A family trip to Banham Zoo

Last Saturday lunchtime my sister sent a message asking if we were free that night or Sunday. Her and her boyfriend hired a car for the weekend and wondered if they could come and stay. Of course, the answer was yes. I said I’d find us something to do on Sunday and we decided on Banham Zoo. John and I don’t drive so getting places like this is normally impossible for us.

Banham Zoo is about an hour away from where we live so the drive there wasn’t too bad at all. Erin isn’t really used to being in a car seat but she did amazingly well and even had a little nap before we got there. We visited on a pretty dreary Sunday so when we arrived the zoo was pretty quiet. Tickets aren’t overly expensive at £15.95 (includes donation) for adults under 3s are free. (Prices correct until March 31st 2017) The zoo opens at 9:30 every day except Christmas Day but closing times vary depending on the season.

Banham Zoo

Now, looking at the map, Banham Zoo isn’t the biggest in the world but that’s a good thing in my eyes. Erin is only 1 so she doesn’t have the concentration for somewhere like London Zoo yet. As you can see from the picture above, we started having fun as soon as we got to the zoo. These picture props are all over the zoo!

For a smaller zoo, there is a surprisingly good selection of animals to see. Each section we visited was really interesting and most of the animals were out! I thought a lot of them would hide away because it was miserable but I guess they didn’t care. Each of the enclosures looked to be really well thought out and plenty big enough for the animals which is so important.

We managed to get to see one talk during our visit and that was about the giraffes, John’s favourite animals. Erin was AMAZED by them. We got her out of the pushchair so she could see better and she kept trying to get closer to them.

Our absolute favourite part of the zoo was the Farm Barn. This area had sheep, donkeys, rats, rabbits, goats, llamas and pigs. There is a strange gate system to get into the area and this meant goats escaping everywhere. There are warnings but we were not quick enough. Trying to herd them back together was hilarious but my sister got butted a few times in the process. Here, you could buy food for the goats and llamas which is what made them all a bit crazy.

We also learned that Erin could apparently talk to goats. Every time they made their little noises, she would do it straight back. Clever girl!

I won’t go into detail about every animal but here are some extra pictures.

In the middle of our visit we went to the Parrot Pavilion cafe for lunch. It was actually the only place open for food. There are a few outdoor stalls but I guess they’re only open during the main season. The menu is pretty much what you’d expect from a place like this. Most of the food is already cooked and served as you ask for it.

Children can choose from 5 cold items or a hot meal (fish fingers, sausage, veg bites, jacket potato or pasta) with a drink and dessert for £5.95.

Adult meals vary but there are options like fish finger sandwiches, chicken curry, beef lasagne, beef chilli and pasta (roughly £5-£7 a meal) or sandwiches are also available. Now, you’ll notice something missing here. There are no vegetarian or vegan options apart from a jacket potato or a portion of chips. There is a gluten free menu but nothing on there is vegan. You also have to wait 15 minutes for anything from this menu to be cooked. This obviously means that you cannot eat at the same time as the rest of the group.

The food, honestly, was terrible. We paid about £20 for a chicken curry, chips and beans and a children’s fish fingers. My sister had a fish finger sandwich, her boyfriend a curry and a drink for about the same price. My sister could not even eat her food. The chips were so greasy and the fish fingers were black inside. Having worked in a similar kind of place (soft play) I know that you don’t have to use the absolute cheapest of ingredients to make money, especially when you get as much footfall as you do in a zoo. Erin, who normally loves fish finger and chips wouldn’t eat hers either and she’s not that fussy.

If we were to have another visit here, there is not a chance that I would eat here again.

We were at the zoo for about 4 and a half hours so the entrance fee was well worth the visit. We all had an amazing day and even Erin stayed awake the whole time. I’m sure we had more fun that she did!

2017 family goals

2017 family goals

Last week I posted about my goals for the blog in 2017. Today I’m talking about my family goals. I think that there is a lot I would like us to achieve this year so this list will be quite varied.

family goals

Family days out – We didn’t do nearly enough of this in 2016. Funds are always quite tight seeing as I only work part time now so we have to be quite careful. John also works a lot of 6 day weeks so sometimes we only get a Sunday together. Even if it’s a walk to the local park, that will do for me!

Sell, sell, sell – I have been selling on my local Facebook sites for quite some time now. (I have a post coming up about this) Sometimes I do okay and other times are pretty awful and I can’t shift anything. I have a spare bedroom full of Erin’s old clothes and other bits and pieces that I need to get rid of. We’re not having any more children so there’s no need to keep much.

Donate to charity – This one really ties in with the previous goal. Sometimes, some items don’t sell no matter how much you try. I have a box of stuff that has been sat there for months. I am going to give things like this one more chance and if I can’t sell them, I’ll donate them!

House and home – We haven’t been able to do much to the house in the last year as we were busy with Erin! This year I would love to get a couple of things done. We have a big list of things that need doing and something from this list would be great:

Central heating

New front door

Fix guttering above the front door

Get blinds put up in Erin’s bedroom and spare bedroom – Our windows are stupid sizes so normal shop bought blinds don’t fit. I’m too scared to cut one down myself.

Shelves in Erin’s bedroom and living room – One alcove in her room is wasted space right now but we need custom made shelves due to the size

Paint the living room – I used to smoke and a muddy dog does not do anything for white walls! We need the room freshening up!

Fix coving in living room – this fell down months ago and we have a big hole in the ceiling now!

Home office – I desperately need some office space so this is high up on my list. A desk is a must!

Holiday – I have put my holiday requests in at work for the year March ’17 to March ’18 (that’s when our year runs). As soon as they are confirmed, which should be soon, I want to book us a family holiday. Our first family holiday. We’re not going far, only to Center Parcs but we’ve never been before and don’t want to go abroad yet. It will also be a getaway for our 4th anniversary in September.

London trips – My sister and her boyfriend live in London, as does John’s Dad’s family. We don’t get to go nearly enough because of the days I work and the cost more than anything. This year though we have at least 2 trips planned and both for a couple of days. Again, I need to wait for confirmation of my holiday dates and work and then we can get the first trip in April all booked!

I feel like this is actually quite a lot to achieve this year. I know we won’t get everything done but I really want to try to do as much as possible. Do you have any personal goals?

A family trip to Norwich

John and I don’t go out very often. Money is pretty tight now that I earn less a month than when I was on maternity leave and we don’t often have much ‘free’ time. However, I recently got my last pay from my old job and thought we should treat ourselves. We headed into Norwich yesterday and spent the whole day together as a family.

Going into Norwich means getting the train. Erin seems to LOVE the train. She was so excited by everything passing us by and also being able to see our reflections in the window.

2016-11-13-10-33-06

2016-11-13-10-33-29

We had a fair bit of shopping to do in Norwich. I had a £20 gift card for Boots so I picked up 2 new cups for Erin to try, some food and some baby grows. We then headed to intu Chapelfield for lunch. John was much better than me and had something from a noodle bar while I tucked into a McDonalds. Erin tried to steal my burger but she had to make do with a jam sandwich. After lunch Erin had her very first go on a ride and she enjoyed it so much. I am so glad we got to do this as a family.

2016-11-13-12-17-42

Family

After lunch was more shopping and upgrading my phone. I was so set on FINALLY getting an iPhone but the cost stopped me. I managed to get a Huawei P9 and a tablet for the same price as an iPhone 6S. Maybe in 2 years I’ll get one! This took such a long time but Erin was so good and only started to get a bit annoyed half way through. John took her for a walk and was fine again after that.

One of the things I really wanted to get from the city was an amazing unicorn dress from Zara. It was a bargain at only £9.99 and I picked up some other bits too. I also got a few bits from H&M. Erin is all set for winter now and she’s going to look awesome!

Zara Kids

H&M

We also took a quick trip to the Disney Store where Erin made a new friend who we just had to bring home!! John and I also got a couple of treats from Krispy Kreme for us as well!

Olaf

Krispy Kreme

Poor Erin had a nap in the morning until 8:30 but then she didn’t sleep again until 4pm! Whenever we go into the city she always struggles to nap because there’s so much going on and so much to see!

2016-11-13-15-54-08

I had such a nice day with John and Erin. I wish we could have family days more often but this day will carry me through for a while!

A trip home to Grimsby!

This past weekend John, Erin and I took a trip back home to Grimsby for a couple of days, along with my sister Natalie and her boyfriend Chris. John and I haven’t been back since Christmas 2013 and Erin had never been before!

Natalie and Chris (who drove) hired a car and drove up from London to pick us up on the way. It was absolute hell! It took us forever to get to King’s Lynn where we stopped at Wetherspoons for lunch. Erin had her very first meal of her own. Unfortunately, she was more interested in everything else that was going on.

Natalie and Chris left their house before 8am and we didn’t arrive in Grimsby until about 7pm. If I thought it was a long day, I can only imagine how they felt. Erin would normally have been in bed at about 630 but she was so excited to see my mum that we let her stay up late, which NEVER happens.

On Saturday morning me, John and Erin went for breakfast with my sister which was lovely. Erin had a stack of American style pancakes to herself and LOVED them! She’s a bit of a fan of getting her own meals while we’re out now. After that we went to see my dad and step-mum and their dogs Leo and Scout. We also managed to see my step-sister and her boyfriend for a little while and also my step-brother’s 1 month old daughter! Saturday evening was much more chilled out with some quality time for Erin with her Grandma!

On Sunday we had booked a meal at Millfields Hotel for all of us and also my Nanna and Aunt. There will be a full review to come over the weekend but it was super disappointing for various reasons. However, it was lovely to see family and for Erin to finally get to meet them! The rest of the day was really chilled out and was spent with a lot of playing with Erin!

Monday morning and time to leave came around far too fast. It honestly felt like a bit of a whirlwind trip. I wanted to see Jenny from Accidental Hipster Mum but I knew I wouldn’t have had time. I never thought I would ever find another blogger from Grimsby so I’m quite sad I haven’t been able to meet her. Next time I go home it’s a must! It took us a long time to get back home, leaving at about 8:30 and getting in at 1:30. We were all exhausted but it’s also nice to get back to normality as well.

This was Erin’s first really long trip away from home and it wasn’t too bad. I think we could have done with maybe a few more stops in the car just to break it up for her but otherwise, she was so good! Now to plan another trip!

Dog, babies and beaches!

Since moving to Norfolk something I haven’t taken advantage of is the beautiful coast. Part of the problem is that John and I don’t drive so some of the beaches are hard to get to.

2016-10-01-14-25-05

Yesterday we headed to a beach in Overstrand with some of the family. John’s brother and his girlfriend came round for a bit first with their gorgeous dog Roxy! Ever since we got Jackson I wanted him and Roxy to be friends but this is the first time they’ve met! Roxy followed him around while Jackson ran away as much as he could to stop Roxy from stealing his ball!

After some dog introductions, we took them to the beach. This was the first time both Jackson and Erin had been to the beach. John is a bit of a worrier when it comes to taking Jackson somewhere new because he is a bit of a terror. He also sometimes doesn’t listen to us when he should. When we opened the boot of the car, Jackson made a run for it down the slope… and Roxy followed! Luckily, after a little chase, we did get them back and on leads quickly.

2016-10-01-14-14-05

Windy!!

It was a bit windy at the beach!

The beach was really quiet and we were able to let the dogs off their leads safely, without the risk of them running off to other dogs or children. Jackson loved it! He was so happy running around after his ball, with Roxy not far behind him. He also discovered sea water which he thought tasted lovely!

2016-10-01-14-23-33

2016-10-01-14-24-29

2016-10-01-14-24-38

2016-10-01-14-29-25

2016-10-01-14-29-01

2016-10-01-14-28-55

Erin wasn’t really too bothered about the beach to be honest. She’s been poorly and was tired. We had to carry her too and didn’t take anything to sit on. Unfortunately, she didn’t really get to do much at the beach

. She was quite happy watching the dogs run around though. I am excited to take her to the beach properly next summer though when she can really play.

Hopefully, by then, we can get Jackson bus trained so we can take advantage of some of the other beautiful beaches in Norfolk.

2016-10-01-14-26-01

2016-10-01-14-25-05

2016-10-01-14-25-01

2016-10-01-14-13-07

It was so nice to have Erin’s Auntie and Uncle round and to go to the beach for a bit with the dogs! Hopefully this is something we can do more often. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it (and Jackson was worn out)!

Happy Anniversary to my husband

Happy 3rd Anniversary Husband. Where has the time gone!?

anniversary

3 years ago today we were are that beautiful house in Florida getting married. All we cared about was each other, the sun shining down on us and me wearing sandals under my wedding dress! Then you locked us out of our hotel room and I stood there sweltering in my dress. I was less than impressed but quickly forgave you. I had just married you after all!

I don’t think either of us would have imagined being where we are now, on our 3 year anniversary.  We’ve bought our own house and we have a beautiful 9 month old daughter, both challenges in their own right.

I know I can be a nightmare to live with sometimes. I get stroppy and stressed out easily and yes, I take it out on you when I shouldn’t. You’re my rock though and are always there for me, no matter what. I’m sorry I make life difficult sometimes but I know you love me anyway. I think you just find it funny now when I get angry about kitchen cupboards being left open. In fact, you probably do it on purpose!

I can’t wait to see what the next 3 years bring us… definitely not a new house or baby though! Let’s think of something exciting!

The sacrifices we make

My mum came to stay recently and we got to talking about the classes that Erin attends during the week. A friend had asked how we manage to afford so many classes. As a mum themselves, she knows they don’t come cheap!

Sacrifices

Currently, Erin goes to four different baby classes each week. These are as follows:

Monday – Swimming (£91 a term; about 12 weeks)

Tuesday – Baby Yoga (£30 for 6 weeks)

Wednesday – Music in Motion (£40 for 12 weeks)

Friday – Baby Sensory (£70 for 10 weeks)

For roughly 12 weeks of everything that comes to a massive £261! Now, as we have just finished the summer holidays most of this has had to be paid within a week or two of each other. That’s a massive dent in the finances when only one of us is working and the other gets crappy maternity leave pay.

Now, before anyone thinks so, I am not in any way complaining about spending this money on Erin. 

What this post is about really is the thing we give up as parents to give our children the best starts in life. As a premature baby, Erin had a bit of catching up to do. Health visitors said she would be behind with the ‘normal’ milestones. So, what I did was put Erin into as many classes to help her development as possible. Now at nearly 9 months old Erin is not behind in any way whatsoever. She’s a bit short but I don’t think that’s ever going to change!

Since Erin was born I haven’t had my nails done (although I have just won to get them done). I have had my hair cut once and my mum paid for that as a birthday present back in March. Any clothes I have bought for myself have been in a sale. I’ve had 3 times out on my own; 2 were blogging events. John and I haven’t been out for a meal together since Erin was born. I do, however, go for lunch a couple of times with some friends which costs me a whopping £6 for a panini, chips and a drink.

It’s not just me that makes sacrifices though. John definitely goes without too. Jackson too actually come to think of it. He hasn’t had nearly as many good treats since Erin was born although that’s probably not a bad thing.

Now, I have to think that John and I going out for a meal in the city, costing £15 for the train and then £25+ for a meal could go on much more important things. That’s a whole payment for Music in Motion. It’s nearly half of a term of swimming lessons. Obviously when you think that a nice meal that costs the same as 6 swimming lessons, it can change your mind really easily.

I would give up every single one of these things over and over again for Erin. Going out now and again would be wonderful but seeing how well Erin is doing means absolutely everything to me.

Time without Daddy

Last week John’s Nan passed away and this meant he had to go to Ireland for her funeral. He went Friday lunchtime and won’t be back until nearly midnight tonight so pretty much four and a half days. This has been Erin’s longest time without Daddy.

The first couple of days were not so bad. My mum was visiting anyway so I had some help which was fantastic. However, when it came to bedtime Erin struggled without John. He does bath and bed most days and the first night she really struggled to get to sleep. Sunday night was horrendous. After 11 times of going up to her I gave up and brought her downstairs. She went to sleep fine as long as I was holding her. The minute I put her down the screaming happened.

Time without Daddy

On Saturday John phoned and wanted to speak to Erin on the phone. Massive mistake. She turned her head to the phone, looking all excited at hearing her Daddy’s voice. She tried to find him. When she realised he wasn’t there she was so upset which then made me upset. I was a crying mess. No more phone calls!

Not only was this the first time Erin and John had been away from each other for a longish period of time but John and I are very rarely apart for more than a day. Since we’ve been married I think the longest is two nights.  I hated every minute of it. 

I know that John has hated being away just as much. If I let him, I think John would wake Erin up at midnight when he gets home. He’ll just have to settle for me instead I think.

What’s the longest you and your children have been apart? How did you cope if it was for quite some time?

Man’s best friend

John is always telling me that he’s not anyone’s favourite. Obviously I love everyone in my family in different ways. John knows there is this special bond between Erin and I that he can’t compete with sometimes. Just recently Erin has been really needy because she’s been ill and has only wanted me and John has felt left out. I thought I’d write about John’s best friend Jackson!

Best friend

John may not think so but Jackson really does love him best.

Jackson has had a few issues with figuring out who the pack leader is, especially since I have been on maternity leave. He wasn’t used to me telling him what to do all day. However, I think he does know now that John is pack leader (only when it comes to Jackson)!

This crazy dog absolutely adores his human daddy. He certainly doesn’t miss me as much as he misses John. If I go out and I don’t get the same reaction when I get home. Jackson waits for John to get home at the window like a soppy little sod and sulks until he gets home.

2016-08-11 19.08.12

John is the one who plays with Jackson most of the time. He also takes him to the park twice a day or for walks.

Best friend

Best friends

Sometimes John whinges about Jackson, saying how annoying he is. I know he loves him really though. The thing is, Jackson is an absolute maniac. Sometimes it’s super annoying but most of the time it makes us love him even more.

best friend

Best friend

I probably shouldn’t have taught Jackson to ‘lick Daddy’s head’ but it was so much fun. I didn’t really think he would be able to learn how to do that on command. We don’t do that anymore though… unless Erin is in bed and Jackson is being particularly playful.

Best friend

There is no denying that John is Jackson’s best friend. We got Jackson his own sofa bed as we now don’t let him up on the couch because of Erin. However, Jackson still chooses to sleep in the arm chair which is directly next to where John sits on the couch. Soppy git!

Do your pets prefer one of you to another?

Family Friendly Norfolk: Harriet’s Cafe Tearooms

This Family Friendly Norfolk post is all about Harriet’s Cafe Tearooms in Norwich.

Family Friendly Norfolk

On 8th July, while my mum was here to stay for the week, my sister came up from London for the day. We all love afternoon tea and had walked by this place the last time we were all together. We’d made the plan in advance to see what this place was like. I called in advance the day before to book a table, letting them know at the time that we would have a pram with us.

2016-07-08 13.47.28

Our table was booked for 12:30 but we arrived a bit early but this wasn’t a problem at all. We were greeted with a warm smile at the door. After mentioning our booking we were shown to a table at the back of the room. Now, at the time, this felt like we were being shoved out of the way. However, we really weren’t. Another party came in with two prams and sat near us. The back area has a lot more space for prams so I guess more comfortable for everyone.

I was absolutely amazed to be sat next to a piano player. My mum plays piano so she was happy and the setting was absolutely wonderful. Who would complain at afternoon tea with real piano music being played. The cafe decor matched the feeling from the piano player. The whole place is beautifully decorated and even before ordering anything, I was enjoying myself.

2016-07-08 12.17.55

All three of us chose to order the Special Afternoon Tea, priced at £19.95 each. This consists of any tea or coffee, smoked salmon, cucumber and cream cheese and ham sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, miniature patisseries and handmade macaroons. When Erin is older I will definitely be getting her a child’s afternoon tea. I think it’s amazing that Harriet’s do something like this. I haven’t seen it anywhere before. Other children’s meals are offered too at really reasonable prices (£2.35 and up).

2016-07-08 12.42.09

We asked for a couple of alterations on the sandwiches due to dietary requirements (and me being picky). My sister is the tea drinker of the family and she was really excited about the options available. To start with she had Rose Chocolate Tisane and later had Russian Caravan. My mum had coffee while I had orange juice because I don’t drink hot drinks. Nothing was too much trouble!

Our visit to Harriet’s was Erin’s first time in a high chair that wasn’t her own. She is small for her age still and doesn’t actually fit in generic high chairs. I had to pad her into one with blankets etc. I had with me but this isn’t the fault of Harriet’s. I was glad that Erin was happy enough sitting in the chair so she could have her own lunch at the same time.

Our afternoon tea was amazing and by far the best I have had so far. As three of us were eating everything came out on two sets of tiered plates and it looked so nice. We all commented immediately on the cakes and how good they looked. Honestly, everything tasted amazing. We all struggled to finish everything but we did, slowly. You get so much for your money with this afternoon tea and I was thoroughly impressed.

Erin managed to try some herself, as she was pretty desperate to when sat on my lap for a bit. She’s in that place now where she wants to try everything and scone with jam was her pick for the day!

My only real negative about our visit to Harriet’s was the facilities for Erin. At the back of where we were sat was the toilets, one male and one female. There was no accessible toilet and there was no baby changing. I thought I might have been missing something but there was no where else these could have been. While the ladies toilets are probably the most beautiful I have seen, I wasn’t happy about changing Erin on the floor. Luckily, I had a portable mat with me but it is not comfortable or easy. I also felt like I was in the way of other people coming in.

2016-07-08 12.21.57

Harriet’s not only serve afternoon tea but they have a regular menu as well. We saw some meals come out and they looked so good. Next time (there’s definitely a next time) I will struggle to decide what to order!

On the way out we stopped to look at the teas, cakes and macaroons available to buy separately. My sister, who cannot come to Norwich without buying tea, did so.

2016-07-08 13.42.21

2016-07-08 13.42.18

Harriet’s was so close to being very family friendly. Had there been baby changing facilities, it would have been the perfect day out for me.

Harriet’s Cafe Tearooms can be found at 38 London Road, Norwich, 01603 614848.