Himley Hall Under 5’s Day

Himley Hall Under 5’s Day has been one of the highlights of our summer since Finley arrived. We have attended every June since 2015. I think the overriding appeal for me is that it is a relatively inexpensive day out  but there’s loads to see and do. Plus there’s a beach. When you live in the Midlands, sand is a big big huge deal!!

We packed up a picnic as we always do and headed out early – traffic and parking can sometimes be an issue. Thankfully this year we managed to get in and arrived by about 10:30. We paid on the door and for 2 adults and a 3 year old it cost £18. You can book in advance and save 20% but I always wait just in case the great British weather doesn’t hold out!

The first thing Finley spotted was the West Mercia Police area, and was eager to sit in the police car and try on the police helmet and put the sirens on. In previous years, the police have chatted to us too but it was a little busier this year so we didn’t get the opportunity to do this. There was also a mini police car to drive around but Finley was a little big for this. Next stop was the beach for an ice cream and to build some sand castles! There is a lot of seating area around the sand area for parents to relax on whilst the children play in the sand. There are also some mini climbing frames and slides too which Finley loved. There are plenty of buckets and spades to go around. Like I said, even a fake beach is exciting for us!

Himley Picnic.jpg

Himley Beach.jpg

Next stop was the fair. The rides are an additional cost and there is no cash point on site so always good to bring lots of change. Most were around the £1.50 mark. Finley chose to go on the teacups, the swinging chairs and the bouncy castle. There was also a pirate ship and a mini rollercoaster type ride too.

Himley Tea Cups.jpg

We also briefly visited the Hartbeeps tent and The Creation Station tent. The Hartbeeps activities seemed to be designed for children slightly younger than Finley but he was keen to play with the play doh and so some drawing at the Creation Station area. We did a year or so of Creation Station lessons when Finley was a baby, so it’s always good to see the class at local events we visit – holds a special place in our memories!

Himley Picnic.jpg

As the day drew to a close, I did feel a little sad. It will be the last time I get to go probably – at least with Finley. Next year he will be at school. But it’s always good to remind yourself  that there are plenty more traditions and memories ahead!

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A Maynes Microadventure!

I married a man who loves the outdoors. I must admit, apart from the odd Sunday stroll, I wasn’t a huge fan of anything that involved walking boots or a slight hill incline before I met Mr M. Being indoors with access to electricity was much more my thing!

If you can’t beat them join them so they say, and I am very grateful to my lovely husband for many things, but one of them is introducing me to the wonderful outdoors. He is a little more adventurous than I am, and has travelled to many places taking part in fell races and hikes in the Lake District, the Peak District and even to the Mourne Mountains. Whilst I am not quite to this level, I am a huge advocate of encouraging Finley to be outdoors as much as possible. When Mr M introduced me to the concept of microadventures, I fell a little bit in love with the idea!

A microadventure is a notion described by Alistair Humphries, an adventurer, blogger, speaker and author, and described as a short, simple, local, cheap, fun and rewarding activity. It’s goal is to get us away from the urban environment, away from screens and give us the opportunity to explore and enjoy the rural environment.

On Saturday, we decided to have an early morning breakfast in Uffmore Woods, which is near the Clent Hills local to where we live. The area is brimming with birdlife and Mr M has spotted dear whilst running there too, so we were hoping to spot 1 or 2 if we were lucky.

Microadventure 1.jpg

We packed up a flask of water and some fruit, porridge and a picnic rug and left around 7am. It was lovely to have the woods to ourselves and feel comfortable letting Fin have a wander around freely. He loves collecting twigs and jumping in mud. He has such an active imagination at the moment, so the world his his oyster and it’s great seeing him make up stories about being on safari and hunting bears and the Gruffalo in the trees!

Microadventure 3.jpg

As Alistair says, adventure is about pushing yourself – whether that be physically, mentally or culturally. Adventure is all around us and can be done in short segments without having to cost much money if at all!

Finley thought having breakfast in the middle of a secluded wood was absolutely magical, and we even spotted the dear too!

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Do you have any ideas of microadventures you would like to try with your children? I would love to hear all about them if you do take the plunge!

 

 

18 Summers Wish List!

It’s a scary thought when you realise your time with this little wonderful person you have created is limited. It seems so far away, the teenage years, college, uni, them moving out. But I am reliably informed it arrives very quickly, which I can well believe when I see how far the last 4 years have flown.

I was tagged in the #18summerswishlist post by Mummy’s Diary, which is a pledge list for yourself and your children, of things you want to achieve before their 18th birthday. I loved the idea, so I was really happy to play along!

1.The great outdoors.

We are really keen to fit a camping trip in soon to see how we get on. It will be a first for me and for Finley, but I love the idea of us all pitching up a tent and cooking on a camp stove! Being outdoors as mush as possible is really important to us. I think so many life lessons can be taught by climbing trees, exploring the woods and spending time away from technology as a family.

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2. Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!

We haven’t managed to fit in an overseas holiday yet, so this is definitely one to tick off soon. We loved Italy when we went on our honeymoon there, so that would be a nice place to go back to.

3. City sightseers.

Following our successful trip to Bath earlier this year, I would love to do more city breaks. Edinburgh, Paris, Prague, Rome, Zurich, would be top of the list.

18 summers 2

4. Forest school and food.

Finley loves Forest School at nursery and loves going out for picnics and I love doing this as a budget activity if we don’t want to travel too far from home. There is so much to explore in your local area, and we are quite lucky to live close to Clent and the Wyre Forest so it’s nice to go up here while the weather is good.

5. Disneyland here we come!

We are saving up to go Disney World in Florida for my 40th and I am so excited!! We haven’t mentioned it very much to Finley as it is a little bit too far in advance and I think he would drive us mad! It would be nice to do it as a surprise and just take him to the airport without him knowing where he is going!

Disneyland

6. Happy Birthday!

Finley has such a great birthday date – 25th July – and since he was born the weather has always been fantastic on his birthday. I make no apology for putting so much effort in to his birthday. He is my only baby and I love planning so it’s win win for me! I hope to make each birthday memorable and special for him. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Some years we do a picnic in the park and just have a trip as a family. This year we are doing a party as he has friends at nursery and with him starting school we thought it would be nice. Hopefully we will go to the new Legoland Birmingham for his birthday too.

I tag!

Rachel at www.rachelclaire.com

Georgina at www.geegardner.co.uk

Charlotte at www.cupsofcharlotte.co.uk

Azaria at www.beingmrslynch.com

Vicky at www.tippytupps.com

Alice at www.livingwithajude.co.uk

Hanna at www.littlesnippets.co.uk

Mummys diary 2

Playing with imagination at the Children’s Play Village!

I couldn’t help but notice the flurry of PR activity late last summer around the Children’s Play Village in Warwick. I have been eager to go since it opened so when a friend suggested a visit to our Mommy’s social group, I was first to say yes!

The website provides pretty detailed instructions as to how to find the village, as it is located on a private road that isn’t picked up by using a sat nav. The information is really useful, however if you are travelling alone – and rubbish at remembering more than one sequence of A road and B road numbers! – it could possibly be a little tricky to find. We did however, manage to track it down fairly easily, but I can imagine the turning could be easily missed!

The village works on a pre-booking system within time slots. You can choose 9:30am – 12noon, 12:30pm – 3:00pm and 3:30pm – 6:00pm. Between each session the village is tidied and cleaned so when you enter the village, it is spotless. Only allowing a certain amount of people in also means there are plenty of tables available in the restaurant so you are guaranteed a seat.

Before play a visit to the toilet is essential (yep I am talking about toilets – again!) I felt these deserved a mention as they too were absolutely spotless. Big cubicles allowing room for a pushchair if you had one, changing tables and lovely Pears handwash which I think I now need to buy as it smelt divine! Just little attention to detail things like this throughout the centre made the visit really special.

Before you enter the play village, one of the team leaders gathers the children round to tell them a little about the village and to sing a few songs with actions. The song is all about capturing your imagination and having fun, so it really does set the tone nicely for the day.

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The village is so well thought out. Attention to detail here is amazing. It wasn’t as big as I had imagined, but for me, that was a plus point as I do get a little anxious if I can’t see where Finley is in play areas. From the restaurant seating space you could keep a close eye on your child. We have an informal tag team agreement in our group, so one us gulps tea whilst the other goes on toddler watch duty, so in this setting it was really easy to do this.

Finley was immediately drawn to the Fire Station. He donned the helmet and fire jacket, along with the little fire canisters and foam fire pieces, and Fireman Finley went to the rescue! He loved driving the fire truck and pretending to go down the fireman’s pole.

Next we visited the village school, where there were great little educational games to play, along with a blackboard and desks. It was lovely to see the children take on teacher and pupil roles. It also opened up a conversation with him about starting big school in September and how fun it will be, which was really nice.

Another hit with Finley was Orly’s Beauty Salon. This little shop included mini bottles of moisturisers, a pretend telephone and computer for booking in clients and sinks to wash hair, along with fixed dolls heads that the children could blow dry and style. He loves drying his hair with my hairdryer so I knew this would be a firm favourite with him before we visited!

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Another very fun section was the theatre. Including a stage, lights and a huge choice of dressing up outfits (Finley’s favourite was a sparkly pink hat which unfortunately I couldn’t catch on camera!) A few of the children including Finley put on a show for the Mom’s and Dad’s which was so much fun to watch!

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There is also Lotty’s Tea Room including a yummy looking selection of pretend cakes, a Post Office, a supermarket, Village Vets, an ice cream parlour and picnic site and a construction site. All packed with items designed to fire up little imaginations. There is also an area for babies to play in the centre of the village with a selection of wooden toys.

By this point, were were pretty hungry. There was a really nice selection including toasties, salads, sandwiches and sharing platters as well as a kids menu. We opted for the Little Picnic Basket from the children’s menu and the Cheeky Mermaid Fish Finger Sandwich, Along with a bowl of chips and a drink, this came to just over £14, which for the portion sizes I thought was really good value, as the quality was fantastic.

Warwick Food.jpg

At the end of the session, all of the children are encouraged to help to tidy away. It’s so much easier to get your toddler to do this when there are 30 other children doing it too!

I would definitely recommend a visit to Warwick Play Village. We will absolutely be making a second visit. I would particularly have this in mind for a rainy day activity!

www.childrensplayvillage.co.uk

Please don’t call us lazy!

It seems that there are a few topics that do the rounds every so often on the news and topic shows designed to divide parents – breastfeeding v bottle feeding, literacy levels, co sleeping to name just a few. Last week, the head of Ofsted Amanda Spielman, spoke of a rise in the numbers of children starting school in nappies.

I have documented our ongoing battle with potty training here. Not much has changed since I wrote the post back in February. We have good weeks where we silently tell ourselves that we have broken the potty training barrier and then we have weeks (like this week) where he just goes back to square one. We refer to it as potty strike. When potty strike strikes, it feels like the days are an uphill struggle with constant cleaning and clothes changes.

There were several threads social media following the report, with the topic being covered on programmes such as This Morning and Loose Women. In the social media age, everyone has an opinion, mainly basing it purely on their own personal experience. Everyone now has a voice, and it seems so easy to make very generalised statements about people that you have never even met and you have no insight into their life.

A selection of my favourite comments are as follows –

‘My little Maisie did it in a day. I just took her pants off and she just did it. It’s so easy!’*

‘It’s just lazy parenting. Plain and simple’*

‘My little boy was trained day and night by age 2’*

‘Parents nowadays just can’t be bothered. Too busy on their phones’*

‘In my day you couldn’t send them to nursery without being dry. We did it in a week. My Jack was reciting algebra by the time he was 5’**

I eye rolled so many times. I am really glad that little Jack is on track to read physics at Cambridge, and that you have been the perfect parent since he was conceived, but did no one ever tell you that putting other people down doesn’t make you any better?! I am, as are many other parents, raising children not robots and they all develop at different rates at different times.

Now, I have no doubt that in a small number of cases, there is a degree of parental neglect. But sometimes, the ‘the parents are lazy’ statement is a huge generalisation. There are many factors as to why children are later being potty trained now. Mom’s generally go to work now and there may be different childcare arrangements throughout the child’s early years. We generally wait until a child is ready now instead of rushing potty training, And disposables are sometimes mentioned as a contributing factor, as the child doesn’t feel wet when they wee.

I really don’t totally buy in to the ‘this didn’t happen in my day’ school of thought. From a source who shall rename nameless, I have been told of a little boy who attended school in the 60’s. He had poor social skills, poor literacy, lack of concentration. He was dismissed as a ‘naughty boy’ who was regularly hit over the knuckles with a ruler for ‘misbehaviour.’ Anyone with any experience of children by today’s standards would clearly recognise this child possibly suffered with dyslexia, possibly ADHD – who know’s? I am confident that this is probably a story replicated for many people across the UK. My guess is it did happen, but people just didn’t talk about it.

Potty

And us? We aren’t lazy. You name it, we’ve tried it. Taking days off work – check. Reward charts – check. Being nice about it – yep. Being cross – several times. Shopping for potty’s – We have a potty in every room, all chosen by the boy in question. Each day out is accompanied with a back pack full of clothes changes ‘just in case’. We feel like going to the toilet has taken over our whole lives some days. Finley starts school in September and the panic is starting to set in. We keep being told that ‘eventually he will get it!’ We are desperately waiting for that day to arrive!

Sometimes it just takes some kids longer. They aren’t robots. We feel stressed enough by the whole thing already. Please don’t makes us feel worse!

*I may have paraphrased and exaggerated these quotes slightly. But you get the jist!

**FYI Jack’s Mom, Finley can count to 100 and spell his own name and that isn’t exaggerated – so there!

Liebster Award!

Liebster Award

I’ve been nominated for a Liebster Award! The lovely Crushed Caramel has kindly nominated me for a very cool little accolade, given by bloggers to other bloggers to allow them to get to chat a little bit about themselves. Then in turn, they can nominate other blogs they enjoy reading!

The rules are as follow –

  1. Acknowledge the blog who nominated you
  2. Answer the 11 questions your nominator asked
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers
  4. Ask them 11 questions
  5. Let them know you have nominated them

So here are my questions and answers!

 

1. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE TYPE OF CANDY OR SWEETIE?

If I am feeling flush my chocolate of choice is Hotel Chocolat. Every day I just like plain and simple Galaxy.

2. WHO OR WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START A BLOG SITE?

I loved reading Abi’s blog over at Something About Baby and Nicola’s blog at All Things Spliced. I always thought it was quite a nice little hobby. Finley started nursery and I suddenly had a free day each week to myself so I thought ‘why not?!’

3. HAVE YOU EVER BEEN BULLIED?

That’s a big question! It comes in many different forms and I think it’s easy to look back when you are older and forget things that were hurtful to you when you were younger. I think we all experience it in some ways as we grow up. I guess it depends on the degree of it how you let it affect you.

4. WHICH IS THE BEST WAY TO TRAVEL – BOAT, PLANE, WHEELS?  WHERE WOULD YOU GO? (SORRY I KNOW THAT IS TWO QUESTIONS)

I love going on trains! I really want to do the overnight train to Scotland. I went to Edinburgh years back and adored it -a bit geeky I guess!

5. HOW DO YOU VIEW PEOPLE WHO CHEAT IN MONOPOLY?

Don’t cheat – it’s not nice!

6. DO YOU PREFER POEMS THAT RHYME? (IF THIS IS TOO CONTROVERSIAL A QUESTION – YOU COULD SHARE YOUR FAVOURITE HOUSE-KEEPING TIP INSTEAD)

I don’t mind any sort of poem if it’s a good one!

8.  FANCY DRESS PARTIES – WHAT HAVE YOU DRESSED UP AS?

Moulin Rouge, space girl, I can’t really remember really it was a long time ago!

9. WHICH SONGS WOULD YOU SING IN THE SHOWER WHEN YOU THINK NOBODY CAN HEAR?

I am a huge S Club 7 and Girls Aloud fan – anything cheesy!

10. IS ANYONE ELSE IN YOUR FAMILY A BLOGGER OR VLOGGER?

No I am trying to convince my husband to do one though

11. DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE MAGIC BIN FAIRY (WHO COMES IN THE NIGHT AND EMPTIES YOUR BINS MIRACULOUSLY WHILE YOU ARE SLEEPING AND WIPES ALL THE SPILLS ON THE BIN AND ON THE WALLS AND FLOOR AROUND IT)???  OR ARE THERE MEMBERS OF YOUR HOUSE-HOLD WHO BELIEVE IN THE MAGIC BIN FAIRY?

Ha Ha! We have a lot of fairies in our house!

So there you go! I hope I have educated you in the mind of Yammy Mommy! My nominees are as follows –

Laura at Sophella

Kelly at Small House Big Trips

Kayleigh at Mini Human Resources 

Becky at The Owlet

Charlotte at Little Pickles Design Blog

Nina at Non IGE Baby

And here are my questions –

  1. What advice would you give your 18 year old self?
  2.  What box set are you watching at the moment?
  3. Describe yourself in 3 words?
  4. What does your perfect day look like?
  5. Who inspires you the most?
  6. Cats or Dogs?
  7. What’s your worst habit?
  8. Staying in or going out?
  9. What has been your most embarrassing moment?
  10. What book are you currently reading?
  11. What’s your geek trait?

 

Happy Monday everyone!

 

 

When Finley helped Mr Silly Pancakes get to the moon!

As readers to my reviews will know by now, we love a live performance in our family. I always keep an eye on the Mac listings, as as well as showing fantastic shows aimed at the under 5 age group, it’s a venue I really like to support. I have a soft spot for this place. I visited Cannon Hill Park and Mac frequently as a child with my Dad (30 years + ago!) so I guess it’s holds a special place in my heart!

When I spotted Mr Silly Pancake and the Land of Cake and Biscuits, I just had had to see it. A show about pancakes, cake and biscuits?! What could be better?!

On entering the theatre, the set as would expect was visually stunning, with a promise of a visit to ‘Cherie Trifles Magical Cake Shop.’ We didn’t have long to wait before the wonderful Mrs Trifle bounded on to the set, asking us all to share some magic to help her make some cakes by waving our fingers around.

After a visit from the Gingerbread Man, she told us all about the Land of Cake and Biscuits, and how Mr Silly Pancake lived there. Humans aren’t allowed to visit, because we would eat everything! But Mr Silly Pancake needed our help to get to the moon? Could we actually go and resist the temptation to nibble at the treats?

The following part of the show was such a surprise and so unique. All of the children were invited on set to sit on a biscuit and help Mr Pancake! Finley’s face as he played around the stage, navigating jelly fields, marshmallow castle and milkshake river was just such a magical experience. Not to mention the crazy dancing custard cream! I have never known such an interactive show where the children helped to dictate the narrative. Amazing! We all know how hard it is to keep toddlers engaged in a story and to sit in their seat for 60 minutes, so this as just pure genius.

With bubbles, lights, magic spells and dancing, it was an hour of fun and laughter for everyone.

And did Mr Pancake get to the moon…? You’ll have to wait until Knees and Toes Theatre is back in town and go and find out!

Special mention to the BSL interpreter. Such a great job bouncing around stage with so many children and keeping in sight of who needed to see you!

www.macbirmingham.co.uk

www.kneesandtoestheartre.co.uk