New Forest – Brockenhurst

It was my very first visit, and I am sure not my last, to Brockenhurst in the middle of the New Forest National Park.

Nate is on holiday with my parents, so hubby and I thought it would be nice to get away for some couple time. I have always heard such wonderful things about the New Forest, but I was completely unprepared for the horses/ponies. They really do run the show! They were everywhere, it was amazing! They literally just walk down the street, in the roads, on the pavements, wherever they want! I love horses so this was a real treat!

horses in the street in brockenhurst

Since we booked at the last minute, I used Tripadvisor to decide on B&Bs and restaurants, I find it is much safer that way – you almost always know what you are going to get. I basically emailed all of the B&Bs in the top 10 of Tripadvisor, asking for prices and availability for this week, then waited for them to email me back. 8 emailed me back that night, 2 the next day, half had availability, so I checked out their websites and reviews and chose the one I thought best.

Meerut B&B Review

We booked with Meerut in Brockenhurst. They are currently ranked as the 4th best B&B in Brockenhurst, so we were very lucky to get in there last minute. Pauline and Mike were so warm and friendly, I felt like I was staying with family, they knew everything about the local area, recommended restaurants and wrote down a route for us to the follow the next day for our day trip to the beach. They provided packs of menu’s of the local restaurants, maps and information on walks.

They only had one room left, which was the smaller one with the toilet just outside, however the room was perfectly big enough for the two of us, and had everything we needed. They have a little patio area for each room to sit outside, plus a lovely summer house for guests to enjoy and a utility room exclusively for guest usage – this was invaluable! It included a washing machine, ironing board and iron, fridge and freezer, toaster, glasses, cutlery etc. The fridge was stocked with bottled water, which I really appreciated because I drink a lot of water. The breakfast in the morning was cooked to your liking (they ask what you would like the night before), both cooked and continental breakfast is included, so while we waited for our cooked breakfast we helped ourselves to cereal and juice. The cooked breakfast was all sourced from the local area too, which I felt was a nice touch.

The Fallen Tree

This restaurant is ranked number 1 out of 39 restaurants in Brockenhurst, so I had high expectations. When I walked through the door and saw a beautiful, quaint, romantic little gem of a restaurant with soft classical music playing in the background my expectations were even higher. Unfortunately,  I have to be honest and say that as nice as the food was, and as good as the price was considering, it just didn’t fit. The food and the price point is not in keeping with the beauty of the location, when you walk in you expect somewhere near Michelin star level of food, which unfortunately you just don’t get, not in all the food anyway. My steak and chips came dry, so I asked if they had a jus? The waitress had no idea what I meant, so I said gravy. I received a gravy! I’m not a food snob, though I do love food to an obsessive level, I have no problem with gravy at say harvester or a carvery, not in the number one restaurant in Brockenhurst. The chips and the vegetables were flavourless, and needed more character, although the steak was beautiful. I also really enjoyed the cheesecake, it was the highlight of the meal and looked amazing, and more in keeping with the decor.

fallen tree restaurant brockenhurst

Rosie Lea’s Teahouse

This tea house and bakery is ranked 2nd in Brockenhurst, a little risky based on last night’s slight disappointment, do I still trust Tripadvisor, after having afternoon tea here I would say YES! It does not look much from the outside, and it a bit too warm inside, in fact it was so warm we almost didn’t go in, until I saw the homemade cakes in the display -wow! If they taste as good as they look, I might just be in heaven. They did! I tried the chocolate brownie (it was huge and only £2 per slice), and because of the price I also bought a slice of the carrot cake to have later, oh my the cakes were absolutely delicious! So delicious that my husband also bought a second slice of his amaretto cake.

We also ordered the afternoon tea, which came in beautiful old fashioned chine tea cups and saucers – so quaint. There were about 20 different teas on the menu, I had English Breakfast because I am not a real adventurist. I was slightly disappointed that they were tea-bags as apposed to real tea-leaves, that would have elevated it further, but the huge homemade scone and the generous portions of home-made jam and more importantly, clotted cream more than made up for it.

tea house bakery brockenhurst

Next time I come to the New Forest this tea house is the first place I am coming back to! Wow.


What’s your weekend bucket list?

This week, during my lunch breaks, I have been reading a couple of kindle books, from the series: What the most successful people do…

The one I am currently reading is What the Most Successful People do at the Weekend. I found this amazing book through the recommendations of a friend.

working mums successful

This book has some fabulous ideas about what we should be doing at the weekend, and making us look at the weekend in a new light.

For one thing, did you know that we have more awake hours in our weekend then we do hours in the office? (assuming you work a 37 hour week like I do). Therefore, if you are a full-time working mum/parent like I am, there is plenty of time to make our weekends meaningful, AND more importantly even though we are full-time, working life doesn’t actually dominate, we spend more time out of work than in work. It’s good to remember that!

Did you know that we only have about 1,000 weekends with our children at home? (Assuming they stay at home for 18 years). Therefore, do we really want to waste the precious few weekends we have with our children, because currently many of us probably do waste our weekends. By waste I mean spending time not doing something that you are passionate about, or something that makes you very happy.

The book advocates a few things:

  1. Minimise the time spent on chores (at the weekend), chores could take-up the whole weekend if you let them, instead try to do them in discrete blocks of time (perhaps during the week).
  2. Try to minimise time sitting around idly watching TV (unless that is your passion).
  3. Try not to plan your weekend during the weekend, otherwise you would waste a few precious hours doing nothing, instead plan in advance, the author suggests that by planning fun activities in advance we get the added benefit of looking forward to something.
  4. Plan your weekend into 3-6 chunks of activities, importantly: choose something fun for Sunday evening to avoid Sunday evening blues.
  5. Finally, draw up a 100 dreams list, of things to do at the weekend (your bucket list)

The last one I thought was a particularly great idea. The author suggests that each family member write down up to 100 things that they would LOVE to do at the weekend. BUT, it must be something in your price bracket and within a distance from your home you would be happy to travel at the weekend. My husband and I have already started working on our bucket list, and I cannot wait for us to start living our dreams every weekend.

Some highlights from my list, which I haven’t finished yet are:

  1. Rent a narrowboat for the afternoon/day along the Grand Union Canal
  2. Go with a group of friends with all their children to a theme park
  3. Take a picnic and attend the open air cinema
  4. Go with a group of friends/family to a local karaoke, and sing (I love singing!)
  5. In the winter have afternoon tea by the open fire in Whittlebury Hall

I only have about 20 things on my list at present, so I would love a helping hand…what is on your weekend bucket list?

I’m sharing this post as part of the welcome to the weekend blog hop. Please leave a comment for me, then click the link and join in.

You might also like to read:

How often do we do things on the spur of the moment?

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How often do we do things on the spur of the moment?

In thinking about spontaneity I am reminded of a quote from “Will and Grace” (one of my favourite TV shows):

“You’re always saying we should be more spontaneous…” Grace

“I know, I just didn’t expect it to happen so suddenly!” Will

As a full-time working mum with a toddler, I don’t often do spontaneous things, especially those involving said Toddler – I don’t know about you – but it isn’t easy. They often come with a lot of baggage, and there is bed-time, nap-time, food, nappy changes, mood, toys – so many variables that need to be considered!

Bravely my husband suggested that after work we go for an impromptu picnic with Nate and our Border Collie. Great idea – I thought! The weather was lovely, so on my lunch break I ran out to get a few picnic items and then immediately after work, we collected Nate from nursery, rushed home, grabbed our picnic essentials (which included: picnic bag, blanket, food, toys, our dog Cali and some camping chairs). We were able to get out of the house within 10 minutes and drove over to a lovely spot in Great Linford, alongside the Grand Union Canal.

We had a lovely time! It was so nice to be out in the early evening, usually at this time we dash home, one of us cooks dinner, the other tries to entertain Nate while doing other chores round the house, then we eat, Nate has his milk and then it’s off to bed. However, last night we had a lovely picnic together, no food preparation needed, and then we all walked along the canal and followed that by playing football.

Nate is deep in his transport phase right now too, so he was eager in pointing out all the boats, bikes and airplanes that went by.

Please feel free to share with me your moments of spontaneity with your children, did it work out? It is not an easy thing to do, but when it works you get magic moments like this:

father and son laying down by the canal
Colin and Nate at the canal

Toddler Splash! (Wolverton Swimming Pool)

The last few times that we took Nate swimming, he had a bit of a meltdown and was very clingy, which is surprising because we did Waterbabies lessons with him, so anyway we thought we would try something else to help increase his confidence. We decided to the try our new local swimming pool at Wolverton, because they were running a “Toddler Splash” session, which sounded like fun.

Being a new pool the facilities were lovely, clean and modern. There were plenty of changing rooms, and even several giant family changing rooms with a baby change station. The lockers come in varying sizes including some as big as a wardrobe – no seriously! This is a nice step up from my other local pool (Middleton) where you can’t even fit your purse in their lockers.

The most impressive part of the facilities however is the baby pool. It is completely separate from the big pool, a few degrees warmer and has steps leading down, with rails to hold onto. There is a snake running along the side that sprays out water, some buckets and tumblers that intermittently spray or drop water. At one end of the pool, outside of the water are pirate themed games, all in all a lovely pool for little ones.

wolverton baby pool

The toddler splash session included the addition of inflatables, balls and floats – this is what won it over for Nate – he is ball mad (well what male isn’t!) So for the first time in a while he was actually smiling and laughing in the pool, and slowly edging his way down the steps. The distraction of the toys was a good one, so I can definitely recommend that if your child/pre-schooler/toddler is having confidence issues with swimming/water. I will be looking into the toddler swimming lessons in a few months and will report back on them.

In thinking about helping him I did some research and found the following that may be helpful. Toddler swimming tips:

  • Look for specific toddler and parent sessions at your local pool, as they are more likely to be fun sessions
  • At this age swimming is for fun and confidence building rather than learning
  • Singing songs and nursery rhymes can help, particularly ones that incorporate spinning or jumping
  • Water safety is important, one method you could teach: sit down, put your hands on the side, turn over and wiggle in, hold onto the side
  • Show him that it is fun and relaxing, children learn from modelling their parents, and if you feel relaxed they will pick up on that
  • Let your toddler lead the way, even if it means just following them around the sides of the pool
  • Laugh and smile at them every time they get their face wet as if it is the best thing in the world

If anyone lives in or near the Milton Keynes area, they run these toddler splash sessions on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, Saturday mornings, and two mornings in the week. As well as many other sessions, including fun swims for older children and swim classes. Current pricing is £3.60 per adult and under 4s are free.