English Escapes – Carlisle and Hadrian’s Wall

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Some beautiful sumptuous views at the back of Birdoswald Fort

Some beautiful sumptuous views at the back of Birdoswald Fort – fabulous clouds here as well if like me, you’re a fan of weather systems.

I went for a little break down to Carlisle with family last weekend – there were 4 adults and 4 kids all under 10. In my opinion Carlisle has got to be one of the top places to go with that age range, especially if you catch some good weather which we did. If you don’t know much about the area then Carlisle is a city with a large castle, surrounded by lots of Roman history, beautiful countryside and not far from The Lake District. Hadrian’s Wall runs through it and goes right along to Newcastle and there’s various Roman forts, bits of ruins and museums along the

Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian’s Wall

way.

My little girl is a bit too young to appreciate all the educational stuff but I’ve bookmarked a lot of what we did for some future homeschooling visits later down the line. It real is a perfect setting to see history in action. The attractions in the area like the Castles and forts are all part of the English Heritage group – a bit like the National Trust really. If you know you’re going to be able to visit a lot of the English Heritage sites then it would definitely be worthwhile to get an annual membership; especially if you’re a larger family as adults gain discounted entry and kids under 19 go free (although children under 5 always go free). 

If you need to stay in Carlisle we got a really good deal at the Premier Inn – I’m sure there’s more B&B’s and historic settings to stay at but it was great value and they’re very kid friendly with a good bar and restaurant. Also nearby there’s a Brewyer’s Fayre just down the motorway which has a great Wacky Warehouse attached that the kids can go mad in for no extra price. I was impressed by what you got for your money on the menu here too – if you’re looking to do a family break and keep to a budget there’s plenty to find

Hadrian's Wall (again)!

Hadrian’s Wall (again)!

We went round Carlisle Castle first as soon as we arrived- it’s a large place with still operational army barracks. Some of it’s in ruins but most is intact with a good amount of information on display and also there are some real performances by people in costume during the holidays. They re-enacted scenes from history with the kids during the ‘Kings and Queens’ weekend and the kids got some cheap Roman swords and shields in the gift shop that kept them amused for the whole break – my wee monkey even got her own foam sword that I’m still getting whacked with on a regular basis, which she of course finds hilarious :)

The following day we headed off to find some of Hadrian’s Wall that we could walk along and to hunt out Birdoswald Roman Fort (again, part of the English heritage group). There’s a warrior school on during the holidays that costs an extra pound per child. The kids get dressed up and were taught battle techniques and fighting styles and they got to make masks and other crafty things. They really loved all of this. You can then walk round the fort and see loads of information about the Roman and viking history. If you’re looking for

More stunning countryside views at Birdoswald Fort

More stunning countryside views at Birdoswald Fort

something even more educational then there’s 2 further sites further along from Birdoswald called the Roman Vindolanda Fort & Museum and The Roman Army Museum. These are basically the definitive roman experience for kids and I will definitely be taking my monkey back when she’s bigger. There’s a high amount of Roman artefacts on display here, fantastic 3D re-enactment of battles, and the building of the wall, tons of activities for kids such as writing messages home in the traditional roman style and plotting the conquest of Britain. If you’re an adult or older child with a keen interest in history and archaeology you can even volunteer to help excavate the ruins from April – September. And this is all the stuff I’ve just read about as we didn’t even go!! I think if you go to Hadrian’s Wall in Carlisle and want to investigate the Roman history then this is the place to go to – we’d just run out of time and had already done

Talkin Tarn - views to inspire poetry!

Talkin Tarn – views to inspire poetry… and look at those clouds again!

Birdoswald and we were on a bit of a budget. If it was one or the other I’d say skip Birdoswald and go straight to the Roman Vindolanda. 

Anyway, on the way back to the city we stopped at Talkin Tarn for a picnic and ice cream and the bigger kids managed to fit in a row boat trip too. This tarn has a variety of watersports on offer including one of those transparent inflatable balls you go in and try to run around on the water – although in reality I saw lots of people take 2 steps and fall over and not manage to get back up again. This was quite fun to watch but possibly not as fun to do so more of a spectator sport :) I can’t remember the exact pricing (sorry) but it wasn’t extortionate. There was also an enclosed kids playground, an area set up for lots of bird feeding and you

Feeding the birds at Talkin Tarn

Feeding the birds at Talkin Tarn

can buy proper bird feed (not bread) cheaply and feed the ducks – this was of course the highlight of monkey’s day. 

The following day we nipped to Ullswater to see The Lakes – we unfortunately didn’t have time to go on the wee steamer boat as it’s a 140 minute round trip but we did go to Pooley Bridge and have a very nice ice cream! Bare in mind that if you do want to go on the steamer then the queues were huge as it’s an extremely popular tourist destination. I’d investigate buying tickets in advance if I went again. 

So that was our little 3 day trip to Carlisle – the place is enriched with local ancient history and you’ll be rewarded with some stunning views of classic British countryside whichever direction you go in out of Carlisle. Definitely somewhere go to if you have the chance and particularly great for children so they can really engage with history outside of the classroom in a much more inspiring way. If you go as adults though, there’s plenty of really good walks of varying difficulty and lots of country pubs and restaurants to rest and recuperate along the way!

Once again, more stunning views of the lakes at Ullswater

Once again, more stunning views of the lakes at Ullswater

Travelling With Kids : Things To Do In Sydney For Free

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backpacksandbabygrows:

Things to do in Sydney for free when travelling with kids – courtesy of The Kid Bucket List

Originally posted on The Kid Bucket List:

Travelling With Kids : Things To Do In Sydney For Free

If you find yourself in Sydney for a day and want an adventure for free we have found a plethora of delights for you to explore. Whilst you will need to find your way to the spot, entry or exploration is free! Have fun!

The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia is a cultural marvel and houses a brilliant range of contemporary art. The venue is free to visit and children are warmly received. For a gold coin donation child visitors receive an activity book to plot their journey around the site. You can also download this for free and take it with you.

The Rocks Discovery Museum is open every day from 10.00 am – 5.00 pm and is located in a three-storey high restored 1850s sandstone warehouse in The Rocks. It is free to enter and walks you through the history of the are from pre-European occupation through to modern times. It…

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Moving Day: The Ins and Outs of Moving Your Site

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backpacksandbabygrows:

Handy tips for the future …..

Originally posted on The Daily Post:

I started my first blog when I was 25 and headed off on a backpacking trip across Southeast Asia. I wanted to keep a record of my travels for my friends and families to enjoy, and I chose Blogger as my platform.

Blogging turned out to be so much fun that I decided to keep it up when I got home, but by that time, I knew more about what I was looking for in a platform, and so I started my second blog on WordPress.com. (Granted, I’m a bit biased now, but this was years before I worked here, I promise.)

Years later, my new WordPress.com blog had come to feel like my online home, and I was sad that my old travel posts were lingering on a blog elsewhere that I never looked at. Enter the importer.

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Tefl approved…. (technically)!

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approvedI have now finished my 120 hour online TEFL course! I’m of course extremely happy about this; I’m now officially qualified to teach English as a foreign language. BUT…. there’s always a but isn’t there? I say ‘technically’ in my title because doing the online course means I’ve had no actual teaching practice.

I’ve loved the course and I don’t want to make it seem like I’m criticising the TEFL qualification; however, there are some big downsides to doing the course completely online. I think I’d be incredibly nervous before teaching a lesson for starters. Also there were lots of grammar related questions/problems I had, that really needed the presence of a proper instructor to solve. Anyone who has looked even briefly at the structure of English grammar can attest to how complicated we seem to have made our system. But (yes there’s a 2nd more positive ‘but’)… I feel that I made the right choice and I will stick to my original plan. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while you will know that I planned on doing the online course to familiarise myself with the grammar and to get a feel for what’s expected of me before applying to do the more formal CELTA qualification at the university I currently study. I’m glad I did it this way round. I now have a rudimentary understanding of grammar. Although I will say that if I was only planning on doing this course then jumping straight into teaching, I would need some immense organisational skills to fully prep all my lessons in advance in order to make sure I could answer any questions my students had. 

On saying that, I think preparation and advance planning and a huge amount of lesson plans and worksheets all done in advance of the lessons will be key to being a good EFL teacher. I can see why there’s so many complaints about of terrible quality of teaching. If you’re just bumming around and do the TEFL course as a thing to make money, but it’s not something you put any effort, energy or passion into, then you will be a terrible teacher. You will also end up hating your job as much as the students hate you. Sorry, I know that sounds harsh but having done the course I know that it’s completely true… you only have to read some forum and blog posts to know the level of appalling teaching that’s out there and I think this is the reason why. They’ve gone into it thinking it’ll be a doss and it couldn’t be further from the truth.

I think you could do the online course and then build up lots of experience through voluntary work if you wanted. This could be a viable option for anyone who can’t afford the far higher price of the CELTA course. I think I’ll try and do some voluntary stuff anyway as it will help me to get over those initial jitters about standing in front of a class, and it would be nice to have experience before accepting a proper job too. The online course is pretty easy, I don’t want to belittle anyone who found it hard… by that I mean that with a bit of effort I think most people will find it manageable and would be able to complete it. The assignments start off as multiple choice quizzes on the grammar and then build up to written assignments you submit for proper marking. However, these begin as small, manageable quick pieces of work and it’s only the final 3-4 assignments that pose a challenge in any way. These last ones do require you to apply what you’ve been taught and to prepare some full lessons from start to finish. They take time and care and are worth doing well, after all this is what you’ll be doing as a teacher!

Once you’ve done the course you’ll find that along the way, you’ve had to do so much research you’ll have hopefully built up some great resource links from external websites – these will be a huge help when actually teaching. One of the best I’ve found to date is the great blog found here on WordPress called ‘tefltastic’ – http://www.tefltastic.wordpress.com there’s tons of resources, worksheets and lesson planning advice and tips along with a large amount of activity ideas. There’s also hundreds of activity worksheets available to download. Well worth a look! The tefl community is in general very helpful and inclusive – everyone has been in that starter position before, so I think that makes everyone really willing to help and create an open community of sharing when it comes to academic resources. 

Below are some good websites I’ve found during the duration of my course:

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk This is a BBC/British council site offering loads of tips and lesson plan ideas along with grammar help.

http://www.teflteachertraining.com is a great blog by Ted, offering untold amounts of advice and help on all things TEFL

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/ A good resource if you need some grammar explained in plain english whilst completing the course. It helps to fill in some of the gaps that are there in the TEFL course book.

http://www.onestopenglish.com Again, this is a good site for filling in some of the gaps, the TEFL course is OK but I must admit I did find some explanatory gaps in their books. Although I suppose a bit of self-study is never a bad thing either!

http://www.tefl.net A general resource and advice site

http://www.businessdictionary.com This is a great resource to use for vocabulary you might need in a business english class, providing definitions and also ideas around which to plan your business english lessons.

I’m planning on continuing to post any useful information I find including useful resource sites, so keep an eye out if you find this kind of stuff useful. I’m also hoping to get a little site started up with my own worksheets and lesson plans etc once I actually start teaching. Although this will be a couple of years down the line save for some voluntary work. It is most definitely in the pipeline though – you can hold me to it! 

I just want to end by saying that the TEFL course provided by http://www.tefl.org.uk was well worth the money. Although I found some of the instructions to be a little bit ambiguous I did get through it with a grade point average well over 90%. They also marked all my assignments in the agreed timeframe and gave me advice when I asked for it. I’m very glad I did this, and I think it will be extremely valuable when I do the CELTA to have had access to the knowledge and the lesson plans. And if you are very self driven and motivated you could definitely get along into teaching without the CELTA – but I would suggest doing a substantial amount of voluntary work if you can to get the experience and to put into practice all the theory you have been taught. Also it’s worth remembering that knowledge of the subject is only one part of what it takes to be a good teacher and that will come more easily the more you do it – however what really matters are the qualities employers and students will look for :

tefl qualities

Happy TEFL-ing guys, I can’t wait to actually get going with my travels and put my knowledge into practice!

Ever feel alone in a crowded place? This artist gets you

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backpacksandbabygrows:

A really great artistic representation of loneliness – kind of fascinating, it sucks you in and holds your attention in a an indescribable way. I find it interesting the way the creator has linked the passage of time (by slowing down the frames) with loneliness. The two are often inextricably linked in real life so it makes for a good juxtaposition.

Originally posted on ideas.ted.com:

Adam Magyar struggles with the speed of time. (Who can blame him?) In response, the Hungarian artist and photographer captures densely populated urban areas at extremely high speeds — then slows each moment down so you can experience every breath and blink. The result: hypnotic videos that reveal the hidden depths of everyday experiences. One conceptual series, Stainless, turns a mundane subway commute into a meditation on mortality and human perception. In Stainless, Magyar creates both videos and still photographs, the latter using a line-scan camera (the same kind of camera used in a scanner) to turn a speeding train into “a frozen image of impossible clarity and stillness, a reality imperceptible to both passengers speeding into the station and bystanders waiting to board,” writes Joshua Hammer in Matter. “The individuals in his trains ride together yet apart, lost in their own thoughts, often transfixed by their hand-held devices.”

Below, see five haunting gifs…

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Somewhere I’ve been twice – Paris!

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The Eiffel Tower at night - a must see.

The Eiffel Tower at night – a must see.

I’ve been lucky enough to go to Paris twice now; I do think Paris is somewhere that probably gets better with experience so the more you go the better it is.

There’s a few reasons for this: firstly, it’s such a hugely popular city with tourists that every single tourist attraction is completely mobbed and it takes hours to do the thing you want to do. Queues are enormous for everything by about 10am sometimes even earlier. My recommendation is that you go for a few days and pick one thing to do each day; get to the attraction at the latest 9am and this way you will miss most of the stress (hopefully).

Secondly, the French and specifically Parisians aren’t overly helpful or that keen on tourists. I was here whilst heavily pregnant and will never forget having a large amount of people stand around and watch me struggle up 3 flights of stairs with a heavy suitcase and not one person offered to help. I ended up pulling a muscle all the way across my bump and had a night in hospital back in the UK because they were worried about the pain I was in. Now I’m possibly doing the French a bit of a disservice here, I suspect every major city in the world is the same but they do have their own brand of curtness. One way to combat this is to make sure you attempt to speak some french (this is the same wherever you are actually – an attempt at the local language is a must but more so here than anywhere else I’ve been). I find it always softens people’s attitude. Some of the best help we had was actually from a woman living in Paris who came from elsewhere in the world – so it might be an idea to ask seasoned expats for advice if you can spot them.

The Arc De Triomphe

The Arc De Triomphe

Thirdly, don’t expect anything to work quite the way it should. Don’t take timetables at face value or rely on anything being open even if it explicitly states it is open or will be open it is worth doing more research to save yourself a lot of stress and disappointment (more on this later when I chat about our adventurous trip to the Asterix Theme Park).

Eat often and take lots of leisurely breaks in coffee shops, tip well and be prepared to spend more money than you want to. Don’t do anything in a rush (hence the one trip a day rule). It’s possible to do 2 or 3 different tourist attractions in a  day but when I say do 1 at 9am, i mean do a big one so you could go and climb the Eiffel Tower at 9am then have some food and stroll along The Seine to see the exterior of the Notre Dame Cathedral. However

The Sacre Coeur - 'sacred heart'

The Sacre Coeur – ‘sacred heart’

if you’re desperate to go inside the cathedral then you will have to queue. I was happy just to see the outside although I had been into the Sacre Coeur. Not being religious in any way meant I was happy to just appreciate the magnificent architecture from afar I guess.

If you can follow these rough guidelines then you’ll probably have a great time without feeling too frazzled on your return. Also it might be worth thinking to yourself that Paris can’t really be done in one long weekend and if you relax in the knowledge that you’ll go back once or twice more the desperation to ‘see everything’ goes away. I still have to go back and

The Louvre (of course)!

The Louvre (of course)!

enter the catacombs – the queue was enormous on my 1st trip out there every time we went and the second time I was there I was heavily pregnant so it wasn’t really the best option for me!

Over the course of the two trips I’ve climbed the Eiffel Tower, been inside the Sacre Coeur, wondered round and bought artwork from Montmartre, seen the Notre Dame cathedral, been to The Asterix Theme Park and ridden the biggest wooden roller coaster in Europe, I saw the Tower lit up at night, wandered through some beautiful gardens and eaten and had coffee at Les Editeurs (frequented by Simone De Beauvoir and Satre so a must for any philosophy student) and La Rotonde

A philosophical kind of a cafe ...

A philosophical kind of a cafe …

(frequented by all the artists years ago). I’ve wandered up the Champs Elysees and seen the Arc De Triomphe and had a fabulous night out at Moulin Rouge.  The second trip was far less stressful and this was because I’d done all the big touristy things the first time round so actually spent more time just sitting down and enjoying Paris, wandering through the streets, people watching and appreciating the architecture down the residential streets.

If you’re like me and a fan of theme parks and roller coasters then the Asterix Theme Park is a must – as mentioned it’s home to the largest

Not the wooden one, but a jaw rattling proper old fashioned coaster that managed to crack my friends tooth.

Not the wooden one, but a jaw rattling proper old fashioned coaster that managed to crack my friends tooth.

wooden roller coaster in Europe, but it’s also much quieter these days as Disney World gets the biggest chunk of the revenue. It’s kind of vintage in its appeal which I like. It was a bit of a nightmare to get there; the bus didn’t show up (there should be a scheduled bus to the park each day but well, it’s France). We were very lucky that a seasoned expat turned up to take her niece there and she guided as through the subway system, train and bus system to finally get to the park and we were lucky that the scheduled bus took us home despite either not turing up on the outward journey or leaving early (we never found out which it was).

Another must is a trip to one of the big shows. We opted for Moulin Rouge as we were lucky enough to wrangle guest list. We still had to bribe the doorman to skip the ginormous queue in,

My glamorous outfit that helped us skip the queue :)

My glamorous outfit that helped us skip the queue for Moulin Rouge

but apparently he appreciated my outfit (and a big tip) so we were ushered through. The show itself is fantastic and you will be extremely entertained (if you like that sort of thing). I managed to drink a couple of bottles of champagne by myself as my friend isn’t a big bubbly drinker, however he was supremely amused at seeing me completely drunk, whilst dressed up to the nines on the streets of Paris. One of my best nights out to date :)

Really there’s not much else to add, I’d love to go back and do a cruise down the Seine at night, enter the Catacombs (finally) and maybe go inside Notre Dame. I’ve also not managed to get into the Louvre as the queues were just monumental and I’ve not got much patience for that unless it’s something I’ve set my heart on. But again, if you went and turned up at 9am to the Louvre it would probably be OK in terms of queue times. I also wouldn’t say no to a trip to Disneyland so I reckon I’ll head back with my little monkey when she’s a bit older (kids are such a great excuse to do all the really fun things :) )

 

Also as an added footnote – they serve a JD and coke in a typically fabulous and sophisticated way which I loved…..

The French way to serve Jack Daniels and Coke - enchante!

The French way to serve Jack Daniels and Coke – enchante!

4 Best Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Meditation (Science is Awesome)

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backpacksandbabygrows:

There’s so many brain studies now that it’s pretty hard to deny the actual real benefits to our brains – very glad I’m starting on the path now to try and master this skill. Mindfulness is definitely difficult but I’ve felt the benefits immediately after doing my 1st class.

Originally posted on Be Like Water:

meditation

1. MEDITATION SPEEDS UP BRAIN PROCESSING POTENTIAL

According to a research journal article published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience in February 2012, meditation can alter the geometry of the brain’s surface. There was a study done at the University of California in Los Angeles involving 50 meditators and 50 controls that addressed a possible link between meditation and cortical gyrification, the pattern and degree of cortical folding that allows the brain to process faster. This study showed a positive correlation between the amount of gyrification in parts of the brain and the number of years of meditation for people, especially long-term meditators, compared to non-meditators.

This increased gyrification may reflect an integration of cognitive processes when meditating, since meditators are known to be introspective and contemplative, using certain portions of the brain in the process of meditation. Despite articles written from this journal article, more research is still necessary to…

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The Versatile Blogger Award!

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versatile blogger 2

 

I’ve been very kindly nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by the lovely guys at http://www.borderlass.com – I’m really honoured, as a new blogger it makes a big difference knowing other bloggers like and appreciate what I’m writing. Occasionally I feel very critical of what I’m doing and really over-analyse how my writing appears to others so it’s made me extremely happy to get this award!

Anyway, I’ve nominated some extremely well established blogs but ones that I’ve really enjoyed reading and that have given me some genuinely great advice on either blogging, travelling or travelling with kids. There’s also some new ones in there and a couple by people who I think are probably really under represented in the travel blog world. It was a hard choice but I hope I can nominate other blogs I enjoy in the future (who knows!).

So firstly thanks again to border lass and thanks to all the blogs I’ve nominated as I’m loving what you’re all writing. Ever since I’ve set off on this path to achieve my dream of travelling as a single parent, I’ve found the whole travel community to be really inclusive and supportive and I’m very honoured to feel a part of it.

So my 15 nominations are (in no particular order):

1. http://www.goatsontheroad.com

2. http://www.travelingcanucks.com

3. http://www.worldtravelfamily.com who also have http://www.homeschoolgrouphug.com

4. http://www.twobadtourists.com

5. http://www.boyaroundtheworld.wordpress.com

6. http://www.3rdculturechildren.com

7. http://www.nerdnomads.com

8. http://www.babycantravel.com

9. http://www.thetravelwell.net

10. http://www.zestiest1.wordpress.com

11. http://www.curbfreewithcorylee.com

12. http://www.kiwihove.wordpress.com

13. http://www.mappingmegan.com

14. http://www.backpackingbetty.wordpress.com

15. http://www.thebarefootnomad.com

So there you have it – 15 blogs I’ve really enjoyed since starting out my own blog. And now 7 things you may not know about me!

1. I absolutely detest baked beans and cucumber

2. I’ve lived in 7 different places all round the UK but I’ve moved house over 20 times

3. I’m incredibly pedantic but my awareness of this means I try to keep it at bay around other human beings

4. Because of number 3 I go back and edit grammar and spelling mistakes on my blog and Facebook even if I don’t notice them for months. Twitter annoys me because it doesn’t let me do this.

5. I have a very very strong affinity and love for elephants – i cry if I read about or see cruelty of any kind towards them.

6. I’ve dreamt of going to the Amazon since I was 8 years old and my school incorporated the Amazon into every subject for a year.

7. As a child I felt more comfortable inside books than I did with other children. This made me into a bit of a fantasist.

Travelling With Kids : Surviving Plane Travel The Easy Way

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backpacksandbabygrows:

Some great ideas!

Originally posted on The Kid Bucket List:

Travelling With Kids : Surviving Plane Travel The Easy Way

My kids have taken over 20 flights in their lifetime with many more on the horizon. We have made it a habit to travel on a plane at least twice a year since they were a few months old. I admit that we have been blessed with two kids who seem to enjoy flight and so far (touch wood) our flights have been largely free of child created drama even when we missed our flight in Perth and that time when we were repeatedly pushed off the flights back to Sydney (5 hours later we boarded).

So what’s our secret? I can’t just rely on my hope that they will be calm throughout the flight so I always come prepared with a little kit of goodies that I can pull out as needed. T thinks my kit is a little over the top, but I think it’s partly due to…

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Sunny days in Scotland: Loch Lomond and Balloch Castle

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The view of Loch Lomnd from Balloch Castle

The view of Loch Lomond from Balloch Castle

Just 40 minutes from my house by train and car is the stunning area of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, with Balloch Castle sitting overlooking the loch. It costs just £5 return and if you take a picnic is a very enjoyable and cheap day out. Whenever I have people to stay who haven’t been to Glasgow much, and if the weather is nice, I always suggest a trip to the loch. It generally takes them by surprise that somewhere so beautiful and perceivably remote is so close by. Trains run regularly from glasgow central, even on Sundays.

You can take a short 10 minute walk from Balloch station, go up the road and turn to walk up by the side of the loch to find a nice picnic spot. Kids can paddle in certain areas and there’s even

Feeding the gulls.

Feeding the gulls.

some sandy patches. Alternatively you can get a boat around the loch or do some water-sports, or take a more adventurous walk and bike ride around this picturesque area. Ben Lomond is nearby if you fancy climbing a mull. I just took the 1st option as it was so hot and I had my little monkey with me. After the picnic and some excitement of feeding the birds (monkey has never seen gulls so close before), we climbed a small embankment to arrive at the stunning green space that surrounds Balloch Castle. The Castle itself is generally closed as they seem to be refurbishing it but the grounds are so beautiful you probably won’t mind (the castle is pretty small too to be fair).

I love this place, it really holds a special place in my heart. If I had lots of money I would buy a holiday home or even a permanent home here in a second. It just encompasses it all for me – 40 minutes from a large bustling city but right in the middle of gorgeous countryside, by a body of water. Some spots are really isolated too, if you head up

The stunning grounds of Balloch Castle

The stunning grounds of Balloch Castle

towards Rowardennan hostel and camping area it starts where the road finishes. The hostel incidentally, is a really lovely place to stay in and the camping area looks great too. There’s some fabulous walks to do around that area including an old archaeology walk. You’ll walk past amazing family houses up that way with tree houses and outdoor spaces any young child would adore….

The Castle and the loch itself is good enough though if you fancy an easy trip close to public transport links and civilised society. I always find the spot overlooking the loch incredibly peaceful and whenever I go I kick myself for not going more. So my pledge this time is that I will go on a weekend more and I will go at least once in the week alone when my monkey is at nursery to just sit and meditate for an afternoon when the weather is nice.

If you fancy a more luxurious trip there’s some very nice restaurants and pubs and also some

A tree of yin and yang

A tree of yin and yang

cabins that sit on the west side of the loch that you can rent as part of a hotel. You can find these at http://www.loch-lomond-waterfront.co.uk but there are also many more that you will find with a simple google search.

There’s a fabulous tree here that has been struck by lightening and half of the tree died whilst the other half lived on apparently undamaged; despite the fact the entirety of the roots and the inner trunk appear to be completely destroyed. I love looking at this tree, for me it sums up the fighting spirit all living things are capable of showing – surviving against all odds and remaining a thing of beauty even in its gnarled and war torn state.

So Loch Lomond and The Trossachs and Balloch Castle is my next suggestion of what to do when it’s sunny in Glasgow! For adventure, relaxation, meditation and yoga or just a nice picnic, paddle and feeding the birds – Loch Lomond can see to your every whim in my opinion :)

A photo that sums up the pure enjoyment a little girl will get from just running in fields in the sunshine

A photo that sums up the pure enjoyment a little girl will get from just running in fields in the sunshine