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Archive for the ‘Out and About’ Category

Little’un has recently developed a thirst for knowledge which, whilst obviously a Good Thing, can be hard work at times.  She’s particularly interested in bones and muscles and so forth at the moment so where better to take her than the NHM?  More bones than you can shake a well proportioned tibia at.

Well we had the most fabulous day.  We hardly saw an eighth of what’s on show, which is fine as it’s free to get in so we can go back as many times as we like without feeling as though we have to get our money’s worth.  We concentrated on the dinosaur display this time as they captured Little’un’s imagination as soon as she saw the huge diplodocus in the entrance hall.  There were plenty of bones and interactive displays, with the highlight being a working model of a Tyrannosaurus rex which I thought might scare Little’un (who can be a sensitive soul at times) but she was utterly entranced.  It was extremely busy, what with it being a Saturday and a nice day, and we did feel rather herded round at times by the volume of people, but the displays were interesting and informative, if a little dusty on some of the skeleton displays.

 

We also visited the mammalian section where the life sized blue whale produced more “ooooh”s and “wow”s from our four year old natural history enthusiast.  There were curators on hand to talk to the children with skulls, bones, tortoise shells and so forth that children both large (ie me) and small could touch and explore.  We could have spent hours in there, it was utterly brilliant.  I felt like a schoolgirl myself, I got so caught up in Little’un’s excitement. 

From a practical point of view the trip was really easy.  A handy hint for anyone coming into London from the north is to park at East Finchley tube station on the Northern Line – it’s easy to find from the A1 and a measly £1 to park all day on a Saturday and Sunday; it’s in zone 4 so you can get an adult travelcard for just over £6 which will allow you to travel by tube all over central London.  The museum is near South Kensington station on the Piccadilly/Circle/District lines and is well signposted from the station.  There are places to buy food at the NHM but they are busy and expensive – we paid rather a lot for sandwiches, drinks and cake and vowed to take lunch with us next time.  There are plenty of places to sit and there seems to be no objection to taking your own food.

We jumped back on the tube to Hyde Park Corner after we’d got a bit fed up of wandering round displays and went for a lovely walk past some of London’s landmarks.  It took us about an hour to wander past Buckingham Palace (with a stop to see the guards), up The Mall to Horseguards Parade then along Parliament Street to Westminster and Big Ben, across Westminster Bridge to Waterloo Station and the northern line back to East Finchley.  The daffs and crocuses were out on the lawns in the parks and Little’un thoroughly enjoyed running through them.

Unfortunately the batteries on my camera ran out after the dinosaurs and my backups were duff so I only got pictures of dusty old bones for posterity, but rest assured, we shall most certainly be going back; I will make a point of getting lots of shots of my interested and excited daughter to share with you all.

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We went for a tramp through the fields today, sadly the most wholesome outdoorsy thing we have done recently after what seems like weeks of rain.  I used to go walking far more often than I do now, in landscape somewhat hillier than that of South Lincolnshire, and I had forgotten how much I love a walk in the country.  Happily Little’un loves a bit of nature too, especially the mucky variety.  The Yorkshireman is collecting weeds for an agricultural qualification he’s studying for so we had an excuse to get extra soil under our fingernails whilst we scrabbled about for samples for him. 



Little’un has a real affinity for water.  She loves her baths, going swimming, splashing in puddles and playing in the rain.  It would appear that if the water is full of mud then so much the better.  It is essential to be correctly attired for such activites however.  Pink is de rigeur.   Just because one is a muck magnet that always has dirty fingernails and filthy-as-soon-as-looked-at clothing, does not mean that one cannot be pink and girly.  Even in a muddy puddle.









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What every girl wants on holiday is a mahoosive ice-creamWe went to southern Spain for our holiday this year – I have been at pains to make sure that everyone knew we weren’t going on a McHoliday to Blackpool-in-the-Sun but once we got there we realised that whilst there aren’t a vast number of British holidaymakers on the Costa Calida there are plenty of expats.  There were a couple of English radio stations and plenty of English speakers in the shops; handy really given that the Yorkshireman speaks but a few words of Spanish and that is still a few words more than I do.

Say cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeezeI felt a bit outside my comfort zone being in a country in which I couldn’t understand the language at all – our last few trips abroad have been to the French speaking region of Switzerland (waves to GGM) and I speak French well enough that once it’s combined with a bit of international hand waving and facial expression wrangling (yes I do look like a loon), I can more often than not make myself understood.  Being able to understand the basics of a language makes life so much easier I find.

We didn’t do much whilst we were away; the weather was glorious so we indulged in lots of beach time and relaxing on the roof terrace of our holiday let.  We did a bit of sightseeing but Little’un would quickly get bored so chilling out by the sea suited us all.

The beach at La AzohiaMurcia, whilst beautiful in places, isn’t the prettiest part of Spain and the some urban areas looked badly cared for in the extreme.  There is a massive problem with litter and graffiti in  a lot of places.  That said, the beaches were all pristine and had great facilities with the bigger ones having public toilets and play areas for kids.  The beach where we stayed at La Azohia was fabulous – small but sandy with interesting shells, pebbles and rock pools and a gentle slope out to a crystal clear sea.   SchluuurrrrrrpppppA couple of cafes nearby meant that there was somewhere to buy a drink and an ice-cream and to get out of the sun for a while.  We went a bit further afield and tried other beaches but came back to this one every time.

We took the nursery Holiday Bear with us and somehow managed to get it back to the UK intact and unlost.  I spent more time worrying about its whereabouts and safety than I really wanted to but hey-ho, we will be doing a wonderful writeup for it and Little’un will be able to show off a bit to her friends so I suppose it was worth it!

I certainly hope to return to the Costa Calida at some point, especially the little beach at La Azohia.  I think I may learn some Spanish first though.

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Somewhere Over The Rainbow

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I got soaking wet on the way to work one day last week as I had to stop and get this shot – unhappily for me the wind was blowing in my direction so as soon as I opened the car window I got the full force of the gale in my face.  I had a quick look for the pot of gold but unfortunately had to continue on my way to the office as it was nowhere to be found.   Back to hoping for a lottery win for me.  Should maybe buy a ticket though if I am to stand a chance.

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Little’un and I made it to the farm park this weekend but not on Saturday as originally planned.  I collected her from nursery on Friday evening to be handed a party invitation… for a party at 11am the following day… which apparently had got forgotten about lost behind a radiator.  Cue frantic phone calls to the Party Parents (whom I have never met, I barely recognise this particular child never mind being on nodding terms with his parents) and an emergency present buying trip to Asda.  Hurrah for 24 hour opening say I.  So the party replaced our planned trip to the farm.  Fun was had nevertheless as the Party Parents had sensibly not invited too many children [takes notes] and the Party Child was a lovely, well mannered boy.  Another Mum (one of my aquaintance this time!) and I were trying to persuade our children to eat by feigning hunger ourselves and threatening to eat their food, when the Party Child presented us with a chicken nugget each from his own plate so that we wouldn’t be hungry 🙂  aww bless…

So we toddled off to Stickney Farm Park on Sunday.  We got there fairly late so it was lovely and quiet – we got one-on-one attention from a lovely Farm Assistant who let Little’un cuddle a guinea pig and stroke some adorable rabbit fawns cubs babies.  Little’un was entranced by the tiny rabbits and I have to admit, so was I.  Had it not been for our killer attack cat we may well have brought some home.  Probably a good job that we didn’t, after all they’d be cute for about half an hour and then proceed to be far more trouble than they would be worth. 

I don’t know what it is about small versions of everyday animals that captivates Little’un so much.  I rather suspect that this is a trait shared amongst all children, perhaps because they are small themselves they are attacted to other miniature versions of things.  She ran from field to pen to hutch looking for the baby goats, rabbits, ponies etc etc.  She was very cross because the lambs have grown up since the spring and we couldn’t feed them from a bottle any more. 

The nice Farm Assistant gave Little’un some bread to feed the geese with so we spent half an hour by the pond chucking bread in the general direction of a very excitable flock of assorted feathered bastards critters.  Geese are horrible, they are noisy and bossy and they frighten me a bit.  They do look funny when they are dabbling at the bottom of the pond though 😀

The highlight of the trip every time (for Little’un anyway, I prefer the llamas myself) is a run around the play park.  At least now she is old enough to go and play by herself while I sit watching the world go by in a corner.  Occasionally I have to pretend to be a passenger on a train “Tickets please Mummy” or the recipient of a Nice Cup Of Tea (to my annoyance I forgot to buy chocolate hobnobs this weekend – a project for next weekend I think).  I did have a bounce on the trampoline though, for as long as my poor pelvic floor could cope.

Not much got done in the way of housework this weekend.  And I really couldn’t care less.

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The Yorkshireman and I took the opportunity of a Little’un-free day whilst on holiday to take a trip to Portsmouth.  A two minute walk from the ferry terminal finds you in Gunwharf Quays, a designer outlet shopping centre.  Given that I have an Asda George budget and an Evans figure I did nothing in the way of shopping but as it was drizzling slightly (English summer holiday, of course it rained!) browsing the shops was a great way to spend an hour until the rain stopped.  We had lunch at Water Margin Oriental Buffet and I really can’t recommend it highly enough.  Probably not the best place for small children as it was a buffet in a large dining room setting and possibly a bit hectic and cramped for families but the place had a real buzz and the food was fantastic. 

Once we could move after having gone an apple fritter too far, we took a trip up the Spinnaker Tower.  Thankfully the weather had cleared so it was well worth paying the entrance fee for the views over Portsmouth Dockyard, The Solent and beyond.  The photo to the left was taken on our impromptu Solent cruise (see last post) but I took stacks of photos on the day and made a panoramic picture of the view which unfortunately seems to be too big to upload so I can’t share it with you (any tips gratefully received on this one).  Nevertheless I can bore you with some of the less spectacular shots.  I was incredibly brave and crawled across the glass floor with my eyes closed walked on the glass floor that allows you to see 328 feet (100m) below you to the terrace cafe.  You will note that I still have my sunglasses on in the picture.  This is so you can’t tell that my eyes are as big as saucers with fear.  I managed to crawl on and off the glass floor a couple of times without actually looking down, all the while small children were happily hopping, skipping and even jumping across it without so much as a minor tremble.  I was actually very pleased that Little’un wasn’t there; partly because she is too young to admire views and would have been bored to the point of bad behaviour and also because I don’t want to inflict my completely riduculous fears onto her (I fear I may be too late to avoid passing on my spider ishoos).

We spent a long time up there just admiring the view, mainly watching the ships roll in, and watching them roll away again (good job I love that Otis Redding song, there is no way you can get it out of your head whilst watching a working port from such a vantage point).  Until you’ve been up there and seen it for yourself it’s hard to imagine just how captivating it is.  Handily, we were in the Crow’s Nest when some mugs parents were pressed upon by their offspring to put £1 into the talking telescopes so we didn’t have to pay any extra for the commentary.  
If you ever find yourself in Portsmouth, I can heartily recommend a day in and around the Spinnaker Tower.  Just don’t take the kids with you.

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Isle of Wight 2007

So, a whole 6 weeks after getting back from our holiday in St Helens on the Isle of Wight, I am now finally getting round to posting some pics 🙂

We stayed here in a static caravan and found it a great base from which to explore the island.  Of course, the Isle of Wight is small enough that anywhere is a good base, nevertheless we found that we could get to most places from St Helens within half an hour or so.  It’s situated right on Bembridge Harbour on the eastern point of the island, within 10 minutes walk of a beach, although the route was a little tricky with a pushchair.  (NB the pushchair wasn’t used for transporting Little’un much, it was mainly used as a cart to transport assorted toddler beach crap.)  The caravan was clean and well equipped, the site was well maintained and had three fantastic playgrounds for children of various ages, including the grown up ones – Little’un refused to go down the big tube slide by herself so of course I had to slide down it myself with her on my knee.  Several times.  Damn.  The view from the caravan was fantastic (above) and despite all my reservations before we left, the weather was good enough to enjoy it.

We took those essential holiday items with us – spending money, bog roll, small child’s grandparents, breakfast cereal etc etc.  Of these, the grandparents were the most useful (the bog roll running a close second).  Little’un was entertained every waking hour and taken to a different beach nearly every day, allowing The Yorkshireman and I to remember what it is like to be childless and go and drink beer over leisurely lunches in our own time.  Fabulous, much needed and very much enjoyed.

Little’un (and The Yorkshireman it has to be said) is rather fond of trains so it was decided that a day out at the Isle of Wight Steam Railway was in order.  We bought a ticket – they are valid all day – and spent a very happy few hours trundling up and down the track. All the staff wear period costume which delighted Little’un and she got to hear those immortal words “Tickets Please!” which she remembered from her last trip on a steam train in Devon last year.  She wasn’t too keen on the tunnels but was perfectly happy to sit and look out of the window and excitedly shout “Look Mummy/Daddy a tree/cow/horse” at regular intervals.  It never ceases to amaze me how much satisfaction a small child can get from watching trees go past at slow speeds.  As for me, I love riding on trains, I find the clickety-clack really soothing and I also seem to get a lot of satisfaction from watching trees go past at slow speeds.  I think I spent most of the day in a contented semi-comatose state.

One thing I have to say against the Isle of Wight is that the night life is virtually non-existent, at least that we could find anyway.  The Yorkshireman and I jumped on the chance of a rare night out alone and struggled to find anywhere that wasn’t tired and empty.  Being old thirtysomething knackered parents, we weren’t exactly looking for a rave, but there was nowhere that had the slightest atmosphere after about 9 o’clock.  I suppose that’s what you get in a family centred area.

The Yorkshireman and I also spent a day in Portsmouth, I’ll post about that sepearately as I got loads of fab photos (maybe in another month 😀 I’ll try and be a bit quicker!)

We got a bit of a bonus on the way home – Cowes Week had just started and the ferry had to take a long way round as it sailed across the water so we got a tour of The Solent in full regatta mode.  Coloured sails everywhere.  Rather exciting and a fitting end to a fun, relaxing and thoroughly enjoyable week.

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