Life is beginning to feel a little more normal. The children are settling back into the rhythm of school and all forms of childcare are now back on, easing the load for families with young children immensely.
Thankfully we’re once again able to visit friends or a restaurant without having to brace the elements. Date night is back too with theatres, cinemas and museums all open again. With half term just around the corner the gradual unlocking brings a multitude of things to do – hooray!
But as we venture back to life ‘as it was’ we’ve been reflecting on how we can hold on to some of the good that has come with the slower pace during lockdowns. We’re keen to seek out a little wholesome fun, when we can. With the return of a crazy family schedule juggling sports, activities and multiple commitments we’re going to try and slow down a little this coming half term.
We’ve been in touch with some amazing local Bucks and Oxfordshire based businesses to find out what’s on for families at half term. We’ve also collated some of our favourite activities to enjoy if you’re staying home and want to enjoy a slightly slower pace.
Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to take the week off. If you’re going to be juggling work and the family we’re here to help you find the flexible childcare you need.
Inloco is a new childcare community, set up by two mums who believe there’s a better way to arrange flexible childcare. Inloco lets you connect with local families, friends and childcarers so you can build your own trusted circle – and get the help you need, whenever you need it. Find out more and join for free here.
Fun on the farm
Orchard View Farm, Buckinghamshire
One of my all time favourite places for an outing with the children is Orchard View, a family-run working farm in Buckinghamshire which prides itself on great affordable food and hospitality. With a Farm shop, café & butchery all onsite, and the addition of a campsite this year – it’s a one-stop destination for a lunch, day trip, night away or longer.
We got in touch to find out how they’ve been preparing for the summer months and were delighted to hear they’ve just made a brand new bale fort in the café garden for the kids to play on. It’s guaranteed to occupy the little ones after a walk around the farm and might even give you a moment to enjoy a cuppa and a moments peace! The food is always tasty, a family favourite of ours are the fantastic burgers and sausages, hand-made on site in the butchery, with kids sizes available too.
The new campsite is a great staycation option for families. Campers can rent fire pits and logs to get that cosy fireside glow, and toast a few marshmallows. In the morning wake up to the sounds of the animals and then enjoy a locally renowned breakfast at the Trough Café.
And if glamping is more your camping style there are some beautiful bell tents to hire.
Jim from Orchard view told us that on May 21st they also have a Bushcraft course running with local expert Alex Dewitt, the course is an engaging outdoor experience for all of the family. Find out more here.
We were interested to hear how Jim and the team at Orchard View had coped over the last 12 months as it’s been such a tough time for small businesses, Jim explained that “the second lockdown was more challenging but we learned to become resilient and how to work efficiently… the diversification created by launching the campsite has stood us in good stead”. He also shared that “we have developed a special bond with our customers and their loyalty has been a big factor”.
So if you’re looking for a mini escape and the chance to pause we’d highly recommend a visit to this local gem, even better they still have some camping availability for half term.
The ultimate sleepover
Canopies and Quilts, Buckinghamshire
For those of us that prefer a few home comforts but still want that camping experience take a look at Canopies and Quilts ‘camping inspired’ cosy sleepovers.
Last month we were lucky enough to hire three little camps for a night to celebrate my youngest’s 5th Birthday. It was an unforgettable evening and such a treat for the children after enduring months of lockdown.
We caught up with Katie, the mum of three behind Canopies and Quilts, she explained that; “in the last year many children haven’t had the opportunity to have sleepovers and some are yet to experience the joy of a night away from home! As we come out of lockdown some will be bursting to pack their overnight bag, whilst others may have some anxiety about being away overnight. Having a special ‘Camp In’ at Grandma’s house or a night away at their BFF’s is a great opportunity to build up those skill sets”.
Katie believes ‘that camping is all about switching off from the indoor ’norms’. If you manage to go camping, be it the real thing or our indoor tents, we recommend that you take the opportunity to swap your screens for a pack of playing cards, grab a torch and go on a night-time walk and get the fire pit or bbq fired up for some outdoor cooking.” It sounds perfect to me.
Find out more and get in touch with Katie to book your minicamp at home here. And for those that have the pull of outdoor camping they’ll have Bell Tents to hire soon too.
A delicious day out
Rectory Farm, Stanton St John, Oxfordshire
A trip to Rectory Farm pick your own is the most memorable way to celebrate the onset of Summer. It’s an absolute must every year for our family!
Based outside Oxford the 45 acre family-run farm, café and pick your own will be open every day over half term so you can enjoy harvesting your own Oxfordshire grown strawberries, asparagus, rhubarb and gooseberries.
The vibe is always friendly and relaxed. It’s wonderful to be able to explore the farm, spend time outdoors and enjoy delicious food. The farm shop is packed with homegrown, local and artisan produce, so you can stock up with tasty food to take home too.
We got in touch to find out more, Imogen told us that; “The cafe will be serving farm to fork lunches, ice-creams, snacks and more…. And the haystack and sandpit will be back so younger kids can enjoy playing outside too”.
Imogen explained that “this year has been extra special because we opened again just at the end of the winter lockdown. The longer days and opportunity to meet up with friends again outside and pick delicious produce is really wonderful.’”
It’s a truly unique and special place and is well worth a visit. If you fancy a family challenge you could even try making your own jam, then you’ll be able to enjoy the sweet taste of summer for months to come!
Clip ‘n Climb, Bicester and Go Ape, Wendover Woods
If your family love a bit of adventure maybe indoor climbing or outdoor high ropes would be the perfect day out, but do book ahead so you don’t miss out this coming half term.
We had the joy of a ‘Yes Day’ when lockdown finally ended, anyone who has seen the film on Netflix will understand! The day involved a trip to Clip ‘n Climb in Bicester and some serious heights.
If you prefer the outdoors Go Ape is an amazing option and a firm favourite for our little thrill seekers, even our youngest aged 5 can enjoy swinging through the trees and some epic zip line fun. Wendover Woods also has some incredible walking and cycling trails, picnic spots and a fully stocked cafe with tasty options for lunch or cakes and coffee if you haven’t got time to pack a picnic.
A wild day out
Woburn Safari Park
After months of closure it is fantastic that zoos and safari parks can once more open their doors so families can enjoy a memorable day out.
We visited Woburn Safari for a family Birthday outing and felt so safe driving through the park in the comfort of our own car, just a few inquisitive monkeys to contend with! There are an incredible variety of animals to see roaming the park including rhino, elephant, giraffe, zebra and lions – it might just be the family outing you all need.
5 fun activities to see in Summer
As Spring begins to draw to a close and we welcome the warmer days (hopefully) and longer nights, here are some of our favourite wholesome and fun activities to enjoy with the children at this time of year.
- Caterpillar time – Have your children experienced the miracle of metamorphosis yet? It is such an unforgettable and amazing opportunity to watch caterpillars change into chrysalides and then emerge as beautiful Painted Lady Butterflies. Insectlore provide everything you need to raise and feed your very own butterflies and then release them into the wild. The entire transformation from caterpillar to adult butterfly takes about three to five weeks. Find out more and order a kit here.
- Get growing – it’s a great time to let children take responsibility for their own seeds and enjoy the rewards for weeks to come. There are some super cute kits out there too – we’ve loved August’s Garden Seed Explorers kit, it’s a lovely way to get even the littlest gardeners engaged. For truly beautiful flowers and delicious veg and salad in the summer – now’s the time to sew your seeds directly in the garden.
- Enjoy a walk with purpose – it’s such a special time of year to be outdoors, why not bring a scavenger hunt to keep those younger legs motivated.
- Give geocaching a go – Ever wanted to try this? My children are hooked at the moment. It’s a GPS-based treasure hunt, simply register here, pop in your location and see what’s nearby to discover.
- Discover something new about where you live – Treasure trails have amazing booklets with clues for the whole family to follow or wrap up and head out for a local walk you’ve not been on before.
Whatever you get up to, we hope you are able to enjoy the week, and if you need flexible childcare use Inloco to connect with your friends and the childcarers you trust – then we’ll help you find, book and pay for hassle-free childcare in an instant.
We’d love to help you build a circle of childcare support to help your family thrive. Find out more and join for free here.
Written by Hannah, Inloco Founder and Mum of 3