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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
We had a lovely picnic lunch then both kiddies enjoyed a play on the fab playpark.
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.
We had such a wonderful day enjoying the sun and having fun as a family and with our friends.
Do your little ones like the zoo?
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.
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!
Oh and yes the place is seriously stunning so I had to get some pretty shots too.
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.
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.
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! *
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
Of course it wasn’t long before the kids found some muddy puddles… and LM once again fell in and needed cleaning up!
We also had a little play in their wonderful soft play barn.
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.
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.
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.
The Stick Man trail at Fineshade Woods
Last weekend we finally visited somewhere I have wanted to visit for ages, Fineshade Woods, to do the Stick Man trail. Fineshade is about 20 mins from where we live and yet we had never been, bonkers! So with the sun shining we donned our wellies and headed off for a walk through the woods to rectify that.
Stick Man is one of Monkey’s favourite books so he was dead excited to follow the trail. He excitedly ran to each of the signs and was excited by every picture from the book. Hubs also used the opportunity to help with Monkey’s reading by helping him read the signs, which Monkey found great fun.
He also loved doing the activities at each point. I thought they were great too, building nests and towers and dens out of sticks! It was nice seeing those left over by others too and the kids had a fab time playing in a den left behind by previous explorers!
For her part LM adored exploring the woods and yep the mud. She was straight in to any muddy puddle she could find and was so happy! (She got covered though as you can imagine!)
On the whole we had a lovely time and lots of fun as a family. Then when LM’s welly got stuck in the mud and she stepped out of it covering her leg in mud we took as it a good time to end our visit and head to the lovely top lodge cafe for a hot drink and yummy food.
There are some fantastic play areas at Fineshade too and though we had to cut short our visit because of a very muddy LM we look back to returning soon!
What you should know about visiting Fineshade Woods.
Fineshade is easily accessible and well signposted from the A47 between Peterborough and Uppingham.
Pay & Display parking is in operation, £1 for an hour or £3 for the day, coins only at the moment so don’t get caught out!
You don’t need an activity pack to complete the Stick Man trail but it does add to the fun. The pack cost £3 and is available from the cafe where the staff are so friendly and helpful.