The big green in the big smoke – #CountryKids

Last weekend we went down to London to meet my cousin (that’s the boys first cousin once removed – we’ve looked it up!) and his wife who had just flown in from Australia. We drove to my brother and family’s flat in West London, where Granny and Grandad had also stayed the night, parked there, had a cuppa and used my niece’s darkened quiet bedroom to feed Joel in as he really doesn’t want to miss out on excitement so won’t feed properly when we’re out.

Lovely scenery on the drive down, and waiting for the bus in London
Lovely scenery on the drive down, and waiting for the bus in London

Then we all headed out to Richmond. There were no trains running on the overground line that we needed due to engineering works. So a rail replacement bus it was. Fortunately Andrew loves any form of transport, so a bus was almost as exciting as a train. After crawling through some pretty heavy Sunday traffic, we arrived at Richmond station.

Running around on Richmond Green, with yellow bouncy ball
Running around on Richmond Green, with yellow bouncy ball

There was about half an hour before our Aussie family would arrive, so we walked up the high street and turned down a side road that led to Richmond Green. Andrew was keen to get his bouncy ball out, the one he got as a souvenir from Birdland two weeks previously, and throw/kick it whilst running around, including towards some pigeons who (funnily enough) ran away at this, much to Andrew’s surprise. His uncle and aunt also had a kick about of his small football. As we were on this big green, I found it amazing to think that we were in London – just behind a row of buildings was the busy high street with buses, cars and trains going by, and yet we had a lovely green space to run around on away from the hustle and bustle.

Walking by the Thames and feeding the geese/pigeons (and Joel eating lunch)
Walking by the Thames and feeding the geese/pigeons (and Joel eating lunch)

As time got on, we headed back to the station to meet the visitors, and then we all crossed the road to have lunch at an Italian restaurant. Once we’d enjoyed a yummy meal, we had a leisurely walk back along the high street and back across the green, where Andrew insisted, quite rightly, on getting his bouncy ball out again, and then we carried on down to the river. It was such a beautiful day, so we walked along the river for a while. Andrew found a wall to walk on that separated the path from a grassy bank on our left (the river was to our right.

He was still insistent that he needed his ball, even though we tried on several occasions to suggest that we put it away now so it didn’t roll into the river. And as we had feared, the bouncy ball that was so new did meet a very watery end that day and must now be residing at the bottom of the Thames! He also invented a new game called run around the tree until you’re dizzy – the last bit of it is in the video, along with Granny asking where his ball is and me and him saying it’s in his hand, so this was before the fatal lob Thames-ward.

After a coffee/cold drink stop in a riverside cafe, where Joel also had a small attempt at feeding, we headed back to the station to wave the Aussies on their way back to their London stop over flat, and then we caught the bus back to our car and drove home – two very tired boys fell asleep almost straight away.

Homeward bound
Homeward bound

┬áLinking up with #CountryKids over at Coombe Mill’s blog again today ­čÖé

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Grobag Gro-ing Places Chair Harness

Just recently there have been a few occasions when we’ve thought that a travel high chair would be a good idea. Usually cafes and restaurants have them when we eat out (not that we do it that often, and the kinds of places we go to are family friendly), but we’ve been a bit stuck when going to lunch in the home of friends who don’t have kids. When Andrew was less independent we could manage with him on our lap, but now he wants his own portion and the chair to go with it, squirming and wriggling for freedom from the harness that is his parents’ arms.

I’d heard about travel high chairs but not really looked into it until Andrew’s friend and her parents came for lunch, and brought with them hers. They had a Totseat in a very sensible greeny colour with a strong pattern, so food would not be too obviously visible. So this prompted me to do some Googling, and I ended up buying a Grobag Gro-ing Places Chair Harness. I’ve not done any reviews yet on the blog, and I wasn’t asked to do this, so it’s more just about me telling you how useful we’ve found it rather than an actual review.

Basically it is a piece of fabric with straps and clips that fit over almost any adult chair that has a back to it. You can tighten and loosen the straps to fit each chair and your growing child.

It is made out of a lightweight but strong fabric, which very handily folds in on itself into a little carry bag (a bit like one of those cagoules that folds into itself). That way there’s no way you can lose the bag to carry it in. This is useful when you have a toddler and your eyes are not usually kept fixed on the same task for more than 30 seconds because said toddler has toddled off. I like the fact that the fabric is patterned, so that food spillages are not too obvious. But it’s also machine washable and also just easily wipeable after a meal. Let’s face it, it’s going to get messy! The first time I got it out and tried to fix it onto a chair, it looked quite complicated. But once I’d followed the instructions and had a couple more goes on my own, it soon became easy. The hardest part was getting Andrew to sit still for long enough for me to tighten the strap around his waist.

As Andrew is only 13 months old, he is a bit low still on adult chairs, so we find that we either have to give him a cushion to sit on, or one of us adults holds his plate off the table in front of him at the right height. I’ve got used to eating with one hand since having a baby, so that doesn’t particularly bother me – I can still get on with mine and hold his plate.

I’d say this chair harness is very good value, and we’ll certainly have it with us when we’re out, just in case we need it. It’s so compact that it slips into the change bag easily along will all the other paraphernalia. I didn’t buy many items of baby equipment until I’d either tried one out through a friend, or lived with Andrew for a while to see what would really be useful. There are so many things out there that we’re told we ‘need’ for baby, but it’s not always a case of ‘needing’ everything. This chair harness, however, has definitely been worth it, and it’s hard to imagine not having it now, as it makes our mealtimes much more pleasant for everyone when we’re out and about. Andrew gets to feel all grown up in a grown-ups chair, and we get to eat without a toddler’s body crossing the flight path of our fork from plate to mouth.