TRAVEL: Seal watching in the Scottish Highlands

As a child I was always equally fascinated and in fear of the sea, perhaps it steams from watching Titanic at 11 years old, or perhaps it is the sheer vastness and mystic that surrounds it.  One particular memory I have is the excitement and trepidation I felt one particular summer holiday spent in Greece.

My family had decided to go on a boat trip with a local Greecian, to soak up the sun, eat local food and watch out for Dolphins.  When I wasn’t on my Game gear trying to coax the dolphins out with my game Echo the dolphin, I was looking into the deep blue sea imagining falling in.  What an odd thing for a child to be imagining, but I suppose that is the kind of thing that happens when you have such a vivid imagination- always envisioning every possible outcome.  We never did spot any dolphins that day, but I will always remember the excitement and hope I felt as every wave crest dropped.

As i’ve mentioned before, we want Ophelia to learn about the world around her, drink in the environment, embrace nature and the Scottish Highlands is the perfect place to start.

A short journey from Ophelia’s Papa’s house is Plockton; a small village dotted along the loch edge.  In the Winter, this sleepy village hibernates, with little to keep the village thriving in the bleak mid winter.  Come Summer, this place is awash with walkers, tourists, kayakers, sailers.

Calum has been running his Seal watching boat trips for longer than he would care to admit, he knows his stuff and makes for the perfect host; sharing his knowledge of growing up in this sleepy village and of course, the seals.  We got to see two herds of seals on this 1 hour boat trip; each time with 30+ scattered across the rocks, one lot with mere week old pups by their side.  The sheer beauty of these animals has to be seen to be believed, with Calum getting us close enough to fully appreciate them, without interfering with their wellbeing.

Our second viewing was half an hour or so up the road at  Glenelg, where we took the old cattle ferry across to the hide a short walk up the mountain.  On the ferry crossing we spotted several grey seals sticking those big eyes up over the waves and spashing their flippers.  It wasn’t until we got up to the hide however, that we got a true picture for the nature surrounding us.  Hide records detailed that a Sea eagle had been spotted half an hour before we arrived, we were happy simply to be able to follow some more grey seals that were bobbing along the shallow water’s edge.  It wasn’t until we looked further, that we spotted the rest of the gang.  On first glance, they could be mistaken for rocks, they camoflaged so perfectly in the fog, but it was infact a herd of common seals all laid out on the pebbly beach.  At any one time there were several other common seals bobbing and weaving along the water edge.  Mesmorising.

We’re linking up again with Our Seaside baby’s  wonderful travel series.

Worthing with kids: Pick Your Own

Having grown up in a nearby village,and Callum having worked there many years ago, Roundstone Pick Your Own is an important part of what Worthing means to us as a family.

I have several memories as a child spent walking the fields, spying for the biggest, juiciest loganberries (they were my favourite) and stuffing myself full to bursting.   The most recent time I had been, if i’m not including the car boot sale, must’ve been when I was at college.  Myself and a boyfriend at the time had decided we wanted to go pick a Pumpkin.  At this point, not only was it too late in the year for everything else, but it seemed even all the pumpkins had gone!

It only seems fair then, that it was time I introduced Ophelia to this wonderful place, not only am I all about supporting local businesses, but i’m all about teaching children about nature and where their food comes from.

Our recent visit nearly didn’t happen, looking at the weather report it didn’t look like the rain would subside and i was sure that the fields would be mud.  In the end, the rain had been minimal and it in fact turns out the fields were dry, so off we went.

After picking our transportation methods (punnets, bags and baskets) we set off on a bumpy journey on the tractor Ophelia’s Daddy had once driven (probably just as bumpily!).

First stop, broad beans!

Opheliawithbeans1.jpg

Luckily, as it’s quite eary in the season, and the sun was not shining, we were one of the few people there, but a top tip is to definetly start with the food the kids are less interested in eating,  that way their interest increases rather than peters out.

Ophelia and her cousin loved the freedom of running between the large plants, a magical place when you are small.

Eithne was straight in there, nibbling on a broad bean straight off the plant, she took  a while to decide it was not all that tasty.

Opheliastrawberries.jpg

We then walked down to the strawberry fields, they have two fields, one that are ready to pick and the other which are still early growing.  And boy, were those strawberries ready, those snippets of deep ruby red catching your eye whereever you turned- “there’s another one to pick, and another…”

Ophelia surprised us all by being chief picker and packer for the first few minutes of our arrival, without a sample in sight.  That quickly changed, and soon the cousins had taken up their station in the straw, one picking the prime produce straight from the plant, the other from the punnets.

Strawberries.jpg
This was just our lout-1/3 of  the total!

I carried on picking the fruit, with no real difficulty finding juicy strawberries but an enjoyment found in the quiet, therapeautic nature of the task.   Surrounded by quiet and stillness except for the distant salivating noise from the children.  It began to rain so we ducked into cover and decided now was the time to sample the tea rooms.

The tea rooms are child friendly with a few high chairs and child portions, a comfortable space with local crafts for sale.  They were really acommodating for us too, bringing over our drinks and making gluten free food even though it wasn’t on the menu.

There is also a farm shop on the premises, which is very reasonably priced, unfortunately our helpers were pooped by this point, but we will be returning soon to pick the things we missed!

A very nice day out for all the family 🙂

 

Worthing: family day out at Ferring Country Centre

I lived in Ferring for 20 years of my life, yet I can’t remember ever having been to the Country Centre there. Mother reliably informs me that I had been, but still, I feel terrible that I didn’t go more often.
image

Having returned to West Sussex last year, after buying a house, I finally got round to taking Ophelia to the Country Centre, along with my family, Callum’s family and in laws as a treat for Mother’s day afternoon tea.
image

Ferring Country Centre is comprised of a garden centre, riding stables, cafe, small animal farm and playground. It is run for and by the Disabled Riding Association, money raised goes towards horse riding as therapy, which is actually something I wrote an essay on for my OT training.
image

The cafe is spacious and has some indoor toys for a range of kid ages to get stuck into.  The toys are a bit worn but a lovely addition for rainy days.
image

Outside the playground is great for toddler aged kids, with swings, a roundabout, seesaw, frame, trampoline and animal noise interactive boards.
image

The farm has a surprising amount of variety including ducks, pigs, donkeys tortoises, horses and even llama! Have you ever seen a llama run?! I sure have! Ophelia found it hilarious and she loved stroking the donkeys and making noises at the pigs.
image

Ophelia and her cousin loved it and we’ll definitely be back again, at every age there are new ways to engage the children.