Pond Dipping at Botanic Gardens Dublin

The National Botanic Gardens here in Dublin paired up with the Nature Reserve and hosting four pond dipping sessions this year – May, June July & August.  It was their chance to investigate what lives under the lily pads and thought they’d enjoy it.

I booked us in in July and glad we did. With the fractured elbow I was tempted to give up our spot, but Soren had a great time, so I’m glad we didn’t.

Here are some of the creatures we were looking for today.

We were a bit more cautious than other parents, but then again, I’m a bit of a helicopter parent so it comes with the territory.  Here Nils has the kids by the arm as use the net (granted the shortest one in the group).

The kids have done dipping before with all the paraphernalia with nets, bowls, spy-glasses, etc in Sheringham Park and thankfully no one fell in – not even the super annoying kid we will not name!

After the pond dipping, we took a short walk and visited the rose garden and I took tons of photos of the flowers around. I’d like return one day alone and take photos all day.

The gardens are so nice, I really have to return soon.

"51 Things To Do Before You Turn 10" vs "50 Things To Do Before You Turn 11 3/4"

So today I came across a posting online titled “51 Things To Do Before You Turn 10”.  It is along the lines of the list put out by the National Trust – which is “50 Things To Do Before You Turn 11 3/4”

The National Trust list is, of course, about getting outside and in touch with nature.  Anyway, I like the idea of both the lists.  The nature one is great as it gets our now city/suburban kids outdoors and back into a natural environment – especially as they spent two years living in North Norfolk, UK – where they had their Forest School, countless beaches and the National Trust – including Sheringham Park with [Little Acorns], Felbrigg Hall & Blickling Estate.  There are several basic things which I’d like to “teach” the kids – some, of course, won’t be able to be done now but as Soren is approaching 8, there are tons he has already learned but many to come.

We’ll start with the LAUNDRY!  Just today I asked Soren to pick up his jeans from his floor and put them in the third drawer or in the laundry basket.  His reply and I quote “ah grrrrr, I’m so not the laundry man!”  LOL – oh yeah, I’m the laundry lady – he’ll also now go on the two-week cycle 🙂

  1. Learn to knit
  2. Learn to cook – the basics like boiling an egg
  3. Make your own bed…..properly
  4. Have a penpal in a few random countries
  5. Learn to code
  6. Make a stop motion movie
  7. Do a random act of kindness
  8. Learn to crochet
  9. Dye or cut your hair for charity
  10. Grow something edible from seeds
  11. Build a treehouse
  12. Run around in the rain
  13. Fly a kite
  14. Roll down a big hill
  15. Make a daisy chain
  16. Find a geocache
  17. Read a classic book
  18. Write and post a letter
  19. Go on a walk at night with a torch
  20. Catch a falling autumn leaf
  21. Taste a snowflake on your tongue
  22. Make snow angels
  23. Play conkers
  24. Learn numbers 1-10 in a few languages
  25. Learn to play a musical instrument
  26. Make perfume in the garden with flowers and herbs
  27. Go pond dipping
  28. Make a bow and arrow
  29. Learn how to work the washing machine
  30. Go camping in your back garden
  31. Try a new food you’ve never tried before
  32. Watch bats flying at dusk
  33. Bake a cake
  34. Hold an animal
  35. Visit an old person
  36. Learn to ride a bike
  37. See the sun come up
  38. Lie on your back and watch clouds
  39. Take a photograph with a proper camera (not a phone)
  40. Learn a magic trick
  41. Learn which birds are which by looking at them
  42. Toast marshmallows
  43. Go to the theatre
  44. Learn how to dance (Irish/Ballet/Waltz)
  45. Have an adventure
  46. Interview a grandparent about what it was like being a kid in the olden days
  47. Write a story or poem
  48. Make Ice Cream
  49. Save up for something big
  50. Know where milk comes from really
  51. See a calf/lamb/foal being born

    “50 Things To Do Before You Are 11 3/4”

  • 11.Go on a really long bike ride
  • 12.Make a trail with sticks
  • 13.Make a mud pie
  • 14.Dam a stream
  • 15.Play in the snow
  • 16.Make a daisy chain
  • 17.Set up a snail race
  • 18.Create some wild art
  • 19.Play pooh sticks
  • 20.Jump over waves
  • 21.Pick blackberries growing in the wild
  • 22.Explore inside a tree
  • 23.Visit a farm
  • 24.Go on a walk barefoot
  • 25.Make a grass trumpet
  • 26.Hunt for fossils and bones
  • 27.Go star gazing
  • 28.Climb a huge hill
  • 29.Explore a cave
  • 30.Hold a scary beast
  • 31.Hunt for bugs
  • 32.Find some frogspawn
  • 33.Catch a falling leaf
  • 34.Track wild animals
  • 35.Discover what’s in a pond
  • 36.Make a home for a wild animal
  • 37.Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
  • 38.Bring up a butterfly
  • 39.Catch a crab
  • 40.Go on a nature walk at night
  • 41.Plant it, grow it, eat it
  • 42.Go swimming in the sea
  • 43.Build a raft
  • 44.Go bird watching
  • 45.Find your way with a map and compass
  • 46.Try rock climbing
  • 47.Cook on a campfire
  • 48.Learn to ride a horse
  • 49.Find a geocache
  • 50.Canoe down a river

Mammoth Day @ West Runton Beach

The kids & I headed to West Runton Beach to check out what was going on with “Mammoth Day” and the Norfolk Wildlife Trust was hosting a rock pooling event.  You can read more about the designer of the metal mammoth and video of it taking steps some 700,000 years later here.  And more about the “West Runton Elephant” and it’s discovery on this very beach in 1990.

It had been heavily advertised and clearly hundreds of others showed up too  – so much show that there was a major traffic jam on the tiny road in & out which caused a back up for well over 1 hour.   The clueless car park attendants didn’t or couldn’t figure out how to deal with the problem.  Apparently they called the police which said they are not coming to assist and to figure it out.  Their idea was to just continue collecting 2.50 per car who manages to make it’s way in, instead of walking down to the main road and stop people from coming in.     I wish I took a photo of the mess!

Once we got there, it started to drizzle a tiny bit and was rather windy and Maebh really wanted to go home. So we sat in a sheltered area a bit while we waited out the drizzle and contemplated leaving.. and the kids got a bit silly.

Woodland Holiday Park Nature Trail

Last week when we were driving over to Woodland Holiday Park in Trimingham, we saw signs advertising the Trimingham Mini Festival with car boot, etc.  So we decided to stay fairly local and head that way – but couldn’t find anything but a few old people in a car park with junk on their tables. |

So we popped back into Woodland Holiday Park and did the nature trail.  A bit like the brass rubbings at Blicking Estate, the kids followed the map and found 14 different posts with info about animals.

Once done they turned them into reception and got a prize – a medal, which I thought was really cute.

While there, they played at the two playgrounds and a couple games before heading home for lunch.

Pond Dipping @ Sheringham Park

Today the kids and I headed over to Sheringham Park, [the place where I work] to do some Pond Dipping in the Bower.  It is organized by the same staff who did the other events I have blogged about before: Animal Adventure AdventureA Shore ThingMagnificent Moths and Don’t Worry Bee Happy. I’m looking forward to signing up for the Little Acorns Group every other Wednesday come the Autumn.  It is really a fun, interactive nature class for active preschoolers & parent.  

They had little buckets set up with nets, spoons, magnifier glasses, along with a laminated sheet with photos and descriptions of all beings which live in the pond.   Each kid was given instructions on how to move the net around in a figure 8 to catch as much good stuff as they could. Once they dumped the net into the bucket and removed a lot of the weeds, they could do some investigating.  Between the three kids, they found some dragonfly nymphs, newts, tadpoles and pond snails galore. Once Soren thought he found a bi-valve, but it was actually a baby pond snail.  

I warned him several times to close his mouth – LOL – thankfully nothing dripped in.

Soren really really enjoyed it – he could have stayed there all day, looking at each item up close, especially the pond snails.  Maebh was asking to go to the cafe for a drink & cookie over & over again.  My mistake was that I didn’t bring her a drink & snacks and plunked her in her stroller when she was no longer interested.

Afterwards, we set up a picnic at the picnic tables near the car park.  After the kids played around a bit including races, and Maebh’s version of hide & seek “WHERE IS ME?”, we headed back in for an ice cream.

National Trust: Acorns – Don’t Worry BEE Happy at Sheringham Park

Today Maebh & I attended Don’t Worry BEE Happy session put on by the Acorns Toddler Group from Sheringham Park – National Trust.  

As I posted before, it is the outdoor learning group for kids 2-4. Same as those who organized the Animal Adventure Adventure Soren & I attended back in February Half Term.  As well as the two events we did with  Godelieve & Harvey – It’s A Shore Thing & most recently Magnificent Moths.

We started off doing a little search for stickers with photos of various bees, hives & insects (some of which we saw today) scattered all around before heading outside into The Bower section.

We started off in the Wild Flower field looking at different bees.  We were to look at their bottoms – some were white, others were orange.  While I know there are many different types of bees, I never took note of the different color bottoms. 


We then went just behind the pond and were each given a little bug jar, heavy duty net catcher and a pad to dump our findings.  Rob showed us how to maneuver the heavy duty nets though the bushes to capture as many bugs as possible.   Maebh and I caught a large amount of common green capsid bugs.  When you put them in the little jar, they were all over each other and another little bug – as if they were attacking each other.  Rob says they are vegetarians, but they really did look like they were killing the other buggy, so we released them quickly.  

We then walked over to the large field where we played a game.  Jenny had a beehive and the kids had to run off like bees and buzz around finding the yellow pollen and return it to the beehive.  We then played a game with a bear in the middle who fell asleep (eyes closed) and a person would come to steal the honey when the bear woke up, she/he had to guess who is hiding the honey behind their back.  Like last time, only a few of the older kids played. Perhaps next session, Maebh will get in there, now that at least two of the older more aggressive assertive kids will be gone. 

After our bug adventure, we went inside for tea, biscuit & craft.  We made these cute little pine cone bees, which now live in our flowers on the mantel in the dining area. 

After we had a story about bees and a song before saying goodbye.  Then Maebh and I walked around a bit.  We checked out the wildflower section again, stick art, the new insect hotel, and at the pond where she spotted many tadpoles but still not a single frog.  She also spotted a Pond Snail and then ran over to the sign and pointed at it. 




She also pointed at the Crayfish photo and said, “We got that at the market.”.   I think she means the lobsters we have had back in Boston. 


And finished off the fun with a ride on William’s Postman Pat scooter.

This was the last session of Little Acorns, but while Maebh will be in a Nursery school in the Fall, but I’ll just book her in for 5 days so the school gets the funding but will take her out of school every other week to attend this session, as we really like it.
Plus I heard today that I got the part-time Visitor Services & Admin. Assistant role at Sheringham Park, so I’m very psyched!!