Thursday, 31 May 2012

entertaining three boys...

photograph by Jenny Ross

Having children can be exhausting and last Saturday, with the Mr. on a stag do, I was feeling daunted by entertaining three boys for twelve hours! So I decided to ask the older two what could we do on a hot day with a five week old baby and they chose cycling. So we went to pedalabikeaway in the Forest of Dean with friends, where you can hire all you need for a fun adventure on two wheels.  

I thought I must be going mad to choose something so active, but it was easy with the baby neatly fitting (in his car seat) in a bike trailer along with a picnic, which to my relief wasn't heavy at all to pull on the flat. The boys who need daily exercise raced back and forth around us and with a ice cream stop on route and cafe at the end with plenty of picnic benches, we had a fab time. I thought I would struggle fitness wise, but we chose a route that was flat and even with a complete lack of sleep the night before I found it really enjoyable. 

Although expensive if you hire all equipment, you can reduce costs by taking your own bikes and just hiring child seats and trailers. I would highly recommend cycling in the Forest of Dean, perfect for families as it suited all ages and abilities on a wide range of bike trails. Pedalabikeaway has a great vibe with lots of cool young trendy mountain bikers (who all cooed over the baby!), the staff were really friendly and helpful too. 

Wednesday, 30 May 2012


Over the last year I have found it increasingly difficult to get the boys to enjoy family walks and adventures in the countryside. A bit of a confession eh? With me being pregnant, appalling weather and the eldest boy *committed* to playing football, I felt increasingly frustrated that we were loosing our connection with nature. We spent enough time outdoors, but the sidelines of a football field do not compare with the joys of the countryside. 

It's a constant challenge not to be swamped with quite how much the boys do, there are birthday parties, after school clubs, homework, football & cricket practice all eating into our family time. We seem to be constantly driving somewhere and really this is only one boy out of three! I feel quite an ogre to insist on time together when they beg to play with their friends, but I believe the time we have together is so precious and hope they agree when they look back on their childhood. 

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

quilting by candlelight...

This gorgeous quilt arrived in the post a few weeks ago from my wonderful 'bloggy' friends. I had admired this Maggie & Sparrow quilt in a previous blog post, so they sent the most perfect gift. I think it truly special as quilts symbolise friendship and were traditionally made by a group of women, for a marriage or new baby. I like to think that in a previous life and were we not divided by an ocean then Leonie, Susannah, Lisa, Penny, Sas, Jo, Meg and I would have sat together quilting by candlelight!

Thank you friends for this beautiful gift that will be handed down to future Bradshaw generations x  Now when are you coming for a visit? 

Monday, 28 May 2012

the perfect picnic spot...

I'm forever in search of the perfect picnic spot, and in this heatwave *summer?* we are currently having, we went in search of one near water. We found this glade next to a babbling brook, with a fallen oak tree over it, creating the most perfect bridge for climbing on. 

We tested the wee ones new chariot 'off road', a Nipper 360, kindly bought by the grandparents and it did really well. I was going to get a smaller McLaren pushchair that would take up less space in the car, but after trying to get my old pushchair with small wheels up a hill with Anna, I thought we might need something more sturdy for all of our adventures. 

It must be summer, as the boy's freckles have come out all over his nose! 

Time for eating picnic lunches on our enamel plates and running around without any shoes on. 

So where are your favourite picnic spots? 

Friday, 25 May 2012

the olympic torch relay...

This week the Olympic torch relay passed through our village. It was impossible not to get swept up in all the excitement, as all the houses wore Union Jack bunting in the sunshine and crowds massed to what is usually a sleepy Cotswold Town.  

We cheered all the police cars and motorbikes, we certainly don't ever see that many here, and they were the Met ones too so a lot flashier than Gloucestershire police! There was even a helicopter overhead - almost as exciting as the torch to be truthful. 

When the torch arrived we all cheered together in the sunshine and just for one day forgot about the recession! I would certainly recommend seeing the relay if it passes near you. 

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

strolls with Stanley...

The tiredness is really kicking in now the babe is four weeks old! I really felt like spending the day on the sofa eating chocolate biscuits watching daytime TV but with such glorious sunshine I made the effort to go for a short stroll. 

I'm glad I did, as the sunshine has really brought the cow parsley out and into flower. Where I live there are fields and roadside verges overflowing with this beautiful umbellifer. 

I recommend sitting down for a 'bug's eye view' and to completely hide! Great to photograph from this angle too against a bright blue sky, although quite difficult with a baby in a carrier. 

The hedgerows were also wearing their May blossom, with blackthorn the first to display branches of tiny white flowers. 

The fields were alive and buzzing with tiny bugs, but I only saw one butterfly, an orange tip. 

It was certainly worth getting out and making an effort today and remembering to take the camera!

Friday, 18 May 2012

small details...

the 'whirlwind' crown on his head

his tiny toes


the nappy bag that goes everywhere with me

beautiful gifts

and the handmade blanket that grandma knitted...

Thursday, 17 May 2012

ladies who lunch...

Yesterday, the boy was turned away from the school door as he had been sick in the night, he was absolutely fine but the school policy states that a child must stay away for 24 hours if they have sickness or diarrhea! Our lovely friend Alice also had a day off work and was up for a jaunt, so we all decided to go to Cowley Manor as a treat. 

"A visit to a luxury hotel whilst on maternity leave!" I hear you cry, and yes it does sound amazingly frivolous BUT it is my top tip for new mum who needs to watch the pennies. The menu at Cowley for example has a fantastic range of food at a range of prices, with coffee & cake starting at £5, this is comparable with Starbucks prices. I had the fishcakes, that were absolutely delicious, the boy had a Cowley burger with chips followed by ice cream from the children's menu, which was a set £5 for two courses. He declared his burger tasted "like cow" which was his way of describing just how beefy it was! 

Now throw in the fact that there are beautiful grounds, luxurious furnishing, large comfy sofa's to lounge on, a terrace on which to eat alfresco, sun loungers and secret picnic sites and lovely staff who wait on you and open doors for you! Perfect for a new mum for whom getting dressed in the morning is an achievement.

We spent hours here, relaxing and playing some of the board games available to guests whilst listening to the chilled sounds of Goldfrapp. Now who wants to sit in a busy high street coffee shop when you can be a lady who lunches? 

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

we're all going on a summer holiday...

I love holidays and can't wait for our next one this summer. We are returning to Cornwall, to stay in this gorgeous house, Wildwood, owned by the same company 'Forever Cornwall' who we rented the beach chalet (pictured above) from last year. I still dream of the beach chalet, the holiday was just so perfect, the chalet was beautifully furnished and the location on our favourite beach was amazing!

Forever Cornwall is a small, locally owned holiday company, with just a handful of beautifully renovated properties available for hire. Wildwood looks absolutely gorgeous and with a small baby I am quite looking forward to this standard of luxury in a holiday!

So are you going anywhere nice this year? 

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

strolls with Stanley...

We took the new little man for his first stroll in the baby carrier on Sunday. My friend has loaned us her bushbaby carrier, which Stanley fell asleep in straight away, so it must have met with his approval. I found it comfortable to wear too, especially as I am prone to back ache. 

I find it really important with a baby to get outside for fresh air every day. In these early days when the baby hasn't settled into a routine and I am tired due to waking and feeding in the night, it is sometimes an effort to get out of my pyjamas. But as soon as I get outside, I feel so much better, the cobwebs get blown away and I find the baby sleeps better too. I have read that fresh air and walking can help with post natal depression too, even if it takes us an age to even get out of the front door!

Monday, 14 May 2012

baby prints...

We painted the baby's feet this weekend to make some prints on homemade paper. It was quite easy, using watercolour paint and now we have some to frame and some to make into thank you cards. 

Monday, 7 May 2012

boxing clever...

Forget bundles of baby clothes, one of the best presents to send ravenous new parents is a food box, here are just a few that I have received or why not put together your own box?

Born & bread...
Hobbs House do a variety of breads by mail order, but having just received their taster box, it was the most perfect gift with a great variety of their popular loaves. It comes with instructions and some freezer bags so you can make the most of the bread. They have also just started doing meat boxes too - which would make a very different gift to send a foodie friend?

Born in the cabbage patch...
Riverford do a great selection of fruit, salad and veg boxes for a variety of prices. This would make a great new baby gift for parents with older children too. It seems to be a battle in our house to a. have enough fruit and veg in the house (our nearest shop for anything fresh is a supermarket) and b. get the children to eat enough fruit and veg in their diets.

Baby cakes...
I was sent a Meg Rivers baby box when I had my first child, it arrived out of the blue and was a delight for ravenous new parents with lots of visitors. The box contains two delicious cakes and 16 shortbread biscuits, which will certainly keep you going through those first few weeks.

and for the ultimate in gifts, check out this homemade biscuit tin!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

perfect pea soup...

I'm on the hunt for a perfect pea soup recipe after having the most delicious bowl in the pub on Friday. I always think the most simple things are often the most difficult to make, and pea soup must be the most simple soup there is surely? I love it when you sample something so tasty you can't stop thinking about it, or is that just me? This one was just the right consistency, with lovely spring tasting peas and topped with bacon. I now need to recreate it - and feel many an experimental bowl may be made this week! 

Many thanks for all your lovely baby comments over the past couple of weeks, it is lovely to read them all - especially at night when I seem to be awake in the wee hours! 

Saturday, 5 May 2012

what's in a name?

We have never been able to choose names for our children very quickly. I'm always surprised how many people decide on names from almost the minute they find out they are expecting (or even before), as I need to wait and meet the new babe before I can decide and even then I'm never sure! It seems really hard to bestow a name that they will have for the rest of their lives! 

Of course, when you have two boys already, does your third name have to match? Does it matter if the grandparents don't like the names you have chosen? We like names like Jack, Jake, Sidney & Charlie, I like George (my husband isn't as keen), but the name that we keep coming back to is Stanley. It kind of goes with the older two, Alfie and Ted, in a 'cap, whippet and pork pie' kind of way!

You can tell when someone doesn't like your name choice as there is a pause as they politely try and think of something positive to say. Grandma worries that "he will be teased at school" and one of the boys friends tells you their mum thinks it's a bit "random." Believe me when you are dealing with the hormones of a new mum any comments run the risk of bringing on floods of tears! 

My late mother-in-law really wasn't keen on the name Alfie saying "no grandchild of mine will have a 'barrow-boys' name" of course, to my husband and I, this in effect named him! Goodness knows where the comment came from as she certainly didn't have 'airs and graces' - but babies names really do bring out the strongest of opinions in people. 

So, the past few days we have been trying out the name Stanley and think it rather suits our newest little man, now we just have to choose a middle name! 
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