the rambles of a family of five in Australia

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Canons Ashby: a potty; a surfboard and our ‘first day out’…

July is a significant month in our family life: containing a birthday and our wedding anniversary. This year, it loomed monumentally for another reason: toilet training.

No caption needed here, I think. Except if you haven’t yet embarked on the joys of toilet training: note the removable bit in the middle. One of the cleverer inventions, we feel.

Stickers + chocolate = 90% success rate (AT HOME, anyway) by the end of 5 days.

Tired, pooped out Mummy…

Our first outing, to Canons Ashby (a lovely Jacobean jewel box of a house), on the first weekend of toilet training. This is not E’s first pair of trousers for our visit, and we’ve literally only just walked through the entrance.

The parterre, a peaceful place for contemplation, just below the croquet lawn and in front of the giant mulberry bush. Sadly for all the other visitors that day, it wasn’t peaceful once we arrived.

R with S, or as we like to think of them: a slave and his princess…

E, having built a big tower, with only a little help.

…then proceeds to demolish it with gusto.

He was desperate to play croquet – joining himself into the middle of a family game (but not our family!)

Our son, Sport personified!

H ran through this section of the garden at speed, dodging refined English retired couples, shouting to E (in her arms) “Don’t poo! Don’t poo! Don’t poo! Don’t – oh!”

In the Eeyore House, post-lunch, having a marvellous time. R and H were sitting on a bench feeling wrung out.

A rare moment of rest.

The surfboard enters the picture as we left it. We had finally run out of changes of clothes for E and were heading back to the car. R carrying S in one hand and the (empty) potty in the other, and H behind him with E perched in the buggy in t-shirt and underpants like an under-dressed maharajah. Our caravanserai attracted a reasonable amount of attention and resulted in general hilarity. H was so overcome she could not make eye contact with anyone and had to stare fixedly at the ground to avoid collapsing into giggles. The last time she looked up she saw a young pre-teen girl unloading a surfboard (!) from the back of a car, which was H’s undoing. We can’t imagine how a surfboard contributed to a great day out at Canons Ashby, but we’re convinced it must’ve been more rewarding than a potty!

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Neath Abbey (and the importance of signs)

Reading the signs at the entrance. Worryingly, the main one warned about slips and falls and advised parents to watch small children carefully.

Neath Abbey was a Cistercian Abbey founded around 1130AD. The ruins can be seen just outside the town of Neath today (about 5 miles from where we were staying at C-il-y-bybell) and we thought it would be a nice little excursion from home to fill in an hour or two one afternoon.

A bit of exploring down some of those slippery surfaces we were warned about.

Maybe you can’t tell, but the ruins covered an awful lot of ground. The original, complete Abbey must have been ENORMOUS and incredibly impressive.

More ruins, with safety rail!

“It’s dark in here, Mum!”

E: “Wait for me, Dad!”
H: “Don’t run, Ewan, it’s slippery!”

Double height windows.

I would like one of these in my sitting room!

The crumbling remains of a staircase.

Enjoying the Abbey, right before…

Ewan then proceeded to slip over, backwards, and smack his head onto the flagstones – creating two very impressive (and ever so slightly bleeding) eggs on the back of his head. Our 20 minutes of Abbey touring was over, and we headed back to our digs – googling ‘head injuries + children + serious symptoms’ and reflecting on the unheeded wisdom of signs at the entrances to tourist destinations…

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Sunshine (at last!); the Gower Peninsula; Rhossili; and a nice lunch afterwards

It doesn’t display very well in these pictures (and admittedly there is a vast grey cloud rolling in) but on our trip to the Gower Peninsula we saw the first sunshine of our whole trip.

The Gower Peninsula is about 60 minutes from where we stayed in Wales and was a scenic drive through more sparsely populated countryside, with views across rolling hills sloping down to the sea.

A view from the clifftop, via sheep, of the beach. The week before we were there, a giant sand sculpture was drawn to help raise awareness of this special National Trust location.

Rhossili is known for its 5km stretch of golden sand, but we were agreed that it would take a great deal of coaxing to tempt us into the water. The climb back up the hill alone would have been a struggle with our two tots in the buggy.

The cliff/hillsides. E was very taken with the sheep (and the fact that there were NO fences, AT ALL, between us and the edge.)

 Once we had walked to the cliffs and back with a strong wind blowing through our hair and ringing in our ears, we were all eager to be out of the wind and find somewhere warm to have lunch. Suze was the most easily pleased, being able to drink the first part of her lunch in the car, before we set off to find a cosy pub.

Suzy, wishing she had chips to eat, instead of fingers.

E, munching chips like a walrus.

At our chosen pub we ordered food and set about feeding Suze the more interesting portion of her meal. She has been eating ‘solids’ (a misnomer if ever there was one) since 4 1/2 months and really enjoys participating in the mealtime family ritual. She ate her food whilst ours was being cooked, and then sat happily in the highchair watching us eat and craning to look at everyone around us.
E ended up with cod, chips and peas, and ploughed his way through most of it. Unfortunately for him we finished quite some time before him and when we decided to leave, he hadn’t quite finished his chips. He was reluctant to leave (“I need to finish my lunch!”) so we said he could take a couple of chips with him to eat on the way to the car. Lo and behold, he filled his fists with as many chips as they could hold, yet could still be heard from the backseat (whilst munching) “I need a go back and finish my lunch!”

Plum tuckered out.