A Festive Country Weekend

Though London is fun at this time of year, I am always pleased when we get the chance to escape the city for a day or two and get out into the countryside. Mr Techno and I have a great group of friends from our university days, and we all try to meet up a couple of times a year for a country weekend.

Usually we have to rent a cottage, but we got lucky this time as one of the girls’ parents were on holiday and kindly offered us the use of their house whilst they were gone. Her dad is an apple farmer and they have this great, old house in Kent, with more than enough room for all of us.

Mr Techno picked Tom and I up from nursery on the Friday evening and we headed straight down, arriving just half-an-hour after Tom’s normal bedtime. The timing was perfect, as he went straight down to sleep, so we could concentrate on catching up. We are the only ones of this group to have a kid. In some ways it is good – Tom has a lot of very indulgent adults in his life – but it does mean that the others aren’t really aware of the needs of small children. We are lucky that Tom is such a good sleeper, so we do at least get to enjoy adult time!

On Saturday, we were all very excited to go on a proper country walk. In fact, we were so excited that we decided to go on two walks.

The first was a wander around the farmland, which took about an hour. We all went, including the four dogs. Mr Techno and I quickly realised the buggy wouldn’t be able to cope with the terrain, so we ditched it. Tom walked some of the way, and then we took it in turns to carry him.

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Of course, we had to stop off to visit the horses.

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And the chickens.

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And the ferrets. Tom was less sure about the ferrets – they tend to be a bit bitey. He took shelter leaning against Mr Techno’s legs.

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After lunch, Tom went down for a nap. Mr Techno and a couple of the others stayed home, whilst the rest of us headed to Bewl Water for a longer, very muddy walk.

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After all the walking, we definitely felt like we had earned some food. We cooked up a big Christmas dinner. Tom went to bed and the adults enjoyed the food, wine and company. Knowing I’d have to be up early, I flaked out just after midnight, but some of the others were still going strong at 3 am.

Needless to say, Sunday was a rather subdued day. I had to get up at 6.30 as usual with Tom, so had a quiet start whilst everyone else…recuperated. Once they appeared, we had a lovely lazy morning, grazing on leftovers and reading newspapers by the fire. Tom and I did escape outside for a while as well – he had started chasing the dogs around the house and clearly had some energy to burn!

We headed back to London after lunch, thoroughly refreshed by time away from the city with some great friends.

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A Wonderful (Wet) Weekend

We had a fantastic weekend! It could so easily have been a bust, bearing in mind the torrential rain that greeted us on Saturday. But I’d finally got my arse in gear and bought Tom a pair of waterproof trousers, so instead of being disappointed by the weather, we were thrilled by the opportunity to try them out.

As a starting point (and as part of our pledge to use our garden more), we headed out into the garden, fully togged up in waterproofs. Even Mr Techno joined in, though rather less appropriately dressed. I mean, slippers? Really? Tom was ridiculously excited by the rain, and ran around squeaking and poking things to find out if they were wet. (They were. Without exception. But he was still amazed every time. I love toddlers!)

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The rain did stop in the afternoon, so we went to the park to do some squelching in the mud and some splashing in the puddles. It was a bit slippery, so Tom’s new trousers got properly worn in and proved they are both water and mud-proof.

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On Sunday, Tom and I escaped the city for some much needed rural time at my parents’ house (Mr Techno had to work). My dad is currently living in Singapore for work, but my mum welcomed us with open arms and my sister was visiting too. Tom was ecstatic to see granny, who always spoils him, and loved having so much space to run around in. We started the visit with a trip out to the chickens, to collect eggs for Tom’s lunch. Tom was actually more interested in the dog’s water bowl, but hey!

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My mum has an extensive network of friends who live on farms and smallholdings, which is great for entertaining little people. We spent a lovely afternoon exploring one of their smallholdings, greeting all the animals, and enjoying the autumn leaves. All finished off with tea and cake, of course!

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We had such a lovely weekend. I’m very thankful for those waterproof trousers – they brighten up any grey day!

Monkey and Mouse

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Family Visit to Hackney City Farm

I love city farms. They are such a great example of what communities can do when they come together. Little pieces of farm life in the craziness of the city, they are usually run mainly by volunteers and are a fun, interactive way of teaching city kids about where their food comes from. Most have a real focus on sustainability and environmental improvement. So when Mr Techno and I were wondering what to do for our family day on Wednesday, a visit to Hackney City Farm seemed like a great idea.

It was a pretty wet day, so we all wrapped up in waterproofs before heading out the door. Fortunately, after being caught in a downpour on our way to the bus, the weather cleared enough for us to stay dry whilst we enjoyed the farm.

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Although it isn’t actually our closest city farm (that would be Brooks Farm in Leyton), Hackney is easy for us to get to, being on the 48 bus route. It took us about half-an-hour to get there, in fairly heavy traffic. It’s not huge (city farms generally aren’t), so perfect for a newly toddling toddler. There’s a farmyard, with ducks, geese and chickens roaming free and stalls with pigs and small animals (guinea pigs and rabbits). Just off the yard is a field which held sheep, donkeys and yet more chickens.

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We spent about half-an-hour pottering around the farm, showing Tom the various animals (he’s a big fan of the ‘Where’s My Donkey’ book so seeing real life donkeys was a bonus). For some reason, he was terrified of the small animals stall – we wondered if it might be the red eyes of the albino rabbit – but otherwise seemed very interested in everything. His new yellow rain footies got a lot of attention too!

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Having exhausted the possibilities of the farm, we washed up and headed to the cafe for a hot drink and slice of cake. I found myself sharing a slice of banana loaf, whilst Mr Techno was allowed to have his brownie in peace. The cafe is very family friendly, as you’d expect, with plenty of buggy space and a huge stack of high chairs. For older kids, there is a pottery painting studio room attached, which we must come back to when Tom is old enough.

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We rounded up the trip with a walk round Haggerston Park before heading home for tea. A great day all round.

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Wander Mum