Friday 29 June 2012

Family Fun: Hiking round Loch Muick

Today wasn't the best day for hiking but we are made of tough stuff! Just wish I had remembered my waterproof trousers... We drove up to Loch Muick (a favourite place of the royal family) and parked up in the car park for £3. We donned our coats, grabbed an umbrella and took our picnic in rucksacks.

Very quickly we saw a herd of red deer feeding in the field. We checked out the visitors centre with its displays about the local wildlife. There is plenty to see in the glen if you are lucky...

Then it was off to the Loch shore and along the path. There was plenty of water around on the ground as well as falling from the sky..

Luckily there was plenty to keep the children's interest on the way spotting deer and birds. It was uphill much of the way but it's not too steep. We stopped for lunch near a bridge where the path branched in two. At this point it really bucketed down so the umbrella was perfect to picnic under:

We then continued on a narrower, rockier path with even more puddles to the head of the loch. Across the top there are little bridges over the main streams. Even so it was rather boggy under foot.

The return along the other shore was easier as the way is better to give the Royal Family access to their house on the side of the Loch. We discovered a little bothy in the outbuildings of the royal property which looked rather fun to stay in. We had snack break in the wood adjacent to the house although we were plagued by midges. It was lovely seeing the Loch in sunlight briefly:

Then we walked down the rest of the Loch and tried to race the rain clouds back to shelter (we failed!).

Despite the rain it was a lovely walk and one I would thoroughly recommend.

Thursday 28 June 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful: The Royal Deeside Edition ( #R2BC )

 Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Joining Michelle's blog hop is easy this week as I've been having a marvellous time on Royal Deeside!

1) Holiday

I have been on holiday in one of my favourite places in the whole world Ballater in Royal Deeside. It's my first visit for 5 years as due to either work or children's school I haven't been able to come.

2) Locals

We have been loving a family of red squirrels that feed in the tree outside our lodge. They are so tame we have been able to get within a couple of metres of them! It's great to see them doing so well up here. We have loved seeing the other local animals such as yesterday's picture showed.

3) Proud Mummy

On Tuesday we did a 7 mile bike ride both off road and on an old railway line. Seeing as my son only learned to ride last month and my daughter 7 months ago it's a big achievement. Hope it's the start of many family adventures.

4) Spoiled rotten

Being away with my parents is such a treat as it really spreads the load. There are plenty of us around to entertain, cook and do bed time. Going swimming every day is so much easier with 2 or more adults too.

Monday 25 June 2012

Storybook Glen, Maryculter

A hidden valley containing lots of nursery rhyme characters and other children's favourites. We went as 3 generations and all enjoyed ourselves.

You descend either steps or a pushchair slope into the landscaped gardens. At this time of year there was a mass of rhododendrons of varying colours all over the place. The gardens are designed so that there are surprises round each corner and very few straight lines.

Many of the models have recently been freshly painted but others were looking rather sad. The children didn't seem to notice though! They were too busy exploring the several mini castles and other buildings.

Other highlights included Ben the Highland Cow and the playground. With virtually only our family there they had free rein on the equipment. My son's favourite was the helter skelter and my daughter loved the intriguing climbing frames.

Here are a few photos of our day:

Saturday 23 June 2012

Old Toll Tea House, West Linton

A great place to break a journey near Edinburgh. Light lunches and cakes at reasonable prices. As a bonus it's next to the playground! Here are some photos of our lunch:

Friday 22 June 2012

Olympic torch relay

Today was Kendal's moment to welcome the Olympic torch and it's cavalcade. Typically it was raining quite heavily this morning but that didn't deter the crowds. I had my kids up early so we could get a parking space in the centre and grab a rare McDonald's breakfast first!

Being a sponsor the restaurant were handing out balloons to everyone to wave. These didn't like the rain very much and bounced along the ground rather than floating! There were also plenty of street hawkers selling flags and inflatable torches. We missed out on free Coca Cola goodies as they were limiting the hand outs :-(

The atmosphere built as the police passed on information as to the progress of the torch. Then the early stages of the cavalcade passed us by. We were near a kiss point so the next torch bearer was dropped off and given a final briefing by a cyclist with an emergency back up torch on his back! She looked quite nervous but still managed to wave to the crowds.

Then the previous torch bearer appeared to cheers rolling down the street. They met in front of the library for the handover and the photo opportunity moment. That was the point all the grown ups stepped forward to snap and some of the children missed it - whoops!

Off went the torch to more cheers and we headed back to the car. At the last minute we realised the relay was looping round the car park so ran over in time to see it from above. This time my son actually got a good view!

So that's it for Cumbria and the torch relay. Next time we see it as a family will be in the Olympic stadium in August!

Update as to what I got to hold at work:

Thursday 21 June 2012

Reasons to be cheerful: letter D ( #R2BC )


Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

This week Michelle has reached the letter D in her alphabetical #R2BC so let's see if I can think of thing making me smile beginning with D...

1) Dad

Being geographically close to my dad is a real reason to be cheerful. Love seeing the way he is bonding with my children and it's great watching them together:

This was them examining great grandpa's medals together.

2) (Ken) Dodd

My children hadn't got a clue who the funny man with the duster was at Liverpool Lime St station but seeing his stature brought back happy memories for me!

3) Decorations

Seeing all my great grandfather's war decorations made me so proud of him. I can't imagine what he went through over the time span of the first world war but seeing his medals makes it seem more real.


Wednesday 20 June 2012

#TheGallery: Family

This week's prompt has come with good timing as family is close to my heart after my grandmother's funeral this week. My family is very important to me and losing my last grandparent has left a hole in my life. Granny has always been there in my life and here are some of my favourite photos of her:

Goodbye Granny x

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Family History: World War One

Last month I posted about finding my great grandfather's medal record from in this post. When the article came to the attention of my aunt and uncle I discovered that they had the actual medals! Today I got to see them and plenty of other memorabilia from my great grandfather.

It appears he was in the forces (maybe as a reservist?) as far back as 1913 as he had some medals for 3rd places in an army shooting competition at both 300 yards and a quarter mile. Both these medals are from the 5th Battalion the Hampshire Regiment:

In 1914 he was serving at the front in the 5th London regiment as a private. The proof for this includes a letter published in the local paper in Bickerstaffe:

He also had been given a box of cigarettes and tobacco by Princess Mary and her charity for Christmas in 1914:

There are still original cigarettes and tobacco in the box! Charles was himself a pipe smoker and his pipe from the war had his friends' names carved into it:

For his service in 1914 he would receive the 1914 Star:

At some point before his wedding in 1915 he received a rapid promotion to 2nd Lieutenant. We need to get his full records to find out more. This meant he moved from a clay dog tag to a metal one:

Whilst he was an officer he had a notebook he used to record both important information on explosives and details of the mess bills:

Apparently he helped train troops whilst recovering on sick leave and on one occasion had to act fast when a recruit pulled the pin out of a grenade but forgot to throw it...

By the end of hostilities he had earned two more service medals:

I am just bowled over to have been able to hold these precious pieces of my family history. I feel so lucky that my great grandfather came through the whole war when so many others didn't. Now the challenge is to see if I can find out more about his service...

So go and ask your family if they have something lurking in a tin or box in the attic.

Monday 18 June 2012

Olympic countdown

Today I picked up my olympic tickets from the post office:

It seems so long ago that I was successful in my bid for tickets. The children and I are in the cheapest seats in the stadium which turn out to be on the narrow end of the oval! Think it will be more of a case of soaking up the atmosphere than getting up close and personal to the action...

Reading through all the bumph with the tickets we will have to abide by lots of rules and regulations and are expected to be there at 7:30 in the morning!!! It is going to be an amazing experience all round although I am more excited than the children at the minute. Hopefully seeing the torch through Kendal on Friday will build it all up for them.

I have got my quick guide to athletics to take with us as I haven't got a clue about some of it! Still just over 40 days to go but it really feels like its nearly here now I have the tickets