Friday, 30 August 2013

Might as well pour me in a blender..

As most of you won't need reminding, let me speak to the small minority who do not realise that UK children return to school in a few days after six glorious weeks of British Summer. Thankfully, this year I can actually refer to the sunshine and good weather because it was plentiful. Of course I imagine you're picturing children in gingham dresses running in slow motion through golden fields whilst perfectly posed Mothers, head to toe in Joules, sit beside wicker picnic baskets under an apple tree laughing with each other and devouring strawberries. Perhaps, for some, this was a reality. This reality is however short lived as we take a closure look at the scene; the children are running from each other, tears streaming from faces after wrestling violently amongst the wheat. The Mothers who were enjoying eating the children's left over strawberries are not laughing, they are gurning with the sort of smile that can only come from sitting under a wasps nest and having planted the tartan blanket onto a ant hill. In the distance ferocious barks are edging nearer as an angry farmer and his dogs want  to know who is destroying their crops. Happy days...

Highlights for Summer 2013 for me include a coach trip which broke down ensuring that a forty five minute journey took two hours and left us (and twenty toddlers) stuck at the edge of a very busy road, complete melt down from both children simultaneously in a library and not forgetting the memorable incident involving the dog kennel, two children, water and some poo. Please do not judge me, I love my children more than words can describe but I am really looking forward to school starting again. Perhaps you feel the same way as I do, and is there anything wrong with that? Can you honestly tell me that being in close proximity with anybody or anything for twenty four hours a day, seven days a week for six weeks that relationships would not become strained?

Yet on the other side of the charred toast, is the perfectly golden baked crust. Spreadable with mushy moments such as waking up to 'I love you Mummy, you're so nice', supporting your children to swim on their own, endless giggles from fun games and a fridge disguised as an art gallery. We've been lucky enough this year to camp most weekends, the four of us (and dog) squeezed into the VW enjoying the atmosphere that comes with attending festivals and have shared memories of ice-creams, dancing and laughing in the sunshine. So, it is with mixed feelings that I greet the start of another academic year. Come Tuesday my Son will start nursery and I will find myself with two hours spare to work on my career each day. Meanwhile, on the same day I will bid farewell to my daughter as she starts school for the first time. I have no doubt that my daughter will relish her time at school but six hours? Six hours five days a week?? That's a bit much is it not??? She is only four. With a heavy heart I have resigned to the following- I need a break from my children and this is normal and nothing to be ashamed of and also, despite needing a few hours to myself a couple of time a week, I am really really going to struggle to be apart from them for any longer than this.

So here is my mantra for the last three days- Forget the housework, the stresses, the gardening etc and just try to relish the last moments of enjoying each other's company. I am being brave and heading camping alone with the kids. It is with a heavy heart that I admit that no summer holiday will be like this one, for once they start school, is it just me or does it feel like you are loosing your child to the state, to society and to capitalism? Ok,I am getting a tad political now so I will leave you with this- Make the most of this weekend- together!


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Ten pounds..ten...ten...ten.

I feel a rant coming on. Watchout bloggers I am feeling aggressive and there is no where to hide. About a month ago I started the 5:2 diet in a bid to be able to maintain my weight whilst allowing myself to eat more throughout my half marathon training. For those of you who have yet to stumble across this diet (where have you been for the last year?) it involves restricting calorie intake to 500 two days of the week whilst you are free to eat normally during the other five. There are massive health benefits and a common side effect is to loose excess weight. Score.

Following the diet to the last digit throughout the last month I have lost a grand total of plus ten pounds. Yes, plus ten pounds. I can hear you all arguing with me now, thoughts such as 'oh well you must not have stuck to your calories, did you weight your food? You must have pigged out on fast days?' Etc..No, is the answer, I followed the guide, didn't overeat and am really unsure what is going on.

So on reflection I have decided to do the following things:-
1) Throw out the scales and pick up the tape measure. I wake on a morning feeling flat stomached and light as a feather. After my morning toilet trip (every little helps) I hop on the scales and am surprised to see that the numbers are reading an increase, I hop off then hop back on again, rubbing my eyes in disbelief. No, I have gained weighed. As Eeyore's storm clouds gather moodily above my head, my tort stomach bloats out and my cellulite grows a persona all of its own. I leave the bathroom physically  inflated and mentally deflated. This process will be repeated a minimum of twice a week. I am obsessively weighing and the scales must go. Instead, for a more accurate scale I am going to use the tape measure.

2) Stop dieting. Ok so this one is extreme. I started my first diet, 1000 calories a day, when I was ten years old. So my issues with food are deep rooted. I need to learn how to eat for function, for purpose and ultimately to satisfy hunger. Currently I eat when I am tired so I will try to tackle that by being in bed by 10pm every night and ensuring that I eat regular meals to stop myself becoming hungry which could lead to binging. I have never been without a diet, there is always one in the bag, whether it's surviving an grapefruit, eating only protein or alternative fasting. It feels bizarre but incredibly simple to decide- I shall eat when I am hungry and stop before I am full (easier said than done).

3) Exercise more. I work out every other day and I intend to continue doing this. However, I'm going to add in strength workouts, yoga and swimming on my non-running days. Running days I shall be going for the kill, pushing myself to the limit and realising that anything is possible.

Will this work? Will I crash and burn after one week? Maybe. One thing is certain though, eating three healthy meals a day combined with exercising moderately can not be a bad thing?


Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Kendal Calling breaks records


Eight years ago a few revellers met in the Lake District, surrounded by deer with a bit of live music. This has now grown to the biggest small festival in the UK with a reputation for bringing the best live music to those lucky enough to get tickets. Kendal Calling 2013 has outdone itself this year becoming the best biggest small festival in the UK.


A small festival big on music

Warming up the stage on Friday evening were Public Enemy who, despite severe swearing (for which they memorably apologised) a message of peace and love was conveyed. Perhaps, this was Flavor Flav’s way of appealing to the masses before his court appearance in September?

Headliners this year included The Charlatans and Primal Scream who although certainly gave great performances, this year was all about Basement Jaxx. As the final rays of sunlight cascaded over the Main Stage the crowd roared in anticipation of the mighty Basement Jaxx. With outfits as colourful as their lyrics, the band delivered a top rate performance guaranteed to get the most wooden of spectators shimmying succinctly. Playing classics such as 'Do your Thing', 'Oh My Gosh' and 'Romeo' alongside snippets of their latest singles; the band exceeded all expectations.

Festival Fusion

Despite all of it's merits- Kendal Calling has yet to control the weather and the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down on Saturday afternoon. Ash’s performance was certainly not wet and the crowd continued to cheer throughout. Forget the main stage, Kendal Calling has ten different stages to explore and enjoy. As rain fell we found shelter in the arms of singer/songwriter Nancy Kent where atmospheric thunder and lightening gave the Woodland Stage a new level of ambiance. Calling Out had the honour of showcasing Sons and Lovers first performance at the festival; look out for their first single 'Ghosts', and if their performance here is anything to go by, the music scene will be seeing a lot more from this band. One of the highlights from the Chai Wallah stage was Dr Syntax & The Mouseoutfit; jaws were scooped up off the floor as the crowd could not believe what they were hearing. Remember the first time you heard Eminem? Hearing Dr Syntax & The Mouseoutfit for the first time rivals that feeling.
Basement Jaxx

Despite the excessive rain throughout Saturday evening, the sun quickly dried out campers, preparing them for, not a day of rest, but a day of surprises. Firstly, the fusion of Sykur who worked the Calling Out stage, the Main Stage was packed out for the winner of NME's 'God Like Genius Award' Johnny Marr, arguably the best guitarist of the last thirty years, Johnny owned the stage. Following the mighty Marr was Seasick Steve, whose feet tapping strumming and amusing anecdotes were the perfect warm up for the Sunday headliners- Primal Scream. Yes, they gave a great performance, yes the crowd went wild and yes, this band made the festival for so many fans.

The party keeps on going...

Kendal Calling continues through to the early hours- The Glow Tent is perfect for those desperate to be lost in music. Not only was this area visually breathtaking but it also houses some of best after hours music (for those who are curfew free) On Sunday the legendary Roni Size and Dynamite MC worked the stage as fans succumbed to the unstoppable bass.
Friday Night Ambiance

Okay, okay so the music was unreal, the setting was stunning, the atmosphere was euphoric..if you really need to add anything else to this combination you could try mentioning the fantastic Ladybird area for children, complete with swing (taken down after dark for inebriated grown-up safety), climbing frame, FREE bouncy castle and even separate children's toilets? Or perhaps Tim Peaks Diner which featured bedtime stories with Clint Boon? The fancy dress Superman world record breaker? Pootopia- giving a shi* about the environment and giving you a break from grotesque e portaloos? The movie theme which was rolled out across the site- Wild West and Haunted House to name but a few? The unbelievably smooth organisation and perfectly proportioned security?

Kendal Calling 2013- the bad thing is having to wait a whole year to return. However, with one day down already the clock has already began to tick...

Monday, 5 August 2013

Two very different weekends

It's Sunday morning, I'm nursing a fuzzy head after consuming two bottles of red wine and I'm sat on a terribly comfortable sofa by the fireplace in a luxury hotel. This time last week I was perched on a wooden model ship sipping free Kopperberg listening to Sons & Lovers play live whilst my two children played hide and seek in the sunshine.

Who needs to be child-free?

Well, we did. This weekend we were able to leave our offspring in the capable hands of grandparents whilst we had some time to ourselves. This was a very welcome break, a chance to chatter uninterrupted, to use the toilet in private, to enjoy a three course meal without fish fingers and to rediscover your partner all over again. The best bit about our stay was that it gaves us an opportunity to feel refreshed as well as an opportunity to miss our children; when we pick them up this afternoon seeing their squishy faces once more reminds us how much we love them....(pass the bucket). I love the way that one can never be truly child-free no matter where you are, our children are always with us, one way or another. For us this weekend, it was in the form of a pair of my Son's dirty boxers which we discovered just before breakfast tucked inside a shoe.

Festival family

It's lovely having a short break from those we spend all of our time with, however, there are also so many things which people may consider not suitable for young children which actual are. Attending festivals is one of these- Kendal Calling last weekend could not have been better suited for those with children.

Of course be sensible, take some protective headphones, plenty of sun cream, wellies and plenty of healthy and not so healthy snacks (as little ones love to waste your hard earned money on sugary treats). The festival is not a squeaky clean festival (why would you want that anyway you dullard?) there are plenty of groups of singleton teenagers looking for a good time, lots of individuals who have taken intoxicating substances and a noticeable amount of people walking into things- however, there are lots and lots of families with children of all ages. Our experience of the intoxicated folk was their exceptional friendliness as we were repeatedly stopped to be high fived and told how cute our kids were followed by the odd apology for being 'a bit drunk'.

In the festival itself, was a dedicated children's area, complete with three free bouncy castles, disco, craft activities, circus acts, an entertaining man with a portable set who told us funny stories and sang songs involving his captivated audience, picnic tables, child only toilets, classes and workshops which were on all day every day. The site itself has plenty of green space, woodland to play in and lots of things to do for big and small kids. Don't forget that there is also ten stages of live music, teenagers will love you for taking them somewhere like Kendal Calling.

The security are hot. I mean really hot. Nobody is getting in or out without their permission, all children are given a wrist band with your mobile number on too, in case a game of hide and seek goes a bit wrong (like a four year old deciding to hide in the portaloo).

We were in the dedicated family area, which was quiet. When our children got tired we took them back and we slept, we all slept well for the three nights we were there. Yes, it was hard work carrying the children about, and yes we didn't get to stay up till 3am but we did have a great time. We experienced the festival together as a family and our children will have great memories of spending quality time with  their parents. They are festival kids and we are a festival family.

Children don't hold you back, they just change things a wee bit.