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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.

summer · Uncategorized

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
swimming · Uncategorized

Review: Middleton Swimming Pool

We have been swimming several times at Middleton pool so I thought I would review it for other MK mums who are trying to decide where to take there baby swimming.

First of all, in terms of parking there is only one parent and baby spot right out front, sometimes you get lucky, otherwise parking is just behind, a 1 minute walk.

Current adult prices are £3.50 per adult and under 1 year olds are free.

The unisex changing rooms are a tight squeeze, a single adult will have trouble in the individual changing rooms, but in the middle are 3 family changing rooms which are perfect for a family of 3 or 4. The women’s changing room is open plan and has 2 baby change stations.

The lockers are tiny so take the bare minimum and leave the change bag in the car, lockers take a £1 coin.

There is a small communal shower right before you enter the pool, it is not very private.

In the complex there are two pools, a baby pool that is shallow and has steps leading down into it and a bigger pool. The baby pool is often colder than the big pool which is odd. Last visit Nates teeth were chattering in the baby pool but he was very happy in the big pool.

The big pool is pretty shallow, about 1.5 metres at each end but gets deeper in the middle.

We like the pool and it seems to be frequented by most mums and babies in the area, it doesn’t get too busy even on weekends and it’s warm enough for babies.

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Cinebabies!

image of cineworld cinema

So, I don’t know about you guys but I love going to the cinema; pre-baby that was one of our favourite activities…dinner and a movie, post baby the movie part is tricky.

However, my lovely local Cineworld has risen to the occasion and two weeks ago introduced “Cinebabies”! Basically, every wednesday morning, they play a movie aimed at adults but ok for children (therefore nothing over a 12a certifcate), they also keep the lights on (low) and turn the volume down, and baby change is just a few feet away.

So this week, one of my NCT friends and I decided to give it a go. We went to see “Avengers Assemble” (incidentally an awesome movie). Although they could have shown the 3D version of “When the paint dries” and I still would have gone to see it, just to feel like a grown-up again and see an actual movie. It was very quiet in there, only one other mum and baby (cineworld, sort the advertising out!) which was fine with me, but I don’t want them to suddenly stop it due to lack of participation.

The movie is quite long so I though the babies did really well, of course they all cried at a few points, being hungry or needing a nappy changed here or there, they also fell asleep for a significant portion. Nate seemed pretty happy though, it wasn’t too loud to upset him or stop him having his afternoon nap, and he seemed to quite enjoy the pretty colours, but for the most part he wasn’t bothered, which was fine by me. So I can confirm, it is a great way to spend a few hours, and also being on a wednesday means Orange Wednesdays, buy one ticket get one free, even bigger bonus!

Next week they are showing Beauty and the Beast, yey! Have loved that movie ever since I was a kid so am excited to see it on the big screen. I hope this time to encourage more of my NCT friends to be brave and give it a go.

If you want to see if your local cineworld does cinebabies, it may not be advertised online (as ours is not). So give them a call, you may get lucky. I also hear that Odeon do a similar thing, so go for it girls, go see a movie with your babies.

sleep · Uncategorized

Sleep deprivation

Nate woke up 5 times last night, which would be fine if he was sick or not 4 months old or if that were a rare occurrence but non of that is true. I went as usual to bumps to babies and baby massage this morning but I was surprisingly mute during discussions. I was so close to tears that I knew if I spoke I would start crying. Isn’t this supposed to be getting easier?! I can’t remember the last time he slept for more than 4 hours in a row at night and what’s funny is the leader in class today was talking about how sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture and that if you don’t regularly get 4 hours sleep it can lead to depression, well that doesn’t bode well for me 😦

I would feel so much better if I knew other babies were doing the same thing but everyone I talk to says that there baby is either sleeping through or doing at least 6 hours in a row.

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Kiddicare

Went to Kiddicare in Peterborough today. Took an hour to get there but it was awesome! Its like Ikea but for babies!! We bought lots of things we needed and a new bouncy/swinging/vibrating chair for Nate which we negotiated £30 off the price as they have an online price checker thing. Had Chinese for dinner as we got back late.

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5 favourite things

5 Things I love about my newborn son: everything obviously but specifically:
1. When he searches for food and does this really cute shake of his head with his mouth open,
2. When he headbutts my chest – so cute!
3. He has the most gorgeous big blue eyes.
4. He sucks his fingers, not his thumb, for comfort.
5. His tiny hands

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