Friday, 28 December 2012

'Women - Know Your Worth'

Yesterday evening my friends and I held our first 'Women - Know Your Worth' meet up, it took place in my home and we decided on having a small group to test the waters and make sure that the evening was beneficial to all parties involved.  

When it comes to relationships and self-esteem these are sensitive topics and we wanted to make sure that everyone in attendance felt comfortable enough to share.  The evening was about knowing who you are as a woman and making positive choices in life, love and business.  EVERYBODY makes mistakes but it is how we recover from those mistakes that makes us who we are.

I have taken two short extracts from the evening to share with my readers.  I hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Seasons Greetings

Lots of preparation goes into Christmas...

1. There's the shopping.

2. Putting up the tree.

3. Keeping the gifts secret.

4. Preparing a family meal to feed 5000 when there will only be 10 of you.

5. Making sure Skype is set up to speak to mum.

6. And having family fun.

I luckily got to skip part 4 as I went to spend the day with my best friend and her family.  I've spent a lot of Christmas's with them, and this year was by far the best I've spent with them.  Not because of the gifts, though I did receive some beautiful presents, but because the adults were relaxed and the children were having fun.

So as the Gregorian calender year comes towards it's end I have a lot to be thankful for.

I hope all of my readers, my family and friends have enjoyed this festive period and I look forward to sharing with you throughout 2013 x

Monday, 17 December 2012

Too Much Technology

I sold my car my earlier in the year at the time it seemed like a great idea, Daniel hated being in the car seat and would scream the entire length of any journey.  Not only that but the weather was good and walking was  my main way of shifting the baby fat not to mention the fact that I needed the money to pay for my holiday.  Now that it's cold I'm slightly regretting it.  I hate having to put on so many layers and leave my nice warm house to venture into the cold and wait on buses, hence I've not been out much.  

I did however promise my friend that I would come to visit her church and go back to hers for lunch, so on yesterday that's exactly what I did.  When I left the house and got to the bus stop 29 minutes was the length of time before a bus was due and there was no way I was waiting that long.  I walked down the hill and despite the cold I must say it was a nice refreshing walk, and at 8am having only had 4 hours sleep, I needed refreshing!  

After the service was done we went back to hers with another friend of hers and her friends three children.  I always enjoy spending time at this particular friends house, though I don't go often enough.  You see she doesn't have a television which forces people to have to have that unusual thing called a 'conversation'.  A lot of people don't converse enough, especially children.  At one point she suggested we play charades and I was shocked to discover that her friends children had never heard of it.  At the risk of sounding very old, when I was a child we played games like that all the time and even now at Christmas, or other times when friends and family are gathered around, we enjoy playing games like that.  It is such a shame that television and other technology like phones and computers have limited the activities that families do together.  It also limits the amount of time we spend reading, writing and developing our imaginative, creative and communicative skills.

My best friend recently started a games night with her two boys to deter them from playing computer games all the time and to spend quality time together.  As I already spend a lot of time reading and playing games with Daniel, I'm now going try and dedicate time to play 'old school' games with my daughter or at least spend more time talking in between homework and bedtime.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Whipsnade Zoo

I absolutely love wild animals so when I received complementary family days out tickets to visit Whipsnade Zoo I couldn't wait.  I made arrangements to travel there by train, and my sister and nephews agreed to come with us.  We planned to get to the zoo for the 10am opening time.

The train journey from Croydon to Luton was straightforward but on arrival at Luton station we had to struggle up the stairs from the platform with the pushchairs as there is no lift to and from the platforms.  The bus to Whipsnade runs every 2 hours so we considered getting a cab from the cab station located right outside.  On average the journey would cost £16 but because there was 7 of us (including the babies) and they had no 7 seater cabs we would have had to get two cabs.  We decided instead to get the x31 to Dunstable and continue by cab from there.  

The bus journey cost £2.00 per adult and £1.20 per child and the 7 seater from Dunstable cost £10.  On the way home we ended up getting a cab from Whipsnade to Luton at a cost of £20 due to waiting at the bus stop in the cold for 40 minutes despite arriving at the stop 10 minutes before the bus was due.  With buses coming every 2 hours it wasn't worth risking a two hour wait with the babies.

Freezing cold but having fun at the bus stop

The Attraction
There is a map provided with the entry cost (£18 adult 14.50 children and £16.50 consession you can also get a 10% online family ticket discount).   The map also provides information about the daily animal shows and talks, unfortunately we didn’t get to see any of those due to the zoo being so big that finding and getting from one place to another is a difficult process... women and maps!

One of the benefits of going buy car is that you can pay a fee to drive your car around the zoo and hop in and out to look at the animals.  Unfortunately for those on foot that does mean that you have to keep children at very close range because there aren't many decent footpaths and on busy days this could be dangerous.   There is a train and bus run by the zoo to travel around but they were not in service whilst we were there.

Lots of animals freely roam the zoo and the first we came across were peafowl and Mara.  The children (and us adults if i’m honest) were very excited at being able to get so close to these strange and beautiful animals. 

We were able to watch Sea-lions swim underwater and a solitary tiger from above its enclosure, then visit it’s mate who was sectioned off and looking very sorry for itself.  

Up close with a Tiger

The animal enclosures were well labeled and provide fun and interesting ways of teaching children about the animals. 

Couldn't help but giggle at this Jeremy Kyle style sub-heading

My favourite animals are usually the Monkeys or Gorillas but at Whipsnade I found myself drawn to the cutest family of Cheetahs, not only did they look amazing and happy (if animals can look happy) but next to the enclosure was a sort of race board where the children could test their speed against that of a cheetahs.  We all had a go at this and the youngest boys of our group found us bashing into the padded wall hilarious.

The Lions were either in hiding or had been put away as we were rather disappointed when we could not see them in their enclosure, we did however get to spin a wheel to see if we would bring home dinner and ‘pose with our pride.’ 

The giraffe walkway was also closed but you could see the Giraffe through a window and these very inquisitive Giraffe came right up to the glass as if coming to say hello.  

Among the other animals we saw were Rhinos, Gorillas, Sloth Bears, Camel, Meerkats, Flamingo, Moose, Reindeer (very appropriate for this season) and a solitary Zebra to name a few and although there were a lot of animals there also seemed to be a lot of unused space.

There are two main play areas one indoor and one outdoor that look great but with closing time at 4 and a lot of walking around to do to get to see the animals, stopping to play was not really an option this time around.  The children did however enjoy running around the beautiful scenery and the sights inspired my nephew to serenade us with his beautiful rendition of 'In The Jungle.'

Having my nephews with us meant that eating was top of the list of things to do.  We choose to eat at the Wild Bite Cafe, we had brought a packed lunch with us but because the weather was cold we purchased two good sized bowls of chips to eat with our packed lunch and my sister and I had a hot chocolate each which came up to £10.  The restaurant was clean and the variety of food was good for those who eat a normal diet.  If you are vegetarian or eat only halal or Kosher meat I recommend bringing your own food.

The gift shop has a huge variety of animal related gifts as well as non animal related snacks, drinks, ice cream and sweets and all at reasonable prices so you can buy the children a momento without breaking the bank.

In short I would have to visit Whipsnade again (please feel free to send me tickets and travel fare) but in the summer in order to get a full picture of the zoos ups and downs.  From my experience I recommend you make full use of the zoos brilliant website to thoroughly plan your day and make the most of all that it has to offer.

Gorillas with their Christmas cracker surprises