A Snowdrop Story

On one of the coldest weekends this winter I dragged my little family outdoors for some snowdrop-themed exploring. Every year I find that I go a little crazy at the sight of the first springtime flowers, and even if the weather is far from spring-like we head outdoors to parks and woodland to find snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils.

Welford Park near Newbury is well-known for being the home of the Great British Bake Off, but at this time of year the famous white tent is nowhere to be seen and the grounds are completely covered by snowdrops. Along the river banks and through the woodland areas tiny green shoots and white flowers had bloomed making a gorgeous white carpet of snowdrops.

Welford only opens it’s gardens for one month of the year for visitors to come and see the snowdrops, making it extra special. The grounds used to be home to a monastry and the snowdrops were grown alongside other medicinal plants by the monks living there. Over time they have spread to cover acres of the gardens.

Joe’s little pale hands and pink nose give some idea of how cold it was when we visited Welford. Completely, can’t feel your hands or toes freezing! And yes, gloves would have been a sensible idea, unless you’re three years old and know much better than your parents. I’m just glad he gave in and wore a cosy puddlesuit!

I really love the snowdrop’s simple white flowers and gentle raindrop shape. There were so many slightly different varieties of snowdrops in the gardens, all mixed together in little clusters or gathered around the base of trees. And I learned a brand new word to add to my floral lexicon….galanthus!

It looked almost like the woods were covered in snow; such a magical sight which was beautiful in it’s own right, but also that recognition that flowers mean the end of winter, and the start of the exciting spring flower season. In the space of a few weeks the jumps from snowdrops to crocuses and then hellebores and daffodils to bluebells.

A girl and her stick…Mia and Joe appreciated the woods and the mud, even if they weren’t too interested in the snowdrops. There was a tea tent at Welford too, and they can always be persuaded to go for a walk if promised hot chocolate or cake!

Welford has just closed again for the year (I wonder whether Bake Off will be filmed here this summer now that it has left the BBC). I’m sure they will open the gardens again next spring for their snowdrop weekends and I will definitely be hoping the visit again.

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Let’s Be Secret Detectives

It can sometimes be difficult with Mia and Joe’s five year age gap to find an activity that captures both of their imaginations. Luckily a very exciting parcel arrived just before the half term holidays from the lovely people at BEAR nibbles. After much excitement unwrapping the parcel (always half the fun!) they were delighted to find a secret spy and invisible ink kit…complete with disguise of course!

It was so good to see how they both wanted to dress up, get into character and create some top secret messages straight away. Written with a paintbrush and lemon juice and then dried over a radiator until the secret message appears. Mia was a too impatient to wait for the radiator to dry her message and so (carefully supervised!) used a hairdryer on a low setting to dry her paper.

It worked quite well…although I suspect a little more patience with the drying process would have been rewarded with the lemon juice ink drying darker. But hey, it was about the fun of enjoying the activity rather than perfection!

As well as agreeing on how much fun it was to dress up like secret spies, Mia and Joe always agree on how yummy BEAR nibbles are. I am so glad that they love them, as they are such a healthy and convenient snack. I pop a couple in my bag for days out, and they are great for lunchboxes. They view them as a treat, the mango yoyos are a favourite with both of them, and I’m happy for them to have them as they are pure fruit without added sugar. It’s actually surprisingly difficult to find snacks, even for really young children, without any sugar or other nasties added in.

BEAR describe how they make their goodies as “real ingredients that grow on trees and fields and bake them gently. If anyone tried to sneak sugar, concentrates or any other nonsense into our foods, we’d bite their heads off.” I love this, it sums up their tasty, healthy snacks so well!

BEAR have recently launched Super Spy cards, which are perfect for collecting and swapping. I love the artwork on them too, so cute. If your little ones collect the cards they can send them to BEAR’s Super Spy Cave to receive a free Spy Kit…how exciting! More info is on their website and twitter:  http://www.bearnibbles.co.uk/ and @Follow_The_Bear

Happy faces on both of my little BEAR cub detectives, who are convinced now that they are super spies…MI5 watch out!

 

BEAR kindly sent us a box of pure fruit yoyos and a secret spy disguise. All opinions given are my own…and my two little secret spies!
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