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Adventures with Toddler

January 4, 2015 No Comments by Heidi

This Christmas holiday is the first time our little family has spent an extended period together. We did have a holiday/honeymoon in June which was awesome but we only had time for 5 days. The extended period I’m talking about is the make or break time of 16 days. It’s been amazing! Not one day has gone by where we’ve been bored to tears or our heads wrecked by each other. Part of me is amazed the other says, I told you so!

To kick off our holiday and with not long to go til Christmas, we wandered over to a yarn shop across the city called The Knitting Hut.It was my lovely husband who brought me there but it was a lovely shop that kept me there. The shop is teeny tiny but stocks twice as many wonderful yarn related things than the local yarn shop within walking distance.There are two comfy sofas and the spaces not used for merchandise display fabulous FO’s. Even the wall paper is magical. There is a box of lovely vintage buttons,  the usual suspects Debbie Bliss and Louise Harding are on the shelves along with lots of French and Swedish yarns I’ve not seen before. I picked up a super chunky recycled yarn, some locking stitch markers, vintage buttons and two wee skeins of sock yarn all packaged up in a handmade newspaper bag with jute handles. I could have stayed all day if the lure of a set of rosewood knitting straights hadn’t taken the toddler’s fancy. The woman looking after the shop was lovely and very amused with our little person. Turned out she has a few of her own and the shop owner has a gaggle too which set my mind at ease. Also it’s good to know the shop doesn’t mind little people especially if there is ever a yarn emergency requiring a visit with a small person sans extra wrangler. I’m looking forward to visiting The Knitting Hut on my own soon.

yarn, buttons, stitch markers

Yarn, buttons, & stitch markers from The Knitting Hut.

So what did we do once the Christmas dinner coma wore off? Well, come here and I’ll tell ya. We had adventures and lots of them! We went to Oxford, Bletchley Park, visited friends in London and generally explored the countryside in our area.

Oxford was amazing. We were a bit disappointed that we got held up with an insanely slow lunch service (over an hour wait!) at a beautiful chain pub on one of the main streets. We still spent time in Radcliffe Square. St. Mary’s passage elicited lots of giggles (is this just Irish humor, too many episodes of Father Ted,or English too?).  We also visited a few areas featured in Lewis including the covered market. It’s filled with a mix of specialty food, butchers, green grocers and various clothing/footwear shops. The market has beautiful lace like metalwork and is well looked after. You can just imagine people milling about centuries ago. While we would have liked to see more, Oxford close enough that we can get there fairly easily and will do so sooner rather than later.

Radcliffe Camera

Radcliffe Camera

Radcliffe Square 2

Building tops along Radcliffe Square

Radcliffe Square

Exploring Radcliffe Square

We explored the back roads and small villages around around us. It’s amazing that within 5 minutes in the car there are open fields as far as the eye can see at times. We saw lots of sheep, beautiful thatched cottages, new to us pubs, paths to be explored and villages that seem so remote even though they are within a short distance from us.

The highlight of our adventures so far was definitely the newly restored Bletchley Park. Firstly the staff were really friendly and helpful, from the lads manning the front gates to the folks scattered throughout the grounds. I’ve probably said this before but I’ll say it again, people here are genuinely kind and friendly.

Tickets aren’t cheap if you’re planning only visiting the once at £15 per adult, children under 12 go free. However, if you’re local or know you’ll make it more than once  a year the tickets are great since they allow you to visit as many times as you like within a calendar year from the date on your ticket. I spotted a donation box inside the reception area that will allow me to relieve any guilt I have about not paying enough for multiple trips throughout the year.

Bletchley Park, Mansion House 1

Mansion House, Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park, Coach House

Coach House, Bletchley Park

Picnic area overlooking lake and The Museum Block B.

Picnic area overlooking lake and The Museum Block B.

After the ticket counters, the doors open into a spacious visitor centre that is made up of approximately 4 joined huts. There’s a video presentation straight ahead, a cafe to the right, gift shop to the left and at the far left end is a counter to collect your multimedia guides and all important facilities to freshen up before you get started. There are war posters on all the walls but the one that stood out for me of course was the Knit Socks poster. I especially liked that the “doors” to the video presentation were train doors so you feel as you are embarking on a proper journey.

The toddler was just up from a nap so we just had a potter about while he stretched his legs and woke up. There are audio devices scattered throughout the grounds playing sounds associated with their locations like locking up / parking bicycle sounds by the bike shed, oars in the water by the lake and a motorbike near the coach houses.

We wandered into Block B which contains many recreated offices including Turing’s. A larger room at the end of the hut housed a number of tables with an interactive quiz on them. We then checked out the post office but gave the toy and game museum a miss as it was a bit compact looking and crowded.

We carried on to the coach house and stables that housed some lovely period vehicles and uniforms along with wall placards that explained what dispatch riders did, wore and drove. While not fully sign posted yet, you can wander towards the back gate where we found the old guard house and entrance for the dispatch riders. We followed a wooded path back to an out building, lawn and playground beside the mansion house. The toddler got stuck in despite it being the coldest day of the year so far and was not the best pleased when we moved onto the mansion house itself.

The mansion was warm, cozy and well looked after. We explored the library, Commander  Denniston’s Wartime Office in the front room and book shop but hung back from the Imitation Game exhibition (free entry) because the queue was so long and the fun was running out for the toddler.

We missed out on exploring more of the grounds, the National Radio Centre and the National Computing Museum but we will definitely be back both as a family and individually when we have time. The grounds and staff are small people friendly and wheelchair accessible.  I’m actually thinking about heading in when the toddler returns to creche next week.

Our last trip was a visit to a friend in North London. It’s the first time we’ve travelled there by car as opposed to plane and mass transit. I saw parts of London (himself was concentrating on the driving) that I’ve not seen and areas around our friend’s home that I didn’t get a chance to see last year. I’m continually astounded by the amount of open green space, parks and trees. It was wonderful, during  nap time we had plenty of time to have a proper conversation and enjoy a lovely long walk.

The bonus of all these trips? I’ve been the passenger which left plenty of crochet and knit time while the sun shined.

The holiday where everyday felt like Sunday is drawing to a close. While I’ll miss having the OH here everyday, I’m looking forward to getting back to the routine that unravelled in the run up to Christmas. Also I’m eager to explore more of the area on my own while the toddler is in play school. I find doing a reckie of a new place on my own first makes it easier to navigate when wrangling the little guy.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday too. That you’ve had time to work on your WIP’s and many of your days felt like a relaxing Sunday.

x H

crochet doily, lace

Amended Mother – Daughter Doily in Hot Pink

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