Pinch, punch, it’s the end of the month…again! I have noticed a significant increase in the number of Christmas related posts appearing on social media which can only mean that we have well and truly entered autumn territory now. I can hardly believe how quickly the year is racing by. On the one hand, it is ten times better than last year but on the other, I wish that time would just slow down a teensy bit. But onto the month of September; this month we have loved:- * Going to London with my parents * The start of the Rugby World Cup and British Bake Off (well, one out of four of us at least!) * A last minute push from the warm weather meaning more trips to the beach. * Meg finally getting a wobbly tooth. * Family days out. I love our photo this month. We decided on a whim to spend the day in Liverpool down at Albert Docks and the weather just turned out beautifully. We really couldn’t have asked for more. I’ll be doing a proper post to share about some of the things we did but it was just one of those days when everybody behaved themselves (even the grown ups) and we just pottered around and had a great time together. I grabbed a poor member of staff to take this photo and after a very lengthy explanation of how my camera worked and several shots of his feet we finally got there. It really is the memories which make a picture don’t you think?
Over the August bank holiday we visited London with my parents for a weekend break. Prior to moving ‘up norf’ we had been to London a fair bit but it’s a 6 hour journey for us now; not so easy to do! I wanted to share about our trip with you but in particular to focus on what we found worked for us as a family with two young children. As usual I have also put together a little video of our time so if you want to skip ahead you’ll find it at the end of the post. We aren’t experts by any stretch of the imagination but here goes… Accommodation This trip was our first time using Airbnb and we stayed in the most beautiful house in Crystal Palace; for a fraction of the price it would have cost us to find a hotel suitable for 6 people. Honestly, we walked through the door and my mum just turned to look at me. She knew how much my jaw would be hitting the floor with envy. It was so knick-knacky and shabby chic but in that way which is authentic and seems to really work.
I’d have happily not left again at the end of the weekend. The hosts were lovely too and I was overall really pleased with our first Airbnb experience; I’ll definitely be looking to use the app again in future.
Being a little bit out of the city centre was a concern at first but it wasn’t too bad; we were about 20 minutes away from the nearest train station and then it was approximately half an hour to get into Central London. The only downside was on Saturday night when we tried to get back home, the weather was appalling which we couldn’t have predicted and involved a very wearisome and wet trek up a hill. It forced our hand the next day and we actually drove into Greenwich and parked rather than face another long walk. Open Bus Tour My parents suggested this and it was a great decision. We knew that we wanted to get some serious sightseeing done but needed to limit the amount of walking as neither Meg nor Eli would have managed a full day trekking around the city. There are oodles of companies who offer hop-on, hop-off open bus tours around the city and they are a great way to see landmarks and attractions at your own pace.
When the weather turned sour (which it had by the afternoon of day one) we could simply stay on the bus and play spot the landmark. Although Meg and Eli really enjoyed going on the tube, they loved being on the bus and being able to see the city all around them. I would say that this was definitely worth the money we paid. River Bus On Sunday we ventured to Greenwich, in particular because of the attractions but we also decided to take a River Bus whilst we were there. A short boat ride on the Thames was included with our open bus tour but we decided to board a clipper as the journey was longer and offered more for us to see.
It was a real shame that the weather was so overcast as otherwise this would have been fantastic but it was still a great and alternative way to see the city’s landmarks such as the London Eye and Big Ben and the kids loved it. It wasn’t a designated tour boat, just a regular Thames Clipper river bus so was a fraction of the price but still a really worthwhile trip. Attractions The main reason for us visiting London was so that Meg could see where the Queen lives; so we pretty much knew that Buckingham Palace had to feature on our list. As well as that, part of my day job is spent writing tourist pieces for London accommodation websites so I already had a rough idea of the attractions which would be good for us to visit. It would have been almost impossible for us to get everything done, having a 4 and a 6 year old in tow just isn’t conducive to getting as much seen as possible so we tried to keep things simple.
On Saturday we stuck to the major sights and went to Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London (to see the Crown Jewels of course). The Tower of London was the most expensive element of the weekend and was a last minute decision. We literally stepped off the bus onto Tower Bridge, saw the Tower of London in the distance and decided to go, something I know is always a daft thing to do!!
I don’t know who was more excited about having their photo taken here, Meg or my mum! Although Meg really enjoyed seeing the crown jewels and there was a wonderful am-dram performance (see the video below) which really captivated them, I don’t think it was worth the money. We didn’t have time to spend all day exploring each element so we really only scratched the surface.
It felt like we saw a lot of armour and not really much else although I have been before minus the kids and really enjoyed the day. I think we needed more time to dedicate to it but we had also booked tickets for the London Eye as this was something Eli wanted to do so we were trying to make sure we had time to get back across the city for that.
Once on the London Eye, it was a shame that the weather was so terrible as visibility was massively reduced (I am also incredibly afraid of heights so can’t say I am the best judge) but both Meg and Eli and everyone else really enjoyed it. I’d also say go along to the 4D experience which is included in your tickets. We were all really surprised by how much we enjoyed it.
On Sunday we headed up to Greenwich as I had a hankering to try out the market and to see some of the sights including Cutty Sark and the National Maritime Museum.
The National Maritime Museum was absolutely amazing for the kids. The ‘Ahoy’ section they have is just wonderful and Meg and Eli could happily have spent hours just discovering all the different interactive elements. It wasn’t too busy either which was good.
We wandered around the museum and had a look at some of the other objects and exhibitions before we headed down to Greenwich Pier where we caught the tail-end of the Tall Boats Festival before we got on the clipper as mentioned above.
Whilst on the clipper we got to see the Tower Bridge ‘up’ which was a nice little extra and not something you get to see every time you are in the city.
After our boat tour we went to Goddards at Greenwich for their famous Pie & Mash combination (minus the eels) before heading back to our cars and setting off for home. Both days were really full on even though we actually didn’t see that much. I can’t imagine trying to fit any more in though; I was completely worn out, never mind the kids!
Overall we had a fantastic time although I wish the sun had been shining just a little bit more. We will definitely be planning a return in order to see some of the other attractions and landmarks we didn’t get around to visiting this time; there’s just so much to see and do that to fit it all into one weekend is really quite an impossible task!
I have a not so small obsession with all things stationery related; I can’t walk past a store without popping my head in to see whether there’s anything new and my stash of unused notebooks is unbelievable (although I am getting better at this!) as well as my collection of notecards which I keep saying I will get framed ‘one’ day… I love everything about stationery, from the feel of the paper in your hand, to that delightful sound when you open a notebook for the first time and smooth down the page…so you can imagine how much I fell in love with the idea of a monthly stationery subscription box from HoneyTreePost.
There are two subscription services available; The Stationery Lover’s Club and Young Honey Tree for little people who are also stationery fans. HoneyTreePost sent me out their Stationery Lover’s Club box for October and asked me to review the contents and share my thoughts. So what exactly did October’s box contain?
As you can see there is a large selection of items, from gift tags to postcards. I am looking forward to using the writing paper for my existing penpal project as well.
My favourite item from within the box is the satchel print without a doubt; I’ve already found a place for it on my study wall.
As you can see the greeting cards included are very much in keeping with the season with the pumpkins, cauldrons and black cat. I loved the contents of the box and I can really see myself making use of each piece. We have a bonfire party coming up which will definitely call for some autumnal cards, for example and I love that it gives me an excuse to send a friend a card or a postcard, just because. How does it work? HoneyTreePost promise that each month you will receive no less than 7 stationery items with a collective retail value of £30 or more. Each of these items will be designed exclusively for HoneyTreePost by a leading UK stationer and will always include a print so you could gradually build up a collection for display if you wished. Each month the contents will change to reflect the time or year and season, as you will see from October’s box which had a very autumnal and Halloween-esque style to the contents. Boxes are shipped each month on or before the 15th to anyone who has signed up before the 5th of the month. Better yet, HoneyTreePost donate £1 from every subscription to Post Pals; a charity which focuses on brightening the lives of poorly children by sending them a gift, a card or a letter so you can be confident that your monthly subscription is also going towards a good cause. How much does it cost? The cost implications depend entirely on the length of the subscription you sign up for. The longer you sign up for, the lower the cost of each box. A single month is £15 a box, a 3 month subscription is £13.50 a box, 6 months is £12 per box and a 12 month subscription is just £10.50 a box. Is it worth it? Having been caught out by monthly subscription boxes before I have to admit that this is something I have thought carefully about. If you were to make use of each item contained within the box then it would certainly be value for money compared with buying each item individually. Consider how many cards you buy a month and you will probably find that it’s cheaper to sign up to HoneyTreePost. Not to mention the excitement which will inevitably come with receiving a box through the letterbox each month; I think I may actually add the subscription service to my Christmas list! If there was a month when I didn’t really like some of the items (which I’m sure will happen at some point) then I’d have to make the decision to use them regardless, or pass them onto someone who could make use of them otherwise yes, it does become a waste of the money you have paid into the subscription. If you are willing to do that and judging by the quality of this month’s items however, I think it does represent good value for money, especially for anyone who has a real love of stationery. What do you think of the idea of a monthly stationery subscription service? Perhaps you know someone who would appreciate this as a gift? Why not try a box out for yourself? If you are quick you can get 50% off your first month’s order, if you use the code HTP50 before midnight on the 30th September.
I was sent a HoneyTreePost box free of charge for the purpose of this review; however all thoughts and opinions are my own.
It’s been a while since I’ve written a post which falls into the proud mama category of the blog but I’m afraid I make no apology today for doing it! I will admit that when Meg started school this year I didn’t have too many concerns; if any really. She has always been a social butterfly and is able to make friends in the most unlikely of places, she has a good solid core of children she plays with at school and her reports are generally that she is a bright and capable child. The only thing I wondered about was whether she would mind Eli being at school with her and even that turned out to be a foundless worry. Of course the trouble with the fact that she just tends to tick along nicely is that it can be so easy to forget to give her praise, or see where she is doing well. I learned long ago not to ask too many questions when she comes out of school; I am usually met with the grunts of a brain which is worn out and she needs a bit of time to recharge before I can bombard her with ‘how was your day?’ ‘what did you do?’ and the like. Generally teatime is the best moment for this and I can eke out information on whether it was a good day, who she played with and so on. Clearly though I haven’t been asking the right questions because I discovered in a roundabout way that she is actually doing very well at school and is even working to a higher level than the other children in her class on some subjects. When I asked her outright about it she shrugged her shoulders and said ‘yeah that’s right.’ I wanted to scream out when she was so nonchalant about it all; is that my fault? Have I not praised her enough, endorsed her enough, told her that she should shout about her achievements?! I think we have just come to accept that she is good at school and as such we don’t really pay too much attention to what goes on. We listen to her read, and we sit with her whilst she does her homework but we know that she can do it, if that makes sense? If she was struggling with something we would make extra time to help her, and I felt a real challenge to make extra time to tell her how well she is doing and to encourage her to keep going. The trouble with just getting on with things is that you often fall through the cracks with people noticing the ones who aren’t doing so well and this is going to be all the more prevalent at home now that we are also having to sit each night with Eli and help him with his phonics. I know for a fact that she gets plenty of praise and encouragement at school; just recently she received a headteacher’s award so I am in no way criticising school, more myself! My little girl is flying and I forgot to look up.
I am so proud of her and how well she has taken to school; from when we first moved here to now she has come on such a long way and even a subject that we were told she was struggling in last year is now one in which she is excelling. So Meg, this mama is very, very proud of you and I promise that I will tell you as often as you can stand it. Well done beautiful girl.
Another week under our belts and here’s something to cheer you up this Friday: it’s only 4 weeks until half term! The novelty of being at school has certainly begun to wear off for Eli and we’ve had a few tears shed over it not being the weekend but yet another day at school. I might start a ‘Countdown to Half Term’ chart with him next week; anything to help the mornings run a little smoother!
I stumbled across this blog post from Make A Long Story Short and it really resonated with me. I’ve had numerous conversations with friends in the playground since the school term started about what has taken over our children; more recently after Meg’s teacher pulled me aside one afternoon and said how well she thought Meg had settled in and how mature she was etc, approximately 5 minutes before she had a major meltdown in the car over Eli looking at her funny *sigh* But I love the blog post and it is so true that we are the place our children feel safest and we should feel honoured, even if it sometimes make us want to rock slowly in a corner!!
I saw this mash up video on Facebook earlier in the week; usually I give these a miss as it often feels like a repetition of stuff we’ve seen before especially when it comes to Uptown Funk but I was intrigued by the concept of some of the most famous dance scenes from films being included so I gave it a whirl…let me know what you think.
I picked up some really cute pieces for the kids this week in the F&F sale. Sometimes I wish I was a little bit smaller so I could squeeze into some of the girl’s stuff I buy for Meg; and how awesome are the superhero trousers? I had to prise these away from Eli so I could wash them after he’d worn them 4 days in a row.
The constant background sound of Meg flicking her first wobbly tooth. This is BIG news in our house as she is the last person in her class to have a wobbly tooth and her best friend lost a tooth this week so Meg has been feeling a little bit hard done to. I have been fielding questions about when it will be her turn to have a loose tooth for weeks so to hear her excited squeals when she realised she finally had one was a sweet relief.
One of my greatest memories from being at school are the days when my mum wasn’t at work and we’d come home to the smell of freshly baked cakes. They were my favourite days and I wanted to give Meg and Eli the same memories so I tried my hand at making some hidden heart cupcakes this week. Unfortunately they didn’t quite work as the hearts rose too much and ended up sticking out of the top of the cakes and I had to cover them up with chocolate but they tasted pretty good. Nobody seemed to notice the random chocolate blob in the centre either!
Some more big family news this week is that we are going to be moving house. Despite thinking that we were going to be able to rent this house long term, the owners have decided to sell so we are having to move. Houses don’t come up for rent very often in the village so it’s a relief that we have found not only one which is big enough but also better. Hopefully this one is for keeps, at least until we are ready to buy our own.