I Heart Harrogate


plane spotting at Chambery Airport

plane spotting at Chambery Airport

When people hear that I live in Val d’Isere for 5 months of the year they are often really interested and I am sure imagine up how fantastic it must be! The reality is that living in Val with a toddler is a little boring! There isn’t a huge amount to do for very young children and I often feel like I am living in a permanent state of ‘Groundhog Day’.

So it was with great excitement I booked my flights to Leeds Bradford, to spend two weeks with my family in Harrogate.

As a visiting Mum I found the Harrogate Mumbler was super helpful. The Mumbler is a fantastic resource run by Sally Haslewood. If you live in Harrogate and have kids, have a look, it was invaluable for my stay. It also shows what a great place Harrogate is to live! There was so much on and I just wasn’t able to sample all of it. However, the three activities I have listed below are the three that really stood out to me! If you have any suggestions for my next visit I would love to hear from you!! Add your suggestions in the comment box at the very end of the post or PM me!

Thanks, Emma and Ruars xx


1. Doodlebugs. Mondays at 10-11.30am. £5. 

I bloody loved Doodlebugs and so did Ruaridh. Doodlebugs is run by the loveliest team of volunteers and for £5 is a bargain. It runs from a room above Costa Coffee (handy). There are two rooms. The first is a room full of sensory activities. My little boy was all over this room. He played here happily for the entire session and it was lovely to see him getting a chance to interact with others around the same age. The other Mums were really lovely so it’s also a great place to make friends. One highlight was when one of the volunteers brought out his guitar and played contemporary music quietly. Some of the toddlers were absoloutely enthralled, with one even going over and twanging the guitar string! Next door was a room full of art activities. You could put overalls on or strip down to the nappy, we did the latter. I noticed one little boy painting on the wall, which were white tiles so perfect for messy play. Large rolls of paper were laid on the floor, a plasticine station, a craft station and whatever the children created was put up on the wall which was such a nice touch. At 14 months my little one still hasn’t got into the messy play but I managed to get one picture of him after he managed to paint his hair yellow. Even if your kids aren’t into arts and messy play yet, do not miss this group! If I could bring Doodlebugs back with me to the Alps, I really would!

For more information contact Julie on 07817 032498.

Ruaridh highlighting his hair

Ruaridh highlighting his hair


2. The Little Gym

Ruars started walking at 10 months and has always been incredibly active. I wanted to find something that would tire him out as well as develop lots of skills. This was when I came across Little Gym and decided to give it a try. It was a bit pricey at just over £12 a session, although the first session is free, so if you don’t like it there’s no obligation, so definitely worth a visit!

The Little Gym is basically a room full of soft play and gymnastics equipment suitable for kids from 6 months to about 5. Ruars was in the Little birds class which run for 10-18 months and last 45 minutes. Lorna ran 3 of the four sessions I attended. The idea is you book a term, so you would go every Thursday and your child would learn a new skill each session and develop from the previous session. They start with a warm up sing song, then there’s some gym activities – forward rolls, walking along the beam, holding on to the bars. My little one has not stopped trying to do forward rolls since going here and I’m certain his climbing of furniture has increased! Whilst we were there they also played with balls, hoops, the bubble machine and sang nursery rhymes. The classes are well structured and the activities are short enough to keep the little ones entertained. They can also wonder/roll/crawl off with you and explore the equipment. I believe that children learn through routines and structured classes like this are perfect. Lorna would sing the same song when it was time to return the balls and my son would dutifully give the ball back (with no tears!).

If I felt there was demand for this in my area I’d be buying into the franchise!

Call or 01423 701560 or email harrogate@thelittlegym.eu for more info.

Ruars trying out his forward roll....why does he always choose the hardest floor?

Ruars trying out his forward roll….why does he always choose the hardest floor?

3. Harlow Carr Gardens

So living in the snow,with no garden I feel like I move from one indoors place to another. I miss the fresh air. So one day, I drove up to Harlow Carr gardens. I had been to Betty’s there before but never into the gardens. I wasn’t entirely sure what there was to do but the lady on reception gave me a map and pointed out all the kids play areas. So helpful!! If you get a yearly membership the cost is about £40 but I paid about £9 for a one off visit. Ruaridh loved the play areas and the duck lake! In fact it was quite difficult to keep him away from the waters edge…I think we are getting to the point of attaching some reins to him. I’m going to let the pictures do the talking for Harlow Carr gardens! I had such a lovely afternoon and was lucky enough to narrowly miss the worst rain storm after. Instead, we looked in the gift shop which is stacked to the roof with lovely childrens books. I spent a further £17 here (an expensive day!).

Sneaky sit on the Gator with Lornma

Sneaky sit on the Gator with Lornma




could have spent hours in here!

could have spent hours in here!

a bridge he can actually see over!

a bridge he can actually see over!

So You Think You’re a Writer? #writefoxy

When I was younger, the first job I ever wanted to do was work in McDonalds. But then, I discovered books and all I could think about was writing. I would carry a book around with me and pencil in stories, usually starting with ‘Once upon a time’ and ending with ‘they lived happily ever after’.

Then I grew up. And for some reason, I just stopped writing! There is no reason I can nail down. I never stopped enjoying it, I just stopped.

Now, I don’t know if it is because I’m only working part time so have a lot of time to think about what I really want, but recently all I have been able to think of is writing again, story ideas keep popping into my head, I over hear pieces of dialogue I think would be great in a story, discover character quirks that I note down as they are too good to leave untouched.

But being 28 and having hardly written since I handed my final assignment in at uni, I definitely have ‘THE FEAR’. I come up with an idea and then discover a book that has done it already and I’m sure has done it better than I ever could. How on earth could I possibly dream of being an author now?

It was with these thoughts in mind that I decided to make a 9 hour round trip to attend #writefoxy, a writing inspiration day held by The Times best seller Miranda Dickinson, and more importantly one of my favourite authors.

The aim of WriteFoxy, in the words of Miranda is ‘about inspiring you, equipping you with fantastic advice from successful authors who have enjoyed the highs and lows of the writing life and reigniting your passion for creating stories’. It is also about having the confidence to call yourself a writer quite simply because you write.

In addition to Miranda there were three other fantastic published authors there to speak and give advice; Tamsyn Murray, Cally Taylor and Hannah Beckerman. I think I was a little in awe of all four ladies!

Each had her own pearls of wisdom to impart, from inspiration to research to planning and editing your first draft. There was something for everyone, for a first time writer like me to the published authors who were taking notes and advice from each other!!

It was refreshing to hear about the hard work it had taken them to get where they are today, so I can dispel the image of them breezily sitting down at their desks and pulling words like silver threads out of their finger tips. I’m certain one of them even mentioned getting up at 4am to write! Hmmm perhaps I should rethink this writing lark?

On a serious note, I would highly recommend this day. It doesn’t matter whether you have been writing for two minutes or twenty years. You will leave feeling inspired and empowered, and who doesn’t like that?

Now I realise I have done a typical writer thing and procrastinated, putting off my NanoWriMo by posting on my blog! Oops.

If you’re interested in #writefoxy you’re in luck, there’s another one in Feb. I’m actually a little gutted I can’t go, especially as Rowan Coleman (aka Scarlett Bailey) is a confirmed speaker!!!

For more info on #writefoxy click here!


IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a mother in possession of a baby/toddler/child must be in want of…

I love having my little boy but life has certainly changed since he arrived. Before he was born I had no idea how much time I had on my times. So I love this idea…here are my 9. What are yours?

IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a mother in possession of a baby/toddler/child must be in want of…{insert answer here]

  • solo toilet trips (instead of hovering over toilet trying to stop said child eating toilet paper and playing with the toilet brush)
  • Time to wash/dry/straighten my hair – these days I’m rocking the bed head look
  • A self loading and unloading washing machine and dryer (add dishwasher to this too)
  • Stretchy limbs like Mrs Incredible
  • Jeans that do not give me a builders bum every time I bend over to help him walk
  • a remote to stop time so I can start and finish a book in one session
  • actually – just more time would do
  • Mary Poppins’ handbag as a changing bag (without the lamp)
  • a nap and a nice big drink

Emma x


Catch Up

As you may have noticed I have been rather absent from the blog for the last few months. I’d like to lay the blame solely on BT who took a good two months to get us connected when we moved but actually life has just been pretty busy.

My little man is now 9 months and 2 weeks.

He can:

  • walk holding just one of my hands
  • walk a few steps on his own if he has a bit of speed (as of tonight)
  • sit unaided
  • click his tongue
  • pretend he is sweeping the floor
  • wave goodbye (sort of)

His current favourite things are:

  • opening cupboards
  • pulling everything out of the cupboards
  • walking holding your hand
  • chasing cats
  • stroking (okay, grabbing) cats
  • eating keys
  • leaves
  • wheels
  • most animals
  • playing with the bin lid
  • eating carrot stick crisps
  • hot showers with Daddy

He still hates:

  • having his nappy changed
  • getting dressed
  • getting undressed
  • when we take the keys off him