Our Easter Holidays 2017

The Easter holidays are over and I honestly can’t believe how quickly they have flown by. We’ve had lots of ups and down but mainly ups, thankfully, and lots of fun as a family while Monkey was being off school, so I thought I’d share a little run down of our adventures over the past couple of weeks rather than trying to write separate posts about what we got up and what is going on.

I’m going to start with the negative first as there has been a bit of a shadow cast over the last couple of weeks that I’ve hinted at but not really talked about. Deep breath, here we go. My amazing aunt was, very sadly, and shockingly diagnosed with cancer just before the start of the holidays. My aunt, who is the fittest 70 yr old I can imagine, who treks all over the world. She came back from a trip to Sri Lanka in February and got a cough. The cough got worse so she saw the Dr, they did an x ray and referred her to a chest specialist. It got worse and they got her in for a scan. The scan revealed an aggressive tumour in her lungs, another on her spine and cancer in her liver and kidneys. This all happened incredibly, incredibly fast and it was hard to catch our breath. They started radiotherapy, then she lost the use of her legs and was admitted to hospital. The speed this has happened has been mind-blowing and there’s obviously been a lot of sadness and coming to terms with things. We don’t know what the future holds exactly but we so know that she probably won’t be with us into her nineties as we had hoped previously.

I’m not going to go into it more than that, and it may sound like I’m being cold and matter of fact but that’s the way I have to handle it. My aunt is an amazing lady and she is positive and upbeat and we have to be the same on her behalf. And I have to live my life. Below the surface I am obviously incredibly sad but I can’t let that overwhelm me as I have the kids to focus on and to think about. We’ve explained to monkey that she’s poorly and the Doctors are trying to help and that they may not be able to. And that is how it stands at the moment. I’m sure you can imagine that this has dominated the last few weeks for us so I couldn’t talk about our Easter hols without mentioning it. Well I suppose I could, but I didn’t want to.

Moving on to the lovely things we have been up to during the holidays. It got off to a brilliant start with some tree climbing for our Monkey, a lovely family bike ride and some gruffalo spotting while enjoying the gorgeous sunshine. Sadly that Sunday night our Little Miss had croup. It was nowhere near as bad as she has had previously, she didn’t have the wheeze (that they call stridor) just the horrible bark like cough. She even slept ok, while hubs and I were awake and worrying for half the night! So we had a quiet day on the Monday as her cough thankfully became more normal. Hubs took Monkey to work with him which he loved.

On the Tuesday, hubs had some time off work so he came on a bike ride to our local country park with us which was really lovely. The kids had a whale of a time in the sand and water play area there and we had lunch together in the café. That evening my stepdad popped over for tea that evening as my mum was down in London with my aunt.easter 1

That night I drove down to London to see my aunt and my mum. Hubs and the kids had lots of fun together the next day with another cycle ride and café trip :)easter 2

I was feeling pretty drained on the Thursday after the trip to London but we had previously arranged for a day out, going on a bear hunt, at our local country park. The kids loved it, though Madam did have a major tantrum (as she wanted to go to feed the ducks while we were on the trail s couldn’t) which I struggled to deal with with everything that was going on, though thankfully I had a very good friend there who supported me through it. She did get over it and once I explained that the bear was just a man in a suit, she liked him, and she loved the journey back on the little train, so all ended very happily.bear hunt

On Good Friday we did a couple of errands, one of which was looking at bikes for Monkey’s birthday next month. We were planning on just looking but there was a fantastic one, which was on offer over the holidays, and because only the display model was left available we get an even better price for it, so we couldn’t resist. It’s bigger than we thought we would get, with 20″ wheels, but Monkey is so tall and the smaller ones just felt like he would grow out of them so fast. It is much bigger and heavier than his previous bike and while he is fine when he is riding it, he did start off with lots of wobbles when he was standing up, starting or stopping bless him. My older brother came over that afternoon so Monkey loved showing him his new bike and we all went out to help and encourage him. We also did a bit of easter baking on the friday, with easter nests and some Creme egg brownies, yum!easter 4

The Saturday of the Easter weekend was a beautiful day and with rain forecast on Easter Sunday we did our little easter hunt then instead. Monkey loves a good map so I made a little map for the kids to follow. We tend to just give the little eggs, and this year we gave them some little troll toys too (they aodre trolls atm). They get so much choc from all their relatives so they don’t need much from us! That afternoon my little brother and his fiance came over too.easter 5

Sunday was a roast dinner for lunch at my mums which was lovely and another little easter egg hunt there. Monday we had Hubs’ family over, including his aunt and uncle from Yorkshire for a lovely bbq. I didn’t take many photos but that afternoon we went back to hubs’ brother’s house and the kids loved playing their cats and tortoise including giving the tortoise a bath!easter 6

Tuesday was a quiet day for the kids and I as hubs took my parents down to London to visit my aunt in the hospital. This kids and I pottered at home and went on a bike ride to play on the play area. We also had a bit of a princess party which you may have seen! The kids were so good and it was nice to have bathtime fun with them as that is normally hubs’ time with them.easter 7

Wednesday we visited one of our favourite farms with friends and had such a lovely day. Just so full of fun and probably the fullest day I’ve ever spent at the farm so there was a tired Mummy and children that night!easter 8

Thursday was nice and chilled and we saw hubs’ parents for a play in the morning and just had a little play on another local play area in the afternoon. My phone also broke on Thursday which was just a pain, then when I took it into be repaired I was persuaded to upgrade as I only had 1 month left on the contract instead. So apologies for the pants pictures at the play park here, they were taken on a temporary phone.easter 9

Friday was at the park with friends in the morning, testing out my new phone. (more to come on that in a separate post) and we had a fab time with friends we hadn’t seen in a while. That afternoon was at My mum’s house for the afternoon for some snuggles and hot wheels fun.easter10

So there we have it, 2 weeks went by in a flash! As mentioned there were definitely ups and downs but on the whole it was really lovel, My house is a tip though so I’m ready for monkey to be back at school, no matter how much fun we had!!

Hills & Holes, Barnack, Lincolnshire

A little to the north of where we live is a little known nature reserve, and a place that I love, called Hills & Holes. It is the site where limestone was quarried to build Peterborough cathedral, and quite simply this left the area with lots of hills, and lots of holes!

I know it sounds a bit odd but honestly I love it there. I have so many awesome memories of running up and down all the hills and in and out of the woods there as a kid.  Hubs did the same with his family too so it is a place we have always said we wanted to take the kids, and finally it feels like LM is old enough to start to enjoy it, so with some rare sunshine forecast on Saturday morning, we headed over.PhotoGrid_1484575491854

Monkey could not get his head round what we meant when we said we were going to Hills & Holes, and he was even more confused when we pulled up in one of the few laybys that class as parking on the edge of the village and walked through a little gate. But as soon as we got in and he saw the hills, well he was about as happy as a 4yr old gets at the prospect of an adventure!PhotoGrid_1484574948014

It’s difficult to see in the pictures just how hilly and undulating it is… but I’m sure you get the idea! PhotoGrid_1484575419728

I was so proud of LM as she did so well walking up and down some of the seriously huge hills holding Daddy’s hand…  Though her little legs definitely got tired after a while and she needed a carry the rest of the way.

At some times of the year there are sheep in some areas of the reserve. We wandered over to say hello and they were all staring at us and being quite friendly. But then when we carried on walking they started following us, which unnerved LM a bit bless her. We were a little perplexed and turned back to see the ram push his way to the front of the sheep and start stomping his feet at us! We weren’t really sure what to do at that point other than calmly but swiftly carry on our way.  They all followed us, with the ram leading them, though thankfully at quite a distance, for some way until we went through a gate into another section of the reserve. I have to admit that I’ve walked through herds of sheep a number of times but have never been confronted by a ram before. What should you do in that situation?PhotoGrid_1484575642847

Anyway, after that little bit of excitement, as LM was needing to be carried we were getting a bit tired (carrying a toddler up and down hills soon becomes hard work!) so headed home. We had a lovely time though. I’m so glad the kids are old enough to start to enjoy it now and look forward to going back many more times over the years for some fresh air and a run around!

Things you need to know about Hills & Holes.

Hills & Holes is on the edge of the village of Barnack, just to the south of Stamford, Lincolnshire.

Parking is in a few laybys on the road between the reserve and the village itself.

Dog’s are welcome but there are signs up when sheep are in the reserve to let you know they need a lead.

It is not remotely buggy friendly or even accessible so if a little one isn’t big enough to walk themselves then they will need to be carried!

No toilets or refreshments etc. of any kind.

If you live nearby have you ever been to Hills & Holes?

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Sudbury Hall and the National Museum of Childhood

Last weekend we were headed to the Peak  District to celebrate my aunt’s 70th. As it is a fair old distance for the kids in the car we decided to do our usual and break the journey at a National Trust place along the way. We chose Sudbury Hall because I heard it had a great play area and also because we thought that the kids may enjoy the museum of childhood if the weather turned sour.photogrid_1478181773530

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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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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!

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Me and Mine March 2016

I really enjoy joining in with me and mine every month primarily because this community really encourages me to get nice shots of us as a family. Getting photos of the four of us can be so tricky as let’s face it kids aren’t always cooperative and having enough arms to take photos while keeping the kids happy isn’t easy.

That said I do feel my photos of our little family aren’t as polished as many other bloggers. We don’t have a tripod to take a photo from a distance and most are done using a selfie stick and taking a frame from a video (which we find generally leads to more likelihood of catching fleeting smiles) or on the front facing camera, neither of which are the highest quality. Add to that that LM is such a wriggly independent thing who does not enjoy being held in position and, well, you don’t get the best photos. Still, at least we have shots of the four of us that will show how much we’ve all grown and changed and that really is the purpose.

This month I have a couple of less than brilliant outdoors shots. My fave family shots are those that are taken outside enjoying the sunshine, and I really hoped for shots like that this month, but those are the hardest for keeping the kids happy and still. So we have this one, which didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped.20160312130553

This one with loads of my family in it actually turned out surprisingly well and is one of my current fave photos though not just a shot of the four of us!20160325154915

On the same day out we also got this shot of the 4 of us which is OK but was so sunny and neither kiddy enjoyed the sun in their face.20160325_145907

My fave shots of us as a family this month though are some completely impromptu, appalling quality selfies. The kids had been climbing all over me on the sofa with a bean bag for some reason, and I just got the camera out which resulted in some fab photos of all of us having a lot of fun.20160307182010 20160307182251 20160307182321 20160307181627

So they aren’t polished, they certainly aren’t very high quality and they aren’t in a particularly special location. I’ve cut hubs’ head off in one and LM is a blur in another. But I love them because we are happy and in that they reflect us as a family the most out of all of these pictures. Larking around and having fun.

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Our Easter 2016

For me the best thing about easter isn’t the chocolate, it’s spending time with family and celebrating the arrival of spring by spending a lot of time outdoors. So that is primarily what our our Easter has been all about… With a few treats thrown in.

After all the illness we’ve had lately with both kids having chicken pox, and Monkey and I suffering with tummy bugs we were a bit worried it was going to be a bit of a washout but thankfully we were all miraculously well and able to enjoy the weekend.

We kicked off with a day out with my family to one of my favourite National Trust places, Belton House near Grantham. The weather was incredible and we had a wonderful day.PhotoGrid_1459082245077

It was seriously busy and sadly my older brother and his wife got stuck in traffic getting in, but they did eventually arrive and even though it was so so so busy, because it is such a huge site it didn’t feel too busy. Other than the queues for the restaurants! We were pretty lucky in that I had been to the play and ride cafe as soon as we arrived and got a timed ticket to get in, then a big enough table vacated as soon as we walked in which was really fortunate.

We had plenty of space to explore, climb trees, run around chasing bubbles and playing aeroplanes. We sat and had ice cream in the sun and partially completed the easter hunt, though gave up when we saw that the queue to collect the egg afterwards was absolutely ginormous and in our mind the chocolate wasn’t worth the queue!PhotoGrid_1459088128180

Oh and yes the place is seriously stunning so I had to get some pretty shots too.PhotoGrid_1459088344946

That night my aunt, who had come up from London for Easter, stayed with us and we had a lovely evening. The next day we took her to the local farm that we are members of. It could not have been a more different day weather wise and was windy and bitterly cold! Still we had a lot of fun completing the easter hunt there and we even met the easter bunny! Not that the kids were too sure about him haha. We had a bit of fun in the soft play then headed home for lunch.PhotoGrid_1459085468261

After lunch it was time for a bit of a team effort making some easter nests. It’s a proper easter tradition for us and the first year LM could take part, though she was shattered and needed to go for a nap before we had finished. Monkey really enjoyed it though.PhotoGrid_1459085584186

While LM slept that afternoon Monkey had some fun with some of the crafts and activities pound land kindly sent us to try out, and I was very grateful for something to keep him busy as I was shattered! We had already done some of the other crafts earlier in the week and I was impressed at all they have for a pound! *PhotoGrid_1459168415696

Easter Sunday itself was a bit more of a normal day for us. We went swimming in the morning and then our neighbour popped in with her kiddies for a bit. After lunch we did a the other of our Easter traditions and we put on a little easter hunt for the kiddies. Because Monkey loves treasure maps I made a simple map of the back garden and made a trail for him to follow before having to dig for his treasure! He loved it!PhotoGrid_1459085831382

LM sort of went along for the ride but didn’t really get what was going on I don’t think!

After LM’s nap that afternoon we headed over to hubs’ brother Andy’s house for a roast to celebrate his birthday and easter. It was lovely to get together all of hubs’ family too and we had a lovely time. Hubs bought his brother some star wars lego which the boys all had great fun building that. LM had fun with all of her relatives too and very much enjoyed a ride in Aunty Julie’s wheelchair while she rested having cooked us all a yummy roast.PhotoGrid_1459104159966

Monday was the most relaxed day of all and we pottered in the morning and made a roast for lunch. My little brother aka Uncle Marky joined us (sadly Aunty Fran was poorly and missed out) and played with kiddies and had a good catch up. More like a normal Sunday I guess, with laundry and little jobs that needed doing etc. Just what we needed after a busy few days.

I’m painting a picture here that is filled with sunshine and smiles and to a certain extent it is true and we have had a happy weekend. But it has also been difficult with toddler tantrums from LM and major threenager meltdowns from Monkey. They have been overexcited over tired and over chocolated (not a word I know but seems to fit :)). We barely buy any treats (only for the nest making and treasure hunt) but our lucky kiddies have lots of adoring family who have given them lots of treats. I have drafted a post about the over commercialisation of Easter (as I was having a rant moment) but I am not sure about sharing it. I am instead choosing to remember the happy moments of a lovely easter spent with our lovely my.

I hope you had a wonderful easter too.

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*Poundland provided the craft materials free of charge for our use over Easter. 

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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Loving our Garden

I have never been much of a gardener, and in all honesty have been pretty uninterested in becoming a gardener. That is, until we renovated our garden. Suddenly I really enjoy it! I don’t like weeding and I still don’t really know what I am doing but I do enjoy choosing plants and seeing them grow. Luckily hubs knows a bit more about gardening than I do so it is very much a joint effort.

Renovating our back garden was such a good decision as we spend a lot of time out there and it really is looking so lovely out there now. We just bought some beautiful new plants to inject some more colour and texture. We like to try and mix up things that flower at different times of year and are different colours to keep a nice bit of variety. (You can see the before and afters of the renovation here.)

garden aug 2015

Monkey loves the garden and he loves gardening too. He is great at watering the garden, with the hose or a watering can and he just loves to dig. We do have to stop him digging up plants as he can be a bit overenthusisastic sometimes! He loves helping though and is always happy to push bits around in his wheelbarrow too, little love!

Monkey Gardening

I’m also really proud of him as lately he has gotten so inquisitive with bugs and beasties that we find when gardening. He so so loved finding some wiggly worms when we were digging at the weekend.  just love seeing how happy he is to touch and explore them. He has picked up woodlice, ants, ladybirds and all sorts too.Monkey and worm

I’m proud of myself too as I hate all these things and don’t like touching them but I try really hard not to share my fear with him. I really don’t want him to learn to be scared of things because they scare me, if that makes sense.

We really enjoy all of our time outside together and hope we can continue to for many years, and get LM involved too when we are less concerned about her eating mud and worms :).

Do you like gardening with your kids?

My word of the week is gardening.

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