25 July 2017

News from Devon

Hi friends, we've just got back from a magical few days in Devon and we are HOOKED. Have always driven a little bit further in the past and stayed in Cornwall but we may be officially converted after this trip. I can't tell you how badly this Mama needed a change of scenery and a break from reality. Due to work overload and dog-sitting issues, Husband wasn't able to join us this time but we had a wonderful time with family and the boys were angelic (mostly!) which made life easier for this tired Mama. It helped that Devon has so much to do!!

Here's some photos for you and some links to our very favourite places in case you're ever in the area and need some suggestions...

An evening walk on the farm we stayed at.

Due to the size of our party, we rented this place, the lovely Grascott House in...well in the middle of nowhere really. The owner, Sam, can literally not do enough for you, the house is set within over 200 acres of forestry which you are free to roam as you like and you can take up to 5 dogs with you (didn't read that nugget of info before we went, durrh!) The only downside is having to get into the car every time you want to head out, there is no 'local shop' and each beach is around 30mins drive. This annoyed me for the first 48hours after driving all the way down there from Shropshire (I couldn't even look at my car after THAT trek!)...but I soon got over it and appreciated the isolated feel of the place. We could leave the doors open, the boys could be as feral and wild as they liked, on days when this pregnant Mama was too tired to venture far there was more than enough for them to do right outside the front door, the dogs were ecstatic... by the end of our time we were sad to leave and determined to return. The house sleeps 10, is homely with a lived-in, cosy feel and we loved it.  

Side note: the drive is a mile long and pretty bumpy and pot-holed. This didn't bother us one bit, in fact Boy had many, many driving lessons up and down that drive which is a memory I shall treasure forever ;-) But it's mentioned frequently in the guest book, just felt I should pass it on!

Skimming stones in the ford at 9pm ;-) 

Beautiful Instow beach. Make sure to grab brunch at Johns; everything was delicious, they couldn't do enough for the boys and health-conscious Nana even got her hands on chia seed pudding. The cakes to take out were immense too. We will DEF return to this little treasure next time we're down. 

Boy suddenly felt very grown up this holiday; I'm not sure if it's him finishing Year 1 or becoming the eldest of three but it's breaking my heart!!

Happy as pigs in poo!

A little play sans pants at The Glorious Oyster cafe in Instow. The fish options on their menu are to die for. If you get chance, go!

We hired some bikes and hit up the Tarka Trail one day. There are plenty of places to hire bikes from but we opted for the friendly guys at Bideford Bike Hire who pointed us in the right direction for cafe stops and sandy beaches for the boys. 5 bikes and a trailer set us back less than £75 and helmets are only £1 to borrow for the day (safety first!) which I didn't think was too bad. Considering we pulled into the carpark behind a minibus full of school children (I inwardly groaned!), we were sorted out with wheels and on the trail within minutes - first class service.

The mileage we actually covered when we checked the Strava at the end of the day was pitiful to say the least...BUT we did eat a lot of amazing cake and the children all had a blast so not a total loss of a day! We stopped at Fremington Quay Cafe for hot chocolates during a light shower and wound up staying for an entire lunch. Seriously delicious food and such lovely staff. The place was packed and deservedly so, def add this place to your list of must-visits.

Okehampton Castle on the one rainy day.

Never one to let rain stop play, we headed to nearby Okehampton when we woke up to drizzle and explored the ruins of the castle before enjoying a picnic in the grounds when the clouds parted. This place is the perfect size for little people, just enough to explore and roam without getting lost or feeling overwhelmed. The lady at the ticket office makes a mean hot chocolate, too! 

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When the boys had burnt off enough beans, we walked into the town and discovered Koast, a cute little clothing shop in the Red Lion arcade. Full of gorgeous childrenswear, this place stocks everything from Frugi to Catimini AND they had a pretty impressive sale on. We grabbed armfuls of things in the boys' sizes and left happy. If you're in the area, aren't a massive fan of Clarks and need children's shoes (random, but could happen?!) I also spotted lovely things in that section but didn't get a proper chance to look... check it out!

We stopped off at The Rydon Inn in Holsworthy for a delicious Sunday lunch and it was worth the drive. The roast was impressive in itself...but then the waiter brought out the dessert board. OMG! After much discussion, we eventually ordered five and rotated them around the table. All incredible. Holiday calories don't count in Devon...

Toddler discovered a love for the sea. Here he is at Westward Ho! beach striking a pose...

...and getting cosy again! Boy already knew he loved the water, so we didn't really see much of him once he purchased a boogie board but it was so sweet watching little Toddler experience it properly for the first time. 

We ate at the Beach Bar Diner both days we were here and it was the greatest place for naughty treats. Burgers, nuggets, hot dogs, milkshakes as big as your head...the perfect food after burning loads of calories and energy in the water all day. Get there before 12pm and there's waffles!!

And the last place I must tell you about is Barnstaple. Mama felt the need to shop so on our penultimate day, under the guise of soaking up some cultural heritage, I dragged the whole lot of us into the biggest town nearby and hit up some shops. 

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I bought some lovely baby toys in Little You (and then half an hour later had to go back and buy some Spiderman Duplo for someone..!!) 

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We had a delicious lunch and cream tea at The Cream Tea Cafe where they not only had the best scones we'd eaten all week but also a Star Wars book for small customers to read whilst waiting. Travelling with a 5 year old? Make sure this place is on your list! The owner's daughter happened to be there when we were enjoying lunch and had a new box of Lego...cue a sweet conversation between littlies and soon enough we had directions on how to get to the shop where she'd bought it! (Thank you, S, we came home with some Star Wars Lego!)

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I also found Coast and Country where they stock, amongst many beautiful things, the gorgeous O bags which I already have one of, but needed new handles for (see? Random shopping does happen on holiday!) Apparently they also have a store down in Bude (opp Costa) so you can find them there, too. Lovely people, many lovely things for the home.

So yes, Devon is truly delightful. We only explored a teeny, tiny portion of what it had to offer but we loved it. Both boys were MAD for the sea and I'm sad Husband wasn't there to encourage them more (Mama only encourages them up to knee height and then she gets nervous!) but we've said we'll try and squeeze down another few days before school starts back if we can so that they can have some proper surfing lessons. I've just got to find a short-term let at short notice. Any suggestions? No pressure!

Have you guys got any recommendations to add to the list for our next visit? Can't wait to take Baby next summer, and the boys have requested wetsuits so I think they're quite serious!

7 July 2017

Limping towards the weekend like...

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My God, is it just me being pregnant and exhausted or does every week seem longer than the last at the moment? We are all shattered over here in the shire, nerves are rattling and tempers are frayed. I'm not sure I'll make it to next Friday without throwing one of my children out of a window?! 


Here's little dot at our latest scan...crazy how much they grow in such a short amount of time; he now looks less like a kidney bean and more like human bean!!

And here's the nappy bag I treated myself to when we got a clean bill of health! Except in the end I think I ordered it in grey...I can't bloody remember?! Will let you know what it's like when it rocks up.

Have a long list of things to do...have been just about keeping on top of the laundry but then it has just been piling up in the utility room until someone shrieks 'I haven't got any pants?!!' at 7.55am in a morning. So that mountain really needs tackling before we officially run out of clothes in our drawers. I've also got to walk to the bank - why must people insist on paying me with cheques? Bastards. I hate cheques. I don't WANT your bloody cheques. I want cold hard cash or an online transfer like a NORMAL PERSON. FFS!

What else? Buy shampoo. Ring someone about railway sleepers for Husband. Shop for supper for friends coming over tonight. Find out how much it costs for CBeebies Land. Sell a kidney to fund tickets for CBeebies Land. The list is endless... Best crack on or I'll sit down and it will be game over.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone. It's the Newport Show over this way so we'll be spending tomorrow looking at sheep and tractors with two small excitable boys!! Then they're having a sleepover at Nana's in their brand new bunkbeds before ski lessons on Sunday. Husband and I are going to celebrate our child-free evening by...going to bed early. Can. Not. Wait!! x

5 July 2017

Wassup Wednesday?!

Morning friends. Hope your Wednesday is off to a crackin' start...?

Two things to tell you about:

Firstly, and this is frankly the more important of the two, this week is CAPSULE WARDROBE week on The Spike. Written by the hilarious Esther Coren, she is always right on the mark, but this week she is knocking it out of the ballpark. Just had kids? Changing jobs or moving house to a new patch? Lost your way slightly when trawling Zara and Mango? This woman knows what you should buy to wear and doesn't mess about. Instant easy to wear wardrobe. Have already purchased some new espadrilles (day one was shoes!) and two new grey tshirts (day two was tops!) Head across and check it out forthwith, it is life changing! I genuinely skipped through the school run this morning knowing I was heading home to read the latest suggestions...

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Also, she often includes pictures like this which are nothing remotely to do with the subject of her blog posts but frankly, swing it for me every time!

Secondly, this Mama is pregnant!! 

(That is, in fact, a baby. Not just a kidney bean I ate last week!)

Took a bit longer that I was expecting, tiny bundle is due to arrive in January when all my OCD planning was aiming for a June delivery (like, you know, June just gone!) but hey, I can only work with what I've got and I blame Husband's lazy swimmers ;-) We are beyond thrilled. I say 'beyond thrilled', what I really mean is that Husband is a little shocked and keeps chuntering 'it'll be fine, it'll be fine' and I feel so sick and tired that I haven't really had chance to process it at all really. We haven't told the boys yet because January seems sooooo far away so the poor little buggers haven't got a clue why Mama keeps falling asleep at the dinner table or why they keep getting served beans on toast. Again. For the fourth time this week. Luckily, they're both pretty chilled kids who don't notice a lot so haven't protested or twigged...! I think we'll wait until the summer holidays and then maybe sit them down and share the news? We've had an early scan and seen a heartbeat so we're quietly confident all will be well (as confident as you can be at any stage, if you know what I mean?) and have our 12 week routine one tomorrow. So yes. Sorry if I've been a bit quiet. I've been asleep!!

So that's it. A baby for this Mama but MORE IMPORTANTLY some much needed advice about what the heck to wear when it pops out (after Boy I went through a ridiculous phase of only buying print Boden wrap dresses...rather bizarre?!) Get your butts over to The Spike and let me know what you think xx

4 July 2017

A bit of life lately AND some shopping inspiration

Happy Tuesday, everyone. Where do the weeks keep disappearing away to? We only have 8 days left of school which means 8 days left of being a Year 1 Mama *cue sobbing!! How is that even possible?

Life just feels so incredibly busy at the moment. Yesterday I took the ridiculous decision to take Puppy to the vets after the school run (he still needs weighing for the right dosage of worming pills) WHY didn't I do this job today when I have no small children with me? Lord knows. No, I decided to take both children with me on this errand. So there we all were, at 4.30pm, tired and snack-ready, the Puppy acting like a 25kg dead weight on a lead because he was so nervous, Toddler running in and out of the sliding doors onto the busy carpark like a nutjob and Boy announcing he needed a poo at the top of his voice in a crowded waiting room. I've got to be honest, at one point I almost walked out and left them all there ;-)

So yes, this Mama is busy, stressed and frankly, looking for any way to make her life easier right now. Have embraced the online grocery shopping, am turning down playdates left, right and centre, am just trying to slow down time and focus on these last few days of having a year 1 child before it slips out of my fingers and is gone forever...

There are still things that must be done, however. Right now, I have end of year teacher gifts to organise, a baby shower gift to organise and Godfather's first wedding anniversary looming. These special events will not celebrate themselves! So I've done what every organised Mama does and turned to the internet. Easy, convenient, delivered to your door...perfection.

My latest discovery for unique gifts and treats is Uncommon Goods, the site is bursting with really lovely things and gives endless inspiration when you're up against the clock with little to no mental energy left to expend on what should be such a fun task (damn you, motherhood!) It also has an impressive mission statement that highlights how well it treats its employees (healthcare!) and emphasises the lengths the company goes to to reduce consumption of paper (more online business, less bulky catalogues in the post that people immediately throw out!)

Here's couple of things that caught my eye when I was browsing around late last night...

For Godfather and his beloved (I checked out the tab of gifts for anniversaries which all fit the bill nicely):

Custom Map Pillow

Custom Map Pillow of where they were married

Oval Oak Wine Carafe

Oval Oak Wine Carafe

I Still Live With My Parents Babysuit
Vest (she would find this hilarious!)

Bamboo Suction Baby Plate Set
Bamboo set - am a sucker for unique bowls and cutlery!

Solar System Bath Bombs Set
Solar system bath bombs, educational AND luxurious!

Soothe the Soul Yogi Candles

Soothe the Soul candles to relax after a long school year.

So there you have it. Quick and easy and now I have one less thing to sort out on my very long list. Which gives me time to race to a yoga session in town!

Hope you all have a lovely Tuesday guys, and let me know if you find anything awesome on Uncommon Goods!! See you all soon x