Coming home to Spring

Coming home to Spring

Our apple tree is in blossom, but not as much blossom as previous years. I don't think this is a bad thing necessarily as last year it had so much blossom and then branches snapped under the weight of apples. Spotted in the garden, Starlings nesting under the roof tiles and sparrows making a home in our bird box - I could watch them coming and going with twigs and moss in their little beaks all day!

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191. HDYGG

191. HDYGG

I visited family in Gloucester at the weekend and snuck round to my mum's garden to see how things are growing. I so was impressed with how much colour there is already! It was a beautiful sunny day, so good to be reminded of just how great it is to be in a garden on a hot day.

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A Guide to Exploring the New Forest with Kids

One of the great things about the New Forest is that there are so many places to walk and explore with children.  In this post I'm sharing some tips for making the most of walking in the New Forest with kids, along with some advice on motivating those who are less keen to walk!

Boy with map photo by Annie Spratt,


Be animal aware

It’s really helpful to make children aware of the animals that they might encounter in the New Forest and how to react to them.

Horses and ponies
Used to humans and traffic alike, horses and ponies are a common sight in the New Forest. They love food and have been known to ‘break in’ to campers tents to help themselves to food, we’ve also had experience of being followed by ponies when we are eating in out in forest. Whilst it’s unlikely that they will react aggressively it’s worth being aware that if you are packing a picnic that it’s worth popping this into a rucksack rather than into the bottom of a child’s buggy.
Safety wise if you are passing a horse or pony, give them space where possible. If passing in a confined space, over a bridge for example, make your child aware not to walk directly behind a horse or to shout whilst next to one.

It’s common to come across whole herds of cattle in the New Forest. Male cattle with horns can appear intimidating but just as with horses, give them room pass peacefully.


Deer in the New Forest are skittish and shy. Maximise your chances of seeing deer by wearing neutral and darker colours and keeping quiet.

Many people walk dogs in the New Forest every day, it’s uncommon to go for a walk and not see one. Many are not on leads so if you have a child that’s not confident around dogs, explain that you might see some on your walk and that if they feel unsure or nervous to quietly come to hold your hand, as opposed to shouting ‘Argh dog!’ and waving their hands (which might provoke the dog to run over to them).

Children in the New Forest, photo by Annie Spratt,




What to pack for a walk in the New Forest


A rucksack is always a good idea, even if you don't actually have anything to take with you it's handy to have one incase your child gets too hot and starts taking off layers, or on the off-chance that you discover 'treasure' (from pinecones to animal skulls!)

A plastic bag is also always handy for litter or putting muddy boots in at the end of a walk.

Experience has taught me to pack a small packet of tissues for any less than charming snooty sneezes or emergency toilet crises!

boy climbing photo by Annie Spratt,

Suitable footwear

During Autumn and Winter we leave the walking boots at home and opt for wellies. Some tracks can become really boggy, particularly in the week following rainfall. 

Children in the rain, photos by Annie Spratt,
Child in the rain, photo by Annie Spratt,
Rain in the New Forest, photo by Annie Spratt,


Suitable jackets

The weather can turn (as you can see by the photos in this post!) and there’s not many places to shelter, especially in Winter when the majority of trees are without leaves. Waterproof and wind proof is always a safe bet, lightweight with layers being the best.

Kitty and Oscar's jackets are from Blacks. Oscar is wearing the Berghaus Carrock 3 in 1, which is now reduced to £55, as is Kitty, from the Berghaus girls jackets range.



Mobile phone

The mobile network signal has improved drastically across the New Forest in recent years, and although there are still patches without any signal at all, many areas do now have coverage. I once sprained my ankle when walking on my own, a couple of miles from where I had parked my car, and yep, you guessed it, I had forgotten to take my mobile phone with me. Gah!


GPS app

A GPS walking app is a bonus, I use free Walkmeter GPS Pedometer, which I set as a I start walking.

This app helps me keep track of distance walked, calories burnt and so on, but I find it most useful for when I get a little lost or am unsure which direction to get back to car. Being able to look at the route that you have walked is a godsend and this app have saved me more than once!

Child holding a map, photo by Annie Sparr,


For children who aren't keen on walking


Not every child gets excited by the thought of spending an afternoon walking, here’s a couple of proven ways to help motivate little people.


Seasonal picnics

There’s nothing like the promise of a picnic to motivate! In the warmer months, a typical picnic that can be eaten sat on a blanket is always a winner. Involve your child with the picnic planning, ask them to create a list of picnic snacks they would like to take, then go shopping together to gather the goodies. 

In the colder / wetter months I’ve found that a ‘soup picnic’ works wonders! 
Pack a thermos of soup and a couple of crusty rolls and  you are on to a winner. Find a log or enjoy it standing if the ground is too wet.


Taking toys

Taking toys out of their every day surroundings and into the woods to play is really good fun. Playmobil people work really well and spark your child's creativity. Gathering twigs and leaves to build a den for play figures is always good fun.


Making something

Painting, weaving colourful wool about trees, tying up bunting and making a den - doing something that you usually do indoors outside.


^ warming up post-walk


Do you have any tips to share? Drop them in the comments below or drop me an email to


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When your photos are downloaded a million times on Unsplash

I'm really proud to say that today I've passed a milestone in my photo sharing history on Unsplash, my photos have been downloaded one million  times. One million!

@anniespratt on Unsplash

I love taking photos and sharing snapshots of my life with other people. I've no desire to get into photography professionally, for me it's simply something that makes me happy. To see those figures above makes me incredibly proud, around 1 in 100 people who come across my photos on Unsplash download them. If I want to, I can utilise that proven exposure for working with brands. Just as brands pay Instagrammers to post a photo with their product in on their feed. This in an unexplored and untapped side to having an Unsplash profile but I can see how it could be a future money maker for some photographers, after all these aren't photos once seen and then lost in a feed, these are photos that if approved on Unsplash are searchable and downloadable - meaning infinite organic exposure for a brand. See a gap, something that no one else is doing and fill it. Do it first and do it well.

100,000,000 is a number that I can't even begin to get my head around, even more so when you consider that those are view on Unsplash alone. Mind blowing when you consider how that will multiply when you consider their future journeys around the internet and indeed, the real world.

Other photographers in the Unsplash community have written posts before me, sharing their experiences (I've added some links at the bottom of this post if you are interested in reading them). For each person, sharing their photos means different things, and so I thought it was time that I shared what it means to me.

The thing that I love the most about sharing my photos is that the moment, when I captured a shot, still lives on in some form. The journey of the photos vary, I'm seen then being used on social networks, in blog posts, on the BBC website and in physical form as book & album covers. To think that people can still see a moment that I captured months and years afterwards, people in different countries, some who I know, some I have yet to meet and some I'll never know really means something to me. A wonderful example if photos living on are those of Les Anderson, being re-used and remixed.

When I started out blogging, I did so with no expectations just because I loved it. Over time I started earning money and receiving opportunities from my blog. Six years on and my blog has taken me to around the world, literally. Sharing photos on my Unsplash profile is also something I do with no expectations because I love it. But that's not to say that it won't lead to opportunities in the same way that blog has, it has so much potential.

In terms of the photos, I share photos every week that vary in subject matter. I shoot and share a blend of photos that I've taken in my day to day life and some that I shoot especially to fill 'gaps' on Unsplash. For example in the run up to Christmas, I have shared festive shots, same at Easter. In the Unsplash community emails and the Slack community we share search results that  give little or no results, I tend to use these stats to help me decide what to shoot if I'm running low on inspiration.

I've been working on the Community team at Unsplash for a year now and every single day I wake up, pour myself a coffee and sit down at my computer, genuinely excited to see the photo submissions that have come in overnight. 

I'm inspired every day. That's a pretty cool thing to be able to say.

I'm inspired by the talent of the photographers contributing .The generous spirit of people giving with no expectation of receiving something in return just to help other people warms my soul. Seeing the many different creative ways that people use the photos is to the creative mind what eating popping candy is to the taste buds - surprising, exciting, fun.

I hope that this doesn't come across as a showy-offy post, it's just genuine joy at photos that I have taken reaching so far. To all my fellow Unsplashers - kudos and respect always x


181. HDYGG - the festive edition

181. HDYGG - the festive edition

Oh yes, I'm feeling festive - the tree is up, we've made lovely mulled cider (using this recipe) and I spent my day off yesterday wrapping presents and writing out cards. We've been listening a lot to the Apple playlist 'A Very Folk Christmas' but being a child of the 80's it always ends up going back to a bit of ShakeyWizzard and of course Slade (but never Last Christmas by Wham, or The Pogues Fairy Tale of New York, ever, ever, ever).

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