Thursday, 31 May 2012

Enjoying the sunshine

It's been a lovely week or so of weather, and it's been great to be outside with Risky.  On Saturday we went to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, one of the local attractions that we'd not yet visited since we moved up.  We've been before and really like it, a load of large and varied sculptures set in a really nice valley environment. 

It was very busy near the visitor centre and the car park, but we didn't have to stride out far from there to find peace and quiet and a lovely place to toddle around.

Monday, 28 May 2012


Where's Mummy?

Where's Marisca?

Where's Daddy?

Where's Jemima?

At the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

The Theatre

On Saturday morning we went on Marisca's first outing to the theatre.  We went to one of the theatres in Leeds, the West Yorkshire Playhouse, to see White, which is specifically designed for 2-4 year olds.

It's about the introduction of colour into a white world, so it was great timing as Risky has really got to grips with colours in the past fortnight or so.  The other day I went into her bedroom in the morning to get her up and she said "Daddy, rainbow", pointing at the rainbow on her wall, "red orange yellow green purple, no, blue purple".  I was very pleased.

The show was really great.  The whole thing took place on the stage of a big theatre, with half of the stage having benches and mats, so everyone was really close to the action.  We were on the front row on the floor which was great.  Marisca was truly entranced.  This is our wriggly girl who is always up and about, and she sat still watching the action for 35 minutes with only one swap from mummy to daddy's lap.  She hasn't been that enraptured with anything else, and TV doesn't even come close.  At the end she picked up loads of the little bits of coloured paper and stuffed them in her pockets, and throughout the day kept checking her 'colours'.  Cute.

We enjoyed it too, I have to say.

Sunday, 20 May 2012


How is it possible that our little girl is two? It seems like no time at all since we brought home our little scrap of a thing from the hospital, and now look at her.  She can walk - forwards, backwards and sideways - run, sing, laugh and chatter away.  She has her own opinions on so many things and is determined to do everything by herself.  She loves her teddies and her books and her trains, isn't keen on noisy things like hand dryers and lawn mowers and sometimes takes a while to try something new.  But if she loves the new thing - be it a slide, a new game or a new food, she'll keep going back for more!

From a little baby who lived on breastmilk and cuddles we now have a girl who loves meat (as long as it looks like meat and isn't casseroled in any way), cheese, bread, hoummus, olives, fruit and so much more besides.  She can name loads of vegetables but is yet to eat any - give her time.  And cuddles are very much on her terms these days.  Be prepared to be flattened by her running towards you if she wants a hug, but she'll also run away if she isn't interested.

(Belated) Happy Birthday, Marisca.  We love you.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

English heritage

We love English heritage.  And English Heritage.  Being members of the latter and fans of the former, any and all of our children will be forced to go and see a lot of ruins.  Our membership allows us to take 6 children each in for free.  Thankfully, it does not oblige us to do so.

As well as Carlisle Castle, we visited Lanercost Priory and some of the sites on Hadrian's Wall.  Here are some of the arches at the priory, for context.

And here is what Marisca looks like in her fair weather exploring outfit, just after she's decided she wants her sandwich after all.  Actually, I've got dozens of photos of her in the same combination, so it could have been at any point in the hour after she asked for the sandwich.  It was a really nice hour of poddling around with her.

Mummy and Marisca see something.

Daddy and Marisca see Mummy.

Two more shots just of Marisca in the ruined church.  Just because I like them.

Then on our last day we went to Hadrian's wall, visiting Birdoswald and Housesteads forts.  Every piece of literature I read told me that it was built by legionaries and then manned by auxiliaries.  Legionaries were used to build the wall because it was believed that they'd do a better job of it.  This guy clearly enjoys building walls.

Here's Housesteads, again for context.  And yet more blue sky.

Marisca off exploring some ruins (I think this bit is the granary, so she's obviously looking for lunch), in her wet weather exploring outfit.

And finally, she shows off some great swordplay in authentic garb.  I'd stand next to her in a shield wall any day.

Visiting a farm park

For her birthday treat we went to a farm park.  The girl likes her animals (I suspect every two-year-old does) and her soft play (ditto) and her charioteering (?).

We started off with the soft play, which was blissfully empty: fewer than a dozen children there meant Marisca had most of it to herself, particularly the areas for smaller children.  She did naughtily play in the 'under 2' area though.  Here she is, enjoying a slide.  At least, I think she is.  She always loved slides the best but seems to have gone off them a bit.  If we can convince her to give them a go then she will enjoy it and ask to go again immediately, but she has got a bit cautious.

I wish I'd learned from that caution.  Later on I took her on a fearsome double drop slide (it's the blue one here: I didn't dare go on the red one, even by myself).  She really really loved that, but in my excitement I suffered unpleasant rope burn on my left hand fingertips in getting off the slide and back to Elspeth.  I still can't type properly and this was a week ago.  Ooops.

There were trampolines!  Lots of fun for a girl who loves jumping.

So he we are admiring some pigs.  She really enjoyed the pigs in particular.  I think the lambs were too noisy for her to really enjoy them close up.  She did sit on one of my arms while I bottle fed a big thirsty lamb with the other (well, with a bottle held in the hand at the end of the other) though, which was quite brave.

I love her little face here as she holds a ferret for Marisca to laugh at.

Another nice day - we were so lucky with the weather.  Playing in the park.

I told you about the chariot, right?  Elspeth is one cool biker chick, and Marisca stands on the footplate going "faster faster faster".  Highlight of the holiday.

Back with the animals and Marisca's favourite thing is to point at them, tell us what they are, and then make their noise.  It's rabbits in the second photo, and no, she doesn't really know what noise a rabbit makes so does a little hopping motion instead.

And the absolute best bit?  Every time we left some animals we had to "wash hands.  wash hands.  wash hands.  wash hands."

Carlisle castle

I needed to include this as a separate post, as we actually visited a castle in the sunshine.  No rain in sight.  This is truly a departure for us, and needs to be marked by some kind of commemorative blog post.  Thankfully I have just such a blog.

Marisca and Elspeth with their guide books... Like mother like daughter.

Just a nice picture of the castle.  Big, isn't it?

Daddy and Marisca dressing up as, um, people in hats.

Holiday at coop house

We're just back from our first holiday this year, and we had such a lovely time.  We stayed for 5 days at the Coop House which is another Landmark Trust place.  It's the first one we've stayed at with Risky, and although that changed the environment and robbed it of some of its peaceful charm, we still had a great time.

Here is our first glimpse of what came to be known by all of us as our 'holiday castle'.

"Lots of sheep!", "Ball".

Our living quarters from the gallery: pretty much the state it stayed in all week, with a cup of tea on the table and toys across the floor.

Some local wildlife from the river that flowed past our living room window - I'm proud to have identified these as Oystercatchers.

and this as a sheep, or as Marisca now knows, a lamb.

Coop House from across the river.  Elspeth and Marisca included for scale.

Marisca waiting at the window for Daddy to come back from his trip across the river.

I asked Elspeth to take a few photos of me and Marisca while we were away, since I'm normally behind the camera pointing it at one of both of them.  I really like this one.  "Catchme Daddy, catchme!"

A new mode of transport

We went Segwaying a few weeks ago.  It was a present for Elspeth for her birthday, as she's always wanted a go.  So she got to seg her way around a nice part of the Lake District for an hour or so, and I got to play with Marisca.  After they'd all poddled off we climbed a little hill, did some rock climbing, and went to dibble our feet in the lake.  And found a tractor to play with, although she was a bit scared of that.

Here's Elspeth trying to get over the shock of being volunteered to be first to step up - she'd expected the bride-to-be to be volunteered.  (That's why there are people dressed in pink things behind her, one of which is holding a cushion.  Actually, that doesn't explain their dress at all, but does put them into a 'I'm not meant to understand this' box).

Elspeth getting more confident and moving at speed...

...and trying out her control on the ramp.

After they left, Marisca had a go on the ramp herself.

Ah, it looks like I've been foiled in my narrative - this appears to be before they left.  Either that, or they took photos of the participants and attached them, life size, to their segway storage box.  Yes, it's probably that.

And here we are on top of our little hill.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Puddle jumping while you wait

I'm sure you're eager for news of a certain girl's birthday last week.  We're somewhat behind with photos and came back from our holiday last week with over 500.  We'll catch up soon, but in the mean time, here are some pictures of Marisca jumping in puddles a couple of weeks ago. She's really taken to jumping recently - presumably something she's picked up at nursery - and delights in jumping off anything, and particularly just on the spot.  Sometimes she even manages to get off the ground.