winter sun

This month has flown by, I am surprised by how one week rolls into the next and before I know it, the month of January is on it’s way out!

Last time I wrote, I spoke about my choice of word to guide me through 2018, Willpower. This post is a catch up to see how far I have got and what changes, if any, to make.

My biggest achievement to date is my Couch to 5K efforts. I am so surprised at myself – pleasantly surprised. Let me explain …

I have always been one of those people who sniggered when they saw runners struggling up hills – why would you do that when you can sit comfortably at home? Who raised eyebrows at the sight of runners out in the rain and I have always declared – I am not a runner. I don’t like running. I will never run.

Fast forward to January 2018 and I have had to eat my words – every single one of them.

Oast house Ifield

I have joined our local SLGR (So Let’s Go Running) group who meet on a Tuesday evening, which conveniently ties in with the twin’s Brownie session, and I take part in the C25K training (Couch to 5k). This is all part of my Willpower challenge with myself. I have notoriously, all my life, started activities and then religiously dropped them a few weeks in for all manner of ridiculous reasons. I am determined to change this even and complete the C25K even if I don’t know what will happen once I reach the 5k (if I reach the 5k).

To give you a better insight into what the C25K challenge is I have copied the program below, I have completed two weeks and on Tuesday will be tackling Week 3 – a two minute run with 90-second walk intervals.

Weeks 1-6 start with 5 mins walking warm-up

Weeks 1-5 = 4k
Weeks 6+ = 5k

Week 1 – 30 sec run/90 sec walk
Week 2 – 60 sec run/90 sec walk
Week 3 – 2 mins run/90 sec walk
Week 4 – 2 mins run/1 min walk
Week 5 – 4 mins run/1 min walk
Week 6 – 5 mins run/1 min walk
Week 7 – 7 mins run/1 min walk
Week 8 – 10 mins run/1 min walk
Week 9 – 15 mins run/1 min walk
Week 10 – 5k run

It’s advisable to repeat the run at least once every week, so last week I took part in my first Park Run and this morning, Sunday, I went out on my first solo run and re-ran the course we complete on a Tuesday. I was amazed that I did it and I had a better time too. I am incredibly proud of myself as I have always been so anti-running and yet, here I am doing exactly that.

I am using the Strava app to record all of my runs, connect with me if you’re on there too.

my strava runs

For now, I can safely say I am on track with this aspect of my Willpower challenge. Other areas included

Writing – and on this, I am slacking but for all good reasons that, if they come to fruition, I shall be more than happy to share with you.

Reading – I am on my third book this year, a good Patricia Cornwell. I used to read her books when I lived in Italy and discuss them in minute detail with my friend Nicoletta so reading this book takes me back to those times too.

Getting fit and losing my baby weight (yes I know it’s been 9 years!) – There hasn’t been much movement on the scales to date but I have been trying to work my way through all of the Christmas chocolate. I am nearly done with it and so hopefully this will start to improve too. Half a stone off and a tighter tummy by June – here I come.

Let it be said I am happy with my willpower progress, it might not be 100% but so far so good. Well done me!

The photos above were taken on a recent family walk ;)

Marianne Weekes

marianne weekes

Willpower.

That is the word I have chosen to take me through 2018. I have a feeling I’m going to need a lot of it as I have set myself some high goals to attain and, knowing myself well, I will need constant pushing, coercing and chivvying along until I reach where I want to be.

2017 has been a year of enormous unforeseeable change for me, I went from a part-time job to a full-time role in January and discovered it was increasingly difficult for me to juggle the work-life balance. When school kids have 13 weeks holiday, the 21 days I had this year went nowhere. I am all too aware that this moment in the twins life will flash by in front of my eyes so I’m determined to make the most of it and get to spend some quality time with them that, they can learn from and carry through in life.

I changed job in November. I started as a TA in our local primary school, a job I have never previously considered. I quickly discovered that I loved it and recognised so many possibilities to make this role work even better for me. Studying will most definitely be a part of my 2018, I’m not sure which course or direction but anything from a 1-year course to a full-blown degree. More on that news to follow.

A second idea I have been toying with is a Couch to 5k running class, I know – ludicrous. Me, who HATES running. But, I’m unhappy with my figure, I’m unhappy with my fitness levels and my general health so I need to do something about it whilst I am still able to. My only concern is for my knees which I can only assess once I start running.

I have found a local running group and should start my first lesson in January, plus it’s free!

I want to start practising yoga, I want a stronger core and a clearer mind. I’m searching for a Saturday morning class to attend.

Finally, I’ve convinced myself to pick up a project I started with great enthusiasm a couple of years ago and then left to one side for lack of time available. I believe this project still has legs so I’m determined to complete the first stage in 2018. Then I will be able to see if it has legs to go further or not. I hope it does. I have spent many hours dreaming of how far this could go and I will only know if I set the wheels in motion. Wish me luck!

I am very aware that I will need great discipline to achieve the above. I am also conscious that this is the area I let myself down in most, therefore I call upon my chosen word WILLPOWER to be my guide this year.

And you? Do you have plans for 2018? Have you a chosen word to accompany you?

Maybe Willpower isn’t the word for you; take a look at what some of my friends have chosen as their word of the year for further inspiration…

Tanya  chose Enough

Michelle went for Believe

Becky seleted Choice

Kate has settled for Mind

Best books for children

Books are always the best gift for anyone. If you’re stuck for somebody’s present there will be a whole shelf of books to choose from that they will thoroughly enjoy. Reading has always been very important to us as a family and right from the start books have been present in the girl’s lives. As babies, they had fabric books and as they have grown, so has their passion for reading – something I am keen to continue to encourage. I make sure they always have a choice of books of all different types to choose from and encourage them to read at every possible moment.

Harper Collins sent through a collection of their top books for children and asked the girls to make a video including their thoughts on each book which you can watch below…like most 9-year-olds my two want to have their own YouTube channel which I shall be setting up over the Christmas holidays for them but in the meantime, you can watch their first work on my YouTube channel.

Books for children

I think you will agree that there are some fantastic titles which are sure to intrigue even the less focused children by pulling them into some great stories and taking them on an unforgettable journey. I must admit, I shall be dipping into some of them myself!

Here is a handy list of the 2017 best-selling books for children included in the box, all of which you can find on the Harper Collins website and all of the best bookshops.

Books for under 5s

Bing’s Christmas Wish – Amanda Hepworth

Kevin – Rob Biddulph

Sunk – Rob Biddulph

Boogie Bear – David Walliams

Here we are – Oliver Jeffers

Books for children 5 – 7

Paddington Movie books

The Grotlyn – Benji Davies

Books for children 8 – 12

Geek Girl – All Wrapped Up – Holly Smale

Toto – Michael Morpurgo

Paddington 2 – Anna Wilson

Skulduggery Pleasant – Derek Landy

Birthday Boy – David Baddiel

Bad Boy – David Walliams

Here are our other children’s book reviews as we’d thoroughly recommend any of these too.

Kaspar Prince of Cats

Top books for tweens

The Grinch who Stole Christmas

Disclosure – We were sent a box of books for the purpose of this post, all opinions are our own.

keswick

Image credit: Stuart Hodgson from www.hikingphotographer.uk

The Lake District is in the north-west of England in the county of Cumbria and I have yet to go and visit, shocking I know. In fact, I am making it one of my 2018 goals to spend some time there next year as I have heard so many good things. If people have been returning here for centuries, there must be a very good reason, right?

The whole area is a National Park that is teeming with lakes, woodlands, wildlife and pretty towns and villages to explore. Of course, it’s a hikers paradise and many people come here quite simply to get out in the open and walk the fabulous landscape taking in some of the greatest views in the world. Many different outdoor lovers are drawn to the Lake District; cyclists, kayakers (is that a word?), canoeists even treetop trekkers – yes there is such a thing.

But, not all of us want to spend all of our time being active, luckily the Lake District has a host of other things to do that will keep you more than amused during your stay.

Things to do in the Lake District

Firstly, we can divide the things to do in the Lake District into areas, the north, the east, central, south-east and western areas. Each part has many things to do and I have cherry-picked a few that I would love to see with my family.

MILL RACE COTTAGE

Mill Race Cottage

Castlerigg Stone Circle – Northern Lake District

I am fascinated with stone circles. From our first visit to Stonehenge, the curiosity of these ancient monuments keeps drawing me in. The 38 large stones that stand 3 metres high of Castlerigg Stone Circle have the most dramatic mountain landscape as a backdrop. As one of Britain’s earliest stone circles, about 5000 years old, they are very popular with tourists and are now managed by the National Trust and the English heritage. If you are visiting the are in midwinter you’ll probably get one of the best views as the entrance seems to line up with the sunsets around that time of year.

Haweswater Dam – Eastern Lake District

Haweswater Dam was Britain’s first concrete buttress dam built back in the 1930’s by hundreds of unemployed workers from the Manchester area. The workers were homed in prefabricated houses that had state of the art community facilities in Burnbanks. The dam is the highest in our country and offers spectacular views of the surrounding area.

Shap Abbey – Eastern Lake District

Shap Abbey was built around 1200 and was the centre of a thriving monastic community. As you wander the ruins you can make out the church, chapter house and living areas that surround the square cloister. There are also traces of the guest rooms, stables and workshops. Henry VIII closed the Abbey in 1540 and some of its stone was used to build Shap Market Hall.

Copt Howe Rock Carvings – Central Lake District

Another fascinating find from 6000 years ago is the circles, lines and ‘cup’ marks found etched into the rocks at Copt Howe. Archaeologists believe they may have been a way of showing links between people and important places.

Meadow Bank

Meadow Bank

Brantwood Barkpeeler’s Hut – South Eastern Lake District

Once upon a time, you could have worked as a bark peeler. Your job would have been to remove the bark from oak trees before the trees were coppiced and sent to the local tanneries. Barkpeelers lived in huts in the woods with their families, the huts were made of a circular stone wall and a conical roof covered with earth and grass. There is a wonderful reconstructed example at Brantwood House.

Townend Statesman’s House – South Eastern Lake District

On the other end of the scale is the home of a well -off farming family. Townend Statesman’s House is a beautifully preserved 17th century farmhouse built in 1623 for George Browne and his family who lived there for over 300 years.

Muncaster Castle – Western Lake District

I do love to visit a castle and Muncaster has been in the Pennington family since 1208. What started out as a medieval fortified tower-house was added to through the years until the fine castle that can be visited today. An interesting fact that caught my eye was, Henry VI sought refuge here during the Wars of the Roses and left a glass drinking-bowl behind, saying if it remained unbroken the Penningtons would thrive. It’s still intact and is known as the ‘Luck of Muncaster’.

Ravenglass Roman Bathhouse – Western Lake District

Ravenglass is one of the best preserved Roman military bathhouses in Britain where a 1000 strong garrison would come to scrub up. Its walls are almost 4 metres high and two rooms with doorways and windows can still be seen today. As you explore you can find plumbing for hot and cold water a fort close by and many more interesting facts.

Brathay Loft

Brathay Loft

Where to stay in the Lake District

If you want to have the comfort of your own home whilst you explore the Lake District then I advise you to take a look at the Good Life Lake District Cottages as they cover all of the above-mentioned areas and have all types of accommodation available, even pet friendly homes where you can take your family pet along too. The images above are some examples of what you can find.

how the Grinch stole christmas

‘Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more’ 

There is a tiny part of me that completely resonates with the Grinch. Like him, I too raise my eyebrows at people who put their decorations up way too early (the first of December is early enough) and people who seem to buy every single product out there to give their loved ones at Christmas, overkill. In fact, the Grinch is one of my favourite Christmas books and films that I enjoy watching on the run-up to the big day.

This year, The Grinch is celebrating 60 years of being one of literature’s most iconic seasonal characters and Mari’s World has been chosen to be one of the Grinchmas bloggers – an accolade I am incredibly proud of.

Harper Collins has put together a fabulous Grinchmas hub full of wonderful Grinchy ideas and I decided to make a Merry Grinchmas door wreath to add to their pot of Grinchmas fun. Don’t panic as it really is quite simple, you should know by now that if I can do this – then anyone can!

How to make a Merry Grinchmas door wreath

merry grinchmas door wreath

What you’ll need

1 polystyrene ring
Dark green tissue paper
Assorted coloured ribbons
1 large green bauble
Red Felt stars
Light green deco mesh
LED lights
Card for the sign
Red and white pipe cleaners for the candy canes
Box of pins

  • Start with the polystyrene hoop and cover it with dark green tissue paper.
  • Wrap a red and white ribbon around the hoop until you are back where you started.
  • Wrap a string of LED lights in the same way and secure the battery pack with a tight knot that will enable you to get to it and change the batteries as and when required.
  • Glue on the felt stars and add bows made from assorted ribbon (mine are in gold). These can be pinned in place.
  • Take the large green bauble and draw on the features of the Grinch with a permanent marker. I started with the nose and eyes. There are plenty of drawings online to work from. The yellow eyes were painted using a nail varnish! Hang the Grinchtowards the top of the hoop and pin the ribbon or string in place to prevent it moving.

merry grinchmas door wreath

  • Cut large strips of the deco mesh and roll holding it tight in the middle, tie the middle with two kinds of ribbon to hold firmly in place. I used the red and white ribbon plus a snowflake version. Pin your deco mesh bows across the top.
  • Using red and white striped pipe cleaners form a couple of candy canes and glue into place.
  • Lastly, take a piece of cardboard and with a pencil, draw on the Merry Grinchmas and the small arm with the bauble. I found lots of examples online and copied directly from one of them. I then painted it and glued it in place on my door wreath.

merry grinchmas door wreath

What do you think?

I am really pleased with it and I shall hang it in our classroom from the 1st December.

Talking of classrooms, I’ve taken a look at the Grinch Classroom Lesson Plans too on the Grinchmas hub and I think we can have a lot of fun with them. Do pop by and take a look, you can have endless fun Grinchifying yourself like this…

Mari Grinchified

 

There are some wonderful ideas on how to grow your heart three times bigger, activity sheets to download and a 12 days of Grinchmas to join in too.