Sunday, 20 April 2014

Photo drop spring break

Isaac has been off this last week on spring break.  It has been so nice to spend some time with him.  Here are some photos with what we have been up to this week.

Sunday we headed up to the Kings Mountain area, just by the North/South Carolina border.  We intended to do Kings Mountain Military Park and Kings Mountain State Park.  We started at the military park by having a look at their museum, then did the battlefields trail.  This is a 1.5 mile trail around the battle field from the Revolutionary war.  There were many informative boards on the way, and you can get a tour on your phone if you wish.  There are many monuments along the way commemorating the people who took part in this important battle.

The boys did really well walking this trail, and hardly got carried at all.  We did it in about an hour, and thoroughly enjoyed our walk in the sun.

By the time we returned to the car, we were all pooped, so decided to give the state park a miss, and save it for another day.

Monday we met up with some friends, before atrocious weather set in for a few days.

Wednesday Isaac and I went for breakfast at IHOP.  I like doing this with my boys when they are off.  Now Seb is in school 3 mornings a week when the other 2 are off, be it separate or together, it is nice to do things just us.

Thursday morning Seb was off, so we headed to the zoo.  In the summer, they open at 9am, though all animals are not on display.  It turns out this is temperature dependent.  It was cold Thursday morning, and I did not dress myself or the boys appropriately.  I think we were the first ones in the zoo!  It was lovely.  The lemurs were playing, there was a snake up close to the glass, and the lions were roaring.  It goes to show, you can got to the zoo numerous times, and still see something different

Still take the same pictures though!

It was so cold, that I was not up for supervising the boys in the park.  We headed up to Pelham Road to meet Paul for a coffee.  My car has been in the garage for about 2 weeks following my run in with a deer.  I have had an X3 in the meantime, an alright car, but not my beast.  Paul had to had his car back on Thursday, and had decided on a Mini.  So I went to meet him to pick it up

It is an alright little car.  I quite like it.  A few differences to the X5, size being the most obvious. has no sun blinds in the back and no heads up display.  Hopefully my car will be fixed soon (it's supposed to take 4-6 weeks)

 Good Friday I spent most of the day lying on the sofa watching HGTV, while Paul built  this

It was a full on pajama day, as the weather was supposed to be atrocious.  It wasn't too bad, but we enjoyed the down time as a family.  The boys watched a film or 2....

Having been cooped up all day Friday, we had to get the boys out today.  Unfortunately it had been raining again, for most of the day, so we decided to take them to Monkey Joes.  I had a coupon to get one in for free, so it wasn't too busy, and I was suprised how quiet it was.  They had a few electrical issues, never good in a room filled with bounce houses....  But they sorted it out, and the kids had a great time.

Then it was lunch at Twin Peaks.  What's nice about this place is the fact kids eat free Saturday and Sunday, making it a reasonably priced meal out. 

Today is  Easter Sunday, we are going to do our first ever egg hunt for the boys. Paul watched the Liverpool game this morning, followed by the F1, then a nice roast, and I think a day around the house.

Happy Easter everyone!

Friday, 11 April 2014

My first Five on Friday

Hey y'all

So this is a new thing for me.... One of the blogs I follow does a 'Five on Friday' post every week, and I love reading them!  I have been wanting to join in for a while, but never had the determination to do so.

This week is different.  I am looking for help and advice.  We are planning a BIG road trip in June.  I have been researching hotels, rental houses, things not to miss, and other things to take in when planning a 3000 mile drive.

Below are five of the destinations we want to hit on our road trip. I have ideas about what to do in each of them, but I would love some input from those who have been there, done that.  My biggest dilemma is accommodation.  There are five of us, so it is tricky.  At least we have a decent car with entertainment....

Here goes:

1. Washington D.C.

Photo credit here
There are so many things to do in Washington D.C. and the majority of them appear to be free!  The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is a must for us.  Obviously we want to see the monuments and the White House.  The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is another one I would like to hit, as long as the boys have the stamina....  I am having trouble deciding where to stay.  We either hit the bank account, and stay down town, where we can walk to most places.  Or we stay a few miles out, it is a lot cheaper, and there is a greater chance of a pool. Decisions, decisions

2. New York

Photo credit here

Who doesn't want to go to NYC?  We want to see Lady Liberty.  I have been advised Times Square is great for the kids to see.  And Central Park.  A friend has recommended a carriage ride.  But is it any good for 3 boys who would rather spend their time glued to a Kindle???  We want to go to the zoo, who doesn't? The prices of the hotels though, they scare me slightly.... I have looked in to, but am unsure.  Has anyone used this site before??

3. Boston

Photo credit here
I have been slightly infatuated with going to Boston since watching Larry the Cableguy's series on America.  It looks like such a historically rich diverse city.  And very beautiful in places.  Rizzoli and Isles has also added to my infatuation.  We would really like to stay on a house boat. I have found some on, but again, they are not cheap.  We feel it would be worth it, and the boys would love it.  So, what should we do there, and are there any family friendly, local restaurants you would recommend?

4. Chicago

Photo credit here
So this came into our itinerary quite late.  Paul has already been here, and says it is a great city.  He does not want to stay in the city itself, maybe somewhere a bit further north, near where the picture is.  It would be great to have a lake beach for the boys to play on.  Hotels are a bit more reasonable, but it depends on the type you want.  Any recommendations gladly accepted!  And what would you do, other than the beach with an eight, five and three year old???

5. Kentucky

Photo credit here
Ok, on our way back south, we are going to stop somewhere in Kentucky, after stopping at the  Indianapolis Motor Speedway for some pictures. We are not sure where in Kentucky to stop, heck, I don't even know much about the state!!!  Suggestions welcome, the more the better.  Hotels, vacation rentals, resorts, restaurants and things to do.  These are all things I need to look into....

So there you have our holiday plans, so much to do.  We have actually booked one place so far, a resort in New York State, which we booked through Living Social.  I have been keeping my eye on and  So far, none of their 'deals' have been terrific, so I am putting off booking.  Paul has just sold his golf clubs, so I actually have some cash to start booking now....

My friends say I am great at planning trips and vacations.  There are so many options and variables in this one, I feel completely bogged down in it all......

Thanks for reading, I hope to get some comments and suggestions from the lovely people on the Link-up

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Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Hilton Head - part two

The day dawned nice and sunny, and not too early for us.  We headed for the complimentary breakfast.  This was nothing special, no hot food, just toast, pop tarts, cereal muffins fruit etc.  didn't stop our boys from filling up on about 5 breakfasts each.  At least we got our monies worth....

Considering the weather report said it was going to be raining and thundering, we did not see any rain all day.  After breakfast we headed to walmart to stock up on beach essentials, you know, those things I stupidly forgot to pack cos I believed the weather forecast.

Once they were purchased, we headed back to Colligny Beach.  The facilities are good, so we parked in the same car park, and headed to the restrooms/changing facilities right on the beach.  It was still lovely and sunny....

The boys had great fun splashing in the little pool of seawater, before heading down to the waters edge.  The cold of the sea did not bother them at all, and they had great fun playing in the waves.  A group of kids were making their way along the beach. And stopped by the boys.  Here's why....

See the dolphin, no more than 20 meters from the boys?  Amazing.  By now it was rather cloudy, and the wind was starting to pick up.  Isaac was complaining of being cold, and so was I.  It was nearly lunch time so we headed back to the changing facilities.

We decided earlier in the day to pay the $5 entrance fee to get into the Sea Pines resort.  This was the first resort founded on Hilton Head back in 1956.  It is fairly large at 8 square miles, so takes up a good chunk of the island.  It consists of houses, golf courses, tennis courts, stables and shopping/leisure/dining areas, plus a few marinas thrown in for good measure.

In the whole time we have lived in South Carolina, I have never seen an alligator in the wild.  I was adamant this was going to happen in Hilton Head.  And I was right

After driving round Sea Pines, we spotted this little beauty, and her little beauties!  We stopped to take some photos then continued our drive.  Of course, once you have seen your first, you can't miss them.  We must have spotted at least another 10, of varying shapes and sizes.

We headed on to the Harbour Town area, Seb was determined he wanted to see the 'ight ouse'.  We parked up, right by a large playground and went for a stroll to find something to eat.  Harbour Town is a lovely little area.  It kinda reminded us of La Palmyre in France, a town we know very well.  This made us feel fairly comfortable.  Sebastian was estactic once he spotted the light house, and kept pointing it out to us.  We took a walk round the harbour wall and saw all the boat excursions.  There is even a boat done up like a pirate ship, and others with guaranteed dolphin watching.  Maybe next time.....

Of course, when you take 3 boys to a town two hours after they usually have lunch, you are going to get some stupidity

We eventually decided to eat at Harbourside Burgers and Brews, an out door, up market burger joint.  This was lovely.  Not too hot, and the boys ate their food quite well.  Isaac did fall off his chair, and throw a mini paddy.....

After lunch the boys had a play in the park before we decided to move on.  By now it was mid afternoon, and we were all starting to feel tired.  On the way out, we stopped at Lawton Stables.  They offer the opportunity for adults to go on trail rides through the resort, pony rides for kids under 7 and a free petting farm.  The kids loved seeing the animals, and it was really well laid out, lovely and shady and cool.  The sky had cleared again, and the day was really heating up.

Ever since the boys knew we were going away on holiday, they have been going on about playing crazy golf.  Hilton Head has two mini courses, and we went with Pirates Island Adventure Golf.  Seb doesn't normally play, but we decided to let him this time, and he was free!  The boys went so fast around the course. They skipped, a couple of people, and caught up to others right near the end.  They don't take it seriously, which I don't mind, but I think they are going to have to start soon.  Next time we play, I will be keeping score and we will be playing by the rules (I hate mini golf....)

As we had a late lunch, we decided to head back to the hotel, so the boys could try out the un heated pool.  Don't think anyone got in further than their knees.  Paul went in the hot tub with them, while I watched from the side in case anyone got brave enough to go in.

We had a snacky dinner, and settled down to watch Rio in the evening.  10 minutes into the film, Seb was asleep on the sofa.  We rearranged the furniture in our room to get his crib out, and away from the tv, and transferred him into in.  He didn't make a sound.  The boys were already in their pajamas, and thoroughly enjoyed the film.  This did mean that they ended up having lights out at the same time, never an easy feat.  Oliver feel asleep before Isaac, though he wasn't far behind.  It is actually quite nice to watch them sleep, it gives a real feeling of calmness and serenity.

Hilton Head - part one

Friday morning we packed up the car and headed to Hilton Head.  We managed to leave the house by 9am, thats early for us!  We wanted to make the most of our time there, especially as the weather was not looking too great.  We stopped for an early lunch, and the kids watched plenty of films on the way. We were making such good time, that we decided to take a detour through Beaufort.

Beaufort is the second oldest city in South Carolina, and is the home of the Marine Corp Air station.  We drove right past the front of it, and the boys loved the planes on display

We got to Hilton Head early afternoon and had a little drive around.  Most of the island are resorts, there is even a Disney resort.  We found a public beach, Colligny beach, and some free parking a short walk from it.  

My first thought when I walked on to the beach was Wittering.  It really reminded me of the beach there, with a little shallow pool before you enter the water when the tide was out.  Apart from the dolphins.  We had been on the beach about 20 minutes when we saw one.  So amazing to see them up close.  Typically I had looked at the weather, seen thunderstorms forecast, and not brought any beach stuff, apart from a towel.  The boys took one look at the sea, and off they went.

It was only going to be a matter of time before one or all of them were completely  soaked.  Seb and Isaac.  Despite the sky looking very grey in these pictures, it was really very warm.  

We managed to drag the kids off the beach, with the promise of coming back the next day despite the weather report.  We headed to our hotel, which was pretty central on the island.  We booked this hotel through a Living Social deal.  We got 2 nights for under $80 in a suite that slept 6.  We checked in to the Park Lane Hotel. The receptionist was very helpful, told me about a local restaurant, and that the pool was open, but not heated, though there was a hot tub.  We travelled to our room, on the ground floor in the block away from the pool.  It was sufficient, though they had forgotten the travel cot for Seb.  A quick visit back to reception sorted that.  We put away all the food in the kitchen area, and let the boys play their kindles while we decided what to do for dinner.  

We went with the restaurant the receptionist had recommended, The Smokehouse.  It specialized in BBQ, and it was delicious.  Everyone did really well with their dinner, so we took the boys to Frozen Moo Ice Cream for dessert.  

It was just trying to rain by now, so we headed back to the hotel to indulge of that lovely thing of all five of us sharing a room.  To be honest, it's never too bad.  Seb and Isaac get put to bed first, while Oliver reads, then he goes to bed, and Paul and I continue to read or play games on our phones.  We had a fairly early night, all ready for the next day