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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Garden fun – #CountryKids

After quite a few weeks of blogging about our out and about adventures for Country Kids, I thought it would be good to do another garden fun post, especially because this week I have really appreciated the fact that we now have a garden (admittedly this particular one is temporary, but we do have one at our new house too). The first two days of this week were very showery, so the garden was the perfect place to be in the afternoons after nap because we could just nip back in again or shelter under the gazebo if the rain got too heavy for a little while, then go back out again when it stopped. Wednesday afternoon I realised just how much we appreciate going in the garden – a case of you don’t know just what you’ve got til it’s gone – because it was absolutely pouring with rain the whole afternoon and even the boys didn’t want to go out in that, so got very wound up inside, and trying to entertain a 3 year old and 19 month old with the same indoor activity for a few hours is tricky. So now I am so grateful when we can just open the door and get out in the garden.

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One of Andrew’s favourite role play games at the moment is to pre tent to be an ice cream seller. He stands behind his kitchen and shouts out “Anybody want an ice cream?” loudly and repeatedly until someone takes him up on the offer. He then takes a shuttlecock for the cone, and various coloured balls act as ice cream scoops of different flavours. Recently his ice cream business has branched out into toasties – white discs that go in the giant connect-4 game which come apart and he can sandwich some knid of filling inside for you. In these pictures, Joel was also joining in with this game, even if he didn’t realise it: Andrew said he was doing the washing up, which is fair enough because he was standing by the sink.

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The slide that Andrew got for his birthday in the winter and which will come with us to our new house rather than staying at Granny and Grandad’s house when we move is always popular with both boys, even though it says from age 2 – things like that don’t bother kamikaze Joel. Recently Andrew has taken to going up the ladder behind Joel and making them do a “doubler”, that is slide down the slide together, Joel at the front and Andrew at the back. They both seem to like it, even if it does take Joel by surprise sometimes. They both like sliding down it in the most unconventional ways too, like Joel has on his front in the bottom right picture here.

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The seesaw is also popular, even if not always as a seesaw. Joel likes turning it on its side and climbing over it like it’s a climbing frame! Andrew likes it when I get on too.

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A popular game this week has been the junior putting golf set that Great Grandma bought for them last week. Here you see them using a rather large bouncy ball rather than a small plastic golf ball, which was hilarious to watch! They did do a pretty good job at sharing it though, which isn’t always the case these days, though it does help that we have (at least) 2 clubs. Andrew got more annoyed with the wind than with Joel, as it kept blowing the green strip up until we weighed it down.

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Andrew is still not really into doing much drawing or painting – he’ll happily cut and stick but he’s not so fussed about colouring with crayons or paint. But I thought it would be a good idea to try and encourage him to do a bit more by getting the paints and his easel outside. He had a bit of a go this week and painted a penny farthing (the orange picture) and a rocket (the purple picture), two of his favourite vehicles. Joel was eager to get at the paints, but I only had enough pairs of hands to supervise one lot of painting at a time, and by the time Andrew was finished, Joel wasn’t bothered and was off playing in the garden. In general Joel has shown more interest in colouring and painting when we’re at groups than Andrew has. I’m interested to see if Andrew becomes more interested in these things once he goes to pre-school in September.

Linking up our garden fun with the fab #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Biting the hand that feeds you – wot so funee?

So far my wot so funee? posts have mainly featured Andrew, eldest brother of two. This week, a particular interaction between him and younger brother Joel made me laugh out loud, even though Andrew didn’t find it particularly funny. Like a nice and kind big brother, Andrew offered Joel a mini cheddar biscuit from his packet. That was cute. Then things got cuter when he even offered to put it into Joel’s mouth for him. However, the cuteness faded when Joel took a chunk out of not only the biscuit, but also Andrew’s finger! Talk about biting the hand that feeds you! Andrew looked at me, lip wobbling and said: “Joel bit me!” Luckily he didn’t actually cry, so it can’t have been that bad. But it was just the face that said it all – why?? If you stick your fingers in a 16 month old’s mouth, you won’t come out unscathed!

Moving on to a different kind of food – one you don’t have to bite: ice cream. We had this as a yummy treat for pudding the other day, and when asked which flavour he’d like out of vanilla or ginger (it was fancy stuff!), his reply was: “I’d like miller”. Once again Andrew demonstrating perfectly a phenomenon common to English-learning kids: picking up the stressed syllable (and the one after it) but not the preceding unstressed syllable – so he heard ‘nilla > miller.

Apart from ice cream, Andrew loves bananas. A taste he shares with Daddy but not me. He was eating one the other day, and Grandad thought he would be funny and call Andrew a monkey, joking at the fact that he was eating a banana. But this didn’t go down too well… “I’m not a monkey [sad face]….I’m a rocket!” See, it always has to come back to rockets. And there was us all thinking he was a boy.

I’m sure Andrew isn’t the only 3 year old who is easily pleased. There are several things in life that make him happy, and none of them or very expensive or complicated. For example, the other day when we were driving along, he randomly came out with: “Windy things make me happy!” After a little more probing, it turns out he was talking about windmills, probably the kind that we had on our balcony in bright colours. No idea where that came from!

Another thing that makes him happy is playing for endless hours in the garden – or the “ball garden” as he calls it (Granny and Grandad’s garden where we are currently living). One afternoon we were playing out there, and Andrew was waving a plastic golf club in the air. To try and encourage him to bring it down to a height that didn’t risk a disaster involving the club whacking Joel in the face, I took it off him and started to use it like a hockey stick to move a small ball along the grass…

Me: “Come on, let’s play hockey Andrew!”

Andrew: “No Mummy, don’t be silly, that’s not cocky, it’s golf!”

And to end on a similar note to where I began this post, we have another cute exchange between the brothers, overheard on the monitor one morning. Since the mornings have got lighter, we have reinstalled our lighting system – a cheaper version of a Gro-clock type thing, made from an ordinary lamp and a timer switch. When it’s off, it’s time to sleep, and when it comes on (at 7am), he is allowed to get up and go into Granny and Grandad’s room. But the thing is, there’s one rule for him, and one rule for little brother, who hasn’t understood the idea of the magic light and crescendos once he’s woken up until I go in and fish him out of their room. At about 6.30am I heard this: “No Joel, the light hasn’t come on yet, it’s not time to get up, we must sleep!” Nice try Andrew, I wish it was that easy to reason with your little brother.

Wot So Funee?

Who’s afraid of the ice cream van? – wot so funee?

As sickness took over my life at the weekend (the boys all seem to have escaped it so far…), I’m a bit behind with this week’s funee round-up. But Andrew was on top form, making me laugh with his cute-isms when I really wasn’t feeling like laughing otherwise 🙂

If you’ve been reading these posts for a while, you’ll probably remember Andrew’s encounter with a fire alarm at the local Children’s Centre. Ever since that day he has become a toddler on a mission to spot every fire alarm in the whole world! He regularly points them out to me in places that I would never have noticed them. Just recently he has spotted a few “black fire alarms” – these aren’t the usual colour, which is of course red. He’s seen these on the bus, and also on a building just by the bus stop that we wait at if we get the bus home from town – this building is the magistrate’s court. I’ve had to break it to him that this black variety are in fact not fire alarms – they are CCTV cameras instead! I’m not sure he really understands that concept, but I think he’s just about understood that they are video cameras. If anyone does have the pleasure of watching them, they’ll have plenty of footage of Andrew pointing at them and rabbiting on.

On Saturday morning, Daddy explained to Andrew that he was going to take both boys out to ‘Daddy and me club’ at a local church, which they haven’t been to for a while for various reasons. This club is a brilliant Dad and toddler group that runs on the first Saturday of every month, and is a great way for the three of them to spend time together and give me some time on my own at home. Andrew took in this information about where they were going, and then later, when they were about to leave and I asked him where they were going, he said “golf club…. might be Granny and Grandad there!” I giggled and told him that he was right about the word ‘club’, but this wasn’t the same kind of club as the golf ones. You see he’s come across golf clubs in Granny and Grandad’s garden (hence their mention in his reply above) more frequently than he’s come across other kinds of club so far. Grandad has even sawn down an old club of Uncle Matt’s to just Andrew’s height, so he’s had lots of fun hitting balls in random directions with it!

Before he goes to bed, Andrew has a little routine: bath > potty and Thomas story > tidy up toys > mummy milk > teeth brushing > Bible story in bed > bedtime book in bed. That might seem like a lot of stories, but he loves books, and each one doesn’t take that long in itself. The ‘bedtime book’ is a small board book with a touchy feely bit on each page, and it goes through various things associated with going to bed (pyjamas, teddy, teddy, cot etc.) Andrew has heard it so many times that he now ‘reads’ it himself, turning each page and saying the words perfectly as he does, all by himself. However, the other day, disaster struck and the paper on the front board cover, which has been loose since we got it secondhand, ripped off as it was picked up the wrong way. Andrew’s response was: “Oh no, the skin’s all ripped off!” I love the fact that his mind is very logical and made the link between his skin or fruit skin and the book’s ‘skin’ – they are similar after all!

One morning Andrew and I had been talking a bit of French (well I was doing most of the talking and he was answering my questions in English in his usual fashion). He then went over to Daddy with a basket of blocks, which he’d been pretending were fruits, and asked him: “Do you want an orange, Daddy?” Nothing unusual about that you might think… but he said “orange” the French way! (It’s a bit hard to convey that funee in text, it’s much better spoken out loud, the spelling is the same in both languages!) Daddy, whose French isn’t up to much, said ‘thank you’.

And finally, one evening Joel was getting tired and hungry for dinner, which he showed in a very vocal way by whinging and then crying if I dared to move out of his sight to start cooking. At one point, just as the sound effects took on a new crescendo, an ice cream van came up the road, of course playing its loud Greensleeves tune. Andrew turned to Joel and said, rather loudly in his face (which was necessary to be heard): “Don’t worry Joel, it’s just an ice cream van, just an ice cream van!” Now that’s called being a good big brother, reassuring his little bro that these ice cream vans that plague the area really are harmless!

Wot So Funee?

Homemade ice lollies

This heat has reminded me that I haven’t blogged about our home made ice lollies yet! I bought a lolly mould from our local supermarket for £2 a while ago, and we’ve made a few batches of various flavours. They are the perfect size for little hands, and just the thing we need to cool off in this sunny weather. We’ve made them with pure fruit juices, so they aren’t full of added sugar, and even Joel has been able to enjoy gnawing on one, helping him not only with the heat but his teething gums too.



This batch was a mix of raspberry and orange juices….


And this batch was half grape juice and half apple juice (we froze the grape first and then added the apple once frozen to create the two-tier effect)….

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Such a simple idea, but very effective at cooling us off in the temperatures that we’re currently experiencing. Do you have any top tips for cool food and drinks with little ones in mind?

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