29 April 2014

A day out at Dunster castle- Minehead

In the Easter holidays we went on holiday to Butlins-Minehead, we have been there several times before and had yet to visit the beautiful Dunster Castle, just five minutes up the road, so this time we decided we would.

Dunster Castle is National Trust and while we are not currently members we probably will join at some point in the future. We paid £25 for a family ticket to the Castle and gardens and it was well worth it. We spent the whole day there.

As we walked up the hill towards the castle and through the gates the views are beautiful, you can see the sea and the Somerset steam railway train puffing from Minehead along the coast, the river is running alongside the green gardens and there was not a cloud in the sky (there was however a really cold wind being in the middle of April by the sea). The girls were in awe looking up at the gates as this was their first trip (of many I expect) to a castle, we went up some steps after a peek in the dungeon and came out onto the drive of the main castle (below).

While we were visiting they had a working dog and hawk display that was just starting as we arrived on the green, we sat on the gravel and kept the Little ones still and quiet for the half hour show with numerous Bourbon biscuits Mummy had hidden in the rucksack (thank goodness I had thought to pack a snack)! 

We then went on the castle tour, the Little ones were fantastic as we wandered around through the rooms. Little 1 walked with me and I was pleasantly surprised at the number of questions she had and how interested she was in the castle. I told her things as we went around pointing out things like who had lived there from the pictures, clothing, what each room was used for and what children wore and did, she was really interested, it was lovely. We lost Daddy and Little 2 when we were taking in the fabulous views from upstairs and waited for them when we got outside. Little 1 was really thoughtful as we waited while taking in the views.

Once we were reunited I attempted to take some pictures of the girls but they were not in the mood for posing! It was lunchtime by now so we headed back through the gardens to our picnic in the car, even though they were hungry the girls still took time to look at the flowers on the way down and collect some things to take home (2 sticks that when put together made an arrow, some petals, leaves and a big stone!)

We had our picnic, our first of the year sat on our trusty blanket, and played a bit of frizbee too. 

After lunch we headed back up to the castle and had a look around the gardens, there were old turrets to play princesses in, giant azalea trees to run around, meandering paths to run on, streams, bridges for pooh sticks, a pet cemetery, a look out, a well, the crypt, old stables and the maids kitchens to explore. The water mill was being renovated while we visited so we didn't get to look around there this time. We also visited the National trust shop and just had to have an ice cream.

Down at the bottom of the gardens there was a natural play area with logs to climb on, a couple of wooden musical instruments, a see-saw and some carved animals. Little 1 enjoyed jumping across the logs trying to keep her balance as Little 2 was helped along by Daddy.

The first time I took this picture (above) everyone was smiling happily but Little 1 had blinked and had her eyes shut in the photo so I asked her to smile again, she refused!! She just wanted to play on the logs.

Not the most flattering picture as the girls wanted to get off and I wanted a picture with me in it! We then let the girls lead the way through the gardens and played pooh sticks on the bridges.

We climbed to the top of the castle gardens and sang 'I'm the king of the castle' at the top. Little 2 was quite tired by now as she had not had a nap and the poor thing kept falling over on the stony path as she tried to run after Little 1 but she refused to give up and be carried.

We were there all day, the sun shone and the girls walked miles, it was a fantastic day out and we all enjoyed it. Well worth a trip of you are in the area.

27 April 2014

Planting Pansies

We have a small border out the front of our house, it isn't much only being about 4 foot by 18 inches but I like to make it look as if it is being cared for. We have 2 rose bushes in there and usually plant something colourful and seasonal in the front. With the chance of late frost dwindling we decided it was time to buy some plants.

We took a trip to the local garden centre which also involved an hour on the soft play, a cup of coffee (for me) and a chocolate brownie (for them) then the Little ones helped to chose some flowers. They went along the rows of plants looking at them intently and smelling them, we decided on some pansies as they were bright, hardy and would flower for a while.

A few days later after they had been sat outside the back door and were starting to wither I suggested to Daddy that he planted them (hee hee) with Little 1 while Little 2 napped. 

I recently bought a little gardening set for the Little ones, it came with a snail watering can, little apron, mini trowel, spade and fork and a couple of pots and wooden snail labels, we already had the children's kneeling pad.

Little 1 was keen to don the apron and get stuck in with Daddy.

First they pulled out the remains of the daffodils and the weeds that had popped up over the winter and then they got stuck in with the planting, Little 1 enjoyed digging the holes and popping the pansies out of the tray.

Patting down the last plant and watering them in (very thoroughly!)

She really enjoyed her little bit of gardening, I think I will get some sunflowers to plant in her pots and then out into the garden. What do your children grow?

25 April 2014

Grandad visits

The girls Grandad, my dad, lives a hundred miles away in Devon, we only get to see him every few months so when he said he was coming up on Good Friday the Little ones were looking forwards to seeing him. They are both at an age now where they remember him and talk about him, they can remember his visits and are pleased to see him when he arrives. (It wasn't very long ago the Little 2 wouldn't go near him and went shy all day and he barely got a cuddle). My brother,Uncle M, came around for the day too.

On this visit the sun was shining so we decided to go down to our local canal for a stroll and to feed the ducks, or in this case the lone swan! I sat the girls on the bank and they threw in their bread which was eagerly eaten.

There is a little cafe half way down the little walk we do, they are lovely in there and we always stop for a drink and a bit of their home made cake, this time Little 1 chose an icecream, we sat out in the garden and the Little ones played in the cars while we chatted and drank.

Once everyone was fed and watered we wandered along to the bridge and rowing club, we watched some boats passing, ducks, rowers and the weir. While the adults were busy taking in the scenery and making sure small people were away from the canal edge the Little ones got busy collecting things, (I will have to do a post on this soon as they do it every day) this time it was stones and the odd daisy.

We then posed for a few family shots, Dad, Me, Uncle M (My little brother, despite being nearly a foot taller than me but that is not difficult considering my height or lack thereof!) and the girls.

Little 1 wanted to take a shot and took this one first time, not bad for a 4 year old who has not used a camera before. 

We then walked back along the way we had come, Little 2 walked up to Grandad a few paces in front and slid her hand into his, the two of them walked wordlessly up the road, it was lovely to capture this moment of the two of them together.

The rest of the afternoon/evening was spent relaxing at home chatting and having tea while the girls played, after putting the girls to bed Grandad drove home. 

23 April 2014

A trip to Lynmouth

On our recent holiday to Minehead, Somerset we took a drive along the coast to one of our favourite places, the beautiful coastal town of Lynmouth.  I lived in Devon as a child and visited there many times on holidays over the years, each time I go back I think how beautiful the river there is and hope that our children will love it as much as we do as no doubt we will take them back there many times.

There is a walk up into the trees following the river all the way up the valley through Watersmeet, it is so beautiful with the river meandering through the trees and rocks with bridges to walk over and a tea room. I have not done this walk for years not since I was a child, it is pretty hard going as I remember it, we were planning to attempt a bit of it with the girls on our visit. 

The river looking up towards Watersmeet

The river flowing down through Lynmouth
We wrapped up warm, the sun was out but the wind was really cold, the girls wore body warmers and coats but it was still cold. We went for a wander through the town looking in the shops and galleries and bought a few gifts for relatives. We watched the famous cliff railway up to Lynton but didn't go on it this time.

We had taken a picnic with us so at lunchtime we headed over to the park and ate our sandwiches.

Then headed to a nearby cafe for coffee to warm up!! The Little ones however decided that ice cream would be more acceptable on such a chilly afternoon! They were enormous.

It just had to be mint choc chip for Little 1, her favourite.

Once we had warmed up and had a bit more of a wander we headed back to the park. Little 2 didn't want to do anything other than swing and Little 1 got daring on the rope climbing side of the climbing frame.

Sadly as it was so cold, Little 2 was tired having only had only had a brief nap in the car on the way there and we had promised the girls an evening swim back at Butlins we didn't make it on the walk this time but when we are back in the area and their legs are a little longer we will definitely attempt it. We had a lovely afternoon out in Lynmouth and I recommend a visit if you are in the area. 

Where are your favourite places to go? Where do you return time after time with your family?

21 April 2014

Easter nest cake

When I read about the Tots 100 and Center Parcs April challenge to make an edible Easter egg nest I thought it was just up our street, we love baking in this house and do it at least once a week. The Little ones love helping in the kitchen and making yummy things to eat especially cakes and biscuits.

Being fans of baking we decided to bake a cake rather than try a savoury option. We popped over to the Center Parcs blog and were inspired by their chief creative chefs tip- 
Twist multi-coloured liqourice laces together to create an edible nest, softening them in the microwave for 20 seconds to make them easier to mould.
We didn't fancy liqourice but we did have a box of chocolate mint sticks that we thought would make a great nest.

Little 1 and I got stuck in making our cake, we chose to make a normal 6 0z victoria sponge cake as our base knowing the topping was going to be very chocolatey. 

Little 1 helped draw around the tins and cut out the greaseproof paper then she did her favourite bit of greasing the cake tins, we weighed and measured out the ingredients and got stuck in mixing.

Once the cake was cooked and cooled we made up some vanilla butter icing and put it with a generous layer of jam in the middle of the cake and then covered the outside with more butter icing. I then cracked open the chocolate bits for the nest.

While I was flicking back through the camera to see what pictures I had taken for the post I caught this picture of Little 1 eating a sneak bit of minty stick!

Then when I asked her if she had taken some chocolate this is the guilty face I captured as she insisted she hadn't!

We then proceeded to try and make a nest using the minty sticks, it was a bit of a balancing act and ended up gluing some of it together with a dab of melted chocolate, we then topped it with a packet of mini eggs and finished it off with a ribbon.

Our edible Easter nest cake was definitely yummy and devoured by everyone who came to visit us over Easter.

This is my entry to the Center Parcs and Tots 100 April challenge. If I’m chosen, I would like to visit Longleat Forest’.