Category: Life

Half Term with the kids – what’s on

We’ve reached October and half term is just 3 weeks away.  I don’t know about you but I’ve already started scouring the local papers, FB events and general media for half decent events we can add to our calendar.  If you haven’t the time for searching then check out my discoveries below, in and around the West Midlands area.  You may find something that will entertain you.

Half Term Activities – October 2017

Open weekend at the Bonded Warehouse – Stourbridge

Stourbridge canal open dayFriday 21st & Saturday 22nd October, 2017
There is free admission to the site and there are a number of attractions which include classic vehicles, traction engines, amusements, canal boat trips, fairground organs and a craft fair in the Bonded Warehouse.

 

Halloween family fun at Arley Arboretum – Arley, Worcestershire

Kids go free at Arley ArboretumMonday 23rd – Friday 27th October, 2017
KIDS GO FREE – Your little one can explore the Arboretum, searching high and low for clues on our Ghoulish Graveyard Trail! The trail costs £2 and includes a prize.  There will be face painting and glitter tattoos in the Halloween Activity Tent, where there will also be a colouring competition for kids to enjoy.  There are lots of FREE children’s activities too…  Join in the Dinosaur, Fairy and Pre-school Woodland Animal Trails, conquer the maze to reach the castle and play in the adventure playground. Plus enjoy the extra challenge of the spooky night time maze!  Forestry Adventures Clubs and extra evening sessions also available and the tea room will be open in the evening for hot sandwiches and tasty treats.

 

Half Term Halloween at the Avoncroft Museum – Bromsgrove

Kids celebrating Halloween at Avoncroft MuseumMonday 23rd to Friday 27th October, 2017
Creep down to Avoncroft this half term for spook-tacular fun!  Get into your spookiest costume and fly down to Avoncroft to create creepy crafts, carve pumpkins and make your own witch or wizards broomstick! Complete your scary outfit by getting your face painted too! Brave the Halloween trail around the the extra spooky museum grounds – do you have what it takes to find all the clues? Mwahahaha!  Normal museum admission applies, please note that some of the activities on site may have an additional charge.

 

Manor House of Witchcraft and Wizardry – West Bromwich

Witch at the Manor House, West BromwichMonday 23rd October, 2017
There are lots of things going on at the Manor House this Halloween for all witches and wizards in training. Attend magic class, story class, see some animals or make some spooky crafts.  Admission 50p per child, adults accompanying a child free. There will be a charge for some activities. Last entry is 30 minutes before closing.  Where an activity or event is staged inside one of our buildings, if the maximum capacity is reached we reserve the right to refuse entry.  Pushchairs are not allowed inside the Manor House.  The Manor House has no disabled access at present

 

Little Skippers: Halloween – Dudley Canal Trust and Tunnels

Child doing Halloween craft at the Dudley Canal TrustTuesday 24th to 27th October, 2017
Hugely popular school holiday activities and boat trip are back for more family fun this October half term!  Join Little Skippers for a 45 minute boat trip followed by things to make and do. This half term they’re bringing Halloween crafts and activities to entertain in true spooky style.  Get hands on with potions kits to make an animal-inspired super power potion, then make yourself a witchy or wizardly hat to get you properly into the Halloween spirit. Create a creepy creature to add to the display, or take home with you.
Tickets are just £4.75 each and include the boat trip as well as activities for children and a hot drink from The Gongoozler for adults. The boat departs at 10am – visitors are encouraged to arrive by 9.50am to check-in before their trip.

 

Pumpkin Parlour – Becketts Farm, Wythall, Birmingham

Pumpkin Parlour poster at Becketts FarmTuesday 24th to Sunday 29th October, 2017
Your little monsters will be responsible for scooping out the pumpkin brains, choosing their pumpkin face and pinning out the template and then finally covering in skeleton dust so that the masters (that’s you Mum & Dad) can do the carving.  Fancy dress is optional, but there will be an extra treat for any little goblins, ghosts & witches that make a ghastly effort!  £2 entry per child.  You can buy pumpkins in the Farm Shop (or you can bring your own) and carve it there so no mess in your kitchen at home!  * All children require adult supervision whilst carving pumpkins (At least 1 guardian per 2 children).

 

Himley’s Halloween Hunt – Himley Hall & Park, Dudley

Pumpkin in the autumn leaves at Himley ParkTuesday 24th October, 2017
The ghouls and ghosts of Himley Hall have escaped onto the park. Find them all and claim your spooky certificate. A chance for the kids to let off some steam during the half term holidays. Children must be accompanied by an adult.  Free event

 

Trick and Treat – Red House Cone Museum, Wordsley

Ghost, Witch and devil trick and treating - Red House Cone MuseumFriday 27th to Sunday 29th October, 2017
Trick and Treat around the Cone. A safe and fun family event. Decorate a goody bag and then see who or what you can find around the site with treats. Pre-booking required. Kid friendly.  Free entry, £3 charge for crafts

 

 

Self-led Halloween Trail – Severn Valley Country Park, Alveley

Spooky Halloween tree against moon silhouette - Severn Valley Country ParkSaturday 21st to Sunday 29th October, 2017
Follow the Halloween trail around the park. See if you can solve the creepy clues to win a lolly! Trail map £2.00 each and are available each day of the school holidays from the visitor centre 11am-3pm.

Halloween Story & Crafts Session

Wednesday 25th October, 2017
There are 2 sessions of this event 10am-12pm & 1.30pm-3.30pm.  Enjoy the popular Halloween story ‘Room on the Broom’ with rangers and volunteers. Also, mix up some spooky potions and make yourself a wizard’s hat and witches broom!
Please dress for the outdoors. Children £3.50, Adults free. Please call 01746 781 192 to book your place. Please call 01746 781 192. Under 8s must be accompanied by an adult. Suitable for ages 4 and upwards.

 

Thanks for stopping by! x

Toddler friendly day trips in the Heart of England – Part 2

Ludlow & Arley Arboretum

So further to my last post, onward to part two of our summer holiday day trips.

Ludlow

Ludlow is a picturesque market town in Shropshire.  Situated on the River Teme it is filled with quaint timber framed buildings and has a castle that dates back to 1085.  We started off our day by managing to nab a parking space on the roadside in the Linney.  It was extremely busy due to the Summer holidays so our luck was really in.  It turned out to be the most ideal spot, a lovely grassed area by the river and alongside the Green Cafe.  The sun was shining so we settled down for a picnic lunch on the grass and mom popped to the cafe to get a cuppa for us both.  Eliza had a great time running around and we popped down by the riverside to see the ducks.

 We’d been to Ludlow many times before but never visited the castle so I thought this might be something a little different for Eliza.  We walked up the steep path from the Linney along Dinham and Ludlow Castle was directly at the top of the hill.  Only £5 each for adults to enter and children under 6 were free.  I have to say at this stage that at no point could I have envisaged quite how much fun Eliza would have.  With her little ladybird backpack she wandered around the castle grounds, in and out the castle ruins, up and down staircases (with Mommy’s help) and even the darkest, spookiest looking crevices without a hint of fear.  She had a permanent smile on her face and couldn’t wait to see the next surprise the castle had in store.  Who would have thought a 2 year old could get so much from a castle of all things?!

Eliza’s little legs were feeling a little worse for wear after her tour of the castle so we found a lovely little cafe directly opposite called the Castle Lodge Buttery and stopped in for tea and cake (are you noticing a theme here?).  We had a slow walk back down the car, or so we thought, as upon arriving Eliza decided she wanted to run around again so we spent another half an hour on the little green where we’d eaten lunch.  Wonderful day out and definitely our first castle of many!

Arley Arboretum

This is one I kept hearing about from other visitors and their upcoming events also kept popping up on my facebook timeline so one day my friend and I decided to give it a go with the kids in tow.  First off I have to say that I stuck the postcode in my SatNav as although I’d visited Arley many times before I didn’t know exactly where the Arboretum was.  Well, it turns out neither did the SatNav as it took us around the back of the park which had no vehicular access.  One conversation with a local later and we were once again on our merry way, in the right direction this time.

Arley Arboretum is situated in Worcestershire near the town of Bewdley and is home to one of the Severn Valley Railway stations.  You can actually see the steam trains from several locations as you walk around the arboretum.  What attracted me to Arley Arboretum was their child friendly outdoor activities.  Aside from the usual play areas (yes, there was one of these too) they offer a range of different ‘hunting’ trails.  We chose to do the Fairy trail on our visit but there were others too such as the Dinosaur Trail and Woodland Animal Trail for the little ankle biters to take part in.  We picked up a sheet on our way in and then followed the directions to hunt for fairies and answer questions on our way around the arboretum.  Both Eliza and her friend loved hunting for the next fairy and looking up into the trees to see who could spot it first.  The cost again is only £5 per adult to enter and children under 3 are free.  Just a note thought, that the arboretum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

In addition to the various trails there was a small maze which was ideal for younger children, a play area, several picnic areas and a sensory garden.  The sensory garden was still under development but there were a few bits and pieces for the girls to play with including some hanging chime bars.  We stopped for a quick picnic lunch by the play area and we could see the trains whooshing along down in the valley.

We were a little short on time on the day we visited so I’m sure there were other areas that we missed.  Eliza was quite intrigued by the fountain as she’d never seen anything like this before.  A bit apprehensive too though as I think she thought she was due a shower and was not very keen on the idea!

The arboretum has a lovely cafe which also doubles as the ticket office on your way in.  We had a super lunch and the rainbow cake was to die for! There are other activities on offer for kids including a Forestry Mini-Adventure Club.  This is at an additional cost to the normal entry fee but definitely worth considering if you have the time.  If you look on the Facebook page too there’s always information on upcoming seasonal events such as Halloween or Easter.  Download the full information leaflet here.

Thanks for stopping by! x

10 things you may not know about me

Ok, so I don’t lead the most exciting life.  I’m not one for jetting off to the Caribbean or skydiving at the weekend but there are a few things you may or may not know about me.  So, for the nosey folk out there, here goes:

  1. I can sing!

    I have a soprano singing voice and have been singing since I was tiny.  Like a lot of kids I grew up singing in the Sunday school anniversary.  Mom and I used to sit at the piano and we’d sing songs from The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady and lots of other musicals.  Then at the grand age of 15 my high school suddenly also discovered I could sing.  This prompted a rash decision by the deputy head to put on the show West Side Story with me playing the lead of Maria.  This was rather a shock as I’d never done the slightest bit of acting before but I loved every minute of it!  From then on I got the same part in an open air production of the same show at Dudley Castle.  Unfortunately, this was a bit of a wash out due to the fabulous British August weather.  I’ve done a few shows since then and just love playing comedy parts.  Family life is a little too busy these days though for the huge time commitment involved in am. dram.  I do run a ladies choir though along with Mom which I’ve been part of for 27 years!  Mom took over as Musical Director when I was just 17 with me assisting but these days I’ve pretty much taken over the baton and Mom likes to sit in with the choir and sing.Rachel Griffiths singing

  2. I suffer live with anxiety

    I’ve always been a person who lacks a lot of self confidence. Yes, I know you’ve just read No.1 above and are now thinking what the hell? Believe me there is a huge difference for me between getting up and singing a solo in front of hundreds of people and walking into a restaurant I’ve never been in or meeting people I never met before.  The latter being FAR worse.  I guess it’s just how we’re wired.  Singing is something I feel comfortable with so performance anxiety is never an issue.
    Back in 2013 my anxiety really came to a head when I realised that the constant worry was stopping me from the living the life I really wanted to lead.  I was turning down friends when they invited me on nights out and even things I’d once enjoyed were just all too stressful.  One trip to the Dr’s later and I found myself on Citalopram (anti-depressants).  The first few weeks on these were extremely tough and I can see why many people give up on them after a few days.  The help they’ve given though has been immense.  I still take them now and although I have occasional off days on the whole I’m more the person I once was.

  3. I can crochet!

    This is something I taught myself to do when I first started taking meds.  I realised I needed something to take my mind off how awful I was feeling and crochet was something I’d always fancied having a go at.  I taught myself using mainly Youtube tutorials and following various patterns found on pinterest and other blogs and sites.  Although, I don’t pick my hooks and yarn up quite as often now, the techniques soon come flooding back whenever I do.Crochet hanging heart

  4. I love horror films!

    This has been a fairly recent thing for me as a teenager/twenty something I blinkin’ hated them!  I have to clarify though, I still don’t like gore particularly so the Saw series is a definitely no no for me.  However, give me a marathon viewing of The Conjuring, Insidious, Paranormal Activity, Amityville and I’m a happy girl.  I share my horror love with Sam as both Paul and Abi both hate horror films.  They say that the subject matter plays on their mind afterwards but with me it just goes over my head.

  5. I’m fab at wallpapering!

    Ok, so it’s not the most exciting bit of info in the world, but damn, do I rock at wallpapering?! 🙂  It was Mom who taught me originally when we first moved into our last house.  From then on there was no stopping me.  Paul has walked in many times to see me smoothing out bubbles or matching pattern and asked me how the hell I have the patience.  Well the truth is it’s quite therapeutic.  Don’t get me wrong there have been the occasional projects where I’ve had to paper around corners and the plastering’s all been out of line.  On these occasions, the wallpaper, pasting table, brushes and bucket have almost taken flight down the garden, I’m only human after all.

  6. I play the piano.

    I started learning the piano at the age of 7 and whizzed through my grades ending my grades at the age of 15 when I took and passed grade 8.  When I was in my later teen I taught piano to youngsters but didn’t stick it for long as back in those days I simply didn’t have the patience.  I don’t get to play as often as I’d like these days.  The piano has assumed position in Sam’s bedroom as he had our downstairs room when Eliza and Freddie came along and seeing as he played too it seemed the sensible option to leave it there.

  7. I love the weather

    Yep, I’m a bit of a weather nut to be honest.  I was never very ‘sciencey’ (ok, so it’s not a word) at school so I never really paid much attention to the whole ‘how it all works’ part.  Nowadays I wish I had as I really would love to know more about the explanation side of things.  I’m an avid Weather Forecast viewer and if you could see the amount of weather related apps on my iPhone you’d think omg she’s such a geek!  It’s the extremes I love.  Scorching hot in the Summer, snow in the Winter and my absolute favourite, Thunderstorms.  My absolute dream trip would be a storm chasing holiday in the USA to see their tornadoes first hand.Mammatus cloud

  8. I’m good at reading people

    This is just something I’ve learned that I have an uncanny ability for over the years.  Maybe it’s just that I have a strong empathy for others, I really don’t know, but I’m very quick to correctly assess the type of person someone is or how they’re feeling.  Can be useful at times but being a socially anxious person it can also be curse.

  9. I HATE olives

    What more can I say?

  10. I love the paranormal

    So this is a love that I had even as a child.  I’ve always loved reading a good ghost story but then as I got older this evolved into reading newspaper articles, websites, TV programs.  It’s not just ghosts but anything a bit out of the ordinary that interests me.  I’m not saying I’m a believer but I’m completely open minded.  I need to experience it for myself to make it undeniably real.
    Quite a few years ago I joined a local paranormal research group and visited many locations to complete all night investigations.  These included The Ram Inn, Gloucestershire, Woodchester Mansion, Gloucestershire, Pebble Mill Studios, Birmingham, The Galleries of Justice, Nottingham plus many more.  Although fantastic fun and very intriguing I never managed to get inconclusive evidence.  I did have a very strange experience on my second trip to the Ram Inn but still not enough to say, “yes that’s it, I’m a believer!”.
    I’m also a big follower of anything to do with UFO’s and love hearing people’s stories of lights in the sky, be they real or not.  I wholeheartedly believe that we are not alone in the universe but whether they’ve popped by to say hi is another matter completely.

So there you have it.  Just a little insight into little old me.  Do you share any loves or hates with me?

Thanks for stopping by! x

How I broke the nail biting habit

As long as I can remember nail biting has always been a bad habit for me.  Where I got the habit from I have no idea. Neither Mom or Dad were biters and they say you tend to mimic those around you.  I used to bite my nails so low when I was little that my fingers would bleed. Not a pretty site I can tell you.  As I got older I longed for lovely long nails I could paint and show off, but still I couldn’t break the habit.

Finally at the age of 33 (yeah, 33 not sure why?) I did it! With a mix of using Sally Hansen’s Maximum Growth and Vaseline Intensive Care Hand & Nail Cream I managed to abstain from the biting habit and for the first time ever I had the lovely long nails I’d only dreamed about.  From here on my nails stayed this way until……….my pregnancy with Eliza.  Whether it was the pregnancy anxiety, sleepless nights or changing hormones, I once again bit my fingers to shreds.  Once again I grew them back for a short time until…….yes, you guessed it my pregnancy with Freddie.  Once Freddie was born in fact, I actually bit them more than ever yet again returning to those horrible stubby finger ends.  It was time to take drastic action.  This time I was really finding it hard to succeed using my previous techniques. My nails looked so awful that I hid them as much as possible.  Someone suggested trying acrylics or gels so I went to see Rachel who was recommended by friends to see what she could do.

Before……

Bitten nails
Before

When she saw them she was shocked to say the least but was adamant that she could do something. She suggested that gel polish wouldn’t look great at this stage as they really were so short so we went with acrylic tips with gel polish.  I was really concerned that they wouldn’t stick but she did a fabulous job and they stayed on for about 2 weeks.  I went back again to have infills and for her to repair a couple of tips that had come off.  By this time the nail bed had grown a little so the next lot of tips stayed on even better.

On my next visit I had the tips removed and just had gel polish put on my own nails that were growing fabulously.  From here on I went back every 2 – 3 weeks each time getting another coat of gel.  I found with the gel polish on I wasn’t the least bit tempted to bite my nails.  The gel makes the nails much thicker and quite hard.  It helps to protect them while they repair themselves.  My one bad habit however is that I tend to peel the gel off once it starts to flake instead of waiting to have them soaked off.  This doesn’t really do your nails a lot of good, however, it’s still an improvement on biting them.

The Process

Nail biters acrylics
From left going clockwise: acrylic tips, acrylic tips then gel polish and
gel french polish on my own nails

As you can see from my latest picture my nails have grown considerably now.  They still break from time and I somehow manage to damage them doing silly things.  Still very proud of how they look now and love to show them off.  I’ve had so many people comment and ask how I managed to break the habit that I thought I’d post my advice to help other nail biters out there.

Habit broken = beautiful nails

Nails grown after biting

 

Nails grown after biting
Barry M nail colour
My nails here are painted by myself with Barry M – Dark side of the shroom – gel nail polish.  This is the first time I’ve used a Barry M polish and I’m really impressed with the results.  With this particular polish you’re supposed to use the Barry M gel top coat which I didn’t realise at the time.  However, I used my previously bought Rimmel Gel Top Coat and this worked perfectly well.
Good luck and good growing!
Thanks for stopping by! x

 

A ‘first’ at 36

For a while now, ‘A’ has been driving me mad to go horse riding.  I have to say this is something I’ve wanted to do myself for as long as I can remember but I did wonder if at the age of 36 I was a little too old to be potentially ‘falling off’ a horse.  After a little discussion I finally decided to do a bit of searching online to see if I could find a suitable place for us to experience our first pony ride.  I came across a site called horsetreks.co.uk part of livetheadventure and after a few emails back and forth we booked a 45 minute hack.

The Ginny Hole centre was located in Stottesdon which was nearly an hours drive from home.  Far too much time, I have to say, to weigh up the pros and cons of why I’d finally decided to do this.  ‘A’ was seriously looking forward to it though so I figured it was now or never.  When we arrived the staff that greeted us were so friendly they immediately put us at ease.  We discovered that I would be riding ‘Apache’ and ‘A’ would be on ‘Thunder’.  We laughed when we heard the name of ‘A’s horse as I had mental pictures of a huge black stallion, rearing up and neighing!  It turned out that both Apache and Thunder were very lovely black and white cob horses that were extremely well behaved and calm and nothing like the the image their names conjured up.

As it turned it, ‘A’ and I were the only riders on this particular hack and as we’d never so much as sat on a horse before they decided it would be a good idea for us to each have our own member of staff to accompany us on the ride.  This was great as it filled us with a lot more confidence.  We were given directions on how to ‘steer’ the horse and get him to move and then off we went for our 45 minute walk.

We were told that the horses are extremely clever and that usually within 5 to 10 minutes they have a notion of what type of rider is ‘onboard’ and if they feel it’s a novice then they decide to ‘try it on’!  Apache tried this a couple of times by eating the hedge as we walked along and then doing some serious head shaking.  I never realised that it could be quite so difficult to control a horse.  You watch others doing it and it looks so simple, but even managing to keep your balance at such a height can be tricky if the horse decides to have a wobbly moment.  We did attempt a little trot on the way back up the lane which was fun but blimey was it knackering and we only did it for a couple of minutes!

I’m very pleased to say that neither of us fell off and both returned with our limbs all intact.  After seeing how high you are on the horse’s back falling off would definitely be the last thing I’d aim to do.  We both had a fabulous time at Country Treks.  I can’t see myself competing in the 2016 games but it’s really something I’d like to try again at some point and ‘A’ has said the same.  Horses are such beautiful and intelligent creatures, it was a real honour to be so close to them even if it has taken me 36 years to get around to it.

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‘A’ and I with ‘Thunder’

Lazy days of Summer

After returning from holiday to ‘not so great’ British weather imagine our joy when the forecast was for the temperature to reach the dizzy heights of 24c!  Woo hoo!  As we still had a few free days from work we decided to make the most of the dry spell and headed off to Bidford-on-avon for a picnic and afternoon by the river.

A walk along the Avon

Arnold having a lazy afternoon

Frisbee!

Arnold gets his own ice-cream

We arrived around lunchtime and tootled off for a stroll along the river to let Arnold stretch his little Border legs.  We ate lunch and then spent a lovely, lazy afternoon playing games, reading and doing the crossword.  And what trip to Bidford would be complete without a trip to the chip shop for tea.  By the time we left for home it was around 8.30pm which meant we were treated to the most beautiful sunset throughout our journey.

The following night, although cloudy, we enjoyed a smashing barbecue in the garden followed by an evening around the chiminea.  Many, many games of pictionary and uno followed then lo and behold the cloud shifted and we were left with an evening of star gazing.

‘A’ & ‘P’ enjoying a night in the garden

Saturday saw us taking a drive out to Mom and Dad’s caravan as they’d decided on a short break near Enville.  Another leisurely afternoon ensued with an attempt at our 2nd barbecue of the week.  Unfortunately the wind had other ideas leaving us to use the small caravan oven to cook for 7!

I’ve only just realised that I’ve not yet told you of my new addition, so now seemed a perfect opportunity.  Her name is Glinda (as in ‘Wicked’/’The Wizard of Oz’) and she’s a beautiful Ice Blue Mini Convertible.  She arrived just before our holiday so I’d not had much chance to test drive her.  However, Saturday’s sunny trip to Enville was a superb opportunity even if it did mean we had to take two cars to enable us to transport all of our junk!  It was worth it though, nothing more exhilarating than powering down the country lanes with the wind in your hair.

‘Glinda’

May Day in Cowdale

Although it’s been a while now, we spent May Day Bank Holiday weekend in a lovely little cottage in Cowdale, in the Peak District.  We found the cottage through Sykes Cottages but it really was a super ‘find’.  ‘The Loft’ was the top floor of a converted farm building in the grounds of Cowdale Hall which is home to the Morten family.  We were made to feel very welcome when we arrived and the cottage had been prepared with tea, coffee, milk and biscuits and all the lights and fire switched on to make us immediately feel comfortable and at home.

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Double bedroom at The Loft


Twin bedroom at The Loft

The cottage had two bedrooms (a twin and a double) and was decorated in light neutral colours.  The lovely L-shaped sofa and footstool has to be about the most comfortable thing I’ve ever sat on and was wonderful to chill out on after walking the Derbyshire dales.  The kitchen was well equipped with everything we could possibly need and although it was May the weather was particularly cold, but this we didn’t notice inside the cottage as the mini heaters and electric stove more than kept us warm.

Lovely comfy sofa at The Loft

Onsite there is also a small caravan area (5 van site) and there are also stable facilities where locals keep their horses.  At night we enjoyed the short 20 – 30 minute walk around the outskirts of the farm, talking to the horses and just being one with nature.  On a couple of occasions we stood and watched the rabbits hopping across the fields.  You only have to cross the road from Cowdale Hall to also reach one of the many local public footpaths.  We ventured a short distance on this walk but the weather wasn’t great and being a little ill, we returned to the comfort of the cottage.

Horses at Cowdale Hall

Circular walk around the farm


Midshires Way – nr Cowdale

Midshires Way, nr Cowdale

Midshires Way, nr Cowdale

On Sunday we headed of to Buxton Country Park and then later along the Monsal Trail.  Can you believe that it even began to snow while we were at Buxton, but hey, that’s British weather for you!  However, by the afternoon the sun came out and it warmed up a little.  The Monsal Trail runs from Buxton to Bakewell and is popular with walkers and cyclists.  We entered the trail at King Sterndale and walked a fair way, taking in the scenery, stopping for photographs and walking through many of the long tunnels that line the route.  We even stopped to watch some rather brave souls who were abseiling off the bridge at Millers Dale.

Me and ‘S’ at Buxton Country Park

The Monsal Trail

King Sterndale Cottages along The Monsal Trail


One of the tunnels along the Monsal Trail

Arnold having a dip in the river along the Monsal Trail

Monday we’d planned to stop off at Bakewell before heading home but as we got closer the traffic was so horrendous we decided to give it a miss.  Our next port of call was to be Dovedale.  We made a slight detour to our usual journey home but it was certainly worth it.  Despite the fact that the rain at some points was torrential, we zipped up our waterproofs and headed off to find the ‘Stepping Stones’.  Even on a day like this the area was still very busy and I’d love to return maybe on a week day to see it a little quieter.  However, it didn’t detract though from the beautiful surroundings.

Stepping Stones at Dovedale

Dovedale

We decided to make our way across the Stepping Stones which all seemed fine in theory until we realised that ‘P’ had absolutely no chance of walking Arnold across them!  The kids and myself precariously made our way across the rather wet and slippery stones and waited on the other side while ‘P’ struggled across carrying Arnold in a rather ungraceful fashion.  We later watched another potential stone walker give up on the idea after his German Shepherd refused to budge and I’m thinking the carrying idea was not exactly feasible :).


‘P’ and Arnold at Dovedale

We walked some way following the river and then eventually decided to do a u-turn and head back as we thought that the route we were on would take too long to come full circle and we needed to get home.  We decided to give the stones a miss on the way back and headed straight for the bridge.  On the last stretch we were dive bombed by swallows, obviously flying low looking for insects after the heavy rain.

All in all another very relaxing weekend that we all enjoyed.  Cowdale was just so quiet and away from it all we can’t wait to return.

A sunny morning surprise

‘A’ dashed upstairs this morning while she was getting ready for school.  “Where’s your phone…..quick…I need it….quick”.  I asked her what she wanted it for and she replied, “There’s a fox in next door’s garden and he’s playing with Arnold’s yellow bone toy”.  She dashed off downstairs to snap it with my phone and shouted to me to come look.  I got to the kitchen just in time to see him tossing the toy in the air, when next thing another rather pointed nose appeared from under the shrubbery.  There were two of them!  They were quite small so I’m assuming they were only cubs.  The first visitor seemed to be aware that we were watching him and kept glancing towards us in the window.  Visitor number two also decided that Arnold’s toy looked enticing, picked it up and they both ran off over the other side of the garden.  What a fabulous start to a sunny (yes, for once, sunny) morning :).

Not the greatest pics I’m afraid as they were with my phone but ‘A’ shot a bit of video too which I may upload later if it’s clear.

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A sunny but wet day out in Wales

A couple of weeks ago ‘P’ finally managed to book his White Water Rafting experience at Canolfan Tryweryn that I bought him for his 40th birthday last year.  As luck would have it, his choice of weekend was superb as the weather was far better than most we’d seen so far this year.  The location of Canolfan Tryweryn couldn’t have been more perfect.  Situated in Bala, North Wales the surrounding countryside was just lovely, made even better by the fact it was warm and the sun was shining.

After a talk on rafting instructions and safety, ‘P’ was then bussed up to the start point to begin his rafting session.  The children and I sat at the centre, where there were picnic benches and cafe facilities, awaiting ‘P’s first run down the river.  A few of the participants in ‘P’s raft had missed their slot which meant that rather than having a full raft, there were just two others and the instructor.  This unfortunately meant that some of the tricks that are carried out on the river weren’t successful as the raft simply wasn’t heavy enough.  This didn’t stop ‘P’ having a fabulous time though.  He had 4 runs down the river in total which I thought was extremely good value for money.

The children and I walked Arnold along the trail that follows the river.  This allowed us to take up different vantage points for snapping pictures as ‘P’ whizzed past!  By the time he was finished he was completely knackered, but he did say he’d love to go back at some point and give the kayaking a try.

I’d really recommend Canolfan Tryweryn to anyway who’d love to give rafting a go.  The venue was smashing and all the staff extremely pleasant and helpful.  We’ve already said we’ll go back and have even talked about the prospect of group rafting.  I have to say though, it’s one occasion when I’m more than happy to ‘walk the dog’.  Water and I don’t mix and the thought of being drenched from head to toe does not appeal in the slightest.

June already?

Yes, it’s June already and the longest day today too!  Hard to believe really looking out the window.  Today we have a mix of rain, cloud and yet more rain.  Beginning to wonder if we will actually have a Summer this year.

The last few months have been full on with work, in fact, for our little business year 5 has been our busiest to date (not that we’re complaining!).

The lovely ladies choir that I belong to finally put on their concert back in April after 9 months of busy rehearsal.  We raised around £1600 in total half of which went to Short Cross Methodist Church and the other half toward research into Lupus.  Since then we’ve taken the concert out to a couple of other venues and we’ll be performing again on Saturday night but this time in aid of Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice who do invaluable work offering help and support to people with terminal illness.  This should then be our last performance of ‘Film Fantasia’ and then we’ll have a short break before starting up again later in the Summer.

 

The school choir will be performing their Summer concert next Tuesday after rehearsing since January.  During the last few weeks we’ve taken a small group from the choir to sing at the Salvation Army’s Birmingham Citadel and also at the ‘Time Out’ group’s Jubilee Party.  We were made to feel very welcome on both occasions and children sang their hearts out.  They’re more than ready now to perform their final concert and I think we’re all a little sick of the songs if I’m completely honest!

My running has recently come to a bit of a standstill unfortunately due to some health worries.  Everything now looks to be clear so I’m hoping to get out for a run at the weekend.  This will be my first in 2 months so as you can imagine I think I’ll struggle to get to the end of the street rather than manage the 7 miles level I’d finally reached.  It’s a bit disappointing really as I felt I was doing so well, but I’m determined to get back to it and build it up gradually again as I did before.

The family are all well.  The school year seems to have whizzed by so fast, can’t believe ‘A’ is nearly at the end of her first year of high school.  It doesn’t seem 5 minutes since we were stressing about how she’d settle in.  ‘S’ has had a good first year of study for his GCSE’s and has done some marvellous things in Music in particular.

‘P’ celebrated his birthday at the start of the month so thought it was about time he booked in his birthday present from LAST year…..White Water Rafting.  See my next post for all the fun and photos!  He’s still running and his performance has come on no end since he’s been regularly running with the club.  He has another race tomorrow in Blakedown and during March managed to win 1st place in the competition on RunBritain for most improved running handicap..

Arnold celebrated his 2nd birthday on Tuesday.  Hard to believe he’s been part of our family now for 2 years.  I can still remember when he first came home with us, I had to wear my knee length boots around the house in the peak of Summer to fend off his feisty puppy needle teeth!  Well worth the pain though, we wouldn’t be without him :).

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