For the last few years, we have looked forward to, and very much enjoyed our day on the railway! By tradition, we go up to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway sometime between Christmas and New year with as many of Nathan’s family that are able to, and have a lovely steam train adventure in North Yorkshire!

I love to see everyone, catch up and laugh, and generally just chill out on the steam trains, and see the kids loving this ordinary and yet special moment that comes around each year.

This year we went on New years day. It was a challenge to get to Grandma’s for 9am (especially when we slept in til 8.30!), but like always, we needed to catch the mini coach that had been hired to get us there for the 11am train from Pickering up to Grosmont. And so like a scene from Home Alone, we dashed too and fro to get out the door and on the bus, with all the kids… and with a quick head count we were off!

Just so you know, having 11 kids, a handful of in laws and (at the moment) 12 grand-kids; a mini coach is the only way to travel en mass for a family day out in the Smith Family!

The Railway was quiet on the way up, and the kids not too crazy. The hills were scattered in patches of snow and the sun shone brightly. It was the perfect day to have gone, and as we trudged up the track we gazed out of the windows and chatted back and forth to one another about the lovely Christmas we had enjoyed, things we want to change and improve on and plans for the coming year.

We did our usual walk around Grosmont…exploring the quaint little station, cute shops, and walking through the long tunnel to the engine sheds. All before hopping aboard the steam train and heading back to Pickering! It was a fantastic day with everyone and each other, and a great start to our year!

Nathan’s dad was a great lover of the railway, as Ethan kept reminding us of, and so it is always sad to not have him there enjoying his favourite moments with us and his eager GrandKids! It is however always a special moment just to be together making memories, and having the opportunity to have him at the forefront of out minds and in conversation whilst we explore a place rich in his memory.

I love to see the rolling Yorkshire hills, be with family and enjoy North Yorkshire from the steam railway! Our day on the Railway is an ordinary moment we all look forward to and love… so much so, that this year we hope to take the kids again and head to Whitby on it, because it is THAT great!

 

The Ordinary Moments
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Yesterday we were invited down to Wheatley Shopping Centre in Doncaster to board a big red double decker bus, to meet Santa and participate in the festivities of writing and decorating a postcard to give to him. It was the first proper time the kids have been to see a Santa in a grotto and it was such a magical and lovely ordinary moment for our family!

Seeing Santa is an ordinary moment of most childhoods, and it is a moment in a small life that is filled with excitement and curiosity, wonderment and magic, and then for most kids – a little scary too! I remember as a child myself visiting Santa before Christmas in grotto’s and whilst feeling nervous my memories are mainly joy and fun. These are great memories and I always want to recreate similar for my own kids. But never in my day would we have had something so wonderful and as fun as seeing Santa on a big red bus!

Whilst my kids have had Santa visit them at school, they have never been to a grotto and never really believed that those Santa’s were real! Seeing Santa yesterday – aboard a Winter dressed bus, felt like a bit of pressure but also the perfect way to get them to embrace it and kick off Christmas time! Nathan and I loved the adventure as much as them and it was a wonderful memory to create together.

Everything about our visit felt magical and exciting – it was so festive and lovely! We were greeted by Santa’s elves and walked a red carpet to board the festive bus. Downstairs we sat at the tables and designed Christmassy post cards and wrote to Santa about what they would like him to bring them. With glitter and stickers everywhere it was perfect! Next we waited on the seats, before an elf helped us climb to top deck, where we entered a Winter wonderland with Santa sat at the end to greet us.

The kids LOVED it and said it was one of the best days! And we agreed that it was amazing. To them the magic was real as Santa knew so much about them … they marvelled at how he was the real thing sat there, knowing their ages and their names and being so kind and interested! They enjoyed talking with him and telling him how excited they were for Christmas and hoped he would bring them some Sylvanian families and a stunt camera. I loved how modest they were in their requests, how natural they felt speaking to him and how blumming excited they were to be there. Whilst Alice was VERY suspicious, Ethan and Megan were fascinated and embraced it all. Excited was certainly the word of the day – excited to have made a post card, be on a double decked bus, chat to the Elves and most excited to have finally met “the real Santa!”.

I loved the magic and family fun we had yesterday boarding Santa’s big red bus and meeting him together. An ordinary moment of Christmas that was a truly wonderful and magical way to kick off our Christmas celebrations this year!

If you are around Doncaster this weekend, (or not – it is worth travelling to for some free festive fun), then pop on over and share in the fun with your kids and embrace an opportunity to meet and chat with Santa Claus!

 

The Ordinary Moments

*This post is in collaboration with Wheatley Shopping Centre.

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Sometimes it is the spontaneous, and very ordinary outings we have, that become the ones that hold the moments we most treasure. And this was certainly true of our little adventure on Saturday.

We had various plans and things to do on Saturday, and yet at 1pm we found ourselves doing none of them, and instead heading up to Sewerby Park (over in Bridlington) for a nice walk and some family time. We decided with the weather being nice, that they could see the animals there, play on the park, and generally just enjoy a little wander together.


Up on the cliff tops and overlooking the bay, it is a place we have visited numerous times and love….An ordinary part of my childhood and now an ordinary part of theirs. A place full of lovely memories and ordinary moments, nature and beauty, and something for us all. Of course when they realised where we were they burst with excitement to be there!

 Alice however is a bit of newbie to Sewerby Park, and whilst she probably came with us as little baby on previous visits, she certainly wouldn’t have remembered or gotten much out of it. I found that this time it meant we had an opportunity to see it all with new eyes and see it from her perspective. The kids enjoyed pointing things out and coaxing her to see things they thought she would love! It started when I decided to let her out of the buggy to explore with her siblings, we were in no rush and I wanted to let her wander to see what she did – She wandered around, not after them, but on her own, and loved her new found freedom. It was so lovely to watch her, and then to watch them all together; Ethan and Megan trying so hard to coax her in to following them! It provided several moments I wanted to bottle up and treasure forever.

She wandered to the animals and shouted as if we’d never seen them before, and wandered with eyes wide, in awe at the sounds, the sky and the world around her. She wandered from pen to pen on a mission, with her little finger pointing as she went, and then so expressive as she peered in at the animals behind each fence…. “oooing” and “Ahhhhhing”!

She wandered her own way and at her own pace and I had no choice but to follow and allows her her independence.

 There is always something lovely about going to familiar places filled with wonderful memories, and these are made more when you can see and appreciate them with fresh eyes. It’s crazy to think how quickly time is going and how fast Alice is growing and changing. I feel we are now in this wandering stage… exploring all we can and taking in the sights and sounds of the world. It takes a little longer, but I love these moments when we can slow down and remember how great the ordinary stages and moments are. This little wanderer certainly brings so much to our lives and our family with each step she takes in a new direction, and with each new thing she points out to us.

The Ordinary Moments
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When I was little, and would have a sick day from school, I remember how snuggly it felt to lay on the sofa with my quilt at home with my mum whilst my sisters were at school. Almost as if by tradition, I would then enjoy (but not too much – I was sick!) a lovely warm bowl of tomato soup! I loved it, and from then on it has been a firm fave of mine. Whenever it was a soup day for lunch, I always opted for tomato whilst my older sister had the chicken, and now when I hear the Heinz Tomato Soup adverts I get all warm and fuzzy inside remembering how comforting those days were!

I have recently shared this little love with my own kids, and it was seen on our lunch menu a couple of times over half term, and for that reason I write this post about the ordinary moments of enjoying warming a bowl of tomato soup!

Megan was the first of my kids in a new generation to have a bowl of tomato soup on a sick day. Remembering how great I used to feel I wanted to pass that on in my parenting and hoped she would embrace it. She did, and much to my detriment I suppose, she spent the next few days saying she wanted to stay at home always because lunch is “sooooo yummy”! Of course Ethan never wants to miss out so I promised we’d have it for lunch during half term, and of course we did.

We’re not as fancy as to keep the Heinz tins in our cupboards, especially when Lidl have a rather tasty one for 30+ pence a tin, but it is most certainly a staple at this time of year. I absolutely love making my own soups (carrot and coriander is a speciality) but with the nostalgia and pure yuminess of it, there’s something wonderful about cracking open a tin of tomato soup and sharing it with your little ones. We love to dunk in some bread and butter, and then comes my favourite part – I love to see their little soupy moustaches and stained chins!

I love to remember those ordinary moments with my mum, or my sisters, and our family generally… enjoying a delicious bowl of tomato soup after a family hike or on a sick day. It is something so cheap, so simple and yet it is something I love and remember with fondness. I hope when my kids are grown and left home, they too will remember these small little ordinary moments (as well as the big ones), when we sat around the breakfast bar on a chilly Autumn half term day, dunking in our bread and enjoying tinned soup together!

 

The Ordinary Moments
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