Quarry Bank // National Trust family days out

Gabe working in the kitchen of the Apprentice House at Quarry Bank

We have been talking about getting National Trust membership for a few years now and for one reason or another never got round to it. But when my friend Claire suggested we meet up for a family day out at Quarry Bank in Cheshire we finally bit the bullet and bought a family membership. Or rather my parents did – thanks for the early Christmas present! Read more

Grizedale Forest // Gruffalo Spotters trail

Growing up in Blackpool with parents who love the outdoors and especially walking, meant I spent a lot of time in the Lake District. Barry also spent a large portion of his childhood in the Lakes, and we even got married there. One of the reasons we moved back to the north west from Scotland was so we could be nearer to our happy place.

Having said that we haven’t managed to many trips to the Lakes since we moved but now the boys are a bit bigger we plan on changing that. And we started on Easter Monday with a trip to Grizedale Forest to do a little Gruffalo spotting!  Grizedale is one of 26 Forestry Commission woods and forests where you can follow the Gruffalo Spotters trail. There is even an app to help you in your hunt, but more of that in a minute.

Taking a picture of Toby with the fox using the Gruffalo Spotters app

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Living Arrows 43/52 (2016)

Hurray! For the second week in a row we have a positive Living Arrows post. It hasn’t been the easiest of weeks in a practical sense – on Monday work started on our new kitchen and by the evening we were left with a completely empty room. By Wednesday the new false ceiling and wiring for the lights had been put in and now we are just waiting for the whole room to be plastered which is happening today. Once the plaster is on the kitchen can be fitted, and hopefully by the end of next week we might have a usable kitchen, even though it will probably still be a way off finished. In the meantime we have been spending quite a bit of time at my mum and dad’s house, there have been a couple of takeaways, and we have even managed to cook a few things in the spare bedroom using our bargain Aldi mini oven and hot plate!

However, apart from coping without a kitchen, and Barry having a night away for work on Wednesday, it hasn’t been a bad week at all. Toby is still doing great with his potty training. On Friday we went to Warrington to meet my friend Claire and her twins and he managed a whole day out, including an hour each way in the car, with no accidents.

Both boys’ Living Arrows pictures were taken on our day out. We went to Walton Hall and Gardens just south of Warrington. It was a big park with a great play area, a cafe and even a small children’s zoo (if you can call goats, rabbits and peacocks a zoo). There was plenty to do for the boys but sometimes all you need is your wellies on, a good stick and a muddy puddle to splash in.

Toby splashing in a muddy puddle with his new stick

Gabe has continued to show us his happier side this last week too. For the first time in ages he isn’t ill, and although his top two molars are only half through I think his teeth are giving him a bit of a break for now too. His sleep is still all over the place but we haven’t had any really awful nights for a while, and on Saturday night he made it until 4 am before his first wake up again.

Even though he spent most of the day in the car or the buggy on Friday Gabe seemed to enjoy his day out too. I can’t wait for him to start walking though so he can get out and start running around with the other boys. In the last couple of days though he has started standing unaided, and he can walk just holding one hand so I don’t think proper walking will be too far away. And until then, just look at his little face!

Gabe and his lovely smile

Living Arrows

My Wild Ones // Dundee Science Centre

When my friend Donna from What the Redhead said told me she was coming on holiday to Scotland I was hoping she would be staying near enough that we could meet up and I could get to meet her lovely kids (and husband), and she could meet Toby and Gabe. Even though Scotland is a pretty big place luckily they weren’t staying too far away so we arranged to meet for a day out at the Dundee Science Centre.

Dundee is just under an hour’s drive from where we live, which isn’t too far but this was the first time I was taking both boys out for the day on my own. I made sure we had everything we needed, plus plenty of things we probably wouldn’t, and off we went.

Even though it’s not half term in most places near us the science centre was still quite busy. It’s not that big but there was plenty for the kids to look at and play with. Because it was quite small it also meant that I didn’t have to hang on to Toby too tightly, as long as I kept an eye on him he couldn’t go far.


It was lovely to meet Donna’s kids LP and LM, especially having read so much about them over the last few years.

LP and LM

We had lunch at the science centre and Toby was very well behaved, in fact he was really good all day. Gabe was being a bit of a monkey and wouldn’t drink hardly any of his milk (which meant he ended up crying on the way home because he was hungry), but apart from that he was generally happy to hang out in the buggy.

The one downside to taking the boys without Barry was that although there was quite a lot for Toby to look at and do (like these robots with handles to turn and buttons to push) I couldn’t really help explain things to him as much as I might have been able to if Barry was there.


It didn’t matter too much anyway as I think Toby’s two favourite things of the whole day were this thing that lit up and played different notes when you stood on the different sections…

sound and lights

…and running up and down this walkway!


Aside from Gabe crying on the way home as I’ve already mentioned we really did have a lovely day out and it’s made me realise that taking both kids out on my own is certainly possible, even if it’s not actually easy yet!

It was fantastic to see Donna and her lovely family too – I love it when blogging and the real world collide.