There is one thing that I love the Internet for and that is dreaming.Mr B and I have never really done Valentine's day, except for the first year we were dating. So here are my picks of what I would like if money, time and greediness were no object.
1 / Valentine’s Heart Confetti Bonbon / £35 / bonbon balloons2 / Swallow Necklace with Sapphire / £120 / Alex Monroe3 / Typography Helvetica poster print / £35 / Yumalum4 / Brown Distressed Leather Satchel / £122 / Zatchels5 / Green Quartz Cocktail Ring / £830 / Tiffany & CoHappy Valentine's day all!
Well, I thought this might be the first weekend we didn't manage to get outdoors but alas our Saturday morning plans of newborn baby cuddles were cancelled and a quick check of the weather forecast later and it was decided, yes we were.
Our favourite walks of recent years have been at Bradgate Park. Less than 10 minutes in the car from our house it is a popular destination for what seems like the whole of Leicestershire. It makes up for this with a great path (suitable for all weathers), rocks for climbing, ducks, ruins and being in a beautiful village.
With Mr B and I having grown up in Leicestershire it holds many memories - rock climbing as children, picnics whilst dating and daydreaming, walks with a newborn and more recently walks with a toddler.
Today was a quick visit, whilst the weather held, which allowed us to don the wellies, get some fresh air and climb some rocks.
We ended off the trip with a visit to a new little deli (The Grey Lady Kitchen & Deli) in the village for a lovely lunch and cake. We will definitely be going back there for the great food, relaxed and child friendly atmosphere (there is even a dedicated playroom upstairs!).
Two hours later, once the hail storm had stopped, we headed home.
Another great day inspired by Country Kids!
We have visited Kent many times over the last few years since our close friends moved there. There is something about living in the Midlands which makes the thought of a coastline very exciting and a special treat.
The latest trip was influenced by a Premier Inn special offer (family room for £25, thank you very much) and the draw of a new (well 4 month old) baby.
We set off earlier than we have managed before with a lighter car than we had ever had before. There is something about a toddler who is now potty trained that makes going away for the weekend with no nappies or special equipment much easier! Arriving in Whitstable for lunchtime we met our friends and managed to spend the next 3 hours in various coffee shops and pubs (would definitely recommend The Duke of Cumberland for a great lunch). I could hide it no longer though, the thought that the sea was only just around the corner became too much and off we headed to the beach. We have been to Whitstable a couple of times now but still haven't managed to explore it properly, there seems to be many independent shops which one day I might manage to venture in to.
The beach was lovely. The power of looking out to sea will continue to surprise me. The pure excitement of E running around like crazy shouting 'we're at the seaside' was absolutely priceless.
The sun setting finally beat us so we retreated back to a coffee shop, followed swiftly by a Indian takeaway, followed not so swiftly by getting little one to sleep.
The next day, after a quick trip to buy new wellies we went to Leeds Castle, surprisingly not in Leeds. Billed as the 'loveliest castle in the world' I was expecting a lot and it didn't disappoint. Arriving through the landscaped path, past the ducks and black swans the view of the castle is kept as a treat. I took so many photos, every view was worthy.
After some lunch in the very nice Fairfax restaurant (wait until after 2pm on a Sunday to find a table though!) we headed in to the castle. The interesting thing for me about the castle is that it was actually lived in up until the 1960s and 70s. In fact it's latest resident Lady Baillie hosted many a party in the 1930s for visitors such as the Prince of Wales and Mrs Simpson, Charlie Chaplin and the author Ian Fleming. This was all reflected in the interior being very homely and stately home-esque.
Unfortunately time was ticking on and we still had a 4 hour journey north to make so we headed back to the car on the little train (or Grandpa Pigs Minature Locomotive as we decided to call it!). This was perfect for tired little legs and we even saw a peacock, the perfect end to a castle visit.
I'm linking up again with...
It's been a busy week at work, fully back in the routine. Work, nursery, dinner, sleep, repeat.
Even more reason for the weekend to feel special. On Friday morning I suggested we go to the zoo tomorrow (no pun intended), weather forecast was good and we haven't been for nearly 2 years.
We're very lucky to have Twycross Zoo only 30 minutes away and last time we went we were very impressed. We arrived ready for lunch at the very impressive entrance area called Himalaya (which is free to enter) which includes an airy cafe with lots of great (including veggie) food options, feature windows onto the snow leopards enclosure, a shop and newly added soft play area (which looked great but we managed to avoid).
We headed straight to the monkeys (or ah-ahs as E calls them) as that is what Twycross as known for (it's the only British zoo to exhibit all four species of great ape, including the UK's only group of breeding bonobos).
E liked the monkeys but we wanted to see the other animals too, meerkats, owls and many that I have no idea what they were (see below for the 'daddy rabbits' according to E)! The signage had definitely improved since the last time we went telling you all about each animal and their natural habitat. Well, that is if you can persuade your toddler to stick around long enough to read it.
I remember liking the elephants last time (although E was more interested in kicking the gravel) this time however he paid slightly more attention. Although to be fair that might have been due to the singing of 'nellie the elephant...trump, trump trump' on the way to find them. There is a new area called Uda Walawe which overlooks the elephants and is still being developed. It was a more natural area with little nooks and crannies to explore. Possibly our favourite bit.
By that point the cold was starting to set in, we had already done at least one mad dash to the toilet for E, he had asked to go to soft play/home/sleep numerous times so we decided to head in to the warm for chocolate cake.
The perfect end to the perfect day. Warmth, tea, chocolate cake, a new little penguin toy and a beautiful sunset.
We drove home the 'pretty way' picking out houses that we would love to live in but could probably never afford. A visit via the chip shop on the way home and a snoozing child in the back. And it's still only Saturday (just!)
I'm linking up again with...
It has become a little new year tradition that we go for a walk before we go back to work in the new year. To blow away the cobwebs and get some perspective before the daily grind kicks back in. This year though that wasn't quite so easy with the awful weather.
Then when I woke on Sunday morning and there was the first glimmer of bright and rain-free skies I started to get twitchy. This was our one and only chance for some fresh air during the weekend. With only 30 minutes spare before we were meeting family we made a detour to a city park. One we had rarely been to despite driving past nearly every day. We had a very quick wander around. Long enough to breathe the air, long enough for E to see some doggies and long enough to get cold.
Mission accomplised and off we went to meet family. Suddenly everything was better again.
I took some photos on my phone and the light was far from perfect, and certainly didn't reflect the mood, so I have done some Photoshop tweaking inspired by some online tutorials, mainly this one.
I hope you like! Happy New Year! x
For the first time I am linking up with Country Kids from Coombe Mill.
I have always been one for new year, new start and the optimism a new year brings. Perfect for those of us that like a 'new' project.
I start getting twitchy by Boxing Day if I haven't at least started to think about the upcoming year and what it may bring.
In past years I have written a set of resolutions, and obviously my 30before30 list (which still isn't finished and needs updating). Even when I go back five years my resolutions haven't varied much.
I have established however that resolutions aren't necessarily the best way to go. I prefer to come up with 'ways of thinking', things to constantly have in the back of my mind, prompts if you will. I have seen many who have a word of the year but I am not very good at focusing all my attention on just one, I need different things for different moods so here it is - what I am aiming for in 2014.
In addition to this I will create a mini-list of tangible things I want to acheive in 2014. These will be similar to those on my 30before30 list - some easy to achieve, some harder - none of which I will beat myself up for not acheiving.If you haven't got your 'resolutions' down yet or think they may need refining here are some great resources that you might find useful:- Setting achievable resolutions by Kat (Housewife Confidential) > here
- A selection of free printable 2014 calendars and planners from A Thrifty Mrs > here
- Unravelling the year ahead workbook by Susannah Conway > here
- A selection of printable, downloadable 2014 planners and goal setting templates from Heart Handmade > here
- My plotting pinterst board > here
I also love reading about others' resolutions, goals and words so if you have written a post please share in the comments. Even better, has anyone written an update on how they have achieved their 2013 goals?
When I was going through my photos of the year I came across many I had forgot we had taken. I share lots of photos on Instagram as a kind of mini-blog (somehow that is a bit easier to maintain than this one!) taken on my iPhone but rarely look back at the 'real' photos I have taken.
Rather than them sit in my laptop I thought I would share them here. Here's 2013 in 19 photos. Many of these are taken by my amazing, ever supportive husband (yes, he spotted me trying to claim them as my own!).