Ophelia and animals

Look at my photo gallery on my phone and you will mostly see photos of Ophelia and animals. You see, this kid can’t pass a cat on the street without saying Hello and giving it a stroke. 

Having grown up with two dogs, two rats and a hamster, I think pets really are important to childhood; the skills you learn, the emotions you feel and the impact on your life is quite remarkable. 

This is already clear with Ophelia; every day she immediately calls out for “NARI” the moment we open the front door.  Her face lights up when Inara does anything naughty/stupid/funny.  She has learnt to be gentle, to share (Inara sleeps in her tent!), to feed her and to play with her; all before she’s school age.

Recently we went to meet some little guinea pigs and she squealed almost as much as they did. But she listened when we explained the need to be calm and quiet, she sat perfectly still when it was on her lap,  gently stroking and revelling in this new animal experience. 

Dogs are a slightly different matter, she loves them but is a bit more apprehensive. My sister’s dogs are so great with her and she loves throwing the ball for them in the garden. However, she worries when they jump up, they’re border collies so pretty big!  She’s even more apprehensive of Callum’s Mum’s dog, ever since as a puppy she nibbled her, I think it affected her confidence. She shys behind me when we go to visit, and the dog has to be kept on a lead, otherwise it is so boisterous that it’s uncontrollable. Not in a dangerous or vicious way, shes just a young dog with little discipline.  This in itself is teaching her differences, and to sometimes be warey. 

I can’t wait to see her continue to embrace interacting with our pets, maybe we’ll have a dog of our own one day. 

My favourite ways to relax

In times like these, where the world appears filled with uncertainty and stress, it’s so important for us to stay grounded and have strategies in place to keep us well. With that in mind, here’s what I find helps relax and distract myself. 

Cross stitch

This is one that I’ve had for a while, although since having Ophelia it has taken a back seat. You see, cross stitch for me, requires me to be in certain moods and state of awake. For example, exhausted, stressed and reduced tolerances not a cross stitch day! Those days just lead to frustration and errors if I attempt it. But on days when I’m pretty content and want something to keep me focused and my hands busy, those are the days cross stitching relaxes me

Gardening

I’ve really started getting the gardening bug back since starting on the garden in our own home.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a complete novice; just last week I had to dig out a sturgeon that I failed to save from black fly. But that’s okay, because that’s part of the process for me. I’m learning. I’m learning that I seem to be better with growing veg than flowers, what parts of the outdoor space are more compliant and the importance of consistent watering. This one’s a slow burner but I can see it lasting the long haul. 

Colouring in

I know this one is a bit cliche right now but it’s true. Colouring in is perfect if I’m feeling creative but exhausted, it gives me something to concentrate on and a distraction, without being overwhelming or pressurised. It’s quite satisfying as a quick outcome activity. My favourite book at the moment is Animals, by Georgie Woolridge; beautiful illustrations with perfectly thick paper combines for an pleasurable colouring in experience to really enhance your flow.Flow is when you feel so connected and engaged that you don’t want it to end. Now, if only I could get a pocket sized version to carry with me wherever I go!

Geocaching


Combining walking, being outdoors and hide and seek skills, Geocaching is a great way to get out and about. The great thing about it, is that you can do long, riddled walks or short, quick dash and grabs-making it accessible for all. My favourite thing is to try to do it in my lunch break, a time I often don’t end up taking, unless I’m out in the country with a cache nearby. It is the most perfect way of breaking up my day and de-stressing, whilst giving me a purpose and goal. 

Any other tips on how to relax? 

TRAVEL: Seal watching in the Scottish Highlands

As a child I was always equally fascinated and in fear of the sea, perhaps it steams from watching Titanic at 11 years old, or perhaps it is the sheer vastness and mystic that surrounds it.  One particular memory I have is the excitement and trepidation I felt one particular summer holiday spent in Greece.

My family had decided to go on a boat trip with a local Greecian, to soak up the sun, eat local food and watch out for Dolphins.  When I wasn’t on my Game gear trying to coax the dolphins out with my game Echo the dolphin, I was looking into the deep blue sea imagining falling in.  What an odd thing for a child to be imagining, but I suppose that is the kind of thing that happens when you have such a vivid imagination- always envisioning every possible outcome.  We never did spot any dolphins that day, but I will always remember the excitement and hope I felt as every wave crest dropped.

As i’ve mentioned before, we want Ophelia to learn about the world around her, drink in the environment, embrace nature and the Scottish Highlands is the perfect place to start.

A short journey from Ophelia’s Papa’s house is Plockton; a small village dotted along the loch edge.  In the Winter, this sleepy village hibernates, with little to keep the village thriving in the bleak mid winter.  Come Summer, this place is awash with walkers, tourists, kayakers, sailers.

Calum has been running his Seal watching boat trips for longer than he would care to admit, he knows his stuff and makes for the perfect host; sharing his knowledge of growing up in this sleepy village and of course, the seals.  We got to see two herds of seals on this 1 hour boat trip; each time with 30+ scattered across the rocks, one lot with mere week old pups by their side.  The sheer beauty of these animals has to be seen to be believed, with Calum getting us close enough to fully appreciate them, without interfering with their wellbeing.

Our second viewing was half an hour or so up the road at  Glenelg, where we took the old cattle ferry across to the hide a short walk up the mountain.  On the ferry crossing we spotted several grey seals sticking those big eyes up over the waves and spashing their flippers.  It wasn’t until we got up to the hide however, that we got a true picture for the nature surrounding us.  Hide records detailed that a Sea eagle had been spotted half an hour before we arrived, we were happy simply to be able to follow some more grey seals that were bobbing along the shallow water’s edge.  It wasn’t until we looked further, that we spotted the rest of the gang.  On first glance, they could be mistaken for rocks, they camoflaged so perfectly in the fog, but it was infact a herd of common seals all laid out on the pebbly beach.  At any one time there were several other common seals bobbing and weaving along the water edge.  Mesmorising.

We’re linking up again with Our Seaside baby’s  wonderful travel series.

Worthing Artist Open House excitement

As more Brighton folk get priced outta the City into suburban Worthing, the more inspiration Worthing picks up.  First, trendy cafes, then craft beer pubs, and now it’s Worthing Artist Open House.

Anyone familiar with Brighton will know of the Artist Open Houses that create a creative vibed buzz twice yearly, and whilst its Worthing counter part has a long way to go, it definitely gets better each year!

This year, Worthing Artist Open House has 60 venues!Unfortunately i’m away for one if the weekends, but hopefully i’ll get to pop into the top of my list faves!  So without further ado, here’s who i’m hoping to catch

 

Anna’s Drawing room:                                                        Hello DoDo:annasdrawingroom_1
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Ellie and John Bond:

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Debbie Terry‘s birds:

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Sarah Edmonds                                                                Michelle Wilday 

Adobe Photoshop PDF       michellewilday_3

 

Worthing with kids: Pick Your Own

Having grown up in a nearby village,and Callum having worked there many years ago, Roundstone Pick Your Own is an important part of what Worthing means to us as a family.

I have several memories as a child spent walking the fields, spying for the biggest, juiciest loganberries (they were my favourite) and stuffing myself full to bursting.   The most recent time I had been, if i’m not including the car boot sale, must’ve been when I was at college.  Myself and a boyfriend at the time had decided we wanted to go pick a Pumpkin.  At this point, not only was it too late in the year for everything else, but it seemed even all the pumpkins had gone!

It only seems fair then, that it was time I introduced Ophelia to this wonderful place, not only am I all about supporting local businesses, but i’m all about teaching children about nature and where their food comes from.

Our recent visit nearly didn’t happen, looking at the weather report it didn’t look like the rain would subside and i was sure that the fields would be mud.  In the end, the rain had been minimal and it in fact turns out the fields were dry, so off we went.

After picking our transportation methods (punnets, bags and baskets) we set off on a bumpy journey on the tractor Ophelia’s Daddy had once driven (probably just as bumpily!).

First stop, broad beans!

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Luckily, as it’s quite eary in the season, and the sun was not shining, we were one of the few people there, but a top tip is to definetly start with the food the kids are less interested in eating,  that way their interest increases rather than peters out.

Ophelia and her cousin loved the freedom of running between the large plants, a magical place when you are small.

Eithne was straight in there, nibbling on a broad bean straight off the plant, she took  a while to decide it was not all that tasty.

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We then walked down to the strawberry fields, they have two fields, one that are ready to pick and the other which are still early growing.  And boy, were those strawberries ready, those snippets of deep ruby red catching your eye whereever you turned- “there’s another one to pick, and another…”

Ophelia surprised us all by being chief picker and packer for the first few minutes of our arrival, without a sample in sight.  That quickly changed, and soon the cousins had taken up their station in the straw, one picking the prime produce straight from the plant, the other from the punnets.

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This was just our lout-1/3 of  the total!

I carried on picking the fruit, with no real difficulty finding juicy strawberries but an enjoyment found in the quiet, therapeautic nature of the task.   Surrounded by quiet and stillness except for the distant salivating noise from the children.  It began to rain so we ducked into cover and decided now was the time to sample the tea rooms.

The tea rooms are child friendly with a few high chairs and child portions, a comfortable space with local crafts for sale.  They were really acommodating for us too, bringing over our drinks and making gluten free food even though it wasn’t on the menu.

There is also a farm shop on the premises, which is very reasonably priced, unfortunately our helpers were pooped by this point, but we will be returning soon to pick the things we missed!

A very nice day out for all the family🙂

 

Moving back to Worthing, one year on.

Tomorrow marks one year since we reluctantly returned to our home town,  Worthing West Sussex and what a year it has been. I really cannot believe it has been a whole year, it really has flown by.

  • I’ve been locumming for a year- this has seen me widen my professional skills to now include Rapid assessment skills to avoid hospital admissions, working in GP surgeries with a wide reign and experiencing work in Adult Social Care that I actually enjoy.  Not only this, but it has given us a far better work life/stress reduced balance.  Whilst I would ideally reduce in order to have an extra day with Ophelia, unfortunately this just isn’t possible with my work at the moment.
  • Ophelia has adjusted to a Worthing nursery when I thought she never would, and continues to amaze me on a daily basis.  I learnt to accept the new nurdery, when I never thought I would.
  • We spent our first Summer in commuter hell, with not only both of us driving to and from Brighton in rush hour both ways, 5 days a week, but dragging Ophelia over too.
  • We still haven’t done much (?anything) to the house, in fact we still haven’t painted or decorated any of the walls, thankfully it was all liveable, although maybe this is why we have dilly dalied so long?
  • We knocked our infamous cat wall mural down in order to make more light into our bedroom.  It has worked wonders but we still haven’t got round to putting up a bespoke blind as a nod to the mural.
  • A lot of exploring and re-engaging in our familiar surroundings has occurred, discovering new coffee shops, pubs and restaurants in our ever up and coming area.
  • Trying to connect with all local events that interest us, because if there is anything we know about this town, it’s that things can fall on their bottom quite often.
  • We’ve been to Scotland to visit Callum’s Dad, Ireland for my sister’s wedding, and Budapest in March. We have lots more trips planned for the rest of this year; Hamburg, Scotland, Barcelona and Cornwall.
  • We’ve squeezed in seeing Funeral for a friend, Hans Zimmer and Brand New.

This move has left us feeling better connected to life and people; we live minutes from both our parents, I am now able to pick Ophelia up earlier and meet with her friend’s parents after nursery, and even better, knock for them to see if they fancy a park trip.  On which note, we finally went swimming thanks to increased funds since the move, and Ophelia LOVES it.  Like a duck to water.

Yes I miss Hove, the vibe, the people the places, the beautiful parks with cafes in (one thing missing here; parks with cafes!)… everything.  But in honesty, the good far outweighs the bad.

5 reasons i’m excited about Brighton Foodies Festival 2016

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I have been lucky to have been to Brighton’s Foodie Festival for a while now, and this year is no different. The only only difference is that i no longer live across the road. Cue teary emoji.

I think people find it hard to know if these things are worth it, so i’ve been kind enough to compile my own list of reasons i’m excited to be going. If you fancy seeing my face and hearing my sweet, tender voice, go check out my video here.

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1. The forecast is saying SUNSUNSUN so, erm hi there sunburn and Pimms.
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2. I have disposal income this year so cannot wait to come home with armfuls of culinary, siliva inducing treats.
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3. The atmosphere never disappoints, Foodies somehow manage to get the perfect vibe; cheerful and chilled.
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4. It’s family friendly. With specific kids cooking sessions and erm, did i mention lots of sweet treats?!
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5. Street food avenue. Say no more. This year the focus is on Brazillian foods, which makes me even more excited.

Foodies Festival is coming to Hove Lawns this bank holiday weekend, with famous chefs, street food, kids culinary talks and more, how can you think twice about it?!
Tickets:
Tickets are on sale now at http://www.foodiesfestival.com or by calling 0844 995 1111

Ticket prices:
Adult ticket £14.00/£11.00 concession
Three day adult ticket £20.00/£16.00 concession

VIP day ticket £38.00/£35.00 Friday – includes a welcome glass of bubbly, use of the VIP area with private bar and refreshment, priority entry to food and drink masterclasses, showguide, and goody bag to take home.

Children aged 12 and under go free to all Foodies Festivals when accompanied by an adult.

See you thereeeee!!! P.S Still need to grab your tickets? I have a treat for you;
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Tickets kindly gifted by Foodies

Making decisions for me

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Recently a friend said how they were now only going to do things that they want to do.

I found this a really interesting point and it got me thinking about my decisions and life choices. Generally as a child I was never bothered about what was ‘in fashion’ or what I should or shouldn’t be playing with/wearing/listening to.  As apparent by my (still) terrible taste in music and rainbow themed outfits. However, I do think it’s only natural to start feeling pulled in directions; whether that’s going out on nights out even if you don’t like clubbing, going to events even though you don’t like meeting new people or doing a job even though you hate it.
I’ve definitely noticed a change in things I say yes to based on the things I get enjoyment out of, and I’ve noticed this selection of things gets bigger or smaller dependent on the amount of time i have. For example when I was living in Brighton and working full time with no other commitments, I would fill my time with anything and everything, always embracing the new. Whereas since having Ophelia, I have to focus on the things that make my happiest. Whether that’s scrapbooking, geocaching or coffee with friends. In the past I would’ve felt guilty for having to say no, but now I’ve noticed it has become empowering for me, and ultimately increased my happiness and quality time with people who really matter doing things that matter.

So I guess I too am only doing things I want to do.

Worthing: family day out at Ferring Country Centre

I lived in Ferring for 20 years of my life, yet I can’t remember ever having been to the Country Centre there. Mother reliably informs me that I had been, but still, I feel terrible that I didn’t go more often.
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Having returned to West Sussex last year, after buying a house, I finally got round to taking Ophelia to the Country Centre, along with my family, Callum’s family and in laws as a treat for Mother’s day afternoon tea.
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Ferring Country Centre is comprised of a garden centre, riding stables, cafe, small animal farm and playground. It is run for and by the Disabled Riding Association, money raised goes towards horse riding as therapy, which is actually something I wrote an essay on for my OT training.
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The cafe is spacious and has some indoor toys for a range of kid ages to get stuck into.  The toys are a bit worn but a lovely addition for rainy days.
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Outside the playground is great for toddler aged kids, with swings, a roundabout, seesaw, frame, trampoline and animal noise interactive boards.
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The farm has a surprising amount of variety including ducks, pigs, donkeys tortoises, horses and even llama! Have you ever seen a llama run?! I sure have! Ophelia found it hilarious and she loved stroking the donkeys and making noises at the pigs.
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Ophelia and her cousin loved it and we’ll definitely be back again, at every age there are new ways to engage the children.

Travel-things our first city break with child has taught me

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-Ophelia misses vegetables if she doesn’t eat them at least once daily. We found this out the hard way when she started sobbing “i miss vegetables-peas” when we were out at dinner in Budapest (not veg lovers). What can I say, we are keen on veg!!

-You can survive without giving them technology to watch. Just.
I hate it when people write tips for travelling with kids and add “ipad” on there. I mean yeah I understand people find it useful but how did our parents survive before they were invented?! Rant over. We had a TV in our apartment but Ophelia only asked for it on once, but there was no children TV channel anyway! It was very refreshing.

-Ophelia can sleep through take off and landing without giving a rats arsenal.

-Carrying a toddler is hard work, even in an Ergonomic carrier but especially when they fall asleep and you have to climb stairs. OW my hips!

-Art galleries are great for laughing at statues but the “guards” (that sit making sure you don’t get your grubby fingers on things) freak toddlers out.

-Apparently shoes are essential in art galleries.

-Don’t try to do anything quickly, it’ll make one of two things happen-a full lay on the floor tantrum or obstinate “I’m going to suddenly think elbows are awesome” behaviour. Yes, she really does that.

-Toddlers find art more interesting than you’d think.

-Planning is key, make sure you have a plan and back up plan for food solutions in every area you plan to visit, otherwise you may have a toddler crying over the lack of potatoes. Unless you want Burger king every night, in which case, no issue.

-Air b n b is particularly great if you have a toddler who doesn’t sleep.

-If you’ve pre bought activities for the plane back too, hide them really well.