Tag Archives: holiday

Non Non: A dramatic tale of a Special Toy!

My children have never taken to dummies. Instead, they have attached themselves to special toys or comforters as they are often referred to. I wrote about Dylan’s comforter, Timmy the turtle some time ago, of their bond and the heart-in-the-mouth moments whenever Timmy went missing. Timmy is thankfully still with us, although now that Dylan is 5, he tends to stop at home thus minimising the chances of him going AWOL.

Non Non in full comfort mode

We are lucky that Jude has not one but two special toys. Teddy and Non Non. Teddy is a Kaloo bear given to him by his auntie when he was born. His cousin Nathan had the same bear when he was little so it was already well known to be a successful companion. We tried to give him a name – Dylan called him Charlie Blue. But Jude has always insisted on simplicity. Teddy. Non Non was originally called Dolly, which again was another name given by Dylan. The current Non Non is the third incarnation of similar comforters. Non Non is the sound Jude makes when he is snuggling it against his face. Again he came up with the name when he just started to point at it and say Non Non.

Non Non after a rescue from Morrisons

Thankfully Jude loves both Teddy and Non Non equally and absolutely. He is utterly devoted to both of them, so much so that he wants to hold one in each hand … all of the time. Sometimes, but not always we can get away with just one toy at bedtime. It is handy in that I can wash one, whilst keeping the other one on the go. Although having two is better than one, it is still a nerve wracking experience when one goes missing. We have visited Customer Services at our local supermarket to report either a lost Teddy or Non Non on more than one occasion. Thankfully (fingers crossed, touch wood), we have managed to keep a hold of both comforters over the past year despite Jude’s best efforts. He has a habit of chucking it on the floor and finding it funny. A couple of months ago he tried to throw Non Non off the top of Clitheroe Castle. Luckily it was such a windy day that it was blown back in his face!

Which brings me to another dramatic castle story. Before embarking on our journey back from Centre Parcs last week, we decided to stop off at Brougham Castle just a few miles down the road. As you can imagine, the boys LOVE castles. Dylan has been a fan for a while and now Jude has been bitten by the bug. It’s a 13th century ruin but with plenty of staircases to run up and down. I’m sure Adam won’t mind me saying that he isn’t the biggest fan of heights. But with children, needs must. So up we followed both boys up and round the winding staircases. I’ve no idea how high it was at the top, at least 4 or 5 floors high. Dylan and Jude loved running around, the adults less so. Needless to say Adam was happy when it was time to go back down.

  

After about 2 minutes of being on terra firma, Dylan announced he wanted to go back up to the top. Adam went up again whilst I stayed down on the ground with Jude. When they both arrived back down, we managed a few more minutes before Dylan wanted to pay another visit to the top. I offered to go this time much to Jude’s dismay. He proceeded to cry constantly whilst we were up in the tower. I remembered that I had Non Non in my bag and shouted down to Adam and suggesting I throw it down. Jude spotted it from a distance and the cries got louder, this time interspersed with shouts of ‘NON NON’. So I let go ………

View looking down … before Non Non’s fall!

I can re-play this next bit in slow motion in my head. Non Non started to float down and then unfurled and opened up, causing him to fly headlong, not into Adam’s hands, but onto a ledge of ruined wall about 10-12 feet above the ground. Adam clapped his hand over his mouth in shock, Jude’s wails increased in volume, Dylan looked at me with his eyes wide in disbelief. Non Non was stuck. We could see him. But couldn’t reach him.

Dylan and I got down the staircase as quickly as we could and surveyed the damage from ground level. There was no way we could get Non Non without help. It was just too high up. Jude was crying more and more so in damage control mode, we had to go and get Teddy. I left Adam trying to work out what the hell to do and ran back to the car with Jude whimpering on my hip. I had to walk through the entrance building. A poor bewildered employee of English Heritage listened to me blabbering on about how Non Non had ‘fallen’ and was stuck on the castle walls, and could he possibly help. Bless him, he went and got a long mop and foldaway chair and set off with a couple of visitors in tow (who had heard my tale of woe with interest) to where Adam was pacing. A pretty comical sight to be honest. I collected Teddy to Jude’s delight and kept him amused with various things in the gift shop, all the time crossing my fingers. Mr English Heritage came back with bad news. No he couldn’t get it down. We walked back to meet Adam and Dylan, strategically a few metres away from the crime scene.

Jude was calm by now and seemed to have forgotten about Non Non’s fate. Adam was still bothered and determined not to be beaten. We went for a distracting walk around the perimeter of the castle walls and Adam suddenly ‘found’ a large tree branch. Back he and Dylan went, whilst I continued to keep Jude amused. As much as I wanted to watch, I knew Jude couldn’t take it. Adam said that another visitor clocked him with the branch and asked if he was off to battle. Absolutely, he replied!

We had a lovely walk and as we came back round I saw Dylan running towards us with a big smile on his face ‘Daddy got Non Non!’.

Drama over. A wonderful reunion ensued. Cheers and rejoicing all round.

I know that one day, we won’t be so lucky. One day, Jude’s ties to Non Non and Teddy will start to relax. But we aren’t ready for that yet. Not that day.

Superdad saved the day (and the weeks/months that followed!). Non Non lives on.

A triumphant Daddy!

 

 

39 Years Young

Blurry birthday selfie!!

It’s official. Only 364 days left of my thirties! But that’s ok because life begins at 40 right?

So yesterday was my birthday. What better way to spend it than being spoiled by my wonderful husband and beautiful rainbows, whilst on holiday with the rest of my family. The day started with the boys climbing onto the bed to help me open my cards and presents. Dylan now fully understands the concepts of birthday and can break into singing birthday greetings without prompting, whereas Jude can just mumble words resembling ‘Happy Birthday Mummy’. Both are just as special and precious. To be honest, if just being cuddled up in bed was all the day had to offer, then I’d be more than happy. We tried and failed at a few selfies whilst daddy was out getting my special birthday breakfast (pastries, croissants, pain au chocolat etc mmm). Believe me, this photo was the best of a bad bunch.

We are at Centre Parcs at the moment. Me and my family unit, my older brother and his family and my mum, dad and other older brother who has flown in from America for the week. The boys are loving having their family within short trotting distance and love walking from one lodge to the next. Jude wants to be able to do all the things his older brother and cousins are doing. This includes ditching the afternoon nap because he doesn’t want to miss out on anything (not something I personally am relishing!). Dylan in particular loves playing with his cousin Emma. There is 14 months between them and being very similar personalities they get on so well together.

 

My birthday was a pretty chilled day, as most are at Centre Parcs. Activities interspersed with walking, playing, swimming and eating, all at a gentle pace. Dylan went pottery painting with his dad, grandma, auntie and cousin Emma. I took Jude on a mini high ropes adventure course.

 

One of the impromptu high points of the day had to be Jude’s hairdryer antics after we finished swimming. Move over Jedward, Judeward is here!

Once the boys were more or less asleep (they are sharing a room for the first time so you can imagine there is a fair bit of giddiness!), instead of putting on my gladrags and going out or kicking off my shoes and relaxing with a glass of wine, I pulled on my trainers and went for a run. Boy how times have changed!! I got some new running gear off Adam for my birthday and like a child wanting to play with a new toy, I couldn’t wait to try it out.

Light when I went out, dark when I returned!

 

I set out wanting to do my longest run of the year so far. Although I’ve run four 10k races, my longest race of the year in May is a half marathon, so my mileage needs to increase. I set out wanting to run at least 7 ½ miles but returned having managed 8.  I ran round and round the grounds, meeting countless birds, rabbits and even startling a deer.

 

I returned triumphant and treated myself to a small glass of wine and a hot bath. I then realised that wine wasn’t the best way to hydrate so followed it with a more appropriate glass of water. Call me weird (it’s fine, I understand), but there was definitely something exciting and empowering about running on my birthday. As I was out, I was pondering and thinking about all my past birthdays, or as many as I can remember. If I have the energy when I get home, I’ll dig out some photos to share of my birthday antics over the years.

 Knowing I completed a birthday first last night, something I wouldn’t have contemplated 5, 10 or 20 years ago, is in some ways an achievement. And after the cake and wine has settled, I am still buzzing!

 

 

Happy Happy Half Term

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I’ve decided a happy post is way overdue. Although the memory of half term is already fading, I wanted to share with you a couple of the fun things we got up to. Half terms are always particularly welcome for me seeing as I work in education. The first half term is always the hardest in my line of work, so by the time the break in October arrives, I am ready for some time off.

It was Dylan’s first school holiday, which was exciting for him, although given that he has absolutely LOVED his first half term at school, I think he was a tad disappointed not to be donning his uniform as normal. Thankfully the weather gods were beaming down on us for the first few days. I was off work Monday to Wednesday and the sun shone every day. No rainy day activities needed….. hurray!

Bolton Abbey

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We visited Bolton Abbey in North Yorkshire, about a 30 minute journey for us. My parents brought me here a lot when I was younger, but it was our first visit with the boys. I wished we’d brought them sooner because they absolutely loved it. It is a huge estate on the banks of the River Wharfe with a ruined abbey, woods, waterfalls, open fields and picnic areas. We only explored a little bit with them so plenty of reasons to return.

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We took part in the Halloween Pumpkin walk, which was a trail through the woods counting sparkly pumpkins suspended from the trees and finding ‘coffins’ with Halloween related things inside e.g. spiders, toads, ghouls etc. There was a quiz which we had to complete and for the first time, Dylan carried the worksheet and (with our help with spellings), wrote down some of the answers. It was a real ‘wow, he is growing up’ moment. Jude had been asleep in the car so took a while to get going, but eventually perked up and loved opening all the coffin doors and running after his older brother.

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Afterwards we had a picnic by the river. Picnics definitely rate highly in the list of Dylan’s most favourite things to do. Winter picnics are often better, with no wasps or flies to spoil the fun. It was so warm that even in the shade we sat with our coats off. The colour of the trees was stunning. It reaffirmed why Autumn is my favourite season by far.

Pendle Hill

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Anyone who lives in, or has visited our beautiful corner of East Lancashire knows the local landmark hill, Pendle. We see it every day on the drive to school and Dylan loves being able to name it (although he shouts out that every other hill in the area is also Pendle, so we have a bit of work to do there). Jude went up last year in the baby carrier, but Dylan has never ventured up. A couple of his friends have climbed it, so he was keen to give it a shot.

We had decided to keep Jude in nursery for one of his scheduled days. He was in the process of moving from the baby room up to Toddlers, so we didn’t want to break his routine. After we dropped him off we drove straight to Barley, the village at the bottom of the hill.

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To be honest, I wasn’t sure if Dylan would make it to the top. But he was an absolute star. Once we got on the steps on the path up, he was like a little mountain goat. I kept asking if he wanted to rest (not that I wanted to!?!) but he kept saying he was fine. We managed to get him to stop for a bit to have a drink.
Again being another beautiful, clear day, the views were amazing. You can see for miles and miles. Dylan made it to the top of the steps all by himself. We allowed him a bit of time on Adam’s shoulders whilst we made the final short walk from the stairs to the summit. A few homemade chocolate and banana buns at the top and we were ready to go back down. One of my favourite photos taken was of Dylan trying to play hide and seek at the top. It is pretty sparse up there, but he managed to find some long grass to cover him. Pity his hat was bright red and gave him away!!

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At the bottom, we treated ourselves to a pub lunch and sat by the log stove. I thought Dylan would be wiped out for the rest of the day but he wasn’t. Me? I was ready for bed by 3pm!

I’m hoping the weather will stay nice for us at the weekends to still get out over winter. I know we can still wrap up in waterproofs and wellies, but it is much nicer when the gloomy rain gives way to winter sun. Some more wonderful memories in the bank for us and hopefully for the boys, Dylan at least, to treasure. Happy days indeed.

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Those moments

Does anyone else ever get those moments? The ones where you just stop, take in your surroundings and realise just how incredibly fortunate you are? I’ve had a few recently. It probably helped that we went on holiday a couple of weeks ago and I’ve taken some leave this week too. The stresses and strains of daily life have on the back burner. I have stepped off the work treadmill for a short while and actually feel relaxed (well as much as is possible with a 4 year and 18 month old in tow).

So one moment in particular was on a steam train heading up the side of a mountain in Wales. Sitting with my husband and two boys, I looked at them and in that moment appreciated how lucky I really was. I wished I could travel back in time 5 years and show the newly bereaved, but also newly pregnant me what life would be like. I couldn’t have dreamed I would be so blessed.

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The times when we were on holiday when I had ‘those moments’ were in situations where we were either doing something different and special (boys + steam trains = absolute joy or boys + castles = bliss). Or we were just enjoying our company as a foursome (Jude insisting on spending most of a meal out high-fiving the three of us in between grabbing mouthfuls of food). Being on holiday allowed me to just concentrate on being with the family. Forget about the ironing and what was on the never ending to-do list at work. The most important decisions are centred on which beach to visit or whether to buy an ice-cream mid-morning or mid-afternoon!

I know in an ideal world we would spend more time appreciating the good things in life and counting our blessings. I forever see posts on Facebook about cherishing the little moments, making every moment count and that each day is a gift. I’m not against these at all, I understand the point that is being made. It’s just that reality does get in the way and sometimes it can be hard to cherish a toddler tantrum, a fussy eater or whingey moods.

I like to think that I am an appreciative person. That I am, in general, an optimist and a glass half full character. I do wonder sometimes if my loss has made me more thankful when it comes to parenthood. Do I hug them just that little bit tighter on occasion? That’s something I will never know.

Whilst having ‘those moments’ does make me think of Ewan, that’s a good thing. It’s important he remains an active part of me. It also makes me look at my rainbows, my rays of joy after the storm, and be truly thankful for every day, the bad as well as the good. They helped me to heal, smile and laugh and enjoy life again.

I’m off now to buy my lottery ticket for this week. I want to be on holiday all the time!

 

My first holiday Parkrun

With my first 10k race (the Great Manchester Run) taking place in 6 weeks, having a rest from training isn’t an option whilst on holiday. So this morning I took the opportunity to be a real Parkrun tourist and turned up to Penrith Parkrun bright and early. As well as it being my first holiday Parkrun, it was also the first Parkrun of the year where I didn’t have a jacket (well hello sun!) and also the first time I wore my new Parkrun wristband, an early birthday present from Adam.

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My parkrun and Centre Parcs wristbands

One beauty of Parkrun is that with it taking place in 350+ locations around the UK, if you are away from home and want to run, it’s is likely there will be somewhere nearby. It’s a great opportunity to compare different courses and discover new places. Penrith Parkrun is in a truly enviable location. At one point I was running towards the dramatic (still) snow capped peaks of the northern Lake District. In the opposite direction I could see the sparkling river Eamont in front of the Appleby fells. And then hidden behind the busy A66, the crumbling tops of Brougham Castle. Pretty spectacular really.

Snowcapped Lakeland Fells

Snowcapped Lakeland Fells

As mentioned earlier, it was the first time this year that I ran without a jacket. In short sleeves no less. That felt like a cause for celebration in itself. The sun was really strong, I had to remind myself that it wasn’t July. It’s the excuse I’ve given myself that I didn’t run as fast as I’d hoped. When I first turned up, I thought there might be a good chance I would beat my PB because the course was so flat. The sun beat me (and probably also because I hadn’t drunk enough water!)

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Hot but happy!

Here’s hoping the good weather continues for the rest of the week. We have embarked on our first Centre Parcs adventure, so maybe I’ll write about our experience as CP virgins. It’s hard not to be relaxed when this was my view writing earlier (it helped that one child was napping and the other conked out watching the Little Mermaid after a busy morning at the adventure playground and pool!)

Thoroughly relaxing view

Thoroughly relaxing view

I think I’ve earned a bit of a relax after my morning workout.

If you want to read more about my running and fundraising goals this year, take a look at some of my previous blogs.

Getting my Great North Run place

The Great North Run Idea

The Importance of SANDS

I am raising money for SANDS in memory of our angel, Ewan. If you are able to make a contribution, however big or small, please visit my justgiving page www.justgiving.com/running4ewan.

Our Super Scottish Holiday!!

And so begins my first ever holiday blog. I’m really looking forward to writing about our Scottish holiday, because hopefully in years to come I’ll be able to look back and fondly read through, recalling a lot of the detail that I will probably have forgotten.

It will be hard to cram it all into one post. Especially seeing as we have done so many wonderful things. My plan is to write a few more specific posts about some of the things we got up to (if I have the time!). We were only away for a week yet we managed to pack so much in, despite being pretty sleep deprived for a lot of the time. Poor Jude was been teething most of the week, which he shared with us most mornings around 3, 4, 5 and 6 am! Bless him, I can tell he was in such pain. It also means he was a bit crammed during the day, so it wasn’t always easy keeping him happy (lots of walking up and down in the Baby Bjorn helped though). Still, Dylan had a brilliant time. He has really grasped the concept of what a holiday is now and it is great to witness everything through his eyes.

We chose Scotland because it was almost 18 months since our last visit and 3 years since our last proper holiday. As I’ve written before, Adam and I love visiting Scotland. Whilst we want the boys to see the world which we have been lucky enough to experience, we also want them to appreciate the beauty of the British Isles.

Saturday

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The view from the cottage

Although it was only a 3 hour journey to Dumfries and Galloway, we built in a lunchtime stop at Tebay services to make sure the boys weren’t too fed up strapped in their car seats. I absolutely love this place. It’s so family friendly and is the most picturesque motorway services I’m aware of. Whilst Dylan was still asleep in the car, we managed to quickly set up his room and Adam laid out all the toys we had brought so he would be excited and hopefully take to the room without a problem. It worked, and he was more than happy to be on the first floor on his own. Even more exciting was seeing the sea from his bedroom window.

IMG_7137Carsethorn itself was a pretty small place. A few houses, a B & B and a pub. The beach is stone and shingle so Dylan was more than happy throwing stones into the sea. The bigger the better. We wandered down the beach to the pub and stumbled across a shark rock. This was heaven for a boy currently in the midst of an Octonauts obsession. There was also a wooden boat to fulfil his pirate appetite!

 

Dylan was pretty mortified when it was time for bed, but perked up when we told him he could come and visit the shark and boat the next day.

Sunday

Our plan for the day revolved round a visit to Dino Park, east of Dumfries. Our eyes lit up the day before when we drove past the sign. Given that most of the books and toys Dylan had brought with him were dinosaur related, it was a fitting location. And it didn’t disappoint. The park was full of various dinosaurs, with information plaques (and helpful phonetic aids to get the pronunciations right!). We had been warned that the noises would be triggered as we moved closer. At first Dylan was stunned and (although he wouldn’t like to admit it) a bit scared. He soon worked out that they weren’t real and was happy to run from one to the next. A dinosaur themed bouncy castle and an adventure play park were the icing on the cake.

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Monday

We drove out past Kircudbright to the Cream O’ Galloway activity centre. This was an absolutely amazing place and I can’t wait to write more about it. Being school term-time, we almost had the run of the place to ourselves. We packed in a walk with some cows and a picnic (always a winner with Dylan) before throwing ourselves onto Go Boing – a network of suspended aerial trampoline-like nets. It wouldn’t have been safe to take Jude on, so Adam and I had to take it in turns to jump around like fools with Dylan. We had so much fun and it was difficult to tear him away to explore the 3D maze and huge viewing tower. Given that the Cream O Galloway is an ice-cream company, obviously we had to sample the goods. Thumbs up from Dylan!

We treated ourselves to a meal in the pub in Carsethorn, the Steamboat Inn when we got back. As well as serving beautiful seafood, it was always desked out with various nick nacks including a huge shark mounting on the wall – guess who wanted to go and see it time after time?!? It was so nice to be able to have a sneaky glass of wine without having to worry about driving back anywhere. I was pretty chuffed with this photograph.

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Tuesday

Walking up to see blue skies and sun, it would have been rude not to head to the beach. Dylan had been asking ever since we arrived if we could make sandcastles. So armed with buckets and spades, another picnic (and various other paraphernalia!) we hit Rockcliffe beach.

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This is a great place for kids to explore – rocks to climb, searching the rockpools for sea creatures and of course, plenty of sand. The tide was well out, but we weren’t really planning on swimming! Jude was particularly crammed so we took it in turns to explore with Dylan. When it was my turn, we started making sandcastles, until Dylan decided it was much more fun to watch me make them and then for him to kick them over! Errr no Dylan!

Wednesday

Our first and only rainy day. But no matter. I had a particular place in mind to visit; the Cocoa Bean Company near Kircudbright. Another brilliant place to visit, this was a perfect place to spend a few rainy hours.

Jude experiencing soft play

Jude experiencing soft play

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Chocolatier in training

There was a café and soft play but the main feature for us was the chocolate making workshop. Again I want to write a lot more about this as it was such a great activity and Dylan cites this as being the highlight of the holiday. Great praise indeed.

 

 

The rain also cleared for us to spend some time in the outdoor play area. What 3 year old wouldn’t want to spend the rest of the afternoon on a pirate ship? We had to dig deep with our persuasive skills when it was time to leave.

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Thursday

P1100397It was a bit cooler and windier, but we still managed to spend some time at the beach again. We went out for lunch first to a nice wee village called Kippford. Jude fell asleep in the car during the 5 minute journey to Rockcliffe (typical) so Adam stayed in the car with him. We figured Jude needed to catch up on his sleep. So Dylan and I braved the wind and were determined to have fun. I initiated a game of football in order to warm up!

I took this photo below on Rockcliffe Beach.

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I’ve decided to try and write the names of my angel and two rainbows on every beach (or holiday) we go on. The first time I did it was in Whitby when we went for a break in April. I guess I want Ewan to know we are thinking about him. Dylan gave me a hand this time. He doesn’t know the significance yet. One day he will.

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Friday

On our last full day, we went on a bit of a journey. We drove nearly two hours up to Glasgow to meet up with my sister-in-law. She lives with my brother in the States so we only get to see her once or twice a year if we are very lucky. She was over in Scotland visiting her mum and it happened to coincide with our holiday, so we could resist the temptation to see her. Even just for a few hours.

The Kelvingrove in Glasgow
The Kelvingrove in Glasgow

 

She suggested the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, thinking it would have a few things to keep Dylan amused. She wasn’t wrong.

We had visited the Natural History Museum in London a few weeks earlier, which he loved, and there were some similarities. The Kelvingrove is a beautiful building (like in London) and given the huge variety of exhibits, it’s no surprise that it is the most visited museum in the UK outside of London. Oh and it’s free too!

Dylan particularly loved the natural history; animals, sharks and (of course) dinosaurs. I was intrigued by these floating heads. Maybe we didn’t take as much notice of all the exhibitions as we should have (too much nattering and catching up), but there is nothing to stop us going again!

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Back home after the two-hour drive, we treated ourselves again to a meal at the Steamboat Inn. Another glass of wine and possibly the best fish pie ever! To round off the holiday, we watched Braveheart back at the cottage.

 

Not including our weekend in Whitby, it was our first proper holiday as a foursome. Despite Jude’s disrupted nights and general poorliness, we still had a brilliant time. Just being together as a family without having to think about all the run-of-the-mill, day-to-day jobs, housework etc, is heavenly. We picked a wonderful spot to stay and this particular corner of Scotland has so much to offer for little ones. I can’t wait for our next break away.

#MySundayPhoto – Summer in Scotland

So here we are on holiday. Packing our bags for Scotland in September was challenging. 4 seasons springs to mind! We’ve been here a full day and to be fair the weather hasn’t been too bad. It was sunny when we arrived and only rained a little bit this afternoon. It just so happened to be when I took this photo!

I love it though. We were sat on a wooden boat, overlooking the sea and taking a make believe journey to a pirates cove. Just Dylan and me huddled up together (oh and two plastic sharks, Timmy the turtle and his new Pterodactyl!). Who needs sun?

Summer in Scotland

OneDad3Girls

A Scottish Love Affair

Later this month we are off up to Scotland with the boys for a week. Adam and I LOVE Scotland. In our 10 years together we’ve been countless times either camping, renting cottages or staying with friends, and there is still so much for us to explore. Even though, relatively speaking, it is only a small country, I feel as though we could have 20 different holidays in 20 different locations and there still be plenty more to see. I want to list some of the highlights of my experiences with you, and share why it is such a special place to us.

West Coast

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Me & Nessie

This has to be my favourite region. The scenery is simply breath-taking. It feels like a real effort to go to the Highlands and Islands and so the locals are really welcoming. You could drive for 10 miles and count the number of cars you see coming the other way on one hand. It is so incredibly remote despite being part of the ‘overcrowded’ British Isles.

The one downside is the amount of time it takes to get there. Even though we live in the North of England, it is still a good 7 hour drive. When Dylan went as a baby he got fed up with the long drives, even though we took breaks every couple of hours and built in an overnight stop each way. When they get a bit older though, we’ll definitely start to explore again. I’d love to take in a trip going from Skye to the islands of Lewis, Harris and Barra.

Mull

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Adam and Dylan in Tobermory

Dylan’s first journey north of the border was to Mull for a week when he was 8 months old. We were able to explore the island mainly with Dylan in the Baby Bjorn carrier (so much so that he refused to go back in his pram after the holiday was over!!). There are beautiful beaches, islands, walks and hills.

I love the photographs below I have taken of Iona (a tiny island off Mull). When I posted them on my Facebook page, some people thought we were in the Caribbean (ok maybe not with the cardies!).

Iona         Me and D

PrawnsThis picture was taken on Ulva, another small island off Mull. We explored the island with after taking a tiny passenger ferry across. The prawns were caught about 20 metres offshore. It was  one of the simplest, yet most delicious meals I’ve tasted.

Skye

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The view from our cottage in Uig, Skye

This was a particularly poignant journey, in more ways than one. We booked a short break to coincide with Ewan’s due date. I know about only 4% of babies actually arrive on their due date, but I couldn’t bear to be sat in the house, drumming my fingers and thinking of what might be. We decided to get away to take our minds off it. I don’t think it is uncommon for families similarly affected by stillbirth in a similar way to do this.

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Sunset over the Outer Hebrides

Our cottage was in the far north of the island, near a small village called Uig. It was March, so the weather was cold and bleak, with some snow still on the ground. But it was beautiful. My photographs don’t do it justice. During the daytime we explored the island, battered by the wind, rain and (some) sun, energised by the fresh sea and mountain air. I wanted to do lots of walking, but remember getting frustrated at being tired. Although how many people go hiking 8 weeks after giving birth?? Not many. At night we watched the sunset over the Outer Hebrides and then battered down the hatches in our little cottage.

Glen Coe

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Snow covered Glen Coe

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The Clachaig Inn

Wow – What a spectacular place. It’s pretty impossible to get to the highlands without going through Glen Coe so we have driven through a few times and it never fails to impress. It is often described as one of the most beautiful places in Scotland. We once stopped a night at the Red Squirrel campsite. It was a bit of a miserable drizzly night and we almost had an early night after our long drive and a bland pasta tea cooked on the camping stove. Instead we decided to head on up the road to the Clachaig Inn for a drink. There was a band playing covers and the place was full to bursting. I’m pretty sure sweat was trickling down the walls! It’s hard to describe but it was possibly one of the most unplanned and random, but best nights out ever!

The Small Isles

Eigg Rum  Eigg

Camusdarach overlooks the beautiful Small Isles of Eigg, Rum, Muck and Canna (great names!). We spent 3 nights at a campsite next to the beach. I would sit at sunrise and sunset each night trying to capture as many photographs of the islands as possible. We took a trip to Eigg one day and attempted to scale the Sgurr (the distinct hump shape). Unfortunately we never made it to the top. We were surrounded by swirling mist and at the point when we couldn’t see more than a metre in front of us and with a sheer drop into the Irish Sea below, we turned back!

Edinburgh

Edinburgh

I am so lucky to have visited Edinburgh on numerous occasions with friends and family. One of my brothers used to live nearby and a good friend married a Scotsman and ‘emigrated’ here so we have seen it from the perspective of locals as well as tourists. I have been to the Fringe festival and spent a memorable New Years Eve there. It was also the location of my first (and only so far) marathon! Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities. It is beautiful, easy to navigate and walk around. There is so much to see and do. Again after plenty of visits I could still go back time and time again. Hopefully we will take the boys soon. I’d love to take them to Edinburgh Zoo to see the Giant Panda (and maybe a baby or two!).

 

This list is by no means endless, and there are lots of wonderful places I haven’t included. I’m sure I will get round to sharing some of our experiences from Dumfries and Galloway after our holiday, an area I haven’t really explored since a family trip when I was 4 years old!

I hope you enjoyed hearing about my Scottish Love Affair. Are you a Scottish fan? Please share your favourite places. If not, have I converted you?

    

 

You Baby Me Mummy