Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Days out in Kent // Bedgebury Pinetum

 For the second year running, I have taken the big two on a long weekend camping with a group of friends at Bedgebury Campsite.  It is a highlight of our year and after lockdowns and restrictions, it feels wonderful to set them loose in the woodlands and get so much fresh air.  We stayed an extra day this year which meant we went exploring at Bedgebury Pinetum, a forest we had all heard of as it is famous for it's Christmas lights.

Bedgebury pinetum, Bedgebury with kids, family days out in Kent

It was a five minute drive from the campsite along one country road and parking was £14 per car, with no additional entrance fees (slightly cheaper on a weekday).  The adults wanted to go for beautiful country walks and the children were keen to find the play areas but we managed to fit in both.

Bedgebury pinetum, Bedgebury with kids, family days out in Kent

Bedgebury pinetum, Bedgebury with kids, family days out in Kent

The forest has set running trails, cycle trails and walking routes so there is something for everyone.  The running routes are set out with distances and there was on site cycle hire facilities as well as the option to bring your own.  We went for a beautiful walk which took us deeper into the forest which was well maintained.  We found a mini fern garden where we could explore miniature versions of the varieties of the trees and the Gruffalo trail where you can spot your favourite creatures including a huge Gruffalo (probably more of a highlight for me than the children now they are 8 and 9, I still know the book off by heart!).

Bedgebury pinetum, Bedgebury with kids, family days out in Kent

After we had had fun exploring the walking trails, we went to find the playground.  The main playground is set with a wooden ship as well as other equipment and a table tennis area too.  There is a Go Ape next door which sadly we didn't get to experience but it looked great fun.  Leading off from the playground was an adventure playground trail which combines a forest walk with several different playgrounds, all designed differently.  Around the forest there were dens and other interesting creations for the children and mine could have spent most of the day exploring them all.  The giant log swing was a big favourite and sadly the huge spiders web climbing area wasn't something we managed to play on (the rain beat us by that point.

Bedgebury pinetum, Bedgebury with kids, family days out in Kent

Bedgebury pinetum, Bedgebury with kids, family days out in Kent

There is a cafe with indoor and outdoor seating which sits next to a lovely lake with ducks.  They did a variety of hot and cold food including vegan and vegetarian meals and we loved trying out the cakes too.  If you didn't want to buy food then you could of course being a picnic.

Bedgebury pinetum, Bedgebury with kids, family days out in Kent

Bedgebury pinetum, Bedgebury with kids, family days out in Kent

We loved our visit to Bedgebury Pinetum and would recommend it for families of all types.  My children are not confident with dogs and we loved how the place was designed with children in mind as well as dogs.  Dogs have to be kept on a lead and there are dog parking stations by many tables and benches.  The toilets all had smaller children seats and lower sinks and my nervous of dog children felt very comfortable there.  


Bedgebury pinetum, Bedgebury with kids, family days out in Kent

Bedgebury pinetum, Bedgebury with kids, family days out in Kent

Bedgebury pinetum, Bedgebury with kids, family days out in Kent

Bedgebury pinetum, Bedgebury with kids, family days out in Kent

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Wednesday, 7 July 2021

Time with Just One

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I feel like she missed out on the final months of having me to herself.  She had waited three and a half years for it, always with brothers around and then that final stretch before school when it should have been just her and I was taken over by home-schooling and living through a pandemic and she probably got the least attention as I tried to balance the educational needs of her three big brothers.

She won't be the baby of the family forever, so getting out with her now, just for little walks is important. She is absolutely dog obsessed (which can get interesting when we are out as the big two are completely petrified) and our local park has a little nature area with some dog statues that she loves visiting and petting. She managed to find some friendly real dogs to throw balls for and play with too.  

Molo dress, dog loving girl, Childrensalon

Molo dress, dog loving girl, Childrensalon

Our walks usually involve her picking up any stray snails that may have wandered onto a path too so she can move them to safety and stop them getting crushed and I always have to check her pockets as she likes the idea of choosing herself a pet.  She also likes directing the photos she wants me to take of her, demanding extras if she doesn't like my first efforts!

I couldn't resist this Molo dog dress for her and I think it is going to be a real favourite.  Childrensalon have a brilliant selection of girls dresses from lots of our favourite brands and she has had a bit of a growth spurt recently (I think she is still the shortest in her class though) so there is an excuse for shopping!

Molo dress, dog loving girl, Childrensalon

Molo dress, dog loving girl, Childrensalon


My plan over the next few months is to carve out as much one on one time as I can with these four little individuals because I know how consuming having a new baby is, and that it will be a while before I can take them out alone again.  I want to let them know that they are loved and special and unique.  I have something booked for Dylan and I, but I am still thinking of ideas for the other three.  Hopefully the summer holidays will provide us with plenty of time!

Molo dress, dog loving girl, Childrensalon

Molo dress, dog loving girl, Childrensalon







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Thursday, 1 July 2021

Pregnancy at 23 vs 33

I don't think I had realised how much harder pregnancy would be at 33.  I am not considered an older mother yet, but compared to the 23 year old me who breezed through pregnancy, I feel like one.  My body took it in its stride back then, with mild tiredness in the first 12 weeks but a mostly easy ride but at 33 I found the first 13 weeks were so incredibly tough.  The nausea kicked in around dinner time and would sometimes wake me up in the night.  The tiredness was all consuming and some days I barely got out of bed.  There were aches and pains that I don't remember before and an overall feeling of weakness that I wasn't used to.

pregnancy anouncement, pregnancy at 33, fifth baby

Of course looking back at 10 years ago, before I started blogging, before I recorded these things, I could be looking back with rose tinted glasses, but I know that it was never this tough.  The fact is my body is older, scarred, tired.  I have four children to balance, I have stomach muscles that remember how to fall apart at the first sight of those two blue lines, I have a job that allows me to work at home rather than forcing me to run around a restaurant  for 12 hour shifts and I just don't have the same energy and enthusiasm as first time Mum me.

I am in my second trimester now and things have eased, I have my energy back and the nausea has gone, but I still find myself aching after a busy day, holding my back in a way I didn't before and even though I still love this middle part of pregnancy, it feels very different from my first.

In other ways, being older and more experienced is wonderful.  I feel much more able to advocate for myself in the medical settings, I am not afraid to ask for more information or to speak to someone else if I feel it is the best thing for my baby and I.  I wish I had the same confidence at 23 as when I look back at my pregnancy care, I see the gaps where things could have and should have been better.  I feel more comfortable making decisions now, more able to say no to things and to put myself first and more secure.

pregnancy anouncement, pregnancy at 33, fifth baby


I definitely feel older this time around and I will be 34 before I deliver this baby but I am hoping being older and more experienced will mean I don't take any of it for granted.  At the moment I am in that wonderful middle trimester where I am growing but not too uncomfortable but I am already concerned that the last trimester might be a bit of shock to my body too if the first was!

If you have had pregnancies with a big age gap did you notice a difference?
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Saturday, 26 June 2021

The Night Before Five

This evening has started the same way each birthday eve does, with me re-reading all the birthday letters I have written to you over the years.  Every year I find myself wanting to write the same things, but each year I feel like I know you a little better, I see more dimensions to the fantastic character you are.

It is the fourth birthday in a row that you have asked for a pet dog and I love that you don't give up on your dreams.  Unfortunately for you we still have no intent on getting one, but I hope you love the things I have chosen for you.  We are having a little party tomorrow, it has to be very limited numbers as there are already 6 of us before adding anyone else,  but you can't wait to have your friends in the garden.  We missed this last year and now you are coming to the end of your first year of school and I think it is going to be really special seeing your friends outside the classroom.

5 years old, fifth birthday, letter to my daughter

You are still tiny, some of your friends are head and shoulders taller than you, but you are fierce and determined, you know who you are and what you want and your confidence shines.  You still love everything dog and tell anyone who will listen that you are going to be a vet with a pet dog when you grow up.  You stop pet owners to tell them how beautiful their pups are and always choose animal themed clothing when you have a choice.  

Four was the year you started in Reception and you have settled in so well.  You haven't had the biggest interest in the academic side of learning but you have loved the art and crafts, spending time with friends and everything else.  It doesn't matter how I send you in, you come out looking wild, mud all over your top, paint all over your shoes and sometimes a fresh plaster too.  You throw yourself in and are not afraid to get dirty.  You refuse to have your hair tied up and pull it out quickly if I attempt it and you are still naked as often as possible at home.  You still sleep in my bed most nights, you still want to cuddle to sleep and you insist on a kiss and cuddle if one of us leaves home without the other.

5 years old, fifth birthday, letter to my daughter

You are my little sidekick and you fit perfectly in our family.  I couldn't imagine you with a sister but you boss around your brothers and have Daddy wrapped around your little finger.  You are messy and wild but so incredibly kind and caring.  You are always keen to share with your boys and always looking out for others.  

I can't wait for the adventures of five, we are going to have so much fun, but before they start, I want to pause for a minute and soak up everything you are now.  The way you call for me out the blue, just to tell me you love me, waking up to you snuggled up in the middle of my bed, still looking so small, the way your hair flies behind you as you scoot at speed, the poses you pull as soon as a camera comes out and that belly laugh that makes you throw your head back. 

5 years old, fifth birthday, letter to my daughter


You will never be this small again.  The clocks will move forward and so will you but I never want to forget this wonderful stage in your life.

Baby girl, you are more loved than you will ever know

xx
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Wednesday, 16 June 2021

What the kids Wore // Nununu

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It feels like we skipped Spring this year.  Before half term the children were still taking their winter coats into school, after half term we are in shorts and polos with not even a jumper. We have swapped our hot chocolates for ice creams and I am loving the sunshine on my skin each day.

Nununu, edgy kids fashion

The children were sent some clothing from one of our favourite brands, Nununu and the first thing they commented on as they came out the box, is how soft it all is.  The boys all have thin cotton summer joggers which are perfect for keeping covered up and cool and come in a selection of colours. I love how it can match their personalities, my rainbow boy looking as bright as ever and Archie sticking to his trademark black.  Cora has red leggings and a stripy tee which again are lightweight and incredibly soft.  Nununu is an edgy brand, making clothes for cool kids that still want to be comfortable.

Nununu, edgy kids fashion

Nununu, edgy kids fashion


The children have been wearing Nununu for years, we have some items that are on the third child and I am always so impressed with the quality.  Each collection goes well with the past ones (Cora has a romper that matches Finn's trousers perfectly) and it is definitely Archie's favourite brand.  I love the photo below as I can see how much of a gang these little people of mine now look like.  It seems crazy to think they were once all aged 4 and under!

Nununu, edgy kids fashion

Nununu, edgy kids fashion

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Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Days Out in Kent // Folkestone

It was our first visit to Folkestone and I know there is so much more to it than what we saw in one day, but our first impression was that Folkestone is a beautiful colourful town, creative and welcoming with a lovely family vibe.

We wandered through the town which still has a thriving high street and found a selection of great looking restaurants and cafes.  We ended up eating at the big Wetherspoons though due to having very fussy eaters and knowing it is always a safe menu for them.  The Wetherspoons is in a beautiful old building which is a converted church and still retains some original features and nods to its origins.

Folkestone with children, days out in Kent, Folkestone

Folkestone with children, days out in Kent, Folkestone

We walked down into the Creative Quarter which was so colourful and inviting.  I could have spent all day window shopping and the small independent stores had a fantastic selection of products. We went into Moo like a Monkey, a children's shop I had followed on Instagram and they had toys out for the little ones to play with whilst I browsed. At the end of this colourful row was Folkestone Harbour and we crossed over to walk along the seafront.

Folkestone with children, days out in Kent, Folkestone

Folkestone with children, days out in Kent, Folkestone


There is a promenade along the front as well as a walk way across the pebbly beach.  Our local beaches are all sand so the children loved the novelty of the stones here. Along the way we came across beach huts in shades of orange and pink and could see lots of building work going on along the seafront.  We were looking for the Lower Leas Coastal Park, somewhere we had been recommended many time and eventually found it just above the Mermaid Cafe (where we stopped for the obligatory ice cream).

Folkestone with children, days out in Kent, Folkestone

Folkestone with children, days out in Kent, Folkestone

The park was fantastic for children of all ages.  The main area was probably aimed at primary school aged children but there were several smaller playgrounds that led off from it offering different challenges and things for other ages.  All four of mine (aged 4-9) loved the playground and have been asking to go back.

Folkestone with children, days out in Kent, Folkestone

To get back up to the car (we parked in a multistorey close to the town centre), there is a zigzag path that runs up the cliff with beautiful scenery and plenty of places to stop and rest if you want to take it slow.

Folkestone with children, days out in Kent, Folkestone

Folkestone with children, days out in Kent, Folkestone

All in all, we loved our day out in Folkestone and will definitely be heading back soon.  The whole town felt really family friendly and had plenty to entertain the little people.  You can reach it via car or train (Folkestone Central would be the best stop).

Folkestone with children, days out in Kent, Folkestone

Folkestone with children, days out in Kent, Folkestone




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Monday, 31 May 2021

Our First Stunt Scooter

The children have all been scooting around since their second birthdays, but have recently discovered the joys of skate parks, being able to go a bit faster and try something new, so when Micro Scooter sent us their 'Ramp' stunt scooter, designed for children aged 5-12, they were all excited to test it out.

We made a day out of testing it, scooting down into town to jump on the open top bus which travels along the coast to a neighbouring town.  There is an outdoor skate park next to one of the playgrounds that we love and all four children had a scooter with them.  They were so excited to try it out on the ramps and immediately noticed that it was better designed for them than their current scooters.  The ramp scooter is non adjustable in order to maintain integrity on stunts and you can see in the pictures how it works for different ages and heights (Finn is 6 and 123cm, Archie is 8 and 135cm, Dylan is 9 and 152cm tall). You can spot Cora in the background whizzing around on her Mini-Micro scooter too.


Micro scooter, stunt scooter for kids, scooter kids

Micro scooter, stunt scooter for kids, scooter kids

Micro scooter, stunt scooter for kids, scooter kids

They haven't mastered many tricks yet but are all keen to get lessons at the local indoor skate park and master the jumps and stunts that they have seen others doing, which might require me getting another two stunt scooters! Cora is nearly 5 but still quite petite for her age so I think it might be a bit tall for her at the moment (at around 102cm she is a little below the height of an average 5 year old).  They have been trying to jump on their current scooters but all agreed it felt easier on the stunt scooter.

Micro scooter, stunt scooter for kids, scooter kids

The Ramp scooter can be used as a starter scooter for stunts but is also great for getting from A to B and can be used as an everyday scooter too.  There is a 28 day no quibble return policy and replaceable parts so this is a great scooter for active children.  We have been using Micro scooters for years and have always been so impressed that they are the only brand we look at now!

Micro scooter, stunt scooter for kids, scooter kids

Micro scooter, stunt scooter for kids, scooter kids

You can find all of the Micro Scooter range on their website including the Ramp Stunt Scooter which retails for £99.99 and comes in three different colours.  There are a variety of stunt scooters depending on ability and use and another range for older children.


Micro scooter, stunt scooter for kids, scooter kids

Micro scooter, stunt scooter for kids, scooter kids






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