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Posts Tagged ‘family’

… in fact we’ll be going to the zoo many times this year as we decided to buy an annual pass for Chester Zoo.

We’ve been quite a few times since Lilly was born, and we’ve always thought it was a really nice way to pass a day, even though it did seem a little bit pricey.

But when we looked and realised that we’d only have to go four times in a year to save money on an annual pass, it made absolute sense to go for it.

Anyway, today was our second trip as annual pass holders. It was a lovely autumn day, cold but sunny.

And we just had such a lovely family day, the kind of day you imagine before you ever had children when you wistfully imagine what it’ll be like. A day when Lilly’s behaviour is just brilliant (as, to be fair, it has been for a few weeks now), and the hours fly by before you really realise what’s happening.

Highlights today included seeing a new baby elephant

A monkey getting up close and personal with Lilly

The lions eating their dinner, lunch and a run around in the Roman Garden

Fish in the aquarium (this being the only bit that really interested Isla, she seems to love watching colourful fish swimming in tanks), butterflies in the butterfly house (which has a great wooden bridge Lilly likes to run up and down hundreds of times)

We also saw a butterfly that looked just like a leaf

And one even landed on me!

(Not a very good photo, as I had to take it myself – hubby is scared of butterflies so didn’t join us for that part of the trip!!)

All in all, a great time had by all and I know we will definitely be making the most of our annual pass this year!!

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I’ve been really disappointed with this summer, because when I visualised life with a new baby and Lilly too I thought of spending days in the park and in the garden, playing in the paddling pool and getting loads of fresh air.

It hasn’t really worked out like that, has it?

Ok, it’s not been the worst summer but it hasn’t really been the best. And, as a family we can be pretty indecisive about where we’re going to go and what we’re going to do with our days, so when you add uncertainty about what the weather is going to do, we often end up not doing much at all!

The weather did not put us off trying out our new double buggy!

 

But last weekend we decided to laugh in the face of the rainy weather forecast and go for a walk around the Albert Dock in Liverpool with the girls – one of our favourite places to go. Often if it is raining we take shelter in the Maritime Museum, but this time we decided we wanted some fresh air, rain or shine.

When we first arrived, the weather looked ok. But the wind was blowing quite ferociously, especially as we were down by the river. We had decided to try out our new double buggy (purchased with our future holiday to Center Parcs in mind). It started off really well, with Lilly keen to get in the buggy to sit next to Isla… and to sit under the “tent” (raincover) which we decided to use to keep the wind off Isla’s face.
Soon though, Lilly was bored of being captive in her buggy, and wanted to walk. As we started to walk along the waterfront, the rain began. It was coming down in short showers, but when it rained, it rained, and we got drenched!! But we had the whole stretch to ourselves, even on a Saturday in August and it was great fun just running along in the wind and rain with Lilly absolutely loving the experience!

The lifeboat was out as the Mersey was so choppy

 

The wind was also making the Mersey really choppy and at certain points along the way the water was even splashing up over the path – cue loads of squeals of delight from Lilly as we jumped to avoid them!

We walked all the way to the ferry terminal where Lilly spent some time kissing and hugging the Beatles penguins (!) and managed to use the big toilet (twice).
The double buggy had to be called into action again when Lilly got a little tired and threw an impressive tantrum – poor Isla’s face as a screaming toddler was strapped into the seat next to her against her will was a picture!
All in all we had such a lovely family day and I hope it has taught us that we really aren’t made of cardboard. Next time we fancy a day out, perhaps we should ignore the weatherman, take our waterproofs and just see what happens!

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Yesterday, I was officially discharged from my Oncologist!

It has been five years since I had bowel cancer , aged just 25, and since then, thankfully, my health has been very good with no sign of anything nasty returning.

I have been having yearly appointments with my Oncologist, the consultant who looked after me throughout my chemotherapy. These have been mainly routine, asking me if there’s anything I’m worried about, and having a feel of my tummy. Yesterday was my fifth – and last one.

I took Isla along while Lilly was at nursery. I arrived at the clinic and was ushered straight in by my doctor. He told me I was being discharged and that I had been a “superstar” patient. I introduced him to Isla and we chatted about the fact that, five years ago, our conversation was about whether or not the chemotherapy I was about to have would leave me infertile. The fear of not having children was absolutely the worst thing about the whole experience, but my doctor had tried to reassure me that the chances of the chemo making my infertile were “slim”. But, as I said to him yesterday, a slim chance is still a chance, and you just can’t help but worry.

If I could have had a crystal ball to look into my future and see myself with my two wonderful daughters, it would’ve saved me a lot of tears, worry and anxiety. But then again I feel blessed that I never took for granted my ability to have children, and I hope I’m a better person for experiencing that incredibly strong yearning for a family of my own. If nothing else I hope it has given me empathy for others who have difficulty conceiving, and hopefully means I won’t take my girls or my hapy life for granted.

I was incredibly lucky that my cancer was discovered when it was, before it spread, despite my own failure to recognise the symptoms of the anaemia that I’d probably been living with for years. I’ve learnt that you should listen to your body. Sometimes, being a little bit more of a hypochondriac might just save your life. And I’ve learnt that cancer doesn’t just happen to other people, or just to old people. I’ve also been lucky to have a wonderful husband with me throughout all of this, and a great family.

My consultant asked me yesterday what I put my “success” down to. A funny question. I haven’t “done” anything. I’ve just carried on living. I was lucky to be treated by a fantastic surgeon and to have had great aftercare from my Oncologist. Thank you Warrington Hospital. I owe you a lot.

I have been very, very lucky.

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When we went a few weeks ago. Well, it was fab, as hoped. We went to Elveden Forest again, which is in Suffolk – so a three and a half hour drive for us with a potentially impatient 14 month old.

However, Lilly was an angel on both journeys – she slept for two hours on the way down, and an hour and a half on the way back, which is unprecidented! She was getting a little fed up by the end, but then again so were we grown ups.

Anyway, it was unbelievable how much snow was still on the ground down there. It had been a good few days since the last snowfall but it was still a couple of inches in places and the lakes were still largely frozen over. There was a snowman in our back garden!

This time we only stayed for a long weekend – Friday to Monday – instead of M0nday to Friday like last time. It did feel a little bit too short but i suppose only keeps us keen to go back for more.

The highlights of this trip were watching the ducks walking across the frozen ponds, Lilly laughing at the snow, seeing ducks & squirrels (who ate bread out of our hands) geese and a deer outside our windows, our ‘duraflame’ log fire on the last night and Lilly’s first soft play experience. She had an absolute whale of a time playing with a little girl of about 3 who kept jumping up and down and acting silly to make Lilly laugh. It was really gorgeous to watch!

Luckily, when he started pecking furiously, there was a patio door between them Luckily, when he started pecking furiously, there was a patio door between them

 

Once again it was a lovely and relaxing experience for Tony and I – i just cannot recommend the Center Parcs experience enough to fellow parents of young children. Amazingly, considering she has not done so for months and months, Lilly was still content to sleep in the pushchair for long after-lunch naps in very noisy environments (which is not something she does lightly) so we were able to chill out for a bit with some newspapers and watch the world go by. She also slept well in the villa – we had one teething related wake up on the first night – so we both had relaxing nights cuddling up in front of the telly with a nice glass of wine and our duraflame log fire!

Since i’ve got back to work i’ve been raving about it to all my colleagues – i expect the ones without children think i’m mad as they plan their gorgeous foreign trips! But two of them who have children have both been on the website looking for holidays – but decided it is too expensive. We were lucky enough to get a fairly reasonable last minute deal.

I have now decided that, WHEN we win the lottery, we are moving to Center Parcs. Can you imagine?!

Lilly enjoyed her bike but wasn't too impressed at sharing it with all the lunches and the shopping... Lilly enjoyed her bike but wasn’t too impressed at sharing it with all the lunches and the shopping…

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We’ve booked last night to go to Elveden Forest Center Parcs next weekend. We went a few months back, when Lilly was about 10 months, and had a lovely family time together. It was also extremely relaxing for Tony and I, something we didn’t think was possible with a young baby!

Lilly is crawling now (she was just on the verge of it last time we went) and she’ll be able to take advantage of the baby soft play areas dotted around the place, which will be good. We are all looking forward to a long weekend of relaxing, cycling, swimming, coffee and cakes, maybe a few sneaky ales and cosy nights in in front of the log fire… bliss.

Elveden was our third choice of park really, as it is a good three and a half hour drive, which is a bit of a trek, but the prices for Sherwood and Whinfell were astronomical because it’s half term and Valentines Day. But this deal popped up on the website last night (only one remaining!) so we decided to go for it.

Center Parcs is a really lovely place for a family holiday. All the convenience of being at home but all the enjoyment of being away. I really recommend it, especially for families with young children. But the prices vary wildly, so be warned.

Can’t wait!

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