Well, Christmas is a-coming, sneaking up fast! Our wonderful Tunbridge Wells has a wealth of seasonal activities going on, as well as our beautiful neighbouring towns and villages, and not to mention all the activities that we can do for ourselves! So I thought I'd share a few of my favourite things to do here:
1) There are still so many fallen leaves on the ground, or leaves yet to fall - take advantage of the late autumn by going for a lovely walk. Enjoy throwing and kicking leaves, listen to the crunching when you walk over them and the rustle when you walk through them. Climb trees and run around; take photos or just enjoy the moment. You could even choose your favourite leaf shapes and colours and take them home - these can be stuck to paper to create autumn landscapes (or hedgehog spikes if you draw the face on), or you can laminate them and hang them from the ceiling / door frame / windows.
2) Visit a Farmers' Market or a Christmas Market. We're so lucky that these are relatively commonplace in Kent, and what a great way to spend some time and support local businesses too! Wrap up warm and wander through the stalls, and see what goodies you can find.
3) Get in the Christmas spirit with some seasonal crafting at home with the kids. Now, I have a confession - I'm not a big crafter with the kids. I can't quite stand the mess, their attention spans are so limited that by the time everything's set up, they want to do something else, and F's at the age where he just wants to put everything in his mouth (and has been for a long time!). I do not find it relaxing! However, once in a while, I do like to get a few bits out for them, and November / December is one of those times. I have a lovely book with craft ideas in and of course there's Pinterest. Ready, get set...go! Paper, card, paint, apron, wet wipes, googly eyes, pom poms, glue and pens...
4) Visit a castle. Luckily we have plenty to choose from, with some of our favourites being Scotney Castle, Bodiam Castle, Hever Castle, Tonbridge Castle and Dover Castle. You can enjoy the beautiful grounds as well as swot up on your history!
5) Baking at home - now this is one I really enjoy! We try out anything from decorating gingerbread men, to baking biscuits, flapjacks, cakes and/or mince pies. The kids love getting involved and it's always fun being able to taste the end results.
6) Go and enjoy the Christmas lights. Whether these are in your local town, or simply in the streets near your home, Christmas lights are being turned on already, and what a great way to embrace the time of year and to get into the Christmas spirit. I absolutely love seeing the Tunbridge Well's Christmas lights after dark - it's so magical!
7) The ice rink at Calverley Park is real must for us. And it doesn't have to mean skating! Over the past few years I've ended up taking the boys just to hang out, to listen to the music and maybe share a treat whilst watching the skaters from the warmth of the cafe. It's such a lovely atmosphere and always brings a smile to our faces. This year will be the first time that we can take both boys on the ice, so that should certainly be interesting!
8) Immerse yourself in the festive season by putting a Christmas CD on loud, and singing at the top of your voice whilst dancing around the house to the music - the perfect activity to do on your own or with family / friends / kids! So much fun to be had (my kids don't know what they're in for!)!
9) A great place to take the kids at any time of year, but garden centres are a real treasure trove at Christmas. With their festive displays and produce, miles of Christmas trees, decorations and paraphernalia, they can be quite magical. Ones that we enjoy going to are Notcutts (Tunbridge Wells), Brookside in East Peckham (has an amazing grotto), and Ruxley Manor in Sidcup (fantastic grotto, ice rink, Reindeer, carousel and great Christmas displays).
10) Feed the birds. It may be getting cold and wet, and we might be less inclined to venture out, but we can still help our feathered friends. Creating some fat balls or topping up a bird feeder in your garden is something you can do if you want to stay at home. Or if you wrap up warm, a trip to Dunorlan Park to feed the ducks and geese is always a favourite of ours. However, don't forget that you shouldn't feed ducks and geese with bread! Foods recommended by the RSPB are corn, peas, oats, rice and seeds.