Cotswolds with Kids with Colds

Sometimes you need a plan for when it’s not Christmas anymore and the children are being vile and they’re tired and a bit sniffly and you’re hungover and have eaten too many Quality Streets. 

We’ve spent ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ at the in-laws. They’re top notch hosts and we visit a lot so here are our favourite spots for a visit when you’ve gotta get out of the house. 

Best Museum

MAD museum. It’s like one big marble run session with other brilliant feats of engineering and physics. Both sprogs love it as there are tons of buttons to press and things to see and admire. We all lost about 40minutes hypnotised by a Spirograph. ​

http://themadmuseum.co.uk/

Best spot for some fresh air 

Dover’s Hill. You can walk from the car park to Chipping Campden if you’re kids are a bit older than mine. With a two year old in tow, a stroll along the ridge and a gawp at the views was enough. 

Best park

I reckon parks should be rated on the following things:

  • Phone reception
  • Nearby cafes
  • Views 

By this criteria the park at Broadway takes home the award. It  has stunning views and a gabillion differing things to play on so you can sit and diddle about on your phone. Perfect. 

http://www.visit-broadway.co.uk 

Best Buy

My in-laws bought us a family pass to all the Shakespeare’s Birthplace houses. It was amazing. Did ’em all. Loved it. #kidsofanenglishteacher

Best Cinema

Other than the cinema in Lake Wanaka, NZ, this could be the best cinema in the WORLD. I don’t have any pics of it. Just go. Or just go look at it on the internet…

https://theregal.ac/

An Oliver Guide to the Perfect Christmas. 

We all wake up fresh faced and have croissants and hand squeezed orange juice for breakfast.

Get your own breakfast kids, your parents are hungover

After the children have their vitamin tablet and say their prayers of thanks to Our Lord, they exchange gifts. This year, the children made their presents for each other and DH and I donated the rest of their Christmas money to a charity the children chose themselves, The Pious Society of Do Gooders. #soblessed #rejectingcapitalism

Manic consumer eyes.

After an quick workout, I put on a mindfully curated Christmas outfit and whizz up a spinach cocktail in the Nutribullet.

Hops n forehead shine. Bosh. 

Christmas morning is such a joy: our home is filled with warm laughter, the tinkling of cutlery and the scent of White Company candles. I feel so lucky that our little unit can spend time together and that my children value it above all else. It’s a magical time.

KIDS! GET THE HELL IN HERE AND CLEAN THIS SHIT UP

After lunch, the children have fruit for their pudding and we spend some quality time chatting and playing board games.

Chocs and Paw Patrol

The rest of the day is a blur of fun and charity work until just before bed when we write our thank you letters and share loving thoughts.

I just loves pwesents, mummy.

Three Stages of the Christmas Build Up

1) Disbelief. 

Is it really nearly Christmas? When will it be Christmas? Is it actually soon?

This actually happened on 18th because that’s when I remembered where I hid these bastard things

2) All-out, full-pelt excitement 

‘And there’ll be snow, and presents, and a glittering star in the sky, and we will skate on ice and…’

3) Burn out

Three too many Christmas parties later…


And there’s still six days to go. Thank the baby Jesus for Home Alone on repeat. 

Conversations with my Four Year Old: Christmas addition 

Tell us, what’s your favourite bit about Christmas?

Christmas lights.

Never!


What would you like for Christmas?

I asked Father Christmas for..umm… Lego

Did you do a nativity play?

I dids. I was a sheep.  I had to crawl. Sheeps crawl you know. 

What’s the best bit of Christmas dinner?

Jacket potatoes.

Really?

Yeah. And those sausages. The small ones.

They’re called pigs in blankets. 

Stares at me in disbelief. 

What are you going to buy me for Christmas?

A book.

What about?

Baby Jesus. I love baby Jesus. I want him and Batman on my birthday cake.

Can you tell me the story of baby Jesus?

He was a baby on hay and in a manger and the stars looked at him (plagiarism). He was special but then he met some bombs and died and went underground. He was deaded. But then he came alive again! And he say happy Christmas!

48 Hours in London: a photo journal of hidden gems

Because I am a wife of a swanky law type, we have access to gorgeous flats in central London at the Inns of Court so I rented a couple for us Olis and my parents for their birthdays this weekend. Here are some pics and deets of what we got up to. It’s essentially a whole lotta museums. God I love museums.

Hit up the London Transport Museum.

It’s well good and has all sorts of knobs and whistles and dials and doors to open and buttons to press and buses to drive and tubes to play on.

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Visit Big Ben at Night

He loved seeing it so much he spent his pocket money on a BB keyring. Loser.

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Head up and out early to Monument

Oddly hard to find considering its height, but worth looking for and worth the 311 steps to the top. William managed it ok, Alex had to be carried. Alex also managed to do a poo halfway up it and stink out the stairwell. This is a monument to the great fire of London so brace yourself for 38529835928359 questions about the fire, how it started, how many died and what their dead bodies looked like and do we get to see the dead bodies etc. Unless, of course, your child is less morbid than ours.

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Museum of London

This is another one that’s a bother to find (head to St P’s and ask around), but brilliant.  And free. There is MASSES to see and it’s genuinely interesting: all fire, plague and cholera. Love that stuff. The cafe’s not great and there’s not much else around so advise packing a picnic.

NB: if I had a Mastermind subject it would be Museum Cafes of the World: specialist area Maritime Museums, and I reckon if it don’t sell sausages rolls, it ain’t no good and that’s my measuring stick.

NBB: Norwich Castle Café is the best, thanks for asking.

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Postman’s Park

A hidden gem and a good spot for your picnic. This park is just outside Museum of London and is a captivating charm of Victorian London. It is a park that commemorates those who lost their lives in heroic acts during the Victorian era. It’s a fascinating window in to Victorian life: lots of burning dresses, drowning and factory explosions. It’s free and it’s ripe for aspiring novelists searching for inspiration. img_6916img_6915img_6913

Things That Give Me Irrational Feelings of Joy

1) Christmas songs. I have a CD of them I put on in traffic jams even in the dead of summer.

2) Notebooks. This is a lifelong obsession. It makes me feel like I can conquer the world with a fresh pad and a to do list.

A fraction of my ‘notebooks past’ archived at my parents’ house.
Just zoom in on that precociously titled notebook from ’92

3) Museums. See previous post and above nerdiness.

4) Successful parallel parking.  My friend Vicki and I once got stuck in a B&B driveway and had to scrrrrrraaaape along their fence post and hoon off shamefacedly. Since then we text each other ev.er.y. successful parallel park. I have a back catalogue of pictures of my Picasso in Norwich roads.

Look on my works, ye mighty!

5) When other people get told off. I’m such a goody goody /snitch. I once saw the police pulling over a car who’d just been tail-gating me and in that moment I felt that all was well and right with the world. Another, related, source of joy is braking when someone’s been driving right up close behind me. That’ll learn the pillock.

6) Any number of small domestic triumphs: coming home when the cleaner has been, seeing the bottom of laundry basket, having a fridge full of food, remembering it’s bin day, etc. Simple pleasures.

7) Post. All of it, but especially a card from me mam and Red magazine.*

Post administration desk 

8) My children, husband, friends, health etc blah
*by the by, my husband thinks post is archaic and pointless so I take great delight in paying for stamps on the joint account. First class, if possible. **

**Even I think first class stamps are a swindle. I’ve got a conspiracy theory on it- ask me about it sometime.

A Kid-free Guide to Prague

Off on your hols with your sis? Roll with that and make her give you a lift in your mum’s car. #regression.

Crucially, you must stay loyal to being a neurotic traveller and force your super-relaxed sis to arrive three hours early for the flights. That’s a good 90 minutes before check-in. Feel suitably embarrassed.

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Sorry Han

Spend so long at the airport you know your fellow travellers better than you know some of your neighbours and you have to go to Smiths cos you’ve finished your book. You’ve read your book: a surefire sign you’re kid-free!

Fall asleep on ‘Jill’ in seat 11C.

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Gonna dribble on her later

Awake refreshed and glide through airport with ease and hand-luggage only. Waft smugly out through airport doors. Turn round. Go back inside. Haul on more layers. Hit the cold again.

Arrive at the apartment your cousin has rented for you and wander around its wonderful rooms, trailing your fingers across the walls in manner of Cinderella at the ball.

If you have any energy after your late night flight, pop out for a quick snoop around the neighbourhood. Because you are young and relevant and like a homing pigeon for what’s hot, you stumble across a bar you were desperate to go to. Accidently stay until the wee hours.

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Delish and dead classy

Despite the late night, wake up early: THERE IS SO MUCH TO DO. Pack a bag, pack your printed, laminated fun schedule (actual thing) and head out for coffee and apple pie.

Hunt down the Christmas Markets. Christmas markets make my heart beat faster. Cut me and I bleed mulled wine for the month of December and I like to chug it al fresco.  We found the markets at Old Town Square better than the ones at Wenceslas and when it comes to Christmas markets, I know my shit so trust me on this.

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Barely contained excitement

Drag yourself from the trdelnik, twinkly lights, sizzling sausages and magnificent Christmas tree (it has a viewing platform- joy of joy!), and head to the Museum of Communism. In fact, don’t. It’s crap. Go to the DDR in Berlin instead.

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Bit shit

Head on to find the thrift shops of Prague. Show your dedication to fashion by getting distracted on a short-cut by an upside-down-horse. Stop for a snifter at the Kino bar by the horse’s bum.

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Beer. Admin. Topsy turvy horse.

Now, not everyone will have a handsome actor in their family (peers down nose) but Han and I do and if you do too (secret handshake) then pop along to their film set. Try and do this once you’ve had several beers and half a dozen mulled wines: it’ll add to the confusion of arriving in a parallel medieval world where people in North Face are avidly watching your cousin Tom slice n dice baddies. Happily, Tom’s captivating and kind girlfriend was there and she’s well-versed in set etiquette (setiquette?) so ignored our refusal of hand-warmers, heated insoles and penguin jackets. She also knows her stuff when it comes to on-set buffets so she proved an excellent tour guide. Listen to your onset sage and try and hold back on nudging everyone and whispering ‘that’s my  cousin’.

Defrost in town later when you pop for a ‘quick drink’. Get massively lost when you keep ending up at the Christmas tree which is where your heart is, but not the people you’re meant to be meeting…

Accidently stay out til 4am.

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Read it and weep

Wake with a hangover, but it doesn’t matter because YOU ARE KID-FREE. You can have a bath without an Igglepiggle bath toy giving you the eye and then crawl back in to bed. Crawl back out in raging hunger. Head to Café Lounge and order three breakfasts. More if you’ve got the koruna.

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Belch out some room for more food as you stroll to the farmers’ market for cake, fried fish and mulled wine.

The next recommendation is hard to orchestrate but with high output: if possible, get the shits and make a dash for a scuzzy metro toilet run by a Czech grouch. Han managed to get locked in her cubicle and thoroughly recommends perching on the loo while listening to her sister gripe next door. Aim for the stars, people.

Go back and sleep. You can do that because your kids are at the in-laws.

ANOTHER COUSIN HAS ARRIVED! Wake up! Go out for supper en masse and admire their lovely faces and feel content.

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The smelly and her rellies

Take a night-time walk across Charles Bridge and sip ginger tea as you feel superior to all the drunken stags. Because you are cool and edgy,  search out  a bar you’ve had recommended. It’s a bit swanky so schlep next door to the tiny hole in the wall serving becherovka and hot dogs.

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Meander more. Drink more. Play a board game (it’s the best: I’ve asked for it for Christmas). Realise it’s 4am again. Bugger.

Balk in horror at the realisation that you’ve got to get to the airport on a Sunday on four hours’ sleep from a place you don’t know the address of. Recruit your progressive cousin to book you an Uber. Modern!

Rejoice in being at the airport dead early so you can read your book and hunt down Jill for a nap. Spend conscious part of flight glowing in the memory of Prague’s magic and doing happy mulled wine burps.