Saturday, 30 April 2016

Making Macaroni Cheese With A Toddler - Recipe

Making Macaroni Cheese With A Toddler - Recipe text on picture of Macaroni Cheese

Making Macaroni Cheese with a toddler. Impossible you think, well you'd be wrong! OK it does take a lot bit longer but where were you going anyway? I look at it like messy play. I expect a mess, I want Bear to actually get involved. I hate the cleaning up after but unlike messy play you at least have a meal at the end.

Just remember this is a recipe for ONE toddler, if you have more than one I have no idea how you can keep an eye on what they are doing and cook. Takeaways and ready meals are your only answer!


Tuesday, 26 April 2016

A Cardiff Garden In April

Welcome to my Cardiff garden in April. It is full of colour and fresh growth. Surprisingly the early Spring didn't continue and a lot of plants are further behind than last year. This time last year the cherry was covered in blossom, it is about two weeks behind this year. Hopefully I will get some cherries and the blossoms won't all fall off before they are ripe.

We also get to welcome back our favourites and smile because they survived another Winter. The maples, beech hedges, Pieris and the herbaceous plants too.

Please enjoy my garden as we look forward to the summer.

A Cardiff Garden In April red tulips
Gorgeous Red Tulips


Bear Amongst The Bluebells

I wanted to get some photo's of Bear amongst the bluebells but poor Bear has had another cold with a nasty cough so we've decided to stay close to home this week. We are really lucky living in Cardiff. We have woods, parks, beaches and mountains all within an hours drive. We also have the most amazing bluebell wood just 15 minutes from our house.
It was sunny and Arctic cold when we set off early this morning, brr! Luckily we were driving against all the commuter traffic travelling into Cardiff. I am so glad that we do not have to do that any more. After our little photo shoot we found a den in the woods, Bear had a quick explore then it was time to go home.

Bear Amongst The Bluebells

Bear Amongst The Bluebells Toddler deep in thought sat on log
Bear Amongst The Bluebells


Monday, 25 April 2016

Singing, Star Wars and Spaghetti

Singing, Star Wars and Spaghetti! We've had a busy week. We started the week with Bear singing along with Aled Jones. Well Aled was on the TV and Bear just joined in, the picture is a bit blurry but too cute to leave out.

We've been hunting for treasure at Castell Coch, had fun on the swings and slide at our local playground and searched for Luke Skywalker at Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean.

You can read more about our visits by clicking the links above.

We did have a wonderful week. It was great watching Star Wars Episode VII on Saturday, it has a great fight scene filmed at Puzzlewood, we kept saying "we've been there!".

Singing, Star Wars and Spaghetti. toddler singing
Singing with Aled Jones 

Singing, Star Wars and Spagetti toddler in front of fairytale casle
Just about to go treasure hunting at Castell Coch

Singing, Star Wars and Spaghetti toddler on swing laughing at man on swing
Bear laughing at Grandad on a baby swing

toddler face down on slide

Puzzlewood Woodland scene
Luke! Luke! Where are you?

toddler running towards camera with rocks covered in plants
Bear running from something in the woods

toddler at picnic table
Bear looking at our picnic guest, a very friendly cat, at Puzzlewood

toddler kneeling next to adult looking at pyjama's
Bear and Grandad discussing the pattern on his pj's

toddler with red face and bowl of spagetti
Bear enjoying his spaghetti. Some actually got into his mouth

What's new this week?

Bear had his 18 month check up with the Health Visitor on Friday and she was really, really pleased with him. We are all so proud of him. Well done Bear and Mummy and Daddy too.

Bears speech is so good now, it's not just us that can understand him and he's really stringing words together.

Bear has a couple of made up words. For a long time he has called glasses (spectacles) lowers, like flowers but without the "f". No idea why.

He now calls milk a cross between miow and mow. It would rhyme with cow but it isn't cow.

We are hoping for nice weather next week so we can get out again and explore more places.

Where should we go next week?


Sunday, 24 April 2016

#MySundayPhoto Number 17

#MySundayPhoto Number 17 was a difficult one as we have done so much this week and have so many photo's. I have chosen a picture of Bear and his Grandad.

They are walking away from Castell Coch near Cardiff. They look like they are deep in conversation. The lines of the railings point to them. Although they are a small part of the image they are the only important thing in the picture.

#MySundayphoto number 17. Man and toddler walking away with woods around and a bridge in the foreground. All lines point to them

I wonder what are they saying to each other?



Saturday, 23 April 2016

Puzzlewood In The Forest Of Dean - A Toddler Explores

I was lucky to meet Helen at Traverse16, a bloggers conference, and she invited me and Bear to visit her magical woodland at Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean. Puzzlewood* is a fantastic place for children of all ages, from toddlers to big kids!

You may not have heard of Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean. It is a little piece of magic just outside Coleford, just 50 minutes from our home in Cardiff. When you see our pictures I am sure it will look familiar. It has been used as a set for films and TV. Merlin, Star Wars, Dr Who, Atlantis, Jack the Giant Slayer, Hidden Kingdoms are just a few.

What's there for a toddler? Animals, a toddler race track, indoor maze, willow maze, treasure hunt and the wood. It's not suitable for buggy's so be prepared to carry your little ones a bit.

We decided to follow in famous footsteps and make our own documentary. OK it's still pictures and a bit blurry in places but here is.

Puzzlewood In The Forest Of Dean - A Toddler Explores

We started our visit looking at the animals. Bear loved them and was able to mimic them all. A snort for Lucy the pig, an eeore at the donkeys, moo to the cows, baa at the sheep and twitchy nose at the rabbits.

Puzzlewood In The Forest Of Dean - A Toddler Explores collage of a  toddler pointing at rabbits, cows, horses, a pig and sheep
Puzzlewood In The Forest Of Dean - A Toddler Explores
Look Nanny! Lucy the pig, sheep, cows, rabbits and ponies

Puzzlewood In The Forest Of Dean - A Toddler Explores. A toddler scrunching up their nose
This is the sound a rabbit makes

We then went looking for the race track, it's inside so even if it's raining the race will go ahead. There is a figure of 8 track and lots of different foot powered cars to ride. We were the only ones there. The other visitors were a little bit bigger so Bear had the track to himself, which meant he could try every car...yes, every one.

A todddler and lots of toy bikes behind metal gates. A sign says Car Park
Bear can't wait to try the toddler race track

a toddler sat in a pedal car with roof
Brrmm! Brrmm!

toddler astride a pedal bike
Ready, steady.....

toddler sat on 4 wheeled pedal bike

We could hear children having fun in the maze next door but decided to go to the wood while Bear was still full of energy.

We were a little apprehensive at first, what if it wasn't suitable for him? What if there were big drops and lots of water and other hazards? We needn't have worried. After a little carry Bear was off exploring the delights of Puzzlewood.

toddler on path walking next to green painted wall
This way! Come on!

mud path with railing and man carrying toddler in distance
What is around the corner?

toddler walking on mud path between rocks covered in green plants. Beautiful.
A magical place to explore. What will Bear find?

toddler wlaking towards the camera through a cut out in a rock covered in green plants
Keep looking Bear

looking down hill logs stepping stones cut to look like dinosaur footprints
Dinosaur footprints!

toddler holding adults hand and walking on dinosaur footprints
Step. Step. Step.

view through carved rocks covered in green plants
The path winds its way up and down through the magical rocks and gorgeous woodland

toddler stood by hole in rock
Behind you! The cave is behind you.

Throughout the wood there are Roman coins to "collect". You need to download the free app from the app store first and have an iPhone. We just liked looking at them all. Bear wanted to collect them for real.

toddlet knelt down next to a log with a large picture of a Roman coin fixed to it
Ahh treasure, I'll have this.

And then he found a crocodile seat, not just any old seat but a bouncy one. Grandad bounced and Bear loved it.

toddler and adult sat on fallen branch that is carved to look like a crocodile
Why have you stopped? Keep bouncing Grandad

toddler sat on a bench made from sticks
Bear still exploring even when he's taking a minute to rest.

We found caves and secret doors and got "lost". Without a toddler you can't really get lost but we didn't want to walk too far and have to carry him all the way back. The route is also marked by little piles of stones.We enjoyed it so much we didn't realise we had been walking for an hour.

mud path leading to steps with a small pile of stones in the forground
Little piles of stones (bottom left) mark the route

After our walk around the wood we stopped for a picnic. There are lots of picnic tables, some are inside  which would be good on a rainy day. There is a cafe and shop too. But how could we resist a picnic when we had this little chap as a guest?

picnic bench, cat looking into cup.
Bear sharing his milk with a really friendly cat.

There's also a play area with a sandpit and lots of benches to rest your weary legs.

picture of sandpit in forground and view of woods in the near distance
The sandpit and playground is right next to one of the picnic areas.

Bear loved the willow maze, I didn't get a photo of him in it but he just laughed and ran around. It must be great in the summer when it's covered in leaves.

willow saplings bent and tied together to form an arch
Entrance to the willow maze next to the playground.

We had a fantastic time, we spent over an hour walking through the magical wood. We met people who had come from as far as Israel and London to see this lovely place. We could have stayed longer but Bears little legs were tired and because he had missed his morning nap he was struggling to keep his eyes open.

Grandad and I loved that there was lots and lots of seating around the play areas and picnic sites. There was also lots of mud so we were pleased that we had worn sturdy walking shoes, don't come in flimsy sandals! If it is very windy then the site has to close so please check before travelling.

Entrance is £6.50 adults £5.50 children, toddlers 2 and under are free. Check their website for opening times and family deals.

Just across the road is Perrygrove Railway and if you come on a Tuesday or the weekend you could easily visit both on the same day. We visited on a Thursday so will save the train for another time.

The only thing I would change? Just a little sunshine would have made a wonderful day perfect.

There is so much to do in the area. A great resource is the Wye and Dean Tourism website it has lots of suggestions for everything you need for a great stay in the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley.

Have you been to Puzzlewood? What was your favourite bit?

*we were given free entry for the purpose of a review. All opinions are honest and my own.

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Diary of an imperfect mum


Friday, 22 April 2016

Crabtree & Evelyn - HUGE Factory Sale

Crabtree & Evelyn are having a HUGE factory Sale at their Pontyclun outlet store. It runs from 28th April until 2nd May and has over 100 products at £5 or less.

Crabtree & Evelyn - HUGE Factory Sale. product image

So why am I telling you this? Have you ever tried a product and been totally hooked? I hadn't either until I tried their Verbena and Lavender Body Lotion. I have been looking for ages for a light body lotion, that absorbs rapidly and doesn't leave my skin feeling greasy. This just fits the bill and with their factory sale next week I can stock up, maybe try some other products and you can too.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Searching For Treasure At Castell Coch

We had an hour free on Monday afternoon and thought we would go searching for treasure at Castell Coch. We are very lucky, we have a fairytale castle only a 10 minutes drive away and as we are members of CADW entrance is free. It is usually £6 per adult. They have audio guides but it needs to be held to your ear so I couldn't use it and chase Bear, headphones would have been easier.

For those who are unfamiliar with Castell Coch, it means Red Castle in Welsh. It sits amongst woodland on a hillside just next to the village of Tongwynlais. It is a new castle rebuilt in the 1870's on Norman foundations. It was designed by William Burges for the very wealthy Marquess of Bute. I was hoping for sunshine but it was a bit chilly and Castell Coch is perfect for these sorts of days because so much is indoors.

All castles have their stories and it is said that treasure was hidden in the castle by a Cavalier during the Civil War. He never came back from the war but his ghost is said to haunt the castle searching for the treasure.

Many have tried to find it but we had an advantage, we had Bear! Off we went searching for treasure at Castell Coch.

Searching For Treasure At Castell Coch Toddler running to entrance
Searching For Treasure At Castell Coch - Bears off!

toddler looking in grating
Is it under here?

KItchen furnished as in medieval times
Or in the kitchen?

spiral staircase going down
Or down here?

toddler opening green cupboard with jug and bowl on top
Maybe in this wash stand?

Toddler with hand in carving of lion on a chair arm
Or in the lions mouth?

dining table with grand fireplace behind
In the dining room?
toddler running away across a room
In here! Lets look in here!

picture of portcullis
No! Just a portcullis

toddler looking at steps going up
Not in the dungeon, so back up the steps

toddler looking at glass case housing wooden dogs and huntsmen on horses
Not in the box with the Pentyrch Hunt

Winding gear with very blurred image of toddler
Is that a ghost? Or a treasure hunter?

castle courtyard with toddler on balcony and man holding same toddler in window
Spooky! Bear on the balcony and with Grandad in the window! Which is the ghost?

collage of the wall decorations. Beautifully painted scenes on walls and birds on the ceiling
The interior is stunning.
porcullis looking up at it
The portcullis ready to stop treasure hunters from entering (or leaving)

man and toddler in distance walking away from castle
"We didn't find the treasure, Grandad"  "No, but there's always next time."

We had a great time at Castell Coch. There was so much more to see that we missed on our whistle stop tour. They have a shop and a cafe that gets very good reviews. The views from the towers are also spectacular so we must come back.

The castle is on a steep hill with a few disabled parking spaces next to the castle but, like most castles, there are loads of steps. There are baby changing facilities but I would say the site is not buggy friendly.
It was great for a toddler though, Bear loved it.

Have you been to Castell Coch?

Bear and Cardigan. Drawing of a teddybear and a cardigan

*We purchased our CADW membership ourselves

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