Two brilliant books for a rainy day adventure

As with everyone else, we’ve been tested by the weather this half term and finding endless indoor activities hasn’t always been easy, i.e., the boys have been climbing the walls and I’ve been left wondering just *how* wrong it would be to have a glass of wine at 11am (don’t worry, I haven’t succumbed… Yet…)

Anyway, as luck should have it we received a marvellous new book and that, in conjunction with a book we already owned, inspired us to get outside and tackle the rain head on, like the intrepid explorers we mistakenly think we are!

Nature Adventures‘, by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrรถm (published by Frances Lincoln)

IMG_5837This book is one of the most beautiful non-fiction texts we’ve come across in a long time and it’s great to have a reference book that is not only genuinely useful but that also makes you want to sit and pore over it for hours on end.

We received the book just before we headed up to Yorkshire for my mother-in-law’s birthday, so this page about wildlife on the moors proved highly informative:

IMG_5840Throughout the book there are little asides from various characters containing wildlife-related quotes from literature and music (all of which are listed at the back of the book, along with a truly child-friendly glossary), which just makes me smile ๐Ÿ™‚ What a brilliant way to introduce children to language that they might not otherwise come across until they are older, and how amazing for them to realise that these classic authors and musicians took their inspiration from what is all around us.

I wouldn’t describe where we live (a town in Warwickshire) as urban exactly, but I grew up in a little village in the countryside and compared with that I wouldn’t say that we live a rural life now either. We decided to go out and take a look around to see what we could learn about where we lived and for this we channelled another of our current favourite books:

Lollipop and Grandpa’s Back Garden Safari‘, by Penelope Harper, illustrated by Cate James (published by Phoenix Yard Books)

IMG_5827Being nicknamed Lolly myself and having had a grandpa very similar in both appearance and spirit to the one in this book (he once made us a fairy garden at the bottom of his garden with miniature trees and various herbs in it, as well as little rocks and wooden features for the fairies to live in), I felt an instant connection to this book. Lollipop and her Grandpa go on an adventure in their back garden and the boys and I decided to do exactly the same thing, albeit in the field next to our house as our garden is pretty small and didn’t hold enough promise of mysterious nooks and crannies. We also took along our copy of ‘Nature Adventures’ to see if we could spot anything exciting.

Here are C and H setting off (H bravely forewent his hood despite the rain, clearly sending a silent but terrifying message to any would-be attackers we might encounter – wetness doesn’t bother ME.):

IMG_5802The first thing we spotted was a previously-undiscovered-by-anyone-in-the-world-ever LOG-ASAURUS!

IMG_5803but this was nothing compared with what we saw next (though lamely failed to photograph) – a Real Life Heron! A.K.A. a RIVER MONSTER! This then informed the entire remainder of our adventure, as we had tried to seek out more River Monsters. With stealth not being our strong point, we didn’t manage to see any more, but we certainly had fun in the process.

The location of the first and only sighting of the River Monster:IMG_5804We then crept past the sleeping FLOWER-DACTYLS:

IMG_5805We even saw a swan (C was insistent that we couldn’t give it a more fun name!):

IMG_5809We re-enacted scenes from ‘We’re Going On A Bear Hunt’ and went through the long, wavy grass:

IMG_5810We tiptoed Burglar Bill-style past the NASTY, ‘NORMOUS NETTLES:

IMG_5811Our work thus far had proved tiring, so we stopped for snacks under the FAIRY BRIDGE (there were fairies hiding in the puddles, I’m told):

IMG_5817We also used this refreshment break to consult the relevant pages in ‘Nature Adventures’, to see if we could see anything that was mentioned:

IMG_5839and as we were by the river, we also looked at this page:

IMG_5838We did see a few ducks, though none that we could confidently place as the ones in the book. We definitely saw some canoeists, though I’m not sure if they count…

So, chins up, chests out and shoulders back we continued our mission, taking the time to rummage in our bags and see whether we had any equipment that would assist in pinpointing where those pesky River Monsters had got to – yes, it’s time for the binoculars shot, people ๐Ÿ˜‰

IMG_5828The next obstacle that lay in our path was the CURIOUS CLUMPY GRASS, which was waiting for any chance it could get to shimmy up our wellies and get inside our socks to tickle our toes. We had to stomp VERY hard and sing VERY loudly to put it off ๐Ÿ˜‰

IMG_5821Finally, we had a quick check for four-leafed clovers, but our dreams of gold and rainbows were quashed yet again when we were unsuccessful.

IMG_5822We consoled ourselves with a visit to the BUTTERCUP MEADOW, where we discovered that we all really like butter (we have checked this approximately seventeen THOUSAND times since we saw our first buttercup of 2013, but you never know when your tastes will change).

IMG_5823H then objected heavily to having to walk back and to be fair to him, in my childish excitement at finding a big patch of untended grassland I had failed to notice that the vegetation was quite literally up to his ears and that it must have been more than a little exhausting trying to navigate his way through. All things considered, we took a shortcut and whizzed back along the pavement, full of stories to tell Daddy.

Although we read a lot, at the moment it’s more often me rather than the boys who suggests activities related to the books, though they are always up for joining in with my madcap schemes. It was therefore lovely that they led this whole adventure and that the books clearly gave them so much to think about.

We will be looking out for more books by both sets of authors and illustrators and will definitely be taking ‘Nature Adventures’ with us everywhere. We’re off on our hols in a couple of weeks, so perhaps we’ll even have another post based around the seashore?


P.S. If you’re going to check out any of Phoenix Yard’s other books, DO consider ‘New York In Pyjamarama‘ – it’s completely awesome and C calls it his ‘special’ book ๐Ÿ™‚ There’s a great review by Mรฉlanie over on her Library Mice blog, which will convince you far more eloquently than I can.

Disclaimer: I received my copy of ‘Nature Adventures’ from the publisher. I was not asked to write this post, nor was I given any money for doing so, and the review represents my own honest opinion.


  1. This is a great idea! I am in Scotland so the weather is often terrible. Next time I am going to turn it into an adventure. Also I like your wellies!

    1. Thank you! I bought them for my wedding in an attempt to try and outwit the weather – it wouldn’t dare to rain if I’d gone and spent money on nice wellies! Bizarrely, it worked and was one of the hottest days if the year (though I definitely put that down to planting sausages in the garden the night before, but that’s another story completely… ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).
      I hope you have fun with your own outdoor adventure – let me know how it goes!

      1. Wellies at a wedding – genius!

  2. What fun – two great books and a real life adventure to boot. Perfect.

    1. Thanks, Zoe – it was great fun!

  3. Lucym808 · · Reply

    Really enjoyed reading this, book sounds brilliant. Enjoyed trying to spot where you were in the photos but every time I thought I’d nailed it there was something I didn’t recognise!

    1. I’d try to give you more information but I genuinely only know it as ‘the field next to our house’!

  4. I love the Lollipop and Grandpa books too, they’re lovely. We have the Wobbly Tooth one, and I can’t remember the other (oops!) I love your adventure too, it’s fabulous. I must remember river monsters and flower dactyls and so on next time we’re out. Great fun ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. It was great that we all enjoyed it so much even despite the grotty weather ๐Ÿ™‚

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