The Gruffalo Trail 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

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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

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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

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A Tunnel of Trees – Halnaker near Chichester

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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A Day Out at Corfe Castle

Never one to sit still, on our week off we managed to visit 4 counties in 4 days; North Yorkshire, Hampshire, Dorset and East Sussex

After arriving home from York we decided to visit Corfe Castle with our National Trust passes. Travelling to Dorset from Hampshire after a day confined to a car we didn’t think that J would manage another lengthy trip but she surprised us and was so well behaved. She sat and chatted happily to us in the car throughout the journey

We arrived late morning and the sky was stunning, with cotton wool type clouds and very little breeze. We took the longer route from the National Trust car park to get to the castle, walking along the nature trail which was quite scenic and with a little river alongside it, and then began the trek up to the top. We chose not to do the children’s activity paper this time round and instead explore together

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Longdown Activity Farm

Life in general and holidays seem to have got in the way these past few weeks and I’ve struggled to find time to put pen to paper so to speak. Hopefully April will see calmer times and a much needed catch up as I have so many photos from our adventures

A couple of weeks ago we visited Longdown Activity Farm for Mother’s Day and took my mum along with us. We last visited on Father’s Day in June last year, and it’s quite nice as parents go free depending on which day you’re celebrating. Mum hasn’t been to any farms or zoos with us since having J, and it’s been years since she last visited Longdown with me as a little girl so it was nice to experience it with her and for her to reminisce from when I was young

As soon as we entered the farm we went straight to the hens and see if there were any eggs available for collection. J found one in the access holes and was pleased as punch, taking it straight to the farm shop and receiving a big sticker. She was a little sad to see it go, but I promised her that at the end of the visit we would buy some eggs to take home, hopefully including the one she had found

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The next stop was the calf shed and bottle feeding the calves. J got straight into it and the calves greedily gupled on the bottle as she was holding it. Mum and I helped her as she fed the calf and the hubster looked on, snapping away at the camera. I mentioned a while ago that there’s so few photos of mum and I, and even fewer of mum, J and I, so this was a perfect opportunity to rectify that and I find that I struggle being on the other side of the camera but he did a pretty good job!

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Getting Back to How We Were {Ordinary Moments Week 5 – 31/1/16}

At the start of January I wrote about how I wanted to spend more time walking and taking Lexi out, and although it’s early days I do feel like we really nailed it last month. Recently  we decided to take an adventure out to a forest we haven’t been to for a very long time, and of course Lexi came along too. There was a lake, forest trails and lots of coves and areas to climb, including rocks, which J really enjoyed doing

When I was first learning how to shoot in manual on my SLR some ten years ago I practised a lot at this very location. Although it was grim and dark under the trees this time round I managed to do a bit of practice with the bridge camera this, although I am disappointed with the effect the light had on the pictures

As soon as we reached the pond Lexi went straight in and hunted for sticks, whilst looking at us to throw her ball in. There were a few ducks present but they were undeterred by the big dog and slowly moved away from her while she swam about

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Wet and Windy Winchester

Every year in December I love to visit Winchester and see the Christmas markets and enjoy the festivities. This year was like no other and we decided to visit last weekend. It’s a short trip down the motorway for us and I love that it’s so historic with cobbled streets and not too far away

The weather started out beautiful and Sunny although we decided to take the pushchair to save us from carrying J, and we are so glad we did because 10 minutes in it started to rain! We didn’t mind so much, we went into a couple of shops and I listed things on my Christmas wish list for the hubster before heading to the Christmas market, but when we arrived in the market the rain and wind was really going for it and we were pretty soaked!

This year we toyed with the idea of going in the ice skating arena with J, but it’s very open and people can stand at the sides and watch, which makes me feel very self conscious. There were also a lot of puddles around the edges which made me a little uncertain. Instead, we’ve talked about heading to the Guildford or Basingstoke one either before or during the Christmas break as I think J would have a lovely day and it would be interesting for me to get my ice skates out of the loft!

We stopped for lunch and had a pulled pork and apple sauce baguette with a scrumptious hot chocolate for J. Being great, the hubster sent J and I off to look at the stalls whilst he queued for food and we came back with a little gift of a bath bomb. It feels like there’s less stalls there this year and it was so unbelievably busy but I’m glad J got to experience it. I didn’t take many photos because of the rain, and I didn’t want to let J out of my sight because of the crowds, hopefully next time

Hubster by the cathedral, angled shot trying to hide the masses of people!
Hubster by the cathedral, angled shot trying to hide the masses of people!
The photo quality hasn’t come out great, I think I need to work on my iPhone settings!

We had planned on a nice walk by the river, but because the rain was pretty bad and we were all wet and soaked we decided to head back to the car and finish our day at home. On the way back up through the high street J and I spotted a brass band playing, she just stopped and watched them, listening intently whilst I tried to remember every instrument they were playing. I sense some studying will be coming up for me over the coming years!

After each song she asked for more and we found some change for her to give to them in the box at the front, pretty scared that she would pick the other money up and walk back but she didn’t and got a big thank you from them all

Winchester is historic, beautiful and very, very busy at this time of year, and I’m so glad we have managed to do this trip every year so far with J. I hope in years to come we will be continuing to do this (possibly without the hubster as he really hates big crowds!!!) but it’s a lovely day out. We returned home quite wet, and to play lots of games that J had been given for her birthday. I am absolutely useless at twister but it made for some good laughs and at the end of the day the hubster told me it felt like Christmas day and he had really enjoyed it

It’s interesting reading different people’s traditions in December as they are always varied, and this ‘day’ will continue to be one in the Cook household

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Linking up with Fiona and the #CountryKids linky
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

 Also linking with Life Unexpected and Monkey and Mouse for Whatever The Weather

Life Unexpected

Somerset Adventures

We came back from Florida with the most awful post holiday blues and within a few days back I had booked a mini break away for the end of November in Somerset with the hubster, J, Lexi and some friends. We had been 6 years ago for the hubsters 30th and although I’m not usually a fan of going to the same place twice the price was very reasonable and the hot tub was the selling point for the group. Although many people shudder at the thought of no phone signal I love it, and although they have internet now there is no phone signal whatsoever so quite a good cutoff from the world (although we found ourselves checking out social media on occasion!)

We chose the end of November for a couple of reasons; November is probably the worst month in the calendar for weather, dark days and poor health, and the other is that on the 30th November both the hubster and J have their birthdays. What better excuse to get away and enjoy some time together in the great outdoors?

We arrived pretty late on Friday night as we all had to work and there was a fair bit of traffic on the road. Before we left the hubster and I had decided to have Saturday as their birthdays as we knew their actual birthdays would be spent driving home. As soon as we put J to bed we set to work on decorating and wrapping the final presents whilst we waited for CJ and DC to join us with a yummy lasagne for dinner

Before we loaded up the presents
Before we loaded up the presents
Celebrating the hubsters birthday too
Celebrating the hubsters birthday too

Of course it would be rude not to spend some time in the hot tub so the 4 of us went in and had a good old chat. There’s something pretty surreal about being in a hot tub in the middle of Winter looking at the stars with a cold face but toasty body – though I didn’t particularly like the walk (run) back into the warmth of the lodge!

I didn’t sleep well at all on Friday night, CJ and DC slept downstairs in the double and we had J in our room whilst we slept on the singles. J was finding it difficult to adjust in a new room and bed so kept waking throughout the night and at around 3-4am a little face appeared at the side of my bed asking to get in with me. The rule at home is a firm no, but when we are away I don’t mind her sleeping in the bed with me, as long as it doesn’t interrupt the hubster. The only problem sharing a single bed with a tall toddler is the arms and legs everywhere and I found myself awake on a teeny bit of the bed whilst she sprawled out! That’s love for you…

At 630am on Saturday morning we decided it was time to get up and open presents. This year J really seemed to understand the whole present thing and spent lots of time choosing which one to open and opening them. We realised in the year she didn’t have much in terms of ‘activity’ games that she could play with us, so we made a point of buying some and she’s played with them ever since we got home

How am I now a mum to a 3 year old? It's gone so fast!
How am I now a mum to a 3 year old? It’s gone so fast!

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In the summertime when the weather is fine…

On Friday I checked the forecast and it said that Saturday would be beautiful and hot so a quick text to the hubster and a couple of our friends and a beach trip was booked for the weekend

Every time we go to the beach you can pretty much guarantee its going to be a long day at West Wittering. I love that you can stay on the beach all day and end with a BBQ on the grass while the masses queue to leave and you watch the sun set

It took a while to heat up but once the sun was out it was hot hot hot!

As always, J was the first in the water with her rubber ring. Although she wouldn’t go straight into the sea she had a great time splashing about in the small pools that were left after the tide went out

J was the first as always in the ‘puddles’
When the tide is out the small pools are perfect for toddlers
Daddy and J coming back with water for the hole they dug

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