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

A Cardiff Garden In April white Pieris flowers
Flowers just like little bells on the Pieris

bright red new shoots of Pieris
And fantastic red shoots too

Mass of Yellow Flowers, Batchelor Buttons
Bachelor Buttons

single green leaf amongst branches and brown leaves
The Beech hedge just coming back to life

red leaves and white flowers of Blueberry
Blueberry flowers, very similar to the Pieris

White Blossom of the Cherry
Cherry blossom

Pink and white flowers, Love lies a Bleeding
Bleeding Hearts - Dicentra Spectabilis

red, orange of maple against blue sky
Burnt Orange leaves of the Maple

flower buds and fresh leaves against black railings
Clemetis Montana

Mass of little white flowers

Purple flowers of Squill, similar to blue bells
Bluebells, but not our native ones.

plants in pots in greenhouse
Sunflower plants doing well in the greenhouse

toddler in garden being helped down step by man
Bear enjoying the garden and my beautiful Maple survived another Winter

How is your garden this month? Have all your precious plants survived?


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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