Here’s a quick list of some family events happening in and around Edinburgh at Christmas, these are all things that I’ve been recommended recently by pals, however, I obviously haven’t had the chance to try them all out – so please use your discretion!
Christmas Fairy Trail @ Archerfield Walled Garden, ran by Rogue Village – we were really fortunate to be invited along to this and it was stunning! We would definitely pay to go again. Beautiful immersive experience for adults and kids alike (*gifted experience)
Project Elf @ Fort Kinnaird – elves are roaming Fort Kinnaird during the weekends of December, why not stop by and get an ‘Elfie Selfie’? They are also encouraging shoppers to give back to those in need and have partnered with Forth 1 Mission Christmas Appeal. There are a number of donation points around the centre where visitors can leave a small gift for charity! We’re nipping over the weekend before Christmas to make a donation.
Festive Forest @ Beecraigs – billed as being a ‘mesmerising secret forest’ light show with a Santa’s Grotto amongst other things, we have booked (and paid) to go to this and I really hope it’s as good as it looks!
Breakfast with Santa @ Conifox – on from 21st-24th December. I’ve not been, but I’ve heard that their Superhero Breakfasts are good, so I think this would be too!
Christmas at the Botanics @ Edinburgh Botanic Gardens – this is the events third year and it’s running till 29th December. This has been highly recommended by quite a few pals… maybe I’ll finally make it next year!
Giant Lanterns @ Edinburgh Zoo – This year the theme is Lost World. We went two years ago with Oscar who was 2 and a half and it was our last day out as a family (on Hogmanay!) before Scout arrived a week and a half later. We really enjoyed it, and I remember Oscar loved it – I’d defo go back.
Edinburgh’s Christmas Markets @ Edinburgh City Centre – Food, drink, rides for all ages and a Santa’s Grotto! Great for a day out with or without kids, a bit pricey, but markets always are, aren’t they?! Remember, you get 10% off ride tickets with an EH postcode (we weren’t asked for proof).
Sleighbell Sundays @ Brewhemia – for Sundays in December, Brewhemia in town are putting on a christmas experience for the whole family where you can meet Santa and Mrs Claus, hang out in their Grotto and even watch a festive film all alongside a Sunday Roast dinner… sounds pretty decent!
Spectacle of Light @ Dalkeith Country Park – on from 7th December till the 5th January where you can experience Fort Douglas by night and see the magical Sky Maze all lit up! I very nearly booked this… However, we used to live close to DCP and spent a lot of time there, so went with Beecraigs for a change. I’ve seen a few people go to this though, and it looks great, especially for slightly older kids (and by that, I mean 4+… I always find Scout is a bit too young to enjoy Fort Douglas to it’s full potential!)
Christmas Adventures @ Callendar House, Falkirk – Now, this is supposed to be a VERY good Santa… I’ve booked and paid for tickets to this so I hope it lives up to the hype. Fairly reasonable at £7.50pp – I hope the gift for the kids is good, I’ll report back!
Porter & Bramble Bauble Workshop @ Skapa Studio, Falkirk – Go along and create a custome bauble with your little one! I fear these may now be done for the year and I’m gutted I never made it to one as I know Oscar would have LOVED it! Keep your eyes peeled for next year! On a side note: they do loads of cool workshops all year round!
If you were looking to go along to something, I hope this is helpful, and if you have any suggestions or recommendations, please let me know!
BUT – Most importantly, these are just ideas. Events like these are aplenty, but remember, they are not essential. They don’t come cheap and no one can do everything, and no one should feel guilty if they don’t have the time, money or inclination. Instead, for FREE, why not try –
Walking around the town or your neighbourhood and looking at Christmas lights!
Try making some homemade christmas paper using some kraft paper (I got mine in Wilko for £1) and stamps and/or paint… or ya know, glitter again, if you’re brave.
Toasting some marshmallows at home and having a movie night – current fave in our house is Arthur Christmas (it’s on Netflix just now)
Make some Christmas cookies, or maybe even a gingerbread house – this is something we’ve never got round to… maybe this year?!
Or, why not try putting together a food parcel for the local food bank. Oscar’s old childminder did this a few years ago and he had to take an item every day that he was with her and then just before Christmas all the kids took it down to the collection centre and handed it in. Or maybe donate a few small gifts, picked by the kids to the collection points at Fort Kinnaird mentioned above!
Whatever you get up to this Christmas, have a good one and spend it with the people that matter most!
Kept this short and sweet, hope it’s not too obvious that I threw it together while Scout had been napping today – OVER & OUT!
I was recently asked by Edinburgh Baby Company if I’d like to borrow a Babzyzen YOYO+ for a week to try out and review as part of a wee collaboration, and well, I jumped at the chance, as it’s a buggy I’ve been looking at on and off for a while, and had heard great things about, and I was also already a fan of the shop! On a few of Oscar’s hospital admissions, I’d ended up in their Marchmont store a few times while floating about like a bit of a zombie potato (kids wards are LOUD… all night long), while out getting some fresh air and a quick lunch.
So first off, Edinburgh Baby Company are fab! Single-handedly ran by mum of three Sara for local families and she sells everything from pregnancy, to baby and beyond. The selection of ethical clothing is wonderful, variety of wooden toys incredible and if you’re thinking of making a switch to cloth nappies, look no further… not to mention Sara has great knowledge if you’re in need of some advice on where to start on these, she’s your woman.
So, before I go any further, for transparency sake: I was given a loan of this buggy for a week in exchange for an honest review. Views are of my own and I was not paid!
The Babyzen YOYO+
So what is it? And why’s it supposed to be so special?
So, I thought the YOYO was just a buggy, but upon picking it up, I realised it’s quite a bit more – from a parent-facing newborn cocoon right up to a toddler/child buggy that can be popped up with one hand and folded down small enough to pop in the overhead locker on a plane – the YOYO+ is a pretty cool piece of kit.
The Main Selling Points (as told by Babyzen)
Reclinable and can lie flat (great for napping!)
Featherweight: 6.2 Kgs, with a shoulder strap for carrying
Newborn pack from birth to 9kg – a supersoft sherpa lined cocoon
Parent facing or forward facing
Fabrics are machine washable, cause ya know, kids are minging
Improved 4 wheel suspension
Car Seat Compatibility – Popular car seats can be popped on the chassis
UPF 50+ sun protection canopy which is great for holidays
Fits in the smallest spaces (more on this later) and in the overhead compartment of an airplane
Exclusive soft-drive system: no need to lock the front swivel wheel, even on rough terrain
The Pros… As Told By Me!
So let me say first off, I was impressed from the start, I’d never seen a YOYO+ in real life and honestly, it looks great. It looks sleek, premium and pretty nifty. I was also surprised to see it comes in a variety of colours. I didn’t get to choose but the trial model was a beautiful orangey-red colour, and was the one I’d have chosen. Similar to a Bugaboo (which we currently have) you can buy different colour packs to change the colour of the hood and lining as well as newborn inserts – this is always good if you’re looking to refresh a pram system to use with a subsequent child, or just fancy a change!
With both of our children we’ve bought a pram/travel system to use from birth (with Oscar we had an iCandy Peach3, and with Scout I decided to get a Bugaboo Cameleon3) and then, once they have reached a certain age and we needed something more convenient for popping into the shops or going on holiday, we’ve used a cheaper foldable buggy (in our case, we bought a Mamas + Papas Armadillo)… But here’s the deal, buggy’s are rubbish! They steer like a triple decker bus, can feel rattly, wheels get stuck in cobbles (hello, Edinburgh), never as easy to put up and down as they say, and they can still be bulky when folded… so to be honest, I’ve always hated ours!
This was where I was going wrong though, as I said before, I thought the YOYO+ was “just another buggy”, but in reality, it’s so much more. The YOYO+ can contend with the more traditional prams and travel systems, similar to the Bugaboo Bee I’d say, as a city pram. It would do away with the need to buy an additional buggy/stroller further down the line, making it a truly versatile and a good investment.
Babyzen do all the “extras” you’d want in a travel system, from their newborn pack with a flat nest for infants, a 5-point harness, a 2-position pop-up canopy, a foot cover and a headrest (oh, and it folds flat with this on too – no need to remove first), to YOYO buggy board with seat, to parasols and the new parent essential – cup holder!
On a side note, I also loved that it has a wee zip pouch in the hood for putting your purse and phone if you’re just nipping into the shop. As well as a handy little window on the hood to check if they’re sleeping (spoiler alert: mine never was!)
The YOYO gives a good, comfortable, upright seated position but can be adjusted easily using a toggle on the back of the seat unit to recline… Unfortunately for us, Scout never decided to nap while we were out (standard) but the seat does lie flat which is a selling point for us, because it’s great on holiday for being able to get them to sleep in the evenings and comfortable enough to stay asleep so you can enjoy a cocktail or 5!
Plus, despite the YOYO’s compact size, the seat is a brilliant size. Oscar is 4 and easily fits. A 4 year old might not ordinarily use a buggy, but if you’re on holiday it could still come in handy. Babyzen have thought of everything, and if you have an older child sleeping, you can even buy a leg rest that clips on the front to extend the seat for sleeping.
As well as being comfortable for the wee one being pushed around like a king and/or queen, the YOYO+ is also really nice to push. It feels light and responsive which isn’t always the case for a run of the mill buggy, and a city prams go, it felt great on our little mini adventures. We put it through its paces and it really excelled – even Robin was left impressed and that’s a tough ask (he hatesour Bugaboo Cam).
Teeny Wee YOYO
So I suppose one of the main selling points of the YOYO is it’s size, and it’s impressive! Our current pram (Bugaboo Cam3) and buggy (Mamas + Papas Armadillo) both take up the floor space of the boot of our cars (see below) meaning any shopping or bags have to be placed on top, this is fine until you have any more than 3, then it becomes some sort of balancing act while hoping you can squish the parcel shelf down far enough to be able to peek out the back window… it’s far from ideal.
In comparison, the YOYO+ really is tiny. It folds so easily and can be carried with a shoulder strap before being chucked in the car. A few people have asked to see it in the car, both in the boot and in the footwell in the front (note, the passengers seat was not even all the way back), so here it is! I must admit, even I was surprised at how little room it took up.
The YOYO+ can also be stored in the overhead lockers on a plane, and a separate travel bag can be purchased if needed. I can definitely see the advantages of this having wrestled with a wild toddler while waiting to get through security and to the baggage reclaim to collect a buggy that’s been checked at the gate!
That brings me onto a feature that Sara at EBC told me about that I’d never heard of – YOYO+ twin! Turns out, you can get two YOYO’s and clip them together to make a double pram! How cool is that? Sara herself has twins as was telling me about the struggles of the double buggy and how something that could come apart in this way would have really helped her out and having the option to split them when needed or for subsequent children must be a huge plus.
Where’s The Catch?
Truthfully? I don’t think there is one. However, there are a few wee downsides that I have to mention.
This is a city pram on the whole. We live next to a country park and we did put it through its paces on some bumpier terrain, and although it fared ok, if that’s the sort of environment that you’re looking to explore daily, then the YOYO probably isn’t for you… but you probably knew that already as ultimately it’s not marketed as that and that’s ok – it can’t be everything for everyone.
We also found that the narrow wheelbase means it can feel like its tipping slightly on a tight corner, especially with Scout being partial to leaning out one side to peer behind her. However, the stroller is light enough that this is easily corrected and you never feel ‘out of control’, it’s extremely responsive on the whole.
Robin did mention that he would prefer it to have an extendable handle. He’s 6ft 1 and said it wasn’t uncomfortable, however, it would have been preferable. At 5ft 3, it’s safe to say I didn’t have any problems, but considering most newborn+ prams have this, it’s a shame it doesn’t.
The Babyzen YOYO+ is pricey –
Babyzen newborn stroller from £579 – from birth to 4+
6months+ YOYO+ from £380 – this is the one we have been trying out… Obviously we didn’t need the newborn bit!
Accessories prices are as follows and I think are inline with ‘normal’ accessory prices the likes of Bugaboo, UPPAbaby etc:
YOYO bag £84.95 – we had this, and I completely forgot to photograph it (SORRY!) but it hooks into your YOYO with a small wheeled attachment and can carry up to an additional 10kg! Great if you’re on a full day out and need a picnic or if you’re shopping.
Board £99 – buggy board with a seat, similar to the Bugaboo one
Cup holder £24.95
Footmuff £99.95 – beautiful cozy cocoon that can roll up into a small storage bag
Travel bag £59.00 – fab for holidays to keep everything protected
Leg rest £29.95 – this would also be fab for an older child on holiday
If I were buying for a new baby I’d purchase the newborn stroller, cup holder (gotta stay hydrated) and a footmuff at a cost of just over £700. This is still a whopping £500 less than I paid for my equivalent Bugaboo Cam3 and Mamas & Papas Armadillo stroller.
Now, for a buggy that you’re going to use to nip to the shops every so often with or for a holiday or two, it really might not be worth it. However, I think it would be a great alternative to a traditional travel system. When I look back on how often we used our pram in the first 6 months with both Scout and Oscar, it really wasn’t that often. In particular, with Scout, she was always worn in a wrap and could count on two hands how many times we used the carrycot of the pram. I feel like a YOYO+ would have been ideal and actually saved a lot of money. It would even have been worth it if we’d known about it when we bought our rubbish buggy for holidaying with Oscar as I could have paid for the 6month+ stroller then upgraded it with the newborn pack when we found out about Scout… hindsight is a wonderful thing, eh?!
I love it. Probably more than I thought I would and I think Scout liked it… she certainly enjoyed eating snacks in it (sorry Sara, I’ll dust the crumbs off before I return it!). All in all, it has lived up to the hype!
Like I said, if you’re on your last baby (as I am) and they’re 1 year or above and you’re looking for something to scoot around town in and nip to the shops, then truthfully, this probably isn’t the buggy for you, it’s a pricey option -I’m pretty gutted that we didn’t discover it before now!
However, if you’re on your first or subsequent baby and looking for something that will see you from birth through till… well, whenever they might still need a buggy (bearing in mind this could be when they’re 4 and you’re on holiday) then this could be the one. It will save you money in the long run, and it’s a great wee piece of kit. You won’t ever have to wrestle in the pouring rain to dismantle it and fold it in the the boot in a car park while your baby screams in the car (been there), you’ll have plenty of room left for all your other baby paraphernalia and shopping and I don’t doubt you’ll enjoy scooting around with it.
In my (humble) opinion, the YOYO+ really is FUN and stands up to its rivals! Safe to say I was sad to return it to Sara today. Happy YOYOing!
It’s August again, nuts, I know. If you living in or around Edinburgh you’ll know that means it’s Festival and Fringe month! I’ve not lived in Edinburgh long, just coming up on five years now, so I still find this marvelous month a bit of a novelty – and honestly, I love it.
I make a point every year of trying to squeeze in some shows both with the kids, pals & Robin. We don’t always get to see as much as we’d like, but we try.
This year I’ve got a DOF [Day Of Fun] with my closest friends next week and still due to book something to take Oscar to.
For the last two years I’ve done a little round-up and thought I’d make it an annual thing, so here goes!
So you’ve probably heard of Adam Kay by now… he’s a million copy bestseller and pretty much a household name… But I first saw him back in 2016 with his show ‘Fingering A Minor On The Piano’ (yeah, I know, bear with me…) and it was my shout out show of the year… years later it’s still one of the best I’ve ever seen. It was lighthearted, interspersed with witty songs and audience participation, and then BANG. The show did not end the way I expected and it genuinely left me a little bit shooketh. It was hard hitting and I’ve spoken about it countless times since… Which is exactly why Adam started touring this show – to educate people about Junior Doctors and the erosion of the health profession by a Tory government.
Since then, he has returned to the Fringe each year with the same show, now known as This Is Going To Hurt (Secret Diaries Of A Junior Doctor) after his book. I would still highly recommend this show, even if you’ve read the book. I’d go again!
Sidenote: Adam Kay is also a guest on James O’Brien’s recent ‘Full Disclosure’ podcast and I’d recommend having a listen if you’re a fan!
I cannot tell you how many people have recommended this show to me and I’m gutted that I don’t think I’ll be able to make it due to it’s short run (2nd-6th) but it’s one worth seeing if you can. One of the most important voices in Britain, Akala is a BAFTA and MOBO award-winning hip-hop artist, and writer of the Sunday Times bestseller ‘Natives’. In his show he will discuss important threads that run through his work. Remember, the Fringe isn’t all comedy and there really is some great stuff going on for everybody!
I’m going to see this next week and I’m buzzing. SO many people have urged me to go and it sounds right up my street – “Nostalgic, hilarious and heartbreaking, her performance deconstructs and satirises the milestones, conventions and pressures that girls and young women face” – what more could you want?
This is a show I stumbled across when searching and really fancy getting tiskets having seen her on QI and the likes. “Loulie, AKA the face that launched a thousand dicks, examines conduct (in the media, baby), mental health (other people’s, I’m fine) and perverts (that one is mainly me, actually)”. I think I might try and get tickets to this to see with Robin, so if someone would like to come watch the kids for us – that would be grand! Thank you.
PS. this one is selling out fast, so don’t hang about!
Lastly, this is a show I’d love to see having followed Scummy Mummies on Insta for years and they never fail to make me laugh! Apparently their show is “Guaranteed to make parents laugh and non-parents happy about their life choices” – so ya know, it’s got something for everyone!
If anyone wants to see this with me – hit me up please!
Massaoke Mixtape @ assembly george square gardens
Frankly, this is my worst nightmare. Cannot think of anything worse. I hate karaoke, I’m sorry. It’s also way past my bedtime.
However, if you’re a crazy person that does like karaoke, then crack on, this is the show for you. It’s a mass singalong to your fave hits, mashups and more… and people RAVE about it, apparently it’s great!? I reckon intoxication levels should be high for this one to get the full experience…
Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo @ Udderbelly, Bristo Sq
For kids aged 3 and up, in this interactive show you’ll get right up close and personal with an amazing array of prehistoric creatures, from baby dinos to some of the largest carnivores and herbivores that have ever walked the planet! This is a show I think I might try and take Oscar too, as he’s got right back into dinosaurs recently (and is having a dino themed birthday party) so i think this would blow his mind!
THE AMAZING BUBBLE MAN @ UNDERBELLY, GEORGE SQ
We took Oscar to this when he’d just turned two, and I’ll be honest with you, tensions were running high and we were worried about whether he’d sit through an hour long show. We needn’t have worried – he was captivated from the moment it started. The lad is the world’s leading bubbleologist afterall.
We went for a second time last year when Oscar was 3 and Scout was 7 months and again Oscar loved it, and actually, even though Scout was really little she definitely enjoyed the sensory aspect of it. I’d recommend. This is a safe bet for most kids I think!
Baby Loves Disco @ the jam house
This is another safe bet for kids and if you fancy it, you should book soon because its only on for a five days over the Fringe and two are already sold out and last year I left it too late to get tickets. It’s really popular!
It’s brilliant family fun for babies, toddlers, kids as well as adults to enjoy some nostalgic tunes. Face-painting, chill-out zone, dress-up, selfie booth, crafts, healthy snacks, juice and more are also included in the entry price… oh and there’s a bar guys. ALCOHOL.
Valentina’s Galaxy @ Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh
The botanics usually do a decent kid’s event and this year it’s Valentina’s Galaxy: “an intergalactic adventure for starry-eyed 2-6 year olds and their adults. Inspired by women in space, this immersive performance captivates children and adults alike with a combustible concoction of experiments, rocket launches and stargazing.”
It sounds great! Plus, the Botanics is a great venue for kids as it’s easier for parking if you have younger kids (or multiples) and don’t want to be dragging them around the city centre and just want to be able to go to a show for a few hours then home… because let’s face it, with young kids, sometimes we want an easy life, and that’s ok!
Adult Content [but you can still take the wee babe along!]
I harp on about this but – did you know a lot of shows have a ‘babes in arms’ policy? Nope, me neither until last year!
There are hundreds or shows made for kids… but what about the shows made for adults? What if you’re a breastfeeding mother to a 6 month old baby and really wants to see a show?! That’s where the babes in arms policy comes in – a LOT of Fringe shows will allow a baby to come into the show free of charge as long as they’re under a certain age (often 18 months, or 2). Information on this is clearly noted on the ticket info page so watch out for it – a young baby does not mean you need to miss out on some Fringe Fun, and I’m sure their baby ears won’t be offended by anything rude, yet!
I usually buy tickets, mostly because I like to plan ahead and usually have people coming to visit for a day out, but you don’t have to for some shows ‘Pay What You Want’ policy on the door! Just show up, and if the venue isn’t full, you can just pay what you want and get in, so it could save you a fair amount. This is great if you’re looking for a last minute show to fill an hour before you meet pals or looking to save a bit of cash. Like I say, I’ve never done it, but could definitely be worth a shot, because I can honestly say I’ve seen a fair few shows over the years that I really wish I hadn’t wasted my money on – but that’s all part of the fun… I suppose.
On 15th April, after something ridiculous like 10 years together and 6 months of engagement, we decided to tie the knot in Edinburgh on a sunny Monday afternoon, ya know, that classic wedding day.
Now, we both love a wedding, however, we knew that a big wedding wasn’t for us, so fairly early on we decided to do something small and intimate… we actually didn’t even tell that many people! Surprisingly, since we announced it, I’ve had a fair few messages about how we planned it from people interested in doing something similar. The irony is not lost on me, because planning wise, we didn’t do all that much compared to a “proper” wedding.
Now, I ain’t no wedding planner. The truth is, I’ve only been to a handful of weddings, only maybe 4 ceremonies, and nothing as ‘low-key’ as what we were going for. I don’t know, maybe this worked in our favour when it came to pulling ours together?!
Anyway, I thought I’d share some insight, advice and thoughts, as well as who we used for anyone that may be local!
A Short Engagement
I’m not sure why, but I’ve always wanted to have a short engagement, and the beauty of having a small wedding means that this is a realistic goal. When we first got engaged at the end of October 2018, we said fairly early on that we’d like to be married by that time the following year. We did originally look at small venues that specialise in intimate weddings, but to be honest, even they are booked out years in advance and worked out to be a sizeable amount considering the number of guests. I know that this is standard for anything wedding related, but I just couldn’t be bothered with it. We were of the mind, that the further away the wedding was, the more time there was for things to spiral and grow arms and legs.
The Wedding Premium
I think it’s important at this point to say – have the wedding you want! Have whatever size of wedding you want, if you opt for a big wedding, AMAZING, because I will come to it and I will love every second of it! I will lap up the free bar and I will dance to Runrig at the end of the evening.
But, let me just say – Going small does not make you a cheapskate, ok? And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Our day wasn’t “cheap”, however, obviously it was much cheaper than your average venue wedding… I mean, I read the other day that the average cost of a wedding is at an all time high of over £30k… WOW! A small wedding can cost very little or a bit more depending on what you’re wanting and your budget, and it is the case that the second you menton the “w-word” the cost can shoot up.
We were very fortunate that my parents helped us out and that allowed us to do a few extra bits and bobs that otherwise we might not have, and it was those details that helped build the day we hoped for. Despite wanting a low key and intimate wedding, we were also keen to keep some more classic elements like flowers and a fancy dress (although originally I didn’t want or even bother to look at “weddings dresses”). We also opted to invest in photography – more on this later.
Remember though, it is absolutely ok for you not to have these things and to do what’s right for the both of you, and to hell with what anyone else thinks. If people are truly happy for you as a couple they will not be offended if you just bugger off and do it, whether it be an elopement or with your closest family and friends. Don’t worry about your next door neighbours cousin’s dog not being invited. It really is your choice and *hopefully* you’ll only wanna do it once!
I originally fancied an elopement – visions of us on a beach somewhere on the West Coast. However, Robin wasn’t keen on doing with without or parents being there and having two kids in tow also makes it trickier (in hindsight he was totally right – typical).
In Scotland you can actually get married anywhere at any time. Venues don’t need licences like they do in England. I would have loved the idea of a Humanist ceremony somewhere outdoors, but when you don’t actually want a proper venue, I was struggling to work out where we could realistically do this and how to factor in unruly children and the unpredictable Scottish weather.
Ultimately, i couldn;t be bothered to work out the logistics (a running theme in my planning), so instead we opted for an easier Registry Office option and chose City Chambers, nestled within Edinburgh’s Royal Mile – a truly beautiful backdrop.
Once we got Christmas and New Year out the way we started planning. City Chambers do wedding every days of the week and we originally opted to look at Saturdays. They have a lot of availability for a month or two ahead, however, weekend slots do tend to fill up quite quickly so best to book as far ahead as you can (one of the days we wanted only had 9am left which we thought was a tad early!). We were looking to book in February for a March wedding only to realise both our parents were on holiday for nearly the full month, so back to the drawing board. In the end we decided to broaden our search to the full week. As we were having such few guests, we didn’t have s uch of a need to factor in people taking time off work and as Robin works shifts there were very few weekends that actually suited us – neither of us wanted to wait until late summer.
We finally got our date booked on Valentine’s Day – we were getting married on 15th April at 2.30pm, YAY!
The ceremony room at Chambers can hold up to 40 guests, so even if you were wanting to have a few more people than us (we only had 9 + the kids) there is scope for that. You can also completely personalise the ceremony to suit your needs. Amid the form filling after booking we missed this and only realised a few days before the wedding when it was a little late, so we opted for the standard ceremony but wrote our own vows. It can be as traditional, modern, formal or informal as you like. You can all meet outside and go in together, or you can be a little more traditional and arrive a bit later and walk down the aisle. You can also supply your own music if needed. We weren’t particularly fussed with what form our ceremony took, with two young kids wanting to run around it was nice to keep it super relaxed but by writing our own vows we also added the personal touch.
Due to Scout’s unpredictable sleep, we bucked “tradition” and we all stayed at home the night before along with one of our witnesses, my friend Eilidh, who had just flown back that evening from her sister’s hen party in Belfast (hero) and in the morning I abandoned poor Robin with the children and went with Eilidh to get my hair and make-up done in town before heading to the hotel that I had booked for that night for a glass of bubbly and some final prep… mainly pouring myself into the world’s tightest Wonderbra and donning my dress!
By 2.15 it was time to go – I could actually see Chambers from my room at the Radisson Collection so didn’t have far to go. However, a few weeks earlier, Eilidh had suggested that we could maybe hire a rickshaw to take us – I loved the idea and searched high and low to find one, which I finally did. I’m glad that I did, mainly because the pictures are hilarious and it was just a bit of fun! Although we were getting papped by a lot of tourists on the Royal mile!
After the ceremony, we got some group pictures with our guests and hopped on our rickshaw to go get some pictures taken by ourselves in the city – our poor photographer Kathryn jogging along behind us! While we did this our guests went and grabbed a few drinks in a pub and check into their hotel if needed, before heading on to the pizza restaurant to wait for us! I was worried about this bit and the logistics, but the truth is – don’t. Your guests are adults that can look after themselves, just let them crack on. We actually really enjoyed escaping for a wee while to get our pictures taken, it allowed us to chat and catch up on the mornings antics. On our way down Grassmarket we ended up getting stopped by a lot of pictures by tourists – turns out a man in a kilt is very exotic, they weren’t so fussed about me.
After pictures we headed back to our rickshaw and to the restaurant where our guests were waiting with pizza and Prosecco and we were able to all catch up. It was the most relaxed meal with the kids running round having a ball and eating spaghetti. After food our parents took the kids home and we went for drinks with our witnesses and their partners. It was a lovely end to the perfect day… and on the way back to the hotel we even picked up chips, cheese and donner – canny beat it.
Keep it simple
I booked pretty much everything the week we booked Chambers. The hardest bit was getting a date that suited us, but once that was done I was able to book the extra bits needed. Sit down and think about what you really want/need as a couple. A lot of stuff is unnecessary as just because it’s the ‘norm’, it might not be for you. We didn’t bother with things like invitations, favours or a cake and we opted to not have a Best Man or Bridesmaids. Instead, we each chose a close friend to witness our marriage and sign our documents, along with their respective partners, they were out only guests other than each of our parents and Robin’s sister. It definitely meant there was less ‘stuff’ to worry about, but equally was lovely to share it with them. No, our friends were not annoyed. They love us so they understood (or at least, I’ve not heard anything to the contrary)
I struggled with this. I was pretty sure I didn’t want a wedding dress and had pretty much set my heart on something sequinned or embellished, but the more I looked the clearer it became that the dress I wanted did not exist. I bought and sent back at least 5 dresses from ASOS including a few by Needle & Thread, but none were right for me. On the off-chance, I looked on Monsoon and saw the dress I ended up wearing on the day. When I tried it on I felt great and it even had pockets, I love that it was comfortable and the shorter length made it a bit more fun to suit our day. It did not cost a lot. Don’t let anyone make you think you have to spend a gazillion pound on a dress or that you even have to step foot in a bridal shop if you don’t want to! Although I wasn’t originally looking for “a wedding dress”, I think in years to come I’ll be glad that i opted for it in the end.
Pinterest is Bae
I started pinning little bits and bobs that I liked, including photography styles and colours. I didn’t set out to have a theme but one started to emerge, and although it’s probably not even obvious to anyone else, we had a very loose celestial theme – from stars and moons on my shoes, nails and in my hair to the ribbons hanging off my bouquet that I added myself and looked lovely on a particularly windy day in Edinburgh! You do not need a theme, ours just emerged and ended up helping a it helped me narrow down choices on certain items.
Capture the Memories
You can still have a photographer – this was something I was adamant about! This was important for us both as we are lovers of photography and really enjoy taking and having pictures of our family so for such a special occasion, it was something we wanted to look back on. I opted not to go for the full “getting ready” coverage etc as this was all just happening in a salon as it was just Eilidh and I (I would recommend this though – it took a lot of stress out of the day being able to just sit down and be pampered!). My main advice, especially if you’re having a small wedding, is so find a photographer that understands your kind of wedding and what you’re after and is willing to be flexible – we knew we wanted really relaxed street shots and the main focus to be on us and the time we spent getting these done was so fun and I’m so happy with the handful that I’ve seen so far and I cannot wait to see the rest!
You do You
But above all – do what works for you! Don’t let anyone influence your decision. Yes, of course you want your guests to enjoy the day, but that shouldn’t be at the expense of your own enjoyment. If they truly love you, they’ll be happy to go along with your plan. We found that all too often people tell you to do what makes you happy because “it’s your big day” but when it comes to it, the second it’s not what they imagined, they have an opinion – ignore it.
The size of the wedding doth not make the marriage. Don’t let people push you into anything you don’t want. It is your day, if you wanna spend it eating pizza then you eat that pizza!
Lastly, I thought I’d give a wee mention to all the people and the wee details that helped make our day special. This might be handy, especially if you’re local and looking to do something similar!
August is fast approaching… HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? I know right? Seems like just yesterday we were snowed in! Let’s hope the great heatwave returns for the month to maximise our outdoor cider drinking and street food eating in time for the biggest event of the Edinburgh calendar – The Fringe! For us as a family, the Fringe has a special wee place in our hearts, as Oscar was born during our first festival that we lived in Edinburgh for, so now we try and take him to a few shows as a birthday day out as a little tradition. We’ll be doing that again this year with Scout in tow too.
For those of you that might not be familiar (maybe you live under a rock..?) the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the biggest arts festival in the world and runs alongside the Edinburgh International Festival, but don’t worry, there’s no real need to get hung up on the difference. I always thought it was just comedy, but it’s so, so much more…
Last year, for it’s 70th birthday, the Fringe featured 53,232 performances of 3,398 shows across 200 venues throughout the city – it’s kind of a big deal.
But ya know, that’s a lot of shows. This year, I picked up my Fringe guide and there are no less than 400 pages of shows – it’s a bit daunting. And so, back by popular demand (well, I did it last year, and at least 3 people told me it was helpful…) I’m doing my annual Fringe Guide – for bigs and smalls.
For The Smalls
Before I had Oscar, I had no idea how many kids shows there were at at the Fringe, but now finding the good ones is one of my favourite things to do. The atmosphere is so good throughout the city during the festival season and kids just lap it up! There is also a great kids area in Pleasance Courtyard so they can make t-shirts while you enjoy a cold cider/beer/wine/gin/whatever – that’s the dream, right?!
I’ve started my research and here’s what I’ve found so far –
Running from 29th July – 1st August, there’s a whole load of FREE events for kids taking place in the courtyard of this Edinburgh pub! Every day is jam packed with activities from arts & crafts to magicians, face painiting, and much more, as well as a different daily theme from fairy-tales to superheros, animals to Lego! Oh, and there’s even a petting zoo on Tuesday 31st July!
There is also a kids cinema event every Sunday of the Fringe at 9am in partnership with Scottish Autism! We will be heading along to the first cinema session on Sunday 29th to see Frozen, but no doubt will be hanging around for the magician and some face painting in the afternoon! Keep an eye on my Instagram Stories! 🎈
There’s loads of info on each days activity over on their Facebook Event.
I took Oscar to see his first ever Fringe show the day after his first birthday, and it was a show by Starcatchers… It was SO GOOD and Oscar was honestly enthralled by the mix of dance, theatre and live classical music. Even though I was a bit unsure as to what to expect, I thoroughly enjoyed it too and it was so lovely to see Oscar so engaged!
I am keen to go back this year with Scout and check out this new show as she loves music too.
We took Oscar to this last year and WOW it was amazing! He’d just turned two, so I’ll be honest with you, tensions were running high and we were worried about whether he’d sit through an hour long show. We needn’t have worried – he was captivated from the moment it started. The lad is the world’s leading bubbleologist afterall.
I reckon this is one we’ll go back to again this year as he’ll get even more out of it now he’s a bit older. Highly recommend you give it a shot!
This one was recommended to me – apparently it’s “funny, fast-paced and bursting with witty songs” so I’m here for it! It looks like a show Oscar would love, so hopefully I’ll get to check it out and report back!
On first look, there seems to be a lot of shows about Brexit and Trump… there’s probably a few about Russia too – it was to be expected I suppose, but of course, there will also be a multitude of hidden gems. I usually find the best way to weed them out is to wait and let other people find them then try and get them booked for later in the festival. Although, if you’re looking at booking a big name – best to do it soon. I’ve missed out a few times over the years – notably least year when we tried to get tickets for Ian Stirling, ya know, the voice of Love Island… sob.
I’ll be updating this as I go, but here’s a few I’ve picked out that I wanna see!
Jessie Cave @ The Stand
I’m a fan. I follow Jessie on Insta and have one of her doodles, so when I saw she was doing a show about motherhood, Instagram and getting through a breakup, I was intrigued! My friend Megan of It’s The Mother also mentioned that she fancied it – so maybe we can make it a date – what d’ya say?
Adam Kay: This Is Going to Hurt (Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor) @ EICC Pleasance
I saw Adam back in 2016 with his show Fingering A Minor On The Piano (yeah, I know, bear with me…) and it was my shout out show of the year… maybe even one of the best I’ve ever seen. It was lighthearted, interspersed with witty songs and audience participation, and then BANG. The show did not end the way I expected and it genuinely left me a little bit shooketh. It was hard hitting and i’ve spoken about it countless times since. So if this show is anything like it, and Adam is wonderful, so I’m sure it will be – go see it. You’ll laugh and you may cry, but you’ll be talking about it all the way home.
“Baby Daddy is a funny, rude and infectious musical account of life in your twenties with a baby in tow.” – I have a feeling this show could be one of the true hidden gems of the Fringe this year, and it’s gonna be the first ticket I buy… I’m going, even if it means I have to take Scout along for the ride (more about this later…)
Now, I saw a version of this last year at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow. I think this show is slightly different to what I saw, but if it’s even half as good, you’ll be blown away!
“An immersive adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s classic, staged in a unique tunnel beneath Edinburgh’s streets. The audience are literally part of the action, including the notorious ‘worst toilet in Scotland’ scene”
I’d love to go see this and see what it’s like in comparison to the full length theatre version. Let me know if you’ve seen it! Would you recommend?
Until, the other month an amazing theatre producer (who is also a new mum) got in touch with me to chat about what she’s doing to make the theatre culture more accessible to parents of young children. Now, as I’ve said, there are hundreds or shows made for kids… but what about the shows made for adults? What if you’re a breastfeeding mother to a 6 month old baby and really wants to see a show?! That’s where the babes in arms policy comes in – a LOT of Fringe shows will allow a baby to come into the show free of charge as long as they’re under a certain age (often 18 months, or 2). Information on this is clearly noted on the ticket info page so watch out for it – a young baby does not mean you need to miss out on some Fringe Fun, and I’m sure their baby ears won’t be offended by anything rude, yet!
Anyway, like I said, it’s daunting sifting through 400 pages of shows, so listen out for recommendations, that’s what I’ll be doing and updating this blog as I go. If you have any, please get in touch with me, I’m always on the lookout for something to see whether it be with the family, or out with friends!
In April, when Scout was 3 months old, we were invited along to try out level one of Turtle Tots. There are classes held all over the city on every day of the week. We chose to swim on a Wednesday morning at Damhead as this is the day that Oscar’s in his childminder, so I thought it was be a nice way to start our day together!
Oscar started swimming at around the same age, so I knew it was something I was keen to start with Scout as well and I wasn’t disappointed!
But what’s the deal? What makes Turtle Tots different to just taking your baby to the pool yourself? What are he benefits?
Why should you join Turtle Tots? Well, I’m gonna tell ya!
1. Safety Skills
Swimming is an invaluable life skill for kids to learn early and at the heart of this is safety in and around water. Staying safe is at the core of everything Turtle Tots teaches both parents and littles. From stepping into the pool for the first class you learn the safe way to get yourself and baby in and out of the pool – because let’s face it, when they get wet they’re like wee slippy fish…! You learn the best way to hold them to keep them safe should you slip and by the end of the 10 weeks we had also started to teach babies how to hold on when brought towards the pool edge. Even at such a young age, I could see Scout starting to follow these cues.
The classes get babies used to being in the water, at first, close to you, and then, as they begin to gain confidence, further away from the parent, letting them explore the water more and go for swims with the instructor.
On a side note: Our teacher was Jen and she was absolutely brilliant! Funny, friendly and knew exactly what she was doing. This created such a calm and encouraging environment for us all. So important because taking a wee tiny baby into the water can be quite daunting. I was somewhat used to this given it was second time round, however, I remember being terrified with Oscar! Every new skill is reinforced and then progressed in each lesson so I always came away from a class feeling that I’d learnt something new.
As a child I was a keen swimmer and on holidays I spent 90% of my time in the swimming pool and it, and for us as a family, it was important to instil these safety skills in both of our children, not least for going on holiday. Now, we know never to let our children out of our sight around a pool on holiday, but as parents, we’re also all too aware of how quickly things can happen. In a blink of an eye, a toddler can speed off. I remember quite vividly when I was little, my dad diving into a swimming pool to rescue a young girl that had got into trouble while playing in a busy pool as she just wasn’t as confident as she could have been in the water. So knowing that from a young age Scout will be able to get to the surface and hold on confidently is invaluable.
Safety is at the heart of why Turtle Tots teach, but, the classes are also a LOT of fun!
Having dedicated one-to-one time was so important and I really looked forward to our Wednesday morning lesson. The close physical contact strengthens the bond between parent and baby and promotes their metal development.
Over the course of the chapter, you learn cues along with you baby. Through various techniques, your instructor encourages you to tune into your babies reactions and read their cues in the water. They learn to ‘hold their breath’ and by the end of the chapter, even at just 5 months I could see Scout reacting to a variety of cues that we had learnt – it really is impressive!
The techniques learned with floats and with songs are all transferable and can be recreated on holiday rather than just being stuck bobbing about the pool with a little baby – slightly unsure what to do with them (I remember this being the case the first time we took Oscar swimming before we started lessons!)
3. Keeping Active
well, we know that keeping active is important. I’d be exaggerating slightly if I told you that Turtle Tots is a work out, but, it is a great way to start getting active again after giving birth. It’s a gentle way to get back into exercise, and it does work those arm muscles a fair bit too!
Although it’s not quite a ‘work out’ when they’re just babies, I speak from experience when I say it get’s a bit more energetic the older they get which is great and a lot of fun.
In addition to the mental development swimming promoted through close contact, bonding and sensory elements, swimming is also great for your babies physical development. Being moved about the water is like having a massage for them and activities are designed to promote coordination and strengthen muscles.
What’s more, Scout always had a substantial nap after her lesson – but i don’t think this is a guarantee!
What are my Top Tips to ace Turtle Tots
Don’t be put off if baby cries, they all have off days! On our second lesson, Scout cried for most of it and it was a bit disheartening, but we still went back the following week and she was fine thereafter. Persevere – it’s all so new to them, and it can be a bit of sensory overload, so hold them close, comfort them with lots of cuddles and don’t worry. The instructor will have seen it all before, maybe even with their own kids!
Teach your partner! Or even get them to come along and watch to see what’s involved. It’s a great activity to share as a family so teach everyone what you’ve learnt – that way you can help each other out, especially if you’re on holiday! We have some great GoPro footage of Oscar swimming underwater on holiday with both of us, and it’s something I can’t wait to do with Scout too. But it’s not something either of us would have had the confidence to do without classes.
This is a practical one – wear your swimming costume under your clothes to the class. That way it’s easy to get ready quickly and jump in the pool. Turtle Tots were great and supplied changing mats and a playpen for the kids but, ya know what it’s like, they can still get a bit ratty especially when tired after a full on lesson so I always tried to wear easy clothes that I could chuck back on. No one wants to be squeezing damp legs into super skinny jeans at the side of a pool in ten million degree heat…
Lastly, just have fun and enjoy it! Don’t worry about drowning your baby, they’ll be fine… but also don’t wear mascara or that will end in disaster!
Please note: I was offered this course free of charge in return for a review – but all views expressed are my own. I will be continuing with Scout’s swimming! x
I was recently asked to pop along to Fort Kinnaird to check out the newly refurbished M&S Café and I quickly obliged as Fort Kinnaird is somewhere I already spend a lot of time… and probably the majority of my money!
I’m not a fan of dragging a toddler into town every time I want to grab a new pair of jeans or a top so Fort Kinnaird is perfect, and easily accessible from us on the south of the City.
However, I’ll admit, I’ve never frequented the M&S Café, despite feeling like I’m never out of “Markies”, as my Mum calls it!
Over next to Primark, Café Revive is located on the ground floor of M&S and has been newly revamped. It looks great and is really convenient for a coffee stop – especially with a baby in tow. The day I went I had a grizzly Scout in her pram wanting a feed!
We decided to pop in to take some time to settle her down and more importantly – EAT CAKE. The selection was varied and fresh – I’d recommend the carrot cake! The staff were all welcoming and the service is quick… this is now a top priority when doing anything with a baby in tow.
The Café also has a variety of hot food on offer including toasties, which I’ve actually tried on a subsequent visit to the café! Toasties have become a staple of my diet on both of my maternity leaves, so I have become something of a connoisseur and I can confirm this toastie met my high standards!
While in M&S I thought I’d have a look around, I am already a big fan of their baby and child range. We have received a lot of their pieces in gifts and also purchased a lot for both kids – especially their essentials, like vests, sleepsuits, and more recently, Toy Story pants for Oscar.
Their summer range is fab and you should definitely check it out. I took some quick snaps of my favourite pieces – I especially love the little chilli romper. Had I known it was going to be such nice weather the past week, I would have bought it for Scout!
Although I’m a long time fan of their kids pieces I’ve never really looked at theirs women’s section, but recently it’s been drawn more to my attention by accounts I follow on Insta, namely Mother Of Daughters, Mutha.Hood and Erica Davies that often post about their finds from M&S. I wasn’t disappointed – there were so many versatile summer pieces and accessories.
Here are my three favourites! –
1. summer straw bag – ok, so I’ve become obsessed with straw bags. I see them all over Insta, all day every day, but, I wasn’t convinced that the small round ones were suitable for me… after all, 2 kids come with a lot of STUFF. So this one is perfect! In more of a shopper style, I think it’s a bit more practical for my day to day life! Oh, and it’s only 15 quid!
2. Statement necklace – I have always loved a “big necklace”, following in my mums steps as she is never seen without one. This one ticks all my boxes as it’s colourful and quirky! Plus, at under £20 it’s not going to break the bank, and will jazz up a plain top in summer.
3. Orange mules – well , they’re orange, and I’m obsessed with all things orange! They were super comfy and looked great with my Monki Mom jeans that I was wearing on the day, and again, under £20. I’ll admit I wasn’t brave enough to buy them, but, I’ve been thinking about them ever since… so I might have to go back.
In the interest of full disclosure – I was given a £50 voucher in return for this review but all views are my own! And I have since returned, twice, and spent my own pennies in the Café, because, ya know… CAKE.
So, on the day after the sunniest May Bank Holiday on record we took a trip on the Maid of the Forth to Inchcolm Island. Of course, this is Scotland, so it rained all day, but we had such a great adventure regardless!
The Maid of the Forth sets sail from Hawes Pier in South Queensferry and we opted for the 3 hour tour with a landing on Inchcolm Island… which I didn’t even know existed until I read about it on their website!
The ferry sets sail from beside the Forth Rail Bridge and Oscar was losing his mind watching all the “Choo choos” cross it before we set sail, ice creams in hand.
The sailing to Inchcolm Island is a leisurely 35 minutes which was perfect for keeping a toddler engaged – not too long! On the way there we got to see some of the other islands of the Forth and hear about the history of them which for some was quite colourful – like Inchgarvie Island that features a prison, I mean, that basically the Alcatraz of Edinburgh, right? We were also lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a huge group of seals on ‘The Haystack’ next to Inchcolm, Robin and Oscar sprinted up tot he top deck to get the best view.
When Oscar was born we were living in a flat in Leith overlooking the Firth of Forth, so for us, it was really interesting to hear about all the little islands that we used to be able to see from our flat!
When the boat arrives at Inchcolm, those with passes for ‘landing’ can depart, otherwise the ferry heads back around the island and continues it’s tour (I think the wonderful Karen did this trip, and you can see her blog here – note the weather on the day she went was A LOT better – lucky sod!)
We chose to include the island landing for our trip (despite the weather) where you get to spend around 1hr 45 minutes there, which is ample time to take it all in. Inchcolm Island itself is fab and the Abbey was brilliant for exploring – lots of hidden rooms and staircases to scout while it rained outside (Scotland, innit?).
Then, when the weather cleared for half an hour we headed down to the beach to skim some stones. If it had been nicer day, the beach would have been perfect for a picnic and we could easily have spent the day there, the views are amazing!
Amenities wise, there’s a small gift shop with the usual souvenirs and toilets but no cafe, so best to take a packed lunch and invaluable toddler snacks with you, or buy some on the boat to take ashore!
As the weather got a little worse, it was time to head back to the boat for the return journey. While we opted to take Scout in the carrier for the day (she sleeps better this way), those with prams were helped onto the boat by the crew who couldn’t have been more helpful!
The sailing back to harbour took us under all three of the Forth Crossings before we docked back at Hawes Pier with a completely exhausted toddler that couldn’t stop talking about boats and castles and a baby asleep in the carrier – so all in all, a success!
Funnily enough, when I wrote my Adventure List: Part II back at the beginning of the year, this trip was one of the suggestions that cropped up and I don’t doubt that we’ll end up back there in summer armed with a bucket and spade and a picnic! If you have an inquisitive toddler (is there such thing as a toddler that isn’t inquisitive) or older kids that love to explore, then it’s a great day out, with a little bit of everything thrown in – a huge thank you to Maid of the Forth for inviting us along!
[Please Note: I was offered a place in the class free of charge in return for a review. BUT ALL VIEWS ARE MY OWN!]
Join a class, any class…
I remember being a new mum with Oscar and thinking that I had to join some sort of class, any class. It was a right of passage to sign up to some sort of activity and go along and “make some Mum friends”. So I signed up to Baby Sensory and I’ll admit, I didn’t really enjoy it. I found it a bit boring. I had grand ideas that it would be centred around messy play and really interactive. But it wasn’t. We sat in a circle and sang some nursery rhymes (to which I was the only fool that didn’t know ANY of the words) and well, yeah, I could have gone on Pinterest and done it myself… and saved £70.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking Baby Sensory – I’ve no doubt at all that there are much better ones out there but it put me off this kind of class. I didn’t want to waste my money again. Instead I wanted to do a class that I could get some enjoyment out of too.
Claire Houston Baby Massage
I started looking at alternative activities to do with Scout after she was born and decided I would try Baby Massage as a few of my friends had recommended it after doing it with their little ones.
Then, when she was just two months old I was lucky enough to be invited along to start a course with Claire Houston Baby Massage at her lovely home in Roslin.
Five weeks down the line and I’m delighted to share a wee review of Claire’s classes, but I must say, I’m a bit sad that we’ve finished!
On the Wednesday morning of our first class, I dropped Oscar off at his childminder and off I went with Scout to Roslin. As a second child, I’m all too aware that she doesn’t always get the one on one time that her brother was afforded as a baby. She spends a lot more time being laid on a playmat while Oscar and I paint/duplo/argue (jokes, kinda), and where he got dedicated tummy time and the likes, Scout is all to often popped into her wrap so that we’re able to get things done.
Because of this I felt really passionate about getting some one on one time with her and doing an activity rather than spending our time just the two of us watching Netflix and eating chocolate while her brother went to his childminder.
Claire runs classes on various days in different venues and I opted for the one that was run from her beautiful home in Roslin. My class was quite an small one with only 3 other sets of mums and babies ranging from a few weeks older than Scout to 9 months old.
I quickly realised, the class would be a lot whole lot more than solely learning the International Association of Infant Massage course. Alongside learning the techniques of baby massage the class offered an array of other skills.
“I hope to empower parents and give them the confidence to massage their babies daily to experience the delights of nurturing touch and pre-language communication with their infant.” – Claire Houston
Relaxation + Wellbeing
There is a strong focus on wellbeing. Claire taught us various techniques for relaxing ourselves as well as our babies – after all, Happy Mum = Happy Baby. We all know that parenting is tough and it reminded me that sometimes we need to do something for ourselves as well!
Claire also incorporates a few readings, Yes Mum cards and general discussion topics into her class. It was such a lovely way of getting a good chat with some like minded people while eating some delicious home baking!
Laid Back Learning
Importantly the classes are very laid back.
I’ll admit that when I was a first time Mum I sometimes found heading out with a newborn a bit daunting, and maybe it’s part of the reason I avoided classes. I would worry that Oscar would scream the place down, or that I’d need to abandon an activity to feed him. Looking back, I realise how silly that sounds, he was just being a baby, but it was all so new and a bit scary – as I wrote last month, I do feel like I’m a Different Mother this time round, but regardless – this is not something anyone would have to worry about in Claire’s class.
From the outset, the classes are ‘Baby Led’ and we were encouraged to read our babies cues and follow their lead throughout the classes – to stop for a break when needed, to feed if required and sometimes just to leave babies to sleep (Scout often dozed off before the end of the class – typical) – there was never any pressure to try and make the babies conform – I mean, they’re babies, i.e. unpredictable AF!
Tailored To You
One of the things I absolutely loved about the class was how Claire seemed to seamlessly adapt her teaching to suit us as a group – I was not surprised to find out after completing the course that Claire is a trained and experienced teacher!
As 3 out of 4 of us had toddlers at home, as well as a baby, Claire made a point of giving us ideas of how to incorporate massage into our daily routines with both children, including ways of adapting massage into bedtime routines and story massage as well as using it to help the bonding between siblings.
All of this was backed up by Claire’s personal anecdotes of how she uses massage with all three of her own children. It was lovely to hear how it can become a big part of your day to day life and so much more than just an hour and a half class for a few weeks.
On a slightly more practical note – the classes are super flexible! For the last session of the course I was double booked and I was able to tag along with another class on a day that suited better. We all know kids can throw multiple spanners in the works when it comes to sickness and the likes – so it’s good to know you’ll always be able to pick up any class you’ve had to miss.
Now, of course, along with all these ‘extras’ you’re learning brilliant tried and tested Baby Massage techniques! I won’t go into too much detail (you need to join the class and find out for yourself), but over the five week course you learn a new body part each week, culminating in full body massage. The massage strokes covered have been developed from ancient traditions in massage, influenced by reflexology and yoga, and supported by modern scientific research.
Plus, the benefits are huge, and some of them surprised me –
relieves pain from teething, ear ache, grow pains and muscular tension.
helps ease excess mucus
can help babies who are hypersensitive or hyperactive
can help soften skin and improve skin conditions like eczema
improves immune system
helps develop coordination and balance
many advantages in terms of cognitive development such as language development
stimulates connections between nerve cells
promotes body and mind awareness
promotes growth and weight gain
promotes muscular development and increases flexibility
reduction in stress hormone production
promotes secure attachment
helps develop love, empathy, tolerance and respect
And that’s just some of the benefits for baby! I also learned that parents who practice baby massage will find their own stress levels reduce and they can feel relaxed. Apparently parents sleep quality can improve too!
Importantly, baby massage helps to develop a greater understanding of your baby and thus we learn to better read our baby’s unique cues. Parent’s can feel more confident and see their self esteem improve, Claire has even told me that this is something that she’s seen develop in front of her eyes as a five week course progresses!
Honestly, I’d recommend this class to every new mum. Since completing Claire’s Baby Massage course, I’ve continued to use the techniques I’ve learned at home on both Scout and with Oscar – so that says it all really! It’s so much more than a way to pass some time & get out the house with your baby. You’re learning a new skill but also a way of communication and bonding with your new baby, not to mention some serious quality time! I’m even considering joining one of the follow on classes available as I’d love to learn even more. Oh, and Claire also runs one-off classes for Dad’s to learn an overview of the course!
If you’re interested in joining Claire for a class, she has a new block starting soon with classes on –
Thursdays – 12.45-2.15 @ Turtle Dove Cafe in Edinburgh (starting 19th April)
Wednesdays – 10-11.30 @ Glencorse Centre (starting 2nd May)
Also, starting 2nd May are new follow-on classes for babies who’ve already attended baby massage classes (10.40-11.40 @ Glencorse Centre) and last but not least another Dad’s class will be scheduled in June around Father’s Day!
There’s loads more info on Claire’s website and I’d urge you to get in touch with her if you require any further info!
“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”
— Aaron Siskind
It can’t just be me that thinks photographs are so special. I’ve always loved them. In fact, when I was about 11, I won a regional photography competition with a picture I took of our family cat, Fifi, sitting on a bean bag – yeah, I know, just call me Annie Leibovitz…
Then, when I had kids, it all of a sudden seemed even more important to take a billion pictures. Pictures of their little hands and feet, baby eyelashes and little sleeping pouts – knowing how much they change and how quickly you forget all those little details. I still have pictures of Oscar as a little baby that we look back at and say “do you remember him looking like that?!” – And we’re genuinely surprised at how much we have forgotten, probably in a haze of sleepless nights, work, toddler tantrums and, well, just life… So I cherish every photo. And I try to print as many as possible.
I’m also lucky that Robin loves a bit of technology and “learning a new skill” (I don’t call him a serial hobby-ist for nothing) so when I got a new camera he watched about a thousand hours of YouTube tutorials (you think I’m joking…) and can now take a very decent picture, he sometimes even talks me through his ‘vision’ for a snap! He’s taken wonderful pictures of Oscar and I, and recently, some great ones of Scout too. However, what we don’t have is pictures of us all together, our family of four.
To remedy this and fill the void in our collection, I contacted the wonderful Gillian of Gillian Morton Photography having followed her on IG for a while I knew I loved her style of shots. So, on Monday before the snow hit (and man, it hit hard) we ventured out to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in -1 temperatures to meet Gillian. Continue reading →