A coastal run in North Wales

Whilst holiday in North Wales I was delighted to escape out for a couple of runs along the gorgeous coastline that borders the Hafan Y Mor Havan Caravan Holiday Park. If the pull of spending time with my family hadn’t been so strong I would have strapped on a backpack and disappeared for a whole day! The bays that weave along the coastline, with the undulating land rolling into the sea, are a living, breathing gallery of art.

Coastal footpath

The pathways, cut into the dense, fern covered terrain, lead over land that has witnessed centuries of human history.

Ferns, sea & mountains

As I looked toward the magnificent hills of the Snowdonia National Park my eyes kept being drawn to Criccieth Castle, built around 1230. It’s not really visible in this photograph (the zoom on my phone camera wasn’t sufficient) but to my eyes it was a dominant feature on the landscape. A historic marker of the people that have inhabited this land.

Looking toward Criccieth

Running along the trails and along the foreshore, whilst the tide was out, felt so invigorating to my legs. The terrain mixed with the scenery filled my legs with energy to keep on going. My mind travelled from being blissfully in the moment, with the natural surroundings, to stepping back in time to a land that never knew caravans!

Toward Snowdonia from Hafan Y Mor

And then, as I turned inland, I stumbled across a country scene so reminiscent of New Zealand, my home for some seventeen years, and where we are heading back to live as a family in October of this year.

Country scene

But it was the sea that drew me back. Seeing the magnificent blue of the water, surrounded by green hills, under a beautiful blue, summer sky.

A path of natural beauty

And when my run was done I turned to bid the clouds (the non-threatening kind!), dancing their shadows over the distant hills, farewell; grateful for their presence after a year of living under a Californian blue sky.

My body and mind shan’t forget the feeling of running on the North Welsh coastline. I left footprints, I took photographs and Wales left my heart marked with love for its natural beauty so steeped in history.

Miss 3 & I visit The Mission in Santa Barbara, California

Weekends are my golden time with my youngest daughter. During the week, Monday to Friday, I have to please all three daughters single-handedly (and Miss 8 and 10 rarely have the same desire to do the same outdoor activities & excursions as their younger sister). So it was that Miss 3 and I awoke with a plan this Saturday morning. A plan to explore ‘The Mission’ in Santa Barbara.

The Mission in Santa Barbara, California

As well as to make the most of our time to stop at a passing beach if we so pleased…

Miramar Beach, Santa Barbara

and run on the grass if the fancy took us…

The Mission, Santa Barbara

The Mission in Santa Barbara was established on the Feast of Saint Barbara, December 4, 1786 and was the tenth of twenty-one California Missions to be founded by the Spanish Franciscans.

The Mission Santa Barbara

When I’d attempted to visit The Mission with all my daughters, earlier in the week, it was very short-lived due to my two older children finding the smell instantly overwhelming. My younger daughter and I couldn’t smell anything, but the older two insisted on there being a strong smell of pigs and we had to race through, with me promising my Miss 3 we’d return together for a one-on-one visit. It wasn’t till I got home and read more about the history of The Mission that I realised how startling my older daughter’s reaction to The Mission was –

‘The Franciscans taught the Indians agriculture.  The principal products of the field were wheat, barley, corn, beans, and peas.  Orange and olive trees were planted, and grapevines were cultivated.  In 1807, an Indian dam was built to bring water to the mission via an aqueduct.  Mission Santa Barbara also had cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, mules, and horses in great number.  In 1809, there were 5,200 head of cattle and in 1803 11,221 head of sheep.’ (Our History, Old Mission Santa Barbara)

So, perhaps my older daughters had some sensory, historical link back in time! Whatever it was, they both said they’d never go back. Thankfully, Miss 3 wasn’t at all perturbed and I was delighted to return to explore the beautiful church and grounds.

Church of the Mission Santa Barbara Church of the Mission Santa Barbara Mission Santa Barbara

Miss 3 was very much in awe of the building and the incredible cacti in the grounds!

The grounds of the Mission Santa Barbara The Mission Santa Barbara

A lovely visit, second time around, with a willing explorer (who had no weird sense of strange smells from hundreds of years ago!).


Linking up with the wonderful Coombe Mill, Country Kids, linky –
where this week they have been involved with the RSPB’s ‘Big Garden Bird Watch Day’.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Miss 3 takes her Chumash Indian book and puts it into practice

I’ve been reading a lovely book with Miss 3 about the way the Chumash Indian people used to live in Santa Barbara ‘The Chumash Through a Child’s Eyes‘. The book compares their life to our modern day life in a lovely way that young children can comprehend. On one page is a Chumash Indian child helping his mother to cook, next to another page of a young boy helping his mother to cook in a modern day kitchen. The book shows how the pattern of our daily lives isn’t that different, but the way we do things has changed through tools and technology.

Whilst reading the page on cooking, my three year old decided to try and recreate the way the Chumash Indian cooked acorn flour.

Chumash Indian cooking acorn flour

First she looked for a stick, finding a skewer in the kitchen pantry. Then she looked for a stone to attach to the stick. We talked about how a stone could be attached to the stick. I suggested putting a marshmallow on the end of the stick, but Miss 3 rightly explained that a marshmallow is soft, not hard like a stone. She suggested they may have made a hole in the stone to put the stick in it – but we talked about how it would be hard to make a hole and perhaps they would have bound the rock to the stick (we used a hairband for this purpose).

Then we needed fire, to heat the rock.

Miss 3 brought me a candle and a lighter.

She then asked for a bowl. She gathered acorns from the garden and asked for water to mix the acorns in.

We acted out heating the rock and then placing it in the water to heat the water and help ‘cook’ the acorns – adding conventional flour to the mix.

This learning was led by Miss 3, with my role helping to facilitate, respond and observe. It was a joyful experience and an example of how natural learning frequently happens in the home.