THEEDINBURGHMUM X THEFRINGE2019

THEEDINBURGHMUM X THEFRINGE2019

THEEDINBURGHMUM X THEFRINGE2019

Fringe Festival 2019

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!

The Bigs

ADAM KAY: THIS IS GOING TO HURT (SECRET DIARIES OF A JUNIOR DOCTOR) @ edinburgh playhouse

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!

Akala – In Conversation – Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire @ Gilded Balloon

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!

Cat Hepburn – #GIRLHOOD @ Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

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?

I’ll report back with a review soon!

Desiree Burch: Desiree’s Coming Early! @ the big cave

This is another show that  have tickets for and I’m really excited after seeing Desiree’s stand up special on Netflix! I’ll report back with a review!

Lou Sanders: Say Hello to Your New Step-Mummy @ monkey barrel

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!

Scummy Mummies @ assembly george square

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…

THEEDINBURGHMUM X THEFRINGE2019

The Smalls

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!

THEEDINBURGHMUM X THEFRINGE2019

TOP TIPS

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!

Fringe Bargains

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.

 

 

 

Scallops for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Scout's Room Makeover

Scout's Room Makeover

Me Again!

Hi, Hello! Been a while since I wrote anything, not really been feelin’ it, but that’s a story for another day. Anyway, lots of people (really, I’m not just saying this) have been asking me about Scout’s room as we finally got round to giving it a lick of paint… only took me 11 months since we moved in… whoops.

As you may have seen, I created a scalloped half wall round her room and I ended up with an influx of messages asking how I did it. And the truth is, it wasn’t that difficult, but I also didn’t have the foresight to document how I did it – rookie mistake. So instead, here are some photos and a little written guide as to how I went about it. I’m not that artistic, so believe me when I say – it’s doable for a novice… and really striking.

For the colour, we chose ‘Plaster V’ by Paint + Paper library and had it mixed by Decorating Centre Online (who were SO helpful!), it’s not dissimilar to Farrow & Ball ‘Sulking Room Pink’ but it also comes in lighter shades. We loved it because it’s quite neutral and not overly “girly” so it’ll grow with her and can be complemented by loads of different colours. I used this little Raduga Grez piece as loose colour inspo (on a side note, Bon Tot now stock these!)

Scout's Room Makeover

How to Scallop

So, I was considering doing scallops for a few months and thought of a few ways to do it. my initial plan was to draw a line around the whole room as a baseline for the scallops, but to be honest… I couldn’t really be bothered. What I did instead was use a piece of string.

I wanted the scallops to be high enough to be viewed over the top of Scout’s cot and chest of drawers and higher than the window sill so I played about with different heights and finally settled on the scallop baseline being 90cm from the skirting board… it was time to start –

  1. First, I marked 90cm from skirting in each corner of the room. Scout’s bedroom isn’t a rectangle and has an angled wall where the door is so I had a few extra corners to do. I then used small pins and ran a length of string round the room pinned at every corner on the 90cm mark this gave me the baseline round the entire room without having to worry about drawing it or using rules or spirit levels etc. I reckon it made it a lot easier and quicker!
  2. I used a really technical piece of equipment to draw my scallops… an IKEA pasta bowl. I played around with a few pieces of crockery before I settles on this one. Side plate was too small… dinner plate too big… pasta bowl was Goldilocks! I then used a Sharpie to mark the diametre points on the edge (I told you this was technical…)
  3. I then moved along the wall placing the marked points on the bowl edge on the string and drew round them using a pencil.
  4. I also drew round the bowl and cut it out on a piece of card to form a template that I could then bend into the corners of the room so that the scallops continue without any breaks… and well, that was it really! it was all marked out and ready to go.

Scout's Room Makeover

The next week my paint arrived and I had a whole child-free day (and night!!!) to get it painted. I bought a round furniture bruch on a bit of a whim in Wilko’s and it turned out to be the best! I cut in all the scallops free hand, and as long as you really load the brush, remove any excess and paint with confidence it’s really easy. As I said, I’m not artistic at all, and I was concerned about getting clean lines, but it was easier than anticipated. the first coat took me around 4 hours to cut in and then fill with a mini roller, not a piece of frog tape in sight! the second coat was around 2 and a half hours as it doesn’t need to be so precise on the cutting in.

The Details

I was really impressed with the finished product, even if I do say so myself! It’s a really effective way to jazz up a room and add colour. Plus, the fact that it’s a half wall means you don’t have to faff about with ladders which made a huge difference.

Here are a few more pics, and I’ve added some details of where bits and bobs are from too!

Scout's Room MakeoverCerise print: Wolfnoodle, Rainbow print: Wonder + Rah, Canopy: Amazon, Nightlight: Beaba (gifted), Light shade: Iconic Lights

Scout's Room Makeover

Hanger: Red Hand Gang, Bookshelf: IKEA, Unicorn Garland: Meri Merin(I think?), Wooden Rainbow: Raduga Grez

Scout's Room Makeover

Pram: Olli Ella, Clothes Rail: Tutti Bambini, Cot sheet: That Darling Brand, Cot: Mama’s and Papa’s, Pom Pom hanging: Love Indy

Scout's Room Makeover

Bunting: Bokuno shop, Cloud Mobile: Mama Tot (gifted)

Scout's Room Makeover Scout's Room Makeover Scout's Room Makeover

Scout's Room Makeover

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

 

Staying Home

Staying Home

Staying Home

A New Normal

It’s been over a month since I was supposed to return to work. I wrote a wee post back in December after I decided to hand my notice in during my last month of maternity leave and enter into my new role of the ‘stay at home mum’… a title that perhaps I’m still struggling with?!

Anyway, my decision to take a break from work was based on various factors from financial to logistical and of course, I was excited to be able to be home and spend more time with the kids, but it’s not been without it’s challenges. A bit of a mental juggling act of me trying to get my head round the “new norm” and find my place.

Now, let me just say first off – being at home is easier. There, I said it. Logistically it’s not the headache that getting to work and arranging childcare around a shift worker and a 9-5er was. I can arrange our days to suit us so there is a LOT more freedom which is brilliant! When I was working, even though I was only part-time (4 days), I was often stretched. Between the stresses and strains of my job while also juggling home life. I struggled when I first returned to work after having Oscar – I even wrote about it. Being home has lightened the mental load, there is no doubt about that and I feel incredibly fortunate that I was able to have that choice especially at a time when I was facing dwindling job satisfaction.

Staying Home

The Challenge

However, being at home has still had its challenges for me. Some have been par for the course, but others unexpected.

Let’s be honest – it can be boring… I mean, I’m sorry, but it is. It can be mundane and repetitive and some days feel like a cycle of meal, clean up, nap time, drawing, another meal, more clearing up, maybe another nap, then, oh look… it’s time for yet another meal and I have to clear up all over again and finally – bedtime (except, bedtime for Scout means very little as she likes to wake every hour anyway!). In that respect some days I would prefer to be at work and thinking about a project or event other than play-doh and being able to split the home ‘burden’. I sometimes worry that this sense of monotony means I am not able to as good a mum as I so desperately want to be and that maybe I don’t have enough to give. Whereas, if my time with them was more limited I’d “make more of it” but equally, I suppose I can see that really I’m the only one that can make sure I do my best.

I used to get annoyed when people suggested work was a “break” and I standby that because to me a break is doing something I want to do, whether it’s going for lunch with pals or shopping etc, whereas work was work and taxing in its own right. However, now I concede that I can maybe understand what people were implying as there are aspects I miss such as eating in peace and the social aspect. Work also provides a space that you are you and the work you undertake has a defined value and of course… you get paid.

This idea of “value” is one that I think I may struggle with at home for some time. At the moment I don’t quite feel that I’ve settled into a role with no monetary value attached and it feels somewhat alien, especially as I have worked pretty much constantly since the age of around 13. What is the value of what I am doing at home? Is it valued and respected? Does it have a positive impact? These are all somewhat unanswered questions at the moment. But I am sure time will be the key to unlocking the answers.

Staying Home

Stay At Home Feminist?

I was proud to be a working mum and I think after a period of adjustment, I was doing ok at it. I enjoyed having that aspect of my life away from “mum-life” and was proud of my dual-roles. Keeping my head above water most of the time. I was (and am still) resolute in the belief that creating a balance was good for us all as a family.

And so now when people ask me how I’m finding it “being home” I struggle to find an answer. I feel embarrassed.

When I published my blog post about handing in my notice this was something that came up over and over again. I had an influx of messages from people saying that they were thinking of doing the same and some saying that they were finding it hard to tell people, worried about what they might think! They felt maybe a wee hint of uneasiness or that they were being judged for taking the step and I can totally relate to it.

To me, it feels a little anti-feminist.

Now, it’s not. I have never thought this about any other Mother (or Father) that’s decided to take a break and stay home to raise their children, so why do I think this about myself? But I can’t help but feel that niggle. Will people think badly of me, are they judging me, do they think I’m lazy, but ya know what? That’s my issue really, isn’t it?! We’re always just hardest on ourselves.

Ultimately, individuals make a decision that’s right for them and their family based on their circumstances and that should be applauded. I can’t say I’m particularly bothered about what people think of me in other aspects of life – so why should this be any different?

I really want to just embrace it. I am confident that I have made the right decision and despite the challenges, it’s wonderful to be at home and have the freedom to do whatever we fancy – I’m especially excited about the summer coming and also that we can cram in loads of activities before Oscar starts school next year. I think the more I settle into this “new role” the more comfortable I’ll be in it and I wholeheartedly admire anyone that is 100% confident from the get go, I’m sure I’ll get there, it’ll just take time.

Whatever we decide as mothers, we should just own it. Whether that’s working full time, part-time, working nights, working weekends, deciding to stay home, or wanting to get back to work or study- just do you. But I suppose I wanted to write this for those people out there that might feel those little niggles of doubt that I have. You’re not alone, but I think we’ll be ok. 👌🏽

Lou x

Scout – Wild One

Scout Turns One - Diana Baker Photography

Scout: One Week NewThe Quickest Year

Last week, our little Scooty [Scout] turned one. I’m still in disbelief because 2018 may very have been the quickest year of my life… I mean, I thought Oscar’s first year flew in, but this second baby malarkey is next level, is it not?!

It’s been the most magical year. She’s been so laid back and fitted into our family perfectly. I can’t help but feel sad that she is growing up as she is the last baby, but it’s also amazing to see the little person that she’s growing into. I wrote a post when she was just new about how I felt that I am a “different mother” this time round, and I still stand by that. Our second baby has brought us the amazing chilled newborn-ness but without the inevitable worry that comes with the first. Able to soak up all those little magical moments without the overwhelming shock that your life has just been turned upside down and forever changed. It’s just easier, and for me, more natural.

Scout Turns One - Diana Baker Photography
Photography: Diana Baker

Our Unicorn Baby

Although, as Scout has got older, I’ve realised that I’m a different mother in other ways too. Basically, my cup of care is dwindling. I’ve not had the time or even inclination to create routines or analyse “leaps”.

For the first 4 months of her life, she slept like a baby unicorn. She slept like I didn’t know it was possible for a newborn to sleep. Of course, it’s all gone to complete sh*t now, however, a good friend of mine made a very valid point – those first few days, weeks and months are the toughest to adjust and settling into life as a family of four, so being well rested is invaluable. And that’s true. I just wish it had lasted longer… but, it’s not forever, yada yada, one day we’ll be dragging them out their beds, yada yada, eyeroll.

Baby two has broken all the “rules” and she gets cut slack that we never would have with Oscar. I am ashamed to say I spend many an hour actually in her cot feeding her to sleep most [ok, every] night before stealthily ninja-ing my boob away and climbing out. Anything for an easy life.

There were also nights in summer when I was trying to create a bedtime routine, but failed miserably to be honest, because if she didn’t settle I’d just give up after 3 seconds and bring her back through to the living room to watch Love Island with me… because, well , I didn’t wanna miss Love Island, did I? This is stark in contrast to the bedtime drill Oscar had. In his (nearly) three and a half years on this planet, he has not once left his bedroom after “bedtime” – poor lad!

I think I’ve realised that with your first baby the next milestone is new and exciting and you can’t wait for it, second time round, I’ve been happy to just enjoy her and long to keep her small, however unrealistic that is.

Scout Turns One - Diana Baker Photography
Photography: Diana Baker

Happy Birthday, Miss Scout Zelda Rose –

375 days new with 8 teeth that sometimes still get clamped around my nipple at 3am.

Who knows what you weigh because we never take you to the Health Visitor drop in clinic. Sorry.

You’ve been to London and Disneyland Paris & your first wedding but slept through the majority of it. That’s ok, there’ll be plenty more adventure. 

You started walking at 11 months, so that’s something to hold over your brother, he didn’t bother till he was 14 months. It’s come with it’s fair amount of bumps and bruises, but you’re getting there. 

You love clementines, swimming, snuggles, kisses and music.

You can say “Dada” and “Hiya” and I honestly thought you said “Teddy” the other day but I probably imagined it.

You’re feisty but gentle, strong willed but cautious. Your laugh is infectious. You’d play peekaboo all day if you could – preferably with Oscar. You love him. 

We also think you look a little like Pikachu the Pokemon.

Most of all, we love you beyond measure.

Scout Turns One - Diana Baker Photography
Photography: Diana Baker

All in all, 2018 was amazing, but also really hard and stressful at points and we were saying the other day, that Scout has been the easiest bit of it. Of course there have been the cranky 3am breakdowns but it’s all been far outweighed by her little toothy, scrunched up nose grin.

She makes us laugh all day and our hearts burst over and over at the wee bond that’s forming between her and her brother. I mean, it wasn’t love at first sight, for Oscar at least, it’s been a grower, but they’re getting there and it’s wonderful.

What a year. Can’t wait for the next, I hope it slows down, but have a feeling it won’t.

Scout Turns One - Diana Baker Photography
Photography: Diana Baker

 

That Disney Magic…

Disneyland Paris

Our First Disney Experience: Halloween 2018

This year we weren’t sure if we’d manage to squeeze in a family holiday as we knew we’d be moving at some point. So on a bit of a whim, back in May, we decided we’d take the kids to Disneyland Paris.

I’ve never been to any Disney, Robin’s been to Florida as a kid and loved it, so we thought Paris would be good introduction for the kids with them being so young. The whole booking experience is daunting and incredibly confusing! There are so many meal, hotel and travel options so we decided to book directly through Disney.

We booked 3 nights/4 days, flying to CDG and staying in The Santa Fe hotel which is in the Disney park so that we could benefit from the ‘Magic Hours’ before the park opens to the public. We selected the Half Board Premium meal plan as it included a Meet the Characters meal and a night at the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show… Turned out, all of this didn’t come cheap. It was significantly more than we had expected to pay, but we were in too deep, and it was worth it – Oscar would love it, right?!

Luckily for us, we’d decided to add a little bit extra stress right before our Disney trip by attending a wedding down South with Scout in tow, while Oscar stayed home with his Grandparents. We flew down to Hampshire on the Friday (oh, and we got engaged at 4am as we were getting ready to go to the airport!), attended the wedding on the Saturday (and had such a good day – was so lovely to have some time away!) then on Sunday, we flew back to Edinburgh, arriving home at midnight… and quickly discovered our flight to Paris the next day was in fact at 6am – two hours earlier than we had previous thought. Organised as ever…

Flying to Disneyland Paris

Jetting Off

A few short hours later we were up and off! Arriving at the airport at 4:30am, without an added engagement, but with a disoriented and excited Oscar. We quickly discovered Robin had left his bag with the travel documents on the kitchen table! Again, organised! A mere 35 minutes later I returned to the airport with the rucksack and we ran through security (why do I always bleep?! I’m thinking it’s my specs??) and straight to the gate in time for boarding starting. This was Robin, Scout and I’s third flight in 4 days, so to be honest, we were kinda over it… but Oscar was psyched!

Upon landing we trekked through Charles De Galle airport, boarded some kind of genuine, bona fide monorail and managed to find our Magic Shuttle (just a bus) that would take us to our hotel. This was all a bit chaotic. People shoving kids out the way to get on. Probably the same kind of people that fight to get on a train as folk are still alighting – WHY?! The transfer to Disney is about 40 minutes or a little more depending on what hotel you’re staying in. We arrived at The Santa Fe and waited in the queue to check in… the first of many – queues are a bit of a theme at Disney.

Our first impression was that this hotel was a bit dated, and a bit tired. But, we weren’t planning on spending that much time in it, so it would be fine. We decided to drop our bags in our room (it was 11am-ish and the room was ready to go – that was a positive) and head to the park. The weather caught us a bit off guard. It was bitterly cold, just a few degrees, which was a shame as just the week before it had been unseasonably warm with highs of 20 degrees! We jumped into a shop on Disney ‘Main Street’ and grabbed Oscar a hat but I think it was safe to say, his 3:30am start was catching up with him, but we were determined to have fun. The kind of magic fun that Disney promises.

Unfortunately… it was downhill from here. What we thought was just tiredness seemed to be a bit more and Oscar was actually quite poorly… and probably wasn’t really in the mood to be trailed round in freezing temperatures. It was at this point, I asked him how he felt and he said “mummy, I feel sad. I want to go to Disneyland” – fairly tragic considering we’d been there about 4 hours at that point… I can laugh now, but at the time this was a metaphorical punch in the gut. 

Disneyland Paris

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly 

Anyway, I’ve put together some info, pointers, good points and bad points – before I left and while we were away I had a lot of people get in touch to ask about it as they were thinking of going. I read a lot before we went (yes, we even joined the ‘Disneyland Paris for Brits’ group on Facebook…), and to be honest, everyone made it out to be amazing, and I hate to sound negative, because that’s not really our bag, but elements of the trip were disappointing and I’d rather be honest. Doubt I’ll be getting sponsored by Disney any time soon anyway… 

Mickey Meal Madness with some Buffalo Bill chucked in… 

Let’s start with a positive – despite coming to the realisation on the first day that Oscar was feeling absolutely lousy with a raging temperature we had booked to go to Buffalo Bills Wild West Show and decided to give it a shot (ya know, still determined to power through and enjoy ourselves despite snipping at each other through gritted teeth…) and actually, Oscar enjoyed it! We had tickets as part of our Premium Meal Plan otherwise I believe it’s around £160… which is a lot! Was it worth it? As adults, maybe not (see face below)… but like I say, Oscar did enjoy it, so in that respect it was. The food was mediocre – TGI’s style mixed grill, but I wasn’t expecting much better so wasn’t disappointed. You can book this before you go, you can do that up to 60 days before I think and can email them directly, we did it the week before and managed to get a table but probably wouldn’t advise being so last minute.  

Disneyland Paris

Our meal plan also included a character meal, we wanted to do this at Inventions, which is classed as one of the best restaurants in the park, located in the actual Disney Hotel, but, well, it was fully booked so that went out the window. Instead, we booked the breakfast at Plaza Gardens just off Main Street. Despite refusing to eat anything (a theme of the trip) Oscar seemed to really enjoy this, so I’d say it’s worth it. It could have been organised a lot better, with characters being more interspersed instead of them moving round the restaurant in groups meaning you had to wait ages to meet them then when you did it was all of them and a bit rushed, but a three year old obviously doesn’t care about that and he was really psyched to meet Mickey and it was mega cute. We even took some pictures so that in years to come we could show Oscar them and lie to him about the whole trip by insisting he had the best time ever

Disneyland Paris

On the topic of food, because we had a premium plan, we were able to book the “best” restaurants in the park without having to pay a surcharge and we did this a week before and although we managed to get tickets to the BBWWS we did struggle to get a table at a few other restaurants. In hindsight, maybe this was a good thing. Oscar is 3, and terribly fussy. I suppose I assumed that all the eateries would be child focused with quite “child friendly” food and this wasn’t the case – which was my bad. Coupled with the fact that Oscar felt lousy, and just wanted to sleep, it wasn’t the best restaurant experience. So we ended up cancelling a few of our reservations and just chancing our arm at a few of the buffet restaurants which were fine.  

There are also a fair few places out-with the main Disney and Studios park within the Disney Village including sandwich shops, coffee shops, Five Guys and a trusty McDonalds. After a 20€ Uber trip to a pharmacy for paracetamol in the morning (yup, I went away without packing Calpol…) it was the Golden Arches that supplied us with one of the peaks of the trip when Oscar saw it on day two and ate for the first time since arriving – even managing to crack a smile at the Mr Potato Head happy meal toy! We found the snack food pretty reasonable. We were expecting it to be extortionate. Same goes for the toy shops on site … of which there are many… they weren’t that bad. We took Oscar to one after his McDonald’s to try and capitalise on his rallying mood and treat him to a wee toy – we came away with a set of Toy Story characters for 19€ which didn’t seem more than you’d pay on Amazon. Had we been feeling jollier about our Disney experience we’d maybe have stretched to Mickey ears, but the furthest we went was matching Disney ponchos to keep us dry. 

Disneyland Paris

Disney-ing with a Baby

On a bit of a side note – if you’re doing Disney with a baby I have a few wee tips. Overall, we found changing facilities very poor. At the Wild West Show, Robin took Scout to the toilet to change her and there were no facilities – not in the mens toilets or in the male/female disabled toilets and he ended up changing her on a dirty and cold tile floor as we didn’t have a mat. Now, later on I went to the ladies toilets and there was a changing area, but come on, its 2018… men change nappies, ya know? I don’t think its acceptable to have to change a 9 month old on a dirty floor, and especially not in a place made for children! However in the main park, next to Plaza Gardens restaurant, there’s a Baby Care Centre where there’s a big open plan changing area (that men can use as well) with toilets too and also a big feeding room with chairs and highchairs and microwaves and stuff. This was handy since it was a bit cold to whip a boob out from my 64 layers outside. Luckily, Scout doesn’t really need fed that much during the day now or else this would have been a bit of a ball ache going back and forward. However, I think the restaurants do have microwaves too if you need them for baby food or milk or whatever.  

Disneyland Paris

Day three: we finally make it on some rides…

Day three, Halloween, was actually the most Disney (*jazz hands*) day, Oscar woke feeling a bit better (and hadn’t been sick in the night – YAY). On this day we managed to get to the parks for Magic Hours. You can use these if you’re staying in one of the Disney hotels and means that you get exclusive access to the parks between 8-10am before the general public get in. This was good for getting on some of the rides with bigger (read: absolutely mental) queues. We used them to get on the new Peter Pan ride and then Pirates Of The Caribbean.

On the topic of rides, most of the bigger rides have a minimum height of 103cm which Oscar just missed out on unfortunately. But there was still a fair amount he could enjoy, especially over in the Fantasy Land area of the park (back right). Most of these rides we were able to get on with Scout in the carrier as well which was good, but probably an indicator that they’re not exactly thrilling. Oscar really enjoyed It’s a Small World, Pirates of The Caribbean, Peter Pan’s Flight, Ratatouille: The Adventure and Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast. For a few rides, including Ratatouille, we used our Fast Passes – this is available to you if you’re staying in a Disney hotel, but isn’t really explained very well when you check in. Not all rides have it, but most of the bigger ones do – just look for the Fast Pass hut near the queue entrance and put your card (the card that you use for your park entry, room key and for dinner reservations) into the fast pass machine, and it’ll give you a printed ticket with a time. Then all you have to do is come back within that time frame and enter the Fast Pass queue and you skip the main queue. This is handy, but we probably didn’t make best use of them – mainly because we spent less than half our time in the actual park due to a sickly toddler!

There were also a few ‘big thrill’ rides that Oscar couldn’t get on that we wanted to do, and for these we used single rider queues as we were passing. Robin went on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril, Big Thunder Mountain, Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror… I went on Space Mountain – can you tell I’d lost all ‘Disney Magic’ by this point…?! 

Disneyland Paris

Que the Queues

Now, of course, when you go to a theme park you expect to wait in queues – it’s par for the course really, I’ve queued for hours at Alton Towers, I get it… but it did put us off bothering with some of the rides partly because they didn’t seem worth it and because Oscar’s tummy was sore. What was more annoying though was the queues at every other bit of the park, whether it be a 25 minute queue to get a picture with Goofy (I mean, does anyone even care about Goofy?) or the 40 minute queue to buy a crepe when I was literally the 4th customer in the line… crazy.

We didn’t wait 25 minutes to meet Goofy… I’m not mental, however, I did think that Woody might be able to bring a smile to Oscar’s face and I knew a way to make it happen… I had it on good authority from the Instagram community that at 2pm on the dot, you can go onto an app on your phone called Lineberty and book a slot to meet Toy Story Characters. So at 1.55, we were sitting eating lunch in Cafe Agrabah and I had my phone out, poised to refresh every 3 seconds as if I was trying to secure Glastonbury tickets… although, you could argue, the stakes were much higher. As it turned 2pm I was placed in the queue and secured my e-ticket – I was number 28 with an estimated wait time of over an hour, giving us time to finish lunch and head over to Walt’s Studios park. As we left the restaurant half an hour later I looked at my phone with horror to discover that the queue time had skipped to 8 minutes… we sprinted through the park, out through the gates, zig zagging through the halloween crowds to get to Studios on time only to get in and realise we had no clue where Woody was hiding. In some sort of Disney induced frenzy, we managed to find someone to point us in the direction and there he was – a 7ft slightly odd looking Woody. We entered the queue, Oscar seemingly unaware f the drama had fallen asleep in the buggy (bearing in mind Oscar hasn’t even looked in the direction of a buggy in nearly 2 years, this was an indicator of his current flu-ridden state).

Despite all the disappointment that had come before, I was still full of hope that this would be the turning point and we would have a #makingmemories moment… wrong. We woke Oscar up and epic meltdown ensued. No, he didn’t like Woody, no he didn’t want to meet him, he certainly didn’t want a picture with him (lucky we hadn’t purchased that 70€ photo pass…) … in actual fact, he wanted nothing to do with him, and could not have cared less that we nearly gave ourselves heart attacks sprinting to get there in time. Now, I’m not proud of myself… but this was where I broke. I had a full Disney induced meltdown to rival my three year old’s and I ugly cried. I Kim Kardashian ugly cried in what is supposed to be the most magical place on earth.  In hindsight this was obviously a pretty massive over reaction. I mean, when I’m ill I can barely muster the energy to change the channel on the telly, and yet, here we were expecting a little three year old, flu-ridden Oscar to have forced fun. But Disney had broken me. At this point, if I could have just gone home… I probably would have. 

Disneyland Paris

The Santa ‘Stay Away’ Fe This Hotel

One of the biggest downfalls was our hotel, as I mentioned, we booked The Santa Fe, which admittedly is the cheapest hotel in the park, but ‘cheapest’ is very relative when talking about Disney, and in all the holiday was expensive so I’d have expected better. I’d have expected a better standard for the Disney brand. The hotel was tired, dated and actually downright dirty in places… for example, mould on the window frame which is unacceptable regardless of price point. Admittedly, we didn’t expect to spend as much time as we did in the hotel, we booked it as just somewhere to sleep as we thought we’d be out at the parks from 8-8 every day but we hadn’t banked on a sick toddler. If anyone is thinking of visiting, this would be my one top tip – book any other hotel! Don’t make the same mistake we did!

On our last night, Halloween, we did decide to hang about in the evening for the illuminations and they were fab, Oscar had fallen asleep so we secured a good spot, it was nice and dry and we woke him up just for them starting. They didn’t last too long, just long enough to keep his attention and ‘wow’ him. Just the other night Oscar randomly started talking about the fireworks he saw at the pink castle which was really sweet because there were wee glimmers during the holiday that he was enjoying himself. 

Disneyland Paris

Woody’s My Round-Up

I hate hate hate that this all might sound a bit negative or ungrateful because we’re not generally like that, we try to make the best of situations and with Disney we tried, believe me, we tried in an attempt to justify our significantly lighter bank balance, but I think we’ve walked away with the realisation that we’re maybe not ‘Disney people’. What I would say though is that for all the disappointment we felt as adults , if Oscar had had a ball, ultimately, none of that would have mattered. And if he’d not been unwell, I’m sure he would have had a lot more fun, and as a result, we would have too. It was just so unfortunate that he was ill and completely out of our control. If we’d been at home it would have been a good 3-4 duvet days. So if you’re thinking of booking a trio to Disneyland Paris, my intention is not to try and put you off, it’s merely to point out some things that could be done better or to prepare for, ya know?

Plenty of people go and love it. On a different week that could have been us. Would we go back to Disneyland Paris – probably not. We would probably still consider Florida when both kids are a bit older as we’re assured that its a whole different ball game. Robin made a good point when we were away saying we could probably have stayed at Alton Towers for a few days for a quarter of the price and had a better time and he was right, although admittedly that’s not really what I wanted to hear at the time – too soon Robin, too soon!!

I’d love to hear about your experiences – have you been and felt the full force of the Disney Magic, or did it leave you feeling a bit empty and dead inside (jokes, kind of…)? Are there other places you’d rate more highly?

Disneyland Paris

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

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

A Note To My Friends…

When I became a Mum, I changed and sometimes it takes me by surprise how much. Of course, for the most part the changes I see in myself are positive, and I embrace them and am immensely proud of them.

However, there have been times that I have felt like I may have lost a little bit of me, just a wee bit of Louise. And I worry – do other people see that? Do they think it too? Will I get to reclaim it as the children grow? By no means do I think I’m alone in this – I think, I hope, it’s pretty common. With such a massive change in your life, it’s bound to turn things upside down, especially when that change is as all-consuming as a child (or two).

But my friends have been there through this change and they’ve helped a mama out… massively. They may not even realise how much. So I want to say thank you –

Thank you for remembering me and still inviting me, despite me often not being able to come along it still means a lot to know that I still exist. Even more so, thank you for inviting us all and understanding that sometimes we have to come as a package.

Thank you for not holding it against me when I ask a question and get too distracted to listen to the answer. There are times I come away from seeing you and realise I’ve barely been able to actually chat due to occupying a toddler that is hell bent on touching anything that might be breakable. I know how frustrating this must be – but I promise – I care about the answer.

Thank you for wanting to spend time with us. Not just me. For holding Oscar’s hand, for sitting down to play Duplo or paint a pirate ship with him, or for holding Scout while I eat my lunch. For just sharing the load and offering a hand – it means the world.

Thank you for not rolling your eyes when Oscar reaches ‘peak toddler’ – before I had him, I had no idea how intense this phase could be. So thank you for not allowing me to apologise for him and reassuring me that it is in actual fact completely fine. He is loved.

And most of all, thank you for still asking how I am. Whenever I feel like I’ve lost a little bit of me you are all there to remind me by talking about something other than nappies and nursery forms.

Right now I repay you by forgetting to post your birthday cards, but I hope you all know that I’ll be there to hold your babies, puppies, goldfish, whatever, so that you can drink your tea while it is still hot – it’s the least I can do, because you’ve saved my sanity a hundred times over.

Thank you.

What would you say to your friends? What little things have they done to help you along the way?

Lou x