Is there honestly still three weeks left of the Summer holidays? Yes I’m afraid so.  We all love time with our children, we really do, but the constant “where are we going today?” demands can get a little expensive.

I’ve put together a little list of things to do near where we live (Powys/Shropshire Border) which won’t cost you an arm and a leg or even a little toe for that matter.

So what’s there to do in and around Powys/Shropshire border?

1. Go to The Quarry Park, Shrewsbury  – This park is bloomin’ fantastic. Not only is is stunning with beautiful flower gardens, and an idyllic walk along the river, there’s a lot to offer for little ones: a newly renovated play park and splash area (all free), lawns for ball games and paths for bicycles or scooters.

Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 16.13.04

2. Go GeoCaching – if you have a smart phone, you can download the app for free and then the world is your treasure trail. There are thousands of capsules to find all over Wales, with an abundance of them in our area. Have a gander along the canal, visit a local Church, Rodney’s pillar… they’re everywhere and give purpose to a walk. Get on it people. Here are just the ones you can find in and around the Welshpool/Shropshire border.
Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 11.22.25
Searching for a Geocache near Trewern…
Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 10.53.17
3. Go for Bike-Ride or a Picnic at Lake Vyrnwy – If you are able to go for a drive with kids in tow, then head up to the beautiful Lake Vyrnwy. This place is breathtaking and has a lot to offer for free. There are picnic areas, a sculpture park, walks and a lovely flat road which is ideal to cycle along.  There are often events on (which may involve a small fee), such as craft fairs (There is one in early September) and cycle activities – do go check out their website.
Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 10.59.20
Cuddles in the sculpture park.
Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 10.52.22
4. Go on a Stickman Trail – Houghmond Hill – If you’ve got Julia Donaldson bookworms then they’ll love this. You can buy an activity pack for £3 and parking costs £1. The walk is buggy/stroller friendly and is the perfect distance for 3 year olds +. There are some fun activities to do around the trail and our boys loved it. You can check out a full post on this HERE.
Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 11.15.42

5. Walk up Rodney’s Pillar – ok so perhaps this isn’t one for tiny ones – unless they’re in a backpack. We’ve taken our boys up there in a backpack a few times before, but now Arthur is 3, he’s a bit heavy and so will probably not be old enough to do the walk until he’s about 5. But if you have older children or babes in arms (or a super duper off roader buggy/stroller), then go for an adventure up to this monument. The views from Rodney’s Pillar are absolutely breathtaking.

Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 09.39.34

Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 09.39.49

Here’s the location on a MAP.
Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 11.38.29
In fact – go and get yourself an ordinance survey map, or download the app and purchase your local map to view on your phone. There are so many beautiful walks in and around Powys/Shropshire – don’t let the little ones stop you getting out and about…
I hope you have a great break this summer and have lots of fun and adventures with your children.
IMG_1868 (1)
Do let me know what you’ve been up to so far and if you’ve got any recommendations.
Travel Monkey

Hello there. Can you believe that it’s been nearly a year since I last blogged? If you are still here and reading this then, wow, thank you for not deserting my little space of the world wide web.

So where have I been? Well…. for some completely nonsensical reason I decided to embark on a Secondary School PGCE teaching course in order to become an English teacher. Seriously, who on earth in their right mind would decide to retrain in their 30’s and complete a really tough course whilst trying to juggle parenting two little wild boys, having chosen to marry a man who spends over half the year working at sea! Can’t be as hard as training to become a lawyer right? Ermmmmm wrong.

Having trained to become a commercial lawyer for a large law firm, which was a pretty gruelling process, I can officially confirm that the teacher training process is way more emotionally brutal and I massively underestimated how hard I would find it to juggle so many plates!

Every lesson felt like an interview and the observations, oh the observations, the criticisms, the pre-loaded mentor questions of, “Well how do you think that lesson went?”

To which I would hesitantly respond, “Errr, ok? no, bad? no, very, very bad? horrendous? I don’t know!!!”

And then my mentor would so soothingly say, “don’t worry we’ve all had lessons like that, no one got injured”, or “I think it was your best lesson yet”.

I’ve had to get used to being very thoroughly scrutinised and I quickly realised that perfection is not achievable; a brilliant lesson for one observer is an appalling one for another. Fun hey, oh the wonderful buzz you get of being constantly kept on your toes.

And yet, to become a lawyer, I was paid a salary (yes I know that some trainee teachers get a pretty impressive grant… English trainees don’t). I had no dependants back then and I could just crawl out of the office straight into bed, (via buckets of wine). Not only has this year cost me an unthinkable amount in childcare, I’ve had to juggle life with the boys, which really wouldn’t have been possible without my Saint of a mother-in-law. There have been nights when I’ve had poorly puking limpets clinging to me and then I’ve had to get up and perform for a delightful audience of receptive teenagers.

Teenagers… what a fabulous species they are! No, I am actually serious. Yes they can be lazy, they can laugh rudely in your face, roll their eyes, forget everything they’ve EVER learnt (like what a capital letter is), BUT, when then make progress because of you, well that really is something! They are also hilarious and resilient and see the world in a way which we, as adults, should appreciate more than we do.

That being said, the hours that teachers work are not comparable to many commercial professions. I’ve not witnessed many teachers working past 5.00pm every single day (which is a half day for most law firms). Teachers don’t answer e-mails at 3.00am (because they have their e-mail notifications on vibrate under their pillow) and I highly doubt whether they work on Christmas Day. I’m sure you’re thinking that this is relative to the pay. Well to some extent it is.. and I think this is rightly so as most lawyers get less than 30 days holiday a year and even then, they aren’t be able to resist checking and responding to emails. However, many qualified lawyers start on a salary not far off that of a Newly Qualified Teacher and yet they don’t have 13 weeks holiday a year. Many of those lawyers can be found advising their clients in Police cells in the middle of the night, or providing 24 hour support and advice to vulnerable clients who have been taken advantage of in the most appalling of ways.

Yes, yes, I do know that teachers work hard, they do. And many teachers are wonderful, inspirational role models. Some are not!  I’m not going to get into a controversial post here about which professions work harder than others or give you my opinions as to why teachers feel they have such a difficult time (which some undoubtedly do), but that’s for another day, another platform.

Anyway, I’ve got through it. I can now officially teach English, Law or Business Studies up to A-Level and I don’t often blow my own trumpet, but I’m pretty proud of myself for having survived!

Overlooking Aberystwyth

And now I can spend the Summer with these crazies. Going forward I’ll be working fairly part time, which will mean that I can get back to my hobbies and start writing and reading again.

I cannot bloody wait!

Hello dear readers. I hope you’re all well and enjoying the last few weeks of Summer.

Arthur sat down this morning to read some of his books. Obviously, I thought I’d take the opportunity to film his cute little face talking about some of his favourite books to read.

These are all fabulous books for toddlers (2 years+). Hope you enjoy and please subscribe to my booktube channel if you fancy watching more book chat.

Thanks for watching xx

A few weeks ago we went on holiday to Pembrokeshire (Wales) to visit family; I grew up there and often get this relentless itch to go back, breath in some coastal air and appreciate the beautiful Welsh coastline. I’m so lucky to be able to stay with family and have seen first hand that Pembrokeshire, and particularly Dale, is a fantastic destination for a family holiday.

Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 20.40.23

Dale Pembrokeshire

Dale lies about 25 minutes from Haverfordwest and about 15 minutes from Milford Haven. Set on a peninsular, it has two beaches: a safe family beach and a more adventurous surf beach within walking distance.

IMG_1753

Activities

With a waterfront Watersports Centre which offers tuition in sailing, kayaking, surfing and more, there is so much on offer for almost every age.

IMG_1754

There are some fantastic walks around the coastal path, as well as geocaching dotted around the village. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to catch your supper – you can even go on fishing trips from here.

IMG_1725

Whilst the beach isn’t sandy, it is relatively safe and there are rock-pools on one side and a pontoon which is perfect for crabbing, on the other.

IMG_1747 IMG_1756 IMG_1757 IMG_1737

The beach is just as lovely in the Winter and almost completely deserted! I took Teddy and Arthur down here when Teddy was just a tiny one and there’s something so special about getting all wrapped up and going to the beach.

10801468_10152702195606144_6235008177060150125_n

Also in Dale, there is a lovely crafts centre  which offers afternoon teas and a number of galleries/ art exhibitions.

IMG_1731

Food

There are a number of options here: a fantastic Seafood restaurant/Pub, The Griffin Inn, which is right on the waterfront where you can have either a bowl of chips overlooking the sea, or a special meal if you fancy fine dining in their contemporary extension.

13823247_10157102236740537_407706919_n

13819326_10157102236790537_694490213_n

13820878_10157102236715537_894395814_n

 

There is also a great waterfront café and another restaurant and café in the Yacht Club (The Moorings) which has stunning sea views.

IMG_1727

Accommodation

There are plenty of options, either within Dale itself, or in the surrounding area. I would recommend checking out Spinnaker Reach, or Allenbrook for Bed and Breakfast.

If you are looking for a holiday cottage to rent, have a look on Coastal Cottages website to see what suits you.  For campers – go check Point Farm.

So you if you are thinking of holidaying in the UK – do check out this hidden little secret near where I grew up. It the above doesn’t sell it to you, then maybe this will…

Dale also really knows how to throw a party. I was down here for the Queen’s Jubilee and it was just brilliant. There are often events for August bank holiday, Halloween and even New Years Eve.

579321_10150880248186144_911442482_n

*Please note that this is not a sponsored most and is 100% based on my own opinions. 

Packing my Suitcase

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

 Back in February, we took our youngest one, Teddy, for a fleeting visit to Brussels to catch up with our friends, Lara and Hugo, and their adorable little one, Sarah.

IMG_3054
There’s no reason why you can’t take a baby into Central Brussels, so that’s where we went on our first day.

First stop – Jardin du Petit Sablon – this is is a delightful little garden which is buggy/stroller friendly and surrounded by beautiful architecture. It’s worth stopping here to take in the historical significance of these two counts who resisted the Spaniards.

IMG_3032 IMG_3031 IMG_3029

Obviously, as I have two boys, we had to go and see the Manneken Pis which although surprisingly small, for such a petite fellow, he has a huge wardrobe which is apparently changed all the time. Hah I’ve just read that back – did you think I was going to say ‘wardrobe’?
IMG_3041

It was nice to see some murals dotted around the city – this Tin Tin one being my favourite of the ones we spotted, given its Belgian origins.

IMG_3047

On a practical note… if you want to take a buggy/stroller around central Brussels, I’d recommend one with chunky wheels, rather than a small collapsible. There are lots of cobbles to navigate!

Alternatively, wearing your little one in a carrier would be ideal whilst walking around appreciating some of the impressive historical architecture, such as the Grand Place.

IMG_3055

After such a lovely stroll (and naps en route for the babies), we were all getting peckish and so headed to Chicago Café – a kiddy/baby friendly eatery in Brussels centre.

And wow… forget worrying about whether your child will be bored, adequately catered for or comfy – this is the perfect family friendly restaurant/ Café. There are ample toys, books and high chairs. A great children’s menu and it’s buzzing with so many other families that you won’t worry if your little one is loud at all.

IMG_3063 IMG_3059

The next day, we ventured a little further from the centre and went on a perfectly buggy/stroller friendly stroll around the lake at Park De Tervuren, before having a delicious lunch at another family friendly restaurant, Bootkeshuis, which is within the park.

IMG_3081 IMG_3083

The babies loved their lunch here – and yay the oh so familiar IKEA highchairs were on hand for their little derrières.

On our last day, we head out for a another walk around the grounds of Château De La Hulpe – another stunning location – just watch out as to where you take a stroller/buggy – you may have to double back on yourself to stay on flat ground.

The grounds here are so beautiful though and it is free to enter, so who cares if you can’t do a perfect circuit with a stroller hey?

IMG_3091 IMG_3090

We had a lovely fleeting visit to Brussels and would love to see more in the future. 
 
This post was due to go live last week, but I’ve delayed posting because of the recent attacks.  However, I wouldn’t be put off from visiting Brussels because of what has happened – life goes on and all we can do is be vigilant whilst travelling. 
Packing my Suitcase