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

Busy bank holiday weekend

There’s nothing like a good bank holiday weekend, especially when you’re feeling exhausted like me! We’ve enjoyed a lovely three-day weekend; we’ve managed to sort out lots of stuff, spent time with family, and had a rest too. It’s amazing what an extra day to the weekend can do for productivity and rest levels.

It all started on Saturday morning, when my parents arrived with a car-load of flat-pack Ikea wardrobes. For a while now, even before we realised that there’d be another cot to fit in the kids’ room at some point, we’ve wanted to get some more storage for all the bits and bobs of baby/toddler equipment, clothes, toys etc. that have mounted up since Andrew’s arrival. Very kindly, my parents gave Tom for his birthday (back in January) a voucher saying that he could choose a storage solution of his choice for that room. With one thing and another, we’ve not got around to getting it sorted until now, and now that we know it’ll be handy to have it all sorted before number 2’s arrival, that made us more motivated to get things sorted. So Saturday’s task for the men was assembling Ikea furniture – it all went quite smoothly, with only a couple of fixable errors, and no extra pieces that you can’t figure out where they were supposed to go and wonder if it will all fall down by lunchtime. Meanwhile I rested (pregnant mum’s prerogative) and went for a leisurely swim, and Mum looked after Andrew and did some housework whilst he was asleep – though he helped with some sweeping up and ripping up cardboard packaging to put in the bin before nap-time. This did remind me of when we last moved house: I was about the same number of weeks pregnant with Andrew, also feeling sick like I do now, and Tom, my parents and my brother and his girlfriend did all the furniture sorting, unpacking and general cleaning, while I sat there and did nothing (except rest).

Our little helper - Tom is keen to foster carefully this fascination with sweeping that Andrew currently has
More sweeping

The furniture assembly extended into Sunday, but Granny and Grandad got to stay a bit longer at the end of that day and play with Andrew. We were all pretty shattered afterwards, but it’s definitely worth the effort – take a look for yourself…. here are some photos of our very tidy looking children’s room. I was going to take some ‘before’ shots to compare with these ‘after’ ones, but (a) I forgot and (b) I’m not sure I really want to expose our cluttered-ness on here. But the clutter is no more! (Well, it’s there, but hidden behind closed doors with bright and cheery pictures on.)

A wall of wardrobes, decorated with bright pictures
Hanging space for nappy stacker and some clothes, and some little drawers with dividers in - perfect for little socks and hats so they don't all get mixed up in one big draw
Lots of room in boxes that pull out - currently housing things like toys, books and blankets
Lovely big baskets that pull out and you can see into them - perfect for nappy supplies and clothes, sorted into different age ranges

Then today (Monday), Tom and I decided that we would have a more relaxed day, particularly since Andrew is pretty miserable with some mean molars cutting through his gum – naughty teeth! The weather forecast was better for this morning, so we set off once we were ready to Wandlebury Country Park. Of course we were some of the first people there, along with a few keen runners – ‘spot the families with young children’ is an easy game on bank holidays! Andrew was keen to have a wander rather than ride in the buggy, so we had a little adventure together, which involved Andrew dragging Daddy ‘off piste’ into the woods. I stayed on the beaten path for fear of losing part of the buggy over a tree root or inconspicuous branch lying in the way. But then the teeth got the better of him, and Sir Walkalot turned into Sir Grizzliness, so we headed back home, just as the car park was filling up with normal bank holiday visitors and the inevitable rain drops.

If you go down to the woods today....
Oooh you've got the silver shiny thing out again
Come on Mummy, keep up!

Now I’m sat here having another rest (can’t get enough of it these days), while Andrew naps off some of his teething woes (hopefully) and Tom finishes some bits of DIY. Oh and it’s showering outside. A pretty typical British bank holiday it’s been for us then. DIY, family time, and a walk in the country. I guess a picnic in the rain would make it complete – we chickened out of that and lunched at home. What have you been upto over the weekend? We’re very lucky in that Tom gets the day off (and I don’t work Mondays anyway), but I guess not everyone even gets a holiday for May Day, so maybe you or someone in the family has had to work? Whatever you’ve done and wherever you’ve been, I hope it’s been both productive and restful for you too! 🙂