Slovenia: Pre-trip

We’ve got a set of really good friends, T&G and have had a few holidays together with their two children L&T. We were long overdue a holiday together so in January we set about organising one together after about a 4 year gap. Now L&T are teenagers and have been getting a bit bored of typical sun package holidays so T suggested we find somewhere different with a variety of things to do. We were game as BattleKid is still young enough not to care about location and activities. T started looking into lake holidays but found prices incredibly expensive for the likes of the Italian lakes. Friends of theirs had mentioned they regularly holiday at a lake in Slovenia and after looking into it we decided to try the recommendation.

Now, Slovenia might not be on everyone’s list of places to visit and I have to admit I had to look where it was situated on Google maps. Slovenia is situated in Central and Southeastern Europe and I was surprised to see it had a coastline on the Adriatic Sea. It is bordered by Italy in the West, Austria to the north, Hungary to the northeast and Croatia in the south. It’s capital is Ljubljana and has a population of just over 2 million. It was part of former Yugoslavia and gained independence in 1991. It became part of the Eurozone in 2007 and was to be our holiday destination for a week in August.

For our holiday we had decided to drive to Luton, where we were flying out of, the day before to save ourselves the hassle of a long drive as we had an early 7.20am flight to Slovenia.

I finished work at 12.30 on the Friday and went straight home to meet BattleDad and BattleKid. As BattleDad had brought the dogs up to kennels earlier that morning we just had to load the car up, so it meant we were on the road by 2pm. This was ideal to allow BattleKid to get a snooze in. As we left it was raining and sat nav estimated we’d get there just after 5, which didn’t seem too bad.

However, as we passed Bristol on the M4 sat nav picked up a traffic problem and we ended up diverting and heading via Malmesbury to Oxford to avoid 2 problems on the M4. We stopped somewhere after Oxford for the crappiest KFC I’ve ever had, at the filthiest services I’ve ever stopped at. It was disgusting. We finally reached our hotel somewhere around 7pm, 5 hours after we started. Let’s just say I won’t ever be flying from Luton again. After a quick bath we got BattleKid into bed and he was asleep just after 8pm, with us not far behind him. But it wasn’t a restful nights sleep for me as I had BattleDad’s snoring keeping me awake!

George starting his holidays!
George starting his holidays!

The A-Z of BattleMum

I recently saw a few of these posts floating around the blogsphere and thought it might be an interesting thing to do. I’ve completed posts or nominations such as the Love/Hate Challenge and 11 Things post which have both given my lovely readers a bit more insight into who I am but I figured doing an A-Z of me could build on those posts. So here it goes.

A-Z of me!
A to Zduncan / Foter / CC BY-NC

A is for Alexander. It’s BattleKid’s first name and one we decided on for him about 2/3 of the way through our pregnancy. It’s a name that we thought stood up to the school yard test and can be shortened to Alex as we’ve done. We chose it for two reasons; Alexander the Great (my husband’s love of history) and Alexander Skargard (Eric of True Blood, my guilty pleasure).

B is for Botswana. I was born on a diamond mine in Botswana as was my next sister and it is somewhere I really want to visit when BattleKid is old enough. I’ve no memory of there as we left when I was two but Africa has always held a special place in my heart.

C is for Catherine, my name. Hi /waves. I was named after my father’s mother and is a name I think I’ve grown into. No-one ever shortened it in Ireland but I’ve become Cath since I moved to the UK, which I don’t mind. Just don’t call me Cathy if you want me to answer, grr. I’m also a Capricorn.

D is for driving, a skill I only learned to do when I was the ripe old age of 31. In Ireland there was never a need as I lived close enough to college and got the bus everywhere else but I think it’s essential to do early if living in the UK. We couldn’t live where we do and me work in Cardiff if I couldn’t drive.

E is for elephants. They’re one of my favourite animals alongside dogs and cheetahs. So much so that BattleKid has several teddy elephants although he doesn’t pay them much attention. I actually have one teddy elephant who is 30 years old this Christmas and has travelled from South Africa to Ireland to Wales with me and is still going strong, albeit in a bag in the attic for safe keeping.

F is for four. I’m the eldest of four girls, with 13 years between me and the youngest. My poor dad was surrounded by females until my nephew came along. Now he has 2 grandsons, 2 son-in-law’s and 2 son-in-law’s to be. F is also for fame as I once ate dinner two tables away from Sean Connery (I’m a massive James Bond fan).

G is for German Shepherd. They’re our favourite breed of dog and we have two black ones, fondly referred to as the BattleDogs. Both are fully trained and are extremely loyal and protective, yet very gentle and loving around BattleKid.

H is for holidays. I love to travel having got the bug when I was younger and after our parents brought us home from South Africa. We also spent 2 months in Saudi Arabia when I was 10 and ever since I’ve loved travelling. I wish I had more annual leave days than I do so I could take more holidays in the year.

I is for Irish. Both myself and BattleDad are from Ireland. I also love visiting places in Ireland I haven’t been to before. I’m definitely looking forward to summer holidays in Ireland with BattleKid.

J is for Jordan, both my surname and a place I’d like to visit, specifically Petra. It’s on my bucket list. J is also for juggling: life, a toddler, work, a home, blogging and a marriage. But I’m doing it, just!

K is for kindle, something I resisted for ages but wouldn’t be without now. It makes packing for holidays so much easier as both BattleDad and I now have all the books we need at our fingertips rather than in our suitcases. I also have a dodgy knee from hours spent on the back of BattleDad’s motorbikes. Small price to pay for the fun.

L is for lightning. Something I hate! I’ve been terrified of it since South Africa. We used to get fork lightening there during storms and our nanny used to hurry us into one room with the curtains closed during storms. I think that’s where my fear stems from.

M is for motorbikes. One of my biggest passions. Riding pillion, or watching MotoGP or the TT, I love them! BattleKid is fast getting in on the act. M is also for dance music, another passion of mine and m is also for melktart.

N is for the Northern Lights. I’ve been lucky enough to see them twice. Once for about 10 seconds while in Iceland, and then briefly one night in Norway followed by a few hours the next night on the same trip in Norway. They are amazing and I’m already planning a return trip to Tromso with BattleKid when he’ll be old enough to remember it.

O is for organised. I’m generally quite an organised person. I have to be as BattleDad is useless!

P is for photography, a hobby I took up about 5 years ago. I’ve done 4 short photography courses and enjoy taking pictures when I get the time. One of my courses, Photographing People, comes in very handy now we have BattleKid as I can see good pictures from bad whereas before I’d have generally said they were all good.

Q is for the QEII. It’s the ship my parents travelled on when they emigrated to South Africa and it played it’s part in my African heritage where I was raised until I was 9.

R is for reading. I’ve enjoyed reading since I was little having started reading with my parents. I don’t get much time to read books these days except on holidays which I’m a little sad about.

S is for scientist. It’s my day job and one I love. I do chemical analysis and am planning to write about my day job in a future post, although I’m not sure when that will be.

T is for tea. My only vice since giving up alcohol over a year ago. It’s also the staple go-to beverage in every Irish household. You’re not feeling well, have a cup of tea. Someone’s died, have a cup of tea. The weather’s awful, have a cup of tea. See what I mean?!

U is for university. From start to finish I did 9 years straight in university and finally graduated with a PhD in chemistry. I’m proud of myself for achieving that.

V is for vertigo, a condition I first started suffering from about 3 years ago. I had 3 bouts in that year and it was awful. Thankfully I haven’t had more than one a year since but it’s a horrible thing to suffer from.

W is for Waterbabies which BattleKid and I attend. It’s important to me to teach him to swim from an early age like my parents did for me. W is also for Wales which is home for us now.

X is for x-ray. I’ve only ever had one in my life and it was on my teeth in Saudi Arabia where they discovered I don’t have an adult pre-molar on my lower jaw and that the milk tooth would need to be pulled at some stage if it didn’t come itself. That occurred when I was 12 and since then two of my three sisters have also discovered they too don’t have an adult tooth at the exact same spot. There’s genetics right there for you!

Y is for Yellowstone National Park. Another thing on my bucket list and one we’re hoping to maybe visit in the next couple of years.

And finally Z is for Zebras. They’re just horses in stripey pyjamas. I hate animal print clothes so you’ll never see me wearing zebra print pyjamas. Each to their own hey!

Horses in stripey pyjamas-LucaM- Photography WWW.LUCAMOGLIA.IT / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

So there you have it, an A-Z of BattleMum.

Elan Valley August 2015

The first weekend in August saw us visit Elan Valley for the first time this year. BattleDad and I first discovered it on one of our many bike trips around Mid Wales and immediately fell in love with it.

Elan Valley comprises over 70 square miles of unspoilt nature, reservoirs, rivers, lakes and mountains. Situated just west of Rhayader (Powys) it became a route we took en-route to Aberystwyth and if you ever get the chance to visit you’ll see why it has become a firm favourite of ours. Even better, since we moved to our current house in 2013 it’s closer than ever at just 1 hour and 20 minutes (or 52 miles) away.

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Having not been able to go as planned a few weeks before, despite the grey and wet start to the weekend, we decided we’d take a chance and head up anyway after a lie in until 8.30am. We ate toast with BattleKid, and I got some things ready for our picnic which we were taking with us. I packed tapas, freshly baked ciabatta, dips, cold meats, crackers for BattleKid, olives, fruit, some crisps and drinks all round. Along with my camera bag and a change of clothes for BattleKid, we loaded up the Landy and set off just after 10am.

As we drove north on the A470, the weather began to improve a bit. BattleKid had a good 40-50 minute nap on the way up and as we passed Rhayader and headed into Elan Valley he woke up and rejoined us. BattleDad had found a route about a year ago when in Elan Valley with friends on his bike which leads to a picnic area beside one of the dams, Claerwen. We first visited here last October and having discovered the picnic area, this was where we headed to first.

We unpacked the picnic and BattleKid, and set up on one of the benches. I decided to get some shots of BattleKid on my DSLR before we started eating in case he didn’t want to play ball afterwards. After a few minutes we started eating but soon enough we had to abandon the bench in favour for the back of the Landy as the rain came in. Thank god for a huge boot with full head room!

We finished off our lunch and by the time we were done it had stopped raining so we thought we’d have a little walk with BattleKid. We headed down to the riverside where BattleDad decided to teach BattleKid about throwing stones into water, as you do. He had an absolute ball, picking up one stone at a time and throwing it into the water before going back for another. I also got some lovely pictures of my two boys having fun together, unfortunately at the expense of a wet arse! I had sat on ground near the water’s edge to get some shots and got a wet bum for my troubles.

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After the stone throwing episode we loaded the car up and headed for a drive around some of the upper reservoirs and dams. While crossing one bridge I saw a photo opportunity so BattleDad pulled over out-of-the-way so I could run back and snap away. It was the first time I’d ever seen the water flowing over the top of the Pen-y-garreg dam and managed to get it on camera from this bridge. I told BattleDad we’d have to stop when we got to the top of the reservoir for more pictures.

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When we got there I snapped away while BattleDad chatted to a biker who had stopped. It really was an incredible sight at the top. As I’ve said I’ve never seen the water flowing over the top of the dam before and was glad we saw it this time, as it might be a while before we see it again.

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As we left the Pen-y-garreg dam we headed towards Rhayader around the upper lakes and this is when the heavens opened. My Sunday Photo from that weekend sums it up. I’m glad we got our window in between the showers to play with BattleKid and for me to get some photos.



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On the way back down the A470 BattleKid snoozed while we chatted on the drive home. We had an early dinner of mince and mash which BattleKid thoroughly enjoyed before baths/showers. BattleKid went down easy enough and BattleDad and I watched the film Kingsman: The Secret Service, which was an easy watching film. We all slept well and BattleKid had another lie in until 8.50am on the Sunday morning. What a treat!

We had a lovely day out to Elan Valley and were looking forward to our forthcoming holiday to Slovenia for some more much-needed family time together. Those holiday diaries will be featured on the blog just as soon as I have time to type them up.

The Gro Egg: Our Review

I bought our Gro Egg almost a year ago when we moved BattleKid into his own room at 8 months old. We had discovered that the temperature displayed on our baby monitor was between 1 and 2 degrees higher than the actual room temperature by comparison to the free room thermometer that came with BattleKid’s Grobags. As you cannot see the free room thermometer display at night I wanted something that was more accurate than our baby monitor and something I could see at night

gro egg
I had seen the Gro Egg in John Lewis and had it stored in my mind, so when it came to thinking about a digital room thermometer, the Gro Company was the place I turned to. I promptly ordered it and installed it in BattleKid’s room on his shelves where we could see it but where the night-light wouldn’t disturb him. And it has proudly sat there ever since.

It’s been great peace of mind as it accurately tells the temperature of the room so I know when to change the tog of his Grobag or his bed-clothes. The colour of the night-light changes according to the room temperature and there is even a smiley or sad face to accompany the temperature display.
– below 16°C is considered cold and the Gro Egg turns blue. The temperature readout is accompanied by a sad face.
– between 16 and 20°C is considered the ideal temperature for your baby for comfortable and safe sleeping. In this case the Gro Egg is yellow in colour with a smiley face on the display.
– between 20 and 24°C is considered warm and the Gro Egg is orange in colour, almost acting as a warning!
– over 24°C is considered hot and the Gro Egg glows red with a sad face.

gro egg

gro eggBy being accurate and having both the digital display and the changing colours, you can easily tell if and when you need to adjust things to ensure your baby has a comfortable and safe nights sleep. The instructions even provide you with a guide on what to adjust if the temperature is outside the recommended guidelines of 16-20°C such as:
– heat or cool your baby’s room.
– adjust the clothes they sleep in.
– adjust the tog of their Grobag, or adjust the number of sheets/blankets you use for them.

The glowing colour of the Gro Egg also acts as a great night-light. It isn’t too bright as to disturb your baby and is just enough for you to be able to see in their room without the need for another light.

The digital temperature reading is very easy to see at night but maybe a little harder during the day if the sun is quite bright outside. However, this isn’t a big deal as you may want to use the Gro Egg mostly at night for bedtime like me. At nap times during the day I’ve simply stood closer to the Gro Egg or in front of it to see the display easier. But that said, I’ve never really needed to heed it much during the daytime for naps.

As mentioned already this room thermometer is quite accurate, much more so than our baby monitor and this is important for peace of mind, especially for mums who might need to move their baby into their own rooms at an early age for whatever reason. The Gro Egg also conforms to both British and European Safety Standards, a big plus in my scientific minds book!

The only thing you’ll need to bear in mind with your Gro Egg is its placement in the room. Direct drafts or heat (such as from radiators) may affect the temperature reading so you won’t want to place it near either of these. Also, the Gro Egg is mains operated so you’ll need to have access to a socket for it. That said its lead is quite long.

I’ve loved our Gro Egg since we first got it and even more so since we added the Mickey Monkey Gro Shell to it as it ties in nicely with the Next Cheeky Monkey theme we have going on in BattleKid’s room.

gro egg

What I love about the Gro Egg :
easy to use
– value for money
– peace of mind
– bright colour and digital display at night
– doubles up as a night-light which shouldn’t disturb your baby
– great characters available to add to it
– helps with dressing baby or choosing the correct tog Grobag or bedding for baby
– accurate temperature display
– conforms to safety standards

What I don’t like about the Gro Egg:
– nothing. The only point to note is placement in the room as mentioned.

The Gro Egg has been an invaluable addition to BattleKid’s nursery and gives us help in dressing him correctly for bed. It also gives us peace of mind that we’re doing things to aid a comfortable and safe nights sleep for him. You won’t go wrong if you decide to add a Gro Egg to your little ones nursery or room.

The Gro Egg and Shell characters are available via the online shop of the Gro Company website or through other major retailers such as Amazon, Argos, John Lewis and Mothercare, to name but a few.

I was not asked to write this post.