Pippin Explores – Speke Hall, Merseyside

I said we’d head back to Speke Hall when we got a chance, because Pippin slept through the whole trip last time.

We also had the advantage of better weather and a near empty property, so we tackled both the maze and the Childe of Hale walk.

We did the maze three, four, five time? I lost count. But Pippin adored it, especially climbing up and over all the bridges. We still got lost even though we’d been in it more than once, and apparently they change the route periodically using gates, so I guess we will get lost next time too!

The walk takes you through woodland, following the story of the English giant, John Middleton. Following the story through will lead you to various activities, including the giant’s huge musical instruments and an amazing woodland adventure playground (that the parents were enjoying as much as the adults!).

From a practical point of view, as a mum to a baby with a dairy allergy, we were able to get her soup and bread for her lunch, and the baby change facilities are easy to access and are separate to the main toilets – meaning that either mum or dad can change baby.

Speke is fast becoming my favourite local National Trust property, and we are definitely heading back for their Tudor May Day Celebrations.

Pippin’s Adventures: Speke Hall, Liverpool

I’ve said it before, and again, I absolutely love being a member of the National Trust. For £108 a year we get access to hundreds of properties around the UK, which means we’re never short of somewhere to go for a day out. Whatever the weather.

Despite the frosty weather we’re being treated to at the moment we took a trip out to Speke Hall in Liverpool with the little.

Speke Hall is a Tudor Building sat in a large expanse of grounds, which you can explore and play in – but also watch the planes from Liverpool John Lennon Airport fly over!

Poor Pippin got to explore next to none of the grounds, she had fallen asleep within ten minutes of our arrival,  although she did find the time to make a new friend: a pug called Hercules.

If your child has more stamina than mine then you might manage to make it rounds the hedge maze with them, or you could enjoy some snacks from the café whilst they played on the huge play area. We are definitely going to go back and explore this with Pippin, because we’ve never properly had a look round it and it looked so much fun!

There’s also a special woodland walk, complete with zip lines, den building and outdoor obstacles to balance on.

 

We’ve been to Speke before, but not since Pippin was born and we never knew about all the fun things we could do with her there, so Speke will definitely be going on our re-visit list.

The house re-opens on February 10th, but until then there’s loads of outdoor spaces to explore.

Birthday Photo Shoot with Milk and Cuddles Photography

For Pippin’s birthday I wanted to have some photos taken. I adore photographs, I love taking them, I love having them and I love looking back at them and remembering the time they immortalise, and when a friend shared the photos take for her daughter’s first birthday I knew I wanted Lauren from Milk and Cuddles photography to take them.

She didn’t disappoint.

We didn’t want to do a cake smash, and initially we were going to have a studio shoot that took elements of our wedding. But then Lauren suggested we go to Dunham Massey and it was perfect. We have been to Dunham quite a few times since Pippin was born, we’re National Trust members and we love exploring with her.

The weather wasn’t brilliant, and we nearly moved everything to the studio at the eleventh hour, but Lauren was really flexible and we pushed things back to the afternoon and, luckily, the rain held off. Although I did have to do some last minute outfit changes because the little romper I had picked out was a definite no go!

Lauren was divine with Pippin, she made her feel comfortable and I think she made a friend for life after presenting her with a pink balloon (or ‘Baaaaall’ as she calls them)! Pip doesn’t warm to people easily, but she acted like Lauren was an old friend, which led to some really beautiful photos.

Oh and she did all of this whilst being heavily pregnant.

My only problem now is picking only a few to put up around the house.

Pippin’s Adventures: Dunham Massey, The Lost Carnival

I make no secret of the fact that I adore having a National Trust Membership. We’ve used it so much since getting it, and I like the fact that pretty much wherever we go we can find a wonderful place to visit.

So when my cousin wanted to do a meet up for Pippin’s birthday a Trust property seemed perfect, so we headed off to Dunham Massey.

Dunham Massey is an 18th Century House in between Manchester and Cheshire, with impressive grounds filled with deer and a beautiful Garden. It isn’t the first time we have visited, but it is the first time we’ve visited when there was an event on!

Currently the house has been transformed to tell the tale of the 7th Earl and his scandalous marriage to London Celebrity Catherine Cox.

Little Pippin was really getting some steps in wandering up and down the hallways of the house. She had great fun pointing out all the different dogs in the portraits too.

The garden’s are currently home to ‘The Lost Carnival’.

Essentially a treasure hunt, but filled with performances and fun. Including hula hooping, which I think the adults enjoyed more than the littles on our trip!

And we made sure to say hello to the ‘Ack Acks’ (for the uninitiated that’s my daughter speak for Ducks)…

Before heading to the café for tea and cake.

The Lost Carnival is running until the 30th of August, so you still have a few more days to catch it!

Pippin’s Adventures: Washington Old Hall, Sunderland

Despite travelling to the North East a lot to visit family, we’d never actually really explored further than the local beach. Partially because the journey was quite long, and we never really spent enough time there, so every minute was spent with family. But when we travelled back to meet up with family on what would have been my Nana-in-law’s birthday we took the chance to nip in to a local National Trust property on the way home and I’m very glad we did.

Washington Old Hall, in the heart of Washington Village, has links to (you guessed it) George Washington, former President of America. Or maybe you didn’t guess it, I certainly didn’t. Apparently the hall was home to five generations of his ancestors.

Interesting as that was, I was more interested in its later life.

The Hall is probably one of the trusts smaller properties, but it definitely made up for it not only in the beauty of the grounds but also in the content of the property.

National Trust properties are very often stately homes that were once occupied by the elite, and though I love to see that decedent side of our history, sometimes it is interesting to see the lives of people more akin to my own ancestors.

Washington Old Hall is not just the home of George Washington’s ancestors, in more recent years it was also a tenement property. In the 1930s it housed a number of families, and one of the rooms within the hall houses a recreation of one of those rooms. I couldn’t get over just how many people were squeezed into such tiny spaces.

From a family point of view there’s no access for pushchairs apart from on the ground floor. This didn’t bother us particularly as we had the carrier too, and apparently there is also a hip carrier that you can borrow if needed. They will store the pram for you so you can collect it for use around the garden, and there’s a lift to help you access the lower parts of the garden with pram.

There is a walled garden, and a lovely tea room where Pippin and I shared an Ice Lolly whilst Daddy had a clotted cream scone. Which was just cruel frankly.

They also had a small playground, and Pippin had her first ever ride down a slide – and hated it.

My favourite part of the whole property was the Nuttery. Basically a wilderness created for wildlife and completely stunning. We spent so long just watching the tadpoles in the pond, and the bees in their insect hotel.

Pippin loved bird watching from the shelter, although she didn’t quite understand the concept of being still and quiet – I think we have some work to do before she will manage not to scare off any birds within a ten mile radius.

I really hope we will get to visit again, I’d love to go in spring and see what the Nuttery looks like then.