"Each moment of the year has its own beauty."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have to start by saying I am -not- a parent, but I am a qualified Nursery Nurse and auntie to 9 nieces & nephews. I love taking the children for days out that are not too far away & not too expensive but still fabulous! So I thought I would share some places that we have really enjoyed in recent years (sharing my own photographs & personal opinion). I will include links too so you can look things up further & see what else they have to offer as I’m sure I won’t cover it all.

1. Battersea Park Zoo

   Northern Tree Shrew

We love this Zoo … mostly smaller animals but some you sure wouldn’t see in every day life like the Northern Tree Shrew! My niece adores the tunnel you can go in and pop up in the middle of the Meerkat enclosure -awesome idea! I also think the play facilities are really good and something to suit all the different age groups. Excellent sand & water play … as well as several other areas for play. We have been a few times and it has always been a really enjoyable day out & I think the ticket price is very reasonable. I recommend taking a picnic lunch with you. Battersea Park itself is a great place to spend time also. http://www.batterseaparkzoo.co.uk/

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2. The London Museum of Water & Steam

Inside London Museum of Water & Steam

A lovely local Museum which regularly has special days/activities for children. We have enjoyed ‘Meet & Greet Thomas’ & various treasure hunts etc. They have things for the children to see but also to ‘do’… my niece loves pumping the water! The cafe is nice, a lovely garden to explore… great water play & of course the Engine Ride (check times & when its running). This is a great place to spend a morning or afternoon perhaps… you could also wander down to the Musical Museum from here or go across the road to the river & a playground 0r over the Bridge to Kew Gardens! http://www.waterandsteam.org.uk/

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3. Watermans Art Centre 

 Watermans

A great local spot for fab children’s theatre, workshops & cinema … really affordable tickets. Located right by the river, my niece loves looking out at the birds on the river. Spacious & easy to get around with a lift, ramps, parking etc. Just along from Watermans is an outdoor playground if they need to let off steam before or after a show.  http://www.watermans.org.uk/

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4. Brent Lodge Park & Animal Centre

Electra's Tree Nymph -2

Situated in Hanwell… the ‘Bunny Park’ (as I’ve always called it) has open space, a good playground, cafe, butterfly house & a maze. Seems to be something to keep each child happy! Most things are free, the butterfly house is a really nominal amount and although small its worth a visit. We found some of the animals difficult to see possibly because they have needed to make the animals more secure sadly due to vandalism etc… another reason to show our support though I think & Still plenty to enjoy.     http://www.ealing.gov.uk/info/200073/parks_and_open_spaces/628/animal_centre

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5. A Stroll Along the Southbank

Met on the Southbank

Always a great place to walk along… always something to see and usually more to see than the obvious landmarks. Some fantastic street entertainment takes place & the Skate Park is to be seen also. This doesn’t have to cost you money really… we didn’t spend any money along here (other than a donation to the pictured lady) & we had a fab time. I think the Southbank is a fun place with a great atmosphere. http://www.southbanklondon.com/

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6. The London Wetland Centre

A Mothers Work

Go & see lots of different birds & wildlife… visit the Otters… take a walk on the wild side… go pond dipping… play the giant snakes & ladders… so much to do! A lovely cafe with great seating inside & out. We always get the ‘Duck Bus’ from Hammersmith Bus Station which takes you all the way into the Wetlands car park. Time spent in nature is good for all of our well beings no matter what age. This place combines fun with learning in the great outdoors. We love it & easily fill a whole day with a visit!   http://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/london/

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7. Gunnersbury Park

Gunnersbury Park Boating Lake

A fairly big park with a museum, 2 playgrounds, a pond & a lake, lots of wide open space … a cafe & outdoor seating area. The thing I particularly like is the bigger playground has two sections – one for younger children & then another bigger section for older children. They also have a gold course & may do crazy golf (check that!) Worth a visit. http://www.hounslow.info/parks-open-spaces/find-your-park/gunnersbury-park/

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8. Diamond Jubilee Gardens Twickenham

Beach Pinwheel

Children’s playground, large sandpit, cafe … we usually go to the gardens and then walk along the river stopping for an icecream ;) http://www.richmond.gov.uk/home/leisure_and_culture/parks_and_open_spaces/park_details.htm?parkId=193

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9.  45 Minute Boat Trip from Richmond to Teddington Lock & back

View from Heron Square Richmond

Depending on the age of the children something a little bit different is a local boat trip. We find the one to Teddington Lock & back just long enough for the children not to get too restless! You can get the boat just along the riverside not far from the Town Hall. If you wanted to do a longer boat trip they have other options (as does Kew Pier too)  http://www.turks.co.uk/river-trips/ or http://www.riverthames.co.uk/boats-boating/cruises Also after your boat trip if you walk over Richmond Bridge and along on the left hand-side you will come to a nice playground & cafe. The thing I love most about Richmond Borough playgrounds is they seem to be more equipped with equipment suitable for a wheelchair or an adapted swing for example (my nephew is in a wheelchair).

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10. Brentford Festival

GB -7 

Just when the children have gone back to school or are heading back to school… Brentford Festival takes place (always the 1st Sunday in September). It used to be in Boston Manor Park but moved and is now in Blondin Park (further along Boston Manor Road). So much to see & do at the festival, a big local community event… well worth a visit. I always think of it as the last ‘hoorah’ before school swings in! http://www.brentfordfestival.org.uk/

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So many great places locally … enjoy them & have a fabulous summer

Watery Sunset

"Like wild flowers; you must allow yourself to grow in all the places people thought you never would."
E.V