A little Norfolk Holiday

At the weekend we took our little family on a short little Norfolk holiday. Our last little holiday as a family of 3 before baby arrives! We looked at a variety of places to go but it was all last minute (as we wanted to see how I and my pelvis were faring before we booked anything) and didn’t want to go too far from home as long car journies aren’t great fun in late pregnancy.

We considered going to Butlins as then there would be no cooking involved, but even on offer we thought the food packages were quite pricey and honestly we weren’t convinced about the quality of the accommodation. I don’t mean that to sound snobbish but we wanted to be comfortable. With Hubby being as tall as he is (6’2″) we really need a king size bed, especially now I am the size that I am too! But we also wanted it to be a good bed. We stayed at a Premier Inn when we went to a wedding recently and honestly had such a rubbish nights sleep as the King Size bed there was basically solid as a rock. We wanted this to be a lovely relaxed holiday and so wanted to find somewhere offering comfort.

(I’m sure there would be other benefits to going to Butlins such as the other things included, but with Monkey the age he is I am not sure how much use he would have got out of the other activities on offer, he is generally happy as long as he can have a run around somewhere!)

After a bit of a search we came across Poppyland Holiday Cottages. They have a number of holiday cottages to rent in Norfolk and they had availability at Rectory Cottage in Overstrand, just south of Cromer on the Norfolk coast. We felt that with doing breakfasts ourself and eating out all of the other meals it would still cost around the same as a Butlins trip, and we would hopefully have more spacious and more comfy accommodation.

We were not disappointed!

The cottage was gorgeous and the lovely king size bed was perfect, not too soft, not too firm… just lovely really. I even slept better on that bed than I have at home on our lovely bed recently, it was wonderful.


There was lots of little touches that welcomed us to the cottage including milk in the fridge, a bottle of wine, tea bags, yummy chocolate biscuits and fresh flowers. They were very family friendly too, and, knowing we had a 2 year old with us, they kindly provided a lovely box of toys for Monkey (you may see in some of the pictures that Monkey very quickly aquainted himself with the toys!) and a baby monitor. They also have a travel cot, high chair and stairgates available if you need them. Very reassuring when you have little ones and lovely not to need to pack everything.

Overstrand village was a very sweet little village and we were walking distance from the beach (even for me!) which was lovely – although the tides were not in our favour much this week and generally low tide was in the afternoon during Monkey’s naps. We still managed to get some good beach fun in the evenings though and the weather was very good to us.

We spent some time at Cromer and nearby Sheringham and in general had a lovely relaxed weekend together. Sadly Monkey came down with a cold on the Saturday so we did have some wonderful grumpy meltdowns in restaurants which as a parent always make you feel wonderful. We let him have ice cream for lunch on Saturday as he seemed to have a sore throat and it was the only thing that cheered him up – but oh my you should have seen the judgement and disapproving looks coming from other people in the cafe. We weren’t too concerned and chuckled if anything, but I do wish people would mind their own!

We did lots of holiday things – played on the beach, walked the promenade and went on Cromer Pier. We played with stones on Sheringham beach and ate lots of Ice Cream! We went in the penny arcades where Monkey proved to be hugely skilful at one of the games and won enough tickets to get himself a cool glider aeroplane. He was very pleased with this and we were quite impressed by his skill/fluke! 🙂 We treated ourselves to some lovely meals out, including a yummy fry up breakfast at the local cliff top cafe in Overstrand one morning.

A couple of more detailed posts about specific places to follow, but here are a few of our fave shots of what was a lovely and relaxed few days away, at a gorgeous holiday cottage! It was a lovely little cottage in a great spot and we will definitely look to go back at some point when no.2 is here!


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I love it when traditions get carried down through families, when we do something with Monkey that we remember loving as kids. I love it even more with grandparents carrying things down things that they loved doing as kids. My Mum and Step-dad (Aka Nanny & Pops) were round on Monday after Rhyme Time and we were all playing in the garden (well, I was sat watching mainly).

Pops said he wanted to do aeroplanes with Monkey, and I wasn’t sure what he meant to start with, but it turned out they had done it before on their day out with Monkey.  It is something Pops remembers his Granddad doing with him as a child, and how much he loved it, and he wanted to carry it down and do it with Monkey. Which is just lovely!

Monkey took a tiny bit of encouragement to start with (he is a 2 year old after all, and takes a bit of encouragement with most things at the moment!) but then he absolutely loved it.

It was hilarious, and a tiny bit hair raising to watch, but seeing the glee on Monkey’s face was priceless.

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And of course hearing the “Aaaa-gain” repeated over and over afterwards until Pops gave him another whirl..


The angle of this is weird and I know it looks like Monkey’s leg is at an odd angle but I promise it’s not!

and another…

WP_20140908_13_37_24_ProNanny & Pops then tried to get him to do wheelbarrows, and I have to admit we have tried to show Monkey this before and we failed… and unfortunately they failed too, though he did enjoy it I am pretty sure he didn’t have a clue what was going on!

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Just a lovely bit of fun in the garden 🙂

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Playing with friends – 27 months

Monkey made a really lovely big step last week, and one I am really proud of. All babies and toddlers start off playing pretty independently from other children, sort of sid by side, without interacting with them. Monkey has always been particularly wary of other kids, especially after a knock earlier this year. He has been getting a lot better and there have been signs of improvement over the past few months. For example he stopped launching himself off the side of a climbing frame whenever he saw another child nearby!

Pretty much every week we meet up dor a play date with my friend S and her little girl E, who is almost exactly a year older than Monkey. They get on pretty well for the most part though do bicker and snatch toys from each other at times. E though has been very excited by the development of Monkey’s speech over the past few months, often exclaiming “he can nearly talk as good as I can!!”

There has just been little more signs of interaction between them over the last few weeks and then last week they really actually played together. They were lying on the edge of the ‘baby’ zone in the soft play and after watching E roll of a few times (making Monkey chuckle a lot) they then started counting together and trying to roll off at the same time. Sometimes they managed it, other times they were way out of sync, but they were taking it in turns counting down and really trying to do it together.



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WP_20140903_12_24_36_ProThey looked so cute playing together S and I really had a moment! E is a really sociable little girl and loves playing with other kiddies whereas Monkey has always been much more reserved. We spend so much time together and S was as proud of Monkey as I was. It may seem small but actually a huge step for him and one fo the many signs recently about how much he is growing up and getting more independent from me. Just so lovely 🙂


Ethans Escapades
Super Busy Mum

Encouraging independence

With Great Auntie Maggie

With Great Auntie Maggie

I wrote last week that Monkey’s independence has been growing of late and that he is happier to spend less time with Mummy and Daddy these days, and is happy to be with family and friends. This is still very true and in fact he abandoned Mummy and Daddy at the weekend and took his Great Auntie Maggie off for a walk without us!

What may come (and has indeed come) as a surprise to some, is that we actually love this development, and have been encouraging it for a while. I understand that for many this stage can be bittersweet, as it is a sign that Monkey is growing up. That he needs us less. I completely understand why lots of mummies and daddies feel like this, but honestly, I just don’t. I love it!

I am a very independent person myself, and always have been. Maybe it is a sign of me being selfish but I really like that little added freedom that this step of independence brings. For a start it is still only a very small step and he still needs, and wants Mummy or Daddy a lot of the time, but as someone rightly said, it means for the first time in a long time, I can actually use the toilet in peace. Not every time but more than before!

It also comes at the perfect time as at 7 months pregnant I am less and less able to do all of the things that Monkey wants me to do, so if he is happy for other relatives to step in and do those things with him, then phew, is all I can say! As the next few months go by we are going to need to ask family to help more and more, even if just to take him to the park for half an hour or something so he gets a run around while I rest. The same will be true when the baby comes, especially as it is increasingly likely that I will need a c-section and will have the recovery time that comes with it. The more he is happy to do this of his own free will, the better really as hopefully I will fell less guilty about the things that I just can’t manage to do with him.

It isn’t just my pregnancy that makes us appreciate Monkey’s new found independence though, as we have been encouraging him to play a bit more independently for some time, and I do think this is important. I read an interesting article recently about structured play vs child led lay. The article suggested that many of us parents these days feel the pressure to engage in structured play with our little ones, to help them learn, rather than leave them to their own devices. The result of this according to the article, is actually detrimental to our children.

Simple Colour Matching GameNow with many articles like this I think you have to take them with a pinch of salt and actually I like to think the best approach is a bit of everything. I do want to encourage Monkey to learn, as he is a little sponge at the moment, so we do have structured play. Things like the colour matching game and we also do things like threading pasta on a string or some of our counting games. But we have been encouraging him to play a bit more independently for some time.


As he is getting older, it is easier for him to have more independent playtime, where he potters and does things himself. Where he will push postman pat around in his pushchair, or drive a car up and down the arms of the sofa, or play with the plastic food in his mini kitchen and present me with pies and stews. This is my favourite kind of play, as it is all about his imagination and he is also learning at the same time. I guess it is the definition of child-led play. It is great, but, as any parent knows, kids aren’t always so obliging and  get bored easily, so they sometimes need a bit of prompting to fire up their imaginations.

rp_Rainy-Day-Play-400x400.jpgBecause of this a lot of our time involves me setting up an activity and then actually sitting back and seeing where his imagination takes him. He likes me to be involved but I try to encourage him to play on his own as much as possible. So once I have built him a train track, or have drawn a road for him, I then back off and leave him to it a bit. I guess it is independent play within a semi-structured framework?

Messy play and sensory play work on a similar basis, as while it means a bit of structure in that I am giving him the activity and the tools, I actually try and encourage him to use his imagination and see where it takes him. It generally involves a lot of mess but he has fun. And actually many of the craft activities I have tried to structure, with a result in mind, actually wind up being a bit of a disaster so I have learnt to have less of a goal in mind with messy or crafty play!

Maybe we are a bit cruel? Do we expect too much of our little two year old in asking him to be independent? I hope that it is good for him as we are teaching him life skills. In many ways he is incredibly lucky that he has our undivided attention. As a SAHM he has my attention all of the time, and I have worried in the past that that that may be detrimental in itself. Children at a nursery or childminder have to learn to be less dependent on their parents don’t they? If you are working then you cannot be there with them all of the time. Is my being at home with him encouraging him to be more reliant on me? Perhaps that is why I am enjoying the new-found independence so much.

As with many things parenting I am sure you can argue it from all sides and no-one really knows what the best thing is for any child, and I am sure the best thing is in fact different for different children! All we can do is what we think is best, and for us, for now, we will continue to encourage this growing independence and hope that it is the right thing to do!

Ethans Escapades

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

The Reading Residence

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

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A Fab Weekend with Friends


Annabel & I in 2008

Last weekend some very good friends of ours came to visit from Newcastle. Annabel and I worked together for just a few months nearly 10 years ago and somehow, wonderfully the friendship has lasted. There have been times when we haven’t seen each other for a long time, or have barely spoken, but when we get together it is always as if no time has passed. There has been girls nights out in Manchester and catch ups in London.

What’s really great though is that our lives have gone in pretty similar directions now. While I am settled with Hubby and Monkey, she also has a lovely husband and an 18 month old Doodle who is lovely. If anything mummyhood and the challenges it brings has brought us even closer together, although we have never lived so far apart before!

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Ten Easy Ideas for Outdoor Play

Regular readers may remember that at the start of the year we put a lot of time and effort into Operation Garden renovation. Turning our junk heap of a garden into a nice place to be. We hoped it would be ready in time for the summer, so that a lot of time could be spent outside enjoying it. With me being pregnant we were particularly keen on this idea as it would mean that there would be days where I could easily occupy Monkey outdoors, without having to go anywhere! The good news is that we managed this and have already been spending a lot of time out there, doing various activities (I will list some of our favourites below).

For Monkey’s birthday in May we bought a second hand climbing frame on ebay complete with swing and slide, to have in the garden. Unfortunately with all of the illness that surrounded his birthday weekend we never actually put it up, and with one thing and another we just hadn’t ever got around to putting it up! This all changed last weekend though and we finally have a lovely climbing frame in use in our garden!

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Family Fun at the Burghley Film Festival 2014

Not too far away from us is the very grand Burghley House, a beautiful Elizabethan house in amazing grounds. Every year they hold an outdoor film festival and last year we went for the first time. During the day they show family films and then have an evening session with more adult films. After loving it last year we decided well in advance that we wanted to go again this year, and invited some of our family to come along too!

This year we went to see ‘Epic’ which is a film I hadn’t seen before, but in all honesty, with a toddler and other kiddies in the family we only really get to see snippets of the film, as the day is more about running around and having fun!
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Playing with Granny

A few weeks ago we had a little impromptu family BBQ. It was partly to christen out new garden furniture, but mainly just an excuse to have a get together. Not everyone could make it but it was only informal so no big deal.

Monkey always loves having his family around and he always gets loads of attention from his aunts, uncles and grandparents. They all love him to bits and he is so lucky to have that. He had lots of fun with everyone there but I just wanted to share this lovely little moment of fun he had with his Granny. Running around the garden doing aeroplane arms. He loved every second of it and it was very lovely to watch.


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Outdoor Painting on Cardboard

outdoor painting this one

With the weather getting warmer there has been one activity I have been really keen to have a go at with Monkey – outdoor painting! Obviously with it being outdoors, the idea is that kiddies can be a bit freer to get really messy, but in all honesty I was still a bit worried about the mess! With all of the hard work that has gone into making our garden a much nicer place to be, I wasn’t particularly keen on paint going all over our lovely new patio. Even though the paint is supposedly washable, I was concerned about stains – as I know some of Monkey’s clothes have ended up a little stained from them!

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