Half-Term Adventures Part Two

As a continuation of my previous post, I thought I’d share the rest of what we did on our trip to Glasgow over half term.
We met a close friend of mine for dinner and had some chai tea in the flat afterwards. That’s the benefit of renting somewhere so central; you can have a chat there afterwards instead of trying to find somewhere kid-friendly that serves coffee after dinner 🙂 We listened to jazz and played Go Fish, although my kids were too excitable to finish the game!

The next day, we got the subway (or as my daughter calls it “the underground train”) into town. I took the girls to the GOMA (Gallery of modern art.) It’s free entry and helped to counteract the ironic unthriftiness of our holiday so far. We whizzed around the displays, which is typical of my kids. Most visits to museums are a blur until we reach a room with toys or something that holds their interest.
A man who worked there directed us towards the colouring room. I think he could sense my stress at trying to stop them touching the displays 😀 There were pictures of animals on the walls as inspiration and the girls loved drawing animals and having stories on some floor cushions.

Afterwards, we went for a walk around the Merchant City and towards Trongate. I’ve finally reached the stage where aimless walks with kids are becoming enjoyable, and sometimes they spot things I previously wouldn’t have taken under my notice. We went to another vegan restaurant/bar I used to go to and had some hot chocolate to warm up. By that stage there was heavy rain and the kids were complaining about the cold. We were the only ones there since it had just opened and had some vegan hot chocolate with melted dark chocolate in it 🙂 The kids were so grateful for a warm drink that they didn’t stop to fuss about the ingredients 😀

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We ventured outside once the rain had calmed down and visited a vintage shop I used to go to. The lady who owned it was so kind and welcoming towards the girls. She told them to run around the shop if they wanted and she had a Mario leaflet holder that prompted a lot of conversation 🙂

The girls spotted a sweet shop I’d never noticed before. It was like an old fashioned sweet shop with jars of hard sweets, rock and lollipops. They also had random items like rag dolls and funny greetings cards. These ones made me laugh.

The girls chose some lollipops and the lady at the till was kind enough to give them candy canes too 🙂 She also gave them a stern warning about Jack Frost taking their noses, which seems to have stayed with them 😀

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The girls were hungry and I was trying to think of more budget-friendly lunch options, so we went to Subway. They have toasted bites at the minute that are the perfect size for kids and just over a pound each. I like the fact they cater to kids’ tastes too, allowing them to have ham and ketchup if they want it 🙂 It was busy so we took our sandwiches back to the GOMA and sat in a sheltered spot to have our picnic. The girls told me it was their favourite meal of the holiday and there was something really memorable about it.

I had given the girls some “holiday money,” so I took them to Primark to spend it 🙂 I knew they’d find plenty of things they wanted to buy there. They picked out some glitter eyeshadow, an outfit each and bubble-blowing guns 🙂 I found some dresses too 🙂 (which is never a hardship for me.) I came across another shop that I thought had closed down. It sells second hand clothes in good condition. We went inside and I talked to the lady who owned it. I hadn’t see her in about ten years. She had a wooden box with mice inside it to dress up and gave it to the girls to keep them occupied 🙂 We had a long chat and it was so nice to see her again.

By that stage, there were complaints of tired feet so we had some tea and chocolate in the flat to warm up 🙂

There was a shower in our flat which provided much amusement for the girls. They loved lying under it, pretending to swim in the “rain.” It’s funny the way kids always find the simplest things the most entertaining, and remember those moments of holidays more than anything specific to the place.

That night, we got the train to another good friend’s house and it started to snow just after we arrived 🙂 We had Indian takeaway and some drinks. Her husband had made a lovely orange and coconut cake and we had some tea and chatted while the kids played and painted each other’s nails 🙂

We got a taxi back to the flat with the kindest taxi driver I’ve ever encountered 🙂 He put on nursery rhymes for the kids, which kept them happy, singing along on the journey. He had chocolates in a compartment between the front seats and offered the girls some before we got out 🙂

The next day was our last day. I got a coffee and took the girls to the park to use their bubble guns. They had more fun with those than with any more expensive toys we’ve bought 🙂 The weather stayed dry for us while we were there.

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After we checked out of the flat, we got the subway into town again and I took the girls to TGI Fridays for lunch. I find it expensive for what is essentially a diner, but it’s kid-friendly and meant we didn’t have to trail our suitcase around town. The carb-heavy options appeal to my kids too and they gave them little activity packs to complete while we ate.

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I had a quick look at vinyl in Fopp. It’s a shop I used to visit a lot but I noticed the one in the West End has closed down now. Then we met a friend of mine for coffee before we got the airport bus. I’m grateful for the fact my kids love bus and plane journeys because it means the travelling is part of the adventure, and not an unwanted necessity. As soon as we got home, I booked to visit again in the summer. I find that having a trip arranged gives me the required motivation to save money and find budget activities in the meantime 🙂 It’s also something to look forward to on a day when I’m experiencing school run ennui 🙂

A Week of Fairs, Workshops & Rock Painting

This week has been busy; so much so that I haven’t had time to record anything on here. I always find my blog posts dwindle on the days my kids are at school since that leaves less time for adventures 🙂

Today, we went to Frock Around the Clock at Belfast Castle. It’s a vintage/handmade market that is held in different venues in Northern Ireland. I think Belfast Castle is my favourite spot for it because it feels grand and regal inside and goes with the feel of the market. There are also lots of little side rooms to sip your coffee in when you want to escape the crowds.
It was a day that couldn’t really decide what weather it wanted to have. We arrived in mist, got caught in a rain shower and left in sunshine, but the views were spectacular and it made me realise I need to make more effort to visit the Cavehill and walk the trails with the girls.

I had a non-thrifty day and made a few too many purchases today, but when items are handmade and unique, I find it hard to resist 🙂 There was a lady that made her own preserves and I got some apple butter and tried some of her pumpkin marmalade. It sounds a strange combination but worked really well 🙂 I find that markets are bearable with kids as long as you intersperse shopping with snack breaks and find food stalls/crafts that interest them. 

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There was a lady who had made miniature book necklaces. They had pages that turn and little pressed flowers stuck between the leaves. I bought one that was a poetry collection from Whitman. It has tiny print inside and even gold edged pages 🙂

The girls were happy to find some homemade, heart-shaped Jammie Dodgers. Food always saves the day when they are getting restless. There were so many stalls and interesting people to talk to that we spent hours there. My kids discovered their distaste for dark chocolate (but everything is an experience:)) I wanted to buy everything at this stall.

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After having coffee and a final look around, we went outside to explore the grounds. The girls were taken by the water fountain and insisted on dropping coins in it and making wishes. There were tiled pictures of cats and little cat statues that gave a friendly feel to the place. I didn’t remember seeing them before. I love the views from the castle. It feels like you’re on your own special floor above the city. Watching the palm trees in the breeze really soothes my mind. I’ve been noticing lately I get much more irritable if I haven’t had fresh air. I can’t seem to spend an entire day cooped up in the house without feeling like my head is getting unhealthy. So, I’m going to make a point to get outside for a walk every day. It does the girls as much good as it does me. This gothic staircase provided more entertainment for my kids than any other kid-oriented activity could 🙂

At the fair, we ended up joining the Woodland Trust. I hadn’t thought to visit any of the forests before, but I’m always happy to uncover less frequented places to walk. They send out activity packs for kids based on their age and I’m going to make the effort this year to visit places we’ve never been to before. I want to spend some time teaching my kids about nature so they can recognise types of trees, flowers etc (and so I can too!)

Yesterday, I took the girls to the cinema for the free screening of Bedknobs and Broomsticks. I brought my own coffee and sweets for the kids to save on the expense of snacks. I booked the workshop for after the film which is £3 per child. I expected it to be a bit thrown together but it was well organised and hilarious 🙂 It was run by an actor who does workshops with kids and he joked around and got everyone in the room involved in pretending props were different objects, mime, freeze frames and creating scenes. Usually that type of thing would be my worst nightmare but it was done humorously and was well worth the money 🙂

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This week, we also had one sick day where both kids stayed at home. They were that level of sick that still requires busyness! So, we spent the day painting and cooking. We painted the rocks the girls had collected on our “holiday” last weekend. I just use a big piece of paper as a paint palette when we are using lots of different colours and separate paintbrushes for each colour. I find it results in less mixing and muddy colour combinations 🙂

We’ve had a busy week, between our outings, artistic endeavours and my new book being published, but it has been inspiring too and has given me plenty of ideas for future blog posts 🙂

 

A Peaceful Start to the New Year

Today, we had a slow start to the day. I lit my candles and put on Ella Fitzgerald while the kids played with their reusable sticker books they got for Christmas. I did some batch cooking and used my slow cooker for dinner. I’d decided even though it was just the three of us, I’d make a New Years dinner. My granny used to always make a big dinner for our family on New Years Day and I miss that celebration, so I want to recreate it on a smaller scale with my kids. I kept the girls busy with making breadcrumbs for the stuffing. They really enjoyed doing it and it is simple enough they can do it without interference (plus, it is time-consuming – my favourite kind of kids’ activity :)) I made pork in the slow cooker and homemade apple sauce (which is so easy to make.) it’s a good way to use up apples when they are past their best. I just cooked apples I had peeled and diced with some brown sugar and water on a low heat for a long time until they were caramelised.
In the afternoon, once my kids started pulling the furniture apart and play fighting, I was in desperate need of some fresh air and an open space, so I took them to a nearby park at the seafront. It was bitterly cold, but the girls didn’t seem to notice and played with some friends/made some new ones and I got some time to reflect while I watched the sea.

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0B097C3D-09E5-4A17-8BA3-A042B1FDC787.pngBy the time we left, I couldn’t feel my hands from the cold and it felt like we should be following it with sitting in front of an open fire. There is a hotel on the same road that has pretty Christmas decorations. I always mourn the loss of Christmas lights, so I wanted to make the most of them before they disappear 🙂 

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The hotel is at the top of a drive and overlooks the water. We chose a good day to go there because there was a harpist playing all afternoon. The girls were fascinated by it and the music really calmed them down (which was needed.) We sat near the open fire and had some coffee and shortbread (and pineapple juice for the girls.) It wasn’t any more expensive than if we had gone to a coffee shop and was something a bit different and felt special. It almost felt like a civilised outing with children until the girls started fishing for ice cubes in their glasses with their fingers and eating them 🙂

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When we got home, the girls watched a film while I prepared the rest of the dinner. I like any excuse to adorn the table with festive candles and to use my wine glass charms, so the girls had Schloer in matching glasses and got to be grown up 🙂 We finished the Christmas pudding, played Pick Up Sticks and Snakes and Ladders and ate chocolates. I even had the “pleasure” of listening to my kids’ keyboard playing jingle bells on repeat as background music while we ate…
I like taking parts of old traditions and adding them to our own ideas to make new oneswith the girls and this was a simple but memorable start to the new year 🙂