Bluebells

If you haven’t already realised, we absolutely love taking photos and seeing how much TJ has changed over the years. We hardly notice the difference in him from day to day which is why we have certain family traditions when it comes to capturing photos.

One of our traditions is making sure we always visit a bluebell wood as soon as they come out in bloom.

Our first visit was when TJ was about 2 months old. We dressed him up in his little bear suit to take some photos – I’m not sure he was overly impressed but we thought he looked super cute!

2012

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The Dorset Mud Trail

A couple of months ago, we were really excited to see a post on Facebook about a new mud trail that was opening up close to Corfe Castle.

The Dorset Mud Trail, which opened to the public at the end of March, is based in the grounds of the Dorset Water Park and claims to be “the best active family adventure in Dorset, in any weather!”

We decided to visit the Mud Trail during the Easter holiday and chose one of the rare days that it wasn’t raining.

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A Little London Adventure

Whenever TJ is asked where he was born, he is super proud to say that he was born in London. Although we left when he was 3, he still has some fond memories of our adventures up there and we have been waiting for a spare weekend to take him back there for a visit. His topic at school is ‘Up Up and Away’ which is all about aeroplanes, kites, rockets and basically, anything that flies, so we decided that a visit to the Science Museum would be great.

Taking advantage of the lack of parking restrictions on a Sunday, we drove up early, parked at South Ealing tube station and took the underground straight to South Kensington. TJ loved travelling on the tube, taking in all the sights and sounds.

We got to the Science Museum just as it opened and the queue wasn’t too bad at all. We all loved wandering round looking at the exhibits. TJ especially liked the Space exhibition and even managed to complete some Home Learning in the aeroplane section.

We went on the Red Arrows simulator and also visited the 4D Apollo 10 Mission experience which were both great. We spent a good 3 hours wandering round the museum but I still don’t think we managed to see it all!

After a quick snack, we decided to pop next door to the Natural History Museum to see the whale which has replaced ‘Dippy’ and of course, the dinosaurs. The Natural History Museum is such a beautiful building and the exhibits are amazing. We have decided that next time we visit London, we will head there first and spend a proper amount of time there.

Once we’d taken a few photos (and visited the gift shop obviously), we got a bus to Piccadilly Circus. TJ has an A-Z book of London and it was great to visit some of the places featured.

After a very short walk to Leicester Square, we headed to the Lego Shop. We have wanted to go there ever since it opened and we weren’t disappointed. The displays are absolutely amazing. There’s a tube train, a red telephone box and Big Ben amongst other things. We all loved it and TJ got to spend the last of his birthday money on a rather cool Lego London Bus and a pick and mix box.

A visit to Leicester Square wouldn’t be complete without going to the M&M store and a walk through Chinatown which was beautifully decorated after the Chinese New Year.

After some dinner, we decided that we weren’t quite ready to travel home yet so we walked through Trafalgar Square, Horseguards and St James’ Park where we were lucky enough to see the beautiful pelicans.

We finished our day at Buckingham Palace just as the sun was setting which seemed a fitting end to a fantastic (and exhausting) day!

Let’s Climb a Mountain!

After a lovely weekend in Wales last year (read about it here), we decided to make a return visit this year with the aim of climbing to the top of Pen Y Fan – the highest mountain in Southern Britain (rather than the second highest mountain – Corn Du – which we may have accidentally climbed last year!!)

We spent the whole week leading up to our trip checking the weather forecast. Unfortunately, Saturday was looking like a complete wash out. Heavy rain, winds and flooding were expected so we decided to take a detour to Cardiff rather than heading straight to Brecon.

TJ is currently showing a real interest in Space and science at the moment so we decided to visit Techniquest in Cardiff Bay. It was fairly reasonable to get in and was full of lots of interactive, hands-on exhibits. TJ absolutely loved it and really enjoyed learning about the gas planets in the Planetarium.

 

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A cycle ride at Moors Valley Country Park

After spending the days since Christmas Day eating leftovers and having relatives to visit, we decided that it was time for some fresh air.

After a quick check of the weather yesterday morning to see that Friday was going to be a washout, we decided to get wrapped up in our new scarves and gloves to take TJ for a spin on his new bike around Moors Valley Country Park.

When we got there, the car park was full of people with the same idea as us. We headed straight for the cycle hire to get bikes for us so that we could cycle round with TJ – something we’ve never done before.

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Winter Sun

Luckily for us, we all finished work/school on Friday so we have a good week to get ready for Christmas. We kicked off our holiday yesterday with a trip to Brighton to visit family and drop off some Christmas presents (stopping off at Starbucks for the obligatory Gingerbread Latte!)

We visited my dad and grandad first and TJ was so proud to show everyone how well he could read now and managed to read all of Green Eggs and Ham which was super impressive.

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Pull a Pine – Arne RSPB Nature Reserve

Since moving to Dorset, we’ve made it our mission to explore as much of this beautiful county as possible. We stumbled across Arne about 2 years ago now and it’s one of our favourite places to go.

Every year, they host a ‘Pull a Pine for Christmas’ event in order to help clear away the pine trees to enable the rest of the plants and vegetation to grow properly. Last year, over 2000 people cleared 17 football pitches of pine! In return for helping, you get to take away as many Christmas trees as you like! It’s a completely win win situation.

Non-RSPB members had to pay a £10 entry fee with members only paying £5. When you consider that even the smallest real Christmas tree will probably set you back £25 in the shops, this represented incredible value for money and you are helping with conservation at the same time.

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Camp Bestival – 5 reasons why you shouldn’t miss it

Last summer, we were very lucky to get the opportunity to take TJ to Camp Bestival for the first time. Our friends over at My Two Mums have been going for the past few years and have always had an amazing time and it was great this year to get to share the fun with them.

We were very excited last week when this year’s theme – Camp Bestival Sets Sail – was announced and can not wait to see who the headline acts are for this year.

This got us thinking about the top 5 reasons why you should dig out your tents, dust off your sleeping bags and get your tickets booked for 4 days of fantastic family fun.

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Half Term Fun

We’ve only been back to work/school for a week since half term, but it seems like it was ages ago! We had such a busy, fun packed week with lots of outdoor fun in what turned out to be a week of amazing weather.

On Monday, we took a trip to the Sealife Centre in Weymouth to visit Zelda the witch and to take part in the Halloween activities. There was a pumpkin hunt where you had to find the letters written on pumpkins to spell out a word which TJ was able to do completely on his own this year. We then went to visit Zelda in her hut. I have to say the Zelda experience was a bit of a let down – last year the children made a magic potion and were then given a slush drink to take away with them. This year, the activity was making slime using tarantula legs (shaving foam) and some form of glue – I think TJ was fully expecting another slushie drink (as were we) and, although he enjoyed the activity, I’m not sure it was worth £4 (£5 if you don’t have an annual pass).

On Tuesday, we went to Bailey Ridge to pick up some pumpkins ready for Halloween. As I have written previously (Pumpkin Picking – An Annual Tradition), it wasn’t quite the same as picking your own pumpkin from a field, but the place was really nice and TJ was able to make his very own broomstick which he loved.

Wednesday morning was spent in Southampton recording a debate for BBC Woman’s Hour about whether it was safer for children to be brought up in the city or the countryside. I really enjoyed being able to talk about this matter as it is something I feel really passionate about and it was good to be able to discuss our reasons for moving out of the Big Smoke. You can listen to the podcast here.

On the way home, we stopped off in Lyndhurst in the New Forest for a walk. It was approaching ‘Golden Hour’ and the light was absolutely beautiful. It wasn’t long before we came across some ponies and donkeys. You are advised not to touch or feed the animals, but the donkeys came straight over to us and were literally standing next to TJ to be stroked. They were so gentle and stayed there for ages. It was a lovely end to an exciting day.

On Thursday, we went to Longleat to visit their Autumn Exhibition. We also got a sneak preview of the Festival of Light which looks like it’s going to be absolutely amazing. After the success of last year (Santa Train), we have booked to see Father Christmas there again this year and can’t wait to see the stunning lanterns in all their glory. The Autumn Exhibition was really good and TJ got to make a fish out of willow as well as learning about Owls.

On Friday, our friends came down for the weekend from London and we met up at Kingston Lacy. Again, the weather was glorious and the children loved running around, hiding in dens and taking part in some of the autumn activities which had been set up for them.

Although it was a bit chilly on Saturday, we decided that we couldn’t have our friends down without a visit to Weymouth. The children loved it and all managed a quick paddle before having a much needed hot chocolate to warm up. We then went to Billy Winters for a bite to eat and got to watch people Kite Surfing while the children carved pumpkins which had been kindly provided for them.

Our half term ended with a brilliant Halloween Party over at MyTwoMums’ house. We met for the first time at Halloween while we were living in London, so Halloween has become a kind of anniversary for us now. The boys had a great time together and we are looking forward to meeting up again soon.

As per usual, our holiday was full of fun, friends and adventure. Next stop……..Christmas!!!!

 

 

Country Kids