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.
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.
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.
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.
It was a lovely trip out for the afternoon and we’ll keep an eye out for next year’s event.
The other weekend we took a road trip to Hull to see some family and it was also an opportunity to visit The Deep.
My hometown is Plymouth, home of the National Marine Aquarium. We had planned to visit when we were there at Christmas time but didn’t get a chance, so needed a fish fix! I’ve grown up in seaside towns and miss sea air (nothing quite like it), waves and the sound of the sea. A trip to Hull and The Deep seemed the perfect antidote.
Having two young ones, even though it’s only a two hour drive away, we decided to stay at a Premier Inn in Hull. It’s quite a new one and were impressed (as ever) with the warm welcome, friendly staff and nice clean room. The bonus was parking on site and the location meant a short walk to The Deep or into Hull city centre.
On the Sunday, after a filling breakfast at Wetherspoons (where I booked the tickets online to save a few pounds), we managed to get to The Deep about 1030. The queue was quite long to get in, but only took about 5 minutes to wait. Whilst waiting we were given a form to fill in to sign up for gift aid and that meant we could return, for free, for a whole year. Not bad.
You have to travel to the top of the building to start the journey, the beginning bit toddler E wasn’t that bothered about, it talks about the creation of the earth, dinosaurs and oceans. She was more interested in getting to see some live fish!
Next we walked through to the Lagoon of Light where children could crouch down and watch the fish swimming about underwater or look over the tank, teeming with hundreds of fish. The shallow tank meant E could compare the view looking under water or from above – quite intriguing. We arrived just as there was a Touchpool session where you can get up close with creatures from the British isles shores. It was incredibly popular, but the guide organised us so every child (and interested adult) got to touch the animals. I carried toddler E and after showing her that mummy could touch a creature without losing a limb, she stroked a starfish and some crabs – rather cool!
We continued to walk around, toddler E loved the large tanks of fish as she (sometimes) could get right up to the tanks to have a look. She was so excited, with her face beaming and shouting mummy or daddy if we didn’t walk quickly enough to see the latest animal she had found. In comparison, Baby A was non-plussed, she snoozed throughout the whole outing.
There were lots of other exhibits to see; ants crawling along a long rope overhead; an ice wall (easy to miss in the Kingdom of Ice corridor), super fast penguins (spot the blurry penguin in the picture) and some bright, colourful, deadly small frogs. A great range of interesting animals to see, but also lots of ‘informative’ exhibits which E just ran straight past. We would have preferred more animals!
Near the end there was also a soft play area, it was supposed to be limited to ten children but was heaving, so we walked on.
At the end there are two ways out going up past a huge 10 metre high tank; via a glass fronted lift or walking up stairs. There was a big queue for the glass elevator so we chose the stairs. Though the elevator is rather cool, if you go up the stairs you stop after each flight and can look into the tank – much more time to admire the fish! E was fascinated as you started looking at fish above you, then on the same level, then looked down and then the top of the water. Our favourites were the rays and the tanks biggest inhabitant, the sawfish.
We had considered going to The Deep’s cafe, but it was packed, so we walked back to the Premier Inn and had a quiet coffee in their lounge.
Looking at the brochure afterwards, we managed to see everything – in only 1 and a half hours. I’d have expected to be there for much longer, but with an excited toddler it didn’t take that long. I was glad we hadn’t made a special trip just to go there for the day.
It was good The Deep, we’ll visit again when we’re next in Hull – great for a morning or afternoon – just don’t expect to spend the whole day.
Here’s to our next watery adventure!
Since Christmas, when E had her nails painted by her cool cousin, she has been OBSESSED with getting her nails done. Her nails had looked awesome (she had a spider painted on one – of course), but I was a little worried about what the paint was doing to her nails when a splash of varnish took off the top layer of my mum’s tablecloth…
Back in the day when I started my new job, after having Elizabeth, I had visions of painting my nails and looking like a ‘proper grown up’ in the office. I think I managed this twice (sleep always won as a priority)… But because I was breastfeeding and sticking my fingers in her mouth a lot to break her latch I wanted to wear some non (or low) toxic nail varnish. There’s lots of guidance out there about the gunky stuff in nail varnish and how it’s bad for you, so after some wider reading I decided to try the Zoya brand. Most of these brands are US based and they are hard to track down in the UK, in the end I bought some off Amazon.
When E wanted her nails done again (good to save this for a rainy afternoon) I dug out the three varnishes I have:
She was thrilled to have three to choose from, but disappointed no black to draw spiders.
I very carefully painted her nails, which was much easier once I put her hand on a surface (especially after I nearly dropped some on the carpet). Then it was my turn, she chose pink.
You’ll see the coverage on the matt colours is much better than the shiny pink. I think I’ll go for a matt when we do this again.
With nursery the next day I thought it best to clean her nails, but hadn’t quite thought things through about nail varnish remover that’s gentle. For next time, I’m going to get some gentle nail varnish remover, Boots stock an acetone free one.
An added bonus to this is she has to sit still for 15 minutes for the varnish to dry!
If she really gets into nail varnish, I’ll order some more – which I’ll just have to try out too.
It was fun painting nails with little E, but gosh she’s growing up fast.
Here’s to our next indoor adventure!
Last year I made some lovely Christmas present thank you cards with toddler E, recycling wrapping paper. They are really easy to make and I was quite proud I had designed them myself!
It’s a great activity to do on a wet and windy day, huddled inside warm – crafting 🙂
We used plain cards, a snowflake stamp and recycled Christmas paper for the background and to make stars.
First E used the stamper on the red paper we were going to use for the background, but you could just use large pens and make dots. I then cut it up into rectangles, a bit smaller than the cards. She added glue and stuck the background paper onto the card.
Next she used glue and chose triangles to make the stars. She really enjoyed choosing the paper combination and seeing how triangles could make the stars.
I wrote the thank you message inside the card and she drew a picture on the other side.
We really enjoyed making these and will do the same this year.
Here’s to our next crafting adventure!
Cooking soya, dairy and sugar free cookies
After a hectic morning at Buxton’s great soft play, Little Rascals, it was time to stay indoors and keep out of the cold.
I came across a great (and easy!) recipe, on the fun blog Snotty Noses, I thought it would be fun to try with toddler E. I’m not the best cook (my husband would say that is an understatement) so simple recipes are key.
I adapted the original two ingredient recipe:
2 ripe bananas
130 g porridge oats
20 g soya and dairy free Plamil chocolate drops
Mash the banana, mix with the porridge oats and add the chocolates. (The original recipe says to wizz the ingredients in food processor but I don’t have one so couldn’t!)
Grease a baking tray and measure out 12 heaped teaspoons, putting them on the tray and squishing then down.
Cook at 180° for 25 – 30 minutes.
The result were some very moorish cookies. If we’d used riper bananas I think they would have tasted sweeter, so the chocolate helped. Also a rather healthy treat as low sugar!
We will be cooking these again when we have over ripe bananas.
Sundays are often about chilling indoors, particularly when the Peak District is recovering from being hit by Storm Desmond.
When you live in the middle of fabulous, fantastic moors you need alternative indoor activities when you just can’t face the great outdoors in all weathers.
It’s quite old school, but today we ended up spending about 3 hours making jigsaws. What started off as one, turned into making all of them in the cupboard! I was very impressed with E’s concentration levels. She was very proud of her final display.
We seem to have plenty of jigsaws (and or receive many as gifts), but if you want to stock up I’d recommend:
Our favourite children’s shop in Buxton stock the wonderful Djeco toys, high quality that are designed by artists and all beautifully made. Our favourite jigsaw is the gorgeous Leon the dragon, if you don’t have one buy it before it is discontinued!
The Works: a family discount store; you can shop locally or order online. Their stock changes frequently and you can pick up a set of jigsaws from a few pounds. The transport jigsaws (large and small) are from The Works.
Supermarkets: most large supermarkets stock children’s jigsaws, we bought our Frozen set at half price.
Charity shops: with children’s jigsaws you can do a quick count to check all the pieces are there! My mum bought the Spot set from a charity shop, reminds me of helping my younger brothers making their jigsaws.
I now want to get out my jigsaw collection, but I don’t think toddler E will have the patience for a thousand piece set.
Happy hibernating all, here’s to our next adventure!