Surviving School Holidays in St Albans

As it’s school holidays, I’m just been reminding myself of things to do with kids in or near St Albans.  Thought it may be of interest to you as well.

Heartwood Forest – in Sandridge.  Over the next 12 years the Woodland trust is going to be putting this forest back to its former glory.  To date they have planted over 300,000 trees.  However, there are still 4 areas of ancient forest left which are great for Den Building and the Bluebells are in full bloom.

Kite Flying Dunstable Downs – On the road to Whipsnade Zoo.  You can buy a kite for about £8 in the gift shop if you don’t have one.  Dress up warm!

Butterfly World – people have mixed feelings about Butterfly World.  I personally love it but I’m fully aware that it’s a work in progress, the Dome isn’t built yet and there is just one small house of butterflies.  We love running around the gardens, the playground is brilliant and check out the Ant house.  In April, entry is only £5.  Bring a lunch to keep costs down.

RAF Museum Hendon – I’m not a plane enthusiast but it’s a great day out for the kids and it’s FREE, well except for the parking.  There is a place indoors that you can bring a packed lunch.

St Albans South Signal Box – this may sound dull but I promise you it’s very interesting.  It’s free, the gardens are lovely and you can get a cuppa.  Next Open Day is Sunday 8th of April 2012.

And a few other random free things to do with kids in or near St Albans.


Batting my eyelashes!

I’m definitely not a girlie girl.  I barely wear any make-up, have been known to go a few days without washing my hair and when I get the opportunity to go out I’d opt for a backstreet pub in a pair of jeans and boots.

However, I’ve always fancied having my eye-lashes done.  I don’t know why, as mine are apparently quite nice.  But, when I go to get my nails done, which is a rare occasion, I’m always mesmerized by the therapist’s  eyelashes.

So, when Juliet from Beautylase contacted me because they needed a model as they were accrediting some new glue/technique they use for the eyelashes I jumped at the chance.  I didn’t have a full set but a scattering, not a smattering as I called it, which according to Juliet is what children do with paint!  It only took about 45 minutes, completely pain-free, relaxing in fact and I love them.  I can jump straight out of bed, put some lip gloss on and head out the door as they require no mascara.  No more trying to scrub off yesterday’s mascara before applying more.

The only downside is I wish I had a full set as they would last for 4-6 weeks and as I only had a partial set mine will only last for about 10 days, which would be great for special events like Christmas and New Years.  However, when they start to look wonky Juliet has offered to take off the last few remaining stragglers.

I will definitely be having them done again in the future, maybe for my 40th in a few weeks time.  Thanks to Juliet and the team at Beautylase, St. Albans.



Free things to do with kids in or near St. Albans

The joys of Half-Term!  To stay sane we try to do at least one thing each day.  However, the cost really starts to add up so I’ve put together a wee list of things to do in or near St Albans that are virtually free. You can thank me later!  ;-)

Stockwood Discovery Centre – one of my favourite hidden gems.  It’s near the airport in Luton, only 15 minutes from St. Albans up the M1.  It has a permanent display of horse drawn carriages, plus changing displays, an outdoor playground, bee keeping display, beautiful gardens to run around and a café for a much needed latte.

See if you can find the Anderson Shelter.  It’s near the chickens. We’ve been at least a half a dozen times and discover something new each time.  It’s normally free but during half term they have special events that cost a couple of quid.  This time they have some Creepy Crawlies.

Cassiobury Park, in Watford, we often venture over there on the weekend.  It’s one of Madame’s favourite playgrounds.  It was rebuilt a few years ago and other parks should take note.  The playground is brilliant with very creative apparatus for kids to explore.  Plus, there’s a hot dog stand, ice cream truck, mini railway (£1) and nature reserve.  I love wandering down to the canal to watch the barges go through the locks.  I’ve also recently discovered that there is another ‘nice’ café and playground at the top of the park but I haven’t found it yet.  Do take your scooters!

Nottcutt’s Garden Centre on Hatfield Road.  This one is a bit cheeky, but perfect for a rainy day.  It has a great display of outdoor climbing frames, which technically you aren’t supposed to play on, loads of animals and fish, plus books and toys to browse.  There is also a café with reasonably priced kids meals, with a small fenced off play area.

Then next door there is PJ Camping, which has a giant display of tents that the little ones can run in and out of!  Great fun!

Aldenham Country Park and Rare Breeds Farm, another one of my favourites just past Costco on the A41, it’s well sign-posted.  Technically it isn’t free as it costs you £4 to get out of the carpark but worth it.  There’s an adventure playground, animals to visit, Winnie the Pooh’s 100 Aker Wood to explore and if you remember to bring some bread you can feed the ducks.  Plus, if you’re feeling energetic you can wander around the reservoir.  There’s also a café but if it’s nice out it’s a great place for a picnic.  Or you can do what we do and combine it with a trip to Costco; lunch for two is only £4.20!

The Wick, Marshalls Drive, St. Albans.  The majority of locals don’t even know this exists.  It’s a small wood which is just off one of the poshest streets in town, it has a very small playground in the back of it, but it’s a wonderful wood to explore.  We often go hunting for fairies and monsters.  It’s magical!  Plus, you can ogle the big houses!

Do you have any local hidden treasures you would like to share?

Welly Wanging in Heartwood Forest, Sandridge

We are very lucky where we live.  We live in a lovely market town which is steeped in Roman History, it’s only 20 minutes from London by train and we have access to loads of green space; within minutes you can go from being in the city to being in the country.

We recently discovered Heartwood Forest, which is going to be England’s largest new native woodland.  It’s only 3 miles north of St Albans in Sandridge.  The Woodland Trust has acquired the 850 acre site and hopes to turn it from open fields to a wood in just 12 years by planting an additional 600,000 trees and they’re going to need some help.

I just wanted to let you know about the tree planting party tomorrow the 23 of Jan 2011 from 10-3pm.  Full details can be found here.

They’ll also be trying to set a New Guinness Record for Welly Wanging.  I really don’t know what that entails but sounds very interesting.

Our family will definitely be going, rain or shine as the thought of planting a tree for a new forest is truly special.

Note: There is no parking at the site on Sunday but there is a park and ride service being offered from Townsend School.

Pictures will follow.