Saturday, 29 June 2013

Open Farm Sunday – A Great Time Spent with the Family

Sometimes I’m in awe of how fast time flies by and also how hard it can be to write a blog post. Life and more to the point life with kids can get in the way of many best laid plans. I’m not grumbling really but I can’t believe it’s taken me 3 weeks to write this post and link it to Coombe Mill’s Country Kids. And although 3 weeks have passed, I really want to share it with you because we had such a lovely day out as a family. We even got to go to the beach afterwards too ! It was one of those rare sunny days we aren't getting much of these days.

So what did we do? Well, every year the farming industry have an open day called, Open Farm Sunday. This is a day when hundreds of farms, all over the country open their gates to showcase what they do to produce our food and care for our countryside. You get the chance to find out how your food gets from the field to your plate, to know the farmers who grow it and how they look after the environment and wildlife living there.

We've been to our local Open Farm Sunday before when Belle was a bit younger and she loved it. This year as Tink is 2½ her interest in animals and this type of thing is at its height so we made use of this and popped down to our local farm to share in the fun. We are lucky that our local farm has a fabulous farm shop. We shop there regularly and the girls love choosing fruit and veggies, learning what everything is and being a part of the process. I really believe it engages their interest in food; they start to make that connection between choosing the food to then cooking and eating it. The girls love to be involved in baking and cooking where possible and I notice that they are less fussy about eating certain things IF they've been involved in the whole process. I suppose it’s all about giving them choice and making them feel that their input is as important as our own.


The first thing we watched were some of the sheep being sheared. It really is quite a skill and although I’m sure the sheep aren't all that enthralled by the experience, they must feel so much cooler afterwards. Although I do know that baby/toddler sleep bags and duvets made from wool are supposed to be great a regulating the body’s temperature so perhaps one could argue that they could quite happily keep their coats after all.

Both the girls thoroughly enjoyed watching the sheep shearing. I did feel for one poor sheep who had his skin nicked ! Ouch ! It’s like cutting yourself whilst shaving but someone else doing it. Not fun. Poor little love took it very well under the circumstances. I’m sure a soothing, healing balm was applied later on – I hope so anyway.


We then moved on to look at the piggies, chicks, and made our way to the poly tunnels to look at all the veggies, and salad based items growing away. The girls thought this would be a great time to break away and run amok, little tinkers ! There’s seems to be something quite appealing about running in and out of other people’s veggies. Fun was definitely had until Mummy asked them nicely to stop terrorising the plants and to check out something else. You always fear that they’ll end up falling on the lovely uniform rows of produce and you’ll get chucked out for bad behaviour. I’m pleased to report that all was fine and we herded them out and across to the play area to let off some kiddie fuelled steam.

Since our last visit the play area has been added to and the girls loved playing on the swings, slide and train. It was busy but not overwhelming. The girls managed to play on what they wanted to before the tractor and trailer arrived to take visitors around the whole farm.


Daddy joined the girls on the trailer and afterwards he said how much more he’d learnt about how they farm everything and the ethics behind what they do. As a farm they went up in our estimation further. We now know that the meat is from grass fed animals, and that the whole farm’s water is supplied from a natural spring. They try to be as self sufficient as possible.

We were lucky enough to have my aunt with us for the weekend, so whilst the girls and Daddy had their ride on the tractor, my aunt and I were able to chat over a cuppa and some cake. Bliss ! I make the most of those moments now. They are few and far between.


After all our excitement on the farm, we decided after lunch to head out to our local beach for a stroll and an ice cream. The weather was fabulous so we sat on the beach, collected stones and shells, watched the girls paddle in the chilly sea and made friends with the many doggies we met along the way too. The girls would so love a dog of their own. Maybe one day. Once we’d revived ourselves with the wonderful sea air, we headed to the beach cafe for a well deserved ice cream. It truly was a fabulous family day out together made all the more special by the beautiful sunshine. Let’s hope that sun keeps making appearances especially as we head towards the summer holidays. Kids outdoors = happy kids. Wouldn't you agree?

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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Looking for Creative, Healthy and Green Activities for Kids? Then Why Not Try a Weekend Box

This is my first review on The Mad Mummy Musings and it’s lovely to be able to bring you something different. If you follow me on my other blog, Sophia’s Choice then you’ll know I've had the opportunity to review some lovely products of an eco, green, natural and organic nature.

Something I shared with my readers a few weeks ago was a ‘Weekend Box’ for children aged 3-8 years from Weekend Box Club. And the opportunity to review a second box for The Mad Mummy Musings has been made possible by Andy Stephenson the founder of this great new venture. Andy began Weekend Box Club after struggling to find gift ideas for his four nieces and nephews, which embodied the healthy living, green and creative content that Andy felt was so important to child development, so he decided to quit his job and launched the Weekend Box with the aim of filling this gap.

The idea is that every fortnight a Weekend box arrives through the letterbox with 4 activities; craft, cooking, green/eco/recycling and creative. If you are interested in what we got up to with our first Weekend Box then take a look at my post from Sophia’s Choice.


The lovely thing about getting the opportunity to review 2 boxes is that we've been able to experience what it’s really like to receive a box more than once. Reviewing one box is great, but the second one gives you a greater idea of how things will work and if you really like the idea.

Belle was chuffed that a second box popped through our letterbox addressed to her. We checked out what was in this new box and we had the following activities:

  • Bertie Birds Nest Craft Activity
  • Patchwork Letters Green/Eco Activity (put together by Groovebulb)
  • Gingerbread Cookies Cooking/Baking Activity
  • Sammy the Squirrel Story Activity

As with our previous box, Tink and Belle were both able to get involved with a couple of the activities together. Belle was then able to complete the rest of the activities herself or with me as a helper. We decided to make Bertie and his birds nest first and the girls thoroughly enjoyed painting, sticking and making Bertie come alive. Both the girls shared this activity and dare I say it, there was no fighting over who did what. This activity had enough to keep them both happy which was great. A fun, quality chunk of time was spent with Mummy which they also love.


Belle and I decided that it would be great to also make the patchwork letters. Belle decided on the word “Summer”, perhaps in the hope that we may actually get one this year ! We decided on an appropriate font on the computer, printed the word off, cut out the letters and then followed the rest of the instructions to make our beautiful patchwork letters. I have to say that I personally enjoyed this activity a lot. Belle became a little distracted at times by her little sister happily cutting cardboard at the end of the table. I found myself in those moments happily gluing on fabric to the letters thinking how therapeutic it felt doing something art and craft based. Sometimes we are so focussed on keeping our kids occupied and inspired that we forget ourselves and I realised how much I miss creative pursuits which almost feel like an active meditation. Anyway, I digress !


Once we’d completed these two activities we decided to leave the cookies for another day and this is the joy of a box like this. Everything is there ready when you are. You have two weeks in between boxes which gives you plenty of time to spread the activities out if you prefer or you can do the whole box in a weekend. The choice is yours.


We chose to make our cookies the following weekend and both the girls got involved in this one. As a parent I do sometimes find creative pursuits a touch stressful when both of them are involved but the more we do them, the more I relax into it. I divided up the steps for the baking activity and it seemed to work really well. There was enough for both of them to have a turn at something and then I was able to split the mixture so they could both make their own cookies. We did have to add an extra egg to our mixture to bind the ingredients together but apart from that everything worked perfectly and the cookies taste yummy.


The story writing activity is one that Belle has taken as her own. I haven’t seen what she has written so far, but she tends to go off and make up her stories when the urge takes her so I’m still waiting to hear about Sammy the Squirrel’s amazing adventures. I’ll report back when she’s completed her masterpiece.


All in all I really like the Weekend Box and reviewing 2 of them has reinforced that. We've decided to carry on our subscription so we’ll let you know how the boxes develop. The girls love anything creative so this takes the hard work out for me and gives them something to look forward to every couple of weeks.

If you’d like to try a box yourself then you have several options available to you:
  1. The first option is a one off box at £10 each
  2. Or a monthly subscription where you get 2 boxes at £7.50 each
  3. Finally there’s a quarterly subscription where you get 6 boxes at £7.00 each; the most cost effective option.
If you’re looking for a gift idea then Weekend Box Club do a 3, 6 or 12 months gift subscription which would make a lovely present for birthdays or Christmas.

If you’d like to give a Weekend Box a try then I’ve been given a discount code for you, which will get you your first box for £5 instead of the normal £10. The code is WBCHARLOTTE.

For more information on the Weekend Box, pop across to their website: www.weekendboxclub.com. They are also on Facebook and you can follow them on Twitter too.

Has anyone else tried a Weekend Box? I’d love to hear your comments if you have and also what you think of this idea.

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If you would like to keep up to date with future posts then you can subscribe by email or Bloglovin. You can also follow me on Google+, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for reading. A bientot xx


Disclaimer: We were given a Weekend Box to keep and review for this post. The views, thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are honest, true and my own feelings on the product we tried.


Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Shoulder to Shoulder Today – Blog Hop for Emma



Today my humble blog and I have the honour of hosting a very special blog hop for a rather special blogger, Emma Day from Crazy With Twins who also tweets @crazywithtwins.

Now those of you who already read my blog know that my mother passed away 19 months ago from lung cancer. Our lives have been touched by cancer before but not quite like this. It would appear that cancer is now everywhere and it touches those young as well as old. So when Victoria from Vevivos and Firefly Phil decided to organise a blog hop in honour of Emma, I was keen to be involved.

Emma has undergone aggressive radiotherapy treatment in the form of a radioactive iodine drink, for the Thyroid cancer she was diagnosed with. She had an operation to remove the cancerous tumour but further treatment was required to make sure that any remaining cancerous cells were zapped so Emma went into isolation away from her hubby and 3 young children to have this intense treatment. It meant that for approximately 30 days after treatment she wouldn’t be able to come within 2-3 metres of her loved ones. The timescale varied between hubby, her eldest daughter and the twins before she would be able to cuddle them, the twins having to wait the longest time.

It was decided that a blog hop would be a great idea in helping to keep Emma’s spirits high whilst in isolation as it would be an extremely difficult and emotional time for Emma and her lovely family. But this lady is tough and somehow – she must have superhero powers ! – Emma managed to lower her radiation levels in record time (7 days) and was able to hug her babies once more.

When I heard this fabulous news it made me cry. It brought back memories of supporting my own Mum through her own treatment, not being able to see her when I wanted or needed to. It also made me remember the telephone calls we had daily about ways to support her through her chemo and radiation therapy. So, for this post I thought I’d share with Emma something that helped my Mum cope during her treatments both physically and emotionally. It is something I am passionate about. It also helped me in my recovery from PND and it is the power of Juice.


Now Emma I’m not sure if you already juice but if you don’t we need to get you a juicer lovely lady. Whilst going through treatment there were days when my Mum felt nausea or just didn’t have a huge appetite but getting vital nutrition into the body is vital when you are having such aggressive treatment like chemotherapy and radiotherapy or in your case recovering from it. Juicing takes all the hard work out for the body and is what is often referred to as “liquid gold”. Your body doesn’t have to do anything to it before it can utilise its amazing nutritious power. Most of the fibre has been removed so the body doesn’t have to break it down before utilising all the fabulous vitamins and minerals from the juice.

Now we’re not talking supermarket pasteurised juice here either which has had pretty much all of its nutritious value killed off and is high in sugar. Oh no. We are talking proper juice. The juice of Kings or in your case Queens ! Freshly extracted juice.

For anyone not ofay with juicing, take a look at Jason Vale’s website. He runs several juice detoxes each year. I did his January one and felt fabulous afterwards. I also did his juice detox when I was recovering from PND as well as eating a more alkaline based diet. Alkaline foods are important for the body. If we are too acidic we can get ill and disease has a better chance of taking hold. Chemo and Radiotherapy have an acidic effect on the body so juicing and choosing more alkaline foods can help the body to rebalance itself and heal itself again. On days when my Mum couldn’t face food, she juiced. She juiced at least once a day and there were times when to look at her you really wouldn’t have thought she had cancer.

The great thing about juicing is that you can add avocados or a banana and yoghurt to them to make smoothies. Add a few superfoods like wheatgrass and spiralina and a good probiotic (the gut is approx. 70% of our immune system) and you have a power house of nutrition just waiting to nourish you.

So Emma, rather than trying to tell you jokes (I’m terrible at joke telling; really, just ask my hubby!) or relaying a funny tale, I thought I’d share with you something that will hopefully help you on your journey to recovery and could also help build you up for the Race for Life you are training for.

You truly are an inspiration. You haven’t given up or let this beat you. Having only recently completed the Race for Life myself in honour of my Mum, I can only say it feels fabulous crossing that line and I know that Joy will be so proud that you are running this race for her, amongst others. Good luck lovely lady. I’ll be thinking of you xx

Sunday, 2 June 2013

A Trip Out to See the Baby Signets at Abbotsbury Swannery

On Friday the sun shone. And it shone all day. We were finally blessed with some glorious sunshine so an outside pursuit was definitely on the agenda.

One place we love to go year upon year is Abbotsbury. A quaint, small village with the added advantage of an Animal Park, some Sub-Tropical Gardens and a Swannery. If you’re holidaying in West Dorset then it’s a definite must and you can also get a Season ticket which gets you access to all three attractions at a vastly reduced rate. We tend to buy an annual pass as the kids are still young and there are a host of activities/events throughout the year like Halloween, Easter and the Floodlit gardens that make it a great place to pop back to. Today’s trip was to see the baby signets who have begun to hatch. Hatching tends to happen from May to June. It’s a great time for the kids to get close to the swans and see them nesting on their eggs or swimming about with their young.


We arrived at feeding time. They have two feeding sessions 12.00noon and 4.00pm. When we’ve visited in the quieter months Belle has been able to feed the swans, but as it was so busy being half term and we arrived slightly later than anticipated (why is it that once you have kids your ability to arrive on time is now impossible!) we watched the daily event instead.

The visit was spent with some lovely friends who made it more enjoyable for the girls as they could share in their experience. We rode on the tractor & trailer up to the main site which the girls thoroughly enjoyed, pointing out the sheep and lambs on route. We then made our way round the site counting swans, signets and eggs as we went.


We had a lunchtime snack half way round allowing the girls to play around finding stones and wood to make castles with. They also enjoyed finding feathers to decorate their creations with. We then carried on our walk, going through the fabulous tree tunnel which allows the kids to climb and hide. It’s lots of fun even for us adults!


On the way back we decided to walk through the field back to the shop, passing the sheep with their baby lambs. Children are very amusing walking through a field dodging sheep poo! Lots of “urgh’s” and “watch out poo!” were shouted on the way back. Very funny.


The girls were very restrained walking through the gift shop as we tried to get out again. I was only hassled for an ice cream and an ice lolly so I felt I got off lightly. Phew! Lots of cuddly swans, bunnies etc greet you in the gift shop so be warned if you go. Temptation is everywhere. As you come out they have a little cafe and play area for the kids. You can happily while away 3 hours at the Swannery without thinking about it so it’s a worthwhile outing.

With a lovely sun-kissed glow we headed back home, chatting about what we’d seen. We decided that next time we would come back with Daddy and walk the maze which we’d run out of time to do. It was a great way to end our half term holiday and as the sun finally had his hat on, we all let out a resounding “Hip, Hip, Hooray!” Long may it continue.


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I’m linking this post up with the lovely Fiona at Coombe Mill for their weekly Country Kids. 
It’s been really nice to link a couple of our posts here. I’m hoping we’ll be sharing 
many more with you over the summer months.

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Don’t want to miss a blog post then you can subscribe to updates via email, 
follow on Bloglovin, Google+, Twitter or Facebook. Until next time xx



Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Balloons for Nanna

A few months ago Belle asked if we could send a message up to heaven attached to a balloon for Nanna. In that moment I caught my breath and swallowed back the lump that formed in my throat. “Of course we can sweetheart”. The loss of my Mum in Belle’s life has been huge. My Mum made a real effort to be an important part of her life. She wasn’t able to do the same for Tink, but Belle was the longed for grandchild as well as the longed for child. The hole that has been left for both Belle and I is therefore huge. It’s fair to say that when you lose someone so close the pain doesn’t get easier, you just learn to deal with their absence in your life. It’s the most surreal feeling at times. There really is a part of my brain that refuses to accept that she has gone forever. Maybe it’s nature’s way of protecting us; I don’t know.


The weather has been rubbish recently; rain, rain and more blooming rain ! So organising a message to heaven on a balloon has not been the best idea, until last Sunday. At last we knew we were in for some dry, if not sunny weather so I told Belle that the balloon for Nanna idea was happening. Her little face said it all. Excitement, shock that it was finally possible, and then the tears came. They catch me off guard when they come. They normally surface at bedtime. It’s obviously a time when many children feel the need to offload. We chatted about Nanna, how Belle was feeling and I promised her that her wish would happen that Sunday.


On Saturday I asked Belle to write her note to Nanna and whilst in town I bought 2 balloons; one for Nanna (with “Love and Hugs” on it) and one in pink for all those we know who have battled cancer and pulled through, those still battling and those who have sadly lost their fight. This balloon was also for the bloggers I have come to know recently who are going through difficult times right now; Jennie and her family from Edspire who recently lost their beautiful baby girl, Matilda Mae, for Emma of Crazy with Twins who is doing amazingly well coming through her radiation therapy for thyroid cancer, for Karen of Woman, Wife, Mum whose family are coping with homelessness as a family of 5 (one of their children also has learning difficulties) and also for Rachel of Mummy Glitzer and her family who are facing a similar situation. This balloon was for all of you too. It signified love, hope and future joy.

I brought the balloons home and Belle was very protective over hers for Nanna. We had to make sure it was kept very safe and away from Tink’s mischievous hands. We assured her that it wouldn’t pop but if it did I knew the shop was open first thing just in case.


So Sunday arrived and we went off to Nanna’s woods. Back in September last year we had kept some of my Mum’s ashes to scatter near to where we live. We found a lovely local wood and the perfect circle of trees where we laid those ashes to rest. It was a truly beautiful tribute to her. We revisited this place on Sunday with some frushias which were one of my Mum’s favourite flowers. The girls scattered them around one of the trees. It’s very interesting to see how differently children do things. As an adult I would have placed them down in one bunch. I suppose it’s my conditioning. The girls however, placed them in a circle around the tree. They looked beautiful. We also found the crystal we had left there for Nanna too. Some things do remain sacred. It made us all smile. 


It was then time to send Belle’s message up to Nanna. We decided to tie both balloons to the message and we were glad we did as it was the pink one that did the leg work and carried Nanna’s balloon and it’s message up to heaven. Love, hope and joy did the hard work so that Nanna could be honoured. Beautiful !

Belle got the giggles as we had several gusts of wind which almost made us lose our balloons. But once it had all died down we set them free and watched as they flew up, up and off to heaven. It was a magical moment and I could tell that Belle felt so much better for it.


We then carried on walking through our woods, we stopped at our special bench and the girls played happily in the dappled sun. It was a lovely morning. We went to the stream that runs through the wood and the girls were able to skim stones, or throw stones in Tink’s case ! It was lovely to be out as a family, in the sunshine, feeling close to Nanna and also thinking of all the special people we care about. It was a time for me to reflect on the past 19 months too.

We came back home with lighter hearts, clear heads from the fresh air and a lovely glow from the sunshine. What could be better? And in that moment I’d felt Mum close by, with us, smiling and watching her beautiful granddaughters playing in her woods. It was a special moment; one for the memory bank, our balloons for Nanna xx

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