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.

V&A: Childhood Museum

This was the Malik family’s second visit to the museum this year. The first time we came for the ‘Great cloth diaper change’ and this time the main reason for the visit was to drop off some milk for a mummy in need. (Find out more about that here!)

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Both times MiniMalik had LOTS of fun in the sandpit (despite barely touching his sandpit at home!) and generally running around trying to find all his favourite toys in the different displays.

MicroMalik was big enough to join in a little this time, he sat in the corner of the lights for ages just watching them change!

We indulged in the cafe, which is a little more expensive than we usually go for, but still quite reasonable. MiniMalik had a fish finger sandwich and I had pumpkin soup, both of which were lovely. There is a picnic area downstairs, so next time that’s what i’ll be doing!

I had dressed MiniMalik in a yellow t-shirt, which usually makes him highly visible … not so much in amongst the crowds of school children wearing yellow tabards!

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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Sydenham wells park: Fabulous play fountain

It was a beautiful day, so the Malik family decided to head for some water. I had been told that Sydenham Wells had a play fountain, so we went to check it out.

We set up our picnic under a mature maple tree and attempted to persuade MiniMalik to eat some picnic before he went off to play!

Its a lovely park, with a playground with a good variety of play equipment and water play fountains. I had the foresight to pack swim kit for MiniMalik, so he played all afternoon in his trunks!

There is a good sized playground, lots of grass and shady trees, an under 5s park (which didn’t look great), bits of cultivated garden and a putting green and nature area which we didn’t go to.

As we were leaving we realised that we couldn’t see MiniMalik … He had taken off his trunks and was playing naked on the swing!

Apologies for the lack of pictures, we were so busy having fun that we forgot!

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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