2017 – Our Year in Review.

2017 hasn’t been our best year. I’ve been the one who has sucked the joy out of the party like a death eater (Harry Potter reference there, folks). I’ve been the one who when asked how I’m doing, has someone close to me who isn’t doing well. It has been one of those years. Something I’m very conscious of. So from now onwards, let’s focus on the good, or at least try to.

hever castle
In 2017 we took out a Historic Houses Association membership and discovered loads of new places. That was a REALLY good move, and one I’d recommend. We still have our Royal Historic Palaces, English Heritage and National Trust memberships too. We’ve been to Hever Castle and rowed on the lake for my birthday, to visiting Alnwick Castle and doing Harry Potter related things.
Alnwick Castle Broomstick training
Australia will have to be mentioned because, well, it’s Australia. We had an unexpected trip after a death in the family. My work were brilliant, and I managed to work remotely from there while doing everything else. We were able to visit places in between working and I found a happy medium without having to dump everything on my workmates while we were out there. I love Australia and still dream of moving out there one day.
cuddling duck at Coombe Mill

The summer holidays felt like they were a long way away, so when they came it was good to stop.

Coombe Mill was our Cornwall base, followed by Woodspring Farm Hut near Weston Super Mare. It was where H grew in confidence – and she wasn’t pushing herself, just following her own instincts.
Woodspring Farm Hut
H started in Year 4 and for a short while I became “that mum” – the one who insists she stepped out of her comfort zone and attend an after school club, doing Young Voices. Up to now she hadn’t had any interest in singing in public so it was quite a jump. The added bonus was her teachers from last year run it.
She came out having had the most wonderful time and is looking forward to joining lots of other schoolkids and singing at the O2 in January. I’m really looking forward to trying to find her! It works out cheaper than a gig too, so I think it’s a win-win situation.

H is still swimming and switched classes again. By the end of 2017 she had gained her Bronze award. I know she’s ready to move onto a bigger pool and depths, though she has swimming with school this year so we’re holding off until September. At the moment she’s working on her 800 metre badge, so we’ll see how that one goes!
H gets her bronze swimming

It goes without saying, football has played a big part of our lives in 2017.

We worked with the FA to help promote women’s football, and H started playing every weekend with Crystal Palace Wildcats.
SSE Wildcats Girls Football Club, FA Girls' Football Week 2017
She’s starting a new term there from January, has made lots of new friends and they all even got to be mascots at a Crystal Palace Ladies game which was great fun (and very cold). While she may never play football competitively, she’s having so much fun. I like that she’s doing an activity where she didn’t know anyone at all and has made new friends.
We’ve watched Tottenham Ladies a couple of times now and our aim for 2018 is to catch a Tottenham game at Wembley just the once.
We bought a new car in 2017. After having had an old Vauxhall Astra, we switched to a Skoda Fabia. I love it! The car suits me and my driving – it’s not too big and not too small. It fits quite a lot in it and has sensors for parking too. My downfall in our last car was when I reversed into a bollard and dented it…
We took out a PCP deal to buy the car, and with Shaun working from home this meant the money we save in him travelling to the office now pays off the car. We’ll do more trips next year as my biggest problem with getting anywhere was whether our old car could do it. Oh, and we had a carbon monoxide problem with the car too.
Gas Safety Week 2017 poster, 2017
Carbon monoxide. That was a busy week. I was one of the case studies for Gas Safety Week 2017 (it doesn’t mention this blog at all so you wouldn’t know), speaking about my experience of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. I intend to work with Project Shout Co in 2018 too. We have to keep shouting.

Our year ends on a quieter note, with a visit to the Roald Dahl Museum and a trip to see Hogwarts in the Snow at the Warner Brother Studios. There will be reviews to follow in the new year, and always photos on my Instagram.

I get the feeling that while I will never stop blogging, this slower pace of updating is where we are. Essentially I am now working four jobs – my dayjob, this blog, my PTA responsibilities and finally of course the work I do with Brownies as a Leader in Training. Oh, and parenting too.
2018 will be about finding a better balance in my work – home life. We’ll get out more and I’ll blog about it more.
We’ve enjoyed staying in a yurt and a shepherds hut this year. I’d love to think we’ll go camping at some point too.
I never do resolutions, mainly as I’d forget them. We can leave 2017 with our heads held high and know that we’re out of it intact and that’s all that counts.
Happy New Year, and all the best for 2018!

Woodspring Farm Hut – a Blissful Break in the Country

We always make a stop between Cornwall and London when we’re away. The five hour drive is a bit too much in one go, and we like to find a good half-way point. This year our stop was two nights at Woodspring Farm Hut.

Woodspring Farm Hut

Woodspring Farm Hut is north of Weston Super Mare, and was our stopping off place on the way back home from Cornwall.

view across to South Wales

Do you fancy a bit of peace and quiet, with long walks by the coast and views all around?

National Trust land walk

The gentle noise of goats in your field, and occasional grunts from the friendly pigs wandering by the hut? (and occasional goats trying to get into your hut!)

friendly goats at Woodspring Farm Hut

Or how about being able to run with the goats (if they choose to), or just chatting to the animals because they’re so friendly?

Vera, Woodspring Farm Hut

Woodspring Farm Hut is the place. Oh my. I thought it would be good and was excited about going, but I didn’t know it would be THIS good.

Woodspring Farm Hut view

You’re on a vegetarian farm, so the animals exist to be happy. Add to that Victoria (who owns Woodspring Farm) brings your breakfast to you in the hut at an agreed time every morning – and it looks like this:

Woodspring Farm hut breakfast

The thing I was asked the most was how we all managed to fit into the shepherds hut. We managed! Shaun slept on the floor on a blow-up mattress while I shared with H on the double bed. It was really warm and cosy, with a comfortable futon mattress.

inside woodspring farm hut

Everything you need is in the hut – it’s really well laid out. There are your everyday facilities in the main farmhouse, and you have a composting loo next door so you don’t have to venture too far in the night. A loo with a view too… sometimes accidentally and other times on purpose!

view from the loo

Between the loo and the hut is the fire where we cooked pizza on the second night. Eating pizza and drinking cider while out in the middle of a field was an excellent way to spend an evening – especially with my two most favourite people in the world. And a few goats…

pizza and goats at Woodspring Farm Hut

Woodspring Farm is next to some National Trust land. You can walk for around 2 miles (45 minutes or so) to Sand Bay. Once there, there’s an older person’s Pontins and a reasonably priced cash-only tea room. With views over the River Severn to South Wales and views across both sides of the bay there’s much to see and do. On Sand Bay there are three Second World War Pillboxes which you can see right inside.

World War pillbox at Sandy Bay

The whole area is lovely. Even just pottering around on the farm was a great thing to do. All the animals are friendly. H was free to go and pet the animals and feed them if she wanted which she did.

We loved Jack and Vera the two pigs the most. When at Coombe Mill, Farmer Nick told H that the hair from a pig is used for paintbrushes, so guess what H’s fascination was while we were here?

Jack, Woodspring Farm Hut

You can watch the animals from the hut, all H wanted was to run around the fields with the goats!

Woodspring Farm Hut is wonderful, and I’d highly recommend. We want to go back which is a rare occurrence. We hardly ever want to go back even when we’ve had a brilliant holiday in case it isn’t as brilliant the second time around. You can shut yourself away from the world, it’s somewhere to regroup your thoughts. Fabulous.

We booked our break with Canopy and Stars. The link for Woodspring is here. Their website is here. Victoria has a fab instagram feed here too with loads of pictures and videos of the animals.

Country Kids