We’re Going to The Zoo!

I hate zoos. I am against animals being locked in tiny cages for our amusement.
I don’t hate all zoos though, I do believe that some are genuinely in it for the conservation of animals and if they are done right the animals don’t suffer and are really well cared for. Whilst I’d still prefer the animals to be in the wild I’m not against these.
Singapore zoo is one of my favourites and having been a couple of times I highly recommend this to anyone visiting the city.

The other day a friend suggested a trip to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park. After a little research I really liked the look of it, so on bank holiday Sunday we headed down for the day.

The car park was packed and I was a little apprehensive that it may be really busy inside but honestly I didn’t think it was. They seem to have enough going on that it never felt crowded and we never spent long in a queue or waiting too see anything.

We arrived about 11am so we headed straight to grab a couple of coffees and some sandwiches to take with us and then we headed off to see some animals.
Entry was £16 for an adult and the boys were free as they are both under 2.

We saw polar bears, spider monkeys, mara’s, lions, leopards, meerkats, zebras and giraffes just to name a few. I fell in love with one of the tiny baby baboons and if I could have taken him home he would have been in Milo’s changing bag quicker than you can say ‘Safari adventure

Lunch consisted of sandwiches and mini cheddars on a picnic bench while the boys ran around the grass. Well Milo wobbled around and fell over a lot. But it was lovely, and the sun was shining making the day delightful.

We headed back to the animals and the boys watched with the most excited looks on their faces. I think Milo’s favourite animal was the spider monkey, the enclosure is open so they are just wild, swinging around the branches above you. He couldn’t get enough of them and finally dragging him away meant tears. But it wasn’t long before we were at the next stop and there was something else to make him smile.

Late afternoon the boys both fell asleep and we used that as an excuse to grab a couple of ice creams and sit in the sun.

The enclosures are huge, the animals look healthy and happy and there are plenty of viewing areas for each stop so you can see loads.
The cafes are plentiful and although it’s just your usual sandwiches, cakes and sausage roll type fare it wasn’t overly expensive and it tasted good.
There are endless areas where you can stop and grab a picnic bench and have a bite to eat. If you are more prepared than we were take a picnic with you….and don’t forget the sun cream. We covered the boys but neglected ourselves and both ended up crispy and red, rookie manoeuvre.

Before we left we headed to the monkey house soft play area (indoor) and the boys had a whale of a time monkeying around. We could have spent longer here but toddlers get tired and cranky and it was time to head back.
There is also a huge outdoor play area, we didn’t have time this trip but all the kids there looked like they were having a great time, there is so much to do here!

IMG_5764

I love this place, I can’t wait to return and hopefully as Milo grows he will enjoy the animals more and more. I highly recommend!!

IMG_5758

Milo’s Mummy x

Ultimate Fathers Day Ideas

Last Father’s Day my belly sent a card to Milos daddy, I was so excited about the thought of being parents that I felt the need to celebrate the day. Father’s Day has never been a thing for me, as it was just my mum, brother and I growing up, so I wanted to make this extra special because it was kind of a first for me as well.

This year I’m even more excited, because this year we are parents and it means Father’s Day is official. On Mother’s Day I was spoilt and I want to make sure I return the love. I have always been more of a giver, I just love giving presents, writing people little notes, sending cards, packages of sunshine when people are feeling down. I prefer other peoples special occasions to my own.

So we here at Milo and Matilda thought we’d come up with the ultimate Father’s Day idea list. You don’t need buckets of cash, unless you want to, you just need a little bit of love and a spot of imagination.

  • A picnic. Outdoor or indoor. Nothing beats a picnic, it’s personal you can spend as little or as much as you like and you can tailor it to match daddy’s tastes. For Milos daddy it would be lobster rolls, cured meats, fresh fruits, scones with clotted cream and some bubbles.
    You could buy your partner (from the kids) or your dad his favourite beers, or even those fantastic personalised ones, then grab some of his favourite sweet and savoury treats and head down to the local park and enjoy an afternoon spoiling him. Picnics also work well inside, set a rug down in your siting room and lay all the food out as if you were outside. A lovely alternative for a rainy day!

Picnic in the Park

  • A drinking Vessel. What dad doesn’t love a good mug. Especially when it’s the first Father’s Day. Milos daddy said they should be called SMugs because it makes him smile every time he uses it because he is a dad and he’s making sure his whole office knows, again. And if Dad works outdoors or loves gardening on a weekend, there is always the option for a cool tin mug instead or the traditional porcelain one.
  • A Handprint. A gift we absolutely love and is sure to melt all hearts is your child’s handprint. You can have a go at home and make a card or picture or if you fancy really making the most of this then head down to one of those fantastic pottery cafes that seem to be popping up all over the place. We did this at christmas and made Milo and Matilda’s Daddy’s absolutely gorgeous little baubles for the tree. Be advised most places need between 3-7 days to finish the items in the kiln and glaze them so give yourself plenty of time.
image5
Probably the wrong time to make a bauble but you get the idea of how cute these gifts are!
  • Vouchers. Now we are not talking a boring old B&Q or Debenhams voucher, we are talking the homemade variety. I remember making these when I was a child and as I think about it now I could think of nothing nicer. Breakfast in Bed, one football match on the TV moan free, a six pack of beers or a night off the cooking. Those kind of things. Again its personal and you can tailor it to suit your family and the dad in question.
  • Scrabble. Another of our favourites is the sentimental gift of the scrabble family frame. Daddy can keep it in his office or his study or you can pop it on view in the sitting room for all to see. There is the option for just daddy and his daughter or son, or the option for the whole family. Matilda’s mum made us one just after Milo was born and I love seeing our names linked together.
  • Memories. Probably the most important one of all because there is nothing nicer than creating memories. Go for a walk somewhere you have never been, visit the zoo or an aquarium. Drive to the nearest beach and collect shells or spend the day playing board games at home. Just do something you don’t normally do. Laugh lots and make the very most of the beautiful family you have, remember to take lots of pictures and print a few off for the fridge.

So to all Dad’s out there we wish you a wonderful Fathers Day.

Babies and Renovations…..

Expect a number of posts regarding this topic over the coming months. I can guarantee tears, tantrums and complete meltdowns (and that’s just from me)

Why? Because we have decided to renovate with a baby. Hahahaha, silly parents!
Now we’ve done this before, Milo’s daddy gets bored easily so we’ve already bought, renovated and sold a few houses. It has been fun, stressful, exciting, challenging and well worth every minute. However the main thing being these were all were all PRE-BABY!!

So not content with his new important job back in the UK, a relocation from the Middle East and a new baby he decided that we needed a little more, so he bought us a project. A very big project.
The last house we renovated saw the whole roof removed, and I had to bunk in a friends spare room (while pregnant) for weeks on end. So did he decide that this time we would get a house we could keep the roof on, we could live in and renovate around ourselves. Don’t be silly, he decided we needed the most work possible of course.

To say I’m worried is a bit of an understatement. How do you actually renovate with a baby? When the roof comes off this house, will we all have to live in the summerhouse in the garden, we have an old shed as well, maybe one could be our living space and one our small, damp and cold bedroom. Will we have to stay with grandparents, I don’t know how they would cope with us for weeks and weeks on end. So how exactly do you raise a tiny human on a building site. Parents, friends, even the architect, they have all told us we are mad and it’s a ridiculous idea, but then we like a challenge. I have real visions of having to wash Milo each night outside in a flexi tub and mixing his porridge in the cement mixer.

IMG_3609
Oh look, two new bath tubs for Milo!

Planning applications went in a week ago, so based on previous experience that gives me another 5-6 weeks of normality. After that I might be a crazy person. If anyone has any advice (or a spare room) please do get in touch!

I AM THE BRAVEST MUMMY!

Milo is nine months old and when they say children are like sponges it’s so true. At the moment he is sucking everything up, watching every move and listening to every sound and starting to mimic and copy us.

When I say us I actually mean his grandad. Honestly It’s driving us mad, first there was the strange noise he copied that prompted someone is Sainsburys to say to me ‘your baby sounds like an ewok’ which got grandad his first telling off. This week it is the tongue thing…..oh boy is this a special one. A lady in Specsavers the other day asked if Milo was ok….I had no response for her. Grandad has swiftly been told off again and asked to behave. For anyone reading this you might think I’m being unnecessarily harsh on grandad, but you guys haven’t seen this thing Milo does. It is not cute, not cute at all. Is it wrong to just want him to grow up not weird.

So the other day something happened, something that tested me as a mummy, it was horrifying but completely expected, in the back of my mind I knew this day would eventually come.
I had popped into Milos room, he was just waking up from a nap and was chatting away in his cot, greeting me with that huge grin.

Then I saw it.

Sitting there like it owned the room, watching me with its hundreds of eyes (maybe it’s only eight but hundreds sounds more dramatic) I couldn’t take a picture because it was too big, think dinner plate size. It’s many legs twitching away, making it look like it might have been dancing.

So you might have guessed it. I. Hate. Spiders.

They terrify me, but I can’t kill them so it makes life a little difficult. I make Milo’s daddy remove them safely and wave them on their way.
Well he wasn’t in. What would I do, my son is there, and I can’t get to him because a 2ft spider (at least) stands in the way.

When I was pregnant my mum would say to me you need to worry less, you need to stop stressing because babies pick up on these things. Whether it’s true or not it’s stuck in my mind so there really was only one choice.
I would leave Milo, leave the house, lock the door and wait for help. Ok so maybe that wasn’t actually an option, so I had to remove the spider myself.

I want my son to grow up thinking mummy is brave, I want him to not be scared of anything, a bit more like his dad than me. I’m scared of loads of stuff, it seems the older I get the wimpier I get too! Especially with how he is watching and learning at the moment I need to be the bravest so that he can be the bravest.

Glass in hand I teetered back and forth, half expecting the spider to jump on his back legs and dive at my face, what would happen to me, can you actually die from fear?
Fear is so silly, this thing is smaller than me so why am I starting to sweat and starting to feel a bit dizzy in the head.

Then, looking at Milo who was watching me intently I dived forward and trapped incy wincy in the glass (a huge glass for my 2ft dinner plate sized spider) and half the job was done.
Then I got Milo and through the glass showed him the spider, pretending it was super cool and exciting. Hopefully I faked it enough for him to think his mummy is the bravest and that spiders are cool (when they are outside at least 20ft from me.)

I’d like to say I finished the job but that would be a lie. I left the room, shut the door and incy spent his whole day in the glass greenhouse until daddy came home that evening and he could remove it and send him packing. During the day I might have checked occasionally that he was still under the glass, just in case he’d developed extraordinary spidee strength and thrown the glass off and headed for my bedroom.

Being a mum is hard, I’ve had to do things I never thought I would, but right now while I can I’m going to be the bravest mummy, I’ll battle spiders if it means he grows up not scared of them. I’ll pretend I love flying so he grows up wanting to travel and I’ll eat all my vegetables while saying ‘yum’ and ‘oooh that’s tasty’, yes even aubergine if it means he loves healthy food. I’m sure I’ll make mistakes and I’m sure he will sooner or later figure out that I’m a bit of a wimp, but let’s hope I can keep it up just long enough for him to have braveness imprinted on his brain.

WHO WANTS TO GO ON A GRUFFALO HUNT?

Last weekend was my first Easter as a mummy. I had been so excited at the thought of Milos daddy being off work for four whole days, he travels a lot and we are renovating a house so time together is often last thing at night while he snoozes and I catch up on crappy tv. I couldn’t wait to do the family thing. To name a few we planned picnic, a trip to the park, a safari trip (not an African one unfortunately) dinner with grandparents and daddy also wanted to build a patio in the garden. But the thing I was looking forward to the most was a Gruffalo Spotters hunting trip.

 

I don’t think I’ve been to Sherwood Forest since I was a child, the home of legendary Robin Hood and some ridiculously big trees, it is now also one of the locations where you can go Gruffalo Spotting. Run by the Forestry Commission I wasn’t sure what to expect, in all fairness this was suggested by friends as their kids (Louis 3 and Haley 2) are slightly older than Milo and massive Gruffalo fans.

We arrived at the forest and parked up, it was busy but there was plenty of parking (approx £6 for the full day) We headed to the main area and purchased our little spotters kit for £3 from the cafe, this was also an excuse for the grown ups to have super yummy hot chocolates with tons of whipped cream and marshmallows. Louis became an immediate detective and scoured the floor with the magnifying glass, looking for ‘clues’ and stickers were handed out and we all had to wear one.

We had all downloaded the app prior to arriving and it didn’t take long to work out how to use it. We followed the ‘clues’ and each one led to an interactive sign that when you held your phone up and pointed it at the sign the scene came to life and a Gruffalo character appeared on the screen, you could then take a photograph with your little ones looking like they were whisked off to another world inside the pages of a story book. You have the chance to find mouse, fox, owl, snake and of course the Gruffalo.

It took us about an hour and a half to complete the trail, the kids had an absolute blast, they hunted the characters like tiny cluedos and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a two and three year old so occupied for so long. The only trouble we had was keeping the kids still long enough for a photo, they were too busy rushing off for the next clue.

Currently there are 26 locations you can hunt the Gruffalo, check out the Forestry Commission website for more information.

IMG_3203

TIPS : DO NOT forget to download the app for free before you go, where we went there was no chance of downloading when there due to lack of signal, and the app really is the main part of the hunt. Also make sure your battery is fully charged, I am well known for always having less than 10% battery, but I made sure I was camera ready because missing out on vital photo opportunities and a chance to see the character come to life would be such a shame. I’d like to have included some of my pictures with actual people in too but I can only describe them as a blur of children running off in all directions – major mummy fail!

IMG_3089
Here is the star of the show….amazing how they appear in the picture like they are really there!

Should you buy the Spotters Activity Kit? They are available for £3 at cafés / visitor centres (cash only) of participating forests. Inside the kit you’ll find:
An evidence collection bag
5 animal activity and facts cards
A Spotter’s Guide
Stickers of The Gruffalo characters
A special magnifying glass, ruler and a pencil.
It’s a little extra fun for the kids, you can do the hunt without but our tiny adventurers just loved it.

IMG_3202
The ‘Evidence Bag Activity Kit’

With parking only costing £6 and the spotters kit £3 it can be a really cheap day out. We took a picnic and made use of one of the hundreds of picnic benches and splashed out a little on those hot chocolates.

Well done Sherwood Forest, you gave us a wonderful day, entertained our children with some good old fashioned outdoor fun, yet brought to the table a little bit of magic. I would absolutely recommend this to absolutely any parent, not just those with little Gruffalo fans