I probably could have come up with 40 ways to help G celebrate his 40th birthday this year but here are a few more momentos from the one he chose – a quiet, secluded farm stay in Hereford. He spent the first few hours in peaceful reflection gazing at the view of the Black Mountains while E made chalk drawings and honed his potty skills. Ice cream featured (with more restraint than normal due to the rural location), Lego play dominated and G’s folks joined us on the last day.
Whether you’re a Facebook user or not you’ll understand what I mean when I say I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I don’t like the way it sucks me in and gobbles up my free time with pointless trivia, other people’s arguments and, at it’s worse, assaults me with evidence of pure heartlessness. At it’s best, and the reason why I stay opted in, it connects me with loved ones and provides many heartwarming stories of compassion, love and kindness. A reminder that the world is not the hate-full place the media would have us believe.
The internet provides some wonderful ideas for crafting activities, creating our own family traditions, gentle parenting advice and amusing things to chat to E about. Like this Q&A that did the rounds on Facebook last week. I think we may have to repeat something like it year on year to see how E’s answers change with age (and mine!). So without any prompting, I asked 3 year old E for answers to the following questions (I did have to explain a couple of terms to him when he looked puzzled and said ”I don’t know what that means”)
1. What is something Mummy always says to you? Thank you
2. What makes Mummy happy? Hugging Euan
3. What makes Mummy sad? Don’t know. Nothing?
4. How does Mummy make you laugh? Tickling
5. What was Mummy like as a child? Small
6. How old is Mummy? 40
7. How tall is Mummy? a bit tall
8. What is Mummy’s favourite thing to do? bobbinging Euan
(N: ”What’s bobbinging?”. E: ‘‘Don’t know”).
9. What does Mummy do when you’re not here? go to work
10. If Mummy becomes famous what will it be for? Don’t know
11. What is Mummy really good at? Bab
(Me: ‘‘What’s that?”. E: ”It’s when you do something very nice”)
12. What is Mummy not very good at? Badminton
13. What is Mummy’s job? doing letters on the computer
14. What is Mummy’s favourite food? I don’t notice
15. What makes you proud of Mummy? doing something very nice
16. If Mummy was a cartoon character who would she be? a bunny
17. What do you and Mummy do together? make Lego
18. How are you and Mummy the same? We’ve got bones
19. How are you and Mummy different? I’ve got different clothes on
20. How do you know Mummy loves you? I’ve got hugs in my brain
21. What does Mummy like best about Daddy? You love him very much
22. Where is Mummy’s favourite place to go? Hillfields
23. What did Mummy do before you were born? You made me
And how did my answers compare? He was pretty spot on with most of them.
My favourite food is peas and anything is pallatable with chutney or balsamic vinegar draped over it. Being a Mum makes me happy. Letting other people’s opinions dent my self-confidence makes me sad. Doing something nice (bab!) for other people gives me a sense of purpose. Before E was born I hoped for a miracle. And what I like best about E’s Daddy is his compassionate heart, gentle strength and ability to discern when wise words or silent bear hugs are most needed.
We became National Trust members for the first time last year and renewed our membership this year by default when I didn’t notice the annual subscription was taken 3 weeks before it expired. I’m too used to doing things at the eleventh hour it seems. Don’t get me wrong, membership is well worth the cost, I waivered only because of the timing of the payment and probably would have let it lapse for a few months before rejoining presuming April showers might prevent us from getting out and about. As it happens we’ve used our membership 5 times* already so I’m glad of the National Trusts’ presumptuous efficiency with membership renewals.
The first of this year’s visits was to Westbury Court Garden, the only restored Dutch style water garden in the country and the nearest NT property to home. I’ve driven past it hundreds of times over the years yet only been there once, a decade or more ago, with my Mum and Nan. I recall my lovely, straight talking Nan being somewhat underwhelmed by the experience – a reflection of her simple view on life [‘It’s just a garden‘] rather than a lack of appreciation for the hard work by staff and volunteers that goes into maintaining this beautiful, historic site. E on the other hand was very effusive [”I love it here’‘] and especially liked feeding the fish in the canals, watching the water fountain and pointing to the plants growing in the 17th Century vegetable beds and asking what they were called.
The array of tulips reminded me of my allotment neighbours Pat and Robin who always have smatterings of tulip flair dotted among their edible plants. I felt a little wistful for my lost allotment love and found myself thinking of my Nan momentarily. Just as quickly I was pulled back into the present by E calling ”Mum, come and find me, I’m going to hide in that little house’‘. Life moves on but a little bit of time stands still in beautiful tranquil places like Westbury Court Garden. Hooray for The National Trust and the wonderful work they do to look after the sites we’ve grown to love visiting. Places like these that offer grown ups an opportunity for quiet reflection while the kids run off to explore.
* return visits made to Woodchester Park, Croome Park, Newark Park and Woodchester Park and a first time visit to Snowshill Manor for the Easter Egg hunt.
We had a blissful time staying on a farm in Herefordshire last weekend for George’s 40th birthday. Daily ambles out to see the sheep included chats over the fence with the cows and collecting eggs from the hens for breakfast. We found bugs, a pond, sticks galore and oh, the excitement of cow pats! Such a lovely way to spend quality time as a family. You won’t find cow pat poking on any ”10 outdoor activities for the weekend’‘ list but there are plenty of other suggestions from JCB Kids as part of their Dig the Adventure campaign to encourage families to get outdoors. Chalk drawing would certainly be in my top 5 (but then you know that from our back yard art posts). We received E’s green ‘Build It’ t-shirt and ‘Joey JCB’ hat for taking part in the JCB Kids Dig the Adventure challenge. E loved wearing both and anyone with a toddler will know if it’s not love at first sight you’ll run out of steam trying to persuade them long before they consider wriggling into it! The hat was nice and roomy for E’s mop of curls – he only removed it when the wind picked up and he tired of holding it on. It was breezier than the sunshine suggested most of the weekend so E’s second JCB Kids T-shirt was only uncovered on our return home. The ”Build It” slogan was as appropriate indoors as out as he occupied himself building lego creations while we unpacked and sorted out the washing. I rather liked the outtakes too – such a comedian our funny, sunny boy.
Disclosure: We were sent these clothes from the George range at ASDA. We were not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.