Sunday, 26 May 2013

Wrapping up the holiday

I think I may be blitzing you with holiday blog posts.  So here is the rest of the holiday, wrapped up into one loooong post.  What else did we do?

We went to Anglesey, choosing to go somewhere very wet and exposed just as the worst weather of the holiday came past.  We trotted down to a little tower to look out for puffins and such through the RSPB telescopes and binoculars.

We didn't trot down to South Stack lighthouse, but we observed it from the warm little tower.

We drove back past this place, just to get a photo of grumpy people watching the rain from a twee knitwear shop.

Thomas developed more of an appetite for eating, particularly anything that could generate crumbs.

We had a walk at the foot of the Glyder range, around Llyn Idwal.  Marisca hated the wind, but fell asleep once we'd ensconced her in her bomb shelter, so we enjoyed the rest of the wild windy weather.

We had Large mugs of tea at Pete's Eats, although didn't really deserve them.

We went to a slate mine where we all had to wear helmets.  Marisca will talk about the little train that was very bumpy, to me it felt like an old and rather unsafe fairground ride!

We went to Blaenau Ffestiniog, which is really slatetown.  Massive spoil heaps of slate surround the place, but there are some really nice slate artpieces in the town centre.  Marisca enjoyed walking along the walls and following this slate 'river', time and again.

We went on another train - this time a bigger one, powered by steam.

We did lots of exploring around our house, with Marisca's new explorer kit, which is enormously popular (thank you Maia).  

We had another walk, around two different lakes...

...which really tired Risky out.

We visited water gardens which gave us pancakes, otters, a playground, and more opportunity for exploring.

And then on the way home we wandered across the amazing aqueduct at Pontcysyllte.

We popped into a childrens' sciencey museum which was full of fun little interactive exhibits for Risky (and Daddy).  

And we stayed with Mary and Stewart, and visited Chester Zoo where we saw more funny monkeys, elephants with babies, giraffes with babies, rhinos with babies, tigers, lions, zebras, penguins, and lots more.

And Marisca finally got her ice cream cone.

Phew.  No wonder we were so tired when we got home!

Six months

Tom turned six months old last weekend. How on earth did he get to be that old? It seems only last week that we were making a rather rapid run to the hospital and saying hello to him for the first time. And yet here we are, half way to a year already!

New things this month? Sitting. He is still likely to fall forward or sideways at any moment, but can sit by himself for several minutes at a time. His favourite position is definitely standing, though. He loves being held up so he can support his weight on his legs, so his activity centre is his favourite toy at the moment as it keeps him upright and enables him to bounce up and down. And he love love loved having a go in Isadora's door bouncer when we visited her the other weekend!

Tom has also found his consonants. He burbles all day long, with lots of lip snaking, raspberry blowing and a variety of consonant sounds. It is all the precursor of talking apparently. If he is as much of a chatterbox as his sister it could be very noisy in our house in a few years time...

Six months means the start of weaning, and the associated mess. As with Marisca we are doing baby led weaning where we let Tom try to self feed from day 1.  So far toast and bagels have been very popular, fruit and vegetables less so, mainly because they are slippery so harder to hold. He is now determined to grab whatever we are holding, which led to an amusing moment at Church this morning where Tim had to hold the chalice of wine well out of his reach!

One thing Tom does not excel at is sleeping. By this age, Marisca was sleeping from 7p.m. to 6 a.m. with only one wake for a quick feed in the middle of the night. Tom is still waking several times a night, and really struggles to settle back to sleep each time. He usually ends up in bed with us, as he seems to sleep best there. While we are happy with this arrangement for the moment we are starting to think about the future... Any suggestions on moving on gently from co-sleeping will be happily listened to! For the moment we share the night time resettling as much as possible and take turns with early mornings. In the grand scheme of things we know this will be a short phase and he is still our beautiful smiling, gurgling little boy. We are enjoying all the cuddles while he still needs them!

Holiday at Ty Capel

We tend to go to a Landmark Trust place for a holiday every May, following Swarkestone Pavilion 8 years ago on our honeymoon.  This year was our 7th, following Swarkestone, St Winifred's Well, Prospect Tower, The Ruin, The Chateau, and Coop House (we always try to remember the list, so it's good to have it written down...).  

This year we went to Ty Capel at Rhiwddolion, a property we've had our eyes on since we first found Landmarks.  It's part of a little group of three at Rhiwddolion, which is a small abandoned village in Snowdonia.  Once thriving with slate miners, there are now quite a few tumbledown buildings scattered through the valley.  Ty Capel was the chapel and schoolhouse for the village.  All of the properties are a walk  up a footpath from the parking, and all we could hear in our little building was birds singing and stream burbling.  And, of course, children being children.  It would be a truly lovely peaceful place if you went without a 6 month old and a 3 year old, but instead we found it to be a fun place, with occasional glimpses of peace.  

Marisca absolutely loved our little cottage.  She loved the footpath, with the kissing gate and the wobbly bridge, and the mud (not thick oozy mud Daddy).  She loved the garden for bubbles and exploring, and she loved sleeping in a bed next to Daddy's bed.  Actually she did amazingly well at sleeping, given the beds are in a gallery above the main room where Elspeth and I would be whiling away our evenings.  She also loved helping us in the kitchen, carrying dishes through to the dining table, and getting milk out of the fridge at every opportunity.

The first bit of the footpath up to the house.

The kissing gate and wibbly wobbly bridge.

Ty Capel from various angles.

One of our favourite things in Landmarks is the detailing.  Here we had altar rails used for the gallery bannister, pews used for seating, chairs in keeping with the chapel, a little welcome etching on the window.

And here is one of the buildings from the village that had a less successful fate.

Everything around here is made of slate.  I'm certainly more aware of the rocks under my feet after this holiday.

So, a great holiday for all.  Some bad sleeping (Tom), poorliness (Elspeth), and bad weather (everyone) meant it couldn't quite fill its potential, but Rhiwddolion lived up to its promise and is certainly a place I'd recommend to people wanting to get away from it all.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Scrambling by Tryfan

On day of our holiday, Elspeth was rather unwell.  In the afternoon I took Marisca away to the foothills of the 3000ft spiky monstrosity that is Tryfan, to find some smaller hills for Marisca to climb all on her own.

It was a bit of a punt - she's not always into physical activity and exploration - but it ended up being a really fantastic hour or so.  The area is littered with rocky outcrops up to 10 feet or so high, and Marisca just wanted to climb them.  "Next one", "That one", she never wanted to stop, and really impressed me with her interest and ability to just get to the top.  We also found a ladder stile on our wanderings, which Marisca delighted in climbing, and a bridge, and a ford which she delighted in me carrying her over.  The weather was the best of the holiday, and my daughter and I just had fun.  I can't wait until she and Tom are old enough to climb Tryfan with me (while Elspeth waits at the bottom nervously with a flask of tea).

It's impossible to describe to myself let alone to the casual blog reader, but it was so great, and I just don't ever want to forget that slice of an afternoon.

'Climbing' Snowdon

Last time we holidayed in Snowdonia we somehow forgot to do Snowdon itself, and we weren't going to forget this time.  The mountain has a train all the way to the top, and a cafe on the top too, and we hummed and hahed about which combination of train and walking would be best.  In the end it was cold enough that a significant proportion of the party wouldn't have enjoyed walking at higher altitude, so we just got the train.

The train is a rack and pinion affair which crawls up the slopes, taking an hour or so to reach the top.  It pushes a single, large carriage, crammed full of people.  The views were great, and included some precipicial moments looking down into Llanberis pass.  Within a few hundred yards of the top it had started snowing, and we felt fully justified in our decision to use the train.  We dashed through the cafe to access the summit and climbed the few steps to the top.  There weren't any views, or I might have found the cafe-on-top-of-a-mountain thing a bit strange.  But Marisca loved being there, and the hot chocolate we got in the cafe afterwards before trundling our way back down.

The children have now 'done Snowdon' and next time they're walking.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

I love playing with bubbles

Our little cottage had a nice grassy garden, which used to be the 'outside auditorium' for when the chapel was overfilled.  Hard to imagine now, given how quiet and deserted the area is.  But the auditorium was good for blowing bubbles, which we did at least once every day.

Spring flowers

Spotted in Conwy.  Aren't they lovely?