Saturday, 19 April 2014

Granny's Garden

This week I was in Leamington Spa with the kids, escaping the house renovations. My husbands' parents have a roomy house and a gigantic garden. Add their attentive nature and some ice cream, and my children are in heaven.

On Wednesday, my daughter was feeling tired so we canceled the day's plans and the kids spent most of the day in the garden. Moozles, who will be six next week, said she wanted to do some exercises to 'be healthy'. So, I incorporated Simon Says and we had a super fun game where I got to sit in the sun while Moozles did star jumps, push-ups and twirled around. Dubz, who is 23 months old, was happy to potter about and drive his car.

That evening, we had a picnic dinner at the end of the garden (pic above, third and fourth pics). The kids got to eat and run around. After dinner, Moozles had a splash about in the hot tub with her granny (sixth pic). I know the kids had a fun day because they changed their outfits 2-4 times between them. Dirty clothes means happy kids.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Friday, 18 April 2014

Word of the Week...Chaotic

I am so relieved that this week is almost over. After spending last week in Dorset, we came home for two days before being overwhelmed by the dust and mess of having our first floor bathroom renovated and the house being re-wired. So off to Leamington Spa we drove on Sunday afternoon. Husband had to get back to work so he took the train back to London on Sunday evening. He only drove with us as I hadn't driven for that long before with both kids. Dubz, at 23-months old, is quite a handful in the car. I drove home Thursday afternoon, alone with the kids, and miraculously survived the 2 1/2 hour drive without shouting. That is indeed a miracle.

Anyway, we have been living out of suitcases for two weeks now and I can finally start to unpack. Today will hopefully be the last day of the building works. Am dying to scrub and polish and vacuum the hell out of the house. This is an unusual feeling for me as I am not much of a 'cleaner'. But I feel like there is a correlation between a clean house and my happiness. Which again is not usual for me.

As the week draws to a close, I am looking forward to the end of the chaotic and a return to normalcy.

My hallway. A snapshot of some of the chaos.

The Reading Residence

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Our Holiday Cottage - Norburton Hall

I may have previously mentioned my obsessive-compulsive research habits. I am especially bad when it comes to organising a holiday. I search and search and agonise over the decision. This was the case for our recent holiday in Dorset. One of the reasons I chose Dorset was its proximity to London (don't want to travel for too long as we all know how tough it can be to travel with a toddler). The other main reason was the above cottage. 

Norburton Hall offers lovely self-catering cottages perfect for a family at a reasonable cost. We stayed in The Shippen cottage, which was so comfy and modern. It has two bedrooms and is all on one floor (which is ideal for us as our 23-month old is overly fond of walking up and down stairs).

Sorry to disparage British folk, but a lot of self-catering cottages are beyond dated. Grandma sofas and granny blankets.  I like sofas that don't look like they harbour millions of parasites. And we're a family of four, we can't just squeeze onto one small sofa. I like duvets with white bedding. I like wooden floors, not old carpeting that makes me sneeze from the owner's cats. I need a dishwasher because my kids never stop eating and drinking, and I don't do dishes at home so why would I do them on holiday? I need a washing machine/tumble dryer. I want a fridge and a decent size freezer--on our holidays we eat lots of chips and ice cream.

We all need comfy beds. A bathtub is a must. My kids don't like showers. A shower too? Fab, Husband and I don't have time for baths. Speaking of bathing, I want my hot water and heating included. And my towels. We don't have room in our car for damn towels. I can barely fit in my pillow. I never sleep away from home without my special tempur pillow. 

What did you say--lovely grounds that the children can play in and have a wander? And a lovely playground that is reachable in about two minutes in the car?! Oh, yes Norburton Hall. You will see us again. Maybe next time we will bring the grandparents and stay in the Gardener's Cottage. Husband and I would love free babysitting quality family time.

Family Fever

Monday, 14 April 2014

Mother-Daughter Time

As there is a four-year age gap between my daughter and son, my daughter had quite a lot of time alone with me before her brother came along. And because she and I have always been extra close, I have made a special effort to retain some quality alone time. And not just a few minutes or an hour here and there while Dubz naps.

I have never had a close relationship with my mother. And I don't want it to be like that with Moozles. I want her to be able to talk to me when she's older. And I hope that one day, when she is all grown up, we can be friends. I feel like if I put the effort in now, we will have the basis for the friendship.

So every three months or so, Moozles and I have a Mummy-Daughter Day. Sometimes I let her pick the activities, sometimes I surprise her (like today). Sometimes I spend quite a bit of money, sometimes we do it bargain-basement-stylee. But what ever we do, we have lots of fun together. Moozles gets uninterrupted time. No brother, no housework and not even my mobile gets in the way. We chat, and she gets to feel extra special and a bit grown-up.

Today's surprise--we took the train to Central London to see My First Ballet: Coppelia. We went last year and watched My First Cinderella and Moozles loved it. We both enjoyed Coppelia.

My First Ballet is a series of ballet shows targeted towards a young audience (beginning at three years of age). I love the idea of getting children interested in ballet at a young age. And so must a lot of people as the theatre was quite full. I did find it a bit annoying that there were a few toddlers and babies in the audience crying. I understand that children make noise, but I don't see why the whole family has to attend such an event. Especially as tickets range from £10 to £40 each, depending on your seat and which theatre you are at.

My First Ballet, which is put on by the English National Ballet School, is made up of younger dancers. They are fantastic, and even more so considering their ages. My First Ballet: Coppelia is still playing in London this week, and in several other venues around the UK in April and May, if you want to check it out. 

After the ballet, we grabbed some Viennese fare (Moozles danced most of the way to the restaurant). We had gone to The Delaunay for brunch last year before the ballet (it's just around the corner from The Peacock Theatre) so this year we thought we would go to its Counter for a quick lunch. Moozles got a hot dog and I got the pretzel salt beef. Tasty!

We then walked (and danced) back to Waterloo, catching sight of the London Marathon. Feeling inspired, Moozles ran over Waterloo Bridge in her own marathon. We had a lovely day, and I hope that Moozles always remembers our special Mother-Daughter days (especially when she's 16 and I've grounded her from going out with a man in a biker gang and she thinks I'm the worst mum in the world). 

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Our Holiday in Dorset

I love a good research project. Now that there are four of us, we have decided to go on UK holidays until our toddler is not such a terror older. So I spent 2-3 hours a day for two weeks, a bit obsessively some may say, trying to find somewhere not too far from London (less than three hours driving) but that had lots to do regardless of the weather. And I came up with West Dorset. Ta-daaa.

I found a lovely little cottage in Burton Bradstock that looked modern and comfy (even by American standards), so we booked it. And last Friday afternoon we drove there in light traffic. It only took 2 hours and 40 minutes. Result. We had such a lovely time, that we've decided to have another holiday in Dorset before exploring Devon and Cornwall.

For those not familiar with West Dorset, I thought I would break it down into some of the areas/sites we visited (we tried to keep outings within a 30-minute drive). We had a brilliant break, and it was especially nice to have lots of family time, away from the telly, and I even kept my Twitter and blog usage down to nap times.

Burton Bradstock
A lovely and quiet village near the sea. We were near to Hive Beach (National Trust car park), which is a shingley beach. It has a lovely cafe, the Hive Beach Cafe. Amazing cakes and the crab salad--oh my. Chesil Beach is nearby (NT car park) and is great for fossil hunting. There's also a fab playground in the village which was perfect for a before-dinner run about.

Lyme Regis
About half an hour along the coast from Burton Bradstock is the lovely Lyme Regis. Part of the beach is pebbly, the other part sandy. The carpark is quite close to the sandy bit which is handy if, like us, you have much to carry. There are some cafes, beach shops and an amusement centre on the promenade but we only played in the sand.
Abbotsbury is a lovely ten-minute drive, along a hill, from Burton Bradstock. Abbotsbury itself, has several tea-rooms, a children's farm/petting zoo, a swannery and gardens. We did not have time to visit the farm (which also boasts a soft play) but there's always next time.

It only took half an hour to get to Dorchester. Dorchester has several museums, which is handy on a rainy day. We went to the Dinosaur Museum and spent an enjoyable hour. My daughter got a clipboard and had to discover various facts located throughout the museum. She was thrilled. I was not too impressed that it cost £20 for three of us (my son is under three so his entry was free).

On another day, we went to the Kingston Maurward Gardens and Animal Park. We briefly got to walk around the landscaped gardens (top picture), as the kids loved the playground. They spent an hour on that damn combine harvester. But we did enjoy feeding the animals, especially the goats who had a mutual love with my 23-month old Dubz
We didn't get up to very much in Weymouth, though it has several attractions including the Sealife centre. It has a bit of shopping. We went to Matalan as I forgot to pack myself socks and panties (der-brain). The Guardian online had a feature on the Top 10 Dorset Seafood Fish Restaurants and included Marlboro Fish & Chips in Weymouth. We all loved the fish, sausage in batter and chips.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall