Thursday, 31 January 2013

Reasons to be Cheerful: Week 5 #R2BC

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Michelle is showcasing some fabulous new bloggers this week so why not pop over to check them out! Before you do here are my reasons to be cheerful this week:


1) Good local service

My car unfortunately once again needed work doing to pass its MOT. Luckily my mechanic Des always does his best to minimise costs and got it sorted for as little as possible. Always great to have a trustworthy mechanic who sticks to his quotes and makes sure the customer pays just what is needed.

2) Time out

Not working in the mornings means I have time to get some me time in daylight. It's amazing how restorative the powers of coffee, cake and mummy chat can be! As a bonus I get to admire St James' stained glass windows:

3) Gym success

I belatedly had a review to see how my 30 session gym programme I started in September and finished in December had changed my body. It was all good news. I've lost 5 kg dropping my BMI to less unhealthy levels. My body fat has gone down by 2.5% too which is important. My blood pressure and lung capacity were already good so not much change there. As for my measurements I've last 3 cm off my arms, 5 off my chest, 5-6 off my waist, 7 off my hips and 3 off my thighs! Lets just say I'm pleased. I will be starting a new core programme next month to complement my running regime as I don't need any more cardio. And the good news is I qualify for a discounted membership from tomorrow so it's not breaking the bank!


Why are you happy this week?

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Get Fit Feel Epic Week 4 #GFFE

Well after the continued success in week 3 was I going to be able to stick with the plan and keep up the good work after losing 1/2 stone so far this month? I wasn't feeling particularly slimline when I approached the scales tonight at class so it was a mix of relief and annoyance that I had stayed the same weight.

I have been doing really well on the exercise front. In the last week I've managed to get to one aerobics and one salsa class plus I've managed 3 runs with my NHS Couch to 5 k podcast getting me up to 3 minute running intervals. Not having a car for parts of 2 days forced me into walking a lot more and at quite a brisk pace. So this has been a good part of the plan that I have stuck to! 

So if the weight hasn't shifted it must be due to consuming more calories than I was planning. I started off well this last week and then the weekend came along... It was a bit of a graze fest with sledging working up an appetite! The rest of the week has been a bit hit and miss too. The down side of the lack of car has been that I've had some very rushed days grabbing food where I can. Of course this has meant that its not all been very healthy - for instance on the way to class the only food in the car was crisps and having not eaten since 11:45 I needed something! 

Therefore I need to get myself more organised for the upcoming week. In my car I need to remove any naughty snacks and replace them with fruit or something else that won't do any damage. I know as well that I didn't track all my calories on MyFitnessPal so I need to do better. With my alcohol free January coming to an end this is even more important so I've downloaded the new Change4Life drinks tracker app to make sure I keep within sensible limits. 

Let's hope I can get back with the plan and lose more weight next week! I do have a fitness assessment at the gym tomorrow (postponed from December) to see how my gym programme has changed my weight and fitness. It will be interesting to see what that throws up too..

Enough Food For Everyone IF


Hunger and malnutrition in childhood will trap almost a billion young people in poverty by 2025, according to a major new campaign, launched this week by Britain’s leading development charities and faith groups. ‘Enough Food for Everyone IF’ is the largest coalition of its kind in the UK since Make Poverty History in 2005.

The group warns that in a world where there is enough food for everyone, the scandal of children growing up hungry also imposes a grave economic burden on the developing world, costing £78 billion over the next 15 years.

In its first report out this week the group, which numbers 100 organisations and has the backing of philanthropist Bill Gates and Desmond Tutu, warns of the human and economic cost of hunger in a world where there is enough food to feed everyone.

As well as the 937 million children and young people (aged 15-40) whose life chances will be permanently damaged by the impact of childhood hunger by 2025, the report estimates that malnutrition will be costing developing countries an annual $125 billion (£78 billion) in lost economic output by 2030.

Great strides have been made in reducing poverty and 14,000 fewer children are dying each day than in 1990. But hunger is threatening to reverse these achievements. Hardworking poor farmers, especially women and their children, vulnerable and ordinary people everywhere face the highest food prices in a generation. In the UK, the numbers of people needing to use food banks has risen sharply. Climate change is making things even worse.

The campaign, which was formally launched on January 23 at Somerset House, London and across all nations of the UK, calls on Prime Minister David Cameron to use the UK’s G8 presidency in 2013 to take action on the root causes of the hunger crisis in the poorest countries. The ‘IF’ movement challenges the Prime Minister to tackle 4 big IFs to help there be enough food for everyone:

• IF we stop poor farmers being forced off their land, and use the available agricultural land to grow food for people, not biofuels for cars.

• IF governments keep their promises on aid, invest to stop children dying from malnutrition and help the poorest people feed themselves through investment in small farmers.

• If governments close loopholes to stop big companies dodging tax in poor countries, so that millions of people can free themselves from hunger.

• IF we force governments and investors to be honest and open about the deals they make in the poorest countries that stop people getting enough food.

Taking action on the ‘corporation tax gap’ by multinational companies alone would enable developing countries to raise enough revenue every day to save the lives of 230 children under 5 currently dying because of malnutrition.

Desmond Tutu supports Enough Food for Everyone IF and said:
“Hunger is not an incurable disease or an unavoidable tragedy. We can make sure no child goes to bed hungry. We can stop mothers from starving themselves to feed their families. We can save lives. We can do all of this, IF we are prepared to do something about it. IF we challenge our leaders to take action. IF they listen to us. It’s time the world’s decision-makers came to the right decision on hunger. It’s time to end the unnecessary suffering caused by the failure of the current food system. We can make hunger a thing of the past IF we act now.”

Grammy Award winner, Angélique Kidjo, commented:

“We need to solve the underlying issues of famine and hunger once and for all. People are denied access to land that could produce food. Parents work tirelessly, but still can’t afford to feed their children. It’s unfair, it’s unjust and the truth is – it’s totally preventable. With enough people behind this campaign, we can make world leaders listen. 2013 can be the year we change the future by making this the beginning of the end of world hunger. It takes people coming together on a large scale demanding change to make this happen. IF you believe that everyone can and should have enough food to live, please join us.”

Ben Jackson, Chief Executive of BOND, said:

“We should be proud of the great strides we are taking as a world to reduce poverty and tackle infectious diseases, but it is still the reality that more people die each year from hunger than from AIDS, Malaria and TB combined. In a world where there is enough food for everyone, this is nothing short of a scandal. We need a concerted effort from governments, civil society and philanthropists to tackle the root causes of this problem and together build a world where no child has to go hungry.”

The London launch event was held in the courtyard at Somerset House and was attended by more than 1,000 campaign supporters, including actors Bill Nighy, Keeley Hawes, Bonnie Wright and Fay Ripley, musician Baaba Maal, journalist and TV presenter Lauren Laverne and comedian Tamsin Greig. 

It featured the world’s first Twitter-powered 3-D interactive animation which was mapped to the building of Somerset House, bringing its architecture to life in 3-D, telling the story behind the campaign: that there is enough food for everyone but not everyone gets enough food. For the first time ever, a mapped projection incorporated live tweets from the audience, celebs and people across the world. The animation culminated with the four big IFs which comprise the campaign’s demands to the G8.

Enough Food for Everyone IF events will be taking place across the UK’s four nations: in Glasgow, Scotland; in Cardiff, Wales and in Belfast, Northern Ireland, as well as regionally across more than 20 key towns and cities.

In the 12 minutes it will take to show the animation:

• 52 children around the world will die from malnutrition;

• £2.3 million in tax will be dodged by multinational companies operating in the world’s poorest countries, 

• The UK will have burnt enough food crops in our cars as biofuels to feed almost 90,000 people for a day.

• Land 25 times the size of the Olympic stadium will be grabbed by multinational companies and foreign governments.

IF enough people join us in showing support for ending hunger, world leaders will be forced to act. Join us at

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Tuesday App Review: Wheels on the Bus

Sponsored post

I was lucky to be sent a code for a new music app Wheels on the Bus which is designed as an introduction to music for 2-6 year olds. I let my 6 year old loose without any input from me. The app comes with several different sections:

The main music section introduces children to music by highlighting the note to press to play along with the sheet music for the wheels on the bus. As a tune that most children know its a good one to start with:

There is also an option to play the tune without the sheet music being shown. The next note isn't coloured in until you have pressed the first one.

For variety there is also a paint box option which allows them to colour in pictures of buses and either choosing colours or using the magic brush:

Like many games from P2 Games the child can also use stickers to create moving scenes:

Or they can do simple jigsaw puzzles:

To show off their musical skills they can record their own tunes too:

Not sure my son will be given a recording contract just yet! He had a great time playing with the app and I could see his speed of playing improving the more he did it. At only £1.49 Wheels on the Bus is a good value app for trying out your young ones musical talents and having other fun activities as well.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Exercise and the single parent

I was asked last week how I was finding time as a single mum to exercise and get in shape whilst bringing up 2 children. It's certainly a juggling act and nowhere as easy as the days when I was single and child-free. Back then I could easily get to a weekly exercise class and if a mate wanted me to make up the numbers for a badminton game I could just go. I wasn't all that fit or anything but I was exercising every week.

Then baby number one came along. Suddenly if I wanted to do anything someone else had to mind the baby. My then husband was never home in time from work for me to get to an evening exercise class. Any time we went swimming I was pushing her around in a baby float seat and not really swimming at all. Not surprisingly I gained quite a bit of weight before I had baby number 2.

Life then got extra complicated as there were 2 little ones to entertain or to get someone else to take of. Exercise was limited to running around in the park or long walks. Then I became a single parent and had even less free time! For a short while I managed to get to a special aerobics class for mums at our local soft play centre run by the health authority. I could workout and my son could play safely watched by a member of staff.

Once I moved up to nearer my parents things have got easier for 2 reasons. Firstly my parents are willing to baby sit once a week so that I can get to my Rosemary Conley class. At first this was during the day whilst my my dad entertained my pre-schooler and now its an evening class as I work every afternoon. Its a nightmare when they are away as I have to miss my workout! The second reason is that we can often get out on walks, bike rides and swims as a foursome or fivesome. This means that we get a better chance of getting some decent exercise ourselves whilst the children are safe and having fun too.

Now I'm working every afternoon I am having to squeeze in exercise around the times that my children are at school and I'm not working. I have tried using the Wii or a DVD after they have gone to bed but this results in a very late night! Though its been ages since I did a Wii Just Dance workout with the children.. So on a couple of days a week in the morning I am fitting in either a run or a salsa class. Of course the other things that need doing in this free time such as housework end up taking a back seat...

At the weekend I am trying to find ways of exercising with the children. As yet they aren't both competent enough swimmers for me to go to the pool with both of them and leave them to their own devices whilst I do some lengths. If I get there with my daughter on her own then I can do a few. So I need to find things we can do together. This is why I invested in a cheap adult scooter so we can all be out together. I am on a pretty similar learning level to my son though my daughter is much faster than the pair of us!

Then there is my new running regime which needs 3 runs a week with gaps for breaks. The only way I can fit this in to take my children out with for 30 minutes on a Saturday or a Sunday... So today I got them on their scooters and we headed towards town. We did have a few snags along the way. Firstly my daughter scoots much faster than her little brother and the gap between them got wider and wider. I had to keep going back on the route to let him catch up with me. Then she went so far ahead she took a wrong turning and I had to chase after her to get her back to the right place. Turned out she had as usual ignored my instructions about using the loo before leaving home so we had to find a route that included a usable toilet (couldn't let her do a Paula Radcliffe!). So it was a mixed bag as a workout. Looks like I need to find somewhere that I can run around in circles whilst the children are safely contained in a space such as a park.

If anyone has tips of how to fit in exercise to family life please share with me!

Motivational Monday

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Finally some snow fun

My children have been very disappointed that Kendal seemed to be the only place in the UK without enough snow to use their sledges. They had been rescued from the grandparents' garage but had been sitting around doing nothing..

Then yesterday it finally started to snow and it didn't stop for over 12 hours so we had to stay at the grandparents' house:

The children were finally able to build a snowman even if it was in miniature:

Then we managed to get back across town and into the field behind our house:

We are so lucky to have just enough of a slope for a sledging session without too long a walk from the house. Normally this field is full of dog walkers but today it was mostly children with their parents having a great time whizzing down the hill:

There can't be too many places to sledge where you have an audience of sheep to watch you coming down the hill:

The children and I had a great time and my son even photographed me coming down on his sledge:

The snow might not last but at least we have had some fun! Just glad we filled up our bird house feeding station:

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Friday, 25 January 2013

Helping You Find Healthy

Sponsored Post

Bupa are finding new ways to help us all get fitter and healthier with their new Bupa find healthy web site. It is packed full of free tools, apps and advice to help everyone: 


I decided a good way to find a healthy new me was to start by finding my current Health Age:

Alright it's not too bad, I'm slightly younger than my "real age" so it was time to check out more of the Bupa apps to see what they could do to help! The first recommendation was to aim for a healthier weight which when I clicked on the link gave me more information as to why having a BMI that was too high was unhealthy. Then there were links to healthy eating with diet and nutrition tips and more apps to help plan a healthier diet.   

If I wanted to I could have a healthy diet assessment to see where I am going wrong! I know that at the minute my diet is pretty healthy and I'm temporarily teetotal so I haven't tried this but if your diet is stuck in a rut it could be well worth the 10 minutes of your time.

I was also recommended to check out their fitness and exercise page to help burn off more calories. Apparently I need to exercise 5 times a week - I was doing this before Christmas but I've let this slip a bit... So I have installed the Bupa Fitness App onto my iPad now I have to do a fitness assessment and get myself a customised 4 week programme. To help me there are plenty of fitness apps on the site too:

As part of this I am looking to taking up running with a 10km charity race I have signed up for so I have installed the running app on my iPhone, had a look at their tips for new runners and I've downloaded a programme designed for novice runners to get to a 5km level. Hopefully I can then up to the next level in time for my actual event..

So why don't you find out your Health Age and check out the other useful apps to make you fitter, healthier and younger in 2013! I will have to post again later in the year to see if I've got myself any younger..

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Reasons to be Cheerful Week 4: #ShopLocal #R2BC

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart
Michelle has gone musical this week but I want to extol the virtues of one of our local shops and businesses up here in Cumbria that have made me feel cheerful this week!

Plumgarths Farmshop

The farm shop is based just outside Kendal on the Crook Rd so its very convenient for anyone driving past on the way to Windermere or the M6. Before I moved up here I always used to stop and buy some of their lovely sausages etc to take back to Hastings with me. Last week I cheekily asked on twitter if I could review some stuff for them and was told to pop in and get something!

Stepping inside its an Aladdin's cave of Lake District delights:

Plumgarths are butchers so they have plenty of choices for meat lovers (when I went in the sausage counter had been cleared for the night so just this fridge to be photographed):

The meat has such a good reputation that our local Asda now stocks it in large quantities as part of their drive to support local suppliers. The manager Paul supplied me with a pound of their award winning Cumberland sausages for me to try out with the children. These are slightly less seasoned than the traditional whirl so more likely to appeal to children.

I baked them in the oven yesterday morning so that we all had some for breakfast. My 6 year old son thought they were yummy though big sister wasn't so keen - shame I ended up with an extra one! I like the peppery taste and they were very succulent. There were plenty left over to put back in the fridge for later. In the evening I had a couple cold with an onion chutney (not a local one I'm afraid but I can recommend Friendly Food and Drink from Staveley for their chutneys!).

Do have local shops and businesses that make you smile to visit and to use their products?


Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Get Fit Feel Epic Week 3: #GFFE

Well I was really hoping that this week my weight would continue to drop after the previous 2 weeks but I always dread stepping on to Caytie's scales! Somehow I start to feel really flabby the nearer it gets to my turn... So it was really nice to see that another 1.5 pounds have come off. I am nearly back to the lightest I got last year and sneaking up on that all too elusive 2 stone award...

So what did I do to achieve this? Firstly on most days I kept my calorie intake below 1,500 calories. Some days I went over but it obviously balanced out. Investing in a 3rd hot food thermos has helped as having a hot picnic is much more filling. On days when I know its a manic evening I'm eating my main meal for lunch. Yes I am still eating junk sometimes but on the whole my diet must be going right.

As for exercise I threw a couple of new things to increase the number of days I am being energetic and also added to the variety. I am now the proud owner of a grown up scooter:

I have had a couple of trips on it from my maiden voyage on Saturday to a full trip to church and town on Sunday. I may have got some funny looks and been laughed at by teenagers but its a super fun way to whizz around! I just need to force my right leg to scoot as well as the left.

Then yesterday I took up running and I have challenged myself to work up to a 10 k run on May 18th! I've already signed up and paid so not backing out now... Just need to keep on working my way through the podcasts to build up my stamina and speed... Watch out in the local area for a red faced, panting, plump woman pounding the pavements! Apparently I need to run 3 times a week so I should be able to squeeze that in around my other commitments.

Let's hope I can keep up the momentum into week 4..

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

First Run of 2013

Not only was this my first run of 2013 in fact it was the first run outdoors for a considerable time! Quite possibly I haven't been for jog in the fresh air since I retired from rugby in the late 1990s...

Undaunted by the fact it started snowing again and the roads looked slippery and it was rather cold I donned my running gear and took to the road:

You can just about see the polystyrene looking snow at my feet. My neighbour was quite concerned about me but I promised to take good care of myself. I switched on the NHS Couch to 5K podcast, activated Endomondo on my phone and set off at a brisk walk round the estate. 

Just towards the end of my warm up walk I realised Endomondo had been paused so I managed to get it going. The podcasts are designed for real novices so week 1 had me doing 60 second runs interlaced with 90 second brisk walks. There was music to help you keep up the pace and a lady telling you when to change from one speed to the other.

After a while I found the estate too slippery so headed down the hill towards town as the pavement was clearer. On the way I met our local postman and he suggested heading round the back of Kentrigg so I turned round and ran back up the hill.... It was interesting going down little roads and paths I'd never discovered before.

Then I ran out of route so went back on to my estate and tried a few of the little streets and pathways out of the way. They turned out to be a little too slippery still so I returned to the main road through the estate which had mostly cleared due to traffic. For my cool down 5 minute brisk walk I had to wander up and down my own road (hope not too many people were watching!). 

When I got home after 30 minutes outside I had a nice rosy glow to my face and felt like I'd tried hard but wasn't too shattered. I was disappointed that the Endomondo app hadn't plotted at least half of my route as it must have lost the GPS round the back of Kentrigg. 

I have been warned that even though I found this first run pretty straightforward I may not be feeling that way tomorrow when my body complains about running on roads... If it aches a lot then I will repeat this level of workout just maybe on a better stretch of path/road. If I don't feel too bad then I will try the week 2 podcast which has longer running intervals on it. 

Wait and see how long it takes me to get up to running 5k...

Monday, 21 January 2013

A step in the right direction..

Here is my latest piece of equipment in my battle to get fit:

I have decided its time to stop talking about starting to run and I've invested in some entry level running shoes, I've dug out my iPod headphones and I will be challenging myself to get up to being able to run 10 km.. This may kill me off but watch this space for updates... Just hoping I can remember to use the app more than I have done in the past:

Saturday, 19 January 2013

A Snowy Scoot-Walk Round Staveley

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

No more snow here so a chance for my son and I to have some fun outdoors in Staveley whilst his sister went to a party with her friends. Nice to be able to have time just the two of us. First of all we went to the Recreation Ground where we were almost on our own except for one other brave foolish mum and her pre-schooler. At this point my son gave me a brief lesson in how to use my new scooter:

The whole park had a coating of snow on it:

but it was still possible to have a lot of fun as long as we kept moving around! My son enjoyed having virtually everything all to himself and even told me what to take photographs of him doing like these ones:

After a while even he got cold so he gave me another scooting lesson to get us to Wilf's cafe. There we tucked into fresh soup and sausages on toast respectively:

Yummy! To keep us going for the next stage of our expedition we also had some cakes whilst reading several picture books between us:

Suitably fortified we went out to look at the weir and the river though good old health and safety kept us further back than normal:

Then it was time to head down to the Miles without Stiles path on the far bank of the Kent:

There was time to have a quick game of Troll bridge:

After further scooting practice we headed up the river path to check out the weir:

The path was a real bonus to people with buggies or wheelchairs after it was completed in 2011. So many people were involved in making it look so fabulous:

It was a tad icy for scooting but it didn't stop us from stopping to take photographs as we wandered along. My son took some nice ones himself:

We then headed back through the village and as we still had a while to wait before my daughter was returned to us we spent our last bit of time together in the Duke William pub for a coffee and a juice. It was nice to warm up by their stove: