The National Trust….a national treasure

Mr PB and I were married at a National Trust venue – The Vyne near Basingstoke. A romantic ceremony in the stone gallery and the party of all parties in a set of Stunning Tents in the walled garden.


So, you would think that we have been avid members of the Trust for years. Well, whilst we had membership post our wedding day, we didn’t visit many of the houses or gardens apart from our wedding anniversary visit back to the gardens at The Vyne.

As a child, visiting a national trust property always felt like a chore. Attractive to the older generation, it felt like an extended history lesson.

But over the years, The National Trust have genuinely upped their family game, offering so much more than dusty, cold rooms in large homes with some gardens to look at but not touch!

Since becoming parents, we have explored, walked, laughed and smiled around so many of the houses and gardens that I’ve come to realise that this organisation is something special.

Where else can you have a slice of delicious cake and pot of tea, a wander through stately country homes and then play chase on the lawns.


Here are some of my favourites:

The Vyne, Basingstoke – of course it holds a special place in my heart but it has grown over the years to be a chosen destination for families for picnic on the lawn. The addition of a small play area for children with bouncing cows, ride on tractors and push along lawn mowers is great as well as the ability to visit to renovation being carried out on the roof.

Mottisfont, Winchester – with expansive lawns surrounding the stately home, there is plenty of room to play and have a picnic. A beautiful river walk and the choice of 2-3 great tea rooms/restaurants makes this a great meeting place for big groups.

Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury – the formality of the gardens make it less about picnics and more about wandering taking in the gorgeous planting schemes and overwhelming views of this incredible mansion. 

Basildon Park, Reading – like Mottisfont, this property is not short of grassy areas to play rounders in! It also benefits from walking routes taking you out into the parkland – varying lengths so you can choose what best suits you and your family.

Cliveden House, nr Windsor – the play area here is by far my favourite of all National Trust properties we have visited. Based around classic children stories, you are surrounded by beautiful wooden sculptures of Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. The house is also a hotel so not one you can visit without staying but the restaurant is great with lots to offer and the grounds are never ending. A great place to get lost in.

If you don’t have membership, please do so. Whether you are a smal family and expanding family or just a couple, this is the best amount of pennies a year you will spend! 

This weekend, most National Trust properties are running Easter Egg Hunts. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ 

x PB x

How to ski with a toddler….#babydestinations

Ok, so I’ll make it clear from the start. We didn’t put Little PB in a set of skis and send him off down the mountain.

Having not skied since before Little PB entered the world, I was very eager to get back out on the slopes. Verbier, Switzerland here we come!

We booked flights to Geneva with British Airways – our go-to airline. Their customer service is always fantastic and the facilities when you have a little one in tow are very beneficial.

We opted for club Europe seats for guaranteed space as well as access to their club lounge which was great for feeding Little PB lunch before the flight and enabled him to burn off some energy watching planes. The lounge also has a dedicated children’s play area which is very convenient.

A short walk to the gate, we had priority boarding and left the buggy at the plane door for collection via the baggage carousel in Geneva – so easy.
The 2 hour flight flew by (excuse the pun, it had to be done!). A set of baby headphones and plenty of Thomas the Tank Engine downloaded on the iPad (guided access turned on of course) kept Little PB engaged. I would recommend encouraging the little one to have a drink or use a dummy to ensure their ears adjust to the change in air pressure – ear popping is not pleasant for adults as well as babies.

We picked up a hire car and car seat at Geneva airport. I must pre warn you that the drive from Geneva to Verbier can be as long as 3 hours so ensure you have enough snacks and entertainment for the drive.

I’m fortunate to have family in Verbier so was able to stay with them. Accommodation is expensive during the ski season so don’t be surprised if you have to stay outside the village and drive in each morning. Furthermore, parking can be challenge so worth considering parking by the station at the bottom of the mountain and jumping on the cable car. Avoids the winding road and gives you some spectacular views along the way.

We hired our skis, boots and helmets from Mountain Air. The best place to hire from by far – excellent customer service and certainly the most pleasant environment I’ve rented skis from in the past! More like a designer store. 
We organised a Petit Verbier nanny in advance of our trip. I can’t recommend this service enough. Fully qualified nannies who go above and beyond with activities in the snow and rides on the free bus to visit the duck pond.

We met our ski instructor supplied by ES Snowsports outside Mountain Air and were escorted up the mountain and even though I fell over more than I would like to share, it was great to be back on skis whizzing down the mountain.


A family lunch back at Le Bec bought our morning ski to a close but it was certainly worth all the effort in organising.

To comfort those that don’t ski, the après ski is a great way to explore the mountain and Verbier village. After lunch, we bundled Little PB into the buggy for nap time and wandered past a wide range of boutiques, cafes and bars. 

Settling on a bar with a view, with a sleeping baby, Mr PB and I enjoyed a café noir and hot chocolate soaking up the glorious sunshine.

We rounded the day off with a family sledging session – hiring a sledge and baby goggles from Mountain Air, we headed on the free bus to the nursery slopes that has a dedicated sledging area. With a space for Mr PB and Little PB securely strapped in, there were plenty of giggles and smiles.

This day by far exceeded my expectations of what skiing with a toddler is like and I would certainly recommend that you give it a go – the key is to prepare and organise your day.


To be continued…..

x PB x

 

Exploring the Swiss Alps – Baby Destinations 

As part of our recent road trip through France, we took the opportunity to go across into Switzerland to visit some family in Verbier.

Hand on heart, neither myself or Mr PB have ever considered Switzerland as a destination for a summer holiday. Clearly, it’s a ski resort through and through so why venture over there for anything but apres skiing and snow? 

We were quickly proven wrong with our first mini hike when we arrived. With little PB in the baby rucksack, we worked our way along the mountain path to take in the extensive views and beautifully clean fresh air. 


On our only full day, we didn’t want to waste it, so we hired some electric bikes from Mountain Air, Verbier. 


With excellent customer service, they provided us with all the kit to help us venture up the mountain with a 1 year old. Little PB in his very own trailer with a sun/bug screen and straps and fantastic mountain bikes making the journey on the steep slopes seem effortless.


Stopping at the top for a bite to eat, the view was breathtaking. It has a very different feel to the winter season….obviously…..you can get a table for a start and there is a quiet tranquility to the mountain. 


Verbier does feel a little ghostly out of its peak season, but if you overlook the small amount of roadworks and the odd shuttered hotel and shop, the absence of tourists makes it’s feel like the perfect secluded holiday destination.

You can hire bikes from Mountain Air for CHF 65 for the day and the trailer is CHF 30 (which gets progressively less expensive the longer you rent for). Contact the excellent team on the following:

http://www.mountainairverbier.com 

rentals@mountainairverbier.com

Tel: +41 27 775 44 00

And with a view like this to wake up to every day, how could you not want to explore further…

Baby Destinations: Disneyland Paris (with a 1 year old)

I was dubious, very dubious. Some may think it was selfish of us to decide to do a trip to Disney knowing that a certain little someone would be strapped to a buggy for most of it but with a little bit of forwarding planning, we made the most of our trip.

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Given that Disney is all about family, you won’t be surprised to learn that they are very well set up in accommodating all ages.

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Here are my top tips:

  • Take advantage of the Baby Switch – one adult queues and the other waits with the baby by the exit and ‘switches’ when they have finished the ride. Certainly eases the pain of some of the longer wait times on the bigger rides. You’ll need to check for each ride how the baby switch works as it varies depending on where the exit is etc, however, don’t be afraid to ask as it appears to be a very frequent occurrence given the number of fellow parents I stood next to waiting for our other halves
  • If you staying in a Disney hotel, be sure to be in the park when it opens at 8am and miss the crowds! I’m guessing being parents that, like us, you will be up early anyway so 8am won’t feel too painful. It’s certainly a bonus to get some of the bigger rides out of the way, leaving the rest of the day to queue for Dumbo or It’s A Small World and not feeling like you’ve missed out
  • Most of the restaurants are buffet style which is great for weaned babies as you can grab them a plate of bits to nibble on while you eat. I would recommend that you book in advance as some places in peak times have long queues and the last thing I wanted was a hungry baby screaming at me!
  • Get a spot near the entrance of the parade – you’ll see a set of gates near It’s A Small World – being near the entrance meant we saw all the floats come past quickly and there was little hanging around which kept the little one entertained
  • Walt Disney Studio Park doesn’t have much to entertain a 1 year old but as there are fewer rides, you can get round them using Baby Switch pretty quickly – still worth a visit
  • An absolute must is a character breakfast which takes place in the Palace Gardens Restaurant. Again, a buffet but with the added bonus of Mickey, Minnie & Friends! Have a camera ready to take photos of your little one pooing their pants when Mickey creeps up behind them – they’ll thank you later!

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Rides that we all enjoyed (i.e. no height restriction!)

  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Dumbo The Flying Elephant
  • Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast
  • An Encounter with Darth Vader
  • Mad Hatter’s Teacups
  • It’s A Small World

We shall certainly be returning to Disneyland (before the little man turns 3!)

x PB x

 

Back in business…

I’m pretty certain that I speak for most new mummies out there that planning every small detail in the anticipation of your little bundles appearance to this world is fun and exciting!

It’s fun and exciting to put your focus into deciding whether to have a hospital bag AND a labour bag……what colour to paint the nursery……what the new arrivals first outfit will be…..who will look after the dog when the waters break……

And the key to why it’s fun and exciting is because we have oodles of time and (for the most part until we are doing an impression of a weeble) we have the energy.

1 year later….

I can honestly say that along with not knowing a love like I have for our little human, I have never known tiredness and a lack of energy like I have had over this past year. The learning curve is intense, the sleepless nights feel relentless (even though there really weren’t that bad!) and no amount of coffee could put that sparkle back in my eye. But, I’ve loved every minute. Well, almost…..

Parts of what made me ME became hidden in this last year….which made me feel resentful…. which I then regretted for feeling that way! Vicious bloody circle!

But after a very relaxing holiday and an opportunity to reflect, I’ve decided that this  can change.

Being able to balance a full time job and being a mummy means that it’s equally important to invest time to myself and my old life and the main area I want to focus on is right here. You’re reading it.

Pineapple & Button Co is back in business. I’ll be writing more blogs, I’ll be creative with P&B Co products and will share photos of beautiful places and even more beautiful planners.

However, I can’t ignore that my new accessory is now a changing bag, so I will be writing a series on Baby Travels sharing our experiences of holidays and day trips and how they can be baby and family friendly, even if at first they don’t seem it!

As a mummy attempting to be creative and stylish, I hope you enjoy what’s to come as much as I’ll enjoy writing it!