Monday 31 October 2011

Knitted Ugg boots and pretty dresses

After this post, my sister was kind enough to pass on to me a bag full of lovely little girly dresses. Most of them are a bit big for the moment, but this one fits perfectly and Mia looks gorgeous! And how better to complement the outfit than a beautiful pair of knitted Ugg boots, knitted by Grandma?

Knitted baby Ugg boots

Knitted baby Ugg boots

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! Harry has a Halloween party at nursery today. He wasn't very keen on dressing up, but we managed to persuade him into an outfit of sorts. He told us that he wanted to be a pumpkin, but by this he meant that he wanted to put an actual pumpkin on his head. Luckily we have a pumpkin hat which he was satisfied with.

Halloween with a toddler

We carved a pumpkin at the weekend with help from Grandma, and he decorated a bag himself which was a kit from Tesco. Talking of Tesco, I may have mentioned that we live very close to a very large Tesco, where we seem to find ourselves on a regular basis. Well they have set the standard on what is to be expected for Trick or Treaters locally with their large multipacks of sweets and chocolates on big displays throughout the store. I'm not sure if we'll open the door tonight, unfortunately we live in an area where we are more likely to receive threatening teenagers in hoodies than sweet little toddlers, and we also don't want the ringing of the doorbell to mess with the delicate procedure that is bedtime.

Halloween with a toddler

Have fun if you're celebrating!

Sunday 30 October 2011

Littlehampton Bonfire 2011

We've made it to Littlehampton Bonfire for the last few years. It's really good, because it always seems very child friendly, or at least more so than larger local celebrations like Lewes. It does seem to get busier every year, but we always manage to find somewhere to stand where there aren't too many people and we can get a good view of the procession. There are also lots of other small children, so everyone is considerate of you with pushchairs.

The procession started at 7.45am, so we aimed to arrive in Littlehampton at 7pm. Unfortunately we had a bit of a directional mishap and ended up at the wrong end of town, so we had to take a bit of a detour to get to our usual parking spot. We aim to park to the east of the town centre on one of the roads off the seafront, and then walk in. This evening was a two pushchair trip, which was a bit of a mission but needed to be done.

Littlehampton Bonfire celebrations 2011

The procession is always very good, and you can tell that the participiants have put a lot of effort in. There were some lovely themed floats, and of course the local bonfire societies with their torches. Mia was wide awake through most of the procession just staring straight ahead, she was hypnotised by the lights. The highlight for Harry was the noisy steam traction engines.

Littlehampton Bonfire celebrations 2011

When it had finished we doubled back to a new viewing spot and watched the procession again, before heading down to the seafront to watch the fireworks. We had an excellent view. Mia stirred but slept through them, and despite our and his best efforts, Harry fell asleep halfway through. Maybe next year he'll last through the whole evening!

Ferring Country Centre

Although it's only down the road, we only discovered Ferring Country Centre very recently (we thought it was a garden centre). We had a flyer through the door for the Pumpkin Fayre and a spare afternoon, so we decided to pop along. We found a lovely little farm in among the houses, with lots of farm animals to see.

Child in a pushchair at a farm

Although Harry was very interested in the animals, he was particularly intrigued as to why there were tyres in all the pens.

Ferring Country Centre

He had a go on the duck fishing game, and although he managed to pull out all losing ducks the lady running the stall very kindly gave him a prize anyway. There was also an indoor play area with a ride-on tractor which was very popular and a farm set to play with.

Ferring Country Centre is an independent charity that promotes meaningful training and work experience for people with learning difficulties. It's located in the village of Ferring to the west of Worthing. Admission to the farm is currently (2016) £3 per person, babies under 1 are free.

Friday 28 October 2011

Rainy day party in the living room

Now that the weather has turned we need to find ways to entertain ourselves indoors. We did this a month or two back and Harry loved it, so we had another party in the living room! First we made hats for everyone and got out the party cloth to sit on:

Rainy day party in the living room

Then I got the food ready:

Rainy day party in the living room

No surprises what Harry went for first:

Rainy day party in the living room

Won't be long before Mia can have some too!

Rainy day party in the living room

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Decorate your own gingerbread man kit

I had a friend visiting for lunch today, so I let Harry choose some biscuits. He went for a decorate your own gingerbread man kit, which was tucked in at the side of the shelf in the supermarket. I've not bought one of these before, I must admit that I'm a bit snobby and see them as cheating (not that I've ever made gingerbread men with Harry, another one for the to do list). However I didn't have time to make any biscuits and I thought it might be a good incentive to get him home without stopping at the (waterlogged) playground on the way back.

I was pleasantly surprised. The icing was in a handy tube which he was able to squeeze out himself (although it was a rather garish shade of yellow which did cause some fingertip and worktop staining) and there were plenty of sweets. He quickly got the hang of what to do, and the biscuits themselves were rather yummy.

Child decorating gingerbread men

Child decorating gingerbread men

If anyone has a link to a tried and tested gingerbreadman recipe, I would love to give it a go!

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Trying to persuade the toddler to walk

We never bought a double buggy. It seemed a lot of expense for something that we wouldn't get much use out of. Harry was 2 1/2 when Mia was born, and we thought that it wouldn't be long before he was able to walk further, and we've still got enough pushchairs that they can have one each on a longer day out anyway.

If I'm taking the two of them somewhere that is a bit of a walk, I put Harry in the pushchair and Mia in the baby carrier. For shorter distances Harry walks, or I can put the carseat onto the wheels of the travel system, leaving a small step that Harry can hop on to if he's tired.

It's getting to the stage though where Mia isn't always happy in her carrier, and she's also getting a bit long for it. It's fine when she's asleep, but when she's awake she can be a bit grumpy and wriggly. I'm trying to persuade Harry to walk a bit more often to get him used to it.

Trying to persuade a toddler to walk

So today we went for a nice autumn walk to the playground and to collect acorns. He managed to walk most of the way, just hopping onto the pushchair for the last bit home. Can't believe how lovely the weather has been this autumn!

Trying to persuade a toddler to walk

Sunday 23 October 2011

Dressing like a girl

I recently posted about whether you could dress a girl in her brother's old clothes. I've been thinking about clothes a lot lately because we're having a bit of a clearout and I've been bagging up the baby clothes for the charity shop. Mia is also starting to finally outgrow her 0-3 month clothes (she's nearly 5 months old!) and I've been sorting out clothes for her in the next size up. We've been lucky enough to receive some really lovely little outfits, so I'm making the effort to dress her up properly, rather than just being lazy and popping her in jeans and a top.

Some of her dresses are a bit summery, so I've been layering them up with vests and a cardigan, as well as faffing about with tights. It's a bit undignified though for girls when they are wearing a dress and you put them in the baby carrier, pushchair or car seat with a strap between their legs. Just another one of those things that never crossed my mind with a boy. I imagine that the dresses will cause problems later when she starts to crawl as well.

Baby girl wearing spotty dress

It won't be long before I need to start thinking about hair bobbles, can't wait!

Saturday 22 October 2011

Southwater Country Park

Another lovely day today, and as we hit the after lunch slump we knew that it was time to get out of the house. We drove up to Southwater, a nice slow drive to provide an opportunity for Harry to have a quick nap. I haven't been to Southwater Country Park for a long time, although I have been quite familiar with it in the past from canoeing with the Scouts, raft building with the Guides and hanging out in the playground as a teenager. It was pretty much how I remembered it (although smaller, isn't that always the way!).

Southwater Country Park, West Sussex

Harry loves playgrounds and this one was perfect for him, with a nice long slide and lots of climbing opportunities.

Southwater Country Park, West Sussex

Mia was very contented in her carseat/wheels combo and didn't make a peep. The path around the lake was nice and smooth, perfect for walking with a pushchair. There is also now a lot more fencing than I remembered. It's good in some ways because it stops little ones hurtling off into the lake, but it did feel a bit claustrophobic. The jetty out into the lake is also now closed off unless you are taking part in watersports, perhaps too many people fell in. We forgot to take bread for the ducks which Harry wasn't very impressed about, something to remember for next time.

Southwater Country Park, West Sussex

I always say it, but we do all feel better for getting out in the fresh air!

Friday 21 October 2011

Weaning dilemmas

Mia is now four and a half months old. At this age, Harry was on three meals a day, both baby rice and homemade fruit and vegetable purees. We started weaning at 17 weeks because he was sleeping so badly and was grumpy almost constantly. I assumed it was because he was hungry. Of course, weaning didn't make any difference at all to either his sleep or his general demeanor.

I've barely thought about weaning Mia. She doesn't seem ready at all, and I can't believe that I was shoving spoons into Harry's mouth at this age. Looking back I wish that we had waited, I just really thought that it was what he needed, and I was struggling.

The good thing about weaning early was that it meant that we got into a routine. I was tailing off the breastfeeding, so we got into a routine of bottle, breakfast, bottle, lunch, bottle, tea, bottle, bed, then I think two bottles at some point in the night. It meant that I could space the feeds out a bit. I'm still breastfeeding Mia, and she does feed very frequently. Another thing was that I could get him used to the fruit and vegetables before introducing all the other foods that he could have at six months.

In my mind, weaning goes along with stopping breastfeeding, and I'm not sure I'm quite ready for that yet. Unlike Harry, Mia actually seems to like breastfeeding, and I'm managing a lot better with it myself. I must admit that there is some laziness involved. If she's a bit grumpy it's very easy to pop her on for a feed, even though hunger might not be the problem. It's also handy to be able to feed her to sleep, or at least calm her down. I am starting to feel though that the breastfeeding might come to an end soon.

This time round I will probably go for more of a baby led weaning approach, especially as I'm preparing food for Harry that she could eat too. I expect that I'll still be faffing about with the blender and ice cube trays though, as I like to know that something is going in.

So I'm torn between craving that routine (and hopefully a bit more sleep, although I know from experience that is by no means guaranteed even if it does mean help with the night feeds) and doing what I know is best for Mia, which is waiting until she is 6 months old. I'm not sure that we'll last quite that long, but for now I think we'll carry on as we are.

Baby eating yoghurt from a spoon

Thursday 20 October 2011

So many toys, and tips on how to organise them

Like most parents, we have a lot of toys. They are so cheap, so plentiful, and we are always being tempted by sales. I do put things aside for Christmas, birthdays and holidays, but with Harry having his birthday in January, we often end up giving him things throughout the year. We haven't actually bought any toys for Mia yet, as we have plenty of Harry's old ones for her age. But it's only a matter of time before a whole new range of toys make their appearance.

I'm a big believer in toy rotation. Harry gets bored very quickly, but if something is always on view, it just doesn't get played with. If I pull out something that he hasn't seen for a while, it's like a new toy. It's also great to have a spare box of toys stashed away, ready to pull out at one of those tricky moments. 

This is how I organise the toys:
  • If possible, collect all the toys together in one place.
  • Remove any that are broken and either fix them or throw them away.
  • Make sure that all the pieces are still there.
  • Remove any that are no longer age appropriate and give them away to friends or charity.
  • Group like items together. If there are several very similar toys it's another opportunity to consider how many really need to be kept. 
  • Divide into three or more boxes.
  • The boxes should not be over stuffed with toys, it should be easy to see what is in them and to access what's inside. Keep one box out to be played with and move the others out of sight.
  • Rotate the boxes when the toys out are no longer being played with. This might be every week or less often, depending on what else is going on. If it's been a rainy few days this will be more frequently. 
  • Repeat these steps from time to time as the children grow up.

I also always try and put away one toy before another comes out, particularly with toys with lots of pieces like Duplo or the train set.

Part of me would love to have a really pared down home with very few toys, something like this. But I just don't think that is particularly realistic. Do other people feel like they are drowning in toys?

Friday 14 October 2011

Can a little girl wear her big brother's old clothes?

When Harry was born, we had some good friends that passed on their outgrown boys' clothing to us. He had more clothes than he could ever wear, and they were all good quality and in great shape. Being the first, he was also given lots of lovely new clothes as gifts. As a result, we hardly ever had to buy him clothes, and felt rather indulgent when we did.

As he grew out of his clothes, I kept them all, even the ones that he never wore, all bagged up in the loft. You never know whether the future might bring you twin boys!

Mia as a baby wore the same vests and sleepsuits that Harry had. She didn't even need to wear the blue ones, we had enough neutrals to last. We received a few lovely pieces as gifts too. When she got to the age where she couldn't just wear a sleepsuit all day, I went through all the bags to pick out clothes to pass on to her. 

Obviously in theory she could wear all of Harry's old clothes, but I like to dress her so that people know she's a girl. So most of the tops were out, as they were all either blue or had pictures of cars and diggers on. I kept vests for underneath and sleepsuits, and I did keep many of the trousers. I tend to go for less girly girl clothes anyway, so I did find plenty of tops that match with jeans and tracksuit bottoms. There wasn't as much that I could use as I had hoped though.

Havings said that, boys' clothes are definitely easier to pass on to a girl than girls' clothes onto a boy. Girls' clothes all have little embroidered motifs, frills or pink stitching, there is nothing neutral. Even the plain tops that I bought have heart shaped buttons and are gathered in little ruffles around the neckline.

When I went out shopping for new clothes for Mia though, I was completely overwhelmed. Most of our clothes come from the supermarkets, and it's not unusual to find half an aisle of boys' clothes, alongside several aisles of girls' clothes. There are so many different combinations as well for girls, particularly on the bottom - tights, socks, leggings, long skirts, short skirts, dresses, dungarees, playsuits, trousers, shorts...There is even such a wide range of colours and prints that you need to think carefully about which pieces will co-ordinate together. Assembling a wardrobe for a boy was much easier, everything is either blue or brown, and it all matches!

For the moment Mia has far fewer clothes than Harry does. I am certain that this will change as she gets older. And Harry's clothes that I didn't keep? I'm currently keeping the baby boy section in my local charity shop very well stocked!

Baby girl wearing her brother's clothes

Mia's a little pirate!

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Songs we sing to our children

Like lots of mothers-to-be, when pregnant with my first I spent lots of time relaxing in the bath listening to classical music. Funnily enough, I didn't manage it quite so often with the second! I did have another couple of songs which I liked to play to baby during pregnancy. The first was the (highly unsuitable for children) Kanye West - Stronger ("I need you to hurry up now, 'cos I can't wait much longer") and Gabriella Cilmi - Nothing Sweet About Me ("Tell you something that I've found, the world's a better place when (you're) upside down").

When my babies were small, I spent a lot of time marching them up and down trying to get them to sleep (yes, I know, rod for own back and all that). I needed songs with a fast beat that could be repeated as necessary. A particular favourite was "What Shall We Do With The Crying Baby?" to the tune of "Drunken Sailor". Verses included classics like "Walk him up and down 'til he stops crying", "When will you ever go to sle-ep" and "I'm not doing this when you're 18". I also created "The Baby in my Arms" to the tune of "The Wheels on the Bus". Typical verses were "Mummy with the baby walks up and down", "The baby in my arms goes waa waa waa", The baby in my arms won't go to sleep" and so on.

Of course I do sing more traditional songs with my children too. We have a brilliant CD with a mixture of classic nursery rhymes, modern songs and even television theme tunes. A copy lives in the car and has been known to prevent total meltdown, or at least delay it momentarily. Harry loves "The Wheels on the Bus" and remembers an extraordinary number of verses, as well as those he makes up himself. Still early days for Mia, but she seems to be developing a fondness for "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Once I Caught a Fish Alive" with accompanying actions (counting on fingers, signing for fish and a little nip to the nose with the bite!).

What songs did you sing to your child?

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Baby and toddler groups

Opinion among mums seems to be divided on baby and toddler groups. Some people love them and others can't see the point. I've just got back from my local one, and I have to say that it's brilliant. It costs £1, for that I get a drink, Harry gets as many biscuits as he can eat, and he gets two rooms full of toys that we don't have at home. It gets us all out of the house for a couple of hours and fills a morning. I get to talk to other grown ups and he gets to learn how to share (or not) with little ones of all ages.

Of course there are some things to avoid. I never ask anyone how well their baby sleeps, and I change the subject if someone asks me. There are also many other topics best left alone - toddler eating habits, potty training, bedtime battles. But it's nice to talk to other people about what they've been up to or local places to visit.

Although I've made some lovely friends, to be honest I don't really go for the conversation. I'm quite happy to sit on my own in the corner. The main reason I go is to give Harry (and now Mia) something different to do other than sitting around the house. And it's also a way for him to play with ride-on toys, play kitchens, ball pits and slides, without them cluttering up our house! Some people find that other mums can be cliquey, but at least you know that you've always got your child to talk to!

If you live locally (Worthing) and are interested in visiting a really friendly local group, get in touch!

Child playing with a dry pasta table

Sunday 9 October 2011

Bathing baby, 1940's style

I've got a small collection of old magazines and I was having a look through them recently. It was interesting to see that much of the advice on raising babies was similar to that given today. I expected it to be quite different.

Well, apart from the fact that the diet of my four month old is sadly lacking:

Clippings from old parenting magazines

Woman's Weekly, Number 2405, December 7 1957

Although baby food now is sold for babies 4 months old, so it's not really that different. The only difference now is that now the manufacturers have to pretend that no-one is actually giving a baby solid food before six months (and I'm not criticising here, because we weaned Harry early).

Even the advice on how to bathe baby was very similar to that given today (click to enlarge):

Clippings from old parenting magazines

Woman, No. 158, June 8 1940

Not that I am quite so diligent when it comes to bathing Mia, I tend to just plonk her in and wash her all at once. But did people really used to sew the baby into the nappies?

Saturday 8 October 2011

I must go down to the sea again...

Welcome to the next post in my beaches of the UK series. We do seem to have been spending a lot of time at the beach lately, and today we went to Littlehampton. Littlehampton beach is good because it has more sand and is much better for building sandcastles that Worthing. It's also fairly easy to park along the roads out of season and there's a small pier and boats to see. It's pretty much shut up at this time of year though, although there were plenty of people about.

Littlehampton Beach, West Sussex

I hope that it's not just us, but most of our outings with the little ones seem to begin and end with screaming. Now that Mia is here there's a fair chunk of screaming in the middle too. We had a number of pitying looks today as Mia screamed and screamed in her carrier as we walked about desperately trying to calm her down. Other people always assume that crying babies are hungry, but I'd just given her a big bottle of expressed milk, so I knew that she'd had a good feed. I still tried to feed her anyway and she wasn't interested. She's just not a fan of the beach at the moment.

Harry on the other hand makes a big fuss about getting ready to go out, and then when he is out he never wants to come home. I must admit that we nearly gave up getting him out the door today, but he really did have a good time when he was out, he always does!

Littlehampton Beach, West Sussex

I like walking up and down the beach and looking for interesting shells in the pebbles. I even found some sea glass today. There was another lady walking along looking just as intently through the pebbles, I would have loved to know what she was looking for! Although she probably wondered the same about me!

Littlehampton Beach, West Sussex

Friday 7 October 2011

Living by the sea in Worthing

I do love living by the sea. For some reason it's the seaside out of season that appeals to me more. Something about a deserted, windswept beach with everything closed up. Yesterday I made a promise to myself to get down to the beach more often, so today I packed up the bag, the baby and the toddler and headed down there. It's a good half hour walk and hard work with the pushchair and carrier, but I always feel glad that I made the effort.

I timed our visit for when the tide was out, in the hope that there might be some sand. Unfortunately it didn't really live up to the expectations set by the sand Harry played in on our recent Welsh holiday. It was a bit wet and cold and not really up to being made into sandcastles. Harry still managed to amuse himself for a while though with his spade and digger while I walked about trying to get Mia to stop screaming and go to sleep.

Living by the sea in Worthing

Baby asleep, we walked over to the rocks and clambered about on those for a bit. Although it was overcast, it was actually quite warm and not too windy.

Living by the sea in Worthing

They both slept all the way back, and then Harry continued to sleep at home in the pushchair, so it must have worn him out! We all do better from some fresh sea air.

Living by the sea in Worthing

Easy Madeira Cake

I woke up the other morning with a craving for Maderia cake, so I had to get one in the oven. Here is my easy recipe, handed down from my Mum. I use a cup measure from my breadmaker, but a small mug would do it.

4 oz margarine
1 cup caster sugar
2 cups self raising flour
2 eggs
1 tablespoon milk

Mix all the ingredients together. Place in a 7" lined tin and bake at 180 degrees (lower for fan assisted ovens) for just under an hour. I mix by hand, if you use an electric mixer it will probably rise a bit better.

Easy madeira cake recipe

Delicious when still warm. The best bit is the crust!

Easy madeira cake recipe

You can make the cake more fun by dividing the mixture into several parts before putting into the tin. Mix a few drops of food colouring into each part, then layer the coloured mixtures into the tin. Rainbow cake! Or you can make the mixture in two halves, and in one half replace some of the flour with cocoa powder. Layer the two mixtures together in the tin to make marble cake.

Thursday 6 October 2011

Bringing the holiday home

We are very lucky to be able to get away on holiday several times a year. We've just returned from a week in a self-catering cottage in Wales and we had a lovely time. We did lots of fun things together as a family, and I started thinking about what  things in particular were so good about the holiday, and whether there was anything that we could carry on with now that we're back home.

Obviously there are some things that are exclusive to being on holiday. No going out to work, less housework, extra help with childcare, more meals out and more money spent on day trips and entertainment.

But lots of things are more to do with the change of routine. One thing that I like is that you only have what you need. We took very few toys and clothes, and it was easy to tidy up because everything had a place.

We also spent a lot of time outdoors last week. Obviously this is weather dependent, but unless it is actually raining there shouldn't be any excuse not to get out at least once a day, and even rain can be coped with if you've got the right clothing. We also spent a lot of time at the beach, and being that we live in a seaside town, we really should get to the beach more often.

We had a plan each day for the activities that we wanted to do, and we got on and did them. We also had our meals planned for the week based on a weekly shop.

So I've made a list of things that I hope to do.
  • Continue decluttering, and resist the urge to keep buying toys.
  • Get outside each day, even if it's only for a walk down the road. Easy to put off when trying to schedule around naps and grumpy toddlers, but it really does benefit everyone.
  • Get to the beach more often. To make it easier, I'll put together a bag with the beach toys, changes of clothing etc. that I can just grab and go. I also need to investigate tide times, as the local beach only has sand when the tide is out. 
  • Explore the local area - we are quite good at finding free local activities but it's always worth keeping an eye out for what is going on. We're hoping to move house soon, so there will be a whole new local area to explore.
  • Plan at least a few indoor activities for each day, even if just something simple like play dough or painting, so I've always got something ready to get on with.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Facebook or Twitter?

This is the first time that I've responded to the BritMums Blog Prompt of the week:

Facebook or Twitter? If you could use only ONE to promote your blog, which would you use and why?

This prompt inspired me because I'm new to blogging and even newer to promoting my blog. I also must admit that I'm coming at this from a slightly biased point of view, as I've only ever used Twitter to promote my blog. Although I do use Facebook, I've never even mentioned my blog on there.

The reason is that I use Facebook to keep up with friends and family, and to share news and photos. Most of my friends don't even know that I keep a blog.

On the other hand, on my Twitter account I follow only a handful of friends and family. I have never met the vast majority of the people that I am following, yet I follow people that I have something in common with. I love reading their stories and the interesting links that they share.

I don't promote every post that I write on Twitter, but I feel that I'm sharing my thoughts with people that can relate to them and are interested in them, rather than with people that I happened to share a classroom with some twenty years ago. I'm also a bit uncomfortable with so many people from my 'real' life knowing what I've been up to before I tell them!

So for me it's Twitter all the way!

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Croft Farm and Celtic Cottages in Pembrokeshire, Wales

We've just returned from a great family holiday at Croft Farm and Celtic Cottages in Pembrokeshire, Wales. We had such a good time here that I wanted to write a general blog post about all the fun that we've had, in case it might be helpful to anyone else looking for a farm holiday with little ones. We visited for a week in September/October 2011 with a baby (4 months) and a toddler (2 1/2). See my previous blog posts beginning here for more details about the attractions that we visited locally.

The Cottage

Talar Aur cottage at Croft Farm

We stayed in Talar Aur. It is a lovely cottage, with the unusual feature of having the bedrooms on the ground floor and living areas above. It is beautifully presented and absolutely spotless, with the fully equipped kitchen containing everything that we needed and more. It sleeps six, so we had plenty of space and the little ones could have separate bedrooms. The only additional thing that we would have liked was a hair dryer. We were able to request a travel cot and high chair, and stair gates were available. The cottage has a fully enclosed private garden and first floor balcony with views across to the swimming pool (to check how busy it is) and over the farm.

Most mornings we ordered baked goods from a local baker. If you place your order by 8pm, either by phone or text message, it will be delivered first thing the next morning. We tried many things from the menu and they were all delicious, varying from croissants and cakes to pizza dough.

Outdoor activities on the farm

We made the most use of the outdoor facilities, as we were very lucky with the weather. Every morning we went to feed the animals, and you could return to visit them whenever you wanted. We kept our scraps of food for the pigs, and there was sometimes a bucket of windfall apples to give to them.

There were always plenty of eggs to collect from the chickens which you can take away. The kitchen was well equipped with various cake tins and kitchen scales, so if you are a baker you might like to bring cake making ingredients.

feeding pigs at Croft Farm cottages

There is a large, fenced trampoline, football pitch and childrens' play area (currently being renovated but still usable). There is lots of open space for running about, and of course lots of animals to see.

on the trampoline at Croft Farm Cottages

playing football at Croft Farm Cottages

Indoor activities on the farm

The playbarn is a fantastic indoor space for people of all ages. It is open all the time, great if you have little ones that like to get up early. One end is fenced off for ride-on cars and trucks. There are three little pretend buildings (a cottage, sweet shop and garage), a slide, large sandpit and chalk board. At the other end of the barn is an air hockey table, football table and table tennis table. To one side are the hutches for the rabbits and guinea pigs, which you can go and visit whenever you like. When we visited, one of the rabbits had just had babies, which were so sweet!

playbarn at Croft Farm Cottages

playbarn at Croft Farm Cottages

There is also a second small indoor play area adjacent to the swimming pool. This has some soft play style equipment, a pool table and some Lego.

The swimming pool area is spotless and includes a sauna (which costs £1) and spa pool. It has showers but it was warm enough for us to just wrap in towels and walk back to the cottage. Below is the swimming pool viewed from our balcony.

swimming pool at Croft Farm Cottages

Attractions in the local area that we enjoyed and would recommend

We found plenty to do in the local area. The beaches are fantastic and the scenery is beautiful. As I mentioned though, we were very lucky with the weather, and these are mainly outdoor activities.

Castell Henllys Iron Age Fort
Gwili Steam Railway
Cardigan Island Coastal Park
Cilgerran Castle

Beaches - we visited Poppit Sands, Mwnt and Aberporth - all are within easy driving distance (albeit rather narrow roads) and have plenty of parking (although we did visit out of season). Poppit Sands has a large free car park with easy pushchair access to the beach. Mwnt Beach is accessed via steps down and the car park is owned by the National Trust, so there is a charge for non members.

I've written about the places that we visited in my previous blog posts this week starting here.

We would fully recommend Croft Farm for a family holiday, and would love to return!

Cilgerran Castle

Today we went to Cilgerran Castle which is just down the road.

Cilgerran Castle with a toddler

Cilgerran Castle with a toddler

It didn't take very long to look around, but Harry was fascinated. We climbed up the tower, then when we got down he wanted to go straight back up again.

Monday 3 October 2011

Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park

Today we went to Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park, near Cardigan. It kept us happily entertained for several hours. First we walked down towards the coast past several fields with different animals in. It was another lovely day, very breezy but not cold. We saw miniature horses, pigs, cows, geese, an emu, donkeys and a llama among other creatures. We were aiming for a view of the seals, but it was a bit rough going with a pushchair and although Harry did very well it was too far for him to walk. So we didn't see any seals but we did get some nice views of the coast.

Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park

Back at the top of the hill was a really good outdoor playground which included a large sandpit complete with a multitude of sand toys which Harry loved. Inside there were more indoor toys and puzzles in a large cafe area (we got the feeling that it was geared up for days when the weather is not quite so good). There was a lot to see and we thought it was very good value for money.

Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park

Later in the afternoon we returned to Poppit Sands. This time we set up camp next to the rocks, and Ram built a dam so that Harry had a small pool to play in. We went looking in the rock pools and found fish and shrimps, although unfortunately Peppa Pig has built up false expectations of what is commonly to be found in rock pools. Luckily Mia slept in the pushchair long enough for Harry to get himself nice and sandy.

Poppit Sands beach, Wales

Sunday 2 October 2011

Gwili Steam Railway, Carmarthen

Today we went to the Gwili Steam Railway near Carmarthen.

Gwili Steam Railway near Camarthen

It was coming to the end of the season so we were a bit limited with dates, and it so happened that today was a special 1940's day. This made the day a bit more interesting, with lots of people dressed up and extra entertainment. Harry eagerly awaited the arrival of the engine.

Gwili Steam Railway, Carmarthen

It had to go around the carriages and then connect from the other end in order to change direction, something which fascinated Harry and we saw him re-enacting with his train set later on.

Vintage steam train rides

Luckily it wasn't too busy, and we were able to get a compartment to ourself to avoid other passengers being inconvenienced by a restless baby.

Historical train carriage

It wasn't a very long journey, although for the price of your ticket you can ride the train all day. We rode up to  Danycoed Halt, where the train stops for the engine to go round to the other end. Then we got out at the halfway stop Llwyfan Cerrig Station where the train stopped for about half an hour. There was a bit of entertainment going on and Ram took Harry to look inside a Royal Mail train carriage. There is also a miniature railway there. Then we returned to the start point Bronwydd Arms Station. 

Child in old train carriage

It was a very pretty journey alongside the River Gwili and we had a really enjoyable time.