Hobbledown is a nearby farm, playground and soft play about 20 minutes drive from where we live. We are really lucky to have such a great place nearby. We went last month when Moozles had an INSET day. It is much cheaper going on a weekday in term time than during school holidays or weekends (£41.60 for our family of four rather than £52). This is not the cheapest day out, but there is so much fun to be had at Hobbledown.
Our visits always begin in the farm area. Besides the standard pigs, sheep and chickens that one would expect to find, there are also meerkats, otters and a mara. Then we let the kids run around in the playground and jump on the bouncy pillows. There is a super cool climbing structures in Hobbledown Village. Moozles tried to climb it last year and Husband had to climb into a small wire tube to fetch her. Eek. Maybe next year.
Once we have had our fill of fresh air, we then go inside into the Play Barn. We completely bypass the huge sandpit. Sand. Ugh. Anyway, the Play Barn has the normal soft play stuff but also a castle playhouse and climbing pegs. Both kids love it. Husband and I get to sit down and drink tea while the kids work up an appetite. There is outside seating, and you could even bring a picnic. Have I ever mentioned that Husband doesn't like picnics? So we always eat in the Play Barn. It's not too expensive and the kids always enjoy their meals. And they never want to leave. But by 1pm/2pm, Hobbledown is heaving so we head home. If you're not far from Epsom, Surrey, I definitely recommend a day at Hobbledown.
Husband and I don't have many things in common. But we both love music. And in the time before we had children, we used to go to gigs all the time and we occasionally went to festivals. Husband still goes to gigs, but I haven't been to one since our youngest was born almost three years ago. But we think both kids are at an age where they would really enjoy a family festival.
So in May we are heading to our first family festival - Wychwood. Wychwood will be at Cheltenham Racecourse from the 29th-31st May 2015 (its 11th year). There are lots of cool musical acts, including The Proclaimers (who Moozles is beyond excited about seeing), Ladysmith Black Mambazo and The Wonder Stuff Acoustic. The legend that is Justin Fletcher will also be there!!! And for older children, Dick and Dom will also be appearing.
Wychwood also has some cool workshops. You can learn to belly dance and play the ukulele. There will be arts & crafts, a bubble show and a puppet show.
Moozles, who will be seven by the festival, loves to read and will enjoy the Kids Literature Festival. I'm not sure how much Dubz will like this, but one of the authors has a dinosaur book so that might be a big draw. Though I am not sure if he will understand what an author is.
We're hoping to go on the Saturday (30th May), to catch The Proclaimers. Husband is looking forward to seeing Ghostpoet. And I'll just be happy to be seeing live music with my family. Will I see you there?
*Photo credit: Top photo: Simon Ager. Second photo: Gary O'Brien
We are being given tickets to attend Wychwood in exchange for this post.
All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
When I resigned from my part-time job two years ago, one of the reasons was to have an active role in my children's early years. We figured that we could just about afford losing my salary, though we would have to give up holidays and shop at lower-cost stores. In exchange, the children would have my presence.
I don't think I properly understood what that meant, not really. I knew I would be 'around'. I'd be at home or in the local vicinity. I could spend the days with Dubz while Moozles was at school. I would be able to handle the school drop-offs and pick-ups. I could take Moozles to clubs and manage her playdates.
These days I write my hugely popular blog (as all of my 12 readers can attest to), which can reduce my presence as I write posts and attend events. But I try to keep the events to four a month. And I normally write my posts in the evening, after the children are in bed. But sometimes I need to finish things off during the day. And I pop onto Twitter and Instagram frequently during the day.
I started to worry that blogging and social media were detracting from my family life. But I decided that these things aren't so different than putting on a face mask, going to the gym, making dinner or doing laundry. There are things that I do around the house as well as for myself. But they do not take away from my presence. In fact, having time to do non-mummy things, probably makes me a better mother.
I am there for my children. I am present. And even if I worked full-time or part-time, I would be present. Because I have realised that presence isn't about being there for every moment of your child's life. It is about knowing your child and being there when they need you.
Moozles, who turns seven in April, has a favourite word: cool. Apparently everything good is 'cool'. And when she likes an outfit, that is 'cool' as well. On Sunday we met up with Husband's family for lunch at Tom's Kitchen in Somerset House. So Moozles dressed up in some cool clothes.
I recently bought the kids some new Springtime clothes from H&M. I have to buy clothes in size 8-9 as Moozles is tall, but the clothes fit beautifully. I buy 90% of Moozles' leggings/treggings from H&M, as they keep their shape really well and have great prints. Moozles' above outfit is almost entirely from H&M. The faux fur jacket is her old one from Matalan (I accidentally grabbed it rather than her new one, oops). It is a size 5-6 so obviously small on her, and gives her an accidental rock chick vibe.
If your little girl would like a similar outfit, then have a look below (click on the pic and it will take you to it on the H&M website). The jumper is thin so she wears it with a long sleeve underneath. But she can wear it on its own in the Spring and Summer. Her treggings above are now sold out, but there are still some other lovely ones on the site. The suede pink boots get dirty so quickly, but they are a great transition shoe from Winter to Spring. And as you might be aware, my daughter is a great lover of the colour pink.
I'm not talking about the pop princess, Pink, singer of hit songs such as 'Raise Your Glass' and 'Just Give Me A Reason'. I'm talking about the colour pink. Apparently, when I wasn't paying attention, pink became a villain. Apparently girls shouldn't like pink. Pink means we're too girly. Pink means we won't be taken seriously. Pink means we're not equal to men.
Traditionally, little girls were dressed in pink. Pink frilly dresses, that they had to keep clean, and pink bows in their hair, which they had to keep tidy. But the dresses, over time, have changed in colour. And dresses have changed to jeans and dungarees (that's overalls to my American friends). And now little girls can wear anything.
But with the opportunity to wear anything, there has come a backlash against pink. People are now having baby girls and are only buying clothes that come in yellow, grey or rainbow. Plus now there are dresses with dinosaurs, trucks and pirates. This is all well and good, but what if your child doesn't like those things? Sure, when they are babies they will wear whatever you put them in. But a toddler is a different story. They want control - of their food and toys and clothes.
So what do you do when your stylish monochrome-clad little girl wants to wear pink? Is it something to argue about? Do you tell her that there are no pink dresses in her size? Do you settle for fuchsia rather than a pale pink? Can you accept that wearing pink dresses won't limit your daughter's potential? She can still be a scientist or an engineer or even the Prime Minister. My girl loves pink. Pink clothes, pink shoes, pink walls, pink bed. And I don't believe that will hold her back. As long as Moozles knows that it is what's on the inside that counts, she can wear whatever she wants.
As you all know, Dubz is obsessed with 'dino-roars'. Since I have already written about his favourite pieces of dinosaur clothing, I thought I would let you know about our most loved dinosaur books.
1. T-Rex Terror (Parragon Books) is more of a comic than a book. This is not one of the books Dubz likes me to read to him. But Dubz loves looking at the pictures. The dinosaurs are pretty tough looking and they are quite rambunctious.
2. When Dinosaurs Came With Everything is the book that I read most days. Dubz adores this book. Someone gave it to us when Moozles was little, but she was never interested. The book's premise is that one day dinosaurs are given away with everything - at the doctor's, at the barber's and at the bakery, much to one boy's excitement. And his mother's dismay.
3. Travel Back Through Time To The Land of Dinosaurs (Parragon Books) is our newest book. Dubz has been carrying it around with him since we got it last week. It is partly an activity book and partly a fact book. Dubz (who will be turning three in May) is too young to complete the activities. But he enjoys having me read the facts, and he loves going through the book and naming the dinosaurs.
4. How To Grow A Dinosaur is one of our favourite books. The book centres around Albie (there are a few books in the series) who has a very vivid imagination. But is it his imagination, or do these amazing things really happen to him. Instead of planting a vegetable patch with his mum, has Albie planted a jungle complete with dinosaurs? Dubz adores this book (we have another Albie book which is also a favourite).
Do you have any favourite dinosaur books? I'm always interested in finding more books for Dubz, so would love to hear your recommendations.
We were sent 'T-Rex Terror' and 'Travel Back Through Time to the Land of Dinosaurs' for the purpose of the review. We are Parragon Book Buddies. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Is it just me, or can it be tough meeting up with friends once you have children? And I feel that's it's more difficult when you live in London. You start off making friends in once area, then move around a few times. And if you change jobs, or become a Stay-At-Home-Mum, it becomes even tougher. So it is important to schedule nights out with your friends. And yes, I have lovely mummy friends. But it's also nice spending time with friends I made before we had our children in common.
So at the weekend I met up with two former colleagues for dinner at Scoff & Banter in South Kensington. I worked with these two ladies a few years ago. Although we keep in touch through Facebook and the occasional playdate, the three of us haven't all met up in years. And it was lovely seeing each other, without the kids, to enjoy three courses of delicious British cuisine in a beautifully-styled restaurant.
There are six Scoff & Banter restaurants in London. The one we went to in South Ken is situated next to the Radisson Blu Edwardian, Vanderbilt Hotel. The outside is very beautiful. And as an American, I can't help but think that Georgian townhouses make a property feel a bit more special. Then you walk into the restaurant and there's an unexpected coolness. It is modern, and a bit industrial with some quirky touches. There were splashes of colour, as well as lots of natural light from the bay windows.
But a restaurant has to be more than just cool design. The food has to be good. And it really was. I had scallops for my starter, and they were yummy. But my main course was my favourite part. Wild sea bass with spinach dumplings. Now, I love dumplings. And I love spinach. But I did not expect to love the combination so much. And despite being on a healthy living regime, I let myself order pudding as it was a special night out. The chocolate fondant was gorgeous, as was the coconut ice cream and the pistachio brittle. The girls had crumble and a cheese platter. I think my dessert was definitely the winner.
Though I really enjoyed my three courses at Scoff & Banter, as did my friends, I found the portions to be a bit big. I was unable to finish my main or my dessert (if only Husband had been there - he would have loved to finish off my chocolate fondant). I think the next time I go, I will just have two courses. But I have to say that the service was brilliant. We did not have to wait long to order food and order/re-order drinks. And the waitress was so patient as it took us ages to order as we were so busy bantering (see what I did there?!). All in all, we had a fab night out!
I was invited to have dinner with my friends at Scoff & Banter for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own (when not my friends').