Sunny afternoon exploring Bournville parks – #CountryKids

Yesterday came the day that we finally took the boys to see our new house. We’ve been talking about this new house with them for a while and aI think Andrew was beginning to wonder whether it really exists. We still need to get some work done on it – just decoration, nothing major – but pinning work men down to a particular day to start work can be tricky. As Granny had the day off, we decided to all head over there while Daddy was over there already as the electrician was finishing off. It was such a lovely sunny day that we thought it would also be a great idea to explore the local parks with the boys, as well as show them the house.

I’m not sure that they were that impressed with the house – there is little furniture and no toys there – but Joel seemed to like the stairs (it’s set over 3 floors) and Andrew liked to hear whose room was whose. After we’d given them a tour and had a picnic lunch at the house, we left Daddy doing a few more jobs all the while that he needed to be in for the electrician, and headed out down the road in search of our local park. We knew there is a nice green area with a small lake not far from the house, but we’d not actually been down the path yet to find it as pedestrians rather then just driving past it on our way into the road. But we followed our sense of direction and at one point this was confirmed by a dog walker.

Bournville 1

It’s a lovely area to walk through, very quiet and most of it is just on paths beyond where the cul-de-sac roads end. As the path opened up at the end, we suddenly saw the small lake, and walked up further to watch the geese and ducks being fed by someone else. Unfortunately we hadn’t got any bread with us, but I’m sure there will be plenty more occasions to go and feed them in future! We walked around the edge of the lake, and came across a building – the Bournville Model Yacht Club – I bet that’s fun to go and watch when they are out with their toy boats.

Andrew was slightly disappointed that there was no playground in this ‘park’ (a park isn’t a park without a playground in his opinion). So I looked on the map on my phone to see exactly where Bounrville park was in relation to where we were, because I’d only ever seen it from the main road and knew there must be a shorter route to it. And sure enough, there was a lovely path leading from the lake to the park.

Bournville 2

As we walked along it, we passed the Cadbury college (local secondary school) which has purple bits all over its building. In the field between the school and where we were walking, Andrew spotted some teenagers playing a game. He was insistent that it was football, until we got closer and we could tell that it was in fact that British school classic – rounders. We tried to explain it to him and sat for a few minutes on a bench to watch.

We walked through a slightly more wooden area beyond the school, and came to a bridge over the Bourn (brook) that was perfect for playing Pooh sticks on, which Andrew was desperate to do and had tried further back at a bridge near the lake where the water wasn’t very fast flowing. Just beyond the Pooh sticks bridge was an entrance to the park, and we could see the playground in the distance – phew! I got Joel down from the sling and we all walked through the park. The playground was full of school kids, clearly on a trip to Cadbury World which is just over the road. But they were very good, and let the boys have a go on some of the things that they had taken over.

Bournville 3

Through the fence of the park up by the playground, we could see through to the local infant and junior school that we will put as our first choice for Andrew’s school place soon. I showed Andrew the lovely toys and craft equipment that they had out in the garden area, and he seemed quite impressed. Once we’d had a good go on the playground, which wasn’t too long because it was very warm and there was little shade, we thought we could go and find an ice cream over at the local shops across the road.

We crossed over at the school crossing, which is almost opposite the Cadbury factory, and found a newsagent with a Walls sign outside. There was also a bench to sit and eat them after we’d bought. This gave us all a bit more energy to walk back home, which was a shorter walk than on the way out when we went via 2 parks. Andrew had been very good and walked most of the way, but needed a bit of a carry up the hill on the way back.

Bournville 4

Daddy was pleased to see us. He had been chopping the overgrown garden back, though there is still lots more work to be done on that. He showed us an old bird nest that he’d found in one of the bushes, which was fascinating for us all to look at. Soon after that the electrician was finished, and we could all head back home to Granny and Grandad’s house in the car. I’m sure we will visit these places again on may occasions in the future when we’re finally living there 🙂

Linking up with the fab #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog as usual
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Brummie fun – wot so funee?

Another week has flown by and another week of hilarity in the toddler/preschooler language department it’s been. Apparently Andrew is quite the expert at various activities/ subject matters these days: “No Mummy, Joel’s not the expert, I’M quite a bit of an expert at Peppa Pig!” Oh yes sorry of course you are! He’s also our resident sliding down the slide in funny positions expert, eating ice cream expert, throwing frisbees expert and many more experts, all by his own admission.

So whilst he is an expert at all these things, I, apparently, lack the expertise that it takes to give him and Joel a bath. One day last week, Daddy was late home from work because the trains were delayed. This hasn’t often happened since he started commuting that distance, but as it’s him who does the bath time normally, we missed him that night. As we were heading up stairs and I was explaining that Daddy wasn’t going to be here for bath, Andrew looked most upset and said: “I don’t want a bath with you mummy, you’re not very clever at baths!” So I may have a PhD but running a bath, washing them and playing with them is beyond me. Thanks!

Since Andrew gave up his nap a few months ago, we’ve been encouraging him to still have a rest and just sit quietly for an hour or so because he really gets very tired by tea time otherwise – but that’s easier said than done when you’re a wriggly 3 year old! He’s got quite into watching a DVD, which seems to be the best way to keep him still, though he still flits off and plays with other things every now and then whilst watching. Until Granny bought a couple more DVDs the other day, Shrek 2 seemed to be the only one he wanted to watch, and after watching it quite a few times, he started to pick up some of the lines and anticipate them whilst watching it, which is really quite funny to listen to. I had to laugh when he told me what was happening: “Prince Charlie is riding a horse, look Mummy!” Ah, that would be Prince Charming 🙂

A routine that the boys have become used to now is going in to Granny and Grandad’s room for half an hour or so in the morning whilst they get up and ready for work. The TV is often on, and one programme that they have all got into is Q Pootle 5. I haven’t watched much of it myself, but what I have watched is definitely on 2 levels: the kids see funny space aliens being silly, and the adults understand jokes and references on a whole other level. All the aliens have various regional British accents, as you might expect (?!), and the favourite in our house of course has to be Eddie the Brummie. In one particular episode he comes out with an absolute classic sentence for highlighting his Brummie accent: ‘Look at the state of that bunting!’ (just what you’d expect an alien to be saying isn’t it?!!) So we’ve been joking about this ever since they first saw it, especially when I made some bunting the other day for my sewing business. Stay with me, this isn’t the funniest bit yet, it’s just a long preamble to explain where the next bit comes from. We’ve been going to a few groups over in Birmingham and Solihull – nappy and sling meets mainly – to try and get to know people over there. Last week was the first glimpse that I had of Andrew recognising that many of the children we’ve met over there have accents different from his own. He was playing alongside a boy a little younger than him, and after a while came up to me and said very softly: “That girl is talking like bunting….like Eddie.” I tried not to laugh, (a) because actually I was quite amazed that he’d picked that up and could express it to me, and (b) because the girl was actually a boy with long hair. He’s still not figured that one out, despite me giving him the example several times that Uncle Pete has long hair and he’s a boy. I tried to suggest quietly that actually ‘she’ was a boy, but that was met with a our and indignant: “No it isn’t, it’s a girl!!” I think his mum may have overheard that one, whoops! I suspect that the boys will grow up with some degree of Brummie accent, so he’ll get used to it.

And now to finish off, we turn from Birmingham to a couple of references to the boys’ city of birth – Cambridge. When we were in town the other day, a lady shouted across to someone she knew standing not far from us: ‘Andrew!’ Of course my Andrew immediately said “Yes?”, and I then explained to him that she wasn’t talking to him but that there was another Andrew near us. His response was: “Ah there’s 2 Andrews…. no there’s 3 Andrews, there’s fireman Andrew in Cambridge as well!” This was something he remembers from quite a while ago, when he went out with Daddy one saturday morning and they got to see inside a fire engine which was stationed at some event somewhere, manned by a fireman called Andrew, which he didn’t quite get at the time when Daddy tried to explain!

One evening this week when the boys were having a bath, Andrew asked Daddy where the ‘pink water’ was. Daddy looked puzzled and asked him what he was talking about, so he explained a little more and Daddy then understood that he was talking about an old flannel that we used to have quite a while ago that was a deep red colour but when you put it in water it made the water go pink, which Andrew used to love in the bath. We don’t know what made him suddenly think of it again recently. Daddy explained that this flannel was from a long time ago when we lived in our old flat in Cambridge. Andrew pondered for a few seconds and then came out with: “Where is Cambridge now Daddy?” He had to laugh, and tell him that Cambridge is still in the same place that it’s always been, it’s just us that’s moved away. I still wonder if he thinks we’re just on one long holiday at Granny and Grandad’s house!

Wot So Funee?

Sheldon Country Park – #CountryKids

At the moment, Daddy is commuting to work every day on the train from Coventry to Birmingham. This means that he goes right past Birmingham Airport. He noticed a few months ago when he first started the commute that there was a sign for a place called Sheldon Country Park near the exit of Marston Green station (a suburb of Birmingham) which is at the far end of the runway, past the station for the airport itself. So he googled it and found that it’s a lovely big open space, right at the end of the runway where you can stand quite freely and watch planes come over your head just before they touch down on the tarmac. There is also a kids playground and a city farm at the other end of the park. Given all this, we thought it would be right up the boys’ street to go and visit. We’ve actually been twice in the space of a coupe of weeks – once in the car just after Easter, and once on the train on the early May bank holiday.

Sheldon 1

The first time we went, we parked in the car park which is at the end of the park furthest from the runway but nearest to the playground. There were hardly any other people around when we got there, so the boys had the park to themselves. After about half an hour on there, we decided it would be a good idea to try and drag them away so we could walk up to the other end of the park by the runway. We’d been seeing planes coming in at the distance of the park, which was pretty amazing in itself, but we knew we could get closer.

Sheldon 2

So we got Andrew’s ball out and encouraged him to run after it. There were football pitches on the way, so we scored a few goals between us as we went – he loves scoring goals! He was a little reluctant to walk all the way to the runway, not that it was that far, but we kept having to entice him with the thought that he was going to see some planes REALLY close up.

Eventually we got there, having seen a few more planes come in ahead of us as we walked. Andrew was not disappointed! We stood right at the end of the runway (behind the fence, obviously, still in the country park so there was grass and a good path as well as benches where one could sit (clearly with 2 toddlers we never get to sit). Soon enough we saw a plane in the distance, and watched it, head on, come towards us and then fly right over the top of us. We could see the wheels and the flashing lights and lots of detail underneath the plane, it was amazing. Andrew was in his element and didn’t mind the roaring noise at all. Joel was happy to stay in the sling, and was a little more cautious about the noise, but still seemed to be enjoying it. By this time it was about 11am, and there was a steady stream of planes landing and taking off. The noise standing behind jet aircraft as they took off was loud, but they soon whizzed along the runway away from us.

Sheldon 3

That day we had planned to go to the boys’ Great Grandma for lunch, so we knew we’d have to drag them away at some point, and eventually Andrew walked back with the promise that we’d come again. And he didn’t have to wait too long, because we decided only a couple of weeks later to take advantage of a £1 day ticket on the train (because Daddy has a season ticket) and head back there on the bank holiday. We approached the runway from the other side this time, which is just a short walk from the exit of Marston Green station. There weren’t quite so many planes to see on the bank holiday, but still plenty enough, and the weather was nicer so we just played in the park for longer too. Joel was more confident this time and was signing ‘plane’ all over the place as well as running around on the grass in front of the fence.

Sheldon 5

We also had a visit to the city farm on both days, which is a lovely idea, set up to educate local children in a big city about where their food comes from and how animals live in the countryside. We saw cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, horses and more. It’s not huge, but it was lovely to have a quick wander around with the boys. Andrew caught sight of a bouncy castle there on the bank holiday, and as it wasn’t very expensive, we let him have a go, which he loved. We’ll definitely be going back again and again, especially when we live in Birmingham, though it’s probably a similar distance there from where we’re currently living.

Sheldon 4

Linking up with the excellent #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog

52 photos – week 5


It’s a bit of a cheat from me this week because it wasn’t actually me who took this photo, but I thought it was a great one of the boys (with Grandad), so it deserves to be the photo for this week – thanks to Granny. As we’re soon to move to Birmingham, Grandad is very pleased that the boys can legitimately support his football team, Birmingham City, and he can take them to games just like his Grandad used to take him as a boy. Here they are, the three Bluenoses (the littlest ones in bargain £2 shirts)!

Moving on

Blogging has fallen to the back of my mind recently with everything else that’s going on. I mentioned in a few of the posts that I did get round to publishing recently that we’re moving cities soon, but unless you know me in real life and have seen me recently, you won’t know much more detail than that. So I thought I’d share what we’re up to, and at the same time getting some thoughts down ‘on paper’ (so to speak) will help me think through things myself! With everything going on and all that I have to do, it’s hard to take time to step back and think.

For a while we had been thinking that at some point we would move out of Cambridge. As much as we love living here and the place has A LOT going for it, especially for young families, there are 2 major downsides for us: 1) it’s not very near our family, especially Tom’s side; 2) it costs an absolute fortune to buy a house here! We were very grateful to our parents who helped us get on the property ladder when we bought our small flat here a few years ago when house prices weren’t quite as crazy as they are now, but we knew that with me choosing to not work (for money) until at least Andrew is at school, there is no way we could afford to live anywhere bigger within the city. Our flat is actually OK for now, but we couldn’t imagine living here in much more than about 2 years time.

From Cambridge...
From Cambridge…

So Tom had been ‘passively’ looking for a job at a university in the Midlands – not spending too much time on it, but signing up to a few job email alert systems, to see if anything came up. After quite a while, when he saw one come up at the University of Birmingham that looked perfect for his skills and interests (time-tabling – he has that kind of mind!), he thought he might as well go for it, even though we weren’t thinking of moving right now. To his surprise, he was offered the job, and had 2 months notice to work at his current employer, which ties in neatly with starting the new job on the first Monday of the new year.

Now we have lots to sort out before Christmas, including packing and selling our flat. Thankfully we can live with my parents for a bit until we find somewhere to buy in Birmingham, and the commute won’t be too bad for Tom in the short term. This means we can wait until we have the money from our flat sale before going for anything at the other end, which makes things easier in terms of house moving chains and deadlines etc. We were told that the market in Cambridge is very fast at the moment, and sure enough within a couple of days of going on the market and after our first viewing, we had a good offer, followed by a higher one the day after, and more viewings until we said ‘no more!’ We and the people offering are going to make a decision on Monday, but if all goes to plan (I know that’s a big ‘if’ in house buying/selling!) then we should sell it soon and start the process of all the legal stuff.

So far packing hasn’t been too bad – I’ve been doing bits and bobs when Tom has taken the boys out and when they’re napping, and it’s amazing how much I can get done when I have no little ones around, I’m very productive! I’d already done some sorting over the past few months as we didn’t need everything that we had in the flat, so I feel like we’re starting at a good point and only packing stuff that really needs to go with us.

When I first heard that Tom had got the job, I didn’t know how to feel, and for a few days I was mostly upset at the thought of leaving everything that we love about living here: friends, church, groups, parks, distance from town, cycling/walking everywhere etc. But after the initial shock, I realised that of course in the long run there will be lots of opportunities just like these in Birmingham. And the main points are that we will be nearer family so (great) grandparents get to see grandkids with less of a trek, and we can more comfortably afford a family house, neither of which we can get here.

... to Birmingham
… to Birmingham

On Friday I had my first experience of saying goodbye to friends that we have really valued since being in Cambridge – in fact without them I’m not sure we would still be breastfeeding, so that means a lot to me. It was the last LLL Cambridge meet that we can make before Christmas, and it was sad to leave: I still very clearly remember walking into our first ever LLL meet in exactly the same room when Andrew was just 4 weeks old – here I was walking out with a nearly 3 year old Andrew and a 1 year old Joel. This is the first of many sad farewells that we will be making over the next few weeks.

It’s also been hard to think about handing over the voluntary roles that I do here in Cambridge. I started Nappyness library and meet-ups less than a year ago, before we knew that we’d move so soon, and if I had have known this, I don’t think I would have set it up. But I’m glad that I’ve been able to help some families in that time, even if I can’t help here in the future. I’ve just had an offer from 2 lovely mums who are happy to take Nappyness on, so I’m very pleased that this will still be available for local families to benefit from. I’ve also been in touch with a few ladies who started a library in Birmingham around the same time that I started Nappyness, but haven’t had chance to do much with it yet, and would be grateful for help when I get there. So that’s an exciting thing to look forward to as well. I’m also leaving behind my Editor position for the local NCT magazine, which has been a wonderful experience for various reasons. As nobody has yet come forward to take over from me, I think I’ll be helping out at a distance for a little while yet, with lots of help from the other existing team members.

For me this blog post is a record of what this time was like for us, and something to look back on when we’re all settled with a new life in Birmingham. We both believe that this move is what God wants us to do, and that He will guide us through it all, even though it may be stressful and upsetting at times. He’s done it in the past in our own individual lives, and as a couple, and now as a family, and we can look back at how well His plan has worked so far, which gives us confidence for the future. Jesus doesn’t promise that following His way is easy, but He does promise to be with us, and that is an amazing truth to hold onto in unsettling times like this. I felt particularly comforted when we sang these words at the women’s midweek Bible study group this week:

Faithful one, so unchanging
Ageless one, you’re my rock of peace
Lord of all I depend on you
I call out to you, again and again
I call out to you, again and again

You are my rock in times of trouble
You lift me up when I fall down
All through the storm
Your love is, the anchor
My hope is in You alone