Family time

National Trust

Yes I admit it we are national trust geeks. I don’t know anything else you can pay £100 a year for and have so many fab days out.

Here are some of our favourites- with pics of course.

Trelissick is probably our number one. It has a little bit of everything. It’s always on our ‘must go to’ list when we head to Cornwall; which is at least twice a year- and even though we’ve been about 6 times now we still want to revisit.

Trelissick Gardens- Cornwall

Stunning gardens, gorgeous house (especially at Christmas), beautiful views, massive trees, fragrant flowers and bugs to search for!

One side of the estate you have a glorious view out to Falmouth; if you’re really lucky you may have the little wooden folly all to yourself to admire the view. The wide open grassy areas mean there’s enough space to create your own picnic area and sun spot, but still be close enough to other families to make new friends.

A very close second place- bonus points for us as it’s within an hour of home. This estate is huge with a massive variety of things to see and do.

This one is perfect for families with little ones; as they have an awesome farm and play area. But grandparents won’t feel left out with the stunning country house and impeccably kept gardens.

Plenty of picnic areas- and a shady garden with deck chairs to sip a cold wine while the kids make new friends and run around in the trees.

There’s loads of areas suitable for cute photo opportunities; wagons, beautifully painted benches, expertly symmetrical topiary and shady woodlands full of places to explore.

Another one down in Cornwall. A beautiful castle on an island. The novelty is that it’s a tidal island; get there at the right time and you can wander across (but hurry otherwise you may be paddling), it was also fun for Dorothea to experience the short boat ride home.

This tea room is quaint with beamed ceilings and unbeatable views, the two shops are also a great browse.

The trek up to the castle is not for the faint hearted (they provide hip carriers to help with the little ones)- and probably wouldn’t suit anyone with any degree of mobility issues. But if you can get up there the castle is certainly worth a look!

If you can’t the gardens and small hamlet are pretty special to wander round. The little town of Marazion is also worth hanging around for; some pleasant independent shops and a nice play area and beach too.

Do be aware; this is one where you have to pay extra for parking.

Who can resist a national trust property with an epic maze!!!!

This one is perfect for sunny photo opportunities; and would also keep the kids busy.

This one made me feel like we’d been magically transported to a tropical country- the whole place was like a sun laden playground for the most awesome plants and flowers.

Again this one is in Cornwall; but surely all these spectacular recommendations must make you want to visit the best southern county!

Almost didn’t want to tell you about this one!

We just want to keep it to ourselves; the most glorious, picturesque and isolated beach. We’ve been lucky enough to have it all to ourselves.

Again this one is like being transported to a different country. Here we were making sand castles, splashing and stripping down to T-shirt’s in December!

The waves and rocks are amazing for the little ones to see. Rock-pools are to be explored, sandcastles to be built and pebbles to be skimmed.

Just above this beach hidden in the rocks is the infamous Minnack theatre- so Porthcurnoe is a cool place for a pre theatre picnic! (Or swim in the Summer)

Also called ‘church cove’- this ones quite a drive out in the sticks but certainly worth it. Another gloriously isolated beach and church.

This area seems to be bustling with wildlife; and there were plenty of birds for Dorothea to admire.

A lovely little stream runs down to the water. We loved donning our wellies, having a good splash and practising our pebble skimming.

There’s no facilities; so pack a picnic (or cream cake and flask of tea) and sit for a little while.

Back near home now. We were lucky enough to find this one by accident at Halloween!

The great thing about national trusts, is that the soon familiar leaf symbol pops up on all the road signs, and gives you a great few hours that you were not expecting!

Calke Abbey tends to have quite a lot of food fairs, which adds a little bit to your day out. The drive through the estate to the house is impressive- and must be at least a mile long!

The gardens here are awesome; we were so impressed by the Halloween pumpkin display- and again there’s lots of spacious picnic areas, and great big trees to play hide and seek.

Stowe is one of the most impressive of the national trusts! The architecture is outstanding and the grounds are huge.

The massive archways as you approach set the scene well, for what is about to follow.

This is certainly one you could spend the whole day at. Wandering around eager to see the next impressive monument or statue would impress anyone. Again great for picnics, picking daisies and off course making wishes by throwing pennies in the water.

We’ve only been here once- but it’s stayed in our memories. A beautiful but very long and wising walk down to a stunning country house and pretty gardens.

Yes another in Cornwall! I know, we are slightly obsessed!

Now there’s very little at Lizard point! But the trip is worth it for the epic views and the isolated chance of seeing seals in the wild!

Just look at the colour of the water!- yes it’s in England!

There’s a cool little shop that sells, earrings, socks and glassworks too!

Well I hope these ten have given you something to think about. What else can you get for a tenner a month???

We are long-standing national trust geeks and proud! So I will be showing you more- as there’s loads of our favourites to explore more and photograph.

NT web

There’s a fab app too!

Eco Mum, Guest Blogs, Other fabulous ladies

5 eco-swaps for parents- Guest blog

Whether you are a first time Mummy or Daddy or are experiencing parenthood for the second or third time, looking after a baby is all consuming and whilst it is a magical time, caring for a newborn can also be exhausting! However, you can still be your best eco self whilst caring for small children, it just takes a little thought and planning. Anything you can do to cut back on plastic usage and overall waste is better than before and models the way for the next generation!

Not sure where to begin?

Here are my top 5 eco swaps for new parents.

1 .Toys, Clothes and Baby Equipment 

I would personally find it impossible to cut out all plastic toys from my children’s lives! On the other hand, cheap plastic tat is simply a waste of money as it ends up breaking and being thrown away, where it then ends up in landfill. I dread to think how much plastic landfill waste is made up of discarded toys. To reduce your plastic toy footprint, there are a few things you can do:

-Make a list for family and friends when it’s birthday time. On it include wooden toys, gift vouchers, experiences and money for the children’s piggy banks. One of my 5-year old daughter’s most prized possessions is a fabric sparkly sequin bag she asked for last Christmas. It has had so much more use than some of the plastic toys she was gifted.

Shop preloved– my 3-year old son absolutely loves our local charity shop! (And so do I!)

Opt for wooden toys. We have lots of wooden toys from push alongs, building blocks and drums to our much loved wooden play kitchen. We also have a handmade mud kitchen in the garden which my Dad and husband put together one weekend out of old pallets. Check out Pinterest for ideas! (Note: they are not builders and it looks fantastic!) Once you use your imagination, the sky is the limit!

For clothes and equipment, check out Ebay, local Facebook selling sites, charity shops, and nearly new sales. All offer excellent quality second hand items. If friends and family members offer you hand me downs, take them and say thank you! Babies grow at an extraordinary rate, so are in their clothes for approx 3 months before they outgrow them. This means that second hand items are almost always nearly new and will have plenty of life left in them. You can buy baby bundles for a few pounds on Ebay. When you are finished with them, sell them on or donate to charity. 

Equipment-wise, you can pick up buggies, Moses baskets and play mats all second hand, which will do just as good a job as brand new items. (Note: If buying second hand cots or Moses baskets, it’s worth buying your own new mattresses.) If you are having a baby shower, why not ask for handmade gifts, bunting for the nursery, money or vouchers for a pre-baby spa day!

2. Bathroom productsBathrooms can be absolutely full of unnecessary plastic bottles. Mine used to be, but with a few tweaks, we have cut back on loads of plastic waste. Instead of bottles of children’s bubble bath, we swapped to bubble wands from http://www.lush.com.

They last ages and smell fantastic! To my children’s delight, we also swapped out liquid soap in a plastic bottle to a chocolate flavour shampoo bar by Lamazuna. We also got rid of our plastic sponges and swapped to linen and cotton versions. Shampoo bars and sponges are available at: http://www.plasticconsciousmama.co.uk/shop.                                

3. Drink bottles and Cups

 

We never leave the house without Mummy’s reusable coffee cup or the children’s metal water bottles from http://www.kleankanteen.co.uk. As they are metal, they are more sustainable than plastic and do not contain any of the nasty BPAs found in plastic alternatives. We also try to sit down rather than take out at cafes so we can have drinks in reusable cups. Don’t get me wrong, my children love a plastic bottle of juice as much as the next child, but it’s all about reducing consumption wherever possible. The amount of disposable coffee cups I have saved from landfill since starting my plastic conscious journey is amazing!

4. Nappies and wipes

This is perhaps the most obvious one, and the one people seem to struggle with the most. I didn’t switch to reusable nappies until the birth of my third baby, but I really wish I had swapped sooner! 8 million disposable nappies are sent to UK landfill EVERY DAY. 8 million! With each nappy taking an eye watering 400-500 years to break down, it’s never been a better time to make the switch to cloth nappies.

People always ask me whether or not washing reusable nappies is eco-friendly because of all the water, the short answer is yes! The process of making disposables uses an astronomical amount of water – according to Baba and Boo, washing three loads of nappies a week uses about 200 litres of water whereas manufacturing enough single-use nappies for a week uses 1,550 litres.

Cloth nappies really aren’t that scary to switch to. Once you have your stash of nappies (around 15-20), washing them just becomes a part of your normal routine. My advice is to start small, why not trial cloth nappies before making a permanent commitment, or agree to use them during the day until they become more familiar? Many councils offer money off or free nappy schemes. Why? Because it is in their interest to reduce waste, particularly the smelly nappy kind! There are lots of nappy libraries and preloved groups on Facebook. I would definitely recommend giving them a try before you dismiss the idea of trialling cloth nappies. Like me, you may surprise yourself!

One of my most favourite swaps was to ditch disposable wipes for washable cloth wipes. I cannot emphasise enough how much I love this swap, mainly because I was SO sceptical about it to begin with. After a few of my friends telling me how much nicer cloth wipes were I dubiously decided to make the leap myself and have never looked back. I had to try them to believe them!

To get set up. I spent just under £40 on an all in one kit from http://www.cheekywipes.com. The kits have everything you need to get started – 25 wipes, 2 containers (for clean and mucky wipes), essential oil and 2 out and about wet bags for wipe storage (clean and mucky.) The system makes it so easy and you will soon discover that you use far less cloth wipes than disposables – yes even for messy poos! Each day, I pop used wipes in the wash with my usual load of washing. If there are poo wipes, you can either give them a rinse under the tap first or save them up in a mesh bag and do a special nappy and wipe wash. I like to wash my soiled cloth wipes at 60 degrees, but 40 also does the trick if they have just been used for sticky hands and faces.

If this swap seems unrealistic, why not do it in stages, first transition with one pack of back-up disposables alongside your cloth wipes until you are ready for a complete switch. If you need any further convincing, why not calculate how much you spend on disposable wipes in one year? £3 per week adds up to £156 a year – a lot more than £40!

5. Host Eco-Friendly Birthday Parties

Children’s birthday parties can create a ridiculous amount of unnecessary plastic waste. Plastic cups, plates and cutlery can all be easily swapped for paper and wooden versions. Cheap paper bags can also be bought online to replace plastic loot party bags. Sustainable wooden party bag fillers can also be found online. Even better, than party bags, why not buy a pack of books to divvy up?

When choosing sweets, think about those that come in cardboard tubes or boxes rather than plastic bags. All these swaps are eco-friendly, easily recyclable as well as being cost effective.

It’s also worth investigating whether or not there are companies who offer eco-friendly parties in your area. In Hertfordshire, you can hire reusable plastic cups and plates from The Little Green Party Company (check them out on Instagram.) They deliver to your door and take away all the dirty plates afterwards. Zero waste and super easy!

 

 

Eco-parenting needn’t be much different from any other kind of parenting. With just a few mindful swaps, you could save yourself money whilst helping the planet at the same time. One of my favourite quotes goes something along the lines of:

“The world needs lots of people making a few swaps, rather than a few people making lots of swaps.”

It’s far better to work your way up to something that will last and become a habit rather than setting yourself unrealistic expectations. My advice is to start small, make swaps where you can, one at a time and be kind to yourself. Aim to be better than before and just keep going! We can all make a difference if we try.

For more eco advice, tips and ideas check out my blog and plastic-free online shop

www.plasticconsciousmama.co.uk.

You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram.