Monday 29 September 2014

#CountryKids helping mummy on her #OneBigFatRun

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

This weekend I was bemoaning to Fiona at Coombe Mill about my lack of outdoor time with the children now we are all back at school/uni! Then I realised that I could combine my need for taking part in the One Big Fat Run and getting them out in the fresh air. Normally going out for a run means grabbing my kit and a drink and hitting the tarmac. However, heading out with my children adds complexity to the proceedings:

  1. help daughter extract bike from shed
  2. pump up bike tyres
  3. lace up son's running shoes
  4. try (and fail) to persuade children to take water bottles
  5. inform children as to the route we are going
  6. head off for the run trailing after the children:

From a distance observe daughter's biking skills and note to tell her to improve road positioning at junctions:

Friday 26 September 2014

#StrikingMums being different

Kate has set us this week’s questions to consider.

1. Are you different and, if so, how?

Not as different as I used to be! When I was at primary school I was super tall and wore glasses.. Not only that but a few times I was the new girl at school from another part of the UK. Always a bit of a tomboy too. I even played the trombone and then took up rugby. Not sure how different I am these days..

2. Do you celebrate your uniqueness or strive to fit in?

As a younger child I did my best to fit in - I picked up the local accent as soon as possible, avoided wearing my specs (thank goodness for the invention of contact lenses!) etc. As I grew older I have grown proud of my specs and my height and tell my children its cool to be different!

3. Are you ever judgemental of other mums who are different from you? Answer honestly even if only in your own head.

Its almost impossible not to be! Then again in the back of my mind I do wonder what judgements other people make of me..

4. What would you like to be different about you?

I'd like to be quieter and slimmer!!

5. Have you ever being attacked or bullied for being different? How did that affect you?

At primary school I was called names for my height such as Godzilla and called Specky Becky. As an adult I did have a few years of being deemed too posh by other school mums due to my Buckinghamshire accent. Otherwise OK!

6. If you had to write an advert for yourself as a limited edition ,what would you say to make people think you were great?

I had to ask my kids! Apparently I am cuddly and clever oh and pretty ;-)

I would like to think that I am inspirational to other mums to be positive and to other unfit folks that getting out there and running is possible for anyone!

Thursday 25 September 2014

Reasons to be Cheerful: Still Smiling! #R2BC

This weather is still just about holding on despite a smattering of rain in Cumbria. A wee bit chilly over night but otherwise its still a lovely month! Thanks for everyone who joined in last week and I do hope that I managed to visit you all... Passing back to Jo at Ojo's World for October. Now for this week's reasons to be cheerful for me:

1) Real Teaching

I finally got let loose with a small group of students for a proper guided reading session. It mostly went well and just a few tweaks to make the next one better, hopefully staying with this same group for the rest of term. Today I am teaching a half hour French lesson to another small group. A good test of my once fluent language skills..

2) Running

Using the 10 km runner app is really boosting my return to fitness. Today I built upon the previous work this month to run for over 9 km in total! 

It even felt so much better than the last few runs...

I just hope that I can get a place on the Langdale 10 km once my uni funding sorted as a boost to getting me back to the full distance!

3) More blue skies

No idea how long this will last but making the most of it:

Please join us and share your happiness and grab the badge if you would like it:

Reasons to be Cheerful 

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Running Around

My course seems to be speeding up fast now and we have essays to write and planning to do which means I am finding little time for much else! One thing I am determined to keep up though is running. I am having to invest in 2 nights of quality long runs as they are the only 2 I get, I am getting my son some new running shoes so that we can do some shorter runs at the weekends too. 

I have restarted the 10km runner programme at week 10 level as I was able to run for a max 10 minutes at a time after once again losing fitness. Last Wednesday I managed 5x 10 minutes with decreasing intervals which was the furthest I had run in one session since June! Last night I intended to do the day 2 of the programme which would have repeated the same kind of run which takes around 70 minutes.. 

Instead I had to drop my son's forgotten book bag to him at my parents' house. I knew from a previous run that it takes me just over 30 minutes to get to my parents' house if I run there. So I decided to ditch the scheduled running plan and instead do a double run to drop off the bag. I was still going to do 10 minute intervals but just using my watch and not the app.

It must have looked a stranger than normal sight as I jogged across Kendal holding a primary school book bag in one hand (I have to say its not easy to run carrying one!). That may have been part of the reason why I wasn't finding the run as fun as normal.. then part way along the canal path I was over taken by a lady of a similar age to me. She then eased off and ran alongside me and we chatted as we went. It was really nice to have company for a change as I normally run on my own but her pace was a bit faster than mine so I was relieved when she diverted at the Leisure Centre (not surprisingly the bit I ran with her broke my records for that stretch!). 

Friday 19 September 2014

A real mix of a day!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

It's been a fun day today. I started with enjoying the early morning light from my kitchen whilst persuading my children that one of them had to feed the guinea pigs:

After a day discussing the teaching of reading and phonics plus how to write Masters level essays it was a nice surprise to find owls at our local Pets at Home:

Thursday 18 September 2014

Reasons to be Cheerful: The Sun is Still Shining! #R2BC

I am sure we are all thinking that this nice weather can't last but making the most of it whilst it is here! Thanks for everyone who joined in last week and I do hope that I managed to visit you all... Now for this week's reasons to be cheerful for me:

1) A mended car!

My car has been playing up on and off all summer and I thought it was just the heat. The final straw came on Friday when it refused to restart as I tried to leave the supermarket and get to my training course.. As I was close to my garage I called them and they came with a courtesy car and took mine away. Not long after I finished for the day they finished fitting a brand new starter motor. So I now have a reliable car again - even if the bank balance took a little knock..

2) Confirmation of student status

I am now officially a student at Cumbria University as the paperwork took a while to clear! Nice to be able to get my NUS discount card for special offers. It should help to pay for all those text books I need..

3) Torchlight

I've already done a full blog post on the carnival as it was such an amazing evening. Made me so proud of our adopted town:

Tuesday 16 September 2014

10 ways student life in 2014 is different than in the 1990s!

Having bitten the bullet and gone back to university 20 years after I left I am finding some huge differences:

1) Tuition Fees

I was an undergraduate back in the days when all UK students had their tuition fees paid by the government. No worries about paying back money when we finished it was all just done for us.

Now I have to borrow £9,000 off the government (still waiting to hear whether I have got it!) and pay it back once I earn a decent wage. It makes going to university a harder decision to make when you have that hanging over you..

2) Living Costs

I wasn't eligible for any grants for living costs but my parents gave me a decent monthly allowance. I worked every vacation to boost up the funds and made use of the bank's overdraft facility to the max. Student loans were just being introduced but I only borrowed £1,500 over the 4 years at university.

This time I have qualified for a small bursary but it is less than 2/3 of what I was earning. I have had to apply for maintenance loans and child care costs help to bridge the gap. Scarily none of these have been approved yet 2 weeks into my course..

3) Technology

When I enrolled at Swansea in 1991 I took with me a non Windows 286 PC to type up my essays on. We had lessons in how to use the new fangled Windows and used a Mainframe computer to write code to analyse data. There was no Internet.. communication was via pigeon holes in the department.

Much of our course material is on the university's Blackboard computer system. We are expected to have laptops to bring to training sessions. Communication is via e-mail and we use smart phones to capture evidence of our training.

Monday 15 September 2014

Why Do I Write?

I have been nominated by the lovely Lisa over at Twins, Tiaras and Tantrums who I met at Butlins last October! She has been passed some questions for me to answer and then to pass the baton on to some willing victims volunteers. So here I go...

1) Why do I write?

Back in the mists of time (well 2008) I started to blog as way of documenting my life and how I was trying to improve things. It became a good outlet when my marriage broke up and a way of seeking help. Since I moved to Cumbria 4 years ago it has had a much more positive spin as I try to focus on the good things in my life. Writing about them helps to maintain my positive mental state!

2) What am I working on?

Ironically having worked hard to get the blog to where it is the site is taking more of a back seat in my life. I have started training as a teacher and finding it hard to find time to blog or do anything worth blogging about. There will still be posts about adventures that we get up to in this stunning county but the commercial side of the blog will taper off. I am also keeping Reasons to be Cheerful going on alternate months with

3) How does my blog differ from others of its genre?

Now that is a hard question! I definitely have a Cumbrian focus which isn't too common in parenting blogs. Otherwise its not really got a single focus apart from trying to always be positive and help other parents realise that being a single parent isn't all bad news..

4) How does my writing process work?

I am not much of a forward planner so I tend to blog about what we have been getting up to that day/week/month. Being a keen, if amateur photographer, I am forever taking photos of our surroundings or activities. These are often the basis for my blogposts. 

Now I nominate Ghost Writer Mummy, Ojo's World and Midlife Singlemum. Look forward to seeing their posts next Monday!

Saturday 13 September 2014

#CountryKids A walk along the river

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

It was another glorious day today so I decided to walk into town to pick up a parcel from the newsagents. Fortuitously I had accidentally chosen the wrong shop and it was the other end of the town from us. This meant that we could walk/scoot along the river and miss out on the town centre streets. There was also loads of time to stop and look for wildlife:

We are very lucky that the River Kent is very clean (apart from some idiots who chuck stuff in the water in town) so there is plenty to try and spot. There are various species of both fish and fowl that frequent the water and if you are lucky you can see otters.... I only have done once! This meant there were frequent stops:

Thursday 11 September 2014

Reasons to be Cheerful: Indian Summer Edition #R2BC

I do hope everyone is still smiling a week (or more!) back into the new school term? Thanks for everyone who joined in last week and I do hope that I managed to visit you all... Now for this week's reasons to be cheerful for me:

1)  Indian Summer

It has been a glorious few days and we have been able to spend more time outdoors soaking up the sun. Who knows when it will go away so outdoor lunch at the weekend was a must!

Tuesday 9 September 2014

Not a cotton wool family!

I have always been one to encourage my children to be adventurous and take risks within reason. Whether this is body boarding in the sea, Westmorland wrestling, or adventure trails and completing the National Trust's 50 things before 11 3/4. Of course many of these have resulted in bumps and scrapes along the way but it never puts the children or I off from our adventures.

Last weekend my children went climbing trees in the local park. What I hadn't mentioned in the previous post was what happened to my daughter about 10 minutes after she posed for this photo:

Whilst attempting to get back down she somehow managed to slip and fell from that height. She broke the fall by landing on her elbow, but seemed OK afterwards if a little sore, as she carried on having fun! 

Monday 8 September 2014

#CountryKids at Carew Castle and Tidal Mill

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

This is the last story from our summer holiday in Pembrokeshire. On the last whole day a few of us decided to head together to Carew Castle and Tidal Mill as there was a special medieval weekend going on. Its another one of Edward I's Marcher Castles and its still impressive even in its ruinous state:

First of all the children did a special  treasure hunt which had them all hurtling up and down the many stair cases:

Saturday 6 September 2014

#CountryKids Tree Climbing in the Park

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

We are so lucky in Kendal with our green spaces. One I often forget about is Noble's Rest as its not full of play equipment but its an open park with trees in. Today we had 45 minute to spare before welcoming the new vicar to church which gave us a chance to use the park. My daughter wasted no time in heading straight up the nearest tree:

I briefly had time to admire the formal features of the park before being allowed to sit on a bench with my latest library book:

Friday 5 September 2014

Striking Mums: Setting Out

Kate on thin Ice Striking Mums

I have decided to join in with Kate On Thin Ice's Striking Mums group to help motivate me to improve my life and my children's lives! Each week she is giving us prompts to ponder on. Here I go with this week's ones:

Are you match fit as a mum?

Well having stood on the scales on the last day of the school holiday I would have to say no! I need to lose a fair amount of weight to be healthier and to be able to keep up with the children.. My running took a major back seat during the school holidays and it is showing in my weight..

So now we are back in routine (although its a new one for me) I need to get running again on a regular basis. I also need to take more care about what I am eating and drinking to help shift the extra pounds.

Luckily I am up to date with all the health checks that I qualify for so its a case of just doing my best to get that healthy weight range. Its going to take planning and organisation but its all feasible.

Let's hope I can squeeze in more runs like this one around my training:

What baby step can you take towards your hopes and dreams this week?

Well I took a huge step and started my teacher training course. One week in and I am surviving so far. Its taken a long time to reach this point so I had better make the most of it...

Who can help you on your journey

I wouldn't be able to do the training without a huge amount of help from my parents and other local family. Having people around to share the load when it comes to school runs and even over night stays is worth its weight in gold. So grateful that my family are fully behind me on this big step. 

Hope other mums join in and support each other.

Thursday 4 September 2014

Reasons to be Cheerful Back to School! #R2BC

Thanks to the wonderful Jo at Ojo's World for hosting in August and taking good care of everything. The hosting is back to me for September so its time to share my reasons to be cheerful:

1) Mintfest

This weekend was the Mintfest Street Theatre festival in Kendal. We enjoyed lots of fun over the Saturday and Sunday. There were oh so many reasons to smile:

2) Back to uni!

Twenty years after completing my MA I officially went back to university this week. It's both exciting and nerve-racking to be starting teacher training at my age but on a campus like Lancaster and at a lovely village school there are plenty of reasons to be happy:

3) Being lucky

I won a Facebook/Twitter draw this week from our local shopping centre. So now I possess a deluxe art set and I've been enjoying spending my voucher at Rymans on stuff for uni! Just goes to prove that these competitions are genuine.

Keeping this short and sweet as I am shattered after starting my course... Please join us and share your happiness and grab the badge if you would like it:

Reasons to be Cheerful

Wednesday 3 September 2014

#CountryKids at Martin Haven

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

One day whilst we were in Pembrokeshire my son wasn't very well so he and I had to miss the 2 trips out to Tenby and Folly Farm. Instead we drove a little way around the coast to Martin Haven to see the local wildlife. Its a lovely spot adjacent to Skomer Island. The car park is National Trust so that saved us £5.

This is where you can get boats to the island to see the sea birds which at certain times include puffins. My son would not go in the boat so we had to make do with the land based birds:

As it was a lovely but windy day we hiked up onto the headland to see if we could see Skomer: