Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Are you scared of heights?? Rock Reef will sort it!!

Last week we were lucky enough to be given the chance of trying out Bournemouth`s newest indoor attraction Rock Reef, an indoor climbing centre with a difference.

Situated on the end of Bournemouth Pier, the location is unique, the concept is fact the whole of Rock Reef is unique!!

Rock Reef gives you 4 attractions in one place, bringing the great outdoors indoors.

The 4 elements of Rock Reef are -
  • Clip`N`Climb challenges - the new climbing concept taking the world by storm. You wear a harness and are clipped onto a belay - an automatic safety device which keeps you safe at all times. You are then free to climb to hearts content in the knowledge you cant fall!!! There are 25 different designed walls to challenge even the most experienced climbers.
  • HighLine - an indoor aerial obstacle course designed to test your nerves. Hanging above the ground with nothing beneath your feet but a few ropes and logs for you to make your way around the course.
  • The Pier Cave - delve into The Pier Cave with its twists and turns, ball pits and grottos. Make your way through the cave with or without the expert help of the guides.
  • The Pier Zip - opening mid August 2014. The worlds FIRST pier to shore zip line experience...launch yourself from the top of massive launch tower and zoom down to the beach. But dont forget to take in the amazing views of the Bournemouth coastline.

We arranged to go to Rock Reef with my fellow blogger theprmummy and her family. The kids were so excited they ran up the pier giddy with the idea that they were going to be climbing a wall!!!

On arrival we filled out the obligatory safety waiver and then we were ready for our Rock Reef experience.
Our guides for the evening were Georgia and DJ; I have to say they made the experience so much more enjoyable as they put us all at ease and had a way with the kids to keep them involved and alert during the safety talks.

We all got kitted out with some rather fetching safety harnesses and were off. Georgia and DJ showed us over and over again how to clip ourselves onto the belay so we could do it ourselves. Showed us how to climb the walls and then left us to do our own thing at our own pace, they were always with us in case we needed them but never felt watched.

Now I have no upper body strength so assumed I would struggle but actually found it fairly easy and OMG so much fun!!!!!

Look at me!!!

The kids completely astounded me as they were naturals; up the walls at lightning speed and had no fear in leaning back off the wall and letting go so the belay could bring them back down slowly.

The two youngest of the pack, Jacob and Myla had a few hairy moments when they were not sure if they could do it but soon overcame their fears.

Do I look sexy??

There are two additional activities you can do whilst at Rock Reef; the Leap of Faith and the Vertical Drop Slide. Of course hubby had to both!! He had to wear a boiler suit and helmet for the Vertical Drop, which we all thought was hilarious as he was melting in the suit and the heatwave conditions!! You hold onto a bar whilst you are pulled up as high/long as you can hold on for then let go and slide down.

The Leap of Faith is a vertical climb up to a platform which you then jump off of to try and catch a punch bag and hold on......there was no way I was going to try that!!!!

Check out the videos of what he did.

Next came the HighLine.....from below the course didn`t look too high up and quite an easy task to complete.....OMG how wrong was I???? I have never had a panic attack in my life but I have to say that I was on the verge of having one that day!!! Alfie went on in front of me and kept sating `come on mum its ok` so I couldn`t let him see my fears. I was literally dripping with sweat due to the nerves. Even though I knew I was harnessed in and couldn`t fall I just couldn`t stop shaking. It was mine and Emma`a hubby's turn to watch the babies so were giving us support from ground level, still that honestly didn`t help much!!

About 5 minutes in to the course Alfie did freeze with fear and would not budge so Stan the crazy man harnessed himself up and came to help him, he was amazing and helped Alfie get over his fear by telling him step by step what to do.

This has to be one of the scariest things I`ve ever done!

30 minutes later and 1 stone in weight loss later due to sweating I made it round, I have never been so glad to see a solid floor!!!

Emma too made it round in one piece and am so proud of her for overcoming her fear of heights.

How happy do we look to of finished the HighLine??
Sadly we didn`t have time to try out the Pier Cave experience but will definitely be back to give it a go and try to beat our times on the climbing walls!!

Visiting Rock Reef is a must, yes it is a bit pricey but it is definitely worth what you pay. Where else are you going to be able to say that you have climbed 25 different walls and taken the Leap of Faith???

Rock Reef gets 5*`s in our book and would say that you NEED to visit!!

A huge thanks to Juan, Georgia, DJ and Stan for making this an experience that we will never forget.

Our amazing team of instructors, Georgia, DJ and Stan.

Binky Linky

School Holiday Learning..Yes or No??

When the kids are on holiday from school do you worry about them forgetting their `learning` skills??

Do you give them extra work for the holidays or give them a break from learning completely??

What do you think of the following quote??

`As many as one in three children can fall behind as a result of a seven-week break from the classroom`
Richard Garner, The Independent

As Richard Garner states above, long summer holidays can lead to a `learning loss`. Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, earlier last month stated a similar proposition when introducing the new education manifesto.

This `learning loss` results in pupils playing catch up in the first few weeks of the Autumn term, thus exacerbating the gap between the weakest and strongest pupils in class.

To try and prevent the `learning loss` during the school breaks EdPlace has developed a on-line learning programme that is tailored to your child`s developmental stage.

Developed by Head teachers and teachers, English, Maths and Science are covered in the form of worksheets to meet the National Curriculum in Key Stages 1-4.

EdPlace have kindly allowed Alfie and Jacob a trial of the programme with full access to the on-line programme to see how they progress over the summer holidays.

The layout of the website is clearly set out and easy to navigate between the different areas. There is a parent area where you can auto-assign or manually choose which worksheets you would like your child to do in which subject.

When you register the programme recommends which worksheets should be done for your child`s learning level. Alfie was given all the year 2 or KS 1 worksheets to complete but I decided that as Alfie is about to go into year 3 and KS 2 that I wanted to challenge him. The first few worksheets he found a little hard as he hasn`t covered the work yet but soon got the hang of it.

I love the fact that you can set goals for your child, once each worksheet is completed their score is converted into points, once an amount of points that is chosen by you is reached they can receive a reward of your choice. It doesn`t have to be a massive and expensive reward, we have said that once the boys reach their targets we will go to our local cinema for the kids club showing of their film of choice....bargain at £1.50 each!!!

To keep the kids engaged there is a function that rewards them with badges, so for example when they reach 100 points or complete a subject level.

Th questions are clear and easy to read. The programme also helps to improve their keyboard skills as a few questions require a sentence to be repeated.

Alfie is loving using this programme, he is eager to learn and is actually asking to do more than the one worksheet a night that we have initially allowed him to do.

Now Jacob is a little trickier, as he is about to start reception in September he is a little too young for the lowest level of year 1 but is doesn`t hurt to challenge them right??? He too is getting the hang of the layout and is actually getting quite good at answering the questions, he can`t read the questions yet so I am reading them out to him and he seems to be enjoying it.

Another great feature is that you can track their progress against EdPlace`s average.

If you are worried that your kids are forgetting how learn over the holidays or just want to give a little head start on the new term then this programme is definitely one to try.

The monthly fee per child for unlimited access to all 3 subjects is £12 per month or £96 per year, or one subject is £8/month or £64/year. Much much cheaper than a home tutor!!!

EdPlace have an trial offer on at the moment for 14 days of unlimited access for only £1!!!! Click HERE for details. Go on £1 for 14 days trial.....AMAZING!!!!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

A Day of Tears, Happiness and Dreams For The Future

Today was Jacob`s graduation ceremony from pre-school.

Yet another milestone reached on his journey through childhood.

I am exhausted from hardly any sleep due to Ben and Alfie being ill so knew I`d be emotional, I just didn't realise how much!!

The staff at The Lantern Pre-School are some of the most caring, friendly and enthusiastic people that I know. Because of this Jacob has developed into such a lovely and clever little boy with a thirst for knowledge.

The graduation service was so lovely and heartfelt. Prayers were said, speeches made and a little presentation of certificates of graduation were handed out to each of the 6 children leaving. The certificates had a few lines on it saying what they would miss about each child. Jacobs said that they would miss his cheeky smile and lively and energetic personality.

When each child was called up to be given their certificate all the mums including me started to cry, now this is an unusual thing for me as I never cry but since having Ben I seem to cry at everything!!

My beautiful blue eyed, not so little boy x

Jacob and wife/best friend in the world Myla.

Whilst I was sat wiping my tears away I started to wonder what each child would choose to do once they left school....become a Doctor, Painter, Bricklayer, Lawyer, Nurse, Shop Keeper, Vet or being their own boss. Whatever they choose I wish all the best for them in the future.

So here is a HUGE thank you to Jackie, Louise, Lorraine, Lynette, Caroline, Lynne and all the other helpers at The Lantern Preschool for all the love, understanding and effort that you have put into Jacob`s last 2 years with you. He will miss you all so much, but not sure if you will miss his antics and the fire drills caused by him!!! And sorry guys you wont be free of the Wood presence for too long as Benjamin will be starting with you next prepared!!!

If anyone in the Poole/Bournemouth/Wimborne area is looking a 1st class preschool then The Lantern is the only choice in my eyes.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Reconnecting with childhood friends

Today saw me reconnect with my childhood best friend Elaine who I hadn't seen for over 16 years; my family moved away from where we had grown up together and lost touch.

We have been friends on Facebook for a few years, liking the odd photo or two of each others families etc, but never actually spoke to each other.

That was until a few weeks ago when Elaine got in touch to say that she had been following my exploits on my blog and had decided to start her own blog up!! I was so pleased that I had helped someone decide to start their own blog. Cue lots of messages back and forth about setting up her blog and me passing on my limited knowledge of social media.

We decided it would be easier for us to meet up rather than keep exchanging messages so this morning Benjamin and I set off the Elaine and her little boy Elliot. I was worried how we would connect again after so long and if we would have anything to talk about but I need not of worried as our little men broke the ice straight away by starting to chase each other around the room whilst giggling hysterically!!!

I hope that I have helped Elaine in starting up her new adventure with her blog entertainingelliot and can`t wait to see how it develops for her. We will have to make sure that we dont wait another 16 years to meet up.

The power of blogging is amazing and has brought us back together!!!!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

I`ve been bitten by the running bug

I admit it....I have been overweight for almost all of my adult life. And after having my 3 beautiful children in the last 7 years years my body is totally wrecked.

I haven't always been fat, at school I was always active. I did gymnastics training for an hour before and after school, trampoline training 3 times a week; plus the normal PE and GCSE PE lessons, I was always busy.

Because of this I was a size 6/8. Now I know your body changes shape as you mature but I was stupid and stopped all forms of exercise when I started my training as a Veterinary Nurse.

Over the years my weight has been slowly creeping up and after 3 children I am the heaviest I have ever been in my life.

I decided enough is enough and had to do something. But what can I do when I have 3 children and a man-child husband to look after?? I started to research local fitness classes but only to find that there weren't any later in the evening; I needed something that was flexible as I couldn't always guarantee what time I would finish putting the kids down to bed, but found nothing.

That`s when I considered power walking/jogging and maybe even running.

So a few months ago my best friend and fellow blogger, theprmummy, and I started to go power walking every Sunday morning at 7am; to begin with I hated and I mean HATED getting up so early of a morning, especially when I had been up all night with Benjamin.

But slowly and surely I started to enjoy it, I would actually look forward to our weekly power walks over the heathland next to our housing estate. Each time we went Emma and I would smash our previous weeks times. I had downloaded the runsastic app for my phone so I could track our route, distance and times by GPS.

I have also be given the opportunity to review the fitbug orb, an amazing exercise and sleep tracker.

Checking the orb and going walking became addictive, trying to beat our time each week, finding different and more demanding routes.

Now I am not a natural runner but after a few weeks of power walking we decided to take it to the next level and start to jog our route. That too slowly but surely became easier.

Fast forward to today and we are trying to go for a 5k jog 3 times a week. Emma has a target of 5k in 30 minutes but I`m afraid to say that I dont think I`ll ever get near that target. Saying that I wont give up, even if I take an hour to completely jog/run 5k in one go, I will eventually do it!!

My problem is that for some reason my arms and shoulders hurt so much when I run that that`s what is making me pause running, not my legs, they are fine and I am sure that they could do the 5k no probs, its just the burning in my shoulders and arms.

Could it be my trainers are not suitable for running, is my posture wrong??? Who knows but I`m certain that if I can cure this pain then I may just crack the 5k in 30 minute mark!!

Keep checking back for my fitbug orb review and more on my running journey xx

Me looking rather wet and red faced after another run in the rain.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Our trip to Legoland Windsor Day #2

Day #2 of our Legoland visit was as amazing as the first; as we had done half of the park the day before were in no rush. Because of this we were able to properly take in all the amazing Lego sculptures that have been loving created over the years.

We got to the park just after 10.30am and started our assault on the attractions.

Both the boys were desperate to go and get their driving licenses in the Lego Traffic area, so headed there first.

We didn't realise that they would not be able to do the driving together as there are two mini driving areas, age and skill dependant. In the end I think it was for the best as thinking about it, it wouldn't of been the best of ideas having 3 year olds driving around with 12 year old speed demons!!

Once in the right age section each of the boys had a mini briefing on how to drive the cars and road rules then were off!!

It is safe to say that they both thoroughly enjoyed and were so proud to get their licenses

The boys digging up a storm

Unfortunately the thing that we spent doing the most on our visit was queuing. Now I am a normally a patient person but after queuing for almost an hour for every ride my patience had started to wear thin. The worst and slowest que was for the Digger challenge; I wouldn't of minded if after queuing for over an hour that the ride was of a decent duration but was not amused at less than a 10 minute go!!!!

You can purchase a Q-Bot, which is a hand held device allowing you to book a specific time for your ride or if you purchase the top level Q-bot you can eliminate queuing completely and just walk on your chosen ride in front of everyone else that has been queuing for hours!!!

If we could of afforded a Q-bot for all of us I definitely would of got one arranged and strongly advise anyone going to consider getting one. With our two days entry we managed to cover the whole park but only just. If you were going for just the day I honestly cant see how you can do all the rides in the opening times without missing a few rides.

Miniland with Alfie pulling some stupid poses!


On the submarine in Atlantis

Duplo Valley Fairy Tale Brook

Squid Surfer splash time

The Wood clan had an amazing 2 days at Legoland Windsor making tonnes of amazing memories, we are definitely planning on going back; maybe when Benjamin is old enough to enjoy it too.

Read our first days adventures at Legoland here.

This blog post is a true account of our visit to Legoland Windsor, and were not compensated in anyway for writing this post.

Silent Sunday 06.07.2014

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

If the shoe fits??

You will not believe the problems that I have had whilst trying to find shoes to fit Benjamin.

He has unusually wide and thick feet so have found it impossible to get ANY shoes to fit his chubby feet!!

Whilst I was pregnant I bought a few pairs of really cute pram shoes and trainers ready for him but when we came to put them on him I could literally only get his toes in them.

When I went clothes shopping I would longingly look at all the cute little shoes for boys but was saddened to know that I couldn't get Ben to wear any.

He coped really well without wearing any shoes during the winter but went through a pile of socks as he kept rubbing through the toes!!

At the beginning of the year Benjamin started to properly crawl and then progressed onto cruising between the sofas. I knew I had to get something sorted so went to the high street store that most mums go to, I wont say the name but we all know who it is!

I was told that his feet were measuring a 2.5 and off the scale for width. Their advice was to not get him any shoes until he was properly walking as the width of his feet would only increase when he was on his feet due to spreading......OK, what am I supposed to put on him to help him learn how to walk?? He can`t try to walk with me on the school run with bare feet!!

I decided to go to a few other local shoe shops to find out their opinion, only to be told exactly the same thing!!

I was not happy...that was until I met the lovely Anca from Mara Kids Shoes, a Dorset based business providing high quality shoes sourced from within the EU and supplying the whole of the UK.

After discussing my problem with Anca she assured me that she would find a pair of shoes that Ben could get his feet comfortably into.

We met up a few days ago and I am so thrilled and relieved to say that Benjamin now owns his first pair of shoes.

Because his feet are so wide we had to go for a more sturdy shoe. Being in the run up to summer I was hoping he could get some sandals but the shoes we chose are like a hybrid sandal. It has the firm sole and leather upper but has loads of cut outs to allow air flow around the foot. The shoes are a Spanish brand called Garvalin and look amazing.

If you have kids then I strongly advise that you take a look at the Mara Kid`s Shoes website and give Anca`s shoes a go, they are amazing quality and very reasonably priced.

PS...Anca has a sale on at the moment so the already reasonably priced shoes are now even better value for money.

I have written this review with no input from Mara Kid`s Shoes, I purchased the shoes myself and this is a honest review of the service I have received.