Water park fun – #CountryKids

Last Sunday morning we went to our local park – the War Memorial Park in Coventry. Andrew had been a bit sick earlier in the morning, but he wasted to go out and get some fresh air, so we thought a trip to the park would cheer him up rather than our usual Sunday morning activity of going to church, where anyone sitting in the pew in front of us may have ended up being showered in sick – at least in the open air such an incident would be more easy to deal with! Anyway, he was generally ok, if a little slower and less bouncy than usual, and he slept for quite a while in the afternoon when we got back, so he must have been ill.

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Andrew was happy to play quietly in the huge sand pit that is the playground, burying Daddy’s legs and then having his own legs buried, while I ran around after Joel, who allowed his legs to be buried just the once.

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Joel was all over the place, as usual, on the slide, the round about, climbing up the grassy mound to the slides, running down it, sieving sand, lifting it up in buckets etc. etc.! He even had a go at pushing Daddy around on the round about. Then another family noticed that there were a couple of guys in council uniforms opening up the water park area next to the sand park. This has been there for a while now, but I’ve never seen it open. There is a sign on it saying that it’ll only be open in school summer holidays, so I thought maybe they were just cleaning it or preparing it for the summer holidays in a few weeks. But before we knew it, there was water shooting up all over it and the other family were in and splashing about. So we followed….

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This really cheered Andrew up. If I hadn’t have seen him more ill in the morning, I would never have known! He was running about all over the place, splashing in the water, getting very wet. He particularly liked running under the fountains that made arches up and over him. Joel, on the other hand, was a little scared of the shooting water, so preferred to run around on the bits that weren’t working yet – about half the water features were working and half weren’t, but as it was only us and one other family there, there was plenty of space for us all to run around in the wet bits.

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We’d taken a change of clothes, so when Andrew decided he’d had enough of the water, I stripped him off and put on his dry clothes. He’d also spotted and ice cream van by that point and asked for an ice cream. I told him that an ice lolly would be ok (sugar and water was probably just what he needed), so he happily munched on that. Joel doesn’t like ice cream – I think it’s too cold for him – so I got a soft ice cream in a cone and he ate the cone for me (which I’m not fussed about!) Considering the morning had started so miserably, we were glad to have had such a fun morning out, and see this water park that has been shut so many times before.

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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Joining in with the fab #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog

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.

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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.

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Fun in the winter sun at National Trust Baddesley Clinton – #CountryKids

Each week Granny has one day that she doesn’t work, and since we’ve been staying with her and Grandad, she’s mainly been spending that day with us. A couple of times she’s helped us go and look at pre-schools (i.e. she’s looked after Joel whilst Andrew and I went in to have a look round), and most often we’ve been swimming because that’s something I can’t do on my own with 2 toddlers and we love a good swim. But as this week was half term, we figured that the pool would be much busier than the usual quiet parent and tots session, so we decided to visit a local National Trust property instead, especially as the weather was so nice and sunny.

We’d seen that there were welly walks advertised through the NT app at both Packwood House and Baddesley Clinton in the afternoon, but as the boys were due a nap in the afternoon, we headed off first thing in the morning to Baddesley Clinton, thinking that we could just do our own welly walk through the lovely grounds there. When we arrived it was lovely and quiet, and as we walked off around the outside of the house there was nobody else in sight.

Baddesley Collage 1

The house is interesting because it is surrounded by a moat, and this fascinated Andrew, particularly as there were ducks swimming in it. There were also plenty of puddles to splash in on the path by the moat, so this satisfied the boys’ desire to get wet without resorting to jumping in the moat! We then continued on a path beyond the house, which took us around a lake surrounded by trees. It was so beautiful – the sun glistening on the water and the trees reflecting in the calm lake. We came to a few bridges too, across streams leading into/out of the lake, which the boys loved. They both did really well at walking, though Joel’s little legs didn’t quite make it all the way round before he wanted up onto my back.

Baddesley Collage 2

Andrew collected a couple of sticks, as usual, and we came back round towards the house on the other side of it. There was a lovely patch of snow drops and the birds were out in full force, tweeting away in the tree-tops. With these and the sun, it really felt like a spring day compared to all the wet days we’ve had recently, though it was a bit nippy out of the sun.

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As we walked through the more formal, walled bit of garden, Andrew was getting tired, so we spurred him on with the thought of a drink and snack in the tea room – it was only 10.30 by this point. You really can’t go wrong with home baked National Trust goodies. We shared a cupcake, gingerbread lady and shortbread biscuit between us; they went down well.

Baddesley Collage 4

By the time we’d finished, the house was then open, so we headed across there to have a look around. The boys aren’t really old enough to appreciate much of it, but they enjoyed having a brief explore through the old rooms with uneven floors and interesting objects. There was an activity for kids – a welly hunt – so Andrew was tasked with spotting all the little pictures of wellies as we walked around. Unfortunately I didn’t get many photos inside as you’re not allowed to use flash and I was too busy holding hands with one of the boys. But I did just about capture them on camera in the last room where there was a dressing up box with period clothes in – they loved putting some hats on.

Baddesley Collage 5

After this, we fed the ducks with some bread that another family gave us, and then we took another short walk down to the field at the front of the estate, to see the sheep and the tractor that was driving about. Andrew was also fascinated by what looked like a local electricity generator (I’m no expert, but there was one of those ‘danger of death’ signs that I associate with electricity) – in his words: “look Mummy, it’s a lightening, a lightening”!

By this time though, the boys were clearly very tired, and we knew that the car journey home and some lunch before nap would be a good idea at this point. There was just enough time to go back via the shop and claim our prize for counting the wellies in the house – a sticker for Andrew – and buy the usual bouncy ball souvenir, which Granny and Grandad always buy for them at a National Trust property.

It was a fantastic morning out in the fresh air and almost spring-like sunshine. The grounds and house were perfect for little legs to explore, and when we move to south Birmingham, this will be one of our local properties, so I’m sure we will be back many a time in the future.

Linking up with Coombe Mill’s fantastic Country Kids linky as usual – pop over there to read about others’ outdoor family fun.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Christmas holiday outdoor fun – #CountryKids

For the past week or so, I’ve been wanting to write about the outdoor fun that we had over Christmas with Grandma and Pop down in Plymouth, but Joel isn’t sleeping very well at the moment – especially a distinct lack of naps in the daytime which means he’s very grumpy by tea time and often falls asleep in his high chair. This has left me with little time or energy after trying to help him nap using various means, so blogging hasn’t been possible. Plus we’ve been busy house hunting, which also leaves me with little time or energy! So finally, here is what we got up to outdoors over Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, the weather forecast said it would be windy but generally dry with the odd shower. We decided to head not too far down the road to Mount Batten, which is on the coast looking over the estuary towards Plymouth city centre. There is a good wide path next to the water and a barrier, so it was a good place to take Andrew’s bike, and there is also a park a little way up the hill which has a great view over the sea. We togged up with waterproofs and woolies to guard against rain and wind, and I should say that this was well before any of the high tides that were really dangerous in the south west after Christmas, as we would never have dared to go that close to the water then.

Plymparks Collage 1

Andrew absolutely loved the chance to ride his bike, as he always does, and particularly as it was near the sea and river. Joel was tired so he mainly stayed in the buggy with the rain cover on as a wind barrier so he could have a snooze. When we got to the park though, he livened up and was keen to have a go himself, chasing after Andrew and following him onto the swings and slides. The park was just the right size for toddlers, so they were very happy. On our way back from the park to the car, we saw a lovely seal asleep on a lifeboat platform near the yacht yard on Mount Batten. Apparently harbour seals are quite common here, and this one looked very happy snoozing on the warm rubber platform.

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On Christmas day, our time outdoors was a walk to church and back, and with all the festivities, there wasn’t time for a trip to a park. So on Boxing day, we headed over to the boys’ uncle and aunt’s house, firstly to see their pets – a lovely rabbit and 2 lively degus – and then for a walk down to the Tamar Bridge at the end of their road. Again, Andrew rode his bike whilst we all walked/jogged after him! First we headed down to the river shore underneath the bridge, where we also found a small park (only a couple of swings remain where there used to be a bigger park next to the river). Then we walked back up the steep hill (Andrew walked rather than rode his bike up), and then across the pedestrian side of the Tamar Bridge. In fact there is a split path – half for pedestrians and half for cyclists, so Andrew took to the side with the picture of a bike on, and rightly so! Joel wanted to walk, so he took to the side with the picture of a person on. It was a lovely bright day, and we all enjoyed getting out for some fresh air and exercise.

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Plymparks Collage 4

The day after Boxing day was our last full day down there, and as the weather was still generally fine, we decided to head to another park. Grandma and Pop had noticed a new park at one of the coastal villages – Newton Ferrars – down the road from their side of Plymouth when they were out walking there one day previously. They knew that the boys would like it and thought it was a bit different from the local ones to them because it was all made out of wood rather than metal. And they were right, it was very popular! It was a bit wet underfoot, so again we had to tog the boys up with full waterproofs, but they loved it. There were a couple of slides (one small enough for Joel and one perfectly sized for Andrew), swings, a climbing frame in the shape of a pirate ship, a bridge with holes in that you have to step over, sand with buckets to play with it and lots more.

Plymparks Collage 5

The added bonus of this park was the lovely view that we got looking across to the village centre on the waterfront – another estuary reaching into the sea. Once we’d finished in the park, we walked through the woods – where Andrew did some off-road biking, and then walked down to the water to admire the pretty view.

Plymparks Collage 6

All in all we had great outdoor fun over Christmas, at places very local to where we were staying, where Andrew could ride his bike, Joel could have a toddle, and both could play on the playgrounds – nothing fancy, just good outdoor family fun.

Noroclear anti-bacterial products (review)

If there’s one thing that I’ve bought a lot more of at the supermarket since having children, it’s anti-bacterial cleaning products for both our home surfaces and our hands. At home we have laminate floors, which are soooo practical for young children – you can just wipe up any food, drink or nappy-free-time accidents quickly and easily with a muslin cloth and some anti-bac spray – Bob’s your uncle, or bac’s your aunty as we say ;)! When we’re out and about I have some anti-bac hand gel if we’re not able to wash our hands for whatever reason before eating or after nappy changing (for example if we go to the park and do either of those things in the outdoors!) So when the opportunity arose to review some Noroclear products, I was more than happy to give them a go, as I feel we can really put them into action!

What exactly is Noroclear?

We were sent the hygiene pack, which comprises a hand foam, skin wipes and surface wipes. They also make a surface disinfecting spray. According to the Noroclear website, all their products kill 99.99% of superbugs in just one minute, including Norovirus, MRSA, E.coli, Salmonella and H1N! flu. Noroclear was developed for professional medical settings, but now is on sale for domestic use, and it has undergone extensive testing for its effectiveness and stringent dermatological testing (see here for details). I found it interesting to read exactly how the products kill the little blighters of germs – take a look here if you’re interested.

As well as being tough on germs, all the products are kind on skin – they are non-alcohol based and 100% bleach-free. Even better than that, the hand wipes and hand foam contain natural aloe vera for gentle skin conditioning, making them ideal for frequent use and for children.This all sounds good to me.

How did the products fare on our grubby paws and surfaces when out and about?

With the warmer weather recently, we’ve been eating out and about more often, either picnics or cafes. I’ve used the hand foam quite a lot for me after having done an al fresco nappy change or before eating. I love the fact that it is neither greasy nor alcoholic, which other anti-bac hand products that I’ve tried are. Alcohol gels can leave my hands quite dry, but this foam leaves them lovely and soft, and there is no sticky residue, it all soaks in within a minute.

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Although Andrew is quite fascinated by the foam, I’ve tended to use the hand wipes on the boys, because they are still too young to do it themselves and I found the wipes easier for me to use on their hands – a moving target – instead of getting foam everywhere that I didn’t want to get it ;). I haven’t seen anti-bac skin wipes before, it’s either been hand gel or surface wipes, so I was glad to have this option when cleaning their hands. Each wipe is large, much larger than I expected, and larger than your average baby wipe. I could easily do two or three sets of grubby hands with one wipe. They felt nice and soft, similar to a good quality baby wipe, and again they didn’t leave any kind of sticky residue.

noroclear 4 Collage

So far we’ve used the surface wipes less, but they have been useful for wiping high chair tables or the picnic tablecloth-come-mat from which Joel will eat directly without a plate/bowl. They are smaller than the hand wipes, but a strong material which allows you to wipe hard and not put a hole through the wipe whilst you’re doing it. I found that both packs of wipes are easy to open and get just one wipe out at a time, which isn’t always the case with packs of wipes.

Not a great picture of the surface wipe in action - Tom was using it still folded up for some reason as I took the picture! It's bigger than this when unfolded.
Not a great picture of the surface wipe in action – Tom was using it still folded up for some reason as I took the picture! It’s bigger than this when unfolded. Joel ate directly from the table in front of him here.

What do I get for my money?

The hygiene pack contains a 50ml hand foam, a pack of 20 hand wipes and a pack of 20 surface wipes. The contents come in a little plastic zipped pouch, which keeps the three things together so they don’t get lost in your bag, and the size of this pouch is great as it fits nicely in my change bag’s end pocket for easy access.

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The pack costs £12.99 to buy from the Noroclear website. I think this is reasonable for what you get. At first glance I thought it was quite expensive, but then I realised that I’ve only ever bought items like the ones in the pack separately and when I break down the cost, it’s fairly comparable to other branded travel size products like this on the market. Plus Noroclear claims to kill more bugs than other brands, and I would say it’s worth a bit extra for the hand foam as this really is the nicest feeling anti-bac hand stuff that I’ve tried.

And finally…

Overall I have been very impressed by the Noroclear hygiene pack and I would recommend it if you are out and about with little ones, especially if nappy changing and eating where there may not always be a readily available basin to wash hands.


Disclaimer: I was sent the Noroclear hygiene pack free of charge for the purpose of this review, but all opinions expressed are honest and my own based on our experience of using the products.

Adventures in the Lake District (part 2) #countrykids

When I started writing up our holiday, the blog post soon got too long. So here’s the second instalment about what we did in the second half of the week….

If you find yourself on holiday in the Northern Lake District with children, here are some ideas for activities that a family will enjoy, including places that are fun and allow children to let off steam in wet weather. I thought I’d also link up with Country Kids over at Coombe Mill.


Again we awoke to the pitter patter of raindrops as well as little feet. But rain never stops play in the Lake District – it couldn’t, you’d never go anywhere if it did! We hung around at home for a bit longer than usual, waiting for hungry babies to feed and hoping the rain might ease off a little. It didn’t, so we headed to the World of Beatrix Potter attraction in Bowness. This was perfect for Andrew, and even his baby brother and cousin had a good crane of the neck out from the sling and buggy! He was fascinated by all the models of characters from her books, and we even got to walk round Peter Rabbit’s garden as the rain eased off. There was an activity trail too, which was a bit old for our kids, but would be great for school-age children.

The World of Beatrix Potter
The World of Beatrix Potter

After a browse of the gift shop and a souvenir present from Granny and Grandad, we drove back up along Windermere to Brockhole visitor centre where we ate our picnic in the sheltered picnic area – so very British 🙂 Apart from the indoor bit of the centre which has a nice cafe and tells you all about the Lake District’s history and geography, there is quite an extensive parkland on the shore of Windermere, with an adventure playground for kids, paths for walking for all ages, and a treetop trail (a bit like Go Ape) for adults.

Peter Rabbit's Garden
Peter Rabbit’s Garden

Nap-time today was spent in the car, starting on the journey home and ending after a while sat on the drive with Daddy in the passenger seat having a nap too. Our evening meal was out at Keswick’s bargain curry house during happy hour. Andrew charmed the socks off the waiters, and impressed them with his appetite and love of spicy food – when ordering a kids portion of medium-heat chicken curry for him, I was warned that the spice would be too much, but he wolfed it down.


As this was forecast to be the best day for weather all week, we decided to venture further afield to Ravenglass and ride on a steam train at the Ravenglass and Eskdale Steam Railway. According to their website, it is “Lakeland’s oldest, friendliest and longest most scenic railway”, a narrow gauge one with fully functioning miniature steam trains. Andrew is into trains, particularly Thomas the Tank Engine, big time at the moment, so he was so excited to watch them at the station and then ride on one himself; on the return leg the train of carriages was pulled by a blue engine just like Thomas!


When we arrived at the other end of the line, we had a quick picnic on the rather windy area of grass behind the station, and then went on a walk down to a little church down by the river in the valley. Before we boarded to ride back to Ravenglass, Andrew and the babies got some badges for having a go at the activity pack that was given to children on the train. I added ‘on a narrow gauge steam train’ to my (mental) list of places where I’ve fed a baby!

As we drove home, the boys slept and the sunshine decided to come out properly, giving us lovely blue-sky views across the mountains in the distance, including Scafell Pike, the highest peak in England (which we climbed together as a family on a hot sunny day when I was a child on holiday in the Lake District).eskdale


To make up for the disproportionate amount of sun the day before, we had nothing but rain, rain and more rain! Granny and Grandad were happy to walk with Andrew into the town in the morning, and go to the park all togged up as well as dry off in a cafe afterwards. I needed to keep moving with Joel in the sling (with rain cover) so that he would go to sleep, so Tom and I had a pleasant, if damp, walk along the Keswick Railway Footpath. We got half-way along this disused railway which runs between Keswick and Threlkeld, an ancient settlement which became a mining area in the 20th century; we turned back after a 45 minute walk from Keswick because I knew Joel would want to feed in a little while.railway walk

The beer connoisseurs in the family fancied a lunchtime pint, so we headed up the road to the local pub less than a minute’s walk away and had a warming lunch. Nap-time at home was followed by playing with toys and games in the living room, watching the rain through the window. The day finished with us listening to the howling gale outside, rattling the old sash windows as we fell asleep.


With the promise of better weather, we made the short journey to Whinlatter Forest Park, where we played on the adventure playground and went for a walk through the woods and down, round, and back up the hill. It had been so windy the night before that there were bits of tree everywhere: branches that had fallen off, one which had to be chopped off just before we walked past because it was was hanging off precariously, and even a whole tree that had come down across the path, which we had to climb over with two buggies and two sleeping babies (one in a buggy and one in a sling attached to me) – that was quite an adventure in itself! The Forestry Commission, who manage the park, were out and about clearing up and sorting out all the damage to trees.whinlatter 1

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Having walked up an appetite, we had a lovely homemade cake in the cafe, which unfortunately had no power, we think due to a tree falling through cables, so they could only do tea and coffee by boiling water on the gas hob rather than with the electric coffee machine. We headed home for lunch, packing and naps. Later in the afternoon, we nipped over to the park, where Andrew got the hang of swinging his legs with the rhythm of the swing, copying Daddy’s movements on the swing next to him. For our final evening we had a pub dinner just up the road, a great night to end a lovely holiday.park

Places to visit on twitter

The World of Beatrix Potter Arrtraction: @BeatrixPotter

Brockhole Visitor Centre: @brockhole

Ravenglass and Eskdale Steam Railway: @rersteam

Whinlatter Forest Park: (Facebook) Forestry Commission

I’m linking up with Country Kids over at Coombe Mill’s blog.
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Adventures in the Lake District (part 1) #countrykids

Last week we had our annual spring holiday in the Lake District. It’s very handy for us that my parents have a holiday home up there, which they let out for much of the year, but also take weeks for themselves and family. This time the four of us went up with my parents and my brother and family – 6 adults and 3 kids – good job the house sleeps 10. It is situated in Keswick, which is in the northern Lakes on the northern shore of Derwent Water.

There are plenty of activities for the whole family in and around Keswick and further afield. As we had 2 babies with us who are feeding quite a lot still, we couldn’t easily be on the go for too long at a time, so we did a mixture of very local outings and some which required more travel, of course with frequent feeding stops throughout the day. I kept a mini diary of what we did, and here it is written up in (hopefully) intelligible form along with photos. If you find yourself on holiday in the northern Lake District with children, here are some ideas for activities that a family will enjoy, including places that are fun and allow children to let off steam in wet weather. I thought I’d also link up with Country Kids over at Coombe Mill’s blog.


Having travelled to my parents’ home in Coventry on the Thursday evening, we set off up north after breakfast. We had one of the easiest journeys up there that we’ve ever had. We stopped twice at services for toilet/food/drink; the second stop was at the Tebay services on the M6 – this is like no other service station that I have ever visited. Secretly I was quite pleased when Joel started whinging for food not far from it, because I knew that Andrew would be in his element in the soft-play area, which would help him let off some steam during an otherwise sedentary day in the car.

On this occasion I spent most of the stop in the car, as that seems to be the most reliable place to get Joel to feed. But Tom sampled the deliciousness of the cafe, which prepares fresh snacks and meals using lots of local produce – I’ve tasted it before and was very impressed, not like your average bacteria in a bun or cardboard sandwiches at services! The highlight of my trip there this time was the family changing room, which was clean and easily fitted the four of us, with a spacious change table for Joel, a little person’s toilet and wash basin for Andrew and an adult-sized toilet and wash basin too; this kind of thing makes such a difference when you’re travelling long distances with little ones.

When we arrived in Keswick, Andrew set about exploring the house, which we think he vaguely remembered from last year. Despite having slept quite a bit in the car, the boys were tired come dinner time, so a quick bath and into bed was the next step. Tom and I then went for a short wander through the town for a leg stretch and fresh air whilst Granny and Grandad babysat. It felt very weird to be on our own without the kids.


Views from Friar's Cragg
Views from Friar’s Cragg

After the car journey the day before, we all decided that staying very local was the order of the day. A leisurely get up, involving Andrew going in to Granny and Grandad’s bed to play with the iPad and listen to music, was followed by a relaxing breakfast. We then headed down to the lake, which is about 15 minutes walk from the house. The land around Derwent Water is managed by the National Trust, and in particular we like the area called Friar’s Cragg, a rocky outcrop where you get some stunning views of the lake and surrounding hills. We were not disappointed by the views there on that day.

We also stopped to look at the ducks on the pebbly beach where the rowing boats are available for hire, and Andrew had great fun running after them. He kept shouting “ducks running away” as he followed them around, as if he was surprised by this cause and effect! As the weather was fairly warm and bright, we stopped for a coffee and cake at a lovely cafe overlooking the lake and even sat outside.

Andrew at lake chasing ducks

In the afternoon we went back home for lunch and then Andrew napped and the rest of us rested. Later on we nipped back into the town to have a mooch around the market which sells all sorts of things from food to crafts to old books to clothes. Amazingly all three children were in a good mood and not feeding/sleeping at the same time just before dinner, so Grandad got his camera out and we had a family photo shoot with some cute results.


We woke up to pouring rain, the kind that soaks you through in just the seconds that it takes you to run to the car to pack it up! So to get our fill of exercise and fun we headed to Penrith leisure centre for a family swim. The small pool was perfect for the little ones, and the adults took it in turns to swim some lengths – I did a quick 30 lengths which was great as I don’t get much chance to swim properly these days. Whenever we’re with family we take advantage of the extra pairs of hands and get as much swimming in as possible so that Joel’s experience is as close as possible to Andrew’s at this age – we used to go once a week but I can’t take them both on my own now.

On the drive back we stopped at Reghed Centre – what’s that? In their words: “Well, we are a number of things really, but the four things we pride ourselves in is being a destination for family, food, the outdoors and arts & culture.” It’s actually run by the same people that run Tebay services (Westmorland Ltd). The two things we went for were lunch – a yummy freshly cooked selection of mains and lighter bites (I’d definitely recommend the flatbreads) – and soft play – Andrew adores this at the moment he’s just like a Duracell bunny going up and down and round the play area again and again.

Worn out, we headed home, and after quite a late nap to recharge the bunny’s batteries, we nipped over to the park opposite the house as it had stopped raining by then.

View from the park (on another day - it was more miserable weather than this)
View from the park (on another day – it was more miserable weather than this)

To be continued in another post…..(this one got too long!)

Places to visit on twitter

Tebay services and Rheged: @tebayservices

The National Trust: @nationaltrust

Penrith Leisure Centre: @Penrithleisure

I’m linking up with Country Kids over at Coombe Mill’s blog.

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.