Saturday 30 November 2013

#CountryKids A retrospective day on Windermere

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

To my shame I haven't been out and about with the children this week except for the school run and an unphotographed scoot to church as we have just been too busy! So instead this is something we did last summer and I really must do again. One grey and damp afternoon I purchased each of us a day trip ticket for the Windermere steamers and we set off to see how much use we could get out of it. First up was a sail on Tern from Lakeside up to Bowness:

MV Tern Windermere

She is a beautiful old vessel and we enjoy our trips on her. It was such a shame that as we boat hopped the weather was pretty damp and we spent a lot of time inside the cabins:

Windermere steamer

The children were brave enough to pose for photographs out on deck a couple of times:

My favourite part of the journey was the little launch from Waterhead over to Wray Castle:

Wray Castle boat house

Wray Castle boat house

On this occasion we didn't get out to explore the castle but its well worth a visit.

These are my top tips for spending a day on the Windermere steamers:
  • Start early to get as much in as you can and actually stop and explore
  • Use timetables to work out the way you want to go
  • Take plenty of warm/waterproof gear as its chilly out on the water
  • To keep costs down take a picnic (wish I'd had a flask of coffee or hot chocolate on this trip!)
I really must try a winter trip as we get a 50% discount as locals!

Friday 29 November 2013

#FlashbackFriday When they were younger..

Just had a look back at some of my oldest photos on Facebook. My kids were oh so cute in their pre-school days:

Thursday 28 November 2013

Reasons to be Cheerful: Week 48, year 3 #R2BC

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Whilst Michelle is taking some time away from Reasons to be Cheerful she had kindly let me host the linky for the month of November. This is my last week then I am handing over to the lovely Ojo's World. So here are my reasons this week:

1) Dr Who at 50!

OK yes I am geek and I am raising my children to be geeks so we have loved all the hype around the 50th anniversary of Dr Who! We all just love the programme and there were plenty of in jokes for all of us in the anniversary special:

2) Proud Mummy

My daughter passed her bikeability award at school meaning she should now be safe on her bike! I've already written more about this early in the week. My children are now also featured in a properly published book!

Marc Grimston with junior authors

3) Operation Tween Bedroom

Tonight I sold the last piece of surplus furniture from my daughter's bedroom. She and I have put all the pieces she wants into the right places and it looks so much bigger! It does look like we may need another trip to Ikea to get some more Trofast storage units but now its a case of getting her possessions one box at a time down from the loft and putting them away... 

4) Getting Fit!

I wrote yesterday about the fact that I finally feel that my running is coming together! Its a real major reason to be cheerful that I seem to have suddenly upped my game and I am on a roll. I am able to say hi to people as I run so I still have some potential too! The fact that whilst running this week I had a close encounter with a wren is also another reason to smile!

So please join in and tell us why you are smiling this week:

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Workout Wednesday

Today I started to real feel my running confidence come back, I just went out and ran and it was feeling really good and when my Garmin bleeped each split time I couldn't really believe how much faster I was going without it feeling hard:

running split times

OK so I am not going to be running in the Olympics any time soon but it did mean that I knocked off nearly 2 minutes from my best ever 5 km run:

Personal best 5 km

So now I need to work on getting that under the 30 minute mark as well as managing to up my game to complete the 10 km race on the 14th December. As you can see by my face at the end of today's run I finally feel confident that I can do it:

Becky Willoughby post run

A couple of other runners recommended I used Strava to get better stats to bore everyone with track my progress. So I spent some time uploading all my runs as tracked via the Garmin since I got it in May! It really showed what a good run I had today:

  •  Best estimated 5k effort (31:16) 
  •  Best estimated 2 mile effort (19:44)
  •  Best estimated 1 mile effort (9:46) 
  •  Best estimated 1k effort (5:42) 

So if you want to follow my running progress then look out for me on Strava:

Looking at all the leader boards etc. on there shows what a challenge I have in becoming a real runner but at least it feels like I may actually be getting there now!

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Book Review: Grandpa Six Legs by Marc Grimston and Mike Allard

Just over a year ago I was having dinner with a friend who just happens to be author Marc Grimston, he promised my then 5 year old son that one day he would write a story with him as the star. In February we spent some time together and my children both helped with some of the story writing:

Marc Grimston getting junior editorial advice

Another friend Mike Allard requested photographs of the children to help with the illustrations in the story. It took a while to complete and publish but finally this week my children received their specially dedicated copies of Grandpa Six Legs:

Grandpa Six Legs Marc Grimston and Mike Allard

The children were so delighted to get them they stuck their noses straight in and read their copies:

reading Grandpa Six Legs

If you look closely you will see that the back cover bears an uncanny resemblance to the photo at the top of this post:

Grandpa Six Legs back cover illustration

This is the official description of the book:

Grandpa Six Legs is a fun story for young children. It's about an old man who lives in an old folks' home, but he has a secret! He is actually a retired Super Hero! His Grandchildren visit each weekend. His young grandson thinks that his Grandpa's stories are fantastic but his older sister thinks that Grandpa is just a silly old man. Something happens to prove the truth. Grandpa Six Legs is an ideal story to read to your little ones at bed time to let them dream of their own Super Hero Grandparents, or to help them as they start reading for themselves.

My son is delighted that like him his namesake adores his Grandpa and believes his stories about being a super hero. His older sister remains unconvinced until something happens that gives Grandpa a chance to prove whether he is just telling tales.

A great story to share with any child who may believe that their grandparent could be a retired super hero in disguise! My 7 year old also enjoyed reading it aloud himself so its great to help build up confidence in budding readers. The children can't wait to take the books into school to show their teachers!

Monday 25 November 2013

Teaching Life Skills

As a parent I know I need to teach my children various life skills to equip them for their later lives. Of course I have to ensure that they are capable of them before letting them loose! The purchase of a flat pack guinea pig run on Saturday was a great opportunity for my daughter to hone her assembling and screw driving skills:

flat pack guinea pig run

First of all following the instructions and putting things in the right place:

assembling guinea pig run

At this point she pointed out that I had omitted to screw the first panel on to the triangles and she set to screwing them together:

using screwdriver

The reward for her labours? A mug of soup in the cold garden whilst watching the guinea pigs have their first experience of grass:

watching guinea pigs

As for her little brother who is a little young for flat pack furniture he was getting in some valuable practice at washing up:

boy washing up

What essential life skills are you teaching your children for independent living when they grow up?

Saturday 23 November 2013

#CountryKids Autumn Walks and Bikeability

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

After last week's dismal lack of outdoor fun I knew I needed to up our game! So on Saturday I allowed extra time for my daughter and I to walk to our destination. We went over the River Kent:

River Kent, Kendal

And had a magical walk through a very autumnal Abbott Hall Park:

Abbott Hall Park, Kendal

Of course darkness had come before we left which made it seem a bit like Narnia but without the snow:

a night walk in the park

We could see the parish church all lit up:

Kendal parish church

And enjoyed a brisk walk back along the river:

a night time walk along the River Kent, Kendal

It was lovely to be out and about together enjoying the fresh air and the surroundings.

This week my daughter's school has been doing Bikeability for the year 5 and 6's who are cyclists. Takes me back to my cycling proficiency days (although that was taught by my mum and another mum and not professionals!). They had 3 days of training and then today took a test. I am pleased to say that my daughter came home with a shiny badge:

rbikeability level 2 badge

So now she and I can hopefully go out more on our bikes! Just a shame my son has to wait 3 years to do his course.. 

Friday 22 November 2013

Barefoot Books Review and Give-away

Sponsored Post

We love books in this house so when Barefoot Books asked us to review some and give away another we were very excited. The children were so keen to look at the new books that we had read all of them the same night we got them!

First up The Princess and the Pea which is a reworking of the classic story for 4-8 year olds:

The Princess and the pea

It tells more of the Prince's travels in find of a princess who meets his expectations of being a real princess. Of course he fails and comes home and the Queen uses the pea test to discover a suitable bride. My daughter was very taken with the beautiful illustrations:

The Princess and the Pea

It is a lovely re-working of the story and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it to her and having her read some of it to me. It would make a beautiful gift as its hardback and comes with a CD of the story teller Xanthe Gresham reading the story herself.

For my son we had The Little Red Hen which is another reworking of a well known story:

The Little Red Hen

It's good to have a story about people not pulling their weight but wanting to share the rewards any way. It has really fun illustrations on every page:

The Little Red Hen

The book was in paperback format and again came with a story CD narrated by Debra Messing. It also includes a recipe for making your own bread which my son is keen to try (watch this space!).

Our final book was A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea which is a singalong with cumulative lyrics:

a hole in the bottom of the sea

The book is a great way for children to learn about how the food chain works under the sea:

a hole in the bottom of the sea

After the song has finished there is a simple explanation of the marine food chain and blue holes that exist at the bottom of the sea. I wish my laptop had a CD drive so I could make full use of the enhanced CD with audio and video animations.

Any of these books would brighten up a child's Christmas and bring much enjoyment. 

Competition finished! There is also a chance to win your a book using the Rafflecopter widget, just browse the web site and comment as to which book you would like to win:

Thursday 21 November 2013

Reasons to be Cheerful week 47, year 3 #R2BC

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Whilst Michelle is taking some time away from Reasons to be Cheerful she had kindly let me host the linky for the month of November. It was lovely last week having so many people joining in and sharing what was making them happy. So here are my reasons this week:

1) Proud Mummy

My daughter helped serve afternoon tea at a fundraising bridge tournament in memory of her great grandmother. We helped to raise nearly £500 for Kendal Mountain rescue which is brilliant. My daughter was complimented by plenty of the participants which made me proud. The next day she went to help her injured granny by doing housework and assisting with cooking tea. She has offered to go back again next weekend whilst I entertain her brother and his friends! Meanwhile my son was doing his bit for Cancer Care with the Santa Dash so I am very proud of him too. 

Kendal Santa Dash 2013

2) Operation Tween Bedroom

Between us my dad and I got the replacement second hand high sleeper from their garage to our house and its finally all up today:

high sleeper

I am a bit worried that there isn't much room for her to grow as the bed is higher than I thought!

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Toy Review: Trashies in Toilets

Sponsored Post

Since we were sent our first Trash Packs in the summer my son has been asking me for more! So you can imagine his reaction when I asked him if he'd like to review the new Toilet Trashies... 

They really are designed to appeal to boys as they appear revolting to grown ups:

trashies in toilets 5 pack

We were sent a 5 pack collection worth £4.99 which is about average for this kind of collectable. Each trashie comes in its own little toilet:

trashie in toilet

They are all very gruesome (my son's description) with their own unique details:

trashie on toilet

Like the original versions they can be used for playing games or make mum's stomachs churn! They would make a fun stocking filler for young boys. And with 2 packs priced at £2.49 they are aimed at the pocket money bracket to encourage a collection of them.

Monday 18 November 2013

Feeling Festive with the Kendal Santa Dash

Christmas does seem to get earlier every year in the shops but to me it's not proper Christmas until Advent. However yesterday it was the Christmas light switch on in Kendal with the Santa Dash and lots of entertainment. 

It was a damp, mizzling day which meant a lower turn out for the Santa Dash but my son and I were keen to get going:

Cancer Care Santa Dash Kendal
Honest he was keen!

After warming up with a local dance troupe the town crier set us off for the dash through the streets of Kendal. There were a few surprised faces from people who obviously weren't expecting a crowd of Santas and reindeer to be on the pavements! My son was much faster than last year and in fact about a third of the way round I gave up trying to run at his pace and went back to my normal steady one...

We went along one side of the river and then went over 2 bridges to end up back at Abbott Hall where Santa's reindeer were waiting to see us:


My son was an amazing 5th whilst I was about 10th but the first lady! We retired to the cafe for a well earned snack:

Abbott Hall mince pie

Then we went back outside where Santa was preparing to board his sleigh whilst Kendal Concert Band played festive tunes:

Santa, reindeer and sleigh

The magic of it all still gripped my 7 year old:

Watching Santa

Then we got into a good position to follow Santa back into town:

baby reindeer

The Queen Katherine School samba band led the procession up the road. 
Then we listened to more music before the big countdown to Santa turning on the lights. By this time my phone battery had gone flat so no more photos... There was a big crowd now despite the damp and there was a huge cheer when the lights went on. So now Christmas shopping can properly begin as we have festive lights!

We ran in aid of Cancer Care so if you want to sponsor my son's fabulous achievement then please pop over here:  

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!