Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Me & Mine {September}

Pinch, punch, it's the end of the month...again!

I have noticed a significant increase in the number of Christmas related posts appearing on social media which can only mean that we have well and truly entered autumn territory now.  I can hardly believe how quickly the year is racing by.  On the one hand, it is ten times better than last year but on the other, I wish that time would just slow down a teensy bit.

But onto the month of September; this month we have loved:-

* Going to London with my parents
* The start of the Rugby World Cup and British Bake Off (well, one out of four of us at least!)
* A last minute push from the warm weather meaning more trips to the beach.
* Meg finally getting a wobbly tooth.
* Family days out.

I love our photo this month.  We decided on a whim to spend the day in Liverpool down at Albert Docks and the weather just turned out beautifully.  We really couldn't have asked for more.  I'll be doing a proper post to share about some of the things we did but it was just one of those days when everybody behaved themselves (even the grown ups) and we just pottered around and had a great time together.  

I grabbed a poor member of staff to take this photo and after a very lengthy explanation of how my camera worked and several shots of his feet we finally got there.  It really is the memories which make a picture don't you think?

dear beautiful

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

A Family Weekend in London

Over the August bank holiday we visited London with my parents for a weekend break.  Prior to moving 'up norf' we had been to London a fair bit but it's a 6 hour journey for us now; not so easy to do!

I wanted to share about our trip with you but in particular to focus on what we found worked for us as a family with two young children.  As usual I have also put together a little video of our time so if you want to skip ahead you'll find it at the end of the post.  

We aren't experts by any stretch of the imagination but here goes...

This trip was our first time using Airbnb and we stayed in the most beautiful house in Crystal Palace; for a fraction of the price it would have cost us to find a hotel suitable for 6 people.  Honestly, we walked through the door and my mum just turned to look at me.  She knew how much my jaw would be hitting the floor with envy.  It was so knick-knacky and shabby chic but in that way which is authentic and seems to really work.

I'd have happily not left again at the end of the weekend.  The hosts were lovely too and I was overall really pleased with our first Airbnb experience; I'll definitely be looking to use the app again in future.

Being a little bit out of the city centre was a concern at first but it wasn't too bad; we were about 20 minutes away from the nearest train station and then it was approximately half an hour to get into Central London.  The only downside was on Saturday night when we tried to get back home, the weather was appalling which we couldn't have predicted and involved a very wearisome and wet trek up a hill.  It forced our hand the next day and we actually drove into Greenwich and parked rather than face another long walk.

Open Bus Tour
My parents suggested this and it was a great decision.  We knew that we wanted to get some serious sightseeing done but needed to limit the amount of walking as neither Meg nor Eli would have managed a full day trekking around the city.  There are oodles of companies who offer hop-on, hop-off open bus tours around the city and they are a great way to see landmarks and attractions at your own pace.

When the weather turned sour (which it had by the afternoon of day one) we could simply stay on the bus and play spot the landmark.  Although Meg and Eli really enjoyed going on the tube, they loved being on the bus and being able to see the city all around them.  I would say that this was definitely worth the money we paid.

River Bus
On Sunday we ventured to Greenwich, in particular because of the attractions but we also decided to take a River Bus whilst we were there.  A short boat ride on the Thames was included with our open bus tour but we decided to board a clipper as the journey was longer and offered more for us to see.

It was a real shame that the weather was so overcast as otherwise this would have been fantastic but it was still a great and alternative way to see the city's landmarks such as the London Eye and Big Ben and the kids loved it.  It wasn't a designated tour boat, just a regular Thames Clipper river bus so was a fraction of the price but still a really worthwhile trip.

The main reason for us visiting London was so that Meg could see where the Queen lives; so we pretty much knew that Buckingham Palace had to feature on our list.  As well as that, part of my day job is spent writing tourist pieces for London accommodation websites so I already had a rough idea of the attractions which would be good for us to visit.  It would have been almost impossible for us to get everything done, having a 4 and a 6 year old in tow just isn't conducive to getting as much seen as possible so we tried to keep things simple. 

On Saturday we stuck to the major sights and went to Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London (to see the Crown Jewels of course).

The Tower of London was the most expensive element of the weekend and was a last minute decision.  We literally stepped off the bus onto Tower Bridge, saw the Tower of London in the distance and decided to go, something I know is always a daft thing to do!!  

I don't know who was more excited about having their photo taken here, Meg or my mum!

Although Meg really enjoyed seeing the crown jewels and there was a wonderful am-dram performance (see the video below) which really captivated them, I don't think it was worth the money.  We didn't have time to spend all day exploring each element so we really only scratched the surface.  

It felt like we saw a lot of armour and not really much else although I have been before minus the kids and really enjoyed the day.  I think we needed more time to dedicate to it but we had also booked tickets for the London Eye as this was something Eli wanted to do so we were trying to make sure we had time to get back across the city for that.

Once on the London Eye, it was a shame that the weather was so terrible as visibility was massively reduced (I am also incredibly afraid of heights so can't say I am the best judge) but both Meg and Eli and everyone else really enjoyed it.  I'd also say go along to the 4D experience which is included in your tickets.  We were all really surprised by how much we enjoyed it.

On Sunday we headed up to Greenwich as I had a hankering to try out the market and to see some of the sights including Cutty Sark and the National Maritime Museum.

The National Maritime Museum was absolutely amazing for the kids.  The 'Ahoy' section they have is just wonderful and Meg and Eli could happily have spent hours just discovering all the different interactive elements.  It wasn't too busy either which was good.

We wandered around the museum and had a look at some of the other objects and exhibitions before we headed down to Greenwich Pier where we caught the tail-end of the Tall Boats Festival before we got on the clipper as mentioned above.

Whilst on the clipper we got to see the Tower Bridge 'up' which was a nice little extra and not something you get to see every time you are in the city.

After our boat tour we went to Goddards at Greenwich for their famous Pie & Mash combination (minus the eels) before heading back to our cars and setting off for home.

Both days were really full on even though we actually didn't see that much.  I can't imagine trying to fit any more in though; I was completely worn out, never mind the kids!

Overall we had a fantastic time although I wish the sun had been shining just a little bit more.  We will definitely be planning a return in order to see some of the other attractions and landmarks we didn't get around to visiting this time; there's just so much to see and do that to fit it all into one weekend is really quite an impossible task!

Packing my Suitcase

For the Stationery Lovers...

I have a not so small obsession with all things stationery related; I can't walk past a store without popping my head in to see whether there's anything new and my stash of unused notebooks is unbelievable (although I am getting better at this!) as well as my collection of notecards which I keep saying I will get framed 'one' day...

I love everything about stationery, from the feel of the paper in your hand, to that delightful sound when you open a notebook for the first time and smooth down the you can imagine how much I fell in love with the idea of a monthly stationery subscription box from HoneyTreePost.  

There are two subscription services available; The Stationery Lover's Club and Young Honey Tree for little people who are also stationery fans.  HoneyTreePost sent me out their Stationery Lover's Club box for October and asked me to review the contents and share my thoughts.

So what exactly did October's box contain?

As you can see there is a large selection of items, from gift tags to postcards.  I am looking forward to using the writing paper for my existing penpal project as well.

My favourite item from within the box is the satchel print without a doubt; I've already found a place for it on my study wall.

As you can see the greeting cards included are very much in keeping with the season with the pumpkins, cauldrons and black cat.

I loved the contents of the box and I can really see myself making use of each piece.  We have a bonfire party coming up which will definitely call for some autumnal cards, for example and I love that it gives me an excuse to send a friend a card or a postcard, just because.

How does it work?
HoneyTreePost promise that each month you will receive no less than 7 stationery items with a collective retail value of £30 or more.  Each of these items will be designed exclusively for HoneyTreePost by a leading UK stationer and will always include a print so you could gradually build up a collection for display if you wished.

Each month the contents will change to reflect the time or year and season, as you will see from October's box which had a very autumnal and Halloween-esque style to the contents.

Boxes are shipped each month on or before the 15th to anyone who has signed up before the 5th of the month.

Better yet, HoneyTreePost donate £1 from every subscription to Post Pals; a charity which focuses on brightening the lives of poorly children by sending them a gift, a card or a letter so you can be confident that your monthly subscription is also going towards a good cause.

How much does it cost?
The cost implications depend entirely on the length of the subscription you sign up for.  The longer you sign up for, the lower the cost of each box.  A single month is £15 a box, a 3 month subscription is £13.50 a box, 6 months is £12 per box and a 12 month subscription is just £10.50 a box.

Is it worth it?
Having been caught out by monthly subscription boxes before I have to admit that this is something I have thought carefully about.  If you were to make use of each item contained within the box then it would certainly be value for money compared with buying each item individually.  Consider how many cards you buy a month and you will probably find that it's cheaper to sign up to HoneyTreePost.  Not to mention the excitement which will inevitably come with receiving a box through the letterbox each month; I think I may actually add the subscription service to my Christmas list!

If there was a month when I didn't really like some of the items (which I'm sure will happen at some point) then I'd have to make the decision to use them regardless, or pass them onto someone who could make use of them otherwise yes, it does become a waste of the money you have paid into the subscription.  If you are willing to do that and judging by the quality of this month's items however, I think it does represent good value for money, especially for anyone who has a real love of stationery.

What do you think of the idea of a monthly stationery subscription service?  Perhaps you know someone who would appreciate this as a gift?

Why not try a box out for yourself?  If you are quick you can get 50% off your first month's order, if you use the code HTP50 before midnight on the 30th September.

I was sent a HoneyTreePost box free of charge for the purpose of this review; however all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Monday, 28 September 2015

There She Flies...

It's been a while since I've written a post which falls into the proud mama category of the blog but I'm afraid I make no apology today for doing it!

I will admit that when Meg started school this year I didn't have too many concerns; if any really.  She has always been a social butterfly and is able to make friends in the most unlikely of places, she has a good solid core of children she plays with at school and her reports are generally that she is a bright and capable child.  The only thing I wondered about was whether she would mind Eli being at school with her and even that turned out to be a foundless worry.

Of course the trouble with the fact that she just tends to tick along nicely is that it can be so easy to forget to give her praise, or see where she is doing well.  I learned long ago not to ask too many questions when she comes out of school; I am usually met with the grunts of a brain which is worn out and she needs a bit of time to recharge before I can bombard her with 'how was your day?'  'what did you do?' and the like.  Generally teatime is the best moment for this and I can eke out information on whether it was a good day, who she played with and so on.

Clearly though I haven't been asking the right questions because I discovered in a roundabout way that she is actually doing very well at school and is even working to a higher level than the other children in her class on some subjects.  When I asked her outright about it she shrugged her shoulders and said 'yeah that's right.'

I wanted to scream out when she was so nonchalant about it all; is that my fault?  Have I not praised her enough, endorsed her enough, told her that she should shout about her achievements?!

I think we have just come to accept that she is good at school and as such we don't really pay too much attention to what goes on.  We listen to her read, and we sit with her whilst she does her homework but we know that she can do it, if that makes sense?  If she was struggling with something we would make extra time to help her, and I felt a real challenge to make extra time to tell her how well she is doing and to encourage her to keep going.  The trouble with just getting on with things is that you often fall through the cracks with people noticing the ones who aren't doing so well and this is going to be all the more prevalent at home now that we are also having to sit each night with Eli and help him with his phonics.

I know for a fact that she gets plenty of praise and encouragement at school; just recently she received a headteacher's award so I am in no way criticising school, more myself!

My little girl is flying and I forgot to look up.

I am so proud of her and how well she has taken to school; from when we first moved here to now she has come on such a long way and even a subject that we were told she was struggling in last year is now one in which she is excelling.

So Meg, this mama is very, very proud of you and I promise that I will tell you as often as you can stand it.  Well done beautiful girl.

Mummy xx

Friday, 25 September 2015

A Wobbly Tooth, Hidden Hearts and a Big Move...#LittleLoves

Another week under our belts and here's something to cheer you up this Friday: it's only 4 weeks until half term!  The novelty of being at school has certainly begun to wear off for Eli and we've had a few tears shed over it not being the weekend but yet another day at school.  I might start a 'Countdown to Half Term' chart with him next week; anything to help the mornings run a little smoother!

I stumbled across this blog post from Make A Long Story Short and it really resonated with me.  I've had numerous conversations with friends in the playground since the school term started about what has taken over our children; more recently after Meg's teacher pulled me aside one afternoon and said how well she thought Meg had settled in and how mature she was etc, approximately 5 minutes before she had a major meltdown in the car over Eli looking at her funny *sigh*  But I love the blog post and it is so true that we are the place our children feel safest and we should feel honoured, even if it sometimes make us want to rock slowly in a corner!! 

I saw this mash up video on Facebook earlier in the week; usually I give these a miss as it often feels like a repetition of stuff we've seen before especially when it comes to Uptown Funk but I was intrigued by the concept of some of the most famous dance scenes from films being included so I gave it a whirl...let me know what you think.

I picked up some really cute pieces for the kids this week in the F&F sale.  Sometimes I wish I was a little bit smaller so I could squeeze into some of the girl's stuff I buy for Meg; and how awesome are the superhero trousers?  I had to prise these away from Eli so I could wash them after he'd worn them 4 days in a row.

The constant background sound of Meg flicking her first wobbly tooth.  This is BIG news in our house as she is the last person in her class to have a wobbly tooth and her best friend lost a tooth this week so Meg has been feeling a little bit hard done to.  I have been fielding questions about when it will be her turn to have a loose tooth for weeks so to hear her excited squeals when she realised she finally had one was a sweet relief.

One of my greatest memories from being at school are the days when my mum wasn't at work and we'd come home to the smell of freshly baked cakes. They were my favourite days and I wanted to give Meg and Eli the same memories so I tried my hand at making some hidden heart cupcakes this week.  Unfortunately they didn't quite work as the hearts rose too much and ended up sticking out of the top of the cakes and I had to cover them up with chocolate but they tasted pretty good.  Nobody seemed to notice the random chocolate blob in the centre either!

And Lastly...
Some more big family news this week is that we are going to be moving house.  Despite thinking that we were going to be able to rent this house long term, the owners have decided to sell so we are having to move.  Houses don't come up for rent very often in the village so it's a relief that we have found not only one which is big enough but also better.  Hopefully this one is for keeps, at least until we are ready to buy our own.


Thursday, 24 September 2015

My Reads : The Bumper A-Z Edition

With summer just swallowing everything in sight up, including my time, I didn't actually feel like I had gotten much reading done over the last few months.  Then I checked my Goodreads account and realised that actually, since the end of June, I had read 12 books.  Which isn't bad going!

I was then super slow to upload any reviews (I don't have a ready made excuse for that) so this is a sort of catch up edition where I'll share my thoughts on the books I've read for my A-Z challenge:-

The Quiet Game by Greg Iles
I started this book towards the end of June and I have to say I absolutely loved it.  So much so that I packed it when we went to France at the end of July so I could share it with my mother in law.  I think I said at the time it was more like an action packed John Grisham with less lawyerly talk thrown in to confuse us mere mortals.  The book is part of a series Greg Iles has written about lawyer Penn Cage who moves back to his hometown of Natchez in the Deep South after the death of his wife.  Penn discovers his father, a long serving doctor in the community is being blackmailed about his involvement in an unsolved murder case from 1968.  The book is fast paced, diverse and interesting.  Definitely recommend it for anyone who likes legal thrillers.
Star rating: ****

The Dandelion Years by Erica James
Tragedy, love and friendship; these are the major themes of this book which is about Saskia, a book restorer who lives with her father and two grandfathers following a family accident which shattered all of their lives.  Saskia wants to live a quiet, peaceful and risk-free life but one day she discovers a notebook carefully concealed inside a Bible, and she stumbles upon a wonderful and heart-wrenching tale of wartime love and sacrifice.  

I really enjoyed this story; I hadn't come across Erica James before and I liked her writing style although I did find some of it to be a little repetitive.  I thought she managed to weave the two stories: past and present very well and I loved that the wartime story was set in Bletchley Park, a side of the war I find very intriguing.  I wish there had been a little bit more of that in the story to be honest!
Star rating: ***

Fallen (Fallen #1) by Lauren Kate
I picked this up as I was looking for a good book for my K and I also fancied some YA to boot.  17 year old Lucinda is sent to a reform school after being involved in a mysterious accident; she meets and instantly falls for Daniel, only to discover that Daniel is in fact a fallen angel and that both Lucinda and Daniel have spent a lifetime crossing each other's paths and falling in love only to be separated once again.

I really wanted to like this story but I just thought it was lacking...a story.  It isn't often I give a book a bad review but I got the impression that Lauren Kate had an idea for a series of books about a war between angels and fallen angels and was told she needed a back story before she could get into the meaty part so came up with this.  There were too many plot holes, and the main character was just so hopeless as to be instantly dislikeable.  Perhaps if I was actually a young person and I wanted something easy to breeze through then this would appeal but it just didn't appeal to me, unfortunately.
Star rating: **

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
In all the hype about Harper Lee's latest book I realised that I had never actually read the first so it seemed like the perfect choice for my L.  Set in the 1930's the story deals with hard hitting issues such as rape and racial inequality but through the eyes of a child, a young girl called Scout.  Scout's father Atticus Finch is appointed to defend a young black man accused of raping a white girl and we follow the story, the impact it has on the town, the lines people are willing to cross, and how help can come from the most unexpected of places.  I thought Harper Lee wrote wonderfully and I raced through the book, desperate to get to the end and yet not wanting the story to finish.  
Star rating: *****

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
This was another book which I had long wanted to read and yet had sat on my 'TBR' pile for far too long so I made the most of needing an M and gave it a whirl.  It is the memoirs of Frank McCourt who was born in Brooklyn during the depression before being taken to Ireland in his early childhood.  Frank's father was a drunk and struggled to hold down any work; any work he did get he quickly spent the wages on drink, so his family were constantly stuck in a desperate cycle of poverty.  It is an utterly heartbreaking story of the misery so many families faced in the slums of Limerick (and elsewhere) and how one little boy was forced to come of age really before his time in order to be a man of the house and how Frank overcame a situation full of desperation, starvation and neglect on the part of his father.  I found this a really fascinating read, despite being quite hard in some places.  I would recommend reading with an open mind and trying to remember that this is being told through the eyes a young boy on the verge of manhood.
Star rating: ***

Have you read anything good lately?  Leave me a comment and let me know.  I love hearing other people's recommendations!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Tops Tip For Working From Home

Over the summer I shared my first post in my writing series, 'How To Beat Writer's Block'...something I think every writer suffers with now and then but today I wanted to share a slightly more generic post on how to make the most out of working from home.

I don't think it would be wrong to say that there has been an increase in the number of parents who work from home; it allow flexibility with hours, school holidays and just generally being able to be there for children.  Meg starting school was certainly what prompted me to start my freelance writing business and whilst it sometimes feels like I never actually get any work done because I'm just constantly ferrying children from A to B it has also been a real blessing with not having to worry that I won't be able to be there to pick them up, or that we will need to find childcare for the six week summer holidays.

However, that does mean that the hours when I am meant to be working I need to be ON IT.  Which isn't always easy when there is a pile of washing calling my name or Season Two of Rookie Blue...

Which is what has prompted me to write this post; so whether you are designing a new logo, writing an essay or simply want to be more effective in your home, these are my tried and tested tips:-

Pretend you're going to work in an office
Something I hear a lot when people learn I work from home is 'oh, you must love working in your pyjamas' ... whilst I certainly don't have to don my three piece work suit every morning, sitting around in lounge clothes doesn't really put me in the mood for cracking on and getting work done.  Having children certainly helps as I have to get up and out but when I get home it is all too tempting to put work off for just that one episode...don't do it!

Get dressed, make yourself a drink and sit down at your working space.  It's the best way to convince your brain that now is the time to switch on and work.  

Have a plan
You need to have a plan of exactly what you want to achieve that day.  For me it only works if I have every detail written down; that means how many articles I want to get written, whether I want to do a load of washing, when I'm going to stop for lunch etc but you can be as detailed or as vague as you want.  For me it helps me to keep on top of my work load so that if I have an unexpected interruption I know where I left off and if things need to be moved around I can do that with ease.

Have a designated working space
I mentioned this in my last post but I'm bringing it up again because I think it is so key to working productively at home.  Not everyone can have a home office, I understand that, but if you are going to be working from home on a regular basis then make sure you have a designated work space.  Not only will this keep you organised and you won't lose vital bits of information but sitting down at your work space will also help you stay focussed; as opposed to working with your laptop on your knee in front of the television (I've done this too...)

Get out and about
The one thing you really miss when you work from home is interaction with other people; you don't have co-workers to have a quick gab with over a tea break and it can get quite lonely.  In the early days I would end up in coffee shops with my laptop which proved quite expensive so now I try and head out just once a week which is much more manageable.  The great thing about it is that I feel as though I'm surrounded by co-workers and I can end up being much more productive.  If your work doesn't allow you to get out of the house or for whatever reason it just isn't convenient then why not have the radio on instead?  Believe me, there's nothing worse than sitting and working in silence for 5 hours straight...

Minimise distractions
Social media, your mobile, that 'must read' article you've been meaning to get to, knocks on the door...these can all rapidly eat into your vital working time.  Put your phone to one side, don't open up any websites that are not related to work and resist the temptation to answer the door every time it goes (let's face it, if you were working in an office you wouldn't be around to answer the door in the first place...)  It's amazing how much time can be wasted just by taking a 'few' minutes to scroll through your Facebook timeline.

Take breaks
It is absolutely vital for brain function to take regular breaks.  Although you may have that huge deadline looming but if you don't set aside time for a regular break you will find that you actually become less and less productive as time goes on.  Recent research has shown that the ideal break time is around 20 minutes for every hour spent working.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Family Day Out: Speke Hall, Liverpool

Earlier in the year we decided to take the plunge and become National Trust members.  We had been umming and ahhing about it ever since we moved up north because our local beach is owned by the NT and it costs us £5 to park each time we go (which is at least twice a month) ... so in the end it just made more sense to plump up for the membership.

Of course this also means that we have a wealth of other properties to explore and in an attempt to convince James that signing ourselves away was the right idea I have been trying to take the kids out and make the most of it.

So this week I am sharing with you our visit to Speke Hall in Liverpool.

Speke Hall itself is a timber framed Tudor mansion but the site is made up of more than just the building.  There is also an outdoor maze, gardens, woodland walks and a playground to keep everyone entertained.

We drove up the long winding path and parked in the car park which was very straightforward; catching glimpses of the distinctive black and white building on our way up. 

When you have passed through reception you arrive firstly at the maze which Meg and Eli were incredibly keen to test out.

The maze is Victorian themed with high hedges, wrought iron gates and bridges (which are very useful for regaining your sense of direction if you find yourself a bit lost!).  It really is a proper maze, and can be quite disorientating; Meg and Eli took off like whippets so I was very thankful for the bridges which meant I could keep an eye on them from above.  The great thing about the maze is that the gates can be moved meaning the maze could be entirely altered from one visit to the next.

The Hall is situated on the banks of the River Mersey and there are some great views over the water; there is also a private airstrip nearby and you can watch the planes coming down which Eli thought was amazing.

Once we'd finished playing in the maze it was time for lunch and we opted to eat at the Stable Tea Room which was just next to the maze.  The team room sold light snacks and refreshments and I thought the prices were very reasonable; it cost us around £15 for two children's boxes (sandwich, crisps, fruit/treat and a drink), an adult sandwich and a pasty and two drinks.  There were tables inside and outside so as the day was nice we sat outside and watched the planes descending for Liverpool John Lennon airport.

After lunch we headed up the path to the house itself passing through the Kitchen Garden en route.  I am always surprised how much Meg and Eli enjoy these spaces; they like to smell the different herbs and have a guess at what you might use them for.  

As usual I was busy taking photos of bumblebees!

Then it was time for the prepared to duck through the very small doorway to get inside!  We were asked to leave our bags in the cloakroom and Meg and Eli were given a little quiz to complete as they walked around.  This is something I think the National Trust do very well and it always engages Meg and Eli rather than them just wanting to tear around the place.

We found all the staff to be very patient and happy to help us answer the questions; some were quite difficult.  Honestly, even for me and my mother in law!

One thing we did find was the part of the house was closed off for the day due to a wedding; it might be worth checking in advance if anything is taking place on the day of your visit as this was a bit frustrating especially as none of the signage saying 'this way' had been taken down so many people were met with a locked door and a sense of confusion.

After the confines of the house we headed out into the gardens and made our way to the adventure playground which is situated in the woodland.  Here there was a zipwire, some small tudoresque houses which had climbing walls on the side, den building and plenty of tree trunks to jump across.

There is another playground next to the maze which I think is better for younger children; although Meg and Eli enjoyed the zipwire there wasn't much else for them to do in this area and they quickly tired.

So after a short play we headed back to grab an ice cream before heading home.

Overall thoughts:-

* The outside areas are fantastic for children.
* The house in fascinating but less suitable for younger children, even with the added bonus of the quiz we had to keep moving at a fair pace.
* There is an extended walk around the estate we didn't attempt which would be quite nice to do on a return visit.
* Staff were great.

Speke Hall is in Liverpool, UK
Entry prices: Free for National Trust members / Adult: £10.50 / Child: £5.25 / Family: £26.25