I’m getting braver!

I, BattleMum, am getting braver! How you ask? Well….

I should start by telling you I only began learning to drive 7 years ago and passed my test just over 6 years ago. And considering I’m closer to 40 than 30, you could say I was a late starter. That has meant that when it comes to adverse weather conditions I’ve been a complete non-starter. Until now……

My first car which I kept for 4 years was my trust green ball of snot, my Ford Fiesta. She was a great first car and got me started in my motoring career. However, I’ve never had any confidence in icy or snow conditions and even less after one fateful night trying to get home once it had started snowing in Cardiff. I left at 4pm to travel the 13 miles home from work once BattleDad called to say it was starting to build up at home. However, what the numpties on the radio didn’t tell me was that Caerphilly Mountain was closed. That meant I had to turn around at the bottom, along with everyone else, and try make my way to another main route. The road was slippy, and as I turned, I could feel the car sliding and I managed to steer her into the curb, literally millimetres from the car in front of me. Needless to say I then left large gaps between me and the cars in front. It rocked me, that little slide.

From there I had to take a long detour as another hill towards Caerphilly was gridlocked and I went way out of my way to try get home. I thought “If I can get as far as Nelson, I can abandon the car and it’s only a couple of miles walk if I have to get out”. Thankfully a white van went my way and he lead the way, very slowly, down to my village, both of us going no more than 5mph down the gentle hills. There was nothing else going our way and we only passed a police car going in the opposite direction. In total it took me 4 hours to get home that night, BattleDad panicking as he hadn’t heard from me since I left! That night left me quite nervous of snow and icy and since then I’ve avoided driving in snow conditions as much as possible, until now as I mentioned.

What’s changed? The car! After my trusty Fiesta I took over BattleDad’s beast of an A5 and thoroughly loved that car. However, with a small child, all his gear and two German Shepherds, it soon became quite impractical, particularly as our other car is an S5! So we took the decision last year to get me a proper car that could act as a family car but would be functional, and more importantly, could cope with the weather conditions we get up here on our mountain retreat. We moved to our current house in 2013 and actually viewed it after there had been heavy, heavy snow. Although it was a week later, there was still at least a foot of snow in the gardens and footpaths, and the road had one track in and out that everyone had obviously been using. It shocked me a little, but we loved the house so thought we’d snap it up and deal with bad weather if and when it arrived. We had a mild enough winter in terms of snow last year and with having just had BattleKid I wasn’t going anywhere anyway. But we knew we’d need to change last summer before this winter came around and I’m so glad we did now.

So now BattleMum is the proud owner and driver of a Land Rover Discovery 4 and I couldn’t be happier. I have had to eat my words somewhat since getting it as I had previously been someone who would give out about people driving in cities in their juice-guzzling 4×4 cars. But if you saw where we live you’d have to agree it’s the perfect car for around here and to deal with whatever the weather throws at us. BattleDad did a lot of research before we got her, and made sure she would be both capable and practical, with a huge boot too for dogs and the child’s gear too!

My trusty Land Rover Discovery
My trusty Land Rover Discovery!

I drove her for the first time in snow two weeks ago, under the supervision of BattleDad, and it was fine. I put her into snow mode, and used the Hill Descent Control to go down the hills out of our estate. She does all the clutch and brake controls in that mode, you just need to steer. Once you’re passed the worst of it, take HDC mode off and leave her in snow mode for the main roads. Job done! So this morning I dropped BattleKid off to nursery and came home, all on my lonesome. See I’m getting braver!

We have a driving day coming up with Land Rover themselves to see exactly what a Discovery can do and I had been hoping the snow would stay away until we had done that but not now. Having been forced to face my fears and get out in it, I’m happy in the knowledge the car is capable of dealing with snow and ice and that we have one of the safest cars on the road. I’m very happy with her, despite being reluctant to give up the Audi, and am getting more confident in dealing with snow on the roads around our estate and area. Hopefully that will only grow with the driving day! Looking forward to that now.

 

Spread the load!

This top tip comes via my sister-in-law who is a veteran at travelling with children. It’s something I hadn’t considered before but will be adopting for my future travels with BattleKid!

In her regular feature post on our sisters beauty and lifestyle blog, CherrySueDoinTheDo, Stonetravel imparts some great travel knowledge, reviews and tips for travel on a Tuesday. In a recent post, one top tip stood out for me as a parent. On one fateful trip away with her children, Stonetravel had a bag delayed for 2 hours upon arrival at her destination. This bag just happened to be the children’s bag with all the things she needed for them like nappies, wipes, formula and clothes. Imagine this happening to you! It doesn’t bear thinking about, does it. Well, since then she spreads the kids clothes and necessities like nappies, wipes and formula throughout all the checked baggage so should it ever happen again, she at least has a day or two of supplies until either the bag is found and returned to her, or until she can get to a shop for the essentials she needs.

I hadn’t thought of this when we took BattleKid on our first family trip abroad last year and I essentially packed most of his stuff into one bag and checked that through. There was very little of his things in mine or BattleDad’s bags, certainly nothing of great use or that could be classed as essential, and had his bag got lost somehow we’d have been rightly stuck. So for our forthcoming trips abroad this year (two planned so far), I’ll be spreading our belongings throughout multiple bags, just in case we find ourselves in her situation.

Travel Insurance is a must for Families!

I’m assuming that those of us who travel abroad for city-breaks, holidays, visiting families and just all-round getaways have the relevant travel insurance in place before we go. Whether it is an annual policy or one-trip one. I’ve always ensured BattleDad and I have a good but competitively priced travel insurance policy in place every year once the previous was up for renewal.

To date, and thank God, we’ve never had to use it. But you just never know when you will, do you? I guess it’s something we either don’t give much thought to or do automatically as the renewal email/letter lands in our mailbox, digital or physical.

travel insurance

However, I have a question for all you parents out there, particularly those who are relatively new ones. Have you added your little one to that policy?

It was only as our first ever trip abroad as a family was looming last September that I remembered I hadn’t added BattleKid (then 8 months old) to the policy. I quickly rang the insurers and added him, at no extra cost, and will be ensuring he is on all future ones. It’s something new parents can easily miss in the chaos of organising the trip as other things such as formula/food/nappies and what clothes to bring are the things which are more on your mind than travel insurance.

And while you’re at it, and have sorted your little ones passport out, why not sort out their EHIC card online while you are at it. Another thing new parents might miss during the trip-organising sessions but equally important should your little one fall ill while on holiday. These two things should bring a little peace of mind to you so that you can carry on worrying about what toys and distraction methods you will employ to keep them calm, settled and happy on that first flight away!

Hope my first top tip will come in handy for some of you planning your summer getaways!

Thanks,

Cath x

Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes!

I read a very interesting article this morning from the BBC website (Source) which related to Finnish expectant mums receiving a baby starter box in which the babies generally sleep in their first few weeks/months. It is provided by the state to all expectant mothers who visit their doctor or antenatal clinics within the first four months of their pregnancy. Originally the box was designed for less fortunate mothers and was used to encourage mums-to-be to visit their doctors during pregnancy. It has since become available to all mothers, regardless of income and background.

Expectant mums have an option to choose between the box or a 140 euro cash grant. However, it is reported that 95% opt for the box. And when you see what is included in the box it is easy to see why this number is so high! I’m astounded at what is in the box. Included are various types of clothes (indoor and outdoor), toys, bathing products, nappies, bedding and even a mattress which fits the bottom of the box perfectly, turning it into an infant sleeping bed! The contents change slightly from year to year, but the basics stay the same and the colours are all gender-neutral.

 

Contents of the 2013 pack                                                                                                   Source

Since the box can be used as a bed, many Finnish children now spend their first few weeks/months sleeping in the box. It has helped Finland achieve one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates as it has encouraged them to move away from co-sleeping, which was the norm, to parents and babies having separate beds. Therefore, as the headline suggests, Finnish babies are more and more sleeping in cardboard boxes, albeit nicely decorated ones,not just your run-of-the-mill brown ones we all think of when you hear the phrase “cardboard box”.

All children in Finland now get an equal start in life, regardless of situation or background, and it has helped a lot of people in different ways, from those less fortunate not having to worry about how to finance those first few weeks, to working mums who don’t have time to do baby shopping prior to giving birth.

I think this is a great idea and one many other countries could learn from. I understand governments might be worried about costs but if this was a factor, then make it means-tested. BattleDad and I are lucky in that we both have fairly decent jobs and therefore could afford the things we needed for BattleKid, but think about those mums-to-be who are less well off. It would take a huge weight off their shoulders to know the first few weeks are covered. Or what about parents with other children, or those expecting multiples. And to not have to worry about buying a crib or Moses basket would help people by allowing them to put that money towards other things. Plus, the box would fit somewhere in even the smallest of bedrooms, allowing babies to sleep in parents rooms until they outgrew them (current advice being babies should sleep in their parents rooms for the first six months to lower the risk of SIDS). Aside from that, there is the chance it will help reduce infant mortality rates in other countries where co-sleeping is still prevalent.

What’s your opinion, is this a good thing or a bad thing? I’m sure we all know at least one family who would appreciate this box so much, and many more deserving of a help-out like this.

Liebster Award nomination

I was nominated for the Liebster Award by SweatyMummy (http://wp.me/p5ytiG-1f), whom I follow on Twitter @sweatymummyuk. Thank you for the nomination. Why not visit her blog via the link and give her a follow on Twitter too!

Before the notification popped up on my Twitter feed I’d never heard of the Liebster Award, possibly as I’m quite new to this here blogging thing! However, I’m willing and able to complete my nomination, and pass it on.

The rules of Liebster Award are:

Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.

    1. Display the Liebster Award badge on your blog – the best way to do this is to save the image to your computer and upload to your post
    2. Answer 11 questions about yourself which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you (see below for my answers)
    3. Provide 11 random facts about yourself
    4. Nominate 5 to 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award and who have less than 200 followers
    5. Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer

List these rules in your post and once you have written and published it, you must inform the people/blogs that you nominate that they have been nominated for the Liebster Award and provide a link to your post so that they can learn all about it. The easiest way seems to be through Twitter. Like me, they may not have heard of it before their nomination, so make sure these instructions are followed through!

liebsteraward00x225

Below are my answers to those asked of Sweatymummy and my questions too. Hope you enjoy!

1. When and why did you start blogging?

I started blogging on November 18th, 2014. I had been meaning to start one after being inspired by my hubby (BattleDad) and sister-in-law (CherrySue) but recovery from giving birth and then a little man taking over meant it was a while in the making. However, I’ve jumped on the bandwagon and am at it as much as I can, BattleKid permitting!

2. What is your profession?

I am a scientist. I have a PhD in Organic Chemistry and currently work as a Chromatographic Analyst. Have I lost you yet?! Basically I’m a mad scientist!

3. Do you have any pets? If so, what pets do you have and what are their names? If not, then what is your favourite animal and why?

The BattleHousehold currently have two BattleDogs. They are black German Shepherds and are called Tia and Aris. We love them to bits.

4. If you was stranded on a desert island what three items would you like to have with you (you are not allowed your mobile / tablet / laptop)?

Number 1: A 5 Litre bottle of water. Once it’s empty I could collect rainwater in it.

Number 2: My family, can they be counted as one thing? I wouldn’t want to be without them, no matter where I was.

Number 3: A good book. Don’t know what one, maybe an all-in-one collection of an authors works so I could read different ones and not get too bored!

5. What is your favourite pizza topping?

Ah this is an easy one. BattleDad and I have perfected a pizza in Asda, you know the make-your-own ones. It is based around their American hot and consists of a 14″ Stonebake with tomato base and 6 toppings of: double chilli beef, hot and spicy chicken, onions, mushrooms and mozzarella (no oil). If we want it a bit more hot we add jalapeno peppers at home, although that is usually on BattleDad’s half of the pizza. Serve with wedges and dips. Yum!

6. If you had to choose one drink that you couldn’t live without what would it be (alcoholic or non-alcoholic)?

It has to be tea! Being Irish a cup of tea is our religion. Someone has died “RIP Mary, we’ll have a cup of tea”. Someone isn’t feeling too good or is ill “sure a cup of tea will make you feel better”. You’re feeling cold “a nice hot cup of tea”. You can’t sleep “ah don’t worry, cup of tea?”. It’s solves all problems and can be used in all situations. That is the one drink I’d never be able to live without!

7. What music do you like?

I like most types of music from pop, to dance, to R’n’B, to oldies, to 80’s. My favourite has to be dance music. I always have something playing in my car and even BattleKid is learning to like it. Things like late 90’s/early 00’s dance from people such as Mauro Picotto to The Prodigy to DJ’s such as Armin van Buuren to Judge Jules. Love my dance music!

8. What is your favourite form of exercise?

To be honest I hate exercising, never do it but if I had to choose one it would either be walking or more likely swimming. I’m quite a good swimmer if I do say so myself.

9. What is your favourite colour and what does it say about you?

My favourite colour is blue but I don’t know what it says about me. And it was my choice of colour before BattleKid came along. Just so happened he was a boy 🙂

10. Who is your idol and why?

Erm, this is a hard one. I don’t really know. In real life, I would probably say my Dad. He has done, been and seen so many things, some of which you wouldn’t believe. Like spending 6 years in Angola during the civil war feeding thousands of mine workers alongside military police and guards, to deep-sea fishing in the North Sea, going overboard one night in a storm (but thankfully pulled back on deck) during which several boats and crew were lost. His stories are ones he tells time and again and ones I love to hear about. Deep sea fishing was long before me, but Angola was in the 90’s!

Music wise, Madonna. I’m a big fan. Yes she can be an ass at times, but she makes good music and has stood the test of time when others have come and gone. Other than that I don’t really know.

11. What is your favourite flavour of ice-cream?

I’m going to shock you now and say I don’t generally like ice-cream. I only really enjoy it with my Dad’s homemade apple tart warmed up. And then it has to be vanilla. If you were to try buy me one from a shop or parlour I’d politely decline and ask for a packet of crisps instead!

11 Random Facts about Moi.

  1. I was born in Africa and lived there until the age of nine.
  2. I hate thunder and lightning, having been frightened to death of it in Africa by our nanny.
  3. I only learned to drive and passed my test 6 years ago at the ripe old age of 31.
  4. I originally wanted to study Biology at university but changed my mind halfway through first year to Chemistry and haven’t looked back since. I spent 9 years straight in university, becoming the first student of my university to go from first year of a degree course all the way through to graduating with a PhD without taking a break to work, travel or for any other reason!
  5. Autumn is my favourite season since taking up photography. The changing colours are fabulous and I always try to visit Westonbirt Arboretum at least once when the colours are in full swing. Managed quite a few nice pics of BattleKid during this years visit.
  6. I once dined with Sean Connery. Well, sort of. My hubby and I were in London for a weekend and went to The Boxwood for dinner (then one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants). Sean happened to come in and be seated two tables away from us.
  7. I love Paris, it’s my favourite city in the world.
  8. I did my CBT (motorbike Compulsory Basic Training) in 2008 but never progressed or used it as BattleDad got his ZZR1400 and once I’d sat on the back of that my own riding days were over. Up until July last year I enjoyed riding pillion but am semi-retired at the moment until BattleKid grows up.
  9. I’ve seen the Northern Lights. Twice! First time was for about 10 seconds in Iceland, then second time for a few hours in Norway. And I plan to see them at least once more in my lifetime when we take BattleKid to Norway once he’s old enough to remember it.
  10. I once was part of a swimming team, competing in galas on a regular basis when I was younger. Hence I’m a good swimmer and why I take BattleKid to Waterbabies. If swimming is the only skill I teach him then I’ll be happy.
  11. I did Ballroom and Latin American dancing for two years after giving up swimming and even have trophies in my parents house to prove it!

I would like to nominate the following people:

1. Zoe @dustsettlesblog

2. Vic @diaryofatiredmummy

3. Mum Writing @mumwriting

4. Sanna @wavetomummy

5. Jennifer @lovelifelaughuk

My apologies if someone has received a double nomination. I’ve tried to follow the trail on Twitter as far back as I can, and have also searched your websites for a post relating to the Liebster award but found none.

My questions to you are:

  1. When did you start blogging and why?
  2. What is your earliest childhood memory?
  3. What is your favourite tv programme of all time and why?
  4. If you could be an animal, what would you be?
  5. What are your interests/hobbies?
  6. How much time do you/can you dedicate to your blog?
  7. What is your favourite food dish (pick only one dish) and say why?
  8. Who do you look up to in life?
  9. Are you organised or disorganised?
  10. What is your favourite blog piece you have written (provide a link to it)?
  11. Name three things on your bucket list!

I hope you all enjoy answering the questions and nominating other new bloggers. I look forward to reading yours and learning more about you, and also finding some new blogs to read and follow.

Thanks,

BattleMum