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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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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 ūüôā

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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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!

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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.

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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
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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
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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.

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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‚Äôm 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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PAW PATROL LIVE! review

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After an astonishingly successful trip to Justin’s Band in March, I felt brave enough to accept a family press ticket to Paw Patrol Live – The Great Pirate Adventure.

The first thing to say is we are HUGE Paw Patrol fans in our house. Huge. Bribe-them-with-a-new-pup-for-sleeping-through-the-night huge.

So when I told them we were going to see them live, their faces were a picture.

“Live? Like alive? In real life?” KD sought to clarify with a three year old’s logic.

“Yes! They’ll be right in front of you! Marshall, Chase, Rubble – the whole gang!” I confirmed, as they both started jumping up and down squealing.

“Are you going to see Paw Patrol?” the nursery teacher asked at pick up. “He’s mentioned it once or twice…”

Then, at 6am today, a human bullet hit me in the stomach.

“Is it today Mummy? Do we have the tickets for today?” KD demanded, holding my face in his hands for my full focus.

Thank goodness it was a 10am showing.

poster

I’ll make a small complaint here about The Edinburgh Playhouse. No issue with the Box Office and ticket collection, but come on. A massive snaking queue of effervescent children waiting to get into the venue?

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At least it moved fairly quickly – and the ticket staff were fabulous.

“Now, no crowd surfing at the end, young man,” he warned my seven year old.

Huge thanks to Emma at Norton PR for acquiescing to my request for an aisle seat – we had row M in the circle. This meant loads of legroom and easy access which, when you have a child with ADHD, is a godsend.

tickets

Kudos too to Mummy and Daddy who timed the entry to perfection – three minutes til showtime.

waiting

As a parent, there are few things more touching than witnessing the look of glorious wonder on your children’s faces as they take in their cartoon heroes right in front of them.

They sat motionless.

Not silent, but motionless.

They yelled every character’s name and waved hello as they entered, gazed spellbound as they sang and danced, screamed and pointed at the errant parrot and generally soaked in the whole experience.

There was a quick dash to the cash point in the Omni centre so they could have the flashing cutlasses brandished by everyone around them (£15 a pop Рouch!). There was also a harried return to locate the mobile phone which slipped between the seats and was noted as missing back in the car. But otherwise, it was a stress-free experience.

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“I want to go and talk to them!” was the only complaint at the end. I wonder if the company might consider a meet-and-greet. Not in the foyer – that place was crazy. We even got collared by a film crew who wanted KD’s reaction – but he was in a huff. He was not up for it in the slightest. But perhaps somewhere else…

If I had to sum up the show in one word, it would be ‘energetic’.

The cast were brilliant – they must have been knackered by the end. I loved the way they combined oversize puppets with a video background. A lot of the music was familiar from the TV show, but there was plenty of new material too. The boys got involved with some of the dance routines and there was just enough panto “he’s behind you” to engage the audience without descending into farce.

As a parent, I loved it. Super colourful, high tempo, professional and fun.

As a kid – well, they couldn’t have been happier. When a boy with a short attention span can be engrossed for 90 minutes, you know you’ve done a great job.

Bravo production team.

5 star recommended *****

excited

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