A day at Monkey Forest

Easter weekend we arranged to meet our friends who live in Solihull and who we don’t see nearly enough, for a day out. We looked for somewhere to meet half way, us going South and them coming North, so neither of us had a full 2 hour trip, there’s nothing worse than a big journey on a bank holiday Monday.

We eventually decided on a trip to Monkey Forest at Trentham Gardens in Stoke, which is just over an hour away from home for both of us. We have been before about 8 years ago with my nephew and niece (this makes me feel old) it’s a place that I really wanted to take the munchkin so I’d put it firmly on my wish list of places to visit this year.

As always on our days out we packed up a picnic, we went a little posh this time with Mr C cooking Chinese nibbles in the morning and packing some olives for me. I’m partial to taking a picnic anywhere, I think you may have realised this if you’ve read about some of our other days out, I think it adds to the adventure of the day and keeps the cost down, rather than spending a fortune on café food.

Monkey Forest is the only place in the UK where there are 140 Barbary macaques roaming free and they really are roaming around. They’re from North Africa which has a similar climate to ours here would you believe so they’re right at home. There’s a walk round their home and the setting is really rather beautiful. It’s very pram friendly with flat paths all the way round, although there is a bit of a climb up a hill and as the saying goes, what goes up must come down, so there’s a steep decline on part of the walk. It’s not a very long route, you can spend as much time as you want observing and there’s talks every so often which you can listen and learn too. You can also do the walk as many times as you want.

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You really get to see these monkeys in a habitat that is close to their natural one. You see them playing, grooming, running, climbing and just sitting. They really do have the run of the place. Don’t get me wrong, these are still wild animals and have not been tamed, you’re to keep at least a metre away from them at all times. There’s lots of members of staff dotted around the walk making sure you don’t get up close to them. These staff members also offer information and answer any questions an inquisitive munchkin wants to ask about them, the monkeys not the people. The munchkin was very interested in what the monkeys do in the rain. There were lots of little monkeys playing, some of the youngest were 10 months old, which made them the same age as the froglet. They are also expecting new babys come May time.

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We had a leisurely walk around the forest and then sat down away from the monkey area for our dinner. There is a café with tables and chairs inside and outside and also a large grassy picnic area. You aren’t supposed to eat your own food on the table and chairs, we snuck and sat on them to eat, we did buy coffee so we weren’t completely cheeky. There’s a play area near the café, as we sat with our drinks the munchkin and our friends daughter went to have a little play. The munchkin taking it upon herself to be the guardian as her little friend is a few years younger than her. The sun had really come out by this point, it was so warm we were all able to take the many layers we had worn in preparation for typical bank holiday weather.

Because it was Easter weekend there was a little egg hunt quiz, you had to follow the clues and answer questions, after lunch we followed the clues. This led us to another adventure playground near the grassy picnic area, with the munchkins favourite Monkey bars (how very apt), then to the information area, an undercover area where you can watch a video on how the monkeys came to live at Trentham Gardens and then back to the café. The clues were really simple but it gave everyone who followed them a nice opportunity to see the whole of this part of the Forest.

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Still fairly early in the afternoon and none of us wanting to leave just yet we decided to take a walk around the Forest again. It had got quite busy by this point but there was still plenty of opportunity to see the monkeys and watch them enjoying the sunshine.

The time had come for us to set off home, not before Mr C and Ian had perched on a wooden rail and broke it (I can’t believe I didn’t witness this) and not before a trip to the gift shop. Which was extortionate with a Barbary Macaque teddy costing 18.90. I would normally go out of the way to avoid the gift shop anywhere but the munchkin had been given some money instead of another chocolate egg from Nanny (great-gran) and she wanted to spend it.

Whilst the munchkin and Mr C were in the longest queue I’ve ever seen in a gift shop our friends daughter went on the trampolines, this was an extra cost on the entrance price. There was also face painting and peg decorating. Whilst I’m thinking, the entrance price was rather reasonable.

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We had a really lovely day. The weather turned out beautifully, we were all pink cheeked by the time we got in the car, totally unprepared for sunshine. It was also really lovely to spend some time with our friends and getting out in the fresh air. Why not have a look.

 

 

Travel

I’d travel to space, through the stars and beyond
I’d look down on Earth and know I belonged

I’d travel up mountains, down valleys, across seas
I’d fly through the sky and swim in the deep

I’d travel far, wide and stay close to home
I’d trek fields of flowers under the beating sun

I’d travel to cities all over the world
I’d walk in the wind and dance in the rain

I’d travel through deserts, through forests over shores
I’d be in awe at the lakes, animals, birds in the trees

I’d travel through time, to the past, see the future
I’d stop for a minute, really cherish the moment

I’d travel by train, by boat or by car
I’d walk, run, skip, crawl to wherever you are

 

mumturnedmom

Life IS better with Cake!

I love cake.

If I were to write facts about me, near the top and quite possibly the top spot would be dedicated to this fact.

I’ll be honest, it doesn’t really matter the type of cake. I ‘joke’ that it if it has cake in the title I’m going to love it. Really this is no joke. Cake is one of my big loves. I don’t really think you can beat a nice slice of cake with a good brew. My love of cake is why I will always be wobbly and I’m good with that as I’d rather be wobbly treating myself to a nice French fancy than ever giving up cake.

My favourite cake is birthday cake, a birthday or any celebration for that matter is incomplete without cake. Sponge, buttercream, jam and hard icing not frosting. I have been known in the past to buy a small birthday cake just because. Well, it’s always somebodies birthday somewhere in the world so why not help celebrate it!

If we go out for the day and have a picnic, there has to be some sort of cake. If we go out for a meal I look at the cakes on the dessert menu before deciding whether I should fill up with a starter, the munchkin, being the lovely little girl she is gives me the cake she gets in party bags! Are you beginning to understand how much cake means to me?

This Easter holidays I have captured all the instances I, I mean we, have enjoyed cake and unsurprisingly there have been many.

There’s been a birthday, a breakfast (pancake still counts right?) a trip to Monkey Forest, a weekend away in the caravan, at a park, sat for five minutes at home with a good cuppa, helping the munchkin craft, watching TV, sharing (reluctantly) with the family.

See for yourself.

 

Life is better with cake, it really is. Don’t let anybody tell you it’s not!

 

 

“This post is an entry for #betterwithcake Linky Challenge (http://bit.ly/betterwithcake), sponsored by Mr Kipling. Learn more at   https://www.facebook.com/mrkiplingcakes”

We were lucky enough to receive French Fancies, Viennese Whirl & Bakewell Tarts to enjoy this Easter holidays, Thank you Mr Kipling.

Being a Pumping Combi Feeding Mummy & LATCH Giveaway

Did you know breast is best when it comes to feeding your baby? Of course you did, that’s just a silly question.

Now, I know this. I knew this when I had the munchkin six years ago and chose to bottle feed her from birth. I remember at an appointment telling a midwife I was going to bottle feed her and she said I ‘looked like the type of woman who would breastfeed.’ To this day I’m not really sure what a breastfeeding mum should look like. I just knew it wasn’t for me, I knew that the stress of being the sole provider of food for my baby with limited help would be no good for either of us. I stand by that choice to this day.

When I was pregnant with the froglet I made the same choice, I was going to bottle feed. Even when a concern was raised about his oesophagus being blocked the consultant and the midwives didn’t make me feel any less of a mummy because breastfeeding wasn’t my choice. Unfortunately, things didn’t go to plan in the old labour department. He was born with no heart beat, no oxygen to his brain and had to undergo hypothermia therapy for 72 hours. The consultants were very honest with us, they understood I had chosen to bottle feed him but if he survived the 72 hours and if he regained his suck and swallow motion there was a chance that he wouldn’t be able to digest formula milk all depending on whether any of his organs had been permanently damaged.

This was when I decided to express my breast milk. Well at first that’s all I could do as he wasn’t fed at all those first 72 hours. At that point I would do anything it took to give him as much help to fight. I was so helpless, I couldn’t even hold him but I could store up the milk that might be the only things he could eat. I was quite happy to pump. I still didn’t want to breast feed. I knew the way stress and tiredness affects my body and I knew breast-feeding still wasn’t for me. Pumping though, that worked!

We were very lucky, after 72 hours and a day of warming up our little man had retained his suck and swallow reflex and none of his organs were damaged, he went from strength to strength pretty rapidly and I kept pumping, he was fed through a tube at then a bottle. After a while I wasn’t producing enough breast milk for his hungry self so we combination fed, mixing my milk with formula milk, always from a bottle. Did you know if you combination feed, mixing the milks together helps the baby digest it easier? Something I learnt from the special baby care midwives. I stayed a pumping, combination feeding mummy until the froglet was nearly 4 months. At that point we realised we were using far more formula than breast milk, no matter what I did, I just couldn’t up the supply so slowly and quite reluctantly I stopped. Yes sometimes I felt like a cow being milked and breastfeeding probably would have been easier but this really worked for us as a family. It was the right choice for me, for us.

Sometimes it isn’t possible for mums to breastfeed. Some mums choose to bottle feed, yes these mummys know breast is best, it’s still their choice. Sometimes it doesn’t work out for new mums even after they’ve tried and they will have really tried. Some mums breastfeed for months or years. Some of those mums are naturals and some find it really difficult but still continue. Some mums feel guilty they didn’t or weren’t able to breast feed. Some mums choose to pump and to combination feed. I salute all of these women and you should too, because they are doing their very best to make sure their precious little one never goes hungry. Being a mummy is hard, especially a mummy to a new baby, we should support all these choices and all of these women for the fantastic job they’re doing.

Munchkin have introduced an innovative new bottle feeding range, LATCH. Perfect for mums who chose to combination feed their bundles of joy.

With the goal of helping new mums reach their breastfeeding goals, the revolutionary Munchkin LATCH™ bottle feeding system is designed to offer mum everything she needs to make the transition from breast to bottle feeding as natural and comfortable as possible, for mum and baby.

Following careful and extensive research with mums and experts, LATCH™ is an innovative range of revolutionary newborn feeding products. Tried and tested, the LATCH™ feeding system has been developed in partnership with Lactation Consultants, Midwives, Health Care Specialists and a panel of Experienced Mums.

The LATCH  teat has a truly innovative accordion base that moves, stretches and pumps, just like the breast, ensuring baby establishes and maintains a proper latch and continuous connection to help reduce the symptoms of colic.  As baby grows, so does the LATCH™ teat range; stage 2 and 3 teats allow Mum to increase the flow as baby’s feeding demands increase.

The slow flow rate of the LATCH™ teat mimics mums’ breast milk flow for a more natural feed, whilst the unique anti-colic valve on the base of the bottle ensures air bubbles do not pass through the milk, reducing the risk of colic.

The LATCH™ patents-pending, accordion-style teat and anti-colic valve system offers a truly natural feeding experience by:

1. Helping baby sustain a NATURAL LATCH: experts agree a proper latch is achieved when mum’s nipple reaches all the way back to baby’s soft palate. The unique accordion-style teat on LATCH™ gently flexes and stretches like the breast helping baby to latch correctly

2. Provides a more NATURAL FEEDING experience: when breastfeeding, baby controls the flow of milk by applying pressure to the base of mum’s nipple. The LATCH™ bottle mimics mum by compressing to release more milk as baby pushes against the teats base, for a comfortable and fulfilling feed.

3. While feeding, it provides NATURAL MOVEMENT as the accordion-style teat flexes as baby moves her head; providing a continuous latch, reducing the ingestion of air. The one way, easy to clean anti-colic valve located at the base of the LATCH™ bottle allows for milk to flow while ensuring air bubbles do not enter the milk or travel through it.

I am able to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a fantastic LATCH Newborn Starter Kits (RRP £29.99) which has everything a mum needs to get started. Complete with two 4oz bottles, two 8oz bottles, four Stage 1 teats and two Stage 2 teats, the set also comes with a bottle brush for easy cleaning. A mini brush designed specifically for cleaning the teats is also included.

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To be in with a chance of winning all you need to do is click on the link and complete the entries below:

Lindam Munchkin LATCH Newborn Starter Kit

This Giveaway is open to UK entrants only

Caravanning Adventures

I’m in our caravan.

Did I tell you I own a touring caravan? No! I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned it.

When I say I’m in the caravan, I am right now typing this but by the time you read this I’ll be at home, probably trying to get through ten ton of washing. There’s no phone signal, nevermind wifi at the precise moment of typing.

This weekend is the first weekend away in our caravan with the froglet. It’s also the first time we have come away in the caravan this year. We have come to a Haven site in the Lake District, it’s not too far to travel and if the weather is bad, which it can be at this time of year, then there’s lots of indoor things to do. Before we left we really weren’t sure whether his 10 month old self would enjoy it so much. He’s currently asleep in a, well cage really that my friends put together when they had the caravan and the munchkin has got in with us on the sleeping area at the front. So at least we got him to sleep, hopefully it will last until morning.

We have already had an awning disaster, I won’t bore you with the details but if we had been stopping longer than the weekend I have a sneaky suspicion Mr C might have cried.

We bought the caravan about 3 years ago from our friends. If I’m honest I really didn’t see myself as a caravanner. As a child I didn’t know anyone with a tourer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no snob, growing up we spent a lot of time in static caravans. Our neighbours owned one in Angelsey and we would often come to the lake district. To this site I’m on now actually, although it’s changed a lot over the years. It’s just I hadn’t ever seen myself as some one who could be bothered with the organisation of it all. Mr C had got it into his head that we needed a caravan so when the opportunity came up we went for it.

Now I love it!

Well, I love it when we’ve arrived and set up and I’m sat outside (or inside weather dependent) with a cold glass of alcoholic beverage in my hand. Before that, can be a little bit stressful and hectic, especially if there’s the construction of an awning involved and with a munchkin that wants to show every ‘new friend’ on the campsite the inside as you’re unpacking your underwear.

At first we stuck out like a sore thumb as being complete novices. The more we get away for the weekend the easier it become and we get used to things that we need. No longer do we think we need to eat off throw away plates, although easier not exactly environmentally friendly, and we are more adventurous with what we cook and with really making it into a little portable home.

It’s the being outside I enjoy and the quiet. I know, technically I’m not outside all of the time (and there is a show bar and arcade on this site a little walk away). The simplicity of allowing yourself the time to relax, to just sit. Without having to rush anywhere in particular.

You could say you could get relaxation in a five-star hotel, of course you can and I’m totally partial to a bit (lot) of luxury, I’m just not sure it’s the fresh air, sun on your skin, dirt on your feet type of relaxation touring offers.

Mr C struggles with the whole doing nothing thing, he’s always looking at a plan of something to do, but when we’re away he allows himself to just sit. It’s the only place he does it. It reminds him of being a kid. Touring gives kids a blank canvas to make their own fun, you can never be bored when you have nature and your imagination to entertain you.

We don’t bring a TV, the munchkin does bring a portable DVD thing that we let her watch if it’s really raining or if she wants a bit of quiet time and she has her iPad, which she’s been using as she’s lay in bed next to us but both things are never asked for during the day as she’s far too busy outside, on her bike, blowing bubbles, playing with a football, playing with her little figures. She’s very similar at home but there’s always the temptation of TV there isn’t there.

Caravanning is an adventure for her and it will be for the froglet, when he starts to realise what on earth is happening. It took him a little while this afternoon to get used to the grass on his feet. We have already created some fantastic memories whilst we’ve been away over the last 3 or so years and I know that will continue. When I’m sat outside our little home from home, watching the munchkin and now the froglet play, there’s really no place I’d rather be.