Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Five reasons I'm still breastfeeding through toddlerhood and beyond

I never actually set out to be one of those crunchy, natural mothers who breastfeed their children past the date they start school.

Oh no!

I had a simple goal of breastfeeding until my babies got their teeth. Yet somehow, I've ended up being one of those mamas who nurse pretty much until those first teeth fall out! How did that happen?

Well, here are five reasons I just sort of carried on nursing...

1. Because I'm lazy and there just never seemed to be a right time to stop nursing and wean. If it ain't broke, why fix it? Time has passed and I have never had the time or energy to withhold the comfort or nutritional benefits that breastfeeding brings. Natural weaning will happen anyway (average worldwide age is between 4 and 7 and most children will lose the ability to latch when they lose their milk teeth), so what's the rush?

2. The extra immunity means fewer illnesses. And, when they do become poorly, it's probably not as bad as it could have been. Breastfeeding doesn't guarantee a healthy child, but I'm pretty sure it helps avoid the worst of the usual bugs that toddlers seem to attract, particularly when they start childcare and school. Plus, breastmilk is incredibly easy to digest, so when nothing else will stay down or they won't eat, you know they won't starve and there's less chance they'll get dehydrated if they are really sick.

3. I'm scared of losing a valuable tool in my parenting armoury. How else do you get a crotchety, overtired toddler to give in and nap? How else do you calm a tantrum? What better way is there to heal a small child's broken heart after their favourite toy has been thrown in the washing machine/run over by a car/broken by their older brother or sister? And, as my child has grown older, it's sometimes been the only bribe that will work!

4. I don't want to lose my cleavage. OK, so this is a pretty vain reason. But before I had children I wasn't particularly blessed in the chest department. So I was very pleased when I first got pregnant and I developed a buxom bosom. And while I'm breastfeeding, my womanly figure remains. There is, of course, a chance, it will remain when we wean, but it may also deflate. I'd rather wait and see what comes naturally.

5. I like the cuddles. I love the closeness we enjoy in our special times together. I actually think it's quite good for me to take time out and to put my feet up and rest while we enjoy some quality time. And I adore just staring down at a content face knowing I am providing liquid love.

Are you breastfeeding beyond babyhood? What reasons would you add?

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Can you remember every book you've ever read?

When I was about 17 and studying English Literature at A-Level I remember thinking that it would be amazing if I had some sort of record of every book I'd ever read.

As a teenager, I remember being bitterly disappointed when I'd take a book out of the library and eagerly start reading it when I got home, only to realise by about page 5 that I'd read it before.

Over the summer, my biggest boy, E, who recently turned seven, suddenly 'discovered' reading. We had been reading Roald Dahl's 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' and when we went to the library I pointed out 'James and the Giant Peach' and explained it was by the same author. After we got home, he disappeared for hours and I found him, deeply engrossed, actually reading on his own.

So, with thoughts of how wonderful it would be to have a record of all the books we'd read, we bought a special reading record notebook. It's just a regular, hardback notebook and I have drawn in columns in which E can write the date, the title of the book, the author and what he thought of it.

In years to come, it will be amazing to see, not only what he's read, but also how his handwriting and tastes change and develop over the years. I'm hoping to keep all the notebooks we fill and present them to him on his 18th birthday.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Easy carrot and coriander soup

One of my favourite things about autumn is soup.

There's little better in life than cosying up in the afternoon with a big hearty bowl of wholesome soup while the cold wind blows outside.

Autumn is the season of plentiful vegetables, particularly of the root variety, which means making soup is cheap and easy.

Plus, my children absolutely love dipping their freshly baked bread rolls into their bowls of soup, so it makes the usually challenging task of getting vegetables inside them as easy as child's play.

This week I made a simple carrot and coriander soup.

4 finely chopped carrots
1 finely chopped potato
1 finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons of butter
1 teaspoon of crushed coriander seeds
1.5 pints of chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon of raw virgin coconut oil (optional)
3 tablespoons of single or double cream
1 handful of chopped coriander leaves (optional)

1. Gently soften the carrots, potato, onion and coriander seeds in the melted butter.
2. Add the chicken stock and simmer until all the vegetables are completely soft.
3. I added a teaspoon of coconut oil to give the soup a smoother finish and also because I recently bought a jar after reading about the health benefits and now keep trying to add a little to lots of foods.
4. Blend the soup until it is smooth (one of my children doesn't like lumpy soup at the moment).
5. Stir in the cream and add the chopped coriander leaves and season with ground pepper according to taste.

Serve with hot crusty rolls.

I can't wait to try some more soup recipes - if you have a favourite, please do share it with me.

Monday, 6 October 2014

How to treat a child's earache

My eldest is unfortunately susceptible to ear infections. And in the early hours of Saturday morning, I was awoken by the sound of his moaning 'Ow, ow, ow, my ear!'

I checked that he was otherwise in good health - temperature was OK, he wasn't in pain anywhere else, and gave him a small hot water bottle to hold against his ear and some paracetamol suspension. Once he was wrapped up in bed, he was OK until the morning.

We have a special, small hot water bottle, which is a perfect size for holding against a poorly ear.

On saturday, we ditched our plans to go out - to football practice and on to a good friend's party - and opted to stay in the warm and rest up.

Earaches are common in children because the distance between the ears, nose and throat is much smaller than in an adult, which makes them more prone to ear infections than adults.

The general advice is to:

  • dose them up with pain relief such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. While paracetamol is great for reducing a fever, ibuprofen's strength is that it is an anti-inflammatory, so if there is any swelling in the ear, it's great for reducing it down.
  • apply warmth to the affected ear - hence the hot water bottle
If there is no improvement in the earache after 48 hours or if the earache is accompanied by a high temperature or symptoms such as dizziness, severe headache or swelling around the ear, then you should call your GP or the local NHS out-of-hours provision.

By Sunday, E was greatly improved. I had been worried that he may not be up for playing in his football match and was even contemplating putting a drop of olive oil on a piece of cotton wool and putting it in his ear while he played. A word of caution though - you should not put anything in a child's ear if you suspect that the ear drum may have perforated or burst, which can happen as part of the natural cycle of an ear infection. However, although he was intermittently complaining of pain, he was lively enough to manage to play in the match and score a goal.

It's a good job he wasn't supposed to be swimming this weekend as getting an ear affected with infection wet is not advised.

When we got home, I gave him a little more pain relief and sat him on the sofa to rest with another hot water bottle and by that night he was right as rain and ready for school this morning.

I must remind him to be ill on the weekend again, so he doesn't miss any school!

DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional and this information is based purely on my personal experience. If you have any health concerns at all, please contact a qualified medical practitioner. 

Further information about earache can be found on the NHS Choices website.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Today we went to...the optician

Today we visited the optician for an eye test.

B is 4 and it was her first time at the optician, but 7 year old E has been for two annual check ups since he started school.

In hindsight, a Friday afternoon after a busy week of school was not the best time to visit. Both children were tired and I could see E's eyes blinking a lot when we arrived, which made me think that maybe he did have a problem. However, my anxiety was misdirected and the excitement of the trip meant that both were alert and happy to try something new and different.

E went first, so B could see what would happen. He climbed into the chair and was very excited when the optician pressed a button and made it go up in the air. After chatting about school and whether he could see the whiteboard well and whether he had any problems watching TV, his first job was to look at several lines of letters, which he correctly identified, even as they got smaller and smaller. Things got a little more difficult when the optician covered one of his eyes, and then the other, and asked him to read out the letters, but he still got them right.

The next image on the monitor in the mirror was a pair of magic scissors, which suddenly turned into a duck. E shouted with joy when he spotted the change. He was then asked to wear a special pair of 3-D glasses and try to touch the wings of a fly, which he thought was great fun.

The colour test was next when E was shown a special book of numbers hidden in coloured dots and he had to say which numbers he saw. Next, he was asked to follow the optician's pen with just his eyes, not his whole head. Then he had to watch a picture of a clown on the wall while the optician used various lights to look inside his eye. Finally, all the lights went out as the optician took a closer look inside his eye with his special torch. He did so well at all the tasks, he was given a special shiny sticker.

Then it was B's turn. B is not yet reading, so she was given a special card with the letters on and asked to match a single letter on the monitor in the mirror to one of the letters on her card, which she thoroughly enjoyed. She then had a go at most of the exercises her big brother had done and as the test continued she grew in confidence and got quite chatty with the optician. He was very impressed with her number recognition. At the end, she even took the sticker - not something she would normally do, even at the dentist or at the doctor's surgery after her immunisations.

Both children have great eyesight, with a slight tendency to longsightedness, which is normal at this age. They will go back again in a year. If E is still good, he will then only have to go every two years as the longsightedness tends to correct itself by the age of eight as it's just the normal development and growth of the eye, rather than a problem.

Eye tests for children are free on the NHS and the earlier any problems are spotted, the better the outcome. It's particularly important to get your child's eyes tested when they start school because it can be difficult for them to learn if they can't see the whiteboard. Also, if they are struggling to see the words in a book, it can impact on their ability to read and learn, which can lead to behaviour issues.

We visited Bill and Taylor on Station Road in Teignmouth. I had previously taken Elliot to a high street chain, which was great. But I am going through a phase of trying to shop locally at the moment, so I decided to try a local, independent optician instead. The optician was brilliant with the children and explained what he was doing throughout, reassuring them, chatting to them and making it a really fun experience. In fact, I was so impressed, I think I might book an eye test for myself with them in the very near future. Apparently, your eye sight can start to deteriorate from around the age of 40 and I'm rapidly approaching that age now!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Charity shop bargain skirt #ThriftyThursday

I love a bargain and this week a found a real cracker: a 'White Stuff' skirt for just £3.99.

My workwear wardrobe has really suffered since I started working from home and I tend only to dress up when I have client meetings.

However, this weekend I am off to a conference with my biggest client, so I was looking for something smart yet comfortable.

The 'White Stuff' skirt, which I found in the YMCA charity shop in Teignmouth, ticked both boxes.

The skirt has an underlayer of smaller burgundy flowers on a pale pink background. Larger flowers adorn the over skirt, which is slightly shorter with a split up the back to reveal the underskirt. The garment is finished with an integrated tie-belt, which is long enough for you to choose whether to tie it at the front, side or back.

It's perfect for spring, summer or autumn and versatile enough to be worn to client meetings or for the school run.

Plus, it goes perfectly with a lovely burgundy 3/4 sleeve wrap top I had picked up last year in the British Heart Foundation shop for just a few pounds and some brown strappy wedge sandals.

What charity shop bargains have you found recently?

About #ThriftyThursday
Thrifty Thursday is a linky established by Cold Tea and Smelly Nappies as a place to share posts about anything to do with saving money and being thrifty.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Six natural ways to ward off wasps

I am petrified of wasps and September always fills me with dread as the cooler weather encourages those flying yellow and black stinging machines to start interacting with humans as they become more and more drowsy, drunk and bad-tempered.

While I’ve never been stung by a wasp, the thought that it is possible to die from an allergic reaction to a sting is enough to send me running for cover as soon as one approaches me.

With three young children around, I don’t want to use chemical insect repellents, so here are six natural ways to try and keep wasps away.

  1. Leave out slices of cucumber. They have an acidic property that wasps really don’t like.
  2. Grow mint. Wasps don’t like minty smells, so grow mint in your garden or sprinkle your picnic table with mint leaves. 
  3. Wasps also hate the smell of eucalyptus, so add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to cotton wool or a handkerchief.
  4. Create a fake wasps nest out of crumpled newspaper of a brown paper bag and hang it from the outside of your house or a tree. Wasps are territorial and if they think there is already a colony in your garden, they will keep away.
  5. Make a wasp trap by cutting a plastic bottle about two thirds of the way up. Fill the bottom third of the base of the bottle with soapy water. Then smear some jam around the top of the bottle and turn it upside down so the neck of the bottle is inside the base. The wasps will head towards the jam in the neck of the bottle and then fall into the soapy water and die.
  6. Look dowdy and ditch the perfume. Wasps are attracted to bright colours and nice smells. So if you’re making the most of the last of the summer sunshine and wearing a lovely bright outfit and have spritzed yourself in your favourite eau de toilette, you’re a wasp magnet. Stick to darker, dull colours and enjoy your au natural aroma. If you need to add a splash of colour to your outfit, wear red as this is one colour wasps can’t see. And if you’d rather wear some sort of scent, why not rub some cucumber slices into your skin?  

If you can add any other natural wasp deterrents, please share them. The more ammunition I have, the better!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

How to prepare your younger child for when their older sibling starts school

My 2 year old son is about to lose his constant companion.
He has never known life without his big sister. She is there to play with him as soon as he wakes up, she accompanies him to the childminder, they eat their lunch together, she is there for him every day. For the past two years, she has been an integral part of his every day life.

But from the beginning of September, she will be leaving him to start life at school. For six hours a day, five days a week, she will be doing something else, with other children, and he will be left at home.

While there is plenty of information about preparing your child for school, there's not much around to help get your younger child ready for life without their sibling.

So here are some five ideas about how you can help your younger child get used to life when their older sibling starts school.

1. Involve him in the preparations. As you sew nametapes into the school uniform, tell him about how his big sister is about to start going to school and what she might be doing when she is there.
2. Make plans for what he will be doing when she is at school. Plan trips to the park, the library, the zoo, the supermarket.
3. If you can, do a practice run where he goes to his childcare provider on his own. You could use this opportunity to do something special with your older sibling too - one last day of one-to-one quality time before school starts.
4. Arrange a couple of play dates for the first few weeks with other children his age who may also have an older sibling starting school.
5. Plan some simple, but special, activities for when she gets home from school. Bear in mind that she might be tired after a busy day learning and doing new things, but involving the two of them in helping make the dinner, baking a cake or doing a jigsaw together will help re-establish their bond and remind them how much they enjoy each other's company.

What advice would you add to help your younger child get ready for their older sibling starting school?

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

8 reasons to learn British Sign Language

A local British Sign Language (BSL) training provider is celebrating its first birthday today. To mark the occasion, SignUp BSL has launched a competition offering one lucky community group, business or charity the chance to win a one hour BSL or Deaf Awareness training session.

But why should you learn BSL? Here are eight reasons.

1. So you can communicate with Deaf people. I used to go to a toddler session at the local library, which was also attended by a Deaf couple with their young son. I was desperate to be able to say hello and get to know them, but I couldn't because, at the time, I didn't know their first language - BSL.

2. BSL is a beautiful way of expressing yourself. Think of how much you already use non-verbal signals to highlight what you are saying. If you dislike something, you screw up your face to show quite how distasteful you find it. If you are describing how big something is, you use your hands to show exactly how massive it is. If you are referring to an object, you will often point to it. BSL simply focuses on the hands and face rather than the spoken word.

3. It's a completely different way of learning. You can't take notes when you learn BSL and you definitely won't need a pen and pad. You just have to watch, remember and practice. Using your brain like this is tiring, but it is definitely a fantastic way of getting that grey matter working.

4. Learning any language is great for your brain and boosts cognitive processes. BSL has a completely different syntax and grammar structure to English, so you'll benefit from better problem-solving skills, improved listening and greater creative thinking.

5. Improved cultural awareness. When you learn BSL you'll also learn about the richness of Deaf culture and Deaf identity. Plus, the diversity of cultural variations in BSL will help you learn about how the language has evolved in different areas of the country - and the world.

6. You're spelling will improve. One of the first things you'll learn in BSL is the alphabet. Which means that even if you can't remember the sign for something, you can always spell it out on your hands. As a result, your spelling will be amazing.

7. When you're in the theatre or a library where you have to be quiet, you can still communicate! It's also a lot easier to chat across a noisy room.

8. You can also talk when your mouth is full!

Friday, 18 July 2014

How to organise summer holiday child care

School's out for the summer. And, unless you're a teacher and you get the 6 weeks off too, organising child care for the school holidays can be a nightmare. Especially, if like me, you have multiple children of different ages with varying interests.

So, that's how I found myself creating a spreadsheet so I could keep track of who is doing what, when and where.

Luckily, I work freelance from home, which makes life easier than when I had an office job with set hours. But even so, I still need to be strict to ensure I get my work done. Hubby works full-time and is pretty limited on when he can take his annual leave, which leaves me to sort out managing the childcare.

My youngest son is 2 and goes to a childminder, who is fairly flexible, which helps - a lot. My lovely childminder is also happy to increase my 3 (nearly 4) year old daughter's hours over the holidays and will even take my 6 year old son.

The only problem is that my childminder also needs a holiday, and the week she has chosen, just happens to be the week after we go away - so that's already one week of alternative arrangements to be found.

And then there's my oldest son, who has expressed an interest in going to a local football camp, and learning tennis and going to a sports camp at his school.

You can see how easily things can become confused.

So, I created a simple table in a word document with the week days along the top and the week commencing dates down the left hand side. I started off by marking in our booked holidays. I then hunted for some activities for my older two (football for my oldest son and a dance camp for my daughter) while my childminder is on holiday and begged my dad and a friend to take Wilf for two mornings. Once the holiday cover was sorted, I inserted my oldest son's remaining activities and then booked my younger two into the childminder on those days. Once I had sorted the childcare, I highlighted the days where I had childcare and marked those as my work days. I then noticed a couple of weeks where I didn't have enough working time, so I asked my childminder to take all three for a couple of days and I was sorted.

The spreadsheet has now been printed out and is on the fridge door so we can easily glance up and see who's doing what, when and where during the school holidays.

For once, I feel organised.

How do you manage childcare over the school holidays?

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Why we put a tank on our wedding (anniversary) cake

Who would put a tank on their wedding cake - or even their wedding anniversary cake?

I did - for both occasions.

It was certainly a talking point, but actually, there was real meaning behind the gesture.

You see, when we got married ten years ago, my husband's grandparents were preparing to mark their diamond wedding anniversary. The longevity of their happy union is a real inspiration to my husband and I and we wanted to honour them in our own marriage.

My husband's grandparents were married in 1944. And, like many men of his generation, he saw active service as part of the tank regiment (he was actually awarded the Military Cross). In recognition of his life as a serviceman, my grandparents had a small tank on top of their wedding cake and we used this on top of our wedding cake too.

Roll on ten years and we decided to hold a party to mark a decade of marriage as well as my husband's impending 40th birthday.

Every party needs a cake, so I commissioned Carole's Cup Cakes in Teignmouth to create a two tier, chocolate (my husband doesn't like fruit cake) wedding anniversary and birthday cake. Carole copied the flowers from our original cake in intricate sugar paste. She added two flags made of icing: one said Happy 10th wedding anniversary; and the other said Happy 40th Birthday Richard. And she added a tank to the top in recognition of the fact that my grandparents-in-law will be celebrating an amazing 70 years of marriage in October.

Unfortunately they are both well into their 90s now and are no longer fit enough to manage the 5 hour journey to Devon so they were unable to join us for our wedding anniversary party. However, we sent my mother-in-law back to Eastbourne with photos and a slice of cake for them to enjoy.

Do you have any quirky cake stories to share?

Friday, 11 July 2014

10 tips for a long and happy marriage

Yesterday,  I celebrated ten years of marriage. In the past decade my husband and I have had three children, moved house, changed jobs (and career), and been through moments of joy and despair including the deaths of loved ones. So that's quite a lot of change, stress, joy and grief.

So, as we mark our tenth anniversary I thought I'd reflect on ten ingredients for a long and happy marriage.

1. Show kindness every day. It might just be making him a cup of tea when he walks in from work or complimenting him on how good he looks in that shirt. But by showing kindness, you are showing how much he means to you and that you are thinking of him.

2. Share the every day chores. Washing up, hoovering, doing the laundry, putting the bins out. They're all a bit boring and if one person thinks they're doing all the work, then resentment can soon build up. So make sure you both pull your weight. Sometimes you might allocate certain tasks (in my house my husband tends to do the bins), but occasionally, step up and do their bit too.

2. It's not just about sex. When children enter the equation and you're knee deep in nappies and exhausted because you've not slept for longer than 2 hours straight for weeks on end, it can be difficult to imagine how you ever managed to create this new life. There are times in married life when your libido packs up its bags and goes on holiday for a while - but you're married for life and when things settle back down again you can reignite the passion. You don't have to do it every night, week or even month to prove how much you love eachother. Accept that this is a temporary phase and enjoy less vigorous past-times. You can be close by just sitting next to eachother on the sofa and holding hands.

3. But you can keep the spark alive. Every now and then I look at my husband when he doesn't know I'm watching and I focus on what made me fancy him like mad when we first met. The way his eyebrows sit above his twinkling eyes, the way he runs his hand through his hair, his cute bum. Every time I do this I remember how much I love him and why I am so thrilled to be his wife.

4. Be responsible for your own happiness. Being married is not all roses. Sometimes you experience sadness too. But don't depend on your other half to make you happy. You are responsible for the way you feel. So take ownership of your emotions and if you're having an off day (or week or month) do something constructive about it. Go out for a walk or a run, go and see a doctor if you need to, but don't blame your spouse, just ask for their support in helping you help yourself.

5. Remember you have just as many annoying habits as he does. My husband has a few little quirks that can be really annoying (especially if I'm tired). The way he always forgets to rinse his stubble out of the sink after a shave and his inability to put a bin-liner in the bin properly. But, I also remember that I am not perfect and there are a few things I do that wind him up like failing to wipe down the kitchen surfaces when I wash up and leaving piles of newspapers around the house. So accept eachother's shortcomings and remember that neither of you is perfect.

6.  Take time out to enjoy your own friends or interests. Every now and then I go away for a weekend with my old friends and leave my husband at home with the children and occasionally, my husband goes away for the weekend with his old friends and leaves me at home with the children. It keeps us in touch with our wider support networks and it reminds us of the people we were when we first met. When we come back, we are usually tired (because we never take advantage of the potential lie in and always stay up far too late) but rejuvenated.

7. Show an interest in each other's hobbies. I'm never going to be a huge football fan, but my husband is a big sports enthusiast and I enjoy surprising him every now and then with a fact I have picked up about his favourite team. Showing an interest in something new expands your horizons and gives you more to talk about. You don't have to suddenly become a die-hard Spurs fan, but by sharing your husband's passion, you have more to talk about and you show how much you care about their passions (after all - you are one of their passions too).

8. Compromise. But not on the things that really, really matter to you. Compromise is all well and good, but actually, I think it's about give and take. Work out which things really matter to you and reason why they are so important and let go of the stuff that isn't so important. Do you really need to be in charge of the colour scheme for the whole house? I had firm ideas for how I wanted our dining room to look, so I took charge of that project and let my husband have free reign in the lounge. I love what he's done in there and it's probably not what we would have chosen together and I adore our dining room too.

9. Accept change. We have both changed a lot in the past ten years. I suppose parenthood can have that effect on people! But I think what strengthens a relationship is that we have both embraced the changes that have come along. Changes are part of our shared history and as we've encountered changes in our lives we've become even more intertwined rather than growing apart.

10. Make plans. We have plans for the short-term future, mid-term future and long-term future. We've not necessarily mapped them out, but we know eachother's hopes for the future. When we retire, we are going to go on a round the world trip. It's a long-term plan and it's part of the cement of our shared future.

What tips do you have for a long and happy marriage?

Thursday, 10 July 2014

10th wedding anniversary gifts (and how to replace a wedding ring with something better)

Today is my (well me and my husband's) tenth wedding anniversary.

The traditional wedding anniversary gift is something made of tin. But I think ten years is a big milestone and I wanted to get something special to mark the occasion.

My husband lost his wedding ring a couple of years ago. I wasn't that bothered, because, to be honest, I didn't really like it very much. It was a last minute purchase (we had a whole wedding to organise) and it was in the sale. It was a little bit too big for my husband and it was a surprise he managed so long without losing it.

So, for our tenth wedding anniversary I wanted to get him a replacement. Except, I didn't want to replace a wedding ring, I wanted something better, something that reflected our lives a decade later.

I was browsing Pinterest when I found the perfect idea: a band featuring the birthstones of our children.

I visited a jeweller in Exeter (I won't mention the name because they weren't very helpful, but it's behind Boots on the way up to the castle), but they were stumped when I mentioned June, the month my youngest son was born. The birthstone is pearl and apparently they can't set that into a ring. The alternative is alexandrite, but they said it was rare and very expensive. I'm not sure if it was to do with the scruffy way I was dressed, but I felt a bit like Pretty Woman in the posh boutique and it seemed like they were fobbing me off a bit when they suggested I get in touch when I knew exactly what I wanted. I didn't bother and instead I visited my local jeweller in The Triangle in Teignmouth.

Teignmouth Jewellers was a lot more accommodating and promised he would be able to get the alexandrite and the other stones and set them into the ring exactly like I wanted. And he did (delivering a week ahead of schedule). He wasn't even phased when I made an educated guess about my husband's ring size (no jokes please) and said it would be no problem to get the ring re-sized later if we needed to.

I'm really pleased with the result. The stones from left to right are: Sapphire (September, the birth month of my oldest son and my husband); Peridot (August, the birth month of my daughter); Alexandrite (June, the birth month of my youngest son) and Aquamarine (March, my birth month).

If we have any more children, the jeweller has assured me that it will be very easy to incorporate another stone into the ring.

I gave it to my husband this morning. And the best bit - the ring fits perfectly - if anything it's a bit tight so there's no excuses for losing it this time.

To accompany the ring and to celebrate with a meal at home this evening, I managed to find a bottle of 2004 Moet & Chandon from, of all places, my local Morrison's supermarket.

Happy 10th Wedding Anniversary.

What is the most amazing 10th wedding anniversary gift you've seen, given or received?

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Bargain England football top

I love a good bargain and if I have a little bit of spare time (very rare in my life), there's nothing I enjoy more than having a browse in some of our local charity shops.

Unfortunately, my 6 year old son is not such a fan, but I'm hoping this latest find will convert him.

I am lucky enough to get a couple of hours on my own with my biggest boy on a Friday after school while the younger two are still with the childminder. It's precious time and we usually do something he chooses, often swimming or the park, but on this particular Friday we had to do a bit of shopping before baby W's birthday.

We had about 10 minutes to spare after we'd got the balloons and last minute gifts, so I suggested we have a quick look in one of the charity shops in town.

I spotted the top pretty much as soon as we walked in and when I showed it to my son, his eyes lit up. An England away football shirt.

It was a little bit too big for him, but for £1.49 and a couple of years of growing room, it was too good to pass up. He wears it all the time and is very proud of it.

And I love being able to treat my boy without breaking the bank.

Have you found any bargains recently? I'd love to hear your stories.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

How to make an elephant birthday cake

My youngest, Little W, is 2 tomorrow. So I decided to make him a birthday cake. I'm not a natural domestic goddess. My mother has never cooked and I took German instead of home economics at school. But I've always really wanted to make my children's birthday cakes by myself.

For E's 2nd birthday, my friend helped me make a Makka Pakka cake, but W has barely seen 'In The Night Garden' because his older siblings generally monopolise the TV viewing schedule with football or Tom and Jerry.

I considered making a George Pig or 'Curious George' cake, but I thought simpler might be better. There's nothing more disappointing than over ambition. W's bedroom has a safari theme and on recent trips to the zoo, he has been really excited to see the 'Elants', so I decided on an elephant cake. What could go wrong? Well, for a change, not much really.

I started by baking a 20cm chocolate sponge following a recipe from the BBC Good Food website

Then I got brave and went off piste.

I ignored the bits about icing the cake and just mixed together some butter, icing sugar and cocoa powder, which I used to sandwich together the two pieces of sponge and then to cover the cake as a base for the roll-out icing.

I had a packet of white roll-out icing. I had looked for grey, but hadn't been able to find any, but the lovely Carole, from Carole's Cup Cakes in Teignmouth, gave me a small chunk of black, which I kneaded into most of the white to make grey. I kept some white back to make the tusks and eyes. 

Once I achieved the desired shade of grey, I rolled out the icing and laid it over the cake. I cut off the excess and rolled some into a tube to make the trunk, cut two chunks to make the front legs and finally, I rolled out the remainder to make the ears. 

Next it was time to make the tusks from the white I had set aside - made by simply rolling the icing into a thin sausage shape, which I cut in half.

After that it was time for the finishing touches: eyes, eyebrows and toes as well as a few wrinkles in the trunk.

Artistically, I don't think it would win any Women's Institute (WI) awards,but I'm pretty proud of it.

I just hope it tastes as good as it looks!

Friday, 27 June 2014

Hats off to the meerkats

With the realisation that these are the last few weeks I will spend with little B before the summer holidays and starting school in September, we've been busy making the most of our days.

This week, we've mainly been at the zoo: Paignton Zoo on Monday and Exmoor Zoo on Wednesday. And the biggest boy didn't miss out as he went on a school trip to Shaldon Zoo on Tuesday.

The highlight of all the zoo trips was when B lost her hat in the meerkat enclosure at Paignton Zoo. She was leaning over the wall to get a better look at her favourite animals when her hat fell off. Cue - wailing and tears until I promised her I would find a zookeeper to get it back. While we waited for the friendly and helpful zookeeper, we had lots of fun watching the meerkats explore the invader in their enclosure. They adults nipped at the bright pink hat and the baby meerkat climbed in, rolled onto its back and began wiggling around having great fun.

We were also lucky enough, at Paignton Zoo, to witness a peacock show off his beautiful fan tail right in front of us. Which we all thought was an amazing spectacle.

Baby W, who will be 2 at the weekend also loved the trips. He enjoyed pointing to the different animals and naming them. His vocabulary is really coming on now. "Look, Bebra.", "Elant", "Raffe".


So - how would I rate the zoos? 

Paignton Zoo is fab - it's huge and has a massive variety of animals. We were excited to get a glimpse of the new male lion, although we weren't sure what has happened to the females at the moment. What I love about Paignton is that it really is different every time we go (we have an annual pass). We generally don't have time to see everything in one trip, so we tend to visit different parts each time. Plus, even though the enclosures are pretty big, you usually manage to see the animals. There is also a massive soft play area (which we didn't visit this time) and lots of outdoor play areas.

This week was our first trip to Exmoor Zoo. We travelled up to meet a good friend of mine who was on holiday nearby. It's smaller than Paignton, but the layout means you can easily explore without getting lost. The meerkat enclosure is brilliant with glass cut into the wall and steps up over the wall, with a glass surround to prevent small children losing their hats! But in other parts of the zoo, the enclosures are developed to mimic the animals' habitat and we struggled to see some of the animals who were hiding. We even struggled to see the penguins. One of the brilliant things about Exmoor is that the keepers often go out and visit schools and groups with some of the animals with some very 'hands on' presentations. For the children, the best part, apart from the meerkats, was the playground - it's massive and has plenty of slides and stuff to climb on. Baby W was up and down the cargo netting like a little monkey.

My biggest boy, E, really enjoyed his trip to Shaldon Zoo. He was most excited about being able to feed the meerkats. He also loved completing the worksheet as he went round the exhibits. 

We've been hit by rain now, so next week's excursions will probably be more indoor based.

Monday, 16 June 2014

No more 'mummy milk' when she starts school?

Over the weekend my 3 year old (nearly 4 as she often reminds me) announced that when she starts school she will stop having 'mummy milk'.

The statement came completely out of the blue and threw me a bit. I mean, she can go for a couple of days without nursing, but then some days, she seems to be permanently attached.

I've always said I'd let her self-wean, but I never actually knew what 'self-weaning' would look like or feel like. I always assumed that the nursing sessions would get fewer and farther between and that eventually I'd notice that it had been a month with no nursing and that she'd gently and naturally weaned. I didn't expect her to be consciously thinking about the end of our nursing days.

Part of me wonders if she's picked up on the negativity around older children nursing. Comments made by about 'curing her' and 'she doesn't still need that' and 'you're not a baby are you?' (one of those comments was even made by me in a moment of nursing aversion). Or perhaps she's just picked up on our cultural norms. Or maybe she's being a typical nearly four year old and asserting her independence and responsibility of being a 'big girl' now.

For me, I'm partly relieved that there may be an end in sight. I've been tandem feeding for practically two years now and while it has mostly been rewarding it has, at times, been tough. But there is a big part of me feeling sadness for the impending loss of our nursing relationship - the end of an era.

Who knows what will happen when she starts school. I had anticipated that she would need to nurse more to cope with the transition. Although she has been attending the pre-school two days a week for the past year, and is excited about starting, she still naps during the day and I expect she will be exhausted and will need to reconnect. I thought that the self-weaning process would start after Christmas once she was settled.

No matter when she self-weans, it's been a thrilling journey and I'm looking forward to finding out exactly how this self-weaning lark actually works.

Have you nursed a school age child? I'd love to hear your experiences. I'd also love to hear self-weaning stories of older children.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Father's Day photo gift for under a fiver

My husband doesn't need more cuff links, socks or ties.

For me, the perfect Father's Day gift is personal and ideally home-made with input from the children.

Unfortunately, I'm not particularly blessed with art and craft talent. But when I saw this idea - photos of three children, each holding a handwritten sign saying 'We', 'Love' and 'Daddy' - on Pinterest, it fitted the bill perfectly. Even better, it cost less than £5 to make. If you have more or fewer children, you can adapt the signs to any message you like.

My 6 year old wrote the signs and we took the photographs using my iPhone. The 6 year old and 3 year old posed beautifully for the photos, but the 23 month old was less co-operative. I tried holding him and the sign while the 6 year old took the photo, but the results were a bit blurry, so I ended up sneaking a quick selfie.

We printed the pictures for less than £2 on the self service machine in 'Boots'. We then bought a frame for £2.99 from the local 'Home Direct' shop.

The children and I are really pleased with the results and I'm pretty sure my husband will love it too. 

I'm sure if I was a better photographer, it might look even more like the example I saw on Pinterest. 

What gifts have you made for Father's Day?

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

How Lego got my 6 year old reading newspapers

This week's school run has involved a daily diversion to WH Smith to buy a newspaper. 

My 6 year old is Lego mad. And this week, if you buy the Daily Mail in Smiths, you get a free Lego toy.

Queuing outside Smiths waiting for it to open is not my idea of a fun excursion on the way to school, but it has, I've discovered, additional educational value.

As well as benefitting from a rapidly expanding Lego collection, I'm inadvertently teaching my boy maths and literacy. 

I encourage him to pay for the newspaper himself, counting out the correct coins, or working out what change he should expect from a £1 coin.

Better still, he's even asked to look at the paper. This morning, he discovered it has a sports section, where he could catch up on last night's QPR v Wigan match and read about the England World Cup squad.

Some of my earliest memories of reading are perusing the pages of my parents' Daily Mail. And, while it is no longer my newspaper of choice, I'm secretly really pleased that my little boy is so keen on enjoying reading the newspaper. 

Hopefully, even when the Lego promotion ends this Saturday, he'll still be interested in reading the news. 

The next education will be to teach him that you shouldn't believe everything you read in the paper.

Oh - and not to always get sucked into every marketing ploy.

Friday, 2 May 2014

The wanderer returns

Recently, a long lost acquaintance visited me. It had been four and a half years, with not so much of a whisper.

Maybe it was because she didn't like me breastfeeding. She tends to steer clear from women who are nursing. She also stays away if you are pregnant. So, I had not seen her since October 2009, when I fell pregnant with my daughter. She thought about returning in September 2011, but a swiftly fertilised egg soon put paid to that idea.

I've relished in the freedom of not having to worry about her monthly visits, which can often be painful affairs. The supplies for when she stops by had been gathering dust in the bathroom cabinet. Thank goodness they don't seem to have a best before date!

However, at the end of March, when I was away on a long anticipated girly weekend in France, she turned up, unannounced and with huge inconvenience to join the party.

And this week, she returned again, with a vengeance: heavy and uncompromising.

To be honest, I was beginning to miss her. I was starting to worry that she would never come back and that my dreams of having another child might not come to fruition. Her visits mark my womanhood. But she's been here for six days now and I'm bored of her company. I'll be glad to see the back of her...until next month. Unless, of course, another visitor takes up lodging. We'll see what my husband thinks of that.

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Thursday, 1 May 2014

The best eye make-up remover...ever

Recently, I was lucky enough to win products in an Adore Naturals competition, including the amazing Bskincare gentle eye make-up remover.

Made with calendula, jojoba, and benzoin, this is the best, and gentlest, eye make-up remover I have ever used. 

It comes out of the bottle in a bit of a thick, jelly-like gloop, but it goes on smoothly and manages to shift pretty much everything, while feeling smooth and soothing to the delicate skin around the eye.

At only £6.95 for a 100ml bottle, it's definitely value for money and a permanent addition to my beauty shopping list. 

Best of all, it is handmade in Cornwall so I'm supporting the south-west economy too.

Bskincare gentle eye make-up remover
Disclaimer: This blog post has been independently written and is my own opinion.

Monday, 14 April 2014

An Easter egg with real meaning

I love Easter. I love the chocolate, I love the Easter egg hunts round the garden and I love the sentiment of new life and new beginnings.

But sometimes I feel guilty that the real meaning of Easter gets a little bit lost.

At Christmas, the story of the birth of Jesus is part of the season's tradition of nativity plays. And jolly old Father Christmas is still referred to as Saint Nick.

But at Easter, you don't really get the same excitement over the Passion. Hot cross buns are pretty much sold year round and Easter eggs are more about fluffy rabbits and chicks than the story of Jesus dying on the cross and rising again.

So I could hardly contain my excitement when I spotted The Real Easter Egg as I trailed the aisles of Morrisons this week.

The Real Easter Egg is the first and only Fairtrade chocolate Easter egg to explain the Christian understanding of Easter.

The original Real Easter Egg includes an egg made of Belgian Milk Chocolate and some Swiss chunky chocolate buttons. But you also get a 24 page Easter story book. A charity donation is made from each sale.

As well as the original Real Easter Egg, you can also get a special edition, luxury egg, which includes a wooden cross from Bethlehem and a sharing box.

Having struggled for years to choose Easter eggs for my family and friends, particularly as I boycott Nestle, this year my life has been made much easier.

I think I have a new favourite chocolate company and I will be looking out for more from the Meaningful Chocolate Company in future (especially at Christmas).

DISCLAIMER: This post is in no way sponsored or endorsed by the Meaningful Chocolate Company or the Real Easter Egg. These are all my own opinions.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Five ways to prepare your toddler for tandem feeding

I never planned to tandem feed. I'd never even heard of it before falling pregnant with my third. But my second was so attached to nursing that it just kind of happened.

Tandem nursing has given B and W an extra special bond.

When it became apparent, towards the end of my pregnancy, that I would in fact be feeding a toddler and a newborn, I set about preparing my then 22 month old for the birth of her baby brother (although at that time we didn't know the sex of the new arrival). See my post on breastfeeding while pregnant.

Here are five things I did to ease the transition for my daughter to sharing her 'momma mulk' with the new arrival.

1. Role play. In the weeks leading up to the birth I would often feed my daughter's dolls, teddies and even toy dinosaurs and explain that when the new baby came it would not be able to eat or drink anything except for mummy's milk. I even encouraged her to feed them too and pretend that it was the new baby.

2. Taking turns. Every time we were in a situation that required sharing and taking turns, I reminded my daughter that when the baby came she would have to wait until the baby had its turn before she would be able to have mummy's milk. All the time, I reassured her that she would still be able to nurse too and that it would be a very special thing she would do for the new baby to share mummy's milk.

3. Setting limits. One thing I wish I'd done before baby was born was to set some limits on nursing my daughter. Looking back, my life would have been a lot easier if I had night weaned her before he was born. Getting up in the night to tend to a tag team nursing duo was really, really hard work, especially if they woke at the same time because I struggled to feed both simultaneously and rarely did so. In the end, we night weaned my daughter when she was 27 months and my son was 4 months because I really was shattered. I left it as long as possible because I didn't want her to associate the new arrival with a feeling of being pushed out. We night weaned by introducing a simple pyjama rule. If she was in pyjamas she could not have milk. She could only have milk when she was dressed. Being so tired contributed to some nursing aversion (NA - see my post on nursing aversion) when I breastfed my daughter where I got really touched out by her. Again, I'd never heard of NA before I experienced it, but it can be quite common in a tandem nursing relationship. To get round the NA I introduced a time limit on our nursing and we introduced a game where we would count down to the end of a nursing session. I also introduced times when I wouldn't nurse her. Before meals was a big one because she was gorging on the milk and then not eating properly and then getting hungry (for milk) again not long after. When setting limits, consistency is key, so you're toddler knows exactly when and in what circumstance she can nurse. For example, I would often say:  "You can't nurse now because it's nearly dinner time, but when I've finished washing up after dinner you can have some milk." And once a promised nursing time was agreed, I always stood by my word.

4. The gift that keeps on giving. A couple of days after my son was born, my milk came in when my daughter was at nursery. When she came home, I told her that her baby brother had a special present for her to say thank you for sharing mummy's milk. I added that her brother had brought in some very special milk. When I started nursing her, she was ecstatic. After months of low supply and then sticky colostrum, the huge supply of rich, creamy milk was absolute bliss. I will never forget her face as she finished nursing, with milk dripping down her chin. And she is always grateful to her brother for the influx of some amazing milk. Even now, we still sometimes talk about the extra special gift she got from her baby brother.

5. Go with the flow. Often, older nurslings will self-wean when supply drops in pregnancy. Sometimes, they may go on a nursing strike: my daughter went for 10 day without nursing when I was pregnant. However, after my son arrived, she, too, fed like a newborn. I believe she needed to connect and seek reassurance through this massive life change. My youngest is now 21 months and my daughter is 3.5 years. We are still tandem nursing. Sometimes I wonder if my youngest will wean first. There have been some tough times along the way and some memorable moments (the smell of my daughter's nappies during the first weeks of newborn milk were definitely something special - and not in a nice way!). But I wouldn't change it for the world. Every journey is different and sometimes you just muddle through. But follow your instincts, go with the flow and enjoy the ride.

Are you tandem feeding? Is there anything you'd add to this list?

They don't often nurse at the same time - but it can be done!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Chocolate Easter Egg Nests

What is Easter without the traditional chocolate egg nests?

We had a few moments free while Little W napped this morning and 3 year old B was keen to make some nests she'd seen the recipe for in her magazine: Redan's Fun To Learn Favourites.

The recipe was actually for a Mike The Knight version called Chocolate Dragon Nests.

So, we donned our aprons and headed for the kitchen for some cookery.

The recipe is a simple one, which uses mainly store cupboard staples. There are plenty of opportunities for a 3 year old to get involved, despite the need to melt some of the ingredients on the hob.

50g butter
100g milk or dark chocolate, broken into chunks (we used milk chocolate which results in a slightly less chocolatey colour but is probably more palatable for younger children).
3 tbsp golden syrup
100g cornflakes
Mini Eggs

1.  B helped to weigh out the ingredients and put the butter and chocolate into a saucepan while I measured out the golden syrup. B then helped me scrape the syrup off my spoon into the saucepan.
2. B put the cornflakes into a large bowl while I melted the butter, syrup and chocolate over a low heat.
3. I then poured the melted chocolate mixture over the cornflakes and B did the stirring.
4. We both spooned the mixture into cupcake cases and B then started making small holes in each one so she could put three mini eggs into the nests.
5. I then popped the nests into the fridge to set.

We can't wait to try them out.

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Tuesday, 21 January 2014

The language of parenting - 3 most used and abused terms

Parenting can be a minefield. The many approaches to how you bring up your baby can be hugely confusing for new mums and dads. It's not helped when much of the language used has multiple meanings.

Here are what I consider to be three of the most misleading terms.

1. Breastfeeding. How are you feeding your child? Do you breastfeed? Or do you nurse? In my opinion the two terms are hugely different. Breastfeeding is purely about feeding your child. But nursing says something more. It's about nourishing the whole child, both with nutrition but also with love. It's about the bonding, the feeling of safety and security and the comfort your child gets from the breast. Breastfeed on demand they say. But actually, the demand for breastmilk is not always about being hungry for food. Often, it's about being hungry for human contact or reassurance too. Mums panic about overfeeding their baby or about baby using them as a dummy because of the misconception that breastfeeding is only about food. Nursing however, covers the whole range of needs that are met when baby latches on and suckles.

2. Weaning. The current UK guidance is that you should start weaning at 6 months. But what does that actually mean? Introducing solids? Or, as many believe thanks to the promotion of formula, the process of cutting down milk feeds, specifically breastfeeding? In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding six months and continued breastfeeding alongside appropriate complementary foods for two years and beyond. Yes, sure, babies may well start reducing milk feeds with the introduction of solids. But, as discussed above, breastfeeding (or nursing) is about more than food. Self-weaning, where the child decides when to call it a day on breastfeeding, occurs on average between the ages of four and seven. Yet I have read of many anecdotal reports of babies 'self-weaning' much earlier. I wonder why that is. Is it perhaps because of a combination of misconceptions around what breastfeeding or nursing actually is? My definition of weaning is when milk feeds (breastfeeding or nursing) reduce and eventually stop. It would be far easier if the other sort of weaning should really be called what it is, introducing solids.

3. Sleeping through the night. Technically, this is when baby sleeps for 5 hours straight. Under that definition, two of my three babies were sleeping through the night at around 6 months: the age bandied around by many experts as when babies 'should' be sleeping through the night. Unfortunately for me. The five straight hours usually took place between 7pm and midnight. After midnight it has not been uncommon for me to be up hourly. So, for me, that definitely was not sleeping through the night. Sleeping through the night should be just that - the age when children (and I deliberately state children not babies) sleep for 10-12 hours straight. It should be more recognised that babies do not sleep through the night and that it is normal for them to wake frequently. That way, parents might stop beating themselves up about how they can get their baby to sleep at night. How do you define 'sleeping through the night'?

What parenting terms confuse you?

Maybe I should write a dictionary of parenting.

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Wednesday, 8 January 2014

My latest charity shop find - the Living Coasts penguins

We were out the other day when Mr Seaside Belle had to run an errand in the bank. We stayed in the car outside, while he ran in to deposit a cheque. The car was stopped just outside one of Teignmouth's many charity shops when I spotted them in the window. 

Two soft penguins.

Both 6 year old Mr E and 3 year old Miss B love penguins. We have an annual pass to Living Coasts coastal zoo in Torquay and we love going to see the penguins, particularly at feeding time. You actually get to walk through the enclosure and can get up quite close. E and B immediately identified them as an African Penguin and a Macaroni Penguin - the two breeds on show at Living Coasts.

It was fate. These two penguins were destined to live with us.

So I jumped out of the car, grabbed the birds from the window and spent a very worthwhile £5 for the two.

The penguins are settling in well at their new home and will shortly be taking a trip to Living Coasts to see their live relatives.

What have you bought recently at a charity shop?

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Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Things to do in Devon when it's raining - Swimming at Lady's Mile Dawlish

One of the best things about living in a tourist area is that we can take advantage the holiday facilities for more than one or two weeks per year. While some attractions close for the winter months, many operate, albeit on a limited timetable, year round.

And when it comes to swimming pools - we get the best choice. As well as the council-run pools in Dawlish, Newton Abbot and Exeter, which are great for swimming lengths, we also get plenty of outdoor and indoor pools with fun stuff like slides and inflatables, jacuzzis and saunas. I should add that Teignmouth does boast an excellent outdoor pool, the Lido, on the seafront, but this is only open in the summer.

So, when Mr Seaside Belle decided at the weekend, after yet another week of rain and wind, that we should all go swimming, he was met with shrieks of delight from all three baby Belles.

We opted for the pool at Lady's Mile, a holiday and caravan park at Dawlish Warren, which is open at weekend through the winter. As well as an outdoor pool with a water slide and toddler paddling pool, Lady's Mile has a very warm indoor pool with water slide, another toddler splash pool, a sauna and a hot tub.

As soon as we arrived, I headed straight for the water slide with 6 year old Mr E and 3 year old Miss B. While the slide is never going to compete with the scarier water rides at specialist water attractions, it's long enough and fast enough to offer a frisson of excitement for all ages. Plus, it's easy enough for a 3 year old to cope with and you can even take smaller children down on your knee (as long as you remember to hold them up in the air when you plunge into the water at the end). Even 18 month old Mr W enjoyed it when Mr Seaside Belle took him down.

Because it's a holiday resort pool, there is not always a lifeguard on duty. But to be honest, that makes life easier when you have three small children between two adults. You know there is no backstop, so you have to watch them like hawks, but it gives you the freedom to not always keep to a particular ratio of adults:children. This meant that Mr Seaside Belle could take some time out to enjoy the sauna while I held onto Mr W and kept an eye on the older two as they went on the slide again and again and again. I personally hate saunas - they make me feel very claustrophobic. So he gets some quality peace and quiet on his own.

I love taking the children swimming and we really don't do it often enough. Mr E goes to swimming lessons on a Tuesday evening and he was keen to show me how well he can swim. So when Mr Seaside Belle returned from the sauna, Mr E proceeded to swim 10 lengths of the pool. And Lady's Mile pool is not small - I reckon it must be about 25m!

Going to the pool also gives Miss B confidence in the water. She wears arm bands and a floatable jacket. The bonus of the slide is that when she drops into the pool at the end, she then has to 'swim' to the steps to get out of the plunge pool and go back onto the slide again. She doesn't even realise she is swimming because she is having such fun. It's just amazing how self sufficient she is and what a water baby she is becoming.

The only downside to our time at the pool was the showers, which were cold. I think all the heating must have been used up in the pool, which was blissfully warm. Baby W managed a good hour without looking chilly at all! In fact, the changing facilities at the pool are pretty basic - although they're not as bad as some other pools I've been to.

The other disadvantage was that swimming had made us all ravenous. But, because it's winter and off-season, the resort shop was closed and the bar and restaurant were shut as they are being refurbished for next season. I'm glad the pool is still open though.

I'm thinking of writing more posts about things to do with kids in Devon. Let me know if you have any requests.

Fact File:

A day non-resident's pass to use the camp facilities costs £3.50 for adults and £2.50 for children.

Lady's Mile Holiday Park,
Exeter Road,

T: 01626 863411
E: info@ladysmile.co.uk

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