Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Fossil hunting at Dryhill

Calum and the log house
Time to work off that Christmas dinner! We decided to try out Dryhill Nature Reserve - not far from us but somewhere we've never managed to get to before.

We spent the afternoon exploring the woods and looking for fossils in the rockface. No success I'm afraid, but we did find plenty of rabbit holes, part of the woods covered in Christmas decorations and a log house (which made for a very excited five-year-old!)

We had the place to ourselves, except for a couple of dog walkers, so we really did feel like we'd found a well-kept secret.

We finished the round-walk in about an hour, but there are lots of small paths to try out along the way.

It was very muddy today, so remember to take wellies if you decide to go in the winter. In summer Dryhill could be a perfect picnic spot. There are lots of picnic benches and open spaces if you want to spread out a bit.

You can hear traffic through most of the reserve. There. My only grumble!

Dryhill Local Nature Reserve
Dryhill Lane
Near Sevenoaks
TN14 6EP

Opening times
9am to dusk or 9pm. Whichever is earlier. Park closed Christmas Day.

Free parking

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Struck down!

Calum's festive creation

Our family has been out of action for the whole week up to Christmas . . . horror! No voices, no fresh air, and no real communication with the outside world for the last seven days.

There's only so much Christmassy television I can stand, so today Calum (5) and I had a go at making our very own salt-dough Christmas decorations.

Here's what you'll need if you'd like to try your hand:

* 1 cup of plain flour
* 1/2 cup of table salt
* 1/2 cup of water

We added a very small amount of sunflower oil to make the dough easier to use. We followed these instructions, my dough was horrendously sticky so I added a lot more flour.

We ran out of plain flour so threw in some wholemeal (ha!) self- raising flour and the decorations seem to be fine (they're still baking, so they still have time to grow . . .)

We had more than enough dough to make 20 decorations. Do we need that many?!?

We threw some glitter into the left-over dough and Calum has been playing with it for about an hour. In fact he seems to have had more fun since the decorations went in the oven!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Time Out!

I think I actually need a bit of time out when I've been to the Town Church's offering for babies and toddlers on Tuesday mornings.

Going to Time Out is like walking into a crazy alternative world, where what seems like hundreds of toddlers are staggering around, shouting at each other and brandishing toys. Add to that grown ups shouting to be heard over their offspring, and you have the noisiest Tuesday morning in Sevenoaks.

I might be a bit of a misery guts though, because everyone I've spoken to about Time Out really loves it.

There's an endless supply of tea, coffee and biscuits (for a small donation) and a baby clinic with health visitors. Just to make my point (again!) about the noise, one of the ladies has to use a microphone to call you when it's time to go into the clinic and is still very rarely heard . . .

Babies under one can also try out the much calmer Baby Time, downstairs. I sneaked in and it was so lovely I didn't want to leave!

And I also tried going to Time Out towards the end of the morning. Again much better if you're looking for something a bit less maniacal.

Time Out
Town Church
Mill Lane
Sevenoaks TN14 5AX

Tuesdays 9.30 - 11.30
Free parking

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Jumping up and down in muddy puddles . . . at Sevenoaks Nature Reserve

After a torrential downpour this morning, the sun was shining as we set off for Sevenoaks Nature Reserve.

Orla was very excited because she got to wear her new wellies for the very first time. In fact I think that could have been the highlight of her day if it wasn't for the amazing muddy puddles we found when we arrived at the reserve.

Sevenoaks Nature Reserve is a series of lakes made from old gravel pits. It's a bit of a bird watcher's paradise with little hides dotted around, and lots of different birds to look out for.

I will quite happily admit that I am no bird watcher - but I did spot a heron (whoop for my birdy knowledge) and as Orla loves everything airborne we checked out magpies and other probably much more exotic birds.

We followed the nature trail and spent a lot of our time going from puddle to puddle.

There are some lovely views across the lakes, and the visitors' centre is full of information about what you can see there at different times of the year. It's also full of stuffed birds which I find a bit creepy - especially when you can see the real thing outside.

There are lots of rules - no picnics, no bikes, no dogs, no jogging, try to keep quiet (not sure anyone with children can stick to that one!), but there are plenty of other places where you can do all those things.

Parking is free, and the cafe and visitors' centre are open on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday between 10am and 4pm this winter.

Sevenoaks Nature Reserve
Bradbourne Vale Road
Sevenoaks TN13 3DH


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