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!