Following cows at Open Farm Sunday

Sunday was a glorious day and perfect for the annual Open Farm Sunday. It has been running for 10 years and is a fab event where farmers get to open their gates to the general public. I thought we’d just get to have a walk around the farm looking at animals, but to our delight it was so much more.

There were lots of farms to choose from that were open in the Peak District, we headed to Flagg Hall a 350 cow grazing based dairy farm who supply milk to Arla.

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Looking towards Flag

On arrival we found out that a tour of the farm was about to start, which is where the proper adventure began! Rusty, the farmer, told us about different feed the cows have and then we started our walk out of the farm building area and into the fields. He had a strange contraption with him which was used to measure grass – it has to be the right length!

Walking on through the fields, it was beautifully warm with the sun shining on us. There was a light breeze and all around we could see field after field of shades of green. Gosh, we live in a beautiful place.

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On our walk to the cows

Rusty and his friends were happy to chat as we walked towards the cows, which were a few fields away. E bounced excitedly along asking questions about the farm, cows and lots of WHY? It was great to see her enjoying herself, I was worried she’d not be interested as she can’t drink cows milk.

When we arrived at the field full of cows, all the visitors stood in a line and helped make sure the cows went the right way. As we waited for the cows to get themselves organised, I told E about her family farming history, her great great grandparents owned a dairy farm and her great grandmother has told us wonderful stories of when she was a little girl delivering milk all around Plymouth “I remember when this was all fields”…

All we needed was one cow to start on the path to the farm and the rest would follow… eventually after some expert yelling from Rusty one cow headed through the gate and the rest followed – moooooing away!

We watched the  cows heading down the path, snaking in a long line, all walking by themselves. It was a surprising sight, I didn’t quite know what to expect – more herding I guess – the cows definitely knew where they were going.

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Long cow trail

We followed behind, trying to avoid the smelly poo glistening in the sunshine. It was a sticky walk, but much better than being in front at the cows chasing us along.

Back at the farm we were able to go and watch the milking in action. As a breastfeeding mum who has used a breast pump it was fascinating – I’d love to get that much milk out in a few minutes!

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Milking time

After milking time we pottered around the farm a bit more, taking in sheep shearing, some stern looking bulls, relaxed over a cream tea (yum) and picked up an Arla goody bag with stickers, children’s activity sheets and free milk.

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Watching sheep shearing
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A serious looking bull

It was a mooovellous afternoon, make a note in your diary for next year, we’ll be going again.

Here’s to our next adventure!

Michelle x

 

 

 

Bargains at Minibugs’ flash sale

Minibugs, the awesome children’s store in Buxton, has a flash sale until Monday with 25% off all full priced clothes. I can’t resist a bargain so popped into the shop.

I bought these gorgeous Frugi dungarees which are perfect for a crawling baby. We already have a pair in 6-12 months which baby A wears constantly, she looks so cute in them and that makes me happy! They’re soft, easy to put on (and take off with pootastrophies) and have washed really well – no shrinkage or colour loss.

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They come in a number of designs, but this was my favourite.

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I also sneeked a peak at their discount rail (see Sale section online) and picked up another of the Little Green Radicals’ cotton jumpers. Soft, comfy and on the big side – so they last ages. A cute jumper which keeps baby warm and as its not too bulky is great for baby wearing.

Last time I chose the grey cloud design, this time I picked the moon:

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The flash sale is on till Monday and if you’re not local don’t worry as you can shop online and postage is free (in the UK)!

Happy bargain shopping!

Michelle x

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New Mills & District Railway Modellers Annual Exhibition

As a family we are fans of trains, big and small. Hubby’s parents recommended the New Mills & District Railway Modellers’ Annual Exhibition which is held every year towards the end of February. It was an ideal event to pop along to on a cold February weekend – indoors with plenty to see.

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The event has been going for 42 years and so we were expecting great (or small) things. We were not disappointed. The exhibition was held at Chapel-en-le-Frith’s High School and we were surprised at the wide range of displays, laid out across the hall and numerous classrooms.

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There were stalls selling items, as well as many groups and individuals showing off their train sets. Some were hands on, you could try and move carriages / trucks into sidings and E particularly enjoyed driving Thomas around the Island of Sodor. Many exhibits were at her height, though next time I must remember to take her a little step for some of them.

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We spent about an hour and a half there and I was able to sit in the school canteen to have a cup of tea and feed baby E.

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It was a lovely trip out for the afternoon and we’ll keep an eye out for next year’s event.

TTFN!

Michelle x

 

 

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High Peak artist: Andy Phillips

The Peak District with its fine scenery, wild weather and great expanse of space is a huge influence on local artists. When we first moved here we were entranced by artists’ wares, but assumed they were out of our price reach and not practical for a young family. We’ve been delighted to find the opposite and enjoy sourcing pieces from artists and using them around our home.

The other day we bought a gorgeous little dish by potter Andy Phillips:

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Andy Phillips is based in New Mills and makes a range of decorated items; pots, platters, jugs, dishes, mugs … you get the idea! We love the smoke fired ceramics, which come in deep rich colours with a lovely glaze on them. A while ago we made the decision to have plain white plates, bowls etc. and compliment them with distinct serving dishes. We already have three serving dishes and a few mugs of Andy’s and hubby couldn’t resist this small dish for sweets or nuts.

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All of the items we use on a daily basis, they are very hard wearing and can be used in an oven.

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We picked up this piece from the High Peak Artists gallery in the Pavilion Gardens, Buxton, where there are a large number of dishes on display. Dishes range from £5 (such as this piece) up to larger ones around £40 – £70.

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I love that art is affordable in the High Peak and will be sharing more of our favourite artists in the coming months.

Happy shopping!

Michelle x

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Buxton Veg & Fruit Co-op

From talking with other families, it’s easy to get stuck in a meals rut having the same food, week on week. You end up cooking the same ‘go to’ meals – ours are tomato pasta; sausages and veg; and Thai chicken curry. They’re yummy – but we were looking to mix it up a bit! I was looking around for inspiration when I heard of a local service that has helped us try new recipes (meals listed below), increased our veg and fruit intake, saved us money AND it supports a not-for-profit community group.

Bright Opportunities is a group for adults with learning difficulties living in the High Peak, located in Buxton. They offer a day service, with educational, leisure and development activities. A few years ago, Buxton Vegetable and Fruit Co-operative was set up to provide an affordable way for the local community to have fruit and veg. They involved Bright Opportunities to organise buying the seasonal produce in bulk from a local wholesaler, sorting it into bags and collecting the money – helping develop the adults’ life skills.

You can buy a bag at a time, here’s what we had the last two weeks (the money saving is impressive):

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Two weeks of veg and fruit

And the cooking? Well, we’ve used this fruit and veg in:

* slow cooker beef stroganoff
* cabbage with onion and bacon
* leek and potato soup
* slow cooker stuffed apples
* roasted veg with humous and couscous

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Yummmm roasted veg

And of course, as veg on the side with our favourite meal – sausages!

Each bag costs just £3 – bargain! As a quick calculation, the bags we’ve had so far were worth about £7 – £9 so it’s a huge saving. All the fruit and veg lasted well, the potatoes just took more cleaning than we’re used to.

I loved that having the bag of fruit and veg encouraged us to try new food and it’s good to know it also supports a local community group.

The bags are available every Thursday from around Buxton (United Reformed Church Hardwick Square, Residents of Fairfield Association, SureStart Fairfield and Buxton Volunteer Centre), to reserve your bag get in touch with one of the collection centres or contact them via their Facebook page.

I’m off to make some healthy vegetable soup!

TTFN

Michelle x

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Bogs: brilliant snow boots!

Living in the Peaks you need a coat for all weathers, but what to put on children’s feet? We found ourselves always taking wellies AND sturdy boots with us when we went out for the day. Boots are always better for running in and wellies better for splashing in puddles! Was there one brand of footwear out there that could be great for running and give welly protection? The good news, there is!

Nichola at One Small Step asked us (well, E really) to test a new brand she is thinking of stocking – Bogs. E was really excited when we picked them up and loved the cute animal design.

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E getting her Bogs from One Small Step

Apparently they are all the rage in America, but not that well known in the UK. At first glance, I have to admit, I was a bit sceptical as they look just like wellies. But after two weeks of testing them (we like to be thorough), we’re completely sold on them. Here are the reasons why:

Easy to put on
The smart inbuilt handle design mean they are easy for little hands to use to pull on, or for big hands to give a help! Other wellies often have handles but they can break – it won’t happen with these ones.

Waterproof and warm
Bogs are waterproof with soft outer layer and a fleece warm lining inside. E wore them out in minus 0° weather and her feet were kept toasty.
She tested them in snow, sleet and rain and her feet were kept lovely and dry – as this video demonstrates:

The only downside is that they’re shorter than traditional wellies (6 inch) so wouldn’t be able to cope with today’s 10 inches of snow! But we’d probably remedy that by putting her waterproof trousers over her boots, like we normally do.

Great for running around and climbing
Compared to wearing wellies, E found Bogs great for running around in, climbing and generally mucking about. When we visited her cousins in Brussels we planned to go to the local play park. When we heard it has a sand floor we picked the Bogs so she wouldn’t get sand in her shoes and she had no problems climbing all over the climbing frames. They have a rough tread on the sole so grip well. It saved us taking wellies and boots on holiday.

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Climbing in Bogs
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Running in Bogs

Machine washable
I couldn’t quite believe it when I read the box, but they’re machine washable! The mud doesn’t seem to stick on the pretty patterned boots, so we haven’t needed to wash them yet but it’s good to know we have that option.

Price
They are more expensive than you’d normally pay for wellies, but they replace two pairs of boots – walking boots and wellies. Also, we put thick socks on E so she had half a size bigger than normal so they will last her a long time and with another little one we’ll be able to pass them on to A.

Overall, we are really impressed with Bogs and hope One Small Step do stock them so we can get some for baby A when she’s old enough. E loved the pretty animal design, they’re easy for her to put on and great for running around in. They get the thumbs up from us🙂

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Enjoy the snow today, whatever you’re wearing!

Michelle x

One Small Step generously provided us these boots in order to facilitate this review.  However, as always, the opinions expressed here are completely and honestly our own.

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Hurrah for Hatley – coats perfect for the Peaks

Living in the High Peak means extremes of weather; sunshine, rain, sleet and snow sometimes all in the same day! When buying coats for children it can be a challenge – how many coats do they need for every weather eventuality? Through the local Buxton shop One Small Step I found a solution – Hatley coats.

We first bought a Hatley coat for E when she was a young toddler, to be honest because we couldn’t resist the gorgeous dinosaur pattern. And she wore it, and wore it and wore it and we were hooked!

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Hatley coats have gorgeous new designs each season (dinosaurs feature each time!) – take a look at the new ones that have come into One Small Step last week:

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Hatley coats at One Small Step

You can also buy matching wellies🙂

The bright colours are great for picking your child out in a crowd. Here are other designs E has worn over the years:

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Hatley coats on E

The hooded coats have a very flexible waterproof outer layer which keeps out the wind and a snuggly inside layer to keep them warm. They have poppers to fasten them and she is now at an age where she can do this herself. They’re not too thick, so E can wear a jumper underneath and they also pack up well into a bag when you’re out and about. E has worn her jackets all year round, they are great value for money (we buy large and roll up the sleeves) and most importantly they wash well.

If you’re looking for the perfect coat for children they can wear in all weathers I’d always recommend Hatley – especially when in Buxton today we have had rain, sleet, snow and sunshine!

Would love to know if anyone else has a Hatley coat, what have been your favourite designs over the years?

TTFN

Michelle x

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Five reasons to love Whitebox Photography

When you have children you want to capture them growing up with perfect professional photos that make your heart smile whenever you look at them. Baby E was in neonatal after she was born so we didn’t have any cute newborn photos and I was keen to make up for lost time, though I thought it was too expensive to do on a regular basis. But, I’ve found a wonderful local solution which means you can regularly have PROFESSIONAL photos taken at an AFFORDABLE price, right here in the Peak District.

Since our first photoshoot with the wonderful Whitebox Photography we have been back many times and I’m always spreading the word about the fabulous Liam who runs the local franchise. Here are my top five reasons for loving a Whitebox photoshoot:

Unbelievable value
A Whitebox photoshoot is LESS THAN £50. I’ve written that in capitals and bold to emphasis the point – people never believe me! To reserve a photo slot is only £15, so if on the day your children are sick and you can’t go, not too much money has been wasted. When researching online, most other shoots seemed to cost a couple of hundred, this is much more affordable. And at such a great price, you can have regular shoots!

Digital copies
At the end of the shoot you are given a CD with ALL the photos. So there’s no need to um and ah over selecting just 5 pictures (which happens with some photographers) and it means can print them, or share online, whatever you want. We have family all around the UK and abroad so it’s great to easily share photos.

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Relaxed atmosphere
Liam and his assistant make you and the family feel at ease. There are props for photos, toys to amuse the children and if you’re quick you can have an outfit change! Liam is there to get the most out of you so you’re happy with the photos.

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Super quick
Each shoot is about 15 minutes. That doesn’t sound long, but try grinning for 15 minutes or keeping children happy to pose for that length of time! I’m always amazed at the number of photos you get in 15 minutes – on average we have had about 100 each time. Also it’s just the right length of time for children to stay engaged.

There are so many ways you can enjoy the photos afterwards
We are always  thrilled with the photos and have used them in many different ways:

Large print family photo
Framed by Aperture Picture Framing in Buxton (a GREAT framers, he matched this frame to another we had)

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Printed onto canvas
And displayed on our dresser – we use Photobox

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Framed for us to have in our offices at work

Printed copies to pass to nursery
So E could show off her family

Thank you cards
After A was born

Digital magnets made by Sticky9
So E can play with them on our fridge

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Turned into a beautiful illustration
By the local artist Elizabeth Furness to go next to the pencil drawing of her daddy

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Whitebox Photography is coming to Buxton again at the end of February 2016, you can book a slot online.

I will share our photos after the shoot!

Happy posing😉

Michelle x

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Local purchase: Little Green Radicals jumper

We are great believers in shopping local so I thought I’d start sharing our great buys from local shops.

We’re about to go away and are planning to take just a baby carrier, rather than hauling a pushchair on the plane.

We needed a jumper to keep baby A warm when being carried so popped to the fabulous children’s shop Minibugs in Buxton and picked up this gorgeous starry cloud jumper by Little Green Radicals:


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Starry cloud jumper

Available up to age 4-5 years – why not adult sizes!!! Sulk😦

Now we’re ready for the holiday!

Michelle x