19 August 2014

A lake, a stroll and Little 1 hand feeds the ducks

A few days ago on Nanny's day off we jumped in the car and went for a ride. We ended up at a little lake we like in a small town called Newent, there are loads of really tame ducks there and the Little ones love to feed them.

First we stopped off in a little cafe for lunch. The one we go to is just by the lake, it is lovely and friendly, the food is homemade and very reasonable, there is a Christian atmosphere and while we are not religious it does not make us feel uncomfortable being there. They have toys and a stair gate upstairs and a playhouse, sandpit and toys in the gardens too so it really is great for the Little ones, we can have an uninterrupted coffee while they play.

After our lunch and play we ventured off to the lake, bread in hand to feed the ducks.

There are lots of ducks on the lake as well as giant fish, but I couldn't get any pictures of them as the water was just too muddy. The ducklings that were there last time we went have all but grown up now and it was lovely to see them in their newly emerging feathers.

The Little ones as always were very keen to feed the ducks and they must have been very hungry as they came out of the water running up the bank towards the girls when they spotted the bread.

Little 1 was really brave and held out her hand with the bread, the ducks took it from her hand, I was really proud of her, she didn't flinch and was beaming, she really has grown up and become more confident in the last few weeks as before she would have run away.

Little 2 however was a bit more cautious and hid behind her sister!

The girls wanted to have their picture taken on a bench that we had taken a picture on when we had been there previously but this time they had faces full of bread!!

Just as we were at the farthest point of the lake the heavens opened and it started to pour with rain, we hadn't taken our coats having left them in the car as I had said 'Nah it doesn't look like it is going to rain!' oops!

We hid under the trees and spotted a heron on the lake enjoying the shower. We went for a little wander up the paths leading off the lake staying in the trees but we still got dripped on by the big drips, it was quite fun actually.

Once it had stopped raining we continued our stroll back to the car with a bit of fish spotting and balancing on logs on the way.

I took this picture of the girls standing on a tree stump and later when I had put it on the computer I realised just how much the girls had grown over the summer, I can't believe how tall Little 2 has gotten, it wasn't long ago that she only reached her sisters shoulder!

After our walk we headed to a nearby garden centre for a coffee and a play on their play area as it was raining again. We had a lovely afternoon out and despite it being a bit rainy we all got lots of fresh air and some exercise too. 

17 August 2014

Ice cream cone cupcakes- well, nearly!

I have seen quite a few posts recently on bloggers making ice cream cone cupcakes and thought it would be something the Little ones would enjoy doing seeing as they love baking cakes and eating cake and ice creams too, I thought they would enjoy the novelty factor.

We haven't done much baking over the summer holidays, the girls have either been outside playing in the garden or we have been out and about having fun so it was about time we did some more. 

We usually bake from scratch as I think food tastes better that way and it is educational for the children, learning about how to cook, where food comes from and a bit of maths and science thrown in too. I came across a kit to make ice cream cone cupcakes when out shopping I bought it to give them a try and when it was drizzling one afternoon we gave it a go.

First the girls laid out the cones on a baking tray and then we got making the cakes. It was a simple packet chocolate muffin mix that they just needed to add water and whisk, then spoon into the cones. For a simple mix it made an enormous amount of mess as it was rather gooey and drippy and we all ended up covered in the sticky mix even me!

The cones are then baked in the oven for 20ish minutes until the cake is cooked, they rose up in the cones and did look quite like chocolate ice creams.

The next stage was to make the butter icing and pipe it onto the cakes to look like ice cream and decorate with sprinkles, the instructions said to add 60g of butter and 1 teaspoon of milk and mix. The Little ones were itching to do the topping after having waited for the cakes to cool were getting a little impatient. I may have inadvertently added a tablespoon of milk instead of a teaspoon and made the mix rather too runny, unfortunately I didn't have anymore icing sugar to hand to thicken it up. 

We went ahead and used it anyway spooning rather than piping the icing onto our cakes! Our cupcakes looked like melted ice creams that had been out too long but the girls said they tasted good!

We didn't really like the cone part of the cakes as they were bland and soggy (which could have been due to the runny icing), most of them ended up being eaten with a fork getting the cake out and leaving the cone and I did throw several away the next day as the cake was hard despite being stored in a tin. I was disappointed with this cupcake kit and have to say that I will stick to baking from scratch in the future.

N.B This was not a sponsored post.

14 August 2014

The easy way to remove a splinter from a toddler!!

I think splinters are horrid, I really hate getting them let alone prising the things out. As a parent I hate it even more when one of the Little ones gets a splinter, knowing what you are going to have to do to get it out, will it be ok if I just leave it to come out on it's own?? I hate having to be the mean guy and cause them pain, and yes it is always down to me to do the dirty work (Daddy disappears of radar in situations like that, he won't even cut their fingernails incase he hurts them!).

On holiday a couple of weeks ago Little 2 got some splinters. We were staying in a cabin on a farm, the cabin was surrounded by decking, grass and a fence, it was lovely and peaceful, the Little ones were quite happy in such a quiet place and played outside the double doors on the decking making nests from leaves and petals and playing really nicely with each other giving us a bit of time to sit and chat with Granny and Grampy who we were holidaying with. 

As it was warm we had the doors open a lot and the girls came and went, I insisted they wore shoes outside as I was worried about splinters from the decking. One morning while I was packing up a picnic the girls went outside and I remember calling to them to make sure they had shoes on, we were all busying around clearing up breakfast and getting ready for a day out so no one was specifically watching the children! I realised 5 minutes later that Little 2 did not have shoes on and made her put some on, later on that evening she complained that her toe was sore and when I looked I saw that my fear had come true.

On her big toe of her left foot she had 4 splinters, one almost a centimetre long from her toenail down to the bottom of her toe and 3 smaller ones to the side of it in a line (it was probably another bigger one that had broken on the way in) they were quite big, it was red and there didn't seem any obvious way to get them out. I couldn't see where they had gone in, she let me have a quick go at trying to get them out with my nail after a long soak in the bath but they were wedged and not going anywhere. 

I didn't want to upset her or cause her pain so pondered leaving them there but the skin around them was red and we needed her to be comfortable walking as we had days out planned for the rest of our holiday. Being on holiday we didn't have a needle or tweezers with us (not that I wanted to go down that route, it would have been a 3 man job, one to hold her top half, another to hold her legs/foot and me having to do the job and would have probably scarred her for life) but I did have antiseptic cream and plasters so we stuck that on for the time being. 

It was Granny that remembered something they had had for years in their cabinet at home, something Grampy had used a couple of times, a pot of stuff you can put on to draw them out. I was a bit sceptical but had a look on Google and found it, apparently it was something known as Magnesium Sulphate paste (better known as Epson Salts) that can be put on whitlows or boils etc and draws out the infection, apparently it also worked on drawing splinters out.

The following morning I headed to the little town chemist, the lad behind the till looked at me as if I was slightly mad when I asked if they had any drawing paste for splinters and mumbled something before asking the pharmasist, thankfully she new what I meant and I was soon back pot in hand.

For the next few days we slapped on a thick layer of the paste a few times a day and at bedtime and a plaster over the top and hoped for the best, the first morning the redness surrounding the splinters had gone and Little 2 said it didn't hurt anymore so if nothing else it was keeping infection at bay, the following day the splinter had moved closer to the surface and continued to do so but I couldn't get it out yet as the skin was intact over it, without tweezers, a needle and a co-operating toddler it was probably going to have to wait until we got home.

4 days after she had got the splinter (and still using the paste) we were still on holiday visiting relatives, at my aunties house and the girls were playing in the hot tub. When they got out I had a look at Little 2's toe, a miracle the end of the big splinter was sticking out of her toe and I was able to grab it quickly and pull it out with my nails, a quick flick with my nail over the other 3 and a pair of tweezers from my Auntie and the other 3 were out too, no tears, no pain and a smiling toddler who had let me do the whole thing without a whimper, result.

I will definitely be keeping Magnesium Sulphate paste in my medicine cabinet from now on, I thought you all might like to know about this amazing stuff too, it might save a few tears one day.

11 August 2014

Exploring Bicton Park

It has been a busy week and I have got a little behind blogging, so here it is the last post about our Devon holiday last week.

To finish off our holiday to North and South Devon we spent the day visiting my Dad (the Little ones Grandad), as it is his 60th birthday this week we decided to go out for the day and have a family day out. My brother, Uncle M, was with us too as he had spent the weekend staying with dad and we were taking him home with us squashed in between all the bedding on the back seat!! 

The weather was cool and showery so we looked for somewhere to go that had places to go inside if needed and I thought of a place that we used to go as children, Bicton Park Botanical Gardens, not far from Dad's house. 

It is a great place to take children and spend an afternoon, there are lots of themed gardens to walk, or in the case of the Little ones run, around. There are greenhouses and a shell house as well as a church (that had fresh flower displays on the day we went but my camera didn't like the lighting and all the pictures were rubbish!) and waterways and ponds too. 

Can you spot the Little Ones?

Nothing like sliding down a bank on your bottom!

As well as all the greenery and gardens there is a train that runs around the park and a great outdoor play area and indoor soft play too. We queued up for a train near the end of the afternoon but it was so full we couldn't get on and the last one was too late as we needed to be getting on the motorway to go home. We promised the Little ones that next time we go we'll have a ride on the train, they didn't mind too much, they hopped on the pedal tractors instead.

We had arrived at Bicton Park around lunchtime and decided to have a cooked lunch in the cafe as we would be travelling home over teatime and had no food at home having been away. The seating was in the orangery with views of the gardens and the big fountain, we tucked into jacket potatoes with cheesy beans which went down very well. Once we were fueled up we took the long route through some on the gardens to the outdoor play area.

There were big slides and small slides, swings, things to zip and balance on, a maze and little play houses too, as well as a mini golf course- I think that was all!!

As well as some of the normal stuff there were some different things too, this roundabout that the Little ones liked was one where you had to pedal to move it, Little 2 couldn't reach the pedals but enjoyed the ride anyway. There was a funky see-saw that you stood up on and shot each other into the air and a different looking u-shaped zip wire too.

After a couple of hours playing and strolling around we headed back up to the cafe for the Little ones to have an ice cream and Mummy to share a cream tea with Grandad as despite having spent the last 9 days in Devon I still hadn't had one and I do like a scone and cream!!
Full of ice-cream the Little ones went a bit loopy running around the flowers on the lawn and Little 1 wanted to pose for some pictures and who was I to stop her! She does love having her picture taken.

We then made a bee line for the soft play having not mentioned it to the girls until then, off came their shoes and they dived right in, along with Daddy of course. Little 1 headed straight for the balls and Little 2 dashed off to the highest point she could scale and ran around up the top.

We stayed there, at the soft play until it was time to go and bundled to tired sweaty children as well as Uncle M into the car. We waved goodbye to Grandad and set off for the long trip home. 
We had a fab holiday in North Devon with Granny and Grampy and a great weekend in Exmouth with family and friends. What have you done so far this summer?

7 August 2014

Having fun in the hot tub

After our week in North Devon we headed down to South Devon for a few days to visit family and friends before the drive back home. One of the highlights for the girls of our visits to Devon is a dip in the hot tub at my Auntie and Uncle's house.

First there was a bit of nail painting for the girls by my cousin, it was the first time either of them had their nails painted and pretty pinks and purples were chosen all around, then the girls donned their swim suits and went for a dip with Daddy.

There was having fun with the bubbles....

Floating and pretending to swim....

Splashing in the fountain and getting Daddy too....

Posing for pictures...

Lots of giggles, laughs and big smiles....


Lots of splashing about....

And much more fun and frolicing in the tub, my two water babies love being in the hot tub and happily play until they are well and truly wrinkly!

We had a great day visiting our family and the girls had fun too, they are still talking about their nail varnish and 'swimming'.