The Little Lilypad is a lifestyle blog mostly written by a mum to two beautiful, cheeky and entertaining daughters. It is sometimes written by the Man on the Pad or by one of our baby bloggers. Occasionally we accept guest posts too. There is frequently talk of shoes and clothing (we love fashion and savvy shopping), chocolate (who doesn't love chocolate) education and swimming (we love this too). It is hopefully helpful, sometimes funny and always honest.
I love to read but what with all the girls activitives, school, work and general life being bonkers busy most of the time, reading seems to take little priority. So along with my 40 things in my 40th year list, I have challenged myself to read more this year and I love that it is also saving me money!
Why is reading saving me money you may ask (or may not) but I am going to share it anyway.
I have never been a big fan of reading on a tablet, I love the smell and feel of a paper book but trying to squeeze in a couple of chapters before I go to sleep isnt practical when you have a husband who likes to sleep in the pitch black. Reading on a tablet gives me a solution to this.
I can download books instantly.
I can download free books.
I can download the latest releases without going to the shops and spending money unecessarily on other things I don't need.
I can read on the sofa and not spend my time browsing online websites and spending money.
I can read in the dark (saving on the electricity .... okay I admit that this is a very loosely hinged money saving point).
My most favourite thing though? It might keep my pennies in my purse but it keeps my mind rich too! I am looking forward to reading on holiday this summer ..... I just hope the iPad doesn't overheat!
Conquering my fear of heights has never been a priority. You know with the whole heights and being scared bit. Not something I have ever really pushed myself to do but I set myself a list of things to do, some indulgent and some disgusting (eating Oysters is one) but conquering my fear of heights was number 17 on my list of 40 things to do in my 40th yearGo Ape was the ideal choice for a family day out and a chance to tick something else off my list.
What Go Ape say about their Wyre Forest course "One of the largest semi-natural woodlands in the UK, Wyre Forest is a haven for wild animals and even wilder adventures. Reaching new heights atop our giant Douglas Firs, you’ll climb, swing and zip your way through the tree tops. Go on a journey through the trees with Tree Top Adventure, 14 metres above the forest floor! Who'll be the surprise Tarzan in your group of mates? Add our Tree Top Junior course to your day out with the kids and you won't be disappointed - hero mum and dads step this way"
"Hero Mum and Dad" ......... gulp, no pressure then!
We went as a family and my husband "kindly" offered to go on the Junior Tree Top course with the 6 year old. The minimum height for this course is 1m but they have to be supervised by an adult. It is no surprise that the safety briefing is thorough (lets be honest, you are dangling through the trees, everyone needs to go through the safety briefing no matter how old you are). It is £18 per person for the Junior Tree Top course which is great value if you compare how much you can spend trying to get an adrenalin rush at a fun fair in the same amount of time. I was so proud that she gave it a go, especially when she isn't always the bravest of characters. The zip wire was a bit intimidating but she did it and was so proud of herself and the certificate she got at the end!
So if the 6 year old could do it, then surely I could?
The first "tester" cable didn't look too daunting and helped to get the rhythm of which order to take your clips on and off the wires, so I was feeling pretty confident by the time we started on the main course. They anticipate it will take you about 2 hours to get round the course, so I took a deep breath and climbed (what felt like the wobbliest) ladders to the first platform. Once I was up there the adrenalin kicked in and I was ready to go.
Somehow I was the designated adult for two teens (despite them being more confident than me) but I also think that being responsible for their safety actually took my mind off being up to 14 metres in the air.
There are parts of the course that give you an easy or more difficult route and whilst I could have chosen the easy route, I figured that I may aswell embrace the whole experience, which included a tarzan swing and crawling on my hands and knees through hanging (aka wobbling) barrels. not to mention 3 zip wires.
Overall we had a total blast, it is not a walk in the park ...... think more like a challenge in the forest but that is the whole point. It costs £33 for adults which is actually cheaper than most theme parks and way more engaging. You need to be fairly fit and healthy to take on the challenge but you need more determination than deltoids, although I have to admit my body ached the day after our visit.
Here are my top tips for your High Wire Adventure:
Wear comfortable clothes ..... those harneses are tight!
But don't worry what you look like ...... everyone else looks exactly the same!
I managed to get some rope burns on my lower arms (probably from trying to cheat some of the course, but I digress) long sleeves may be useful
Make sure you have change for the carpark. Wyre Forest charge £3 for parking
Remember that you are attached and ENJOY!
We were given the chance to go as a family to Go Ape Wyre Forest but there are a staggering 33 locations to choose from all across the country from Aberdeen all the way down to Devon. Now I have conquered the Wyre Forest challenge, I may set my sights on one of the other locations.
Consider conquering my fear of heights well and truly crossed off the list. Thank you Go Ape!!
Regular readers will know that I am hurtling towards a big birthday this year and have compiled a list of 40 things to do in my 40th year and one of those things was indoor skydiving.
I have always wanted to do a real skydive but my fear of heights does make that a bit of a challenge although the adrenalin junkie inside me is still convinced that I could overcome it ..... if I could just get someone to push me out of a plane!
I was talking to Emma from Emmaand3.com (not about pushing me out of a plane) but about my 40 list and she said she would love to come and try indoor skydiving with me. So we got in touch with iFly in Basingstoke and booked 2 x 2 minute sessions.
There are a number of iFly locations in the UK and while 2 x 2 minute sessions doesn't seem a lot, with the travelling and safety briefing, we really made a day of the adventure. You can see a bit more of this on Emma's vlog here >
As you would expect there is a considerable amount of time going through the safety waivers, instructions and getting kitted out .... I have to warn you that you are never going to look overly glamorous in a blue jumpsuit and a helmet! Our instructor on the day was brilliant, he was enthusiastic, extremely thorough and really helpful even when we were a bit mischeivous.
You are taken through in small groups and I was first to go in our group (no pressure) and you literally jump into the wind tunnel and away you go. Trying to relax was actually my biggest problem as the more tense you are the less bouyant!! Who knew?
I didn't wear my glasses (I thought it might be less scary if I couldn't see what was happening with clear vision) but iFly do have larger goggles to fit over glasses if you prefer.
You might feel that 2 minutes would go really quickly but when you are in the tunnel it is surprising how long it actually feels, especially when you are conscious that you are being filmed. Trying to keep a smile on your face for the camera is definitely fun while you are concentrating on your body position, breathing normally and balance.
I know my girls would love the indoor skydiving experience and as iFly welcome flyers from 3 to 103, I suspect we will be back. The only provisio is ensuring you have reasonable health and fitness, although while we were at the Basingstoke location we saw a gentleman who was unable to walk enjoying a flight, proving that disabilities are no barrier to any adrenalin seeker.
The prices of the experience vary depending on what flight you choose but as I said at the top, we really made a day of it so whilst it may seem a little expensive for 4 minutes flying, it is certainly considerably cheaper than a skydive from a plane (and you don't need to worry about your parachute not opening!).
I have loved the opportunity to tick something else off my list, to spend time with Emma but most importantly remind myself that I might be heading towards 40 but I still love an adventure! I highly recommend iFly to any adrenalin seekers!
If you listen oh-so carefully, as soon as the clock strikes midnight on NYE, there is a simultaneous clatter of glasses. All adults across the land abandon their prosecco flute in favour of quinoa, salad and paleo bars. And never shall it be seen again… until day 23 of the diet.
We all know that eating a varied diet with lots of fruit and veg, and a good portion of protein is good for us. We all know we need to cut back in January to rid the Christmas pud tum. So, if we all know the sugar-free score, let’s ditch diet resolutions. Let’s focus on feeding our souls some good stuff instead.
Skills to soothe your soul
There’s no denying it, the new year is tough going. So many expectations, the unknown awaits… also, it’s baltic outside and you can’t remember the last time you saw daylight. Is there anything worse than dragging yourself back into the term time routine after two weeks of indulgence? I think not.
So, rather than starving yourself this January, choose to soothe your soul instead. Feed it some good stuff by throwing yourself into new endeavours. Learning new skills is a great way to distract from the monotony of the daily nine while five. What’s more, the contentment you feel from accomplishing a goal, investing in interests, and refining your skills, is boundless.
At a time when everything from your work to your weight seems to be dragging you down, do something for you. Have a think about what makes you happy, what ignites a spark of passion inside you. And go for it. Your choice doesn’t have to be ‘wholesome’ or ‘healthy’. Simply engaging with your chosen activity is enough to cleanse the mind and satisfy the soul.
I have had the opportunity to review the Digital Marketing Diploma with New Skills Academy this year, to develop my own skill set and expand my mind! I have used online training courses before but this is the first time I had tried the New Skills Academy, so was interested to see how the course would be delivered.
Online studying is a massive benefit for folk like me who want to fit around other life commitments (you know the ones .... the school run, work, ironing and all that jazz) and you can pick it up and do a module when it suits you. Other online providers have webinars at set times but the New Skills Academy is very research based and gives you tasks to complete in your own time.
The benefits to these type of online course are:
Wide range of courses that are CPD accredited
You can study anywhere and any time
You get an actual recognised qualification
Helps to improve career prospects around your other commitments
Ability to download the materials for future reference.
The downside can be ensuring you stay motivated to get yourself through the course but there is a definite sense of achievement when you click through each module and mark it as completed. There are no tutors looking over your shoulder (or indeed monitoring your progress), which can be a blessing but equally it is nice to get some reassurance at times too.
There is a final assessment to ensure that you have actually absorbed all of the information but again, this is done online and your certification emailed to you immediately, so if you are considering online learning, the only thing you need to do is decide on what subject!
Selecting your new skill
When it comes to selecting your skill, it may be that you have an idea in mind. Perhaps you have always wanted to upcycling shabby furniture finds? That being said, it isn’t unusual to want to invest time in developing a newfound interest, either.
If you’re looking for inspiration, here’s a handy list of 15 skills to consider.
Attend a yoga or Pilates course
Craft stunning cake designs from fondant
Keep a bonsai garden
Learn a new instrument: the piano, violin, ukulele, bongos…
Give rock climbing a go
Master a competitive card game or another mind sport
Develop your photography skills
Create scented candles
Practise mindfulness and/or meditation
Start a blog
Clear and feng shui your home
Grow your own in the garden or on an allotment
Pursue your hidden talent for the stage
Get arty – try needle felting, watercolour painting, pottery…
Become a star baker at a pie-making or bread baking workshop
P.S. I already gave you upcycling furniture, so you can have that one for free. It’s on me. Online learning isn't free but there are lots of offers on at the moment, so why not take a look (although I don't necessariy think you need a course for becoming a star baker ..... just remember to share the cakes with me!)