In January we visited St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital. Its located in a village called Haddenham close to Aylesbury. It was signed well from the village itself.
The main hospital itself has no regular public access as they are busy caring for the animals but there is a visitors centre and a shop which are open daily to the public.
The staff couldn't have been more helpful when we arrived and were so attentive to the children. One member of staff went and got a hedgehog for the boys to look at and spoke to them about it for over half an hour, recommended websites and videos for the boys to look at to find out more about the animals and gave them a St Tiggywinkles magazine to read.
There is a small museum area which had skeletons of various British animals and a Plesiosaur fossil on the ground floor along with viewing windows into the hospital where you can see some of the animals in recovery. We saw a mouse, hedgehogs, a crow and a duck. Upstairs is an area dedicated to hedgehog memoribillia. It did come across as a bit eccentric in style but the boys seemed to like it !
Outside there are various pens for different creatures who are either recovering or cannot be released back into the wild because of thier injuries. There were crows and seagulls, ducks and geese, foxes, badgers, tortoises, red kites, rabbits, otters, and of course the hedgehogs and various other small animals. There is also a small picnic area with toddler play equipment and a hut all about Red Kites.
There is enough to see to keep the children busy for a couple of hours but its not a massive site. They have Easter and summer holiday activities and advised us that the animals are at their most active and visible in the Spring.
Rushmere Park is located near the village of Heath and Reach, close to Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire.
Its signed well from the A5 but when you get to a T-junction in the village itself its a bit of a guessing game which way to turn. Head for the main high street and the signs return !
The park is free to visit but there is a £2 parking charge which you pay on exit.
When you arrive at the main car park there is a visitors centre, which has a cafe and toilet facilities, welly washing station and maps of the various walks you can take. If you head to the back of the visitors centre there is a balcony overlooking one of the lakes where a Heronry is located and there are usually a few pairs of breeding herons to be seen.
Just outside the visitors centre there is an enclosed area for children under 5 with wooden and natural play equipment. Just to the side of this area is a play area for older children which consists of a basket swing and a very big slide.
There is a grassed clearing opposite which is ideal for picnics, football or whatever else you fancy.
We headed off on one of the recommended walks and there was a lot to keep the kids interested. There were interesting wood carvings, fairy doors, giant chairs and books, balance beams, wobbly bridges and various other things to spot and explore along the way.
The park has a variety of areas from heathland to lakes, to forest and wildflower meadows. All the routes are well signed and easy to follow using the free map.
So I thought maybe I should start by telling you about some of the things we've been up to so far in 2016.
A friend and former colleague of mine commented recently on a Facebook post that I should start a blog. I hadn't really ever considered it before but I'm all for trying new things so here it goes.
Those who know me know that as a family we enjoy visiting lots of different types of places and providing our two sons with lots of opportunities to try and learn new things. My Facebook page is regularly filled with pictures of things we've done and places we've visited.
Friends have asked me for recommendations for places to visit and feedback on what they were like so I guess the blog will be a bit about that and also things that we get up to with our kids for those that are interested.