30 June 2016

A day of fun at the Needles on the Isle of Wight

When visiting the Isle of Wight you can't not visit the Needles, having enjoyed ourselves there 2 years previously, we headed there again on our latest holiday. With the girls being older and having Nanny and Uncle M with us to help hold Little 3 we were able to do all the things that the girls had been too young for/not interested in last time.

Everything at the Needles is paid for using tokens (the rides, golf, chair lift etc and they can be used in all the shops and food places too), currently £9 will get you a book of 12 tokens (worth £1 each) so it is better value to use tokens rather than cash. The brilliant thing is you can use your Tesco vouchers to get days out vouchers that can be used at the Needles and £10 of our Tesco vouchers bought us £40 of days out tokens which converted to 52 needles tokens, so we had plenty of vouchers to spend and it didn't actually cost us any money (apart from £5 for the car park).

It started off being quite a cool day with us needing jumpers and coats, the children wanted to go on everything which was fine as we had lots of tokens, under fives were free on most things too so even better we only had to pay for 3 of us. 

We all had a go or two on the carousel, all 5 of us including Nanny are in this shot! It was great that Little 3 could go on all the rides as long as he was with an adult.

Little 1 had a go in those floating ball things, she was on an elastic and ran and crawled as fast as she could to try and reach us standing at the end of the pool, she was shattered when she came out but thoroughly enjoyed it, having made it to high five us through the netting.

Lots more rides, fun, laughs and smiles followed throughout the morning until it was time for our picnic lunch.

After lunch the Little ones were desperate to make sand ornaments, using the various coloured sand collected from around the famous Alum Bay. This time Little 2 chose a cat and Little 1 chose a glass heart that they filled with stripy sand, they are proudly on display in their bedrooms alongside the ones they made 2 years ago, they really love their sand art.

A nap for Little 3 in the pushchair prompted a visit to the glass making area, it was really hot in there, we watched them making vases and paperweights this time and the Little Ones bought a few shaped glass nuggets with their tokens too.

A visit to the sweet making demonstration followed with everyone enjoying a few of the warm rock sweets afterwards. We popped Little 3 in the back carrier and took the girls to play crazy golf, they were remarkably good and it was a close call between them. 

We treated ourselves to icecreams and took the steps down to the beach, looking at the various rock and sand colours of the cliffs and the famous Needles landmark as we walked.

We spent quite a while on the beach playing with the stones and climbing the rocks. Little 3 wanted to eat everything he could get his hands on and the girls were in a good mood wanting to pose for pictures and saying 'look at me' as they climbed and smiled.

We suddenly realised it was nearly 6 o'clock having heard the last call for the chair lift and time to be getting going, the Little Ones were getting hungry and tired. Nanny and Uncle M used the last of their tokens to take the easy way up on the chair lift while the Little ones had a sudden burst of energy and raced them back up to the top.

We had another really lovely day at the Needles and it hardly cost us a penny using our Tesco tokens and taking our own picnic. The one thing I would say though is to get there early otherwise you will find yourself queueing a mile back up the road for the car park as it gets full quickly, luckily we knew this from last time and had got there when it opened, we still managed to stay all day, one of our best days out in a while.

27 June 2016

Little 1 reviews... Rent a Bridesmaid by Jacqueline Wilson

As a child I loved reading and read all sorts of books, one of my favourites was 'The Story of Tracy Beaker' written by Jacqueline Wilson. I read many a Jacqueline Wilson book after that, I loved the way she wrote, the fun illustrations in most of her books by the talented Nick Sharratt and the humour throughout her stories.

Little 1's reading is getting better and better, she is now on the last reading level before becoming a free-reader and has been going to the year above to get her reading books for a while now. We were recently offered the chance to read 'Rent a Bridesmaid' by Jacqueline Wilson. Knowing how much I liked her books when I was younger and that Little 1 would be able to read it with a little help from me we said 'Yes please' and eagerly awaited the book's arrival.

Rent a Bridesmaid follows the story of Tilly who dreams of becoming a bridesmaid one day, it is just her luck when Tilly's best friend Matty gets to be a bridesmaid and she hates anything to do with weddings. Tilly decides to do an advertisement offering her services as a bridesmaid but will anyone take up her offer?

One thing I have noticed about Jacqueline Wilson is that there is often another underlying storyline in her books and this one is no different. Along with the desire of wanting to become a bridesmaid Tilly is dealing with her mum running out on her and her father. Tilly is struggling with her feelings and trying to come to terms with the changes in her life. Her friendship with Matty, Matty's family and her understanding teacher and well as her loving father all help her through the difficult time.

This book is aimed at the 7-9 age bracket. Little 1 loved the bright pink cover and was pleased to see illustrations throughout the book too. I love the style of Nick Sharret's illustrations in the Jacqueline Wilson books, they always make the book look fun and interesting.

At 6 and a half Little 1 was able to read large chunks of this book herself without difficulty, the writing is large and clear with pictures throughout. Sometimes she read to me and sometimes I read to her, the book is a good length (360 pages) and it took us a week to get through. Little 1 was easily able to understand the story and understand what the characters were thinking and feeling.

The book did however raise a few questions as to why Tilly's mother had left and why did she not see her anymore, this prompted us to have a good chat about what sometimes happens to families and, as Little one is a sensitive little girl, reassure her that nothing was going to happen in our family. 

Little 1 says... ' I would love to be a bridesmaid one day and have a pretty pink dress like Tilly. I think this book is funny and I liked the story, the pictures were nice too. I liked doing the word search and spot the difference in the back of the book too'

N.B We were gifted our copy of this book for the purpose of review however all words and opinions are our own honest thoughts.

21 June 2016

A day of history at the IOW steam railway

While on holiday on the Isle of Wight we visited The IOW Steam Railway located on the east side of the island not far from where we were staying. The girls were excited about riding on the trains as they have enjoyed railways in the past. This time both girls showed much more interest in how the trains worked and were less apprehensive about the big engines and noisy steam so allowed themselves to get much closer.

We based ourselves at the main Havenstreet staion in the middle of the 10 mile route where all the main attractions were. As it was half term the train was running all day and with our tickets we could hop on and off as much as we liked. Either end was a station that you could get off and have a little stroll through the woods while you waited for the next train or have a picnic or you could just stay on and go back again.

After arriving we checked out the cafe for coffee and cake while the Little ones played on the play area, there was a huge metal train climbing frame which Little 1 and 2 took turns driving. When it was time for the next train we hopped on for a half hour ride to Smallbrook station and back. 

We had been having a busy holiday and some later nights than usual, the motion of the train and sitting still had a tiring effect on the Little Ones. Little 1 actually laid down and almost fell asleep on the seat while Little 2 sat very quietly gazing out of the window watching the trees and all the sheep in the fields go by. Little 3 was a bit perplexed about the jolting train and clung to Daddy for a while before realising that he could get down and toddle around the carriage which he thought was utterly great. I had taken a vast amount of photos on the journey of us, the scenery and Little 3 however 99% of them were blurry, off centre or had someone's limb in them due to the jiggling around in the carriage!

Arriving back at Havenstreet it was almost time for lunch, we popped into a little museum area where there were toy trains and track as well as colouring for the children while us grown ups read all about the history of the railways and looked at the memorabilia.

After a picnic we watched a Falconary show on the lawn run by a small Birds of prey centre within the grounds that you could also go and visit for an extra charge (but we didn't). Another play to let off some steam and we hopped back on the train for another trip.

This time we did the whole circuit back down to Smallbrook station and all the way up to Wooton station, it took around an hour and Little 3 was lulled to sleep almost the whole journey laid comfortably across my lap (pushchairs had to go in the guard van). At one stop we chatted to a volunteer in his smart uniform and he told us all about the railway and how much water and coal is used each day to run the train.

The greatest thing about this railway is that all the trains and carriages dating back to as far as 1876 have been saved and restored by the staff and volunteers. There was a working museum out through the shop which was incredibly interesting to look around. Old carriages looking like they would fall apart any minute, rotten wood on a metal base with peeling wallpaper and yellowed ragged curtains, stood one side while carriages in various states of repair stood the other and a heavy smell of creosote, paint and grease made us feel like there was history in the air.

There were Victorian carriages complete with old cases and lace head rests, and recordings playing of people who had worked on the railways and others explaining the rail history of the island which were interesting to listen too. The Little Ones explored the carriages and waved red and green flags pretending to be the conductor and passengers.

These was also a section for the Little Ones to play at driving a train, hats and jackets for them to wear, a real whistle (that they did not stop pulling!) and a fake furnace where the girls fed coal (black tennis balls) into the chute to fuel the fire (lights and roaring sound effects) and a steam gauge which whooshed when it got full. There was also a quiz and a few games to play too.

We all enjoyed our trip to the railway and learnt a lot too, Little 2 already wants to know when we are going on a train again.

16 June 2016

The Little ones visit Bembridge windmill

When we visited the Isle of Wight recently we decided to take a trip to Bembridge windmill, which is owned by the National Trust. It was a dreary kind of day, we had had a leisurely morning having a bit of a lie in, well as much as you can with three little ones, and after a busy few days of days out we had spent much of the morning with the children playing happily outside the caravan. 

The windmill was just down the road from where we were staying and seeing as we were national Trust members and with it looking like it was going to rain we decided to have a quick lunch and get out for the afternoon somewhere nearby.

After parking in a layby (no parking at the windmill itself) and walking a hundred yards down a lane we reached the windmill. The children were welcomed by the cheery staff and given a little leaflet with a 'find the miller men' game where they needed to find the little men (who looked suspiciously like those from the old Uncle Ben's adverts!) hidden in the windmill and on the back was a 'design a miller man of their own' competition. Little 1 was also given a sheet for a wild flower quiz too.

The windmill has 4 floors and there is obviously not that much room to maneuver inside with wooden beams and machinery around you. The steps inside are more like ladders that you have to come down backwards and so it was decided that Daddy and I would take it in turns to go in as it wasn't particularly safe for Little 3 inside running free and although at this point he was in the carrier strapped to my back I was concerned that I would knock his head on something accidently.

Daddy took Little 2 in with him and they were in the windmill ages exploring and looking for the miller-men. As it was half term there were a few activities set up around the perimeter of the windmill which were a hit with the girls. On the fence were clipboards with pictures of wildflowers and clues like where the plant grew and what its other names were etc, others had an anagram or multiple choice answer so Little 1 set off with her clipboard and got busy (with a little help from me) working out the answers.

There was a little area with logs to sit on and baskets of feathers, stones, bits of twig and shells etc for you to create pictures and signs sticking out from the long grass at one end of the garden suggesting things like doing some bird spotting and making grass trumpets which Little 1 liked running into the grass to read. Little 3 was in his element running around on the grass too.

Little 2 designing her miller-woman

Little 1 and I went to look around the windmill when Daddy had finished, she had a go at grinding with a pestle and mortar downstairs and then developed a sudden fear of heights halfway up the ladder to the first floor so she went back out while I had a good look around. I was a little uneasy reaching the 4th floor as it seemed quite high up and confined, there were two huge heavy wooden grinding wheels and hoppers up there, the floor was definitely bowing. I can not imagine the weight up there so I came down rather quickly too!

Outside the Little ones had found some bug collecting pots and magnifying glasses beside an old log and were hunting for bugs. As we looked under the bark we captured a few and had a good look at a spider, an earwig, a woodlouse and a grasshopper Daddy managed to catch.

We had a lovely time at the windmill, looking around inside and doing the activities they had laid on for children, both girls designed a miller-man and we scored 9/10 on the wild flower quiz. We also bought the girls a little tub of ice cream as a treat and sat chatting about the bugs we had found while we ate. For somewhere we thought we would only be there half an hour we actually spent nearly two hours, so I'd say if you are in the area it is well worth popping by Bembridge windmill.

13 June 2016

The dinosaur that pooped... Daddy!

Are you looking for a little something comical from your little one for Daddy this Father's Day? The well known Dinosaur that pooped... children's book series has launched two funny short Dinosaur stories in a hard backed board book format with just 12 pages for you to read with your child.

'The Dinosaur that pooped.... Daddy' is a short story aimed at younger readers introducing them to Danny and Dino while they count down from 10 to find Daddy's hiding place with a funny twist at the end.

I am not all that familiar with the other books in the 'Dinosaur that pooped...' series having not read them myself but I have heard of them. When Little 1 and Little 2 heard that we were getting this book they both said that they had read these books at pre-school/nursery and they liked them. 

When our books arrived Little 1 went straight off with them to read to Little 3 before I had even opened the front cover! She laughed at the ending and went off to show Little 2 the back of the book giggling!

If you don't mind a little potty humour then you will like these books. The books are full of colour and bright fun illustrations, the text is easy to read and with the counting down from 10 to 1 in 'The Dinosaur that pooped.. Daddy' and the colours in 'The Dinosaur that pooped... a rainbow' they are a little educational too.

If you like the sound of the book and the Dinosaur that pooped series there is also a themed Father's Day card and activity sheets available free to download too.

N.B We received The Dinosaur that pooped ..Daddy and The Dinosaur that pooped.. a rainbow for the purposes of this post however all views and opinions are our own honest thoughts.

#MaternityMondays 13th June

Welcome to #MaternityMondays 13th June.

It has been all go here this past week with Little 1's school Sports day, Reception meetings and story sessions for Little 2, summer goings on at toddler group, hair cuts all round and getting through an enormous mound of washing from our holiday, whew.. I'm shattered.

Emma and I have decided that we will take a break from #MaternityMondays for the summer seeing as everyone will be off enjoying themselves on their summer holidays soon and many of you will be busy welcoming those new #MaternityMondays babies that are excitedly nearing their due dates. So this will be the last #MaternityMondays for a while and we are planning to return in September.

Thanks to those who linked up last week...

The Queen of Collage shared her 35 week pregnancy update with a scary call into hospital after a dodgy blood test, thankfully all turned out okay.

And 'Winging it' shared their positive experience of attending an informative antenatal class, which sounded much better than the ones I had when I was pregnant.

When those #MaternityMondays babies do make an appearance over the summer please do use the #MaternityMondays hashtag and tag us in on twitter @lifelittleones and @Emmalander2 so we can send our congratulations and share your news.

As usual #MaternityMondays is for all your pregnancy, baby and maternity themed posts, please grab our badge from my sidebar and comment on the hosts post and as many of the others as you can as linkys can only work if we support each other. If you tweet about the link up please tag me in @lifelittleones and use the hashtag #MaternityMondays and I'll retweet.

See you in September x

10 June 2016

Holiday means Fun Family Time together

For the whole of half-term we went away on holiday, 8 days away and boy didn't we all need it. The last time we had been on holiday was exactly a year ago and back then we had an 11 week old baby with us so this year it was totally different. Little 3 is 14 months old now and walking, attempting to run and pointing and chatting away, it was like our first real holiday as a family of 5.

Two years ago we took the girls to the Isle of Wight on holiday and had an amazing week of sunshine and family fun, it was the first time I had been there then too and I fell in love with the place. We had the best time ever and it was a holiday we all enjoyed, the girls had been asking to go back ever since we got home that time. So we did and this time we asked Nanny and my brother, to come with us.

For us holidays are about having fun and being a family, with Daddy working full time he doesn't get to spend much time with the children so they particularly enjoy having him around for a week and I get a few minutes without a toddler on the hip too.

Everyone was as good as gold on the 3 hour drive to the ferry (Little 3 slept for half of it) and the girls got excited as soon as they saw the ferry coming in. It was beautifully warm and sunny up on deck and the crossing was over on no time our holiday had begun..

We had to wake Little 3 for the crossing!

I knew that where we were staying did not have wi-fi and that I probably wouldn't find any near our caravan park so I decided to leave the laptop at home and therefore not touch my email for a week, after all what was I likely to miss. (I missed an offer of Britmums sponsorship, that's what-gutted!!). I did take my phone and camera so I took plenty of pictures but I quite often didn't bother to get them out and just spent time with my family instead of taking pictures, memories are better anyway .

We had a great time on holiday, we did have some cold, wet days in the middle but hot sunshine either end, there was sandcastle and moat building on the beach, swimming in the outdoor pool, a zoo, a steam train, the Needles, a windmill, lots of pub meals and fish and chips too... I shall share more with you in the next week or so.

The best bit according to the girls was the swimming pool just a stones throw from our caravan, although it was outdoor it was heated and warm, the girls loved splashing around and judging by the screams of delight Little 3 did too!

I think one of the best bits of our week away was the fact that with four adults around Little 3 was able to be a whole lot freer than when we are normally out and about. Although he did spent some time in the pushchair we let him out to walk, wander and explore an awful lot that week and he utterly loved it. 

An overcast and windy view of the Solent

My favourite part of the whole week was when we visited Fort Victoria on the edge of the Solent. It was an overcast day with a cold sea wind and everyone else had gone to watch a show in the planetarium which wasn't suitable for Little 3. 

I took him around the front of the fort to a big grass area and we ran and ran, chased and giggled, it was so windy he was getting blown over by great gusts of wind and it was so much fun, he was smiling ear to ear. When the others came out he just kept running everywhere with the biggest smile on his face, having fun chasing us and the girls running after him, then for a while he sat and picked daisies, so carefully picking them and putting them back down before he tried to eat them. 


back up...

and down again.
One happy chappy tired out.
Such simple family fun but these times really are the best, what is your favourite family thing to do on holiday?