Unfortunately, not all family adventures can be exotic, exciting and far flung. In fact, actually when it comes to entertaining children, I tend to believe that simple is better. When asked this morning 'What adventure shall we go on today?', mini-he (aged 7) came up with all sorts of expensive and predictable suggestions of soft play, bowling, Chessington World of Adventures, Lego Land. However, what ended up being a simple walk in the countryside, game of Uno in a pub garden and trip to feed the chickens, seemed to please him just as much.We ended up walking some of the Watercress Way from the Chestnut Horse Pub in Easton, Hampshire and the combination of fresh air, meeting some animal friends, some inter-family competition in bird spotting and a bit of exercise was enough to blow the cobwebs away.
Our first encounter was a gorgeous pygmy goat, cue lots of ba-ing to get it's attention and the little blighter choosing to totally ignore us to the point I wondered if it was related to our pet cat who has the same habit of ignoring.
Meeting and spotting animals whilst on a longer walk with children is great at distracting them from the physical exertions and monotony of walking a long way and also perfect for learning 'on the go'.
When we met the next creature, a beautiful swooping heron, it took the children a few goes to recall the name for the magnificent bird. It always surprises me in moments like that, that they don't already know the name of such a popular bird, which kicks in mummy guilt for not having taught it already. However, isn't that the whole point of this parenting, world education project?..... let's learn together and discover these things in a meaningful and real way. I'm fairly certain that they won't be forgetting the word 'heron' for a while after experiencing the bird swooping over their heads and our chat about it eating fish and how still they can stand like a statue for long periods of time.
We turned the bird spotting into a competitive game, which always has the potential risk to turn into an argument, but today we were lucky! We spotted swans, pigeons (easy peasy), crows and some sort of wagtail. There was talk of robins and tits from Mini-him, but I'm fairly sure they were made up and a sneaky, but unsuccessful attempt at cheating. Luckily Mini- me is a super cheater spotter and he doesn't generally get away with it. Happily for 'Him' there was an information board to read, always a favourite moment on any family trip! Information boards are perfect opportunities for honing reading practice and comprehension skills in a real way, whilst learning a little more about where we are and some interesting trivia.
The best kind of countryside walks have to end up in a pub and the Chestnut Horse, has to be one of my favourites in Hampshire. If you're ever in the area, I would 100% recommend the Chestnut Horse and the local walks. Happy bird spotting!