Archive for January 2014

Weeniebeans - Review

Friday, 31 January 2014

Today my friend suggested we take our little ones to Weeniebeans in Stone. It offers a great play space with lots of soft play equipment, a couple of ball pits, some books, a few other toys and for the older children there's a craft table.

We previously visited at the end of last year when they organised a Christmas party. Here's a picture I took then of Baby A enjoying riding on the Big Bird!




There's always a really friendly welcome from the organiser, Donna, and I like the venue, it's just the right amount of space for the little ones to move around and play.

It cost us £1.50 today as Baby A is still under 1. Toddlers aged 1 to 3 years are charged at £3.50 each. There's no charge for Adults, but then you can't help but be tempted by the delicious choice of homemade treats that are on offer. Today's delight was chocolate and caramel cake, yum! All washed down with a nice cup of tea!

We'll definitely be paying another visit soon as now Baby A is crawling it's a great space to let her loose to explore!

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Taster class - Monkey Music

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Baby A and I tried another different music class today. And again it was free!

Today we went to Monkey Music which is held at the Thame Barns Centre. You can register for a complimentary taster session on their website, which is what I did.

The class leader, Karen, was very friendly and Baby A was very interested in the 'Monkey' soft toy that came out to play for lots of the songs.

There's a lot of use of instruments and Baby A sort of got the hang of the castanets when they weren't in her mouth being chewed on! She really enjoyed the songs where we got up and danced around the room, but then she loves being jigged around!

There's a mixture of songs that I knew but lots of original songs specific to the class.

Overall a fun class and it introduced Baby A to a lot of new musical instruments which she really liked.

It was great to have a taster of this class and meet some other really lovely Mums. It's a bit too far for us to go each week as this adds to the overall cost of the class with petrol costs, but if you're local to Thame then it's worth giving it a go!


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Trip to Berkhamsted

Saturday, 25 January 2014

I was feeling a bit cooped up today and seeing as the weather forecast for tomorrow is looking really bad, I wanted to get out with Baby A for a bit of fresh air.

My partner was heading back from a trip away and therefore Berkhamsted sprang to mind as it was on his route home and therefore a good place for us to meet up.

We met at Waitrose for our free cup of tea, of course, with our MyWaitrose cards. Then we took a stroll to Berkhamsted Castle. It's amazing that these ruins are so close to the town centre, tucked away behind the train station.

The ruins are really great for kids to run around and explore. When I visited the Castle for the first time in the summer, I remember watching some kids who had brought their wooden swords and shields. They were having so much fun. I will definitely bring Baby A here again when she's older.

Today it was just a short visit as it was quite windy, particularly when we climbed to the top of the Keep.



It's worth the short climb up as you get a sense of the scale of the Castle and some pretty good views too! This time around the moat was full of water making it more authentic.


It's free to visit and wander around the Castle. There's a few informational boards around so you can learn about the history. On my last visit when the weather was much warmer, we took some food with us and enjoyed our picnic sat in the grounds.

On the way back from the Castle, we took the path along by the canal which is a nice stroll. Baby A was interested in the ducks and geese we saw and the boats we passed.

We took Baby A in her pushchair today rather than her carrier as it was only a short walk. The grounds are buggy friendly. We just parked it up and my partner carried Baby A up the steps to the top of the Keep.

So a lovely few hours out with Baby A and my partner with a nice walk, a bit of history and a free cup of tea too!



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Taster class - Hartbeeps

Friday, 24 January 2014

So today I planned for Baby A to have a taster of a different baby class and we tried a musical class called 'Babybeeps' run by Hartbeeps. Luckily for us the taster was free!

We were made to feel very welcome on arrival and Baby A was intrigued from the start in the new environment and with what is created in the room as 'Babyworld'.

The class is really well structured and a story unfolds as the class progresses with the use of original songs and activities. I can imagine there's lots of variety to this class with different things each week.

There is a lot of use of texture, sounds, music, lights so it's very multi sensory. There are plenty of action songs and the babies can get really interactive. Baby A was really interested in the puppets that came out to play!

I like that they offer drop-in sessions so you don't need to commit to a full term. Obviously it costs slightly more this way than paying for a block of sessions, but this means there's flexibility and therefore can just go when we can.

We managed to trial this class for free as I am an NCT member, but otherwise a taster session is just £3.00, which is a really good price.

Hopefully we will visit 'Babyworld' again soon!

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Another family walk on a budget! Whipsnade and Dunstable Downs

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Another sunny day, another great walk. Highly recommended.



This morning we packed the car with our lunch boxes, walking stuff, oh and not forgetting Baby A, and set off for Dunstable for a family walk. It takes about half an hour from Aylesbury, so not too far to drive.

From the National Trust website, we had printed off a 2.5 hour walk called Whipsnade and Dunstable Downs walk.

The starting point for the walk was the Chilterns Gateway Centre. There are a couple of car parks by the Centre, car parking charges do apply. It's free if you're a National Trust member, something we are considering joining as there are so many National Trust properties closeby (but that's for other blogs!). It's £2 to park all day. We would have happily paid this but we were actually given a ticket by someone so we saved ourselves the parking fee on this occasion.

With Baby A happily strapped into her carrier, we set off with our directions in hand. The directions were really good and easy to follow. It's a great circular route. I much prefer these than when you go from A to B and then have to retrace your steps exactly the way you came. We did have a bit of a moment when we realised we only had page 1 of the directions and were missing the last few instructions on page 2! Luckily we followed our instincts and we actually weren't that far from the Centre.

Baby A was in her element again on this walk and sang for much of her journey!


We all thoroughly enjoyed this walk. It took us over the Downs, through fields and woods, uphill and downhill. It also takes you through the Whipsnade Tree Cathedral. What a lovely little find this was. Trees, plants and shrubs have been planted in the form of a cathedral in memorial for First World War soldiers. It was so peaceful. A lovely setting. It's now on our list to revisit during the different seasons. There is a free car park for the Cathedral if you just want to visit this.

Would definitely recommend this walk and it's very achievable with a baby on-board! The most difficult bits were where it was really muddy, but this is to be expected at this time of year and given the amount of rain we've had recently! There aren't any stiles to get over but there are quite a few gates. It's definitely a baby carrier walk rather than with a buggy though.

There was also a lot of wildlife en-route. We saw lots of different birds including a Buzzard, a Sparrow Hawk, Chaffinches, Great Tits, Robins, plus some we weren't able to identify. We passed a farm with donkeys, ponies, goats, ducks and chickens, plus a stables with a beautiful horse that came over to say hello to Baby A. There were also sheep and cows in some of the fields we went through. Baby A has not really seen that many animals in real life so it was great to start pointing them out and making the various animal sounds!

Another great walk for the cost of the petrol. Can't wait to do it again!



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Morning out in Aylesbury for just £1.90

Friday, 17 January 2014

Had a really nice morning out today with Baby A in Aylesbury for just the price of the bus fare (£1.90).

Probably could have been free apart from the petrol cost, if I'd parked at Aylesbury Shopping Park where there's 2 hours free parking. This is always my preferred option when I just have a few shops I need to go to, but if I don't want to clock watch and feel like taking my time, then the bus is great.

The bus is actually often easier with Baby A than taking the car. There's getting her in the car seat, finding a good parking space with room to get her out of the car, and then transferring her from car seat into the pushchair. Then, doing the whole thing in reverse often in the rain! By taking the bus, once Baby A is in the pushchair, that's it. Easy to wheel on and off the bus. No hassle!

This morning I decided to take Baby A to Aylesbury Library in Walton Street to one of their Bounce & Rhyme sessions. Have been before but not for a long time. Like all events at the library, it's free! It's 30 minutes of singing with lots of nursery rhymes and some songs that I haven't heard before, and they give out musical instruments to use for some of the songs. Baby A really enjoyed it, particularly the action songs. She even practiced her clapping to some of them!

They hold Bounce & Rhyme sessions on Tuesday and Friday mornings starting at 10.30am. It's meant to be a ticketed event, but I've never know them to check for tickets. Tickets are issued on a monthly basis on the first working day of the month from the information desk. I try to remember to get a ticket if I'm in town at the beginning of the month, but sometimes I go without one. Ssshhhh, don't tell anyone!

Then after all that singing, a nice hot drink was needed. So it was off to Waitrose to take advantage of their free drink offer. Baby A was asleep by the time we got there which meant I could relax with a nice cup of tea (I love the little teapots and teacups they serve it in) and read the newspaper. No money needed. Just flashed my myWaitrose card for the tea and borrowed one of the newspapers that they provide for café users.

It's definitely worth getting a myWaitrose card. Not only does it entitle you to a free tea or coffee everyday, but if you do decide to do a bit of shopping then it gives you other benefits as well. But if nothing else, then the free drink is worth it. You can even get a takeaway drink. In the summer my Mummy friends would meet in the park, so I often went to Waitrose first to get a takeaway cup of tea and then enjoyed it in the sunshine!

So, that's it. A great morning out! Something for Baby A with the singing and something for me with the relaxing cup of tea. Win, win!! All for the price of the bus fare.


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Family walk at College Lake, Tring

Saturday, 11 January 2014

For the first time in what feels like months, the sun actually shone today and we were able to take advantage of it as a family. Hurray!

So we quickly had to scramble a plan together and chose College Lake in Tring for an afternoon walk. A firm favourite for an easy walk with lots of wildlife to enjoy.

Baby 'A' was definitely glad to be in the open air and loves the view she gets from her carrier!


We haven't visited the Lake for while. Last time I waddled round as I was pregnant, so the walking pace was much quicker this time!

There were a few challenges along the way caused by the recent rainfall, with very muddy patches and large puddles. We definitely chose the wrong path at one point as ended up scrambling over a barbed wire fence as we would have had to wade through a lot of water to get to the gate we needed! Should have taken the 'high road'! Wellies or walking boots are a must at this time of year.

Would definitely recommend the Lake for those with children as they have introduced a lot of new areas. There's bird hides all around the Lake but now there's also lots more interactive and educational areas for the kids such as the Bee Centre and a large area dedicated to old farming methods. Really impressed with what there is and a lot of effort has gone into the exhibits.

And now for the money bit! You can enjoy a great few hours in the fresh air for just the cost of your petrol to get there and a small donation to Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust.

We were looking forward to a well earned hot drink at the end, but the café had just closed. So be warned, the café closes at 3pm! However, this did us a favour and helped us save money on the day. You can take your own food and drink with you of course!

The Lake is open from 9.30am until 4pm everyday. Last entry is 1 hour before closing.

So if you're looking for something to get the kids outdoors for just a few pounds, then head to College Lake.

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Introduction

Friday, 10 January 2014

Writing a blog is something that I've been mulling over for a little while, so here goes!

Like so many, I'm very conscious of money and try to be as careful as I can. My partner always laughs at me with all my money spreadsheets and he calls me 'Voucher queen' as I never go shopping without at least one discount voucher!

Two big life events happened to me last year. Firstly, my partner and I bought a house and then within a few weeks, my amazing baby daughter 'A' was born. A complete life changer.

With my maternity pay now finished, I'm constantly trying to find ways to make our money go further. Everyone always warns you about how expensive babies are, but you don't really know quite how much until you have one. I have already become really bad at buying anything new like clothes for myself as I would far rather spend the money on my daughter.

My thoughts for this blog are to write about my money saving ways and I'm hoping to find lots more ways to be thrifty over the coming months.

Let me know your thoughts and if you have any money saving advice for bringing up a baby!

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