baby and toddler activities, festivals and events

Autumn Events

I used to think summer was my favourite season, but I think autumn is a new contender as I get older. Whilst I’ll always love shorts-weather and getting outside in the warm summer air for games, walks and even paddling with the wee man, there’s definitely something to be said for the magic of autumn, as the leaves change colour and the anticipation of Halloween and Guy Fawkes night gets us excited.

Plus, Travis’ birthday is in October, so that brings even more joy to autumn! It seems like there are more and more great things to do with kids in autumn (or maybe I just never noticed them before?) And as a famous comedian once said, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes! So grab your coat and wellies and see if you can get along to any of these events:

*once I have previewed or reviewed each event I’ll share a link to it below*

Ardardan Scarecrow Festival
A community celebration, held across the weekend of 28th-29th September involving local groups, schools etc. creating their own scarecrow to be displayed throughout the farm over the weekend. The festival is free to attend, as is the scarecrow trail, but there are additional extras such as tractor rides and inflatables for the little ones.

The Enchanted Forest in Pitlochry
This one has been on my bucket list for some time. Quite pricey at £20 per adult, I’ve heard it’s worth the price tag for this immersive light show experience. This year’s theme is Cosmos, capturing everything from astrology to astronauts and all that lies between here and space. Runs from 3rd October to 3rd November, however its hugely popular and many dates and time slots are already sold out.
Get your tickets here.

Loch Lomond Scary Faerie trail
We’ve been on the faerie trail before, during summer, so this sounds like a nice wee variation on the classic 2km trail. It’s a bit pricier than the regular trail, but for an extra couple of pounds (£6.50) you get to enjoy a spooky version of the trail, which we’re assured isn’t too scary for the little ones! For added Halloween fun, go around 4pm and take a torch with you! Starting at Luss car park and going up through the glen and back down, there are some cracking views to be had on this trail too. Runs from 1st to 31st October.
Get your tickets here.

Arnprior Pumpkins
Another autumn event which I’ll be attending for the first time this year. Opening on Saturday 12th October through Sunday 27th October this year, Arnprior Pumpkins, located in the countryside outside Stirling, is a great family experience with pumpkin picking, kale maze, quad pods and more. It’s also really good value for money – just £5 gives you entry for one car full of eager autumn lovers, and also entitles you to £5 to redeem against a pumpkin (if you pick a small pumpkin, essentially that’s free with your ticket!). The 2 hour session slots are also ideal time wise for younger kids so as not to encroach on napping, eating and the usual routine.
Get your tickets here.

The A-scarium at Lomond Shores
One of our favourite haunts (pardon the pun) is the Sea Life Aquarium at Loch Lomond Shores, as it’s so close to home. One thing we love about it is the fact they do frequent themed activities throughout the year, and this Halloween, they have the Ascarium (see what they did there?!). Running from 12th October to 3rd November, the Ascarium is included in the price of a regular ticket, so under 3s get in free. Kids are invited to help the sea witch unlock the treasure chest by paying close attention to each tank and completing activities on their way through the aquarium.
Get your tickets here.

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baby and toddler activities

Ardardan Estate

A great free place to take kiddos near me is Ardardan Estate. It’s actually not that far from Glasgow either, so if you’re fancying a trip out to the country, it’s a nice place to stop and appreciate nature with plenty to see and do. The best part is, they are only getting started too – there’s a petting zoo and adventure playground in the pipeline for kids, due to open in 2020.

What can you do at Ardardan Estate?

The Estate is a working farm, so there are loads of sheep, cows and horses to go and look at. As its springtime, we had lots of fun looking at the little lambs and baby Highland cow. When we visited previously, there were also pigs, hens and chicks, but we’ve been advised that they are on their holidays for now, as works are ongoing at Ardardan Estate to bring lots of family fun in 2020. I have to say, all the animals were great and come right up to let you pet them at the fence, if you have a bit of patience to wait on them!

Throughout the Estate land, there are a number of walks, through the fields or through the woodland. The latter is great for kids as there are loads of things to do, like spot the ribbons in the trees, run through the woodland maze, climb trees and spot lots of bugs and birds who call the woodland home.

Tucked away behind the plant nursery and garden shop is a cute little duck racing game too! Travis absolutely loved this, as splashing and rubber ducks rate high on his list of fun things to do. The way it works is that there are four old-fashioned water pumps lined out in a row. Each one has a plastic pipe below it, flowing down and around, like a little ducky water slide. Racers pick their rubber duck from the box, place it on the pipe under the pump, and start working those arm muscles to pump their duck down the slide. And you guessed it – fastest one wins the duck race!

For the grown ups

I briefly mentioned that there’s a plant nursery within the grounds, so you can imagine all the great plants and garden decor you can buy here. From hanging baskets to water features, you can make a spectacular garden display with what’s on offer here.

The shop area doesn’t just sell plants and garden items, there’s also a tasty farm shop too. Packed with fresh produce like eggs, in-season fruits and veg, along with prime cuts of meat, the farm shop also sells fantastic jams, preserves and baked goods.

If food and plants aren’t your thing, there’s also a great gift shop section, packed with cute and unique ideas for things like Father’s Day/Mother’s Day, kid’s birthdays and more. Of course it also caters to the tourists, so expect plenty of postcards, maps and very Scottish themed keepsakes.

Cafe

Although there’s no such thing as a free lunch, I’d definitely recommend spending some cash in the cafe if you’re heading to Ardardan for a day out. Those trail walks can work up an appetite, and they’ve got options to cater to all tastes. Travis especially enjoyed a babyccino (though that doesn’t stop him still eyeing up the chocolate on top of my cappuccino) and I can testify that their homemade soups and cakes – especially the massive scones – are to die for.

 

Ardardan Estate also regularly holds family fun events, such as egg hunts at Easter, family fun events and vintage tractor rallies. Check out their Facebook page before visiting to find out if anything special is on before you visit.

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Baby M's firsts, Mum time

June Firsts

Who can believe another month has come and gone again? The heat has made May, June and now July roll into one, so it’s taken some real thought to remember what actually happened in each month, and what date it was actually a first! I’m blaming this partly on going back to work, so things have been even more hectic than usual, but in reality I should probably just keep better note of things when they happen! However we still managed to get up to plenty of new activities together as a family.

First weekend without mum

So, I braved it. At the beginning of June, I had a girls weekend planned. This is an annual trip we take to Dunoon to celebrate birthdays, catch up and generally have a great stress-free girlie weekend. Most of the girls who go are mums too, so they feel the pain of the double-edged sword that is much-needed me-time and missing your kid(s). We usually go on the Friday and come back on the Monday, but I decided I wasn’t quite ready to leave Trav for that long, so opted to come home on Sunday, with Trav and dad coming to get me. It was a great weekend for me, with some much needed adult-only company, but it has to be said that I did miss the wee man, and facetimed him before we went out on the Saturday night. It was a weird feeling, going back to being my old self for a weekend, not being responsible for anyone else, but knowing that he was at home with his dad didn’t fill me with the dread that I thought it might. Although Travis has spent a night at grandparent’s here and there, I’d never been away from him for longer than that. It’s not something I’d look to repeat in a hurry, but I do think that the break from mum was probably a good thing for him, especially as he would have to get used to going to nursery and being away from mum for most of the day, all week.

First trip to the farm

Making the most of mum’s final few days off, we decided to do and see as much as we could – especially with the weather being so good. One place none of us had ever been to was Ardardan Farm. It’s in Cardross, which is really local to us, and has lots to see and do, so it was a no brainer to head along on 8th June. There are trail walks (some of which weren’t so buggy friendly), a farm shop, cafe, garden centre, and most importantly – there are animals! Travis got to see some wee lambs, some hens and some Clydesdale ponies for the first time. Unfortunately the main attraction, the pigs, had moved on to pastures new, and the farmers were awaiting new pigs in their place. Ardardan Farm also offers loads of activities for kids, families, and even has its own private space to rent for functions and gatherings, so it’s somewhere we will definitely be visiting again!

Mum first: First day back at work

Who can believe the last 9 months have flown by in the blink of an eye?! On Monday 11th June I returned to work with a bang. Craig was off, so the first day wasn’t as hectic as it could have been, and could rest somewhat easy knowing that Travis would be fine with his dad. The first couple of days seemed really long; things didn’t revolve around feeding and napping (boo to the latter!) and I could make tea and coffee, use the bathroom and even check email in peace! After the first few days passed, and the adrenalin wore off, I definitely needed to be fuelled by caffeine. It almost felt like back in the early days when Travis would be up 10 times a night and we were still trying to decipher night from day. But we’re getting there, and although I miss seeing the little fella all day, every day, it’s nice to get back into the swing of things and be around adult company and stimulation during the day.

First Hartbeeps with dad

So as mum went back to work, dad took on the responsibility of taking Travis to his classes, including Hartbeeps. I was unsure how Craig would get on, especially since the class is usually all mums, with the exception of a granny or a dad on haydays and bank holidays. I shouldn’t have worried though, as both of them loved it! The sun was shining so Laura decided to take the class outside for sports day. Travis got a wee photo with his medal (not sure what for, mind you. Maybe doing the most roly polys rather than crawling?)

First day with Auntie Kristen and his bestie

On Day 2 of mum’s return to work, Travis went to spend the day with his Auntie Kristen, and his bestie, Evan. Dad was working and he wasn’t due to start nursery until the following week so Auntie Kristen saved the day and even took the wee man to Bookbug so he wasn’t missing out! They got up to all sorts together – trips to the shop, a ride on the bus, playtime and even feeding too. There’s no denying, Auntie Kristen is a hero and superwoman managing to take care of and amuse 2 kiddos under 2.

First trip in mum’s new car

So my old car was a total treasure and I loved it. I mean it was 12 years old, had 3 doors and had so many ‘quirks’ to it that it wasn’t even funny, but I loved it nonetheless. So it was a real shame to have to get rid of it, but it was getting to the point that there would be something wrong with it every other week. Apart from the fact it was costing so much (and on a maternity wage!) to repair, it wasn’t practical for Travis with only 3 doors, and it certainly wasn’t convenient getting stuck with him anywhere if we broke down! I also drive a 50 mile a day round trip for work, so I need something reliable. So mum opted for a newer version of the same model (I’m a creature of habit), and with 5 doors this time, which meant Travis could get upgraded to a big boy car seat that fits comfortably in the car and is easy to get the wee fella in and out of.

First Father’s day

Last year, I wondered if dads-to-be should get Father’s Day presents, but this year there was no ‘to-be’ and dad got to celebrate his first Father’s Day as a parent! The way it worked out, Travis was actually staying at his grandparents on the Saturday night before Father’s Day, in a bid to let mum and dad get a sleep after mum’s long first week back at work. What that meant was that Travis didn’t actually see his dad till later than usual on Father’s Day, so he managed to get out of making breakfast in bed! We had a good but quiet day, but I’m pretty sure dad enjoyed it.

First full week of nursery

Travis was due to properly start nursery in the last week of June, something which I was quietly nervous about. He had a few settling in visits, and didn’t seem to be coping well with being left at nursery. The first week was definitely a struggle in terms of tears and snotters – not to mention him teething – but the girls at the nursery are absolutely lovely and so reassuring. Travis gets a diary filled in every day, telling me what he got up to, what he’d eaten/drank that day, which is comforting now that I don’t get to share all those moments with him every day.

First illness

With a first full wee of nursery came something we were dreading, but inevitably knew would happen – his first illness! We had noticed a runny eye near the end of his first week, but just put it down to the weather and made sure we kept it clean. However by the weekend it was clear that it was something more serious – conjunctivitis. Luckily we managed to get a doctors appointment and some prescribed antibiotics fairly quickly, but for the few days he suffered, along with teething and the unusual heat, nobody got much sleep!

And here was me thinking we didn’t get up to much in June!