Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Take me to the Retiro

If you're following me over on IG you'll know we have just come back from a short week in Madrid. The weather was sooo good, it was unbelievable! It was like summer in the UK. Perfect to boost the morale and recharge the batteries before exam season starts in school :(

We spent a fair bit of time in the gorgeous and iconic Retiro Park, like good tourists. To be fair we have visited Madrid a handful of times and by now we have seen most of the attractions, and with this kind of sun and warmth, the park was just the ticket. We met up with friends and their family and enjoyed a picnic under the trees by the Palacio de Cristal before heading to the peacocks area, and hey, we scored! A couple of them displayed their "wheel" for us, aren't they just pretty things to look at?
Of course with kids in tow we stopped at many of the play areas, and for ever the Retiro will stay in our memories as the place where our daughter finally learnt to do her own swinging - our big girl!
Later in the week we decided to go back and hire a family-size bike, which I completely recommend as it was great fun to go around and try to use up a few of the extra calories we picked up at the tapas place the night before.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

It might as well be spring

Spring is definitely here now. How glorious are those flowers everywhere?
Of course, I've had a field day with all the cherry blossoms in the past couple of weeks (don't think I'm the only one there, am I?) but oh my, the weather has been super nice as well, and with family coming around to visit we have not missed our chance to go and visit our favourite English gardens around. First we went to Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. Their gardens are sooo pretty, and this time it was definitely the tlips that stole my heart. Being so much into flowers and history must be a sign that I'm getting old. Oh dear. But truly, you'd have to be a fool not to appreciate the beauty here.

Over in Churchill's old country home it was all about the camelias. We fell in love, once again, with the building. It's such a lovely country home filled with history, memories and amazing furniture. Sadly I can't show any of it because photos aren't allowed inside - but I totally get why. It's a whole experience to see it for yourself and it would be a shame to spoil it here.
Flowers, though, are all go, and I hope you'll enjoy them.

Armed with all this amazing inspiration we planted a few seeds this weekend, some simple tomatoes and salad - perfect for our little girl to look after. Last year we just had a few odd bits growing outside because it was our first summer in our new home, but this year we are making more of an effort with our gardening skills - and hopefully our camelia plant will make flowers. Fingers crossed it will work out. Actually, I still haven't decided if I have green fingers or not, but by this summer I should have a definite answer.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

my sun, my stars

Balloons, giant number four balloon, a pig cake, a tractor ride. Nothing was spared for the birthday party down at the farm on Saturday. We were blessed with a fantastic sunny weather for the whole weekend, which really made our celebrations all the more special.
It was the first time we organised a "party" for our daughter, so we decided to book it with one of the local farms we visited before. For a four year-old active animal lover, it was just the right choice.
I thought the highlight would be the private animal handling session, but it turned out the tractor ride  won it.
We had planned to bake a cake for the evening after the party, but the gorgeous pig cake we ordered for the party was so big we had loads left, so the homebaking will have to wait till next weekend when we have more guests coming to celebrate this special occasion.

We were lucky and grateful that the party turned out so well. Here are a few tips I picked up along the process:

* book your event WELL in advance - I mean at least 6 weeks. The farm party I booked was actually way more popular than I thought, and on the day I wanted there was only one opening left! 

*party bags - this was a gandma job, saving me time and hassle to look for all the bits and bobs. She got the plain bags (Hobbycraft I think), stickers and sweets. I am not one for too many plastic useless toys in party bags, so I was in charge of finding something not-too-useless. In the end I settle for a set of Frozen hairpins for the girls and one of those funny compressed face towels for boys, both from Wilko

*our gorgeous Pig Cake is from Marks and Spencer, they take an online order and then you just collect a day or so before the party, it was perfect

* the few decorations I got are from our local Tesco supermarket (the big 4 is not). I had literally zero time to do anything, so those paper balls were a blessing, and they are super easy to put up

* Finally, the ultimate alpha mum trick - I used my original guest list to write down who each present was from so that we can thank everyone individually. Simple but useful ;)

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