Saturday, 17 May 2014

Reflexology and fertility...really...

For those of you not in the know and I was certainly one of those, Reflexology is a holistic treatment based on the principle that there are areas and points on the feet, lower leg, face and hands that map via the nervous system to corresponding parts of the body. When pressure is applied to these areas and points it stimulates the movement of energy along the nerve channels, and helps the body to restore the natural balance in the whole body. 

So that’s the science bit sorted...

Reflexology has come onto my radar for a few reasons lately. The first one is simply due to the fact that my feet over recent months just ache a lot of the time, and for several years now I have been experiencing restless leg syndrome, which can go from mild irritation to full on driving me crazy. I have always been a lover of heels, and whilst it is no longer practical for me to wear heels as much now I am a mum, you will still rarely see me without a killer pair of heels when I am in work or on a night out. I know they are not good for your feet and I know that they’re not particularly practical, but what can I say…I just love them and I am not yet prepared to bow down to a sensible shoe! However, I’m not sure if my feet now that they have been pounding the streets for forty odd years are still loving the idea of me consistently subjecting them to a four inch heel for eight hours a day. The general advice I received from friends and family was on the whole, just wear more sensible shoes. However a few mentioned foot massage and a few also mentioned reflexology.

However, what really pricked up my ears and my interest levels in this centuries old complementary therapy was the talk of how it could have a positive effect on fertility. 

For those close to me or those that have been following my blog from the very beginning, will know that I very sadly suffered a miscarriage last December. We weren't trying for a baby at the time but you know how the old saying goes, you don't know what you've got until it's gone. I think the fact that we fell pregnant fairly easily with Evan and then fell without even trying last year, I guess I believed that if I just put the sadness of the miscarriage behind me and moved forward and started trying again, then I would get pregnant pretty quickly and could focus my attention on the new baby. 

Well that was clearly easier said than done, as five months down the line there is no sign of baby number 2, and whilst I am very aware that five months is not a long time to be trying for a baby, with my 41st birthday looming in the next few months I simply do not have an infinite amount of time to keep trying. 

So when I heard that reflexology could potentially help in this area I was naturally intrigued. How could someone massaging your feet possibly help you to get pregnant. Couldn't hurt to find out I thought. 

So two weeks ago I embarked on my first visit to a local reflexologist, who was particularly experienced in treating women with fertility problems. My first appointment involved a consultation period whereby my reflexologist talked me through the reasons why I felt I needed treatment and what I was hoping to gain from my sessions. My therapist is a lovely lady, the same age as me and I instantly felt a bond and a warmth with her that I was absolutely not expecting, and before I knew it I found myself becoming very emotional and openly cried when I talked about the miscarriage, and how I felt frustrated, angry and still very sad about it all, especially now that what was my due date of June is not too far off. 

The reflexology part of the session lasted an hour, and whilst some of the manipulation was a little on the uncomfortable side, it was on the whole an incredibly relaxing and soothing experience, and I have to confess that for a few days after I felt strangely lighter, more energised and uplifted in my spirits. 

Session two was yesterday and I'm not sure if it was due to the fact that it was the end of the day and also the week, but I felt so relaxed during the session that my whole body and mind felt completely in tune and at ease with each other, and it was on the whole just a lovely way to end the working week and begin the sunny weekend ahead. 

So who knows if there is any real direct link between reflexology and successful conception. There is certainly no scientific way of proving this, but if you check out the internet there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence from thousands of women who swear that nothing had helped them to conceive until they tried reflexology. 

So I guess let's just watch this space. But after just two sessions I already feel that the sessions are having a positive influence on my well being, both physically and mentally...oh and my feet ache a little less as well...

I would love to hear from any of you lovely ladies on the subject, especially if you or anyone you know has had any success with using reflexology as an aid to help them conceive...

Thanks for reading

Rhiannon xx

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Sunday, 11 May 2014

Bluestone family fun...

So Scott, Evan and I have just returned from a lovely little family holiday at Bluestone. For those of you that have never heard of Bluestone, it is a National Park Resort set in the stunning Pembrokeshire countryside in West Wales. You can stay in a variety of different sized and different style holiday homes, from small little one bedroom houses right up to four bed homes. We stayed in a Skomer style three bedroom house, with a great open plan living, dining and kitchen area, which gave Evan the room to run around to his hearts content within eye shot of Scott and me. We had a huge family bathroom with a lovely deep bath and great shower and two further en-suites in the bedrooms upstairs. We even had a little cwtch area upstairs with a couple of leather bean bags and a TV for the little ones or big ones to chill out away from the living area downstairs. It really was a great space and a home that I would actually be more than happy to live in all year round!

We stayed from Monday to Friday which cost us £262, which I'm sure you will agree for five days and four nights is a great deal. We did however, take advantage of the early bird special deal which gave us 15% off if you booked before the end of January. It is also considerably cheaper in term time as with all holiday destinations, however Bluestone is still like for like a lot cheaper than your average Centre Park stay.

However,  a negative point for me is that you cannot check in to your home until 4.30pm and you have to check out by 10.30am. You are however allowed to arrive and leave at any time and use all of the facilities, but personally I think they should consider employing a bigger team of cleaners and allowing people to check in a little earlier and check out a little later.

Included in the price is the use of the indoor adventure centre, with a variety of activities for all ages, the blue lagoon which is a fantastic indoor pool area and the outdoor park area which is a beautiful hand built wooden park, which conveniently for the adults has a lovely cafe area called Millers situated just below the park, with indoor and outdoor seating area and serving a variety of freshly baked goodies and ice creams.

However, there are loads of additional activities that you can pay for throughout your stay which cater for all ages, from sensory style experiences and messy play for babies and toddlers, right up to archery, kayaking and zip wires for the older children.

As Evan is only two then clearly a lot of the activities are too old for him but I'm sure he will enjoy them on future visits. The main activities that Evan loved this year were the blue lagoon, the adventure centre and the park area. The blue lagoon has the usual wave machines and slides that you would expect, but it also has what is calls the lazy river, which is a current based part of the pool that starts inside and then carries you outside and around the parameter of the building and back in. As Evan is getting quite confident in the water with his armbands he really loved this experience, as the current allowed him to move along the water without any assistance from us, and it was just lovely to see how much he enjoyed the independence that this experience gave him. As my parents arrived on the Wednesday to stay with us, their arrival also allowed Scott and me to have a little fun on the slides, which took me right back to being a teenager again and were great fun.

As far as eating is concerned there is a great cafe area in the adventure centre called the wild wood cafe, which is set up in the style of a forest, sitting you amongst trees and toadstools and little tree houses. There are then a variety of restaurants to choose from along with a pub which also serves food, all of which as you would expect are extremely child friendly, and the staff throughout the week couldn't have been nicer or more accommodating. One of the restaurant areas called the Granary situated within the Yard restaurant even had a variety of toys and soft play big cushions at the back of the room for children to play and enjoy hanging out together once they had finished their food. I found this particularly great as on two of the evenings we sat drinking wine for well over an hour whilst watching Evan happily playing an interacting with other children in this play area, and as a mum who works full time and therefore doesn't get to see their child play with other children that often I really enjoyed watching Evan having fun with the other young children.

On our final night with grandparents offering to babysit, we took advantage and booked into the fine dining restaurant the Carreg Las. The food was on the whole of a high standard but the portions were a little on the small side for Scott and me. They also managed to over charge us by £21 pounds which was a little disappointing. Also parents or adults with no kids need to be aware that whilst Bluestone recommend no children after 7pm some parents may choose to ignore this, which was the case with us when a toddler was sat with its parents until 10pm, not being too much of a pain, but to be honest when I'm spending close to £100 on food and drink and deliberately looking for a bit of peace from my own child I don't particularly want to be sat by anyone else's!

You can choose to stay all inclusive or self catering, but for me its self catering all the way, as I like the option of eating out when I want but also just hanging out at home and cooking whenever I feel like it. We did a big shop before we went and took it with us, but there is a great little shop in the village area that has a great selection of almost everything you could possibly want or need. There is also a pretty good take away service which takes orders up until 9.45pm. We had the fish and chips on the Wednesday night, and whilst the fish was a little on the greasy side, it was still pretty tasty and a great sized portion for the money.

Whilst you can walk or cycle around the site, no cars are allowed to park on the main resort, and whilst you are allowed to park outside your property to unpack and pack up you then have to park it in the main car park on the edge of the resort. This is of course great when you have little ones charging around all over the place, but not so great when you want to go anywhere in the car and are staying over the other side of the resort, which can be up to a twenty minute walk, especially if you have little ones that don't move at a particularly fast pace.  This also means that when the weather is bad it can mean a fair old walk to the adventure centre and blue lagoon, which is what we found last year when we stayed.

Expecting a bit of rain and realising that we were staying a fair trek from the adventure centre and pool we decided on check in to hire a golf style buggy for £75 for the five days, although you do have to take it back by 10.30am on your last day. However, this was money well spent as not only did Evan think it was the best thing ever, especially when he sat on his dads lap and helped drive, but it was also a real advantage getting around the resort when the weather wasn't too great or when Evan was tired and not in the mood for walking. However, remember your buggy number or you may spend twenty minutes trying to load your pin number into the wrong buggy...oops!

As we have in the last few months been really enjoying our family bike rides, we decided to take our bikes this year, and whilst due to poor weather we only managed to fit in one bike ride I'm still glad we took them. There is a great cycle path which you can follow on the resort, or be a little more adventurous and continue off site through the beautiful countryside. I have to confess that some of the off road stoney hills took their toll on my 40 year old relatively unfit body, but it was still a lovely experience all the same and Evan loved racing through the trees and cycling through the puddles and mud. If you prefer not to take your bikes but fancy a bike ride during your stay you can hire them, along with cute little buggies that fit to the back of the bikes for the little ones.

For those wanting a little relaxing time there is also the Well Spa Retreat on site offering a variety of treatments at typical spa type prices, or you can just pay a fixed price to enjoy chilling out using the spa facilities which include a thermal sauna and steam area and an outdoor hydro pool. I haven't managed to take advantage of the spa on either of my two visits, but I have been informed by family and friends that it is a really great spa and a great spot to chill out. In fact Scott and I are seriously considering taking advantage of their two night spa deals and returning for our anniversary in June for a little child free fun and relaxation.

What is great about Bluestone is that whilst you could easily fill your days on the resort, there is an abundance of children friendly activities all within a twenty minute drive, including some world class beaches if you have good weather, Folly Farm which you can literally spend the whole day at, and was our chosen activity during the rubbish weather on Thursday. There is also a Dinosaur park and Anna Ryder Richardson's Zoo near Tenby, so there really is loads to see and do off site without having to go too far.

So all in all our second experience at Bluestone was thoroughly enjoyable, and if you are looking for a UK based family holiday in a truly beautiful part of the world then you really can't go far wrong giving Bluestone a visit. The downside for me as it was last year was the weather. Most of the week it was cold and Thursday was almost a right off as it rained heavily until tea time. Of course we all know the one thing that you can't guarantee in this lovely country of ours is the weather, but for me, I like being outdoors when I'm on holiday and I like feeling the warm sun on my body, as I am cooped up in an office from Monday to Friday most weeks of the year. We always have one family holiday a year abroad and I have always liked the idea of also having a UK based holiday that doesn't involve the stress of airport queue's and flights. However, the lack of good weather is seriously making me re-consider whether we should be bothering with a UK holiday, knowing that for some of your precious family time, the chances are you may have to spend some of it indoors, which for me is a real shame. Nonetheless I am pretty sure that I will be returning again in the not so distant future for another Bluestone fix for Team Tudor..!!

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Thursday, 1 May 2014

A wonderful tribute to a lost father...

The loss of a parent is such a dramatic and monumental event in anyone's life, particularly if you have continued to have a strong bond and relationship into your adult years. I think growing up you take your parents for granted, especially if they are great parents. You just assume that everyone has the love, support and security that you have, and it is only when you grow a little older and learn from your peers that sadly not all parents are like that and not all your friends have the relationship with their parents that you do. Well that was certainly how it was for me and even when the thought of either of my parents dying pops into my head I have to dismiss it very quickly, as even the thought is too much for my brain to process, so I just bury my head in the sand and figure that I will deal with it when it happens and just hope that this will be a long way off in the future.

So yesterday when I heard the news that Bob Hoskins had sadly died I felt a tinge of sadness, as I always admired him as an actor, and whilst he was best known for his London hard man image, my favourite memory of him will always be as the loveable boyfriend in Mermaids, still to this day one of my favourite films. However, when I read the tribute that his daughter Rosa had paid to him yesterday and read through the life lessons that he had shared and taught her, the human story really hit me hard, that this lady who obviously worshipped her father had lost him forever, and when I read the amazing and beautiful lessons he had taught her I cried for the loss that this person that I don't even know is suffering. For I too will have to one day experience this loss, and therefore my thoughts and greatest sympathy are with Rosa and her family at this saddest of times.
I wanted to share the tribute and lessons with you if you haven't already seen them as they are fantastic and lessons to truly believe and live by...

11 Lessons from my Dad

My darling Dad has died. I loved him to the ends of the earth and he loved me back just the same. These are the lessons he taught me, I will keep them close to my heart and remind myself of them whenever I stumble or falter. They are his words; the words spoken so often to encourage, comfort and reassure. This isn’t general wisdom, rather advice that he tailor-made just for me. I love you Dad.
1) Laugh. There’s humour to be found everywhere, even your darkest days there’s something to have a joke about. Laugh long and loud and make other people laugh. It’s good for you.

2) Be yourself. If someone doesn’t like you they’re either stupid , blind, or they’ve got bad taste. Accept who you are, you’ve got no one else to be. Don’t try to change yourself, there’s no point. Don’t apologise. Don’t make excuses. Be yourself and if anyone else doesn’t like it they can f*ck off.

3) Be flamboyant, it’s who you are and always have been. Be eccentric and unique. Don’t try to adapt yourself to someone else’s view of normal. That belongs to them, not you. Like yourself as you are.

4) Don’t worry about other people’s opinions. Everyone’s a critic, but ultimately what they say only matters if you let it. Don’t believe your own press. People can just as easily sing your praises as they can tear you down. Don’t waste your time on things you can’t change. Let it slide off you like water off a duck’s back.

5) Get angry, it’s ok to lose your temper now and then. If anger stays in, it turns to poison and makes you bitter and sad. Get angry, say your peace, then let it go.

6) What ever you do, always give it a good go. Don’t be afraid of failure and disappointment. If you fall flat on your face then get straight back up. You’ll always regret not trying. Disappointment is temporary, regret is forever.

7) Be generous and kind because you can’t take it with you. When you’ve got something to give, give it without hesitation.

8) Appreciate beauty, take pictures and make memories. Capture it, you never know when it’ll be gone.

9) Don’t take yourself too seriously. People who take themselves too seriously are boring.

10) Never, ever, ever, ever give up. Keep on punching no matter what your up against. You’re only defeated if you give up, so don’t give up.

11) Love with all your heart. In the end, love is the only thing that matters.

Thanks for reading

Rhiannon xx

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