Longleat’s Festival of Light

Now that December has arrived, our focus has very much turned to Christmas and Daniel, in particular, is so excited.  Today Chris got the Christmas boxes down from the loft and the boys are enjoying playing with their Playmobil nativity scene and other Christmas toys.

We kicked off Christmas 2014 last Saturday, however, despite the fact it was still only November.  This was because we used our Tesco Clubcard vouchers to visit Longleat with some friends.  It was our first trip to Longleat in nearly ten years and the first time we had ever been at Christmas.

We began our Longleat experience with the obligatory drive through the safari.  The children absolutely loved this – especially the monkeys!  We were also fortunate enough to have a lioness walk right in front of our car.

After a quick break for lunch, we then hopped on board the Santa express steam train and were whisked off to visit Santa in his woodland grotto.  All the children received lovely gifts from Santa and he was very friendly and chatty with us all.  When I booked, I had to give details of all the children’s names and ages so this meant that they each received an appropriate present which had been labelled with their name.

Later in the afternoon we visited Longleat House which was full of pantomime characters including Captain Hook, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Scrooge.  All were lovely and were willing to pose for photographs with the children.

As the afternoon got darker, the fantastic Festival of Light began with hundreds of giant Chinese lanterns being lit up.  These were really magical and the children loved wandering around seeing them all.  They were particularly impressed with the Chinese dragon made out of plates and other crockery that breathed out smoke as it moved its head from side to side.

One of the other highlights of the day at Longleat was the huge ‘singing’ Christmas Tree.  At certain times during the day you can gather around the Christmas tree to sing or dance to Christmas carols and other favourite Christmas tunes.  It was so lovely watching the children dance at the foot of the tree.

A day at Longleat was a wonderful start to the festive season and one I think the boys will remember for a long time.

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Basil’s Visit

This weekend we have had one of Daniel’s class teddies to stay – Basil.  Daniel has had a lovely time showing Basil some of the things that he likes to do and Basil was also very quiet and well-behaved at the Remembrance Service this morning.

Half Term Fun

Wow, it’s been a long time since I last blogged!  We have had such a great half term, though, that I wanted to share it.

Last weekend we went up to my parents in Essex and have spent most of the week there.  On Saturday afternoon we went to Stratford and had a walk around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.  We took the boys’ scooters and they loved scooting around the paths.  There are a whole load of different play areas around the park as well which they loved exploring.  Their favourite was probably the Tumbling Bay Playground with its water pumps.  Had the weather been even warmer (and we certainly weren’t complaining about the pleasant autumn weather) then I’m sure they would have also had a fabulous time splashing in the fountains just in front of the Olympic Stadium.

We went back into London on the Tuesday but this time enjoyed a few rides on the Docklands Light Railway and visiting the Cutty Sark.  The highlight of our day on Tuesday, however, was a ride on the Emirates Air Line cable car.  I had taken Daniel’s camera for him to take photos but he was so enthralled by watching everything that he did not take any photos.  The cost of a ride on this cable car is very reasonable and the queues are effectively managed.  We were fortunate to get a cable car to ourselves even though there were only six of us.  From the cable car you can see the Olympic Park, London City Airport (including planes taking off from the runway), Canary Wharf and the O2 amongst other attractions.  Before this last week I hadn’t even known that the Emirates Air Line cable car existed but it proved to be a highlight of the week for us.  After our ride in the cable car we then continued on the DLR to Tower Hill where we walked by the Tower of London to get a glimpse of the poppies art installation there.

On one of the other days during half term we visited one of Brentwood’s newest attractions – the Rascal Bay crazy golf course at King George’s Playing Fields.  Crazy golf is always a favourite of the boys and we were extremely impressed by this course.  I would go so far as to say that it is the best crazy golf course we have done – even surpassing the ones on Hastings sea front.  It is not cheap (unless you’re under 3) but there are 18 holes and some impressive features including a couple of rafts operated with a pulley that you need to use to get yourself to the next hole.  I imagine that next time we visit Mum and Dad, the boys will be pestering us for a return visit.

On Thursday we met up with some friends at the Van Hage garden centre near Ware.  This was a great place to visit with small children as there is a nice little steam train to ride on as well as lots of animals to see (even including skunks and meerkats!)  We will definitely endeavour to visit again as it makes a great meeting point.

The other activity we did during the week was taking a young friend tenpin bowling in Braintree.  Once again, the boys had a fantastic time and Joshua even managed to come second, beating Chris!  Obviously he used the ramp but this was still an impressive result for a two year old!

We really did have a fantastic weekend with my parents and did not have a single dull day.

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Starting School Poem

Here’s another one that’s doing the rounds.  Last one now as I have tears streaming down my face!  Didn’t really expect to be quite as emotional as this!


Dear Teacher
I know you’re rather busy
First day back, there’s just no time
A whole new class of little ones
And this one here is mine
I’m sure you have things covered
And have done this lots before
But my boy is very little
He hasn’t long turned four
In his uniform this morning
He looked so tall and steady
But now beside your great big school
I’m not quite sure he’s ready
Do you help them eat their lunch?
Are you quick to soothe their fears?
And if he falls and hurts his knee
Will someone dry his tears?
And what if no-one plays with him?
What if someone’s mean?
What if two kids have a fight
And he’s caught in between?
You’re right, I have to leave now
It’s time for him to go
I’m sure he’ll learn so much from you
Things that I don’t know
Yes, I’m sure they settle quickly
That he’s fine now without me
I know he has to go to school
It’s just so fast, you see
It seems like just a blink ago
I first held him in my arms
It’s been my job to love, to teach
To keep him safe from harm
So, when I wave goodbye in a moment
And he turns to walk inside
Forgive me if I crumple
Into tears of loss and pride
I know as I give him one more kiss
And watch him walk away,
That he’ll never again be wholly mine
As he was before today.


Dear Parent,
I understand that you are scared
to wave your child goodbye
and leave him in a teacher’s hands
don’t worry if you cry!

I’m used to weeping parents
It’s hard to leave I know.
But it’s time to share him (just a bit)
To help him learn and grow.

Let me reassure you
That I’ll give your child my best
I’ll wipe his tears, soothe his fears
And change his dirty vest!

If your darling child is full of cold
I’ll blow their nose all day
Just like you, I’ll care for them
In a special way.

I’ll treat him like I would my own
I’ll catch him from a fall and
If there is ANY problem
I’ll be sure to tell you all.

It’s true he’ll grow to love us
They’ll talk of school a lot
It doesn’t mean they hate you
And that you should lose the plot!

I’ll tell you a secret..
That when your child is here
They talk to me as much of you
Of this please have no fear.

You’ll always be their mother
Whilst teachers come and go
To them you are their number one
This I truly know.

Soon you’ll see some changes
In your little girl or boy
They’ll become more independent
And to see this, it’s a joy!

I’ll teach them all I have to give
To share, climb and to write
But to you they safely will return
To tuck them in at night.

With love from a teacher…

By Emma Robinson and Leonie Roberts
Facebook page: Motherhood for slackers

A Mother’s First Day of School Prayer

Here’s a lovely poem I’ve seen doing the rounds at this time of year..


I wonder what you’re doing now,

And if everyone is treating you kind.

I hope there is a special person,

A nice friend that you can find.


I wonder if the teacher knows

Just how special you are to me.

And if the brightness of your heart

Is something she can see.


I wonder if you are thinking about me,

And if you need a hug.

I already miss the sound of your voice

And how you give my leg a tug.


I wonder if you could possibly understand

How hard it is for me to let you grow.

On this day know that my heart breaks

For this is the first step in letting you go.

Joshua’s first day at pre-school

Yesterday was Josh’s first session at pre-school.  He has been desperate to start ever since he went to a taster session with Chris before the summer holidays.  He seems to have really enjoyed himself although I can’t get a lot of sense out of him regarding what he actually got up to there.  Hopefully he will continue to be enthusiastic about going just as his brother was.


Mum and Dad’s Visit

For two weeks in August my came to stay nearby house-sitting for some friends of ours.  It was lovely to see them for this extended period of time and we crammed lots into the two weeks.  Particular highlights included:

  • Several trips on all three of the New Forest Tour bus routes
  • Picking blackberries on the edge of the forest and then eating them in an apple and blackberry crumble
  • Taking the Thumbhites to Furzey Gardens to visit the fairies
  • Feeding the ducks in several locations including the strange looking Muscovy ducks at Eyeworth Pond
  • Practising the boys’  photography skills at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens
  • Picnic and fun at Moors Valley Country Park including our first ride on the steam train there

We had a huge list of possible things to do and despite cramming all of the above in, there is so much more we are looking forward to doing with Grandad and ‘Ma at some point in the future.


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