tilly makes & bakes

Always striving to achieve a state of domestic bliss!


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Our summer so far – as seen through my phone camera

I am quite renowned among my closest friends and family for not being the most positive or optimistic kind of person. You could go as far as saying that I am downright pessimistic. At times, I can just get bogged down with the mundane aspects of everyday life or I can just feel like I’m not achieving enough each day and missing out on all the amazing things you see people do (mainly on pinterest and that there faceache). Of course, my logical self knows that that is utter nonsense as I am always busy with my girls and we are having the time of our lives. The trouble is, that I sometimes need to remind myself of all the good things that we have going on, especially when I am elbow deep in dirty laundry or sweeping under the table for the twentieth time that day.

Enter my camera! I find that recording all the little and big things we do each day really helps me focus on the positives and makes me appreciate how magical this time right now is. We will never have these pre-school toddler days back. In fact, they are already numbered (negativity again, see!!). At the end of each day, I glance through my photos and it helps me process everything that happened and makes me end my day with a smile. My mind goes “Oh, what a gorgeous, mucky toddler face after dinner” rather than “Grrrr, been wiping mucky faces all day!”. You get the gist.

So far, so good. Now, more recently I have been getting complaints from a certain man in my life that I spend all our family time lugging the big camera around and taking hundreds of photos wherever we go. Taking his point on board but without compromising on the therapeutic aspect my photos provide me with, I have been using my phone camera some more again. It really has been quite liberating just whipping it out and capturing all the happy moments from the last few weeks.

And here are some of the good things we have been up to this summer so far…

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… we holidayed by a lake for a blissful long weekend in the  early summer sun

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… lots of dipping our feet in and getting sandy feet

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… my baby girl turned 2!

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…there was cake!

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…I made these muffins again.

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… a garden party

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…and we had an actual bouncy castle in our garden (on loan from a lovely friend). Oh the excitement!! Giddy giddy giggles.

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… blooms in our garden.

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…sand play

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…a trip to the glorious British seasidestrawberry farm

… strawberry picking

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… running around in fields. As you do.

Summer 2014, you have barely begun. You have been amazing so far, please stay that way!

 

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Winchester Water Meadows

What with this beautiful weather we have been enjoying, the Tilly household has been less busy making and baking and more busy daytripping. Despite having visited Winchester many times over recent years, we only just discovered the Water Meadows yesterday.

We started off with a mooch around the shops and a look around the gorgeously tempting stalls of the vintage market that was on last weekend. The market was a bit of a surprise and quite unexpected but thoroughly enjoyed by me- hubby not so much. I spotted lots of vintage children’s books, toys, up cycled and shabby chic furniture and kitchenalia such as retro Tupperware and Melmex. I didn’t make any purchases but thoroughly enjoyed exploring all the stalls.

Next we had a relaxing picnic with some shop bought goodies on the lawn in front of the cathedral. Daisy picking was a highlight here!

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After a while we started meandering around the back streets and took a right turn where we normally take a left and discovered the most amazing footpath along the water.

These are the Water Meadows! We had a blissful walk. I felt like I was on holiday. We spotted St Catherine’s Hill in the near distance and decided to return without the kiddos soon for a little hike up. All in all a successful day full of unplanned yet amazing activities.

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National Trust Cliveden

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We had the most amazing day at Cliveden, a National Trust property near Maidenhead (Berkshire) the other day. The weather was gorgeous and the view simply breathtaking! There is a brilliant playpark for the kids which is always a bonus as not all NT places are that well equipped for children yet. The water garden was simply stunning, especially with all the trees in their full spring bloom dresses. The maze was a hit with big H and Daddy whilst I watched a sleeping little H in her buggy. We had a blissful picnic on the lawn, enjoying the stunning views across the river Thames. We made daisy chains. The tulips were at their best. The daffodils already on their way out. It felt like we had the place to ourselves even though it was a rather busy, sunny  Sunday. The grounds are just so huge that you can easily find a quiet corner. I could literally feel my shoulders relax and come down by about two inches. We took a stroll through the woods and spotted bluebells.  Down the steps we went, towards the Thames and back up again, the long way around. Without doubt, Cliveden has the best grounds of any of the National Trust properties we have visited. And with our annual pass, we have got around a fair few over the years. What a beautiful, special place. We shall be returning here again.

 


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Liverpool in a day with kids

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We recently spent a long weekend near Liverpool visiting family so we decided to make the most of it and drove into the city for a fun-filled day. We were lucky because the rain held off for most of the day, which was a first in many days! Obviously, there are countless touristy things to do and see in Liverpool. I was quite keen to see the Beatles’ story exhibition. However, with a 4 year old and an 18 month old in tow, not only would they not have appreciated it, but we wouldn’t have been able to really take our time to look at everything in peace. So what to do, what to do!

Well, we started off by parking near the Echo Arena so that we could go on the Liverpool Wheel. As it was a Monday morning, it was literally deserted. We saw a couple of maintenance guys and actually asked them when the wheel would open, only for one of them to reply “It is open, now!” Bonus. We hopped straight on. The kids loved it.  A cheesy commemorative family photo was purchased.

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We then moved on to the Albert Dock to have a look around the cafes, shops and of course all the boats and ships.

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All the way up the waterfront to the Liver Building.

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After that, we were truly frozen to the bone, so we decided to walk further into town in search for a more indoorsy activity. Having done my homework before we came, I knew the place to go was the Liverpool World Museum. This is actually the whole reason why I am writing this post. It was amazing. But I jump ahead of myself.

The exhibits in the World Museum are spread over five floors which are easily accessible by wheelchair, or in our case: pushchair. It starts with an aquarium on level one which had plenty of tanks and the exhibit was just big enough (not too big) to hold our 4 year old’s interest. I loved these large collages which were produced by local Primary Schools. I was mesmerised by the colours on the detail of them. Each animal was painted onto what looked like tracing paper and then layered with other materials. Maybe it’s just my sentimental teacher heart but something about these pictures made me stop and I just couldn’t stop looking at them. Glad I took the photos for future inspiration!

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The second floor of the museum was a personal favourite, as it held interactive story scenes from well -known stories such as Hansel & Gretel and Alice in Wonderland. Even our 18 month old was having a blast, running in and out of the scenes and looking at all the pictures and displays. There were dressing up clothes for the children to use and props such as a life size cauldron with a big wooden spoon. Again, with it being a Monday, it was fairly empty and we could access all that was on offer without having to queue or wait our turn. We then entered the bug house, with amazing displays and interactive resources. A favourite was the ant colony which was busy harvesting leaves and food in a see-through box. The ants were able to access their ant hill via a rope strung across to another clear box. Thus we were able to observe the little critters carrying their loads (huge bits of leaves compared to their body size at times) overhead  and across the rope which was hanging free and not boxed in. Wow. David Attenborough eat your heart out!

The theme on the third floor was World Cultures which was probably a bit advanced for our girls but still enjoyed by us all. Brilliant for older kids. At this point I was sadly struck down by a migraine so I took my tablets and remained on a comfy sofa in a hallway while hubby and the girls explored the Dinosaurs and the Space exhibition on the last 2 levels. The fact that I had a fab time despite my migraine goes to show what an amazing  place the World Museum in Liverpool is. And best of all? It was absolutely FREE! We literally spent about 4 hours there and were truly impressed. Aren’t we lucky in this country to be able to visit a wealth of museums free of charge!? Especially when entry to some theme parks and aquariums can cost you an arm and a leg these days.

We finished off in the café which does a mean hot chocolate with marshmallows and squirty cream. My last bit of headache was cured. If ever you find yourself in Liverpool with kids: go, go, go to the World Museum.

I leave you with

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A wall of jelly beans in a shop window.

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The Beatles made entirely out of jelly beans.

Why not.