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Our Halloween Plans

Last years pumpkin…must try harder this year!

 It’s half term and Halloween, and there are tons of events on locally during the holiday. I usually avoid anywhere public during half term, prices go up and it’s always too busy for taking a little baby out. Soft play is a special kind of hell during the holidays. Except now he’s not a baby anymore, he’s a very bright and energetic toddler who would enjoy the chance to join in some activities.

I wanted to do so much, and visit so many places during this half term. In fact my biggest problem was going to be how we’d fit in all the activities, places and crafts into just one week. I was prepared to face the crowds (too many people give me anxiety) and I know G would love it.

Now, due to some ill health, it doesn’t look like we’ll be doing half as much as I’d planned. But instead of sulking about it, I’m planning a load of crafts and activities that we can do at home instead. I’m still going to try and get out a bit, because it would be nice for G to be able to join in and have some company his own age, but the week won’t be as jam packed as I thought it would be.

I’m hoping we can have a little party in the house at the end of the week too, so all these activities can help with decorations too!

I don’t know how many of these we’ll get through, but here are some of the activities we’re hoping to do this week (thanks Pinterest!)

Potato ‘pumpkin’ printing

Happy Halloween bunting

Toilet roll Bats (I need to use up the million and one loo rolls I’ve been hoarding!)

Bloody window clings

Pumpkin carving

Spiced pumpkin seeds

Toffee apples

Creepy cookies

Paper plate black cats

Spooky sensory bins (spaghetti worms, jelly eyeballs etc…a classic game!)

If you’re still looking for things to do in and around Cardiff this week, check out these fab guides from Cardiff Mummy Says and Cookies and Cwtches. 

Do you have any trips planned this half term? Or will you be getting crafty too?
 

Mrs H xxx

A Fab Time at Folly Farm

   
 

 I’ve been to Folly farm on several school trips when I was very young. I can remember that it involved a tractor ride sat on hay bales (lots of hay sticking up the leg of your shorts and itching and tickling), feeding bottles of milk to lambs (still miss this) and a few cows.

It has certainly changed a bit since then! Not only do they have the traditional farm animals, but there is a fantastic zoo! From chickens to emus, goats to lions, and cockroaches to penguins, it really does have it all.

Shouting at goats

On top of this there are plenty of different play areas, indoors and out. Several wooden adventure parks suitable for the older children, sand floored areas with sit on diggers, soft play frames for the toddlers, and variations of them all for all ages.

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s a vintage fairground too! A classic carousel and waltzers take centre stage in the indoor fair, surrounded by vintage rides suitable for all ages and rates of bravery. There’s also a beautiful Ferris wheel outdoors that gives a beautiful view of the whole farm. The rides are additional to the entry price, but are extremely reasonable, usually only 50p or a £1 per person, even the Ferris wheel.

Loving all the funfair arcade rides

We took G last year when he was only 4 months, and he did enjoy it, getting to look at the animals and nose about. But this years’ trip was so much better!
We got to explore the many play areas, and have a go on the big slide. There are hundreds of animals to see and shout to, including the beautiful lions. It was only disappointing that they didn’t roar back to him ;)

ROARRR!!

G loved watching the meerkats running around, especially the tiny baby ones. He was oohing and ahhing over the cute babies…well we all were!

My meerkat family

It’s definitely not somewhere that you need to take kids to enjoy. We went with my parents, and although it was special to watch G trying to interact with the animals, we would have been able to enjoy the day out without having to take him. There was even a special ‘adult’ showing at the giraffe enclosure, however I’m not sure that was part of the official schedule!

Just before the ‘adult’ show 😂

The family was forced to spend the most time visiting my favourite animals. The beautiful and funny penguins. I could happily spend the entire day watching the penguins. Mr H and I were there to listen to the penguin talk, and watch feeding. My parents were walking around the outskirts whilst G had a bit of a nap. 

Once he woke up we spent a good half an hour at least watching them waddling and sunbathing at the top. Then we took a walk down the penguin walk ramp (past the beautiful new flamingos!) to the viewing area, where you can watch them diving and swimming around. I, of course, absolutely loved watching them, but G did too! I think we both could have stayed there and watched. He was so excited when they were swimming right up to him at the glass. He even leant in and gave them kisses. My heart melted!

 

Hello new friends
  
Giving the penguin kisses!
  
We love the penguins
 

Usually we would take a picnic on day trips like this (I was particularly proud of the epic picnic we took to Alton Towers earlier this year) but as we were self catering that week anyway, we decided to treat ourselves to lunch at the farm. It was so reasonable! 

We ate at the restaurant inside (next to the vintage fairground) although there was also a cafe and burger spot to choose from. The restaurant doesn’t have hundreds of choices, but what they have is very tasty! Between us we had pie and chips, fish and chips, curry and rice, and pasta Bolognese and there wasn’t a single complaint!

 

Tractor fun!
  
Exploring the softplay
  
Family photo on the Ferris Wheel
 

We had such a fantastic time, rounded off by a trip to the gift shop on the way out of course. We almost went for the boomerang ticket, a fantastic deal that means you can return half price, but there was so much planned already we knew we wouldn’t get the chance. You could easily do two or even more trips in one week and not get bored with it all! We’re were a little bit sad when we realised we wouldn’t be able to squeeze another visit in during our holiday, but knowing that the new members of the Folly farm family were not due to arrive until October, we reasoned that we’d need to make another trip later this year anyway. Not only will you be able to see lions, penguins, giraffes, as well as lots of farm animals up close, due to arrive in October are Rhinos!! We can’t wait to go back and say a big hello.

Folly farm is also on my list of places that we may take G to visit Father Christmas. Not decided yet, but it’s almost any excuse to plan another trip here!

I would really recommend this as a fantastic day out for all ages, and you certainly shouldn’t feel like you have to take children as I’d thought before, it really is suitable for all ages. And it is one of the cheapest day trip entry prices I’ve seen anywhere, especially when you consider everything that is included. It’s actually not much more than one of the big soft play centres in Cardiff, and they don’t have penguins! Even if you add on token prices for the fairground rides it really isn’t that much extra, and as they’re not really something that everyone will want to go use I think it’s fair that it’s an extra (a very small extra!).

 
Have you ever visited Folly Farm? What would be your favourite animals to visit?

 
Mrs H xxx

 
*Disclaimer: we were very kindly given entry to Folly Farm in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are honest and purely my own.

The Herniman House is NOT Moving!

   
   
For most of this year we’ve been planning to move. There’s nothing wrong with our current house, we really like it here, but a friend of ours had a property becoming available that we’d always dreamed of living in. A beautiful little cottage on a mountain. For the moment at least, that plan is on hold. It’s not never going to happen, but it’s not happening for a while.

It’s not a really a big deal, like I said we do like our current house, so it’s we’re not desperate or stuck somewhere we don’t want to be. But I’ve spent so much of this year planning the redecoration of somewhere new, I’ve let our home slide. It’s starting to feel like a house and not a home. With my favourite time of year rapidly approaching, I know I’m going to want to make my home a cosy and welcoming again, for us as well as any family and friends that will visit.

I’m going to be going through each room, decluttering and getting rid of a lot of the junk that is hoarded, and redecorating or adding some new personal touches. There’s something to be done to every room. That’s the kitchen, living room, dining room, bathroom, two bedrooms and a spare room. It’s not all a big refresh, some rooms just need a few little changes, but others need a bigger overhaul.

I have zero budget for this! It’s going to be done on as little money as possible…mainly because we have none :D
Charity shops, sale items, free cycle, up cycling, selling our unwanted stuff. Way more fun than simply shopping!

So wish us luck as we start sorting out and improving the Herniman House!
 
Do you have a sort out at this time of year? Have you got any tips for home improvements on a budget?

 
Mrs H xxx

Tenby Food Diary 

  

One of the most beautiful places
 
 

As autumn is well and truly on its way, we’re reminiscing of our ‘end of summer’ trip to Tenby, only a few weeks ago. We were very lucky weather-wise, and seemed to scrape the last of the ‘summer’ out of Wales. There’s no denying the evenings are definitely cooler now.

Myself, Mr H, G and my parents, had a lovely week in one of the most beautiful places in Wales. Probably the world to be honest.

It was a wonderful week filled with exactly what this blog, and my life, is all about. Food, family and fun! It was lovely to see G enjoying the trip so much more than last year, and getting to explore and join in.

We stayed in a lovely house right in Tenby town centre (huge thanks to my lovely parents!) which felt so homely and cosy. I could have happily moved in! It certainly felt made for me when I found a Nigella cookbook, polka dot table cloth and Christmas cd in the gorgeous kitchen. I didn’t put the cd on, but it made it feel like my kitchen :D

Being so close to the beach was lovely. The sea air is good for the soul. And for my Mum to take G on endless walks when he was fighting naps! Me and Mr H were truly spoilt that week; my parents were invaluable for childcare, especially at night, taking over the baby monitor. We were incredibly lucky to have a little break and a few lay ins! Don’t worry, mum and dad have a holiday coming up, so they can have their well deserved break too.

We’re a pretty foodie family, and Tenby is the perfect place for us. There are many pubs and restaurants to choose from, all serving a big range of delicious food, including plenty of seafood as you’d expect.  

Ice cream stop at Feccis!

The Hope and Anchor – this is a firm favourite of my Dads, it serves a nice selection of craft ales and good food. We’ve been lucky to catch the good weather when we’ve visited here, and only ever sat in the small beer garden, which is quite full of tables, there was a little squeezing and climbing to get sat down, but it’s not overly cramped when you’ve settled at a bench table, though the high chair was another challenge and didn’t sit as close to the table as I’d like.

It’s the food that keeps us going back though. The seafood especially. Mackerel, sea bass, and a lovely seafood platter were all enjoyed.

The Buccaneer – Mr H and I discovered this friendly pub on a day trip to Tenby last year. It was chosen mainly because it could fit in the large group we were with rather than the menu, but we were so glad we found it! 

Again we seem to end up in the beer garden, but this is half covered and has heaters so it’s suitable for most weathers. Bench tables mean, again, the highchairs can’t get right up to the table, but G was happy enough, especially as he could wave and chat to the next table!

Terrible lighting, amazing food!

The food here is delicious; my classic surf and turf was exceptional! King prawns, well seasoned steak and a delicious creamy sauce. My mouth’s watering at the memory! 

But I think what singles this pub out is that not only does it taste delicious but the portion sizes are extremely generous. And by generous I mean huge! We could have happily had a few visits here and work through more of the menu.

The Bay Tree – Mr H and I were treated to a night out to ourselves (yes I am aware how spoilt we were on this trip!) and we weren’t sure where we wanted to go. There were a few ideas and recommendations, 

Tenby is so full of nice places to eat it actually becomes a problem deciding where to go! The only thing we were going on was that Mr H fancied a decent steak. I’d already had a steak earlier in the week (Surf and Turf) so I was looking to try anything. After looking at a few of the menus, and online reviews, the Bay Tree seemed a good choice. 

We almost gave it a miss when we found a sign at the door saying there was live music that night. It’s not that we’re against live music! But we wanted a nice evening out to talk, not be drowned out by loud music. Luckily we decided to try it anyway. The music (a very good female singer) was set up in the front bar area, the restaurant being further back, so you could hear it and enjoy it, but it wasn’t too loud or over powering.

Mackerel pate

I’ve had lots of nice/ok steaks, but it’s hard for me to find one that I can rave about. I like my steak to be one round of CPR away from coming back to life. I know it’s not for everyone, but anything more than rare just isn’t for me. This is something a lot of restaurants struggle with. I understand not everyone is willing to serve ‘blue’ steak, but even getting a proper rare steak is, well, rare. They always seem to arrive medium. It’s a “first world problem” for me. If I ever find somewhere that say they’ll serve blue steak I’m almost always guaranteed to order one. 

The waitress here didn’t even hesitate when I asked; it was a very quick yes. So we both ordered steak.
I am so glad we did! I must have mentioned how great that steak was every day since!

 

the elusive blue steak
 
 
These are just a few of the places we visited for food; it certainly becomes a food holiday when we go to Tenby for the week!
 

Have you ever been to Tenby? Do you have a favourite place to eat?
 
Mrs H xxx

Baby Herniman – The Birth Story

 

Just a few hours old
  
Our beautiful little baby is no longer a baby any more. At 16 months he’s a walking, talking little whirlwind. A beautiful whirlwind. It’s about time I wrote about his birth story!
I’m not sure why it’s taken so long to write this. I was incredibly lucky, I had an almost enjoyable labour and birth. Despite it ending in a c-section, I don’t feel like it went ‘wrong’ or am disappointed in it. I wouldn’t choose a c-section if I could help it (recovery isn’t easy!) but it was right for me at this time.

 

When I was 38+6 I had my final midwife appointment in the surgery on a Friday. My blood pressure was higher than they wanted so I was sent to the hospital for monitoring. 

A few hours later and I was ok to go home, with a home visit from the midwife booked for the Monday after the weekend, and strict instructions to keep an eye on how I was feeling and to go back to the hospital if anything changed.
Monday morning, around 8am, I got up to go to the loo (I was fairly lucky during pregnancy, there was very little disturbed sleep for frequent peeing, but I’d be desperate by morning) and when I sat down there was a big whoosh. I knew I was desperate to ‘go’ but it felt different. I waddled back to the bedroom to go back to sleep, but it just felt risky. So I found one of those terribly comfy (sarcasm alert) maternity pads, got dressed into a comfy top and jogging bottoms and went downstairs. I decided that I’d leave Mr H sleep as long as he could. It was the last lie in he was getting for a while and I wasn’t sure what was going on.

I set myself up in the living room, drink and snacks on the side table, birthing ball (complete with a towel over it just in case) and a John Barrowman concert on Sky Arts…the start of labour has never been so glamorous and stagey!
By the time the midwife came to visit, around half 9am, I was certain it was my waters and not just a big pee, and I’d had some very minor contractions. The midwife and student were greeted at the door with “good morning! My waters have broken!” And that’s how poor Mr H found out too! He was walking to the loo upstairs when he overheard us! Not sure that’s the best way for your husband to find out your in labour but it was very calm and not very soap opera worthy.

I can tell you that a student midwife learning to use one of those ear trumpet things to listen to the baby, whilst having your first ever contractions, is less than comfortable! But at least I helped :D 

After some checks it was decided I was ok to stay at home for as long as I wanted/could as long as I kept checking my temperature, and if I felt dizzy or fluttery at all I was to go straight to hospital. Though how you know if this is different to labour anyway I have no idea.

Once the midwife left, Mr H came down to check that he hadn’t been dreaming and I confirmed that yes I was in labour. My main concern was to finish sewing the nursing pillow cover I’d started the night before! Mr H went out to get some work stuff sorted whilst everything was still calm, and I set up at the sewing machine, keeping my handy iphone to hand to time the contractions. I’d have finished that cover too if I’d cut the pieces out properly the night before, but I’d done one piece the wrong way. It’s still not finished even now!

Mr H made me lunch and loaded up the car with the bags. I watched the Take That musical ‘Never Forget’. It was all a bit surreal really.

When the iphone app told us contractions were pretty close, a quick phone call to the hospital confirmed we should go in. The pain was all in my lower back (I’d later find out that he was back to back) so sitting properly in the car wasn’t easy. I was hanging on to the handle above the door for dear life, trying to hold myself off the seat. I remember saying to Mr H that if it turned out that I was only a cm or two then that would be ok because it wasn’t that bad yet. But when I was first examined and they told me I was indeed one whole cm dilated I nearly cried. I’d heard of people being 1cm dilated a week or so before they went into labour!

I couldn’t be admitted as I wasn’t far enough along, and I couldn’t stay in the hospital any longer, it was too hot and stuffy. But to go back home was risking being stuck in traffic if we needed to come back. So for about an hour I laboured in the hospital car park. I couldn’t sit down so I was pacing around the car (and throwing up next to the car. Very attractive.) and making Mr H take photos of me, my last bump photo.

Last bump pic – I was in labour

When I couldn’t handle it any more we made the very long walk back into the hospital. It was only a few hundred yards away but it took forever, because every 10ft or so I’d have to stop for a contraction. They were very close together and a lot more painful than they had been. 

The second examination, it had to be better right? 1-2cm at a push. I think I did cry at that point. It wasn’t more pain than I could handle, but to be only just 2cm was pretty heartbreaking by then. It was about 5pm by now. I voted for a shot of pethadine. There didn’t seem to be much else they could offer as it was too early to be admitted so no gas and air. I was at risk of pulling the sink off the wall whilst clinging on during contractions, apparently it had happened the week before and it was fragile. So at least the pethidine helped me nap for an hour, I could lie down and doze between contractions. During contractions I was flapping my arm at Mr H for him to rub my back. I was too sleepy to use actual words.

It didn’t seem long before it had worn off and I was requesting more. But another examination was needed first. I struggled with this. I could either stand up or lie on my side. Sitting or lying on my back was not an option. You could see the midwife was thinking ‘here’s another over dramatic’ who won’t lie down properly for the examination she needed for the pain relief she was asking for. There was the firm ‘if you don’t lie down I can’t examine you, so there’ll be no pain relief’. I tried. I got there eventually. If I wasn’t more than 2cm I think I’d have throttled the poor woman. “Do you want the good news?” I remember thinking if this is not actual good news that I’d kick her in the face! Labour can make you very violent. “You’re 7!” I cried with happiness. And was quickly whisked away to be admitted.

Then came the miracle stuff. The gas and air. I’d heard how it made some people ill and they couldn’t have any. I took two puffs and floated away into a hazy bliss. The room started spinning and I felt the most drunk I’d ever been. It was great!

The next few hours passed in a haze. Somehow I remembered the student midwife (different from the one in the morning) was at one of my consultant appointments. But apart from that I was in my own little bubble.

I don’t really remember being told I’d reached 10 centimetres, but I do remember the pushing. A lot of pushing. A LOT of pushing. But I had no real concept of time so it was hard to tell how long I’d been pushing for. I did however manage to ignore a contraction. I’m pretty proud of that in a weird way! It felt like the contractions were nonstop, and it turns out that they were coming two at a time rather than evenly spaced, which explains the feeling of constant pushing. So for one particular contraction, when the midwife checked the monitor and informed me I was having as contraction (like I didn’t know) I flatly refused. “I’m not” is all I kept saying, and somehow managed to stay as still as possible whilst repeatedly denying that there was a contraction.

Eventually I got to the point where I was too tired to push properly. I could feel how low the baby was with each push, but I just couldn’t get past that point. The midwife could even tell he had hair! But as my contractions were coming two at a time I was tiring easily for the second one, and having too much time before it came again. There was talk of giving me something to regulate my contractions, but as time went on I was tiring and baby’s heart rate was dipping slightly, so they asked if I’d go to theatre and possibly have a forceps delivery or a c-section. I would never have elected to have a c-section, but I wasn’t against it either, so it didn’t feel too scary.

Despite it being an ‘emergency’ it didn’t feel like one. The room didn’t fill with panic or raised voices or people running around. I did have to sign for consent which is frankly ridiculous when you’re high on that much gas and air.

Getting in to theatre my emotions did increase when I realised that Mr H wasn’t able to be in the room for the spinal. It was also pretty difficult to sit in the right position and stay still when all the pain increased in my lower back when sitting and the contractions and therefore need to push were still going strong. A few firm words from the anaesthetist had me sorted though, and she apologised after if she had upset me (which she hadn’t) but she said she didn’t want it to get out of control.

Once the spinal was in the surgeon said he would prefer to do a c section for time reasons, and because I’d already had growth scans in the later part of pregnancy and baby was measuring two weeks ahead. I don’t regret the c section as such, but recovery is hard! But I feared forceps more and didn’t fancy trying them and then needing a c section. If there is a next time, and I find myself in the same position, I would definitely opt for the forceps in the hope that recovery would be better. Fingers crossed for a vbac if there is a baby 2. 

As I said though, I don’t have any regrets about my c section, I feel it was right for me at the time, and was actually helpful in learning about how I feel for any future births. And I certainly don’t feel like it ‘went wrong’ which is nice.
With Mr H by my side (looking rather fetching in his scrubs) and a lot of pushing and shoving of my insides (“it’ll feel like someone’s doing the washing in your belly” yeah, the old fashioned way by beating it against some rocks!?) our beautiful boy was pulled into the world. I remember asking Mr H where my baby was when they brought him round for me to see. He looked so tiny and I was expecting a whopper! At 7lb 4oz he was teeny tiny to what I was expecting!

Minutes old

Mr H tells me I went very pale and started shaking. To me I just felt relief and happiness that my boy was here. Turns out I was happy, but I was also losing a litre and a half of blood! Oops! But I didn’t even notice, or know anything about it until going through my discharge info a few days later. But it still didn’t feel like it was some scary emergency. It was lovely. In a strange way.

I can honestly say that I enjoyed my labour and birth, however off ‘plan’ it went, and I love looking back and remembering it all.
 

Did your birth go the way you’d hoped? Did you enjoy any of it?

 
Mrs H xxx