Thursday, 28 May 2015

richmond park

Richmond Park is pretty much up there as one of my favourite places of all time. I used to come here in my young, free and single days to do loops of the park (I'm an avid runner). Over the years I've spotted a celeb or two here too - Nell McAndrew, Andrew Marr, Ben Shepherd plus many gazelle-like Kenyan athletes effortlessly bounding past me. I've got so many lovely memories of the park - all linked to running - so when I was first able to come back here with Freddie I was in my element.I wasn't in a very good place when Freddie was young. I missed London. I missed my freedom and I missed running. We moved out of London just before Freddie was born. In hindsight that was a mistake. I found having a baby almost too overwhelming at times. I felt like I had been hit by a truck but had to carry on as normal as there was no alternative. I don't think I was suffering from post natal depression but I wasn't far off it. Some people find the newborn months an absolute breeze. I hated them. I loved Freddie. I just felt completely out of my depth and panicked. That combined with living in a strange, unknown place made for a horrible time, when I happily thought a few months before, it was going to be the best of my life. Just goes to show things are never what you seem. Anyway, getting out of the house on a daily basis was essential for me to maintain any level of sanity on maternity leave. Even better if it was to one of my all time favourite places. We bought a running buggy when Freddie was four months old. Richmond Park is an ideal spot to go running with a buggy as there is offroad gravelly trail all the way around the edge of the park. Plus there are toilets and cafes en route so it's a lovely way to spend a few hours with a baby out in the greenery but with facilities to hand. It's really easy to park there on a weekday, and it's free too! I felt so free again being able to go running in Richmond Park, but with Freddie. I guess one of the hardest things I found about the newborn stage is that you are a little like a prisoner. You are tied to this vulnerable person 24/7. They need you on call day and night. I think I went for a very short jog around six weeks after Freddie arrived, but didn't really manage much till he was around four months old. You are tired, your pelvic floor muscles aren't what they were, you have no time to go to the loo or drink a cup of tea, let alone go for a run! Which made this trip all the more exciting as I felt like the old me again, just with my new best friend and sidekick tagging along!

Monday, 18 May 2015

science museum

The Science Museum is BRILLIANT!! Come on - you all remember it as a kid. Yes, it's still great. Even when you are 14 months old. Freddie told me so. There is so much to do, and there is even stuff for younger mini mes to do - not that they need it. Freddie found everything mega exciting. I've never seen him so en rapt.

Best to get there early doors. It does get busy (though if you go on a weekday even better, we went on a Saturday). We had no plan other than to let Fredide wander about on his new-found feet, and to hunt down the areas which he might find more interesting.

The Science Museum, like most museums in London, is so well geared up for families. There are baby changing facilities on every floor, family rooms if you want to breastfeed in private and spacious cafes to park buggies in. It's so so good to have somewhere like this to go to when it's raining!
Freddie enjoyed charging around most of all, but other areas he particularly enjoyed included the garden in the basement, and the pattern pod on the ground floor. The pattern pod contains all sorts of cool things to look at and touch including sensory light shows and water ripples and fish on the floor that move when you sit on them.
The other area which caters well for younger visitors is the Launchpad which explores physics (shhh don't tell them!) in a fun hands on way. Even I enjoyed it.
When you've had enough, wander over to Hyde Park for a cup of tea and sit by the Serpentine.


Well! Rye is a treat. We ventured over there one blustery cold day for some fresh air. I'm a little intrigued by the Sussex 1066 country. I think I like this part of Sussex best. Must be the history.

I'm all about finding unique, independent-type places and Rye was high on my list. Oh the irony though. When I was small and living in rural Kent my mum "dragged" me to Rye. I was so bored. I just remember no high street shops or anything going on and couldn't wait to leave. Ha!

The outside of Rye is nothing special. It's all about the inside of the medieval fort town, which has been preserved in time. It's crammed packed with narrow streets and curious shops and it's a really creative vibrant place. The houses are a gorgeous mix of Georgian and Tudor.

We just spent time meandering around the streets drinking hot chocolate and admiring the architecture. Next time I'd like to see the nature reserve. There is also Lamb House and the museum. Too cold this time!

Do this trip if you like.....
Medieval towns

Thursday, 14 May 2015

kent county show

I first went to the Kent County Show when I was teenager. Lots of happy memories. I'm a bit of a horsey sort at heart so I loved cheering on those smart showjumpers, whipping round colourful courses on the turn of a sixpence. It's not just horses though. The County Shows are a little bit of everything country - sheep, cows, tractors, old cars, bees, horticulture, locally-produced food, clothes, antiques.
We had recently moved to Surrey/Kent borders from North London and wanted to embrace our new lifestyle. Plus I wanted to reminisce about those good ol' days when I really was a proper country girl, not one sitting in suburbia and desperately missing the London I have left behind. I thought a taste of the real country lifestyle might remind me why we chose to move out of London.

The County Shows are made for kids. They are set in fields so safe for small people to run around, and there is tons to look at and more to do. Freddie was quite small when we went so he did spend a lot of time napping, which was fine by us, but otherwise we got him on the sling and he was happy looking around at all the different sights and sounds.

We mainly did....
Donut dunking, bee watching, vegetable growing, antique rummaging. horse showing, cow patting (ho ho)
We had such a fantastic time. When we arrived it was raining. But what is the countryside without a bit of weather?! Then, remarkably, it cheered up and the sun came out. Wandering through the Show crammed packed with weird and wonderful countryside pursuits and activities - mole show or terrier racing anyone? - I really did feel like I belonged back in the country.

Do this trip if you like....
Wearing Barbour jackets
Avoiding (or patting) Jack Russell dogs
Tractor rides
The horsey set
Local produce
The countryside!

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

staffhurst woods

Staffhurst Woods, near Oxted Surrey, is managed by the Woodland Trust. The best time of year to visit is April/May as the ground is transformed into a carpet of bluebells. However it's good any time of year (bar mid winter) as the paths are wide and accessible enough for a buggy.
 I'm always trying to find places to go and walk around that are doable with a pushchair. It's not straightforward as there is no one place to go for reference. A lot of footpaths are accessible but you don't know till you get there.Generally cycle paths, byways and bridle ways are ok but they often traverse roads too.  Doing a search for disused railway paths often brings up other ideas of places to stroll safely. I've also found these websites helpful when browsing for accessible places to walk.

Walks with buggies
NCT Dorking walks
Accessible countryside Surrey
Accessible countryside Kent
Accessible countryside Sussex
Disabled access Sussex
Tunbridge Wells walks
Easy walks in Sussex

Anyway, I take the little guy for a walk in Staffhurst Woods on a regular basis. In the early days it was for me - I needed to get out of the house during mat leave otherwise I would have gone mad. And there is something about woodland (and heathland and the coast!) that really settles my soul and makes me feel more at ease and content.
As my son gets older it's more to give him a change of scene. He loves woodland. He likes looking at all the leaves. And now he's walking there is a whole new dimension. I can put him on the ground and let him explore for himself.