Posted in days out, shropshire, telford

Shropshire

The Summer Holidays have started and similar to last year I already have a list as long as my arm of new places I want to visit and regular spots we go to every year. Living in Shropshire means there is already so much available on our doorstep so I thought I’d share some of the beautiful places we plan on visiting this Summer.

Telford

Apley Woods (free parking) – http://www.apleywoods.co.uk/
Telford Town Park (£ parking) – http://www.telfordtownpark.co.uk/
The Wrekin (free parking) – https://www.shropshirehillsaonb.co.uk/enjoying-the-shropshire-hills/places-to-visit/the-wrekin/
SunnyCroft (National Trust) – https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sunnycroft
Exotic Zoo (admission prices) – https://exoticzoo.co.uk/
Blists Hill (admission prices) – https://www.ironbridge.org.uk/explore/blists-hill-victorian-town/
Enginuity (admission prices) – https://www.ironbridge.org.uk/explore/enginuity
Telford Steam Railway (admission prices) – https://telfordsteamrailway.co.uk/
Wonderland (admission prices) – https://wonderlandmidlands.co.uk/
Hoo Farm (admission prices) – https://www.hoofarm.com/
Airea 51 (admission prices) – https://airea51.co.uk/
Dale End Park Ironbridge (£ parking) – https://www.familiesonline.co.uk/local/shropshire/listing/dale-end-park/

Shrewsbury

Lyth Hill (free parking) – http://www.shropshiresgreatoutdoors.co.uk/site/lyth-hill-countryside-site/
Haughmond Hill (£ parking) – https://www.forestryengland.uk/haughmond-hill There is currently a Zog Activity Trail for little ones to take part in (£3)
Shrewsbury Quarry Park https://originalshrewsbury.co.uk/visit/quarry-park
Attingham Park (National Trust) – https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/attingham-park/

Shropshire

The Mere (Ellesmere) – https://www.ellesmere.info/
Hawkstone Park Follies – (admission prices) https://www.hawkstoneparkfollies.co.uk
Severn Valley Country Park (Bridgnorth) – http://www.shropshiresgreatoutdoors.co.uk/site/severn-valley-country-park/
Shugborough Estate (Staffordshire) (National Trust) – https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/shugborough-estate
Wightwick Manor and Gardens (Wolverhampton) (National Trust) – https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wightwick=manor-and-gardens/
Wroxeter Roman City (Wroxeter) (admission prices) – https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/wroxeter-roman-city/
Shawbury Fruit Farmhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Shawbury-Fruit-Farm/1459068914331637
RAF Cosford (£ parking – free admission) – https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/cosford/
Cbeebies Land/Alton Towers (admission prices) – https://www.altontowers.com/
Rays Farm (admission prices) – https://raysfarm.com/
Ludlow Castle (admission prices) – https://www.ludlowcastle.com/
David Austin Roses (Albrighton) – https://www.davidaustinroses.co.uk/david-austin-rose-gardens
Bridgnorth Castle Garden https://www.aboutbridgnorth.com/bridgnorth-castle/

Surrounding Shropshire

British Ironworks Centre (Oswestry) – https://www.britishironworkcentre.co.uk/
Chester Zoo (Chester) – https://www.chesterzoo.org/
Blue Planet Aquarium (Chester) – https://www.blueplanetaquarium.com/
Sea Life Centre (Birmingham) – https://www.visitsealife.com/birmingham/
Monkey Forest (Stoke) (admission prices) – https://monkey-forest.com/
Trentham Gardens (Stoke) (admission prices) – https://www.trentham.co.uk/
Ice Cream Farm (Chester) (££) – https://www,theicecreamfarm.co.uk/
Ty Mawr (Wrexham) (£1 parking) – https://www.wrexham.gov.uk/english/leisure_tourism/TyMawrCountryPark.htm

Posted in Gifted, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, parenting, product review, Rainbow Mummy, Sensory Play, Toddler Development, Toddler Play

Timber.Tots – 5 Advantages of Wooden Toys

For as long as I’ve been buying toys for Ellie I’ve been aware of the discussion between parents as to what is better for babies/toddlers/children wooden or plastic toys. Now I’ve always been on the fence I suppose because honestly, Ellie has her fair share of plastic and wooden toys. I have always tried to make a conscious effort to buy wooden toys where possible but found they are usually more expensive than plastic and in Ellie’s eyes they aren’t as colourful/exciting/playable as the plastic toys are advertised to be which has made it difficult to be as wood friendly as I’d like. We are two parents who are both on a Teaching Assistant wage (which I have to tell you really isn’t great…) and living penny to penny each month. Sometimes you just have to accept that what you want isn’t always achievable and that’s okay. I’m not here to judge, every parent does what they can to get through each day right?

Here are my 5 advantages to choosing wooden toys from my own personal experiences!

  1. They are DURABLE. Ellie is a tough cookie and she likes to play rough, as do most toddlers I would assume. Wooden toys are long-lasting and they don’t break easily meaning no little sharp bits on the floor. Ellie loves being outside so having her wooden toys means I can clean them easily too.
  2. They are SAFE. Plastic toys usually carry toxins and chemicals that you wouldn’t want near your babies/children. Wooden toys are safe to play with, don’t have chemicals and are usually painted with non-toxic paint which makes them perfectly safe to be gummed, licked etc by those playing with them. Wooden toys are designed not to break easily so there won’t be able broken pieces lying around with sharp edges.
  3. They encourage OPEN PLAY – whether this is imaginative play or real-life skills, the possibilities with wooden toys are endless. Without the constant electronics and noise, the wooden toys encourage children to use their imagination to build on the play. The toy might be a dinosaur but the child must know how to make a noise like a dinosaur or stomp like a dinosaur themselves. As the child’s imagination builds so does their play. They start to include real-life experiences and scenarios in to whatever they are playing with.
  4. They develop KEY SKILLS such as hand eye co-ordination, problem solving, reasoning skills and fine motor skills. Wooden toys can be made in all shapes and sizes making them perfect to develop the skills children need to hold a pencil. Poor development in these key skills at an early age can cause issues in later life.
  5. They are BEAUTIFUL. Their natural colour means they can be transformed in to any colour and anything a child dreams of. They can be monochrome to support babies development or bright and colouful to grab toddlers/childrens attention. They are timeless!

In the past few months I have treated Ellie to a few toys that I know she would get a lot out of. We became brand reps for a fantastic small business; Timber Tots who create and hand paint wooden animals. With so many different animals to choose from I found it so difficult choosing which Ellie would like most of all. I decided to show Ellie and let her decide…which she didn’t. She wanted the bear and the lion and the elephant and the giraffe and the dinosaur and the unicorn….and she continued until I took the phone away!

I decided that as she loves singing and nursery rhymes I would order her the 5 little ducks set and a green “Rex” dinosaur to start with. She has had so much fun singing, counting, matching the numbers and re-enacting Gigantosaurus. The possibilities have been endless, they have made me think more about encouraging her to learn through her play and let her explore things I wouldn’t have usually thought of. It’s far too easy to put the TV on and give myself 5 minutes to sit and enjoy the peace…that turns in to an hour because I just need to get these jobs done…and then before I know it she hasn’t played much at all.

I love how colourful and sturdy the timber tots toys are and I was impressed with how big they actually were. Although I am only a brand rep for three months I know I will be making regular purchases and building Ellie’s animal collection up as these are toys she will play with for years.

We’ve used our wooden toys in so many different ways and I am loving trying out things we’ve never done before too. We’ve used them when reading stories, playing outside, with small tuff trays and I have some amazing new ideas for our new order when it arrives.

We’ve even had fun singing nursery rhymes, Ellie loves singing and whenever she sees her 5 Little Ducks set she starts singing and playing with them.

5 Little Ducks set up with sensory rice and blue beads.

You can follow/contact Timber Tots on their Instagram and Facebook pages or their Website.

Disclosure: I am a brand rep for Timber Tots but have not been asked to review or post about our items other than share pictures on Instagram. All views and opinions are my own.
I have paid for all the toys we have (except the 5 little ducks which was a gift from the owner for joining their brand rep team!) HOWEVER I do have a fantastic 10% off code for anyone wanting to purchase their own. Just use RAINBOW10 at checkout…You’re welcome!!

Posted in days out, museum

Cosford

We are incredibly lucky to live in an area with so much history, Ironbridge, Much Wenlock, Buildwas Abbey, I could go on. There are so many beautiful places to visit in Shropshire and I’m surprised by how many I’ve never been to. Cosford is one of those places, I’ve gone past it on the train but never actually visited.

Cosford opened as a joint aircraft unit in 1938 for the RAF. In the Second World War it delivered Spitfires from the base and returned with bombers or fighters. It now homes the Aerospace Museum which is where we visited. I’ve never been and as Ellie has been amazed by aeroplanes and helicopters we decided to take a short drive out (12 minutes away) to explore the museum and see what it was all about.

RAF Cosford

RAF Cosford Museum was established in 1979 and stores a vast collection of aircraft. The museum explores the story of the RAF and of the thousands of servicemen and women who have served in it and highlights their contributions that has shaped the world that we live in.

I was fascinated by all the different planes and engines that were on show and how close you could get to seeing them all. We first ventured in to the Test Flight area, which is where Ellie had the most fun. The Fun N Flight zone is a hands-on experience where kids (and adults) were able to test out activities. It was great as Ellie was able to do most of the activities and had so much fun! It was a great area to start off with.

We found ourselves in the War In The Air collection which homes the world’s oldest Spitfire and lots of other classic, historical aircraft. It was really interesting for me and Luke as we both love history and learning about new things. Ellie enjoyed her echo more than the actual exhibition but it was lovely hearing her laughing and enjoying herself too!

We ended our visit in the National Cold War Exhibition. This exhibit tells the story of the Cold War and was breathtaking; , Tanks, Planes, Missiles, so much history in one place. There are plenty of interactive hot-spots and kiosks that pick out key aspects of the Cold War.


Unfortunately our visit ended sooner than we’d have liked, a tired toddler who had already ran around a beautiful rose garden in Albrighton, and had walked around the different exhibits had become a cranky, moaning little madam who really just needed to go home.

The Museum is free to enter and relies solely on donations (there are plenty of opportunities to leave a donation if you wish) however parking is quite a hefty £4/£5 depending on how long you plan on staying. However again, due to being a free place to visit the parking charge in understandable to make money.

For anyone local to Cosford, or just happen to be in the area I would highly recommend a visit!

Posted in Easter

Good Friday

It’s been so lovely having time off with Luke and Ellie, we all broke up for the Easter half term last monday and this week has been spent getting on top of the housework, it gets so run down when we are both at work and Ellie needs constant attention to function without tantrums. We have also managed a couple of trips out, walking around some of the beautiful places we are surrounded by. Honestly Shropshire is beautiful and has so many landscapes to see.

We have noticed that Ellie needs to get out of the house after a day or two at home otherwise we have a constant stream of meltdowns before 9am. I think we are definitely going to make use of our National Trust membership and our Ironbridge Passports this year!

We don’t usually celebrate Easter, we buy ourselves an egg because why not? We usually just spend it at home, resting and enjoying our time together as a family. We are so busy most days that we haven’t been able to visit our extended family as often as we would have liked so Luke decided we’d hold a little afternoon tea in our back garden and invite our parents and grandparents along. I must say that since Jason died, he’s not coped well with large groups of people, even family, and hasn’t been able to attend family get-togethers. He gets anxious and ends up so stressed out he has a breakdown. I am beyond proud of him and how he felt able to do this for us and the rest of the family.

We spent time enjoying all the hard work he has put in to the garden, the difference from when we first moved in is phenomenal. It’s such a calm space and we are so lucky that it gets quite a lot of sunshine and warmth too. Ellie is such an outdoorsy child too, she would stay out there all day if we let her, as long as we are out there too, she happily plays with her toys and runs around like a “shadow monster” chasing whoever she can around our apple tree. We all ate plenty of Easter treats; hot cross buns, scones with jam and butter, crisps, cakes and other nibbly bits. I was even tempted to have a cheeky glass of prosecco (which I didn’t but might do now everyone has gone :P). The weather has helped and everyone was happy to just sit and mingle. We are so lucky that our families all get on so well, there is never any tension as I know can be the case with some blended families. Our’s are all so good together we don’t have to worry when we all do get together.

Ellie has been so spoilt with her choice of Easter eggs this year too, I think she’s got 8 eggs altogether and couldn’t wait to devour the smarties chick and had unopened it as soon as her Uncle gave it to her. All this chocolate will probably last her until Christmas (unless Mummy has a bad day haha!) Especially as we still have Christmas chocolate in the cupboard. She deserves it though as she is everyone’s ray of sunshine.

Tomorrow, Ellie is spending a few hours with my parents and me and Luke are off to hopefully buy a new sofa!! We currently have a 2 seater that was given to us from my in-laws (and is over 15 years old and it’s starting to get uncomfortable) and an IKEA rocking chair we purchased for those pesky night feeds when Ellie was a newborn and honestly we never used. It’s less than ideal and really we need something that we can all use and will last.

I am hoping to get out and about for Easter Sunday and Easter Monday so fingers crossed my plans all work out 🙂

How are you spending your Easter weekend? Any trips out or just simple quality time at home? I’d love to know.

Posted in baby loss, grief, life after loss, mental health, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, Neonatal Loss, parenting, parenting after loss, Positive Wellbeing

Positive Failure

A while back I shared the struggle I was having with myself. My mental health was taking a right beating and I was finding it hard getting it back to a healthy balance.

It took a while and a complete breakdown for me to realise that I wasn’t failing. I have spent days, weeks, months feeling like I am a failure. Failing at being a mum, a wife and a friend. Basically failing at being a human being. But the truth is I wasn’t failing at all, I was having a hard time and that is okay. Positive failure.

Admitting things arent perfect is okay. It doesn’t mean you aren’t the best person you can be at that particular time.

Since my “breakdown” I’ve felt better. Something in me may have snapped but I’ve found I can make it even stronger. Positive failure.

I’ve made an effort to be calmer, I’ve made an effort to do more things with friends, simple things like talking more but it’s a start and I celebrated my birthday with the most amazing people I could wish for and it reminded me of how lucky I am to have people who care enough to tell me Im not myself.

That was a hard one to hear, I could sense it in myself but no one has ever said it so plainly as someone I have known pretty much my whole life. I’ve spent so long pretending I am okay, smiling as is I’m not broken inside and hoping others accept it that actually I’d forgotten how to show my true feelings when I needed help.

In the past few weeks I really have noticed a huge change in the way I feel. I feel happier, I’m not as stressed out over slight things. Ellie’s tantrums aren’t taking me to breaking point when actually they aren’t that bad and in return Ellie has been happier. We’ve had more good days than bad days and was able to enjoy our half term off as a family. We made memories that I hope I will never forget and my heart is full of complete love and happiness.

I know this feeling may not last as long as I would like, saying Goodbye to a lovely February means saying Hello to March. To a month that starts off so happy with Hubby’s birthday celebrations but once the 4th is over it turns in to a countdown until Jason’s birthday. The day we should be celebrating his 4th birthday and yet a day where I am reminded of everything I gained and lost within moments. The day he died and I had to say goodbye.

Please be mindful that if I seem distant and off, it is not intentional. I am just grieving for the life of my son who I can’t hug and who I miss so much every day. My heart breaks with every memory we make as a family because he will always be missing but I am also grateful we can make these memories with Ellie, she saved me in ways she will never know and I will always try to be better for her. She is the reason I breathe and for her I will try and make March as gentle as I can.

Posted in days out, ironbridge, ironbridge gorge, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, museum, parenting, telford, Toddler Development, Toddler Play

Blists Hill – Telford

Place yourself in the year 1900. Queen Victoria is on the throne and Shropshire was at the heart of the industrial revolution.

One of our trips this half term was to Blists Hill in Ironbridge (Telford, Shropshire) another one of the fantastic museums in the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage site. Blists Hill is an open air museum that recreates the sights and sounds of a typical Shropshire Victorian Town.

Walking through the doors to the town you instantly feel like you’ve gone back in time. No cars, no TV;s but a lot of fun awaiting! With 52 acres of land to explore there was so much to see and do throughout our visit. This recreation makes you feel like you are actually walking in a Victorian town; the shops, the houses, the bank where you can change your money to “old money” and the townspeople who truly make your visit feel authentic.

Each house had a different story, whether we were in an old doctors surgery or a typical families house with their shared, cramped bedrooms and bedpans under the bed! Whether it’s walking in to the chemist with their traditional remedies, or to the bakery where you can buy freshly made bread, rolls to either eat straight away or take home there really is something for everyone. If you aren’t interested in those there is a traditional sweet shop or the amazing chip shop selling authentic fish and chips cooked in beef dripping. (Spoiler…they are to die for!!)

Ellie loved having the freedom to run around and explore but didn’t stray too far away. All the townspeople were fantastic with her, not pushing her to interact but all with friendly faces and a world of knowledge of their “character” and the way they would have lived in the Victorian era.

Blists Hill is also home to a section of the Shropshire Canal, which going back 100 years or so would have transported boats up and down the 207ft incline to coalport and back. Wherever there is water, Ellie asks to see the ducks. She loves ducks and walked carefully down the canal side watching the ducks in the water. Along with pigs and Shire Horses (with demonstrations throughout the day and horse and cart rides!) there are many chickens…this was possibly the highlight of Ellie’s entire day!

As I have said in a previous post; we purchased the Annual Passport for all 10 museums which gives us unlimited entry for an entire year. We paid £53 for two Adult annual passports as under 5’s are free to all museums. Entry to Blists Hill alone for 2 adults would have been £20 just to go for the day. Although this isn’t expensive for a trip where we stayed nearly 3 hours and only left because E needed a nap and would have screamed the entire place down we live a 5/10 minute drive away from all of them we will make the most of the year-round entry especially in the Spring/Autumn months – a family of ginger-haired beauty’s don’t do well in too much sunshine so we tend to hide away in the Summer months.

Posted in days out, enginuity, ironbridge, ironbridge gorge, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, museum, parenting, parenting after loss, telford, Toddler Development, Toddler Play

Enginuity – Telford

We visited Enginuity, which is a science museum in Ironbridge, (Telford, Shropshire) during this half term and is one of ten museums in the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage site. We are incredibly lucky to have these museums on our doorstep and since Ellie is now a fully grown toddler we thought she might enjoy some of the aspects of these museums.

Enginuity

Ellie is a very curious toddler and loves learning, whether it be through videos or active learning she is always keen to be doing something. Enginuity is perfect for anyone who is curious about science, design and technology and provides a range of stimulating activities for children of all ages. I would say that for a small toddler Ellie found it tricky accessing all the different parts but was able to with a little bit of help.

Looking around there wasn’t a single child who didn’t look like they were having fun and enjoying themselves. I mean who wouldn’t love pulling a real 10-tonne locomotive with their own hands? Actually…there were quite a few adults who seemed to be having quite a lot of fun testing themselves too!

Ellie’s favourite part was the machine that made balls float in the air (can you tell i’m not very sciencey?) and with Daddy’s help she was able to make enough wind power to get the balls floating in the air.

During this half term, we were fortunate enough to take part in the Pop-Up Planetarium they have, which was absolutely out of this world! We managed to get tickets for the first showing of the day and it didn’t disappoint. We were asked to crawl inside a big black dome and sit on the floor and then the dome went very dark. I wasn’t sure how Ellie would cope but the two people delivering the talk were great and accepting of anyone who needed to leave before the show was over. The show was called “Our Earth, Our Sun, Our Solar System and Our Place In Space” and featured a hands-on demonstration. I learnt so much about the stars and how to spot constellations in the night sky and how people in other time periods would spot them. There was so much to take in. Of cause Ellie didn’t learn a thing…it was never about that but she is genuinely interested in the sky and the stars that she loved just looking at the stars surrounding the dome and I guess I felt a little bit closer to Jason by learning something too.

There was also a drop-in workshop where you could make a space-themed pop up card (or anything really!). We tried Ellie with scissors for the first time as they were on the table and she was VERY keen to grab them. She actually did quite well seeing as she’s never held scissors before and my hair is still in tact (she won’t be using them any time soon though.)

The drop-in workshops, planetarium and everything else going on was all included in the admission price which I thought was great. We decided to purchase the Annual Passport tickets which gives us unlimited access to all 10 museums for an entire year (not during evening or special events) as we had already planned to go again and wanted to take Ellie to Blists Hill too (blog post up if anyone wants a read.)

For anyone thinking of taking toddlers and young children, Enginuity has a soft play area too! The colourful space is a fair size and has lots of soft play blocks to build and climb over. Ellie loved building with the soft lego shaped bricks, I think her Dad’s passion for Lego has passed down to her. The soft play was clean and suitable for young children and perfect to get a 5 minute breather from all the stimulation Enginuity offers.

You can visit their website here to find out more or to buy tickets!

Posted in 2 years old, days out, mental health, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, parenting, Positive Wellbeing, telford

Half Term

This first half term of work has been a killer. A new teacher, new routines, it felt like starting a new job, it’s been 7 weeks since we started back after Christmas and it has felt long but things have settled and seeing as I started the year off feeling completely lost and in need of a change, I am back to enjoying my job and feeling worth-while again.

It’s so important for me to be able to have a good work/life balance because when it isn’t balanced my mental health takes a massive hit and I start to feel down in the dumps. I finally feel that my mind is taking a more positive approach to life and I’ve come out of my slump. I am enjoying life again, enjoying work again and not struggling as much to get out of bed in a morning. I’ve really been bothered about this, I am a morning person and if a morning person is struggling to get out of bed there is a problem.

I have been looking forward to this half term for weeks, not only because we have all needed a break and time off together for a while but also because the weather is slowly picking up and I am wanting to do more with Ellie. Nothing too extravagant; some walks, maybe a bit of shopping, trips to the park that sort of thing along with a meal out as I was treated to a Pizza Hut voucher for my birthday so will treat the man and the girl to some unhealthy food. We are planning an afternoon at the cinema for just Luke and I, Ellie wouldn’t sit long enough for a film and we really want to watch The Lego Movie 2 so while Ellie spends a day with my in-laws we will be enjoying that!

The only other thing I am really wanting to fit in this week is a trip to the farm, there are quite a few local farms we could go to so it’s really just based on money and the weather as to which one we decide to head off to. Ellie is fairly good at walking now and that means we don’t need to take the pushchair as long as one of us is willing to carry her a little bit (she’s very lazy!)

Since breaking up, I have already kept up with my want to take Ellie on more walks as the weather was absolutely beautiful and so I dragged her to one of our local National Trust places for a little walk, which turned in to quite a long walk and she did so well. We headed off to look for the deer but they were too far away unfortunately but Ellie wasn’t bothered, she loved having the space to run around and be outside.