Our Favourite Five – August 2016

August is over already? Whaaat? Shaaadup! It’s too soon. How can the summer, which only just started like last Tuesday or something, be done? Oscar doesn’t start school for a few more weeks, but the beginning of September always feels very much like Summer is over. Sigh!

So anyway here’s what we’ve been loving this August.

1 IKEA

We had two days this month in which Oscar went to Challengers, a play scheme especially for disabled children, in Farnham. In order to get him there Ben had to have the day off work, so we took advantage of the situation and on both days went, childfree, to IKEA. We don’t go to IKEA often. It’s an hour’s drive away and the one time we did try it with Oscar was an unmitigated disaster. However, with the boy starting school soon, we are looking at the house and how we use the rooms on a daily basis. We have all sorts of changes we’d like to make and so decided we needed some extra furniture to help us achieve this.

Both times we went with a clear idea of what we wanted and both times we got what we went for. Along with a whole heap of other things we didn’t need know we needed. Both trips were successful in that neither ended in divorce (a win for any trip to IKEA in my experience) but the second trip, to buy me a desk and Ben a worktable for our new garden office, was definitely more fun. I have come to the conclusion that IKEA brings out the worst in people when they visit rarely. It puts a lot of pressure on everyone to get it right, especially if you don’t know when you’ll next get a chance to come back. When we’d already been the week before, it felt like we’d got that out of the system and therefore enjoyed it all the more. Weird huh?

image

IKEA Southampton. Can make or break a relationship!

The dresser we bought to hold all Oscars toys, games and craft supplies. Decorated with the artificial cherry blossom from our wedding.

The dresser we bought to hold all Oscars toys, games and craft supplies. Decorated with the artificial cherry blossom from our wedding.

2 Day out with Thomas

You may have already read my post about our trip to The Watercress Line to spend a Day out with Thomas, but I couldn’t not include it here. It really was the highlight of our month. We had such a great day and I can’t explain how much Oscar enjoyed himself. Days out for my little guy can be unpredictable. His Autism can make things that would seem fun to your kids just the worst for him. But the Day out with Thomas was a real winner. Once he got over the fact that he wasn’t allowed to actually drive the train! Bless his heart. Thank you to The Watercress Line again for the Family Ticket, which I won on Instagram!

I've never seen Oscar so excited. Literally!

I’ve never seen Oscar so excited. Literally!

3 New Glasses

I’ve been getting reminders from Specsavers to get my eyes tested since April and this month I finally got round to getting them done. And while I was there, I also decided to get some new frames. I still liked my old ones, but I realised I’d had them for over four years. I know exactly how long I’ve had them, because I got them first time I ever left Oscar, a few weeks after he was born (when I say left, Ben took him to Starbucks up the road from Specsavers, but you know what I mean!) Anyway the point is although my old frames were, and still are, perfectly nice, I felt it was time for a change. I am after all a very different person now to the one who chose those frames four long years ago.

The ones I went for are very different to those I had last time, but I absolutely love them. They’re so pretty and just so, well, me! I love them every time I catch my reflection 🙂

New glasses from Sepcsavers

New glasses from Sepcsavers

4 Paddling Pool

We’ve had some SHAMAZING weather this month, something you can’t always bank on in August anymore. And one of the things we’ve enjoyed the most on these balmy summer days is to get our new paddling pool out. I decided to get Oscar a new pool at the beginning of the holidays and it was the best £20 I spent all summer. He loves me to fill it and will spend hours jumping off the side into the water, to make the biggest splash possible. That there was just hard earth underneath didn’t seem to bother him. We had days where he played alone, days where his favourite game was to splash me (“come here mummy, closer mummy” sigh!) and another day when his little buddies came over and splashed with him. Clothing was always optional and the water always ended up filthy from the mud and the grass, but it just made him so happy.

A pool? A monkey towel? Clothes hanging in the sun to dry? We could have almost been on actual holiday!

A pool? A monkey towel? Clothes hanging in the sun to dry? We could have almost been on actual holiday!

I just love his face here

I just love his face here

5 Apples

I have something of a love hate relationship with apples. I love when I find the right ones, but I cant stand powdery ones and I hate if I ever get a bit of core in my mouth. So this month I have finally invested in an apple segmenter, that also cores the apple. It’s a bit of a knack to get the corer directly down the middle, but when you do you’re left with delicious apple segments to pick at. Its been great for snacking and even works with pears. Why I didn’t get one years ago I’ll never know. What a boon!

My latest kitchen gadget, my apple slicer and corer.

My latest kitchen gadget, my apple slicer and corer.

image

It’s like a work of art!

And just like that summer was over. What have you enjoyed this August? I can’t wait to see what September holds!

 

I paid for all the items mentioned here, except the Day out with Thomas which I won in a competition. I was not paid to write this post, I just enjoy sharing the things I love. 

 

Our day out with Thomas the Tank on the Watercress Line

If you follow me on social media at all, you can’t have missed how excited I was when I recently won a Family Ticket for The Watercress Line’s Day out with Thomas event. If you haven’t heard of the Watercress Line (or to give it it’s full title The Mid Hants Railway – The Watercress Line), it’s a beautifully restored and maintained vintage steam and diesel railway line, running trains all year round from Alton to Alresford in Hampshire. If you haven’t heard of Thomas the Tank then where on earth have you been for the last century?

The competition was run on Instagram and asked you to share photos of your child playing with their Thomas toys. Seeing as how Oscar is such a big Thomas fan, I had plenty to hand and entered a few. This is the one that won and quite right too. I love it!

The IG photo that won the competition. The original caption said ""I'm working on one side of the table, he's working on the other. It's lush"

The IG photo that won the competition. The original caption said “I’m working on one side of the table, he’s working on the other. It’s lush”

We started to explain to Oscar where we were going and what we were doing two days before the Thomas experience even started, which was a massive mistake. Once he heard, he wanted to go NOW, NOW, NOW! School boy error on my part perhaps, but it did give him time to get his head around the idea. We used videos on the Watercress Line website, showed him pictures and talked him through what we might see, In his mind he had it all sorted. He was going to drive Thomas, I was going to ride in Clarabel and Ben was going to set the points.  And he told us all that with words, dontcha know!

Oscar marching up to the station as early as we could have possibly got there!

Oscar marching up to the station as early as we could have possibly got there!

A Day out with Thomas

A Day out with Thomas was running for a week this summer and Oscar’s excitement made sure we were stood on Ropley station platform, tickets in hand, at 9.30 on the first day it started. He was beside himself and to be honest so was I. I mean how often do you get to introduce your child to their idol? I’d seen photos of what to expect, but I wasn’t quite sure how authentic it would feel. I’ve heard of other ‘experiences’ that promise the world and fail to deliver, but I needn’t have worried. When Thomas puffed down the track my little boys screams of “It’s Thomas, he’s here” and how hard he jumped up and down told me all I needed to know. As did the fact that Oscar’s excitment made Ben well up 😉

image

Just look at how perfect this Thomas is! It blew all our minds!

Thomas himself gives short trips up and down a small piece of track (well he is only a tank engine!) and when he arrived on the platform we started to walk straight to Annie and Clarabel (the carriages for those not in the know!). However, Oscar had other ideas. Despite all our prep, he was adamant he was there to drive Thomas. We told him over and over that he couldn’t, but it took quite a long time for him to understand (and a few tears). It was no ones fault. He just got an idea in his head and when that happens it takes some effort to change that.

We finally got him to ride in Annie and Clarabel, instead of in Thomas, but bless his heart if he wasn't just a little disappointed!

We finally got him to ride in Annie and Clarabel, instead of in Thomas, but bless his heart if he wasn’t just a little disappointed!

Riding while standing and looking out of the window is so much fun for my guy.

Riding while standing and looking out of the window is so much fun for my guy.

After a couple of rides in Thomas’s carriages, we went over the bridge (Oscar loves bridges) to check out the other attractions that were available. We got to ride actually in Toad the Brake Van (which went some way to compensating for him not getting to actually drive a tank engine. You know, at four years old 😆) and then took a ride in the carriages of a real steamie. Oscar insisted it was Neville, but to us it looked like Donald or Douglas. Oh yes we know all the names 😱.

We actually got to ride in Toad the Brake Van! Photo by Mid Hants Railway Watercress Line

We actually got to ride in Toad the Brake Van! Photo by Mid Hants Railway Watercress Line

image

Just look at these beauties! Neville or Donald and Douglas, they were superb.

We rode up and down the line a few times, which despite the few small delays we experienced Oscar loved. And I mean loved. I don’t know if it was the movement or the look and feel of the coaches but he seemed to just be happy to be on the train. We stopped off at various stations and at one he convinced us to add another train to his collection.

Diesel 10 joins the crew

We bought this TrackMaster toy from one of the stations. I was happy to see the toys cost no more than you would pay in any other toy shop.

Boy on train playing with toy train

Diesel 10 came along for the ride!

Oscar just had the best time. Once he got over the idea of riding on the footplate he really enjoyed so much about this day. He found so many opportunities to mix his two favourite things, Thomas and movement. We went on so many rides on the train but also on the small fair at the side on the tracks at Ropley. He’s not one for colouring and such, but was happy to look round all the activities laid on in the station buildings.

Boy lying on train seat

Feeling the movement from another angle – that’s my little seeker for you.

We loved it

It was such a wonderful family day out and very thoughtfully aimed at small fans of Thomas, but I can’t tell you how much Ben and I also got out of it too! For me it was the vintage details that won the day. The stations were beautiful in themselves but also helped create a feeling of being ‘on Sodor’!

vintage rail platform sign and the bunting

The signs and the bunting – gorgeous!

Vintage toilet lock

Even the details on the loos at Ropley were beautiful! Spend a penny anyone?

The staff were also very helpful and all obviously proud of what they were doing. Oscar knew exactly who this was. He waited patiently to speak to him then told him “Fat Controller, Fat Controller, Thomas is in the station”. Proud! I really felt for the chap playing the Fat Controller – it was such a hot day and he stayed in that outfit throughout! What a champ!

Oscar chatting to Sir Topham Hatt

Oscar chatting to Sir Topham Hatt

I would also highly recommend taking a picnic as we did. Not because there isn’t food available (there absolutely it) but having our own food with us mean we could eat whenever we liked, wherever we were, including half way down the line!

boy and mum on train

Hungry boy half way between stations.

All characters aside we all loved the engines, especially Ben. I think at times he was more excited than my actual little boy! I already know we’ll be going back. Not just to the Day out With Thomas (which I imagine we will be doing every time now!) but just to ride the trains and surround ourselves with the history and the magnificence of the engineering.

Oh and I’ve just noticed the Santa Experience. Oh good lord!

 

 

We would like to say thank you so much to The Watercress Line for our competition prize of a free Family Ticket to Day out with Thomas.

I was not asked to write about our time at Day out with Thomas, I just like to share the things we love.

I’m not sure when the next Thomas experience is scheduled for, but you can contact The Watercress Line via their website or Facebook