Visiting Auntie Maggie

My parents are both from South West London and when I was growing up we spent a lot of time there visiting my grandparents and aunt and uncle. As such it holds a special place in my heart and there are lots of memories based there. My lovely Auntie Maggie still lives there and as we hadn’t been down for about a year we decided to take a few days down there.

We met Maggie at National Trust Claremont Gardens. Somewhere I had apparently been as a child though I don’t remember. (My memory for specifics is pretty awful!) It was a stunning place to explore and we had a lovely lovely day. PhotoGrid_1472762044121

Then it was back to Maggie’s and after the kids’ tea we took a walk over to the common. Cannon Hill Common is somewhere that will always hold a lot of memories. My grandparents lived on one side and my aunt and uncle on the other. We often walked between the two, went to see the ducks on the lake and to play on the play park. It was really nice to share it with hubs and the kids and we had such a nice evening walk. The kids particularly loved having a good climb on some fallen tree trunks as the sun went down.PhotoGrid_1472762350041

The next morning we decided to visit Deen City Farm which wasn’t too far away. A lovely little farm which is free to enter and has numerous lovely animals to see including pigs, chickens, cows, goats and even an Alpaca! You can cuddle some Guinea pigs, bunnies or ferrets for a couple of pound and there is a nice play area too. Unfortunately we had a pair of incredibly cranky kids that morning so we didn’t stay too long, but it was lovely!PhotoGrid_1472762803623

We decided to have a slightly chilled afternoon and our Little Madam really needed a nap (having gone about 3 days without one) so hung out at Maggie’s for a while. We did some drawing and tries to teach the kids to play boules in the garden.PhotoGrid_1472763062607

Monkey had a snuggle on the sofa with daddy while LM thankfully had a nap which she really needed. On our trip to the common the previous day we had seen lots of blackberries and had promised Monkey we would return to do some picking, so when LM had woken up a bit we headed back to the common. We got a fab haul and Monkey and LM had such a lovely sibling moment together, walking through the woods holding hands.PhotoGrid_1472818594080

We aimed for the play park on the common and were pleasantly surprised to find the paddling pools there filled, both with water and with children! We were totally unprepared but it was so hot there was no keeping LM out of there, and Monkey soon followed. Honestly it was the happiest I had seen the kids in days being able to cool off in the water, even fully clothed haha.PhotoGrid_1472820049939

That evening we had a bit of a disaster. While showering the kids (as Maggie doesn’t have a bath) Hubs unfortunately managed to pull a bit of the shower off the wall, sending water everywhere. He got it back together and we thought that was the end of it until water began pouring through the ceiling! Nightmare! After a bit of panic initially we had a glass or 2 of wine and had dinner and waited for a plumber to come out. He helped put our minds at ease that it was back together properly and there would be no more leaks. Turns out there was a screw missing which is why it came off so easily so it wasn’t entirely hubs fault!PhotoGrid_1472820111655

The next morning I went for a lovely run across the common while the kids had some scrumpy boiled eggs for breakfast. Then it was back to the common for a visit to the play area before packing up and heading home after lunch.

We had such a lovely few days, albeit with some difficult moments with some cranky children. But that’s normal really, especially when we were so busy and it was so hot and sunny! I thought Maggie would be glad of the peace once we left but apparently it is very quiet without us. We will just have to go again soon won’t we!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Monkey and Mouse

Our Day ‘Off’ in London

Mummy me-time is so so important, but can be really hard to come by. Last week I had a very much needed day of Mummy me-time and it really was wonderful. Hubs’ business was up for a Learn Direct award for the number of apprentices they hire, and having won the regional award they were invited to the National Awards at the Kensington Roof Gardens in London. Lovely! Hubs and his business partner thought it was a good opportunity for us wives to have a day in London too and as soon as my parents agreed to babysit both kids, I jumped at the opportunity.WP_20150707_09_24_34_Pro

So I put a pretty dress on and did my make up and we very excitedly headed off on the train down to London, though it was a bit weird too as it was the first time we had left LM with anyone other than one of us, for the whole day. Eek!

We headed straight to the Kensington Roof Gardens and I have to admit I was excited as for a long time I have wanted to see what this place was like, and well, as expected, it was gorgeous. So many beautiful flowers and so serene and peaceful considering we were in central London. Loved it!Kensington Roof Gardens

Unfortunately (Fortunately?) us wives weren’t invited to the awards ceremony so we headed off for a bit of a natter instead. And where better to go for lunch than to the Harvey Nicks roof terrace? If our husbands were having some posh fun, why shouldn’t we? It was lovely to catch up as we never really see each other without kids running around (they have 3 girls), and our husbands are so close that we hear about what each other are up to via them, but not directly if that makes sense!

Anyway we opted for some lovely food and a gorgeous bottle of wine, which the waiter clearly thought was a little OTT… “a bottle???” haha. Put simply, it was blimmin’ lovely. I have to admit I felt very decadent and about as far from my normal day to day life as possible. Sipping a chilled Chenin Blanc and eating mussels on the Harvey Nicks roof terrace, getting a little tiddly, sharing stories about kiddies, motherhood, and of course our husbands :) It was lovely to just really relax for a change and get to know each other a little better.Harvey Nicks

Then we heard the good news from our husbands, they won the award! So they came to join us for a little celebration with some yummy petit fours and some martinis to taste, which was great fun.

celebrating

Much as we would have liked the afternoon to continue it was then time to head back across London to get the train home to see our lovely kiddies. We had a fab day in London, both spending a bit of time together and apart, and, much to our relief the kiddies had a wonderful day with their grandparents… and the grandparents loved it too and have said they would do it again! Hooray! Time to book in some more days off ;)

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An exciting week..

My word of the week this week is excitement, as it has been a bit of an exciting week, in more ways than one.

If you follow me on facebook or instagram you may have seen that I had a day off from being Mummy this week, which was very exciting for me indeed. I will go into more detail in another post but it was AMAZING to have a day off from being Mummy. Hubs and I got a bit of time together and then I got to relax with a friend over a glass of wine on the Harvery Nichols roof terrace. Just lovely! I also got to see the Kensington Roof Gardens, which I have always been intrigued by, so that was quite exciting too!

london

In other exciting news, we are making some plans at the moment for a conversion/extension. We currently have a garage and car port, and the plan is to turn the car port into a garage and the garage into an office/playroom/toy storage room and we will gain a utility room too.

We have been talking about it a lot this year and it has been a slow process getting the drawings done and quotes, seeing how we can afford it etc. etc…. But it finally seems to be coming together now. Eek! So last weekend was spent clearing out the garage (a heck of a job believe me!) ripping down shelves and breaking up old furniture, sweeping away hideous cobwebs and horribleness. After 2 days of hard graft and 3 trips to the tip the garage looked like this. So weird to think of this being an actual room one day soon!garage clearance

We have also been talking a lot about layout, colours, styles and all fun parts of interior designing which I love and is very exciting. We keep changing our mind at the moment though over what we want so thankfully we have a bit of time before any building work starts to decide. We are still waiting for the building regs at the moment though thankfully don’t need planning permission. So, well, watch this space as I am sure there will be more updates to come over the next few months!

Another bit of exciting news is that we may have stumbled upon a solution to LM’s sleep regression, or rather my lovely Mum has! I only blogged about it this week but it has been troubling us for some time. When my parents babysat for our day in London Mum mentioned she had got LM to sleep with no fuss at all, because she rubbed her tummy for a few minutes to get her to sleep.

I couldn’t believe my ears! After weeks of fussing a bit of tummy rubbing soothed her to sleep? Apparently my Mum did it with us as babies so it was just a natural instinct for her to rub her tummy. That night I rubbed her tummy but she didn’t seem to want to sleep so I left her to it… and she did then fall asleep by herself, with no tears. No tears! For the first time in weeks!

The next day at naptimes she wanted to sleep on her tummy so I rubbed her back and each time she feel asleep in minutes and slept really well, despite having a cold. I couldn’t believe it!

So far so good but I am excited to think we will have less stressful naptimes and bedtimes… fingers crossed anyway!!

The final bit of excitement, yes there’s more, is getting ready for holidays in a couple of weeks. We are housesitting for a friend in Dorset so yay, free holiday on the south coast! Amazing!! It has come round really quickly all of a sudden so I am excitedly planning where we are going to stop on the way there and what we are going to do while we are down there!

So yes, lots of excitement at the moment, which is really lovely :) How has your week been?

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Our Family Day in London with the Samsung Galaxy S6

If you follow me on social media you may have seen that I was hugely excited last week to be given the opportunity by Three Mobile to review the brand new Samsung Galaxy S6 phone. In addition to letting me put the S6 through it’s paces for a few days, Three Mobile also very kindly gave us a day out in London where we visited the Natural History Museum and their wonderful “Sensational Butterflies” exhibition.

The Samsung Galaxy S6

WP_20150618_11_50_36_Pro (3)A little bit about the phone first. It is really slim and light though a bit longer than my current phone. I tend to carry my phone in my pocket and I was concerned it wouldn’t fit, but actually, although taller than my current Nokia, it is slimmer so fit a little better if anything, result!

It runs on Android, and being a Windows Phone user this did take a bit of getting used to but is much more user-friendly than the last time I used Android (we are talking a few years ago now) and I soon got to grips with it. I also found the phone very fast which is nice as being nearly 2 years old my phone can be a bit sluggish!

The best thing about the S6 though has got to be the cameras. Yes, plural, because both front and back cameras are very impressive. The back camera is a whopping 16megapixel and the front is a lovely 5megapixel. I love a good family selfie so it nice to be able to take a quality shot with the front camera for a change. To show you the difference here is a couple of selfies taken with the front camera on my current phone compared with the front camera on the S6. I have no make up on so apologies but you can see the difference. The third shot has “beauty mode” switched on which kindly smooths your skin out for you – definite improvement I think! :)

Samsung Galaxy S6 Front Camera

I also loved the speed of the cameras. It loads super fast even when the screen is timed out, and, best of all it takes the photo almost instantly when you press the shutter. Kids move around seriously fast and I often find with my current phone that by the time it has focussed and taken the shot, I have missed the moment. This happened a lot less with the S6 which is a HUGE plus in my books.

That’s about as technical as I am going to get as I am not that technical! So that you can see for yourself how great the cameras are, here is our day at the Natural History Museum.

Our day at the Natural History Museum

We set off on the train to London first thing in the morning. Monkey was so excited to be on a really fast train and loved every second of the journey, especially the tunnels.

on the train 1

We had hoped LM may nap on the train but it would seem she was too excited too as was not remotely in the mood to nap. We had a lot of fun keeping her entertained instead.

On the train 2

Getting around London on the tube with two tots, a buggy and our bags was interesting. The tube was absolutely packed, and we were squeezed in like sardines! Monkey was such a good boy but LM was not a fan…. though she was charming everyone by making sneaky grabs for people’s jumpers and sunglasses etc! Thankfully everyone she chose to grab was friendly and in a good mood.

We finally arrived at the Natural History Museum which is such an impressive building, and after a cheeky selfie (though I really need to have a bit more practice with my selfie stick) we headed inside to see the huge Brontosaurus.

natural history museum

We were concerned Monkey may be a bit wary of the dinosaur but he loved it and decided it was smiling hehe. We just had time for a quick cup of tea and slice of cake before heading out to the Sensational Butterflies exhibition.

Sensational Butterflies

In the grounds of the Museum is a tropical tent housing lots of beautiful butterflies who are free to fly and roam as they please. As you go through you follow the trail which charts the life cycle of the butterfly, from caterpillar to cocoon to butterfly, while all the way you are surrounded by butterflies fluttering past.

Butterflies 1

Unfortunately Monkey had a full on freak out about the butterflies. He found them really scary flying so close to us and one landed on my back which really set him off. LM seemed to love watching them flutter past though! I managed to get some gorgeous shots but we did have to rush through a bit to get the screaming, clinging mess of a toddler out of the tent :/

Butterflies 1

It was such a shame as it was a wonderful exhibition and lovely to see the butterflies up close and learn more about these gorgeous insects, but that’s kids for you, always unpredictable. I was glad that the camera was so fast to load and at taking photos, I would have liked a bit more time in there to play with manual mode – but was dead impressed with the shots captured with the auto focus.

The Museum

After calming Monkey down we headed back into the museum for more of an explore.

in the museum

Sadly the queue to see the dinosaur zone was massive so we went for a walk around the mammals instead. Monkey had a few initial jitters about the stuffed Lions and Bears but once he realised they wouldn’t move he relaxed and he loved it – he even told the Polar Bear that he loved him… bless him, such a softy.

in the museum 2

We had a great time wandering around and looking at all of the animals, skeletons and the other models. Monkey loved this big rotating earth and I love this picture of the two of us, again I am just so impressed with the photos we took on the S6.

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LM dozed off on our walk round (thank goodness) then we headed for some lunch. The service and speed in the restaurant were great considering it was a busy Saturday but it was pricey and the food wasn’t very good quality. We were hungry though so scoffed it down. Hubs had fun taking photos of the four of us in the huge mirrors in the restaurant.

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After lunch we checked on the queue for the dinosaurs again but it was even more massive so after a bit of a wander in the museum we headed outside to the ice cream van we had seen earlier – only to find that they had turned the ice cream machine off! We couldn’t believe it! We had promised Monkey an ice cream by this point and as the afternoon was getting on we decided to make our way back to the station. We found an ice cream along the way then had another hot and busy journey on the tube back to Kings Cross where we got the train home.

journey home

It was a long day and very tiring but so much fun too and I am proud of us for stepping out of our comfort zone and taking the kids on the train and tube on such a busy day. It proves we can do it, though I am not sure we will do it again in a hurry.

I loved giving the S6 a real test out and it has really got me thinking about what phone I am going to go for next. I’ve always loved the Windows Phone OS but I found Android to be really user-friendly and the cameras are just amazing on the S6. I use my phone largely as a camera since becoming a blogger so it really is important to have a good one. There are things about the Windows phone OS that I would miss on the move to Android…. but not as much as I thought, so I may have been converted as the camera is such a big temptation.

I really cannot fault the Samsung Galaxy S6 at all as it was so fast and just so easy to use and I think the pictures speak for themselves. I was using it all day, taking tonnes of photos and a few videos, and the battery lasted well until we got home which I did find impressive. I think I will be hard pressed to find a better option when it is time to upgrade my phone in a few months’ time!

Is your phone your main camera? Are you a lover of Android, Windows, or Apple?

I was loaned the Samsung Galaxy S6 for a few days and Three Mobile gave us tickets to London and entry to the Sensational Butterflies exhibition for the purpose of this review. All opinions and images are entirely my own.

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