J-cub woke up late and hadn't slept by the time we left. We foolishly presumed he would sleep in the car (ahhh how I miss those days), but he gazed happily out of the window all the way there. We met up, reacquainted J-cub with his one true love, A, and bundled piles of stuff and toddlers into their buggies.
The park is huge, and after getting lost and walking up a loooooong hill we took a break in a grassy area in front of the castle (I'm calling it a castle, it might be a manor house or something but it's very castley) to play football with the Hello Kitty ball we'd bought for A.
J-cub took off at a fast crawl, looking like a mini-explorer fighting his way through a forest of grass while we chased him down and made sure he didn't come across anything unmentionable in the grass.
When he eventually started to look tired, we strapped him back in the buggy for his nap, and he started to scream. I'm sensing a bit of a trend here with my posts in general, as I seem to be typing "And screamed, and screamed" far too many times. But scream he did, as I pushed him in circles around the others who were dawdling towards the animals. I did my best to placate him and make him comfortable, but there's little you can do when out and about with a 30lb baby who's too tired to go to sleep. He did eventually drop off, and we managed to grab a drink and a snack in a completely deserted visitor centre while he slept in the buggy.
When he woke up, I took him off to be changed, and when I picked him up he was soaking (which would possibly explain the screaming). He was wearing one of his new TotsBots Easyfits, and I don't know whether I hadn't put it on properly, or if it was just from sitting in the buggy with a poppered vest, but it had leaked all through his clothes and into the squishy buggy seat. It's put any potential thoughts about getting some more on hold for now...
I changed him (he screamed) into a fresh nappy and clean clothes (my over-preparation paid off, as I had spare clothes (for hot weather), spare clothes (for cold weather), a sunsuit (in case it was very sunny), and a puddle suit, so I had plenty to choose from). I came out of the changing room not 5 minutes later, and the lovely sunshine had turned into pouring rain.
We stood around under shelter while A tried to boss us back out into the rain to play football, then we walked aaaaaallllll the way back to the castle for some lunch (toddlers did not want to walk, or ride in the buggies, so we all took it in turns to carry them and push the heavy buggies through gravel and up hills. Why did I have to choose today to forget the sling?
In the cafe for lunch ("Yellow chips! I want yellow chips, not purple. Where are my yellow chips? Yellow chips, where are you?" sang A), J-cub was surprisingly keen on eating, polishing off a big pile of baked beans and poking at some sausages and coleslaw. He managed to get most of the coleslaw all over him, leaving big wet patches which necessitated another change of outfit (see, I'm not over-prepared, I'm just prepared).
We finally made our way to the fairytale village (J-cub again refused to nap on the way), where there were mini-cottages dressed up as various fairytales (they'd gone to all the expense of building actual mini houses, but still just had cardboard cutouts of the characters within), a playground, and a castle. J-cub had a whale of a time in the playground, terrorising all the other children by grabbing their hair and shoving them out of the way, and terrifying us by moving so fast around the raised climbing-frame bit that we could barely get to the openings to catch him before he fell out (but woe betide if we tried to take him out, cue screaming tantrums until he got back in again).
In a shady corner, we found a massive round wooden table and parked him on top of it. We then had to dance around the table while he performed acrobatics in the middle, trying to catch him every time he approached an edge only to have him reverse direction while we galloped like loons to the other side. I suppose the sensible thing would have been to take him off the table, but he didn't like that, oh no.
I eventually remembered the stack of cups I'd shoved into his change bag, and when I gave them to him, his face lit up and we had a couple of moments to breathe.
Doesn't he look happy and peaceful?
Do I sound tired, jaded, ungrateful and like I didn't have a lovely day? It was a lovely day, and I'm so happy to have spent the day in the company of such good friends, my lovely husband, and our delightful children. But I still haven't quite got used to being out and about with an almost-toddler. The tantrums which have only started in the last few days are pretty much constant, and we haven't quite got to the how-to-deal-with-it point yet. He's not walking, so we're either leaning over letting him hold our fingers to work (which is back-breaking), making sure he doesn't pick up cigarette butts or other nasties when he's crawling, carrying him, or pushing the buggy. And when he doesn't nap, or doesn't nap for very long, he never stops. As with all other parts of motherhood, it takes a while for my brain, muscles, and sanity to catch up when he starts doing something new. And becoming a toddler is like starting from scratch all over again. Having a baby was terrifying, but at least if you put it down somewhere, it would still be there when you came back. Now, you can't switch off, or sit down, or have a break for a single second. All day.
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I know my Look Up project has finished, but I couldn't resist today - we came across this amazing Tulip Tree, the like of which I've never seen before. It was 400 years old, maHOOsive, and absolutely stunning.