Sliding doors – a day with a three year old

Sliding doors – a day with a three year old

Does anyone remember the film Sliding Doors where Gwyneth Paltrow runs to catch a train and we follow two 'futures' that are determined on whether she managed to board the train or not? I loved the film back in my teens, and often think of my own “sliding doors” moments. We experienced one of these a week ago.

A bit of background first (think of this as the voice over at the beginning of a film, while on screen you see some beautiful scenes of my family growing and new babies coming along – obviously my character is played by someone really beautiful with no lanky unwashed hair or dark circles under her eyes!)

Chris had two weeks' paternity leave in January (delayed from December) and we really wanted to do some fun things as a family. We planned our Fridays as family days, doing things that the boys like to do (well Elliot mainly, since Alexander is too small to have an opinion and let's face it asleep most of the time!)

For the first Family Friday I thought it would be nice to go to our local wildlife park. Elliot has been there many times before and really likes it. There's a little train to ride on, and a lovely adventure play area. I envisaged a happy family day, followed by snuggles on the sofa, maybe watching a film, with my three boys.

After a restful night with only minimal wake ups from the baby, we all got up, dressed without complaint, and had a lovely breakfast. So far so good. Elliot got excited about our trip and even helped to make his lunch, before we all bundled into the car. We were on our way.

We pulled in to waitrose to pick up extra picnic supplies, and Chris hopped out as both boys were a bit sleepy, so I stayed in the car with them.

Now, in the film, you may recall that Gwyneth gets a very handy hair cut quite early on so that the audience know exactly which 'future' they are watching at any point. For the purposes of today in this next bit, my ideal day is shown in normal font and what actually took place is in italics. Ok?

After picking up everything we needed and a couple of treats, Chris comes back to the car having bought delicious picnic food, and pulls out of the car park.
On pulling out of the car park, a random post appears as if from nowhere – even the man collecting trolleys seems surprised – and before anything can be done a lovely big dent has appeared in the side of our car. We decide to carry on regardless. Elliot wakes up and informs us he now doesn't want to see any animals –

Lunchtime! We arrive at the wildlife park, all very excited. We're given a discount on entry because they're feeling generous! How kind!
After a stressful drive, trying not to panic about the damaged car (and what this means for our current finances!), we arrive at the wildlife park still listening to Elliot saying he doesn't want to see animals, and he doesn't want the picnic he was so excited about only hours earlier. We pull up to buy tickets and learn that as Elliot is now 3 we have to pay an additional £9.50 for him on top of the £15 per adult. Ignoring the imaginary bank manager with rolling eyes in our heads, we hand over the money and find a space to park.

Happily bundled up in coats and scarves, we proceed to find the swings and slides which Elliot loves. This is followed by a lovely picnic lunch, which we are permitted to eat in a quiet corner of the cafe, as it's so cold outside.
Despite moans, Elliot seems excited about going on the swings and slides. “Horray!” we think, before we all realise just how cold it actually is. (It's at this point I start to think this was all a bad idea, yes I'm a bit slow!) A quick look at the swings and slides, we think we can rescue the day with food and start to think about the picnic. Upon investigation however there is nowhere inside to eat – the cafe has a sign forbidding people from eating anything but the chips they serve on the premises – so we perch on a picnic bench and eat as fast as we can to avoid getting frostbite. Alexander wakes up, clearly bemused as to why his family are so peculiar that they think it's appropriate to picnic in such cold conditions, so Chris ends up eating his picnic standing up and rocking the buggy back and forth. Peaceful and relaxing it is not. After eating so fast we all have indigestion we rush to the cafe to warm up.

Despite the cold, we have a fun time checking out the monkeys and the penguins before going on the train to see the bigger animals. Particular favourites are the giraffes and the wolves!
With the exception of the wolves (which despite all being asleep, make Elliot hide behind Chris as he's “scared” – cute!) the remaining hour we spend at the park is a complete nightmare. Elliot doesn't want to walk, and Alexander is occupying the only buggy we have with us, meaning Chris has to carry him, and his muddy shoes, which casually brush against the clean jeans he out on that morning, the rest of the way around the park. Exhausted and drained of all patience, we head back to the car after only a couple of hours, and missing out half the park. Within minutes of leaving, both boys are yet again asleep in the back of the car and our nerves are torn to shreds

Thankfully both my ideal day and the actual day ends well. No italics needed from here on.

Alexander wore his cute zebra socks to the wildlife park.

We get home and, refreshed after a sleep, Elliot is happy and excited again. We make biscuits and curl up on the sofa to watch Tangled. He goes to bed without issue and we flop onto the sofa with wine, plotting to ignore the car that needs fixing and what little remains of our belief in our ability to parent this child.

Having a three year old is exhausting. I'm trying to ignore the fact that in three years time we'll have another one!


A day at the farm

What a difference a couple of sunny days makes! So ok it wasn’t exactly warm, but at least there were blue skies and the sun came out for a bit.

In response we’ve had a really active couple of days, cramming lots of family activities in. Today we went to Cogges Farm – literally 2 minutes walk away from our house. Saved from an uncertain future, Cogges was reopened in 2011 handily while I was on maternity leave. I even helped train some of the volunteers. Recently opened for the 2013 season, there has been much changed over the Winter, with an indoor soft play area, plenty of animals to see (and feed carrots to – Elliot’s favourite thing today, I think!) and an adventure playground taking shape in the grounds, delayed by the annoying weather, but not far from completion.

We spent ages there and treated ourselves to coffee and cake in the cafe afterwards – very well recommended!

It was fantastic to be out and about and I can’t wait to take Elliot back again and again over the next few months. Cogges is a brilliant place to take children and staffed by the friendliest group of people – one even took us in to see baby chickens and let us hold and stroke them!

We got season tickets – at £15 each they’re really reasonable!

Elliot loved the wooden tractor and slide outside the cafe too!


N.B. this is not a sponsored post, I just had such a nice time and wanted to recommend it!

Shh… the turtle is sleeping!

We spent the weekend down in the New Forest last weekend. When we booked it we thought March would be lovely and Spring-like, how very wrong we were! Rain rain and more rain was the order of the day, which meant we needed to be inventive with activities to keep an active 2 year old entertained.

The pool where we were staying was a BIG hit – we bought a noodle (long foam thing!) and he loved gliding around the pool holding on to it. There was also a jacuzzi-type pool (though it was the same temperature as the main pool so fine for kids) and he loved that too. We taught him how to blow the surface of the water, and he was really good at kicking his legs and “jumping” in from the sides.

On Saturday we went to Bournemouth Aquarium, which was busy (as expected) but still very good. Elliot loved the fish swimming over our heads, and kissed the glass by a pufferfish!

The funniest part of the weekend (of which there were a few if I’m honest!) was as we left the aquarium. Elliot was quite sad to leave and wanted to go back in to see the turtles. I told him they had gone to sleep so we had to go, to which he replied: ” turtle wake up? Eat breakfast and a yoghurt?”, before adding “and a man” Elliot has a bad habit of having a gingerbread man after most meals, so I guess it’s only right that Mr Turtle would have one too!

I think we’ll be visiting aquariums a bit more regularly from now on! It was a big hit (though to be fair the simple pleasure of jumping in puddles was also worth standing around in the rain for!)

(Apologies for poor quality of the photos – apparently rain didn’t agree with my phone!)




Check out the other funny kids on the Wot So Funee linky, this week hosted by Mummy Never Sleeps:

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