Thursday, 26 February 2015

Calm, Quiet & Portobello #BetterPlaces

My first memory of being at Portobello beach still makes me laugh when I think back to it. It was summer 2008 and having met Iain just a few weeks prior, he decided to take me on 'date' to the beach, to visit the arcades, have chips on the Promenade and relax on the beach (which quickly turned into going to the Swimming Pool as the beach wasn't as warm as we'd first hoped). At the time, Iain lived in a lovely little flat just a stones throw away from Portobello beach & it's Promenade and little did I know that a few years later, after he'd moved out of there to our first home closer to the city centre, that we'd end up back in that very flat expecting our first baby.

It's now been 3 & a half years that we've lived in Edinburgh's Seaside and during that time I've fallen head over heels for all Portobello beach & the Promenade has to offer. Back when I was counting down the days until John was born, I'd walk the length of the Prom hoping to bring on labour, thinking about how lovely it'd be to walk the route with my baby in tow. And just weeks later I was back into that routine, now pushing a buggy with a bundled up newborn, whatever the weather! In the summer, Portobello beach may be mobbed but it's still the perfect place to relax and escape the bustle of the city, with ice cream and fish & chips on offer, with the choice to sit on the sand, one of hundreds of benches, or my favourite, the beach wall. It's our favourite way to end an otherwise busy summers day.

Regardless of the weather, the two parks located right of the Prom are also a lifesaver as far as I'm concerned. Perfect for the days when the boys are being pests and we need to get out the house. Both parks are fenced in making them ideal for John (& now David!) to burn of energy whilst I have two minutes seconds respite. On days when the swings & slide are soaked, it's not game over as we've still got Tumbles, the arcade & Portobello Swimming Pool to choose from too. As for those days where I wake up and can tell straight away that we're destined for disaster, it's coats on and straight to Crumbs for breakfast. It's been a little cold for this recently but I can't wait until Spring when the mornings, when the pavements are a little less frosty - I can almost hear the mini cinnamon sugar donuts & marshmallow crepes calling!

More recently though, Portobello beach has become my escape, my place that I quite literally run away to. On the days when the boys have been anything but angels, when everything has gotten on top of me and my head feels ready to pop, it's trainers on & off I go. Before starting running last year, I'd often go for walks along the Prom, especially in the evenings when it's only runners, cyclists & dog walkers to keep you company, and aside from the occasional daft dog jumping in your way, it's the perfect way to be alone with just your thoughts. Now though, it's headphones in & one foot in front of the other. I love nothing more than running past the arcade, lit up in all its glory, right past the Victoria-esque pool & into Joppa. Then it's back again, past the new seafront apartments, along the way of the stoney beach & to the Seafield end of the Prom. My legs may ache & I may feel my pulse in my ears by the end, but one things for sure, I feel a million percent calmer and those little things I was wound up about no longer matter.

This #BetterPlaces post is in support of the Syndol Find Your Better Place campaign with BritMums. Syndol is now formulated for headaches. Visit for online resources with information about headaches and how to restore calm in your life.


Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Aqua Spinning

Let's skip straight to the TMI... I really need to work on my pelvic floor! If there's one thing that Aqua Spinning taught me it's that riding a bike, in water no less, after having two kids is an interesting experience! I was invited along to the Aqua Spinning class at Edinburgh's Commie Pool by Joe Blogs who had teamed up with Simply Health to share with blogger the benefits of this unique new fitness class. I had no idea what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised!

At the turn of the year I talked about wanting to get fit again after stopping running when I went back to work and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get my bum into gear. So what is Aqua Spinning? Well it's exactly what you think it is! You are literally on a spinning bike, in the water. If you've ever done a spinning class before, don't be put off (I know, they're a truly awful experience!) as spinning in the water, despite burning more calories, is much easier; apparently this is down to the buoyancy & low gravity effect. Despite this, Aqua Spinning can also burn up to 800 calories in an hour. YES, 800 CALORIES! If that isn't good enough for you, being in the water also means you don't get the same inability to walk muscle ache you'd expect from your average spinning class.

So basically Aqua Spinning rocks the socks of health benefits. But how does it work? When you arrive at Aqua Spinning the bikes aren't actually in the water. In fact, the pool itself is raised! You grab you special shoes, set up your bike to both your height & resistance level, then off you jump, the pool is lowered and your bike disappears! In terms of depth, the pool is lowered to accommodate the smallest person in the class, which lets face it, at 5'11" it's never going to be me! That being said, it's more of a case of making sure no one is under water & having a fear of being stuck under water, that suits me just fine!

So my opinion? It was amazing fun! Perhaps it was because I was surrounded with like minded bloggers, or because the instructor Fiona, insisted we all smiled throughout. Either way I really enjoyed Aqua Spinning. It took a wee while to get the hang of it, from the simple cycling, to the hands free splashing about whilst trying to get as fast as you can, I can honestly say my smile was actually a genuine one and not forced because Fiona was telling us we had to or she'd make us go even faster for even longer! One thing I'd need a little more practice with though is the whole coming off the seat, keeping feet in the pedals, and cycling the bike from behind; my fear of going under the water stopped me from participating it that part!

I was so impressed with the entire Aqua Spinning experience that I even enquired about going back for more. The Royal Common Wealth Pool is one of few pools in the UK offering Aqua Spinning (or 'Hydrospin' as they call it) and like with many fitness classes, timings are difficult with children & an other half who works back shift. That being said, if I could just get my head around exercising before 7am, the Thursday morning class may be ideal before starting work at 8.30am. Plus, anything that reminds me to do my pelvic floor exercises had to be a good thing, right?

To find out more about the health benefits of Aqua Spinning, head on over to Simply Health who have put together a good wee rundown of why Aqua Spinning is so good for you. Big thanks to Jo Blogs for another fun event here in Scotland, particularly in Edinburgh!


Monday, 23 February 2015

Radio Silence

It's been quiet here lately but life has been anything but. Between various goings on in 'real life' and problems with our internet, I feel this little place has been quite neglected as of late. And it's driving me bonkers! I have so much to write about, so many post ideas both spinning around my head & already pre-written on my iPad, ready to post, but finding a minute to do so (as well as a wi-fi source!) has been proving difficult. I've had so many things I want to work on, from the blog layout to our About page, as well as getting back into the swing of social media.

Thankfully, we're changing internet providers in March so hopefully things will be back on schedule come then. And not a minute too early, as I'm itching to get out in the near-approaching Spring days & get back into the swing of photographing these two wee monkeys I call my sons! But a full update on them will follow shortly.

Thanks for hanging about! Lots of nice new posts on running, escaping, first words & even a giveaway will be live in a matter of days.


Saturday, 14 February 2015

The "W" Word #SaverStories

Saving money. Something I'm not particularly good at. I used to be. In fact, as a child, my parents used to joke that I would never spend my money, that at times I had more in the bank than them. For years, I never knew what I was saving for but it was nice to know that I had a wee collection of birthday money & pocket money stored in my bank account, complete with it's very own bankbook.

At 14 years old, this mentality became a blessing. In High School, we got to choose from a selection of holidays educational trips in S4, to places like Berlin, London, the Highlands, a golf trip... I, without any hesitation, chose London, somewhere that as a teenager I dreamt of visiting and instantly falling in love with. The sights, the attractions & best of all, the shops! The thing is, at 14 the income of money to save is at most limited. Back then it was a case of putting any birthday or Christmas money into my account, alongside he £10 I got from the paper round (that my Dad drove me round on a Sunday morning - thanks Dad!). It was the best part of a year that I saved for London, with an aim of having at least a few hundred pounds to take with me as spending money, namely for the afternoon dedicated to shopping! I can still remember getting on the train to London, beaming with pride over my £347 bank balance, thinking I could go mad in the shops. But as anyone who has visited London will tell you, it's bloody expensive there! In actual fact, most of my spending money was spent on the essentials for any school trip, like sweeties, fizzy juice & magazines! I did also manage a pair of converse & some bits of pieces from Topshop too. Looking back, had I of known anything about saving money, I'd have at least put my money into a savings account to earn a little interest, as although it wouldn't have amounted to loads it would have least been another packet of sweeties!

As for savings now, in case you missed it, after 7 years, two kids & two homes, on Christmas morning 2014, Iain finally asked me to marry him. I initially thought it'd be a long engagement given how long it's taken to come about but within a month of it happening, Iain was already looking at venues on Groupon, saying he, "just wanted to get it over with," (always the romantic!) so it now looks like the plan is to get married in the next 2-3 years, which suits me just fine as I'd like to do it before the boys are at school. We've both got debts to sort out as well as saving but it's definitely what we're working towards right now (hello, overtime!) and the RBS Savers Calculator has been great in helping us figure out exactly how we'll do it. And damn, weddings can be expensive! As well as saving what we can, I'm also aiming to avoid just handing over the credit cards; Iain would much rather pay someone else to do at the little jobs where as I like the idea of doing a lot of things DIY, from table centrepieces to wedding favours. Pinterest will do that to a girl! There is a few things that I don't think we'll scrimp on, like the venue, the dress (obviously!) & the food, but again it'll be a case of knowing what we've saved for each and staying within that budget. I cannot wait to get properly stuck in with planning & the details, even though I've actually had the entire day planned since I was about 10 years old!

Then there's the future and obviously it's the house. I've mentioned before how we're in a lovely wee house which is perfect for now but I'm not naive enough to think that as the boys grow older that they won't want their own space. So the top priority of the 10 Year Plan is to buy a house! Somewhere in Portobello, somewhere with character and somewhere that will be our forever home. I expect it won't to be when he boys are around High School age, so 7 years from now - after saving for the wedding - will hopefully give us plenty to get a pretty reasonable deposit and get ourselves in the position for a good mortgage. Plus here's hoping that the market will be much more favourable to first time buyers by then! And like any goal it's good to have a plan of action, which is where the RBS Savings Goal Tool is a god send in doing the maths & planning for us. Again, it'll involve lots of overtime, paying off debts whilst avoiding mounting any more & finding the right savings account to make it worth our while. Until that day, I'll continue to walk past & dream, as well as Googling any properties that have a For Sale perched outside.

The dream house, right on Portobello Promenade. One day...

This is a a sponsored post in association with RBS & their Fairer Saving Campaign.
For more on the RBS Fairer Savings campaign, click here.


Monday, 9 February 2015

Room Sharing with Two Toddlers (& Getting Them to Stay In Bed!)

I love our little house. Little being the prominent word. Because it's small. Very small. And over the past 3 years it seems to have shrunk dramatically! In actual fact, it's not that small, it's actually a pretty decent size but with two kids and a whole lot of toys it usually feels like we've just not enough space. That being said, we still only have two bedrooms. They're by no means small rooms and the boys room can easily house two beds & all their toys, which it has been doing for the past year or so, despite only one boy actually sleeping in there.

John was always reluctant to move out of his cot. Up until a few months ago, he was still in his cot (eventually with one side off) with a big cosy single bed awaiting his change of opinion. It never came. So just after a Christmas, once we were back into the routine of life, I made a snap decision that that would be the night; the night that John went into the single bed & David was served his eviction from our room. The side went back on the cot, the Fireman Sam bed sheets went on the single bed and David's cot in our room was dismantled. And that was that.

I looked at the two beds side by side and thought, "what was I thinking?" A thought that crossed my mind for the first few days of two toddlers room sharing. Here's how we got through those first awful stressful horrendous pleasegoddontputyourselfthoughit challenging days...

Day One.
Who's stupid idea was this? Maybe if I sell a kidney we could move to a three bedroom house...? David goes down no issues. John on the other hand is in the mood for a fight. 20 minutes in and he's woken David up with his nonsense. I now have two toddlers screaming at me and John getting out his bed every time I close the bedroom door, For an hour and half. It gets worse when Iain comes home and both boys scream for Daddy. I give in and end up sitting with them, stroking their tummies until the fall asleep. An hour & a half it took in total but they're both are asleep. We'll try again tomorrow.

Day Two.
Bath is a farce as we've no hot water - cue two boys fussing & after the stress of the night before, I'm dreading bedtime. David is not for settling. I stagger bedtime again, giving David 20 minutes to settle before taking John through. David doesn't settle though and is still wide awake when John goes to bed. It takes 45 minutes of John getting out of bed & David standing up in his cot before they fall asleep. Between putting John back in his bed, I Google for help & come across this post by Alpha Mom - time to chill the F out and get on with it. I can do what I can to get them into bed but I can't make them sleep. I choose to carry on putting John in bed, as there's no way he'll sleep anywhere else - he's never been one to crash out on the floor. He eventually lays down in bed and starts to dose off but David is still fighting it, so I give in and settle him with more boob. Less time & less stress. Let's hope it's better tomorrow.

Day Three.
Our previous bedtime routine isn't working. Usually I'd settle David then chill out with John in his room before he goes to bed, which obviously isn't possible if David's now asleep in the same room. So now it's bath, pyjamas & story in the bedroom, settle David whilst John watches In The Night Garden, join John for a cuddle, then bed for John. The new routine goes smoothly; David settles quite quickly & John happily goes to bed too. It's only 20 minutes of taking John back to bed & David stays asleep the whole time. Progress!

Day Four.
David falls & hurts himself right before bath so the new routine goes out the window after he screams the house down. Settle David without any story or quiet time and enjoy In The Night Garden with John. Take John through & Davids fast asleep. 10 minutes of taking John back to bed, with him asking me to sit with him each time, and it seems like he's asleep. 10 minutes later he's through again asking me to sit with him and whilst taking him back through, David wakes up. Resort to sitting with them both until they're asleep, which takes all of 3 minutes. Not ideal but still the quickest, least stressful night yet.

Day Five.
No way. David settles instantly. Take John through and after a cuddle, I nip out. He comes out his bed twice and then it's silent. He's asleep. Must be a fluke. He's just kidding me. He'll be through any minute now. But nothing. He's actually asleep. They both are!

Day Six was John's birthday when we had his Fireman Birthday Party, so that night went a bit to pot, with David going to bed a little later than normal but with no issues, and John passing out on the sofa. We started up again as normal the next day and if memory serves me right, there was a small battle of taking John back to bed but things went well otherwise. And they have done since.

It's still very much a learning process for all of us. It's definitely easier if David is asleep before John goes through, so now we've taken to waiting until he's out for the count before taking John in. John's now well aware that he needs to be quiet when he goes into bed, even tip-toeing across the room! We've had a few nights where he's not come out at all but generally he'll come through at least a few times, where I'll try to calmly take him back, tuck him in & walk back out again. For the most part it works but it's definitely easier when Daddy isn't there and at only 3 years old, John already knows how to play us against each other. And thankfully, despite David still waking through the night, John sleep through it; in fact, John is now even sleeping through without coming through to our bed like he used to. David's snoring must be easier to live with than their Daddy's...

Do your kids room share? How do you find it?



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