Kids – They are unpredictable!

No matter what age your kids are there is one thing that can be guaranteed. They can be very unpredictable. You will have carefully laid plans and without warning one of them will throw a giant spanner in the works. This weekend has been proof of that fact.

Very early Friday morning Mr S and I were supposed to be heading for a boozy weekend away in The Netherlands. My sister had kindly agreed to mind my kids. She had planned a full itinerary that was going to keep them entertained in our absence.

Thursday night we were all packed and ready to go. Hoping to get a reasonable nights sleep before we had to get up early for the long journey. (We would be travelling with a large groups by coach and ferry).

Well….that’s when our middle child threw a giant metaphorical spanner at us. Four and a half hours before we were due to leave we found him having a seizure. He has no history of having one in the past so you can imagine how much this took us by surprise. Forget sleepy dreams about heading off for our weekend away we were now heading to the hospital.

Fortunately our Son is okay, and typical him can’t quite understand what all the fuss is about. He’s a typical overgrown 15 year old that thinks Mum fusses to much. He has minimal recollection of having a seizure only the paramedic telling him he was heading to the hospital.

As yet we have no idea what caused the seizure, he does have type 1 diabetes so it could have been hypo related. His blood sugar levels however were not actually that low. We do know it wasn’t an infection as those tests came up clear. There is also a history of Epilepsy within our family. I had it as a child and so did his sister. We both grew out of it. Usually though everyone is allowed an isolated seizure before doctors will diagnose Epilepsy. We do have a follow up appointment at a ‘first seizure’ clinic so that might provide some clues.

Technically we probably could have still made the coach for our trip away as we didn’t have to wait too long in Hospital to be seen. Both Mr S and I though didn’t feel we could leave our Son with my sister. Not that she isn’t capable, but we would have spent the whole weekend worrying.

I would be lying if part of me wasn’t disappointed about cancelling our trip, that’s just natural though as anyone would be. We have decided to make the best of the situation though and instead have a staycation doing some things with the kids.

My sister also now gets to go to Wembley for a football match tomorrow instead of minding my tribe.

Today we had a lovely sunny walk across the local fields to eat lunch at the Wilkin & Sons Tearooms In Writtle.

Once lunch had settled the boys also went swimming.

Tomorrow we plan on heading to the Secret nuclear bunker in Kelvedon Hatch which is actually something we have been saying for ages that we fancied doing.

This was definitely not how we had been planning to spend weekend. I’m not sad about it though as I’m always complaining about my “working mum guilt”. Fate clearly wanted me to spend some quality time with the kids rather than having a piss up!

Lee Valley Velodrome Track Taster Experience

Back in December, along with my sister and our husbands, we had a fantastic evening out in London. This was not your typical night out and definitely falls into the category of ‘out of the ordinary’. Forget preparing for the evening with a cute dress and heels. Instead we needed leggings, trainers and a helmet.

We visited the Lee Valley Velo Park in Stratford. This is the track that was cycled by our amazingly talented Olympic team back in 2012. The park is now open to the public and almost anyone can have go on the track.

We signed up for the one hour track taster session. This coach led session aims to get you used to using a fixed wheel bike (it has no brakes or gears) and safely riding the track.

I’m not going to lie, I was very nervous about trying this out. I do not have a good track record with bikes. Back in primary school I basically got thrown off the cycling proficiency course because I was considered a danger to myself. Oh the shame!

I definitely surprised myself though. I managed to cycle the track without falling off and even get up some height. That was quite scary as you have to be travelling at a good consistent speed. If you slow or stop peddling suddenly the bike will slide down the track wall. I kept saying to myself ‘just keep peddling…..just keep peddling’ even if my thighs were burning.

Scariness aside it felt incredibly exhilarating travelling at speed and feeling the rush of air against you.

I have to say it was actually easier than I thought it would be. It is however very tiring and you really feel it in your legs. The professional cyclists are super fit.

The taster session costs £45 and lasts for an hour. If you can go during an off peak session it’s £35. Bookings can be made directly through the the Lee Valley website.

Hopefield Animal Sanctuary

On Thursday evening I had the opportunity to visit Hopefield Animal Sanctuary for an Influencer event that they were hosting .I took my Son along with me as I knew he would enjoy meeting the animals.

We were given a guided tour of the sanctuary and an informative talk telling us all about the necessary work that they do at Hopefield. After our tour we were then treated to a delicious vegan afternoon tea served up in their on site tearoom.

The sanctuary is located in Brentwood, not far from where I live in Essex. I had driven past it on many occasions as the paddocks back onto the A12, a road that I use regularly, but I had never actually visited. My view from the A12 gave the impression that Hopefield is a small horse sanctuary, which of course it is, however it is actually so much more.

The Sanctuary was founded In 1983 by Paula and Ernie Clark, after seeing the plight of the increasing number of abandoned ponies and cobs being left abandoned on Rainham Marshes. Today the Sanctuary is home to over 450 rescued animals, not just horses. They range from unwanted pet rabbits and cats, horses and cattle to the more exotic including tortoises, snakes, raccoons, alpaca and reindeer,

One of Hopefield’s first residents was Hope a 35 year old horse. Hope was rescued at just 6 months old from the meat market where she had been separated from her mother and was found hiding in a corner scared and alone.

Hope is a lovely horse and thanks to the care she has received is now quite used to human contact.

Hope suffers from a foot condition so cannot walk in mud. This is why her paddock is floored with concrete. It allows her to enjoy being outdoors even in wet conditions. This is just one example of how Hopefield will adapt its facilities to match an individual animals needs.

Hopefield operates with a no kill policy meaning that they will never put a healthy animal down. Some of the animals have been rescued from terrible conditions, injured, malnourished and with complex physiological issues. The team will do their best to provide the specialist care and treatment required.

Some of animals have found their way to Hopefield as they have been considered to no longer have any value for their previous owners. These male dairy cows for example would usually be destroyed at birth considered worthless.

Other residents have found themselves at Hopefield due to being purchased as unsuitable pets. These Racoon dogs might  look very cute but do not make good pets. They found their way into the UK pet market from China. They are a wild animal though and cannot be domesticated. Luckily they were able to find a home at the sanctuary. Often unwanted animals are just dumped by their previous owners.

Hopefield do such fantastic work rescuing animals that would otherwise live a life that is full of suffering. They can only do this through fundraising and with the help of volunteers.

If you want to help you can do so by making a donation via their website. There is also an animal adoption scheme. We plan on adopting Slow Coach, the tortoise on the left in the picture below. He has scarring on his shell as he was kept in too small an enclosure. The heat lamps where so low they burnt his shell. This shell damage is permanent and will not grow back. It doesn’t slow him down though he was actually quite fast for a tortoise!

My Son instantly fell in love with Slow coach. He loves tortoises and wants one as a pet. We have had to tell him no though as it would be irresponsible of us to even entertain the idea. It is just not possible for us to provide the required home for one. My Son is excited to adopt Slow Coach though and will be able to visit him at Hopefield.

If you wanted to visit the Sanctuary and meet the animals for yourself it is open to the public. Opening times are  Fridays through to Monday, between 11 and 4pm.

Entry fees are very reasonable at just £16 for a family ticket. (2 adults, 2 children).

A visit makes for a lovely afternoon out, not only to you get to see a wide variety of different animals but it is very educational and helps to support their ongoing work. The tea room is also a great place to grab refreshments whilst you are there. We really enjoyed our afternoon tea!

If you could adopt an animal what kind of animal would you adopt? Let me know in the comments.

2017 Bucket List Update

At the start of 2017 I created a list of the  17 things I wanted to do this year. I have actually managed to do a few things on that list. 

It’s is crazy to me that it is the end of July and we are officially over halfway through the 2017. Where has the year gone? 

So much has happened in such a relatively short space of time. My life now  is very different to what it was like at the start of the year. 

Some of those things have been amazing opportunities such as going full time and being promoted at work. Other things have been very sad such as loosing my mum back in January. It has been bittersweet.

I decided it was about time that I revisited the Bucket List and gave you a little up date on my progress. 
London Zoo 

Way back in April we visited London Zoo. I enjoyed seeing all the animals but also loved all the old architecture, many of which are listed buildings. The Giraffe house with its huge split doors was built in 1836. 

Catch a Wave 

I said I was going to embrace the sea this summer and catch a wave. Well yay for it being so warm in the run up to summer as it actually wasn’t that cold when we finally headed down to North Devon for our summer holiday. 
I tried out both bodyboarding and Surfing. The later is much harder and I still haven’t got up off my stomach. I have the bruised and scratched knees to prove though that I did  indeed catch and ride a wave. 

Not quite sure if I’m pulling of the surfer girl look? 

Try Avocado on Toast 

I’m counting this Smashed Avocado and Bacon on Sour dough toast, from Jamaica Blue in Chelmsford, as ticking something off my list. It’s not quite the super healthy blogger cliche version but this appealed to me much more. In fact I enjoyed it so much I’ve been back a couple of times. 

Read the Harry Potter Series 

My son and I are making good progress reading through the Harry Potter series. We  have got as far as Goblet of Fire. 

I love this one to one time I have with my youngest. We don’t get to do it every day due to work constraints, which is why it has taken us so long. I’m sure we will have finished the series by the end of the year.

Visit Ireland 

Lastly I have booked my flights to visit family in Ireland this coming September. It will be a whirlwind weekend trip but I can’t wait. We are have a big girly weekend at my Aunts in a part of Ireland I have never visited before. 

We are a little over halfway through the year. So far I have ticked off or planned for 5 items on my list. With 12 still left I’m going have to pull my finger out if I want to tick them off before the end of 2017. 

Of course I will keep you updated when that happens.

Life Lately – An October round up! 

Where has October gone? We are nearing the end of the month and so far I’ve managed to produce just two blog posts. Ummm yes my life seems to be set on full throttle at the moment. It’s been all good though, so that’s no bad thing. 

To get myself back on the blogging band wagon I thought I’d share with you a little bit about what’s been happening on planet Schoolrunbeauty this October. So here goes…

Back in September I started my new job with Joules. This involved lots of traveling to and from Bury St Edmunds, on the train for my induction period. As lovely as the girls are at the Bury store I was glad when we finally got access to our shiny new store in my home town. 

We have been open for a month now and it’s going great, I love my new job. I have such a varied role and well let’s be honest, my uniform allowance and generous staff discount is a lovely perk. 

This month I have also started another module towards my Business Studies BA with Open University. Juggling this with work and the family has been a bit of a challenge. Hence hardly any blogging has happened. 

I’ve developed a routine that works for me at the moment. I take my youngest to school, head to the library for a couple of hours then go to work. I just need to figure out now how to get some regular time to work on the blog? Umm ….maybe I should sleep less? Noooo I like my sleep! 

So amongst all the boring day to day stuff I managed to get up to London with my little sister to a book event hosted by Fabulous magazine. This was held at the News UK building in London Bridge. You can read more about that in this blog post here.

We had a fun evening and got to meet one of our favourite authors Lindsey Kelk. As you can see I was rocking some joules on the night. 

Unfortunately I have had to work most of half-term but we did manage to have a family day out today. 

We visited Colchester Castle and then had an early dinner at Miller and Carter. 

The castle is great for school age kids. There are lots of interactive activities to keep them interested and you can pick up a special kids guide from reception that ensures you don’t miss any of these. 

The keep itself is the largest Normandy Keep in Europe. It stands on the foundations of the Roman temple of Claudius when Colchester was still the capital of Britian. The temple however was burnt to the ground when it was attacked by Queen Boudicca in AD 60. 

You can see lots of Roman artefacts in the castle museum as well as from the Saxon and Medieval periods. 

The castle prison is very interesting, though I didn’t last long In the cell area as it gave me the creeps. Er yeah….. I took one look, decided I didn’t like the feeling In there, and left rather swiftly. This was much to the amusement of my family, as I had previously been whinging at them for rushing me through the exhibits before I had seen everything properly, whoops! 

So that’s a little bit of what I have been up to recently. Hopefully I shall be a bit more successful on the blogging front next month. 

Daytripping | The aMAZing Maize Maze 

Last week we took a trip to Blake End in Essex to have a go at finding our way through the aMAZing Maize maze at Blake House Craft centre. A family entry ticket costs just £13 which I thought was good value for money. 

It was a hot and sunny afternoon, yes I know it looks overcast but believe me it was HOT!  We spent a good hour finding our way through the maze. You can pick up a sealed SOS escape map if you are worried about getting lost but we decided to live dangerously and do it without a back up map. 

There is the opportunity to take a part in treasure hunt type competition. My youngest had a great time looking for the hidden animals and finding out their names. 

You can also try your hand at a spot of crazy golf. Though not a massive course it is clean and In good condition which is not often the case with some small courses. A game costs just £1.50 per child, you do have to pay a £5 refundable deposit for your putters though. 

It’s also worth bearing in mind that this part of the centre only accepts cash payment so don’t do what we did and arrive expecting to pay by card. We had to send Hubby off on a cash machine hunt. 

The craft centre itself has some lovely shops including vintage clothing, guitar specialists, a well stocked dolls house shop and vintage gaming.

This was a plesent way to spend an afternoon, I recommend it if you are looking for something inexpensive to do with the kids. The Maize itself is only open until the 12th September so if you fancy a visit don’t leave it too long.

Family Day Out | Bodiam Castle 

Last Sunday we visited Bodiam Castle, in Kent, with my Sister and her Husband. 

The 14th century moated castle was built by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, a Knight of Edward lll, in 1385. 

Once a magnificent medieval home Bodiam Castle is now owned by the National Trust and is opened to the public to visit.

We spent a good few hours climbing spiral staircases to reach the battlements, peering in dark corners and out of the little arrow Windows. 

During your visit there is opportunity to listen to talks about medieval life in the castle, given by characters such as the Brewster. Beware though he will offer to drink your wee as a means of diagnosing any ailments you might have, yuck!!

A favourite with the children was the Armoury, where they were encouraged to get hands on and try on the armour. We had to eventually drag them out of there as they could have spent hours trying on all the armour. Mummy was getting desperate for a cup of tea after climbing so many steep steps. 

We really enjoyed our day at Bodiam castle. It is a perfect place to take the children for a fun but educational day out. 

It is also falls into the category of an inexpensive way to entertain the kids especially if you bring a picnic along for lunch. There is a well served tea room available should you prefer. 

 If you are already a National Trust member then entry to the castle is free. Non members can visit though for a small fee. 

We intend to join the National Trust so we can enjoy more days out like this. A two adult family membership is available for just £9.25 a month. With over 500 owned National Trust places to visit that’s a lot of day tripping to look forward to. 

Have you visited Bodiam Castle before?

Mummy Monday – Low cost ideas for keeping kids entertained during the school holidays 

So the school holidays are here, finally yay! I’m a huge fan of breaking away from the routine of term time. It means the chance to get out and do things with the family that I normally struggle to fit time in for. 

Having said that a keeping kids amused for nearly 6 weeks can become rather costly. Fortunately I’ve had a few years practice now at sniffing out low cost activities so I thought it would be a good idea to share some of these ideas with my fellow mummy readers;

1. Country Parks are a great place to take the kids. Often with adventure playgrounds, activity trails and sometimes even miniature farms or zoo areas. If you pack a picnic this can be a great  yet inexpensive way to spend a day usually for total sum of paying for parking. Though at some parks parking is actually free. 

This picture was taken on a visit to Thorndan Country Park back in febuary half term where we followed the Gruffalo Trail. So as you can see this is not just restricted to warm weather activity. 

2. Why not pick up a cheap fishing net and pop down to your nearest river for some pond dipping.  

3. Or you could visit a museum, if you do a bit of research before your visit you  can find out which ones have free or donation based entry. We are lucky to have a very good museum close to us in Chelmsford that has regularly changing exhibitions. Currently it is about childhood from the early victorean era up to modern day. 

It also hosts activity days, we visited on Saturday and the kids were able to have a go at throwing a pot on a Potters wheel. 

4. If you want to have a go art and craft activities you don’t actually need to leave the house. We used pizza bases to make stamping tiles recently. We had great fun making note cards. 

5. Most kids love having a go at baking, yes it can get messing but hopefully you will have some tasty treats to enjoy as a result. For the receipe for these nutty cacao balls check out this previous post Here

6. Why not Check out you local cinema for promotional price special kids screenings? Our local Odean cinema has early morning screenings for kids from as little as £2.50.

7. Or you could visit you local library and sign the kids up to join in with the record breakers reading challenge. Once completed they will earn themselves a certificate and a medal. 

I am a huge fan of libraries as they are free to join and borrow books, providing you return them on time. 

A great way of finding out what is happening in your local area is to pick up a copy of your local kids magazine usually available from places such as the library or from your child’s school or nursery. This will have a classified list of all the local kids activities. It’s a great way of finding out about free activities on offer.  

If you have any ideas for low cost  ways to keep kids entertained during the school holidays please share in the comments section below. I’m always up for a bit inspiration.