A winter’s morning at our local country park

We are incredibly fortunate where we live, that we have a fantastic country park basically on our doorstep. I don’t like to name it as hubs feels it is too clear an indication as to where we live, but we can walk/cycle there so easily. It is the perfect place for a family outing, to meet friends and generally have a play. Last weekend we arranged to meet some of our friends there for the morning.

It was such a clear, but very cold and frosty winter’s morning. Though it is very close it can be a bit too far for little legs to walk (especially the homeward bound leg after running and playing all day) so we decided to cycle over. I adore that LM loves being on the back of my bike, and Monkey is getting much stronger and able to cycle faster and for longer meaning we can have a bit of a family bike ride (though still a very sedate one!). It was gorgeous cycling over in the morning sun and sparkly frost.PhotoGrid_1485353769385

We had a look around at some of the ice and frozen plants, and shells etc before our friends arrived.PhotoGrid_1485354002746

They joined us for a play on one of the playareas, which was interesting in the ice, as the slide was seriously slippy, so much so that LM flew at one point bless her!PhotoGrid_1485354216821

The kids then had great fun chasing bubbles, which looked gorgeous in the sunlight.PhotoGrid_1485354309545

We then walked over to go to another playarea but at this point LM threw a mega wobbler and basically wouldn’t stop screaming. One of those times where you can’t really even work out what is wrong or what she wants you to do. Always fun. Eventually she was happy to ride on Daddy’s shoulders which thankfully gave us a break from the screaming!PhotoGrid_1485354415362

Thinking she may be cold we stopped at a cafe for some hot drinks and cake to warm us all up, before going out onto the nearby sandy play park. The kids love this park and had so much fun out there, going through tunnels, jumping off ledges, going down the slide and playing in the sand in general.PhotoGrid_1485354535511

With lunchtime approaching and knowing we had to get back to our bikes, and then cycle home, it was time to head off. I love a good cold morning out when you can then wrap up warm and cosy when you get home :)

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
 

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Soft Play in and around Peterborough

With 2 children under 5 I have frequented most of the soft play places around our local area on more than one occasion. Love them or loathe them there’s no denying that kids like them and they can be a lifesaver on rainy days. So I thought I would share a little bit of info about the soft play in our local area to help other mums finding their way in the world of soft play.

The Play Barn at Sacrewell Farm

We love sacrewell farm and the play barn is brilliant. It is cleaner than many a soft play I’ve seen and the kids adore it. There are different areas for different ages and it really is great. The entry cost is high because you get entrance to the farm too. We were given membership as a Christmas present last year and have definitely made the most of it in th play barn alone, let alone visiting the rest of the farm, so it is worth considering if you have little ones.
Food:
There is a kiosk in the soft play that is open at weekends or holidays and a café in the main farm entrance building. Food is reasonably priced but you can also bring your own food. There are a lot of picnic tables in the play barn and no problem whatsoever having a picnic inside or out.
Parking:
Loads of free parking outside the farm.sacrewell

Big Sky, Orton Longueville

A classic soft play this, a huge building with all sorts inside, big guns that shoot soft balls, a race track, tunnel slides, ball pits and a bouncy castle. They have recently redone the younger kids area which is now fantastic. The rest of the centre could do with some attention though as some of the aforementioned guns don’t work and the carpets are pretty filthy. Fairly expensive and I’m not a fan of having to pay for adults to come in when obviously adults are only there to accompany and supervise children. It’s not like a theme park after all.
Food:
There is a canteen serving some pretty basic but acceptable food and I’ve also never had any problem taking my own food for the kids.
Parking:
A fair bit of parking round the back however I would imagine it would be completely full at half terms and weekends (I’ve only been during term time). It is on the number 1 bus route though.big-sky

Activity World, Fengate

Similar to Big Sky in that is a purpose built soft play. Could definitely do with some attention though as some areas really are filthy. It is fairly pricy and also charges for adults like Big Sky does. They do however give you a discounted reentry if you return after 7 days with your receipt. It is also huge and the kids love it.
Food:
There is a canteen which serves a limited amount of food. You cannot take your own food in and I have a friend who was even charged for tap water for her child.
Parking:
There is a good amount of parking, I’ve never had trouble getting space even during half term though it does get extremely busy.activity-world

The Yard, Stamford

Much smaller than the likes of the above but still a decent sized soft play with a smaller area for babies. Only charges for children which is a plus and is in better condition than Big Sky or Activity World.
Food:
You aren’t allowed to take your own for food in. The food they serve is yummy though and not too expensive.
Parking:
The parking here is limited unfortunately and I have had to park on adjacent streets a few times as there are only a few spaces in the adjacent car park.the-yard

Selina’s tea room at Calmababy, Woodston

20160313_094729Much smaller than any of the above and not soft play in terms of slides or ball pits but this is a very lovely cafe with a large indoor play area attached to Calmababy. There is also an outdoor play area for in the summer but quite a lot to entertain little ones in the playarea indoors while you have some cake and a natter. No entry charge.
Food:
Lovely food and reasonably priced. It’s primarily a café so you can’t take your own food in.
Parking:
Quite a lot of parking in the car park, it can get busy at peak times as it is for Calmababy swimming pool too.

Kiddicare

As with the above, a bit of a lose link to soft play. It is a play area in the cafe of Kiddicare. It has a soft floor and loads of toys for little ones to play with while you have a cuppa. Some weekday mornings childminders pay a visit so it can get a bit full. Free to use and not bad when your kids are little but not much good for older kids. Sort of a pre-soft play play area I guess!
Food:
Being free to use and attached to the cafe it is frowned upon to bring your own food and the food there isn’t too bad.
Parking:
Plenty of free parking

Brewers Fayre, Hampton

Slightly odd one but there is a soft play attached to the Brewers Fayre in Hampton. There is a fee to use but it is not very much. It’s a bit dingy and tired but the kids enjoy it and there is an area for little ones as well as older ones. The opening times are linked with the restaurant so are a bit unusual but I believe it opens earlier one morning a week for a coffee morning. Call them for more information.
Food:
It is attached to the restaurant so I think that generally the assumption is that you will have eaten there first or will be eating there. But I have fed the kids snacks at the tables near the soft play without a problem.
Parking:
Shared with the restaurant and Premier Inn so it can get quite full. Don’t park in the McDonald’s opposite as you could be fined if you haven’t bought anything in McDonald’s.brewers-fayre

Wyevale Garden Centre, Crowland

Quite a nice sized soft play that both my kids have always enjoyed. An area for younger ones with big soft bricks to stack, a ball pool and a decent slide. There’s also an outdoor play area and entry to the soft play is not at all expensive
Food:
You can’t take your own food as it is part of the cafe. Some of the food is a bit pricy in my opinion, though if you order early (before 11.30) and can get breakfast beans on toast is quite reasonable.
Parking:
Ample parking at the garden centre.crowland

Van Hage Garden Centre

There is a fairly small soft play area in the garden centre cafe, in a families area that has its own counter. It is small and quite dark but the kids had fun in there. Ok for while you are waiting for food but not great for a long visit I wouldn’t say.
Food:
You can’t take your own food as it is part of the cafe. They serve a few things from the counter in the family area or you can get things from the main cafe too.
Parking:
Loads

So there you have it, a bit of a run down of I think most of the soft play and stay and play cafes in the area. Please let me know if  you know of any I have missed, there is one in Whittlesey but I was unable to go in the one time I tried as it was busy and I haven’t gotten round to returning but it is supposed to be pretty good.

All of the above information is correct to the best of my knowledge and based on my most recent visit. I haven’t included entry prices as these are obviously subject to change. This is all based on my own personal experiences and I haven’t received any payment for sharing this post.

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LM’s 2nd Birthday party and Pumpkin Picking!

Our gorgeous girl turned 2 on Saturday and I think it is safe to say she had a lovely birthday… even though I’m pretty sure she didn’t really get what was going on!

We started off with presents on our bed. The lighting for these shots is terrible and we’re obviously all very sleepy but I love the happiness nonetheless. There were some lovely siblings moments where Monkey helped LM open her presents (and play with them haha) and she was definitely very excited by them. photogrid_1477313258576

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Strawberry Picking – and eating!

One of LM’s favourite ever foods, is strawberries. I honestly believe she would eat them all day every day if she could. So being strawberry season when my Mum and I were trying to think of something different to do with the kids one day I thought we should go strawberry picking!20160622_103128 (2)

We are really fortunate that literally a couple of minutes away from us in the car is a really great pick your own farm. Hill Farm does a variety of pick your own crops throughout the year but I normally miss the strawberries and by the time I get round to visiting it is plum and blackberry season. This year, despite the wet weather we have been having I was determined we would get to pick some strawberries.

After a dry day Tuesday, Wednesday was unfortunately was grey and a bit wet. We headed off nonetheless clad in waterproofs and wellies, expecting hill farm to be wet and muddy, which it was!

One of the things the kids love most about this farm is the play area. My little climbers adore exploring and sliding and climbing… And on a day like today, splashing in huge muddy puddles haha.

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After a bit of a play it was off to find some strawberries. I really love that minutes away from the suburbia where we live is countryside and views like this. 20160622_102554

Monkey loved picking strawberries and they had so so many yummy juicy ones. He even tried one which was good as he only likes eating dried strawberries (eye roll).PhotoGrid_1466608979540

Whereas LM basically just wanted to eat them haha. Hardly a surprise :)IMG_20160622_114325

Nanny was addicted to picking and we soon had so many strawberries I joked they were coming out of our ears.20160622_103645

We decided to head back when out tub was full so we could stop LM from eating basically every strawberry left in the field. She then got really mardy and bless her I think she was hot and grumpy. It was so humid and I was hot in my waterproofs so no doubt she was too. So I stripped them off and we had some cake which cheered her up. Thank goodness as she was screaming the place down by then!PhotoGrid_1466611565231

They have birds of prey on display at the farm that have been raised in captivity and rescued and they are building a more permanent site for them at the farm too. They are so beautiful and the kids loved looking at them. LM was waving hello and giggling and they had a baby kestrel who was so cute and fluffy.PhotoGrid_1466616191496

Of course the kids wanted another play on the play area so LM was straight back in the puddles and got a bit soggy, despite my best efforts! One of the lovely friendly farm dogs also came out for a play. We had planned on staying for a picnic but it started raining so then it was time to head home.PhotoGrid_1466616315281

We had such a lovely time though and the strawberries were so delicious that no doubt we will be back again soon. Do you like pick your own farms?

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Focussing on Happy #3 “Support”

My word of the week this week was nearly solo, as Hubs has been in Canada since Monday (lucky devil) and I have been solo parenting for my longest stretch ever. But I haven’t really been solo – because I have so many wonderful friends and family around who have supported me and helped me out that I really haven’t had to do it alone. So my word this week is support.

So here is what made me happy over the last week.

Having a lovely Afternoon Tea with my hubs as a treat at a posh hotel. It was my birthday present from my parents and we thought it was a good plan to use it before he went away. With all that has been going on lately we have been really snappy with each other so it was nice to reconnect and have some fun together people watching and eating yummy food :)PhotoGrid_1466665407944

Enjoying Father’s Day morning at a local country park with Hubs’ parents, enjoying a rare bit of sunshine and warmth and having a lovely time together before saying goodbye to Hubs the next morning.PhotoGrid_1466665635723

Seeing how much LM loved the huge puddles when the rain returned on Monday, though I was less impressed at how many times I had to change both our clothes that day!PhotoGrid_1466666154171

Having a lovely sunny playdate with some friends round on Tuesday – chilling with friends in the sunshine is how a summer playdate should be, right?PhotoGrid_1466668778451

Having an impromptu walk round our local country park with some good friends and heading back to their house for tea. All the kids get on so so well so it was lovely.

Having Uncle Mark and Aunty Fran round to help with bath and bedtime Tuesday night. The kids are so close to them and have so much fun with them it is wonderful.PhotoGrid_1466668472615

Strawberry picking with my Mum on Wednesday, more to come on that tomorrow!

Popping round to see the Grandparents Wednesday afternoon then both my Mum and Uncle Paul popping in to help with the kiddies while I sorted tea and got some jobs done.20160622_173741

Having loads of bathy time fun with my gorgeous kiddies. Bathtime is often Hubs domain as I have been with them all day and he then gets to have fun with them…but it was lovely to enjoy that time (even though I will willingly give it back next week as that is normally a bit of a rest time for me!!)

Visiting our local country park with friends on Thursday as Monkey’s pre-school was closed to be used as a polling station. It was yet another wet and miserable day but we had a lot of fun nonethless.PhotoGrid_1466687901684

Skyping with Daddy in our afternoons, which is his morning.

It has been a really really busy week, which has been great as it has flown by and we are looking forward to Daddy being home. I am shattered but as I am sure you can tell from the list above there has been a LOT of happy times here.

How has your week been?

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Saturday

A wildflower meadow in the suburbs

We live in the suburbs. A very leafy open suburb built in the early 80s mind you which is a lot less crammed in than some modern developments, but is a suburb nonetheless. I’ve always liked the idea of living somewhere more rural but I am a pretty practical person, and well I like my conveniences close by. Also as a teenager my best friends lived on a village with limited bus services and it was a complete pain for them to ever get anywhere without lifts from parents and I don’t want that for our kids. May seem like a daft reason to some I know! I do love the peace of the countryside but like to think we have the best of both worlds where we live as there is lots of open space to run and play but we are also close enough to everywhere we want to be able to ‘pop’ to.

Why am I banging on about this? Well, randomly amongst our little suburban area is a touch of the countryside. A little meadow filled with wild flowers that changes with the seasons. I have no idea why it is there and hasn’t ever been built on but I love it. It is actually surrounded on all sides by housing estates and a dual carriageway… But through so many layers of trees that while you are there you can almost forget that you aren’t in the countryside.WP_20160524_16_16_10_Pro

I took the kids there the other day and enjoyed watching them run free, chase bubbles in the wind, hide in the grass and generally just enjoy themselves. With the blue skies and sea yellow buttercups it was a beautiful summery afternoon.field 1

As you can see, the kids absolutely loved it, monkey especially loved exploring and letting his imagination run free as he did so. And I loved watching, and taking hundreds of photos of course!field 2

There is no greater purpose to this post than that really. Just a lovely afternoon in the sun with my kiddies.

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Little Miss’s first trip to the zoo!

We are really lucky that there is a little zoo not too far from us, called Hamerton Wildlife Park. We have been there loads in the past with Monkey, but the last time I went was when I was pregnant with LM, and she was yet to go. She loves animals though and getting out so it was time. We arranged to meet some friends there and headed off.

It was a beautiful day and LM loved running about everywhere and was so excited by seeing all the animals… Though I am pretty sure she wanted to cuddle the wallabies and lemurs!PhotoGrid_1460378460427

There are so many gorgeous animals there and many of them are rescue animals, which makes it much easier to see them caged. Monkey loved a very er “friendly” vulture and we got to see one of the tigers very close up which was amazing though also a bit sad to see him pacing.PhotoGrid_1460378777738

We had a lovely picnic lunch then both kiddies enjoyed a play on the fab playpark.PhotoGrid_1460378996569

We had another good wander after lunch to see some more animals and met this fabulous owl. He really took me by surprise when I turned and saw these beautiful eyes staring at me.PhotoGrid_1460380509192

We had such a wonderful day enjoying the sun and having fun as a family and with our friends.PhotoGrid_1460379559365

Do your little ones like the zoo?

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Sunny Spring Days

This last week has seen some glorious weather hasn’t it? Signs that winter may finally be over, so we did the only thing possible and got put there and enjoyed the lovely sunshine and warmer days.

On Saturday we headed to Sacrewell Farm, which is such a lovely place, not too far from us, and one of our best Christmas presents as a family was a yearly membership for us all there. It is such a lovely place and we all enjoyed seeing all the animals – especially some of the newborn lambs!PhotoGrid_1457950886140

We had a good wander round enjoying the signs of spring and threw some pooh sticks in the river. I tried to get some good family shots but sadly they weren’t the best haha. Ah well. PhotoGrid_1457951089605

Of course it wasn’t long before the kids found some muddy puddles… and LM once again fell in and needed cleaning up!PhotoGrid_1457951631435

We also had a little play in their wonderful soft play barn.PhotoGrid_1457951147414

On Sunday we went swimming (more on that to come in another post) and then later that afternoon went for a country walk with my big brother and his lovely wife. It was a glorious day but there was still a definite chill in the air despite the sunshine. It was lovely to get out and enjoy the fesh air though and LM walked for miles, it was amazing! Oh and yes, once again the little ones were drawn towards the muddy puddles.PhotoGrid_1457960447097

As the sun started to go down it was getting colder and there was just time for some bubble chasing on our way home in the glorious afternoon sunlight.PicMonkey Collage

Simple pleasures but so lovely to be out enjoying the sunshine – and we are all so so looking forward to spring and summer and many more lovely sunny days to come.

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A lovely winters day

I don’t like winter when it is grey, wet and gloomy, but give me clear blue skies and fresh frosty air and I absolutely love it. I love to get bundled up warm and go for a walk in the crisp air before heading somewhere cosy to warm up afterwards. After a wet week last week the forecast for the Saturday was for a perfect winter’s day, so we made plans to walk over to our local country park. It started out just as us then we thought we would see if the in laws fancied a stroll with us, then hubs’ younger brother decided he would like to come for a bit too.

We strolled over then after meeting up with Granny and Granddaddy had a play on one of the playparks.PhotoGrid_1453220093982

Uncle Simon arrived shortly after and we headed in to one of the cafes to warm up with a cuppa and cake.

My teacup is empty at thhis point by the way!

My teacup is empty at thhis point by the way!

Then it was out for another explore. It was interesting making sure LM stayed away from the lakes as she does love water! She enjoyed strolling along with her family though.PhotoGrid_1453220373293

There was a really funny moment where another little one of a similar age saw LM and began ecstatically waving and shouting to her. They had a little meeting of minds here I think and then LM wanted to follow him and his mummy instead of coming with us haha!PhotoGrid_1453220433587

We continued our walk via the site of roman villa that hubs and I remember playing on when we were kids.PhotoGrid_1453220693786

Randomly there was loads of pretty shellfish shells about (assuming they were dropped by birds but did they get them from the lakes?) some had ice in and Monkey very cutely
decided that they were “baby ice” that were missing their mummy. Daft little cutie!PhotoGrid_1453220742447

We got the selfie stick out at this point to get a shot of us all and didn’t too badly with hehe.20160116140127

By now it was getting toward lunchtime so Uncle Simon headed home and we popped into the other cafe for a bite of lunch and to warm up with another cuppa.

Food obviously tastes much nicer from Mummy's plate

Food obviously tastes much nicer from Mummy’s plate

Last stop of the day was feeding the ducks with LM repeatedly shouting “dah” “dah” at every duck she saw haha. She says dah to other things too but will always shout it at any duck picture or duck she sees so I am pretty sure she means duck some of the time. PhotoGrid_1453221025658

Then it was time to head home, with a quick stop for a family selfie along the way.20160116_131512

20160116_132147A lovely winters day.

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An Autumnal Week and a visit to NT Box Hill, Surrey

I love Autumn, I always have. All the gorgeous colours on the trees and the best days are the ones with a clear blue sky and a crisp feeling in the air. We have been really lucky I think with the weather so far this autumn and there has been some really glorious days. We are also really lucky where live as we are surrounded by trees and I love seeing all of the colour when I look outside or go for a walk.autumn 1

Our week started off with a lovely trip down to London. We started in the east visiting some very good friends of ours in Bromley. Both of their kiddies are almost exactly 6 months older than each of ours so it is lovely watching them all grow up. We wrapped up and went for a play at the local park and the littlies had a lovely time… but unfortunately both the older 2 fell and hurt themselves, which led to Monkey having an epic meltdown which was a real shame.Bromley

Then we drove west to stay overnight with my auntie In Raynes Park. From there we went to Box Hill in Surrey to enjoy some gorgeous autumnal scenery. I remember visits to Box Hill as a kid and it was lovely to share it, and the amazing views, with hubs and the kiddies.20151011_101243

It was a glorious day and we had a great time exploring – though it is worth noting that many of the trails, including the Hill Top Stroll, are really NOT suitable for buggies. LM did not enjoy bouncing around all over the place and in some areas we had to carry it anyway as it just couldn’t get over the stones and tree roots so we gave up after a while and just carried her or let her walk. Some of the trees are magnificent though and it was also really fun walking past cattle which grazing on the hillside.box hill 1

There was lots to do and we enjoyed a gorgeous bit of sloping hillside with magnificent views… though we nearly lost the ball a couple of times and had to run and catch it!box hill 2

There are a lot of natural play areas to explore and a nature play trail… unfortunately we only just started on this route before Monkey fell and scraped himself on the logs, giving him a huge graze on his side. Bless him this led to another meltdown and in some ways I don’t blame him but he really is a drama queen as his meltdowns are the same for a tiny cut as a nasty one. Anyway he wasn’t much interested in playing any more after that so it was homeward bound.box hill 3

Monday dawned very wet and miserable and with hubs having a crisis at work and me with PMT it was definitely a gloomy start to the week and I was honestly so grumpy, bored and just fed up. But I have decided to snap out of it and stop being so moany as I am so lucky to have the life that I have and wouldn’t want it any other way.

So the rest of the week has seen some lovely autumnal strolls with the kiddies. Now LM has some proper little boots to walk about in that keep her feet dry in the wet grass we are able to get out and explore a bit more on foot. We don’t get very far as she is fascinated by every blade of grass but still it is lovely to see her wandering about and enjoying the fresh air.autumn walks

Finally, on Thursday LM and I visited one of our favourite local farms (Sacrewell Farm). A neighbour gave us a voucher that expired this week so though it felt weird to go without Monkey I decided it worked better for the two of us to go alone, and actually, we had such a lovely time! She loved all the animals and really enjoyed wandering about and chasing the pigeons and even though it was a really wet and miserable day it was such a lovely morning. LM went through 3 pairs of trousers though with all her plonking on her bottom – I have ordered her some waterproof trousers and they will come in very handy for the rest of the autumn and winter!farm fun

So there we have it, a very autumnal week this week and now I have got over myself and stopped acting like a mardy teenager I have really enjoyed myself. How has your week been?

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