South Norwood Country Park

As a Canadian, I am always surprised to see totem poles in the UK.

As a Canadian, I am always surprised to see totem poles in the UK.

A few weeks ago, long before the weather turned, we were having a lazy Sunday at home.  Well at least we were trying to.  Beans was bouncing off the walls and Sprout was restlessly crawling around the lounge. Neither BeanieDad nor I were feeling particularly ambitious and didn’t really want to head too far, but an outing was desperately required. So after lunch we decided to go for a walk to South Norwood Country Park.

I’ve been meaning to head to this park since we moved to the area a year ago.  We live less than a mile from it and the website made it sound wonderful.  I made us walk there too, just to make sure my darling 3 year old burned off as much energy as possible.

Beans on the slide at the playground.

Beans on the slide at the playground.

The park is made up of several acres of woodlands and meadows. There’s also a lake and wetlands. The playground is new and extensive. There was lots of different equipment for all age groups, as well as a two small wooded areas perfect for hide and seek and exploration.

It’s also a foragers dream. Most of the paths are lined with blackberry bushes and we also spotted apples, plums, rose hips and elder flowers.  I’m sure there was much more that my untrained eye missed.

Beans hanging out in the woodland.

Beans hanging out in the woodland.

There’s a great lake, with lots of wildlife, as well as streams throughout the park.  The pathways are perfect for wondering and talking your time, and the city seems far away. It was lovely to have a little bit of the country so close to home.

On the way home I described it as the hidden jewel of South London, but Beans insisted that she was in fact the hidden jewel of South London. So there.

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Tower of London

The Tower

The Tower

Last Christmas my brother gave us an amazing gift. He bought my little family a membership to the Tower of London. This membership also gives us access to Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace.  For free. It also gives us 10% off in the cafe’s and the gift shop. In short it’s amazing.  And it lasts for a year, from our first visit. Which was good for us, since we didn’t actually make it out to any of the five palaces until the end of August.

Now going to the Tower of London on the bank holiday Monday was a bit of a mistake. It was hot and crowded with lots of queues. But we still managed to enjoy ourselves. The line up for the Crown Jewels was excessively long, so we gave it a miss but did head to the White Tower and the Bloody Tower. Beans loved walking up and down all the spiral staircases, her mother less so.

 

The White Tower had lovely armour to admire, and full-sized horse statues. Each horse had it’s own unique facial expression, which was in quite the contrast to all the blank “faces” from the armour.  At the top of the tower was an amazing dragon made out of  weapons, jewels, armour, and scrolls.  It was my favourite thing of the day.

Family packs are available from the ticket desk and I recommend picking one up. Beans was pleased as punch to get her “Practicing Princess” badge and the workbook was age appropriate. It encouraged us to look out for all the wonderful animal statues scattered around the Tower, which gave our visit some direction.

I’m looking forward to visiting again. Perhaps when it’s not as busy.

 

Hyde Park: Isis Education Centre

On a sunny Wednesday the mobile mama’s headed into central London for the Isis Education Centre’s Discovery Day.  Throughout the summer the Education Centre has open it’s doors and provided free entertainment for young families.

IMG_9514The Isis Education Centre is located in the heart of Hyde Park,  and provides a natural oasis in the centre of London. They have been running “Discovery Days” this summer, inviting families to come in for Arts and Crafts, mini-beast hunting and plant “identifying.

IMG_9515The building itself is a lovely example of environmentally responsible architecture and the staff and volunteers are wonderfully welcoming. We started by making bee puppets and painting ladybird and butterfly pictures, before heading out into the garden for some mini beast discovery. The staff had set up several plastic containers with various wee creatures in them, but the part both MiniMalik and Beans enjoyed most was the bug habitat. There were several logs to look under and magnifying glasses were provided. One lucky girl found a toad (less lucky for the toad). We all got a good look at it before it was whisked away by a staff member to keep it safe.

IMG_9522 IMG_9519 IMG_9518The gardens surrounding the centre are full of herbs, flowers and trees. MrsMalik and I had some fun identifying the plants for the kids. There is also a gorgeous pond filled with interesting wildlife: newts, sea snails and slugs were all spotted.

IMG_9526After exploring the centre we had a picnic on the grounds of Hyde Park and then walked to the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. We let the big kids splash around while Sprout napped and MiniMalik people watched.

The Isis Education Centre has several different events throughout the year. Check out their website  for more information.

Coombe woods: Some Foresty Fun

Coombe woods has the best of both worlds, beautiful gardens and a fantastic bit of forest!

The Maliks all went out for a picnic expecting just a bit of woodland, (We are having a series of picnics instead of a family holiday this year as I’m off to Canada for my brothers wedding with MicroMalik) but were greeted with a beautifully mature rockery garden, pond and lawn with HUGE beautiful borders.

We started out with our picnic on the ‘broad lawn’, enjoying the gorgeous flowers in the borders, then packed it away to explore the woods.

These woods and paths are really unsuitable for buggies, so don’t even try! You will have much more fun exploring with a toddler, or a baby in a carrier. Check out our post on being mobile with baby here.

We really enjoyed climbing the stairs, clambering over trees and just enjoying a beautiful forest.

After the woods we then explored the more ‘tamed’ parts of the garden, the pond with huge fish and lilly pads, the rockery garden with little stream and more!

Its a perfect trip for the family, as long as you are all fairly mobile!

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