View from Werneath Low

We are still here!

We are still here, I promise! I know we have been (very) quiet, but I have a good excuse. I have been feeling awful recently – constant nausea, sickness, exhaustion – but as the dark clouds are beginning to lift and leave me feeling capable of a few basic tasks again we can at last announce…

…We’re pregnant!!!

Annabelle will be a big sister in September :)

So I’m sorry for the lack of blogging, but hopefully now that I am beginning to feel better, we might just have a little more to share. For now though, here are a few little snippets of what we have been up to this winter and early spring:

The Deep
We paid a visit the The Deep in Hull, and saw beautiful Manta Rays.

Learning Resources Shape Matching
Annabelle has been enjoying using her shape pattern mats.

Roundabout fun
Despite all the rain we managed to spend plenty of time whizzing about in parks.

Etherow Country Park Puddles
As Annabelle reminded me throughout the rain – “we like rain because it makes puddles!” We found some excellent puddles at Etherow Country Park.

Etherow Country Park Puddles

Etherow Country Park Trees
Annabelle discovered that tree roots are much better than metal climbing frames.

View from Werneth Low
We climbed to the top of a local hill – Werneth Low. Annabelle enjoyed going on a bear hunt in the ‘swishy swashy grass’.

View from Werneath Low
It was a bit windy up there!

Lytham Land Art
Annabelle enjoyed making some ‘land art’ near the beach at Lytham St Anne’s.

Blackpool Illuminations
We ventured over to Blackpool to see the Illuminations.

Now that the sun is shining more often and I am feeling better, we will be out and about having some adventures to share soon!

Art in the park – Whitworth Weekending Festival

We are very lucky up here in the Greater Manchester area – we are treated to a huge variety of free events and family activities hosted by various museums, galleries and organisations. In the last few months we have been to events as part of Manchester Science Festival, Manchester Literature Festival, Manchester Family Arts Festival, Library events (even bedtime stories with hot chocolate!), fireworks displays, and Christmas events. In the new year there is even a History Festival coming up!

One free event we found over summer was ‘Toddlertastic’ at Whitworth Art Gallery. However, we turned up to enjoy this weekly event in it’s very last week, the Gallery was closing for a huge redevelopment project! The Toddlertastic dance and music session has moved to a new venue, but sadly it happens on a work day for me – boo!

Whitworth Toddlertastic Dance
Dancing with scarves at Toddlertastic.
Whitworth Toddlertastic Dance
Whooshing about. A good Mummy-Workout!

To say goodbye (for now), the Whitworth Art Gallery hosted a free festival called ‘Whitworth Weekending’ which we went along to and had a fantastic time at. The Park next to the gallery was filled with all sorts of exciting activities, crafts and stalls, and Annabelle came away with arm-fulls of artworks to show off!

Whitworth Weekendings
This was a collaborative artwork with huge rolls of fabric divided into squares for children to decorate with pastels.
Whitworth Weekendings
Making a clay hedgehog.
Whitworth Weekendings
Finished hedgehog!
Painting with spices and water, using a self-made leaf brush! This activity smelt lovely!
Painting with spices and water, using a self-made leaf brush! This activity smelt lovely!
Whitworth Park
The pathways through the trees were all decorated with umbrellas – beautiful!
Whitworth Weekendings
We made a kite!
Whitworth Weekendings
Hard at work with Daddy making a spider from recycled boxes and packaging.
Whitworth Park
Time left for a spin in the park!

Annabelle takes these events in her stride now, and is getting really confident at picking out activities that she would like to join in with, talking to adults, and working with other children. Thanks Manchester for investing in children and their creativity!

Threaded Cereal Bird Feeders

After the slight disaster of the squirrel stealing our loo-roll bird feeders, I saw this idea at a local country park and had high hopes that they might stay put a little longer!

The bird feeders are simply made from hoop shaped cereal threaded onto pipe cleaners. I wouldn’t have thought of using cereal myself, but if it is good enough for Etherow Country Park, it is good enough for us!

I loved the idea of incorporating a threading and fine-motor activity into learning about wildlife! We have tried threading beads onto wooden skewers, and threading beads onto pipe cleaners so Annabelle enjoyed using a new medium.

Threaded cereal bird feeders
Big Baby had a taste!
Threaded cereal bird feeders
We hooked around one end of the pipe cleaner to keep all the cereal in place.
Threaded cereal bird feeders
Busy threading
Threaded cereal bird feeders
Ta dah! It’s like a bracelet!

We looped each pipe cleaner into a circle and then joined them together paper-chain style.

Threaded cereal bird feeders
Ready for the birds.
Threaded cereal bird feeders

We used an extra pipe cleaner to tie the bird feeder to a tree trunk and…it worked, the whole chain was still there once the cereals were all gone so we have been back and refilled it several times! The birds got stuck in once we were inside, and Annabelle enjoyed recording them all in her spotter’s book!

For any locals, Etherow is a great country park to visit and the newly re-vamped visitor’s centre has loads of activities for children. The cafe and visitor centre are run by Pure Innovations who are a group supporting people with disabilities and disadvantages – their teacakes and hot chocolates are perfect after a chilly walk!

South Lakes Wild Animal Park

South Lakes Wild Animal Park

We have visited a few Zoos over the last few years, and although we enjoy seeing the animals, we always feel slightly uncomfortable about how confined some of the animals seem. South Lakes Wild Animal Park had a very different feel about it. There is a big emphasis on environmental issues, protection of endangered species, and the animals are all in spacious ‘natural feeling’ enclosures. Although the animals might be far away from viewing areas due to the large enclosures, there are long expanses of elevated walkways which mean you can get a great view wherever they may be hiding!

It was a bit of a long way for us to travel up to Dalton-in-Furness but the price made up for it – during the winter (usually November – April), entry is FREE! We visited on a pretty chilly day, but we still had a great time wrapped up warm!

South Lakes Wild Animal Park
Where first?
South Lakes Wild Animal Park
Just riding on a crocodile…watching some Lemurs!
South Lakes Wild Animal Park
Annabelle absolutely loved how closely she could see the Tiger!
South Lakes Wild Animal Park
Here he is, up close!
South Lakes Wild Animal Park
Nice to see that the little train runs even through the quiet months.
South Lakes Wild Animal Park
Daddy came too!
South Lakes Wild Animal Park
These wild beasts came right up close!

We had a lovely day and were there right up until closing time! Annabelle got a great view of all the animals and loved the variety that we saw. From sun bathing, yoga-posing ring tailed Lemurs to tigers, lions, otters, and of course, lots of monkeys!

Now that the free season has just started again I have a feeling we might be heading up north again soon!

Baby photographer

It’s a Doll’s Life

Today we went to the supermarket and as usual we had to get a trolley with “One baby seat and one big girl seat” so that Annabelle and Big Baby could sit together (Don’t shout at me, we only use them when there are plenty of spares for the real babies!) and as usual Big Baby was dressed appropriately for the weather, had a bottle of water and a snack. The lady at the checkout said to Annabelle “Ooh it’s nice to see a doll with some clothes on, usually children carry around naked babies!” Annabelle looked horrified at the idea, she patiently sits and gets her babies dressed and undressed herself every day.

My point is Annabelle takes looking after her babies VERY seriously. Suzy and Big Baby get their own library books every time we visit, they have their own seats in restaurants, they have their nappies changed when Annabelle goes to the toilet, and Annabelle probably spends as much time pushing them on the swings or roundabout at the park as she does playing on them herself!

Here are just a few little insights into life as Annabelle’s baby…

Feet Measuring
The nice lady at Clarks let Annabelle measure Suzy’s feet.
Suzy at Let Loose
Keeping Suzy busy while she is playing at soft play.
Baby cruisin'
Annabelle and Big Baby cruising and playing the radio, with no particular place to go!
Swinging at Brabyns Park
Swinging together at Brabyns Park – It is not only the dolls that have to get dressed up, bears do too!
Climbing frame adventures
Big Baby has learnt to stand up! I think she had a little help to climb to the top of this climbing frame though.
On the train in Windsor
On the train in Windsor
Off on a journey.
Waiting at the train station on our summer adventure into Manchester.
Tram ride
Annabelle held on VERY tight to Suzy on the tram ride!
Toy Story Time
Story time for all her friends!
Snuggles and Stories
Snuggles and stories for Big Baby
Post Box Trip
A trip to the post box for Big Baby on a sunny day!


Big Baby's sunhat
Big Baby’s special sunhat
Summer Play
Big Baby is waiting to ‘catch’ Annabelle at the bottom of the slide!
Big Baby in the Sun
Don’t worry, Annabelle put lots of sun cream on her and pulled the chair into the shade!
Pool baby
Lucky Big Baby even got her very own paddling pool during the hot weather, complete with her own selection of pool toys!
Busy Beading
Busy making a “Keeping Safe” necklace for Big Baby


One of my funniest memories is of Annabelle dressed in her nurse’s outfit ‘caring’ for Suzy . She gently picked her up from the sofa, stroked her and said softly “Ah, hello Suzy are you ok? Come on then, let’s get you bumped.” She then carried Suzy carefully to the hallway, swung her by the feet and smashed her head against the door. All so she could take care of her again!! As I said, Annabelle takes this very seriously! We made her babies some bandages from ribbon and Velcro after a particularly nasty spate of stair falls. We also made some re-usable felt and Velcro nappies (diapers) that she pretends to wash in her washing machine *eco-mum gold star for me 😉 *

Doll bandages from ribbon and velcro
Suzy was badly injured, question is…did she fall or was she pushed?!
Dolls nappy diaper from felt and Velcro
Suzy’s new Velcro nappy
Velcro and felt doll nappy diaper
Annabelle’s first solo attempt at a nappy change!
Doll cardigan
Suzy’s handmade jet-pack/cardigan!
Decorated cardigan
All decorated for “posh girl Suzy”.
Upside down baby
Big Baby likes being upside down. Apparently.
Hilltop girls
High in the hills, through the long grass there lurks a “Suzy Lion”. Rah!
Doll painting
I think you missed a spot Big Baby.
Best friends
Cleaning the wall together ready for a new sofa. (We didn’t ask her too, but this is exactly how I found them!)
Gretna Green
Celebrating Monkey and Suzy’s wedding!
Being a dentist in Eureka
Suzy always comes to the dentist with us to have her teach checked, but this time it was Annabelle’s turn to be a dentist!
Photography with Daddy
See, It’s not just me that follows them round with a camera!
Baby photographer
Practicing her photography skills herself…
Baby photographer
…And again!


Gruffalo hunting
“There might be a snake in this log pile house, or the Gruffalo might be waiting. You look first Suzy.”
And this is how a lot of our adventures end! (zzzz)

A note on Big Baby. Big Baby has been known as Big Baby since she arrived at Christmas time. We met Suzy first and she was named, then we met Big Baby. She was a big baby compared to little Suzy! Annabelle has tried to give her various names but they just never stick, and we return to Big Baby! She has even been into school with me to be Baptised by the local Reverend when we learnt about Christianity. The children agreed that we couldn’t possibly baptise her Big Baby so they voted to name her Ellie. I told Annabelle about all this, and she replied “That sounds nice, did you have fun Big Baby?”