Firstly an apology! I have all but abandoned my blog this last week or so. Unfortunately I was struck by the lurgy and coupled with lack of sleep, a grumpy toddler and work, I just really haven’t felt like writing anything. I’m still struggling to shake off the last of the germs (damn you pathetic immune system!) but am feeling much better than I did so I’ve dusted off the old Chromebook and am getting back to it!
A few weeks ago, Mr NJC and I did the unthinkable. We booked a week off work, and sent Stripe to the childminder’s anyway! He only goes 3 days a week so for the first few days we spent time as a family including our trip to Scarborough but Wednesday to Friday were ours! Three days toddler free! Of course the Mummy Guilt struck when he clung to me at drop off time on the first day but I soon overcame that when I returned home to my lovely husband and an entire 9 hours to do with what we wished!
Toddler Free Day 1
First on our list of things to do whilst toddler free, was to eat a meal out in peace! We opted to go to Chiquito at Birstall Shopping Park, having been there before and enjoyed it. I had recently downloaded their mobile phone app and been rewarded with a £10 voucher for doing so – can’t go wrong! As it was midday on a Wednesday it was fairly quiet and we were seated in a booth quickly. We decided to share a starter and opted for Beef Chilli Empanadas. You can tell we were excited to be eating out ALONE as I completely forgot to take a photo until we’d polished off the lot!
For mains Mr NJC chose a Spicy Chicken Burrito (mainly because he couldn’t figure out how to say Quesadilla!) and I had a Chimichanga. Both came with fries and soured cream, guacamole and salsa. Both were absolutely delicious but neither of us could finish them as the portions were very generous! We didn’t stay for desserts as I was hankering after some Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream at our next stop…
One our favourite ‘date’ activities before parenthood was a trip to the cinema. Due to a severe lack of babysitters we hardly ever get to go anymore so I was keen for us to go during our toddler free days. I would have liked to have seen Me Before You having read and adored the book by Jojo Moyes but alas this is not Mr NJC’s bag and so we went to see Independence Day: Resurgence. I absolutely love the original film. It’s one of those that I can watch every time it comes on television. I even remember my dad coming home with a huge Independence Day poster when I was about 10 years old (20 whole years ago *sob*) and it having pride of place in my bedroom!
As is so often the case, the sequel unfortunately did not live up to the first film. I won’t do a full review, it’s definitely worth a watch but it just didn’t grip me like the first one did. I felt there was too much emphasis on cramming characters from the first film in (making up for a lack of Will Smith perhaps?) and not enough thought into the actual story-line. They’d also seen fit to have a female president but she was as useful as a chocolate teapot which annoyed me greatly. I did enjoy the cinema experience though. We went to the Showcase cinema at Birstall which has huge reclining, leather seats and masses of leg room so you can get super comfy. I wish all cinemas were like that!
Toddler Free Day 2
For our second day toddler free we decided just to enjoy some time at home. After dropping Stripe off at the childminder’s, I came back home for a lazy morning. We enjoyed hot cups of tea, uninterrupted time on our computers (hello first blog post written in one sitting!) and breakfast that we didn’t have to share. We had been planning on a stroll up to the local pub for lunch but unfortunately the weather turned and so we decided to drive over instead.
The Huntsman Inn is a typical English country pub. In the winter is has a roaring fire and all year round there are spectacular views over the surrounding fields. The menu is just standard pub grub but it’s good pub grub. The afternoon was pretty much the same as the morning with a potter around B&Q thrown in. It was so great just to enjoy each other’s company like the days when we were just a twosome.
Toddler Free Day 3
For our third and final day toddler free, we decided to hit the shops. We rarely go into Leeds city centre any more as the parking is so expensive or you have to get the Park and Ride, so instead we chose to go into Wakefield. There are two main shopping centres in Wakefield, The Ridings, which is the original centre and Trinity Walk the latest development. We had a mooch around Trinity, picking up some new placemats (I know, we’re so rock n roll!) before our stomachs declared that it was time for lunch.
There are a number of places to eat in Wakefield, including Pizza Express and The Handmade Burger Company in Trinity but we opted for an all you can eat called THE Chinese Buffet. The lunch buffet was £8.99 per person. As we hadn’t been before the waiter gave us a tour showing us where the starters and mains etc were before showing us to our table. We sat down for approximately 3 seconds (just to be polite!) before heading over to the starter area.
We helped ourselves to crispy chicken pancakes, spring rolls and samosas. I got myself a little bowl of sweet and sour sauce, or at least I thought I had. I dunked a samosa in and took a bite only to discover that it was butterscotch! I’ve no idea how that happened, but I hope nobody ended up with sweet and sour sauce on their pudding!
There was a large selection of main courses to choose from. I went for Beef in Black Pepper sauce, Chicken in Kung Po style sauce and good old Sweet and Sour chicken. I also got both egg fried rice and soft noodles. It was all really tasty and nice and hot, not like at some all you can eat places where everything is luke warm and you wonder how long it has been sitting there. I would have gone back for a second plate but Mr NJC had declared that he was pogged and as the restaurant is opposite a gym and I had been watching people on treadmills whilst I stuffed my face, I didn’t feel like being a solo bloater!
That said, there was no chance that I was leaving without a pudding! There was a vast array of puddings to choose from including jelly, ice-cream, petits fours, cakes and banana fritters. I selected the chocolateyist (that’s totally a word!) of the petits fours as well as swiss roll and angel cake to play it safe. Even after 5 years together and 20 months of marriage Mr NJC looked suprised by the amount on my plate. He clearly didn’t grasp the concept of ALL you can eat!
After lunch we made our way through The Ridings Centre and stopped at Artworld Gallery for a look at the paintings. We’ve been talking about buying a couple of paintings by a local artist for a few years now but still haven’t taken the plunge. It’s difficult to find pieces that we both love enough to warrant the expense… one day!
Our three days toddler free were absolute bliss. Of course we missed Stripe and spoke about him often, but it was lovely to have the freedom to do what we wanted when we wanted. It was good to just be a couple for a while and give our relationship some TLC. We spend a lot of time together anyway but with a demanding 1 year old it is difficult to give each other attention and we often end up snapping at each other because we are tired and frustrated. I would highly recommend spending some time baby or toddler free if you can! What would you do with your time if you could be child free for a day or two?