Crystal Palace park – The maze

Despite having been to this park more times than I can count, we only made it to the maze very recently. Possibly only because we set out specifically to find it, and im glad we did!

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There are markers set out around the paths that you find to help you on your way – the different symbols of the girl guides. Not that it stopped us running round in circles!

I was on the verge of giving up, and was trying to find a way out, when I discovered a new path that (finally!) took us into the heart of the maze.

Its great fun! Mini Malik and I raced round the different paths, taking turns to find dead ends and find the right way, while MrMalik trailed behind as MicroMalik was in the buggy.

DONT take your buggy! The paths are loose pebbles, so it’s a pain in the bum!

When you finally get to the center, the maze is mapped out on the floor with the different marker stones and is a great place for a picnic.

Alternatively, you could go straight to the center of the maze first, through a special gate that you’ll see as you enter the maze. The center is a lovely place, very peaceful and quiet.

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Oh Canada!

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MicroMalik and I headed off to Canada for two weeks to celebrate my little brother getting married! It was really hard leaving MrMalik and MiniMalik behind, but we had some great adventures.

Blue Mountain

We werent actually staying in the resort, but my brother and his new wife both previously worked in the resort and so I managed to visit parts of the site. The ‘village’ itself is a bit like butlins goes to Canada, lots of shops and family pubs with a man made lake in the center, it was really lovely to wander around at night with all the lights. On Labour day, which we were there for, they had a massive free fireworks show which was fabulous!

Niagra Falls

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We drove 4 hours each way to get to Niagra from where we were, but it was worth it! The falls itself are amazing, tv and film never do it justice. We stood at the top and worked our way along the side to where we could catch the ‘Maid of the Mist’. The boat is expensive, but totally worth it. They give you the rain macs included in the price and you’ll need them because it is wet and wild at the bottom of the falls! I was wearing MicroMalik on my front during the trip, so put the mac over both of us and made a hole for his head to pop out. Then I put a waterproof hat on him to keep the worst of the wet off. The water was dripping down his face but he didnt seem to mind! He got a bit scared when we first pulled up the falls as it is very wild, so we ducked behind the cab. There is a lull just after that which is great for the kids who are a bit nervous. As the boat pulls away it got wild again, so we hid!

The cottage

My sister-in-law is very lucky also that her family own a patch of land further north in the wilderness. They even have their own lake, and within 10 minutes of fishing I had caught my first fish! It was amazing being so far from cilvilisation and being able to actually see the stars, I have never seen so many in my life. We were quite near to Huntsville, which was another beautiful little town with some fabulous art.

Collingwood

This is the town that my new sister-in-law grew up in, its really lovely. They have a little craft and food market, the usual big chain shops and some independent gift shops. You can see the history in the buildings, just like in a western and if I shut my eyes very tightly I could almost see the cowboys riding down the street! They also have the most beautiful public library I have ever seen!  It is very close to Wasaga beach which is very well known as the longest fresh water beach in the world.

The details

There is NO public transport, so if you dont want to stay put, then you’ll need to hire a car.

Food is really quite expensive here, especially bread, milk & cheese, but its not too difficult to eat cheaply if you are creative

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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Grangewood park: You’d never know it was there!

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On our way into Croydon we always drive past this park, so this time we thought we would explore it, and Im so glad we did!

The best of both worlds with a dense forest area with pavement paths, perfect for buggies, fallen trees and plenty more for some nature play. There was a playpark, not fantastic but pretty good, and some cultivated garden for a bit of picturesque picnicing.

MiniMalik really enjoyed climbing fallen trees, being able to RUN and just playing in the dirt.

MrMalik and MicroMalik even shared a picnic blanket snooze whilst MiniMalik played in the dirt and MrsMalik collected some seeds from the flowers (My new hobby; seed foraging for our empty garden!).2013-08-19 12.26.57

Horniman Museum and Gardens

I almost don’t want to write this post. The Horniman Museum and Gardens is such a treasure of South London that I want to keep it all to myself.  We went this week during the height of summer holidays, and there wasn’t a crowd in sight, no need to queue for any of the exhibits or events and there was so much to do.

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Giant fabric Giraffe.

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Beans’ favourite part of the museum. I don’t know why.

I had done a bit of research on their website to see what was on for the under-5’s during the holidays and I was pleasantly surprised at the variety and volume of free activities. There seems to be 3-4 different things everyday to keep the kids entertained, on top of the coolness that is the museum and gardens themselves. The first thing we did when we arrived was go look at the monkey skeletons. Beans loves them. I don’t know why.  She was also a big fan of the dogs skulls attached to a nearby wall.

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Tree Frog Beans.

There was a big sign letting us know that the overstuffed walrus had headed to Margate for the summer, but a gigantic fabric giraffe was in it’s place.  There were also some lovely volunteers with different exhibit pieces that kids could touch. Beans was particularly fond of the giant peacock egg and feather. We then headed into one of the Family Fun Art sessions. Between 10 and 2:45 they museum was offering 30 minute art sessions for groups of children. This weeks activity was to create a tree frog mask. Beans is a creative sort and really took to it. Each session has a maximum of 30 children (ours only had 5 others), all supplies are provided and it’s completely free.

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Flower Gardens

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Outdoor musical instruments.

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Sheep!

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Alpaca.

With her mask firmly attached to her head we went to the Nature Base. This is just off of the Natural History section. There are a few interactive exhibits (massive magnifying glass, different animal sounds, a stuffed fox one can pet), as well as some live animals (mice). My favourite bit is a glass beehive. When we’ve been before the bees have been dormant, but today it was an alive mass of busy bees. After going through a few more of the exhibits we headed outside to the gardens. I noticed on my way out that their was a puppet show/play on that day in the pavilion, so we headed there first. Beans sat enraptured as we learned how Dan the seed became a dandelion through wind pollination (there was a bit more to it really, with songs and a villain and heroes, but the basic plot was about a plant). The gardens also have some new animals for kids to see and possibly pet. There were several signs about how the sheep may bite, so I didn’t let Beans touch them, but the goat seemed quite friendly. Beans was quite taken with the  adorable new rabbit and as a knitter I felt quite the affinity for the alpacas. Outdoor musical instruments are also available in the garden. There were xylophones, drums,  and various other percussion instruments for kids to happily bang away on. Even Sprout got in on the action, joyfully making as much noise as she could. The whole lot was quite impressive to my 9 month old. I could go on forever about all the wonderful things there are at the Horniman. Lots of free exhibits, hands on activities, storytelling and tours. The cafe is gorgeous and they have a wonderful conservatory, gorgeous flower gardens, wide open fields, at least a dozen different sundials scattered throughout, places to sit and have a picnic, a library and so much more. If you want to pay they have an aquarium and visiting exhibits as well. I really can’t recommend it enough and we end up going as much as possible. Beans, Sprout and I have been 3 or so times in the last 6 months and every time we’ve discovered something new and interesting. So even though I feel like it’s a secret, wonderful place and it pains me to share it, the museum itself deserves to have more visitors. So please go and enjoy! Information can be found here: http://www.horniman.ac.uk/ Nearest train station is Forest Hill. The museum is about a 10 minute walk (3 year old speed, 5 minutes at normal walking speed). Several buses stop near by as well.

Folkestone: Tunnel slides by the sea!

I decided that we should make use of the beautiful weather and head out beach wards, so on a recommendation to me by my local mum’s Facebook group, we went to Lower leas coastal park because her daughter raved about the slides for weeks!

Car parking was good, great access to the play park from there.

The playground was really good, caters from babies right up to pre-teens, with slides, sand, climbing walls, a pirate ship, those little diggers that you sit on and move the sand around (Mr Malik liked those! And he went down the slides several times!)

The seaside was lovely too, mostly pebble with patches of sand. Mini Malik put on his swim suit and went straight into the sea! We brought our beach tent, but didn’t put it up as there was no wind at all. There was a little sandpit further up the beach, perfect for building sand castles.

The little cafe was lovely too, with chips (Pretty cheap!), ice cream (Not so cheap) and the usual seaside delicacies.

If you are desperate for a decent play area, with a dip in the sea as an added bonus, then this is the place for you! Also, if you’re holidaying in the area, then pop it onto your to-do-list.

Mini Malik also raved about the ‘Tunnel Slides’ for weeks!

For a kit list, see my previous seaside post – here

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