Saturday, 20 July 2019

The Last Summer Before School

There are only 3 more nursery days left and then a long 6 weeks awaits us. We have plenty of plans both for bigger adventures and smaller ones and I know August will be full of laughter, sunshine, late evenings and far too much ice cream.

And then September will arrive and it is all change.  Dylan heads into year four (year four, seriously, how have I got a child that big?), Archie enters his last year at his Infant School and my baby boy is off to big school.

In all honesty, I can't wait.  He is so ready, so far past ready sometimes and his nursery agrees.  He knows the school so well, he knows the building and the playground, the staff and the uniform, he has been in the playground almost every day since he was tiny and he is so confident following his brothers there.  I have already put aside some trousers that haven't given up yet and bought him some polo shirts in the size up from what he wears just incase of a growth spurt / to get him through the first year and we will be completely ready by the time September arrives.

Us both being ready for this new adventure doesn't make it any less though. I still watched him run into his new classroom during the transition sessions and I saw that teeny tiny baby who spent his first weeks in special care with tubes and wires coming in all directions.  I remember vividly the moment I was told why he was poorly and what his prognosis was.  I can feel the emotions from those first weeks and months and I am utterly amazed that we made it all this way and that both of us are the people we are now.  Finn is fearless, strong, determined, smart, loving and full of ideas. It isn't just my world he will change. It is still a miracle that the little baby has become this big boy and I have so much pride, just the same as all the other parents stood their with their first borns, last borns, only children. 

Nothing about the school feels new to me, I have been sending my children there for four years, I am on the PTFA, I am a school governor, I know my way around but it is a whole new experience being the parent of Finn there and this three year journey will be different to the others.  

In the meantime, I have one summer left with him, those long six weeks to cement in my mind who he is before these new influences.  Finn is so absolutely full of character, he doesn't conform, he is himself.  He is funny, so incredibly confident, so sure of himself and I want his teachers to see this, to nurture these parts of him whilst also maybe helping him to conform a little bit too.  This is the last summer before school to enjoy him as a preschooler.  In September we have a staggered start so Archie will go back for two weeks before Finn starts and then he is part time for a couple of weeks too, but it is all rolling into that full time school that will dominate the next few years and this is our last window of freedom beforehand.

I won't be dreading September or considering other options, Finn is so ready for school and I have confidence that they can handle him too. We can't wait for this new chapter in his life, but it certainly doesn't mean any less because of that and if the tears writing this post are anything to go by, I am sure I will crying with the other parents on his first day still!

Finn wears a gifted Maxomorra romper from Nolu 
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Thursday, 18 July 2019

A Day at the Beach with the Peugeot 5008


The weekends are for family days and if you follow me on social media you will probably see that we spend a lot of time at the beach. We visit the nearest one the most but there are so many wonderful ones local and last weekend we decided to head over to one of our favourites which has an amazing cafe right on the promenade.

It is about a 20 minute drive and we had a Peugeot SUV 5008 on loan for the week so we jumped in there to head over. We needed to upgrade to a bigger car after the third child really as with ours all being so close in age we found three car seats across the middle a bit snug and we love the space of having a bigger car now.  The three boys are all in high backed boosters and we put two in the back seats and one in the middle with Cora in her harnessed seat. The 5008 has three proper seats across the middle so we could have fit three seats if we needed to but it was snug. Dylan at 7 is technically tall enough to go without a car seat now but we prefer to keep him in one so spreading them out made more sense.

The boys loved the roof window so they could watch the sky and on this hot day we all loved the fantastic air con! The car has a i-Cockpit 8 inch touch screen panel at the front which you can use for the inbuilt GPS, music, air con and air freshener settings and lots more.  We managed to pack everything we needed in the boot including a little stroller, buckets and spades, jumpers for all just in case and a cool bag with some drinks and snacks in.  The boot isn't huge with all the seats up but it was fine for what we needed as you can see below! The boot opened with the touch of a button and shut with one too which was exciting. Ed has come away from the experience of borrowing this desperate to buy a new car!

We parked up on the cliff top and had a wonderful day at the beach, meeting family for lunch, the obligatory ice cream and plenty of digging holes. The boys have lost interest in sandcastles at the moment but they have an endless fascination with digging the biggest holes and they found new friends who had already made a start.  Finn and Cora are always desperate to get in the sea and I was greatful that I had spare clothes.  We love our local beach but visiting different ones is more exciting now and they love the variations, especially as the tide can come all the way in at this one (which means you have to check the tides before you visit as there may not be any sand!).

At the end of the day everyone was exhausted but thankfully we had the Peugeot 5008 parked up ready for us all.  Ed as the driver was really grateful for the massage function on the drivers chair after an afternoon spent digging sand and I loved the charging panel for phones which meant you don't even need to plug them in, although there is a USB slot too for any phones that need a cable.  We were really impressed with the automatic lights that put on full beam as we were driving down country lanes and took them straight off again as soon as a car appeared.  As well as being an automatic to drive, so much else was taken care of making it an easy driving experience and we didn't want to give it back at the end of the week! 

You can find out more about test driving a Peugeot SUV here

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Tuesday, 16 July 2019

A Family Day at The Races


I have to admit, we hadn't really considered a day out at the races to be a family activity until recently but this summer we are working with Great British Racing and after spending last Saturday at Ascot for the Summer Mile, my mind has been well and truly changed.  

We arrived in the morning dressed in our finest and the racecourse was dominated by a huge magestic building, people were dressed wonderfully and the staff were incredibly helpful.  We were being treated to lunch in a private box so we headed up there to meet everyone and find out more about the day. The children were so excited to see everything and there really was so much to see.

This summer there are 50 family race days out of the 200 fixtures across the country and children under 18 go free to them all. The Summer Mile was really family friendly and it was great to see so many children around.  There was a specific family area full of fun things to do like a helter skelter, teacups and other rides, a huge stunt pillow to jump onto, circus skills workshops, a wooden marble run and lots more and there were no additional charges which I was so impressed with - there wasn't even big queues!

As part of our experience we were taken to the weighing room to find out more about why the jockeys are weighed and the children were allowed a go on the scales too.  We met one of the jockeys about to get ready for her races and the kids loved listening to her and finding out more about what the job entails.  Back up in the box there was a huge colouring wall set out for the children too letting them know about all the different jobs that exist at a race course, from the manager to the vets and everything in between.

There were 7 races on the day and plenty of time in between them to enjoy some food and drink and a turn on one of the rides or activities.  We were also lucky enough to get to cross the track and see one of the races from the other side starting with loading the horses into the box and ending on the finishing line. The children all chose who they wanted to win based purely on the colour of their silks and we cheered on our chosen horses.  The atmosphere was fantastic and we could see the excitement from everyone watching.

There was so much to do and see and we can't wait to attend another family day this summer with a picnic and our fancy clothes again (I do love an excuse to dress up!).  The children had such a great day and it really was so much fun as a family. To find out more about ‘Under 18s Race Free’ and find a family race day near you, go to

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Monday, 8 July 2019

5 Things we Loved at Villages Natures Centre Parcs in Paris

We had such an amazing week at the Villages Nature Centre Parcs in Paris and we definitely made the most of everything that was included in our stay as well as paying for a few extra experiences to make it more special. I have written about our stay there but I wanted to share 5 of our favourite activities from the week too.

1) The adventure playground set in the woodlands was just fantastic.  There was something for every age right up to mine and the wooden and natural style made it really stand out. It was huge, exciting and full of challenges, slides and climbing equipment and we could have spent much longer there. There is a little hut nearby where there is a free show some afternoons but the boys just wanted to run and climb in the playground.

2) Right next to the playground was a building where you could hire jeeps for the children to drive around and we took 2 out for half an hour one afternoon.  The children are in control of the jeeps but the adult is given a master switch where one button switches the engine off immediately so you can keep them away from  danger.  The recommended age for this was 3-12 but Dylan is a very tall 7 year old and was getting a bit big so I would say more 3-8 years really. The boys all thought it was the best thing ever and it was a reasonable price for the experience.

3) Onsite is a free farm where you can pet the goats and visit the chickens, horses and other animals.  There is a lovely cafe in the middle with the most fantastic soft play including trampolines and ball blasters with a wooden natural theme.  The farm was open every day and it felt like having a day out with no extra cost. My tiny animal lover wanted to bring all the goats back home with her!  

4) As we were away with extended family, it gave me a little freedom to do something just for me and I picked the high wires course.  I hadn't done something like this before and it was so much fun! I was fitted with a harness and taught how to work the carabiner clip system and after some practice we were sent out into the forest to try the routes we wanted to. It was terrifying at first but a great way to try something new and the courses were so extensive that after 2.5 hours in the forest I had only seen a small number of routes. There is a junior version for children from 6 upwards.

5) Centre Parcs are known for their swimming pools and this might just have been our favourite thing as a family.  The pool complex was huge with something for everyone.  There was a wave pool, a playground pool for little kids and one for bigger kids, an adventure pool, a lazy river, outdoor pools and so so many water slides.  At 1.05 metres there were quite a few slides that Finn could do even as a non-swimmer as they ended in shallow water and there were some scarier ones for the brave adults too.  We spent hours in the pools everyday and there were free float vests for the children to use.  My brother has visited the UK Centre Parcs and says Villages Nature is definitely superior in this department! 

We had such a fantastic week and lots of the best things about it were included in the price rather than being extras! If we were staying longer there were plenty of experiences we could have added on too.
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Thursday, 4 July 2019

A Wild Night Out

Over the month of June we were trying hard to do something outdoors everyday around the school days as part of 30 days wild and this ended last weekend with us planning a wild night out.  Millets are encouraging people to spend more time outside and to help with our garden camping plans they sent us one of their Eurohike air tents, and some camping essentials so we could spend a night under the stars.

We usually try and pitch our tent with four wild children running around but I managed to put up the Eurohike Air 600 in around 20 minutes alone.  There are no poles, you just use a manual pump to inflate the three big beams and then peg it into the ground as usual! The tent has two bedrooms which we popped our air beds into and Millets had sent us some sleeping bags too and a tent carpet for our living area. The children were so excited and got into the spirit pretty quickly.

Camping means eating outdoors and we still had the BBQ out from Cora's party so we cooked up the leftovers and afterwards skewered some giant marshmallows to roast. The children struggled to eat their dinner knowing marshmallows were coming and were far too impatient to let them melt properly before wolfing them down!

Getting settled in a tent is never easy with four excitable children but the wonders of the weekend are that it doesn't matter if they stay up late and run around outdoors until they are totally exhausted.  When we visit campsites we try and stay near a playground for this reason and when they are tired enough, they come in for a snuggle and a book by the light of the lantern.  Once we get them in bed Ed and I can chill out with a drink and watch the stars.

Last summer we pitched the tent in the garden for a few days and the boys had their friends round to sleepover in it and we will definitely be doing the same things during the summer holidays as they absolutely love sleeping outdoors and when they wake up in the morning they stay out there playing.  The Eurohike air tent is so much easier to put up and take down, it took less than 10 minutes to get it from upright to back in the bag and only about one minute to deflate it completely which is what we need with lots of little children running around! 

The additional 'footprint' made pitching even easier.

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