Best Drinks Bottle EVER!!

A healthy and environmentally friendly drink

Recently we decided to do a short cycle ride along the coast to a nearby village. It was a hot day and we had cycled 6km and therefore wanted to stop for a drink. We always carry a refillable bottle of water around with us but wanted a change. As part of our Clear Plastic_UK campaign, we always refuse to buy single-use plastic bottles, choosing cans, cardboard or glass instead. I looked around the carton section expecting not to buy any of them because they would have straws (something we always refuse to buy)… but guess what… I found a carton without a straw, made out of cardboard, labelled with FSC! It was a healthy, vitamin drink and it was delicious! I was delighted with this find and so have been raving about it ever since! Why aren’t all juices like this? If we all choose to use strawless cartons like this one instead of single-use plastic bottles then maybe, drinks companies will stop producing them.

By Ella


Everest Peak 3 – Cachiporrilla Peak

Cachiporrilla – an opportunity we couldn’t ignore!

Ever since arriving at our campsite, located in the Lozoya Valley in Spain, we were itching to have a shot at trekking up Cachiporrilla Peak, a 1620-metre-high mountain viewable from the site. We hoped it was in walking distance. A quick trip to the reception/information room revealed that it was – in fact, there was even a mapped route and directions that lead to the summit.

We soon found out that the directions we collected weren’t to be relied on – as soon as we exited the site, we managed to miss the unmarked footpath but luckily realised our mistake only a few bends down the road. It was only a few directions later we passed the gate we should have taken, and were pointed the correct way by a local Spaniard, but soon we were on the right track, beginning our trek up the mountain. The higher we got, the better the views became; the snow-capped peaks of the Guadarrama range became more visible, as well as the villages nestled high-up in between peaks, and we could overlook the long lake stretching down the length of the Lozoya valley. Vultures, the first of the many that migrate from Africa for cooler weather, circled overhead and we soon found out a possible reason why. Whilst walking we passed the carcasses of two dead cows, along with a few stripped bones littering the landscape.

We were carving our own path through the vegetation – any previous paths had stopped or detoured away from the direction we were heading a while back – and hopped to the other side of the wall we were following if the vegetation got too thick, only to cross again if it became clear. Lunch was eaten on a rocky outcrop at the beginning of the summit climb and not matter how good we thought the view was then, it was nothing compared to what we saw at the top. Despite the fact the mountains on the horizon may have been almost double the height of the one we had summited, the beauty of the patchwork landscape spread out below us was breath-taking and we could have been on top the world for all we saw. All of us were reluctant to leave the fresh mountain air and picturesque vista behind when it was time to head back down to the site.

We climbed this peak as part of our family-friendly Climb Everest Challenge.

By Amy


Reasons to get outside

We love the outdoors, because …


Markets and fire festivals – vlogs

Vlogging in Spain

Las Fallas – the fire festival

Benlloch – market


Amy and Ella feature on Maddie Moate’s YouTube Channel

A day with Maddie Moate and Greg Foot

How lucky were we to get to spend a day with TV and YouTube presenters (plus all round lovely people), Maddie Moate and Greg Foot. A fun day was had at the Crystal Palace Dinosaur Park; lots of laughter and learning.

I can’t write and do justice to the day, but Maddie’s video can…


4 get over-excited in France

Well, that was France

We’ve had a great time travelling through France for the last month: learning the language, spending time in the Alps and meeting up with friends.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the fun we’ve had.

Now, it’s into Spain!


Ed-ventures in France

Time in France

Having spent a year travelling around the UK, we wanted our second year to take in countries further afield. The first port of call on our European travels was France.
motorhome on the south coast of France
I love France and have many happy memories of going there on holiday when I was younger. Tim and I spent three weeks camping in northern France before the girls were born and we had brought the girls to France on a couple of camping holidays in the past. This time, we were spending a little more than a month exploring France, travelling and living in our motorhome.
We chose to travel in France during the winter period in order to avoid the summer crowds and escape the British weather. There are pros and cons to travelling at this time of year; there are fewer people around but many sites and attractions are closed. We chose a route down the east of France, from Calais, stopping in Picardie and Lyon before spending a good chunk of time in the Alps and then making our way along the southern coast to Spain. Planned highlights of the trip included winter sports and meeting up with friends. Ultimately, we wanted the trip to be an extension of our ed-venture – a mixture of education and adventure. We wanted the girls to experience a different country, appreciate its culture and learn its language.

Language Learning by Amy

Part of going abroad is using the language. With a language so widely spoken around the world, it’s tempting to speak to people in our own mother tongue, rather than the native language of the country. Really, though, not only do you learn more by attempting to speak it, but also you’ll find that people living there appreciate the attempt to speak their language and will often try to help. Whilst we’ve been travelling in France, my sister and I have been polishing up our French, taught to us by our mum, a French dictionary and a language learning CD given to us by our grandparents (which has been the source of constant jokes but has helped all the same!)
We put this knowledge into practice in the cafes, museums, shops and even a campsite that we have visited. In fact, in one particular souvenir shop in the French Alps,  we ended up telling the shop-keeper where we live, who with, our name and our age after she overheard us practising our French as we walked around the shop. We are also now experts at reserving breakfast pastries and asking for stamps for England, which I had to do in three different places before I finally somewhere that sold them. But, as my sister and I have learnt, practice makes ‘parfait’!

Staying in the Alps

A large proportion of our time in France was dedicated to the Alps. Primarily because we wanted to do winter sports and seek some mountain adventures. We had never considered camping at a ski resort before and were a little concerned about how the motorhome would cope in snowy conditions. Snow chains at the ready, we drove with surprising ease along the windy roads up into the mountains.
snowy campsite
The first resort that we stayed in was le Grand Bornand, a popular French family ski resort. We hadn’t known this before we arrived and were surprised by the numbers of other people camping at the site. We soon discovered that we were there during the French and English school holidays which meant that there were plenty of other families around. It had snowed prior to our arrival and we were thrilled to see a thick coating of the white stuff all around! The girls were understandably very excited and keen to play in the snow.
eden vanoise 2
The second site that we stayed at was in Landry, in the Vanoise valley, over-looked by snow-covered mountains. Although the site was located in the valley, beside the river Isere it was easy to travel up between villages and up into the mountains, using the many free shuttle buses that are provided. Whilst we chose not to ski or snowboard in this area, the temptation to head into the mountains was irresistible.

Snowy activities by Amy

[A shortage of snow was not an issue for us whilst travelling in the Alps. The snow and weather were in our favour and we had plenty of opportunities, over the 3 weeks that we spent there, for skiing (Alpine and cross-country), snowboarding and sledging.
snowy skiing selfie
sledging
snow shoes
quinzee snow shelter
Both of the resort villages, Le Grand Bornand and Landry, had good access for family-friendly skiing and the days we spent in the Alps were packed with activities. I loved skiing in Le Grand Bornand (the resort we chose to ski at) – the wide variety of slopes for beginners to experts appealed to all of us. Just getting up in the morning, jumping on a ski bus and enjoying the fresh, powdery runs was something we all treasured. I for one was pretty disappointed when the ski pass expired. Le Grand Bornand site was also great for other activities. It was fun having a go at cross-country skiing – we were all pretty rubbish at it but certainly had lots of laughs trying! Ella and I had a couple of sessions at the ice-skating rink during the last few days we were there. We also enjoyed some sledging sessions as well.
skiing at Grand Bornand
grand bornand ice rink
At the other Alpine resort, Landry, we chose not to ski and instead spent time exploring the surrounding area. The site we stayed at in the village had a cycle route running next to it, linking two nearby villages, Aime and Bourg Saint Maurice, and, in a brief thaw of the snow, we hopped on our bikes and made the most of that opportunity. Free shuttles ran from Landry, heading higher up into the mountains and, unable to resist the lure of the snow, we went sledging and, on one day, hired snow shoes and hiked up to build a Quinsee snow shelter – hard work but we had an end product we were pretty proud of.

Camping in the snow by Ella

Arriving at our campsites located in the Alps was ‘très’ exciting! Just the fact that we were hearing the snow crunching beneath the wheels as we drove onto our pitch at le Grand Bornand made me squeal with excitement. When we stepped out of the motorhome our feet became buried under fresh, powdery snow. I had a huge grin across my face when I looked at all the snow around us. It was hard to resist a snowball fight or a snow dog building session.
Unlike other skiing holidays when we stayed in hotels, we would return after a day of skiing back to our motorhome. Staying in the motorhome was like taking home away with you – for us it was literally that! We had all the home comforts: books, blankets, toys and teddies. We were snug and warm even though it was snowing outside.

Southern France

flamingoes
French market
The last few days in France were spent travelling along the southern coast, stopping off at aires and campsites by the sea. The Winter chill had started to disappear and we had some gloriously sunny weather. This section of the trip was unplanned and we enjoyed the freedom of travelling along at a leisurely pace stopping when and wherever took our fancy. We enjoyed a night in the Camargue, spotting the famous white horses, bulls and flamingoes wading in the salt marshes. We also enjoyed the coastal route with its magnificent view over the Mediterranean sea. Learning the language and speaking it in real life contexts, finding out about the culture and lifestyle through conversations and personal experience, and visiting places of historical importance made our month in France a wonderfully cultural ed-venture.
posing on the south coast

Drink: a Fibrous Fruit Smoothie

With a little something thrown into the mix…

This green machine is really good for you, with a secret ingredient I doubt you will ever have considered putting in.

All you need:

  • One avocado
  • ¼ of an avocado seed/stone
  • 1 small pear
  • Apple Juice
  • A little water

Add the chopped avocado in with the pear and seed, along with a splash of water, before blitzing until smooth. Add the apple juice to the mix, putting more in if your smoothie is really thick.

The good bit

Avocado is packed with so many nutrients; the list could go on and on and on… On a whole, they contain loads of vitamins, healthy fats that can have affects on cancer genes, soluble fiber which feeds good bacteria in your gut and can lower you cholesterol. The seed contains 70% of an avocado’s goodness so it’s a big mistake to chuck it in the bin. Like the fruit itself, the seed contains soluble fiber – in fact, it has more in than even the biggest fiber providers! Now you know what to eat as a healthy snack; the big green fruit mainly reserved for salads!

Pears contain lots of fiber as well as copper, which is key to building strong tissue and maintaining a healthy blood. Studies have also shown that the skin of the pear is really good for you – it contains half the pear’s amount of dietary fiber.


GO to the beach and get naturally fit

Beach Olympics

One of our favourite beach exercises – particularly when we are with friends or family – is to have a mini Beach Olympics.

Get the kids involved in designing the ‘disciplines’  – maybe ask each child to think of one of the sports and get them to lead them when the time comes.

Ideas for events:
High jump

  • High Jump
    Make a jump out of items that you may have brought along e.g. buckets and spades. Use the sand to create piles on which the buckets can be placed, thus allowing you to change the height of the bar (or spade).
  • Long jump
    Get a spade and ‘fluff up’ the sand in your landing pit, or ensure your landing area is in the soft dry sandy area of the beach. If there’s a mix of ages in your group, draw a few take off lines in the sand and allow younger (or senior) athletes to use a line nearer to the landing zone.
  • Short sprint
    Measure out a short distance – about 50 metres or strides is good for a sprint by drawing a start line and making a finish line using a couple of mounds of sand (so you can see them).
  • Shot putt
    Find a stone or rock and use this for a ‘push throw’ that comes from holding the rock under the side of the jaw and then extending the arm. Measure the distance from the throwing line to where the rock lands.
  • Other ideas: relay race, long distance run, tennis ball throw, triple jump … 

Get the PDF

This is just one of many ideas included in a 10 page PDF we have created for download, designed to give families ideas and activities to do while at the beach (at any time of the year). By exercising and playing together in the outdoors, you’ll be surprised how fit and healthy you can feel.

Download the PDF from here.


DO Run, smile, natter

Running: discipline, determination and growth mindset

One of the great things about running is that you can do it absolutely anyway, with anyone, at any time of the day. It’s a great thing to do with others too, particularly with family members as it’s a good chance to enjoy the outdoors together, enjoyed the shared experience of exercise (and reddening faces), and if you run at the pace of the slowest member, you can have a good natter on the way around too. In fact, it’s sensible advice to run at a pace where you can still hold a conversation – then you can be sure you are not pushing yourself too hard (cos that might not be so good for you after all).

Running with your kids helps model the discipline of, well … being disciplined…. keeping going, not giving up, being determined and persevering etc etc

DCIM100GOPRO
Kids too often these days are given loads of ‘fixed mindset‘ praise: ‘You’re amazing’, ‘You’re such a talent/natural/star..’ and not enough ‘growth mindset’ feedback like: ‘Well done, you tried really hard.’ or ‘I’m proud of you for the effort you put into that run.’

The simple act of encouraging your child to try hard, keep a pace going till the end will do their self perception a world of good and help develop their growth mindset.

Make a good run a very good run in deed

While out on your run and enjoying a nice leisurely pace enables you to look out for pieces of litter and trash discarded by others. Do your bit to help clean up the trails we use or the footpaths and cycle paths we enjoy by ridding them of any rubbish others purposely or mistakenly leave behind. Let’s be honest, wouldn’t we rather the environments we choose to go into for enjoyment and leisure be free of crap – even if it means we pick someone else’s litter up?

DCIM100GOPRO
DCIM100GOPRO

On our short run today (only 2.5 miles) we picked up six single-use plastic bottles/cups that we found thrown into the woods at the side of the path. Of course, we picked them up and brought them back to a recycling point.

In fact, we are on a mission to clear up 100,000 pieces of single-use plastic litter – that’s one piece for every sea mammal death from plastic debris per year. If you would like to help us with our effort, please visit this page and join in.


Saddle up and doodle doo

Cycle, sketch and repeat

If you love drawing or cycling or both, then here’s an idea. Head out on a cycle ride, with your sketch book and pencil and just go cycling.

All you need to do

Find a picturesque route along a river, through the hills or even an urban street to cycle down. Find a nice place to stop and do a quick sketch! If you draw rough shapes then you can add more detail when you get back from your trip.

Here is what we did:

DCIM100GOPRO
We recently saddled up and went out for a doodle along a nearby river – the perfect location to find some interesting scenes to sketch. While cycling along we would spot a place to sit and draw something pristine or intriguing. Sometimes we would look at something then change our mind and carry on cycling. I struggled with my perspective so my dad gave me a tip. ‘Hold up the pencil so it is in line with the top of the object you are drawing e.g. the bridge and bring the pencil down to your paper and that is the perspective.’ It was handy for when I was drawing and certainly helped me.

Along the way we picked up any plastic drinks items that had been discarded by the side of the lovely looking cycle track. Turns out it wasn’t as tidy as it looked. If you do your bit like we did and pick up any plastic litter you see, it would make a big difference.

6 reasons to cycle and draw

  • Drawing is a fun and relaxing break
  • Doing sketches encourages you to observe your environment
  • To draw, you don’t need much, only a pencil and a notepad so it is a really cheap activity – but a fun one!
  • Cycling makes you feel good and just a short break outside can give you all the good in the world
  • You can see new places on a bike, and in a different way. You can travel further too so you can see even more!
  • Cycling gets you outside which does you a lot of good because of the fresh air you get and fresh air always puts you in a better mood.

Oh and before I go, something that helped me be creative with my drawing was a book by the children’s laureate Chris Riddell. He is one of my favourite authors and is an amazing artist too. He has a book out called doodle a day which is a book with a drawing/colouring/painting activity for every day of the year!

By Ella


Gregg’s Eggcellent Eggsperiment #1

Eggsperimenting with Gregg

We were lucky enough to have Greg Foot, Blue Peter Science presenter and all round fun science guy, come to our motorhome for some eggy science recently. He did a few different egg-themed eggsperiments with us before we tucked into boiled eggs and soldiers for tea!

Greg Foot’s first eggsperiment for us, was to crush an egg. Easy right? Well think again.

For this eggsperiment you need:

  • An egg (or two in case)

How it went

Squeezing the egg
Greg passed me the egg and told me to squeeze it. I felt the delicate shell as it was placed into my hand. As I began to squeeze it, I prepared myself for egg yoke all over my clothes. I was ready for the moment…but it never came. I released the egg and passed it to Amy.  She tried too but couldn’t do it either.

Why the egg didn’t crack (the sciencey bit)

The reason that we couldn’t break the egg wasn’t because we weren’t strong enough. An egg can’t be crushed by hand is because of the shape. It works in a similar way to an arched bridge. If you look at an arched bridge, it is in a curved shape. This is a very strong shape because it spreads the weight/force over the whole construction. It is the same with an egg. Eggs have evolved for millions of years to become this fantastic shape!

Why a ring can break and egg

mummy squeezing the egg
A bare hand can’t break an egg because the force is spread out over the whole of the egg’s shape but if you are wearing a ring, you can. My mum was wearing a ring on the day and so she tried and… well let’s say she defied the theory; she couldn’t break the egg, even with a diamond ring.

The egg should have broken because all of the force was focused on one point rather than spread out over the whole egg. It should crack because all the pressure is on one point of the egg.

A cracking time!

We enjoyed Greg’s experiment so much, we just had to give it another go…


So Greg, what is our next eggsperiment?