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Less Spontaneity More Organisation {Charlotte}

Author: Charlotte O'Shea

In January we went to The Kings Head in Cirencester. By ‘we” I mean James, Mabel and I. We had a thoroughly lovely mini break with delicious food, a giant bed and one of the most impressive hotel bathrooms I’ve ever experienced.

Mabel (literally) slept like a baby in the provided travel cot so it meant James and I could enjoy a glass of wine (ahem, or two) whilst retiring early for a long soak in the tub and a movie-in-bed.

This little adventure was supposed to be the beginning of our 2016 plan to organise at least one “outing” every month. We got as far as February and then well, life got in the way. James and I have always been a bit fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants in terms of most things. Some might call it disorganised, I like to romanticise it and think of it more as…spontaneous.

Since we’ve had a daughter we simply can’t just take off in the car and go any old place of a weekend. Turns out shops and bars and an afternoon cinema trip are not particularly popular, or necessarily appropriate, for a two year old. Instead we find ourselves most Friday nights like a pair of rabbits caught in headlights wondering what we should do the following day. Of course we have events in the diary, birthdays, weddings, extended family outings and coffee with friends who also have children of a similar age and whatnot. I mean more what to do us three – as a family, just us.

I must admit with the arrival of summer (I use the term “summer” loosely obviously) we’ve upped our game somewhat. Last weekend we attended a local fete, next Sunday we’ve arranged to go for lunch in our favourite pub followed by a music festival they have in the park opposite and we’ve booked tickets for Jamie Oliver’s The Big Feastival in August.

In our day to day working lives we are far more regimented, I have a colour coded online calendar for Rock My Style and Rock My Wedding commitments which James and I share so we know who’s going to be working late and when, if I have an early morning pilates class, when he’s playing golf and other important (!) activities like that.

When it comes to the weekends though…it’s mostly blank. Now I know it’s lovely to just have “nothing” planned once in a while, but we’re beginning to realise we need to become a little less bohemian in our attitude towards entertaining ourselves, not least because the more Mabel progresses, the more easily bored she becomes. If we spend a lot of time in the house we do tend to one of us look after Mabel, whilst the other gets on with chores. And that’s no fun on a Saturday afternoon or a pleasant way to spend time together.

We do have family membership to National Trust which has been a godsend – we went on a lovely little picnic to Baddesley Clinton on Sunday. Do let me know if there are any National Trust places you would heartily recommend we visit over the coming months, we’ve exhausted the very local ones to us.

What do you do of a weekend? How do you plan in advance? Are there any websites you use to find out what’s happening in your local (ish) area? Are you put off venturing too far due to the rubbish and rather changeable weather of late? (I think maybe James and I just need to grow a pair when it comes to rain, and invest in decent wellies and a cagoule)

P.S If you’re looking for a mini break in The Cotswolds then make sure you have a butchers at The Kings Head, it’s a lovely warm and family friendly yet decidedly luxe hotel with lots to see and do in the surrounding area.

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23 thoughts on “Less Spontaneity More Organisation {Charlotte}

  1. We stayed at the Kings Head last month as part of our honeymoon in the Cotswolds – totally agree about the bathrooms, I went photo crazy ready for when we eventually re-do ours! Lovely hotel, Roger Moore was staying there too so we’ve obviously got good taste 😉 x

    1. Oh get you! James Bond and everything! We are totally copying the shower from our room for our new house – it was amazing xx

  2. I feel this! You spend the weekend ironing and garden sorting and child wrangling and all of a sudden it’s gone.

    Some weekends are easy and fun as you’ve committed to things or something is on very locally- bake sale, village fair, sports event. And in the winter there is rugby, which takes over Saturdays as we watch Daddy get filthy and bruised. But we really need to sort ourselves out and make some fun outings happen, not just look out of the window and panic.

    1. Exactly the same Lucy, and often because we have a few weekends in a row with commitments we kind of “forget” about the rest of the month then it’s like…erm…..

      And usually the weather is awful! xx

  3. We go for a weekend once a month. The other weekends we have a list of things we want to do and work through them.

    Air B n B are great as you only need to stay the one night and you often, if you look hard enough, can find one with a living area to relax once toddler is in bed. We just got back from Rye. Travelled down Saturday – strawberry picking, a wander around Rye, dinner at the George and then the beach and sandy fish and chips on Sunday.

    I’ve romanticised the idea of camping although my husband wants to try glamping first. That should make weekends away much easier.

    Tesco Clubcard vouchers are brilliant. We’ve had loads of days out for free with those meaning we can stay over, have a lovely weekend and travel back slowly the next day.

    I’d also disagree on how portable toddlers are and actually, we find it easier to be spontaneous and find impromptu places to stay overnight. We usually have a spare change of clothes in the bag for her, a few extra nappies and most places have a travelcot. Job done. I’d totally recommend it. This month we’re in North Yorkshire on our booked weekend, sneaking in a long weekend in Norfolk and next month is Oxford.

    1. Oh Rebecca this sounds perfect! I’ll definitely take on board some of your advice. Still yet to try Air B&B, but MUST get onto it.

      We have talked about camping….I’m still not convinced (!) I just don’t think Mabel would ever go to sleep! x

      1. Definitely recommend AirBnB for impromptu toddler friendly weekends away. You can often find somewhere for the following weekend, there’s often not a minimum stay and many come with travel cots and highchairs. We’ve found some gorgeous and good value spots all over the uk; Aldeburgh, Broadstairs, Norfolk, Shropshire, Bath, Dorset. We normally treat ourselves to a two bed place so we don’t have to sneak in to bed and try and get ready in the dark but there’s also the added bonus of a living area, your own kitchen for 6am breakfasts and sometimes even a garden/courtyard to run about in.

        1. Martha I’m sold, I’m assuming you can find places that aren’t too expensive – I have said to James recently we spend too much one two holidays a year where as we could have one spendy break, and then more smaller getaways throughout the year. Which I would prefer personally.

          I’m yet to go to Norfolk – I’ve heard it’s beautiful xx

      2. This is the Air B n B place we stayed at in Rye. They’ve actually just put a kitchen in too (after we stayed). The photos don’t even do it justice. The George is lovely for dinner but their rooms aren’t big enough for a travel cot and they don’t do one night stays but I would recommend them for dinner.
        https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/8299081?s=1m-Wn5CZ

        This place is also highly recommended in Norfolk. You get chocolate chip shortbread on your PILLOW at night shaped like a MOON for Goodness sake. And you know, the chance of hanging out with George and Charlotte:
        http://www.byfords.org.uk/

        We have often just stayed at Premier Inn’s overnight too – at £35 per night they aren’t very instagrammable unfortunately but they are always clean, the beds are comfortable and they always have a travel cot.

        We’re in London so I’ll admit that it is easier to do other stuff on odd days and there are plenty of “things to do in London” lists. But we’ve taken our toddler (20 months) to all the museums and stuff – people assume they aren’t for toddlers but they usually have a central arboretum space, gardens to play in and stairs to climb. Plus you can usually find some butterflies in a cabinet somewhere. Other easy “it’ll only take an hour or so pre nap” summer activities are:
        1. Strawberry picking
        2. Lavender Farm
        3. RSPB reserve – similar to National Trust in that there is often a decent café, clean loos and a playground.

        Our rule is an hour and under and we’ll do the day trip – two hours and we stay overnight.

        1. That’s a good rule to have, Mabel isn’t a great traveller after an hour and everything we’ve tried to entertain her during the journey has resulted in her being car sick unfortunately.

          As a company we often stay in the Premier Inn – they are indeed very clean and tidy and at least you know what to expect. I’ve been disappointed with many a “boutique” hotel that’s ended up being a bit shabby and in need of some Dettol.

          I’ll check out RSPB, thanks for the tip!

  4. For a Midlands based national trust try Caulke Abbey. It was owned by a family of hoarders (for lack of a better word) and is referred to as an unstately home. Very interesting place.

  5. Wow – I can’t get over how amazing the Kings Head looks! I grew up in Cirencester & my sister was a breakfast waitress at the hotel as a teen – it was pretty crummy back then!! Looks totally amazing now!
    We’ve got 3 kids and I spend alot of time on planning & scheduling – I currently have a summer holiday schedule on my wall onto which we will write daily activities / plans / trips etc for the loooong school holidays. I find the kids are so much better if they know what they’re doing – even if a day is marked as ‘chill out at home’, they know we’re staying in and everyone seems so much more relaxed. It can be tricky with a pre-schooler, but i’d suggest starting with a weekly Saturday trip to the local library (kids love a library – all that trying to be quiet lark) followed by a brunch trip (child easily entertained with fresh library books). Our library has masses of leaflets in the kids area about family friendly stuff going on – defo worth checking out. Oh, plus treat yourself (& Mabel!) to some matching pink Hunter wellies and the rain will never put you off again 😉

    1. Nicola I’m down with the matching pink Hunter wellies!

      Gosh 3 kids, you deserve a medal. I need to investigate this library situation, we don’t have one “local” as such but I know there is one in the nearest town. When Mabel was a baby I heard they did sensory classes/story time etc but I never seemed to make the effort to go along.

      Funnily enough we discussed school holidays at the weekend, as in “so then, how are we going to cover 6 weeks when the kids are off school…” !! x

  6. My friend gave me a great idea. In January you get a pot and write down on bits of paper everything you want to do in the year from going for a walk in the woods to going to soft play and holidays and weekends away. When you want to do something then we just pull a piece of paper out of the jar and do that on that day or weekend. We then have a memory jar where we bring something back from a trip and add it to the jar so we can look back bad see what we’ve done. It might just be a leaf or a ticket stub but our 3 yr old loves collecting them and sometimes we talk about the memories attached to each one which is sweet and good for his recall.

    I also subscribe to groups on Facebook.. Mums in Newcastle and Mums in Durham.. Which give you loads of ideas of things to do. Im sure there will be one near you if you search for it. We went to Geronimo at Tatton Park this year and that is def worth putting on the list for next year. Lots of CBeebies fun for littlies and a prosecco van!!!

    1. Jane what a wonderful idea! Randomly my husband used to work at Tatton park when he was doing his A-levels, he worked in the ice-cream shop (!)

      I’m crap at my personal Facebook but I will definitely make the effort to see if there is a local group, thanks for the tips xx

  7. We’re still grappling with ditching our spontaneous ways now we have a three year old and a 17 month old to (attempt to) organise as well as ourselves. We can’t quite let go of our craving for a seat of our pants style of living and are clinging to it for dear life. However, when we do succeed in making a crazily disorganised impulsive day a success, it does make us very triumphant and feels very ‘us’! We’re massive fans of the National Trust. Attingham Park near Shrewsbury is one of our absolute family favourites and Hanbury Hall is another regular local visit for us in Worcestershire. We’ve also visited Tyntesfield near Bristol and Killerton House in Devon as spontanoeous detours en route to Cornwall, when the long car journey gets all a bit too much for all of us.

    1. We are quite near Worcester Laura so will definitely give Hanbury Hall a whirl. Killerton House sounds super too – we want to go to Cornwall again this summer but the trip wasn’t great with Mabel. A stop off in Devon sounds like an excellent plan x

  8. I’m just as bad when it comes to planning and we seem to do all the local attractions to death. National Trust is great and the gardens change through out the year so it’s worth revisiting. Our most successful short break à trois has so far been a stay at the very instagramable three daggers in Eddington (http://www.threedaggers.co.uk/). Having another space to retreat to once the little one is in bed definitely helps and when that space has a wood burning stove it’s even better. We had a travel cot in the room ready when we checked in and they even provided a baby monitor. I wish we stayed two nights as we only managed to do Longleat but it’s conveniently located for both Bath and Salisbury too.

  9. We’re spoilt in Newcastle for child friendly attractions. Through the winter we frequent the local museums (Hancock and Discovery) and will also hit the park if it’s dry. There are loads of farms, country parks, woods and beaches for outdoor fun. We also have the all important National Trust membership. Wallington and Gibside are both great for kids.
    W3ve been taking our 3 year old to the cinema since he turned 2, the kids showings on Saturday mornings and during school holidays are ideal for a first cinema trip. My husband has also taken him bowling!

    1. Kathryn I need to see about the kids showings at our local cinema – they must do them. Does your little keep still?! Mabel is a nightmare, we’re lucky if she’ll watch an episode of Ben & Holly without getting bored. We do a lot of parks too, it’s just been such a shame with the wet weather.

      Newcastle sounds amazing – I’ve never been xx

      1. When we first started going to the cinema we picked a showing over lunch and took a picnic in, a constant supply of food kept him in his seat! He’s 3.5 now so he does sit still usually.
        Newcastle should definitely be on your weekend away list, there is just so much to do – museums, art galleries, coast and country. Plus Geordies are the friendliest people you’ll find anywhere!

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