Kids go racing with Musselburgh Racecourse

I’ve never been horse racing before and to be honest it’s not something that would have crossed my mind to do, especially as a family day out. So when the lovely team at Musselburgh Racecourse invited us all along to their Family Fun Day we were a lil excited to try something new.

And what a great day out we had. We arrived in time for the doors opening and took the handy little shuttle bus from the car park to the door. (Great start when you have a 2 year-old who doesn’t want to walk anywhere.)

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Once inside we were shown to our own picnic table, which just happened to be right beside the racecourse. The views were amazing!

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We were gifted a beautiful picnic lunch each which contained so many treats we had to bring half of it home with us. After our lunch we set off to explore the grounds.

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The team at Musselburgh Racecourse had gone out of their way to make sure that the children were well entertained with a whole host of great kids rides, face painting and Luca’s ice cream, all provided FREE of charge. And FYI all kids entry tickets were FREE too with a paying adult so it really is fantastic value. The kids can go on the rides as many times as they like so are easily entertained for the entire afternoon. The only slight disappointment for us was that the queue for face painting was so long that the kids didn’t manage to get theirs done. Face painting is always going to be super popular though and we probably should have gone straight there on arrival before it got too busy. And they were easily distracted by the free ice cream and the other rides that it didn’t matter too much.

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If all that wasn’t enough entertainment, there was of course the reason we were all there….the races themselves. We popped a little flutter on the first race and actually won (I never win anything so this was most exciting to me)! The kids were so excited to see the horses so close up, as were us grown ups to be honest.

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photo credit: Laura from The Breasest News

As I said, horse racing isn’t something I had really considered as a day out, but we had such a fab time we know we’ll definitely be returning next year. Thanks to all the team at Musselburgh Racecourse for inviting us and putting on such a great day out for the whole family.

Cx

*This was a collaborative post but all views and opinions are entirely my own.

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Unleashing our Wild at Wildhood

Wildhood oh Wildhood.

How we fell in love with your laid back ethos and nature loving vibes. We explored, we got lost, we found ourselves, we laughed, we reconnected – we did everything you said we would on the posters and more. You were our first family festival and you gave us the bug.

Wildhood was billed as a ‘weekend of escapism, excitement and adventure’ where you were encouraged to step away from technology and enjoy quality family time in fairytale surroundings and the team rose to the challenge.

My Fife for Kids partner in crime Jess (aka That Crafty Mother) and I were just a lil over-excited to be invited along with our families to experience the magic for ourselves, and oh how magical it was.

The sun shone, the castle moat sparkled and the smiles said it all.

Jess: ‘I’ll be honest, it did take us an hour or so to find our rhythm and work out our day plan. We really wanted the dudes to lead the way and being social introverts this wasn’t an easy task! However animals masks made, a forest trail hiked, a maze lost in, a free banana, a good nosey about plus a picnic later and they were ready.

Fuelled with excitement, cake and an itinerary of adventure, we set foot into the real world of Wildhood serenaded by the Ukulele Orchestra of Sunny Leith.

The dudes discovered sticklebacks and tadpoles in the pond, crafted hedgehogs and built micro stick rafts. Carved stones, played hide and seek, attempted slacklining, ran through long grass fields, graffitied in the woods and made up stories of a magical rainbow kitty. They even had a poem composed especially for them, a perfect souvenir.

Sun kissed, giggling and exhausted we fell back in to the car and headed home to reality. Magic was had that day and it won’t be forgotten in a long time.’

Claire: ‘We arrived on site just as Circus Alba were setting up some equipment for the kids to try out and that was it, the kids were hooked! We spent the rest of the morning learning how to hula-hoop and spin plates and it took A LOT of persuasion to move from the tent to see what else was on offer.

Our exploration took us as far as the beautiful storytelling tree where we found ourselves with two entranced littles who again had to be coaxed on to another area. After a picnic lunch we did manage to have some fun pond-dipping, slacklining, playing drums in the woods, exploring the maze and trying out Rugby Tots (which little L adored) before it was back to Circus Alba for one last go at learning new skills before enjoying a hot dog in the last of the sunshine as the day came to an end.

The kids had an absolute blast and though we missed so much of what was programmed, it was perfect to have a day out led (mainly) by what they wanted to do and not once were they bored. We could certainly see that camping and coming for the entire weekend was the ideal way to be able to experience all of what Wildhood had to offer. Here’s hoping that the weekend was such a success that the team are already busy planning year 2.’

*This review was a collaboration between myself and Jess of That Crafty Mother/Fife for Kids. We were gifted free tickets in return for a fair and honest review of our experience. You can follow Fife for Kids on Facebook here.

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

 

 

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.

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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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Fall In Love With Northumberland

It’s been an intense few months what with the house project getting into full flow and various other bits and bobs going on. So to say we were ready for our annual catch up with some very good friends is a bit of an understatement. I was champing at the bit to get going on Friday and finally, after popping up to the house to take receipt of our new kitchen (exciting) and waiting for the car to be serviced and being told it needed extra repairs (sob), we managed to get on our way.

This is our fourth trip away with these friends and our families have expanded somewhat since the first one, so we’ve leaned more towards booking more spacious cottages so there’s plenty of room for the kids to run about. They are inevitably more expensive but I do think it’s worth it. Especially since we do spend our nights in after being out and about during the day. Also because we go away with another family we do have a bit of freedom to book something a bit nicer than the norm.

So we booked East Bickerton, right in the heart of the Northumbrian countryside.

The cottage is absolutely stunning and Lizzie, the owner, lives right next door which is really handy if there is anything you specifically need. Not that we did need to contact her as she had thought of everything. Apart from on our final morning Alan woke up with a bug and wasn’t able to travel. Lizzie was so gracious in allowing us to stay past the 10am check out, telling us we could stay as long as we wanted. Thank you Lizzie! When we arrived there was milk, biscuits, tea and coffee awaiting us (I love little touches like that). As well as being a stunning home in a stunning location, it was also really family friendly. We were provided with two travel cots and two high chairs, a stair gate and boxes of toys for the kids to play with. One piece of feedback I would give Lizzie is to advertise this as it’s a huge draw for families and saves us packing our own. As if all that wasn’t enough we were able to order a supermarket delivery which she kindly took receipt of for us. All in all East Bickerton gets a massive thumbs up from us.

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Best Lunch Spots in Fife with Kids

After the massive response to my recent post ’10 Hidden Gems in Fife for Kids’ I realised that lots of parents, like me, are looking for something new to do with the kids and it’s often hard to think of somewhere to go or something to do. I know from doing research for that post and for this how hard it is to find information like this in one place. So I’ve decided I’ll do a little series focusing on the Central Belt of Scotland and hopefully some of you will find some new ideas, or, you can share with me some of yours like you did last time.

As you may have noticed last time. I do have a penchant for an afternoon out which involves food! I’m not sure about you but we don’t eat out nearly as often as we’d like (though, it’s often enough that I’m working on my recommendations for those rare date nights….watch this space), and as kids can often be little monkeys in the evenings, we tend to focus our family meals out on lunch. It just works better for us.

When we eat out with the kids it’s important to us to be in an environment that is child friendly so we don’t feel anxious if the kids are a little loud. The food also needs to be good. I know that seems obvious but there are a lot of places that might have one of the above and not the other. It costs a lot to eat out and so I just aint willing to eat bad food. So there! And on the topic of cost, I know how expensive it can be to do ANYTHING with children so all of the below places are very reasonably priced.

With all of this in mind, I have put together my top lunch spots in Fife with kids. So, in no particular order feast (get it?!) your eyes on this lovely lot.

  1. The Peppermill Bothy

I know, I know, this made it on to my list last time. However, it really does tick all the boxes when you want to eat a nice lunch with the kids. There’s a great selection of food for both the adults and children, including soups, sandwiches, Quiche and hot rolls. And the children’s menu is spot on. They can choose from soup, toast with jam or peanut butter, a wee platter, milkshakes and even ice cream floats. And the cakes! Seriously! They are to die for. The family who run the café are really friendly and the kids can get down to some serious fun in the play corner while they’re waiting on their food. There’s also a lovely, fully enclosed courtyard for those sunny days and you can rest assured they are safe while you’re tucking in to the afore-mentioned cake.

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10 Hidden Gems in Fife For Kids

If you’re from, or visiting Fife, and, like me, you’re sick to death of taking your kids to soft play centres, with their overpricing, sticky carpets, lack of mute button and terrible, terrible food, then the below list is for you. I’ve explored a fair amount in Fife with my two children (5 and 2) and can vouch for the fact there’s so much to do. Sometimes we can all feel like we do the same things with our kids so I thought it would be nice to note down what I think are some ‘hidden gems’.

Before you read on I’d like to note that none of the companies listed have paid me anything in return for the high praise I’m about to bestow on them. I just really like them and it’s nice to spread the word when you discover something fun to do with the kids.

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Top Tips for Travelling with Children

The thought of travelling with children is pretty daunting. I’m by no means the most experienced of travellers, however we’ve been on a fair few trips both in the UK and abroad, with Tom and more recently, Lois, in tow.

So here’s my top tips to make those journeys a little less stressful:

  • First of all lower those expectations. I mean, get them right down. To the point where your goal is simply to get to the other side alive, and having not committed violence against another member of your family. By doing this you aren’t going to be disappointed are you?! I say this, because we’ve travelled in the past with lovely ideas of how it’s going to go down and it just never goes this way. For example, we decided to drive back from Cornwall to Scotland in a day, with a stop in Manchester to go to the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre for a few hours. Setting off and stop off times were planned around Tom’s naps. We didn’t factor in leaving on the first day of half term in England and being stuck in traffic for the entire day, missing LEGOLAND and Tom staying awake for the entire 12 hour journey. Actually, that’s a lie, he fell asleep 45 minutes from home, then we had the added fun of the car to bed transfer.  It stressed us right out but the funny thing is, looking back, Tom was completely chilled out. If we’d had no plans for how the day SHOULD go, we might have been the same.

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A Weekend in Aberfeldy

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Each year we have a few days away with Alan’s side of the family. Us, Alan’s parents, brothers, their wives and children. A lovely wee tradition so it is. This started when his brothers had their children…..pre-Tom we weren’t invited, much to our relief! Of course, times have changed and staying at home nursing a two-day hangover is our life no more. So, we’re now 5 years into this lovely tradition. So far we’ve been to Center Parcs twice, Crieff once and we’ve had our second year in the beautiful Aberfeldy, Perthshire.

We like this destination…not least because we are the owners of two little beings who HATE car journeys. Tom can be placated with technology these days but Lois…..we barely get out of our village before she’s eaten all the snacks and defeated us with her screams for the dummy. Typically this will buy us about 6 minutes of peace before chaos ensues. Anyway, I digress. Our holiday….

We stay in the cottages at Moness Resort. They’re great value for money and perfect for us as we will gather in the biggest cottage each night to cook and drink copious amounts of wine and there’s a little courtyard area out the front where the kids can play. We like that there is a swimming pool on site too so there’s a rainy day option.

We had some lunch at the Three Lemons in town when we arrived on Sunday. This is a great place to eat with kids. Relaxed and friendly and the food is great, with some good choices for the kids.

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