Stellian’s Superb Saturday! (Warning! Includes a swimsuit shot!)

So this Saturday was always going to be manic, but I was really looking forward to it.

The plan:

Whole family to Wolverhampton parkrun
Chris swim Sport Relief Swimathon – 5k at Wolverhampton Leisure Centre, while we cheer him on.
Parents arrive lunch time.
Me and daughter swim Sport Relief Swimathon 1.5k team relay at Halesowen Leisure Centre
Big family meal out.

For the most part, the plan happened, but a few extra things happened to make it even better!

A mid week chat on twitter with Lozza led to a suggested Tweet Up at Wolverhampton parkrun, along with a new twitter friend Cara.

The run was great fun, I was aiming to keep Lozza in sight, as she aimed for a sub-30 PB, to see if I could run as well as I did the other week with Marissa and Jonnie. I kept her in sight for a lap and a half, but she was flying round (I now know she was chasing a nice bottom!) and she smashed her goal of sub-30! It was great turning into the final straight with her yelling me on!

I’m really pleased with my time at wolves, 31:01 by my watch, 31:05 official time, as I did it all by myself, and my first mile was 10:02, so I’m making good progress towards my own sub-30.

Also really proud of my 6 year old son, who after a half the first lap in full on tantrum mode as he wanted to run with mummy, not daddy, finished the full 5k in 34:35 – I’m going to have to watch him!

The Tweet Up was brilliant, it’s always lovely to meet twitter pals in the flesh, especially when they are as inspiring as Lozza and Cara, both have worked hard to change their lives through running, and are now branching off into triathlons etc.

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It was fabulous to chill out after the run over a coffee and just relax. This did mean that Chris didn’t have his cheerleading at his swim, but he did brilliantly and I’m proud of him.

Then after all the excitement of the morning, it was scoot home to meet up with my parents. They’d brought daughter’s birthday presents, as she turned 10 this week, so there was much excitement from both children.

Then the best bit of my day happened. Me and daughter set off for Halesowen Leisure Centre to do our 1.5k relay. We’d deliberately joined as a team as she was desperate to take part, but had only swum 800m before, so the plan was she’d swim as far as she could, then I would finish whatever she couldn’t, therefore no matter what we’d be a successful team.

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What can I say, she was incredible! She swam beautifully and strongly, she was overtaking adult swimmers and with a bit of pool side encouragement from me, she swam the first kilometre all by herself, only leaving me 500m to finish off.

I swam my 14 lengths at full on full pace, just because I could! And when we got out to be presented with our medals, I realised we were the first to finish! We’d finished ahead of adults swimming in teams, and solo at the same distance! Not that I’m discovering a competitive side to myself or anything.

She’s followed our family rule to the letter and hasn’t yet taken off her medal, think she’s chuffed, and so she should be.

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We then went out and ate our way around the world at our local world food buffet. Perfect end to a fantastic day!

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Going bonkers at Conkers

It’s the time of the year that I’m off work for two weeks to look after the children during thr school holidays. As hubby can’t get the same two weeks,  I decided our two weeks would be full of  day trips, bikes, scooters & picnics.

Our first trip was to Conkers , an outdoor adventure park in the National Forest near Ashby de la Zouche (that’s so much fun to say! ).

I packed a picnic,  put petrol in the car and we were off.

It was great!

Acres of space, fields,  woods & lakes for us to explore.

The children spotted a face painter,  daughter had a face paint flower ‘tattoo’ on her arm, and the boy decided to be Batman.

After this we discovered the Barefoot Walk. This was brilliant. Lots of different textures and materials for the children to explore. Each section reflected a different period of the history of the area. And of course – mud!

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Barefoot Walk

We also discovered the assault course, the train,  the amphitheatre,  the den making area, the adventure playground,  the sculpture trail (which included a tribute to Dunblane), and the log pit.

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The children loved all of it, and we walked over five miles!  The barefoot walk was the highlight, and we went back at the end of the day and they went round five or six times. Thank goodness for the foot bath & dryers!

There was so much we didn’t get to I’m sure we’ll be going back!

R.I.P Uncle Roger

I’ve been fairly quite on social media recently (well by my standards).

As a family we’ve been dealing with an issue that I couldn’t articulate without appearing mawkish or attention seeking.

My husband’s uncle was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year. This uncle has been a second father to my husband, and a third grandfather to my children.

About 4 weeks ago we had a call that told us his time left was going to be extremely short.

At that point we chose to explain what was happening to the children, it felt wrong not to explain and have him suddenly disappear from their lives. My 9 year old daughter understood immediately, the 5 year old understood in a way that five year olds do. We also made sure the school were aware. The school has been amazing, their school mentor has spent time with both children to help them.

Last night, uncle Rog was taken to hospital for some treatment to help with some side effects of the cancer. Unfortunately, he wasn’t well enough for the treatment to work, and this morning we got the call to say he’d died.

We made the decision to tell the children after their swimming lessons, and we’ve been honest with them.

This morning has been full of tears, hugs and questions, and I’m sure there’s more to come.

Roger was an amazing man. He was an athlete all his life. He represented Great Britain at the 1972 Munich Olympics, and has passed on his experience as an athletics coach, in 2008, he coached the Team GB women’s 4 x 100 relay team to the final in Beijing, and has continued to coach professional athletes until a month ago, and was delighted when one his athletes (Annabelle Lewis) qualified for the World Athletics Championships a few weeks ago. And was part of the bronze medal winning 4×100 team. After the event she paid tribute to Uncle Roger, and Gabbie Logan, Denice Lewis & Michael Johnson continued the tributes following her interview.

He was a great dad, a loving husband, uncle and made the room light up with his singing (usually Andy Williams or Dean Martin), equally he could clear the room by finding a Western or war film to watch – preferably in black & white, or a home video of the holidays which always included a tour of the hotel bathroom, and heaven help you if you changed channels when the athletics were on!

We’ll miss him terribly, but we’ll remember him with smiles & laughter.

Goodbye Roger Walters, Running Wizard.

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Scooting round Sandwell Valley

It’s a bank holiday in May.

The weather is glorious.

We packed the scooters & the children into the car and headed off to Sandwell Valley Country Park

Sandwell Valley is a council run country park, with a working Victorian farm, acres of open space, an RSPB nature reserve and nature trails galore. There’s free parking, and the majority of the facilities are free (there are rope walks, golf, mini golf & mountain bike hire that you have to pay for – but even that’s reasonably priced).

We decided to go for a long walk around the valley giving the kids plenty of space to scoot to their hearts delight.

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I rather liked this sign post’

The boy was fascinated by the bridge that crosses the motorway:

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I always marvel at how close to ‘civilisation’ you can be whilst exploring a ‘wilderness’

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We then stumbled across some ruins. There was an information board, so we stopped to have a look.

Sandwell Priory was a Benedictine Monastery built in the 11th century and then closed by Cardinal Wosley during the Reformation. Tudor history right on my doorstep!

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History aside, we got on with the serious business of scooting

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Whoops! He wasn’t hurt though.

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Our route took us around the edge of Swan Pool, where we found one lone swan, plenty of mallards & lots of little piers to bird watch & fish from.

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Both mummy & daddy had a play on the scooters too!

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After our walk, we took the children to the Adventure Playground to blow off steam – they had a ball!

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We decided to move on at lunch time, and so glad we did. It had been busy when we arrived at 10.30, with one overflow car park open already. When we left, the queue of cars was enormous and the second overflow car park appeared full too.

With such good facilities I’m not surprised it was busy, but next time we go, we’ll probably get the metro and walk!

If you’re interested the below picture is the route we took around the valley.

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The rest of our bank holiday will consist of chilling, housework, sunshine & more scooting.

Hope you enjoy yours!

Christmas Cooking

What a Christmas we’ve had!

Due to my lack of time off this Christmas, we decided to celebrate at home this year. In the last few years we’ve visited parents in Liverpool, Bristol & Swanage.

It’s been fantastic! And mainly characterised by cooking!

Apart from turkey and the usual trimmings, my family has always had homemade chicken liver pâté as a starter on Christmas Day, so this was made well in advance – I made three pots – one was consumed on Christmas Day, one on Boxing Day & the last one has come out of the freezer today for tonight’s buffet.

I made a Christmas cake – using a WeightWatchers recipe, but since I fed it with brandy every week I don’t think it counts! It’s been delicious though!

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I also made some mince pie pinwheels from a Weight Watchers recipe book – the kids have loved those too!

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I was also inspired by a healthy eating blog I follow (the author also writes for the WeightWatchers magazine) called Slice Of Slim to try some meringue snowmen for our Boxing Day party – they were delicious & went down a storm – especially with the kids!

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In the lead up to Christmas I caught the Great British Bake Off Christmas Masterclass with Mary Berry & Paul Hollywood. Apart from being tickled by Mary either putting brandy in everything or serving everything with brandy butter I was intrigued by a couple of Paul’s recipes. His deep filled mince pies were incredible but didn’t last long enough for a picture!

But the ‘wow’ moment were his Turkey, Stuffing & Cranberry Chelsea Buns – they were easy, filling, delicious and a hit with the whole family!

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I think this final picture sums up how much my husband enjoyed my cooking this Christmas!

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MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

An Invitation From My Daughter

Letter from Daughter to me:

“Dear Mom,

Please come to the parent workshop! If you like to read you’ll have great fun at the literacy work shop. It starts at 9:00am – 10:00am in the hall. Please come otherwise I will be the only person without you. We don’t get to spend that much time together it will be lovely. Can you come? Please with a cherry on top with a bit of sugar! It is in the hall.

Ps try and come MOM! I will do the dishwasher for a week!

Yours sincerely”

Love it!

And yes… I went!