29 February 2016

Toddling around Southampton: The Riverside Park

At first sight Southampton might not be the most glamorous city, but don't be mislead, this little port city has many and varied hidden gems. Surely, it doesn't present the charm once owned in the past, but still has much to offer today.  I believe Southampton to be a great city to live in, especially if you have young children. Southampton has incredible green spaces and playgrounds are spread all around the city, so is fairly easy to find one and let your little one enjoy himself while you try to catch on some readings... Or just loose yourself and play with him!

Today I will de writing about one of my favourite spots to go with my toddler, let me introduce you to to a hidden jewel of Southampton: Riverside Park.

I have been living in the city for a couple years now, but only last year I discovered this incredible lovely  park, which as the name suggests, is located around the river, River Itchen. This urban park is quite large, 32 hectare of pure pleasure for all ages, it has playgrounds, one skate park, one golf course, cricket pitches, football pitches, tennis courts.... And if you enjoy long walks, I do recommend you to walk along the River Itchen from this park all the way to Winchester. Sure, is indeed a long walk, it will take you a whole day but you will certainly enjoy the beautiful scenery that the Itchen's riverside has to offer.

Anyways, I as about to tell how how much both I and the little one enjoy Riverside Park.  This park
has so much for the little one to enjoy!

And theres always a new finding to discover.... Today it was a new public art piece that was greeting us while we were adventuring the park. I first saw it in our morning walk, while crossing Cobden Bridge we could see silhouettes of a pack of birds lifting of a tree:



Its a beautiful piece made out of mirrors that reflect either the sky, the tree branches, the light...:



After admiring the piece we began our long walk by feeding the ducks, gulls and swans...


We are not the only ones who love to feed the different birds. Today we also enjoyed watching the feeding frenzy!
If its Sunday on Summer months the little one can have a train ride on the mini-railways managed by Southampton's Society of model engineers....

The first playground of the Riverside park is located right next to the mini railways. Although this one does not offer many  playsets for the little ones, theres a slide and my little guy just loves the slide. Today we've continued to walk along the river and just admired some slight changes in the riverscape, the meanders of the river hide and show little surprises that we both enjoy watching.





Its a great opportunity to teach the little ones about nature, landscape, the different birds,... We've found a robin today:



We then reached other playground. This one is my little one's favourite as it has more items that he can play with.


And here is usually where we end up staying for hours.... Well, today it was just until lunch time as this was our morning walk. I still have much to explore in the Riverside Park. This was only a small area of it. However, just for this tiny bit that we already know we just love it!

23 February 2016

Baking my very first swiss roll with my toddler!




Mondays are my most exhausting week days. Mondays are also my favourite day. 
On Mondays I stay at home with my little one.... Its just me and him. Some Mondays go better than others... Thats also means that on some Mondays  I am more imaginative than others.
It can be difficult to keep your little one occupied, and at the same time keeping up with all the things you have to do. It does mean that you have to do the things considering that you have an extra hand to help you out.... That extra help some times can be extremely helpful....

After all chores done, which as you can imagine were so very easily done between the two of us, we managed to get some free time to do some baking.... 

You could think that baking would not be an easy thing to do with a toddler around... Theres extra cleaning to do (plus the extra bit of your helpful hand), and its baking.... But, 

Baking means that we are both occupied. And we get a sweet thing to bite on later! And it can also be so much fun!
The little guy chose the recipe that we would be baking, (it was really fun seeing him flipping through the recipe book without ripping the pages...), and he decided that we would be baking a swiss roll:



It was my very first attempt to bake this, so I had no idea how this would work out.... I read several times the recipe at first and it seemed simple to follow up. I was also lucky because I had all the ingredients around.

And we started to prepare all we needed! One thing that I have noticed, he really likes to help me out ... He is quite good following up on what I say if he feels that is contributing somehow. Although I also noticed that there are some things that he prefers doing than others...

But when it comes to baking, he does have some fun with me, baking together...:




Some easy tasks he can do, bringing the ingredients to the counter top, and then  adding sugar, flour... In the beginning he was a bit scared with the sound from the cake mixer, but then he wanted to see everything.



This recipe does not need much time in the oven, just 10 min or less, which is quite good when you have an anxious toddler waiting for it!

In the meantime we were spreading the sugar for the roll...:


He was quite good at spreading the sugar.... So much fun,.... And so much cleaning to do afterwards... But hey, theres a swiss roll on the oven so, its all worth it!

And he was also good spreading the strawberry jam!


The rolling was the tricky part. It didn't go that well, we didn't achieve the rolling look as the book.... But it was quite tasty!
And this is it, the swiss roll!


I have to re-watch some of Mary Berry's tips on rolling.... I also failed to use the right form size, so my roll  was longer...

But I do enjoy baking with my little guy. And so does he. When we are both busy baking, that means that he doesn't  get to feel bored, or unsure with what he should be doing. And so am I. 
I get the sense that Mondays when we are both entertained things run much more smoothly. When he gets bored tantrums show up. Seems quite logic right?  But no so much when you have a screaming toddler around and you don't know what else to do... And trust me, the extra cleaning its worth the lack of tantrums.... at least for me....!

Going for another bite now...

09 February 2016

What I read: Strictly Between us



*This post contains affiliate links, all opinions are my own* 

I recently finished reading a book by Jane Fallon, “Strictly between us”, which was sent to me by Penguin Random House. By the way, thank you so much Penguin books! It was the very first time I ever read Jane Fallon and I was overall pleased with her story telling.This was a really easy novel to read, however, I am an avid reader, and since I was missing reading something as chick lit, far from any scientific book or scientific journal article (which  are my only reads lately),it may have been a huge factor in my appreciation...

The book is divided in four parts, though all part of the same plot.  The first part introduces us the main characters, best friends Tamsin and Michelle, and Tamsin’s assistant Bea. The second and third parts are all about the plot, which thickens, where we get to discover lies,some twists and more betrayals….  And finally, the fourth part, the conclusion and where we discover the different characters destinies.

This story is mostly about  two characters, Tamsin and Bea, which are complex and flawed. In the very beginning we learn about Tamsin’s betrayal. This could lead you to dislike Tamsin, the main character, however while reading the story I found myself cheering for Tamsin and whishing for her friendship with Michele to continue. Even though we know that Tamsin deceived Michele several times, we also learn how much she deeply cares about her. Its quite mind twisting!

What I really enjoyed about this book  is how Jane tells the story.  We get to unravel the plot through two different perspectives, firstly through Tamsin’s eyes, then Bea’s, and so on.  Every time  she switches perspective, a little piece of the story is discovered.  We get to learn how each characters feels about what is happening, through their own words,  their role in the storyline, their deceptions and reasons for it.

The reality is not always black and white, and this story clearly shows us this.  In Bea, we find an antagonistic character and while her duplicity might not be justifiable, I still felt for her,  as I knew why she was acting as she was.  Although I was not cheering for her as I was with Tamsin, still I did not dislike her terribly.  In the end, it was Tamsin who was responsible for the outcome, as she was the instigator of the situation that leads Bea to act as she did… Intricate situations played by flawed characters.


I also enjoyed the ending… Every character had a deserving conclusion. The ending was not fabulously happy for all characters as usually is, as it was not a terrible destiny for all antagonists….


Overall it was a good read, the novel is funny, lighthearted and if you are looking for a weekend (or afternoon) easy read I definitely recommend it.

The book is available to purchase online through amazon:




as other retailers as well.
 
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