PEN Y FAN SUNRISE WALK

We started our adventures for 2015 with a sun rise walk to the top of Pen Y Fan, the highest peak in South Wales. We started our walk from the Pont ar Daf car park located along the A470 a few minutes in a westerly direction from the Storey Arms.
We used this walked as a quality time slot with just the 10 year old with us…the teenager stayed home with the younger children and we were home for elevenses πŸ˜‰
We wrapped up warm (with spare clothes in our rucksacks to allow for change in weather) and took a flask of tea. Good walking boots are advisable and always tell somebody where you are going.

We started our walk from the car park 50 minutes before the sun was due to rise so had good light with the darkness fading, we followed the well defined path over the bridge and up…
It took us an hour to reach the summit where we enjoyed our tea in the company of a beautiful sunrise before heading back down.
The weather was forecast to clear but the wind at the too was bitterly cold and the blue sky a little deceiving.
It was a great way to start off 2015…
Here’s how we got on…

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An hour before sunrise was a lovely light, not too dark but with all the stars still out.

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/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/da9/50259951/files/2015/01/img_0299.jpgwith cloud on the horizon we had to wait until the sun broke through the band of cloud…but when it did it was beautiful…

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/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/da9/50259951/files/2015/01/img_0294-0.jpgafter absorbing the sun joining us for the day we headed back down the way we had come…

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/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/da9/50259951/files/2015/01/img_0284.jpgas we walked down we walked back into the shadow of the mountain faster than the sun was rising..

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/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/da9/50259951/files/2015/01/img_0280.jpgand as we got back down to the car park the sun was just peeping over the mountain..

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We started the year off exactly how we intend to see through 2015..making use of everything beautiful that surrounds us and the outdoors beneath our feet πŸ™‚

CRAIG-Y-FAN DDU RIDGE WALK

IMG_4926.JPGThere’s nothing more beautiful than a clear, crisp, and fresh winters day walk.
We parked in the Upper Blaen Y Glyn carpark (which in itself is an ideal location for waterfall hunting and picnicking) and headed up the steep path next to the cattle grid that lies to your right as heading out of the carpark.
We climbed the path heading for the visible Craig Y Fan Ddu towering above us. Our intention was to climb up onto the ridge and follow the route around to the right along Graig Fan Las until we reached the crash site of the Wellington Bomber that lays on Waun Rwdd….it was our plan to lay our memorial poppy here which we had been unable to lay a few weeks prior after deciding not to climb due to weather warnings.

As it was we got to the top of the first ridge accompanied by a beautiful blue sky to discover that the adjoining ridges were hugged with whiteout cloud, we took the choice to walk to the edge of the cloud before turning around and heading back the way we had come with clear visibility, it is best to avoid walking into thick white cloud as it often requires a heightened orienteering stance, can be considerably colder and has very low visibility. As much as we were prepared we wanted a blue skied walk….This meant that we did not reach the Wellington site but we found an equally beautifully placed memorial on our route and laid our Poppy.

As we headed back down the sun began to descend and everything was cast into a stunning orange glow as the day slipped away.
Our walk approx 3 hours.

Here’s our walk…

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IMG_4919.JPGwith our Poppy laid we walked to the edge of the cloud..

IMG_4938.JPGand then we headed back down..after we’d took time to admire the view and have a donut πŸ™‚

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Directions..Upper Blaen-y-Glyn Car Park is in Blaen-Y-Glyn which is part of Talybont, BRECON Beacons, Mid Wales.
Once in Talybont-on-Usk follow signs for Talybont reservoir, passing through the village of Aber, continuing until Forestry Commission signs are seen. Follow the road over a small bridge and up a steep hill, crossing cattle grids on the way. The car park is located on the right at the top of the hill.
Talybont-on-Usk is the nearest town or village.
OS Grid Reference: SO 056176
Here’s a map of our route

OPENING THE FIRST ADVENT WINDOW

IMG_4787.JPGThe kids can’t wait to open their advent calendars, hung on the wall and idolised over for a week before advent and counting down the days til the first window can be torn at….
We decided that we wanted to make the first day of advent a little special and to give the kids a little bit of thinking time to help them gain a little appreciation of the things we have.
So we head out to find a beautiful spot to watch the day begin as we open our first window…..come rain, shine, frost or snow, our tradition is to start our advent being thankful for all that surrounds us.

Last year was a cold, frosty but beautiful morning as we pulled ourselves out of bed, filled a flask and headed for the hills under predawn moonlight..

This certainly beat sitting on the sofa and tearing at 1st window of December…

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IMG_4765.JPGWe drank hot chocolate as the day began and ate our chocolate in the company of a beautiful morning πŸ™‚

COUCH POTATOES ON TOP OF WALES

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We’re no strangers to the mountains & love to find some of the most beautiful spots in Wales to lap up gorgeous views. Our usual mode of exploration is our feet & you’ll often find us hiking in the hills in mid Wales in search of natural beauty.
Last week we headed away from our usual spots and drove North on an adventure to Snowdonia. We’ve visited on several occasions before and climbed several peaks including the summit of Snowdon so are no strangers to the awe striking beauty that greets you at the very top of the highest peak in Wales. With an elevation of 1,085 metres (3,560ft) above sea level, this towering mountain really is something special & is a must for any explorers bucket list. On clear days you are promised 360 panoramic views that stretch over the national park and out to the ocean that hugs the North Coast.
After defeating this mountain with the children in tow we were extremely overwhelmed to have an invitation to ride to the top on The Snowdon Mountain Railway. We’d travelled on the railway a few years ago and due to snow had only made it halfway up before the snowdrifts made it impossible for the train to go any further so we were really excited to go back to complete our journey.
We planned to make the very most of our ride to the summit & take advantage of the difference between a hike with only essentials in tow, maps, safety equipment, common sense, planning etc & being able to carry things up that would otherwise not be on our essential list to go in our rucksacks, so our plan was to toast the occasion ‘Family Days Tried & tested’ style..

We packed plastic champagne flutes, lashings of tea, iced gems and, of course, somewhere comfy to sit to take in the view…..we were to become couch potatoes with the aid of an inflatable sofa on the summit of Snowdon with the most beautiful views you could ever imagine absorbing from the comfort of your own settee.
It was a gorgeously blue skied day, with no wind & only breeze forecast for the mountain so we were set for our adventure…..
Here’s what greeted us…20140909-191330-69210943.jpgwe arrived at Llanberis mountain railway station and spent some time watching the trains coming and going..

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Noah was in awe of the trains.

20140909-191604-69364042.jpgbefore we boarded our train we checked out the drivers carriage..

20140909-191722-69442755.jpgWith our tickets in hand, some snacks for the journey and our deflated sofa tucked under our seat we were off…up, up and away….

20140909-191939-69579159.jpgthe scenery that accompanied us as we climbed high and higher up the mountain was spectacular.

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20140909-192306-69786404.jpgwe passed trains on the way up.

20140909-192446-69886457.jpgwe passed through Rocky Valley….which was rocky πŸ™‚

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20140909-192617-69977299.jpg we climbed higher & higher..

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20140909-192813-70093245.jpgThe views were a stark contrast to those that we’d seen during the snow, here’s the same spot, one lush greenness basking in sunshine and the other glistening white under a beautiful blue sky…

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20140909-193032-70232271.jpghalfway up and we were enjoying every second of beauty outside our window.

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20140909-193340-70420513.jpgwe past lots of walkers on the way up..

20140909-193455-70495603.jpgNoah spent lots of time waving πŸ™‚

20140909-193542-70542038.jpgwe could see the familiar summit approaching..

20140909-193647-70607912.jpgwe pulled into the station alongside the cafe nestled in the sky..

20140909-193833-70713706.jpghere we were able to use the wash room, purchase a cup of tea and snacks or just sit and admire the beautiful view out of the window…

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20140909-194141-70901804.jpgwe had taken our own snacks and drinks so we headed straight to the top to inflate our sofa and sit to enjoy the most beautiful views ever…

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20140909-194507-71107484.jpgwith a quick trip to the trig point for a ‘on top of Wales’ selfie πŸ™‚ before heading back to the platform to watch our return journey train coming back for us..

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When we got back down we spent some time in the small train museum before choosing some souvenirs in the gift shop..

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20140909-195152-71512684.jpgwe had an absolutely fab day on Snowdon Mountain Railway and would like to thank them for inviting us to ride on the train… It certainly made a little boy who loves trains very very happy & a family who love the mountains very happy too…. It was a great adventure!!

You can find more info on Snowdon Mountain railway on theirwebsiteor over on their facebookpage.

**please remember that if you are hiking it is not advisable to take a sofa with you and to always be sensibly prepared, taking the train up enabled us to reach the top of the mountain in completely different manner to our usual ways & experience it in an unusual way. We love walking, but we also love mountain trains πŸ™‚

BUBBLE BLOWING IN THE SKY ON SUGARLOAF MOUNTAIN

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Today we decided to head for the hills under a beautiful blue sky, we took a huge tub of bubbles, some yummies & a flask of tea. We headed to Sugarloaf mountain in Abergavenny.
Our walk was relatively easy but quite rocky & steep under foot in places. Our route was approximately 4 miles from start to finish & took us around 3.5 hours with lots of stop offs on the way up to enjoy the view, catch our breath & bask in the glorious sunshine. The colours of summer were out in full force.

We headed up the hill from the car park & walked with the mountain in our view winding our way up on several different well defined paths.
Once at the top we spent some time blowing bubbles before heading back down.

Always take plenty of water & some warm clothing as it can be quite windy on the top…this is a great walk but also one that gets the stamina racing in places.

(We started our walk from Llanwenarth car park (NP7) SO268166.
By car: From the west follow the A40. Just before you reach Abergavenny, and just after the Lamb and Flag pub, turn left where the Sugarloaf Vineyards are signposted. Take the first left and follow the road up. Turn left again and the road bends sharply round to the right. Continue uphill until you come to a very sharp left turn. Follow this bend round and take the right-hand fork shortly after. Continue along this road, past some small parking areas, until you reach the main tarmac car park with stone trig point. From the east follow the A40 out of Abergavenny and turn right following the signs for Sugarloaf Vineyards. Follow instructions above.)

Here’s his our walk looked…

20140709-190602-68762242.jpgwe started with a gorgeous view in the carpark.

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20140709-190723-68843728.jpgNoah got a speed on following a beetle… There were lots of shiny electric blue beetles.

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20140709-191055-69055667.jpgwe found a huge bolder which we thought was the fist of an enormous giant turned to stone during a mountain top battle of territory..

20140709-191232-69152858.jpgwe found feathers which were particularly tickly on the ears

20140709-191514-69314533.jpgas we got to the top the rocks became bigger..they were great to explore

20140709-191704-69424842.jpgwe spent some time blowing bubbles

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20140709-191759-69479230.jpgNoah also spent some time taming a prehistoric rock dinosaur

20140709-191925-69565973.jpgafter the dinosaur was defeated we climbed to the summit..

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20140709-192044-69644253.jpgit was quite breezy…

20140709-192129-69689654.jpgafter taking in the beautiful 360 views we headed back down on the path that was clearly defined and visible from the top..

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20140709-192403-69843649.jpgwe made sure we took the time to turn around to look with awe at where we had walked..

20140709-192510-69910415.jpgwe stopped to watch the farmers herding their mountain sheep on their horses.

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20140709-192643-70003975.jpgthe colours today were truly stunning and offered a real glimpse of summer..

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20140709-192743-70063245.jpgNoah enjoyed a kip on the way down..

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20140709-192857-70137313.jpgSugarloaf is a beautiful mountain & one of our favourites in all seasons. Today the blue sky made it even more so gorgeous.

CRAIG CERRIG GLEISIAD A FAN FRYNYCH WALK

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We decided to embark on a Sunday afternoon adventure to a beautiful place nestled within the heart of the Brecon Beacons. Craig Cerrig-Gleisiad y Fan Frynych sits in a National NatureReserve & is a great example of how the ice age formed the bowls within the mountains, rich in wildlife the cliffs act as a vertical woodland with trees and shrubs all around that include hawthorn, rowan to name a few and mountain ash, heather and bilberry grow on the slopes and moorlands above, it’s a prime location to spot Welsh poppies and during our visit we found lots of Bluebells. The views were breathtaking and don’t forget to stop and turn around to look behind at the stunning scenes across to Pen Y Fan.

Our walk followed the path beside the stream into Craig Cerrig-Gleisiad’s bowl climbing up to the right of the mountain and returning down on a well marked circular loop.
Some of the paths are steep and although a fence runs along the ridge you will still pass close to the cliff edges so caution must be maintained. The weather can change rapidly. Walkers should wear appropriate footwear, be prepared for sudden weather changes, adhere to ample common sense and take care. Between May and October the reserve is grazed by cattle and sheep so dogs need to be kept under control.
Our walk took just under 4 hours with plenty of stops and starts whilst the kids explored various bits and pieces and rested to take in the view, we stopped towards the end to make a Maypole with ribbons. The descent was very steep in places but still manageable for the children whom found it great fun to often sit on their bums to slide down grassy lumps & bumps.

We parked in a large lay-by approx two miles north of the Storey Arms on the A470.
OS grid reference
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Here’s how our walk went…
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Our walk started off through woodland along a small river/stream laden with lush grass..

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Which led us through to the bottom of a great mountainous bowl…20140505-234428.jpg
We followed the path up to the right through a gate, here we picked up a leaflet with suggested routes and information. We opted to walk up to the right if the bowl following the marked path and looping back down to the left.

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As we headed up we made sure we stopped to look back…

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We found lots of bugs..

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We followed the path up onto the top…

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We sat and reflected.

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We followed the fence line along the top of the mountain cliffs..

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We found some great boggy lake on the uplands, perfect for skimming stones..

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We found a large burrowed hole!

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And Mila decided she wanted to live there πŸ™‚
We found so e great weathered fence posts.

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And we followed the fence line back down admiring the view all along.

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We loved the walls and looking at the view over them.

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We stopped near the bottom and made our own Maypole with ribbons…

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20140506-000611.jpgwe stopped one last time to take in the views before heading back through the wood to the car.

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It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon walk.

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SKIRRID FAWR MOUNTAIN SUNSET WALK.

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Skirrid Fawr is a beautiful mountain based in Abergavenny, Mid Wales, it has with stunning 360 views, it’s a real treat for little effort and manageable for the smallest of legs. It’s an ideal walk to watch he sun rise or descend. The woodlands surrounding it are carpeted with flowers.
From the car park we followed the gravel track that took a sharp right bend, we continued along this path and entered the woodland by the stile at the top of track. Follow the obvious path uphill until you reach a wooden gate at the top of the woodland, here you’ll find a bench beneath a huge oak tree, we followed the path to the right and climbed the path, sometimes quite steep, through the woods and all the way to the top.
There are a few different approaches on the way up, we took the most direct and marked route. Can get very muddy in poor weather and a little windy and cold on the top especially as the sun goes down.
Walking boots should ideally be worn as the walk can be a little rocky underfoot but we were fine in wellingtons. Always wear clothing that reflects the weather and even if the sun is shine remember to take some warm clothing in your rucksack as the weather can quickly change on the top. Be sensible, simple common sense is an ideal thing to take with you when walking. Always let someone know where you are going even if it’s through a simple Facebook post. Love the outdoors and always take your litter home.
The route was approx 4 miles from start to finish.
By car: A465 Hereford road bypassing Abergavenny Lef turn onto the B4521 old Monmouth road, car park is 1.5 miles (2.4km) on left (looks like a layby) grid ref: SO328164

We headed up to watch the sun set with cake in tow….

Here’s how we got on.

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SUNDAY MORNING SUNRISE ON TOR Y FOEL

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Making the effort to venture out to watch the sunrise can be beautifully rewarding, our favourite place to watch the sunrise is from Tor Y Foel mountain in the Brecon Beacons National park, it lied adjacent and overlooking Talybont reservoir. The parking spot is high enough to be able to take in 360 panoramic views with very minimum effort, with a little effort thrown in & a 15 walk you will be treated to a sumptuous outlook over Brecon & Abergavenny….
Here’s some of the beautiful sunrises we’ve captured…

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Marked in the photo below on a map taken from google images, the address if this spot is…
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CORN DDU WALK

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We headed out for a Sunday afternoon walk, we checked the forecast and set out to climb to the top of Corn Ddu which sits in good company with the peak of Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons national park, Mid Wales.
We started our walk from the car park approx 1/4 mile further up the road on the A470, South bound from The Storey Arms.
We followed the well trodden path from the car park, over the bridged river & up towards Pen Y Fan/Corn Ddu.
Our walk lasted about 4 hours at most with a gentle stroll and lots of stops on the route to explore.

Here’s how we got on…

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It really was a beautiful walk with stunning views and we were treated to the company of a gorgeous blue sky…

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HILLSIDE ARTISTS (Fan Fawr Mountain, Brecon Beacons)

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Some people opt to paint the town red, we painted the hills green & became mobile artists masterpiece painters…. we found a beautiful spot & created our canvases’ of the world the way we see it…

We stopped for breakfast at the foot of Fan Fawr opposite the Storey Arms on the A470. Parking was free. We headed up onto the hill over the stile in the car park and followed the path on a horseshoe route bearing left as we climbed higher. It was a real treat and easily managed by the kids aged 15, 9, 7, & 4… We also had a baby in a back carrier. We wore walking boots, warm clothes and took a bottle of water & snacks. The route was very simple and the views were stunning, it was a beautiful example of some of The National Trust’s off the beaten track options.
We also took with us some simple canvases, paintbrushes, a paint pad and jar of water, we stopped halfway down and painted our view…

Here’s how we got on…

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Once parked we headed up the mountain stopping to look back to admire the views across to Pen y Fan/Corn Ddu.

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We could see our destination, Fan Fawr in front if us with a dusting if snow, we were accompanied by a beautiful blue sky…

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We walked along small streams laden with little waterfalls on the way up giving us opportunity to explore..

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And the views became more stunning…

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We even stopped to build a snowman.

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Nearing the top..

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The only footprints were ours..

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We could see where the horseshoe bore to the left and the path that we would follow back down..

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We spent some time on the top before heading back down..

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It was beautiful…

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We stopped half way down to paint our pictures of the views..

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It was a great day to become outdoor artists…

If you would like to follow more of our daily frugal, fun memory making activities & adventures during a childhood that’s fleeting you can find us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Family-days-Tried-tested/287237957955725?ref=tn_tnmn