Friday, 22 August 2014

The Laundry

I think I may have bought four shirts too many and forgot to budget space for our dirty laundry that needs to be brought home.

Am I glad or am I glad I do not have to do laundry during the Victorian Age?!

Someone else was as OCD as I am, if not more!


The washing equipment.

Helps to press water out, without wringing. How clever! Spin dry cycle, as I know it.

Drying racks hanging overhead complete with pulley.

Natural products.

Maybe I will try this at home.

Especially love this finishing touch.

Photos were taken at The Victorian Laundry Room, Beningbrough Hall. 

Yorkshire Museum

We adore the large, lush garden as previously mentioned of it being our usual hang out, run freely space with fresh air.

We now have another reason to add to why we live this children-friendly museum even more.

This summer, we discovered that at 1pm, some birds of prey have been brought closer than ever to children in the city. 

Lively repertoire by barn owl, kite and hawk with conservation workers/trainers present and applauding crowd of families with young children. 

We especially like how awareness is inculcated in the minds of young children so they may grow to respect natural habitat, reserve resources for healthy co-habitation with environment and generally consume less. 
If you happen to be in the vicinity (and Mummy needs to pop into the shops nearby), give this museum a go!

York Minster

The tallest building in the city, how can you miss this when in York?

We walk pass this delicately gorgeous giant almost every single day when we are here to get to the Yorkshire Museum Garden. 

Conservation work is active, with a workshop of artisan all obviously highly skilled working on every minute detail for 5 days a week. We, especially our kids, just adore how we can look at them work from a few feet away, far enough to be both safe and non-intrusive. 

Amazing, historical site. Do drop by if you are in the vicinity!

Beningbrough Hall

Shopping is not the only activity in York, do not let me mislead you into thinking that that is all there is to York.

In fact, York is full of touristy places to visit. 

Yesterday, we went to Beningbrough Hall. Walked its gardens, watched the cow graze, admired the grand house with all its exquisite contents, taken by surprise and marvelled at how tedious laundry process was then treated the kids to not one but two sessions at the playground, enjoyed lunch al fresco with buzzing bees, shopped at the quaint little souvenir store and vouch to return for seconds next time, in sha Allah!

If reading the above paragraph tires you out, imagine what sensorial overload it must have been for the little ones!

May I just suggest that you do not hurry when visiting this place. Be ready to spend at least 3 hours to have good cover of the entire estate. Have fun!

York Designer Outlet

Take three!!!

Our bargain hunting stops here, today, as we ready ourselves to pack and leave for Newcastle bright and early tomorrow.

All 4 of our luggages are bursting at their rims, expander zips loosened and some pre-loved items had to be donated to Oxfam to make space.

What did we buy exactly? Children's clothing. After the currency exchange rate, the amount we had paid for is still lower than what we would pay for back in Malaysia. Just doesn't make sense to me. Some of these clothing were produced in Malaysia and yet all we see are items made elsewhere being sold in Malaysia. How can we ever lower our carbon footprint if the textile and fashion industry won't change for the environment?

Kids grow so fast we stock up for their next one year. Every time we do this, it frees up my shopping time in Kuala Lumpur to focus on work/quality time with the kids.

But I digress.

Digressing further: Incidentally, the IGCSE results were announced today and my eldest nephew scored 10As, 1B. Some of the As were A plus! It will be hard to top this young chap. We foresee him going to Cambridge or Oxford, in sha Allah.

That all said, I bid you goodnight. I must finish up my packing and be off to catch some much needed sleep before the 2.5 hours drive up to Newcastle. 
Monday, 18 August 2014

Castle Museum

It was Sunday morning and shops normally open at 11 am. In order to fill our Sunday morning with some fun activities with the kids, we walked them to Castle Museum. 

What luck!

The Summer fanfare was set up on the field right at the front! 

A classic Victorian carousel! This little cart is the juke box, which we do not normally get to see, as the modern carousels operates without one (they use speakers, if you notice).

The Little Girl rode on a horse of her choice with me right next to her in another horse (a child under x height must be accompanied by a responsible adult) and we both had an awesomely happy time going round and round.

If you chance upon a carousel, do ride it, the experience is exhilarating and brings back memories of childhood past. Bless!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

York Designer Outlet

Take two! 

We all woke up bright and early today at 5.30 am as The Little Girl had a disturbing dream. Since our intended destination opens at 9am - 5pm on Saturdays, we drove to Fulford to arrive before 9.30 am for choice parking. We clocked in at 9.15am!

Lunch was fairly early at Wagamama by 10.45am before the crowd set in. Tea break was at Thornton's Cafe at 2.30pm.  We managed to drive back to York for Bombay Spice takeaway dinner by 6.30pm. 

There were mini drama episodes as Bean did 3 rounds of dirty nappies, and The Little Girl refused to leave the play area even after nearly two hours of obstacles courses, bouncy castle, ropes and slides...but all in all a good buying escapade with much bargains. 

Brownie point for the building owners/managers since our 2012 visit: refurbished parenting rooms (options for within male toilet, or within female toilet so dads can also bring kids to the toilet and leave the mums free to shop). 

Each parenting room now comes with drop down change table, roll of change liner sheet, seat, toddler toilet, adult toilet, sink and Dyson hand dryer, bun for dirty diaper and bin for sanitary waste, 3/4 length mirror and hook on door. Huge improvement from before!

Additional parking slots for parents with children scores another brownie point.

Bravo, York Designer Outlet!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Jorvik Viking Centre

The Little Girl totally enjoyed herself there today, learning about how the Danish Vikings invaded York and settled down to form a kingdom. 

The "train" ride with multiple choice for audio explanation made the display more believable, complete with smell!

Much to my surprise, Bean enjoyed the exhibits too! The clear glass looking into the dig, and train ride had him spellbound  as he was clearly taking it all in. 

All in all a good outing, and one that almost did not happen as we had to wait for quite a long list of little incidences today: Goji takeaway lunch, Friday prayers, Bean to awaken from his afternoon nap, the workmen who were coming to repair the leaky roof, a trip out to Sainsbury's and gray skies to clear.

In conclusion, when He Wills it, it is done. Syukur alhamdulillah! See below for the double emphasis of His Will be done (or what is not meant to be won't happen)

P/S: scored a gun colour Longchamp Backpack at Fenwick for £59. Bean now can have his little stash of clean diaper, wipes, water bottle and snack for short excursions! I had been hunting down this useful foldaway in KL for nearly a year, only to be told that they were sold out. Made in France. Total score?!

On the first day I was about to head out the door with this brand new backpack, the button came apart. A quick trudge to Fenwick and a £59 reimbursement later, bye bye Longchamp it was. 

On a high note, the kids were treated to a second round of Jorvik Viking Centre, thanks to proximity between the two places.
Friday, 15 August 2014

The London Zoo

The Grandparents surprised us with a morning at The London Zoo before checking out and hitching the train ride from King's Cross back to York.

I must mention having prepaid tickets for entrance to the zoo cut the queue time from 15 minutes to zilch for us. After the taxi dropped us off at the entrance, we joined the express lane and were ushered into the zoo right away, near the gorilla centre, reptile display and aquarium. Be sure to ask if you can have this arrangement, especially if keen on the zoo visit with young children who may not be the most patient/quiet people in a long queue (maybe it is just my kids, apologies then!).

Bean absolutely loved toddling everywhere with one hand support from one of us. 

The Little Girl enjoyed her excursion with doting grandparents without having to fight for their attention. She now knows competition from her 5 cousins! 

The weather was so good it only showered after we climbed safely into our taxi. Blue skies, white fluffy clouds, fresh air and breeze - masyaAllah!

To Mr. Hassan who drove us safely there and back, thank you. May Allah swt bless you and your family.

Legoland, Windsor Resort

We walked from Holiday Villa in Leinster Garden to Paddington Train Station, rode the train to Slough, changed for Windsor Eton Central, rode the Legoland Feeder Bus to destination then walked towards the entrance.

Results: very tired set of 3 parents with 6 overly excited/famished/thirsty young persons and a toddler screaming blue murder for milk!

Since we were divided as to points of interest, we broke into two groups and my little family stayed together, as our pace is more holiday making, less go go go!

Point to note: the baby change room and toilets are very near the entrance/exit. Go before entering the play/display area/shops; or else leave it till just before you leave. There were far and few within the park itself.

Halal/vegetarian salad bowls and sandwiches are available at Hill Top Cafe (the view from the picnic tables are breathtaking, panoramic of Windsor Castle, Heathrow Airport and London skyline!). Unfortunately, both my hands were full and too busy to capture a photo.

This picnic lunch was my personal highlight as I nursed Bean and held him during his nap while The Little Girl enjoyed the vista.

The traffic flow would have been better if it were a one way street to prevent buggy/stroller/pram congestion especially when the rain pours and everyone is scampering in all direction to find some shade.

The above is a photo of The Pirate Shore, comedy for the young and old alike. This was the only show The Little Girl managed to watch from start till end without having to stand in any queues. 

All the other queues were far too long. 20 minutes and above during summer is a little too unbearable for us.

Next time, in sha Allah, I will just book the hotel at Legoland Windsor Resort for convenience. Perhaps even consider the Legoland in Johor (if the sun doesn't kill me first!).

The better alternative and scenic option would be to book a hotel suite in Windsor, and take the Legoland Feeder Bus from across the street. One day of Legoland, one day of Windsor Castle Walkabout and leisurely shopping at the town square.

Extra proud of not buying more Lego sets to add to those we already have. Let creativity prevail with what we have because if every set is so limited to its theme, it defeats the purpose of creative building. Isn't creativity the core ethos of Lego?

In conclusion, syukur alhamdulillah for this gift of 3D2N break at London and Windsor. We had a fabulous time learning lessons we can keep for a lifetime. 

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Princess Diana Memorial Playground

The Little Girl had a blast! The five minute shower came and went, good old British weather as promised. 

Bean had a jolly good time too, playing within the limits of his mobility and skill set.

All in all, a wonderful spot in Kensington Gardens for little ones.

Point to note:
Security is excellent, evidently so as the guard bounced a man armed with iPhone camera without a child of his own. *insert roaring applaud here, we are all parents united against pedophiles stalking children, capturing their images and trading those images online*

The Other Half was so impressed with this single highlight he donated quite generously toward the upkeep of the park. Donation collection box is close to the exit/entrance near the open air cafe.

Coming up next: Legoland at Windsor, so sleep I must!!

Monday, 11 August 2014

Kings Cross Station, London

13 of us will be riding the train from York to London tomorrow, luggages and all. 

Wish us luck!

We will be putting up at Holiday Villa (Malaysian owned hotel, how loyal!) and the best part is halal food. 

Praying for journey mercies, good weather and safe travels. May our tickets never be lost and all little ones accounted for.

On a serious note, we are leaving Jemina the Puddle Duck to guard the flat in York. 

Looks like she is all cosy!


Cook Conveniently

Forget the pounding and grinding, herbs and paste in a tube is the way to go when cooking during a vacation!

Now I feel like bringing some home with me (sad case I am, truly!).

Do you have such moments during your holiday too? What would you have lugged home if it were possible?

Typically English

Narrow streets, cul-de-sac, small cars, brownstones, white window sills, heaters at windows, gravel, the list goes on.

My view while I sipped my cup of English tea at the window, taking in the view and fresh air.

I love moments like this: the feeling of home away from home. We are so blessed, syukur alhamdulillah. 

Gratitude: Summer Blooms

My £2 pot of joy. 

Lately, I find blessings and look for beauty everywhere I go, simply because it is much easier on myself this way.

Castle Howard

The vast grounds, lush vegetables and flower gardens. Big blue skies, fresh air and sunshine. 

All but 40 minutes' drive away from Earswick. 

Sometimes I do wish we live in York!

York Designer Outlet

I got 15 minutes to myself and so I went out to buy what I needed. 

I learnt that Timberland produces comfortable leather wedges, other than the boat loafers and trail sneakers that the brand is famous for.

I learnt that Fossil lamb leather purses are so buttery soft and the tannery has introduced vivid summery colours that can take my breath away without bankrupt-ing my own bank account.

Honestly, I now cannot wait for another 15 minutes to myself at the shops for such great bargains!

Here is how I got my 15 minutes:

That responsible adult would be The Other Half, who watched The Little Girl while she played under a large canopy. 

There is also a play area for the younger ones within the same enclosed, single gated play area:

What have you bought for yourself lately simply for self-reward? Please do share your great loot!

Also, please share location of your favourite designer outlet and shopping experience!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Good Old York, Good Old London

It always feels good to have that "we are home" fuzziness when in York.

This is The Little Girl's third trip, and a maiden trip for Bean. Both enjoy the big blue skies, wide open fields and fresh air very much. Syukur alhamdulillah for His Bounty.

When on family holidays, we live like the local would (laundry at the rented flat, groceries at Sainsbury's, cook our own meals) and York Designer Outlet shopping is as touristy as we get.

Next week, we will ride a train to London and back. We know for a fact that The Little Girl looks forward to Windsor Legoland! Personally it will be a bummer for me as Bichester is not on the programme but since I do not get any say in the programme, I will just have to go with the flow, look for blessings and find beauty the best I can.

Are all your family trips typically children-centric? How do you add some shopping hours in between? Please do share your useful tips!