Monday, 29 July 2013

Rate a Park #4 and #5

This is a fairly new playpark on the Forest Recreation ground in the city of Nottingham, where the Goose Fair is held every October.

It has some interesting pirate-themed equipment, which was okay for 1st & 2ndSister to climb on but would probably be better for under-7s.

We rarely visit this part of Nottingham, but managed to combine a trip to Hyson Green and the New Art Exchange gallery & Bombay Sweet Centre for some Indian delicacies AND squeeze in a couple of parks! (not before the British rain came though - can you see the clouds gathering?)

2ndSister enjoyed the pirate park (25 out of 10, apparently) but 1stSister was critical, giving it 2 out of 10 because it didn't even have a standard swingset. She was insistent that we go the park over at the other side of the recreation ground, which is old and worn but with swings and climbing frames which she loves.

There is also a new 'outdoor gym' bit for adults which the girls enjoyed climbing on. And they rated this old-fashioned park much more highly than the conceptual pirate area.

I have to say, though, the most fun was had on the walk back to the car, as even before we left the second park the heavens opened and heavy rain and hail fell upon us as we ran and laughed our way back to shelter. Luckily it wasn't long to get home for a change of clothes and a hot chocolate, and we didn't have 3rd & 4th Sister with us, or else we'd have been doomed! As it was, it was unique family fun that we squeezed into a packed few hours, just the big girls and I.

Meal Planning Monday 29 July

It seems like the week has flown by - I know I posted last week's entry late, but because it's the school holidays time is just zipping by, I know it! We're keeping things to a bare minimum, a few park trips, the library, hanging out, plenty of quiet time, a little Spanish learning ~ nothing too ambitious, I assure you, and most things with a baby girl on my hip! I'm not trying to cook new dishes at this time, we're still fairly much in survival mode, and I've been pestered to bake but it has been too hot for the oven as yet, although I foresee Melting Moment cookies in my future!

Meat Free Monday ~ Vegetable Curry with Saag Aloo, Basmati Rice, Plain & Peshwari Naan with vegetable samosas and Indian sweets purchased from a shop in Hyson Green, nearby to a new(ish) playpark which we may visit if the weather is fine, or if not just check in at the New Art Exchange gallery.

Tuesday ~ Chicken and chips (I'm roasting a whole organic chicken today to last as much of the week as it can)

Wednesday ~ Coq Au Vin with rice and garlic bread. This sounds really ambitious and it is a new thing for me, but it will be made with leftover cooked chicken, garlic, onion and mushrooms, cooked in red wine and chicken stock - exactly the same as last month's chicken chasseur which I made with white wine and was delish!

Thursday ~ Tortilla Wraps/Quesadillas - let's see if I can make that rubber chicken stretch three meals! If not I have onion and red pepper, refried beans, soured cream, salsa, guacamole and lettuce to accompany.

Fishy Friday ~ Cheesy mixed fish bake (haddock, smoked haddock, salmon) with fries & garden peas

Saturday ~ Pizza night. 3rdSister has her 3rd birthday party this afternoon so I don't want to be thinking about food.

Sunday ~ Outing and picnic at White Post Farm, for Rebecca's birthday treat, followed by McDonalds :-)

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Sunday, 28 July 2013

Rate a Park - Entry #3

Sisters 1 and 3 have a distinctive bond. Sophie, at 8, is maternal towards Rebecca, although she can quickly become frustrated with her. They don't spend much time playing one-on-one, but because 2ndSister came home from a sleepover with her friend, exited the car and dramatically puked on the pavement, we kept her at home with the baby and me, giving the other two chance to hang out.

These photos are of the ramps for the skateboarders. This park is just a walk through the woods from our old house, so we went extensively when the eldest two were small. It's much better for younger children, though - lots for them to do, and only the skate ramps for older kids.

I didn't ask them to rate the park as there was a special event going on which we hadn't counted on, with races, food and drink (which would have been lovely had FabDad not ventured out without his wallet....) and 1stSister didn't want to come home. She thought it was much better fun than her favourite thing, computer time, and would rate the experience highly but the standard park equipment less so. The photos don't show how hot it was....a quick park trip was extended as long as possible before they came home for refreshment!

3rdSister turns three years old in a week and is getting taller, slimmer and more eloquent by the day. She is still exceptionally cute in her behaviour and mannerisms, and reaches screaming volume quickly if she thinks she isn't being heard, lest we think she's growing up too fast. She's recently become very loving with 4thSister who until now she was happy to ignore, hoping she would go away, probably, so she could stay the baby.

There's also a traditional climbing frame, a couple of slides and a roundabout here, plus a big playing field for ball games or general running around. I have lovely memories of tramping through the woods, sometimes with a baby in the carrier on my husband's shoulders, taking little girls to the park. Every November they have Bonfire Night here too, with a big bonfire and organised fireworks. A part of our past, then, but just a five-minute drive away for us to still enjoy.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Rate a Park - Entry # 2

OK, it might seem we're blasting through these but while the weather is fine, we will. 

The park I chose today is in a small village a short drive from us, which we used to visit often when 1st and 2ndSister were tiny because it's that little bit different. It's enclosed, there's space to run around, the odd tree to climb and a few different bits of playground equipment including a roundabout you pedal round. 3rdSister took to it like a duck to water, the girls made friends with two other girls playing there and 4thSister just sat and beamed in the sunshine then had her nap on the drive home.

Happy summer holidays, and 4thSister is 4 months old today, has 2 teeth, lots of chuckles, and is determined to roll over sometime soon!

I don't think it's going to be easy to rate the parks we visit somehow - 2ndSister gave the park 25 out of 10, whereas 1stSister was unimpressed by the equipment she loved when she was smaller, but scored the 'cute' little girls they played with 9 out of 10 for company. 

They all enjoyed themselves thoroughly for an hour. Which was great considering 2ndSister had been so loud ALL DAY in the house and 1stSister lost it completely before we left over having no appropriate park shoes (ALL MY FAULT, apparently!)

Oh lovely leafy rural England....I love you when it is sunny but not too hot, and we can get out and about in the school holidays!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Rate a Park - Entry # 1

OK, so I'm blatantly stealing the idea from one of my favourite blogs/families ever, at My Child I Love You ~ or, perhaps you could say I was inspired, as I often am by Lindsay's posts about her family. I don't think there are as many parks round here as there are in Lincoln, USA, but as the most we'll be doing this summer is getting out to a playpark or two in the afternoon if the weather's nice, I thought I'd make a project of it. The plan is to visit our usual park haunts and also explore some new ones and revisit some we've long forgotten, take some photos and give the park a score out of ten. Simple. Ha! Let's see how long I keep it going for!

Entry # 1: Horse and Groom Beer Garden playpark

 I waited in with the girls all day until FabDad came home with the 'new' car. We've been without a 7-seater for a while, which has proven tricky but just about manageable, and now have a big secondhand Kia Sedona as our family car. The girls had asked to go the pub at the weekend and it didn't fit in with what we were doing, so it seemed a good idea, on the first day of the school holidays, for me to testdrive the Kia to the nearby village which has a lovely pub with a beer garden. The girls love to have a drink and some crisps and a sweet snack out of the machine, it's a real treat for them!

There isn't that much for the girls to play on, but there's space and some trees to climb and they basically make their own fun. I also ended up running round in a race and did some swing pushing. 4thSister was very obliging by falling asleep in her pram at her usual naptime while we sat in the sunshine. It's been either unbearably hot for me here or not fit to leave the house because of the rain, so it was really pleasant.

I honestly think it's best when the girls are left together to make their own fun. It's an interesting dynamic this holidays with an 8, 7 and almost-3 year old. They tend to need time doing their own thing, a little input from me, and in between coming up with their own ideas of games and silliness. It's noisy chaos, with the odd screaming match, but I could be having a worse six weeks :-)

(And how did the park rate? I would have to say 5/10....1stSister gave it zero because of the lack of play equipment and 2ndSister gave it ten because she had fun!)

Meal Planning Monday (on Wednesday!) 22 July

Yes, I know it's Wednesday, but I've been on an unplanned blogging hiatus and I need to get back on track! Hopefully things are back on an even keel now, especially since I'm now at home with four girls for 6 weeks...I probably won't feel much like cooking, and we will sneak in some extra baking, and I will try and be motivated to continue planning and posting menus :-)

Meat Free Monday ~ Ploughmans salad with French cheeses

Tuesday ~ Roast chicken and chips (plus peas and gravy - it was a rainy night!)

Wednesday ~ Farfalle pasta in chargrilled vegetable sauce

Thursday ~ Chicken salad

Fishy Friday ~ Fishfingers chips and peas

Saturday ~ Tapas with Spanish meats and cheeses

Sunday ~ Sausage, mash, yorkies and broccoli

Baking plans ~ a banana and pecan breakfast loaf, at least...

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