Monday, 30 March 2015

Cracking Easter craft

Whether it's a school holiday play date or a family gathering on Easter Sunday keep little hands and minds busy with spring themed activities.

At this time of year it's hard to know if the Easter bunny will need wellies or a sun hat when he comes to deliver his chocolaty treats. On the off chance that it might be too wet, windy or cold to spend all of the school holidays outside (odds are you'll be spending some of your time indoors!) it's great to have some craft activities on hand to entertain the children for the bank holiday and beyond.

Oh Easter tree

Kids always have a whale of a time decorating the tree at Christmas, which might be one of the reasons you can increasingly find sparkly eggs dangling from branches these days. I got my 'tree' from Lidl and my girls were more than eager to adorn it with treasures from Easer baskets past, pretty stickers and their newly-created decorations courtesy of Yellow Moon. And an Easter 'tree' makes a lovely centrepiece!

My youngest has recently discovered sewing in a big way - due in part to a very impressive after-school club she attends. I've already been on the receiving end of a fetching 'LOVE' banner on Valentine's and a beautiful lavender-scented cushion for Mother's Day. Accordingly she was keen to get to work on the Easter Bunny Sewing Decoration Kits - making one up for Granny - her personal sewing and knitting guru. Meanwhile my older daughter set about the Easter Basket Ribbon Lacing Cards for her nearest and dearest.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Cycling in Swinley Forest

Once my cards and pressies are opened, and breakfast in bed is polished off, I like to spend at least part of Mother's Day doing something active with my kids and hubby. As the weather is usually getting slightly less awful by this time of year (but only just!) I like to get outdoors and try something a bit out of our comfort zone. Last year it was a spot of horse riding, and this year I decided on some two-wheeled whole family fun in Swinley Forest, Swinley is part of the Windsor Estate between Bracknell and Bagshot, and not too far from me at all. Since we couldn't get all our bikes on our car, and our six-year-old isn't really that keen on cycling long distances on her hand-me-down bike, my other half was able to use the opportunity to work on his run training - and thereby act as backup for slower riders, anyone that falls by the wayside and on-the-spot bike mechanic (well he is signed up for the Henley Highwayman and the Wargrave Sprint Tri, so we're doing him a favour)!

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

TRX - using your whole body

'Ouch, ouch ouch', that was me getting down the stairs on Sunday. But it was great to feel my quads again, as they've been on a sabbatical since November because an ankle injury has prevented me from running or taking part in any high-impact classes.

And the name of my pain? TRX - a 'suspension' workout system that uses gravity and bodyweight to build muscle and core strength. It's called suspension because you use long straps attached from the ceiling to your hands or feet to work through the exercises - be they strength, Pilates, plyometric or cardio-focussed.  For some of the moves you will be standing - for others you'll be on the ground. It can also be adapted to all levels of fitness.

How does it work?

I tried out TRX at a class run by Eileen Unwin of the GoWorkout collective. Held in local gym Expert Fitness Studio in the centre of Henley, the class is small and friendly - great if you're a beginner and wondering exactly where the straps go and how they work! After a warm up, Eileen took us through 3 'sets' of exercises - including moves most people would be familiar with such as squats, press ups, deadlifts, rows and the plank (and then finished with a cool down and stretch).

TRX allows different parts of the body to be targeted - (so it wasn't just my quads that got a workout, I was also very aware my triceps had been put to work too) - and for the intensity to be increased depending on your own experience and fitness level. There is also an element of flexibility involved, as the TRX straps help you to perform rotational moves too.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Sublime science - for a party with a bang!

A child's birthday is always reason to celebrate. For a start it gets the birthday child ever so much closer to 'that' ideal age they want to be (for mine it's 12 - the age I once said was suitable for ear-piercing) - and makes them feel all grown up (regardless of whether they are turning two, suddenly six, breaking into double figures or - LIKE FINALLY - becoming a teen). It's also an opportunity to make your child feel loved and special - and give yourself a sneaky pat on the back for a) keeping the child alive that long despite their best efforts and b) them not turning out so bad after all.

As much as OTT kiddie parties have been in the news recently for extravagant pressies and invoices for absentees, it's always nice for your child to see in their new age with some close, personal friends. Often about 20 of their closest friends in fact! 

But finding new and interesting places to go, or themes that haven't been done to death and adapting to their changing interests can be a struggle. You might well be sick of play centres and pass-the-parcel too - and long for the day your child no longer dreams of a complicated cake combining My Little Pony, Tinkerbell and the colour red (I have learnt that sometimes it's best not to ask...).