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.

PhotoGrid_1466608782976

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?

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall#ToddlerApprovedTuesdayBest of WorstLife Unexpected

Sunshine on a rainy day with Trespass

I have a new love. My new raincoat from Trespass, the Stormcloud Women’s waterproof jacket. It surprises me as I honestly never thought I would find a raincoat that I like as much as this one.PhotoGrid_1460982487665

I am pear-shaped, meaning my bottom and thighs are approximately 2 sizes larger than my top half. My top half is currently a 12, but my lower half is a size 16. This makes buying any item of clothing for my whole body incredibly difficult. With coats, it means that in order for the bottom to fit, the top section is usually incredibly baggy and unflattering. My previous rain coat I have had for around 10 years and it has been around the world with me, but it is so unflattering and makes me look huge. I have wanted a new raincoat for ages but honestly didn’t know where to start or whether to bother as any I’ve tried have been the same.

20160407_182211I am so glad that Trespass got in touch and invited me to look at their ladies waterproof range as I was so impressed. There were a couple I was tempted by but the shape of the Stormcloud jacket looked to be exactly what I was after. Long enough to keep me nice and dry, but still flattering. I have still had to order a large size for it to fit around my bottom, but the difference is that this coat gives me some shape. It has pull-cords at the waist which I can adjust to fit me and it means that for once I have a raincoat that doesn’t look like I am wearing a tent!It also has what I am calling a ducks tail. A little extra length at the back which I think is very flattering but also useful for sitting on soggy park benches with the kids. I always hate my legs as I feel they are huge but actually think the curved tail to this coat is so flattering that I think it even makes my legs look ok!

The other reason I am surprised how much I love this coat because of the colour. I have never bought a yellow coat before and not sure I would have been brave enough too. But the shape of this coat is what attracted me to it, so after some encouragement from hubs (who loves yellow) I decide to be brave and go for it. It is so bright and colourful and I have been complimented on the colour so many times already. I do feel it draws people’s attention (which isn’t always ideal for an introvert like me) but so far only in a nice way. It makes such a change from a black or blue coat and brightens up the most miserable of days. I had already bought LM a lovely yellow raincoat and it is sweet to be matching!20160407_182223

Features wise it has everything you could want of a rain coat. It is quite thin but that is what I wanted for the spring/summer. I have a winter coat but at this time of year it is too hot so this is perfect as it keeps me dry and helps keep out any cool breezes without making me feel too hot. The hood is perfect, not too big or too small as some can be. It also has an attachment at the back to tie it and make it smaller if need be. I have quite a big head and a lot of hair so for me it is perfect as it is but I do think that could be handy.PhotoGrid_1460984562674

The pockets are huge which is brilliant. I always wind up carrying so much stuff around with me, tissues, half eaten chewy bars, mittens, house keys, my phone and I can even fit one of LM’s drinks bottles which is very handy as we do sometimes go for a stroll without the big buggy and means I don’t have to take a bag. The material of the coat has a lovely texture and isn’t overly plasticky or shiny as some waterproof material can be. Monkey gave it a big seal of approval when he needed a piggy back at the end of a long walk, shouting in my ear “Your coat isn’t slippy! I’m not slipping! Yes! You did it Mummy! Your new coat is lovely and not slippy!” haha definitely the most important feature in his mind.

My one criticism of the coat is the sizing. I have had to buy an XL. I am not at my slimmest at the moment but my lower half is a size 16. Is that really Extra Large? I know labels on clothes don’t really matter and it’s how it fits that matters but if the sizes are as simple as 8 (extra small) 10 (small) 12 (medium) 14 (large) 16 (extra large) can we not just use the numbers rather than labelling the sizes as large or small? Doesn’t do much for the self-image and what if you are larger than a 16? That is the only criticism I can make though and is probably as much a criticism of the entire clothing industry as this particular coat and hardly a reason not to buy it.

So there we have it, my new lovely coat from Trespass, I honestly love it and would recommend it to anyone… In fact I think my best friend is going to get one as she is so impressed too.

I received this coat from Trespass for the purpose of the review however all thoughts, words and images are my own.

We're going on an adventureBest of Worst

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?

The Reading ResidencemumturnedmomCountry Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays CornwallMy Travel Monkey#ToddlerApprovedTuesdayLife Unexpected

Visiting Stonehenge in the rain

On our recent holiday down south we decided as it was only an hour or so from where we were staying in Dorset, that we would like to take the opportunity to visit Stonehenge. We picked a day and booked our tickets in advance for the Sunday and made our plans. It is run by English Heritage but National Trust members get free entry too (woohoo!) so if you are thinking of going it is worth considering membership of one or the other as tickets to Stonehenge are quite expensive in themselves. Sunday turned out to be a really wet and miserable day unfortunately, but we decided to stick with our plans and head over, hoping for a bit of let up.

When we arrived it wasn’t actually raining, though it was freezing! We had taken waterproofs for the rain but thought it should still be quite warm so hadn’t taken jumpers for hubs or I – big mistake as it was so cold, we ended up buying some rather fetching Stonehenge hoodies from the gift shop. (It’s actually quite amusing that most have my hoodies have been bought from a gift shop for the same reason, incl. one in NY and one in San Francisco, clearly I regularly under-estimate how warm I will be!).

We originally planned on heading straight for lunch, and then going out to see Stonehenge itself afterwards, but as it wasn’t raining we decided to make the most of the let up and head straight up there (thank goodness we did). So we had a ride on the bus with the kiddies and got to Stonehenge itself. There is a path part of the way round and then grass to walk around the rest of the site. You can’t get up close to the stones which is a shame but understandable.

WP_20150726_11_36_05_Pro__highres WP_20150726_11_37_02_Pro__highres WP_20150726_11_41_49_Pro__highres

We had great fun taking some silly selfies of us all with Stonehenge in the background (or not, depending how good our aim was!).

WP_20150726_11_38_37_Moment(3) WP_20150726_11_38_37_Moment(2) WP_20150726_11_48_05_Moment(2) WP_20150726_11_48_05_Moment(7)

It was very bleak though and Monkey was getting a bit moany so we did have to have a good run around to keep him happy – I think a lot of other people there thought we were bonkers but Monkey was happy so that’s all that matters.

WP_20150726_11_46_42_Pro__highres

It’s a shame the weather was so bad as we really didn’t want to stay there long and after one time round we went back to the bus and back to the visitor centre…. where, would you adam and eve it… there had been a power cut. The first one ever apparently. But this affected all lighting, the toilets, the exhibitions and worst of all the cafe!

After a bit of queueing and wondering what we could actually eat we managed to get literally the last 2 cups of tea they could get out of what hot water they had. We had sandwiches as there was no soup or any other hot food as obviously they had no power. Not good on such a cold day but at least we got hot drinks. By the time we had our food the rain had well and truly returned and the bus loads of people returning from Stonehenge were all soaked to the skin and poor things couldn’t even get a hot drink so I was glad we had come back when we had.

After our light lunch we wandered over to the exhibitions… where nothing was working so there wasn’t a huge amount to see.

WP_20150726_12_58_12_Pro

Lights off and blank screens, very disappointing!

LM needed some milk so we hung around a bit rather than just leaving and I’m glad we did stay as the power did eventually come back on. If she hadn’t needed a feed I think we may just have come away and we wouldn’t have seen any of it.

With the power working again there is a great display where you stand as if in the middle of the stones and see it through the years and at different seasons. All of the displays and videos were great when they were working too and really interesting.WP_20150726_13_23_56_Pro WP_20150726_13_25_54_Pro

There are some roundhouses to see outside and we did start to go out to see them but it was so wet that we gave up and just got back in the car to drive back to the cottage.

WP_20150726_13_14_12_Pro

The joys of british summertime eh? One day gorgeous sunshine, the next absolutely miserable.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays CornwallMy Travel MonkeyWe're going on an adventureLife Unexpected

From rain to shine

Last week I had arranged to meet up with one of my lovely mummy friends on her day off work. WIth LM’s lack of routine it is sometimes difficult to plan outings but we decided to go for it and arranged to meet at a local country park where the kids could run around. Unfortunately on the day of the meet up, despite previously sunny forecasts… we woke up to a very grey very wet morning.

We talked about going somewhere else but I had promised Monkey we would go and feed the ducks, so I decided to bundle him up in waterproofs and head off to the country park anyway. My friend decided to join us too, though she definitely thought I was bonkers for still wanting to go (and I suspected she was right, actually). We got there and it really was very  wet. Monkey was loving jumping in the puddles, and so were her kiddies so it didn’t start off terribly.

enjoying the wet

Then we headed to one of the playparks, which, being wet, was incredibly slippy and both our little boys fell off. My friend’s eldest, N, desperately wanted Monkey to play with her and tried to chase him but he was having none of it. He got really stroppy and I got cross. My friend’s little girl then got really upset with him and was sulking. By this point the thought of “what are we doing here?” ver much crossed my mind and we nearly went home.

Instead though we popped to a little cafe for lunch and the kids cheered up immensely. I had taken a postman pat sticker book and the 3 kiddos very much enjoyed paying with them together.

WP_20150108_12_07_52_Pro

By the time we had eaten lunch, somehow the sun had miraculously broken through the clouds, and we headed to another playpark, which is predominantly sand.

WP_20150108_13_02_20_Pro

The kids cheered up no end and had a whale of a time playing. Monkey is so independent he mainly played in the sand by himself, but they ended up all on the slide together which is where they had the most fun. Because it was just a cold miserable day we were pretty much the only people there so the kids had free run and were going up and down the slide again and again.

WP_20150108_13_02_47_Pro slide fun

It was just an ordinary outing that got off to a really wet and miserable start, but it ended up being brilliant. LM slept the whole time miraculously, and my friend and I got to have a good catch up while our kids had loads of fun. Lovely day :)

theordinarymomentsbadge

Super Busy Mum

Rainy day play – draw your own road (26 mths)

I have seen versions of this before, and actually tried once before a long time ago, though Monkey was too young to really appreciate it at the time. I had forgotten about it entirely until I read this post by Carie at Space for the Butterflies. Seeing how much her girls enjoyed it made me keen to give it another go.

So, one slightly grey miserable day with nothing else planned and realising we were in need of some rainy day play, I decided to have another try and see if Monkey liked it.

Rainy Day Play

Continue reading

Free (ish) indoor fun – 20 mths

Hasn’t this year just been RIDICULOUSLY wet so far? Honestly! Our little part of the country is by no means the worst hit, if anything we’ve got off fairly lightly, but there has still been far too many rainy days for my liking! I make no secret of the fact that I have to get out of the house every day for the sake of my sanity. Even the prospect of an entire day at home with just Monkey and I is enough to put me in a grump. So rainy days are not good for me, far too much time spent indoors. We’ve still got out and about a lot in between all the rain but there has also been a lot of time spent playing indoors.

All this time spent indoors has led to a lot of clutching at straws for things to do, without spending a fortune on toys. He has got a lot of toys of course but there’s only so much variety and he is always looking for something new to do. So here is a little list of some of the things that have been keeping Monkey occupied without spending any money!

Since we started getting Monkey involved in cooking and baking (to help with the fussy eating) he loves it in there and wants to be stood on his little step stool at the worktop ALL the time. So we spend a lot of time in the kitchen these days, which is where many of these activities take place. This is also great as it may give you ways of keeping your little one occupied if like Monkey they tend to harass you while you’re cooking dinner!

Filling and pouring. We do this with lentils, rice, flour, pasta, anything really. We have a little funnel, an empty vanilla extract bottle, an empty spice jar as well as bigger bowls and cups etc. It goes everywhere but he loves it and it’s easily tidied up with a dustbuster! :) He puts things in bottles, he tips them out, he moves them from one thing to another, just a great way to learn how things work really. He plays with some chopped vegetables and potato peeling etc. too.

WP_20140124_17_59_07_Pro

Spaghetti is great for them to explore – Monkey loves posting it through a Colander (great for fine motor controls) and snapping it and sorting it and putting it in the bottle or jar. We’ve also played with cooked spaghetti which is fun.

Created with Nokia Camera Created with Nokia Camera

Stacking and sorting. We got some cheap ikea cups and bowls ages ago which stack really nicely and Monkey loves organising things! Tins are a great way of keeping him occupied at the moment, he loves making a tower of tins! It concerns me when the towers get tall that the heavy tins will fall on him, but so far so good.

WP_20140212_17_07_42_Pro WP_20140212_17_07_55_Pro

Banging – cake tins, saucepans, bowls, spoons, so simple but so much fun. Monkey was loving this the other day and I got some of his musical instrument toys involved too and we had a fantastic impromptu music session in the kitchen. Lots of fun!

WP_20140214_17_41_25_Pro WP_20140214_17_41_29_Pro

Oh and spoons make a great noise when they are dropped on the floor! :)

WP_20140212_17_09_38_Pro

The kitchen isn’t the only place with fun to be had though, who doesn’t love a den?

WP_20140209_18_37_14_Pro

Cardboard boxes  are great too, we’ve had one for so long now that it’s lost all shape and doesn’t stand up unless you hold it, but Monkey still loves crawling through it as a tunnel and drawing on it.

I really hope this weather improves soon but in the meantime why not check out some of the other indoor play ideas we have had fun with in the past.

Playtime with household objects (ages 6 mths +)

Parcel tape play

Playing with velcro hair rollers and straws

The Diary of a Frugal Family

Wet walks and squirrel watching

What a wet and miserable week it’s been! We’ve been doing a lot of indoor play at play centre but we have managed to get out and about a bit to make the most of the dry-ish patches whenever we can!

With all this wet weather we have been making a lot of use of Monkey’s wellies and waterproof trousers – he loves puddle splashing and I don’t have to worry about him getting soggy when he’s all kitted out!

WP_20140128_12_19_29_Pro WP_20140128_12_19_23_Pro WP_20140128_12_19_17_Pro WP_20140128_12_24_20_Pro WP_20140128_12_24_14_Pro

It’s also a good motivator to keep him moving when we have a stubborn moment – let’s go find a big puddle! Soon gets him moving again :)

There’s a lot of squirrels around at the moment and Monkey loves watching them scampering about.

WP_20140128_12_22_35_Pro

There is a squirrel somewhere in this pic,  I think it’s climbing down a fallen log… as it was running off Monkey waved goodbye (bless him!)

WP_20140128_12_22_42_Pro

(There’s a grey blur on the fence that I think is the squirrel! My phone is ok for close ups but not so good for longer distance pics!)

Yesterday afternoon’s walk to the post office took forever as Monkey just wanted to spin and dance around – and there wasn’t enough puddles around to persuade him to move!

WP_20140131_12_40_03_Pro WP_20140131_12_39_57_Pro WP_20140131_12_41_55_Pro

 

It started to rain on the way home so he was back in his buggy, and to my surprise sat there chuckling the whole way home – apparently Monkey loves the rain!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall