The Gruffalo at Alice Holt Forest

I am forever finding new places through Instagram, with the most recent being Alice Holt Forest in Surrey. Several posts with Gruffalo sculptures in them confirmed it was firmly on the list of places I want to visit over the next 12 months. We decided we couldn’t wait and visited on the Christmas break, taking J’s bike with us as she’s really enjoying it. We love Surrey and through the year we will often make many trips, with Guildford and the Devils Punchbowl high on the list. As we’re in neighbouring Hampshire, it’s a short drive away for a great day out

We asked for assistance at the beginning and were advised that there was no longer a formal Gruffalo trail, instead the easy access trail with the sculptures still in place. As we entered the easy access route we were told “good luck” by a family heading out of it as we had J’s bike. Undeterred we continued but we soon realised why… there were quite a lot of small hills which were challenging for a young child on a bike but J persevered with a lot of help from the hubster

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My Sunday Photo {18/12/16}

I started 2016 with the best intention of recording a photo a week and this somehow dropped off. So here’s me joining in with my last one before Christmas with a view to make it a more frequent occurrence for 2017

This week we visited Mottisfont Abbey, I have shared the majority of the photos on another post, it was one of my favourite days out in such a long time and everywhere we went there were robins. I seem to always find a robin on my walks come rain or shine and this little one came and sat on the bench with us just before we went home

Robins are always linked with Christmas, and although there was no snow and it was a glorious day, it did make me feel a little more festive than I have been. Wishing everyone a great Christmas and linking with Darren at Photalife for My Sunday Photo

Photalife

12 Days of Christmas at Mottisfont Abbey

We’ve had lots of adventures this year but haven’t used our National Trust membership as much as I wanted to. This week I decided I would set that right and J and I made the trip over on Wednesday for their 12 days of Christmas event. I remember my dad reading the 12 days of christmas with my sister and me when we were children, us two really emphasising the 5 golden rings part and not really remembering the rest so I was quite excited to do this with my girl

Straight away she was given a map, she’s definitely mine as she got super excited and kept hold of it, with her duty being to cross all of the numbers off as we got to them. We visited every part of the trail in the correct order, singing the days as we got to them and I completely relived my youth singing along as we went round the grounds

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This picture shows J as my mini me, camera, map, hat, satchel bag, love this kid!
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A partridge in a pear tree

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Going “Up North” to Trentham Gardens

A couple of weeks ago we visited our good friend RH who has moved up to Crewe. Going from seeing someone on an almost daily basis to once a week or fortnight when she was back down south for work, to once a month if we were lucky because she changed job roles, has been really hard. We’ve been trying since August to get a date in the calendar and finally we managed to secure one for mid November

In the days leading up to the visit J had started to become under the weather but like all children she perked up quickly so we didn’t think much of it and on the Friday night we made the big drive up, traffic was great and we made good time, settling in the house long before midnight

After seeing various Instagram posts and after a little investigation I realised that Trentham Gardens was a short drive from her house and it looked nice so off we went. It really was like a hidden gem, lots of little cabin style shops on the way in which we stopped at and looked round, and then the gardens itself

The only word I have to say is wow, what a beautiful place! We took a right when we entered, wanting to explore as much as possible, looking at some models, playing under the trees and walking back from the house towards the lake. It really was stunning and I was happily snapping away while J ran in front of us playing and climbing rocks, it really was a perfect 45 minutes

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You are 4 {Ladybug Letters}

Dear J

You are 4! I honestly cannot believe that I am a mummy to a 4 year old. At 3:10am in the morning on the 30th November 2012 you arrived in this world and were placed in my arms shortly after being checked over and cleaned up. It sounds cliche but I always wanted a little girl and even though I was reliably informed at every scan you were a girl I was still convinced you would be a boy, and was reluctant to buy pink clothes just in case

You were the perfect baby, sleeping through the night from 4 weeks old, feeding every 3 hours as directed by the hospital, and were so alert taking everything in with your big, beautiful eyes. The midwife looked at you and said you would be at least 8-8.5lbs because you were so long in length, and we were all shocked that you were a tiny 6lbs 11oz

You were all legs with a long body and very little else bulking you out. Even though you didn’t weigh a lot, you instantly fitted in 0-3 month clothes and skipped the newborn size because of your length. I can honestly say that you haven’t changed, your legs are still amazingly long and your long torso makes it near impossible to find clothes that fit and go past your stomach while not dwarfing your arms but it makes you “you”

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You had very little hair when born, with a strawberry birth mark on your head but shortly before you turned 1 your hair started growing and since then the birth mark has been hidden. Your hair was so long that when wet it reached your bottom and when dry has the most beautiful ringlets and looks beautiful once just washed and left down. A few weeks before your 4th birthday we had to finally succumb to getting it cut because it had just become so unruly and the only way it could be managed was to tie it up, but it’s such a gorgeous feature

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Autumn Sun

In just 2 weeks the trees have shed their leaves, the weather has changed and we’ve seen a lot more rain than normal, and it feels as though winter is showing it’s harsh side to us. Most people dislike winter but I am definitely not one of those people, in fact I love it; cold walks leaving you with rosy cheeks and red noses, hot chocolates, casseroles and cosy warm homes to return to

The parks are also generally empty of the fair-weather walkers leaving you more space to explore and not worry about your dog ruining peoples picnics. It’s my second favourite season after Autumn, I mean who doesn’t love the colours, the sun and the glow in the afternoon Autumn gives you, when it’s not quite cold enough for coats, but cold enough for a body warmer and bobble hat

A few weeks ago J learned to ride her bike and was desperate to show her granddad her newfound skill on one of his days off work. She  showed off her growing confidence on the bike, riding around cones and to the end of the track, waiting patiently each time for us to catch up. We settled once again for hot chocolates, a play in the children’s area and a catch up before heading back to the car. The sky was clear and crisp, and there was a lovely feel amongst the families out and about in the beautiful yellow sun

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A Tunnel of Trees

Instagram is quite literally my favourite social media platform. I love looking at beautiful photos, reading snippets of daily activities and seeing new places to explore. Last week I saw a stunning photo of a “tunnel of trees” and after a quick search I found out it was a short drive away from us in a small place called Halnaker in West Sussex

We decided to make a day of it, taking a car picnic with us with a plan to walk through the tunnel of trees up Halnaker Hill to the windmill at the top. The walk wasn’t a long one, 1.5 miles there and back but it was simply stunning. As soon as we entered the tunnel we felt like we were transported into a magical woodland, with the autumnal colours on the trees, leaves on the ground and sun glistening through making it feel like a different world

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The Simple Things in Life

I am forever saying it, Autumn really is my favourite season. As soon as the leaves start falling I am instantly transported back to my childhood of kicking leaves, forever finding the piles at the side of the path to kick back out and admiring the pretty colours on the trees

It’s followed through to adulthood, and I am always desperate to get out and explore this beautiful season, with the colours and the leaves on the ground making it feel magical. This weekend I arranged for J and I to go for a walk with my cousin and her daughter to some woods nearby, something we try and do every couple of months in amongst our busy lives

As soon as we arrived the girls started walking off together and we soon found some chestnuts on the floor. I had given J a bag to collect a variety of leaves on our little adventure and the girls started collecting them and filling the bags. J was so engrossed and carried on filling her bag and staying put, even after we had started to walk further down the hill. In fact she was there for so long she practically filled the bag by the time she decided to rejoin us

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I am in awe of this little girl, she looks so grown up and so beautiful, I hope she continues to love her curls

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A Blogging Hiatus {Ordinary Moments – 9/10/16}

My last post on here was June 2016 which was over 3 months ago. A lot has happened and changed in those 3 months – probably far too much to mention. My Timehop frequently  pops up the blog post I created the previous year and I am often reminded of the amazing memories we made, or how much J has changed. I just want to kick myself for not recording those beautiful moments as frequently this year

After 3 months off, I am back with a fresh mind, I no longer feel unwell, and I am focused and recharged, ready to continue my online diary, knowing that I will continue to look back on J’s childhood fondly as I do when these little reminders pop up

The other day I was chatting to someone and they said how happy they were that Autumn was bringing with it some sun as Summer was a wash out. I had to disagree with him, not about Autumn (it is by far my most favourite season) but about the summer. I remember long sunny days, going through bottles of suncream, fun in the water, at the park and probably too many ice creams to mention. Yes there was the odd wet day, but it was the warmest July and August that I can remember for a long, long time. Quite simply, a beautiful summer here in the south

Of course, with every day, week and month that passes there will always be moments which weren’t perfect, where there were tears, frustration and even anger. It would be foolish to suggest that every single day of summer was perfect, but memory recall seems to cherry pick the good elements we can reflect on, and that works for me

Summer 2016 included a child free trip to North Devon, with spectacular waterfalls and cobbled streets, an impromptu visit to West Wittering after work which saw the most beautiful beach sunset, trips to Alton Towers and  Legoland, and driving adventures in the New Forest (I got lost) which saw us stumble upon the Stick Man trail and left us far too excited!

The most vivid memory of the entire summer took place on our first ever trip to Camp Bestival on the Sunday afternoon whilst listening to KT Tunstall. I was at the front with J in my arms in the late afternoon sun and as I was dancing she fell asleep on me for the first time since she was a baby. I felt totally and utterly content, watching one of my favourite acts from my youth, with my beautiful daughter on me at the end of an amazing weekend. It really was one of those moments which will stay with me forever – every time I think about it I am transported right back there to that moment

It would be wrong for me to start afresh and pretend that the summer didn’t happen, we are well into autumn, with crisp cold sun, leaves on the ground and pumpkins everywhere, but for now here is summer 2016 in pictures. Our summer of ordinary moments bringing extraordinary memories, and once again, the beginning of my online diary begins…

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Zany Zebras in Southampton
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We had a great day exploring my hometown
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J enjoys podded peas more than she does strawberry picking

Beautiful Clovelly and Spekes Mill Mouth Waterfall, North Devon

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Jet Ski Fun at Center Parcs
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Pony riding at Center Parcs – I love these tumbling curls
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Clowning around at a summer Family Fun Day
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With her friend at the summer Family Fun Day

L-R Top – Beach Fun at West Wittering, a chilly windy day at Hill Head

L-R Bottom – Fun on the Stick Man Trail, and cuddles at Paultons Park

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Me and Mine {June 2016}

Okay so my first question is how are we in the middle of 2016 already? This year has passed so quickly that I really would like for it to start slowing down! The end of June marks my birthday, we all have a day off and are spending some much needed time together as a family

The month itself was once again plagued by illness, I had urgent x-rays and blood tests, Lexi is wearing the cone of shame and on antibiotics and J had chickenpox. We managed to get off lightly with the pox, they were all over her body but not clustered and not as itchy as we were expecting and she bounced back very quickly

June also bought with it the most historic moment we have experienced as a nation in my lifetime and I woke very early on the 24th with a feeling in the bottom of my stomach that just hasn’t shifted. I don’t like to talk politics outside of the 4 walls of my house, but I saw a nation divided in opinion, and people using social media to bully each other based on their views and it was just a horrible day. In this period of uncertainty we need to stick together, get our heads down and get through this challenging time we are now facing as a country

For our photo this month we went to Netley Abbey. the camera was set up, the sky was looking moody with a bit of sun poking through and it was perfect. The only problem was my remote stopped working so J and I kept going to and from the camera to set it and run back which made her giggle lots as she kept racing past.

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We took a couple of different shots this time and mixed it up a bit with walking and our rainbow umbrella out. It was purchased as a joke  for the hubster but actually we all love it and we all fight for it when it’s needed, in fact we have since purchased a second!

Just as we opened the umbrella the rain started! We continued taking photos as the rain was still light but all of a sudden we heard thunder, the rain got heavier and people started running out from behind the abbey walls and back to their car. I picked up the camera and tripod and ran back, while the hubster and J carried on sitting there giggling under the umbrella. They did join me pretty soon after and literally just before a mammoth hailstorm started

It made us all laugh so much so we had a car picnic while watching it and the car park was soon a mini pond. You just have to love the British Summertime don’t you?

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The outtake for this month was when we were posing under the umbrella. Lexi decided she had enough of sitting still and started running around us in circles.  J, with the best intentions, tried chasing after her while the hubster and I stayed there and just laughed

I really am enjoying participating in this monthly project and forcing myself in front of the camera each time, aside from the lovely family portraits that I want to hang on my walls, it’s created some pretty funny memories

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July holds another Center Parcs trip – this time with our friends from York, Eastbourne and Crew, and a very big week for me at work. We are also off to Camp Bestival after I managed to convince the hubster to take us

Lots of BBQ’s and sport featured in June and moving into July it will continue to, as I am a sucker for Wimbledon and big football events, the hubster however is not so keen!

I have a feeling July will go as quick as it came but lets hope the sun shines more than it did in June!

Linking up with Lucy at Dear Beautiful for the Me and Mine Project

Also linking with Lucy’s cohosts Alex, Fritha, Jenny, Katie and Lucy

 

The Me and Mine Project