Archive for January 2016

Me & Mine - January 2016

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Joining up for the first month of 2016 with the Me and Mine Family Portrait Project. Here's January's photo of our little family!



It was taken on our family walk in Milton Keynes. We tried a few times to get Little Miss A to pose with us and she refused so we had to take matters in to our own hands and grab her which she found hilarious!

January Highs:
  • It's becoming a bit of a tradition to visit Waddesdon Manor to see their Winter Lights on New Year's Day (well, we've been the last 2 years anyway!).
  • We had a really fun day in Milton Keynes. Little Miss A had a fab time at the soft play centre - 360 Play and then we went to lunch at one of my favourite restaurants - Las Iguanas.
  • On a cold, dismal day we re-visited Tring Museum. There's so much to see here that you always see something different. It's great for Little Miss A as she gets to practice her animal recognition. 
  • We had a chilly and muddy walk along the Stick Man Trail at Wendover Woods. The Stick Man is a firm favourite of ours since the TV version at Christmas. 
  • We explored a part of Milton Keynes that took us to a fab playground (Rhino Park), to a community cafe for a delicious lunch, to a peace pagoda and a stone circle. Not bad for a morning out! 
  • Little Miss A has seen her Nana & Pops twice this month. I love seeing her interaction with them. We also spent a lovely day in Black Park Country Park with my Aunt & Uncle who we don't get to see very often. 
  • This blog turned 2 this month! I'm so pleased that I started writing it and have kept going. It's such a great record of our family adventures and I love having this space to share photos and stories. 

January Lows:
  • I'm still struggling with pregnancy tiredness but Little Miss A's naps are getting more hit and miss which means I don't always get a rest when I really need one. 
  • Now I'm working, it does mean that our family time is reduced to just a day and a half, and the half day I'm usually desperate for an afternoon nap, so it's only really a day of quality time together. I know it's only a short term thing that our family time is reduced but I do miss it. I also know that the morning Mr MoaB and Little Miss A have together is really great for both of them. We must make sure that each of us spends individual time with Little Miss A when the new baby arrives. 

The Me + Mine Project - Dear Beautiful

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My Sunday Photo 31-01-2016

This is my favourite picture of this week.


It was taken this week at a playground in Milton Keynes. Such a fun piece of play equipment. Can't believe it's just in a local play park and not in a major park. It's fab! A Rhino version of Elmer!



OneDad3Girls

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Mixture in Milton Keynes - Rhino Playground, Peace Pagoda and Tree Cathedral

Thursday, 28 January 2016

With the sun shining today, we wanted to head out and fancy trying somewhere new.

I recently spotted a post on the Parks in and around Milton Keynes Facebook page about a park with some really fun looking play equipment, including a Rhino, so that's where we headed.

The Rhino Playground in Downhead Play Park is tucked away in a housing estate in Milton Keynes so you wouldn't know it's there. However, it was really easy to find. We parked along Colesbourne Drive right next to the park and could immediately spot the Rhino!

Little Miss A wasn't too sure about climbing the Rhino at first and explored the other play equipment first. Then I managed to persuade her to have a go!

Along with the usual swings, roundabout, see-saw and slide, there was also a really great jeep car. This was a real hit with Little Miss A as it was on springs so you could bounce it around. We went on a bumpy safari ride on the jeep, spotting all kinds of (imaginary) animals! Each of us took a turn at driving.


Along with the play area for younger children, there was also a section with some equipment for older kids including a climbing frame, basket swing and wobbly bridge. We tried it all out!

After a long play, we decided to take a wander over the canal. As we went over the bridge we stumbled upon the Camphill Cafe. This community cafe is operated by members of the Camphill Community who are adults with a wide range of learning difficulties. It was a really lovely cafe with a great choice for lunch. The bread and tea cake we had were baked on-site and were delicious. It was such a lovely find and just what we needed for a lunch stop. It is open Monday to Friday, from 10am to 4pm. Highly recommended.

A short walk further along the path, crossing a bridge over the road, and we came across the Peace Pagoda. It looked amazing against the clear blue sky.



We had a good wander around the Pagoda and then along by Willen Lake North. There was an interesting stone circle - there was nothing to tell us any information about this but we had a play amongst the stones.

You can also walk to Willen Lake South but we decided that we'd turn back at this point. So this walk could be a lot longer if you wanted to explore the other lake a bit more which also has a playground.

We headed back to the car with another play in the Rhino Playground along the way. It was such a fun walk.

When I'd been researching the location of the park, I'd also spotted on the map that we weren't far from a Tree Cathedral. We enjoy visiting the Whipsnade Tree Cathedral so thought we'd take a look at this one which is planted in an outline based on Norwich Cathedral.



It was very peaceful and nice to walk around. There was a mound that we climbed up and Little Miss A was 'king of the castle' at the top!

By this point, the sun had disappeared and we were all a bit chilly and starting to tire so time to head home. What a great day we had though with lots of brilliant finds along the way. A real variety but it was nice to explore somewhere new and we had lots of fun along the way with Little Miss A.


Monkey and Mouse

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My Sunday Photo 24-01-2016

Sunday, 24 January 2016

This is my favourite picture of this week.


It was taken on Thursday in Wendover Woods. Little Miss A looks so grown up in this picture.


OneDad3Girls

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The Stick Man Trail in Wendover Woods

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Having followed the Gruffalo TrailGruffalo's Child Trail and Superworm Trail in Wendover Woods several times over the last couple of years, it was time to go on the Stick Man Trail when we visited the Woods today.




The Trail changed last month and is now based on another book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. I wasn't familiar with this story at all until Little Miss A got a copy of the book in her Christmas Book Advent Calendar (a gift from her Nana). We've read it a lot since then and also love watching the TV adaptation. Little Miss A is picking up parts of it and talks about the 'family tree'!






As with the previous Trails, Little Miss A enjoys running around spotting the various activity boards and characters. She doesn't allow us much time at each board to actually read them before she's off to find the next one. So we didn't get the chance to actually do any of the activities suggested!









Along the Trail is the Den Building Area and Little Miss A had to go into each pre-built den. As we do on all visits to the woods, we had to visit the Gruffalo statue and count the owls on the bench. We also had a quick visit to the playground but by this point we (or me in particular) were getting very cold and needed to warm up!





Whilst we were there we only encountered one other family also braving the cold and doing the Trail. It is the perfect distance for Little Miss A to walk around and it's nice that she recognises the characters so well. I'm sure we'll be on this Trail again.

You can buy an accompanying activity pack for the Trail costing £3 which we may do next time. There are Stick Man Trails in woods throughout the UK. The trail is in place until June 2016. Full details can be found on the Forestry Commission website.


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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My Sunday Photo 17-01-2016

Sunday, 17 January 2016

This is my favourite picture of this week.


It was taken on Thursday when we visiting Tring Museum. You're actively encouraged to sit and pose atop the Giant Tortoise, so of course we had to put Little Miss A on top!

I asked Mr MoaB to take some pictures of her initially. He was so focused on Little Miss A that he forgot to include the tortoise!!





OneDad3Girls

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Meeting the Animals Again at Tring Museum

Thursday, 14 January 2016

It has been a while since our last visit to Tring Museum but we decided to visit again today as we woke up to a cold, damp start to the day so decided against a family walk!

No matter how many times you visit, you always see something new. It's a fascinating collection. It's always interesting to see which animals Little Miss A is most interested in. This time it was finding the peacock and looking at the zebras.

There was a new display in the Rothschild Room which had a giant tortoise sculpture. You are actively encourage to sit on it and take a photo to re-enact a photo of Rothschild himself riding on the back of one!





We arrived late morning and it was very busy with a school party. There were a few other visitors, but mostly the school girls. However, they were all very polite and found Little Miss A very cute when she sat down with them to join in with their drawing!













We spent a lot of time going up and down between the floors. sometimes via the stairs, sometimes in the lift. Little Miss A led the way and we followed!

It was funny capturing her encounter with the big gorilla. She's changed so much since her encounter with him in November 2014!









We really are lucky to have this Museum so close to where we live and that it's free entry (donations welcome). It's great for a visit on a day like today. And of course if you want to make a day of it, then you can always take a walk to see the wooden animal sculptures in Tring Park - highly recommended!

You can read more about our previous visits to Meet the Animals at Tring Museum.

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2 Year Blogiversary

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Happy 2nd Blogiversary to this blog!



I'm so glad that I started writing this blog two years ago today. It's now become such a great way to record our family life and adventures.

There are still things I'd like to do with the blog, but for now my goal is just to keep up with the content as this is proving a challenge in itself. The last few months have been harder to keep up with writing posts so there are currently lots in my drafts! I'm determined to post these at some point so Little Miss A has a full record. My excuse for lack of posts some weeks is that I'm generally sleeping at every opportunity such as Little Miss A's nap times. My pregnancy wipes me out! Add on top that I'm now working part time plus trying to keep up with an active toddler and despite sleeping in the day when I can, I'm always ready for an early night and more sleep!

The blog looks very different now to a year ago as back in May I took the plunge and invested in a new design for the blog. I'm still really pleased with it and the logo definitely suits our outdoor family lifestyle.



Some of my most popular posts this year have been the regular round-ups I write with local activities and events in the school holidays. Also, these posts:
Stanwick Lakes in Northamptonshire

This year I hope to take a more active part in other linkys, but the two I've enjoyed the most have been 'My Sunday Photo' and 'Me and Mine'.

The blog has brought with it a few great opportunities. The best of which was a trip to Bristol where we spent a fab couple of days and only had to pay for our accommodation!

I thought it would be good to have a record of my Social Media followers. They might not be big numbers compared to many fab blogs out there, but I'm surprised by how much the numbers have grown:
Mummy on a Budget on Facebook - 637 likes (112 in 2014)
@mummyonabudget on Twitter -  1,823 followers (1027 in 2014)
mummyonabudget on Instagram - 887 followers (254 in 2014)
Mummy on a Budget on Google+ - 29 followers (0 in 2014)

I have to say that out of these, Instagram is now my favourite medium. I love picking photos to post and then generally being nosy about what other people are up to! There's a lovely community on there and it's a great place to pick up ideas for crafts and things to do.

I love being a part of the blogging community. There are so many lovely bloggers out there who will always pass on a kind word or piece of advice. I can only look on with envy at those who have taken the leap to make blogging their full time occupation.

Thankyou so much to everyone who reads and supports this blog. In particular Mr MoaB for his patience when I spend so much time writing content and on social media (he really does despair sometimes) and to Little Miss A for humouring me when I constantly ask her to say 'cheese' for a photo! I really hope she enjoys reading this blog in the future as much as I enjoy writing it.

It's going to be an exciting year for the MoaB family. I wonder what adventures we'll get up to as a family of 4!?!



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My Sunday Photo 10-01-2016

This is my favourite picture of this week.


It was taken on Thursday at the 360 Play Centre in Milton Keynes. We had such a fun morning there. I'm blaming bump as to why I couldn't fit in the fire engine next to Little Miss A and had to sit in the back!

OneDad3Girls

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The Gruffalo Trail at Astley Park

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Last summer we had a really fun day out with Mr MoaB's family at Astley Park in Chorley where they'd opened up a fantastic new playground.

I was keen to take Little Miss A back so our visit up North at Christmas provided the perfect opportunity. We all needed some fresh air and a walk. Little did I know that there would be the added bonus of a Gruffalo Trail!

The Trail is set around the Walled Garden. It's not a very long trail but was fun for the kids to run around spotting the characters. It was lovely to see Little Miss A's cousins helping her to find them all.





There was a really nice sculpture of the Gruffalo as well!


We also spent some time in the playground. Of course Little Miss A had to go on the zip wire! I had visions of her falling off into the massive muddy puddle underneath, but thankfully she held on tight!




We also popped into Pets Corner where Little Miss A had a close encounter with a bearded dragon. It's free to go in (donations are welcomed) and have a wander to see the animals including snakes, rabbits, birds and more.


The kids enjoyed a final play in the smaller playground before we decided we all needed to warm up with a hot drink in the Cafe.

It was a really great morning. We certainly packed a lot in and it was just what we needed to blow away the cobwebs. There were just a few other people in the playgrounds but we had the Trail and Pets Corner to ourselves when we did these. It was nice to find the Gruffalo Trail as it still remains one of our favourite books. This really is such a nice Park to visit.


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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A Review of 360 Play in Milton Keynes

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Today we enjoyed a fantastic morning at 360 Play in Milton Keynes.

A couple of months ago I was fortunate enough to win a competition they ran on Facebook for a free day pass and as Mr MoaB wanted to go to a shop in Milton Keynes, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to visit.

It's the best soft play we've visited. Time flew by whilst we were in there. We couldn't believe we'd been there a couple of hours. There was such a variety of things to do.

When we arrived Little Miss A wasted no time kicking her shoes off to go off to explore the 3-storey play frame. Initially she went in with her Daddy, but later on she had the confidence to go in on her own. The slides were crazy fast - they whipped down them!




The great thing is that you have good visibility all around the play frame, so could generally spot where Little Miss A was. There is a separate Toddler Zone, but this doesn't interest Little Miss A anymore.

Included in the entrance are the Rides. So next up was a spin on the Carousel and then a go on the Dodgems with Daddy. Little Miss A was a pretty good driver and picked up how to steer around the corners really well!






A quick pit stop with a drink from the Cafe and then we went upstairs to 360 Street. This was a brilliant role play zone with a pizzeria, shop, vets and garage. There were even lots of costumes to dress up in.




Little Miss A most enjoyed playing in the pizzeria, and her pizzas were very tasty!!!





Upstairs, there was also a lego/duplo building area which we spent a little bit of time in. Plus a Messy Play Area but there wasn't a session running whilst we were there. The centre also has an Outdoor area so we'll have to visit again later in the year when this is open.

Little Miss A and Mr MoaB spent some more time in the play frame before it was Mummy's turn to go on the Carousel!


We definitely could have stayed longer. It was a great time to go as it wasn't that busy. There were enough other people to create a nice atmosphere, but there was so much space and we didn't have to wait for the rides etc.

The whole place was very clean and tidy and the staff were helpful. We had hot drinks from the cafe but most people there seemed to be taking advantage of the hot meals and they looked good. It's worth keeping an eye on their Facebook page as they sometimes have special offers on food. We were going out for lunch but we'll most likely try the food next time. 

It is more expensive than your usual soft play and you have to pay for adults. However, given the range of different activities on offer, the cost does seem justified. 

It's definitely worth paying 360 Play a visit. There's so much to do so we'll definitely be going back. 


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Twelve Days at Ashridge Christmas Trail

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

On a rather wet Saturday morning in December, we decided to head to Ashridge for a walk. I'd seen that they had a Christmas Trail running in the lead-up to Christmas. This year the theme was Twelve Days at Ashridge.

We did the Christmas Trail on a similarly cold and wet day in 2014! It's actually a great option to just get out of the house for a couple of hours. An easy walk that Little Miss A can manage on her own and the Trail adds interest along the way.

We picked up the Trail sheet in the Visitors Centre and then set off. There were wooden posts around the Trail with facts about the wildlife that lives in Ashridge, with accompanying questions on the sheet to fill in.




We also took some pictures of Little Miss A with the scan picture of her new brother or sister, due in May. The first attempt didn't go too well but whilst she was climbing trees, she asked to hold the picture so we took lots of photos of her which we used for our Baby Announcement.



We popped back into the Visitors Centre at the end of the Trail to collect the prize - admittedly we'd filled in most of the Trail sheet but Little Miss A enjoyed the sweet!

After a hot drink in the Cafe, it was time to head home. This Trail was a great way to get us out that morning. We saw a couple of other families along the trail, so we weren't the only ones braving the elements that day!

The Trail is a great distance of toddlers to manage to walk around. It cost just £1 for the Trail sheet. It's really great that it's free parking at Ashridge, so always worth going for a walk whatever time of year!



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Festive Experience at Wicksteed Park

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

My parents live very close to Wicksteed Park in Kettering and we thought Little Miss A was a great age this year to go on the Festive Train.

We booked for the last evening it was running. There was a bit of a panic as we got caught in some traffic on the journey from Aylesbury so were going to miss the time slot we booked. I called the Park up and they said that we would just be put on to the next available time slot when we did arrive. Phew!

We picked up our tickets and then waited a few minutes before going into the Elves' Workshop. The elves entertained the kids for a while before the children wrote their Christmas wishes and collected their very own mini-lantern.

 It was then time to board the train. After a very fleeting appearance by Father Christmas to wave us off, we set off on our journey around the edge of the large Lake. There were lots of festive lights and a laser display to enjoy along the way. It was chilly - my Mum was prepared with a blanket so she cuddled up with Little Miss A under this. If you plan to do this train ride this year, then I definitely recommend wrapping up really warm and taking blankets!



The final part of the Festive Experience was in the garden with a Lights and Lanterns display. The giant animal lanterns were lovely. My favourite was the Owl. 



There was a special tree to hang the Christmas wishes on so we tied Little Miss A's wish on. Then we took advantage of the warm drink and mince pie (included) as it was a chilly evening. 

It was nice to share this experience with Little Miss A's Nana & Pops and it started off our Christmas together really well.


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My Sunday Photo 03-01-2016

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Really enjoyed doing #MySundayPhoto last year, so going to try to pick a favourite photo each week again this year.

This is my favourite picture of this week.


I love Little Miss A's impression of the Gruffalo in this photo! It was taken at Astley Park in Chorley whilst we were visiting Mr MoaB's family.

OneDad3Girls

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Fairy Trail at Rushmere Country Park

Saturday, 2 January 2016

One of our favourite finds of last year was Rushmere Country Park near Leighton Buzzard. It's a really great, family orientated park.

On New Year's Eve, we wanted to get outdoors for a couple of hours so headed off to the Park. Little Miss A loved finding all the fairy doors on previous visits (you can read more about our first visit to Rushmere County Park). We decided to visit again as I'd seen that they had a Fairy Trail running over the Christmas period.

We collected a Trail sheet from the Visitors Centre which cost £2 but you got a fun Christmas pencil to use and keep!

There were 5 fairies hidden in the trees to find (there were meant to be 6 but unfortunately one had gone missing). They were lovely statues and some you needed a really good eye to spot, but once Little Miss A knew what she was looking for then she enjoyed finding them.







Once we'd spotted all the fairies, we just took a general wander. Little Miss A kept finding the biggest muddy puddles to go through!






On the way back to the cafe and playground, Little Miss A found lots of the fairy doors. There have been some new doors added since our last visit.




The walk was just what we needed to blow the cobwebs away. I'm sure there will be more visits to this great park in 2016.

It's worth keeping an eye out on the Rushmere Country Park Facebook page for future events.



Life Unexpected
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



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Christmas Book Advent Calendar 2015

In December, along with Little Miss A's Gingerbread House advent calendar that can be filled up each year (last year it was money, this year chocolate!), I decided to do a Book Advent Calendar as an alternative countdown to Christmas.

We already had a handful of 'Christmas' related books, but over the last year, we've been keeping our eyes out for more books in charity shops and car boot sales. So we've not spent any more than £1 on each book. There are a few brand new books in the pile, but these were kindly donated by my Mum!




Here's the 24 books that made up the Advent Calendar:

  • - Harry and the Dinosaurs Make a Christmas Wish by Ian Whybrow and Adrian Reynolds
  • - A Message for Santa by Hiawyn Oram and Tony Ross
  • - Stick Man by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
  • - Father Christmas Needs a Wee! by Nicholas Allan
  • - That's not my snowman... by Fiona Watts and Rachel Wells
  • - Mr Christmas - Sound Book and Book by Roger Hargreaves
  • - A Night Before Christmas Pop-up Story
  • - Baby's Christmas by Francesca Allen, Felicity Brooks and Rachel Wells
  • - A Present for Piglet
  • - Mog's Christmas Calamity by Judith Kerr
  • - The Very Smiley Snowman by Jack Tickle
  • - The Magic Little Sleigh by Anna Claybourne and Jo Moon
  • - Thomas & Friends - The Snowy Special. Based on The Railway Series by the Rev. W. Awdry
  • - Maisy's Christmas Eve by Lucy Cousins
  • - Santa is Coming to Aylesbury by Steve Smallman and Robert Dunn
  • - Usborne Farmyard Tales - Christmas Jigsaw Book by Heather Amery and Stephen Cartwright
  • - A Magical Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
  • - That's not my santa... by Fiona Watts and Rachel Wells
  • - My Christmas Stocking by Nancy Parent and Adam Devaney
  • - That's not my reindeer... by Fiona Watts and Rachel Wells
  • - Santa's Suitcase by Kate Lee and Edward Eaves
  • - The Snowman - Picture Book and CD Set by Raymond Briggs
  • - Reindeer by Sue Reeves
  • - My First Nativity - A Book and Nativity Set by Rod Campbell


We plan to recycle the books for a few years, just replacing a few each time when she's outgrown them.

The Book Advent Calendar actually proved more popular than the chocolate one with Little Miss A and reading each book definitely took more time than devouring a choccie each day! We re-read lots of the books over the course of the month. The favourites were Father Christmas Needs A Wee! (maybe because Little Miss A is just starting to use the potty so we talk about 'wee' A LOT!) and also the Stick Man (which was great as she was then familiar with the story before the new animation was shown on the TV on Christmas Day).






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Winter Lights 2015 at Waddesdon Manor

Friday, 1 January 2016

For the second year in a row we have found ourselves at Waddesdon Manor on New Year's Day to see the Winter Lights.

We were running out of time to see them as they're only on until this Sunday. It was actually raining when we set out for the short drive, but thankfully by the time we got there, it had stopped!

Firstly we headed into the Gardens to see Bruce Munro's light art installation called ...---... SOS.

I'd seen a few images online of this installation beforehand but I wasn't anticipating the sheer number of tents that were there. The light colours were really fun and it was all set to a variety of music clips so I kept bursting into dance to make Little Miss A smile! We also played a game of hide & seek behind some of the tents!


I think I was expecting something else as well as the tents, because last year when we saw the Winter Lights at Waddesdon there were lots of different light installations. However, it was still good to see.

We then headed towards the house to grab a hot drink before seeing the Woodroffe Basset's Transformation son et lumiere performance on the front of the house. The house and surrounding trees were bathed in colourful light. It was very pretty.


We made such good use of our National Trust membership last year that we have renewed for this year and can already tick off one visit for 2016! I know they'll be many more to Waddesdon this year along with other properties.



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