Now that I’m a Stay at Home Mom, it would be easy for the days to all blur into one. And sometimes they do! We have our regular classes that punctuate the week but after a nap and lunchtime, our afternoons tend to look mostly the same – especially at this time of year when the weather isn’t necessarily very conducive to lots of outside adventures. I try and make the most of our weekends to do something special, but often, they fly by in a haze of household chores. But not last weekend. For a long time, Little Pickle’s Dad (LPD) has been itching to visit Sutton Park and seeing as we were heading into Birmingham last Saturday to see Me… at mac birmingham, it made sense to journey onwards to Sutton Coldfield as we were over half way there already. I was a little bit nervous about such a long day out and about, but you know what? We need to do it more. It was absolutely brilliant. This is definitely one day that will long stand out in my memory.
A Railway Adventure
Pickle is at the precious age where he’s just starting to show enjoyment of things that are novelty – sitting on a big chair unaided, being trusted to carry a baguette all the way back to the car, and of course, riding on a train. I thought he might like to look out of the window, like he did on our last train adventure, but this time, it was ALL about trying to keep his balance whilst the train rocked to and fro. We didn’t bother bringing a pushchair, and instead just took along the Lillebaby carrier we’re currently hiring from It’s a Sling Thing which actually made the journey a lot less stressful – I didn’t have to worry about carting a bulky pram on the train or finding space for it, and even though the idea of having somewhere to strap Pickle in to contain him sounds like a great idea in theory, I know from experience that it usually just ends up in a tantrum!
First Stop: University
Our first destination of the day was the Midlands Arts Centre, a short(ish) walk from the train station at the University of Birmingham. Although I didn’t study in Birmingham, walking through their campus brings back so much nostalgia for my own days at University. It’s like a weird trip down memory lane in an alternate universe. I’m not sure I could have quite imagined walking through campus with a toddler strapped to my back, hurrying along to make sure we got to the theatre in time for the children’s play to begin when I was a student!
There was a lovely book fair on at mac Birmingham that weekend, and seeing as I forgot to buy LPD a ticket to see the performance of Me… with us before the tickets all sold out, he treated himself to a coffee in the cafe and a browse of the books whilst Pickle and I made our way up to the Foyle Studio for some Little Angel Theatre magic. I’ve written a full review of the production, but the short version is: I loved it!
After the beautiful play, we gave Pickle a bite to eat whilst we enjoyed a festive hot chocolate before beginning the journey back to the train station. It was around nap time, so it didn’t surprise me when Pickle dozed off on the walk back – SO CUTE.
Second Stop: Sutton Coldfield
I’m a terrible creature of habit, and whilst I like to think I’m adventurous, I do get quite nervous about going somewhere new and feel quite anxious about things that could go wrong. In a way, I think travelling somewhere by public transport gives you a bit more freedom to explore. You don’t have to panic about finding the nearest parking space or navigating your way around a busy city centre with the pressure of other traffic around you. If you’re walking, you can go at your own pace. You can stop and get your bearings. You can turn back in the other direction and it’s not a problem. Although I’ve been to Sutton Coldfield many times, it’s usually only been to visit family and never to just explore in my own way.
It was really easy to find our way to the park from the station thanks to some great signage, and it wasn’t long before we let Pickle make the most of his wellies and run around. It was just wonderfully peaceful, quiet and special to have time together as a little family. We played with leaves, we chased and giggled and we also tried to diffuse what could have been a major tantrum after we wouldn’t let Pickle play in the stream!
We enjoyed the fresh air, and the vast open spaces, and although we were there for a good while, we barely scratched the surface of this colossal park. There’s even a Donkey Sanctuary there, but we didn’t make it to that end of the park. As noses were getting cold and little hands feeling a bit frosty, we bundled Pickle back into his carrier and set off in search of the pub where my Dad was watching the rugby with his best friend. It just so happened that he had taken the train to Sutton Coldfield that day too (what are the chances?!) and we couldn’t miss up on the opportunity to have a drink and catch as much of the game as Pickle would let us.
A Bonus Third Stop: the German Christmas Market
On the journey home, we debated whether it was too late or not to stop at the German Christmas market in Birmingham. The main draw for me was the irresistible lure of a mulled wine, and the need to grow my Christmas Market mulled wine mug collection but with the nights drawing in, I wasn’t sure if it was wise to keep Pickle out much later. We occupied Pickle by firing up my tablet and letting him watch an episode of Mike the Knight using London Midland’s Motion service (free onboard WiFi and a selection of free TV shows and movies to watch). The episode finished just as the train was pulling into New Street… and knowing we’d regret it if we didn’t go, we hopped off the train and headed out for a quick walk around.
We didn’t buy anything except for two steaming mugs of mulled wine, but that was plenty to get us feeling Christmassy and to let Pickle take in the lights and sounds.
It probably sounds weird, but I was proud of us. Proud to have been out on a little adventure – all that way. To have not let ourselves get stressed (even though, it would have been easy to when Pickle was literally running in circles around the pub, and pulled the emergency cord in the disabled toilet after managing to wee through his trousers). I was determined to have a memorable, enjoyable day – and we did. It’s given me the confidence to be a bit more ambitious about our weekends, and how I think about planning our days out. Sutton Park, we’ll definitely be back!
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Disclaimer: we were sent a pair of rail tickets from London Midland to use as we saw fit on their services. This blog post wasn’t a requirement for receiving the tickets, but I’m very grateful for them enabling us to have a great family day out. As always, all views and opinions are my own.