24hr Swim Challenge to Swim the Length of The Thames

Everyone Active opened a new 50m pool today and to launch the grand opening the public were invited to go along throughout the weekend to take part in free activities which included group exercise classes, family swim sessions and fitness challenges.

The Leisure Centre has worked in partnership with Total Swimming to expand the swimming provision to local residents. The new 50m pool is a first for our area as it designed as modular format. The only other Olympic length pool is London Aquatics Centre in east London.

Along with many sport activities that were all free to local residents and members was swimming sessions in the new pool. We booked onto a couple of sessions, including the swim challenge and life saving course.

The boys were very excited to be amongst the many people to jump into the pool. I had signed them up to help contribute into the challenge which was to swim the length of The Thames from Source to the Thames Barrier which os 288.2km.

The youngest managed to swim 550 mtrs and the eldest swam 2600 mtrs. They were lucky enough to swim alongside Olympic swimmers James Goddard and Joanne Jackson, who we found to be very friendly and were very interested in making conversation about how well the boys were swimming.

Both boys were rewarded with a medal once they finished and a signed card from the British Olympian James Goddard.

Olympic swimmer Grant Turner gave the eldest some top tips on how to perfect his swimming stride.

With the pool so close to where we live we are looking forward to spending more sessions in there in the future.



Encouraging my Children to be Adventurous

‘Fill your life with adventures and with stories to tell’

Children need adventure, they need to experience risk in order to develop their ability to deal with situations and to build up their self confidence. It encourages them to be more resilient and to think for themselves. Whether the adventure be small or big, indoors or out children should be experiencing adventure to build up their skills and to able to assess the danger around them. Not only do children develop trust, empathy and compassion but they  learn to master their own fears and are able to help others get through them.

As parents we should be teaching our children to assess the danger and how to deal with the risk of being adventurous. As much as I want to wrap my boys up in cotton wool and lock them away from any danger I know that I must allow them to experience adventure to gain knowledge and new skills.

I want my boys to have memories of us being adventurous together and hopefully they will last a lifetime and something that they will then take on with their own families.

I want us to visit new places together.

I want us to try new challenges, like rock climbing and diving.

A couple of years ago I took my boys camping in Lee Valley, we travelled around on our bikes and spent the summer nights out walking along the River Lee. It’s a holiday that they still talk about and are constantly requesting to go back. It didn’t cost much and wasn’t a glamorous holiday but it was something we did together as a unit. We cycled along the river bank with an unknown destination, stopping where it took our fancy. We cycled for miles using only our sense of direction to get back. Searched for geocaches. Played hide and seek in the forests. Climbed trees. And picniced in fields.

Enjoying the scenery

It was the first time I had ever gone out cycling alone so far with the boys, but I am so glad that I did it. As we don’t live too far from there, we travelled there and back on our bikes with just clothes in our rucksacks. We had to deal with getting lost, bee stings and how to deal with punctures. It was amazing, in fact I am too scared to go back as I don’t think we could experience another holiday like it.

Now, we’re not the most adventurous family but we still try new things, even if we are scared.

We have hiked up Mount Snowdon as a family  ,entered Mud races, jumped from a crane, been canoeing, open water swimming; not all that adventurous compared to some but it’s a start 🙂

We spent this summer in Malta. The boys went swimming in the sea everyday. They taught themselves to dive, to snorkel and faced their fears by jumping off of cliffs into the crystal clear water below.

I, myself, am not that confident and would call myself a scaredy cat. As I watched my boys jump in but couldn’t face doing it myself. It took me at least a week to pluck up the courage to jump in from about 2 metres high. I was so glad that I did it, my boys just kept hugging me. I felt that I had achieved something, although it was little in comparison to what my boys had been doing. I felt a sense of adrenaline rush through me.

Here are a few things the boys got up to in the summer

Exploring caves
Exploring under the water

Jumping from cliffs into the sea. They were taught to assess the danger first. To swim around first and to see how deep it was. And to also look out for any jellyfish.

Having a mud wash

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In this day and age where children would rather communicate via social media and spend most of their spare time with their face in front of a screen I think that it’s important to encourage our children to venture outside and explore, to learn for themselves and to achieve that sense of adrenaline from adventure. I want my boys to be challenged and to be comfortable in their surroundings.

I want to spend time with my boys outside, it’s something we can do together without the distractions of modern technology. It’s about making memories, enjoying each others company and creating stories to tell for when they grow up.



Our visit to Popeye Village, Malta

Pass me my spinach Olive……..

Last week we flew to the beautiful Island of Malta, home to gorgeous scenic coves, tasty mediterranean food and of course the Popeye Movie set. Popeye village is a popular tourist attraction in Malta and you can understand why, as soon as you look down at the bay below you, you are hit with such beauty and breathtaking scenes. It was built-in the 1980’s for the purpose of the Walt Disney production; live action, Musical feature film Popeye, starring the late Robin Williams.

Popeye village is in the most beautiful location of Anchor Bay, North west of the Island. It is easily reached by car or bus.

As soon as you feast your eyes on the village below, you will be captivated by its beauty. Popeye Village also known as Sweethaven Village is made up of wooden, rustic buildings.


Cove below
Cove below

There is so much to do at Popeye village; not only do you get to walk around the old movie set but you can explore the houses, go swimming in the sea, swim in the lido, take a boat ride around the bay, watch the film in an old movie theatre, watch a documentary about how the film was filmed and even take part in live scenes with the actors out in the street.

Screenshot (34)As soon as we walked down the steep hill approaching Popeye’s house, we was greeted by Popeye himself along with Bluto and Olive Oyl.


The actors were friendly and very funny, they were a big hit with the children and really brought the whole experience alive. We watched Popeye and Bluto fight over Olive Oyl. Poor Oliver couldn’t believe his eyes when Bluto was knocked out and fell to the floor, he wasn’t moving and believed that he was dead.

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As well as wandering around the old village the children had fun in the splash pool, although the water was a little cold, it didn’t stop them from jumping in and having a blast.

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I can just imagine it being a little sweet haven in the heat of the summer months, being able to relax and cool off around the lido and splash pool. Also in the summer there are water trampolines and slides set up in the sea down in the bay for visitors to use.

The boys loved walking through the old wooden buildings, exploring and reading all the information. We even sat and watched some of the old film in the Popeye comic museum, whilst taking cover from the rain outside (we visited during October half term) The museum was full of memorabilia and over 200 comics on display.

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Our day was nearly over but not before jumping on board the Boat for a trip around Anchor Bay, this is a must on a visit to the Village as you get to see some beautiful scenery of the village set among the cliffs and coves from the Sea.

Waiting for the boat to depart

Just next to where the boat departs, on Captain Bluto’s Platform there is a small set up of miniature golf


The very last thing that had to be done, and I can only imagine in the summer months that this would be a 100 % must, would be to swim in the bay. During the summer the bay comes alive with inflatable fun for all the family, but as it was October Jak had it all to himself.


The water was shallow but deep enough for him to swim in.

We had a fabulous day out and even though it was out of season, there was still lots for us to do and see.

If you have a holiday booked to Malta, I would strongly recommend a visit to Popeye Village to meet the Big Man himself.


Olympics inspire the Boys

Inspiring a Nation

Over the past fortnight we have been glued to the television screen watching the Olympics. The boys favourite has been the athletics and cycling, Joseph has loved watching the gymnastics and Jak has screamed with delight when Mo raced over the finish line in not one but two olympics races, the 10,000m and 5,000m. The boys have been walking around doing the mobot to everyone. We wasn’t one of the lucky ones to get tickets which wasn’t due to not trying so we took to joining everyone else and joined the crowds on the streets of London and Hyde Park to watch the Mens Triathlon. Jak and Joseph were ecstatic as they watched the Brownlee brothers Alistair and Jonathon cross the finishing line to the rapturous screams of the crowds. Jak has always been a fan of running, swimming and cycling as it is something that his dad does every day, he enjoys going out for a run with his Dad a round the block where we live. Although the boys dad enters triathlon races i do believe that with thanks to the success of the Brownlee brothers they have inspired Jak to ask me to get him into a triathlon club. He has spent hours trawling the internet trying to find a local club that he could join or even an event he could enter  but much to his disappointment he hasn’t found one just yet. So until he can find one in the meantime he has come up with his very own idea of setting up a triathlon by himself at home, Jak is lucky to have a 24ft swimming pool in his garden so he has been swimming around the pool and practising his laps. He wants to invite his friends around the house so they can all enter and join in on the fun. he has decided on them doing 4 laps of the pool followed by one lap of the block on his bicycle and one lap running. He has even talked about getting the transition right and talked about making sure that they all have their bicycles ready outside the house along with their trainers and socks set out ready for them to put them on.

In Jak’s school report his teacher wrote that there is nothing that Jak can not achieve if he sets his mind to it and i believe this too, Jak is very strong minded, loyal and passionate young boy and if he starts something he always likes to see it through. I have myself looked into finding an event for him to enter and also tried to find a club but there isn’t one locally but i will not give up as it is something that i believe he will enjoy doing and will definitely take pleasure in participating in. Jak has also been to the local library and taken out books to read on techniques of running and sports psychology and talked about it for days. While watching the last day of the olympics i was explaining to the boys that they was very lucky to have been part of such an amazing event and that they probably would never get to see an olympic event in person ever again unless they travel to other countries to watch them and Jak replied that i was wrong and that he would be in the games himself as an athlete and i would get to watch him in person compete in races, this brought a tear to my eyes as i saw the hunger in his face. The weekend just gone saw the boys Dad enter his second Triathlon and they were just as excited to cheer him on as they was Team GB. They was over the moon when the saw Daddy come into view nearing the finish line, full of proudness they jumped all over him, Jak now wants to be alongside his Dad and take part too.

Here is Jak practising his own Triathlon in our garden and here is to Jak and his future.


First the swim


Next up the cycle ride


Finishing his run

Thank you for reading my post 🙂


366 Catch up Olympics and swimming

I’ve been a bit slack on the blog with my 366 photos, I am leaving it too late to upload my photos and then I fall asleep without uploading a 366 photo. So here are my last 3 photos

Oliver enjoying the sun in his stroller


Oliver and I went to watch the women’s semi finals at the aquatic centre at the Olympics.


Today was a hot day in London so the boys cooled off in the swimming pool, they had lots of fun diving down to pick up the dive sticks and they participated in their very own triathlon.



Olympic Mens Triathlon at Hyde Park

For the past year i have tried and tried to buy tickets to the Olympics, we live not far away from the Olympic Park and seeing as the Olympics is being held practically on our doorstep I thought it would be an amazing experience for us a family to watch. I managed to buy daddy some boxing tickets for Daddy as a birthday present and i made the mistake of not purchasing the boys tickets too, I thought that i would be able to buy more tickets for them but when i tried again I wasn’t allowed any more under my name. In the past two weeks much to my disappointment i have failed to buy tickets to the olympics so I took to London yesterday so the boys could experience some olympic fever in Hyde Park. We went to watch the mens triathlon and what a day it was! The boys got to see so much and really enjoyed themselves, we found a spot just near the serpentine where we saw the swimming and then walked just a short distance to S Carriage Drive where the triathletes were going to be cycling down. Jak and Joseph stood on top of a rubbish bin where they got a great view of the triathletes as they passed us. The boys waved their olympic foam hands that they made from some yellow moon craft packs, they cheered until they got sore throats and they jumped up and down when they caught a glimpse of Team GB go by. Once the triathletes had passed us cycling on their last lap we made our way to the huge live screen to watch the triathletes transition from their cycles to the last leg of the race into the running stage. The boys then wanted to see if they could watch some of the running so we found a great spot on a hill just near the serpentine where we got a fabulous view of the main stand where the triathletes would finish, AND what a view it was, we saw Alistair Brownlee grab a union jack from someone near the stand and run towards the finish line waving it where he walked over the line to win Gold.

Waving their Hands

Alistair Brownlee looking back at the pack

We all had a glorious day and can’t believe we got to see an olympic ev

The hyge live screen

ent, we had magnificent views all day, the sun made an appearance too. We made the most of being in London too, we visited the serpentine gallery, the boys had a splash in the Diana’s memorial fountain and to finish our day off we walked to Covent Garden for something to eat passing some iconic places on the way like Buckingham Palace, Downing Street and The Horse Guards.

What an amazing day we all had, the atmosphere was electric and we even got to see many of the athletes up close including Alistair and Jonathon Brownlee who went on to win Gold and Bronze Olympic medals. We are now looking forward to watching the Paralympic athletics in the Olympic park, which i have managed to get tickets for us for YIPPEE!

Thank you for reading my post:-)


Swimming for the baby, Freds SWIMTRAINER CLASSIC Red Review

Swimming is a fun activity for the whole family but it can also play a huge part of a baby’s development. Being in the water gives the baby independence, they can learn balance and awareness, it gives them confidence and can help them with their social skills. Having fun in the water whilst swimming can help children develop a positive relationship with the water and can give them a sense of achievement.

As a family we have always been keen on swimming, the boys love to splash about all day long and enjoy the freedom they get when in the water, Daddy is a good swimmer too and has taught the two eldest to swim and both of them were confident swimmers by the time they were 4 years old. I am not too keen on swimming, i’m not very confident in the water but do still enjoy the sense freedom and like to play with the boys in the pool so i don’t want the boys to be like me I want them to have confidence and to be able to swim themselves to safety if they ever get into trouble in the water. Every year come May time we always get our pool, Daddy sets it up with the pump and heater, chlorinates it and cleans the filters, he puts a lot of work into the pool so that the boys can enjoy their swimming at any time of the day. This year is the first year that Oliver has been able to enjoy the pool too, he loves to splash his big brothers and likes to move about in the water. He has a baby ring that he sits in but he doesn’t like to feel restricted and is always trying to get out of it, he gets his little legs out of the seat within seconds so he isn’t very safe in it and as our pool is 4ft deep swimming with him isn’t very comfortable I am always worrying about him falling out.

The Swimtrainer Classic Red can be used with the baby from as early as 3 months old, it is designed to put the baby into the correct swimming position in the water by allowing the baby to lay forward instead of sitting upwards. The swimtrainer gives children the necessary sense of achievement and security in the water during every stage of their development. This forms the basis for being successful at learning how to swim. The specially designed swimtrainer aids are introduced according to the child’s age and learning ability (red, orange, yellow). The SWIMTRAINER “Classic” is used with babies to support their early development, it has inflatable straps and pads to prevent baby from slipping through and adjustable safety belt which also prevents the baby from tipping forward.

Classic Swim Trainer (Red)

We was sent a Swimtrainer classic from http://www,thethinkingbaby.com for Oliver to try out, it arrived a couple of days before we left for our holiday which was perfect and I couldn’t wait to see little Oliver in it. It took only a few minutes to blow up and was easy to get him in it, as i said before he doesn’t like to feel restricted and as soon as i put him in it he started to pull at it trying to get out of it. I adjusted the straps to fit him and clipped him in using the inflatable safety belt that is attached to the ring, the clip is extra safe as it has a safety piece of plastic that snaps on top of the clips ensuring that the clips do not come undone during use in the water. Once he stood up and started walking in it he started to become more comfortable and was getting used to having it around him, he could move around easily and the swimtrainer wasn’t stopping him.



We walked to the pool and in he went, straight away he leaned forward and i instantly grabbed out to him to steady him but i didn’t need to as the swimtrainer was supporting him under his belly. He looked very comfortable and was soon laying forward and kicking his little feet. The inflatable belly panel was supporting and hugging him making him feel comfortable, I let go of him and let him go of on his own, he was having lots of fun and was even moving in the water on his own, he had his arms laying forward over the ring and was moving his hands about in the water and generally enjoying himself splashing around. I felt at ease that he was safe and secure in the trainer and i was starting to enjoy being in the water with him, normally after about 5 minutes he is trying to climb out if his support ring to get into the water but with Oliver sitting in his swimtrainer and enjoying himself he just stayed put and carried on kicking his legs feeling completely free he went in any direction he wanted to.

I am very impressed with the swimtrainer classic and would definitely recommend it to other parents. It folds up into a nice and neat flat pile and is lightweight which is ideal for your luggage when packing a suitcase for a holiday. Not only does it give the baby freedom and confidence in the water but it also puts parents at ease knowing that your child will not tip over or slip through the ring. The swimtrainer classic red is suitable for babies of 13-40lbs/6-18kg.

The swimtrainer classic is available in three colours red, yellow and orange depending on age/weight of the child and can be bought here for £19.50.

Follow The Thinking Baby on twitter @TheThinkingBaby

unfortunately i have no photographs of Oliver in the water wearing the Swimtrainer as i was not allowed to take photos of him in the pool

I was sent a swimtrainer classic red for the purpose of this review and have not received any payment. All words and thoughts are my own.

update from 6/8/12. Oliver had a swim in the pool today in our garden (the water looks a bit green but it’s just where it’s not been used for a while and the algae has settled on the floor, 15 minutes of swimming around and the chlorine was doing it’s work again)