Our Year 2017 in Review

Borador puppy Willow and the kids surrounded by dandelions

This year has been absolutely jam packed with fun days out and trips all over the place.  Some of our adventures have taken us overseas, while others have been more local to home.  When I sat and went through my diary the other night I discovered we have had a whopping 43 trips this year! Wow!  These trips include holidays, days out and events.  Here is our year 2017 in review……


We kick started our year with a trip to Didcot Railway Centre when they held a free open day for local residents.  It was freezing cold but we had a fab time exploring.  Towards the end of the month we had our first (but not last!) visit to the Roald Dahl Museum & Story Centre which was just fab.  I have always been a massive fan of Roald Dahl’s books but learning more about the man himself was fascinating.  The museum really captured Lily and Lois’s imaginations as well. Both are keen story-writers.  Lois had just done a project at school about The Enormous Crocodile as well so this trip linked in perfectly with that.

Tracks at Didcot railway centre


We kept things local in February.  The half term week started with a morning with the wildlife trust at the nature reserve a stones throw from our house, then a trip to the Pendon Museum.  We then had our first National Trust visit using our new annual passes to Greys Court.  Our last visit of the month was to Millets Falconry Centre. We really enjoyed seeing the bird of prey flying displays and handling some reptiles.

owl in flight


In March we had a great visit to Milestones Living Museum .  They had a Lego ’round the world’ themed event on which we all loved.  Everyone in this house is a fan of Lego.  Another highlight was picking up our ‘ration’ of sweets from the shop.  This is a brilliant venue for a wet weather day out as it’s all inside.

bus at milestones


This was an incredibly busy month for us with  lots of celebrations as well as days outs.  April 4th is my birthday which this year we decided to spend at Basildon Park.  This was our second National Trust visit using our annual passes.  We spent a day in the New Forest and on the pebble beach at Milford On Sea (eventually after a tyre puncture disaster left us stranded part way!).  We visited Fairytale Farm and Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary .  Easter was a fun chocolate filled weekend of hunting eggs, then on Easter Monday we had an exciting day at the Basing House civil war re-enactment.  It was both fascinating and exhilarating.  I love living history events! We rounded off the month with a beautiful walk around the bluebell woods at Greys Court (our 3rd National Trust visit).


May is a really busy month for birthdays in our family.  Lily turned 10, Cody turned 4 and my Dad had his birthday as well.   We enjoyed doing the fairytale scarecrow trail round the nearby village of East Hendred with my Nan this month.  She lives in the village and we have been doing the scarecrow trails there with her for years.  It ‘s always good fun guessing who the characters are.  The participants are very creative.  The absolute highlight for May though was of course our holiday to Spain to stay with my grandparents.  This was Cody’s first trip on a plane and his first time to Spain.  It’s also the first time we have taken all 3 of the kids abroad together.  We explored the mountain village of Prades and monastery at Poblet, as well as the port and beach at Cambrils.  We strolled around the medieval town of Tarragona and enjoyed an ice cream.  We took the chain ferry across the river and explored the castle ruins at Miravet.  Then we had a wonderful river cruise on the Delta De L’Ebre.  It was fantastic.


In June we spent a day at Silverstone celebrating 40 years of Williams F1 racing.  My Dad has worked for Williams Formula 1 team for almost 30 years so the team is very dear to us as a family.  When I heard about the special event at Silverstone we had to go.  Tickets were free which was even better.  We were treated to track demos from various Williams cars past and present.  It was fantastic to see them.  There were lots of other activities to enjoy as well.  We particularly liked racing against the police speed camera to see how fast we could run!


This month we had our 4th National Trust visit, this time to Basildon Park.  We went to a special event at the Roald Dahl Museum where we were treated to a guided tour of the area with the museum director.  We also had a sneak peak into Roald Dahl’s archives and a delicious lunch.  Our  biggest adventure in July though was our second holiday of the year, this time to Ireland.  We started off with 3 days in the Republic of Ireland for a family event then headed up to Northern Ireland to stay with relatives.  From there we were able to visit the Crom Estate (National Trust) and Marble Arch Caves which were stunning.  We also spent several days further north where we visited Ulster American Folk Park, The Giants Causeway and crossed the Carrick-A-Rede bridge.  It was an incredible trip!  We ticked off quite a few things on our bucket list!

the carrick-a-rede bridge


Now usually August is a summer month full of fun but this year the weather was pretty pants and summer never really felt like it got going.  We didn’t let that stop us though.  We did two more National Trust visits to Basildon Park and Hughendon Manor.  We also had our first of two visits this year to Roves Farm.  This place turned out to be a smashing find and the kids love it (hence why we’ve since been back again!).  Another new place we hadn’t visited before was the Vale and Downland Museum in Wantage.  Again, another fantastic find and entry is free!  We enjoyed a couple of free local events this month as well including an emergency services fun day in the nearby park and a wildlife day at the nature reserve down the road.  Both great events with lots of fun activities to take part in.

hughendon manor


At the beginning of September we celebrated Lois’s 7th birthday with a trip to the cinema with friends to see Despicable Me 3 and lunch out.  We then had the big day of Cody starting full time school – where has my baby gone!  I’m glad to say he has settled in fine and loves it.  I also started not one but two new job roles, one at a new company and one within my current company.   This was definitely the month for lots of change and it’s taken us a little while to get used to our new routine.   We took part in a free Xplorer family orienteering event in a large park which was something new to us and great fun. On the same day we also went to the Story Festival at Milton Manor which is a fantastic annual event celebrating children’s literature.  We met author and illustrators Christ Mould and David Melling who were both so inspiring.  Our National Trust passes were put to use once again with another trip to Hughendon Manor for their 1940s living history weekend.  We loved watching the skirmish re-enactment and listening to the stories from the paratroopers.  We were also treated to a spitfire and lancaster fly-over!  Our final event this month was a treasure hunt which sent us searching for the answers to a quiz around the nearby village of East Hagbourne.  Exhausting but fun!

david melling


October half term was quite a quiet affair.  The weather was very changeable from a hot sunnny day midweek to constant rain at the end of the week. we did manage to get outside and do an autumn scavenger hunt in the nearby nature reserve.  We also went to the park in the rain and went to Millets Farm to see the Christmas decorations.  Mostly it was family time and activities at home.

autumn scavenger hunt


Lois took part in her first Remembrance parade with Beavers in November and we also went to the kids first ever firework show for bonfire night.  We went to a small one held at a local school as Lois doesn’t like loud noises very much but she loved it and wants to go to a bigger one next year!  We had our second visit to Roves Farm this month and went to Waddesdon Manor to see the Christmas lights.  Due to my bad planning though and it being one of the coldest days of the year so far we ended up heading home after just 2 hours there as we were so cold!  We finished off the month with an evening at our town’s Christmas street fair, the official start of the festive period!



December is always manic busy with school nativity plays, the Christmas disco and various other school/club related events.  I am so glad I’ve had plenty of time off work during our shut down period to be able to attend most of them!  The highlight of December (aside from Christmas obviously!) was seeing The Nutcracker & The Mouse King stage show at Cornerstone Arts Centre in Didcot.  The show was absolutely fantastic.  In fact it was that good we saw it twice (Lois saw it 3 times as she went with school as well and still couldn’t get enough of it!).  I actually caught Lois and Cody re-enacting scenes from the show in their bedroom this morning – it was so sweet!  Christmas this year was absolutely lovely, probably one of the best we’ve had.  Lily was here with us on Christmas day and helped me make the roast turkey dinner.  It was really relaxed and enjoyable with lots of time spent with family.  Lush x

So there you have it, our crazy fun-filled year.  This has been a year of focus on family time which we plan to maintain in 2018 but also want to do more with friends too.  I am so looking forward to the coming year.  We already have trips planned to Disneyland Paris, Poland and Ireland.  I can’t wait to see what else we get up to!

Happy New Year to all of you! x

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