We booked the holiday with Canterbury Travel, 13 months prior to our trip actually taking place. This was a four day tour to Luosto, Finland and our one was called the Magical Interlude Tour. We flew out of Gatwick airport on Friday 20th December with British Airways and flew to Rovaniemi. The flight took about 2.5 hours and as it was solely a Canterbury Travel tour, there were lots of games on-board, the flight deck was decorated with tinsel and fairy lights, and the crew were in particularly fun and mischievous moods! This set the scene really well for the start of the trip and got everyone into a fun festive spirit.
When we arrived in Luosto each family was each taken their accommodation. We opted to stay in a log cabin, which was a good size (as little time was spent actually in it) and had appropriate facilities such as a log burner, sauna and boot dying cupboard. Staying in a log cabin meant that for breakfast and dinner we would grab a sledge (as they are everywhere so you just pick up any one to use) and walk to the allotted restaurant. For those who didn’t want to go outside too much (as it was -21 the night before we got there!) there is the option to stay in a hotel, whereby breakfast and dinner are all within the hotel. My girls loved heading out in the dark morning and evening – as it doesn’t get light until around 11am and then starts to get dark at around 2pm – and so the log cabin was the right choice for our family.
Once we arrived and unpacked we headed to the restaurant and Greg had to take the ‘items’ (these were the code names for the presents from Santa and the girls letters to Santa) and dropped these off to the staff in the pre-arranged location.
This was so special as we were able to feed these gentle giants and then proceeded to walk to the area where we climbed aboard our sledges and we pulled along through the woods by the reindeers! It really was magical and the blankets were welcomed as the temperature had dropped. After a 40 or so minute sleigh ride we then went into a large log cabin for hot refreshments and to meet the reindeer farmer, who told us all there is to know about reindeer – it really was very interesting! After this we walked 100 metres to the restaurant for a lovely hot lunch.
After lunch and as the sun was going down we headed next door to the husky farm – there were over 200 husky dogs, from 8 weeks old upwards, who all lived outdoors in covered pens (apparently the dogs' favourite temperature is -20!!). We went into a tepee for some warm berry juice and the lady who ran the farm told us all about husky dogs and how they run the place – we even met a puppy who I could have quite happily taken home with me!! We then headed off to our own husky ride – Greg was standing at the back of the sledge, while me and the girls sat on it and he steered six huskies through the woods! We followed the guide on her skidoo and with a head torch and six eager dogs we were off and hurtled through the dark woods – it was fast and amazing and to my surprise the girls absolutely loved it and laughed all the way around the track! Once we finished this we all headed back to the coach and through a snow blizzard to the skidoo park, where the children and adults could all have a go – it was a bumpy ride on the skidoos but a lot of fun!
After a busy and fun packed day we got on the coach and headed back to our log cabin, to change and go out for dinner – it certainly built up an appetite and the buffet was lovely with a good variety of options to choose from. Sledging back to the log cabin after the meal, we then all slept very well!
After this we were told that the elf ‘Wendy Wood’, who makes all of the wooden toys, needed each family to come and help her clear all the sawdust from her home and the family with the most sawdust would be the winners....! We were then taken by skidoo and sledge up to Wendy Woods house and our family was called up first to go into her house, with our big boot bag, and collect the sawdust. The girls were totally up for this and were looking forward to being the winning family!! When we got into the house an elf met us and led us up the stairs where we suddenly met Mrs Claus, who was funny and friendly and chatted to us for a while, and then got the girls to so some magic and the book case moved to reveal a door and through the door was another elf! We followed the elf back down the stairs and suddenly there was the man himself, Santa Claus! The girls were so shocked and were the most polite I have ever known them to be!! He had their letters (that they had sent up the chimney two weeks previous) and talked through their lists and gave them each a gift (which we had to put into the boot bag). Another door opened and there was Tricky Dicky to meet us and take us back outside and to tell us not to tell anyone about the secret – which they loved and proceeded to go outside and tell everyone we had a big bag full of saw dust!! It was so well executed, especially for my daughter who was nervous about the thought of meeting Santa. While the other families had their turns, we played in the snow with other elves.
For us, this was a once in a lifetime, memory making, bucket list ticking adventure and was just amazing – it feels like a dream when I look back at my photos – which I have to add were taken with my iphone as I didn’t want to risk taking my work camera and it being dropped or freezing up in the low temperatures!
I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog as much as I have enjoyed writing it and re-living this amazing trip! I can’t wait to take the girls on more adventures as they grow and feel that this is just the start! If you have any questions or comments please feel free to add them below.
The McNeil family x
In my job I get to meet so many families - having now photographed over 130 newborns (and counting!) and many toddlers, tots and tweens! I love meeting so many different people and their families, and I love to find out why people want to have the photo shoot – sometimes it’s just to capture a stage in their child’s development, and sometimes it’s to capture images of family members, who maybe live abroad and time together is all the more precious. Whatever your reason, photographs at any stage in life are so incredibly important, as they capture an age and a moment in a persons life which is then preserved forever.
With meeting so many newborns, the baby’s name is one of the biggest decisions that the parents will make once baby arrives, or in my case, before my baby arrived! For my first daughter we had the scan to tell us the gender – as my husband felt he needed to be able to bond with the baby (as he really wanted a girl!), and he had his heart set on the name Darcey. Thankfully I loved this name too, and so when we found out our baby was a girl, she was already named before she was even born! Naming a baby is such a big responsibility and many questions arise when deciding, such as, does it rhyme with anything?, what are the initials, do I know anyone with that name?, what does the name mean? Without realising the meaning of the names of both of my daughter's names (Darcey and Layla) mean 'dark' or 'night' - and funnily enough they were both born late in the night!
Some people name their baby after a relative, or from a film character (I know Elsa and Anna and Charlotte have gone up in popularity over the years!), or from a book character - naming a baby isn't easy and it usually takes a lot of time to decide what name is best! You will be pleased to know that in the UK there aren't as many restrictions as to what you name your baby - in Iceland, for example, there are a list of 3,600 names to choose from - take a look at this short clip to see some of the names that have been blocked in recent years! <click here>
Tiddlywinks Methodist Church Hall. Drop in. 8.30-11.30
Liz Ferris 07799 854535
Little Ace Tennis, Marlow Youth Centre/Methodist Church, various times. https://www.littleacestennis.co.uk/weekly-classes contact Emma Hellewell: 07766386345
Crafty Cooks 99 Newfield Gardens. 10am & 11.15 am Booking essential: Anna Oliver 07789 408869 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tumbling Toddlers Booker Gym Club. Drop in. 10.30-12midday Monday to Thursday and 10.30-12.30 on Fridays Tel: 01494 471566 Email: email@example.com
Hartbeeps Sea Cadets’ Hall, Wethered Rd. 9.30 Happy House – toddling to 4yrs. 10.45 Baby Beeps – sitting to toddling. 12.00 Baby Bells – birth to sitting
Booking essential: Kerraleigh Child 07866 656366 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Perform Drama All Saints’ Church Hall, The Causeway. 4pm: 4-7yrs 5pm: 7-12yrs. Booking essential: 020 7255 9120 email@example.com www.perform.org.uk/venue/view?v=48&type=pplus
Marlow Twins Club at Newfield Community Church 10.30am-12noon contact Veronica Leyon firstname.lastname@example.org
Crafty Cooks 99, Newfield Gardens. 10, 11.15 & 1.30pm. Booking essential: Anna Oliver 07789 408869 email@example.com
Marlow Bottom Toddler Group Marlow Bottom Methodist Church Hall. Drop in. 10 – 11.30
Tumbling Toddlers Booker Gym Club. Drop in. 10.15 – 12 midday. 01494 471566 firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Peter’s Babies & Toddlers Pugin Rooms, St. Peter’s Church. 1-3pm Drop in. Jennifer Boyle 07876 211103 www.st-peters-marlow.org.uk/news-events/4587660973
Smarties Toddlers St John's Ambulance HQ, Drop in 9-12 Annie Flavell 07973 528886
Playball Longridge Activity Centre, Quarrywood Road, various times, see website for more information: www.playballkids.com/franchise/marlow
River Life Coffee Morning & Toddler Group Marlow Youth Centre. Drop in. 10.30-12midday. Beryl 07778 177921 riverchurch.org.uk/Groups/311793/We_Love_Marlow.aspx
Teddies Music Group Methodist Church Hall. Drop in. 10am & 11am. 01628 671146 01628 639878 www.teddiesmusicclub.co.uk/sessions/
Jo Jingles Music Marlow Bottom Methodist Church Hall. Drop in. 09.45am. 01494 814174 www.jojingles.com/beaconsfield/timetable
Playball All Saints’ Church Hall, The Causeway. Booking essential. 1.00pm-1.45pm 2-3yrs. 2pm 3-4yrs. email@example.com 07736 405034
Bilinguasing Pugin Rooms, St.Peter’s Church. 9.30 am toddlers & preschoolers. 10.30 babies & early toddlers. bilinguasing.com/spanish-classes-maidenhead-marlow-beaconsfield/ Caireen firstname.lastname@example.org
Marlow School of Dance Liston Hall. 2pm 2-3yrs. 2.45 3-4yrs. 3.30 2-3yrs Booking essential: 07968 983832 marlowschoolofdance.co.uk/
Water Babies Court Garden Leisure Centre. 9.30-10am 4-18months. Drop in. 01628 405200
Moo Music St Mary's Church, Marlow Bottom, see website for times and ages, or contact Gabby Stiles 07523 841 036 www.moo-music.co.uk/areas/wbmm#sessions
Tumbling Toddlers Booker Gym Club. Drop in. 10.15-12midday 01494 471566 email@example.com
Little Ace Tennis, Marlow Youth Centre/Marlow Tennis Club, various times. https://www.littleacestennis.co.uk/weekly-classes contact Emma Hellewell: 07766386345
Little Stars Toddlers Liston Hall. Drop in. 9.30-11.30. Sarah Cassells 01628 485798 07950 365643
Teeny Saints All Saints’ Church. Drop in. 10-11.30am. 4u-team.org/childrens-discipleship-saints-marlow/
Mums & Tots coffee morning Newfield Community Church, Foxes Piece School. Drop in. 10.15-11.45am
Water Babies Court Garden Leisure Centre. 11-11.30 4-18months. 11.30-12midday 18months-3yrs. Drop in. 01628 405200
Baby College Marlow Youth Centre. Booking essential. 9.45am for juniors and 10.45 for infant/toddlers. Vicky Jones 07720 441672 www.babycollege.co.uk
Phenix Yoga (postnatal, mummy&baby) Pugin Rooms, St.Peter’s Church Hall. 11.15-12.15 Jennie 07954 578439 www.phenixyoga.com/mummy-and-baby-yoga-classes
Tumbling Toddlers Booker Gym Club. Drop in. 10.15-12midday. 01494 471566 firstname.lastname@example.org
Little Ace Tennis, Marlow Longridge, various times. https://www.littleacestennis.co.uk/weekly-classes contact Emma Hellewell: 07766386345
Baby Sensory Liston Hall. 10am-11am 6-13 months. 11-12.00 birth to 13 months. 12.30-1.30pm birth to 6 months Booking essential www.babysensory.com/high-wycombe/
Tumble Tots Marlow Youth Centre. 9.30am-10.15am 12months to 2yrs3m. 10.30-11.15am 2-3yrs. 11.30-12.15pm 6-15 months-walking. 1.15-2pm 3-5yrs. Booking essential: Helen Otto 07709 496 876 www.tumbletots.com/marlow
Buggy Fit Higginson Park 9.30am. Veronica Murphy 07796 260799 www.buggyfit.co.uk/location/veronica-murphy-higginson-park-marlow/
Crafty Cooks 99, Newfield Gardens. 10am, 11.15am & 1.30pm. Booking essential: 01628 476670 07789 408869
Bounce & Rhyme Marlow Library 11.15 to 11.45 www.buckscc.gov.uk/events/library-events/marlow/bounce-and-rhyme-babies/
DiddyDisco Sea Cadets’ Hall, Wethered Rd. 9.45 & 10.45. Drop in. www.diddydisco.co.uk
RKrazyPlay soft play Newfield Community Church, Foxes Piece, Marlow 10.30-4.30pm.
Drop in. 07836 640043 www.facebook.com/RCRAZYPLAY/
Little Kickers Court Gardens Leisure Centre. 10am 18months-2yrs. 11am 2-3 ½ yrs Booking essential: Vicki 07477 648340 www.marlowmums.com/baby-toddler-classes/little-kickers/
Messy Church Christ Church URC, Oxford Rd.
Second Saturday of every month. 3.30 – 5pm
Marlow Children’s Centres – 2 sites - Sandygate School & Foxes Piece School email@example.com 01628 472121
Buckinghamshire Family Information Service www.bucksfamilyinfo.org.uk
Marlow Parents. Email the moderator – firstname.lastname@example.org - & ask to join the group.
Imagine if those precious memories were instead sitting on something that needed a machine to let me see them. A machine that was around in the 40’s or even the 70’s.... So have a think about where you store your own family photographs. Are they on your mobile phone? A hard drive? CD’s? Mini discs? (remember those!?) Floppy discs? You get my point – technology is changing so rapidly that it can be difficult to keep up. The must-have storage of today is archived in favour of something new every few years.
The only way you can be sure to preserve your picture memories for your children and grandchildren is to print them.
Your Mobile Phone Pictures
For most of us, our mobile phones are where the majority of our ‘snaps’ are kept. The everyday images of holidays, days out, toothy grins, first foods, and silly selfies. These are the images your children will cherish when they grow up – you must print them! And you have loads of options for printing from your mobile phone.
Your Professional Pictures
As well as the everyday snaps, most families choose a professional photographer like me to capture more important milestones. New additions to your family, birthdays, a new pet, or the annual family portrait all involve a professional portrait photographer who can capture you all in a perfect setting, looking your best. The portraits I produce in Marlow at my home studio set up, or when we go out on location, are your own personal works of art and are designed to be displayed. There’s lots of evidence to show that it boosts self-esteem, confidence and contentment when your portraits are displayed in your home.
Now that the craziness of Christmas is over, you will probably be starting to think about 2019, and all that it will hold for you. Lots of people love to have a New Year Resolution list - I did this last year and it's amazing how having that sense of purpose at the start of the year can drive you to achieve great things!
So what will be your resolutions for this year? One of mine is to photograph my own family more - I spend a lot of time photographing other families but neglect to photograph my own family as much as I would like! I started this in December by taking my parents to a lovely location in Marlow and we had a lot of fun - and now I have some precious memories of them that I can treasure forever!
Maybe having a photo shoot with your family could be one of your New Years resolutions, and as an incentive I am launching my Spring Mini Family Photo Shoots in Marlow! These sessions are classed as 'mini sessions' as they are just 30 minutes long and you get five high resolution digital images with matching 10x8 prints - for just £149. These will take place in the Easter holidays, and I am only releasing a certain number of these mini shoots - so once they're gone, they're gone!
If you would like to book a 'mini session' please click on the following contact button.
I'm delighted to have First Aid trainer Claire Street from Marlow's Child Matters guest blog for me this month! I was thinking about the coming festive season, and how there are things that we as parents should be aware of and should think about during the festivities in terms of keeping our little ones safe. Claire has kindly written the following information to guide us safely through the season:
Tis the season to be jolly! Very jolly in fact. We all like to let our hair down at Christmas but with all that merry making it’s easy to forget that Christmas comes with it’s own festive hazards and children are especially vulnerable – over excited about presents and Santa! According to RoSPA more than 6,000 people end up in hospital on Christmas day. Don’t let that be your or your family and read our 10 tips to keep your little ones safe.
Tip 1 – Don’t buy poisonous berries
Did you know that mistletoe is poisonous as its berries contain toxic proteins that slow the heart rate and can cause hallucinations? The orange berries of the Christmas cherry can cause stomach pains too so keep them away from your little ones. You don’t want to be dealing with diarrhoea on Christmas day!
Tip 2 – Be aware of faulty fairy lights
Around 350 people a year are hurt by Christmas tree lights, according to RoSPA. Injuries include people falling while they’re putting them up, children swallowing the bulbs, and people getting electric shocks and burns from faulty lights.
The advice is to always to test your lights and don’t overload sockets. Don’t leave young children near your Christmas tree lights unsupervised and look for the safety marks eg. BS Kitemark when buying new lights. It goes without say to never insert or remove bulbs when they are switched on.
Take a look at this video on how quickly faulty lights can turn into a fire:
Tip 4 - Button battery beware!
The light-up fidget spinners, musical or light up decorations and fake tea lights often contain button batteries. If a button battery is swallowed and gets stuck in the throat or gullet, the electrical charge from a button battery creates caustic soda inside the body. This can burn a hole through the throat and can lead to serious internal bleeding and death. Keep them away from children!
What to do if your child swallows a button battery:
Get help fast! Don’t let them eat or drink and definitely don’t try to make them sick. Just keep calm and take them to hospital straight away, even if one gets stuck up their nose or in their ear. Don’t be afraid to call an ambulance, it could save their life. Dial 999, not 111. The sooner the batter can be removed, the less chance of permanent damage as lithium batteries can cause damage within 2 hours of being consumed.
Tip 6 – Stay out of the kitchen
Christmas dinner is probably the biggest meal most families cook all year and needs careful planning to avoid injuries. Hot fat, boiling water and sharp knives make the kitchen one of the most dangerous places so try to keep little ones out of the kitchen.
Tip 7 – Give visitors the gift of safety
Grandparents and relatives can unknowingly leave medicines in places where children can find them, such as handbags or counted out on bedside cabinets. How would they feel if they’d accidently caused the most common accidental poisoning in children, with everyday painkillers a frequent culprit. And hearing aids contain button batteries so they definitely need to be out of reach from kids. Help them to keep your children safe by giving them a safe plastic container like ‘Kiddylock’ (http://www.dreambaby.co.uk/kiddy-lock-cool-guard-child-safe-container.html) to pop everything in and keep high out of reach or in a locked cupboard.
Tip 8 – Get the kids first aid trained in DRAB!
Seasonal hazards are even easier to avoid if children themselves are first aid trained. Young children from as little as four years old are very capable of reacting quickly to save a life and get help. BUT, only if they have the confidence and knowledge to do so. And it isn’t just about helping others, little ones can learn how to stay safe themselves.
So what should children know? The most important lesson for any age child to learn is simply when and how to shout for help if someone has an accident or is very poorly.
As adults we are more likely to know when someone is choking, struggling to breathe or unconscious. Even if we’ve never witnessed it ourselves, we’ve certainly watched TV dramas. But for children it’s going to be a complete surprise and something they’ve never ever seen before. So knowing how to stay calm, find out if a person is ok and how to call 999 is essential. And that’s where DRAB comes in. Tattooing these simple emergency action steps onto the big minds of little one’s could save someone’s life!
Tip 10 – Teach children the importance of keeping themselves safe
If your child is out and about and has an accident themselves, memorising their own address and telephone number is a sure way to get help faster. As parents you may be able to give lifesaving information on your child’s medical condition such as epilepsy and allergies. And it goes without saying that children should be aware of their own medical conditions themselves.
So give your little ones the knowledge to stay safe this season and book them on a Junior Child Matters First Aid training course for 2019, taught by paediatric nurses.
Visit www.child-matters.co.uk or email email@example.com for course dates near you or we can run a group session in your own home or school.
Stats from Home Accident Surveillance System, 2002 & 2011/12 Fire Statistics Great Britain from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Child accident prevention trust
The options available are detailed below, but if you want to discuss anything with me then please just click on the contact section of this website and get in touch!
Option 1 - A voucher can be purchased in multiples of £25 to redeem against a photo shoot
£25, £50, £75 etc, you state the amount and your loved one can use this to redeem against a photo shoot (please note they will need to pay the remaining balance!).
Option 2 - £99 Newborn session fee/ £59 Lifestyle session fee
This pays for the session fee only for either a Newborn photo shoot or a Lifestyle photo shoot. Then the client redeeming the voucher can then purchase one of three Collections, which vary in price from £199 to £399.
Option 3 - £199 Mini photo shoot
The Mini sessions can be used for either a Newborn or Lifestyle session (the Lifestyle Sessions are studio photo shoots for children, or outdoor sessions for children and their immediate family) and last for 30 minutes and include 5 digital images.
Option 4 - £249 expressions photo shoot
This is a 30 minute session suitable for young children to capture their expressions and personality. As part of the package you get 16 square images in a mounted frame - great to mark a birthday.
Option 5 - £258 Fully paid photo shoot
This is for a full photo shoot for either a newborn or lifestyle shoot and includes the photo shoot, plus ten digital images plus matching 10x8 prints.
There are a limited number of Gift Vouchers being released so if you would like to order one please get in contact today by clicking on the following link: Contact
Please note - Gift vouchers must be redeemed within 6 months of 1st January 2019. Vouchers cannot be returned for any monetary value. We are not responsible if a Gift Voucher is lost, stolen, destroyed or used without permission and no replacement will be provided in these circumstances. The Gift voucher is non-transferrable. Kate McNeil Photography standard T&C’s still apply.
Christmas Mini - Terms and Conditions:
~ Up to two children per mini session.
~ Session fee is required to be paid at the time of booking to secure your time slot.
~ Sessions will be Mon-Fri during the day, unless agreed at the time of booking.
~ The session will be at Kate McNeil Photography's home location, 95 The Ridgeway. SL7 3LH
~ The sessions will be available from the 1st October 2018 to end of November 2018, limited slots available on a first come, first served basis.
~ The ten edited images are subject to the willingness of the child, if the child does not want to cooperate I am unable to offer refunds or re-shoots.
~ Turnaround for the digital images is no longer than 2 weeks.
Visit www.facebook.com/katemcneilphotography to see my recent photo shoots
I've now done a fair few trips with my two girls, both in the UK and abroad and I have to admit there are pro's and con's to all of the different types we have tried! From all inclusive hotels, a Mark Warner (child care provided!) holiday, through to self catering apartments in the UK and abroad and also villa's - they all have their equal share of advantages and disadvantages. I think what I'm trying to say is that travelling with babies/kids is never going to be completely stress free and there will always be things that could make a holiday more relaxing and easier!
In terms of what to take, I have googled countless times to give me ideas and now have excel spreadsheets for all the different holidays, but each time I go back to them the kids have grown up a bit more and so the list has changed (again!). But there are some things which I've listed below which I think are useful to have, some more age specific than others, but food for thought for you anyway. And for those of you who can travel outside of the school holidays, I'd say do it now before you get tied into half terms and summer holidays, where the prices jump up dramatically!!!
I think the key here is to keep it simple and take toys that could have multi uses, some ideas:
Stacking cups - great in the pools, bath and on the beach to make sandcastles
Folkmanis Squigz - these are brilliant rubber toys that stick together and are so much fun, can be used as entertainment on the plane or in the bath/pool.
Lottie Dolls - plastic dolls that can be used in the pools and on the beach. If you're not a Barbie fan these dolls are just gorgeous as they are just little girls (in terms of their features) but with big ideas, so you can get fossil hunter Lottie, astro adventurer Lottie, boarder Lottie, brownie Lottie and the list goes on.
Pass the Pig - Probably more suitable for thoses age 3-4+ but we played this all week on holiday this summer!! Small to travel with and very simple.
Stickers - for little one's these are a must - my daughter covered all her arms and legs in stickers on one flight but she was so happy and kept amused I let her be! There are loads of great sticker and activity books on the market.
Some other ideas that you have recommended to me:
1. Babyzen Yoyo Pushchair - this pushchair collapses small enough to be taken on the flight as hand luggage - amazing!!
2. Travel wash and Vanish bar of soap
3. Mosquito repellent and antihistamines
I hope you have found this useful - feel free to add any more ideas into the comments box below, as I'm sure we can all help each other with good ideas to help our trips go as smoothly as possible! Happy Holidays!
1. Beaconscot, Beaconsfield
Today (Thursday), I visited Beaconscot with my daughter and my friend with her 4 year old and 4 month old, picnic in hand and ready to enjoy the day! I have to say that it did not disappoint! We were able to park (for free) opposite the entrance, arriving at 11.30am there were no queues and we were able to go straight in. The size of Beaconscot is ideal for toddlers, it's flat and has a little path to follow in order that you can see all the areas. They have recently added to the buildings and there is now the Hoover building, a Butcher, Baker and Candle Stick Maker, a church with a little Christening service taking place and other miniature shops. There's a lovely simple play area and picnic area, which is all beautifully maintained and the detail of care is really noticeable, a great day out!
2. Greys Court, Henley
We also visited Greys Court this week, which as a National Trust member was free, and although my Satnav took me to completely the wrong place, once we got our bearings it was a lovely trip out. We took a picnic once again and headed straight to the play area, which is near the track and next to the house. My daughter played with her friends in this woodland play area, climbing on the large climbing frame and slide, and spending ages making camps out of twigs and branches! After the picnic we had a look around the little shop, which has some beautiful pieces, along with a great book which I'm planning on buying called '101 Things For Kids To Do Outside' by Dawn Isaac
3. Baking cakes and selling them to neighbours
Baking can be one of those things which you start with all good intentions and then then flour puffs in the air, the egg falls on the floor and you're missing an ingredient - but maybe that's just me! I think that family baking time can be so much fun, it just takes some organising, sometimes just weighing out the ingredients beforehand and then kids the add it to the bowl and mix can make it all a bit less stressful - at the end of the day, all they want to do is lick the bowl!! A friend of mine recently did this with her daughters and then set up a mini cake sale in their front garden, which looked like so much fun and is on our list of things to do!
4. Odds Farm
Of course! We used to have an annual pass to Odds Farm when my eldest daughter was under 2 and it was just brilliant! We would go up to the Farm every week sometimes just for an hour in the afternoon, or take a picnic and spend the whole day up there, we definitely got our moneys worth!! The lovely thing with Odds Farm is that it is constantly improving and the profits are obviously being reinvested in the Farm and it just gets better every year. Although it does get busy in the holidays it is worth a visit.
5. Fruit picking at Copas Farm, Cookham
A few weeks ago I helped at my daughters Rainbow's group and we went to Copas Farm in Cookham to pick some seasonal fruit. We were all given a plastic container and shown to the enormous strawberry field and told to help ourselves! It was so enjoyable just walking up and down the rows and rows of strawberries - and eating a really ripe strawberry warmed in the hot sun was just amazing! We also went to the cherry trees and also saw the huge rhubarb as well. This would be such a fun trip out for kids (and adults) any age! There is a big barn by the farm shop where you can get out of the sun and have a cool drink and enjoy the views, it really is fabulous!
6. Marlow Library
We are very lucky in Marlow to have such an active library - there are always things going on there from a story time, to bounce and rhyme through to knitting clubs and more! This summer, as with every summer, they put on a reading challenge - this is for children age 4 upwards, but obviously it's always encouraged for parents to read with their children from when they are babies. Click on the Marlow Library link above which will direct you to the details, but it's a fun one to do and will encourage all the little readers.
8. A boat trip from Marlow to Henley
We haven't done the boat trip yet, although I've lived in Marlow for more than 25 years (woops!) but this looks like lots of fun! Once you get to Henley there is the River and Rowing Museum which has a really sweet Wind in the Willows exhibition, and upstairs there is a little home area for the kids to play in. We've been a few times and the kids have always enjoyed it and they usually have different themed events going on throughout the year.
10. Theatre trip - 'We're Going On A Bear Hunt', Lyric Theatre
Theatre trips can be such a lot of fun and we have some great local venues such as the Wycombe Swan and Norden Farm in Maidenhead. If you're brave enough to go further afield there is a new show happening at the Lyric Theatre called 'We're Going On A Bear Hunt' which looks ideal for a first taste of the theatre experience and is only 55 minutes long.
I hope this list gives you some ideas and inspiration - at the end of the day I would say to keep it simple - picnics and parks are always a winner, and my girls are always so happy with a bowl of water and cups and bowls - or a large box they can colour and create into whatever invention they wish! I hope you all have a great time, whatever you end up doing!