Family fun day

On Sunday we had our annual Summer Family Day provided by our employer. it was held in a hotel to the north of Cardiff and the kids had a great time. There were lots of things like inflatable slides for them to play on, and also the opportunity to get some football coaching from some people from Cardiff City ‘Bluebirds’. My kids aren’t generally interested in football at all, but they did both enjoy the training, and I’m trying to persuade my older boy to take up the offer of the free football coaching summer school day which has been offered to him. There was a barbeque for lunch, and also arts and crafts activities for the children. I must admit there wasn’t a great deal for the parents, but then we probably just enjoyed the chance to sit down and gaze across at the largely uninterrupted view of Cardiff (below).

I love looking at vistas like this one. Almost all the holidays I’ve been on, I end up coming back with pictures gazing at horizons like this. If you look very closely, in the middle and just to the right of the picture you can see the distinctive white poles on top of the Millennium Stadium, where our Relay For Life will be held in three weeks. The far horizon (the really pale grey above the water that could easily be a shallow band of cloud if you didn’t know better) is North Somerset, and you can also just make out the two islands in the Bristol Channel, Steep Holm (almost exactly in the centre) and Flat Holm (just to the left of Steep Holm). I think it’s a great view, although it would have been enhanced if it had been a lovely day with a clear blue sky!

I was also fascinated watching some bees gathering pollen from the lavender bushes at the back of the hotel. I tried several times to capture a picture of these busy little guys, but my ‘trigger finger’ was never quite fast enough to catch them at their pollen gathering. And so the little bee diving off the left of the above picture is the best I can offer! However, despite that, I do like this picture with the vibrancy of the orange flowers highlighting the subtlety of the lavender – not a colour combination which is often made, but here it seems to work.

Enough pondering from me, I have sorting to do. Another bag or two of surplus stuff has been sorted out for dispatch since the last time I mentioned it to you, and I hope to make more progress today.

Desperation strikes again, a.k.a. I’m starting another diet!

I’ve been psyching myself up for some time towards starting another diet. For any of you who have been reading my blog for a while, I apologise for repeating myself, as I seem to start diets about every six months with varying levels of success. Well, at the end of the day they obviously are unsuccessful as I’ve not yet reached my optimum weight and been able to abandon my quest to become lighter!

I’m still mourning the lack of a Rosemary Conley diet and fitness class in Cardiff. I went to one two years ago for six months and lost nearly two stone, which was fantastic. I loved the actual diet, which, with it’s focus on eating fruit and veg and enough milk for calcium, I think is very healthy. I also enjoyed the exercise class every week. I begrudge going to other classes, like Weight Watchers or Slimming World and having to pay ¬£5 just to be weighed. At least with Rosemary Conley classes you do get that exercise to music session which you can tailor to your own ability. However, my nearest one is either in Caerleon or Bridgend, neither of which I feel like rushing to in the evenings. I’m still hoping and praying that the instructor from either Newport or Bridgend will suddenly notice that there is nothing in Cardiff and will start up another class!

Anyway, I have to move on and stop waiting for a non-existent class to help me to lose weight! I’m really hoping that we’ll manage to have a family holiday next year, and the last thing that I want is to be going away, self conscious about the way I look and avoiding family photos because I know that they’re unflattering. I’ve been eating really well this week, avoiding snacks and trying to up the amount of fruit and veg that I consume. I’m also trying to drink more, especially with the warm weather we’ve been enjoying. But it’s obviously not enough, and I need to find opportunities to exercise. It’s not as easy as you might think with two children around all the time. I could go out to the gym or on my bike in the evenings, but by the time the children are in bed I’m usually tired and able for nothing more than a little light internet surfing. I need to try to get out with the kids a bit more, to the park maybe with a couple of balls or something. We do try to get out somewhere every day, weather permitting, but it does get hard when you’re trying to fit so much into your day. I’ve got a lot on at the moment with Relay For Life, and I’ve been helping my mother in law with her garden a couple of times whis week. I’m also in the middle of clearing out my kids’ bedroom. All of that doesn’t leave a lot of leisure time for spending at the park! However, hopefully this coming week will be a little less frantic. I’m hoping to save some of my energy for cycling in the evenings, and maybe I’ll feel better for doing it. I think I’m slightly put off the thought of cycling because it has been so long since I was able to get out on my bike, I think I’ll be back to square one. However, if I’m going to do a Brecon to Cardiff¬†sponsored bike ride next year, it needs to be done!

So, I need to spend this next week focussing on good food, no snacking and plenty of exercise. I know the theory, it’s just putting it into practise and keeping up the will power to keep it going. I’ll keep you posted.

Relay For Life and positive response from fire fighters

Yesterday the children and I spent some time with two other members of the committee for Cancer Research UK Relay For Life Cardiff. I think I’ve mentioned that we’re all volunteers doing this event organising, and I think that we’re doing really well to stay positive despite what have been a succession of problems in the organising of our event in recent months. However, next year will be easier!

Anyway, we decided that yesterday we should visit some fire stations with the aim of trying to persuade firemen to take part in Relay For Life. We went first to Whitchurch Fire Station who, due to the short notice, didn’t think that they could help. However, they did point us in the right direction for people who wouldn’t be so tied up with other charitable works, and then they swept my boys away and into a fire engine, much to their delight! They were allowed to press the sirens on and off, and then were invited to open the main doors to the fire station! I think it really made their day!

After this we went to Central Fire Station which I think is the main fire station for Cardiff. Once again we were welcomed warmly, and here we received a very encouraging response. The fire fighters we talked with seemed very positive that they could get together a team for the event, and also a girl from the Fire Safety Unit was enthusiastic and promised to try to bring a team as well! And then, once again my boys were ushered away to play in one of the fire engines, and this time they were invited to have a go with the water hose! They quite literally bounced out of the fire station and back to the car!

Finally we visited Esporta fitness club in East Cardiff who were, once again, very enthusiastic. They took some posters to display as well as some flyers to offer to their members. They also said that they would try to organise some spin bikes to be at Relay For Life. This would be great as it would really reenforce our healthy living message that we hope to promote. We were told that Esporta sent a team to Race For Life, and so they were very likely to be able to send a team to Relay!

All in all, we had a very positive day, which was great after all the difficulties we have had to negotiate recently!

Sponsored Walk on the Taff trail

I was apprehensive about the weather when I got up yesterday morning. it had been sunny while I enjoyed breakfast in bed, but then had clouded over considerably before I got dressed. I can’t think of many more miserable family activities than dragging a seven and a four year old four miles through a downpour when they would blatantly rather be spending the afternoon being spoiled by their Gu (short for Mamgu, Welsh for Grandmother). But I was lucky yesterday. The Angels smiled on our small fundraising venture and so at just after 2pm the four of us set off, after enjoying a delicious and robust Sunday Roast, from Llandaff Cathedral to walk the nearly four miles to the Millennium Stadium in aid of Cancer Research UK.

I decided to keep a photo journal of our walk, as much to prove that we had done it as for any other reason. Our brother in law gave us a lift to the Cathedral, and after a couple of photos of the children at the start of their walk, we set out. I admit, I did go a little bit crazy with the number of photos I took along the way, but better too many than too few! I’m just really glad that we have digital cameras now, otherwise my photo processing costs would be absurd. I’d have to take on another job to pay for it!

After a slight detour (a bit of a wrong turn which led to Pontcanna allotments) we soon found our way to the Taff Trail. As it was the first half decent day for ages, the trail was busy with plenty of cyclists and walkers enjoying the sunshine. I love rivers, so this was a really nice walk for me. On this part of the Taff Trail you stay within sight of the river for almost the whole way.

We strode out, with only a couple of short stops for drinks (during one of which, youngest son decided to sit in an anthill – you can imagine the panic which ensued! However, all was well and the offending insects were quickly brushed off) and made really good time.

Only an hour and twenty minutes after starting out we were within sight of our goal. Now, we had allowed two hours for the walk, bearing in mind the (lack of) length of the children’s legs, and so as we had arranged to meet my parents to celebrate finishing the walk, we decided to have a bit of a sit down in Bute Park in the sunshine so that we wouldn’t be too early! And so, just over one and a half hours after setting out, we crossed the (imaginary) finish line and went for celebratory pancakes with my parents! The final total for sponsorship has yet to be received, but they definitely raised in excess of ¬£200! Not bad for two small children!

Fundraising ideas please!

As I have blogged before, I’m currently doing some voluntary event management work for Cancer Research UK. We are organising a Relay For Life event for Cardiff and my job is to recruit and then inspire teams to fundraise! So, this post is to ask you all to give me any ideas that you have for team fundraising which I can then pass on to our team captains.

Cancer Research UK Relay For Life – The Valleys

I went to visit Relay For Life at Bargoed this weekend. I couldn’t stay for a really long time as I took my youngest, and the weather really was atrocious! I managed to have a short visit on both days though. But, I can’t fault the teams and organisers for their attitude – all the people I saw were positive and cheerful, even through the most severe downpours. I can really see how and why people are returning year on year to this event. Even in the worst conditions the participants are keeping their focus and staying happy.

It really was very muddy and we were really glad of our wellies!
It really was very muddy and we were really glad of our wellies!
The tents were so full of mud, I\'d hate to have the cleaning of them!
The tents were so full of mud, I’d hate to have the cleaning of them!
...and yet everyone stayed so cheerful!

...and yet everyone stayed so cheerful!

And full credit needs to be given to their fundraising efforts – I don’t know the exact amount, but at the closing ceremony it was announced that Relay For Life – The Valleys raised in excess of ¬£70,000!

Cancer Research UK gets some good press!

I was browsing the web this evening when I came across this article which talks about how people find it easy to relate to Cancer Research UK as a cause, and how this encourages people to help with fundraising for them. Have a look and see what you think.



Come and support us in Cardiff on 30/31 August, and help raise money to carry on the search for a cure.

My little pavement buddy!

This may seem like a strange picture to post, but¬†I thought I’d share¬†it with you today. I was sitting on the steps outside a Cardiff office block recently, and this little guy/girl (do lady-ladybirds look different to gentleman-ladybirds?) came trundling past. Given that there was no greenery within twenty or thirty yards I’ve no idea why he stopped by me, but he did and I felt the need to take his picture. The photo doesn’t really do credit to the glorious scarlet of his wing cases, or to his glossiness, but this was the best that I could do. Thinking back, I must have looked really miserable for that five minutes, as I spent the whole time observing him as he paraded past me. Then I must have looked completely crackers when I took my camera out and, to all intents and purposes, took a picture of the pavement! It’s a wonder that a padded van didn’t dash up and carry me off really!¬†

I’ve had two more extra days at work this week, and yesterday (a really lovely hot and sunny day) myself and the committee chairman spent a couple of hours around Cardiff spreading the word about Cancer Research UK Relay For Life in Cardiff (30/31 August in the Millennium Stadium, in case you haven’t read my other post about it!). We visited a fair few offices and made a good start with distributing posters and leaflets about the event, and we are hoping to visit some businesses in Cardiff Bay soon. I’m looking forward to the teams beginning to register in the next week or two, so that we know we’re on the right path to hosting a great first year Relay For Life.

Our first mini-hike

When I had my children first, despite not being the world’s greatest enthuser about exercise I looked forward to the day when they would be old enough for us to go out as a family and do active things. Today was one of the first times that we have done an activity purely exercise based. We had our first family hike.

¬†OK, so it wasn’t a full day ramble taking ten hours and covering thirty miles, but we enjoyed it and I think the boys will definitely be willing to do some more. We took a picnic and went on a bus into Cardiff.

¬†From there we walked through Bute Park to pick up the Taff Trail near to Sophia Gardens. We walked along the Trail all the way to Llandaff North and then crossed over to Whitchurch to get a bus back into town. And this was all under their own steam. Not at any point did we have to carry either of the boys or even their rucksacks that they took to carry their own lunches. I’m so proud of them! I reckon that they must have walked a good four miles, plus all the extra walking around the centre of Cardiff once we had returned on the bus.

We’re thinking of heading up the Wye Valley, or maybe over to Mumbles for the next walk we will do, and hope to do more of these through the summer.

The reason that we went for a long walk today is that my boys have both decided to take part in Cancer Research UK Relay For Life Cardiff in August, and like my idea of doing a sponsored walk to raise money for it, so they’re in training!

Cancer Research UK Relay For Life Cardiff!!!

We have news! Finally, we are able to tell you that the Cancer Research UK Relay For Life will be held on 30/31 August in Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium! (Did you get that from the photos? That was the hint!)

We’ve been keeping our fingers crossed for some time that we would be able to hold the event here, and we’ve now had confirmation from them. So registration for the event is go, go, go!

If you want to know more about the event, whether that’s getting a team together, volunteering to help out on the day or maybe dedicating a Candle of Hope, please either visit the Cancer Research UK Relay For Life Cardiff official webpages, or our unofficial blog, or leave a comment here and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

But for now, I’ll leave you to enjoy these pictures of the Millennium Stadium which I took yesterday especially for your pleasure, as it was such a lovely sunny day here in Cardiff.