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Hampshire Days out with a Toddler – Longdown Activity Farm

Today we took our first trip to the farm. There are a few options locally to Southampton but we decided to descend on Longdown Activity Farm with a group of toddler pals!

Ted loves to explore as soon as we arrive anywhere, investigating the areas he can access without delay so it was good that he had a couple of entertainment options while we briefly queued to pay.

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Boo!

And lift the door options are always popular!

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Ted loved the open space as soon as we walked through, it is safe and enclosed so he was able to run about next to me without being restricted by the need for reins or a pushchair at all. That said it is also really pushchair friendly, which will be great once our new addition arrives.

First up…the ducks and a chance to practice one of the first signs Ted learnt over and over with excitement! On arrival we were given a timetable with all the interactive activities on so we planned our route based around these.

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We had arrived a bit before everybody else and were just in time to feed the baby goats. I was really impressed with how Ted responded, the goats pull at the bottle quite a lot while they’re drinking and I wasn’t sure how he’d feel about this but he happily sat on my lap holding the bottle until it was empty before declaring “All Gone” and clambering down!

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We headed straight to the first of many hand washing stations as soon as we’d finished, luckily Ted thinks anything involving water is a play activity so the constant cleaning was greeted favourably!

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Next up were the chicks! Again I was massively impressed with how unphased Ted was. He held the chick without hesitation…and took it very seriously, I do wonder what they were both thinking here (poor  chick!!)

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There were some massive bunnies in the barn that Ted got to touch too before heading for some more handwashing/water play!

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Our friends arrived as we were leaving the chicks and bunnies so we joined them for lunch and a play.

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Ted would happily have spent his whole day sat on the tractors…Mummy’s back wasn’t going to manage pushing him for too long though!!

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One of my favourite parts of the day was watching Ted check for eggs and how proud he was when he found one.

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Ted and his friend Hattie took their eggs to the farm shop (I was very impressed they made the journey without being squeezed or dropped)…

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Where they swapped them for a sticker. Ted loved his sticker but wasn’t too keen at giving up his egg!!

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We then headed off to feed the big goats their lunch, there was also the opportunity to feed the pigs and Ducks but we missed them this time while having our own lunch!

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At 1pm there was the chance to take tractor rides around the farm…what little boy wouldn’t be excited by that prospect? Ted couldn’t wait to get on.

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The cows were a good distraction while we waited for our turn, I’m not sure who was most interested in the other!

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The “bumpy bumpy” tractor ride was a massive hit and Ted would have gone round and round for hours on the back, by the end he was getting very confident/showing off (!) and wanted to stand…he’s so his father’s son!!

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After all that fun it was time for some tea and cake!

We had a fab day out and will definitely be investing in a season ticket next year, a lot of activities are in barns (including trampolines and soft play) so even in wet weather it will be somewhere to come in a splash suit and then take cover – a much better option than a stuffy indoor soft play area in my opinion.

Longdown opens from February half term through to October half term each year but does offer a Christmas Grotto with a few animals and the chance to see Santa too.

Entry was £9 for adults and free for Under 3’s.

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Travelling with a toddler #8 – Traditions and Memories

I remember attending a training course a number of years ago where we were all asked to share a memory from our childhood…nobody shared anything expensive or materialistic, everyone had a memory that involved time, attention and the majority some sort of tradition.

This has impacted massively on my parenting and although I’ve always known experiences over objects were important, from that day I knew I wanted to make sure when I had a family that we would create some traditions that we’d all look forward to repeating over and over.

Now I have my own little family that is due to expand again in a few weeks (eekk, that’s scary!) and Ted is at an age where he is starting to understand and get excited about things so we thought it was time to start. Lots will just find us naturally I’m sure, some will follow on from experiences Rich and I had as children and others we’ll create ourselves but all will be about minimal money and maximum quality time and attention.

Our first family tradition happened while we were away in Cornwall this August…

Fish and Chips on the Beach!

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It was a definite hit!

Ted was not remotely phased by the amount of sand he injested along with his chips…in fact I think he saw the deep clean of his teeth as an added bonus!!

We had an hour and a half of quality time, digging, paddling, finding stones, watching the sky change colour and eating chips plus staying up late…and it was awesome!

Now to get thinking about our next tradition – do you have any you’d like to share?

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27 Week Update

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The approach to 27 weeks has been a really busy one!

We have spent time away in Cornwall, staying at the fab Cornwall Hotel and Spa (details here), had a great day out at the Eden Project (see Ted’s photo diary here!).

I returned from our break to a full week of old school nanny work – It’s been over 19 months since I’ve done any and it was lovely but so tiring, I was extremely grateful for the 8.30am starts Ted gifted me with over the weekend!

I have been really surprised this week at different reactions to my bump, it depends on clothing a lot but I seem able to make myself look very pregnant or just a little bit rounder than normal with ease at the moment…give me another couple of weeks though and I’m sure it’ll be all change!

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Looking quite 'bumpy' here!

Movements have increased quite a lot over the past few days and although this baby is a lot quieter than Ted I am really aware of their presence now and am beginning to notice a definite pattern to the squirming which is reassuring. This time I am really noticing how low the baby is though and often feel like he/she is trying to escape feet first!!

On Tuesday I finally have another Midwife appointment – I’ve been really disappointed with the care this time, with Ted I felt so looked after and supported by my midwife but this time I’ve hardly seen anyone and when I have it has always been a different person so I’ve just felt like I’m repeating myself…fingers crossed on Tuesday I’ll get to see the lady I actually booked the appointment with.

This week I’m loving…

Tiba and Marl bags 💕 Check them out!! I only discovered them this week but I signed up to the waiting list for a Lime Green Mabel Bag straight away – bright, fun, practical and stylish…I need this bag in my life!

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The Lime Mabel isn’t available until January (I’m not sure I can wait that long!!) However, the rest of the range releases next month but be quick as I’m sure they won’t be around for long! The ladies behind the company are real #mumboss(es) so not only can you grab yourself an awesome piece but you can support some fellow yummy mummies trying to make it without returning to the 9-5 grind too!

My new Pregnancy Pillow...the lovely people at http://www.pregnancypillow.net sent me one of their amazing U – shaped Pillows and WOW, it is awesome!

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Ted was impressed as soon as we collected it and had his very own soft play session on the front lawn!

I was amazed when I opened it and saw how big it was and quickly decided that fate was telling me I should have a lunchtime nap when Ted did – I sent Rich this selfie (excuse the quality!) with the caption “I may never have been happier”

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See my full review here!

And finally…EBay!
It has been quite the revelation for me – I appreciate I’m just a few years behind here!
I have managed to grab some real bargains, maternity dresses and jeans that still have tags on for a fraction of their original cost plus larger items I’ve been coverting that I’ve made great savings on.

This week was my best find yet, I knew I wanted an Armadillo Flip XT from Mamas and Papas as soon as I saw it – stylish, light and compact it ticked all the boxes for us and will be easy to travel with.

I was obviously just planning to take a trip to M&P to purchase and then I popped the description into the eBay search bar! It is a new model that has been out less than a year so I was surprised to see them pop up reasonably regularly and really pleased to find most were being offered brand new.

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I purchased a brand new Navy and Tan one for an almost £200 saving – this was an unwanted gift and had never been pushed outside, amazing!

A full XT review will follow…just as soon as I have the accessories, oh and a baby to put in it!

I’ll see you again at 29 weeks for another update…lots of love x

MaternityMondays
The Twinkle Diaries
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Travelling with a toddler #7 – The Eden Project

We have never been to The Eden Project before and decided we couldn’t be only a few miles down the road at the lovely Cornwall Hotel (more about that here), on a beautiful sunny day with a toddler that needed wearing out and not go for an explore…

Beware, this review is mainly through the eyes of a 1.5 year old so may not offer all the educational and horticultural insights you hoped for!

Ted says –

“I spy with my little eye…

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Sometimes walking becomes a bit too much, sit in a buggy though? No!
I want to fly like those people on the zipwire overhead.
Daddy, Daddy….

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And then giggle with Mummy about those funny giant golf balls – what on earth are they?? Find out a bit more here if you’re interested!

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Oooo, now this looks more up my street – yay, adventure club!!

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I loved exploring and learning all about dinosaurs with Daddy and Grandad, RAAAAAA!!

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And then, because we were on holiday I was allowed to eat treat food with silly Daddy, yummy Ice Cream!

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I did then let Daddy have a tiny rest to enjoy some treats of his own…

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Meanwhile, my cousin Cailynn and I had lots of fun spinning in the Teapigs chair…

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But not for too long because Cailynn and I needed Daddy to help us find ‘real’ dinosaurs that were roaming about…

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Some people were scared when we found them and said I was confusing Dinosaurs with cats with my calm stroking approach, Daddy said we call these people wimps and to ignore them!!…

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I had a great day and was relieved to finally find somewhere that could not only tire me out so Mummy could have a nap later in the afternoon too but that also had enough bananas to satisfy me…

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And that could teach Daddy and Me how to import enough coffee to see Mummy through the next few months!!…

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I will definitely be coming back again…there is so much to see and learn here and I know I’ll like it even more once I’m a bit bigger!”

As you can see, Ted enjoyed himself and he wasn’t the only one. This is a great day out, as well as an 18 month old we had a 7 year old and an 85 year old (plus 20, 30, 50 and 60 somethings!) in our party and everybody had a lovely time.

Although entry is not cheap there are discounts for eco travel to the site, online booking and you can claim an annual pass for the same price as single entry by donating your entry fee (all explained here) which is amazing if you live nearby or even just intend to return to the area within 12 months – I saw lots of Mummy and buggy groups making the most of this.

If you get the chance to visit before 2nd September 2015 while Dinosaur Uproar is still on then we would definitely recommend you do – it was a real highlight for all of us.

Please do let us know if you visit The Eden Project and share any places you have visited that you think we may enjoy too.

This is an unsponsored review, based solely on our experiences.

Life Unexpected
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Travelling with a Toddler #6 – The Cornwall Hotel and Spa

This week we packed up the car, our new car with the amazingly big boot…oh goodness I’m such a Mum now! And off we headed to Cornwall.

We were attending a family wedding on Saturday but before that we had three days of relaxation with my parents, niece and Grandmother and were super excited about getting away.

We arrived in St Austell at lunchtime but the reception staff at The Cornwall Hotel and Spa were welcoming and happy to allow us to check in early. This was great and meant we could make the most of the facilities.

Our first stop after unpacking was the terrace for drinks in the sunshine whilst admiring the beautiful surroundings. There are a selection of games and activities kept out there for children (of all ages!) to enjoy too which we thought was a great touch.

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The swimming pool is lovely and children can use it until 7pm which I think is a really fair time, it allows you to head out for the day and still be able to fit in a swim before dinner and bed.

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There is a beautiful grassy area that the pool and ajoining terrace look out over that offer the perfect relaxation spot for tired parents (especially ones like us, lucky enough to have grandparents with them)

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But is also ideal for little people to explore too…

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Our room was spacious, bright and modern with all the amenities you would expect to find and a lovely balcony which was perfect for relaxing on in the evenings, appreciating the view…and taking the odd picture on!!

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Breakfast was great and included in the room price. There was a hot buffet but other items were available cooked to order too. We didn’t find it necessary to order though as they didn’t keep the buffet over flowing, just updated it little and often so things were really fresh and tasty. The staff in the mornings were brilliant, always on hand and really friendly – especially with the children.

We also highly recommend The Clearing Spa…taking a couple of hours to ourselves was amazing and we both felt very pampered after our treatments (A Real Nuturing Experience for me and a De-Stress Muscle Massage for Rich).

On site parking and WiFi are both included in the price of the room.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in this country with little people then look no further than The Cornwall…if you can talk some family members in to coming with you and babysitting a bit too then even better!

The Hotel is close to the Eden project and makes a great base for exploring the local area.

Rooms in late July/early August 2015 at The Cornwall Hotel and Spa started at £155 per night.

This is an unsponsored review based solely on my experiences.

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25 Week Update

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I had a mini ‘I’m soooo fat’ melt down this week and then had it very quickly counterbalanced when talking to a Mum I’d never met before in the swimming changing rooms today who while I stood in front of her in my bikini didn’t realise I was pregnant – what she must have thought I’d had for breakfast I have NO idea!!!

OK, so I accept my meltdown may have been a little over the top but I also think this belly is a little hard to miss now? Surely?

Generally I’m still doing really well – I’m taking Omprazole to try and reduce the indigestion and sickness which does seem to be helping and most of the time I’m pretty sane and reasonable although there was an incident where Rich cooked a curry badly that I sobbed for an hour over which was a low point!!

Sleep is pretty hit and miss still but I have a few tricks up my sleeve that I’m hoping are going to make that better…the first starts tomorrow and is an early evening relaxation class – it complements the hypnobirthing methods I used in my labour with Ted (and will again this time) and is a chance to take an hour to myself to completely zone out and relax complete with a pillow and blanket…ahh Bliss!

The second is a collaboration I’m looking forward to sharing with you all very soon and the third is a few days in Cornwall for my brother’s wedding complete with Spa Hotel and doting Grandparents to help with the little dude – I’m so excited for us all to go away together and to be able to spoil ourselves a little with relaxation and some quality family time, just what we need right now.

I will report back with local recommendations and hopefully stories of fun, love, laughter and plenty of peaceful sleeping!

Meanwhile, this week in Toddlerland Ted has turned 18 months and really mastered his scooter…

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Become very attached to his helmet, wearing it at any opportunity…

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And has realised that we all think it’s very cute when he folds his arms then sits ‘thinking’!!

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It’s all rock n roll around here!

 

MaternityMondays
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Traveling with a Toddler #5 – Coming Home and the dreaded Jet Lag!

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Oh hello Jet Lag you horrible, horrible beast!

Why fight it?
Get up…sort all the washing then start all over again!

In my midnight googling desperation I found very little information that helped with little people and jet lag so now we’re through the other side, I thought I’d write my top tips to hopefully help anyone else suffering.

I write in hindsight (what a wonderful thing that is!)…read how I struggled initially here.

*Be patient. Disruptions for the length you are away at a minimum are likely and the body clock generally takes a day to adjust to every hour of change e.g.) 8 hour time difference = approx 8 days to adjust.

* Lower your expectations and try not to get too stressed – your baby is just as tired and confused as you!

*Do not withhold naps, sleep breeds sleep – try to return to your pre holiday napping schedule as quickly as possible to help your baby to adjust.

*After the first day or so, try to get day to day life back to normal as much as possible, don’t lay in too late (no matter how tempting), get outside in the daylight plenty and go to groups and activities you would normally attend – this helps reset the body but also helps the day along when all you want to do is curl up in a ball on the sofa and sob in sleep deprived desperation!!

*Follow your instincts and your knowledge of your baby and offer them understanding and TLC.

*Rest when your little one does, keep topped up with coffee and remember, this too will pass!

*Look at your holiday photos and in those ‘never again’ moments remind yourself it was all worth it for the fun you had and the memories made.

Come on…you can do this, slowly, gently, lovingly with patience and understanding and hopefully, minimal tears from everyone!

Good luck, I’m sending sleepy thoughts.

x

P.S…if anybody else has any words of wisdom – I’d love to hear them.
My final ones are:
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Packing my Suitcase