little haven within the suburbs of London, a new favourite place for the boys and I to visit.  Lee Valley Regional Park is a 10,000-acre, 26 miles long park, much of it green spaces, running through the northeast of Greater London, Essex and Hertfordshire. It is made up of a diverse mix of countryside areas, urban green spaces, heritage sites, country parks, nature reserves and lakes and riverside trails, as well as leading sports centres and camping sites.

We have visited Lee valley before but I never knew it was as beautiful as it is. We fell in love with the pure nature of it, the river lea runs through the whole length of the Valley. Starting at Stratford, heading north through Enfield, Waltham Abbey and up towards Stanstead Abbotts. There is a heavy emphasis of wildlife and natural habitats. We loved cycling along the river watching out for otters and birds.

The park has beautiful scenery and is so peaceful.

Not only does the regional park have rivers, lakes, green spaces and 2012  sporting venues but it is also home to a few camp sites.

We booked into the Lee Valley Campsite based in Ponders End. We wasn’t sure what to expect as you couldn’t get more urban than Enfield. As we arrived we looked around and listened. It was hard to believe that this little campsite was on the edge of the A10, North Circular and within a short distance of the M25. It was quiet. It was beautiful. The site has a shower and wc block, outdoor play area, and lots of pitches for caravans and tents. Next door is a cinema and an athletics centre. We had booked to stay in one of the campsites wooden cabins.

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How beautiful and mystical is the cabin? We felt like we had walked into a Lord of the Rings/ Harry Potter film set.

The cabin came equipped with a fridge, electric, a couple of chairs, table, beds, kettle and even some tea and coffee to refresh you after your journey. There is also wifi throughout the campsite.

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The shower and toilet blocks need a code to get in so only holiday makers can enter, it gives you that little piece of mind that if your children go off to the toilet and they will be safe inside from random passers by. The wood cabins are ideal for a family of 4, there is double bunk red and a small camp bed. They are situated under trees at the back of the campsite and just behind the trees is a golf course.

As soon as had arrived the boys were off exploring the site, playing in the park and running around on the grass, exploring the edge of the golf course (looking for pokemon) and just generally enjoying the little freedom that they get when on holiday. They loved going off to the tap to collect water and didn’t even grumble when asked to take the rubbish over to the bins. One thing that was missing was a little BBQ. As we travelled by bicycle, we had limited space to carry one. It would have been nice to sit on the veranda cooking up a few veggie burgers and some vegetable kebabs in the early evening, watching the children run around. The site is clean and the staff are very helpful.

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The River Lea was about 10 minute walk away. We decided to take a walk and look around.

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The boys helping out on the locks
The boys helping out on the locks

After an early evening walk we took to our camp beds and chatted away, enjoying each others company.

The next morning we was up and ready for a fun day by the river. With our back packs on, full of food and water we was ready to go off and explore the area. The boys were looking forward to cycling along the river.

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The river bank is wide enough for two bicycles to be alongside each other but when others passed by we had to go into single file. I told the younger boys to cycle as close as they can to the bushes so that they was not near the river. DSC_5210-opt

There were plenty of places along the river that you can sit down and enjoy the peace and nature around you. We found a cute little park near Enfield Lock where we sat down and had a snack.

We made our way through a country park towards Waltham Abbey. What a beautiful town. Here we explored the Abbey Gardens and the White Water Centre

We had been out for a good few hours and was beginning to get a little tired so we headed back towards the campsite along the River Lea Navigation. But not before stopping for a little cool down by the river eating an ice cream

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We had booked for two nights. So another night under the stars in our little cabin. The boys were full of excitement and had so much fun sleeping in the cabin. It was hard to get them to sleep as they were full of energy, even after there long cycle ride that day.

The boys were up early ready for another day by the river. First though, they wanted to try out the athletics track. For just £3 children under 16 can enjoy the indoor and outdoor track all day long. My eldest was in his element. The boys love to run and being so close to this activity was amazing. They spent about an hour and a half running around the track and getting agood training session in before they were ready to get back onto their bikes and explore the regional park again.

This time we went a little further than the day before, heading past the white water centre, pass Cheshunt and onto the Lee Valley Farms. Even though it was a very active day it was ever so relaxing. With so much peaceful water around it was hard not to feel relaxed.

We cycled, we looked, we listened, we rested, we enjoyed the surroundings and each others company.

We found a perfect place to sit and rest, whilst the children played. Just near to Cheshunt station is a little park called Pindar. A place where children can explore the natural play area. The boys enjoyed climbing the natural wooden areas and playing football in the wide open space. There is even a dog agility course nearby so our four little legged family members don’t miss out on the fun.

We had so much fun. I thought that it would be hard to cycle through the park alongside the river with the boys but it was perfect. I made sure that I run through the dangers of the river first and dropped some cycling rules too. The boys listened and behaved well.

We managed to cycle about 30 miles over a couple of days. We laughed, we rested, we enjoyed.

We even managed to find two geocaches and we would have found more if I had a back up charger for the phone. There are tons of geo caches hidden along the river and surrounding areas, mostly at the locks.

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Found at Ponders End Lock
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Found at Valley Farms

We have definitely found our little favourite place in London. We have even gone back for a day out after we came back. This time we went in the car and drove to Broxbourne to take to the water this time. We hired out a motor boat for the hour and steered our way along the river, the sun was shining , it was perfect.

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Without a doubt we would absolutley recomend a visit to the River Lee Regional Park but also beyond any doubt a stay in the camp site. We have made some magical memories as a family.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Our little break at Combe Haven

Holidays in a caravan are not for everyone, especially ones that are on all action camp sites, but our family love them. There is always something to keep everyone entertained from early in the morning or until late at night.

During the Easter holidays we travelled down to Combe Haven, St Leonards on Sea and spent 4 days in a caravan. It wasn’t a luxury van but was adequate for us and our needs. It was spotless, cleaned to a high standard and situated in a great part of the park.

Combe Haven holiday site is set on a hill, a very steep hill at that. The entertainment complex is at the top of the hill and our caravan was at the bottom, perfect for the boys to play around on their scooters and very close to an open space park for us to explore. There is a Nature reserve and access to the river reed bed, which is lovely to walk along and spot any wildlife. If you want all action, there is an indoor and outdoor pool, indoor climbing wall, golf course, roller skating rink, adventure park and activities all day long that is run by the Haven Mates. Plus lots of evening entertainment and shows to watch.

We are more of an outdoor family than an indoor one, so we don’t spend too much time out of an evening. We did pop into the Live Lounge one evening for the boys to meet the Haven Characters and have a little dance, but we mostly sat in our caravan playing games. The boys most of their time outside playing on their scooter or kicking a ball to each other. It was just nice to see them all get along and enjoy each others company.

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Our van was a standard superior, which we found to be clean and tidy and very comfortable. We had heating in all bedrooms and bathroom. There was plenty of storage spaces and good size wardrobes in the bedrooms.

The first thing the boys did when we arrived was play Caravan hide and seek. With them being small they can get away with hiding in the smallest of places. I’m surprised at how many places they can find, they played for about an hour. Giggling away and having lots of fun.

A favourite place of the boys at this site is the outdoor play area, I just sat back in the sunshine and watched them play, using their imagination and being creative. Chasing each other around and defending their forts.

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They could play in this park all day.

Although we love the park, there are a few things that we dislike (not to day that others would like it) We are not gamblers and do not like that you have to go past the amusements to get into the live lounge, this just encourages adults and children to spend more money. The live lounge opens at 5pm for bingo sales with eyes down at 5.30 followed by Go Tots and entertainment for the younger ones at 6pm. There is also another bingo session later on in the evening for the family. Thats 1 hour for the little ones to dance and have fun. I personally think that the early evening should be dedicated to the younger ones and then parents (if wanted to) could get them to bed at a decent time.

We do however love that it is situated on a hill and that there is lots of nature around for the children to explore. We have always found the park to be clean and picturesque

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The boys also love the disco roller blading, this is an extra cost but so much fun. The session lasts for 45 minutes and is fun for all ages. It is a particular favourite of our eldest boy, I mean who wouldn’t enjoy skating around a hall to some tunes?

Combe Haven holiday site is about 2.5 miles away from Hastings. You could drive which takes about 10 minutes, but we walked along the seafront and it took us 45 minutes. Once you cross over the railway, there is a pathway that is safe for the chidlren to ride a bike along or just run along and be free next to the beach.

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It’s our 4th visit to the park and I am sure we will be back again next Easter.

Take a look at our short video clip

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Our visit to Popeye Village, Malta

Pass me my spinach Olive……..

Last week we flew to the beautiful Island of Malta, home to gorgeous scenic coves, tasty mediterranean food and of course the Popeye Movie set. Popeye village is a popular tourist attraction in Malta and you can understand why, as soon as you look down at the bay below you, you are hit with such beauty and breathtaking scenes. It was built-in the 1980’s for the purpose of the Walt Disney production; live action, Musical feature film Popeye, starring the late Robin Williams.

Popeye village is in the most beautiful location of Anchor Bay, North west of the Island. It is easily reached by car or bus.

As soon as you feast your eyes on the village below, you will be captivated by its beauty. Popeye Village also known as Sweethaven Village is made up of wooden, rustic buildings.

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Cove below
Cove below

There is so much to do at Popeye village; not only do you get to walk around the old movie set but you can explore the houses, go swimming in the sea, swim in the lido, take a boat ride around the bay, watch the film in an old movie theatre, watch a documentary about how the film was filmed and even take part in live scenes with the actors out in the street.

Screenshot (34)As soon as we walked down the steep hill approaching Popeye’s house, we was greeted by Popeye himself along with Bluto and Olive Oyl.

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The actors were friendly and very funny, they were a big hit with the children and really brought the whole experience alive. We watched Popeye and Bluto fight over Olive Oyl. Poor Oliver couldn’t believe his eyes when Bluto was knocked out and fell to the floor, he wasn’t moving and believed that he was dead.

As well as wandering around the old village the children had fun in the splash pool, although the water was a little cold, it didn’t stop them from jumping in and having a blast.

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I can just imagine it being a little sweet haven in the heat of the summer months, being able to relax and cool off around the lido and splash pool. Also in the summer there are water trampolines and slides set up in the sea down in the bay for visitors to use.

The boys loved walking through the old wooden buildings, exploring and reading all the information. We even sat and watched some of the old film in the Popeye comic museum, whilst taking cover from the rain outside (we visited during October half term) The museum was full of memorabilia and over 200 comics on display.

 

Our day was nearly over but not before jumping on board the Boat for a trip around Anchor Bay, this is a must on a visit to the Village as you get to see some beautiful scenery of the village set among the cliffs and coves from the Sea.

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Waiting for the boat to depart

Just next to where the boat departs, on Captain Bluto’s Platform there is a small set up of miniature golf

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The very last thing that had to be done, and I can only imagine in the summer months that this would be a 100 % must, would be to swim in the bay. During the summer the bay comes alive with inflatable fun for all the family, but as it was October Jak had it all to himself.

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The water was shallow but deep enough for him to swim in.

We had a fabulous day out and even though it was out of season, there was still lots for us to do and see.

If you have a holiday booked to Malta, I would strongly recommend a visit to Popeye Village to meet the Big Man himself.

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First flight abroard: family time

Are you experienced Family fliers?

Do you dread flying for the first time with your children?

Well we are the latter! Last week was our first time flying to another country as a family.

I had flown before with my eldest boy when he was 4 and last summer he flew out to Amsterdam with his agency to do some acting on stage but my two youngest have never flown before. I booked the holiday during the half term to Malta, a country that I have many contacts with and have visited a few times myself prior to having children. We were going to be travelling with Nanny and staying at my brothers apartment over there, we had an early morning flight all booked and the boys were very excited in travelling to another country via an Aeroplane.

The week prior to our departure I couldn’t sleep, I kept having nightmares and thinking if the worst outcomes that could happen to us whilst travelling

  • Being turned away because our passports had the wrong information on
  • Our names weren’t down on the roster for flying
  • Losing one of the children at the airport
  • The plane coming into bother whilst in transit
  • Not having a smooth flight and experiencing some turbulence

With hardly any sleep and over tired the day arrived for us to travel to Luton airport to depart for our first holiday abroad. I was so worried that an accident that may happen, I just had to keep telling myself that people fly all over the world every second of the day and the possibility of our plane come into some difficulties were very slim.

I had packed all the luggage with our clothes but I also had to think about what would keep the children entertained on the flight there

  • All phones and tablets fully charged with chargers in the suit case
  • Magazines and books to read
  • Colouring and drawing pencils
  • Favourite teddy bear or toy
  • Bottle of water
  • Any school homework that was given out
  • A pack of playing cards
Reading his magazine
Reading his magazine

I had also ensured that they was dressed in comfortable clothing like track suits, trainers and t-shirts. I didn’t want the children to be uncomfortable for the three hours that we was travelling, sitting down in a small tight space in clothing that would make them fidget and make them irritable.

We had all discussed prior to our flight about what to expect during flying and how they thought an aeroplane works. Joseph said that they he was a bit scared the aeroplane would drop from the sky as he doesn’t understand how it could fly with all the people in it. Oliver wanted the plane to do a loop de loop and Jak said he didn’t like it when his went pop.

As our flight was at 7:00 Am, we left our house at 4 aiming to arrive at the Airport for 5:00. I ridiculously thought that the boys would sleep in the car on the way to the airport but how wrong was I? They were overly excited and hyped up with adrenaline, looking forward to their little adventure they were about to embark on. By the time we had checked in and in the queue ready to board the plane the boys were going mental with excitement, I could just about control them from flying up in the air by themselves. They were winding other passengers up by being slightly too loud and running around their legs, I was really not looking forward to the flight. We found our seats and made our selves comfortable, as the seatbelt light went on and the plane began to move into position, the picture on my boys faces were priceless, they were ecstatic! Their eyes were lit up and alive with excitement, their facial expression with a constant smiled etched on and their little bodies shaking with anticipation.

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about to move
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At the window seat
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Getting bumpy
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about to board the plane

They took plenty of photos of their first experience, not of each other but of the view from the window seat

 

Their excitement didn’t wear off until probably on the flight home, where none of the boys were too interested in sitting by the window and all they wanted to do was sleep.

 

Their first flight will always be a very special memory for all of us.

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Our first pose in Malta, still very excited!

Here’s to our next flight abroad, It wasn’t too bad after all! ūüôā

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A Grand Adventure

If you had a choice of visiting anywhere in the world where would you go?

I have had to think long and hard about this question as there are many places that i would like to visit, ever since i was a little girl i have longed to visit the beautiful and historic cities of Italy with its beautiful scenery and fabulous food and wine what is there to resist. The country is romantic and has some of the best museums and the most gorgeous cathedrals to visit and i have always, like any other female i suppose, wanted to travel on a Gondola down the winding canals of Venice.

Venice is built on 118 islands within a lagoon in the Gulf of Venetia. Between the islands run about 170 canals, mostly very narrow with some 400 bridges crossing over them. The Canal Grande being the main waterway.

For some coastal experience i would visit The Amalfi Coast with its natural landscape and heaps of charming coves and caverns to explore and is also an excellent place to go hiking with some spectacular views, I could imagine myself and the family hiking along the coast line stopping off for some gorgeous mouth watering pizza, olives and wine and relaxing in the sun enjoying the natural habitat around us.

Image taken from genius loci website

The Amalfi¬†Coast stretches for 50km with cliffs that drop into the¬†crystal clear blue sea, connecting beautiful coastal towns to hillside villages. The Trail of the Gods offers a great walk in the hills overlooking Positano¬†with breathtaking¬†natural beauty scenes, you’ll find caves and terraces dropping from the cliffs to the sea and deep valleys.¬†If your lucky you may even get to witness peregrine and kestrel¬†falcons coming out their aeries.

And lastly you couldn’t visit Italy without experiencing Lake Como, absorbed in history and elegance it makes a perfect place to relax, dine on some sumptuous¬†food and explore the snow-capped mountains that surround it.

Image taken from Wikipedia

Lake Como is in the region of Lombardy and is part of the northern Italian Lakes District. It lies between Milan and the border of Switzerland. It is Italy’s most popular lake and the deepest, it is surrounded by mountains and hills.

A few years ago we visited¬†Fort William in Scotland so we could hike up the famous Ben Nevis, from that moment i fell in love with mountains and find them magical, I could sit and stare at the sheer beauty of the landscape for hours, I find them to be stunning. Every year we hike up Mount Snowdon In Wales with the children who have all learnt to love the sense of being on the mountain¬†like me. The views from the mountains are breathtaking and stunning, we feel free when we are on them and as my eldest boy says “I feel like a bird, I can see so far away”

I haven’t holidayed¬†abroard¬†for a long time but if i had a ¬£1000¬†spare to book one it would definitely be ITALY.

We would spend our days and nights dining on spaghetti, plates of antipasto and drinking wine made from local grown grapes.

We will camp under the stars and travel by foot and it will be truly magical.

We would make unforgettable memories from viewing the spectacular architecture of the Roman Empire, like the Roman Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain.

The boys will have their eyes open to some magnificent scenes and landscapes and as for me and the Other Half well maybe, just maybe we could reignite some of the romance that once was there.

This is my post for the Grand Adventure competition¬†currently being run by¬†www.moneysupermarket.com ¬†for a chance to win ¬£1000, If you’re a blogger and would like to join in you have until 31st January:-)

Where would you go and how would you spend £1000?

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