I am finding it so hard to believe we are only 3 days away from the end of February.  Don’t get me wrong, I am loving the crisp frosty mornings followed by the beautiful sunny afternoons which are so characteristic of a British spring but we are almost in March; Easter is almost upon us and that is just crazy!

I’ve been a bit sporadic with my posts over the last 2 weeks as we’ve been battling various bugs which keep making themselves a nuisance time and again.  Aside from a sore throat or two we have *finally* it would seem kicked them in the behind so I should be back on form from this point.  She says…

Read

Since my last update I’ve read a couple of good books including I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh.  I had been putting off reading this despite the rave reviews I kept seeing everywhere because I’m not so great with thrillers (I couldn’t read Gone Girl when I was on my own in the house, for example!) but I’m glad I went for it in the end.  I read it in pretty much one day and it has been so long since a book has kept me turning pages way into the night.  Although the subject matter is a little hard hitting for the mamas out there, it’s a really great read and I would definitely recommend.


Watched

I don’t want to say Glee again but it is pretty much all I’ve been watching!  I finally made it to THE saddest episode; The Quarterback which is the tribute to Cory Monteith.  I knew it was going to be sad but I didn’t expect that I would find it so moving.  Let’s just say I shed some tears…

We’ve also been watching The Secret Life of the Zoo which the kids are really enjoying and catching up with Cold Case which has finally made a reappearance.  Cold Case is one of my all time favourite shows but after we watched the first season it seemed to vanish from British TV…it’s back now and I am loving it.

Wore

No photos included and a bit of a cheat but I was back wearing a rather unattractive hospital gown again this week.  I had a cardiac referral a while back and had to have an echocardiogram as part of it so I was celebrating the first day back at school with a trip to the hospital.  What dreams are made of, right?!  Luckily it didn’t take too long and they seemed fairly pleased with the condition of my heart although I won’t get the formal results for a little while.  The gowns though…it makes me smile every time they hand me one and try to pass off that they aren’t as terrible as they are.  I don’t think anyone can make a hospital gown look good!!

Heard

Probably joining many a bandwagon with this one but I am loving Lukas Graham’s ‘7 Years’ this week.  I’ve been playing it almost on repeat and it just doesn’t get old.

Made

I spent some one on one time with Meg this week and we thought it was the perfect opportunity to sit down and work on a sequin picture kit she had.  It was quite simple so she just sat and made the picture whilst we chatted away.  It was only maybe 45 minutes but it was so precious and I realised I should do it far more often than I do at the moment.


And Lastly…

We are having a child-free weekend this weekend and although I will miss my babies I am really looking forward to the lie-in tomorrow.  Is that sad or what?!  I’m thinking bacon sandwiches and reading until lunchtime.  I can’t remember the last time I did that!

Have a good week all…



Share:


It has been just over 2 years since we completed our first Stick Man trail at Delamere Forest and we had a fantastic time; when we heard that the Forestry Commission were bringing the trails back this year we knew we had to go along.


It was a beautifully clear day which meant that when the sun was out you really felt warm but as it began to set it soon got cold.  We wrapped up warm and headed out, prepared to only manage an hour or two outside before the cold was nipping at our noses and fingers.  Surprisingly it was quite busy when we arrived and although there were signs that the main car park was closed we managed to nab a free space.



At Delamere they have made some slight changes to the previous Stick Man trail; it’s now in a totally different, newly engineered place which we missed on our way in!


We ended up following the Gruffalo orienteering trail instead to begin with but this was fine as it meant we got to explore the forest which the new Stick Man trail is now not a part of.


Gruffalo trail (accidentally) complete we made our way to the Stick Man trail.  The changes mean that the trail can now stay open until June which is good news for those who don’t fancy heading to the muddy woods in the colder weather.


Stick Man packs are available from the cafe near the Visitor Centre and these contain a number of activities for children to complete as they follow the trail around.  The boards dotted around the trail also encourage children to look around them and engage with nature.

There isn’t much going on around the trail now it isn’t part of the forest so if you want to do some den building or head off the path at all you would need to complete the trail and then walk to one of the paths leading into the main part of the forest.  Obviously we did this the other way round and it was fine although Eli was flagging a little bit by the end.


Completing the booklet in the pack and the different activities on the boards took about 45 minutes but we were the only ones on the trail as it was the end of the day.  I imagine it might take longer if you were to go at a busier time of day.  All of the activities are related to nature and the woods around and involve the likes of building a bird nest, creating a stick tower and making your very own Stick Man or Stick Lady.


Overall with the trip round the woods and the Stick Man trail we were kept occupied for a couple of hours which was great.  In the colder months I find that we don’t manage to be out for as long unless we are doing something fun; the muddier and colder the kids get the less compliant they are about walking around so I think 2-3 hours was a great run.

You can find your nearest Stick Man trail here.


Share:

Endless stretches of golden sandy beach, crystal clear water shimmering in the sun, hours spent lazing in the warmth immersed in my latest book followed by delicious food and cocktails until dawn…once upon a time that would have been my idea of a perfect holiday.  Total and utter bliss.


Actually, who am I kidding, that IS still my idea of a perfect holiday (although maybe not the cocktails until dawn part)…it just doesn’t often go hand in hand with two children aged 4 and 6 who want constant entertainment.

When you become a partner or a parent, holidays have to change to accommodate the other people now in your life and although James and I generally ticked along quite nicely together when we went away, as the kids get older and their interests change and develop, so has the way we holiday together.


For me, I am still a sunbathing, book reading, relaxation seeking bod.  Throw in some exploration and I’m yours.  The writer in me loves to discover the stories of the places we go and (much to the chagrin of Meg and Eli) I would happily spend hours wandering around museums and ruins, imagining myself at the heart of whatever great events took place in times gone by.


Cobbled alleyways call my name and I love nothing more than roaming around, never knowing what to expect around each corner.  My nosy streak has seen me taking part unexpectedly in a traditional Zambian wedding, sitting at the centre of a market atop a drum whilst stallholders performed for me and even eating lobster in total darkness at the end of a pier whilst on my travels.  


James is the foodie of the family.  He is always willing to try local delicacies, never worrying about his digestion (if it came from the side of the road I would almost certainly steer clear of it!) but loving the experience of trying something new.  He’s also a sunseeker like me, but whereas I prefer the slow pace of the warmer weather, he likes to be active.  Give him football, give him watersports, give him swimming and snorkeling, give him hours with the kids running backwards and forwards along the beach…he’ll take it all.  As long as he gets a big hearted meal at the end of the day of course!


Meg is the thrill seeking water baby.  Since she learned to swim she has loved nothing more than hours spent in the water, whether that water is deliciously warm or bone-tingling cold.  She’s also the child you will find longingly staring up at the rollercoaster with its 18 loop the loops and deadmans drop, just wishing she was tall enough to go on (she never will be, for the record.  This mama could not cope with the fear!)  She’s also creative and loves dancing or drawing; making pictures in the dirt or doing yoga in the sand.  She’ll take it all in her stride.  Just give her a heady mix of activities and water and she’s content.


Eli is our adventurer.  If an experience doesn’t leave you messier and muckier than before you started it then it’s not worth doing in his opinion.  He has a huge amount of energy from the second he opens his eyes in the morning until the second he crashes on his bed in the evening and he likes to be on the go-go-go.  Sitting still is for the weak…this boy needs to be kept occupied.  He likes nature and exploration and discovering the new and especially the unanticipated.  Whenever we go somewhere, James and I have to frantically read up on it before we arrive because we know that we will be peppered with questions from the moment we arrive.  The obscurer the better!  Although he does also enjoy the sun, Eli really thrived when we visited Oslo as we were constantly on the move (mostly because it was so bitterly cold!) and he got to learn a whole new host of facts about things like grisly vikings.


So how do we find a holiday which suits all of our different temperaments?  Perhaps the one thing that we all agree on is the fact that we like the new.  We like trying things as a family which we have never done whether that’s learning a new skill like ice skating or just visiting a place we’ve never been before.  We like the excitement of the unexpected and the joy of doing something together.  


Our perfect holiday is one where we find a mix of time when we can relax (or play and charge around nearby in Eli’s case…) and time when we can go out and explore.  Hand Eli a map and tell him he’s responsible for directing us and you never know where you might end up.  Give Meg the chance to do something a little bit challenging and she won’t stop beaming from ear to ear.  Give James a new dish and me a good backstory and we’ll combine them all into a magical family memory, cherished for years to come.


Does that sound like a tall order?  Or a feasible possibility?  I certainly hope the latter as this is our entry for the Mark Warner Family Blogger Ambassador Programme (the creative writer category) and we would love the opportunity to give it a whirl.  

Share:

This month has been a bit of a learning curve for Meg and Eli; we made the decision to start sending Eli to a martial arts class rather than gymnastics, moved Meg to a different gym class and they both got separated into different swimming groups as well.

They don’t do many things after school but they are so used to spending all their free time together that it has been strange for both of them to adjust to doing something without the other one right behind them.

In other ways though it has been nice; Eli only ever really went to gymnastics because Meg did and it became more and more obvious that it wasn’t his forte whereas he’s only been to a couple of martial arts classes and already we can see that it’s much more to his tempo.  Likewise with the swimming, Meg is progressing much faster than Eli so they needed a change.


I suppose it made me contemplate the fact that as they grow older and as their differences and interests become so much more pronounced, we might see a bigger gap appearing in how much time they spend together and this tight little unit that we are so used to having around may not be seen as frequently as it is now.

Of course, that is hopefully way off in the future and even as I’m typing this, I can hear the sounds of their laughter drifting up to the study.  Star Wars is still very much flavour of the year and all their games involve some elaborately complex storyline where they each take a number of characters and play out one of the films.  I have no doubt that this half term is going to be full of pretty much the same game reenacted over and over again. 


Meg still very much takes the lead and is often the one watching over Eli, reporting back if she feels he is taking things slightly off track.  Eli is much wilder than Meg; where she is cautious, he is impulsive and although it can sometimes lead to disagreements on the whole they balance each other out.


It makes me quite glad that I can now sit and enjoy a cup of tea with the television on a normal channel and know that for at least a short period of time, they can entertain themselves without needing me to step in.  However, I’m still waiting for that to happen when we are out and about; I’d love to not have to worry that Eli will have taken himself off to try out something dangerous; which is pretty much a daily occurrence at the moment!

The Me and Mine Project

Share:

I had an absolutely manic time of it last week so I didn’t manage to post much on the blog.  This week has been a lot better; I am beginning to see that I really need structure in my working week as much as possible.  I can’t always guarantee when clients will send work and set deadlines but I can try and make the most of the days I set aside to work and not faff about for hours on pointless and un-work related stuff!

I am back this week and though and ready to share my Little Loves:-

Read

I finished reading my current book ‘Leaving Time’ by Jodi Picoult.  I got this for Christmas and it had been a while since I picked up one of her books so it seemed a good time.  I can’t really tell you what I made of it.  It wasn’t at all what I was expecting if I’m honest.  It’s about elephants and psychics and ghosts and mistakes and as with many Picoult books it challenges your perception on things and has a fair few twists and turns.  I wasn’t all that comfortable with the subject matter although I did love learning about the elephants!


Watched

Sadly (depending on whether you are talking to me or James) I am still on a Glee binge.  I’ve now made it to Season 4 and I’m watching episodes I’ve never seen before as I think we only watched the first few in Season 3.  It’s still enjoyable even though I know it’s going to have a sad outcome when I finally reach Season 6.

We also watched the first episode of The Secret Life of the Zoo with Meg and Eli.  It’s a documentary behind the scenes at Chester Zoo and it was really quite fascinating.  It’s a 6 part documentary so we’re looking forward to seeing the rest.

Wore

My England Ruby top for the first game of the Six Nations.  Despite being surrounded by football fanatics most of the time, Rugby is my own little sport and I love watching it.  Not so keen on England’s performance but we’ll see how it goes over the rest of the tournament.


Heard

Charlie Puth’s album ‘Nine Track Mind’; it was only released a couple of weeks ago and I chanced it on Spotify.  It’s a really enjoyable album and I’ve been loving having it on in the background whilst I’ve been working this week.


Made

As well as trying to structure my days better I’ve also been trying to eat better on the days I’m working at home.  When I’m busy I tend to eat very badly often grabbing a packet of crisps and a chocolate bar at lunchtime to snack on and keep me going until dinner.  This week though I’ve tried some new recipes and although it has taken a larger portion of my time I’ve felt so much better.  One of my successes was tuna stir fry rice.  Really yummy and I made enough to have it a couple of times.


And Lastly…

This week I shared the first chapter on the manuscript I’m currently working on.  You can read it here.  Just after Christmas I felt really subdued about how hard it has been to self-publish and then keep momentum going.  Nearly all of the success stories I have read online involve putting tens of thousands of pounds into marketing campaigns (and how many ordinary people have that kind of money lying about?!) but I’ve given myself a stern talking to and I’ve now got a plan of sorts for the next few months.  It can be so easy to lose sight of the fact that I loved writing Secrets of the River and I love hearing from people who have read it and enjoyed it and that’s why I write.

Have a great week all.

Share: