Almost a month ago now, on the 19th of July, our little rainbow and baby of the family (Miss Alice) turned a big 2 years old! Like last year, I meant to write about it around when it all happened, but as it always falls so close to the end of term and at busy time of year, we unfortunately got so busy and swept up in the start of the Summer holidays that writing about it all just passed me by!

I suppose being an end of July baby, this could be a sign of things to come. Thank goodness she has her Dad’s laid back tendencies with things!

This year it was another simple affair, which I am also quickly realising seems to go a long with Alice’s chilled nature. As it was her 2nd birthday (and by family tradition we would normally have their first party), we soon realised unlike her siblings she doesn’t particularly mingle with any kids her age on a regular basis that we would think to invite. She has a couple of girls at church but barely will go near anyone, and then her cousins are all spread out and so we decided that we would have a simple family picnic on the green and a family day out at the weekend.

The weather was great on her birthday and I spent the day with her at the Deep in Hull with a friend and her son from the village whilst the kids were at school. She loves fish and animals and had a lot of joy and excitement from this trip. That evening Grandma Smith came over and we headed to the village green for a picnic tea with lots of her faves. It was so chilled that we didn’t even have a cake for her, but rather she was simply delighted with a little chocolate cupcake and candle (that she soon realised was not edible!).

At the weekend we headed to the coast and took her on a boat ride, followed by chips and an ice cream on the Harbour. It was a lovely evening and a great way to celebrate Alice. She quickly cottoned on to what “A Happy Birthday” meant and she thoroughly enjoyed it all!

At 2 I want to remember her belly laughs and how she laughs at “goggys” (dogs) whilst signing “dogs”!

I want to remember how she stands on her tippy toes to put the bathroom taps on and then laughs her head off as water sprays every where!!

I want to remember her brilliant horrified face and the way she turns her nose up at any foods you push her way that she doesn’t like.

I want to remember how she says “bah-bye” to anything that disappears, how she adores her daddy and watches him leave for work from the bay window, whilst shouting “bah-bye daddy”.

I want to remember how she goes nuts and panics over the teeniest of creatures and calls them all “piders”!

I want to remember how much she loves playing with her siblings, how she fights them back and how cheeky she is with them!

I want to remember how loving and kind she is and how every morning on the way to school she signs birds as she hears them in the trees!

I want to remember how she climbs up on to the counter tops and then sits on the window sill to help herself to the fruit bowl!

I want to remember how she loves to pick daisys on the school run, hates being in the pram and can undo her car seat and climb out (every journey!).

I want to remember how she snuggles, holds my little finger instead of my hand and how she hold my shoulders when I carrier on hikes!

I want to remember how girly and pretty she is in style and how everyone loves her big blue eyes and blonde curls.

Happy 2nd Birthday Alice (even if it is rather late). You are fierce, loving, really nuts and life is better with you in it!

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Growing up our family did a lot of camping. My Dad was an ex-scout and scout leader and loved the outdoors, and consequently shared this passion with his whole family. You could say it is in my blood, as according to family stories I have been camping since I was a baby! From my own memories I remember camping and walking in the Yorkshire dales, around the southern coast, Wales and the Lake District (lots in the Lakes). We went on many an adventure most school holidays, and whilst at times I whined as I became older, as a younger child I only remember how much fun it was. I loved exploring the mountains, the dales, swimming in rivers and cooking on little stoves. It was peaceful, beautiful and exciting, and a wonderful time with my sisters and family.

I have since becoming a mother of older children, contemplated time and time again over how much fun it would be for us all to go camping and create equally adventurous memories with them. Whilst I personally (and Nathan too) would always opt for a hotel or Airbnb over camping any day, there was something inviting and exciting about the prospect of getting into camping as a family and embracing the outdoors more than we already do. I thought that being in the outdoors together and camping in a tent would be enriching and the ultimate adventure – Camping is fun isn’t it? But I also thought it is such a cheap way to travel and so would enable us to see and do more in the world too. And so this last Friday we went for it – Our first family camp to the Peak District!

The Peak District 

The Peak District is such a stunning part of the UK. Located in central England it is home to a lot of wildlife, little English towns with famous produce (Hello bakewell and its tarts!) and has such lovely breathtaking scenery. It is a great spot for cycling and walking and also offers a lot of history too. It has been on my radar for a while because I wanted to visit either Buxton or Bakewell, as well as fulfill a bucket list goal of Chatsworth House with my very own Mr Darcy!

And so we decided on the Peak District and made Bakewell and Chatsworth our little weekend thing! We planned on one night camping and then a day at Chatsworth and home again on Saturday. We chose to keep it super basic as being first timers we didn’t want it to become a stressful thing and as it was also rather last minute, we were somewhat clueless. We booked one night at a little farm between Buxton and Bakewell which cost us £17! It had everything you needed – A simple field surrounded by animals and dry stone walls, and a tap, toilets and shower which were really handy too! The weather was dry (thankfully) and it was, aside from hyper kids, a really positive experience!

We arrived about 7pm and the tent was surprisingly easy to assemble and get up (I soon got back into it and took charge!). By 7.45pm the tent was up, the car unloaded and the beds all made up. As I say, we only went basic and so literally had the tent, sleeping bags/bedding, clean clothes and some snacks for brekkie the next day with us – It was just right!

After setting up camp it was lovely to be able to take a stroll down the lane in the evening sun and explore a little corner of the countryside. The kids loved seeing the sheep, goats and cows, and I loved the scenery, dry stone walls and feeling relaxed and free. I am constantly reminded in these moments how peaceful I feel when in the outdoors and how good for my mind and emotions nature is.

The kids took a while to settle that night due to crazy levels of excitement! But other than that we all slept really well and taking an airbed for Nath and I was an absolute dream! Camping in the Summer is enjoyable as it wasn’t even that cold, and it was beautiful to wake up to blue skies and the morning sun.

On Saturday morning I awoke about 6.30am which is unheard of for me at home! Blurry eyed I stumbled to the tent door and opened it back, then laid back down. It was so beautiful to just lay there and stare out onto the hills, sheep and a fresh Summers day. I had the words of “Be Still, My soul” running through my mind and I realised in the ordinary family moment just how much peace and joy I had – it was really great!

The kids soon arose with eagerness to get out and explore and we found that breaking camp was just as simple as building it. By 9.15am we had already packed up and left, and were in Bakewell (about 10 minutes away). We wandered its cute little streets, popped into a couple of charity shops and sampled some good old Bakewell tarts and then headed over to Chatsworth house for a day. There we had lots of fun soaking up it’s beauty and history. The whole little trip was exactly how I had imagined (minus a few nutty kids here and there) and it was all so lovely and quintessentially English!

Camping for the first time worked well for us and gets 2 thumbs up from us all (except Mr Smith that still needs converting!) and I am already planning our next one! This time we want to build up to 2 nights and try and cook outdoors!

I can’t help thinking about all of the incredible places we can go as a family around the UK and Europe on a budget if we can master the ropes of camping! How many more mornings we can greet the sun and be at one with nature. How many mountains we can show and take the kids up, and how many moments can be spent snuggled in a tent together and building family bonds away from everyday life!

This trip was so enriching for my soul, so fun for our family, and a wonderful little adventure filled with beauty! Roll on the next camping adventure we can’t wait for another!

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As of today we are officially on the one week countdown to our Summer holidays from school and I could leap for joy! As you can imagine we are not only very tired and completely ready for this long break, but also super excited for 6 weeks of adventures and fun times together. We have been making plans with friends old and new, plans with their cousins and booked a huge family holiday to Scotland (in a castle!) towards the end of August! We have been talking about camping, beach trips, walks, museums, food and swimming. And with all of that chat, we just know that whilst it’s going to be a busy few weeks, it’s also going to be absolutely brilliant too!

I love the Summer holidays and I am especially looking forward to this years as we are now settled in our new home and lives. I have also been thinking of how we are already so very much in the Summer groove with this glorious weather we have been having. That in itself has meant that we have had lots of beach trips, country walks and adventures that have really put us in the mood for “the six weeks holidays” and helped us enjoy Summer right now in the moment! I find that Summer is such a joyful time of year and I do not fear the school holiday’s as I know some parents do – yes of course it will be tiring and nuts, but in a different way to what the school runs are and I love the freedom that time is ours!

Living where we do now, we have nature walks on our doorstep, friends in every other house (just about), and the beach a stone’s throw away. Whatever happens, or however tight money may feel some weeks, we are surrounded by potential free adventures and that fills me with more confidence than I have ever had in the lead up to the Summer Holidays and consequently makes me so happy!

With that in mind, this years Summer holiday plans are way more sporadic than how we have planned it in previous years. Last year and the year before in 2016 I wrote about how our plans for each week were very much structured and themed day by day. This year however we haven’t done that. We know what we want to do and we are going to go and do it – if not we will stay home and explore the fields or play with friends!

The only planning has been in a calendar to give an idea of when! There are lots of things we have chatted about what we want to do and lots of people we want to spend time with and so, we simply sat down together and brainstormed what everyone’s ideas were. From there we have made a spreadsheet calendar to track the possible days we can fit it all in, so that this way Mr Smith has an idea of what we plan to do (when and where) and can hopefully book some annual leave around it to join in the fun!

Last Summer was great – having a bucket list enabled us to do, see and experience so much. So yes, we now have 5 more days of school following this weekend, so whilst I sort out their worse for wear school uniforms and prepare to tackle one more week of school runs, I will leave you with our 2018 Summer Bucket list – perhaps it will inspire you?!

Summer Bucket List 2018

Go Camping (more than once)
Go to Flamingo Land
Go Swimming with Slides
Play Pirate Golf
Climb a Mountain
Swim in a river
Go to The Deep
Rock Pooling on Filey Brigg
Medical Museum in Leeds
Tropical World in Leeds
Chatsworth House
A boat ride
Fort Paull
Dalby Forest
Go to Scotland with the Family
Toast Marshmallows & make smores
Withernsea Lighthouse and Spurn Point
Williams Den
Play in the Water fountains in Hull
A countryside walk
Have a picnic in a field
Wharram Percy
Build Sandcastles
Eat a Waffle on the Harbour
Eat Ice cream sundaes at the seaside
Go on some seaside rides
Ride the Steam Train to Whitby
Play on Grandma’s water slide and make pizzas in her garden
Go to Scarborough

 

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One of the most common things that Nathan and I squabble about is our recycling and rubbish (dramatic I know)! Taking out the bins and recycling is his main “household chore” and as a busy mother I sometimes forget what can and can’t be recycled and at least once a week will lob all of my chopped tomato tins in the bin, instead of rinsing and recycling, or will keep the milk top on the bottle when I put it in the recycling bin.

I am getting better, but there is certainly room for improvement!

Whilst on some days I argue the point that “does one or 3 tins really make that much of a difference not being in the recycling?”. I know deep down that small steps like this each day can make a massive difference to the environment, but seriously –  on some days I just get so busy and a little slack that that goes out of my mind and I lob it all straight in the rubbish! I fail to remember that it is the job of each and every individual to look at their own ‘Social Spirit’ and understand how their impact can cause a negative or positive effect on the environment.

Have you ever wondered about your own social spirit and the things you are or are not doing to encourage a more sustainable life and protect our world? I don’t think about it too much if I am honest, but recently I have been reading all about it from an ebooklet produced by Glasdon UK, which aims to offer tips and advice on how each person can make changes to their everyday life. It looks at the global goals for a better planet, then brings it to a level that we as individuals can implement to have a positive effect on the environment, from now and for generations to come.

The idea is that whether you’re at home with the family, at work in the office or out and about in your local community, there are many ways that your social spirit can spring into action to help generate a more environmentally friendly world. It might be reminding your kids to use bins if they have a tendency to drop litter. It might be being more vigilant with the recycling at home (guilty), turning off lights and plugs to save energy or only eating ethically sourced fish!

It was a wonderful concept that had me reevaluating my social responsibilities and how I can better improve. I love the term “Social Spirit” and the idea of working to improve it to collectively help accomplish global goals! There are many ways we can radiate a social spirit from refusing plastics like straws at fast food restaurants, to getting involved in community projects. Each small and simple step, encourages others to join in the cause of protecting and looking after the world and communities we live in.

With this in mind, I have evaluated my own social spirit and here are 5 goals I have taken from their booklet that I hope will help us to increase social spirit and encourage more environmentally friendly behaviour from our family.

1.Recycling 

As already mentioned this is a working progress. We are pretty good at recycling in the home, but to be better at it I aim to be more attentive to what packaging I am buying and, recycling everything that can be recycled. I think by shopping smarter too we can cut down on the packaging that we bring into our homes.

I also want to use less plastics when we eat on the road, and try to choose things that will reduce the amount of rubbish and things that need recycling in the first place.

2.Teaching the Kids to Respect their environment 

This can be hard sometimes as kids naturally have a curious streak and if not watched could disrupt habitats. We try to encourage our kids to stay on footpaths when we are out and about, but other things like reminding them to use bins or put rubbish in their pockets untill they get home will be huge in helping nature. Also teaching them to respect plants and wildlife (not picking stuff from gardens) are all small ways they can show respect to our world and local environment.

This is kind of an ongoing reminder so that as they mature they will naturally have awareness for their community and keeping it clean and respected.

3. Make use of recycling bins when out and about 

When we are out/Eating out/In the car, we tend to just bag up all our rubbish and throw it in the nearest litter bin. Anyone who has kids will know how hard it is to keep a family car clean and so getting the rubbish out as soon as possible helps maintain some level of order.

To increase our social spirit, we are going to work on using the recycling bins that are out and about. This way we can help our planet by recycling even more!

4. Use reusable water bottles

This is something we have started this Summer and hope to continue. I have bought all of the kids a reusable water bottle, so that we are not buying as many bottles of water and consequently producing more wast/recycling! Reusable water bottles are way more sustainable and budget friendly.

5. Remember canvas shopping bags 

I am pretty good on the weekly shop at remembering my reusable bags. But where we fall short is with quick top up shops or clothing/charity shopping midweek. I have made a point of putting my canvas shopping bags in the changing bag, in a hope I will buy less plastic bags.

I love the world we live in, the countryside that is now our home. We try to walk and bike as much as possible, eat less meat and encourage our kids to use bins (to name a few). There are so many small ways we can respect the beaches and nature, our homes and community. Your social spirit can be incorporated into everyday life and decisions and by implementing small changes to your daily routine, not only will you ensure you live a more sustainable life, you will help to protect the environment as well as inspiring those around you to become more environmentally friendly.

What steps do you take to improve the environment? Share them below, or online – Don’t forget to join the conversation by using the hashtag #MySocialSpirit and lets come together to make our world a better place!

*Collaborative post

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