Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas at Hughenden Manor

We have a pass that allows us to get into old houses through the country. During the holidays they have various events going on. This place was close by and had a few Christmas events going on.

Lexi and Misty played around in the gardens for awhile playing follow the leader.

Then they had a little train ride that Misty loved.

Adding the pine sprigs

Lexi helping me with the wreath
Misty helping out

Next we made wreaths by bending wooden sticks into a circle and adding pine layers and holy bushes.

Then we went off to see Santa. They do Santa visits different than in the states. First off you have to pay, this one was £6 but it was worth it...and you will see why later. All the kids wait in a room full of crafts. When it is your turn you get escorted to the door to the hallway where Santa is located (or that is how this one worked). Once there you were alone with Santa for however long you want. It is just a personal time with Santa. You can take all the pictures you want, and Santa just sits and talks to you.

Misty was pretty scared.

She just covered her mouth and wouldn't go near him.

Santa was very nice, understanding, and patient. In the end he reaches into his bag of goodies.

Misty walks away with a gift and she is pretty excited about that.

This is the hallway we walked down to get to Santa.

She opens her gift and finds a dolphin hand puppet.

She loves her new toy, and we think she understands it came from Santa.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The 100 Acre Woods: Home of Winnie-the-Pooh

Family at Pooh Sticks Bridge

As you see we are one short on our journey because Neil had to catch up on some homework. We thought it was very responsible of him to insist to stay home so he could do his work.

We headed out for our adventure to the 100 Acre Woods, which in reality is 500 acres in Ashdown Forest. This is the place where A.A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin played and came up with the famous Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh. The family lived in London and had a weekend house here in the 100 acre woods. Christopher Robin's mother used to make up little stories about the stuffed animals around the house, which A.A.Milne used to create the tales of Pooh.

Scenic View
Lexi has quite the eye for photography and insisted that Ray take a picture of me here. Lexi said the lighting and landscape was just perfect. I must admit this is a pretty good picture of me :)

Cool Red Mushroom
We all thought this mushroom looked cool and added to the fairy tale look of this whole place.

Piglets House
We believe this is Piglet's house. It is the lone pine in the middle of a field of brambles and shrubs. Nothing was labeled, so we were left to our own imaginations about what things were. They had a vague map, but it was difficult to be certain we were on the right trail the whole time.

Rabbit's Garden
This probably isn't the best picture of it, but this reminded us of Rabbit's garden. To the far left the trees just came together in a dome shape, almost like a whole in the forest. Then there was these stakes in the ground, probably to support new trees being planted, but the effect was really neat.

Racing sticks at Pooh Sticks Bridge
We had a lot of fun at Pooh Sticks Bridge. The bridge was a bit of a hike away from everything else, but it was well worth it.

Roo's Sand Pit
At first we thought this was Eeyore's Gloomy Place, but after consulting the trail map we discovered it was really Roo's Sand Pit. The place that was labeled as Eeyore's Gloomy Place wasn't really that gloomy. This sand pit doesn't look very sandy either, so maybe it really depends on the time of year.

Memorial to A.A. Milne
This is a memorial plaque for A.A. Milne. It just gives the name of A.A. Milne and his illustrated and says something about how they amused the world with Winnie the Pooh. Ok honestly historical markers are really Ray's thing, so if you want to know the exact writing ask him.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Harrods Christmas Parade

Waiting for the parade to start
I must first say I was slightly disappointed at first. I thought it was going to be like the Macy's Day parade, but it was nothing like that. There were no floats, only one band, and a lot of dancers. The disappointment soon disappeared because it was totally AWESOME!!! You will notice there is one family member missing...aside from Ray hiding behind the camera. Neil was too lazy to wake up early enough to come :( We were all a little bummed, but it was pretty early. We shared out bounty of candy and treats that were passed out to us.

Lexi enjoying herself

Misty waving at everyone

While we waited for the parade there were street performers going up and down the road playing the with kids and doing tricks. Then employees of Harrods were passing out balloons, candy, and drinks to the crowds while we waited. The parade was small, but that was alright. We saw Santa and his reindeer, and they even had fake snow coming from the top of Harrods.

Misty holding the chocolate coins that were given to her
As you can see the chocolate coins where the size of Misty's head!

Santa waving to everyone


We went into Harrods after the store, and we had a lot of fun. Aside from the rush getting in after the parade, we didn't have much of a crowd. Its a big store, so I guess that helps. We saw the Christmas room, the Toy Room, and the new Harry Potter room. It seems they are turning Harry Potter into a bit of a tourist thing here. It was still cool because they had props and costumes from the movies.

Director Lexi
In the Harry Potter room there was a lot of props from the movies. They had a lot of outfits and uniforms, as well as random props.

Here is one of the props from the movie. It is the Gryffindor Sword.

Lexi with a Hagrid mask
We ended our shopping trip by stopping in the food section. We got some snacks for the tube ride home. Misty was already asleep by then, so we got our goodies and headed home. Next year we will book a slot with Santa so Misty can sit on his lap after the parade.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pumpkin Farm 2011

I know it has been awhile since I have posted something, but the kids have been busy with school projects and scouts. We managed to get out and find a pumpkin farm here in the UK. It was more like a little kiddie carnival which happened to be a farm that grows pumpkins. 

Misty on the toddler trampolines.

Lexi took Misty on a little car ride.

Neil and Misty taking a break.

It was a little disappointing picking out our pumpkins. See the Brits are extremely cautious about liability issues (i.e. they are more worried than Americans about being sued). So they pumpkin vines where cut and the pumpkins where spread out in the field of died pumpkin vines. Of course they had large bins of pumpkins for those too lazy to hunt for a pumpkin. The size of the pumpkins were pretty small too, but that is because the weather here isn't great. Despite the differences we managed to have a good time.

Misty carrying her pumpkin

The Headless Neil

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Kids take on Cornwall

This is a video about what the kids thought of our holiday. I apologize in advance because the wind was really bad in all the clips. I tried to edit it out, but I can only do so much without fancy software. Enjoy!

Misc. Cornwall

As promised, on our way home we visited Stonehenge and got some good pictures.

Here is a video I took of our accommodations. Its a bit messy because it was the end of the week.

Cornwall Trip: Day 7


The morning started off rainy, so we decided to go to an indoor/outdoor activity farm. There was animals the kids could interact with. Lexi held a cute fluffy bunny who just cuddled up with her. Then Neil and Lexi go to bottle feed some lambs. After we were done playing with animals we went into a barn that was converted into a giant ball pit. It was so deep the balls went up to Ray's chest. It only took about 5 minutes before we were exhausted from swimming in the balls. We then headed to the main activity area which was multiple barns joined together creating multiple rooms of play areas. The first room/barn was and area for toddlers to ride on pedal tractors complete with trailers they could load up with blocks. The next room had two large inflatables. One was a running lane where you tie a bungee around your wait and see how far you can stretch it. Then when you lose your footing the bungee sends you flying backwards into the inflatable wall. The other inflatable was for a pillow fight where you had to knock your opponent off the pole the two of you were balancing on. Also in this room was swirly seats with a race track, a sandpit, giant checkers, and a HUGE playground that was designed to shot balls at each other with the help of multiple air canons stationed throughout the playground.

The next room had two giant slides. One was a 5 lane wavy slide. The other was called a Drop Slide where you literally go down a 90 degree slide that eventually curves down. Lexi went down the drop slide and we all thought she was nuts. There was also 3 trampolines, a rock wall treadmill, and a 3 level obstacle course playground that ended with a slide into a ball pit. There was another room for toddlers/preschooler that was a soft playground and ball pit. Eventually it stopped raining so we went outside. There was another playground and lots of random playthings throughout like slides, swings, and a zip-line. There was a small pond with paddle boats which Neil and Misty enjoyed a lot. They had a putt-putt course, but there wasn't any interest in it. They had some chickens in coops around the perimeter which me and Misty enjoyed looking at The day ended with a round of bumper cars, but here in the UK they are called Dodgems because you aren't suppose to bump. You just go in an anti-clockwise loop. After that it was late so we had to head back and pack. We stopped at the local grocer on the way home to pick up some ice cream. Luckily they had Kelly's ice cream. Hopefully we can find some at our local grocer.


Friday morning the typical British weather showed itself. Until Friday we had rather exceptional atypical British sunshine and warmth. Friday we had a more standard drizzle and chill. So we opted to follow our rainy day idea and went to an old farm which had partially converted to a leisure park. They had pony rides, chickens, lambs, a petting zoo, and most importantly an inside play zone. There was inflatable bungie cord running lanes, inflatable pillow fight boxes, trampolines, a rock climbing treadmill, ropes and balls assault course, and a bumper car area. Fun was had by all.

Sadly, we had to leave all this and pack to go home.

Note from Angie: I apologize for the lack of pictures here, but we were all so busy keeping up with the kids that it was hard to get any shots. 

Cornwall Trip: Day 6 St Michaels Mount and Glendurgan Gardens

St Michaels Mount

Glendurgan Gardens


We went to St Michaels Mount and Glendurgan Gardens today. These are both part of a National Trust which takes over and maintains old historic homes and gardens that would otherwise have turned to ruins, and they open up these sites for public viewing. We happen to have a National Trust membership, so this was the first time we got to use our passes. St. Michaels Mount was an island castle. The causeway (path) to get there floods as the tide comes in, so we had to plan our visit accordingly. Luckily I was smart enough to note the tide times for everyday of our holiday. Near the parking lot there was a playground we stopped and had lunch.

After lunch we drove to Glendurgan Gardens. There was a couple of cool things there like a giant multi-person swing and a picturesque fishing village, which apparently the National Trust rents out some of the homes to tourists. The main attraction was a hedge maze. My kids LOVE mazes. Ray and I were so proud that we beat the kids out of the maze this time!! Neil got very frustrated because he never completed the maze. He kept going in circles, but after 45 minutes of him trying we had to start moving on because Misty was getting bored. We enjoyed some more ice cream after we made our way back to the entrance.


In our previous adventures to Normandy, France we went to a place called Mont du St Michel. This time we visited a place called Saint  Michael's Mount. The french island Mont was a monastery. The English island Mount was someone's castle. Both were remarkable and very similar. Though, the mount did not have as many stairs as the monastery or Tintagel; it did have a great view of the ocean and surrounding lands.

After the great views of the castle on an island, we went to get lost in another hedge maze (another of our favorite family pastimes). This one was one of the largest we've been too and was in the center of a large family botanical garden. Near the maze was a children's rope swing set (built in the late 1800's). It was a pole with six ropes with handles hung on a bearing set wheel. If an overgrown child such as yours truly was so inclined (and I was), that overgrown child could easily run fast enough to get swung around the pole while hanging on the handles of these ropes. So I did. It was great enough that I even convinced Angie to try. As a set of bragging rights, for the first time Angie and I were able to beat Neil through the maze.