Friday, 27 March 2015

Dear (ZSL London) Zoo...

Dear (ZSL London) Zoo...

Thankyou for a fantastic day! We really enjoyed seeing such a variety of animals. I could name most of them but there were a few that I couldn't (and some even my Mummy and Daddy had to check the name of!).

We couldn't believe how close we could get to the monkeys!

I think my favourite were the penguins - we spent quite a lot of time watching them in the water. I was taking notes for the next time I go swimming!

It's been a great family day out as a birthday treat.


Little Miss A

Yesterday we spent a brilliant day at ZSL London Zoo.

Last year we were fortunate to visit ZSL Whipsnade Zoo for free as Mr MoaB donated some old rope and a rope ladder from his work to the monkeys for their enclosure. He had some more spare rope and rope ladders to donate and therefore arranged with ZSL London Zoo for us to go there.

After dropping off the ropes at the service gate, we parked up in the car park and just at that moment the heavens decided to open. So we arrived at the entrance to the Zoo absolutely drenched! Luckily, the rain passed quickly and we soon dried out.

After a quick pit-stop for a hot drink in the Restaurant, our first port of call was the Penguins. Little Miss A did a bit of a waddle around the Penguin Pool before watching lots of them swimming about.

We then popped into Butterfly Paradise, but we kept our walk-through short as Little Miss A seemed a bit unhappy - I think it was because it's so warm in there.

Next we went into the B.U.G.S building. Too many things I don't like in here such as spiders, but Mr MoaB and Little Miss A were interested so I just made sure I walked quickly past some of the exhibits!

When we came out of here, we paused to eat some of our packed lunch (great way to save money on days out). Then we went to Meet the Monkeys. Unfortunately, there weren't any monkeys about on our first walk-through this area. We just saw the black-capped squirrel monkeys through the glass in their indoor area. Luckily, we went back but I'll come on to that!

On leaving the monkeys, we went into the Blackburn Pavilion which houses lots of beautiful tropical birds. I was really surprised that they were just flying around and walking across the walkway. You were really close to them.

As we'd left our pushchair the other side of the monkey enclosure, we took the opportunity to walk-through this area again. We're so glad we did as this time the monkeys had come out to play and they came up close to say hello! It was fantastic that they were just moving around with no barriers or boundaries between us and them.

After our encounter with the monkeys, we then went to the Animal Adventure area. The first section which has meerkats, coatis and aardvarks in, is brilliantly designed with lots of areas for kids to climb up and a series of tunnels so you can see these animals from a different perspective. Very easy for Little Miss A to get through these tunnels, not so easy for adults! Both Mr MoaB and I had to take her through and around. Luckily, that was enough for her! The next area was a farm with goats, pigs, chickens and lots more.

It was then time for the Tiger Territory. Luckily for us the Sumatran tigers were out sunbathing so we could get a pretty good view of them.

By this point, we were starting to get a bit concerned about time and thinking about London traffic, but I was determined to see one of my favourite animals - the Giraffes - before we left. I find Giraffes so fascinating. They should be so ungainly but somehow they're graceful and beautiful.

We saw a few more animals along the way and then decided it really was time to head home after what had been a really great day. There were quite a few areas and animals we didn't see on this visit. Hopefully, we'll get the chance to visit again one day.

The only downside to the day was that we had to drive to the Zoo as the ropes being donated were too heavy to transport. Never a great thing to drive around London. The Zoo is just on the outskirts of the Congestion Zone so at least there's no charge for that. It's definitely better to try to go to the Zoo by train. The car park is expensive at £14.50 for the day.

It's advisable to book your tickets online in advance as you can save a few pounds on the gate price. Children under 3 are free. It's also worth considering a membership if you think you might visit this and Whipsnade Zoo a few times in the year.

We really were fortunate to get in for free and it made a really great pre-birthday treat for Little Miss A.

Here's a selection of random other photos that I just like from our day!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Reminiscing about Little Miss A's 1st Birthday Party!

A week today, Little Miss A turns 2. Time really has flown by!

We've decided this year to just have a simple affair and celebrate with the Grandparents. However, it's got me thinking back to last year and I've realised that I didn't write about her 1st Birthday Party at the time, so now's a good chance!

We're not into big extravagant parties as you may remember from the Naming Ceremony we organised for Little Miss A. Therefore we invited just a few local friends and the Grandparents.

We decided to have the party at home, the day before her birthday. However, we realised that that day was Mothering Sunday which meant that a lot of people were planning to see their Mums for lunch. So we moved the time of the party to 9.30am! Yes, really that early!

Actually at this time in the morning, we had a good chance that the one year olds would all be awake and wouldn't need a nap. To incentivise the adults, we chose to provide bacon and sausage sarnies, pastries and of course there was a lot of coffee available.

We were really fortunate that the weather was great that weekend. Thank goodness! I'm not quite sure how we'd have all fitted in the house with space for the little ones to run around.

Being able to go out into the garden meant that we could get out all of Little Miss A's big toys. Here she is waiting for her friends to arrive!

It was actually the ideal party for this age. And definitely done on a Budget! The main expense was obviously the food but actually we found that doing breakfast worked out really well. We didn't over cater and we weren't stuck eating leftover buffet food for the next few days.

My Mum kindly made the cake for us. It was delicious!

Each party guest got a party bag with a bath toy and a sponge of their initial for painting etc. However, on the day we also set-up a table for some handprints. I bought some canvases from The Works and a multi-coloured Giant Paint Pad from Hobbycraft. Each child did a handprint on a small canvas board. I also asked them to do another handprint on a larger canvas. For the purposes of the photo, I have blanked out the children's names.

These provided a nice little keepsake for the children to take away with them and Little Miss A has a fantastic record of the friends & family that came to her party!

One of my favourite things I did in terms of birthday decorations was create a '1' out of photos of Little Miss A. Each month I had taken a picture of her with a letter 'A'. I used this prop just so there was something to give a sense of scale. As you can see, at the beginning the 'A' was almost as big as her but by the last photo she's so much bigger than the 'A'!

After the party guests had left, it was time to open all the Birthday presents from the family with the Grandparents. She got some really brilliant presents - the only downside was that most of them were 'big'. She's loved them all but storage is a continuous problem!

We have some really great memories of Little Miss A's first Birthday party. And now it's time for her to turn 2!

Monday, 23 March 2015

Hughenden Manor

Last week we had a day out at the Hughenden Estate, another of the National Trust properties that is closeby. Our membership has now paid for itself!

We arrived at about 10.30am and headed into the Information centre to enquire about walks. They suggested we head up to the D'Israeli Monument and we're glad we did.

We had Little Miss A in the back carrier. Luckily she's still quite happy to go in this otherwise we would have been much more restricted on how far we could walk.

You walk through some of the estate woodlands before crossing a road, passing through a field and then making the steep climb up to the monument. We didn't have a great day weather-wise, the view would be better on a clearer day but it was still good.

The best thing was that we were surrounded by Red Kites. At one point we counted 12 flying around us.

We'd taken a picnic lunch with us, so took the opportunity to sit on the one bench up there and eat our sandwiches whilst watching the Red Kites. Well, Mr MoaB and I watched the Red Kites. Little Miss A was more interested in watching the tractor that was ploughing the field below us! We were the only ones at the Monument the whole time we were there.

It was soon time to move on as it was quite chilly. Rather than walk back the way we had come, we decided to follow another path that would take us back to the Manor House and a much needed hot drink the cafe. Just before we got to the cafe, we stumbled across the Ice House which tells some of the story of the Map Makers who were based at Hughenden during WWII. It's worth popping in here for a look around. If the phone rings, make sure you answer it!

After warming up in the cafe, we then headed to the Manor House for a look around. I was a bit nervous about taking Little Miss A inside but she was actually really good and was quite happy to just wander in and out of the rooms. She particularly enjoyed the exhibits downstairs in the basement where she could actually do things. She had a very important phone call to make!

There was just time for a short wander around The Parterre (the garden) before heading home. We definitely packed a lot in to our day at Hughenden. I'm so glad we combined seeing the house with a really good walk.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

My Sunday Photo 22-03-2015

This is my favourite picture of this week.

Hello... Hello...

The photo was taken at Hughenden Manor, a National Trust estate, that we visited on Thursday. Little Miss A had important business to attend to on the telephone!


Monday, 16 March 2015

Novel 40th Birthday Present - 40 Things Beginning With B

So Mr MoaB's sister turned 40 last month. Unfortunately we weren't able to make a trip up North to celebrate but we're going to make it up to her with a family weekend away in June.

We were struggling to come up with a good present for her so I suggested that we do '40 Things Beginning with 'B' (her initial).

At first Mr MoaB really didn't get the idea and had visions of it costing a lot more than we could afford to buy 40 things! However, I managed to convince him that when my Mum and I have done this for people in the past, it's been really well received. No-one is expecting to get so many gifts, let alone all of them beginning with their initial! I also told him that people appreciate the effort you've put into the present as it takes some time and creativity to come up with the right number of things. In the past, we've done 17 Things Beginning with S, 30 Things Beginning with C, L and J and a real challenge was 50 Things Beginning with V!

I decided to set a budget for the present to stop it sprialling out of control. The budget is £40 which means an average of just £1 per item! So it's going to be a challenge!

The starting point was coming up with a list of possible items beginning with a B. I put Mr MoaB and my Mum on the case to think of items too. Some of them are quite generic items such as 'book', whilst others are brands such as 'Bizzy Bee'. Quite quickly I had a list of over 50 items and at that point took the plunge and purchased the first item.

It's fortunate that I have time on my side to compile all the items. This isn't something you can do as a last-minute present!

Over the last few weeks, I've sent messages to some of the brands to see if they can help me out. I am chuffed that some of them have got back to me and I'm starting to receive some great things in the post to include!

So far, I've managed to get 12 items and have spent the grand total of £4.03. Not a bad start at all!

Here's the 'B' items have got so far:

Brandy snaps - bought from Aldi for 69p.

Butterscotch sweets - bought from Aldi for 99p.

Brazil nuts - donated by my Mum who bought these to eat at Christmas but they were still lying around when I last visited so I nabbed them!

Stick of Brighton Rock - bought from a Rock Shop for 85p.

Book - When I put this on the list, I wasn't really sure what 'book' this would be. Maybe an author with 'B' initials? Then I came across this book called "Things to do now that you're 40" in a charity shop for £1. Couldn't be more perfect!

Wooden decorated 'B' - I bought this for 50p at a car boot sale and am thinking that it may be used for decorating the 'Box' that all the items will go into.

Bic Biros - a collection of pens which have kindly been sent to me by Bic.

Banana Bread and Berry Burst Nakd bars - We have a friend who works for Nakd and at a recent meet-up she brought loads of bars with her. I asked her if I could take some extra ones home and went through and found the bars that have 'B' in their name!

Bracelet - donated by my Mum who received it as a gift but doesn't wear bracelets.

Bizzy Bee Cleaning Products - after contacting Bizzy Bee, they kindly sent me some fantastic cleaning items. Very gratefully received! I love their logo!

Bouquet garni, Basil and Bay leaves - again, another kind donation from a company I contacted. These herbs were kindly sent to me from Schwartz.

So another 28 items to go but I'm confident it can be done! I love a challenge!

I'll keep you posted on how I get on.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

My Sunday Photo 15-03-2015

Instead of my favourite picture from the past week, I've actually chosen one of my favourite photos from the last year of me with Little Miss A - as it's Mothering Sunday. It was taken last April when we popped to Wales for a couple of days.

Little Miss A may be too young to understand what today is all about but I want to take this opportunity to Thank her for making me a Mummy! I love her to pieces and am so proud that she's my daughter. I'm trying to do the best job I can as her Mummy and I hope I'm getting it right (most of the time at least!).


Monday, 9 March 2015

Easter Holiday Family Events in and around Aylesbury

There are lots of activities and events going on in and around Aylesbury during the Easter school holidays so I thought I'd compile a list of these so you can add them to your diary.

Breakfast and Tea with the Easter Bunny
Saturday 28th March - Sunday 5th April
The Easter Bunny will be making a special appearance and hosting a very special breakfast or tea. There will be an Easter biscuit to decorate, a Lindt chocolate treat and your very own cuddly toy.
Place: Wyevale Garden Centres: World's End - Wendover, Tring, Bicester Avenue
Time: Vary. Check website and book a time online.
Cost: £9.99 per child (adult tickets available).

Easter Bunny Bonanza
Saturday 28th March - Friday 17th April
The chance to meet the Easter Bunny and earn a chocolate treat on the Easter Egg Trail. Discover the New "Hoppy's Easter Garden", meet real Easter chicks and other super cute animals, plus lots more Springtime fun!
Place: Mead Open Farm
Times: 10am - 6.30pm
Cost: £9.25 for children (2-16), under 2s are free, £10.25 for adults.
To find out more about what's on offer, take a look at my review of Mead Open Farm from our visit earlier this year.

Easter Family Fun
Saturday 28th March - Sunday 12th April
Along with the usual activities, there will also be a Spring Trail around the farm and children will get a yummy treat.
Place: Odds Farm Park
Times: 10am - 5.30pm
Cost: £11.50 for children (2-16), under 2s are free, £12.50 for adults.
To find out more about what's on offer, take a look at my review of Odds Farm Park from our recent visit.

Easter Activities
Monday 30th March
Activities including making chocolate nests. 0-5 years.
Place: South West Children's Centre, The Healthy Living Centre
Times: 10am - 12pm
Cost: £1.50 per family. Must be booked and paid for in advance.

Pop-up and Play
Monday 30th March
Drop-in session with activities for the little ones organised by Bearbrook & Elmhurst Children's Centres.
Place: Fairford Leys Community Centre
Times: 1.30pm - 3pm
Cost: Free

Easter Farm
Tuesday 31st March
Come along to meet and pet the animals at this one day farm organised by Waddesdon & Whitchurch Barnado's Children's Centre.
Place: Buckingham Park Community Centre
Times: 10am - 11.30am or 12.30pm - 2pm
Cost: £2 per child, under 2s are free. Tickets must be purchased in advance from the Community Centre office.
To find out more about this Farm, take a look at my review of the Children's Farm from our visit last year.

Play around the Parishes
Tuesday 31st March
A fun session of play, sports and arts activities for children aged 1-11 years, organised by Aylesbury Vale District Council and Surestart Centres. .
Place: Waddesdon Recreation Ground, HP18 0LA
Times: 2pm - 4pm
Cost: Free

Easter Egg Hunt 
Tuesday 31st March
Easter Egg Hunt with arts and crafts. 11/2-5 years.
Place: Southcourt Children's Centre, Aylesbury College Campus
Times: 10am - 11.30am
Cost: £1.50 per family. Must be booked and paid for in advance.

Easter Fun at Aylesbury Library
Tuesday 31st March
Bunny Hats & Easter Cards.
Place: Aylesbury Library
Times: 11am - 12pm
Cost: Free

April Messy Church
Wednesday 1st April
Art, food crafts, bouncy castles, play, quizzes, story, singing, lunch and so much more...
Place: Southcourt Baptist Church
Times: 10:30am - 12:30pm
Cost: £1 per child

Easter Stories & Rhymes
Wednesday 1st April
Easter stories and rhymes. 0-5 years.
Place: Southcourt Children's Centre, Aylesbury College Campus
Times: 10am - 11.30am
Cost: £1.50 per family

NCT Easter Egg Hunt
Thursday 2nd April
Easter Eggstravaganza! Fun in the park with an Easter Egg Hunt.
Place: Bedgrove Park, Ambleside, Aylesbury HP21 9TT
Time: 10.30am - 12pm
Cost: £1.50 per participating child. Chocolate egg for everyone plus entry into prize draw. In aid of the NCT Charity.

Easter Treasure Hunt - Free Kids Thursday Event
Thursday 2nd April
Free fun in the school holidays provided by the Aylesbury Town Centre Partnership. Includes a colouring competition and the Annual Easter Treasure Hunt with great prizes to be won.
Place: Aylesbury town centre
Time: 11am - 3pm
Cost: Free

Easter Fun at Aylesbury Library
Thursday 2nd April
Baskets of fun
Place: Aylesbury Library
Times: 10.30am - 12pm
Cost: Free

Easter Springtime Fancy Dress Party Fun Session
Thursday 2nd April
"Elsa and the Easter Bunny!" Musical fun for boys and girls aged 0 to 6 years. Go on a sunny Springtime adventure to the Easter Bunny's magical woodland and meet lots of little animal friends for some singing, dancing and gentle musical games and activities. Places must be pre-booked with Jacqu'in the Box - Tel: 07948 371615.
Place: Fairford Leys Community Centre
Time: 2.30pm - 3.45pm
Cost: £8 per child or £12 for two siblings

Cadbury Easter Egg Trail
Friday 3rd - Monday 6th April
Become a detective as you follow the Easter trail around the gardens. All successful detectives will receive a Cadbury chocolate prize.
Place: National Trust places: Ashridge, Boarstall Duck Decoy, Claydon House, Hughenden Manor, Stowe, Waddesdon Manor
Times: Vary by place. Check website for details.
Cost: £3.00 per trail. Normal admission charges apply.

Eggtastic Egg Hunt
Friday 3rd - Monday 6th April
Can you tell the difference between real and fake eggs? Search the galleries to be in with a chance of winning your own chocolate egg.
Place: Natural History Museum at Tring
Times: Check website for Museum opening hours.
Cost: Trail sheet £1

Easter Specials
Friday 3rd - Monday 6th April
Train ride with refreshments for all including a chocolate treat for children and a hot cross bun for adults.
Place: Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway
Trains: 10:15, 11:45, 1:30, 3:00, 4:30
Cost: Check website for details
To find out more about travelling on this Railway, take a look at my review of the Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway from earlier this year.

Easter Egg Hunt
Friday 3rd - Sun 5th April
Lots of activities throughout the school holidays including bottle feeding, egg & spoon race, animal handling and ferret racing. Plus an Easter Egg Hunt on the Easter weekend. 
Place: The Bucks Goat Centre
Times: Check website for Centre opening hours.
Cost: £3.50 per child. Under 2s free. £4.50 per adult.

Easter Fun at Aylesbury Library
Saturday 4th April
Storytime and Treasure Hunt.
Place: Aylesbury Library
Times: 11am - 12pm
Cost: Free

Easter Egg Hunt & Kids Party
Sunday 5th April
Free kids party & Easter egg hunt. No need to book, just turn up! Organised by Em's Looney Tune Discos.
Place: Aeglesburgh Watermead Inn, Watermead, Aylesbury
Time: 10.30am - 12.30pm
Cost: Free

Easter Egg Hunt
Sunday 5th April
Follow the trail through the Temple Gardens to see if you can find where the Easter Bunny left his eggs. There's a chocolatey reward at the end! (Weather dependent. Advance booking is required). There will also be a Easter Bonnet Competition so bring your bonnet creation to be judged.
Place: Langley Park Country Park
Times: 3pm - 4pm
Cost: £5 per child for the egg hunt, £2 per bonnet
Take a look at my review of Langley Park - it's currently my favourite park!

Thame Country Fair
Sunday 5th - Monday 6th April
Shopping, Crafts, Food, Arena Displays & Demonstrations, Family Fun and lots more.
Place: Thame Showground
Times: 10am - 6pm
Cost: Advance ticket prices available up to 27th March. Adults £10. Children (5-15 years) £4. Family ticket (2 adults & up to 3 children) £28

Animal Edutainment
Tuesday 7th April
A fun and interactive session with a range of animals. 18 months - 5 years. Essential to book and pay in advance.
Place: Southcourt Children's Centre, Walton Court Shopping Centre HP21 8TJ
Times: 1.30pm - 2.30pm or 2.45pm - 3.45pm
Cost: £2.00 per family

Kids Laser Quest - Free Kids Thursday Event
Thursday 9th April
Free fun in the school holidays provided by the Aylesbury Town Centre Partnership.
Place: Aylesbury town centre
Time: 11am - 3pm
Cost: Free

I've taken the information from the venue websites but please do check directly for up-to-date information. I will try to add to this list if I come across any more. Please do comment if you have any recommendations.

Hope you have a great Easter whatever you get up to!

Happy Easter!