Saturday, 22 April 2017

Spotlight Saturday

Spotlight on Langdon Hills Nature Reserve
I was reading Sian’s post on Monday where she said that she had visited a beach close to home for the first time and wondered why it had taken her so long to do so. We have been wondering the same thing about places local to us that we are only just getting around to visiting although we have lived in the area for 25 years this August!
This past Bank Holiday weekend, after doing gardening on Friday and clearing out the filing cabinet on Saturday, we decided to visit Langdon Hills Nature Reserve for a walk on Easter Sunday morning. The reserve is just 15 minutes drive away from Wickford and set in 461 acres which comprises woodland, meadows, lakes and former plotland gardens. There are beautiful wildlife gardens and a museum of Plotland Life (which unfortunately wasn’t open when we were there – a good excuse to go back!).
We arrived at 10.30am thinking that it wouldn’t be too busy – wrong! It was extremely busy with lots of families taking part in the Easter egg hunt which they had going on. However, once away from the main car park (free to park) the crowds spread out and although we encountered other families as we walked around it never felt crowded. The reserve also has a Peter Rabbit Woodland Trail. You can purchase a map to follow to find all the sculptures, or you can just wander like we did! There are six solid wood sculptures of Potter characters, placed along an all-weather path (which means it is suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs) and we found them all and took SO many photos! 

Actually, we didn’t find them all the first time we went around and ending up buying the map so that we could find the 2 we had missed.  The reserve is beautiful and on a sunny day, which it was when we went, perfect for wandering around and you could spend a lot longer there than we did. 

We found the museum of Plotland life on our walk but unfortunately it didn’t open until later in the day. The museum is in one of the old plotland houses and although it was shut we were able to peer into the windows at the back and read some of the information about the plotlands which was fascinating. We bought the Plotland trail guide just as we were leaving so that we can do that on another day too. If you want to find out more about the Plotlands click here.

The facilities include a shop, tea room, activity centre for the children, play area and toilets. The only facilities we used were the toilets which were fine! The shop was quite well stocked with trail leaflets, bits and pieces to buy from the Essex Wildlife Trust and sweets and drinks. In the tea room area there was a second hand book section raising money for the Essex Wildlife Trust.

As a family of 3 adults we had a great time on our walk and I would highly recommend a visit if you are in the area. We will definitely be going back to do the Plotlands trail and to visit the museum.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Spotlight Saturday

Spotlight on Dinton Pastures Country Park, Wokingham
My son and his girlfriend live in Winnersh. Where I hear you ask? Well, Winnersh is basically between Reading and Wokingham – handy if you work at Microsoft as they do (well, Ben has handed in his notice but that is a story for another day!). It takes us about 2 hours to get there so unfortunately we don’t get to visit with them very often. However on Sunday we got our jobs done early and Hugh, Penny and I piled into the car and made the trip to see them!
We arrived at lunchtime and Amy had prepared us a lovely lunch. As the weather was so superb (and as we are British and therefore must make the most of good, unseasonal weather!) Ben suggested we go out for a walk and see their local area as we haven’t done that yet and they have lived there for 3 years.

Ben suggested we walk to Dinton Pastures – “it’s only a 20 minute walk, not worth taking the car” he said. Thirty five minutes later we arrived! However, I have to say that the walk there was very nice and took us through Winnersh Meadows which was very peaceful, green, had beautiful blossom on the trees and an outdoor gym which of course my family all had to mess about on!

Arriving at Dinton Pastures was a little hairy as you have to cross a busy, fast main road to get to it and there is no safe crossing place – something I think the local council needs to remedy if they want people to walk there! The car park is quite large and at the weekends costs £1.50 for up to 4 hours and £6 over 4 hours and you could easily spend a whole day here so actually I think it is pretty good value for money. At the entrance is the Dragonfly CafĂ© and toilets. We stopped here immediately and bought icecreams as we were so hot! We also made use of the facilities which were good for public conveniences!
Then off we went for our walk! We could have walked for hours. Dinton Pastures covers 450 acres of lakes, rivers, meadows and woodland. We walked for about 30 minutes – it was sooo hot! However it is such a lovely place. Ben told us that it is possible to hire boats, pedalos, etc at a reasonable rate – perhaps something we could do another day. There is also the best play park for children that I have EVER seen! I wished that either I was a child or had a child who could enjoy it. It is great too as it is an inclusive play space which has been designed to be non-prescriptive and allow children of all abilities to be able to enjoy it.
 We had such a lovely afternoon and I would love to go back with Ben and Amy and perhaps take a picnic and spend the day there. The walk back didn’t seem to take as long lol!  Apart from walking through Winnersh Meadows we also had to walk through a modern (and rather upmarket) housing estate, but it did have this beautiful old house right in the middle of it which I couldn’t resist taking a photo of as I would like to live in it!
So thank you Ben and Amy for a lovely afternoon – can’t wait to come and see you again!

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Spotligh Saturday

Spotlight on my life!
This past week has been busy and fun. 

It started with a trip to Hyde Hall Gardens with Hugh. I had won tickets in the Big Essex Weekend lottery. We spent a lovely couple of hours there, lots of walking in the sunshine and a cup of coffee in the cafe. 
Sunday afternoon Hugh and I relaxed doing our hobbies - for him his model railway and for me some scrapbooking. In fact I managed 3 pages, mostly with this month's Like For Ever Kit - so sad that Nicky is closing this down as they kits have been fantastic.

Sunday evening saw me taking Hugh to the station so he could catch a train to stay at a hotel close to where his new company is. Monday was his first day in a new job and so far so good - he is thoroughly enjoying it!

Monday the cat was back down the vets - another urine sample needed. Hopefully we will find out what is wrong with her soon. She is quite happy but has lost some weight and had blood in her urine. 

Tuesday was bingo night! I've never been before but the girls from work chose this as our next 'social'. It was quite fun but not really my thing. I think I may have found it more fun with my actual friends rather than work colleagues! To be honest I didn't really want to go as although I get on with them at work they are not really my type of people and we have NOTHING in common!  Anyway I went and played and didn't win! Maybe if I'd won I would have liked it better!

Wednesday saw me at the gym. I normally go with Penny but she was visiting a friend. An hour on the treadmill and elliptical machine and I was done!

Thursday Penny and I had our second yoga session. We are both LOVING it! Feel so stretched and relaxed afterwards!

And that brings me to Friday. My first Friday not working and it has been wonderful! I had a booster for Hep A first thing then cleaned the house downstairs - a proper deep clean and it looks so good! Then it was off to the hairdresser to get the roots done and a cut! 

So that's my week. It's been a good one. How has your week been? Hope you have a great weekend.