Roughly half of the world’s population of grey seals are found around Britain.
Grey seals come ashore to breed – the breeding site is known as a rookery. The females arrive at the rookery and will usually give birth a day later. They feed their pups for the first 3 weeks. After the pup is weaned, the mother will leave. Over the next few weeks the pup will moult its soft white coat for a mottled waterproof one. Within 3 weeks the pup will have its adult fur and when it starts to feel hunger it will make its way to the sea where it will learn to swim and to feed for itself.
We visited a rookery on the beach between Winterton and Horsey Gap in Norfolk.
We arrived at Winterton and walked along the sand dunes for about 20 minutes until we found a good spot to watch the seals.
The seals had made their way up from the sand onto the grassy dunes and were sleeping in between them.
It was such a beautiful sight to see and witness but also sad to see that there were a few pups that had not made it past the first few weeks of their lives. This may have been because the Cow (Mum) had been disturbed and she abandoned her pup to get away.
We sat and watched in awe at the beauty surrounding us.
We listened to the waves crashing against the shore line and to the screaming sound of the Cow and pup communicating with each other.
You are advised to keep a safe distance from the seal as they can have nasty bite but it is hard to see them when walking with in the dunes. We stumbled across a few who were sleeping and only noticed them at the last minute.
When they move they can move pretty fast.
They are such beautiful creatures, with cute little faces. they almost remind me of fat dogs with no legs.
After over an hour of walking along the beach we made our way back to the car. Winterton is a popular destination for dog walkers because of the long sandy stretch of beach. We visited the same beach in the summer and stayed close by at Hermanus Holiday Site, read about it here
Beeleigh falls is one of the best kept secrets of Essex. A series of platforms, falls and locks, where the river Chelmer and Blackwater meet.
It’s no Niagara but it is definitely a little bit of paradise in Essex.
Last weekend, the family and I went along to explore the area. Nanny lives very close and although we have heard of the place we have never actually been there.
The sun was shining and we wanted to take the boys out for a long walk, so we headed on over to The Blackwater Rail Trail. A route that takes you along the old disused Witham to Maldon Railway Track. After walking along through the trees for about 20 minutes, we noticed on the map that we was close to Beeleigh Falls. Having no idea what it was that we were heading towards but the boys wanted to explore, we decided to make a detour.
We followed the path through Elms Farm Park, alongside the lake, where we saw the cutest dogs cooling down from the heat of the sun swimming in the lake.
We soon saw a sign for Beeleigh Locks pointing over a very old bridge.
The bridge crossed over the Chelmer and Bridgewater Navigation. The views down the river were beautiful. It was so green and peaceful.
Walking alongside the Golf Course we soon came to the first lock
Walking along the river brought back memories of when I was a child and walking along the canals where we used to live in Yorkshire.
Our afternoon leisurely stroll was turning out to be a perfect day out.
Just past the first lock and we could soon hear the gushing noise coming from the falls/weir.
We was greeted by the such beauty. Who would have thought that this natural delight was hiding behind the busy roads of Maldon, roads that we use all the time.
The water glistened as the sun shone down onto it. Reflections of trees and wild shrubs looked back at us as the gentle breeze rustled in the trees. There was every shade of green on the spectrum. It was calm and peaceful.
A perfect end to a countryside walk.
We have definitely found a new favourite place to visit in the future.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The first on the trail was Badger
Second was The Weasels
Third was Mole
Fourth was Ratty
And last was speedy 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.
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.
Outdoors, Nature and crafts. Just about sums up my family.
We love to be out and about and I’m always encouraging the boys to use their imagination more when it comes to the outdoors. My boys love science and nature. They can often be found sitting amongst the mud, dirt ground into their pores and deep into their nails, searching for signs of living creatures. In fact my middle boy, who is 8, wants to become a zoologist when he is older. He says he wants to explore the hidden depths of Earth to find new living animals.
We was recently invited along to an event that was very local to us at RSPB Rainham Marshes to meet a fellow Mum and author Hattie Garlick, for the launch of her new book Born to be Wild. Hattie Garlick is a writer and journalist. She has written for The Times, The Guardian, The Spectator and The Huffington Post amongst others, and also writes the blog Free Our Kids where she received lots of press coverage for pledging to not spend a penny on her children for a year! She’s a passionate modern eco-warrior.
We was promised a morning of fun and that is certainly what we got. Our day started off with a walk through the nature reserve, led by Rainham Marshes expert Louise. We was shown the ant hills, there were tons of them and what a teasel was. A tall brown, prickly plant. It was very popular with the children and they all wanted to take one home with them. Without harming the reserve, they was all given a magic wand to carry.
As we walked over the bridge, we looked out along the water to search for voles. The boys loved being outdoors and revelled in the surroundings. My Joseph was in his element. He had taken along his nature book and was constantly looking through it to see what he could spot.
As we arrived at the hide, where we was to meet Hattie Garlick for a spot of crafts and lunch. We all gathered outside amongst the grass where the children ran around feeling the wind on their little faces and pretending to be certain animals. Mimicking their movements and noises. It was good fun. They enjoyed frolicking around on the grass.
We made our way inside for a little warm up and an introduction to Hattie and her adorable little assistant, her daughter Frida. Hattie spoke about her book and how we should allow our children to take the lead when it comes to crafting with nature. Let their imaginations run wild and see what wonderful twists and turns they take.
“Born To Be Wild is an inspirational book packed with over 100 activites to reconnect your family to the outdoors. User friendly, you can flick through to the relevant season and materials you find (for example sticks, stones, blossom…) and find a fun and interatctive activity to do with your children. The ideas can be easily adapted so they are suitable for children of all ages. Beautifully illustrated with colour photos by Nancy Honey this book is sure to become a family favourite.”
The activities in the book promise to be easy on the wallet and planet and most importantly fun for all the family. Hattie believes that children have the wildest imagination and Nature allows it to become free.
Hattie invited us all outside for a spot of pond dipping to get closer to nature
After a quick introduction from Louise we was ready to give it a go.
I was little apprehensive allowing the youngest to get so close to the water, he doesn’t see danger and was leaning right over the edge trying his best to scoop up some living things with his net. But one look at his face and I knew I had to let him try. He was loving it.
We found lots of pond minibeasts around the reeds in the water. We got quite a water nature haul, finding a Whirligig Beetle, biting midge larva, damselfly nymph, blood worm and water mites.
After our fun outside, we made our way inside for a spot of nature crafts with Hattie. On each table was a selection of object for us to make an Easter tree with, some from the outdoors and some from the craft cupboard.
We filled our jar with some soil that had been gathered up for us beforehand and then placed some twigs into the soil, pushing down deep for it to stay. Then all was left to do was allow the boys to use their imagination and see what they come up with. The boys enjoyed getting messy, in fact Hattie said the messier the better
The boys used wool, paint, glitter, tissue paper, flowers and ribbon to brighten up the twig and produce an Easter tree perfect for any living room. It was bright and colourful and lots of fun.
Hattie gave out prices to all of the children that created a nature project. Joseph was given a book about wolves. He loves to read and was over the moon with his prize.
We had a wonderful morning at the reserve, learning about nature and meeting Hattie Garlick. I think Hattie had made a friend for life in my boy, he adored her and now carries her book about with him.
This short film sums up our morning with Hattie and RSPB
Read about Hattie’s book Born to Wild here The book contains easy to follow instructions for over 250 activities that requires nothing more than a small persons imagination and the outdoors. The book guides you through each season. It introduces you to the toolkit that you will need, just normal everyday household items, collect everything together and place them into a bag ready to use on your next outdoor adventure.
Want to save cash, your child’s imagination and possibly even the planet? This is the book you need.
If you yearn to get your children off the Xbox, away from the iPad and back to nature, Born to be Wild by Hattie Garlick provides an essential guide to getting your family out of the house, immersed in the outdoors and having fun, without costing the earth.
The average British child watches over 17 hours of TV per week, a figure that has risen 12% since 2007, despite the rival attractions of the internet. Britain’s 11-15 year olds are so addicted to their electronic devices that they spend 7½ hours a day in front of a screen – an increase of 40% in a decade and around half their waking lives. A generation ago, half of British children regularly played in wild places, now it is less than one in ten.
“This book is written by a parent… one who is neither an Earth Mama making her own yoghurt from a yurt, nor a countess with a country pile in the Cotswolds. One who has real kids – the kind who throw tantrums and worship at the altar of the Sky box.” Hattie Garlick
Packed with beautiful photos of real families taken by award-winning photographer Nancy Honey, the book provides hundreds of fun activities to embrace nature, from ‘Building a Butterfly Feeder’ and ‘Making a Bark Monster’, to ‘Take off your Shoes and Socks and… Stomp’.
With simple instructions for those times when your creativity needs a bit of a kickstart – whether you are looking for activities for Mini Matisses or small scientists, adventures that take ten minutes, or that absorb whole afternoons – all that’s required is a small person’s imagination and access to a little outdoor space.
Organised by season and then by material, the book lets you skip straight to Spring, then ‘Blossom’, ‘Grass’ or ‘Earth’, depending on what you and your family would like to explore. Everything you need to engage in and create hundreds of activities can be found in your kitchen cupboard. No expensive art supplies or outward-bound kit required, merely Hattie’s suggested ‘toolkit’ listed at the front of the book, featuring everyday household items including scissors, rubber bands, glue and an empty jam jar or two.
“Hattie Garlick has the wonderful knack of engaging whole families in nature, in ways that are exciting, easy to do, and require little more than a child’s boundless imagination”