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A Muddy Day Out At Oakwell Hall

So this last weekend wasn’t the greatest of weekends weather-wise, but we still wanted to get out with the boys on Sunday despite the rain and clouds.

We headed to Oakwell Hall, an Elizabethan manor house in Birstall, also famous for becoming “Fieldhead” in Charlotte Bronte’s novel Shirley, after she’d visited with local friends as a child. Parking is free, as is entry to the Country Park, with it’s extensive gardens, which the boys loved to walk around and explore, and acres of footpaths and fields for running around in.

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Having had our lunch from the newly refurbished café we headed off on our walk, soon coming across a stream which, after going off the trail down to it, the boys and mummy decided to walk along as far as it goes. They did really well not to fall, especially J-Bub, but they made it.

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After river walking we carried on along the path where we came across lots of wonderful muddy puddles – unsurprisingly there was an expectation that jumping in them would be fun. It was!

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At the end of our trail through the woods we got to the great playground, of which there are two, a typical park style one and one set in the woods, which was definitely the one that got the most attention from our two.

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And there was definitely ice-cream!

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We love a good family day out, and as far as (virtually) free days out go, Oakwell Hall is a great place to explore and have fun and muddy fun is a sure-fire way to forget about the gloom.

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Spring Days Out

Spring is most definitely in the air, which means a few more sunnier and slightly less arctic days and you can step out more as a family on the weekend for some quality time together. We’ve done that in consecutive weekends now , which has been lovely. The first weekend we went to the spectacular Harewood House, with it’s magnificent gardens, tranquil lake, brilliantly noisy bird gardens and farm and the high-octane adventure playground.
Harewood House
We enjoyed a lovely boat ride aboard Capability.
Sailor boys
 Capability
The second weekend, the one just gone, we headed out to Temple Newsam, also in Leeds, which is a great option for either a free or at least a reasonably priced day out. You can park for free and enter the extensive grounds for free, with literally acres and acres of room to the kids to run around ride their bikes and spread out for a picnic.
Temple Newsam rolling hills
If you don’t mind spending a little bit of loose change then you can purchase a ticket to the lovely Home Farm, a working farm full of life and charm. I let NJ take charge of my camera, and he loved taking pictures of the animals.
NJ's Sheep
There’s often crafts taking place on a weekend and there’s a large, second playground at the bottom of the farm. We had a lovely day both times and the kids were shattered by the time we hit the road home.
I love Spring days out with the family, tell me where you like to go.
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Making daddy proud as a role model

As a parent it’s always a proud moment when you’re son or daughter comes home from nursery or school with an award, like Star of the Week or something similar, but when it’s awarded for something that’s very important to you personally then it becomes worthy of even more pride.

Such a thing happenStar of the weeked for me just yesterday, I got home from work and NJ, proud as punch of himself, produced a Star of the Week certificate – in itself a really great thing for him to get. But when I read on the back what he’d been presented it for it truly made my day. The note on the back, from his teacher, read: “For being a really great role model. NJ always helps his friends to do the right thing.” We’re always talking to him about being well behaved, helping people and having good manners, although we’re very mindful of his still young age and that often this is hard for him to remember. I also talk to him about being someone for others to look up to, such as his little brother, as well as his friends at nursery and elsewhere. So for him to come home with a certificate for doing exactly that, and when we’re not even there, made me very proud indeed.

Maybe we’re doing something right after all!

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Four

So I’m now the proud owner of a 4 year old. NJ’s latest milestone came up this past weekend and boy don’t we know it! We enjoyed a nice relaxed Saturday, his actual birthday, ending with a family tea out at a local pub, followed by a houseful of 5 and unders on Sunday as his party “happened”. 15 kids, very well entertained and engaged by Cosmo the Cosmic Magician (very much recommended for engaging these children for 45 minutes), and his slapstick routine and magic – the kids loved him.
So… where is NJ up to, now he’s 4:
  • loves his Transformers
  • writes his own name and recognises it
  • counts to 20 – and beyond when you remind him about just adding a number on to the end of 20
  • is fully integrated in to his nursery school, where he’s probably now towards the older end of his group
  • has already moved on from Daddy and now simply calls me Dad – I’m not sure how I feel about that!
  • has such a vivid imagination as he plays with his toys and makes situations up for them – I could watch this all day
  • loves being active and running and jumping. We set up his own Ninja Warrior obstacle course in the living room a short time ago, he loves that stuff.
  • he’s definitely grown and changed a lot in the last year. Looking back at photos from early 2015 to now he’s like a different boy.
These last four years have been awesome, becoming a dad is totally one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things that has ever happened to me and I’m super proud of my first born (we just need to work on those tantrums and not beating his baby brother up too much! For the record, I’m also super proud of his baby brother too – just in case anyone was about to jump on me for lovin…. oh you know!) I’m totally looking forward to being his dad(dy) forever and watching him continue to grow up and all that comes with it.
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And so it begins… my daddy days are numbered

I didn’t think it would happen so soon. NJ growing up too fast has been one of my biggest worries probably since he was born. He’ll be 4 in a couple of months and over the last few weeks I’ve noticed a change in him that I’m really struggling to come to terms with. I don’t know where it’s come from, where he’s got it from and what’s driving the change, but he’s started referring to me as Dad, instead of Daddy!
He’s not yet 4 for the love of God!
This must surely be only a few months away from not wanting to hold my hand. Please let it slow down a bit. I love that he’s growing up, but in the same breath I hate it too.
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Three in a shed and the little one said..

We bought a voucher on Groupon a while ago for an overnight stay in a camping pod near Harrogate. We thought it would be a nice treat to take NJ away for a night, as he’s never been camping before. So, having booked it the week previous, this Friday just gone we set out to stay overnight in a heated shed at Castley Camp, just outside of Harrogate.Camping Pod

Helen and NJ arrived a bit earlier than me, I went straight from work, arriving to find them settled in and NJ already having taken command of a blue mini ride on car and made friends with the owner’s dog, Rusty. It was lovely to see how excited he was about the whole thing and after he’d shown me to our pod and where everything was, we headed out for a pub tea. We went to the White Hart in Pool-in-Wharfedale, a lovely pub with a nice atmosphere and friendly staff inside. I had a Carne pizza, Helen the Veggie pizza and NJ had the kids sausage, mash and gravy. We didn’t want to spend too long out as it was mainly about the pod, but dinner was lovely.

Getting back to the pod it was lovely to see him still excited, running around exploring. We played a bit of football (about 30 seconds before he asked “Shall we go back now?”), more fetch with Rusty the dog, before it was time to move inside as it got a bit nippy. We had some roughhousing before getting into PJs and then into our sleeping bags. The pods came with futon mattresses, which were actually really comfy in there, along with a couple of heaters, which we actually turned off through the night as the pod was lovely and toasty inside. We read some Hairy Maclary stories and then all settled down for the night. Once he’d finally gone off NJ slept right through, missing the start of the lovely sound of rain on the roof in the early hours. In the morning, upon chatting to our neighbour, it appeared that we’d been lucky, as their pod and the one directly behind them had leaked and soaked all their gear, which was a shame.

All in all, we had a lovely time for the one night we were there. I understand the Camp are closing the pod side of the business, which is a shame as it told a little in the upkeep and care taken there. We didn’t once see anyone connected with the place (which also has a bootcamp, beauty treatment business and a large house) with the only contact being a note on the house door with instructions as to which pod we were all in, whilst they were on the school run. The only connection with any of the owners was Rusty the dog, who was a great host! It made us think we’ll definitely go in a pod again for sure.

In the morning we headed just down the road to The Local Pantry farmshop and cafe for brunch. It was raining quite heavily so a trip into Harrogate and a nice park was a little pointless really. Instead I had a Yorkshire breakfast, Helen a veggie one and NJ had some awesome pancakes with bacon and honey, to end our little one night stay. You really can’t beat spending time together.

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But I don’t want you to go to work today daddy!

It’s fair to say that being a daddy has it’s share of ups and downs. Happy and sad. Good and bad. etcetera etcetera.

Wednesday morning for me was a sad one.

As I was leaving for work, as usual, I dished out kisses and cuddles to the family and I said to the Big Cub, as he was standing in the front door space, ready to go and get dressed with his mummy, “Right, daddy’s going to work now, I’ll see you tonight”, leant in for the kiss and he turned away and said, “Awwww, but I don’t want you to go to work daddy. Can you stay with me today?”

It was as though someone had ripped out my heart and stamped on it! This was the first time we’d had this kind of conversation. I tried to rationalise it for him, that I needed to go and earn some pennies, so that we could have nice things and go nice places, but realistically all he wanted was his daddy at home. Maybe even just for a few minutes for a cuddle or a play. Just not at work.

It’s fair to say the rest of the morning was rubbish, and me being me, I was down and emotional for the rest of the morning, just waiting to get home to see him. Of course, he was totally indifferent when I got home and probably hadn’t really given me 2 thoughts for the rest of the day.

Today, however, was different; I got a kiss and a cuddle. #BigSmile
Now, where’s that weekend.