Out and About: Barleylands and Wind in the Willows Trail

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Billericay Bound Today with Bowies Aunt, Uncle and Nona.

We often pop over to Billericay to stock up on snacks from the Farm Shop and overload on the worlds best fudge from Barleylands Craft Village (a necessity).

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Our first stop as usual was for Lunch! We opted for the Tiptree Cafe because, well, its the only cafe there. It does have a pretty cool play pen though to chuck the kids in and Bowie enjoyed playing with the toy kitchen and tottering around the fake grass whilst waiting for his little lunch. Then like a true piggy wiggy woo he wolfed down a cheese sandwich, pom pom bears, raisins and apple juice from his super adorable lunch box.

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We then went to The Bon Bon Jar and if you haven’t been, you HAVE to go! the homemade fudge is just madness. We picked up Oreo Cookie Fudge and White Chocolate Baileys Fudge and had it all gift wrapped nicely to take home for Daddy (and Mummy but shhh because she’s on a diet).

I also took all these pointless photos of Bowie on a chair just because it has flowers around it and I thought it looked cute!

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As there isn’t much at Barleylands Craft Village we hopped on over to the Wind in the Willows Trail at Hanningfield Reservoir.

We’ve already been to the Peter Rabbit trail and this was very similar, when you arrive theres a teeny tiny but very cute little Wind in the Willows ‘garden’ which isn’t a garden at all its a playhouse with a fence around it. Annoyingly the playhouse was full of screaming kids slamming the door continuously so Bowie couldn’t get near it.

Inside you pay £1 for a map of the trail and also a colouring sheet and a crayon that allows you to colour each character when you find it. The man at reception said it would take 40 minutes which is the biggest load of rubbish because it took about 10/15 minutes to find every character and have a look in the viewing hut overlooking the water to have a little bird watching session.

Finishing the trail you get to a disappointing gift shop, the Peter Rabbit trail had a packed gift shop full of Beatrix Potter toys and a little cafe with amazing ice cream but this trail had a help yourself coffee machine and a couple of Wind in the Willows plates, nothing exciting, to my bank accounts advantage.

Upon leaving and walking past the garden I couldn’t believe that the same kids were still there slamming away at that door! so poor Bowie never did get to go in that playhouse, I will take him back when the Summer holidays is over.

Marisa X

Out and About: Old Leigh

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Back to Old Leigh again today!

I had to head to Leigh today to pick up Bowies ticket for the Indoor Soft Play in Leigh Community Centre on the 26th August that he is attending and so whilst we were in the area Myself and Bowie popped down to Old Leigh with my Mum, Brother and Sister to eat our body weight in Prawns, Crayfish and Ice Cream.

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Bowie is wearing a pair of tights with braces from Mile which I LOVE! they are so cute.

At the moment he wants to be anywhere BUT his push chair and enjoys surfing around furniture and/or bollards (he is not pole dancing, simply pole surfing)

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Bowie is a big fan of Ice Cream so we let him embrace his inner Father Christmas and wear a nice sticky Ice Cream beard. He did unfortunately also cover his shirt with Ice Cream so that had to be whipped off before it started to accumulate all kinds of grossness.

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Coming across a little ‘museum’ we investigated, we were told if we made a small donation to the tin we could explore and take some photos. Not the best £1 I’ve ever spent as it turned out to be just a room of random kitchen supplies and I could have saved myself the price tag and just taken photos of my grandmas kitchen.

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Speaking of Grandma’s kitchen we then headed to Grandma’s house to make the most of the rare sighting on Sun (Bowie is 100% pole dancing AND showing off his nipples, the scandal!)

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We finished off the day with some fun in the sprinklers and a nice piggy family BBQ!

Marisa X

 

 

Out and About: Sealife Adventure

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Today we took Bowie to Sea life Adventure.

I instantly regretted it the second we turned up and saw a queue out of the door just to get into the queue; a queue for the queue. If there is one thing in life I hate its 1000 prams, double prams, triple prams and loose children running riot in a small place.

Having booked our tickets already online in order to get that whooping 20% discount we had no choice but to stick it out and queue for that queue. Luckily it didn’t take long at all to get in and get our wristbands and in the time it took for me to flaff around outside saying ‘shall we’ 10000 times we could have probably got in and seen the whole thing.

A lot of parents had left their prams just chilling in the reception area which gave me major anxiety because all I could think of was someone running off with my beaut of a Silver Cross and matching nappy bag laughing all the way whilst I walked home carrying my big lump of a 10 month old. I decided that I wouldn’t be leaving my pram behind… for a full 2.5 minutes until I got past the entrance door, saw the masses of people, children, prams and wheelchairs and decided I’d rather buy another pram than try and push one through that. We quickly turned back and dumped the pram.

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The first time we took Bowie to Sealife Adventure he was just three months old and didn’t have a clue what was going on but they had just got the Penguins in and Bowie had a Penguin suit, it was too cute not to.

Now he’s 10 months going on 10 years he was able to explore and have a good look around rather than just lay in a pram dressed as a Penguin.

He’s still probably wondering what the hell is going on but he was clearly enjoying seeing all the lights and fish and was occupied and entertained the entire time. I felt like moving in there because he was too busy mesmerised by Sharks and pretty lights to get bored.

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Bowie was particularly intrigued by the Meerkats, or the Meerkat as only one was actually out and about (not convinced there are anymore, its all a lie!)

I just loved Bowies outfit today, he’s wearing a handmade Peter Rabbit romper with his initials on from Charlottes With Love.

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I was hoping that he would like the Penguins the most but he literally couldn’t care less about them, not that I think he could see them properly as they’re miles away from the viewing window.

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I think his favorite part was the Shark Tunnel which was unfortunate because we accidentally turned up in the middle of a Shark talk and got physically stuck. The tunnel is way too small for a talk, I don’t know what they’re thinking! I could hear someone in the distance talking into a microphone about shark skeletons but I couldn’t see him for masses of people infront, next to and behind me. We couldn’t move, we were actually sandwiched in, people behind started shouting for people to move and people in front started shouting that they wouldn’t because they were listening to a talk. This resulted in a huge queue of people just wanting to progress through the aquarium but not being able to get through.

Finally after what seemed like a lifetime and me getting used to the idea that this could be my life now and how I was going to make a shark Tunnel feel like home for the next 20 years the talk ended and people started shifting. I was so determined that Bowie was going to have some space and an opportunity to see the sharks and have some photos taken that we stuck it out even longer whilst the huge line slowly walked through and died down and finally I got my photos and Bowie got a walk around.

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After circling the entire Aquarium and making it out alive after the brief inprisonment in the Shark tunnel we stupidly decided to have lunch there, I don’t know why because last time we did I ordered a Tuna Mayo without Butter and got a Buttery Tuna without Mayo and it was all a bit disappointing. I even distinctly remember saying at the time ‘lets not eat here next time’ so what do we do, eat there again. I have no one to blame but myself but I was at the point of starvation that I was eyeing up the live fish.

We ordered Coffee before we looked at the menu to order food, Coffee that unless we accidentally ordered the grand invisible Coffee by accident never showed up.

Over 10 minutes later we enquired about the missing Coffee, concerned about its whereabouts and were met with a member of staff who was randomly accusing us of not ever ordering or paying for said coffee and being after a freebie like a pair of tramps. So then we presented her with our receipt to prove that we had actually ordered the coffee and weren’t just weirdos although at that point I was internally accusing her of being the weirdo. We then still had to wait for this coffee, just a coffee, not a lattefrappacappawhippedicedmocahchino just a standard small coffee. When the Coffee finally did make its way to our table Aidan’s had half an empty salt sachet in the bottom of his which made my day! we didn’t complain about this because I just couldn’t be bothered.

We then ordered Sandwiches, don’t ask why. We ordered with a completely different member of staff this time wearing a Supervisors uniform as we thought we would be safe!  I ordered a Tuna Sandwich, but did I get one? no, I got an Egg Mayo Sandwich. Apparently the supervisor pressed the wrong button by mistake. So I then had to wait for them to make me up a whole new Sandwich whilst Aidan and Bowie stuffed there faces!

After the whole lunch fiasco was finally over we took Bowie to the gift shop and settled on a cute baby blue plush fish £2.99 and a foil dolphin balloon £2 or £3 I believe (memory is terrible). Both were very cute and very good value for money!

Ater a brief photoshoot on the beach the rain began again! boo, so home we went!

Bowie’s entry to Sea life adventure was free of charge as he is under 90cm which is always a bonus! Aidan purchased a standard Adult ticket online for £10.36 (£12.95 if you buy at the door) and I got a Student ticket £8.16 (£10.20 on the door).

Sandwiches were around £4 each and Coffee was around £2 each.

In conclusion its a great place to take kids, especially when the weather isn’t great. Its pretty small, doesn’t take long to get around and you definitely wouldn’t make a day of it, maybe a morning or an afternoon. My top tips are to leave prams in reception, book online 24 hours or more before hand for a 20% discount and to get coffee somewhere else! I recommend Attic cafe just opposite who do brilliant coffee and food.

Marisa X

 

 

 

Out and About: Adventure Inside

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Today Bowie had his first ever play date! How adorable.

Yet again the weather in Southend is too poo for any kind of outdoor activities and so we decided to take Bowie and his play date Sophia to Adventure Inside. 

We’ve taken Bowie in quite a few times to have a quick go on the Carousel but despite actually working here in the past and physically cleaning the ball pit out I was still oblivious to the fact there was a little bubas area for the under 3’s.

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I was fully expecting Bowies wristband to be at least one million pounds judging by the prices throughout the rest of Adventure Island and was shocked to find out it was just £4 and that included free Coffee and Cake for me. Cant get much better than that! So us Mummy’s had a Latte and a Gossip whilst the Daddy’s took the babies for the first round of soft play exhaustion.

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I was worried that it being the Summer Holidays the play pod would be packed with thousands of other children but it really wasn’t, this could be due to the rain outside but there were hardly any other babies and Bowie got to spend lots of time in the Ball Pit alone with Daddy and loved running up the soft play stairs.

When it was Mummy’s turn to get in the play pod her access was denied! I wasn’t wearing socks, not being a huge lover of socks and owning a grand total of one pair which are still in the packaging I lost my rights to play in the pod with my child. Note to self, wear socks next time.. unless I want to just enjoy coffee and cake the entire time again whilst Daddy runs around and if so, conveniently forget socks again.

I was a bit gutted to be honest, my poor feet were being discriminated against for their nakedness. I asked if I could just stand in the entrance to take photos and was told I could so I took some snaps of them playing together. The coffee then kicked in and I made a mad dash for the toilet (which is around 8 miles away so be prepared for a good hike). When I returned to resume taking photos I was told by someone else to not have flash on because of child protection which the original girl hadn’t mentioned so I’d taken at least 100 with flash on already, oops.

Also how cute is Bowies Handmade romper from Pearl and Me? swoon!

I think we will be returning to play pod at Adventure inside, its not very big and the babies probably get an hour at the most of fun if you really push it (if they’re Bowies age, if they’re older they will have far more fun with it). Along with riding Carousel, having Coffee and Cake and feeding Baby you can definitely have a pleasant morning/afternoon there, especially on a rubbish weather day!

Marisa X

 

Out and About: MGM Inflatables Day

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Today Aidan took Bowie for a quick walk around the park so that I could have some space to do a bit of clearing up without Bowie undoing every solitary thing seconds later.

This didn’t go to plan as seconds later I receive a photo of a park full of bouncy castles and a text saying ‘shall we’. 5 Minutes later, purse and camera in hand I’m heading to the park to see what all the fuss is about.

Turns out we had accidentally stumbled across an MGM Inflatables day at Southchurch Park.

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Heading to the entrance we watched Micky and Minnie walk past (the on a serious budget Micky and Minnie not the Disneyland Micky and Minnie)  and Bowie was mesmerised (or terrified) by the costumes. I assumed Bowie would be too young to join in looking up at the huge inflatable slides with big kids flying off them, screaming, left right and centre alongside face painting, glitter tattoos and sumo suit wrestling but it turned out there was actually a teeny tiny little under 3’s area for just £3 a wristband so we investigated.

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Despite the rest of the event being quite busy with all the older children the under 3’s section was virtually empty (result!) with only a couple of other toddlers plodding around. The section had two bouncy castles, a regular one, a small inside one with a slide (not the best description in the world) and a big inflatable slide. Bowie pretty much had them to himself give or take a child or two and despite adults not usually being allowed to accompany the children on the slide, because Bowie is still a baby and the slide attendant was so lovely Aidan was able to take Bowie down the slide once too, woo!

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In addition to the bouncy castles the under 3’s section also had a cute little soft play area with funny little animals to sit on, although Bowie had more fun just knocking them all over and using them to prop himself up.

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and Spider Man and Iron Man even made an appearance too, as you can see by Bowies face in the photo he was especially excited by Spider Man…

Turns out that MGM Inflatables are going to be at Southchurch Park every Tuesday this Summer 11am-1:30pm and 2pm-4:30pm which is the session we attended. Under 3’s are £3 and over 3’s are £6. Also if Soutchurch Park isn’t as near to you as it is to us they are running the same days at King George V Playing Field every Wednesday and Priory Park every Thursday.

If you are wondering where Bowies cute little bloomers and matching bonnet are from they were handmade by Bonnets and Blooms.

Marisa X

 

Out and About: Southchurch Hall

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I have lots of fond childhood memories of exploring each and every one of the local museums every Summer Holidays with my Mum and Siblings growing up, right up until the age of 19 when I was denying my adulthood and still tagging along. Now I am a Mother myself I am eager to carry on tradition and encourage Bowie to enjoy History; something that our little town has more of than you think.

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The grounds surrounding Southchurch Hall Museum are so stunning, definitely backdrop material for Bowie to show off his little outfits! This cute pinstripe romper is handmade from Pearl and Me. 

its not a large park and doesn’t have any apparatus for children but its pretty one! I couldn’t resist taking cute photos on the bridge before we even made it to the building (he was standing on the part before the water and his Daddy was lurking close by)

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Tudor style architecture has always been my favourite and although not the biggest Museum in the area in my opinion it is by far the prettiest. Now Bowie is standing up and sofa surfing he loves to just touch everything and show off his chubby little legs.

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Inside are perfectly preserved and laid out Period rooms reflecting the life and style of the late Tutor/Stuart eras. Our mission today was not letting Bowie touch, pick up, eat, throw or destroy anything.. and he loves eating the un-edible believe me!

Admittedly it takes you a full 3 minutes to walk around the entire inside but if you have older children that can read the signs and understand more you will get a bit longer out of it. Bowie obviously doesn’t know what were doing, he just wants to put that historic ornament in his mouth and climb the stairs himself.

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After looking around we made our way to the gift shop where we stayed for a browse, coffee and chat with the two lovely staff members. I asked if Clued Up still existed, something we did every year when I was a child that consisted of answering a booklet of History questions based on the information found within all of the Southend Museums and at the end you received a prize. I was soooooo gutted to find out that due to funding cuts they’re unable to provide this for local children anymore which is such a shame as my Summer Holidays were all about winning that feather pen!

They did inform us however that a similar sort of thing is coming to Southchurch Hall, 60p for a sheet of questions based on the museum and a pencil to keep so we will be returning to take part in that! Aidan then had to steer me away from the feather pens they had on sale, those damn feather pens get me every time.

We wanted to get Bowie something from the gift shop but being so young there wasn’t much of a selection for him, I just wanted something he couldn’t really choke on and didn’t cost over a fiver as it was cash only and I only had card and a £5 note! we ended up getting him an adorable little wooden knight toy, seen in the photos above (around £4)

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Following our time inside the Hall we made our way down the stairs to explore the rest of the park however the second Bowie got back in his pram he fell asleep! tired out from a morning of exploring so we had a little coffee pit stop on a bench whilst he napped. It then took everything I had to stop myself from screaming and waking him straight up when a mouse ran past.

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Finally awaking from his nap we finally finished looking around the park, ending our little trip having a look at the fish.

As Southchurch Hall is about 4 minute walk down the road for us we will definitely be visiting more often now that it is Summer Season (loose term in this country). If you’re looking for a free day out for the Kids I highly recommend (unless you’re like me and have to have a coffee wherever you go)

My top tip is if you’re wanting to grab a drink or take advantage of that gift shop don’t forget to take cash with you! also If you want the entire museum to yourself like we did then go early in the morning, we went around 10am.

Marisa X

Out and About: Old Leigh

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Seeing as Aidan is floating around at the moment as he has a couple of weeks off work to enjoy the ‘Summer’ with us we decided Today to head to Old Leigh, stuff our faces and chill in the Sun (and gail force wind)

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By the time we arrived in Old Leigh I was starving and just about ready to eat anything or anyone that appeared within my sight line. We decided to sit outside the Peterboat pub with a lush view of all of the boats and have a drink whilst watching Bowie destroy his outfit by rubbing a bag of melted puffs over himself. We then ordered lunch and I opted for the Prawn and Salmon baguette because whats the point of going to Old Leigh if you’re not going to order seafood? It was amazing and so worth the one million pound price tag (slight exaggeration, but only slight).

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We then took the dreaded photography pitstop. I can’t go anywhere without a camera and especially insist that we take plenty of photos when Bowie is wearing a gorgeous handmade outfit from Pearl and Me!

Anyway, getting back to my story, Bowie doesn’t share my love for posing in front of a camera and is just eager to crawl every where, climb everything and look in any direction other that that of the camera!

Also I am aware now looking back at the photos how horrific a mistake it was to match that colour socks with that colour romper. Well its not a match at all is it.

After an exhausting attempt of a photo shoot we went into my favorite shop in Old Leigh, and pretty much the only shop in Old Leigh, The Lynn Tait.

I love this shop because amongst all of the nautical knick knacks are traditional wooden toys, Powell Craft baby clothing and last but definitely not least useless Peter Rabbit junk! (my all time favourite kind of junk)

Last time we went to Lynn Tait I spent a fortune clearing out the Powell Craft Boys section and luckily for my bank account there was nothing new I didn’t already have, Instead I acted responsible and very adult and left with only two items! A traditional wooden toy soldier toy that bobs around and a pretty Peter Rabbit juice cup.

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We finished off our trip at one of my favorite little places, Saras Tea Garden. Despite the fact that not long before I had struggled with lunch and was unable to finish it I suddenly was able to knock back a massive Iced Coffee and Coffee Cake, the body works in mysterious ways! #dessertbelly

Marisa X