More Park Run Tourism ..

Two consecutive Saturdays and two new Park Runs! After last week’s stopover in Bristol we are currently holidaying in Tenby and in true Park Run custom I searched out my nearest run. The nearest was 10 miles away in Colby, a National Trust property.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/colby-woodland-garden

This was a bit scary as it meant a drive on unfamiliar roads in the big family car in which I prefer to be a passenger, driving’s not really my thing. However I was more determined to do the run than not and headed off early and had researched my route well. Little Miss joined me too although navigation is not quite in her skill set yet!

We arrived early and parked easily. The run is set in a woodland garden and is truly beautiful and calming. I was really pleased that I got to visit such a beautiful place on holiday and I managed it as a free park run, win win! After the buzz of the traffic at Pomphrey Hill last week which is by a busy A road and motorway this was delightfully peaceful. The run was busy today but it’s peak holiday season and there were lots of visitors doubling the usual number of runners. The briefing was short and as it’s a 3 lapper I would have liked some advice on positioning for overtaking and lapping. I stuck to the etiquette I know, go far right for running, left for overtaking, but it seemed a bit confused in places, I know I’m a plodder but I would never want my running to affect those faster.

The course is described as undulating which is a fair description, there’s not horrendous hills but some definite uphill parts of the route as well as the downhills which were a little slippy today given yesterday’s awful rain. There’s a couple of bridges to pass and lots to see horticulturally and a few manmade structures which looked interesting. Given you do the trail three times I found different things on each lap and really liked the course.

It felt like there was a great core team at Colby and all were very friendly and helpful. I do love an accent and the Welsh lilt is rather gorgeous to be cheered on in! A highlight was the speed in which we got the results,the email came through before we got back home, the quickest results service I’ve experienced by over an hour! Colby also felt remarkable for the number of children participating, perhaps because it had a strong field of holiday makers today this felt a very family run. I would strongly recommend Colby as a Park Run we had a near perfect running conditions today and got to enjoy the beauty of a wonderful NT location. Although I think we saw the best of it on a bright summer’s day, I’m sure it’s a bit harsher in the winter. Best still within an hour of finishing we were in the outdoor pool at our campsite ready to play and relax!

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Park Run 🏃‍♀️ Tourism

With the combination of Mr S working some Saturdays and Little Man’s swimming lessons when I have a Saturday free I’m keen to run. This weekend we’re in Bristol visiting family en route to our holiday in Tenby. After a quick internet search I discovered the nearest Park Run was only 10 minutes walk from my Father in Law’s house where we were staying, so perfect for a visit. The conditions were poor we dodged most showers but it was windy and a bit chilly ( though I was still in short sleeves)

Pomphrey Hill Park Run is a 3 lap course with the infamous Pomphrey Hill, a short sharp hill near the end of the lap. Apart from the hill it’s a pretty flat course with down hill to negate the climb. Little Miss joined me for the run but was struggling with the conditions and feeling tired, we walked at times but after 2 laps she decided to retire. I left her with money for a drink and a promise not to move from the pavilion. I ran the last lap pretty fast and think if I had run it alone I would have been close to a PB. When I finished I went to find Little Miss but couldn’t see her. I walked along looking out and then to my surprise I saw her in a group of runners finishing. She had had a sip of her drink and then realised that she could and wanted to finish the Park Run and headed off on lap 3, my little star. I was so proud of her but most importantly she was so pleased of herself and felt so strong and ‘resilient’ (her word which I think comes from the positive mindset work they’ve done at school)

I enjoyed the atmosphere of this Park Run the volunteers really were lovely and so encouraging, especially the lady on top of Pomphrey Hill. I think it was probably quieter today being holiday season and some pretty awful weather but it had a nice community feel. It was great to have a Park Run so close to us and definitely one to return to if we’re at Grandad’s on a Saturday morning.

Simple Pleasures

I love this print which I received on a birthday card last week. Sophie Harding is a local artist whose textile work is often exhibited in our local art gallery, alongside works by her sister, Sasha. Both women are so creative and talented and their work exudes happiness. Many of their pieces are simple tributes to seaside life.

They both have websites which showcase their fantastic work and which I like to browse for inspiration and pleasure. It’s such a simple and easy pick me up, looking and appreciating lovely pieces of art.

https://www.sophie-harding.co.uk/

https://www.sashaharding.co.uk/

Little Sparkles – July 2019

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July is always a busy month due to many family celebrations (there’s always cake in our house this month) and is my favourite month of the year, its my birthday, we break up for the summer holidays and in our town its carnival.  However even by our standards its been an epic month, the diary has been crammed with special events and I have had so much fun.  So below is a brief summary of our sparkles for the month ….

 ENDINGS

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We knew this was going to be an emotional month and it had its highs and lows as Little Miss finished primary school.  The few days after the transition visit to secondary were difficult  but despite our worries she was amazing in the last few days at school and enjoyed her leaving party and final assembly.   Little Man’s class assembly and the Leavers assembly were brilliant, positive and joyful and I was so proud of them both.  The school events this month were endless, apprentice fair, parents evening, summer fair, class assembly, leavers party etc..  Its nice to be on holiday now.

READ

us  judy blume

Its been such a busy month that I struggled to read just one book, Us by David Nicholls.  I really enjoyed Starter for Ten and One Day by the same author but this book just didn’t rock my boat in the same way.  Its about a middle aged couple contemplating their future together on a grand tour of Europe, it was fine but I think we all know that’s not a great one word review of a book.

However I did read a book aloud with Little Miss which bizarrely I missed at her age,  Are you there, God?  Its me, Margaret.  Its unusual because I loved Judy Blume growing up and she taught me and my friends so much ( Forever, the ultimate teen girl guide to sex) Every evening Little Miss and I read together and I felt this was the perfect book this month, moving to a new school, trying to work out who you are, realising everyone else is not the confident people they appear, the danger of gossip etc.. I loved it as did Little Miss.

WATCHED
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No time for the cinema this month but I have enjoyed lots of live music and without a doubt the highlight was Jess Glynne, a girls’ birthday treat.  I loved Jess Glynne’s attitude, honesty and wit and she was a brilliant performer singing all her hits.  On the same evening we also saw the Human League and Electric Dreams was the highlight of their set.

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I’ve been so lucky this month to be able to watch my children have so much fun, there were school parties and the legendary beach party with the cubs and we did our annual trip to Paultons Park, which is my favourite theme park and family day out.  Whilst I enjoy watching the children on the scary rides which make me a bit sick, I join in lots too, and the water rides are my favourites.  It was such a lovely, hot, sunny day when we went and the managers  kept the park open later for everyone to enjoy even more rides.

Its also been carnival this month so we’ve seen the grand parade which was really good, the theme of musicals inspired some great floats and we’ve been to the carnival field to see an eclectic mix of acts, the singing grannies amused me more than I expected. We’ve also watched fireworks and acrobatic plane displays from our garden.  Summer at the seaside is just awesome.

MADE

I’ve made a few cakes this month!  I’ve also made meals using home grown vegetables, carrots, cabbage, spinach, runner beans and salads, rocket, lettuce and cucumbers (our tomatoes are still ripening) as well as doing done a few swapsies with our neighbours. I love eating food grown in our own garden, it seems tastier and more satisfying.  I’m very grateful to Mr S for his gardening, the garden is where he relaxes and enjoys pottering around.

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I’ve tried to make a few flower displays this month. One of my #19for 2019 was themed around flower arranging so I borrowed a book and have been experimenting.  I love my house being filled with fresh flowers and over this year I’ve been buying a few new varieties.

FRIENDS

In this crazy month one of my favourite evenings was at a pub with friends on a random Tuesday night.  It had been one of those very hot and sunny days when you just want to enjoy the coolness of the evening and we sat outside by the quay with a few drinks and a gourmet burger and chips.  The evening had such a lovely atmosphere, people on the river bank dangling legs in the water, a procession of kayaks and small boats sailing past, one of those nights out that you’re in great company and everything seems pretty perfect in life!

LOOKING FORWARD

And now onto August, where hopefully everything will be quieter and more relaxed.  We’re already into the swing of relaxed morning routines and little adventures.  We’re off on our family holiday in August.  I like the holidays to simply pause, reflect and think and to return refreshed and ready for the new year ahead, its a teacher thing, my new year is always September 1st and not January!

Our first festival


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This weekend, Little Miss and I went on our first visit to a music festival, her at the age of 11, me at the grand old age of 45 and 363 days! I can’t believe its taken me so long as I was a huge music fan in my teens but never quite had the confidence to join friends at our local festival, Glastonbury when it was a little more authentic than the event it has become now.  Our main motive for this festival was to see Jess Glynne who is one of my daughter’s favourite singers.  I had tried to get tickets for her tour earlier in the year but there was a no under 16s restriction, so when the opportunity to see her at the music festival arose, we quickly signed up.  Whilst it is a camping festival, we bought day tickets, I was worried about the traffic but we drove straight through as we entered and left the site and there were no problems on the road.

Whilst I knew a little about the festival, I was blown away by its attractions and events, it sells itself as a family event and there really was so much to do.  In the afternoon, we wandered around the lower garden where we ended up painting a mega cardboard castle and writing a story in a creative writing workshop. I think these quieter activities helped us have more energy later on in the day, but they were so good and engrossing. I thought the creative writing workshop was excellent and to have a real life author leading the session and enthusing the participants inspired us all.  I would have loved to have explored this creative area more, we did pop in to the literary tent to see the skinny jean gardener and this was such a welcoming hub too, the talks for the coming days looked brilliant.

The time just zoomed at the festival and I had a few acts I really wanted to see, starting with Vic Reeves dj-ing.  There is lots for the children at the festival but also the adults and there was a whole generation of us keen to see one of the cult comedians of the 90s, he did make me smile and dance.  My bemused daughter at this point went over to have a go on the world’s largest bouncy castle but I stayed and had a dance on my own, I didn’t care,  it felt fun and liberating!  I really  felt that at this festival you could be you.  Before we went to the main music stage, we had festival eyes made up with lots of glitter and sparkle and walked back to the car for a quick change.  On the walk back, we stopped off at the Caravanserai , a real curiosity of indescribable French culture and kitsch, it was fascinating and so surreal, well worth a visit.

The first act we saw at the main stage was the Human League.  Now I saw them 25 years ago on an 80s tour and I don’t know if its their act or real, but again they seemed distant.  I like to see my artists excited and happy by their music.  My favourite song of their set was Electric Dreams and everyone was singing and dancing to the party favourites.  After their set, there was a 45 minute break, so Little Miss and I did more exploring this time to the Dangly Dell, this was a hidden gem, beautiful lights lots of rainbow colours, a play area, retreat etc.. I loved that at the festival you just followed a path and ended up somewhere so different.

Jess Glynne was the headline act and she came on stage just after 10pm.  Amazingly we had managed to get really near the front and had a stunning view.  Jess was everything we had hoped for, a brilliant singer, making honest, witty and empowering comments to her young audience between songs and simply loving her time on stage.  I’m so pleased that my daughter’s first live music experience was with such a strong and talented female artist. My daughter was transfixed and I have to admit as I saw her watching Jess I did blink back happy tears (before quickly returning to singing and dancing myself)

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Our day at the festival was the best mum and daughter time.  We were both so excited and happy to be there and embraced everything we could do, whether it was the creative writing session to having our glittery eye make up done! It was one of those magical days where the weather is perfect, the atmosphere so warm and welcoming and the venue and all the little details so well thought out that you wander around in a little bubble of happiness.

Being 46

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Today is my 46th birthday and I have been enjoying a weekend of celebrations.  One of the advantages of a summer birthday is that there’s always lots going on, especially in a holiday seaside town, so it was a festival on Friday and carnival today.  Carnival week is the highlight of our town’s year and its fun to have a birthday in it each year.  On my 40th birthday not only did we have the big carnival parade but a display from the Red Arrows too, who else gets that on their 40th?

This weekend has been one where I’ve felt truly blessed of my life.  Friday was so special as I got to take Little Miss to her (and my) first big music festival.  She’s a big Jess Glynne fan and when I saw she was headlining Friday night at the festival,  we made the plans.  I will write another piece about the festival, but it was a very special day with so many amazing memories. Jess Glynne was brilliant, not only as a singer but in her words of empowerment and encouragement to her young fans but the day was so much more than the music, creative writing, painting, nostalgia (Vic Reeves), curiosity,  relaxation and of course festival, glittery eyes! I felt so happy and me at the festival, my voice hoarse from the singing and achy feet from all the walking and dancing.

The festival was the unusual catalyst which made me realise how happy and content I am with my life.  There are always issues to be addressed, a biggie next year is finding a school place for our son which meets his SEN and helping our daughter settle into secondary etc.. but generally we’re in a good place at the moment.  For the first time in many years, I feel that so many areas of life, family, well being, finances and work are healthy and positive.  We have those extra pennies for treats like the festival, we’re saving hard for the children’s future and its only a few years until we are mortgage free.  After a few years where I neglected my own health, I’ve taken control again and feel so different, I’ve lost the extra weight I was carrying and returned to running seriously.  My birthday today started with a 5 mile run and I felt great for doing it.  Professsionally things are pretty stable, however without wishing to tempt fate, there is a very exciting project in the pipeline and one that I feel I am able to embrace as the children are older and I can devote more time and energy to it, fingers crossed all works out.

At 46, I’m finally confident and comfortable being me, I no longer feel I have to try to be someone I’m not.  I’m not a party animal but still like to meet up with friends for a quiet drink, I love to read, write and bake, not the most rock’n’roll of hobbies but in doing them I feel the ‘flow’ and relax.  My values are strong, I’m political and will stand up for injustice.  I’m becoming more and more concerned about our impact on our planet and am trying to take positive action.  I think my presents today really reflected who I am, an essential oil diffuser as I like to use the oils for wellbeing, funky pumps to add a splash of colour to outfits, book tokens, fresh flowers and some eco friendly gifts which will be used regularly.  With such lovely gifts, I did feel loved and understood  by my closest friends and family.

I have no issue with my age I’m not trying to be younger but to age gracefully and healthily, to have fun and embrace life.  Life is what we make it and I’m excited for the future.

Birthday bakes

 

img_6059One of my delights in being mum is in planning, baking and decorating celebration cakes throughout the year.  The children are both summer babies so its been a busy time in the kitchen getting ready for birthdays.  My cakes are not the picture perfect images of those on Pinterest but real cakes made by an amateur baker who stirs in love, happy memories and positive thoughts into every cake.

This year, the children were both very decisive in what they wanted for their cake, Little Man wanted a Minecraft cake and Little Miss a watermelon cake.  I took my inspiration from Pinterest whilst being realistic about what I could manage.   My cakes are not simply about decoration, as I choose their flavour very carefully too.

For Little Man’s Minecraft cake, I chose to make a citrus cake, choosing an orange cake with a lime cream cheese filling.  It was a very refreshing cake and helped to counter the sweetness of the icing and decoration.  Although I had several ideas on how to decorate the cake, I ended up with a very simple ‘Creeper’ picture surrounded by random Minecraft tiles.  His name and age were made from black icing and created by using alphabet cutters.

For Little Miss with a brief of watermelon I wanted to do all I could to make her cake look and taste like the fruit.  I was able to find watermelon essence online and it was a quality product.  I added it to a simple sponge mix, with some red food dye to make it look like the watermelon fruit and also added some chocolate chips to the mix as ‘seeds’ This was definitely a cake with an impressive wow factor when you cut it open (although I managed to forget to take a photo of the inside of the cake!) The sponge was filled with a water melon cream cheese filling.  Again I was considering different ways to decorate the cake with icing but chose simplicity; a bright pink icing base with more choc chips as seeds.  I really liked the unusual flavour of this cake, it felt like a taste of summer.   I’ve since tried cupcake variations of this cake for a cake sale which were well received.

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It is one of my simple pleasures to bake my children a birthday cake, its just one of those little things I do, along with the birthday breakfast table (think balloons, lights, banners etc..) to make them feel very special on their big days.