Play Matters : Tape Town

It's raining. It's raining quite a lot and I can't convince him to put on his red all weather suit. It may still be too big for him for all I know.

Indoor activities beckon. My eyelids are heavy because someone was up all night acquiring new teeth. Molars are mean. And late to the party. This kid is three now! The same someone isn't showing any signs of sleepiness following the aforementioned night. My hopes of a lazy cuddle (and a sneaky snooze) on the sofa with a film are dashed.

I'm becoming quite good at putting spins on train activities - I've had a lot of practice. The passing of time I can cope with - each age brings something new; but the day that this boy stops loving trains, should that day arrive, will be a sad day for me after such a long and committed relationship!

Electrical tape and a carpet fueled our day. A day is always off to a good start when something is easy to set up and requires only a basic few components. Floor... yes, yes I have floor. And tape. Hoorah. 

I laid the tape, twirling this way and that way. A long train track, a curving road, a rectangular station, a lake - complete with a nursery-crafted salt dough fish, because otherwise it's lake like attributes were limited. Buildings turned to numbers turned to shapes (turned to dog hair covered mass of tape). 

The train-focused boy even spent a considerable amount of time tending to his three cars and pushing them up and down the road and along the numbers. Funny things those numbers, just appearing out of nowhere ready to be driven along, traced and pulled apart.

This was all very unplanned - so my design work was shoddy at best, with the tape not being particularly conducive to the curves within our design but it served it's purpose. We had fun, and ripped it all up easily at the end of the day, as if the city had never even existed.

Retreating to the internet and spying this tape town effort along with this, has filled me with inspiration for the next city re-model. Parking spaces and a more realistic road design are now on my to-do list, along with the fabulous ideas I found here, including indoor carpet hopscotch! Shapes. Numbers. Movement. Ideal.

Coming up next week:

We finished our day off by reading our favourite book of the moment, Open Very Carefully, by Nick Bromley. From my point of view - this is just so much fun to read and for my little person - it is so interactive, which is just what he needs at this stage. So check back later this week to see what accompanying activities we have come up with.

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links, just incase you want to purchase the items that I have spoken about and love using.

A trip to the farm to see the (Easter) bunnies.


Adventures. Swings, each one in turn. "Now blue one" - as we wander along the row, me lifting him into each one in turn. 

"Beep beep Mummy". 

It's hard to push a child on a swing whilst also ensuring that I am not 'in his way'. He grins, and jolts about precariously.

Ever more complicated climbing frame ladders are being conquered as I hover around, ready to pounce. He leans across indicating the fireman's pole. Oh dear lord.

"That is for big boys" I say. And he nods, and turns ambling back towards the slide. He returns to it on each circuit of the playground, just to let me know that he is aware that it is for big boys. My faith in his balance is still... average.

A trip up the winding ramp, reaching the top of the railway bridge just in time to wave to the train. Wave, wave, beep! Thank you Mr. Driver. A slower descent as a determined toddler tries to remain on the bridge.

"No park Mummy, train!" - oh dear, sad face.


Animals! Hello again Greenmeadow Community Farm.

Cow head hugs, because how much more of a cow can you fit between chubby toddler arms? No fear as he embraces the lick to the forehead. Goats push and shove to eat some of the pellets that he is thrusting towards them. He always favours one goat. That goat shall be fat.

A circle of toddlers, all waiting to poke, prod (and sometimes just hold) a little chick. We coaxed him in to sitting on the chair after numerous attempts to "Go see chicks!" - chubby hands, with larger father hands underneath. A ginger (?) chick is placed onto his palm and he giggles. 

"Hello chick. How are you chick?" he whispers.

Toy tractor rides, with legs a foot short of the pedals, meant push, push, STEER Elis! Followed by time in the sandbox sieving for rocks rather unceremoniously. How he has grown since the same time last year.

By far his favourite animal - the mechanical water spouting dragon. How we had to drag him from that. "Go see dragon!" - no, no, how about we leave the dribbly dragon and go and see some real animals perhaps? A horse! Look, a horse. He casts one eye, feigning interest, waiting for our guard to drop before u-turning back towards the blue mass of metal. Fiend.


Sunshine meant that we could lay on the deck, painting pictures on the ground with water and watching them dry before our very eyes. Plastic eggs, threaded with wool, adorned the neighbouring Fuchsia and chalks were pulled out to scratch numbers and favourite letters onto any visible patio slabs.

Hot, hot, hot. Hats and suncream. 

We took trips up the garden onto the grass and followed yellow ladybirds. Wood became a bridge for his trains. 

"Chooo CHOOOO Mummy!"

Pushing them first one way, and then the other, attaching and removing the carriages. His excitement when he realised a clothes peg could be attached to the magnet on his little trains to form an extra carriage was palpable.


And now, week two. Less sun, but just as much fun. Children's showings at the cinema, coupled with sticklebrick playtime on lounge carpets whilst making the transition from nappies to pants!

Elis George is two years, six months and six days old. He loves trains and fire engines. He has an uncanny ability to walk past fire stations and have fire engines emerge, sirens blazing. This may be a super power, I will have to get him checked.

He will do anything for you if you promise him that he can see a train afterwards. Even use a potty. 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Monday Mischief: Bird Song

How can somewhere so noisy be so peaceful? A place filled with birdsong.

Grass, pathways, a cafe. Volunteers approach, but then retreat. I think my body language, as ever, may be a little bit 'OH MY GOODNESS DON'T TALK TO ME'. It works anyway. I am too busy talking to my toddler.

Reeds, water, play area. Toddler eyes light up. I am not going to lie - we spent all of our time in the play area. When you are nineteen months old your legs are stubby, your attention span short and birdwatching relatively impractical. But that does not mean that I should pass up any opportunity to surround my son with nature. 

I push him high on the swings as we listen to the birds, catch him at the bottom of slides and chase him around a boat. Yes, a boat. Grass underfoot and completely fenced in I can allow him to toddle further and further away from me. Peekaboo suddenly becomes a lot more interesting when one is allowed to genuinely hide...... BOO. Is it normal for a toddler to giggle so emphatically when made to jump out of their skin?

The reserve is free to visit and if you were going to wander around it, could take up your whole day. I picked up a leaflet and realised they also have a whole host of events planned throughout the year: guided walks, photography courses, children activity days. Ah, bliss. Even a 'dawn chorus walk' - while Elis would manage the hours involved, I am less convinced about his ability to stay quiet and not scare off any nearby feathered friends. One day. Until then, a teddy bear's picnic sounds more our kind of thing.

We purchased a cuddly blackbird on the way out; if you squeeze his tummy he sings a real bird song. What a wonderful way for a child (or adult) to learn the distinguishing songs of each bird. We stick with the blackbird and I resist the urge to buy a bird for which I don't know the song. But let us start simple - a blackbird; a bird that my little boy can spy on from the living room window, giggling as he cuddles his replica. One day he will have the whole set and be the one teaching me.

Until then we are going to play in the park and listen to our friend, the blackbird, singing his pretty song in the trees. 

Do you have a favourite bird?

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
I'm linking up with Country Kids. It is all about having fun outdoors; spending time away from screens and sofas and enjoying playing, crafting or learning outside anywhere from the garden to the beach. Stretching limbs and imagination and enjoying family time is important for us all.

A Child's Imagination

I love Tintern.

Signs warning of badgers, tack shops with their rich scent of leather and antique book shops with out-of-print Enid Blyton adorning the window; I think I have fallen into my little piece of heaven, adjacent to the quietly meandering River Wye.

We visited the Old Station. We pulled up and gazed at the carriages; I am certain that I belong in a time filled with steam trains, ink wells and flowing skirts. I wonder into which decade Elis will feel he fits best.

A play area under the tree canopy, he recognises a swing set from twenty yards away now. Higher and higher and higher. We amble on and turn back along the river bank, say good morning to a blackcap and then venture further to greet the sheep. 

We are wizards in the forest and then sailors on the open seas. We look up at the steep hillside filled with trees to make sure we are not under attack by pirates. Mole hills are the swells in the ocean and a stick is his paddle. You are never too young or too old for such games - silently he watches and listens, but one day he will turn to me and inform me that it is his turn to steer the boat - and I will smile.

The stick accompanied us back to the car, and up numerous steps. This is bad terrain for buggy or boat and I winced like a girl as I stopped halfway, the realisation that Elis and his worldly goods are heavy and any retreat back down the steps would have been near enough impossible.

We made it, stick and all.

Now here we sit with full bellies, playing with blocks, building pyramids and mountains, or perhaps the Great Wall of China. Because we can. Because we are strong of mind and heart, and filled with imagination.

"The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination." - Albert Einstein

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

 Linking up with an old post, but an outdoor adventure that I loved.

A Love of the Outdoors

Sunshine, you are here! Where have you been? It is Saturday evening and what a lovely weekend we have already had Elis. And that is with a trip to see Grandma and Grandpa tomorrow still to come!

Mama has been snap-happy this weekend too - another pleasant by-product of sunshine - farm, front garden, local park. Everywhere.

Who could resist taking so many photos of such a cute little face as yours. Not I. 

Our first adventure saw us visiting Greenmeadow Farm. We ambled around and petted donkeys and stared at sheep and laughed at ducks. You fed the goats, we bought pellets specially. Each piece of food was lovingly handed over to the goat, one pellet at a time. Oh how frustrated the goats became, but you clearly understand the concept of 'not rushing your dinner'. I don't think the goats will suffer from indigestion and it certainly gave Mama ample time to record and snap such moments. You giggled every time the goats licked and nibbled your little chubby fingers. Friends for life, or at least until you got bored ten minutes later.

At the farm we practiced our 'off-road' walking. Until now, your terrain has been flat and soft - Grandma's living room especially cushions your steps with fluffy carpet and Mama's faux-wooden floors are none too intimidating - however the farm had gravel! And slopes! And pot-holes! There was one moment where you became too closely acquainted with the gravel, but we brushed you down and carried on. 

The sandpit was our finale. I am still finding large quantities of it now. Perhaps that is why you appear so amused (filling your boots?).

We then spent the afternoon basking in the sunshine. Grandpa's wheelbarrow was of particular interest; there was so much rusty goodness to explore. There are so many firsts for you little boy. Your first sight of a wheelbarrow; seemingly insignificant, but with so many fun stories attributed. Perhaps next time you get a ride inside, just like your Uncle and I did as children - up to the 'shortcut' and back, depositing hedge cuttings and riding all the way back down. Or filled with fire on bonfire night laden with bricks and... hedge cuttings? We were surrounded by hedge after all. One day it will be you, big and strong, pushing the wheel barrow doing your own work about the garden.

And finally, a trip to the park. So many people come out of the woodwork when the sun shines, so we had to work really hard to find our quiet little spot away from crowds and rowdiness. We found a spot and played, distracted only by passing dogs, children, birds and blowing leaves. You had to monitor each of these as they passed Elis, just to make sure you were fully aware of what was going on. At all times. A little girl was learning to ride her bike without stabilisers next to us. A cricket game was taking place on the same field. I felt we were lacking strawberries, or something tasty such as that. You shuffled off behind the buggy and reappeared with your beaker from inside your rucksack. Help yourself Elis. 

We finished up our Mama and Elis adventure by stopping for some refreshments in the form of raspberries and yoghurt, which we rushed home to gobble up.

Sunshine is wonderful. It makes everything seem possible. And how lovely to see you out playing on the grass in your green socks, and your shoes when you deigned to keep them on. Gardens are so important and I am so grateful that you are able to scuttle around in my childhood garden. I can show you where to find the best worms and where to hide when playing hide and seek and if you're really good, I'm sure Grandpa will let you help him with the flowers too. I just hope that you end up with a love of the outdoors; of the birds and beasties and flowers and sunshine. One day, little man, you'll be naming all of the birdies and keeping woodlice as pets in flower pots, scratching your head the next day wondering how they all escaped - and more importantly, why they would want to?! You have all of this to come.

This time last year....