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Category Archives: Days Out

Getting Wild…

Yesterday we took advantage of the sunny day, and took a walk to a nearby park for a picnic and George’s first go on a swing (he loved it)…

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Since getting back from our holiday (more about that soon) we’ve not gotten out and about much, which makes me very sad. It was lovely to get outside, do some walking (and some sweating!…I wasn’t prepared for how warm it was), eat some food (very high up my list of interests), and have some fun as a family.

It was also the start of 30 Days Wild for us (a few days late, but that’s pretty usual for me). We’ll be doing something “wild” every day of June…just to clarify, that’s something outdoorsy and fresh airy, not dancing on tables in a bar at 3am.

I’m not sure what we’ll be doing today, but at the moment it seems fun (for George) just to blow raspberries on my leg and test out newly emerged teeth…so we’re not in any rush!

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2016 in Baby, Days Out, Life

 

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H-App-y Hiking…

 

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We’re lucky enough to live right on the edge of the countryside but, other than taking the dogs around a couple of fields, we never really taken advantage of it. There’s loads of footpaths leading off our usual dog walk and we wanted to go exploring, so I started looking online for maps of local footpaths…and I stumbled across an app called ViewRanger GPS

To start out with we were only using the free maps on ViewRanger to plan our walks (hikes, rambles, slogs through the mud…call them what you will) on public footpaths and bridleways, but there’s a lot more to it than just maps (although I didn’t know this at first).

I wanted to track our route and see how far we were going, so I downloaded Map My Walk (an app I’ve used before to track my walk to and from work) to use alongside the maps…

It tracks you every step of the way and at the end of your “workout” it highlights your route on a map (predictably) and gives you a whole load of information once the “workout” is done…how far we’ve walked…how long it took us…where we went…approximately how many calories we’ve burnt (it doesn’t know we’re lumbering through mud, climbing over stiles, battling dogs and carrying babies on our chests)…how quickly we walked each kilometre…the elevation of the hills we’ve climbed up and down…and I’m sure it has loads of other features that I’m neglecting to use/mention.

It was only recently that I discovered you can do pretty much all that using ViewRanger itself…

It’s not a spectacularly easy app to use, but after taking a bit more time to look around it properly (i.e. when sat on my sofa, rather than being pulled through mud by an overly enthusiastic Cockapoo) I figured out that I can use it to record the route as we’re walking (and later look back at how far we’ve come, the speed we went at, and the hills that we have walked up and down), follow a previously recorded route, and even plot a route for future walking. This last feature is interesting as (with a bit of practice at using it) I’ll be able to properly plan a route and know how far we’ll be walking before we walk it.

You can also follow tracks that other users have recorded (some are free, others cost a nominal fee to access), which might be useful when we’re not so close to home.

Getting out in the fresh air and (sometimes) the sunshine has done wonders for my low mood, and I’ve found that just making this one change has helped me to make changes elsewhere. Not only do I feel like I’m achieving something, but I’m more motivated to do things around the house and I feel fitter, more capable…it’s amazing what some fresh air and beautiful views can do.

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We’ve had some really lovely walks, even when they’ve been hard work…and some have been harder than others! Stiles are hard enough as it is when you’re:

  1. overweight
  2. carrying a baby in a carrier on your chest

…but when you are having to lift a 20 kilo Staffy and an 11 kilo Cockapoo over them too it starts getting a little bit silly. What’s even sillier is when someone (me) says “Don’t worry, they won’t ALL be like this…” and then six stiles later that same someone is apologising profusely to their fellow walkers and the poor confused dogs. I was very glad that my little sister was with us for that particular expedition. We won’t be walking that track again…

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2016 in Days Out, Life

 

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Four Weeks…To Get Out The Door…

George is four weeks old today and has celebrated by rolling over on the bed and giving me a beautiful smile. Ok, so the roll might have been a fluke but the smile was real (he’s been doing them all week!)

The registrar who did my surgery said that I’d be ok to drive after 4 weeks (and my insurance company were happy to go with his suggestion) so I’ve celebrated 4 weeks of George by getting back behind the wheel and driving us around. I’d forgotten how amazing it is to NOT have to rely on your mother for lifts…

Unfortunately, I’m still getting used to the whole ‘getting myself AND a baby ready’ and so it can take a lot longer than I expect. Gone are the days of being ready in half an hour (or an hour if I wanted to look like I’d made an effort). I’ve been late for everything recently. The other day we planned a short walk and we didn’t manage to get out of the house until late afternoon…can you imagine what it’s like when we’re going out further afield or for longer?!

Somehow, there’s SO much more to do (even though in reality the extra stuff is just feeding George, changing his nappy and getting him dressed) and the things I used to “just do” now have to be done as and when I can do them.

Time just flies by now too. Most mornings I get up and come downstairs for a cup of tea at about 9am…and then suddenly it’s midday and I’m still in my dressing gown with unbrushed hair (and teeth) and I could REALLY do with a shower and all I’ve done is feed George (and probably changed his nappy a few times).

This morning I managed to achieve the  (seemingly) impossible. I got out of bed (after George had his first daylight feed) and thrust him into Luke’s arms while I went to have a shower. I somehow managed to get dry and dressed before more feeding/nappy changing was required, and then I found time to make myself some tea and toast. Eating of the toast was done over George as he had yet another feed (fourth of the day) and I may or may not have got a few crumbs on him *ahem*…

I utilised his post-feeding nap to go brush my teeth and wash my face, and then all that was left to do was to feed him a couple more times, change his nappy once or twice and hand him to Luke for dressing while I brushed my hair. It’s amazing how quickly something as simple as doing my hair (even just putting it up into a haphazard pony tail) has become a frivolous use of my time…

I have SO much respect for single parents and for men/women who stay at home with the baby while their partners go to work. I have no idea what I’d do without Luke here in the morning…well, yes I do…I’d probably stay in the house, stinking and cultivating one massive dreadlock where my hair used to be. I’m sure that tears would be involved somewhere too.

Eventually we got out of the house just after twelve, an amazing two and a half hours after I stepped into the shower. It seemed almost miraculous.

Fifteen minutes later there was a poopy nappy that needed changing. Sigh.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2015 in Baby, Days Out, Life, Parenting

 

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The Constance Wallace Tea Shop…

So, yesterday my sister Steph took me, my Mom and my Great-Aunt out for lunch as a belated Mother’s Day present. I asked if we could go to the Constance Wallace Tea Shop as I was desperate go and sit in and try their food. Luke and I had hired a HUGE amount of vintage china from them for our summer wedding party last August (more about that after the food…) and I’d fallen in love with their cute little shop, but so far I hadn’t had the chance to eat there.

The shop is tucked away in Barnt Green Village amongst the other shops, and looks amazingly inviting from the outside…

The Tea Shop - 91 Hewell Road, Barnt Green, B45 8NL

The Tea Shop – 91 Hewell Road, Barnt Green, B45 8NL

It can be quite difficult to park sometimes, but it’s well worth a short walk from anywhere you can find a parking spot. It’s also very close to Barnt Green train station so is nice and easy to get to by public transport too.

Inside, the shop is even more beautiful, and has been so lovingly decorated with vintage china, bunting, birdcages and the like. They’ve also got lots of lovely, desirable things for sale, as well as china and party decorations for hire. If you can think of it, I’m pretty sure they have it there…

...there's seating by the cosy fireplace...

…there’s seating by the cosy fireplace…

...the lovely ladies who served us working away behind the till...

…the lovely ladies who served us working away behind the till…

...walls of beautiful china...

…walls of beautiful china…

We walked in to find the shop busy and were pretty lucky to find a table for the four of us (I would highly recommend booking a table, especially if you plan to visit at lunchtime), but the ladies in there couldn’t have been more welcoming. We had menus as soon as we sat down and were served in double-quick time.

...Mom was very happy to be there...

…Mom was very happy to be there…

...Steph enjoying her Earl Grey (and wearing a Gryffindor scarf even though she's a Hufflepuff!)...

…Steph enjoying her Earl Grey (and wearing a Gryffindor scarf even though she’s a Hufflepuff!)…

...me and my sister being dubious of Mom's photography skills...

…me and my sister being dubious of Mom’s photography skills…

It took me a while to decide what I wanted…no, that’s a complete lie. I knew exactly what I wanted before I went in. I wanted afternoon tea (£14.95pp) but I took my time committing to it as everyone else was being “good” and just ordering toasted sandwiches and tea. In the end I gave in to myself, announced that I was eating for two and ordered exactly what I wanted. Huzzah!

I had to smile when the teapot and teacups were brought to the table as I got the teapot – so I could be “Mother” – and a pretty pink patterned teacup because I “might be having a girl”…lending yet more cosmic weight to my feeling that our bubs is a girl

...pretty teacup and cute teaspoon...

…pretty teacup and cute teaspoon…

…and then the food arrived…

…and OH MY GOODNESS was it good…

...my afternoon tea in all its glory...

…my afternoon tea in all its glory…

...and in close up...

…and in close up…

…knowing that I was pregnant, the waitresses did everything they could to make sure my lunch was suitable for me. Normally the selection of sandwiches includes brie (which I can’t have) and smoked salmon (which I wasn’t sure I could have) so they took it away and it came back instead with extras of the things I could eat. I had cheese and cucumber, ham, beef and caramelised onion marmalade, and egg mayonnaise, all of which were delicious, and all accompanied with salad, crisps and a pot of coleslaw. 

A really lovely touch was that I got two plates, so when I’d covered one in coleslaw and mayo I had a clean one hiding underneath for the cakes…

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Moving up a level were two lovely warm scones with mini pots of jam and cream. At first I was convinced that there wouldn’t be enough of either for two scones (greedy cow that I am)…

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…but the portion size was perfect…

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…and finally on the top layer I had a mini éclair (lovely), an orange cupcake (which I gave to Steph as I’m not a fan of orange flavoured things…but she LOVED it), a blueberry and cream meringue (delicious) and fruit kebabs (very refreshing after lots of cake and cream…they were KEBABULOUS!)

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My food was so good that I honestly didn’t care what anyone else was eating, but they all said that their ham, cheese and tomato toasties were fabulous. Made with lovely bread, they came with a huge portion of salad and my Aunt said that it was the best sandwich she’d had in a long time. High praise indeed…

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As a pregnant lady, I obviously have to visit the toilets in EVERY establishment that I visit, and even that was a joy. The washroom was gorgeously decorated, with a beautiful feature wall made of hundreds of pieces of broken crockery, and there were some really thoughtful little touches to make it just a special as the tearoom itself…

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When it came time for us to leave the ladies at the tea shop wished me all the best with my pregnancy and encouraged us to come back soon…and to bring the baby too when he or she arrives. It was lovely to be made to feel so welcome and I absolutely cannot wait to go back again. It’ll be lovely to be able to visit a baby-friendly teashop with my little one, but I’m pretty sure I’ll find a good reason to go back there even sooner than that.

Thank you to the ladies of the teashop for a warm welcome, fabulous service and fantastic food…and thank you to my lovely little sister for a wonderful lunch!


ADDITIONAL – CHINA HIRE

I can HIGHLY recommend not only The Tea Shop, but also their Vintage China Hire. They did us proud last year when we hired enough cups, saucers, teapots, coffee pots, milk jugs and sugar bowls (oh…and sugar tongs, tea spoons, cake stands and vintage picnic blankets!) for sixty people…they did us a fantastic deal at VERY VERY short notice and couldn’t have been more helpful.

We had a summer wedding party so that our friends and family could celebrate our marriage in the sunshine. Constance Wallace helped to make our party really special and all our guests commented on how wonderfully the afternoon tea we served was presented. I would definitely hire china and party supplies from them again, and after eating there I would also be VERY keen to use their catering and party planning services too!

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2015 in Days Out, Food, Places, Reviews

 

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Friday Night Webheath Sewcial Club…

I was doing my usual scroll through Facebook last week when I noticed my friend Toby (roller derby skater/announcer, event planner, and general get-out-and-do-stuff-person extraordinaire) had created an interesting event…

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This will be the inaugural meeting of the Webheath sewing group (far catchier name/biker jacket patches to follow when we’ve thought of the best pun) , if you interested in learning how to handle a needle, get to grips with a machine, have a project you would like to work on among new friends, or want to join us for a cup of tea and a stitch’n’bitch after a hard week at work then this is for you!

tables & chairs provided – tea & coffee making facilities – and a nice mix of tunes each week to chill out and sew to!

Please share this event or invite friends as we need your help to make it a success. Thanks Streetlife for enabling the inception of this idea.

Webheath Village Hall – Heathfield Road, Redditch, B97 5SQ

Being a person who a) has lots of unfinished craft projects, b) has a lot of planned craft projects not yet begun, c) enjoys being social (especially if tea and biscuits are involved), and d) lives within a stone’s throw of the venue, I leapt at the chance to join in. I’ve already started a crochet blanket for the baby, but after one go on it I’d put it aside and not picked it up again. This was the perfect opportunity to get out the house and get something done at the same time.

I am notoriously bad at turning up to things, so I’m pretty sure that Toby wasn’t expecting to see me there…in fact, I think he was expecting to be sat alone for two hours doing some lonely sewing. As it was, I walked in last night to see him surrounded by about twenty women…

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…some of the ladies…

 

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…stitching stitching…

 

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…and a bit of sewing instruction…

The hall looked awesome decked out in bunting and balloons, there was tea and coffee on the go, and one of the ladies had baked some (bloody fantastic) cupcakes…

Chocolate and mint...and lemon! Not both mine, I might add!!

…chocolate and mint (mmm)…and lemon! Not both mine, I might add!! The lemon one was Toby’s…

I got to hang out with some of my Roller Derby friends (some of whom had done a 30 minute drive to join us), chat to some new people, and grow my baby blanket a few more rounds…

...at the start of the night...

…at the start of the night…

 

...finished for the evening...

…finished for the evening…

…and we listened to some awesome tunes, courtesy of Toby. It wasn’t your average crafting music…

Break of dawn – Breakbot
Legs – Chuck Ingrish
Fine China – Chris Brown
Cling Wrap – Sam Sparro
Showgirl – Bluey Robinson
Do it, do it disco – Myron & E
Got to be real – Cheryl Lynn
Night to remember – Shalamar
All men are pigs – Studio Killers
Right here, right now – Giorgio Moroder/Kylie
Chandelier – Sia
Simple Life – Sam Frank
You & Me – Disclosure (Flume Remix)
Right back – Dr.Meaker
Between the sheets – The Isley Brothers
Do for Love – 2Pac
I feel for you – Chaka Khan
Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson
Get Lucky – Daft Punk
Ooh Wee – Mark Ronson/Ghostface Killah
After Dark – The Count & Sinden
Boyfriend – Black kids (remix)
All this love – Gwen McCrae
Need to know – Sam Frank/Toddlah T
Peanut Butter – Twennynine
For once in my life – Stevie Wonder
Mark a smile for me – Bill Withers (Trishes edit)
Black Cow – Steely Dan
Candy Girl – New Edition

Oh! And I got to wear a name badge…

...i was SEW tempted to write "HELLO MY NAME IS...Inego Montoya. You killed my father...now prepare to DIE!"...but I didn't...

…I was SEW tempted to write “HELLO MY NAME IS…Inigo Montoya. You killed my father, now prepare to DIE!”…but I didn’t…

 

It was also rather lovely to see the ladies from Sew Fab there too, who were on hand to help people out, teach new things and to offer advice where it was needed. I bought the yarn for my blanket from them just a fortnight ago, and I can heartily recommend both their shop on Unicorn Hill and their sage advice.

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Sew Fab – 5 Unicorn Hill, Redditch, B97 4QN – 01527 64647

 

I had an absolutely BRILLIANT time. The two hours went far too quickly…I can’t wait for the next one, and not just because I know I won’t touch my blanket again until then. Thank you to Toby and Jane for organising the group and setting up the hall…and thank you to Jane’s daughter Lucy for the kickass baked goods!

At the moment it’s only going to be on once a fortnight, so the next Sewcial Club will be held at Webheath Village Hall on Friday 27th March from 7pm-9pm (take a look at the Facebook event for more details)…

…and if you’re interested in taking part in our stitch’n’bitch you can join our Facebook Group for news of further Friday Night Webheath Sewcial Club meets…it’d be SEW nice to see you there!

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2015 in Days Out, Life, Reviews

 

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Biting Off More Than We Can Chew…

I’m sure you’ve heard of Groupon? I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again…I love Groupon…

I love it so much that I often torment myself with the idea of spa days, three course meals and cheap courses…and sometimes I splurge and buy far too many things at once. They usually have a good few months to use them before they expire, but I tend to be a bit precious with them, hanging on to them for as long as possible. This often results in me getting stressed and madly trying to reserve tables with only a few days left on my vouchers…

…like I’ve been doing today…

I have two vouchers for meals that are both expiring next week, so we’re preparing ourselves for a few days of feasting…

On Sunday, we’ve got a three course lunch planned at Salford Hall Hotel in Salford Priors. I’ve been looking at the menu and making myself very hungry indeed…

menu

…and on Monday night we’re going to stuff ourselves with steak and half a lobster at the Beeches Bar & Grill in Hampton in Arden…

What Groupon thinks our dinner will look like...

What Groupon thinks our dinner will look like…

I’m very excited…

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2013 in Days Out, Food, Plans

 

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Our First Seaside Adventure…

Once we had overcome the trauma of a broken gear stick, Luke, Old Red and I were off to Kings Lynn (or there abouts) to seek out the sea. That was all the plan we had. We were back on the road again and we weren’t being towed home! Hurrah!

Aaaand, we're back on the road!

Aaaand, we’re back on the road!

When we arrived in the town centre we were met with a load of depressing buildings and roads and not much else. We gave up on winging it and asked Google maps to find us a site by a beach. We had looked at a map when trying to decide which way to head, but I had (unfortunately) failed to notice how in-land Kings Lynn (the town) is…

kingslynnmap

Whoops!

Once again, we set our sights on the sea and headed for Diglea Caravan and Campsite in Snettisham. When we got there we found that it wasn’t exactly beach-adjacent (it was a good ten minutes walk) and that the reception had closed hours ago. We could still check in (at the amusingly named ‘Beavers Munchbox’) but the debit card machine was locked away in reception and we had no cash. Great. So we got back in the van and began our quest for a cashpoint. We found one in a garage a few miles along the road, and on the way we also spotted signs for other beachside campsites. It was just our luck to find one ‘randomly’, like we’d wanted to, after we’d half-booked into one that Google had found. We were tempted to pretend that we’d never given up on finding a site by chance and follow a brown sign, but n the end we drove back along the road and completed our check-in with the nice people at Diglea. It really is a lovely, friendly site…we highly recommend it if you’re in the Kings Lynn area and need a spot to camp for the night.

We settled for a pitch without electric hook-ups (they’re not much use when you’ve left your power cable at home), paid £18 for the night, and set off towards the Touring/Camping field (where we could barbecue our dinner) and the promise of free hot showers!

The facilities at Diglea are great and they give you a very comprehensive little map of the site so that you don’t get lost searching for toilets/water/fire fighting equipment.

digleamap

Map (not to scale) of Diglea…

The massive wash rooms were really clean and inviting, and the showers were lovely and hot. Unfortunately for me, they were those stupid push-button affairs, and I seemed to have picked a lazy one. It wanted reminding that I needed water once every ten seconds, which *almost* annoyed me, but by this point I felt so stressed and grubby that I could forget the button and imagine it was a luxury power shower.

It was probably about 10.30pm by the time we pulled the table down out of the roof and sat down to eat. I had a few sips of beer and closed my eyes for a minute, and when I opened them the sun was shining again. A cup of tea was the first order of the day but the milk had gone bad overnight, so we decided to drive to the nearby shop and have breakfast on the beach.

At the bottom of a long winding road we found the beach car park. It was £5 to park for the day, but the attendant was kind enough to let us have an hour on there for just a pound. After racing up the dunes to get a view of the sea we found a lovely pebbly beach and stood and breathed it all in for a while…

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It was pretty windy…

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…so we took full advantage of our new kite and, after tea and two MASSIVE bacon sandwiches, we spent a good while trying to pull some stunts (which resulted in a LOT of kite smackdowns)…

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Luke…

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Luke…

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Luke again…

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Me…

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Me again!

Eventually we got bored of putting the kite back together after each nose-dive into the pebbles. We said a last goodbye to the horizon and climbed back over the dunes the the van. It was Tuesday and it was time to admit that the weekend had ended…and time to head home…

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Back on the long (an traffic-jammy) road home…

The sky over Norfolk...

The sky over Norfolk…

More sky...

More sky…

Yet more beautiful sky...

Yet more beautiful sky…

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2013 in Camping, Days Out, Places, Travel

 

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