Friday, 24 July 2015


Last year at our town's Culturefest event, I was trying to get some publicity for an initiative that the organisation I was working on and was trying to attract the attention of the radio journalist. While I was doing this, a steward told me that I needed to move.

"You need to go and stand with the other Thai dancers over there," he said.

Nobody should be subjected to my dancing - of any variety! But this is typical of the annoying prejudices that happen because I look vaguely foreign. When I'm not a Thai dancer, I've been confused for a waitress in an Indian restaurant, a foreigner in my own hometown and even once a geisha.

However, this worked in my mum's favour last week when we were in Stratford. Queuing up to get into Shakespeare's birthplace, she was unexpectedly ushered in for free and couldn't understand why until she realised she'd been behind a group of Japanese tourists and staff had assumed she was with them.

Anyway, we were in Stratford meeting up with a couple of university friends and apart from a lovely ice-cream by the river, we spent most of the day in Stratford where we met by the best playground I've been to for ages!

There is a spacious playground for youngsters at the front, complete with boat and massive sandpit. Then there's a splashpool and a larger section including a zip wire for bigger children which my smaller son and his new friend loved. They didn't wear themselves out though - they then ran around the Lazy Cow Cafe in a back room - both wearing toy boxes on their heads before looping around the bandstand repeatedly. Now that's what tourists want to see. As my mum commented on the way home: "I remember going to Shakespeare's house about 20 years ago. It hasn't changed much."


With outdoor swimming happening at least once a day through the summer, I thought the time might be right to buy the McBaby some goggles, or "gubbles" as he calls them. Even though they're rubbish*, he wears them everywhere!

In the car. In bed. In the bath. Not in the swimming pool.

*There was a protective sticker on one eye; it came off to leave a massive stain that can't be removed.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Basildon Big Camp

The National Trust's 50 things to do before you're 11 3/4 booklet has been sitting in our car for a while, but thanks to a special weekend, the McBaby ticked off a number of the list.

So, the special weekend? It was called the Big Camp and was an unusual opportunity to camp outside a number of National Trust properties for the night - who wouldn't want to unzip their tent to be faced with the gorgeous Basildon Park mansion and its beautiful parkland?

We arrived at Basildon at 5pm, put up the tent (or watched MrM put up the tent), and then went on a walk around the property. The enthusiastic head gardener showed around the grounds, actively encouraging the smaller people to climb trees (tick), roll down a hill (tick), toast marshmallows on a fire and go on a bat walk.

How often do you get to sleep on the lawn of Basildon Park? We were allowed to use the bathroom inside and were treated to breakfast the next morning as part of the ticket price. We're hoping against hope that this becomes a yearly event!

Monday, 13 July 2015

Dreams...can come true.....

Being around when the McBaby wakes up means an early start. It's worth it though for the insight into what is going on in his head. In the last few days he's been waking up and shouting something and each time, it's been priceless:

Monday: Grandad took me to an elephant farm in America!

Tuesday: I want to eat Grandpa's vegetables

Wednesday: I was a clanger!

Thursday: Room on the Broom is on at the theatre!

Hopefully more to come.....

"Enjoy your day!"


Monday, 6 July 2015


Although the McBaby refused to wear the alarmingly heavy chainmail that was on display, we had a wonderful morning at Trerice!

The McBaby loved the imaginative dragon trail and of course we had to buy a dragon for him on the way out.

Trerice was owned by the Arundell family and dates back to the 1570s and has been in the hands of the National Trust since 1953, and in its ownership, the north wing that collapsed during a gales in the 1860s was restored.