Category: toddler

Toddler friendly day trips in the Heart of England – Part 2

Ludlow & Arley Arboretum

So further to my last post, onward to part two of our summer holiday day trips.

Ludlow

Ludlow is a picturesque market town in Shropshire.  Situated on the River Teme it is filled with quaint timber framed buildings and has a castle that dates back to 1085.  We started off our day by managing to nab a parking space on the roadside in the Linney.  It was extremely busy due to the Summer holidays so our luck was really in.  It turned out to be the most ideal spot, a lovely grassed area by the river and alongside the Green Cafe.  The sun was shining so we settled down for a picnic lunch on the grass and mom popped to the cafe to get a cuppa for us both.  Eliza had a great time running around and we popped down by the riverside to see the ducks.

 We’d been to Ludlow many times before but never visited the castle so I thought this might be something a little different for Eliza.  We walked up the steep path from the Linney along Dinham and Ludlow Castle was directly at the top of the hill.  Only £5 each for adults to enter and children under 6 were free.  I have to say at this stage that at no point could I have envisaged quite how much fun Eliza would have.  With her little ladybird backpack she wandered around the castle grounds, in and out the castle ruins, up and down staircases (with Mommy’s help) and even the darkest, spookiest looking crevices without a hint of fear.  She had a permanent smile on her face and couldn’t wait to see the next surprise the castle had in store.  Who would have thought a 2 year old could get so much from a castle of all things?!

Eliza’s little legs were feeling a little worse for wear after her tour of the castle so we found a lovely little cafe directly opposite called the Castle Lodge Buttery and stopped in for tea and cake (are you noticing a theme here?).  We had a slow walk back down the car, or so we thought, as upon arriving Eliza decided she wanted to run around again so we spent another half an hour on the little green where we’d eaten lunch.  Wonderful day out and definitely our first castle of many!

Arley Arboretum

This is one I kept hearing about from other visitors and their upcoming events also kept popping up on my facebook timeline so one day my friend and I decided to give it a go with the kids in tow.  First off I have to say that I stuck the postcode in my SatNav as although I’d visited Arley many times before I didn’t know exactly where the Arboretum was.  Well, it turns out neither did the SatNav as it took us around the back of the park which had no vehicular access.  One conversation with a local later and we were once again on our merry way, in the right direction this time.

Arley Arboretum is situated in Worcestershire near the town of Bewdley and is home to one of the Severn Valley Railway stations.  You can actually see the steam trains from several locations as you walk around the arboretum.  What attracted me to Arley Arboretum was their child friendly outdoor activities.  Aside from the usual play areas (yes, there was one of these too) they offer a range of different ‘hunting’ trails.  We chose to do the Fairy trail on our visit but there were others too such as the Dinosaur Trail and Woodland Animal Trail for the little ankle biters to take part in.  We picked up a sheet on our way in and then followed the directions to hunt for fairies and answer questions on our way around the arboretum.  Both Eliza and her friend loved hunting for the next fairy and looking up into the trees to see who could spot it first.  The cost again is only £5 per adult to enter and children under 3 are free.  Just a note thought, that the arboretum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

In addition to the various trails there was a small maze which was ideal for younger children, a play area, several picnic areas and a sensory garden.  The sensory garden was still under development but there were a few bits and pieces for the girls to play with including some hanging chime bars.  We stopped for a quick picnic lunch by the play area and we could see the trains whooshing along down in the valley.

We were a little short on time on the day we visited so I’m sure there were other areas that we missed.  Eliza was quite intrigued by the fountain as she’d never seen anything like this before.  A bit apprehensive too though as I think she thought she was due a shower and was not very keen on the idea!

The arboretum has a lovely cafe which also doubles as the ticket office on your way in.  We had a super lunch and the rainbow cake was to die for! There are other activities on offer for kids including a Forestry Mini-Adventure Club.  This is at an additional cost to the normal entry fee but definitely worth considering if you have the time.  If you look on the Facebook page too there’s always information on upcoming seasonal events such as Halloween or Easter.  Download the full information leaflet here.

Thanks for stopping by! x

Toddler friendly day trips in the Heart of England – Part 1

Bidford-on-avon & Tenbury Wells

After a stressful start to the Summer holidays I made it my mission to have a few decent day trips, well, at least once a week with the littlies.  I don’t know about you but I’m certainly not a fan of soft play areas and most town play areas are generally heaving given the first glimpse of sunshine.  So my challenge was to find a few fun places to visit.  Fun for them AND for me!

Tenbury Wells

Tenbury Wells is a small ancient market town with a multitude of quaint black and white buildings and history galore.  It’s a place I’d only ever driven through until this Summer when Mom suggested a day out there.  Very scenic location, Tenbury Wells is situated alongside the River Teme that separates Worcestershire and Shropshire.  The drive there alone was worthwhile.

Tenbury Wells bridge
Bridge at Tenbury Wells – Photo from www.tenburywells.info
Black and white buildings in Tenbury Wells
Tenbury Wells – Photo from www.geograph.org.uk

So, our day out with a toddler and baby started with a trip to the play area at the Burgage.  This is a fab little park and although it was Summer holiday time it was not busy at all.  Eliza had a fab time playing on the slide and running in amongst the coloured ‘pencils’ before we all sat down to a picnic at one of the tables within the play area.

a slide in the childrens play area at Tenbury Wells

Childrens play area at Tenbury Wells

Time for a cake break

After lunch we popped to the nearby loos (yes toilets, essential with kids) and then headed into the high street just a few yards away.  We walked the length of the town and popped into a few gift and charity shops.  The whole walk only took us about 45 mins.  On our way through the town we looked for a suitable place for a quick cuppa and slice of cake but a lot seemed a little tight on space for 2 buggies.  We struck lucky though when we found The Spotty Dog Tearoom.  We had a lovely cream scone and Eliza had a delicious slice of Victoria sponge cake that the lady was happy to serve as smaller slice suitable for a little belly :).  Again, great facilities for a family and plenty of room for us to manoeuvre buggies with ease.

Inside the Spotty Dog Tearoom in Tenbury Wells
The Spotty Dog Tearoom

The Burgage Recreation Area

After our snack we headed towards the bridge and turned right along the riverside path that leads past Tesco and onto the Burgage Recreation Area.  We followed the path and Eliza stopped to give us a little impromptu ‘Frozen’ performance in the small shelter overlooking the river. We carried on in the direction of the play area stopping along the way to sing songs and look for fairies in the trees.  This is a fantastic tree lined space and again not at all busy.  We discovered that there was a second play area right next to the one we stopped at originally.  This one was simply fab for Eliza, it was aimed at the under 8’s so everything was just the right size for the littlies with a super wooden climbing frame with bridges and puzzles to solve.

The younger children's play area at Tenbury Wells
Young play area at Tenbury Wells – Photo from www.tenburytown.org.uk

We sat on the grass and played games and had lots of fun taking photo’s and trying to get Freddie to keep his hat on!  All in all a super little place for a fun day / afternoon out when the sun is shining.

Bidford-on-avon

The bridge at Bidford-on-avon
Bridge at Bidford-on-avon

One of our favourites is Bidford-on-Avon, as we visit here at least 2 or 3 times every year.  You can park right on the riverside with plenty of space to run around with a ball, kite or just the dog!  There are a few picnic benches and an absolutely super play area (along with an outdoor gym area that many parks have nowadays).  There’s a small toilet block and we often take a stroll over the bridge for fish and chips from Seafoods chippy.  If the mood takes you, you can walk right along the riverside away from the main parking area and watch the wildlife and boats pass by.

Playing Frisbee at Bidford-on-avon
Riverside park at Bidford-on-avon
Toddler running with ball at Bidford-on-avon
Plenty of room to run around

Thanks for stopping by! x

Parenting, it’s a rollercoaster

Ok, so my last post was a rather negative one but hey, I’m not apologising, everyone needs to vent at times.  But following on from that I can’t believe the change 3 weeks has brought.  Freddie will be 10 months next weekend and in that short time since my last posting he has learned to sit up completely unaided, has his first tooth through (yesterday), has developed an interest in TV, but best of all……wait for it……drum roll……….HE’S SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT!  Not quite sure how this change came about but he just suddenly did it.  He now goes up to bed around 7.30/8pm after having a bottle, goes straight off to sleep and doesn’t stir till around 7 ish the next morning.  It’s absolute heaven!  You can imagine the relief hubby and I are both feeling.

After trying to keep Eliza occupied at home unsuccessfully I made it my mission over the last few weeks to take her and Freddie out more and wow her behaviour improved no end.  Don’t get me wrong, we still have the occasional ‘terrible twos’ moments and she’s getting rather argumentative and defiant in her old age, but she seems to have got so much out of our days out.  More to come on our day trips in future postings.
The house has gotten a little tidier.  I’ve tried my best to de-clutter a fair bit and moved the lounge furniture to open up the space a little.  Freddie can now scoot about in his walker to his hearts content while Eliza dances around to her latest Disney favourite.  We’ve had a quote for the kitchen floor (finally!) which at least feels like a bit of progress, the garden has been tidied and de-weeded and I’m almost at a level playing field with the constant piles of washing.
Abi is all enrolled to start at college again next week after a not so good start last year.  I’m confident that the lecturers in her subject field will give her all the help and support she needs to get through.  Sam has been working hard and is off on his jollies tomorrow, lucky so and so.  He’s off to beautiful city of Venice which is definitely one on my to do list.  So whilst extremely jealous I’m looking forward to the piccies.
All in all life is good again.  So onwards and upwards we go.

A motherhood moan

It’s been a while and I’m afraid my returning post is a moany one I’m afraid.  Why the long absence?  Well you may remember I’m one of those very strange individuals who decided to start all over again in the child rearing department.  Freddie will be 9 months old on Thursday (oh my god where did that time go?) and Eliza is nearly 2 and half (28 months to be precise) and don’t we know it!  That should go some way in explaining my lack of presence.

I’m not saying that motherhood is a chore but it can sure be hard sometimes especially when only Mommy’s assistance will suffice and Daddy has suddenly become the big bad hairy monster.  I guess we all have days where we’re sick of watching Toy Story for the umpteenth time (Eliza’s current favourite), trying to be creative with baby meals or changing yet another stinky nappy.  Yep, some day’s I just don’t want to ‘adult’ or more specifically ‘mom’.  Don’t get me wrong I love them all with an absolute passion (yes, even the older ones!) but even mom needs a break from time to time.  On the odd occasions where I get half a day completely child free the feeling of love I have for them upon collection time is so intense.  I guess it just gives you time to recharge your batteries before starting again.

I must add, Freddie is a nocturnal creature by nature.  Wherever he got the idea from that this was acceptable behaviour is beyond me.  Sam, Abi, Eliza…..all slept through the night from around the 6 week mark, but Freddie? No, he thinks he’s quite within his rights to wake us up gone midnight and then maybe again around 2 or possibly 4am.  You see there’s no real pattern.   People ask “oh, is he really hungry or can he just not settle himself?” but believe me give him a 5-6oz bottle and he’ll polish off the lot!  That’s on top of 3 – 4 bottles during the day plus ready brek, fruit purees, finger foods etc.  This child has hollow legs I swear!  I know it could be worse, I read stories of 9 month olds who still wake every couple of hours through the night and I do wonder how these parents are still sane.  The truth is I’m nearing the end of my tether atm. I think 9 months of disturbed sleep can do that to a person.

Eliza has her ‘moments’ and currently I’m pleased to say they are getting fewer though I know they will no doubt return when I least expect them.  She’s a happy girl but very wilful.  She knows what she wants and will often cry and shout till she gets it.  She hasn’t yet realised that Mom is just as stubborn though and shouting and screaming will get her nowhere.  On the whole her behaviour is good at the moment (aside from a lot of I want, I want, I want) but we find late morning/lunchtime she gets very whingy and moany and we can tell it’s a tiredness thing.  Couple of hours in bed on an afternoon soon sorts her out.

I think the thing that’s hard is that you lose a little of your identity.  I am Mommy. I feel that all of my hobbies and interests have had to be shelved as there is no ‘me’ time now.  Even if I’m not looking after the kids I have housework to do.  If it’s not housework then there’s admin to do for our business.  In my rare child free times when the kids are in bed I have to weigh up which is more important the housework or work-work.  I then get a couple of hours to cram in a much as possible before they’re awake and the whole cycle begins again.  4 o’clock rolls around and we’re into the realms of “what shall I do them for tea tonight”.  Queue google ………’9 month old meal ideas’….Pinterest can be a god-send!  My one saving grace is Ladies Choir which has just started up again.  Tuesday nights are mine and you will not take them.

I think the long and short of it is, there’s just not enough hours in the day.  Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, every other Mother of a large family.  Trouble is if there were more hours in the day I’d just be too knackered to appreciate them anyway!

Sorry, I will stop moaning now.  It’s 5pm, teatime and Pinterest awaits my perusal 🙂

Thanks for stopping by!x

Majorca 2016 – Travelling with a 15 month old, a survival guide

Travelling with Toddlers

For those of you about to jet off for the first time since having your new addition, here’s a guide to travelling with toddlers.  Just got back from another fantastic 11 day holiday to Puerto Pollensa in beautiful Majorca.  I say ‘another’ as we’ve actually holidayed there most years since 2007.  Absolutely love the place! It’s so relaxed and family friendly, I just can’t imagine finding anywhere better.

This year was Eliza’s first holiday abroad as last year, we decided, we weren’t ready to brave the plane journey and heat with her only being 5 months old at the time.  I was a little worried this time around as we’ve never done an overseas holiday with a toddler before as Abi was 7 the first time we went.  However I have to say it all went a lot smoother than I could have possibly imagined.
One of my major worries was the travelling involved.  I know it’s only at 2 hour flight but nevertheless after a drive to Luton airport, a wait in the airport, a 2 hour flight and an hour bus transfer I thought I may be tearing my hair out.  I have to say she was the most miserable on the drive down to Luton which I think was just a little over-tiredness.  Once we got to the airport we kept her in the pushchair till we’d gone through security and then one by one we took turns at walking her round and round the departure lounge which she thoroughly enjoyed.  I’d taken her tons of snacks and even some sandwiches which she ate just before the flight.  After eating she had her nappy changed and we put her sleepsuit on ready for the flight.  We wheeled her down to the gate in her pushchair and then handed the pushchair over to the ground crew for storage in the hold.
Once aboard the flight I expected her to start fidgeting the way she had done on numerous train and bus journeys.  As with most 15 month olds, Eliza is not one for sitting still for very long.  I was actually pleasantly surprised as once strapped in (using a lap extension belt) she sat beautifully for the majority of the flight.  I’d taken an array of toys, snacks, gadgets and gizmos after reading lots of online blogs and pinterest posts (more on this below) but I didn’t even need to get these out till about half way through the flight.  She was quite happy to play with the magazine and laminated safety instructions in the pocket in front of us. I even got the Easyjet sickbag out and put it on my hand like a puppet! I can’t actually believe how long these mundane things kept her occupied!
travelling with toddlers

Snacks & Drinks for the Plane

I did a shop at the big Boots before our holiday and found they had a great choice of snacks, most of which Eliza had not tried before.  Hence we made sure that she liked everything before the journey.  Here’s a selection of what we took with us, the mini rusks in particular were a hit and great for while we were there too:
Organix Goodies
Dino Paws pure fruit shapes
Organix goodies mini cheese crackers
Farleys mini rusks

Milk

We were a little concerned about the lack of fluids allowed in hand luggage so I did a lot of reading up beforehand.  I learned that although the normal allowance is 100ml you can take more than this in the way of baby milks.  Due to the length of time the milk would be sitting out we didn’t think fresh milk would be suitable so we took several cartons of Cow & Gate Growing up Milk 1+ (200ml).  I put two of these into a plastic bag and put through the security screening in the normal way.  I anticipated having to open the cartons and take a swig to prove their safety but didn’t have to do this in the end.  I took an empty bottle which I then poured the milk into on the plane and Eliza had this as we were taking off.

Water

I filled Eliza’s cup with water and she drank from this before security.  I then just emptied it out and refilled once through security.

Toys and Gadgets

After reading online, I spent a lot of time scouring the pound shops and so on to look for cheap colourful items that would occupy Eliza on the plane.  I ended up buying bits from ELC, The Works and Amazon to create our novelty goody bag.  I bought a cheap plastic ‘swim bag’ from Primark to store everything in and then put the lot in my hand luggage.  Picture below:
A selection of toys to keep toddler occupied

iPad Apps

On top of our novelty goody bag I also packed our iPad.  Yes, I know, I know, all you defenders of the ‘electronic gadget free toddler world’ are probably now rolling your eyes at me but who cares, it worked for us.  We didn’t actually use it until around the third day of the holiday when she was having a bit of a grumpy hour, at which point the BBC Kids iPlayer came into its own.
BBC iPlayer kids
First word of warning with iPad apps is if you intend to use them on the plane or don’t have access to wifi whilst abroad, you need to make sure they will work.  As I’ve mentioned above, BBC’s Kids iPlayer is a fantastic app but you need to make sure you download the programs you’d like to watch beforehand.  I downloaded a couple of all of Eliza’s favourites and they were then on hand for stressful or tired moments.  In additions to this, here are some of the apps we downloaded (but didn’t actually use in the end):
  • Ladybird – Baby and Toddler Toybox – App bundle – £3.99 (2016)
  • LEGO DUPLO Train – FREE
  • Shapes Toddler Preschool – FREE
  • Smart Tot Rattle – Cause and Effect Sensory Stimulation – FREE
  • Fisher Price – Laugh & Learn Where’s Puppy’s Nose? – FREE
  • Fisher Price – Laugh & Learn Animal Sounds for baby – FREE
  • Fisher Price – Soothing Sights & songs for Baby – FREE
  • Fisher Price – Development with Contrast Colours for Baby – FREE
  • Touch Animals Lite – FREE
  • Bubble Wrap – FREE
  • Nursery Rhymes:Volume 1 – FREE
  • BBC iPlayer Kids – FREE

Sleep Aids

Eliza finally decided to fall asleep on the bus transfer from the airport to the hotel which was nice.  When we arrived in our apartment the travel cot was already set up for us but I’d made sure to take her favourite teddy and a new addition, the Fisher Price Soothe and Glow Owl.

At home Eliza is used to having either her mobile or Winnie the Pooh Sweet Dreams Light show at bedtime, both of which were much to bulky to pack in the case.  I was looking for something to replace these that would play music and also light up and the Soothe and Glow Owl was just the thing.  We gave it to her a few days before the holiday so that she could get used to falling asleep with it.  The first night in new surroundings it took her a while to settle but from then on it worked a treat.

Packing

Clothing

As we were staying in a self catering apartment I can honestly say I took her way too many clothes as we had the use of a washing machine and she spent most days in a UV swimsuit!  Plenty of hats are advisable however and at least a couple of swimsuits.  At night she slept in either a short sleeved bodysuit or a shortie sleepsuit (H&M) with no covers.  I did take her thin cotton sleeping bag but she just didn’t need it.

Food

Between myself and the 2 Nan’s who travelled with us we took Eliza around 7 or 8 ready meals, mainly Hipp Organic or Asda for 12 months plus.  These were very useful as were not available in the local supermarkets.  Just having them there made things a lot more convenient as we could feed Eliza first if needed before heading out later to eat ourselves.  She loved the yogurts from the local shop though!

Nappies

Besides the 3 or 4 nappies in the changing bag itself I packed 10 nappies in the suitcase just to get us through the first couple of days, I took an extra packet of wipes too.  Pampers nappies were readily available even in the local Spar along with baby wipes etc. so this was never a problem. I took a whole pack of Boots swim pants and found this was enough for our whole holiday as Eliza never spent more than a couple of hours a day in either the pool or the sea.  I would take her to the beach on the morning in her normal nappy and change her into the swim pants when she was ready to go in the water.  That way she was never in the ‘less absorbent’ swim pants for too long.

Sun Protection

Obviously a no brainer, but we used Ambre Solaire Kids Factor 50 sun cream which was just fine.  However, we decided that our usual pushchair parasol was just simply not up to the job so invested in the Snoozeshade Plus which was such a great purchase. The temperatures hit 35c while we were there so the Snoozeshade was invaluable.
Snoozeshade plus
Eliza asleep under the Snoozeshade Plus
Initially, Eliza would have a small tantrum at being unceremoniously covered up and unable to see the world around her but she soon realised it was a much better option than melting away in the sun!  It wasn’t long before she’d be fast asleep and oblivious to the scorching heat outside.

A first for Mom too!

All in all a superb holiday and one which was also a first for my mom.  Mom-in-law has been coming with us now for several years and each year we ask my mom but the answer is always the same…..”you won’t get me on a plane!”.  So this year, for the first time ever at the age of nearly 70, Mom had her first trip abroad.  After much apprehension she absolutely loved the flights and I think she now has the bug for overseas travel.  I’m glad she got to experience Eliza’s holiday first too.
Thanks for stopping by! x