**Update: seeing as everyone’s asking me where The Boy’s t-shirt is from, it’s Mini Boden!**
I came across these photos of Stanwick Lakes today and am now suffering from a severe case of summerlust (yes – I just made that up. It’s a bit like wanderlust, only I’m wishing I was in another season, rather than another country).
It’s fair to say I’m not really a cold weather person. Pre-kids, I’d batten down the hatches at the mere mention of rain. And although these days we’re a lot more likely to get wrapped up in our best cold-weather clothing and head to the park in the cold, I’d definitely swap winter for summer if I could.
Photos like these definitely make that feeling worse. We took the kids to Stanwick Lakes, a nature reserve in Northamptonshire’s Nene Valley, back in September. The rest of the world had just gone back to school and we had a few weeks off work to tick off some local attractions – including a trip to Whipsnade Zoo and a day at Mead Open Farm, and fortunately for us it ended up being lovely and sunny.
The highlight for The Boy was definitely the waterplay area of the adventure playground. There’s a little stream that’s safe for paddling in (although you might want to bring jelly shoes or wellies as it’s sandy and rocky underneath), with water wheels to spin and boulders to climb on. Be warned, though: we ended up having to do a complete change of clothes when he decided to ‘have a bath’ in it. As you do, when you’re three.
The adventure playground itself is really good – it’s really big, with wooden climbing frames and rope bridges, sand pits and a huge slide. There’s also an adventure trail for slightly older children that we didn’t make it over to while we were there – there are some good pictures here.
Elsewhere there are picnic areas, the lakes themselves – which are ringed by cycle paths – and even a dedicated BBQ area and outdoor theatre. We went for a bit of a walk and stopped off for a picnic half-way around one of the lakes – there are plenty of grassy spots, and there was barely a soul around.
Next to the adventure playground is the visitor centre, where there’s a nice little cafe and shop, plus a great soft play room – The Hideaway – that’s absolutely stuffed full of toys. It’s £1 per child under 90cm (which was both of ours), or £1.50 for children up to 140cm. The kids got a wristband each and we had the place to ourselves for over an hour, after which point we had to convince them it really was time to go home.