Sleepless in Salford

Just a few, short nights ago we were sat in a hot tub on the last night of our holiday, under a canopy of trees and stars, debating what our next holiday should be.

Scotland? The Shetland Islands or Orkney perhaps?  Italy? Spain? Hell, why not an all inclusive on a Mexican beach? With a kids club of course, so we can sip cocktails at a swim up bar all day while the kids have a whale of a time with all their new friends…

Of course, that was after we’d been there long enough to forget the joys of the flight over, and before the even bigger joys of the flight back.  

I was actually going to write a post of tips for flying long haul with a fifteen month old. I even drafted it… It was pretty short and sweet. It simply said “don’t do it”.

But enough of that. We’ve now been back nearly 3 whole days, and whether it’s the attempt to return to a normal routine, or jet lag, or a bit of both, but among the holiday souvenirs we brought back with us, it appears our children no longer sleep.

Usually, if C’s really unsettled, an emergency episode of In The Night Garden is enough to remind her that it’s bedtime.  A sign of just how bad things have become: tonight, it took that plus half an episode of Mr Selfridge (she wasn’t a fan), a partial lap of the M60 and the entire Radio 4 shipping forecast… and still no sleep.

Seriously? The shipping forecast nearly sent me off!

I actually made it back home at one point with what appeared to be a sleeping baby, but she could clearly sense what was going on and promptly started wailing again.

To that point, it’s currently 1:40am and I’m sat in the car in one of the more salubrious neighbourhoods of Salford (I figure I’d rather come up against Worsley’s neighbourhood watch than some of Salford’s more colourful nightlife), writing this blog post.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention – the last time I saw Mr Jones, he was blearily trying to coax/bribe a tearful and very awake 5 year old back into her bed.

Last night both kids were asleep by 3:30am. Tonight’s looking like it won’t be that far behind. And of course we’ve both got work in the morning.

Who ever said having kids was a good idea?!

Born and Bred

My loose idea of nationality has always been based on the phrase ‘born and bred’.

I was ‘born and bred’ in Wales, with Welsh culture and traditions, so I consider myself Welsh, even though my father is English. And my other half is Scottish given he was born and bred in Scotland, despite him actually having no Scottish ancestors and in fact having stronger Welsh ancestry than me.

So we had to come to terms quite early on that our children were going to be ‘born and bred’ English.

Not that that’s a problem of course. When she was small I still snuck G into a Welsh rugby shirt to cheer on the Six Nations, bought her a Welsh outfit for St David’s Day, and taught her a Welsh nursery rhyme to sing to C. I’m not sure how long I’ll get away with that but I’ll do so happily for as long as she’ll let me.

Recently when it’s come to sporting events we’ve found we’ve had to swallow our respective national pride, for example when G declared that ‘Scotland need to learn how to win better’ at football, and when she announced that what she really wanted was an England football kit.

We’ve skirted round the issue of accent before too, and we were secretly pleased when moving from Oldham to Salford somewhat softened G’s pronunciation of ‘mun-keh’ (monkey, if you weren’t sure) and ‘mum-eh’.

But being brought up in the north of England was always going to rub off on the girls, and it seems it’s already having an effect on little C, who has just this week started using what seems to be her first proper word, in context.

Mummy? Daddy? No, nothing quite so simple as that. C’s first word is ‘hiya’.

Repeated over and over again, complete with beaming little smiles, all she needs is a mini parka jacket to complete the look. She’s already got the slightly drunken looking swagger when she tries to walk, and I’m fully expecting her to follow it up with ‘y’aright?’ any day soon.

I’m tempted to brush it off with the thought that ‘hiya’ is a much easier sound for little ones to copy than ‘bore da’ or ‘ay ay, fit like?’, but I think I’m just going to have to take the plunge and fully embrace the Manc-ness of my children.

Now where can I buy a couple of kids Stone Roses tops?

Passing On My Competitive Streak…

Remember the butterfly garden Easter bonnet I posted about making the other day?

Well today was the school nursery Easter parade, which saw G marching and singing with her classmates, and…winning the Easter bonnet competition!

Now I don’t like to admit to being competitive, but, well, who isn’t just a little bit? So I did feel a little vindicated in spending most of Saturday afternoon making those darned flowers, and cajoling G into designing and making it with me.

The kids (and parents) had clearly put lots of effort in, and I should add that there were actually three winners, one for each group. I had a big grin on my face watching my biggest girl sing, dance, and flap her arms like a chicken with all her friends as they sang their way through such classics as ‘chick chick chicken’.

And so begins the Easter holidays – the first time I’ll actually have to fully entertain two children for a whole week on my own, before we go off on a little holiday next week. Eek!

Any tips welcome, otherwise come this time next week you’ll find me cowering in the corner clutching the gin…


A Mother’s Day Trip To The Park

Warning: self indulgent photo post coming up!

So today was, of course, Mother’s Day in the UK. After a couple of sleepless nights with C I was rewarded with the best gift possible – a lie in! Although given Mother’s Day coincided with the clocks changing it looked much more luxurious than it really was.

After brunch of French toast with heaps of bacon and lashings of maple syrup (the post baby diet is very definitely on hold), we set off to enjoy the sunshine at nearby Clifton Country Park. G was lured away from her new favourite TV show (Team Umizoomi, if you’re interested) by the promise of ducks to feed, a big playground and an ice cream van for afterwards, the latter very much mostly for G’s benefit given I’m still eating dairy free due to C’s suspected cows milk intolerance.

I decided that this was also the opportunity to get some photos with my girls, given I’d realised that beyond a few taken in the hospital when I was most definitely not at my most photogenic (!), we only had two pictures with the three of us in – one our blurry New Year’s Eve Jones family selfie, and another in the pub – both involving alcohol, which surely isn’t the right impression to give! The first of these is still the only picture with all four of us in, but given it was Mother’s Day Mr J was in charge of the camera today. C was happy enough to oblige with our impromptu photo shoot, although she didn’t seem overly excited by her first go on a slide (I kept hold of her, before anyone gets worried!).

The challenge for Mr J was firstly catching G as she ran around the playground, determined to have a go on everything there, and then getting all three of us looking vaguely in the same direction, but I reckon he did alright.

I hope everyone had lovely Mother’s Days out in the sun and was spoilt rotten in one way or another, but also big Jones family hugs to those who are missing their mothers or their children today.

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Days Out: Ordsall Hall, Salford

At a loose end last week I decided on a whim to take C on a trip to Ordsall Hall in Salford. It was a sunny day and time for lunch, and ‘the internet’ told me it had a nice cafe, so off we went.

This grade 1 listed tudor manor house sits somewhat unexpectedly surrounded by terraced houses and building sites, a short drive from both central Manchester and Salford Quays. It’s not huge, but has had a great amount of investment lately making it a stunning spot to visit when you don’t want to travel far from the city. Given how close it is to the city, I was slightly embarrassed that I’d never thought to go there before!
As promised, the cafe was small but neat, with inexpensive sandwiches, a nice range of drinks and some yummy looking cakes, which sadly I couldn’t indulge in thanks to C’s milk protein intolerance (darn it!).

The hall is allegedly haunted, but there was no sign of any paranormal activity. Which is just as well as I’m not a fan of ghostly tales! I was more interested in the fact that unlike many stately homes, Ordsall hall really felt like the kind of place you could imagine someone living in – really well preserved and laid out, and of course handy for the commute into town!

The house has a rich history, being associated (as with so many places around here!) with the birth of Manchester’s textiles industry – Sir John Radclyffe was apparently rewarded by the king for his services in battle in France by being allowed to being back skilled Flemish weavers to his estate at Ordsall, who then taught their skills to local weavers and set up a silk industry in the area, prior to the growth of the cotton industry in Manchester.

The house also has associations with Guy Fawkes, with the gunpowder plot allegedly being planned in the star chamber of the hall. So there’s plenty to engage kids with – in fact school groups are regular visitors to the hall, and there was a group there as we visited

C was supposed to be having a nap whilst we were there, but obviously she found everything too interesting to nod off… The house has been fitted with a lift in each of the two main sections which meant that even with her in her pram we could explore the upstairs. The only downside of this was that a staff member had to escort us to use the lift, so we didn’t get to explore quite as freely as we might have without feeling a little awkward being followed around. Next time I’ll pop her in a sling and carry her up the stairs!
Outside, the gorgeous formal garden and lawns look like a fab spot for a picnic and a run around for the kids. Although it was a beautifully sunny day when we visited, after having.say down to feed C on a bench I realised it was rather chilly despite this. Still, I had a lovely picture postcard view of the house to enjoy whilst shivering slightly (C, I should add, was snug as a big tucked up in her blanket!). I can imagine on a warmer day it would make a lovely picnic spot, as long as you sit facing the house and not the slightly incongruous urban surroundings!
One half of the upstairs houses a changing range of exhibitions, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the website to see what’s on. And more pertinently for us, the hall will be hosting Easter activities for kids during half term.

It’s free to get in, but you do pay a few quid for parking. Ordsall Hall is open Monday to Thursday 10am – 4pm, and Sundays 1-4pm.