Swimming and Pony Rides

Back at the start of August Daniel attended a swimming crash course for a week.  He did really well and made great progress during the week.  These swimming lessons weren’t too far away from Longdown Farm where we have season tickets and so we decided to go one day after swimming.  Whilst there, the boys took advantage of the opportunity to ride a pony.  This was the first time on a pony for both of the boys.  The pony Daniel rode was called Spot and Joshua’s was called Frog.  Both of them really enjoyed their pony rides.

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Tenth Wedding Anniversary

Whilst we were away in Scotland, Chris and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary.  It was nice to be able to go out for a meal with Chris’ family available to provide a free baby sitting service.

For my anniversary present to Chris, I made him a photograph album and filled it with some of our favourite photographs from the last ten years.

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St Andrews

As predicted, I’ve not done very well with keeping up the blog lately.  Apologies if you’ve missed our updates!  Now that the school holidays are upon us (and we’re almost half way through already!), I’m going to try and catch up with a bit of a backlog of things I’ve been wanting to blog about.

A couple of weeks ago we went to St Andrews in Scotland for a holiday with some of Chris’ family.  Chris’ dad grew up in St Andrews and it is somewhere that we have visited with them before.  However, it has been three years since we were last there and we were really looking forward to going back.

In the past when we have travelled up to St Andrews, we have gone by train.  This time, however, we decided that we would treat the boys to their first ever plane trip and flew from Southampton to Edinburgh.  Although pricy, we were really glad that we did this and it made it into such an adventure for them!

There is so much to see and do in St Andrews – it is so much more than just a golfing or university town!  Having said this, golfing did feature heavily in our week’s holiday as the boys enjoyed a couple of rounds of ‘golf’ on the Himalayas putting course.  This is fantastic value for money and the children really enjoyed playing next to the proper golf course.  Joshua certainly needs to work on his technique, though, as I’m not sure picking the ball up and throwing it nearer to the hole is technically allowed!

As well as playing and watching golf, we were fortunate that the weather was good enough to enjoy time on the beautiful West Sands beach.  Chris’ family go in for impressive sand castle building in a way that I’ve never seen in my own family!

The wonderful weather also meant that we were able to take advantage of one of my favourite places in St Andrews – Jannetta’s Gelateria.  If you ever go to St Andrews then this is, without doubt, one place that is not to be missed!  The range of flavours is excellent and my two favourites of the week were Lime and Coconut, and Honeycomb and Sweet Pecan.

St Andrews has a rich history and we enjoyed visiting some of the historical sites with the boys.  On the Tuesday we climbed the 156 steps to the top of the cathedral tower.  Daniel felt a real sense of achievement having done this and so did I having carried Joshua up and down!  The next day we visited the castle ruins and particularly enjoyed exploring the siege mine and counter-mine at the castle.  Daniel and Josh were both given a certificate for their bravery in exploring this underground passageway.

Another highlight of our holiday in St Andrews was Daniel’s first trip to the cinema.  Aunty Nicky, Aunty Jenny and I enjoyed taking him to see Planes 2: Fire and Rescue in 3D.  The little cinema at St Andrews is lovely and I’m always so surprised that it isn’t busier than it is.  Daniel loved his first cinema experience and especially the popcorn and sweets that we shared with him!

We loved revisiting St Andrews and introducing Joshua to it for the first time.  Hopefully one day we will be able to visit with them again!

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Adventure Wonderland

Today the boys and I had a good day at Adventure Wonderland near Bournemouth with some of Daniel’s pre-school friends.  It was our first trip to the park but not our last as we will be returning there in a few week’s time for a birthday party.

We had a great day at the park which is essentially a mini theme park for young children.  We used Tesco Clubcard tokens to pay for our admission and this made it a really affordable day out.  Had we not done this, however, it would have cost over £30 for the three of us to get in.

The boys loved the rides around the park.  Daniel bravely went onto the Runaway Train by himself and also really enjoyed the Battle Boats.  He also went on the inflatable slide (Dragon’s Drop) numerous times!  There were a few rides that Josh was either too small or too young to go on but there was plenty that he was able to do.  The park was not at all busy even though the weather was lovely so we hardly had to queue at all.

As well as a host of rides, play areas and a maze outside, there was also an indoor soft play area.  We didn’t venture in to this as the weather was so lovely but I heard great things about it.

Adventure Wonderland is situated right next to Bournemouth Airport so another bonus was the fact we got to watch lots of planes and helicopters which the boys loved.  We’re already looking forward to our next visit there in a few weeks.

Balmer Lawn

This afternoon I gave the boys a choice of various activities that they might like to do.  The option that they chose was to go ‘fishing’ in the river at Balmer Lawn, just outside Brockenhurst.  We have driven past Balmer Lawn on many occasions and often felt quite envious of the people enjoying a paddle in the shallow river on a hot day.  During the holiday season it often gets very busy here and so I was looking forward to the opportunity to visit during term time.

The boys really enjoyed having a paddle in the river and trying to catch sticks that they threw in with their fishing nets.  They also loved watching the cows that were grazing nearby and who then crossed the river beside us.  It was a lovely space to spend a peaceful afternoon and we will be looking for more opportunities to visit when it’s not too busy in future.

Iced Biscuits

Last week we trialled some iced biscuits made using different sized cookie cutters.  We used the same vanilla biscuit recipe we used for our 3D cookie Christmas tree which is as follows:

300g unsalted butter

300g caster sugar

2 small eggs, beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

a pinch of salt

600g of plain flour, sifted

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), gas 4.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and creamy.  Add the beaten eggs, vanilla and salt and mix well.  Gradually add the flour and mix until incorporated.  Bring together into a dough, divide into 2 balls, wrap and chill for 1 hour.

3. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of 3-4mm.  Dip cookie cutters in flour before each use.  Arrange cookies on lined baking trays.

4. Bake the cookies on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 12 minutes, or until firm and golden.  Leave to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

We then used ready to roll icing cut with a slightly smaller cookie cutter and stuck it on top with a thin layer of apricot jam.  We also decorated some of the biscuits with silver balls.

We are thinking of making these biscuits for Daniel’s pre-school teachers at the end of the year but next time I will halve the recipe and concentrate on making the smaller biscuits which I think looked most effective.

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Father’s Day Cards

This year’s Father’s Day cards for Chris, Grandad and Gramp involved cut-outs of the children’s hands upon which Daniel wrote a reason why he loved them. Daniel then drew a portrait of the recipient for the front of the card.

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