Far Too Brief

For 10 years and 7 days I have been a mother. For all of that time I have been a stay-at-home mum and have watched both of my boys grow. When I was pregnant people told me to cherish them while they're young. They warned me that the time would fly by and before I knew it they'd be grown. They were right.

BP's once-favourite toy

Last Friday we celebrated Big Prince's 10th birthday and I'm stunned by how quick that 10 years went. It seems only yesterday I was laid in a hospital bed, in agony, wishing he would hurry up and arrive. When he finally did my body was flooded with love as I looked into his gorgeous blue eyes. The following few weeks were hard, I was learning and I struggled with being a mum. I'd never done it before.

Once we'd settled into a good routine I became more relaxed and enjoyed being BP's mum. I often paraded him around the local park with a giant smile on my face. I didn't pay attention at the time but the months flew by and I remember having to buy new clothes every few weeks. I recall dressing him in his first Tigger outfit when he was a few months old but he only wore it a couple of times before it was too small.

The milestones came fast; swapping from the moses basket to the cot, potty training, school. Before I knew it my little prince had become Big Prince. I have so many old photos of BP where he's smiling or playing with his soft toys and I wonder... where did that time go?

I blinked and my first born boy turned into a tween. He stomps about the house being grumpy, he doesn't like being told to do work (homework or chores) and he answers back, all the time. I know this time will pass (although it may be a while) and hopefully he'll come out the other side. I'm just clinging to the memories of my beautiful baby boy - a time that was far too brief.


MemSaab Restaurant, Nottingham

Every birthday in our house is celebrated with a meal out for the family. The birthday boy/girl gets to choose the location of the meal be it a restaurant, a fast-food outlet or at home. As it was Big Prince's birthday on Friday he chose MemSaab in Nottingham.

Free Dessert MemSaab, Nottingham
BP* and his dessert

MemSaab is a fine dining Indian restaurant serving traditional spiced curries through to modern Indian cooking. It is located on Maid Marion Way in Nottingham and has three multi-storey car parks nearby. The Princes are a curry-loving family and this was a perfect choice because it's been a while since we had curry.

On Friday evening, after the hubby had finished work, we climbed into the car and headed out. We were looking forward to having a great curry; we've been to MemSaab before. We arrived early, but they had no problem with that and took us to our table straight away. BP had decided to wear a badge saying 'Birthday Boy' and was pleased when everyone started wishing him a happy birthday.

Eager to order our curry we scanned the menus, we usually order one each and share with the boys but there's now a new smaller menu available. The Early Evening Menu, costing £13.50 per person, offers a choice of starters and main courses served together on a platter. The curry comes with poppadoms and chutney, rice and dhal. This menu is available up to 6:30pm Sunday - Friday for a maximum of 6 diners. The waiter explained that the smaller portion was all served together on one platter. We decided this was the best option for us.

The poppadoms came first (not with the main platter) and we enjoyed them along with the chutney. There was three chutneys; one has mint and apple, there's a mango one and the third has onion. The onion one was my favourite but I don't know what else was in it. BP and LP finished their poppadoms in no time and wanted more.

The platter arrived next; starter in the middle. Three bowls with rice, the chosen curry and dhal. A basket containing a naan sat next to the starter. It looked appetising and the boys wasted no time in getting started. The curry tasted fantastic (I had a tikka masala) and the portion size was just right. Eating the curry proved to be more awkward than I'd like because the bowls were square. Not having a large plate to empty the curry onto made mixing the curry and rice together difficult. I couldn't fault the food though, it was one of the best curries I've had and I would definitely return.

After finishing eating we spent time relaxing and waited for them to take the platters away. The hubby, BP and I finished our curry, LP didn't - he prefers to just eat the rice. He did eat the majority of his rice and even ate a piece of chicken but he didn't finish it. LP told us he enjoyed the poppadoms and rice.

free ice-cream MemSaab Nottingham
LP* and his ice-cream

The best bit of the evening was yet to come. Just as we were readying ourselves to leave a waiter brought over a large dessert and placed it in front of BP. The waiter then lit a large sparkler, it sparkled for ages and BP grinned the whole time. We couldn't believe how nice they'd been (it was a complete surprise) and then they brought out a dish of ice-cream for LP!

Both of the boys loved MemSaab (probably due to the free dessert) and it may be a birthday choice in the future. We used to go to TGI Fridays for birthday meals; they'd sing to the birthday boy and bring a free dessert but they don't do that now. MemSaab have put them to shame and we're impressed/amazed at how nice they were. It is a family-friendly restaurant with fantastic food and if you haven't eaten there yet, you should.

What are your favourite Indian restaurants?

*I've blurred out my boys faces because I'd prefer them to be kept anonymous.

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Stay-At-Home vs Working - How do you do it?

There's only so much of this I can take. The boys are bickering constantly. Punching, pinching, fighting; I’m losing hair. I have done my best to occupy them so far, we’ve been to The Heights of Abraham, Blackpool, swimming (daily) and soft play centres. Big Prince has been to the local High School for a Nerf battle and Little Prince had friends around to play. Not one single day has gone by when we didn’t do something.

The lake at Markeaton Park, Derby
The tranquility of the water, the bright and quiet sky... dreaming comes to mind!

So why aren’t they satisfied? The words I have heard most often in these holidays are “I’m bored” or even “I don’t know what to do.” They have boxes of toys, computer games, Lego, craft supplies and a hundred other things but they can’t find anything to do.

The Lost City Adventure Golf, Nottingham

The Lost City Adventure Golf is mini-golf with an adventure theme in the Cornerhouse complex in Nottingham. Located on the lower ground floor it has two 18 hole adventures aimed at all ages.

Lost City Adventure Golf, Nottingham Cornerhouse

Entrance at Lost City Adventure Golf

It being in the centre of Nottingham is the perfect location for a morning of entertainment for the boys. So when the hubby said he wanted a morning off work I suggested we go there. We all got in the car and within 30 minutes were heading through the doors of the Cornerhouse. We've been to The Lost City Adventure Golf once before and as soon as the boys realised where we were going they shrieked with excitement. They ran off down the stairs and hurried towards the reception area.

The hubby and I followed and paid for an 18 hole adventure for us all. Score card and pencil in hand we all headed down the escalator to start our adventure. As it was our second time we chose the course that we hadn't already done; The Sacred Skull Pass. When you go in you can't see all the holes and the scenery surrounding them which meant the boys had to wait for each new hole before they could see what they had to do. The scenery is entertaining too. When you hit the ball into the right hole a snake's eyes light up and a spooky voice starts talking to you!

One of two choices of courses at Lost City Adventure Golf

We spent forty minutes playing and the boys enjoyed themselves, come to think of it so did the hubby and I. You can take longer but we had people behind us and we needed to keep up the pace. On the very last hole there's a chance to win an extra game - if you can get the ball in the right place! We didn't manage it this time.

For an 18 hole course family ticket (which should include one person under 12) costs £22.50. We managed to get our course for even less, £20, because they have an early-bird rate (before 12 noon). The Lost City Adventure Golf opens Monday - Friday at 10:30am and closes at 11pm, weekends they open at 10am and close at 11pm. They also offer parties for both children and adults (hen and stag) and I'm keeping this in mind for the future; Little Prince's friends might enjoy it!

Cornerhouse Nottingham, Golfing

I'm terrible at golf and thought I would be rubbish, but this was fun. You do not have to be a golfing expert to be any good and there's every chance that the smallest in your group could beat you all. Little Prince managed to get two holes-in-one! If you have a spare morning free I would recommend a family trip to The Lost City Adventure Golf, Nottingham.

My TV Favourites

The hubby and I spend a lot of time watching TV. When the kids are in bed and we have time for us we like nothing more than sitting in front of the TV watching our favourite show. Over the years we have had many favourites and we tend to buy the DVD box sets for those we like the most.

Ever since Netflix came along we've had a much bigger selection of things to watch. We have a large selection of box sets but now our options seem endless. For example we have just finished watching the complete Dexter series (for the third/fourth time) and have just started Breaking Bad (for the third time). They are both on Netflix. While we're both working we'll watch/listen to Frost, a detective series from back in the nineties. I love Inspector Jack Frost, he's awesome.

There are loads of series we watch again and again and I thought I'd share a few of them with you. I won't list them in order because, if I'm honest I can't put them in order!

  • Lost - completely pulls you into the story right from the start and we have watched the whole thing about 5 times. My favourite character is Charlie.
  • Dexter - the totally adorable serial killer. Also has the most shocking end to a series I have ever watched - series 4. A definite must.
  • Breaking Bad - not one I thought I was going to like, given it's subject matter, but actually it is really entertaining. 
  • A Touch of Frost - a classic. I'll never tired of good old Jack Frost.
  • Friends - we must've watched the complete series fifty times. It gets funnier every time and I always want to start again, immediately. 
  • Cougar Town - if you liked Friends you'll love this. Starring Courtney Cox it is the Friends for the older generation.

This year we also enjoyed watching series 2 of House of Cards and Orange is the New Black - both Netflix Original series.

What are your favourite TV programmes? Do you love the classic soaps or are you more of a thriller series person?

An Impromptu Blackpool Trip

Blackpool Beach - could've been a bit brighter but never mind 
On Wednesday the hubby decided to take a day off work and wanted us all to go to Blackpool for the day. I got the kids ready, iPads, DS and games in hand, and we got in the car. Leaving our house at 9 o'clock we figured we could be in Blackpool by lunchtime and have some lovely fish and chips for lunch.

After a long trip there, quiet children (some of the time), and very achy bottoms we arrived in Blackpool at 11:30am and headed straight for our favourite fish and chip place. It's not on the sea-front, it's tucked back a little behind one of the amusements. We've tried a few places but 'C Fresh' does the best fish and chips in Blackpool - in our opinion - so we stick with it.

The Heights of Abraham, Matlock

Another day in the holidays and another day trip for the Princes. We didn't want to travel quite as far as Blackpool this time but we wanted something interesting to do and after a little research we decided on The Heights of Abraham in Matlock. It is only about 25 miles away from us so it sounded perfect.

The view atop The Heights of Abraham, Matlock
The amazing view on top of Masson hill.

The Heights of Abraham consists of a hilltop park on top of Masson hill which is accessed by a gondola cable car. It has been open to the public since Victorian times and has caverns to explore. You can go on a tour of Great Masson Cavern and learn all about what life was like for miners hundreds of years ago. My boys and I learned that it was far healthier being a miner or a child rather than the wife of a miner. The wives at the time only lived into their 20's because of their exposure to the lead that was being mined. It was their job to lift the lead from the mine, clean it and get it ready for smelting. The miners would live into their 60's, each of them having 4 or 5 wives in their lifetime!

Masson Cavern, Matlock

The tour was really interesting and seeing inside the caves and imagining what it must've been like was quite scary actually. At one point the tour guide turned off all the lights and everything went very dark, he then lit up a candle (electric but still) as he tried to show us how much light they had to work with. It was so dark that BP (who's nearly 10) gripped my hand so tight he stopped the blood getting to my fingers.

After the tour the boys spent some time in the park climbing and playing in the trucks. Just as we were about to leave we heard an announcement about a Punch & Judy show about to start. Instead of leaving we bought some ice-creams and sat down to watch the show. The ice-cream was the best I've had in a long time and there was a great selection; BP had toffee, LP had cookie and cream, the hubby had mint and I had run & raisin. Mine was my favourite (I tried them all!) but they were all very yummy. The boys laughed their socks off at the Punch & Judy show and, if I'm honest, it was entertaining for me too.

A family ticket (2 Adults + 2 children) costs £42.00 and additional children cost £7.00, this gives you access to all the tours, playgrounds and shops including the 'Fossil Factory' which any dinosaur fan will love. The Punch & Judy show will be at The Heights of Abraham until 31st August; a definite must. There is also a restaurant but we didn't eat there so I don't know what the food was like.

All in all a great day out that didn't take up the whole day.

Fossil Factory, The Heights of Abraham, Matlock
A statue near the Fossil Factory

Tips on Starting Running

Today I ran 2.5 miles. That's 2.5 miles with about 1 minute of walking when my legs just wouldn't move any quicker. This is probably the best I have ever done and even though it took me 33 minutes I'm still very proud of myself.

purple and orange nike free size 5
My trusty Nike Free

I first started to enjoy running a few months ago and absolutely love having my music thumping in my ears as my feet pound the ground. If you saw me now you'd never have guessed that this time last year I detested running. In fact I hated any type of exercise and would never have thought that I'd enjoy it.

My main reason for enjoying it so much is because I get alone time. It's the only time when I am completely alone, even if I'm on the treadmill at home, and zoning out while listening to music has done me the world of good.

Given that I have gone from hating exercise to finding that I love to run I thought I would pass on some things that I've learned. So, here goes...

  • Start out slow:  If you've never ran in your life, or it's been a long time, don't go out and try to run 2 miles straight away. Begin by walking, even at a slow pace you're going to be getting that exercise and your body can get used to it. The more walking you do the easier it gets and then you can increase your pace. Eventually you'll be able to go for a jog and maybe even a run!
  • Don't push yourself too hard: But don't let yourself off too easily either. You want to challenge yourself without making it hurt.
  • If it hurts, stop: That saying 'no pain, no gain' is nonsense, if something hurts then something is wrong. Your body is trying to tell you to take it easy. Listen.
  • Get the right shoes. This is probably one of the most important. Having the wrong pair of shoes can cause lots of pains and problems so be sure to wear comfortable running shoes.
  • Music. Having the wrong music can seriously hinder your running (for me anyway!). I love to run when a heavy beat is pounding in my ears. Some people love to listen to Classical music or Country. Find the right tracks for you.
  • Drink water. I spent a while drinking a pint of diet coke after my walks but when I began drinking water I felt so much better. My water has to be iced, I hate lukewarm water, but guzzling more than a pint of water after a 2.5 mile run gives me the same feeling as sipping a nice bourbon and coke on a Friday night.

I'm not professing to be any kind of expert but I have learned a lot over the past year or so and I wanted to pass that on. Starting out a new exercise regime is difficult enough so having the right tips can make all the difference.

Do you have your own tips to share? 
If you have started out on your exercise regime, how are you finding it so far?

BP's First Lone Outing

Years ago, as a parent of toddlers/babies, I never considered the possibility that one day I would have to allow my babies out into the world on their own. I lived an ignorant life blissfully unaware of the fear and dread that would eventually enter my world. When BP turned eight I began to wonder when he would start asking about going out alone but given that we live at least 2 miles from any of his friends I didn't think it would become an issue.

Then he turned nine and began telling me about his friends and how they were allowed to walk to school alone. At the time (last summer) I said it was because they lived a lot closer to school and it was safer for them because they didn't have to cross any roads. He wasn't happy but didn't ask about walking to school on his own again. Until recently.

I blogged a while ago about BP's school trip to the Isle of Wight and how nervous I was about him being away for a whole week. You can read that post here. It was a tough week but when he returned and told me how much fun he'd had I felt a lot better about letting him go. A consequence of this little bit of independence though was him asking about going out alone again. The dread took hold of my stomach because I knew this time I couldn't make any excuses. He enters Year 6 in September and then High School next year, the time had come.

On the last day of term when I went to pick up the boys from school the hubby told me I should let BP walk home on his own. I didn't want to but knew I had to give him the chance. It turned out he didn't want to. I talked to the hubby about it and we arranged a trip out to one of BP's friend's homes.

The day came and all I heard all morning was "Mum, what time is it?" I must have heard it a hundred times! When the time came he rushed out of the house, eager to get time alone. His friend's mum met him at the end of our road so he only had a little walk alone. Later in the day the friend's mum text me to see if it was okay for BP to walk home completely alone from her house. I said yes. From the moment she told me he'd left to the second he knocked on the front door I was glancing at the gate, looking for him. After 15 minutes I was worried, I thought he would've ran home and was wondering what was taking so long.

I don't think I have ever felt relief flow through my body as fast as it did when BP banged on the window and scared the life out of me. He had the biggest smile on his face, rosy cheeks from all the running and was clearly very happy about having his freedom.

Letting BP out alone again is inevitable now and although I totally hate doing it I know next time I will find it slightly easier. Not much but... baby steps.

Have you been through this milestone with your children or are you blissfully unaware of the impending doom?

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