Sunday, 29 July 2012

Project #366 - Week 30

So, with the sun shining time seems to pass so much faster, and typing Week 30 seems to only reinforce this.

This week has been a good one, great weather seems to make everyone that much more relaxed and the benefits of fewer germs and less bugs has ensured we can make the most of our garden.


So, we started the week making the most of our garden and the one at the local pub!
The Captain's Wife

Garden fun

I then had the regular trip to London but rather than my usual hotel I was booked in to The RAF Club. It was fantastic, full of so much history and reinforcing how the armed forces have looked after this country.
The RAF Club

The RAF Club



Homeward bound it was back to making the most time with the family.

The fun of al fresco dining! Introducing the boys to ice lollies, and proving how much fun outdoor play is- the cars are no longer used for driving, they are now tents where the children live- the joy of a child's imagination!







TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Silent Sunday




Saturday, 28 July 2012

Love it or hate it? London 2012 Olympics

So, in 2008 I started working with a fantastic team of people who would build the 2012 Olympic Park and Athletes Village. And in doing so, the work I get to do with an amazing sector became a small part of what would eventually go on to be a fantastic achievement for construction, and the UK.

National Skills Academy for Construction
Overlooking what would become the 2012 Olympic Park and Village


A small claim to involvement.

I have been so amazed and proud of the teams of construction companies I get to work with, and the team at the Olympic Delivery Authority, for making so much happen to ensure the industry does itself proud.

We 'officially' finished our work in July 2011, I was on my second bout of maternity leave since our relationship began, and missed out on the celebrations.

It does seem bizarre. In the time it took us to build the Olympic Park I had three babies (poetic license applied!).

I went back to the Olympic Park, for the final time in July 2010, knowing I was, once (twice) again, pregnant- in a way all my children have been to the Park, given on my first trip I was six months pregnant. The Park and Village were breathtaking to me, the build had come so far in such a short amount of time- and such iconic sporting venues had been created.


I have not been interested in what has followed, my attention at work has turned to what will be happening after the Games and all my energies were applied in the lead up, and being amazed as the construction completed and exceeded all expectations, a cause for celebration in itself.

As I sat down last night, I suspected I would tune the tv in for the Opening Ceremony.
I did not expect to be so enthused by it, to be so proud to know this is what this country can do.
That so many people can come together to achieve so much.

 I suspect I will be tuning in a lot more before September is out.

The Opening Ceremony replicated what was understood from the construction process.The 2012 Olympics has involved so many amazing people, and if that isn't enough, it will enthuse a generation.
The lighting of the Olympic torch proved that we are quintessentially British. That we maybe influenced by celebrity. But, when it comes down to it, we know what makes the difference. We know what British means. We know our heritage. We understand our humour.
Most importantly, we understand that we are dependent on inspiring the future generations of Great Britain.
That they be athletes, volunteers, and those in the construction sector.
That webring the flame, that may be lit, to inspire those to make our future.


For all those who might have read this expecting some more focused sports news, can I just signpost you to a website....this is the Learning Legacy of the ODA, how the construction sector raised the bar for the sector and demonstrated how well it does what it does.
And if you're interested for one minute in the work of the National Skills Academy for Construction, check out this report about what can be achieved when people put their mind to it.


For a long time, that song, 'Proud', has been my baseline, to look at these little people does that, to look at the Olympic Park and Village has from a work perspective, and last night the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony made me proud of my heritage.

The National Skills Academy for Construction


Friday, 27 July 2012

The sea, a park, and a picnic

I have rediscovered Porthkerry Country Park, and it's far better than any of my memories.
I remember school trips there, I remember sunny days there with friends and family.
And now, as a parent I realise why it's such a fantastic place.

When the sun came out so too came the problems of deciding where to go. Living near sandy beaches means as soon as the sun comes out so do the traffic jams, so I wanted somewhere which could occupy everyone, enable lots of fresh air, and with the more difficult criteria for being straightforward for parking.

I decided on Porthkerry, and it was great. It was just me and the little people. There was lots to occupy Squeaks. Great places if you had a fishing net, great woodland trails, a pebble beach, a field for picnics and playing games, a fantastic park... the children were in their element. We watched trains going across the viaduct, planes coming back from their holidays. I drove home in peace as everyone slept.

Porthkerry Country Park
Porthkerry Country Park

Porthkerry Country Park


In response to popular demand (Squeaks) we took daddy back the next day.
This time we did a proper picnic and remembered the ball.
The sun was even brighter, and it is amazing how much good weather makes for contentment.
Squeaks got to visit rock pools and go into the sea.
The boys got to play their version of football.


Porthkerry Country Park

Porthkerry Country Park


And nobody missed that we didn't visit the park this time.... well, until we got home, and now I've been made to promise we're going back to the park tomorrow!


Porthkerry Country Park

Porthkerry beach








Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Thursday, 26 July 2012

"The Somethingosaur" and other dinosaurs- Book review

Dinosaur books


We're going through a dinosaur phase. It happens every now and again.

We've got a few books that we've collected over time.

'Dinosaur Roar!' by Henrietta and Paul Strickland was one of our first dinosaur books. Provided as part of the Book Start scheme, Squeaks really loves the variety of dinosaurs in the book. The book introduces children to the concept of opposites, and it's a book that the boys (at 18mths) are starting to show an interest in.

Squeaks had 'The Very Dizzy Dinosaur' book and toy set for Christmas. The book by Jack Tickle is really colourful and introduces you to all the different dinosaurs. I must admit I struggled with the pronunciation of some of the dinosaurs, but it's an engaging book with rhyming text which keeps all three little people's attention.


The Somethingosaur by Tony Mitton

'The Somethingosaur' by Tony Mitton is our most recent addition, published in June 2012, it absolutely enchants Squeaks. The illustrations, by Russell Ayto, are absolutely superb, mainly because the Somethingosaur is accompanied by a little creature. Fans of Ben & Holly will be familiar with Gaston, the ladybird, and this is the name Squeaks has given to the creature in the book. She got really upset that he doesn't feature on one of the pages and what would the Somethingosaur do without him?!
The book, like "Dizzy Dinosaur" uses rhyming text, in this case, I enjoyed this as it's very humorous in places, especially the line around "...or I might have to eat you"- this gets Squeaks everytime, putting her hand over the Somethingosaur to prevent this threat!

'The Dinosaur Who Lost His Roar' by Russell Punter is Squeaks' favourite when she wants to trick me into a longer bedtime ritual. It's an Usbourne First Reader so takes us longer to make our way through.
I think Squeaks is demonstrating that she's ready for longer books and showing the engagement throughout so I'm happy to read her longer stories as well as the many short stories she is learning the words to verbatim!
'The Dinosaur Who Lost His Roar' is a story about friendship, and to some extent- acceptance. Squeaks loves all the interaction and, as always, picks up on how the dinosaur is feeling- especially when she thinks he's sad!

These four books offer great variety for little ones who love dinosaurs, and will introduce children to the different benefits of books- from great illustrations, to engaging language, and learning aims.
Having a theme which children are interested in offers great opportunities to embrace imagination and learning.


Disclosure: We received a copy of 'The Somethingosaur' for the purposes of this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Review: Organix Baby & Toddler Food

I've previously blogged about the fun we've had with the boys and their "decision" to move from purees and spoon feeding to baby led.

In some ways things are getting easier- sometimes they're ok with being spoon fed, but this is just to lull you into a false sense of security- the reality is the boys are ready to start feeding themselves with cutlery- so now the real fun starts with hand-eye co-ordination, and even more mess!

We've been a fan of Organix since Squeaks was little, but we've always been stuck in our ways. Find something which a toddler enjoys eating and with such a rare occurance habit emerges.

So we were delighted to receive a little toddler Organix hamper through the door the other morning.

Our Organix Hamper!

The great thing about hampers are that they persuade you to introduce foods which you may not have thought about before.

With Squeaks, she was a big fan of the Alphabet biscuits, with individual packets and lulling mummy into thinking they were also educational, and daddy also sneaking a few past his lips they went down well.

So, we were a bit caught off guard when the boys didn't like them.

We moved to savoury and have always stuck with the cheese and herb puffs, again useful in individual packets, We've stuck with these, happy with the knowledge that salt and fat levels are lower than in childrens snacks.
Then a friend introduced us, well them, to Carrot Sticks, now usually I wouldn't been a fan as there's lots in one bag you're reliant on a bag tag to keep them fresh... but the boys love them and are quite content with one in each hand! (NB I know there are carrot stix in the goodies range but they're just not the same!

So, how did we get on with our hamper?!

We loved almost everything! (We've never succeeded in tempting the children with raisins... grapes no problem... raisins... grinded into the floor!).
The highlights for us were the mini cheese crackers. We're massive fans of cheese biscuits, and with the 'no junk' promise it means I can feel better about snacking. The boys loved them, I think they helped their teething as their gums gnawed away at them.
Obviously the Cheese & Herb puffs went in no time at all.
We also loved the Gingerbread men, we've stuck to rich tea biscuits, but the gingerbread men offered a bit more flavour, without being as strong in flavour as other ginger biscuits.

The big surprise for us was the mighty meal. As the boys have only just started accepting spoon fed and I've only just got them back on to pasta I held no hope for a toddler meal. It's now been six months since they allowed a toddler meal to pass their lips. But optimistic on breaking the pasta barrier we went for it!
And to my surprise it was good. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't great, but it was progress. Being quite chunky I am sure helped the babies. The fact I could put a dumpling on a fork and leave with each to nibble on whilst I fed them helped too. And for mum, knowing that it carries the Organix ethos of no salt, starches and preservatives is also a good thing.

Receiving the hamper reminds me why it's good to try new things, having a good grounding of knowing the food is better for the babies than childrens pre-prepared food does help.


Disclaimer: We received an Organix hamper pack for the purposes of this review.




Sunday, 22 July 2012

Project #366 - Week 29

Ok, so this week didn't go so well, I've had the week off work with the killer headache. I would guess the result of a year back at work trying to be too many things to too many people... but hey ho, priorities sorted and we've ended on a real high.

Sunday: in the midst of being all things, I decided to sort the office, this was the before photo... I haven't managed the after photo.
Monday: Squeaks making me feel better with a playdough concoction.
Tuesday: waking up to a midnight visitor, making herself comfortable.
Wednesday: Sumo wrestling twin style.
Thursday: Daddy takes Squeaks for a break down the Bay.
Saturday: Cheeky travels in style at Porthkerry.




And my favourite photo of the week, on Friday I decided to get rid of the cobwebs and take the children out for the day. We ended up at Porthkerry Country Park. A frequent place for school trips when I was little, it has it all- a beach, a picnic area and park. Best of all it's great for parking and only ten minutes from the house. We had such a lovely time we took daddy with us today and saw a massive Quantas, but Friday we settled for a regular holiday plane!




TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Silent Sunday




Project #366 - Week 28

Ok, so I'm running a bit behind... again... but here we go, the memories of a week ago.

Sunday: Squeaks got to go to a birthday party. And in the latest stage in her development has learned to stick her tongue out for photographs- you go girl!
Monday: Regular bed hopping activities.
Tuesday: A bad day at work. In London. I treated myself to two, rather than my customary one. I know how to live.


Wednesday: Finishing a great meeting at The Building Centre. It warranted a photo.
Thursday: Squeaks got treated to a trip down the Bay... trying to get away with staying.
Saturday: Bedtime with the Gruffalo.



And my favourite photo of the week, just for the milestone... Squeaks end of term party... next term pre-school in the morning and nursery-school in the afternoon!




TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Friday, 13 July 2012

A new chapter for Squeaks

Today is the end of term party for Squeaks' pre-school.
Last week I took her to visit her new nursery-school.

Fortunately, we got the afternoon sessions, which means subject to energy levels Squeaks' can do wraparound with pre-school for three of the five days.

Last week I walked with trepidation with her into the primary school which could be Squeaks' second home for the next seven years.
I needn't have worried. Talk about in her element. She cried as we were leaving- she didn't want to go home.
I love this about her.
Fortunately as we were leaving the children all ran into the playground, and I explained that we needed to get Squeaks a white t-shirt (school uniform) before we can go back.
Every morning since I have been asked if we are going out to get a white t-shirt.
I'm not sure how I am going to keep this going till September!

I have to admit I am so excited for her.
She has thrived in so many different environments where she has been free to socialise with other children, and enjoy different activities.
And I think she is ready for this next step, and more.

How did we get from here...
... to here?
Now, the OH and I have been talking about other activities that she might want to get involved in.
As a little water baby we are hoping she can start swimming lessons soon as we don't think she's getting enough out of her trips where she insists on jumping in all the time, and probably needs to see other little people swimming to see what she can do.
And, as my mum reminisced about Nadia Comeneci this week, and I finally understood why gymnastics had been such a big part of my childhood, and I couldn't help but realise this would be more perfect than dance lessons for my daredevil child.

Whilst I know Squeaks will go back to pre-school in Spetember it still feels, well not like a chapter's closing, but that another chapter opens.
In September Squeaks will begin wearing school uniform five days a week (a subject for another post!).
She will begin her life in education... and who knows when that will end.

And for all the negatives in my mind, the positives for her come out on top. I am so excited. I can't wait for the days I might escape from work to pick her up, to hear all about her day. Because, if it's even half her current enthusiasm- I will still be blown away.


Thursday, 12 July 2012

Oliver Jeffers with Harper Collins

Sometimes, oh yes, sometimes, life works in your favour.


We have loved Oliver Jeffers in the Johnson house, since Squeaks was a little baby. 'How to Catch a Star' is synonymous with how Squeaks came into her life, and of course her name reflects this.

We received 'Up and Down' from Harper Collins and a result Squeaks became obsessed with Penguins, this results in her request for a penguin (and a crocodile) for her 3rd birthday.

'Up and Down' is a wonderful story about the friendship between the boy and the penguin, the animation is wonderful, somehow Squeaks also picks out the emotion of the different adventures and loves the places which are visited.

The book is a favourite of the bedtime choices,and with it's accompanying CD I have been permitted focus moments with the boys whilst Squeaks is distracted.

So, when I found out one of my working days in London collided with a event being organised by Harper Collins and Waterstones at Finchley Road, a begging email was looked on favourably and I managed to make the most of being in London!
Oliver Jeffers at Waterstones

Being able to listen to talk to someone about how the books that form such an integral part of your life are 'made' is absolutely inspiring. The more time I spend with Squeaks reading books, the more I am taken back to my own childhood, I have always loved books but to see their impact on someone so impressionable is such a positive experience.

To hear the person who creates these fantastic books, and to hear them speak so honestly and passionately. Was just a wonderful experience. The oddest thing to me was the realisation as to how different people are. Oliver was asked why the illustrations are such different styles in his books, the response as to how the imagery that matches what is seen in the mind is chosen when transferring ideas to papers made perfect sense. And I couldn't help but realise my mind does not work like this, I don't think I see pictures in my mind, I think I have just always seen words, and ergo my obsession with stationery. I love the idea that the human mind works so differently, and can't help but wonder already how my childrens minds will work.

Oliver's latest book is out 'The Hueys in the New Jumper' and I was fortunate enough to be able to get a signed copy for Squeaks. I am not sure if she appreciates who has written in her name in her book.... one day!

The New Jumper by Oliver Jeffers

Squeaks loves her new book, admittedly she had a unique way of wearing her 'new jumper' and it soon became a book she could get to grips out whilst mummy tucks the boys in their cots.
The New Jumper by Oliver Jeffers


Squeaks loves Gillespie more than Rupert, and bearing in mind this is a book about individuality, it was quite a special moment?!!?
I love knowing the background behind this book, knowing about the inspirations, of everyone being called 'Huey'. I hope one day Squeaks will understand.

Our love of Oliver Jeffers is set to continue, especially as I think the boys are nearly ready for their introductions!

Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of 'Up and Down' for the purpose of this review, and also received an invitation to the Oliver Jeffers event at Waterstones. All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Oh help, oh no... it's a Gruffalo!

Oh yes, that's right, we did it, we faced our fears, well, Mouse's fears really, we confronted them head on, and saw The Gruffalo Live at the Wales Millennium Centre last week.

With a note of seriousness, I was a little bit wary, I had read mixed reviews about the production. Although I think this was a good thing, I had a good idea of what we were expecting and could attempt to manage Squeaks' expectations.

Because, this is the thing, in a similar vein to The Tiger Who Came to Tea, there are only three actors taking responsibility for recreating such a fantastic book. And given there are quite a few more characters in 'The Gruffalo' this would be no easy undertaking. And I was aware that the intepretation of the characters may not have been as comprehensive as the interpretation of Squeaks.

Squeaks was sooooo excited to be going to the theatre. Even more excited as we spent the week making sure we knew the words off by heart! I love the fact that after only a handful of visits she can make the link with the theatre and get excited by it.
The Gruffalo Live


We were fortunate to have great seats (even more fortunate as we had been on a waiting list to get them). We had a row of school children behind us, which turned out to be fantastic. Squeaks has not really done the audience participation bit on other trips to the theatre, but the children behind us spurred Squeaks on and she really got involved.

Squeaks really enjoyed the first 30 minutes of the performance, and then she got bored. She became obsessed with her seat flipping up and down.
I'd like to say it was her attention span, but she has done so well on our other theatre trips.
I think it just wasn't true enough to the book, yes, the repetition works well and yes, it works well especially with songs, but I sort of felt the songs weren't upbeat enough.

I hate the idea of making my child like something, and even more so of forcing my interests on her. But I know she has loved the theatre to date, because of the way she recalls her visits.
And actually she did love The Gruffalo- she told everyone afterwards. But, I did feel like I was making her watch at times, and maybe this is just a thing parents have to do. But I'd rather not.

For me, the 'adult', it was enjoyable, it was a great interpretation of the book, and for it to get onto the stage, it has to be a translation. But it felt a bit old for a three year old, and yet the book is perfect for this age. I think of the snake, and the owl, and I think perfect adult humour... but that's ok if you've already captured the child's imagination- and I don't think it did.


So, where am I at the end of this review?
Well, Squeaks' wants to go back to the theatre, so she did enjoy it overall.
I sort of think it would be perfect for children who've never picked up 'The Gruffalo'.
But, it did keep to the book, and in getting audience engagement it did remain true to the memorable parts and get people involved.
It has made me aware that someone else's interpretation may not be yours, and that from reading up on the production it was approved by Julia Donaldson... and so, in some ways, if she's happy, who am I to comment?!

My conclusion therefore, I love taking Squeaks to the theatre, I love doing something which we both enjoy. The experience was fantastic, Squeaks loved it and I loved watching her and the show.
I don't think it was as engaging as it could have been, and this was solely due to the interpretation, not the production or the performers.
I laughed, I joined in, and I cheered, and so did Squeaks. So, in many ways my negatives are just blips.
But life is always better without the blips.

Oh, and Squeaks still reaches for 'The Gruffalo' as one of our bedtime books.

The Gruffalo Live


Disclosure: We paid for our tickets for this performance and the opinions expressed are our own.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Another birth?

So, I don't want to scare anyone..
... but I so cannot imagine ever being pregnant ever again.

FULL STOP

It is the most bizarre feeling.
The boys are now the age we were when we 'got' pregnant the second time.
If you know our first pregnancy story, you know how shocked we were to get pregnant so quickly the second time.
And then to find out it was twins.

And, of course, we would not change a thing.
I won the "two or three children?" discussion.
But, I only got two pregnancies (I reserve the right to feel hard done to!).

And as I sit here, still broody every time I come across a newborn.

I am back to my life six years ago and running away from the thought of pregnancy and a newborn.

I would love a baby, and I've had straightforward birth stories.
But, I cannot take the risk of another twin pregnancy, my husband as the stay at home parent has the winning vote, and really, physically and mentally-  I don't think I could do another pregnancy.


So, I will take this moment,
I will fall in love with every hope and dream.
I will love my friends and family and put my hopes of the future generations in their hands.
I will try not to inflict my baby enthusiasm on them.

I will remember every time I hold my child what it felt like to hold them for the first time.
And how much I loved looking after them before they were ready to face the world.
I cannot decide which child is my favourite, they hold such perfect places in my heart.
And how I will hold every newborn, and have wish the same for their parents.

I will realise that my heart is not big enough.
That it is stretched, and three children fits it perfectly.

And that I so look forward to my two little men looking out for their big sister, and this being outweighed by the amount of times she kicks ass on their behalf.

And that, the truth is, I want a third pregnancy, but it would be for my third child... and I already have a third child in my life.

I have been gifted, I have carried two children, I have two children with a bond which cannot be broken, and  I do not have a youngest, I have equals.

I am fortunate, to have children, and to have wonderful pregnancies and straightforward births, resulting in my three wonderful children.

Someday's you just have to look life in the face.
And acknowledge how lucky you are.



Eight things to keep in the car for the kids

So, our trip to Center Parcs Longleat took 2 1/2 hours.... and a bit longer getting back down the M4 on a Friday. As we're repeating the experience in November I'm really grateful for this guest post giving some tips on how this could be a less stressful experience!






Eight things to keep in the car for the kids



Kids can be easily bored, especially when they are cooped up in the car.  Whether your journey takes one hour or five, you can guarantee to have them moaning about being bored before too long. So, to avoid the ‘are we nearly there yets’ that every parent dreads, we’ve compiled the eight things to keep in the car, which will combat their boredom in a flash!



1) An etch-a-sketch. Remember those? No, they’re not very fashionable any more, but they’re still amazing for keeping children amused during car journeys. The advantages: no mess, no batteries, nothing to lose down the back of the seat – and they can be tasked with drawing scenes from the window. It’s easy to start again – just wipe it clean and off you go!


2) Top Trumps. Whether you’re comparing cars or sharks, top trumps is a must-have game for the car. It’s easily stashed in the glove-box, you don’t need a flat surface to play, and it can provide hours of entertainment. Perfect!


3) Secret sweetie stash. There’s nothing like a bit of good old-fashioned bribery to keep them quiet, so having a secret stash of sweets that only makes an appearance every so often is a must. Reward game winners, mark a significant point on the journey (eg. halfway), or simply keep them quiet and happily munching away in the back seat. If you want a healthier option, try dried fruits or cereal bars rather than sweets.


4) Magazines. Pick out a few of their favourite magazines before a long journey and stash them under the  seat – but don’t tell them until you’re a way into your journey, when the boredom’s really starting to set in.


5) Story CDs. Reading can be difficult in a car, especially if your children suffer from car sickness or you’re travelling in the dark. So a good way for the whole family to enjoy a good story is to buy a storybook CD. Younger kids enjoy nursery rhymes or simpler stories, but older kids can listen to spoken novels like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. It’s a great way to share the experience together.


6) In-car DVD players. Modern technology is amazing – you can get in-car DVD players that attach to the front headrest, so that they can watch their favourite DVDs from the back seat. Of course, a pair of headphones is a must, too – so the kids can enjoy the DVD while you listen to some good music.


7) Headrest pillows and blankets. If you can get them to sleep for part of the journey then all the better – but sleeping can be difficult if they’re uncomfortable. Invest in some travel pillows (the ones that wrap around the shoulders) and blankets so that, if they start to nod off, you’re well prepared


8) Portable games consoles. Most kids love computer games these days, and this can be very useful for getting through those long journeys. If you’re doing a lot of travelling – such as going on holiday – it might be worth investing in a new game before you go away so that they have something different to play.


Keeping the children happy in the back seat is important, but more crucial is safety on the road. Make sure you are protected for your journey with adequate car insurance.

Author Bio:
Sarah Leverton writes for Sainsbury’s Bank Money Matters blog on topics such as car insurance, child safety and affordable driving. She also writes for a variety of other publications, covering a wide range of topics from sailing to health and lifestyle.






Disclaimer: I was offered the opportunity to feature this post as a member of the Sainsbury's Family Network.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Five children, five days @CenterParcsUK Longleat

So, our recent holiday didn't go quite as planned. For too many reasons to go into here, it ended up being me and our three, and my parents and my two nephews. Fortunately we were next door to each other at Center Parcs, Longleat.

Last September we had visited Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest. At Sherwood Forest we went with my parents and all stayed in a Comfort Villa. Not knowing any difference we loved it. It was a bit cramped with two cots in our room, but the boys were still sleeping with us so that's the way it was.
This time we stayed in a Comfort Plus Villa, and it was just me and my three. It was far better. I managed to rearrange a twin room so we could fit two cots in, and Squeaks had her own twin room. It meant the boys could be next door to me, I know in the Comfort the room next to the double had been bunk beds so this wouldn't have been a good arrangement as the boys usually need to be pacified more than Squeaks.

When we visited Sherwood we booked lots of activities, this seemed to dictate the holiday, although we did book loads. We decided not to this time as Squeaks would have her cousins for company, and the twins are so easily and happily entertained we didn't need anything for them.

This turned out to be the right decision. Unlike Sherwood Forest much of Longleat relies on the landtrain. It probably doesn't for most people, but with three little people we couldn't expect them to walk everywhere. The added complication was having a twin pushchair- which would have been a nightmare to get on the land train so I was reliant on my dad pushing the boys places whilst my mum and I took the three little people on the train. This was a real down side for me, although I completely appreciate it is temporary. We are going back in November as a family, and with the hope that the boys will be walking confidently and we'll hopefully invest in some form of double buggy the land train might be more realistic. And before we know it walking will be an option (or getting accommodation nearer the activities!) but for now, Sherwood is better from this perspective.
Center Parcs Longleat

As it was, we did two activities. We visited the Pottery Studio, and the three little people made fantastic gifts for their parents. We fortunately turned up at a quiet time when we were accommodated despite not booking, I am really looking forward to doing something involving footprints with our three in November.

The best thing about the whole week for me was taking my three swimming, for the first time ever. I will be honest this was a bit naughty of us, we had five children to three adults. I had phoned Center Parcs in advance about their policies and they were clear. From chatting we agreed that it would be ok for the three little people to be accompanied by two adults. We did this and loved every moment.
We also discussed confining ourselves to the baby pool and the seating area, where fortunately Center Parcs were flexible. What this meant for us was one adult was able to supervise three little people going down the slide whilst two adults looked after the babies at the bottom of the slide, and then when the three little people went into the big pool with two adults the babies could go with the adult into the playpens in the seating area. It worked perfectly. And it made my holiday complete. I have to say the safety at the swimming pools at Center Parcs is second to none, as the pools we take Squeaks to, there was permanently a lifeguard at the baby pool as well as the 'junior pool'. We didn't get the opportunity to explore the other pools, and the big slide but our memories had been made.

Center Parcs Longleat

Other highlights of the holiday included a visit to the beach and the Pancake House for my dad's birthday. I think he enjoyed himself.... although I am sure he would have been tempted by the offer of peace, quiet and a newspaper!
Center Parcs Longleat

The Pancake House was fantastic. The 'decorate your own pancake' was the perfect distraction for little people exhausted from a morning at the beach!
Center Parcs Longleat
As must be a tradition at Center Parcs, we had plenty of wildlife visitors keeping everyone entertained (especially as it turns out I don't make the boys breakfast as well as daddy so that kept landing up outside!). And, in the one dull moment we had, my BritMums Live Banagrams purchase kept everyone entertained!
Center Parcs Longleat


I have to be honest, I didn't come back feeling like I had benefited from a holiday. I came back shattered.
But! this holiday has created the most amazing memories for me and three wonderful children.
Gone are my holidays of the sun, sea and well, baby making if the last were anything to go by.
Welcome to chaos, laughter, mayhem and happiness.


Disclaimer: This is a personal review and has been written simply due to us having a wonderful holiday.






Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


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