Category Archives: Edinburgh

New Decade, Old Habit: Janathon 2020 Day 1

This will be my fifth Janathon – gasp! Every year (bar one) since 2014 I have signed up to the fitness challenge where you have to exercise every day in January and blog about it.

I managed a fair few runs in December, so it wasn’t too hellish setting off at 11.50am. I wasn’t hungover either cos we had our alternative Hogmanay on the 30th. I jogged into the bright new day with my ever-random playlist (it was Fireball by Pitbull that set my pace. Later, just when I was beginning to flag, Domino by Jessie J revived me. I think it’s a Radio 1 Big Weekend CD hiding in there).

Janathon 1

Running into the Pentlands

Everyone and their dog was out walking in the Pentlands today. I was very rude, I didn’t stop to chat to a single one. I was determined to push myself today. I always start with the big hill – half way up is a bench where I do my Buggyfit inspired tricep dips and push ups. I power walk up the last bit of the incline, concentrating on my core and my glutes, then I pick my way over all the tree roots at the fence line until I get to the gate. After that it’s all downhill or flat and I can get my pace, which today was not too shabby.

Janathon 1

The fenceline has amazing roots

I arrived home red and sweaty but pleased. I took time to stretch cos the boys like to play along with that bit – then changed my tshirt and headed straight back out for a walk… Except the boys had a massive argument about which route to take, the five year old sat down on the pavement and refused to move and Rod stormed off with the Wee Man. I called my sister while I waited for the most stubborn child on the planet to move (16 minutes).

I don’t usually have to wait a full hour for my shower after a run. It felt extra good today.

Day one done.

5km – hilly – stop for strength work – 35 mins

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What you know at five years old…

These two met in primary one:

Now we’ve got kids of our own starting primary one and it’s a proper headf**k.

In our heads we’re not old enough – or mature enough – for this.

But turns out half of us are 40 now. Not me, I am but a spring chicken at 36.

Last night Lorna (above), her husband Dave, Helen, John and other old friends got together for Jen’s 40th. We love her parents (they let us use their fabulous Florida villa for our honeymoon) and it was a very special reunion for the kids who met at school and grew up and away and came back again.

We must have been extra-lucky, Rod and I, because we’re both still close to our primary pals. There’s something weighty about friendships that have withstood adolescence and university and careers across continents.

I want that for our kids.

You can’t help but project when your 4 year old informs you: “I’m going to marry Ailsa Murray”, the same day he tells you he does  “really love Willow, I can’t stop hugging her” and asks repeatedly if Ella can come to play.

I’ve only been in Edinburgh three years but I’ve gathered a group of wonderful women around me, whose kids I love and whose lives I’m totally in tune with. It makes me so happy to think of us all growing up together. I particularly love it when their daughters talk about “Auntie Kim” and ask me to paint their nails and braid their hair. “God she should have been your daughter,” they laugh as I reply “She is – I just get the best bits then hand her back.”

[“Well I’m sending her to you when she gets pregnant at 16” is usually the tart reply]

We got a bit emotional last night as everyone drunkenly told each other how much they meant to them. Jen’s mum, whom we love to bits, put her arms round Rod and I and reminded us how hard you have to work at a marriage, but you do it because you love each other.

It’s our 12 year anniversary today.

We got married when I was 24.

We met when I was five.

And no, it’s not all easy, and you do have to fight through the hard bits, but I love him endlessly. He bought me flowers and -gasp – wrote me a card today, so I reckon he probably loves me back. It looks like I knew a good one when I saw him.

Perhaps KD has met The One already true enough…

PS Rod wants me to add that I got him nothing.

Well, I wrote him this.

 

 

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Decking in Edinburgh COMPLETE!

Are you ready for the big reveal? Have you already read part 1?!

I’ll show you wee bits of it and save the best for last.decking in edinburghIn all, it took two men 18 hours to turn my ugly, multi-level, crazy-paved 1960s patio into a clean, stunning space.

They worked through pouring rain and turned up exactly when I expected them – once they were even early.

Before I show you the stages – go check out Keith’s Facebook page.

OK – here we go:

Remember how bad it was?

decking in Edinburgh

BEFORE

decking in edinburgh

decking in edinburghdecking in Edinburghdecking in Edinburgh

LOOK AT THE STAIRS!

decking in Edinburgh

Remember the rotting bannister? The weird curved flower beds?

They’ve all gone and now it looks like this:

decking in Edinburgh

Just a reminder:

decking in Edinburgh

BEFORE

So I spent this afternoon like this:

decking in Edinburgh

I also hung these – but I doubt they’ll still be there at the weekend given the football pitch that is my garden.

I’ll enjoy them while they last, and start planning all the barbecue parties we’re going to have 🙂

decking in Edinburgh

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Decking in Edinburgh

Ooh I’ve gone all middle-class and middle-aged.

I’m so excited about our new DECKING!!!

decking in edinburgh

Dream One

decking in edinburgh

Dream 2

Here is a picture of our current back patio:

decking in Edinburgh

BEFORE

Note the rotting bannister (complete with steering wheel), the multiple levels and the hideous crazy paving. Whoever invented Crazy Paving should be ashamed of themselves. It truly is an eyesore and a bloody nightmare to get rid of. So I’m just going to cover it up.

We chose decking for a number of reasons:

  1. It adds value to your property
  2. It solves the issue of having multiple levels
  3. It’s cheaper than concrete or paving
  4. It’s safer than stone chips (especially if you have a child likely to throw handfuls of them around)
  5. It’s only slippy after a good five years and this is prevented by power-hosing
  6. It looks gorgeous

I’m very excited about this. I’ve waited a long time to get to this stage in our home renovation.

We bought our house three years ago and spent a considerable sum redecorating. Every carpet had to be replaced and every wall had to be painted.

decking in edinburgh

decking in edinburgh

We then converted the garage into my office.

decking in edinburgh

Two years ago we had to replace the fence in the back garden due to Houdinis 1 and 2 climbing the handy ladder created by horizontal posts.

We hadn’t really planned for this expense – we were only a year out from the pretty hefty outlay of the initial renovations.

We moved some stuff around in our financial plans and our new vertical design has proved effective –  in that there haven’t been any more escapes.decking in Edinburgh

But it has set us back a little bit in terms of sorting the rest of the back garden. Life is what happens when you’re making other plans, huh?

We’ve been saving and sorting things out (I’ve even made a BBC Radio Scotland programme about being Clever About Cash) and so we’re now FINALLY able to get to the decking stage – hurray!

I’ll post the progress shots each day.

decking in Edinburgh

Wood delivered – here we go!

 

 

 

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Home organisation – Mum-style

I do not follow Mrs Hinchliffe.

I take no pleasure in bleaching tiles or cleaning under stuff.

I mean – I live with three boys.

home organisation

For background, I have two sisters, a homemaker mum and a dad who works away a lot. I grew up in a girly house, so I’m still adjusting to the noise, mess and destruction of my own (despite being married 12 years and entering motherhood eight years ago).

home organisation

So although I clean up after my thugs mutinously and remind, cajole and nag them to put stuff away, or in the bin, or outside (“no you may not have a scooter race in the hall”) – I don’t relish it in the least.

What I do enjoy is organising.

Home organisation

My friend Craig wrote a post about sorting out the cupboard under the sink. He made it look so pretty with colour coded cloths and baskets that I wondered if I could do that.

home organisation

Craig makes things pretty

Jeez, the shit that was under there.

Once I’d ditched the random lids and stained cloths and burst-open dishwasher tablets, I sorted all my cleaning products into two baskets. I found rubber gloves that matched and actually made a pair. I realised I had three cans of oven cleaner. I emptied detergent tabs into a clear tupperware and put all my rolls of bin liners in an old Ariel tub. (I had six; white, black, organic compostable, tie-top, industrial strength and stolen.)

The process was cathartic.

The result was beautiful.

The effect was incredible.

If you have children or pets – think about how often you go into your cleaning cupboard. Is it on the hour, every hour? Now imagine the annoyance of other people’s spillages tempered both by a moment of beauty and an efficient solution. I could always find a cloth. I could even choose between the spray, foam or miracle paste that would best unf*ck the situation. My crazy life got a little bit easier.

Home organisation – advanced

Converted, as I was, I started to notice other cupboards that annoyed me. Of course, I never had a second to do anything about it – until today.

Between my angel Allison and my lovely babysitter Jacqui – the kids are away for a good few hours.

It’s been kind of a shitty week, so I was going to just lie about drinking coffee and watching Netflix. But there was no sugar – or anything else for that matter – so I dragged myself to Tesco. Unloading the shopping made me remember how annoying my cupboards are so look what I did:

And look how pretty it is:

home organisation

I am ridiculously – and inordinately – pleased about this.

  1. my kitchen floor no longer goes crunch under my feet because of all the pasta falling through the shelves
  2. my son and husband can be safely fed (the Wee Man’s epilepsy can be set off by accidentally eating gluten)
  3. my other son and I can still have pasta that tastes nice (sorry but GF pasta is rubbish)
  4. lunchbox making is now that tiny bit easier because all the snacks are in one jar
  5. supermarket shopping is now that tiny bit cheaper because I can see what needs topped up
  6. I even put all my risotto rice in jars – it’s a bugger when it spills too
  7. I idiot-proofed the system by using plastic jars for GF and glass jars for regular – and colour-coded the labels
  8. I enjoyed making the labels
  9. it’s so pretty

If you’re wondering why I had both glass and plastic jars lying around the house unused – funny story.

Instagram made me want to do a pick’n’mix table at the Wee Man’s 8th birthday party. I ordered jars from Amazon that arrived three days after the event, so Rod shot to B&M and bought glass ones for £1 each. They’ve been lying in my “must return these at some point” corner for a month.

What else can I put in jars?

…to be continued

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Wallace and Gromit competition*

Our family is obsessed with Wallace and Gromit – ever since we found the whole collection on Netflix, it’s all the boys ever want to watch.

Don’t you love when kids’ shows have that extra level for adults to chortle at?

I saw that Wallace and Gromit’s Musical Marvels was touring – and was just figuring out which show to book when the organisers got in touch to offer me tickets! I swear this is how it happened – you know you don’t get bull**** blogger blustering here at Mummykimmy.

So I have delightedly accepted 4 tickets for my family, but only on the condition I can give away four tickets to you guys too!

Screen Shot 2019-02-24 at 12.10.06

So what is Wallace and Gromit’s Musical Marvels?

My Concerto in Ee Lad  – don’t you love the title?! – is Wallace’s latest brainwave, and obviously Gromit will be there as his faithful canine companion.

It’s an interactive experience with specially created animations (I am ridiculously excited to see how they do these) as well as live orchestral accompaniment and escapades from the Picture House Orchestra and presenter Matthew Sharp.

The icing on the cake – as far as I’m concerned – is The Wrong Trousers with live orchestral accompaniment! This is SUCH a British classic – remember it won an Oscar?! – so I cannot wait to see the boys’ faces when they watch it in all its glory.

When is it on?

You can see all the tour dates here – but the Edinburgh and Glasgow showings are the 8th and 9th June 2019.

How do I enter?

Just follow my blog and my Instagram account @EdinburghKim and leave a comment below or on Instagram with your favourite cheese. Mine is baked Camembert. Mmmmmmm….

Competition closes on 31 March at 7pm. A winner will be chosen at random and notified that night.

Good Luck!

This is post was not approved by Carrot Productions, but they did ask me to mention the show. I have received four tickets in exchange for writing this post, and four more to give away to a winner chosen at random. Carrot Productions has no control over my competition. I would never promote something I wouldn’t spend my own money on.

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Sky Maze Grand Opening at Dalkeith Park

Since moving to Edinburgh two and a half years ago, we’ve become pretty well acquainted with its parks. Having two crazy sons will do that for you.

The day we found Dalkeith Park was a special one – we all absolutely loved it. I was really interested in the development of the Restoration Yard and the cool signage – the boys just wanted to race each other through the tunnels.

Screen Shot 2019-02-03 at 15.09.29

I mentioned the park on Instagram last month and lots of people were interested – one even took her family through from Glasgow the next day! The team then got in touch to ask if I’d like to come along to the grand opening of their brand new Sky Maze – how could I say no?!

Press Launch of Sky Maze

The day dawned snowy, but bright, so we just wrapped up extra warmly, looking forward to the promised breakfast spread. It didn’t disappoint!

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Our were among the first kids to run over the bridge and up to the new adventure area. It felt very cool to be sneaking behind the fencing and climbing on the brand new structure.

Things I liked:

  • I could fit through all the gaps and tunnels and inside the towers
  • I could see where my kids were
  • I felt it was safe but still challenging enough for the kids to test their own boundaries
  • It smelled amazing
  • Screen Shot 2019-02-03 at 15.08.18

Things the kids liked:

  • The fact that I could follow them and race them and generally get right in amongst the fun
  • The two slides so we could race each other
  • All the different surfaces – especially the perspex floor
  • The fact they could run everywhere
  • Screen Shot 2019-02-03 at 15.09.07

Rod and I could just stand and watch for a good while – the rest of the play area is quite spread out so we’re always dashing around trying to keep an eye on them. The Sky Maze is self-contained. They did eventually remember there were other areas and ran off to the zip slide and the tower and the tunnel slide.

Screen Shot 2019-02-03 at 15.08.27

They would have been happy to stay all day – cold as it was – but Rod and I had rugby tickets. Also, the Sky Maze event finished at 12.

It opens to the public on the 9th of February – this Saturday – and I would thoroughly recommend a visit. There are tonnes of activities on including:

Face painting from 11am to 3pm

Create a pirate paper boat

Make your own wand

Design a Sky Maze clay creature

Build a spaghetti Sky Maze structure

Make a swashbuckling balloon sword

New activity sheets for pre-school and 6+

Photo opportunities in the new giant picture frame

Screen Shot 2019-02-03 at 15.09.18

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Edinburgh Dungeon review

Do you scare easily?

How vivid is your imagination?

Edinburgh Dungeon

 

Just like the time I went to see Shutter Island, I deliberately avoided reviews of Edinburgh Dungeon. I’ve not visited any of the sister attractions (London, York, Amsterdam etc) and I didn’t tell anyone I was going. I wanted to be surprised.

I went alone….

…which was stupid.

On four separate occasions I screamed out loud. Three times I burst out laughing. The Australian couple next to me thought I was highly amusing – until the Torturer pulled one of them out the crowd to demonstrate the castration device. He took one look and switched to the hamster castrator (yep, that was my third guffaw of the day).

I think it was the darkness.

I had no idea what was coming next – ever. We were standing, we were sitting, we were on a boat, we were in the dock, we were in a graveyard, we were underground – there was no pattern and no predictability.

The line between what was real and what wasn’t shifted constantly. People kept coming alive or appearing an inch from your nose. Your seat moved, the ground spun, the disorientation was brilliantly orchestrated.

There was one point when I was genuinely scared.

It’s not easy for me to admit that, being the optimistic pragmatist.

I won’t spoil it for you, but it is genuinely terrifying not being able to trust your senses. I wish I’d had a hand to hold (sob).

The finale was a hanging.

I wish I’d kept that picture – my hair is flying, my mouth is wide open and I look like I’m about to vomit. Instead I opted to get the warrior princess picture – the one where I look like William Wallace is about to decapitate me.

Edinburgh Dungeon

So my verdict:

  • Worth the entrance fee? (£18 per adult/£14 per child on the door, 20% off if you book online)

I’d say yes. It’s not cheap, but it’s 80 minutes of entertainment, including 11 shows and 2 rides.

  • Are the actors any good?

Hell, yeah. And this is coming from a Disney aficionado. To a woman, they were utterly convincing. One played a madman to a terrifying level of realness, the Torturer had a killer sense of humour and a razor sharp improv skill, and the new William Wallace show was one of the actors who made me scream out loud. Give them all an Oscar.

  • Should I take my kids?

Only if they’re in double digits. I spoke to the two 12 year olds on my tour and asked them if they’d been scared. They were lads so they were nonchalant but they admitted it was more frightening than they’d expected. My 7 year old would have had nightmares for weeks. The official advice is over 8s and under 5s aren’t allowed, so use your discretion.

  • Will I learn anything?

If I were to have any criticism it would be that the historical element was underplayed. I learned loads more from the guidebook (which, incidentally, is a journalist’s delight – my compliments to the publisher). Yes, each show is inspired by real events, but I felt like some of that was lost in the theatre. I’d rather have had a scary experience than a history lesson, but a few tweaks to the script would make the difference here.

  • What are the facilities like?

By its nature, the attraction is not particularly accessible – though there is a lift for visitors with mobility issues and, I’m told, a specialist wheelchair for evacuations. A couple of times they asked if people were sensitive to strobe lights, or had back problems or were pregnant. Those who had to stand out for these reasons were still actively involved in the experience, which I liked. The toilets were fine (there is a wheelchair-accessible toilet too) and the gift shop was quite cool, with a good range of products. There’s no cafe but they have a joint experience on offer with Hard Rock cafe which I would definitely buy if I had guests visiting Edinburgh. (from £32 per adult)

  • What if I’m a big Jessie?

The one public service announcement which really comforted me throughout the experience was “don’t touch the people you meet – they won’t touch you (and most of them have the plague anyway)”. The knowledge that no one would grab me turned out to be quite important – like the spinning top in Inception, it was the anchor for me. That’s not to say that things won’t touch you …

  • Overall verdict?

Atmosphere: 5/5

Performance: 5/5

Historical relevance: 4/5

Value for money: 4.5/5 – make sure you book online in advance!

Engagement: 5/5

 

My thanks to Emma at Merlin Entertainments for gifting me the ticket and the photograph.

This review was written independently with no copy approval from Merlin Entertainments

Book your experience online: http://www.thedungeons.com/edinburgh/en

 

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Clubbercise Edinburgh

Funny how “Children of the Night” takes on a whole new meaning when you have a family…


If I had known – age 14, raving in Archaos Unders – that 22 years later I’d be doing the same in a dance studio with a bunch of mums, I’d have died of shame.

But the crippling self-obsession of my early teens has given way to a state of no-fucks-given – so I happily handed over my fiver, accepted the glow sticks and sweated for an hour in a dark studio with a disco ball.

clubbercise Edinburgh

Now – I love dancing. Every Wednesday I look forward to my street dance class and since I’ve quit the gym I’ve been looking for another opportunity to burn some calories to loud music in a way that’s actually fun.

Once I got over the initial “is this really happening?” feeling of big-box-small-box to happy hard core, the endorphins took over. We all looked so ridiculous that we had enormous smiles on our faces. Three tracks in the ‘OO-OO’ started, the ‘nah nah nah nah’ to the electro synth got louder and by the time DJ Sammy came on with “Heaven” we were totally in the zone.

By the end of the hour we were all gasping for breath. My watch told me I’d burned 498 calories. The floor was slippy and the mirror was steamed up. I felt AMAZING!

Who’s coming with me next week?

CLUBBERCISE

8.30-9.30pm SSD HQ, Edinburgh

Clubbercise

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Find your diamonds and hold them tight

I’ve just finished reading “Cows” by Dawn O’Porter.

While very well-written and thought-provoking, I struggled with it. I just couldn’t buy into the main premise. Women aren’t that down on each other in my experience. Granted I don’t live in London and I don’t work in an office environment, but I am pretty media-savvy. The kind of ruthless judgement described in the novel just rang a bit hollow with me.

Two things happened this weekend to prove me right.

The first was Slice in the City.

Now, I love Instagram. I appreciate many of you prefer Twitter or Facebook or, you know, phone calls – but I get SO MUCH out of my insta community. It’s as close as this 11 years-married chick gets to speed dating. Thanks in large part to the advice of Danni @chachipowerproject, I have deliberately designed myself an inspiring and healthy feed. I follow dancers and artists, mums and independents, businesswomen and inventors and experts in all sorts of niche areas.

Slice in the City was where we all met in real life.

Csn you imagine a more interesting crowd to spend your Saturday afternoon with?

When Nic stood up to do her welcome speech (she goes by the name of @weeslice and is the powerhouse who brought us all to the Apex that sunny day) she pointed out about 70% of the 80 or so people there had come alone. And yet, no one was standing by themselves.

i know I approached a woman looking a bit lonely to say hi – and loads of others must have done the same.

I was invited to join a book club (“Oh we don’t actually read books, you ok with that?”) and a brunch club (“I need to escape my kids at least once a month”). I finally found an eyebrow expert who kindly agreed to make my brow sisters into twins and got massive hugs from people I’d never met but felt I knew.

In short, I spent three hours with 80 women and felt nothing but positivity.

The next thing that happened was utterly terrifying.

My 7 yo went missing.

I’ll tell you the short version, in that he was found within the hour and he was fine.

I had to phone the police and I put a message on our local Facebook group. I don’t want to go into it, except to say I was overwhelmed by the reaction of my community.

Everyone was out looking and the support was really quite humbling. When he was found I got so many messages full of love. “You must have been beside yourself” – “We’re so relieved” – “Go and pour yourself a large drink”. I was mortified to have caused such a kerfuffle – but all I was getting was compassion. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

So while I accept that “Cows” is just a novel, and Instagram is often toxic and neighbours can be problematic – I want to stand up for the good guys.

There are fabulous, genuine diamonds all around us if we just open our hearts to them.

They could make your afternoon – or save your child’s life.

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