Tying the Knot – Our Way

Scottish wedding

Intimate Edinburgh Elopement Wedding

Surprise!

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!

Intimate Edinburgh Elopement Wedding

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!

Intimate Edinburgh Elopement Wedding

Venue

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.

Intimate Edinburgh Elopement Wedding

Wedding Day

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.

Intimate Edinburgh Elopement Wedding

Our Advice

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)

Dress Dilemmas

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!

Intimate Edinburgh Elopement Wedding

People!

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!

Intimate Edinburgh Elopement Wedding

 

TheEdinburghMum X TheFringe2018

Fringe Festival 2018

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 –

Fringe for Bairns @ The Three Sisters, Cowgate

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.

MamaBabaMe by Starcatchers and Curious Seed @ EICC Pleasance

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.

Tickets can be purchased HERE

The Amazing Bubble Man @ Underbelly, George Sq.

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!

Tickets can be found HERE

AnimAlphabet: The Musical @ Pleasance Dome

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!

Tickets can be found HERE

For The Bigs

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?

Tickets HERE

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.

I’ve just the moment realised Adam Kay is the author of the book ‘This is Going to Hurt : Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor’ that I’ve seen so many people talking about on social media – I’ve just ordered it! 

Show tickets are HERE

Baby Daddy @ Assembly Rooms

“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…)

Tickets are HERE, please leave a few for me.

Trainspotting Live @ Venue 150 EICC

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?

Top Tips

Did you know a lot of shows have a babes in arms policy’? Nope, me neither!

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!

And lastly, embrace the Festival and have a ball!

Lou x

3 Reasons to Join Turtle Tots [AD]

Turtle Tots

Turtle Tots

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.

2. Fun!

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

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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

M&S Café @ Fort Kinnaird [AD]

Café Revive

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!

Favourite Finds

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.

AD

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.

Maid Of The Forth

Maid Of The Forth - Edinburgh

Maid Of The Forth - Edinburgh

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!

Maid Of The Forth - Edinburgh

The Crossing

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!)

Maid Of The Forth - Edinburgh

Maid of the Forth - Edinburgh

The Island

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!

Maid Of The Forth - Edinburgh

Maid of the Forth - Edinburgh

Toddler Friendly

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!

Maid Of The Forth - Edinburgh

Baby Massage with Claire Houston [ad]

Claire Houston Baby & Child Massage

[Please Note: I was offered a place in the class free of charge in return for a review. BUT ALL VIEWS ARE MY OWN!]

Baby Massage - Edinburgh

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!

Baby Massage - Edinburgh

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.

IAIM Course

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.
  • relieves tension
  • helps ease excess mucus
  • can help babies who are hypersensitive or hyperactive
  • can help soften skin and improve skin conditions like eczema
  • boosts circulation
  • 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
  • reduces crying
  • 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!

Baby Massage - Edinburgh

Upcoming Classes

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)

Fridays – 10.30-12.00 @ Penicuik Library (starting 20th 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!

Capturing Us

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

“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

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

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

Adventure List: Part II

“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”

-A.A. Milne 

House of the Binns

My first proper blog post back in January 2017 was an Adventure List of places in and around Edinburgh that we wanted to visit with Oscar over the coming year, and we managed to get through a lot of them. But all too often we can feel a bit uninspired and end up visiting the same places – mainly Portobello Beach, Vogrie & Dalkeith Country Park. Not to mention the recent weather – mainly the snow – has stopped us getting out and about as much as normal as the conditions don’t lend themselves well to a brand new baby and a c-section recovery…! Continue reading

Fringe Fun 2017

#Fringe17

So, if you’re anywhere near Edinburgh right now you’ll be more than aware that the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is kicking off for its 70th year and it’s gonna be a good one. Ya know, it is only the best Festival in the world + it’s on our doorstep. I’m excited.

I have so many good memories of past Fringe Madness from before I even lived in Edinburgh, right up to the last few years when we’ve been in the thick of it. In 2015 we hit the Fringe for one last day of freedom the night before we went into hospital to have Oscar, before celebrating his birthday last year by taking him to his first show and we plan to do it all again this year.

I’ve put together a wee list of things that (hopefully, maybe) will be worth seeing and I’d love to hear your suggestions too! Continue reading

2017 Adventure List

Days off with my Little
Just some of our 2017 adventures so far – Ravelston Woods, Vogrie, Portobello + The Botanics

There are so many brilliant things to do in and around Edinburgh, but so many that we’ve not yet got round to doing – we’re still relatively new to the city!

I was so lucky during maternity leave to have Robin around so much, his shift pattern means he gets a fair amount of quality time at home during the week. Now, I know maternity leave isn’t one long holiday, but I’ll be honest when I say that now I’m back at work I do miss the freedom to be able to go out and do things during the week as opposed to weekends when Robin isn’t always home.

Vogrie Park on Maternity Leave

So my mission for 2017 is to make the most of our days off as a family and check off all the places on my ever growing list. Many we’ve been to before, some we’ll be visiting for the first time.

Here’s what I’ve got so far –  Continue reading