Today was the day. The day we have been waiting for for so long. The last day of pre-school for the year. And whilst it has only been a term, I am glad it is over for now. Everyone is exhausted. And I am thoroughly sick of trying to make it there (on time) EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. And while A has mostly loved every minute of it, I think she is relieved to be getting a break for a while. And while I have loved spending some time alone with E for the first time in his life, I think he will be glad to get his best friend back (he misses her so much; it is quite adorable). Mummy is not quite the same it seems. Check back with me next week though; I will probably have changed my tune! But for this afternoon we were celebrating (particularly as D was also finished for the holidays), so we took the chance to drive out to Haysden Country Park for a short walk and play.
Haysden Country Park covers an area of about 160 acres in the Medway Valley, to the west of Tonbridge, and is less than a 30-minute drive from Chislehurst. It took a bit longer on the way home because we got stuck in rush hour traffic; very badly timed. “It includes a range of habitats such as river, grassland, freshwater lakes, marshland and woodland”1 and as such, the walks are amazing, and there is so much to discover. There is also a play park and so my children think it is amazing too!
This is only the second time that we have visited and I don’t remember too much about the first time. I think E must have been quite a teeny baby as I do remember trying to lift the pram over gates and fences and narrow bridges and paths. I’m not quite sure even to this day how we managed some of it, especially as A would also have been so teeny. Anyway, it must be going on for two years since our last visit. We timed it right though, as the playground has just undergone a major refurbishment and had significantly improved since last time. We started in there. Obviously!
After a while we managed to persuade A and E to go for a little walk by buying some seed to feed the ducks with. They love feeding the ducks and, as they are not allowed to feed the ones in the pond opposite our house, they find it quite novel. We walked to the lake (just two minutes from the park) and sat on one of the specially designated bird feeding areas whilst they emptied the bag of seeds.
After this, we set off around the lake. There are a number of trails that you can follow, including a Children’s Nature Trail, which we followed on our previous visit. This trail is really good and teaches children all about the plants, birds and flowers in the area. If you are lucky you can spot kingfishers in one area (we, sadly, did not), and there is so much information in the trail booklet. Last time we visited we learnt the difference between damselflies and dragonflies, as well as teasels and thistles.
But today we just stuck to a simple walk around the lake.
It seems that there has been a lot of work going on in this area recently as well, with the addition of quite a number of these bird-feeding areas, as well as some beautiful wildlife sculptures scattered around the lake. We decided to go on a hunt for these sculptures. I found out afterwards that they actually make up an official Wildlife Play Trail, in order to help children discover what lives in the park’s lakes and grassland. They were really well made and it was so much fun wondering what we might find next.
We still managed to see a large variety of wildlife, despite only sticking to the lakeside; this included geese, ducks, and swans with their cygnets. We even found one kind of geese/duck that I have never seen before, as well as a number of minibeasts. I also did a quick Pokémon2 search when I arrived, but there were none to be found at the time 😛
All in all it was a lovely, relaxing, sunny and spontaneous afternoon; the best kind of afternoon. The first of many this summer I hope…
2Although I have never played Pokémon before in my life I decided to download the Pokémon Go app. yesterday, because everybody else was and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I’m still not really sure to be honest…