Friday, 20 March 2015

We went to Coombe Mill

At the start of the month we headed west to Coombe Mill with a group of friends. I have wanted to visit ever since I started following Fiona's blog back when I started blogging.  I'd looked into staying before but with a limited budget it was off the cards &  I'm embarrassed to say the bad trip advisor review did initially put me off until I read Fiona's response. Then I started to wonder whether the price would be worth it considering we have the new forest on our doorstep (if I was going it had to be one of the cottages.) Then the perfect opportunity to visit came up when having a drunken social night in with friends.

We were discussing going away as a group (6 adults & 6 kids - 5 boys!) in a big house somewhere. I suggested Coombe Mill and it was no contest! It actually worked out to be very good value and very competitive compared to other large houses which didn't have a hot tub. I didn't know this before we booked but out of season you can rent out the properties for short breaks so it was ideal to see if we still remained friends at the end of the trip.

Well what can I say the place is stunning! So beautiful and very welcoming and child friendly, exactly like I thought it would be. We arrived on Friday evening with 4 hyper excited children who wanted to scope out their bedroom. The two cots were all ready for us and were normal wooden cots rather than travel cots. I had high expectations for tree roots and it didn't disappoint exceeding them all. The space is bigger in real life than on the website and the bedrooms - wow massive beds and still plenty of space even with cots in the master bedrooms.

Each family had their own bathroom which really helped us all feel like we had our own space. The kids had a playroom complete with plenty to keep them occupied. There was a separate lounge area with sofa's to seat 6 but the real hub of the home was the huge kitchen diner complete with all the crockery and cutlery needed for us all to eat together with some spare. The kitchen is also stocked with childrens plates, cutlery and cups. Can I live here please!

We made use of the hot tub every day and the kids even got a turn on Sunday after a wet farm run - don't worry they are only drinking water.

One of the the things that makes Coombe Mill magical for the little ones is the farm run. All the children instantly took to farmer Nick and were eager to have a go riding the tractor - well all except the only one who went to sleep! He was worried that he wouldn't know how to drive it so with a bit of coaxing he got his turn on day two. 
The thing that surprised me, and it was a welcome surprise, was how close we were allowed to get to the animals. I had assumed it would be like the local tourist farm all behind fences in fields with the opportunity to hold baby chicks if they were ready. We went in the fields with the deer, geese, chickens, wallabies and goats and were welcome to come back at any point as long as we respected the animals. 

The scenery is stunning and any eggs collected were dished out at the end of the farm run. The boys all had a go at being King Arthur in the chicken field but failed to have the magic touch to free the sword from the stone. 

There were plenty of smiles on board the Coombe Mill railway and a few screams as the grown ups in our party and some of the boys tried to make the rest of us jump when they appeared from behind bushes.

Would I recommend Coombe Mill & Tree roots? You bet! We wanted to head back for the summer, October half term or new year but tree roots is all really booked which isn't a huge surprise given how great it is! Now we are waiting for next years school dates to be released so we can book before you all do.

It may be fuzzy but it's the only group photo we got just as we had packed up our cars to go home - do we still look like friends? 

We visited some stunning beaches during our brief stop in Cornwall but I'll save those for another day. 

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Star gazing live

I was so excited to see a BBC star gazing live event was happening in Southampton & the bonus was it was happening the day before the eclipse. 

The boy has been showing an increasing interest in all things star & spacey so we headed along to the free event and were lucky enough to get tickets to view a show in the pop up planetariums. The observatory tours were all booked so we lucked out.

The boys enjoyed the show in the blow up domes before we made a play doh solar system to scale.

The boy really enjoyed making his solar system an it made it easy to see the size difference in the gassy giants. 

Next on the agenda was the edible eclipse which was a really fun way to engage the children in the facts of what it will look like all with the help of a chocolate biscuit! 

Unfortunately it was cloudy so we didn't get chance to do any star gazing but we've made plans to head into the forest on the next clear night instead. 

There are a number of free star gazing live events throughout the country, you can find out if there's an event near you here.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Cervical cancer survivor

Last year I wrote this post, I was full of emotion having just discovered a friend with two small children had cancer.

It was a new diagnosis with the severity unknown but I was heartbroken & so was she. We cried then pulled ourselves together and talked. I will always remember that day. I listened to her talking about plans for the security of her family in the event that she wasn't around and it wasn't easy to hear. It wasn't easy and it certainly wasn't fair!

I researched every day to send her a survivor story and there were times when these were hard to find. It doesn't mean there aren't any, it means people are living life after surviving cancer. 

My sister recently had a scare following a smear test and her thoughts turned to the what if's. We automatically think of the worst when it comes to cancer but today I have some brilliant news to share.

Today as I was stood in the sweet shop waiting for the lady to count my sons sweets I had text message. After a very quick glance at my phone these few words bought tears to my eyes. 'MRI shows tumor is gone.'

This is a cervical cancer stage 2 survivor story! She had 6 weeks of chemo & radiotherapy at the same time and the tumor has gone.

She is amazing, she had both her boys birthday parties in the midst of treatment and she looked stunning as always. An inspiration, a great mum and a great friend who has beat cancer! 

Review - Disney Mickey Mouse Potty System

After seeing my post about the young one potty training TOMY kindly sent him the Disney Mickey Mouse Potty System to review. 

When it arrived both boys were eager to try the flush which is shaped like Mickey's hand. It plays a little tune which the boys loved so they kept flushing which can get annoying like all noisy toys. The flush comes with 2 AAA batteries included.

It is a good size with a small black bowl to hold the waste which can be removed easily for disposal and cleaning. The red and yellow insert act as the seat for the potty but can also be used together for a trainer seat for a normal toilet.

I found the trainer seat didn't fit that well on our toilet and even with the normal toilet seat up there was still a gap which I didn't like. It must have been comfortable though as the young one refused to use he normal one preferring the foam yellow ring.

Once the lid is down it can be used as a step which is really good as it actually takes a good weight (22.7 kg) so the boy can use it too.

So would we recommend it? Yes but not for the trainer seat. As the young one had already potty trained himself it's hard to say if the novelty of the musical flush helped him on the way but I'll pass it onto friends who are just starting their potty training journey and see what they say.

Discloser: We were sent the potty for the purpose of this review. All opinions are honest and my own.