Chirk Castle

Another weekend and another new place to visit, the weather had been rainy most of the week but the forecast for the Saturday was looking ok. Originally we were going to Llandudno for the day but a late start meant a change of plan. I had promised a trip to Wales so that’s where we headed, I had a quick look at the National trust book and Google maps, and decided to give Chirk castle a try as it was only an hour away. We may have arrived a little sooner if I hadn’t followed the sat-nav, which took us along lots of very narrow, twisty country lanes.

Oscar didn’t want to do any of the guided tours so we had a little wander around the gardens, which were very muddy, and then walked up to the castle for a self guided tour. Every National Trust place we’ve visited has had something for the children to look for, teddies dotted around the building to be counted, but this one was different. They had cards for each room with 3 or 4 questions on, things to find and count, what do you think an item was used for etc. It was really good as it kept us both entertained working them out and who could spot things first. Some of the answers were surprising too.

As usual the staff/volunteers were very friendly and knowledgeable, with lots of interesting little facts. The place was fairly busy so we made our way back outside and I took advantage of a babysitting device to get a few minutes quiet time …..

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After the main house we went into the dungeons, the stairs were terrifying, a spiral staircase with very worn, different sized steps, which led into a dimly lit circular room. It had a very creepy feel and we didn’t stay long. The climb back out was almost as bad as the one down.

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Then into the keep, time to become a knight in shining armour, well for a few minutes. It was very heavy and uncomfortable to wear.

After being indoors for a while it was time to explore outside, however a few things happened. First we had a shoe disaster, when the front of one of his trainers popped open and his toe was sticking out (thankfully they were old ones) then the rain started, just a drizzle. So we decided to head back and get a warm drink. We spotted some cattle in a field, not sure what type but they had big horns. We went to have a closer look but saw a dead sheep so left quickly to go and report it.

We did get a hot chocolate though and the ever faithful Victoria sponge for Oscar, his favourite.

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We decide to call it a day, new shoes were needed and some clean dry socks too. On the walk back to the car we found this…

So we did as asked, photograph, posted it and re-hid the rock (but not too hidden) A lovely little find. If you are round and about anywhere in the Shropshire area keep a look out for these apparently they’re hidden in plain sight everywhere.

A quick stop on the way home for new shoes, socks and some fish and chips. A great day

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The London photo challenge

Sometimes cities can seem a little ‘educational’ for children with all the museum and galleries, especially as they focus on learning and don’t always make it fun. So I decided to give Oscar a fun focus and a reason for us both to use our cameras.

This was the list …..

  1. Buckingham Palace
  2. Tower guard
  3. A duck on the street
  4. A street performer
  5. An underground sign
  6. A view from the sky
  7. A view from the water
  8. A shoe in the wall
  9. Street art
  10. The smallest police box
  11. A London Met police officer
  12. A Tardis
  13. Paddington bear
  14. Harry Potter
  15. Queen Victoria
  16. With a superhero
  17. Big Ben
  18. Nelsons column
  19. Tower Bridge
  20. The London Eye
  21. China town
  22. Wembley way
  23. Bobby Moore
  24. A shop or sign with your name.

And here are the results …

We had a good time and made some happy memories. Still plenty to see and do so tie to plan another visit.

London – Part 4

Friday started with a tour of Royal Albert Hall, the highlight of Oscar’s holiday (so far). He loves classical music and the BBC proms were rehearsing, this also meant we were unable to take photo’s or video inside. However it was amazing to see and hear.

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Afterwards, with the sun shining, we decide to walk across to the Serpentine Gallery to see the Grayson Perry, The most popular exhibition ever, he is one of my favourite artists. It gave us some interesting topics to discuss afterwards.

 

It was a lovely day so we decided to stay in the park for a while and wandered round to the Diana Memorial Fountain, which was full of kids and adults enjoying the cooling water.

Hunger started to set in around mid afternoon, as we were close I thought the Hard Rock Cafe would be a fun place to stop and eat.

I’m not sure if you can tell but Oscar was very unimpressed, however he enjoyed the food and mocktails. All the walking was starting to take it’s toll, so we headed back to the hotel early for a well deserved rest.

Saturday we had no plans, so we had a little lie in and a late breakfast then headed out for a walk around the shops. We headed along Oxford street and Regent Street until we got bored (me before him) then took a stroll into Mayfair to ‘car spot’ the boy was in his element. No stopping him, other people had noses pressed against the window of car showroom’s, Oscar went straight inside and told them ‘I’m just looking’. Ferrari asked him not touch, Porsche asked him not to touch one car, which had just been sold but Bentley were by far the best, not only no problem looking they asked if he’d like to sit inside and try the different cars to see which he preferred. Excellent service, lovely staff.

This was a special day for him.

London – Part 3

Thursday was, once again, a lovely sunny day so we walked to Covent Garden. When we arrived it was very quiet, not something I’ve experienced before, but it was lovely to sit with a coffee and watch the market setting up.

As you may know from previous posts, I love Ballet so I booked us a tour of the Royal Opera house, one of my favourite places. It was the summer break for the National Ballet company but the Russian Ballet were touring and so we were limited with photograph’s. However we did get to see them rehearsing and warming up for the evening performance during our back stage tour we also saw the costume designers and tailors working hard, making a stunning layered red dress, although they wouldn’t tell us what it was for. We had a look in the royal box (which doesn’t have the best view) then went up to the ‘cheap’ seats which have a fantastic view, you get the best view of the stage and into the orchestra pit too.

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From here we had a wander around the market and bought a couple of souvenirs, then went to the London film museum which had a James Bond exhibition with the vehicles and costumes from all the films. Oscar went a little crazy with the camera and we ended up with around 300 photo’s. Here’s just a few.

London – Part 2

Wednesday started with another delicious breakfast and off we went for a day exploring the South Bank. First we went to see Art of the Brick – A Lego Superheroes exhibition. It was pretty impressive, especially the full size figures and Bat-mobile made completely from regular Lego bricks. They had even copied magazine covers.

 

From here we had a stroll along to the South Bank centre, they had created a beach area for the children and many were playing in the fountains, although the British weather was as reliable as ever and within a few minutes we went from …..

 

Yes the rain started, just as we began to queue for the London Eye, thankfully the wonderful weather the day before meant we had seen most of London from above, on the cable cars with beautiful blue skies, not today though. The photo’s were blurred from the rain on the glass on the pod. It was still a good experience and Oscar wasn’t as bothered about the height as it moved very slowly and less noticeable.

 

Very wet and a little cold we decided to make our way back to the hotel early, clean up and then find somewhere to eat. The rain didn’t last long and by early evening had cleared so we decided to have a wander and see where we ended up. Oscar spotted a tiny Italian (his favourite) restaurant, which was a fantastic choice. The food was beautifully cooked, very fresh and tasty.

 

Our London holiday – Part 1

A few years ago I took Oscar to London, he loved it and ever since has been asking to go back. So this is what we did.

We started off on a sunny Monday morning, travelling in style with Virgin trains.

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A lovely, laid-back relaxing journey to a very busy London Euston. Our accommodation was a short walk from the station, in the Garden Halls in the University of London. I was a little unsure about what it would be like, it was much cheaper than most hotels in the same area, but I wasn’t disappointed. The room was clean and comfortable with bed, wardrobe, chest of drawers and a desk/chair area. The Wi-fi was excellent and plenty of plugs in the room. The bathroom was spotless. Down the corridor from our room was a kitchen, which we had full use of, it included a fridge, microwave and kettle plus tables and chairs. The games room has old style arcade games, which Oscar loved. We never got chance to use the tennis courts but these were also included in the price !

The restaurant was lovely and breakfast was everything you could ever ask for, hot, cold, English, continental plus much more.

 

Our first afternoon we just wandered around, got our bearings and sorted out my oyster card for using the tube, (little tip children under 11 travel free on the tube with an adult using an oyster card).

Tuesday we were up and out early, after a hearty breakfast. Onto the tube and a reasonably short journey to Wembley stadium. The weather was beautiful and we arrived with plenty of time to look around the concourse, see the statues and read the plaques before our tour started. The tour took us all around the stadium, from players changing rooms and bathrooms, VIP area, different parts of the stadium seating, including the Royal box, press conference room and the technical area pitch side. We had a little rivalry going on as Oscar wore his Everton top and another family were Manchester United fans, the banter about the Rooney/Lukaku switch was fun and the two boys got to lead ‘their’ team out the players tunnel, after shaking hands like good team captains should.

 

 

 

From here we had a short walk and decided to try a different form of transport, the Emirates cable cars. I didn’t realise how high it went until we were on it but the view was amazing, even if Oscar didn’t appreciate it.

 

We decided to try a third transport option of the day and took the river shuttle back to the city.

As it was a lovely sunny day, so we decided to make to most of the sunshine and spent the afternoon at the Tower of London, it was a little expensive to get in (thankfully Oscar was free with his Blue Peter badge), it was interesting to see the torture devices in the tower, the Crown jewels and trying on some very heavy armour.

 

After a busy day we took a slow stroll back towards the hotel and 27,000 steps later we fell into bed for a much needed sleep.

The missing months

It’s been a little while but I needed to take a bit of a step back from everything and take care of me for a while. The last 12 months caught up a bit plus the lack of routine and a couple of awful jobs knocked me sideways. After a chat with the GP, support of family, a couple of good friends and finding a new job things have improved.

So lets catch-up, first the new job. It arrived just at the right time, it’s close to home, the hours are perfect and the most important thing, the staff are lovely. I actually look forward to going to work, it’s busy but not stressful and we have a giggle. I have routine back again.

At the end of May I went to Belfast for a weekend, a quick surprise visit. I’ve never been before but will return. It was a lovely place, friendly people and tons of history. Too much to see in a weekend. Another tick for 50 things

A few weeks of work and school finished, the end of primary school and the start of a new adventure awaits.

We’ve had a birthday and a week away in London, plus several get-together’s with friends has made it a happy summer.