Green dream

One of our favourite things to do together is go to the woods, whether it is crisp and autumnal or mild and springlike, the woods is always a fun way to spend a couple of hours… on go the wellies and off we go! Nature’s playground, the smells, sounds and sights within the woods soothe me, it is really a place I can connect with nature and forget about the rest of the world for a while. I dare say it has the same effect on Littlelish, she just doesn’t know it ;)

Did you know that on average we spend £4800 on keeping our children entertained each year? Make the most of what is free and on your doorstep and head out to the woods people! We are lucky as where we live is surrounded by woodland. One of our very favourite woodlands to visit is Fineshades. Within 30 mins of our house Fineshades has so much to offer besides the absolutely beautiful wild woodland. We were invited on a special blogger activity day to find out just what there is to do there! Cheryl the forest ranger introduced us to some great activities.

Den building in the woods

Have you ever built a den in the woods? Me neither! Littlelish loves building dens and we are forever making houses out of bed linen and chairs at home and in the garden but we never thought to build a den in the woods. It was so easy! Forest ranger Cheryl played a great game with the children, pretending we had crashed nearby and needed to make a shelter for the night before our rescuers came the next day. Luckily she knew of a great clearing where we could build our dens with plenty of perfect branches and long sticks. She explained that the trick was to find a tree with a branch coming off at an angle, if you can’t find a tree with this you can also lean a long loose branch that you have found up against a tree and start from there. You then need to find long branches that you can line up next to each other to make a wall for your den – like so! Littlelish thoroughly enjoyed making her den and we could well have played in it for hours together – it was so much fun! That reminds me, this weekend – Den building again!

Cycle hire at Fineshades

One of the great things about Fineshades is how cycle friendly it is for people of all abilities. There are nice smooth tracks for families to cycle on and some cool little off road bits for those who like mountain biking. If you don’t own your own bike don’t worry Rutland cycle have a shop at Fineshades and you can hire bikes of all shapes and sizes including bike attachments, seats and trailers for children. Littlelish and I took full advantage of the bike hire and tested out a trailer (she has always wanted to go in one). I must admit pulling a 4 year old along isn’t the worlds easiest job for mummy (phew!) but we managed to have a quick whizz around the woods. We have hired bikes from Rutland cycles on quite a few occasions, also at Rutland water and they are really good. The bikes are good quality and if you are unlucky enough to get a puncture then just call them and they come out and fix it straight away as we discovered at the furthest point away from the cycle hire at Rutland Water this summer!

Awesome playground

There is a very, very cool playground at Fineshades. All made out of natural smooth wood the play equipment is perfectly designed for stimulating creative play. In fact I’d go as far to say it’s one of our all time favourite playgrounds. The wooden teepee, the giant hammock, the climbing structure that is like a giant roof, the playhouse at the top of the hill, the log (that looks like a crocodile) crossing over the imaginary river. Littlelish could and does spend hours playing here, it is awesome. We ended up in the playground after our bloggers day and I had trouble getting her to go home! She was especially proud that she climbed all the way to the top of the climbing wall, she made short work of it too!

Lovely cafe at Fineshades – open  10 – 5 every day

We have had the pleasure of sampling the cafe before on a Sunday morning, after a nice long walk in the woods. There is nothing better than knowing a large warm latte and piece of cake is waiting – it helps motivate tired little legs too! The food is high quality, fresh and yummy. With a good choice of coffee, paninis, sandwiches, cakes and fruit everyone is happy. Littlelish had a ham sandwich and I had a roast veg panini – yum! Both were delicious and filling and the staff are very pleasant and helpful too. We sat and ate our food in the courtyard sunshine and Littlelish resumed her hobby of dog spotting and stroking “Mummy have you seen that dog” “Mummy look at that funny dog” “Muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum look at that dog” Oh yes – she loooooves dogs!

I’d absolutely recommend Fineshades as a great, affordable place to visit for both young and old. For those who don’t enjoy a walk in the woods, firstly, what is wrong with you! ;) I challenge you to look again, connect with nature and use your imagination! For fun ideas of things to do in the woods check out Miss Lizzie’s pinterest board http://pinterest.com/missielizzieb/we-love-forests/. Then browse the Fineshades website for planned activities within the woods, they even organise birthday parties in the woods – how fun is that?

Fineshades car parking charges – £3 per day or £1 per hour

 

 

 

I’m happy. After an extremely sickly couple of weeks we are better and actually managed to have a fantastic Easter! I’ve loved every minute of it :) It was kick-started in spectacular style last week when I was invited as part of a bloggers day-out by Achica, the luxury lifestyle store to visit Rococo Chocolates, an exquisite London based chocolatier. Lucky me!

Venturing into Knightsbridge by car was brave and I pretty much instantly regretted it due to traffic but oh it was so quickly forgotten as I parked up and ventured down the very pretty sunlit Motcomb street to the flagship store of Rococo. The beautiful blue and white shop greeted me with a smile, waiting inside was a true treasure trove of imaginative chocolate creations :)

At the back of the shop, Julie was waiting to welcome our group of bloggers and tell us all about Rococo chocolates.

Rococo was founded by Chantal Coady in 1983, nearly three decades, three books (about chocolate of course) and three shops later, Chantal and Rococo are still inspiring many through warm and inviting shops, delicately nuanced flavours and creative, beautiful packaging. In fact, the Academy of Chocolate awarded Chantal and Rococo for ‘Changing the Way People Think About Chocolate,’ and the Wall Street Journal recognised Chantal as the founder of the ‘New British School‘ of chocolate.

Always intent on using authentic, healthy ingredients (eg a big ‘no’ to artificial vanilla and hydrogenated vegetable fat) and sourcing fairly, we’re proudest of our latest venture, Grococo, the ‘home farm’ that is supplying its entire harvest of organic Trinitario cocoa beans to make the fine chocolate used in our house blend.

The original shop can be found on the Kings Road, along with a store on Marylebone High Street and of course the flagship store I visited in Belgravia’s Motcomb Street. The only location outside of London to be lucky enough to have a Rococo store is The Chester Grosvenor Hotel, which opened in 2012.

During our talk we were treated to an exquisite thick hot chocolate drink with a raspberry marshmellow dunking cube. H.e.a.v.e.n.l.y. The  London traffic melted away and I was captivated, she had my full attention! Julie continued to explain how chocolate is made which I found fascinating as I’ve always fancied trying it myself! I also learnt some interesting things like what white chocolate is made out of, which is something I always wondered about! The answer by the way is cocoa butter!

It was now time to move on to the workshop where we were lucky enough to be decorating our own Easter eggs! The table was laid out with chocolate piping bags, liquid chocolate to paint on, an assortment of coloured and metallic chocolate decoration balls, shakes, glitter, yoghurt flakes, crispy bits even cocoa butter transfers which we could apply. (I’m definitely going to do this with Littlelish next Easter!)

We were let loose literally like kids in a candy shop and it was great fun to be creative in this way. I got stuck straight in applying swirls, copper dust and green chocolate balls to my first egg. Then I made a special egg for my girl, a hedgehog egg with her name on it :) As a group of creative bloggers from the interiors world and creative mummy bloggers, we had some fab creations!

We left with our extra special eggs and a bag of wonderful mini eggs, of which I will say, if you try one thing from Rococo chocolate make it the salty caramel Seagull eggs!! Yum! The Easter eggs from Rococo went to the special ladies in my life, Littlelish and my mum and were apparently divine! Thank you Achica and Rococo for a truly fabulous event. Indeed once bitten, truly smitten! Rococo chocolates is officially my favourite chocolatier :)

 

 

I’ve been a little bit naughty… I’ve been so snowed under recently that I’ve been sitting on a fab competition. I know, I know, how dare I? Not deliberately I hope you understand. Worst of all it’s a summer competition and as I woefully realise we are in September (although we do have sun guys and isn’t it lush?)

You see a while ago, while the sun was shining and before I got ridiculously busy, I spent a lot of time lazing about in my garden and more precisely, my hammock. During which time I was raving about hammocks, on instagram on facebook on twitter, wherever, whenever I could. You see we LOVE hammocks. It’s something about the gentle swaying motion, the relaxation and more than likely the fact that I probably first experienced a hammock in some divinely warm country.

We’ve had our 2 person hammock for a very long time and it has actually traveled all over the world with us including our very first holiday to Italy. This year we are in a new house and decided the perfectly situated apple trees in our garden were crying out for our hammock. As soon as we put it up Littlelish was in it like a flash! I guess it wasn’t surprising that she instantly loved hammocks too. The first week we put it up she spent a lot of time relaxing in it, reading, singing. I quote her as saying “Mummy, this hammock is actually like being in heaven” :)

So when the wonderful people at Hen and Hammock (fabulous online shop with everything for your garden!) offered us a children’s hammock for Littlelish, my little girl was very happy. This one was to go up on the tree behind our hammock so we could all play! When it arrived we excitedly put it up quickly, after many years as chief hammock hanger I have now perfected the art :) For those of you that need help hanging a hammock here is a great video. The hammock is woven from soft cotton in Brazil by a fair trade organisation called Amazonas and the quality is absolutely beautiful. A great size, the hammock is suitable for babies up until the age of about 6. According to their website “The swaying promotes a sense of balance, one of the reasons why hammocks are commonly used in child therapy.” Ah ha! I have my theory that it reminds us of being carried in the womb and that is why it has such a soothing effect. I’m off to research that now!

Back and wow I learned a lot in a very short time! Did you know?

  • The soothing motion of swinging soothes, relaxes and increases concentration. Children who have trouble focusing on tasks such as reading or math, might find it easier to concentrate in a hammock while their bodies are engaged in a soothing motion.
  • The motion of swinging restores balance to the vestibular system, provides proprioceptive input (deep pressure) and generally helps autistic-spectrum children feel more “in balance”.
  • Hammocks can be used in premature baby therapy as well as in the treatment of arthritis, acid reflux, sleep apnea or simply to reduce stress and provide a healthier night sleep.
  • The zero-pressure point ergonomics and the ability to slightly elevate your upper body are keys to a healthy sleep that no flat surface or mattress provides.

So with the last days of summer drawing near, we will be taking down the hammocks and after all I have read I am very keen to put it up inside the house (keep you posted on that one!). It provides such a lovely place for Littlelish to retreat to. A safe, warm cocoon where she can read and sing. I’m even thinking of a beachy bedroom…

The lovely people at Hen an Hammock have also given me one gorgeous hammock to giveaway! You decided if you want it inside, to take on holiday or for next summer (sorry!) Entries via the rafflecopter below please :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions

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