Mama OWL Blog

Packing for a Primary School Residential Trip

Thursday, 21 May 2015

It's that time of year again and school kids up and down the country are preparing to set off for their end of year residential trips. My children have visited lots of wonderful places and had some amazing experiences with their schools including skiing in the French Alps, exploring in Pencelli, and a sombre tour of Auschwitz and Birkenau amongst others. School trips are - in my opinion - a vital aspect of school life, and while sometimes they can be expensive particularly if you've had to buy a lot of kit, I do truly think that they are worth every penny in terms of experience & adventure for the kids.

H, my 9 year old, is heading off on his very first sleep-away trip next month with his teachers & Y4 classmates, and he is very excited about it. His older siblings have all been to the same activity centre during their time at school & all had a wonderful time.

With the school trip comes the trip kit list so we have been busy planning what we will need for him to take on his little adventure. It's an outdoor activity based trip and he will be doing lots of exploring and team-building exercises outside in our famously unpredictable British weather, so we have to be prepared because as the saying goes, "there is no such thing as bad weather - just unsuitable clothing". On H's kit list there is:

- Waterproof Coat/Jacket
- Comfortable Walking Shoes/Wellies
- Warm Jumpers/Hats/Gloves
- Changes of Clothing (no jeans)
- Socks & Undies, and Nightwear
- Slippers/Indoor trainers
- Towel, and toiletries
- Sun Hat/Sun Cream (optimistic...)
- Rucksack & Torch
- Plastic Lunch Box with refillable Water Bottle
- Bedtime Book
- Plastic Bag for bringing home laundry

Trespass is a UK company who specialise in outdoor clothing and equipment, and kindly sent a navy Skydive 3-in-1 Waterproof Jacket for H to wear during his trip. The jacket has a very simple but versatile design and enables you to wear it either with the snug fleece lining, or as two separate jackets. It has taped seams for added protection against the elements, and a concealed fold-away hood and pockets for handy storage.

Currently priced at £30.99 and available in four different colours (navy, black, purple, and pink), the Skydive jacket will be a great school coat even after H has been on his residential, we chose it in navy so that it would match his school uniform & look smart. Now we are just waiting for our Stamptastic kit to arrive so we can get all of his belongings labelled quickly & easily so with any luck it should all make it home, too!

H received a complimentary Trespass Jacket for review purposes.
The views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words.

Have a Fling with the Highlands in Glencoe | #ParentPanel

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

North of the border lies some of the most breathtaking scenery I have ever seen. In 2011 I got to stand at the highest point of the United Kingdom, 1344m feet up on the summit of Ben Nevis, and bask in the beauty of the Scottish Highlands. The trek up the mountain wasn't as straightforward as I'd have liked (nor was the trip down, unfortunately made by Sea King helicopter after an injury sustained on the climb) but I'll always remember the experience for the stunning mountain views - not just the excitement that followed!

Standing alone and being able to hear literally nothing, not even the wind or birdsong, was surreal. It was a clear, sunny day, and you could see for miles. It was incredible.

Aside from the aesthetics, the Scottish Highlands have much more to offer. Staying at the Isles of Glencoe Hotel, you have the perfect base for your Highland break with its stunning location on the banks of Loch Leven, and magnificent mountain views.

There's no shortage of things to do in Glencoe, and you & your family will be spoiled for choice with the extensive range of outdoor activities, boat trips, watersports, walking & cycle paths, and castles to explore. There are plenty of family friendly attractions in the area including the Sea Life Centre in nearby seaside town Oban, legendary Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle, the Natural History Museum on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, & the Jacobite steam train which runs from Fort William to Mallaig and back - more famously known as the Hogwarts Express route featuring the famous Glenfinnan viaduct from the Harry Potter films (a must-see for any Potter fans like us!), which overlooks the Glenfinnan Monument and the waters of Loch Shiel.

Image from

The hotel itself boasts a vast array of attractive amenities, which appeal to us as a large family with a wide age range of children (16 > 5) to keep happy and entertained. There is a swimming pool (great for the little one & tweens) and a sauna (for mum) and all rooms have complimentary Wi-Fi - an absolute must with teenagers (heaven forbid), and of course the all important tea & coffee making facilities, perfect for enjoying a morning cuppa overlooking the loch or mountains from The Isles of Glencoe's fabulous feature rooms with their picture windows or French doors.

Feature rooms are available in twin, double and family combinations, sleeping up to 2 adults and 2 children, and some rooms can sleep up to 3 children when extra beds are used. It is worth noting that the rooms are spread across three floors and there is unfortunately no lift, so do be sure to mention if you need a room on a lower floor when making your booking. Standard rooms all have double beds and an en-suite with bath & shower, and two of these rooms have French doors leading out on to the grounds of the hotel - perfect for those who have brought their dogs along on holiday with them as The Isles of Glencoe also welcomes pets for a small charge of £10 per pet, per night.

Image from

Scotland offers so much for all to see and do, steeped in culture and history with outstanding natural beauty it is truly the ideal family holiday destination.


Hints & Tips for Weight Loss Results

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

It's been four and a half months since I started taking better care of myself. I don't want to say "started my diet" because it isn't a diet, it's a lifestyle change. It isn't about losing weight, it's about improving my health and fitness and with that, I have lost weight as well as inches. I have worked really, really hard to change my habits & make better choices for myself and because of the work that I have put in, and heeding the advice & support from my PTs at Project 6 Pack & all the ladies who are in the classes with me, I have achieved some amazing results which motivates me to keep going.

Changing your lifestyle is a big step and it can be hard going to retrain your mind and body as you learn to make better choices. I have had particular struggles with sugar cravings, cutting out fizzy drinks, and learning to snack sensibly. I don't have all the answers and this is not a definitive list, but these are the things that have made this change easier for me and perhaps they will help you, too. If you have your own tips and tricks, I would love for you to share them with me in a comment at the end of this post.


I had a big addiction to fizzy drinks and could easily drink 2l of diet coke or pepsi in a day. Now, I don't drink any save for one during a meal out, but even that is very rare, I usually just order sparkling water now. I found that having cold sparkling water on hand in the fridge kept the craving at bay, as it was often the 'fizz' that I wanted rather than the drink itself. I don't crave them any more, and I don't miss them either.


I keep several bottles of water in the fridge at home, because it's easier to monitor my intake as well as nice to have a cold bottle to hand when I need it. I just fill up plastic bottles if I have happened to buy one when out and about & keep them for that purpose. I've noticed that the children are drinking more water instead of asking for squash or juice because of this, too. I just wish they'd learn to refill them and put them back!


Honey has been my absolute lifesaver for getting through sugar cravings. A good handful of strawberries, blueberries or raspberries along with a tablespoon of 0% fat Greek yoghurt has helped me absolutely no end. I'm not going to lie, I miss dipping a Mars Bar in my coffee at lunchtime but frankly I prefer feeling the way I do now all the time to the five minutes (seconds) of enjoyment I got from a bar of chocolate.


Either write it down in a notebook or use an app like myfitnesspal (I'm 'jooleroo', feel free to add me) to keep track as you get used to your new lifestyle changes. If you're trying to lose weight, then snacking on cashew nuts - for example - is obviously better for you than a chocolate bar, but a calorie is still a calorie so keeping a record of it will help you monitor exactly how much you are eating and drinking.


It ties in with having water in the fridge at all times, but planning your meals and prepping them as well as your snacks as much as possible really does help. If you're hungry and roaming the kitchen wanting food, it's easy to grab something quick that isn't good for you and won't fill you up, but if you have things ready, it will help keep your snacking under control. Also, try not to let yourself get hungry by snacking regularly, eating little and often. I bought some little pots (from the £1 shop which come in a pack of 8), and measured out 20g from a large bag of cashew nuts in each so I always have something I can pop in my bag or grab from the cupboard. I also like to make a big batch of soup so I have something I can heat up for a quick lunch, & I keep a small tub of boiled eggs in the fridge ready to go with a salad, or some sliced ham & tomato.

Sadly there are no short cuts, and no easy route to reaching and maintaining your goal weight and fitness level. This has taken me time, hard work and commitment but it is honestly the best I have ever felt. I'm attending between 8-10 P6P classes a week and exercising at home just for 30/45 minutes at a time. I am in the best shape of my life at 32 years old and after 5 babies thanks to a lot of effort and determination, it has been worth every single bead of sweat, every burning muscle in my legs and arms, every extra rep I am encouraged to do when I think I can't do any more.

Being able to walk in to a store and pick up a size 10/12 pair of exercise leggings & top and feel awesome in them is worth it, and I hope that these few hints that I have shared can help you reach your goals, even in some small way. I'm not at my goal yet, but I know it isn't far off and I am going to keep working hard to reach it.

Fitness 4 Mamas #BloggingToJogging

Meal Plan Monday 180515

Monday, 18 May 2015

Meal Plan 180515
Monday 18th
Sausages & (cauliflower) mash with vegetables
Tuesday 19th
Chicken enchiladas (Spicy chicken salad for me)
Wednesday 20th May Cottage pie topped with root vegetable mash
Thursday 21st
Bacon wrapped chicken, with (sweet potato) fries and mixed vegetables
Friday 22nd
Spaghetti (Courgetti) Bolognese, with garlic bread for
the Mister & kids
Saturday 23rd
Home-made chicken curry
Sunday 24th
Roast pork

#MealPlanningMonday linked up with At Home with Mrs M.
{*Brinner = breakfast for dinner}
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