Sunny Days, Strawberries and First Foods

Most school inset days seem tagged on to the beginning or end of holidays, but for some reason our school just had a couple either side of the weekend giving us all a long weekend just a week after half term. Lots of people saw the bonus long weekend in term time as an opportunity to have a cheap weekend away which was nice for them. We considered it too when we first heard about the inset days but we are being more careful with money now. 

Kites flying over a field for Jessel Green Fun Day

I decided to seek inspiration from my places to go with children in Essex post and choose a free day out. I packed a picnic and we headed off to Great Notley Country Park near Braintree. The park promised a 1.2km play trail including sand and water play. The weather report promised a dry day. I felt a little cheated by a couple of rain showers and the water area being closed for refurbishment but we had a lovely time. The trail has lots of things to climb on and play with and the sandpit had plenty to entertain the girls too, our time there only being cut short by sand in Little's eye, followed by a short shower and then her having a wee accident.

2 children on a balancing see saw swing

A baby boy doing tummy time and looking at a sandpit

Girl playing with a metal scoop in a sandpit at Great Notley Country Park

Tuesday I decided to miss babygroup so I could catch up on work, but Baby Boy has other ideas so that wasn't the most successful day.

Wednesday we had another lovely music class with Emma's Music for Babies where Baby Boy intentionally shook the bells to make noise. This is a development step forwards from just sticking everything in his mouth. Obviously he stuck it in his mouth too, but we were still impressed with the bell ringing.

After Nursery pick up I headed off to Cammas Hall Pick Your Own Farm with Little and Baby Boy. They only had strawberries and gooseberries available for picking that day, but it’s a nice place to go with a cafe and play area including a sand pit. I don’t like that they put up more signs each year telling you what you MUST NOT do, but they had a few clearly marked Dairy Free food options in the cafe this year so I’ll forgive them. We picked nearly 3kg of strawberries and they were all gone within a few days. If you ever have a lot, then check out these strawberry recipes.

I’ve always felt that it’s quite an expensive way to buy fruit AND you have to do the labouring yourself, but having compared the price to the shops it’s actually not bad. One of the nice things about strawberry picking at Cammas Hall is they are in raised beds. My 3 year old could just about reach and it meant no bending for me. I was also glad to see that they had new cardboard baskets available for putting fruit in rather than the smaller plastic ones they had in previous years.

Little picking strawberries from a raised bed at cammas hall pyo farm essex

Toddler in the sand pit at Cammas Hall PYO Farm essex

Thursday I managed to get some work done in the morning, but I had to make sure we were at nursery promptly (and dressed in pink) so I could collect Little and rush to school before the gates shut and enjoy a race for life picnic.

M was really keen that I came along to the picnic and she was happy to see me. She then choose a spot in full sunshine, well away from any other parents I could talk to. It was nice to have lunch with my trio for the first 10 minutes. The remaining hour I spent watching the girls run around the field while trying to entertain a baby and NOT getting to socialise myself. I should have seen that coming given it’s the 3rd Race for Life picnic I have been to at the school.

banner saying our race for life up in a school playground

Girls dressed in pink eating a picnic on the school field to raise money for race for life

Friday Little had her dance lesson at a new later time so our afternoon was basically spent going in and out of the house between Nursery, Dance and School.

Saturday had been reported all week as going to be hot so I decided it was the perfect opportunity to stay home. This meant easy access to shade, suncream, a paddling pool and cheap ice lollies. Yes it was crazy hot at around 32 degrees but it was one of those chilled out long days at home where the children mostly played nicely and I got lots of washing done.

Sisters playing in a small paddling pool

On Saturday we also had a major milestone for Baby Boy as we gave him his first foods! While he isn’t quite 6 months yet he is very interested in food and keeps trying to steal it. He can sit up and get things to his mouth fairly reliably so he is showing most of the signs of readiness. We decided to offer him some food because everyone was there and I knew his biggest sister and Dad would want to be there for the occasion. 

We offered him cucumber, broccoli and some crusts of french stick. He got a bit frustrated but enjoyed it too. I’m not sure if his tongue thrust reflex has gone though and didn’t get to check the only reliable way to tell if they have swallowed food because his Dad changed his dirty nappy. I’m not giving him food every meal time until I’m more confident he will swallow it, but he is enjoying joining in when he gets a chance.

6 month old baby boy eating broccoli

Sunday G had tickets to go watch the Baseball Match in London, but it was a local fun day at Jessel Green in Loughton so I headed their with the 3 children. I knew from the previous 2 years that it would be lots of fun. They have inflatables, a few rides and other activities, but one of the nicest things is that we know so many people there from nursery and school.

Little was too small to go on many of the inflatables however under 5s can go on a few things and in a soft play area for free. I had warned the girls they would have to take turns, but one of M’s friend parents looked after M for half of it so she got to have much more fun. They were also really lovely and bought her a few things. It meant Little (and Baby Boy) could spend much less time waiting around.

It’s such a shame that most of this grass area is expected to be built on so there may not be any (or many) of the fun days left.

The girls were pretty good the whole time and we managed to spend 4 hours there as well as walking there and back without falling out. Some days with my family are pretty special. I even managed to get all 3 children to bed on my own without much fuss. I’m not going to claim any super mum awards though as all 4 of us had small patches of sunburn from our afternoon out.  Oops. 

A toddler playing with a large version of connect four

sisters eating an ice lolly and ice cream

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