Saturday, 20 February 2016

Croft Castle and a bug

Well it's half term already, time to find things to do to entertain the little people. When we were living in New Zealand I joined Heritage NZ which also allows us to visit National Trust properties in the UK. It cost a fraction of the price it does to join over here, and I can still renew my membership with them even though we are now back in the UK. I know some people may say I'm depriving the National trust of their money but if we had to pay the UK price we just couldn't justify the cost (I know several people who have cancelled their membership as the price just keeps going up).

So we decided on visiting Croft Castle, near Leominster. National Trust are good for entertaining the kids in the holidays as they always have some sort of activity going on. Croft Castle had a 'Wind in the Willows' trail, where we had to follow the clues to find the characters of the book hidden in the gardens.

Modelling the trail sheet above is my lovely best friend who met up with us with her two children. We drifted apart after we left secondary school, like you do, but about three years ago I had a message on Facebook from her asking to get in touch. Being in New Zealand at the time we couldn't meet up, but spoke regularly on FaceTime. She came to see me a few days after we arrived back in the UK, and even though we'd been apart for over twenty years, it felt like yesterday...

via Pinterest

via Pinterest

Anyway, enough of sucking up to my mate (I have to be nice to her as she reads my blog ;-)  )
The trail, I'd say it was more for the younger kids, as all the locations are numbered on the map so there isn't much of a hunt. But I guess it gets them out in the fresh air, and at only £2 per child it didn't break the bank. Every child gets to pick a prize at the end; they got to choose from some dominoes, a bird caller, some bubbles and a model plane to make.

There wasn't much growing in the garden but I bet it looks gorgeous in the summer...

There is a second hand bookshop and a shop full of gifts and souvenirs, where I just happened to treat myself to a scarf...

There are several walks around the estate, ranging from one and a half to five and a half miles, and dogs are welcome as long as they are kept on leads as there are livestock and wild deer. We will definitely come back and visit, as there is a natural play trail, natural play area and a rather impressive fort for the kids to play in right beside the cafe.

Trail over, we were going to have a look around inside the castle, but Little Boy really wasn't feeling well. He'd had a bit of a cold for a few days so I thought he was just a bit stuffy, but by the time we sat down in the cafe he was burning up, with icy cold hands and feet. So everybody stuffed down something to eat whilst I got him back to the car
Poor little man, he was sick a few times when we got home, and spent the rest of the day and the next one snuggled up under his blanket on the sofa....

Luckily he was soon better, up and running around like normal, ready for more fun :-)


Friday, 19 February 2016

A spot of potato stamping

A crafty session was in order on the last day of half term. Big Girl had wanted to go to the safari park, but at £29 for one adult and one child over three (plus extra for rides, food etc) that wasn't an option. So I thought we'd do some potato stamping. I know, it doesn't compare to giraffes and elephants but I'm trying!

By the time I took the photo above, Little Boy had already worked his way through all the stamps and a pile of my photocopy paper, and was onto abstract splodging and smearing!
As I got the potatoes out to make shapes I had a brainwave. Usually I spend ages with a sharp knife trying to cut out shapes that end up looking pretty rubbish. Then, lightbulb moment, why not use biscuit cutter! Am I way behind here, is that old news? Anyway, would you like to see how I did it?

It's very easy, basically just find a potato big enough to fit your cutter in when cut in half. Press your cutter in as far as you can (I found it easier to turn potato over so cutter is underneath and press down onto the top of the potato to push cutter in further). 

Then just cut carefully around the edge about 1cm down to create a raised shape....

Then hey presto, you have a perfectly shaped potato stamper, and a lovely little heart cut out. I guess save wasting that, you could fry them in a bit of butter for tea!

Little Boy went for random shapes (but refused to do more than one colour per piece of paper), whilst Big Girl combined stamping with freehand painting to make some pictures as presents. 

So amusing the kids in the holidays doesn't need to cost a fortune, and it was refreshing to have a good old fashioned 'crafty' session without an iPad or tv in sight!


Sunday, 7 February 2016

A very windy walk

It was supposed to be a wet day today but didn't turn out too bad, so we decided to go for a walk up the Malvern Hills. It took longer than it should have done though, as we got there and realised we had forgotten Little Boy's wellies so we had to go home and get them :-(
It was cold but not too bad; it was the wind that was biting. Storm Imogen is on her way, but it felt like she was already here! We covered up well, with just a tiny bit of face showing. Little Boy's cheeks were very soon a rosy pink colour. 

I didn't take any scenic photos as the sky was a bit grey and murky. Shame, as the views up here are fantastic and far reaching on a sunny day. 

The wind was unbelievably strong on the top of the hill, and you could even do that thing where you can lean back and the wind holds you up. Little Boy thought it was hilarious to stand on the top and then get blown down the hill. There were a few hairy moments as he had no fear, and we had to make sure there was some one on hand to catch him at all times!

After that blowy experience we decide refreshments were needed, so stopped at The Kettle Sings. It's a licensed restaurant and cafe in Upper Colwall, built in 1928.

The inside is warm and cosy, and they even have a selection of cards for sale. You can eat inside, or there is a conservatory which runs the length of the building, with views over the Herefordshire countryside towards Wales. They provide a sheet on each table showing what you can see out of the window. 

We only just managed afternoon tea. Last serving is 3.45, and we arrived at 3.42! The cakes were scrummy, and I got a huge pot of tea all to myself, whilst everyone else had a hot chocolate. 

Home at last, we decided to put our pjs on, and have a TV dinner of pizza and chips whilst watching the Minions movie. All in all a good day :-)


Wednesday, 3 February 2016

A walk in the woods with a sore thumb

Last weekend we (Big Girl, Little Boy and myself) went for a walk around Worcester Woods Country Park. There are two trails - a meadow trail and a woodland trail, and we decided to do the woodland walk. It's half a mile and they say it takes 40 minutes but even with a little person we did it in half an hour. 

It's a haven for dog walkers, so I'd avoid it if you aren't keen on pooches as annoyingly a large majority of people thought it was okay to let their dogs run free. It can be a little intimidating for little people when a great big hairy beast comes charging down the path towards you!

It's well signposted, and Little Boy enjoyed looking for the next number and telling us which way it was pointing....

The woodland pond looked a bit manky...

Do you notice a recurring theme in these photos - it's like a game of Where's Wally with that little red bobble hat and scarf!

On a cold winter day I'd recommend wellies as it was rather muddy in places.

There were several trees wearing a lovely skirt of moss, and one tree stump had been turned into a mushroom!

It was nearly lunch time when we finished our walk, so we decided to have lunch at the cafe. I can thoroughly recommend the Orchard cafe, it's fairly priced and there's a good selection of meals and drinks. Plus they are hot on free range, organic and Fairtrade goods. 

We had a free range bacon sandwich, a kids breakfast and an all day breakfast with free range eggs and thick sliced bacon and the most delicious free range sausages which they get from a local Worcester butcher (wish I could remember the name as I'd love to get some). The one thing we weren't keen on was the homemade baked beans. I guess if I didn't know what 'normal' baked beans tasted like I may have liked them. 

The observant amongst you may have noticed a rather large bandage on Little Boy's thumb in the photo above. Unfortunately I managed to shut his thumb in the front door last week :-(  Amazingly nothing was broken (just the tiniest little bone fracture right on the tip), as I was told that little people have surprisingly bendy bones, thank goodness. We had several trips a week to the hospital for clean dressings and a check up with the doctor, and it's looking so much better already. I haven't posted any photos as it did look rather horrendous and I know some people are rather squeamish about things like that. It must have hurt so much, and he has been the model patient, bless him. 

After lunch we had a bit of time to explore the playground. There is a section for the little kids....

And also a section for the bigger kids....

So after a little play we headed home with tired legs and full tummies