A Little Reminder of How Lucky I Am

Last week, I began working a very temporary office job to help out at my husband’s office. Up until last Thursday, I’ve been fortunate enough to stay at home with our girl since her birth. I am only doing 1 1/2 days a week, and my first day truthfully flew. I was busy and enjoyed having some time back in an office setting. I arrived home and Richard asked me how the first day went. I said that I did not mind it at all, but if anything, it really lit a fire under my bum to find work that provides me flexibility in my hours because I dropped our girl off at 7:15 AM and picked her up at 6:30 PM. It was a long day for her to be away from home, a long day for me to be away from her, and a long day for her grandmother who looked after her.

I never thought I would be the mom that did not go back to work because I have always worked and been proud of my professional career. But, she arrived and things changed and the opportunity was there for me to stay at home. I feel ever so lucky and fortunate that I’ve been able to spend the past couple of years with her. It was always our agreement that once she began nursery at the age of 3 that I would find some sort of steady work, so as the months tick by and we come closer to her 3rd birthday, I’ve begun to look for work and have applied for a number of part-time jobs. So far, I have not had any luck, but I’ll keep trying.

Today was my half day at the office, and when I got to my mother-in-law’s house to collect our girl, I was oh-so-happy to see her and be on the receiving end of one of her amazing hugs. (You know those hugs that kids give with every ounce of their being? It was one of those. Wow, did I feel loved!) She was excited to get home and see Daddy too, so after a quick tidy up of the children’s toys and books scattered around Grandma’s lounge, we were off to our house. As I reversed into the drive, she saw Richard’s car and said excitedly, “Daddy’s car! Daddy’s home!” It always makes my heart smile when I see our little blondie run to her daddy after he has been gone all day and give him a crazy big cuddle, and tonight was no different.

What was different about tonight though is that as I was reading her a story, she began to get upset and said, “Mummy stay home with me.” This broke my heart. It doesn’t help that I was gone for 4 days on 2 separate occasions in the past month, and now, I’m gone again. Even though I talk to her about me going to work and her going to Grandma’s, I’m still not there with her and her schedule has changed. I know she is having fun with her grandma, but as Richard and I discussed tonight, it was almost like it hit her all of a sudden.

As I held back tears and comforted her, I promised her that tomorrow I would be home. That tomorrow would be a day for just the two of us. I brainstormed what big plans I could make for us, but when I mentioned to her that we would have to the grocery store, her eyes got big and she said, “Yes! Buy yogurt. Buy watermelon. Buy crumpets. Put jam on them.” I was so sweetly reminded that I don’t need any grand gestures to make up for my time away from her. All she needs is me and the normal every day.

 

Serious love to all mommas out there! We rock! xx

 

 

 

Lantern Magic at Chester Zoo

Yep, it’s February, and I’m about to talk about Christmas. Lantern Magic was too good to not write about though!

I had never been to Chester Zoo before, but Richard had taken our girl when I was in the States for a friend’s wedding over the summer. You don’t actually see any real animals during Lantern Magic as it takes place at dark yet I was still very much looking forward to seeing the large animal lanterns.

We had pre-booked tickets months in advance, and as the day drew nearer, it was calling for rain. It did rain most of that day and a little bit whilst we were there, but it didn’t spoil the fun for us. We just layered up and wore raincoats. A certain little girl was particularly excited to be wearing her Peppa Pig wellies to splash through the mammoth puddles!

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When we arrived and entered the zoo, each child was given their own little lantern to carry around the path. (Our girl would not let go of hers and ended up holding it in the car seat for most of the drive home. It was quite cute!) Then, each family was given a large lantern to be used and returned. These lanterns were heavy as they were a bit wet, but the various colors added to the atmosphere of the night. Richard and I took turns carrying around our lantern.

There was a path that everyone followed around the zoo in the same direction through various themed areas, such as an enchanted forest and a butterfly garden. Each area had its own lanterns that pertained to the theme.

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Our favorites (and I think this went for most people there) were the large animal lanterns. They were quite spectacular! A few of them were even animated by people, which was a unique touch. There was a giraffe whose head and neck was operated by a person to move in an extremely life-like manner. There were also two people wearing flamingo lanterns, who walked and carried out flamingo-esque mannerisms. We were very impressed!

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Around the path, there was at least one place to stop to purchase a snack and hot chocolate, but we chose to keep moving and head to the cafe at the entrance that was serving a few winter meal options for adults and kids.

I would definitely recommend Lantern Magic as a fun and unique Christmas event. It was well organized and reasonably priced. It has been added to our list of must-do’s for Christmases spent in the UK. Next year, I’m hoping for a dusting of snow because the lanterns would look even more stunning on a bed of the white stuff!

Strolling the Grounds of Yorkshire Sculpture Park

On the Tuesday morning of Adam and Kayla’s visit, I told them about a few places that we could visit and gave them the task of deciding what we would do that day while I was out getting my haircut. They checked the places out online, and when I came home about an hour later, they had planned the rest of the week for us! It was perfect, and I was so relieved because I put a lot of pressure on myself when visitors come as I want to be sure they have an amazing time.

For Tuesday, they decided that we would go to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park as the weather was sunny and without a dark cloud in sight. (Can you guess where this is heading?) The park is about a 35- to 40-minute drive from our house, so when we got close and Adam and Kayla noticed how big the park is, they were surprised. Apparently, from the website, they had come to the conclusion that it was just a park in the center of a town with some sculptures in it, but they still wanted to check it out. The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is actually a 500-acre country park, so they were very happily surprised to know this was where we would be spending the afternoon.

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We had a nice picnic lunch on the grounds near the YSP Centre before heading off to explore. We headed down to the Boat House and the Lower Lake first. YSP is currently hosting the Wave, which was part of the poppies installation from the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red that was at the Tower of London. It was still being constructed when we were there, but we were still able to catch them installing it for its opening on 5th September.

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We crossed over the Cascade Bridge and risked our lives passing the Highland cattle grazing right in front of us. (Have you see the horns on those things?!) We followed the path through the woods until we reached Seventy-one Steps.

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It was at this point where I might have made a fatal error in continuing on. Because, unfortunately for me, but fortunately for my adventurous girl, we didn’t have the backpack/baby carrier with us as we had forgotten it in Richard’s car and he was at work. Adam and Kayla said they were going to carry on up the steps to the Longside Gallery, which is quite a distance if your daughter gets tired and needs to be carried. I debated about what we should do and finally decided to go along with them.

Our girl made it up over half of the steps on her own before asking me to carry her. I was quite impressed! She then walked a bit then I carried her a bit then she walked a bit then…. Phew! During this ascent towards the Longside Gallery, we could see the sky becoming more black by the second. We were moving as quickly as we could with an inquisitive and independent toddler wanted to touch every tree and stick in sight. We did make it to the gallery for a bit of a break before we decided to risk the threat of rain and head back towards the car park.

We were all tired and my arms felt as if they were about to fall off, but our girl was even more tired, so I ended up carrying her the whole way down across the Cascade Bridge. Shortly before arriving at the bridge, the rain arrived. Oh, did I mention we had one adult-sized raincoat between us?! Thankfully, the little ones were protected, but to avoid the rain as much as possible, we ran from tree to tree. Our girl didn’t mind the rain one bit and was venturing out whilst we huddled under the trees. This did make for some great photo opportunities and lots of laughing and smiling.

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Eventually, we ended up at Camellia House for a short time, so my little niece could have an afternoon snack of milk. I really enjoyed wandering around that space. It was a bit of a secret garden with sculptures hidden amongst the trees and foliage. It was a great little detour on our way to the car.

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After a great day at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, we ended our day the way we ended pretty much every day that Adam and Kayla were here…with ice cream! We stopped at Charlotte’s Ice Cream Parlour in Whitley. We got the ice cream and ate it in the car. The ice cream was absolutely delicious, so I’d definitely recommend a quick stop there if you are in the area. It was another great, albeit exhausting, day with our wonderful visitors.

A Hike at Hardcastle Crags

Does anyone else keep a mental list of local places to visit when you find yourself at a loss for things to do near home? I try to keep that list present in my mind, but I often find myself with brain freeze when the times arise when we can’t think of something to do. Hardcastle Crags has been on that list since Richard told me about it a couple of years ago. And, with my brother, sister-in-law, and niece visiting, we were fumbling to come up with something to do on a Sunday that didn’t require a long car ride. I impressed myself and Richard by actually remembering Hardcastle Crags, and I believe all of us were impressed with the great day out it provided.

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We parked up and headed off in search of the mill that houses a café. (You do have to pay to park unless you are a member of the National Trust.) We knew we didn’t want to follow the road the whole way there, so we quickly headed downhill to the river and followed the river the entire way. It’s a beautiful and fairly easy walk. There are a few places along the walk where there are stepping stones across the river, so we had fun crossing those.

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When we reached the mill, there were a good number of families enjoying picnics around the river. We had lunch inside at The Weaving Shed Café. The food was simple and good. There are signs in the café saying that they are “off the grid” meaning they don’t receive electricity from the national grid, so they can’t always guarantee that they can serve hot food and drinks. It’s a unique little place, and I like the quirkiness of it. They also have a small gift shop along with the option to tour the mill for an additional cost. We had two kids under two with us, so we decided to forego the mill this trip. There is further hiking past the mill, which I think is more strenuous and that we will hopefully check out some time soon.

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After leaving Hardcastle Crags, we headed into Hebden Bridge to show our visitors this funky little village. We had ice cream (basically a must on every day out with an almost 2-year old and a twenty-something ice cream-obsessed sister-in-law) and enjoyed walking around checking out the shops, the canal, and the lock system. The canal and the locks were of particular interest to my brother and sister-in-law because it isn’t something you see much in the U.S. They even got to see one of the narrow boats go through a lock. I loved to see there was a crowd gathered to watch the boat pass through – oh, the excitement of life in a small village!

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I’d definitely recommend Hardcastle Crags (and of course, Hebden Bridge) for a nice day out in the Calder Valley. The day was a great reminder to explore the beautiful places close to home as well as those further away.

Celebrating the 4th of July in the UK

I logged into my WordPress account and saw that I had started this blog post right after the 4th. I had completely forgotten about it, but I still wanted to share it, even if it is a bit late.

The week of the 4th of July brought absolutely beautiful weather to us in England. It was glorious! The sun lover in me was in heaven. I actually felt like we were on holiday sitting out in our garden, enjoying juicy watermelon, and taking in the view. It was absolutely wonderful and my mood got a much needed boost from the sun.Abersoch1

With the weather as good as it was, we expected it would carry on through the weekend, so we made plans to go to Abersoch for some family time and to have our own little 4th of July celebration. The weather unfortunately cooled off, which for me was disappointing, but I am sure for the rest of the UK was a dream come true.

However, we still managed to enjoy our weekend by the sea, even if the weather wasn’t as great as we were hoping it would be. We filled our weekend by walking to the village and to the beach, watching our girl explore the beach and collect every seashell she could, and eating delicious burgers and sausages hot off the grill. If we couldn’t be in the U.S., then this was the next best thing, and it was honestly a perfect way to spend the 4th of July. As I told Richard, “It just doesn’t feel like the 4th without a barbecue by the beach or a pool.”

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Oddly, the 4th of July is one of the U.S. holidays I miss the most. I’m not sure if it is because it was always about spending time with friends and family or that it was the one day a year when everyone would come together to celebrate our country no matter their political affiliation. For me, it is a day about being proud of where you come from and celebrating that with those you love the most. Although we didn’t have any U.S. flags waving here in the UK, I definitely felt a sense of pride for my home country. I was glad I shared a relaxing 4th of July weekend with my little family, and I hope that in the not-so-distant future I can show both Richard and our girl what it’s like to celebrate the 4th in the U.S.

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Back to Sherwood Forest

A few weekends ago, we went to CenterParcs in Nottingham with Richard’s side of the family. It was the third time in as many years that he and I have visited the lovely holiday resort. This time though, we stayed in one of the Exclusive Games Lodges, and it was amazing! It was the perfect size as there were 6 adults and 2 little ones in our group. It had four bedrooms all with en-suite bathrooms, a full kitchen, dining area, and a lounge with fireplace. The best parts though were the games room with pool table and giant beanbag chairs, the massive outdoor hot tub, the sauna, and the steam room. It was nice to have so much space and not have to tip toe around since the little babes were with us and went to bed early.

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(I was so busy enjoying time with my family that I didn’t take many photos. However, I blogged about CenterParcs Sherwood Forest one other time and there are some photos there.) 

As I mentioned in my first post about CenterParcs from 2012, you are only permitted to drive through the resort during check-in and check-out times, which makes it a great place for families. Kids can ride bikes and scooters on the road or you can push a pram without constantly dodging cars. We enjoyed a lot of walking during the weekend bundled up against the cold.

On the day we arrived, we went for a swim in the Subtropical Swimming Paradise. The swimming area is really great with the pool, rapids, water slides, kiddie pools, and hot tubs. If you plan to spend the day swimming, there is a cafe inside as well, so you don’t have to worry about leaving. It is a fabulous set up. We had a great time swimming with our girl. I take her swimming once a week, so I think she loved having her daddy there because she did not stop smiling and giggling the entire time. We spent most of our time in the big pool, but also checked out the kiddie pool. She kept trying to crawl in the water and had us cracking up because her legs would float not allowing her to get far at all.

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That evening, after she went to sleep, Richard and I snuck away for a meal at Rajinda Pradesh, which serves Indian food. We’d eaten here last year and enjoyed it, so decided to make a date of it this year. If you go to CenterParcs, I would definitely recommend this restaurant. (And maybe stay away from the Viognier on the wine list…it was quite possibly the strongest wine I have ever had and I was feeling tipsy after a half of a glass!)

On Saturday, the three of us went for brunch at The Pancake House on the lake. I had a nice stack of American pancakes with a side of crispy bacon. Just like home! That heavy meal was followed by me taking a yoga class. It was nice to have a little bit of me time and get a nice stretch in during our weekend away. The afternoon was spent relaxing in the hot tub and hanging out around the lodge. That evening, all eight of us went for a meal together at Cafe Rouge. When we got back to the lodge, we played poker and Richard came out on top winning us a little pot of money!

Sunday was also relaxed with a game of bowling and more swimming. We ended the evening with a walk to pick up some takeaway and enjoyed our pizza on the sofa watching television. It was the perfect finish to an enjoyable and relaxing weekend with family.

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I really recommend CenterParcs to anyone. We’ve been with and without kids and had fun during all of our trips. It’s a nice place to getaway without having to go far from home. Definitely consider it as an option if you are looking for a weekend away within the UK!

Our Girl Turned ONE!

It’s hard to believe our sweet girl turned ONE in December!

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We love a good party in this house, so we went a bit wild for her 1st birthday party. I’ll be the first to admit that I am by no means a crafty or artsy, so I was scouring the internet months before for help with invitations and decor ideas. We knew we wanted it to be rainbow-themed because one of her favorite books is about the colors of the rainbow, but I needed some creative help. Richard, on the other hand, has this creative side that most people don’t see, so he had some great ideas as well. With the internet and my husband as guides, I knew the party would be excellent and it did turn out so well.

The morning of was a bit of a disaster (that I really want to describe with some not-so-nice words!) because we had put up a marquee (basically a big tent) with heaters in it in the back garden earlier in the week to allow people to mingle outside as well as inside. Richard and his dad even lined the inside of the marquee with colored Christmas lights and it looked wonderful and went perfectly with the party theme. Well, the night before the party, a terrible windstorm blew in and it was actually lifting the marquee up in the air! In the rain and vicious wind, Richard, my dad, and I were outside taking the sides down from the marquee. We can look back now and laugh, but at the time, it was quite frightening to think this tent could just fly away at any moment! Richard had big plans for a back wall full of rainbow balloons, so he was gutted when it wouldn’t work out. Truthfully, so was I, as it would have looked great.

Originally, I had wanted to order a cake, but we decided to take on the task with me baking and Richard decorating. I’m so glad that Richard convinced me that we should do this. We had so many compliments on both how they tasted and how they were decorated. A few people even asked where we had bought the cakes! Score one for Team Becky & Richard!

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We had hot snack foods for the adults and kids, but the shining stars of the snacks were the rainbow fruit and veggie platters. We were really proud of these. (It’s funny the things that make you happy, isn’t it?!) I love Jelly Belly jelly beans, so we bought some in each color of the rainbow to add to the food table.

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Our little lady played with her friends and had lots of attention showered on her. We could tell she was getting tired (she had refused to nap that morning), so we lit the candle on her cake and sang happy birthday to her. She looked around at all of the people and had a little smirk on her face. It seemed it was kind of clicking that this was all for her. After the singing she went straight for a nap in the middle of her party! Haha…the life of a toddler!

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Because we had two cakes, we cut one after she went for a nap and used the other for a little cake ‘smash’ later on in the day. We did that with just the grandparents there, which was really nice for them to see her for a bit without so many other people around. However, we failed to consider that the cake was iced with fondant making it near impossible for her to do any smashing! Instead, Richard had to cut some of it and she went for it. It’s fair to say this girl loves her sweets!

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It’s hard to believe that our gorgeous and clever daughter is already ONE! (Honestly, I feel like I can definitely be inducted into the ‘parent club’ now because I have actually heard myself say, “I can’t believe how fast she is growing up!”) She keeps us on our toes and always laughing. She adds joy to every day, and I love that I get to spend my days with her. We love to watch her explore and pick up on how things work. She chatters non-stop and is saying “hi” and “Daddy” and a million other words that we don’t quite understand yet. She loves to eat and especially loves it when Daddy shares bites of his breakfast (either cereal, bagels, or crumpets) with her. She is becoming strong-willed and won’t hesitate to let us know when she isn’t happy. (The first tantrum, which stemmed from me not peeling her satsuma fast enough, was definitely a bit of a shock. Wow!) We’re so proud to be her parents and love when she gives us kisses and cuddles.

It was really nice to have so many of our friends and family there to celebrate our little girl turning 1, so a big thank you to all of them for coming! I think we were surprised at how many people we could fit into our house and it was definitely cozy, so maybe we should also thank them for being so accommodating and not flinching when not everyone had a place to sit!

I’m so happy we threw a party to celebrate her birthday (because let’s be honest…it’s really for the parents anyway). It was the perfect way to wrap up her first year of life that has been such a fun and wild ride for all of us!

The Santa Special Steam Train

Yes, Christmas is long behind us, but I can’t not blog about the fun we had on the Worth Valley Railway’s Santa Special steam train. In the autumn, we had talked about looking into a Santa train ride, but it slipped my mind a few times. Then, my parents booked their flights to be here for two weeks in December, and we thought about how fun it would be to do this train ride with all four of the grandparents. I booked in October and they were only able to get all 7 of us on the 3:55 train out of Oxenhope. (If you are interested in this for Christmas 2015, I would definitely try to book in September when the tickets first become available. That’s our plan this year!)

At first, when I saw the nearly £17 (roughly $25) ticket cost for adults, I thought we should maybe give it a miss. But, that is because I thought the 10-mile journey with stops in Keighley and Haworth would be on a train similar to the commuter trains with the TransPennine Express. Oh, how wrong I was! This gave Richard a good laugh and he set me straight by explaining that this was actually a proper old-fashioned steam train, I became extremely excited. Honestly, I could not wait for the 13th of December!

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We arrived at Oxenhope station and it felt so Christmas-y — from the old-fashioned gas-lit lamps lining the platform to the ‘Winter Wonderland’ they had set up in the railway museum. Of course the moment we had to step outside to wait for the train, the rain started, so we kept the little lady covered as best we could and the rest of us anxiously awaited the train’s arrival with the hope of warmth once aboard.

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It was so neat to see the proper steam engine pull into the station (because of the rain I didn’t catch a clear photo of the engine), and it felt as if we had been transported back in time. We boarded our carriage and found our seats then were greeted by the jolliest woman who made sure we were comfortable and ready for a good time. I loved that the carriages had the original seats, upholstery, and luggage racks. Those details along with the Christmas decor really added to the festive nature of the train ride.

Soon, we were on our way and prepped for what was to come – a visit from Rudolph, Scrooge, and Santa and his elves. Well aware that we had a one-year old with us, the hostess on our carriage was kind enough to let us know there would be loud singing once Scrooge arrived as we needed to scare him off with our Christmas cheer in the form of Christmas carols. We would quite certain it wouldn’t bother our girl, but it was nice of her to forewarn us just in case. As we suspected, she was completely fine with the additional noise plus she loves music, so I think she enjoyed watching us sing along.

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I can’t remember at exactly what point they came through the carriages with mince pies and sherry for the adults, but that was a big hit with our parents…particularly our mothers who seemed to let that sherry go right to their heads! Hilarious. Our little lady surprisingly loved the mince pie. They do have a very specific (and almost spicy) taste to them, but she finished one on her own!

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Soon enough, Santa came through the carriage with an entourage of elves. It was a pretty impressive operation to ensure that each child received a gift appropriate to their age. Our girl got a great gift set that came with a book about an eskimo and a stuffed penguin like the one in the book. She LOVED the penguin!

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We were so happy with the entire train journey and our sweet girl seemed to enjoy it, especially the food part of it! We’re definitely planning to make this an annual tradition and look forward to making more memories on the Santa Special steam train in years to come!

To Londontown We Went

Last year, during the last weekend in October, Richard and I went to London for our last getaway before our baby was due. This year, unknowingly, we booked the same weekend for the three of us to travel down south for a couple of days in our favorite city. In 2013, we had no idea what we were in for with a baby on the way, but I do know we hoped she would be an easy traveler and that she would just go with the flow. So far, she has proved to be an awesome addition to our travels – both near and far!

We had no real plans for our time in London aside from taking her to Hamley’s and Harrods to check out the toys. She is extremely curious about everything around her, so we were both excited to see how she would react to these two places full of sensory overload. If we had to do it again, we would skip Hamley’s. It was just too crowded.

Harrods toy department, on the other hand, was really enjoyable and just the right amount of hectic. It probably also helped that we got there just as it opened on Sunday, so we avoided a lot of the normal tourist onslaught. Our little lady loved looking around at everything there was to see, and we loved gawking at some of the crazy (expensive) gifts on offer. We actually found her Christmas gift there, which we think she will really enjoy.

After we left the toy shop, we wandered around the children’s clothing department and happened to notice The Disney Café. It was lunch time, so we thought we would give it a go. We really enjoyed it! The food was top notch, which we had expected from a restaurant in Harrods. The girl had a ham and cheese toastie cut into the shape of Mickey Mouse, Richard had a savoury crepe, and I had the mini cheeseburgers (and I was pleasantly surprised when the server asked how I would like them to be cooked). And, imagine my surprise when Richard ordered us a bottle of wine! It was such a nice lunch, and we loved watching our girl (wearing Minnie Mouse ears!) chomp away at her toastie whilst looking around at all of the older kids. She was in her element for sure!

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After leaving Harrods we walked towards Hyde Park Corner to Buckingham Palace and on to St James’s Park. We stopped in St James’s Park because it was time for the girl to be fed. (Yes, she had just eaten, but sister needed her milk!) I plopped down to feed her underneath some fabulous towering trees. When she finished I sat her next to me in the leaves and she was amazed by them. She examined them and played for awhile, and it was fun to just see her taking in the textures and the colors of the leaves. Richard would pick up bunches of leaves and throw them up in the air, which absolutely amused her!

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After leaving the park, we headed to Westminster and crossed the Thames at Westminster Bridge to the Southbank. There is a carousel on the Southbank, so Richard took the girl for a ride. She was unsure when they first sat down on the horse, but after a thorough inspection, she smiled big whilst pointing directly at me stood along the side. (Someone had to look after the pram and our shopping!) She seemed to absolutely love the ride, and Richard laughed the entire way around. And me? I could not stop smiling! I love those unexpected moments that we share when we are all together.

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After the carousel ride, we decided it was time to call it a day (plus we had to get back to watch the Strictly Come Dancing results), so we set off walking back to Islington. Once we were near the hotel, I happened to spot an advertisement for Chipotle, and it was all I could think about since it has been ages since I’ve had anything remotely resembling decent Mexican food. We located said restaurant and grabbed takeaway to enjoy in the comforts of our hotel room. The day ended with us plopped on the bed in comfy clothes chowing down on delicious burritos and chips and salsa.

That weekend was made up of so many little moments that were completely unplanned. We smiled a lot and laughed hard and introduced our daughter to a number of new places and experiences. I don’t think either of us could have anticipated how much joy we would get from observing our daughter absorb the world around her. It was great to slow down and really watch her take everything in. This trip allowed us to look back on where we were a year ago – full of wonder about what our daughter would be like and what we would be like as parents – and realize that we are living our life as a family of three in the best way that we know how. And, in my mind, that is a great way to be.

I’m hopeful that we now potentially have a new family tradition of spending an October weekend in London! (What do you think, Richard?)

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Frightwater!

Growing up, although Halloween was enthusiastically celebrated by my friends, it was never a holiday that excited me. However, as our girl is growing up in England where Halloween is more of an up-and-coming holiday, a certain part of me is keen to make sure she has the opportunity to experience many traditions that I grew up with in the US. She’s still a bit too young to understand exactly what is going on, but this past Saturday, we ventured to Lightwater Valley Theme Park in Ripon for some Halloween festivities.

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The theme park transforms into Frightwater Valley for the Halloween weekend. A lot of the park is decked out in Halloween decor and the staff contribute to the atmosphere by dressing up or painting their faces. There are a number of additional Halloween-themed attractions just for the weekend like the Live Scare Maze and the UV Monster Puppet Show. A few of the attractions didn’t open until after 3 PM and some aren’t suitable for an 11-month old, so we couldn’t check them all out, but we could still enjoy some of the walks and the actors that took their roles seriously as zombies/creepy people.

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Richard and I are major wimps when it comes to scary movies, haunted houses, and the like, so that part of me is glad we weren’t able to ride the haunted train and venture into the haunted forest maze, but I do wish we could have experienced them so I could give a proper review of all of Frightwater. Maybe next year! It was funny to watch our girl look at some of the Halloween decorations and the actors walking aimlessly with blank looks on their faces. You could tell she was trying to process it all, but it just wasn’t making sense!

DSC_0027The Lightwater Wheel

DSC_0003Black Widow’s Web…maybe next time!

We were happy to be able to experience Lightwater Valley as a family and to take the little one on some of the rides. We enjoyed the Lightwater Express train ride around the park, Eagle’s Creek Farm in which you ride in tractors around a little farmyard with a variety of animals in it, and the Lightwater Wheel. We did plan to take her on some more rides, but when Richard went to take her out of her stroller, she was completely zonked out! So, that idea was short-lived and instead we walked around and enjoyed the day. Richard did ride The Ultimate, which is Europe’s longest roller coaster, and thought it was great. We also enjoyed wandering through Lightwater Valley Falconry, which is home to a number of birds of prey and some reptiles, ferrets, and rabbits as well. It was amazing to see some of these gorgeous birds up close.

IMG_5489Enjoying the Lightwater Express!

Of course, my American mind pictured a massive amusement park similar to Six Flags or Busch Gardens right off the motorway, but I was pleasantly surprised at the manageable size of Lightwater Valley and its beautiful rural setting. As a theme park, it is a good blend of rides that has something for everyone from our young daughter to those seeking something more thrilling. Being spread across the gorgeous grounds makes it feel as if you aren’t constantly fighting crowds. We really lucked out with the weather whilst we were there, and it must have made for a great last weekend of their regular season.

LVLake

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I’d definitely recommend Lightwater Valley for a family day out. I’d also recommend what I saw of Frightwater. Lightwater Valley is closed for the season, but they do have a few special event weekends coming up, such as Meet the Gruffalo and the Santa Experience. It is a place to definitely keep in mind if you are looking for a day out with the family!

Our tickets to the park were kindly provided to us by Lightwater Valley for the purpose of review. All of the opinions are honest and all photos are my own. I promise to always share my honest perspective when doing reviews. Don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions. Big thanks to Lightwater Valley for a fun day out with my two favorite people!

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IMG_5497She definitely had fun!