Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: holiday

Just one more week?

I’ve a serious case of the back to work blues tonight and I’m not even back to work for another 12 hours. The last week of holiday has been fabulous, hard and tiring at times as you would expect with 3 small children but that’s soon forgotten when you are making memories isn’t it? That’s after all what family holidays should be all about, making memories, creating those stories that you reminisce about for years to come. I know I still talk about things I did on holiday as a small child over 20 years ago and I hope Matilda and Henry will be doing the same.

We’d planned to go to the Lake District camping for 4 days after our wedding anniversary celebrations had finished which would have been awesome, but a weather forecast of heavy rain and 40 mph gusts of wind soon changed our minds. Who wants to be in a tent with 3 children and a dog in weather like that? It’s a real shame as I think we would have had an amazing time and I really wanted to be in that landscape again. Instead we did a bunch of day trips; we went to the Cotswold Farm Park (Adam’s farm for you Countryfile fans), Leigh Woods in Bristol, to the lake for a swim and bacon sandwich and then to the Cotswold Wildlife park (a big feature in both mine and the lady of the manor’s childhoods).

We had such a great week, a good mixture of visiting attractions and then low key days in the forest with Bracken along for a run around too. I also grabbed time this weekend for some daddy son and daddy daughter time with the 2 big ones; Henry and I went to the canal to look at the boats and I went to Avebury with Matilda (which is fab for kids if you haven’t been). Funny that the weather in April for our holiday was better than August but that didn’t matter, however I now want to have another 6 weeks just like the last one.

While I go off to buy a lottery ticket here’s a few photos from the past week.

Alex and Rupert

Henry by Lake 32

In Leigh Woods

Matilda and Henry feeding the horses

Matilda outside Avebury Manor

Penguins at cotswold wildlife park




Matilda with a Rabbit

Me and mine June 2015

Better late than never with this post and without wanting to sound like a broken record for these updates actually having an evening that didn’t involve resettling Rupert 4 times would be quite conducive to writing more. For now at least I shall just ignore that rather large elephant in the room, especially as it isn’t going away ‘because it’s just a phase’ or ‘it’ll stop when he’s eating solids’ or any other vain attempt at creating hope. Right now there is no light at the end of that tunnel.

But despite all that June was a pretty darn awesome month, not least because it involved a week of glorious holiday with the lady of the manor and the little people (children that is, not gnomes or dwarfs). We had somewhat of a staycation, visiting my parents for a few days (and the Eden project while we were there, our favourite family day out) then a couple of days at home before camping in the New Forest with some friends. All done in fabulous sunshine of course, perfect.

This months photo was taken during said weeks holiday and as you can see features a little girl who has decided she most definitely does not want her photo taken. However the 2nd photo below was taken by Henry who it seems she is willing to strike a pose for and I think you’ll agree is a great photo of her.

Us in the tent

I have of course been doing lots of triathlon training in June, I’m really enjoying the open water swimming and it feels like things have clicked with my swimming fitness all of a sudden. No longer one long struggle to breathe which is always good. Being on holiday meant that I could also head down the lake with the whole family so that the kids could see me swim in the lake which they thought was hilarious. I also loved meeting up with the fabulous Corinne for a tramp around a forest near Sheffield while we were up there for a wedding. Her boys and our 2 had great fun running around and climbing trees, so great that blogging can give you friends like that who live miles away but feel like old friends.

The lady of the manor has run her first race (a Race for Life 5km) and a sub 30 minute 5km at that. She loved watching one of her oldest friends get married even if it did mean a stay in a Travelodge with 3 children. Finally she had a very rare night out to go to the cinema with her sister, very well deserved just hope one day soon we might be able to go out together.

matilda portrait

Matilda has been enjoying have time with her nanna, helping plant seeds and water the garden. So nice seeing them together just chatting or reading the same books I read as a child. She’s also been getting ready for big school with visits to meet her teacher and also have lunch with the school, feels like such a milestone but she’s definitely ready for it.

Henry was very happy to have gone back to visit the domes again at the Eden project, mainly because it involved a ride on the tractor train which is his favourite. He also seems to have spent most of the month eating which I can only assume means he’s having a growth spurt. Either way with Rupert eating decent meals too our food shopping doesn’t last long at the moment.

Photo taken by the ever so talented Corinne

Photo taken by the ever so talented Corinne

Rupert has been learning to crawl! Then just 10 days later he’d also figured out pulling himself up at the sofa, I think he’s in a rush to catch up with his siblings. He’s also decided that he just wasn’t unsettled enough when he slept so it was time to get some teeth also and now has a very sharp little tooth poking through his gum. As a consequence he has slept even less if that’s even possible. Amazingly he actually slept slightly better in a tent despite our worst fears.

Me and Mine April 2015

April has been some month, a real rollercoaster of extreme highs and lows. After the sadness of March we began the process of adjusting to life without Nanna, it’s a painful process and each ‘first’ without her another reminder of the gap we now have in our lives. We had Matilda’s birthday in the middle of the month, a small celebration as none of us were in the mood for a full blown party but I hope Matilda enjoyed it and didn’t mind not having all her friends there. We also had what is likely to be our only proper holiday this year with a glorious week near Padstow after the schools had all gone back. Almost a whole week of perfect sunny weather to play on the beach, explore the coast and visit the Eden project (twice!). I think we must have made our followers on Instagram pretty sick of seeing another photo of a sunny beach or a big ice cream. The holiday was also the source of this months photo which was taken by a very friendly Spanish tourist who happened to be stood near us as we posed. What you can’t tell from the picture is that just before it Matilda had a proper sulk on for some silly reason that was so silly I can’t even remember what it was.

At the Eden project

In April I’ve been mainly surviving and getting older, the month has been a bit of a blur of sleepless nights, busy days at work and a little bit of running. I also turned the grand old age of 33 this month, although I feel like I’m permanently 28 until I look in the mirror and see a face that has aged a lot over since Matilda was born. I’ve also been enjoying falling in love with running again, a combination of some amazing runs along the Cornish coastal path and going out with our new double running buggy with my boys. I love taking them out and chatting with Henry as we plod along the canal or cycle path, I wrote a post on my running blog here about this new found love of family running if you’re interested.

A run with a view

A run with a view

The lady of the manor has spent April being simply amazing; looking after this crazy little family of ours while clearly grieving hard for the loss of her mum. We haven’t been getting much sleep and Henry has hit the terrible two’s, yet despite this she’s been an awesome mum. She’s also become something of a runner, I even utter the words ‘I NEED to go for a run’ this week because she missed it so much rather than the guilt of not going for a few days. We’ve managed to get a nice routine going each week where she’s getting out either at 5pm when I get back from work or during the day with one or both boys in the pushchair. There is even talk of some races!

Orange flower at Eden project

Matilda has basically become a grown up little girl this month, all of sudden she is able to do all these things herself like put her seat belt on without any direction or assistance. It’s both scary and amazing at the same time. This has been compounded by finding out which school she’ll be going to in September; we thankfully got our first (and only choice) which is a weight off. We are out of the catchment area for the school but it’s under subscribed so we were always hopeful we would and it’s the perfect little village school just like the ones we attended and I think perfect for Matilda.

Henry’s April has been mainly about tantrums, tantrums about everything and anything. Even tantrums when you tell him that he has his slippers on the wrong feet which quite honestly is exhausting at times. The only saving grace is that he normally gets over them very quickly and is back to being a happy chatty boy within a few minutes. He turns 3 in May and clearly has decided that we’ve got off too lightly with the terrible two’s. He also decided on holiday that he most definitely does not like waves on the beach, I tried so hard to get him to come and paddle with Matilda and I but he just ran away screaming.

Rupert on the beach

Which brings me to Rupert, our happy, smiley, cheeky boy who loves his food yet is driving us crazy with his inability to sleep for more than 3 hours at a time. He turned 6 months old last week and on holiday perfected the art of sitting which is awesome, so much fun being able to sit and play with him. He’s also getting very good at moving around on the floor and showed signs of pushing himself up onto all fours. So developing well, just doesn’t feel the need to sleep. We’ve just moved him into his own room and I’m trying to do the resettling so that he doesn’t look for milk but a good evening is one where his first wake up is 9pm. It becomes such a long day when you don’t even get a break in the evening plus trying to resettle a baby who weighs 10kg gets tiring very quickly! ┬áIf he wasn’t such a happy baby in the day I think we would have gone crazy by now.

I realised that I haven’t mentioned Bracken in these posts before, for the record he has spent April stealing washing from the utility room and then sitting in the garden chewing it. Not entirely sure why that’s started. He also had a holiday of his own at my parents house while we were away which he seems to have enjoyed a little too much.

How was your April?

Scotland with toddlers

Walking on Nairn beachScotland; the home of dramatic landscapes, enormous lochs, mighty forests and of course midges. Perhaps not everyone’s first choice of a holiday with 2 toddlers but we loved it. We’ve spent the last 2 weeks in a lovely cottage in the Scottish Highlands near Fort William taking things easy and enjoying the peace and quiet (and no 3G or wifi).

There was of course also the small matter of THE RACE on the middle weekend (you can read the full details and race report here) which offered a small distraction and the lady of the manor was very tolerant of me organising the holiday around that event.

We started the holiday with an 11pm departure from home with the idea being that the children would go back to sleep once in the car. In reality they thought it was absolutely hilarious and were wide awake for the first 100 miles until we gave them a massive bottle of milk. Then everyone around me crashed out and I cruised up the quiet motorways with just a single stop for fuel and coffee before arriving in Fort William at 7.15am just in time for a Wetherspoons breakfast with the kids still in their PJ’s.

Walking with Matilda and HenryAmazingly we kicked off our Scotland adventure with a day on the beach in Nairn with my parents who were holidaying up there. A balmy 18 degrees saw us in shorts and t-shirt, barefoot on the sand and ice cream in hand. Amazing stuff who would have thought it and barely another person in sight.

There were walks in the forest, bike rides with the children in the trailer, sausage rolls, fish and chips, lazy mornings and evenings of reading and writing. Time to just be a family together without any pressure to do anything or be anywhere and the lack of phone signal forcing us to step away from social media for a while,

Bracken was of course in his element, running through the forest and jumping in all the streams. We didn’t walk any huge distances but that didn’t bother him, time outside is all that matters. Although he did have to endure the daily tick check, little buggers get everywhere not that he seems to mind having them pulled out, barely flinching as we poke and prod him.

This holiday suited us down to the earth but there are a few things to keep in mind if you are thinking of going to Scotland with toddlers:

  • Matilda running in the forestScotland is about being outdoors, away from the few big cities there aren’t lots of attractions to visit. The ‘attractions’ are the hills, mountains and lochs so you do need to want to be in the fresh air.
  • The weather is best described as changeable no matter what time of year it is so go prepared, a cold and wet toddler is a grumpy toddler. We have waterproof bib and braces plus jackets for both Matilda and Henry that are perfect, they ensure they are dry and a bib and brace stops draughts as well. We also bought them some fab Karrimor walking boots which although aren’t as waterproof as wellies are much easier for them to walk around in.
  • Forget climbing Ben Nevis or being out all day in the hills when you’re with toddlers you need to think smaller scale. Unless you’re carrying them a long walk is likely to be 2 miles but it’ll still take a few hours as you stop to look at all the streams and pine cones on the way. Don’t let it frustrate you though, embrace it and enjoy exploring the world in this way.
  • Take food, lots of food. If your toddlers are anything like mine they’ll be requesting a snack within an hour of breakfast even if that breakfast was 2 bowls of porridge and a piece of toast. We had to give Matilda food to start the walk as she was already getting hungry!A picnic in the forest

Fun (hopefully) in the sun

This is a sponsored post.

With 2 small children and a dog our holiday planning generally involves anywhere you can drive to. Last year we had 2 weeks in Bordeaux which is probably at the maximum distance we’ll drive, it was about 7 hours of driving in France which is plenty long enough with a toddler. But the convenience of being able to pack everything you need and not worry about luggage allowances always wins out for me. I also think that the UK itself is too often overlooked and considered a second choice for a family holiday.

Bracken on Barbury castle 13Mar13This year we have 2 glorious weeks in Scotland planned, there may be the small event of my race (have I mentioned the little one day race I’m doing?!) happening on the middle weekend that dictated the holiday somewhat. But I also have family in Scotland and spent many summer holidays up there having adventures and building dams in streams.

I’m hoping Matilda and Henry enjoy it just as much, they certainly like the outdoors already and of course Bracken will be right at home up there. We’ve rented a cottage in the middle of nowhere and plan to spend our days walking and exploring before heading home for dinner next to the log fire.

In fact as a little detour, the inspiration for both getting a springer and calling him Bracken was my mum’s cousin in Scotland how had a cocker spaniel called Bracken when we were growing up. It’ll be fun to take our Bracken up to meet them so they can see what effect that had on me as a child.

We generally try to avoid trips away during the school holidays, taking advantage of that while we still can. July and August may in theory be the ‘summer’ months but why not relax on September breaks when the children are all back in school and the weather is still warm? Although I do remember a certain camping trip to the Lake District in early September one year with the lady of the manor where it rained for the first 4 days and that was truly miserable. We then had 3 days of glorious sunshine and blue sky but it wasn’t quite enough to wipe the memories of being constantly wet.

Of course if you can’t wait for September for your break there is always the opportunity for some summer bank holiday fun out and about, perhaps a long weekend next to the sea or simply staying at home and visiting the traditional beer festival?

So what have you got planned for your summer holiday this year? Anyone else with small children or no children have a September holiday?