We were members of the National Trust a couple of years ago. Long-time readers may remember that Dubz was an utter terror when he was two and we had to take a little break from family outings. But oh, how things can change in two years (those of you with toddlers, take note, it does get easier). So last week we re-joined the National Trust, and visited Claremont Landscape Garden.
Located in Esher, Surrey, Claremont Landscape Garden is a lovely place for a day out. The grounds are very pretty, and include a man-made lake and an amphitheatre made out of turf. Wildlife includes ducks, geese, a black swan, parakeets, rabbits and squirrels. There is a small man-made island in the middle of the lake, as well as some caves that were made when formal gardens went out of favour in the mid-1700s. I thought the caves were beautiful and made Claremont much more interesting than the average National Trust garden.
I love a UK city break. And though I enjoy exploring new places with the children, I adore having a little getaway with Husband. In January, exhausted from Christmas and winter colds, the two of us were in desperate need of some time alone. So we called in some reinforcements (aka The Grandparents), and off to Bath we drove.
As we only had one night away, Bath is a great destination as it is only 2-2 1/2 hours away from London (by car). And as it isn't a big town, it is quite manageable to walk around in a day. We didn't see everything that Bath had to offer, but we did take in some of the best-known sites. So I thought I would share some of the fun we had during our four hours in Bath.
The Roman Baths
This past week has been the February half-term break, so I took the week off from my blog to hang out with my little monkeys. Sometimes, at the end of half-term, I feel a bit sad that the children have to return to school. This is not one of those times. Yes, we have had some fun times. We did a lot - including baking, seeing the new Batman Lego film, playing in Bushy Park, spotting the Butterflies at Wisley, watching lots of Netflix, having haircuts, enjoying play dates that wrecked the house and drinking milkshakes at Ikea.
But the kids were both tired and cranky for the first few days. And the girl was disagreeable for most of the 10 days. So I spent most of the evenings feeling tense and needing to unwind after dealing with tantrums. And tonight I am on the sofa, not-so-tense because I know tomorrow will be mostly peaceful. I adore my children but, my word, I love some peace and quiet.
Every year, my family and I visit RHS Wisley to see the butterflies in their glasshouse. There is something so special about seeing more than 6,000 exotic butterflies fluttering around. And while the children enjoy it, I especially love it. It is so calming seeing all their beautiful colours and patterns. And there are such exotic flowers and plants in the glasshouse, coupled with the heat that is needed to keep the butterflies alive, that you feel like you're somewhere tropical.
Children can do more than walk through the glasshouse. Wisley have a spotter's guide (for which they ask for a £1 donation) so the little ones can looks for specific butterflies and find out their names. We have been going since 2014, and I love looking at photos from previous visits to see how much Moozles and Dubz have changed.
Husband and I try to have one or two mini-breaks each year, without the children. Even if it's just for one night, we both feel re-invigorated having uninterrupted couple time that lasts longer than two or three hours and which occurs far from our sofa. I can't believe I'm the only person who isn't that lively and interesting on a Friday night after a long week mothering my socks off.
For the past five years, we have kept the breaks to the UK as there are so many wonderful, nearby places I have yet to explore. I actually have a bucket list of UK cities that I would like to visit in the next few years. I guess there's no hurry, but I am a bit impatient. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago we visited Bath. The lovely people from eviivo had invited us try out one of their award-winning properties, so how could we say no?!
I know that I am juvenile. I know this because I sniggered when I first heard the name of this town. But Lacock is no dirty joke. The village, which is pronounced 'lay-cock', is located in Wiltshire. And it is utterly charming. This may seem like a random place to write about, but this is where Husband and I spent this morning visiting.
Husband and I have been in Bath for the past couple of days, and when we checked out of our B&B this morning, we were advised to visit picturesque Lacock. The village dates back to the 13th century, and looks like it has been frozen in time, except for the cars. If Lacock looks familiar, it is because it is often used in period dramas, including Remains of the Day, Downton Abbey, and 1995's Pride & Prejudice (it was the village of Meryton!). Lacock Abbey was featured in a couple of the Harry Potter films, which makes it even more popular as a tourist destination.
We watch a lot of kids' movies. Sometimes they are funny, and sometimes I find myself bored out of my mind. Last month, my family and I were invited to watch Sing at the Odeon in Leicester Square. And to be honest, I did not have high expectations. I thought it might be one of those films that showed the best bits during the trailer/advert, and then the actually movie would be a bit boring. But I am happy to say that I was mistaken.
Sing is a pleasant surprise. There is a strong plot (I don't want to give too much away but it does involve a talent show). The main characters are complex and lovable. There were plenty of laughs, but there were also some sweet moments. And the music is superb. Dubz spent a lot of the film dancing around on his chair. He even got up at one point to boogie. It was beyond cute.
Let me start off by saying that I have wanted to watch a Cirque Du Soleil show for years. But Husband always refused to go saying they were probably overrated. Last week, I was invited to the opening of Amaluna at the Royal Albert Hall and I got to finally see for myself, if the Cirque Du Soleil hype was worth it.
I won't leave you in suspense. I loved the show. I went with one of my mummy friends, who had also never see a Cirque show. And we were wowed. I wasn't actually sure what to expect. I knew there were acrobatics, but I thought it would just be one act after the other. In fact, it is the story of a mother and daughter (Miranda) who have been exiled to an island. A boat crashes and some castaways wash ashore, including Romeo who falls in love with Miranda. The couple's relationship is at first thwarted, but luckily there is a happy ending.
I would normally stay home on a foggy day (if there isn't any school or work). I mean, how can anyone have outdoor fun when you can barely see your hand in front of your face?! But I spent all of December feeling poorly, and spent an entire week in bed at Christmas. So on New Year's Eve Eve, I took the kids to Richmond Park. I was feeling guilty for not taking Moozles and Dubz out for fun holiday outings, plus I was desperate for some fresh air.
Regular readers will know that I take weekly walks in Richmond Park, so I am quite familiar with it. But it was so foggy that day that I took a wrong path and we ended up somewhere new. But there was no need to worry as we discovered an amazing tree trunk and a hollowed out tree. The kids had so much fun climbing around. And I didn't have to worry about us walking into a deer.
One of the best things about Christmas is the festive days out. Everywhere you go, there are twinkly nights, big Christmas trees and general sparkliness. The week before Christmas, we went to the ice rink at the Natural History Museum for some of those holiday sparkles. If you've ever been to London, then no doubt that you've visited the Natural History Museum. It is iconic. Besides the great exhibitions, it is just the most beautiful building. So you can imagine that an ice rink next to it feels incredibly London-y (for the purpose of this post, we are pretending that this is an actual word).