31 May 2017

Me And Mine Project - May 2017

May is always a good month, two bank holidays and May half term can only mean one thing... lots of time for adventures and plenty of family time. We've spent the month wandering along fairy trails and through golden yellow rapeseed fields and we had our first bbq with some of our friends. The sun has shone more days than not meaning we have spent several afternoons at the park, feeding the ducks, or pottering in the garden. It's also made going to work much harder as i'd have far rather have been with my little lot than in the office!

The middle of the month was a bit grey, and not just in terms of the colour of the sky. For one reason or another I really lost my spark for a week or so and the girls seemed out of sorts too. I think we were all just a bit tired, a bit burnt out and ready for a break as we counted the days until half term. Then there was the tragedy in Manchester which has affected the entire country in so many ways. I seem to feel these things so much more as a parent and I cried as I watched Miss Boo dance around her maypole on the day that others were coming to terms with loosing their loved ones in such a horrific way. Since then May has seen me hold my babies and my husband closer, drink them in, listen better, love them more (if that was even possible) and feel eternally grateful for them

We have spent the whole last week of May as a five in beautiful Somerset, a holiday we booked six months ago when I returned to work and one we have so been looking forward to. You would think that with all this family time we would have had plenty of opportunity to photograph our Me and Mine Project this month... We have made several attempts with several fails and so settled today for one that's slightly blurry, one that I had to crop because the girls all had their pants showing, plenty of grumpy faces and a silly selfie! As much as i'd love to produce a picture perfect set of photos each month this is our reality, it's kind of chaotic in a brilliant and sometimes challenging way and these are the days i'll remember when I am old and when they are grown, the ones we spent together. These photos are my kind of happy and my kind of perfect, because the people in them are mine of sorts, my tribe, my little loves, my everything and they'll have to do for this month!

Me x

15 May 2017

Siblings Project - May 2017

This month something has really clicked with the girls. Dot appears to have lost any baby traits she may have had and is joining in wholeheartedly with her big sisters. There very much seem to be operating as a pack of three when they are together and they really seem to be enjoying each others company and including one another. They even sing a little rhyme called 'we're a sister gang' which they were signing as they walked through the rapeseed fields together in this month's series of Siblings Project photos. 

siblings project - lovely little wanderings

siblings project running through the fields together

They loved exploring these fields together, following each other down the track laughing as they went and whispering about how to hide from mummy while I desperately tried not to loose them in it! I wish I had been the other side of them to capture their cheeky happy faces but they probably would have turned and run the other way anyway. Photos like this make me feel so thankful that they have each other to share adventures with and I hope they will always be as close as they are right now. When I look at these photos I can hear their laughter and it evokes memories of the carefree nature of childhood and all it's simple joys - like running through a field of flowers.

Siblings project - sisters sharing an adventure

the magic of childhood

They share something really special, the start of a sisterhood and it's amazing to watch it develop. They help each other, they trust each other, they are so affectionate to each other and they really do adore one another - just so you know they fight like cats and dogs too! Right now they are all in the same kind of zone and really like being together as a little trio, I wonder how long it will be before they start taking their own paths for a little bit. I hope it's a little while longer and that when they do they always remember that they have their tribe to come back to.

Me x

10 May 2017

A Much Needed Break

As parents to three children all under 5, Oli and I have very little time together. Life is incredibly hectic and centres around our babies and working to provide for them. When we aren't doing either of these things we are usually collapsed in a heap on the sofa exhausted and without meaning for it to happen, time together becomes bottom of the priority list. We aren't brilliant at date nights, we're often too tired by the end of the day to muster the energy to head on out. Oli also works a lot of weekends so we tend to savour them when we get them as family time meaning there is less opportunity for time just the two of us. Also, despite having wonderful and willing family and friends we aren't very good at asking them to sit for us, mainly as we know that as brilliant as our girls are, 3 under 5 is quite a logistical challenge and feels like a big ask, particularly as the youngest still wakes regularly at night.

Having the girls close together has also meant that I have been pregnant or breastfeeding pretty much back to back for the last 5 years making going out or getting away for a night extremely tricky. If I'm being entirely honest I haven't really wanted to, or felt ready to until recently, and before I returned to work we didn't really have the funds to treat ourselves or felt guilty if we did. 

Time together with Oli was something I had included on my New Years resolution list and something I really wanted to focus on this year. Whilst we are parents, we are also still us and in order to be the best parents we can be and ensure we remain close as a couple I feel it's really important to set aside time for each other. We also really need, and deserve, a break every now and then. Parenting is tough, all kinds of wonderful, but TOUGH and incredibly tiring - neither of us have really slept for 5 and a half years! 

The last time Oli and I went away together for a night just the two of us was four years ago for his 30th birthday... yes FOUR whole years! So with an offer of babysitting for the weekend from grandparents and the excuse of both our birthdays, we took ourselves off for a well overdue night away in the Cotswolds to Dormy House.

Dormy House

It felt incredibly strange driving to the hotel just the two of us and very much like we had forgotten something. It felt extremely liberating to only have to think of ourselves, not having to factor in mealtimes and nap times and child friendly activities, but also extremely odd and took some time to take our parent hats off and relax. As we drove into the car park we felt really excited at the prospect of down time, not having to share our food and the promise of a full nights sleep! 

Dormy House provided the perfect retreat to recharge our batteries and spend some time together. Our room was gorgeous, so comfortable, spacious and stylish with so many little touches that made it feel really special. It felt truly luxurious knowing that I would get to sleep on an actual pillow without a toddlers foot in my face and that even if I did wake up at 6, it wouldn't be from an alarm or shouts of 'the suns up mummy' (anyone who owns a gro clock will be familiar with this!)

Our Room

The days of long hot showers are long gone in our house and I'm lucky if I get to dry my hair properly in the mornings. Discovering an array of Temple Spa products in the bathroom felt like such a treat. After a (hot) cup of tea in our room we made our way to the House Spa within the hotel and whittled away the afternoon in the steam room, sauna, hot tub and infinity pool drinking in the silence and enjoying each others company. We both felt so relaxed, the most relaxed we had in a long time, so much so that it felt really unusual, but really lovely.

Temple Spa Treats
The House Spa at Dormy House comes highly reccomended

It was so nice to just 'be' and enjoy our own agenda. We ate scones and sipped cocktails all in our own time, without having to rush, something that we really took for granted pre children. There was so much time to talk that we think we probably covered a weeks worth of conversation normally managed at home in just a few hours. We chatted about the girls, the past, the present and the future and most importantly we listened to each other. It was brilliant to laugh together, reconnect and remember who we are and as cliched as it sounds why we love each other aside from being the girls parents.

Warm scones eaten in dressing gowns, not sure it gets much better...
Rhubarb pre dinner cocktails

We had a leisurely dinner together in the Potting Shed restaurant within the hotel which as absolutely divine and so thoroughly enjoyed. It was blissful not having to cook or clean up afterwards and to sit in one of the lounges afterwards with some bubbles and letting them go to our heads a little, things that have become such novelties in recent years.

Dinner in The Potting Shed was superb and meant we didn't need to leave the hotel

As expected our parental body clocks woke us up early but we forced ourselves to doze for a while and make the most of not having to get up and scrape weetabix off a highchair! It did mean we had time for Oli to go to the gym and for me to have facial in the Spa, along with a lovely, slow breakfast which we didn't have to share!

Dormy Breakfast

Everything about Dormy House is exceptional, the service is outstanding and the attention to detail is out of this world, my only complaint was having to come home, I very almost cried! It really is the perfect place to switch off and enjoy some time together as a couple and we have decided that we are going to return each April to celebrate our birthdays there - willing babysitters depending of course!

Mr & Mrs, not just Mummy and Daddy

We both really realised the importance of making time for things like this in the future, we came home feeling refreshed with our parenting tanks topped up with oodles of patience and feeling very grateful for our little ladies. Those little ladies are depending on us to be the best team we can be and our night away really rebalanced and reset our relationship and we feel closer and stronger than ever.

Me x

8 May 2017

A Magical Day at Audley End

If you are looking for a magical day out with your littles then look no further... Last week I took the girls to Audley End Miniature Railway to visit their Enchanted Fairy and Elf Walk and it was safe to say they absolutely loved it. From the minute you arrive at Audley End there is a sense of magic in the air, it's a space for children to be children, play and imagine. The girls were so excited when we arrived when they saw the miniature steam train full of happy passengers and even more so at the prospect of spotting fairies!

We started our day with the Fairy and Elf Walk and were greeted by two lovely fairies at the entrance who transformed the girls pencils into fairy wands with feathers and magic glittery fairy dust. The floral archway looked so beautiful and inviting and we couldn't wait to go through it and explore.

The start of the trail
Transforming their pencils into wands with a little help from a fairy -
 the girls were completely captivated 
Ready to find some fairies!
The children are given a checklist to complete along the trail as they spot the fairies that live in the woods. The thing I loved about this is that both Miss Tibs (3) and Miss Boo (5) could complete this as they just had to tick the boxes next to the pictures of the fairy as they saw them. Armed with their magic, fairy decorated pencils and a wish they were so keen to follow the trail.

Tiny fairy houses and gardens
The attention to detail along the fairy and elf walk is absolutely incredible and really sets little (and big) imaginations racing. Tiny wooden houses in trees, complete with tiny furniture, butterflies, flowers and gems are waiting to be discovered, each one different to suit the fairy that occupies it. The girls loved peering into the houses and seeing what and who was inside. Each dwelling has a little sign next to it that tells you which fairy lives there and a little bit about them which the girls listened to intently before ticking them off in their booklets. 

Golden butterflies and fairy magic just waiting to be discovered
Everything is at just the right height for little eyes and completely fascinated the girls holding their concentration for a good 45 minutes. Their little faces were just adorable to watch as they made their way along the trail, each corner bringing with it something new to explore and find - they literally couldn't believe their eyes and thought it was completely and utterly magical.

The girls were so fascinated by all the things to look at in the houses along the trail
One of my favourite parts of the trail was the wishing wall at the enchanted tree where we hung little paper leaves with wishes the girls had written on them for the fairies to grant. They both wished that they could be fairies and were so excited about the prospect of their wishes being granted as the sat in the fairy chair hidden within the trees next to it.

Hanging a wish at the enchanted tree
Miss Tibs right at home on a fairy throne.
The trail was so magical the only way the girls would leave it was with the promise of a ride on the miniature steam train. We had pre booked our slot in advance but you can also book a slot which allows you to ride anytime within an hour giving you a bit more flexibility. The train ride lasts a good 15 minutes and maintains the magical atmosphere of the fairy walk with music at the station and really welcoming and enthusiastic staff ensuring a special trip. The train takes you through the woods with lots to spot along the way including lots of teddy bears in little houses and tunnels and bridges - the girls loved it! 

All Aboard!
The girls loved the ride on the miniature steam train
As it was opening weekend there was an extra special element to the train journey which involved a stop at a tea party with 'real' fairies who danced and played before finally presenting each child on board the train with a tiny bottle of fairy dust. This really was such a lovely surprise for the girls and they clutched their fairy dust so tightly for the remainder of the day and could not believe their eyes.

Fairies dancing in the woodland sunlight
A fairy tea party - imagination brought to life
Precious fairy dust
We explored the rest of the site after our train ride. There is a big open park space in the middle with a wooden play area consisting of little houses, a wooden train and some swings, along with a bouncy castle and fairground swing which are a small additional cost but can be used for as long as you like. There is plenty of space to picnic along with a refreshment booth serving drinks and cakes and there is also the signal box cafe serving homemade, locally sourced food. To finish our day we visited the craft tent where the girls made glittery blue mermaid potions in tiny bottles to take home with them, a lovely touch which was also included with our tickets. 

The girls exploring the play area
We really did have such a magical day, the only downside was having to leave and we are already planning a return visit. There are lots of special events on throughout the year which look amazing -  particularly the Christmas experience. I'd recommend booking tickets online in advance, particularly on the special event days to ensure you don't miss out, other than food and drinks everything is included in your ticket price making it excellent value for money. 

Audley End is located just south of Cambridge not far from the M11 making it easily accessible yet you leave it feeling like you have entered another world, a world which the little ladies fully immersed themselves in. I put them to bed at the end of the day with their fairy dust under their pillows and a real sparkle in their eyes asking me when we could go again, before they dreamt of fairies all night long.

Me x

*This is a collaborative post. We were kindly gifted entry in exchange for a review.
 All thoughts and opinions are my own and a true reflection of our day.*