On Good Friday morning myself and the girls went to soft play with some friends while Mr E did a bit of work that he had to do. While we there we were chatting about our weekend plans, when I suddenly realised that the long weekend would be a perfect time for Mr E and I to go out on a 'date night'- we were long overdue one and with not many plans for the weekend it seemed a great idea. One quick call later and we found out our 'babysitters' were free.
We rarely take advantage of the fact that all my family live nearby. Considering my girls are so close to my Mum they have only ever stayed over at her house once in the whole four years that we have been parents, and they have only stayed at my Dad's twice. This is in part us not wanting to worry anyone and also in part the fact that we are happy to take our girls away with us and have adventures as a family. Coupled with that my sister is always around to take the girls off our hands for a few hours too.
For the first couple of years of Mads life, and indeed pretty much until last year, I could seriously count on one hand the amount of nights out we had been out just the two of us. A lot of it was due to being pregnant, saving money, breastfeeding or the fact that we are always pretty busy going away or seeing friends or family. But the last few months I would say we have started trying to go out more, even if it's just out for dinner or the cinema. I still wouldn't even say it's once a month but it's definitely more regular than it was.
A few years ago I actually sat and wrote down what I called 'My Little Love Story'- it was a series of posts about how I met Mr E and the start of our relationship. It actually makes me really cringe reading it back, it's really soppy and a bit OTT, but the sentiment is still there. Even after all these years I still can't believe how lucky I am to have my husband. Our relationship has changed a lot over the years, of course having children will do that to you, but he still is my best friend and that is one of the most important things I think.
He used to be my favourite person to go out with. We would of course go out with friends, but we would also go out just the two of us all the time and drink for hours. Nowadays my hangovers last a lot longer and to be honest I don't really go what we call 'out out' (when did I get so old?!) and have a few drinks all that much anymore, especially not with him, but when we were younger with no responsibilities, we would go out most evenings. I have such fond memories of that period in our lives, and some such funny stories to tell.
Nowadays on our 'date nights' we usually go for a meal and then to the cinema, but there wasn't anything on that we wanted to see on Friday, so we decided instead to go for a meal and a few drinks- something we haven't done in absolutely ages. We live on the outskirts of our town and it's not exactly the most exciting place to go out in, but we visited a couple of the pubs and bars after our dinner.
We laughed all night long and I drank more than I have in ages, but above all it was just a really nice evening. At the end of the night we decided it would be a good idea to walk home, which is a couple of miles, and on the way we discussed so many different things. We are both at a really exciting point in our lives at the moment having just started working together, and it was great to have one of those deep and meaningful, and slightly silly chats that you only do when you have had too much to drink. Of course we laugh and chat every day, but there's something about a good drunken evening that reinforces just how much fun you can have together.
At the start of the night we took this photo and it's one of my new favourites- we rarely have photos of just the two of us anymore, inevitably there is usually a small person in the frame somewhere, but I really like this one and it's now in the 'privileged' position of being my new phone screensaver. I love that after all these years, I still get butterflies in my tummy when I go out with Mr E, and I love that he still can literally make me cry with laughter all night long. I don't want to get too sentimental or soppy, but I really am so very lucky to have him. Day to day life isn't always sunshine and happiness- it can be stressful, we can argue and I know I can take him for granted sometimes, but I really am glad that my most 'ordinary moments' are with him.
Before we had small people in our lives, I worked in the travel industry for many years as a Marketing Account Manager for the biggest online hotel website. Basically to cut a really long and boring story short, this meant I was responsible for all the hotels within a designated area. My area was the South West of the country and as part of my contract I was contracted to work away a week of the month and visit some of my hotels. One of the areas I looked after was Bristol and so I often went down there for a visit.
It was always one of those places I really enjoyed visiting- it's a really diverse and cultural city, plus it's ridiculously colourful and stylish. I hadn't been in a few years so when Visit Bristol invited us to stay for the weekend to see what the city had to offer for famillies, I couldn't wait to start planning.
On Friday afternoon we excitedly packed up our Subaru XV (perfect boot space for all our bags!) and headed off with two hyper little ladies. Unfortunately we couldn't have picked a worse weekend to go- from the second we arrived it basically rained non stop. It wasn't just rain however, it was full on gale force winds too. I wouldn't say it put a dampner on our weekend as we still had an amazing time, but it definitely meant we didn't see as much of Bristol as we liked. What we did find however, were some fantastic indoor activities for familiies- there is literally so much to do in all kinds of weather.
We actually started our weekend off on Friday evening when Mr E finished work (his last ever day at his job- eek!) and headed to Oxford which is half way between us and Bristol, just to stay in a Premier Inn for the evening. We did that usual parent thing of hiding out in the bathroom eating chocolate while the girls slept! Then it was up and off to Bristol first thing on Saturday morning.
I didn't think I had taken many photos due to the aforementioned weather, but in actual fact on inspection of my memory cards I found quite a few. Here is the first part of our weekend in Bristol in photos and a little video...
On arrival in Bristol we headed over to Clifton, a cute little suburb, to have some brunch. We found a cute little cafe called The Farm. (which just happened to be in front of us when it was torrential rain)
We have a tradition of having pancakes when we eat breakfast out so we all shared this stack of pancakes with maple syrup, fresh fruit and natural yoghurt- they were delicious.
While I had the chorizo eggs.
We checked into our room at the Marriott City Centre Hotel (where I actually had been to before as I had to give a presentation to over 70 people in my previous job- it bought back scary memories!) and the girls were really excited to be given some bags of popcorn by the hotel staff as there was a traditional old machine in the foyer. The Saturday afternoon was mainly spent dodging the rain and mooching round the shops.
After a quick change we headed out to dinner.
We headed to Glassboat for dinner, which is exactly that- a glassboat serving European cuisine offering panoramic views of the river. It was absolutely stunning inside and the girls were so excited to be eating dinner on a boat.
Posing outside the restaurant.
We had an early reservation meaning that we were able to watch the sun go down, which was gorgeous. The restaurant was lovely, but I wouldn't say it was massively child focused- they didn't have a separate children's menu but they did kindly do us a smaller plate of the butternut squash risotto for the girls. As it got later it became quite a romantic venue being that it was Saturday night, and they were the only little people in there. It didn't bother us as our girls are used to eating out and don't get up from the table but it's worth bearing in mind.
For my main I had the butternut squash en croute, roast chicory with a roquefort sauce, which was delicious.
On Sunday as the weather was dreadful we decided to head to At Bristol- an interactive science museum. We weren't sure whether it was going to be too old for the girls, but it turns out they absolutely loved it. There's so many hands on things for them to do and they loved playing with all the experiments. I love this photo of the wonder on their faces as they took turns in building a parachute and letting it fall to the ground. Their other favourites were the giant bubbles and the way you could milk a cow. You easily could spend a whole day there- it was brilliant.
After a morning at At Bristol we headed to a restaurant called Bordeaux Quay for lunch, which was a lovely deli, restaurant, bakery and cookery school on the harbourside. I love this photo of LL and Mr E doing a spot of colouring!
Testing her knowledge of all the Mr Men characters!
I had the pulled pork bun which was so yummy.
Followed by the creme brulee for pudding. I have this obsession for creme brulee at the moment which doesn't appear to be doing my fitness mission much good!
LL was fascinated by the fish and learnt two new words while we there- 'fishies' and 'turtle'. Her speech is still taking a while to come along but when she does say things it's the cutest thing ever.
After a busy day we headed back to the hotel. The girls and Mr E got room service while I went out for dinner with two of my favourite blogging friends Fritha and Lori, who live in Bristol. It was lovely to be able to get the chance to see them while we were down here, and we laughed all night long.
Here is a little video of our time in Bristol....
Part Two of our weekend coming soon!
NB: Visit Bristol invited us to stay for the weekend and gave us a media pass to enter some of the attractions. Although they gave us lots of information about Bristol, what we chose to do was up to us, and all thoughts and opinions are our own.
We have had a couple of lovely opportunties this month to take our family photos. Firstly we went to The Grove for the night to celebrate my birthday and then secondly the weekend just gone we went to Bristol. Both would have been perfect occasions, except when we were at The Grove I forgot my tripod and when we went to Bristol it literally rained non stop all weekend. Therefore some how it got to yesterday and I realised that we hadn't taken a photo.
Therefore this month really is a rush job. We snapped these photos in the girls new bedroom just before they were going to go to sleep. We are all in our PJ's, having just got home from Bristol and put them on so we could be snuggly and cosy. To be fair I do like these photos, I have no makeup on and greasy hair, but we all look happy and the girls loved cuddling up and taking these. And actually a rush job is perfect for this month, as really it's been the theme of March for us. The month has whizzed by as usual and we have just been so incredibly busy.
We have spent the majority of the month redecorating the girls bedroom and office space, so have been living amongst havoc and mess, while the rest of the month has been spent plotting and planning. On Friday Mr E had his last day at work so from today onwards we are both going to be working together from home. It's exciting, nerve wracking and slightly daunting, but we are looking forward to this new challenge. Work is just ridiculously busy- I have taken on a couple of new roles, of which I am thrilled and pleased, but it's going to take a bit of time to get on top of things.
As such as I write this I am typing furiously ten to the dozen to get it written. We have fish and chips cooking in the oven, not particularly healthy but needs must when you are in a hurry. Then after dinner it will be non stop work until bedtime, before it all continues again tomorrow. Anyone who works from home, or indeed writes a blog will sympathise with me- life is hectic and fast paced, but we do it because we love it, and of course because it enables me to be at home with my babies most of the time.
So there we have it. April is upon us. The first half of the month hopefully will be about settling into the new routine, while the latter end of the month brings a couple of trips away. Whatever happens, I am sure it will be hectic, fun, sometimes stressful and full of memories and adventures as usual.
This month I am sending you over to have a look at my lovely friend Lucy's blog - she has also written about life being hectic recently- there must be something in the blogging water, or more the fact that it's the arrival of Spring! :)
Saying someone is the best person in the world is a pretty bold statement. But I am pretty sure that my Grandparents are up there with the best. I've written about both sets of my Grandparents a few times on my blog, but my Mum's parents really are truly special.
We are very lucky that they only live about half an hour away from us, so we try and pop up there every other week for some dinner or for Sunday lunch. They were farmers before they retired and they live on a big old farm which is so much fun in the Summer time- I have such fond memories of racing around the farm on quad bikes with my Uncle, or climbing to the top of the piles of wheat that had been harvested. I used to love going there to play and that's why it is so special for me to see my girls so excited to do the same, they love going to Great Grandma and Grandpas house, especially as they know that they get lots of different ice cream for pudding!
They are so proud of me for whatever I do, just as Grandparent's should be. They love to sit and listen to our tales of what we have been up to, especially my Grandpa who constantly asks if we have 'any exciting news to tell him'. They love to hear about my blog, with my Grandpa even buying an iPad especially for when he went on holiday so he could show people it when he was reading it by the pool! The thought of him showing some fellow holiday maker my blog and talking about his Granddaughter makes me cringe a little (or a lot), but his heart is in the right place and he finds the internet incredibly baffling and exciting. (If you are reading this hi Grandpa- we love you!)
I definitely get my travel bug from them, they travel the world on a regular basis, with them constantly jetting off to India, or Malaysia, or Australia for a few weeks at a time throughout my whole childhood. In fact I remember the best story of my Grandma making an Indian national newspaper for nearly falling off an elephant- there were photos of her looking panicked all over the paper and she has a couple of copies as a keep sake! They don't show any sign of slowing down yet- even in their 80's they just recently went to Thailand for almost a month and next week they are off to Italy.
They make me a 'red cross parcel' each time we see them which they have done since I left home for university- it's always been full of things like toilet roll, washing up liquid, biscuits and ketchup, but since Mads was born nappies and wipes are always in it too- in fact I can honestly say that my Grandma has funded 80% of our nappies since the girls were born- that's quite crazy really, and of course has saved us a fortune. They have been there to buy their first shoes, just as they did with me, and every couple of months my Grandma takes us all out shopping and treats us.
They really are the most wonderful people and I feel lucky every day that my children get the chance to know them- I will treasure these memories that we are making forever. They really are the most ordinary of moments, I have seen them every few weeks since I was a baby, bar when I was at university or when they or I were travelling, but even the most ordinary of moments are worth treasuring, especially as the years pass by so quickly.