Becoming Robin Hood for the day with East Neuk Outdoors

I’m delighted to share with you the review that my Fife for Kids business partner, Jess (aka That Crafty Mother) has written about her family’s experience of East Neuk Outdoors. I’m not going to lie, there was much jealousy that she was the one to embark upon this adventure and not me. And what a day they had too… Cx

Archery, a sport I’d last tried at a country fair aged approximately 12. When it transpired that I was off to visit East Neuk Outdoors for an archery experience I must admit I had some pretty mixed reactions:

  1. The dudes would probably love this experience
  2. I would probably hate this experience.
  3. That-not-so-crafty-Father would be competitive.

I was out of my comfort zone. I am not at all sporty, have zero self confidence in sports and actively avoid participating in these types of activities 98% of the time! I always feel ridiculously self-conscious and can guarantee I’ll be the one making silly mistakes. So, whilst the dudes were busy debating whether Robin Hood or Merida was the better archer, I sat silently on the journey there pondering if it was too late to opt out and whether they would be ‘on form’ or opting for their gremlin personas today. (Please kids not today, just listen and keep the tantrums at bay!).

Having never been to an outdoor activity class I was, however, intrigued to find out what East Neuk Outdoors would be like since they don’t do regular classes and we were all total novices. Also, a family lesson? Adults and children together? This was a whole new, somewhat daunting, concept to me.

I’m pleased to report that, all my petty hang-ups vanished the moment we arrived. The sun was beaming down and Cellardyke was looking particularly stunning as the sea glistened. We were a little early so took a stroll along the sea front, enjoying the view. There was also a great wee park right across from the activity centre. Soon it was time for our lesson and the dudes, often social introverts, (terrified of strangers and prone to not-speaking to anyone), ran straight up to the welcome desk and chatted away confidently to our tutor, Hugo, as if they’d known him for years! He was fun, friendly and welcoming from the offset and before I knew it we were all being taken to get kitted out.

Wrist guards on, arrows selected and bows handed out and we were set to start. Hugo patiently set out the ground rules for the archery range, showing were to stand and how to carry the arrows for safety. Then we got to the nitty gritty bit and he showed us step by step how to shoot an arrow, giving loads of hints and tips along the way, treating adults and kids equally.

FFK for ENO5

Taking turns to fire sets of arrows it was adults versus children. We all became ridiculously competitive, not just That-not-so-crafty-Father! Hugo is clearly really experienced with children, stepping in to help, guiding them and watching every shot they took making you feel safe whilst learning under his supervision too. He explained scoring, (and kept score too) and constantly gave helpful pointers to improve our aim; we all went from hitting the worms to hitting the target just 15 minutes in!

The 45 minutes flew by and we had a truly amazing afternoon and left absolutely buzzing. The dudes grinned from ear to ear the whole time and the big dude can’t wait to return to try out something else, ‘This is the best day ever!’ he declared. Now if that’s not praise I’m not sure what is – he didn’t get a bullseye (That-not-so-crafty-Father did though in case you’re wondering), he didn’t ‘win’ and there was no ice cream bribery needed for this declaration either! He was, for the first time in a long time, full of confidence and glowing with it. We’ll be visiting again soon for sure, and encouraging lots more folk to discover East Neuk Outdoors too.

East Neuk Outdoors offer a variety of outdoor activity lessons from archery to sea kayaking. Do check out their Fife for Kids listing for more details on what’s available, costs and to contact the team.

Jess xox

*The Fife for Kids team were paid for this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely honest. Images taken by Jess Leech.
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Why You Should Travel Without Children

I realise this topic is going to be controversial but let me start by making it clear I’m not saying NEVER TAKE YOUR KIDS AWAY WITH YOU. If you read my blog or follow me on social media you’ll see that I love going on adventures, near and far, as a family.

We’ve been away the four of us, with friends, with extended family and, shock horror….either just the two of us or each with our own friends.

All the trips we’ve been on have been amazing in their own ways.

Aside from work trips I’ve only ever gone away for 1 or 2 nights in the past to go to birthdays, weddings and hen do’s. Until I recently went on a trip with my best friend. A trip for no reason other than we wanted to go away for a few days together.

We planned and saved small amounts for two years. Two whole years. But as the time to go away became closer I had a serious case of the mum-guilt.

How selfish were we to go away and leave our children for 5 days!

It wasn’t a work trip, we didn’t HAVE to go away, it was 100% because we wanted to. And this knowledge did make me feel bad. I found myself pre-empting the judgemental questions and defending myself before anyone had even said anything, explaining that I see the kids more than ever now that I work from home. I also didn’t want to seem like I was ‘too excited’ about going away without the family.

That, coupled with a lot of the conversation being about how dad would ‘cope’ stopped me in my tracks.

It’s interesting that there still seems to be this notion of dads being babysitters, as opposed to joint caregivers. There’s certainly none of the ‘how will you cope’ chat whenever Alan goes on a trip.

I also remembered that I’ve spoken before about mum guilt, how we need to stop beating ourselves up and how society as a whole needs to back off and let parents make their own choices. So there I was, not listening to my own advice.

The last time Alan went away he had said how it was a nice break not have to think about anyone other than himself for a few days. Quite right! And he reminded me of this before I went and said I should do the same. Enjoy being a bit selfish.

So I did!

 

We stayed up late, drank in the middle of the day, read our books, walked and walked and walked without having to stop ten million times with snack bribes…actually finished sentences. Utter bliss!

Taking the children to see new places and experiencing trips with them is of course amazing. I love seeing their little faces when they see something new. And I love being able to relax the rules and let them run around wild.

But likewise, if you’re lucky enough to be given an opportunity to go away for a few days without them, do it. It’s a great chance to let your brain relax, to see sights that you may otherwise miss, eat where and when you want….and to have as much vino as you fancy. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a little selfish now and again. It’s self care isn’t it. We all deserve to look after ourselves a little.

So, I’m already planning the next girls trip and I can’t wait.

Cx

 

 

Learning to Swim with Merbabies

I’m going to be honest, swimming is my least favourite activity to do with the kids. I know they love it, but I always find the pools cold and because I’m usually the one holding L while she bobs about, I’m even colder. So in general, I don’t love it.

But, it’s a life skill and I’ve been planning on looking at lessons for L for a while. T’s lessons are the traditional arm-bands ones so I was intrigued to find out what Merbabies would be like since they don’t do arm bands.

Firstly, I was delighted to find that the pool in Inverkeithing High was lovely and warm. Honestly, an actual warm pool. What a treat! First hurdle down.

L is a shy little one. She’s unsure of new people and clings to me like a Koala each time we go swimming (even though she says she likes it) so I was a little worried about how she would be.

I’d love to say that she loved every single second but that would be a lie. She cried as soon as Emma-Lou, the teacher looked at her, but thankfully this didn’t last. Emma-Lou is just so lovely and warm, she engages with the little ones, but not too much so they still feel safe with their parents. She is clearly really experienced with little ones and set out fun games throughout the lesson. She made it clear that if anyone did not want to do something this was ok. No pressure to just dunk your baby right under the water…phew! It would be hard not to like her.

About 8 minutes into the lesson L was holding on to the side of the pool unaided and grinning from ear to ear. She blew bubbles in the water AND she let me partially submerge her. This from a girl who cries if her brother splashes her in the bath, is MASSIVE. I was honestly shocked at her confidence in the lesson within just a few minutes.

We had a really fun 30 minutes and L then asked me for the rest of the day if she could go back. It’s fair to say the classes get a big thumbs up from us. So much so that I will keeping an eye out for the expansion into week day classes in our area.

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Merbabies offer accredited small group lessons for babies right up to pre-school with a complete emphasis on learning through play. Do check out their Fife for Kids listing for more details on the timetable, costs and to contact the team.

Cx

*The Fife for Kids team were paid for this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely honest. Images provided by Merbabies.

 

A weekend in Inverness-shire

The Highlands have been on my list of places in Scotland to visit for a while now. I always feel slightly ashamed when I speak to friends from other countries and am asked about the north of Scotland and I have to confess I haven’t seen a whole lot of it. So, I may have put on my persuasive voice when we were deciding on the annual weekend getaway with Alan’s side of the family. The last couple of years we have been to Perthshire, which is so beautiful that we were thinking about visiting again this year. However, it can be difficult to find accommodation for our huge family so we looked farther afield.

SLEEP

We opted for the Highland Holiday Home and weren’t disappointed. Located in Errogie, on the North East end of Loch Mhòr and just a couple of miles to the East of Loch Ness it’s perfectly rural (whilst being near enough to Inverness for a wee visit).

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Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work

Let’s all be honest. New Year’s resolutions don’t work.

And here’s why.

We spend December living excessively. Eating and drinking pretty much constantly from the moment we wake up until we go to sleep. Routine is thrown out the window and we just live moment to moment. And the media encourages this with non-stop food and drink adverts everywhere we look. So, by the time the month ends so have the adverts and they’ve been replaced with the diet and exercise ones. So we feel crap about what we’ve consumed and how we look. Then we start nit-picking about other aspects of our lives. ‘We don’t go out enough’, ‘I’m a bad parent because I hate pretending to be a ‘insert animal here’, ‘the kids watch too much tv’, ‘I look at my phone too much’ and so on.

And we resolve to be better people.  Eat less ‘bad stuff’, start an eating plan, stop looking at social media all the time, cut down on the Gin intake or whatever else you think is ‘bad’.

Then come the end of January we’ve failed miserably and feel crap about ourselves again!

Has anyone ended a year feeling positive about having achieved this type of resolution?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely in the mood for eating a bit better and moving a bit more. But only because I’m at risk of turning into a bit of cheese and quite fancy a bit of normality. Not because I’m getting sucked into this negative thinking and feeling disgusted by myself.

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*Review* Aladdin at the Adam Smith Theatre

We were excited to be invited by OnFife Theatres to review their 2017 Panto, Aladdin at the Adam Smith Theatre. As the show was in the evening we didn’t think it was a good idea to take L so I opted to make it a mum and son night and me and T went along ourselves.

Normally I take T to see the smaller family shows that Carnegie Hall (also part of the OnFife family) puts on but the time was right to introduce him to his first panto. I did carry on the tradition by taking Lo to see Shhh…The Elves are Shy at Carnegie Hall though and although this run is now complete I would recommend to anyone with little ones under 5 that you check out Little Ulla, which runs from Thursday 21st-Saturday 23rd with tickets only £5.

Anyway, back to Saturday. As this was T’s first panto experience, it took some persuading that it was actually ok to shout out during the performance. Once he realised I wasn’t having him on he was beyond excited and couldn’t sit still. It was great to see the genuine glee on his face.

It’s been a while since I went to a panto myself and I wasn’t sure if it would all be like it used to. I was relieved to find that it was a classic, old school, traditional pantomime, with all the usual hilarity, breaking out of character and audience interaction that you would expect.

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Christmas Isn’t Perfect. And That’s OK

Some of you may have read the post I did recently where I was basically having a big ol whine about not being able to find any Christmas Glee. It’s been a tough few months and we’re definitely not out of it just yet, the house is still the number 1 talking point and for all the wrong reasons. There’s just so much to do and we’ve been fighting the clock to get it ready for our first Christmas there. I think we could have done it if we really went for it. But after Alan missing out on so many evenings and weekends because he’s been doing things at the house, it seemed a bit pointless to burn ourselves out to get in a few days before Christmas and then we would have missed the whole build up to the big day, which, lets face it, is the best part.

Also, even though it was me who was really driving the ‘let’s get in before Christmas’ dream, when I actually took a step back and thought about it is started to seem a bit silly. I’ve put Christmas on this pedestal, wanting it to live up to all sorts of Insta-worthy amazingness when really, all the children care about it playing with their new toys and seeing their cousins. The don’t even care about the Christmas dinner. They’d probably be happier with pizza if we’re all being honest about it.

So now we’ve decided not to move in before Christmas and stay with Alan’s mum and dad for it. It’s different for all of us and there’s some things we’re all having to do a little differently. For example, the Christmas tree has gone up a little later than we would have normally have done it (due to T’s incessant asking about it), but a little earlier than they would have done it (due to T’s incessant asking about it). And I’m sure it’ll be really lovely for them to see the little ones’ excitement on Christmas morning, but there’s no way they’ll be loving the fact the excitement starts at 5am.

Anyway, thinking about these small things that will be a bit different this year has got me thinking about all the utter craziness that we can get sucked into in trying to make Christmas perfect.

Before you read on, if you do any/all of the below and love it, that’s great. I’m not judging. Christmas traditions are brilliant as long as we enjoy doing them. The things I’ve noted below are simply some of the things I’ve not found so enjoyable but have been sucked into in some bid to create Christmas perfection. Read More

100 Boring Truths About Me

I was tagged in this by a fellow blogger, thanks Three Time Daddy  (which I mistyped in google there and was presented with a whole host of ‘interesting’ websites. I don’t recommend googling three TIMES daddy – instead just click the link above to check out his site. Unless you do want to google three times daddy, in which case, enjoy).

Anyway, I was too polite to tell him to take a run and jump so, below, you’ll find 100 truths about little ol me.

BASICS
Q1: What’s your name?
A – Claire.
Q2: Any nicknames or aliases?
A – Mummeeeeeeeeeeeee
Q3: Your gender?
A – Female.
Q4: Your star sign?
A – Aquarius.
Q5: How old are you?
A – 33 and 11 months.
Q6: Your relationship status?
A – 4 years into the old matrimonial adventure.
Q7: Any children?
A – Indeed. A 5 year-old son and 2 year-old daughter.
Q8: Any pets?
A – Oh I wish. When I first broached the ‘let’s get a dog’ conversation Alan suggested we have kids instead. So I’m sure that gives a clear indication of his love of animals.
Q9: Any tattoos or piercings?
A – Having removed a bunch of piercings in recent years I’m down to ears pierced twice plus my tragus and 3 tattoos (4 if you count the fact that one is a cover up). All of the above demonstrating why you should THINK before acting! I’ll still get more tattoos though as I don’t really learn from my mistakes.
Q10: What do you like about yourself?
A – Oh lord. Em. I’m a genuine kind of person, I think.
Q11: What do you dislike about yourself?
A – I can be uptight/anxious if things don’t go the way I think they should. And sometimes I’m a little too honest.
Q12: Righty or lefty?
A – Righty.

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Why I Can’t Find Any Christmas Glee

Heyyyy, remember me?

It’s December! The time for Christmas Glee. The time in which bloggers share their gift guides and post beautiful pictures of their Christmas tree, or their little ones in cute reindeer jumpers, or having a lovely family day out meeting Santa in the local grotto.

Me? It’s been a month since I’ve written anything. A good couple of weeks since I posted on Facebook or Twitter and though I’ve been updating Instagram, it’s been sporadic and pretty half-hearted if I’m honest.

I’ve kind of lost my blogging mojo.

There’s been so much going on that I feel so lethargic and at a bit of a loss about what to write. I don’t have any Christmas cheer yet! And because I do enjoy a ‘5 reasons why’ and ‘top tips’ kind of post and just writing a bit about my life doesn’t seem quite right.

It’s boring!

And won’t score me many points on the old Google rankings front.

F**k it, I’ve nothing to write about except the things that have been going on in real life so I guess it’s better than a big black hole of nothingness!

First up – I QUIT MY JOB!

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