Postnatal Depression Awareness Week 2016

For some people expecting a new baby or becoming a parent can feel like an isolating and lonely time. There are lots of reasons why this might be the case, and pre and postnatal depression is one of them.  This post marks the first Postnatal Depression Awareness Week, how brilliant to finally have a week focussed on raising awareness.  For me awareness raising should happen everywhere new parents are, in clinical settings, at groups and in our communities, and we should all support each other on our parenting journeys, too often the joyous moments are talked about, but what of the harder days, the guilt and the bone aching tiredness of the sleepless nights?

For over 2 years now I’ve been involved with an organisation called PANDAS Foundation who aim to make sure that no individual, family or carer feels as if they are alone. Whether this is through support and advice through PANDAS services including email support, PANDAS Help Line, or at a PANDAS Support Group, or through wider campaigning, PANDAS is supporting families navigating mental health challenges, and as regular readers will know this is an issue close to my heart.

A photo by Jeremy Thomas. unsplash.com/photos/rMmibFe4czY

I run a local PANDAS affiliated support group, supported by Launchpad Ncl and working in close contact with local statutory services who offer signposting support and support to make sure our members can engage with local consultations and have a say about parental mental health more generally.

They’re leading the way in awareness raising in founding PNDAW16, and have released a brilliant video to introduce you to their services, whilst raising awareness, why not watch and share this message, join the conversation and have your say about your experiences?  Together our voices are stronger.

If you would like to donate to PANDAS (Pre & Post Natal Depression Advice and Support) to help them support sufferers of perinatal mental illnesses please text PANDAS £3, £5 or £10 to 70660 or visit their website for further information and support. (Texts cost donation amount plus network charge. PANDAS Foundation receives 100% of your donation. Obtain bill payer’s permission. Customer care 01691 664275 Charity No 1149485.)

Talking about postnatal depression

For some people expecting a new baby or becoming a parent can feel like an isolating and lonely time. There are lots of reasons why this might be the case, and pre and postnatal depression is one of them.

For over 2 years now I’ve been involved with an organisation called PANDAS Foundation who aim to make sure that no individual, family or carer feels as if they are alone. Whether this is through support and advice through PANDAS services including email support, PANDAS Help Line, or at a PANDAS Support Group, or through wider campaigning, PANDAS is supporting families navigating mental health challenges, and as regular readers will know this is an issue close to my heart.

I run a local PANDAS affiliated support group, supported by Launchpad Ncl and working in close contact with local statutory services who offer signposting support and support to make sure our members can engage with local consultations and have a say about parental mental health more generally.

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In a recent blog post for Men Tell Health I talked about the benefits of peer support for parents facing pre and postnatal mental health conditions; but I haven’t really blogged about these benefits on my own site, so am taking the opportunity to do so now to raise further awareness.

What we’ve set up in Newcastle is a really informal, but strongly supportive peer support group that’s inclusive of children, dads and the wider family network, grandparents, sibilings etc and that tries to reach out to anyone who wants to support their peers through their ongoing recovery.

What to expect from peer support:

Every PANDAS group is different, but coming to a PANDAS group is a chance to meet as a small group of peers, to share experiences, gain emotional support and realise you’re not alone, helping make life’s challenges as a new parent a little bit easier. By reaching out and talking about parental mental health I hope we’ll start to see a different way of talking about new parenthood. Perhaps one where people feel they can be honesy about their experiences, where coping with sleep deprivation and low mood are discussed at baby groups and ‘it’s OK not to be OK’ becomes more openly accepted.

At our Newcastle group we meet the last Saturday of each month; new members are welcomed with a new members pack and are introduced to other members; if the group is busy I might try to buddy up a new member with someone who has been there a while.

We get a cuppa on the go and will either have a chat about an issue the group are interested in, have a speaker to talk about an aspect of parental mental health (we’ve had talks about nutrition, the early days with a new baby, birth reflections, a talk from a GP about medication) or we’ll have an informal stay and play type session with toys for the little ones, and just catch up about how the previous month has been.

There’s no pressure to share anything you’re not comfortable with, and members can feel free to syat for the whole session, or just drop in and out as they please. We recently moved to a new venue so are finding our feet with a new setup, but I’d really like to see us grow the group and so outreach is something I’m spending a bit more time on.

Parents who have accessed the group have said:

“I haven’t been to many support group sessions as I think just being with other mums helped me see that I wasn’t alone in feeling scared, lonely and struggling to come to terms with being a mum, missing my old carefree life; hearing someone else say “it’s all a bit boring some days” was a relief! I’m feeling much better but it is good to know you’re there if I need to come back again.”

“A safe space to talk, to let out my anxieties and find some hope that it would get easier, suggestions for talking to my GP, ideas for things to try, and a really nice group of people that I can be honest with, I wish I’d heard about you guys sooner!”

“Coming to the group and saying “I’m not OK with how I’m feeling” was terrifying, but the group is really supportive and helped me to see that I wasn’t a bad Mam or a terrible person, I was tired, burned out and struggling. I needed somewhere away from home to let all those worries and feelings out, and now I feel better I want to support others so I’m still in touch with the group, thinking about baby number two and I now know others who have taken that step are there to support me”

For more information visit the PANDAS website

Five Newcastle Gems for Family Days Out

Last weekend I made like a tourist and took J on an open top bus tour of our own fair city. There’s a lot to be said for taking the time to remember what you love about your surroundings, and it was lovely for Joss to take a different view of the toon landmarks that she’s growing to know and love as much as I do. As we made our way, windswept and chilly she shouted out “I’ve been to that Park” and “we go there!”

For the reasonable price of £8 per adult, and with under fives going free, you can hop on and hop off the bus along the hour long route, I highly recommend dressing warmly if you’re going to sit on the top deck, but it’s such an adventure for public transport loving little ones!

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When Travelodge Newcastle asked me about Newcastle’s hidden gems for visitors I thought back to the bus route and the things J paid particular attention to on the way.

Five Newcastle Gems for Family Days Out

I think our favourite places in town are great for visitors and local alike. Whatever the season, whatever the weather Leazes Park is perfect for a walk, wrapping up and crunching through the autumn leaves, and gathering conkers and acorns is one of my favourite things to do in town. There are some fab little eateries up there, including Red Mezze and Bar Loco for great value grazing.

We often have a walk through the park before a visit to our favourite family museum The Hancock (or Great North Museum). If your kids love history, animals or dinosaurs they’ll love the Hancock’s longstanding exhibitions, younger ones will love playing in the Mouse House playroom and we keep going month in month out because their special exhibitions are superb. At the moment there’s a great exhibition, Spineless, about invertebrates featuring new specimens, games, activities and lots of opportunities for dressing up – ladybird selfie anyone?! One of our hidden gems is Mark Toney’s Ice Cream Parlour up by Haymarket Metro, the sundaes are great value and a real old fashioned treat for kids.

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Down Northumberland Street you’ll find two of J’s favourite places to pop in and relax, The Laing Art Gallery and Newcastle City Library – both have little reading nooks and play areas for younger children and with plenty of events and heritage collections at the Library, and great value exhibitions at the Laing there’s always something to browse for all ages. As an aside, if you’re ever in town and stuck for a gift or a card both the Library and the Laing have fantastic local contributions, I’ve been known to do most of my Christmas shopping in the Laing!

Heading straight down to the Quayside (but if it’s lunchtime popping into our favourite cafe, Panis, for a quick pasta lunch!) there’s a lot to be said for taking some time out by the River Tyne.  As an aside if you’re planning on staying in Newcastle the Newcastle Central Travelodge is located at the riverside so a good place to pick up the Hop On Hop Off bus!  We’re usually pretty eager to head over the Gateshead Millenium Bridge to get to the Baltic. J likes to head straight for their children’s activity area where there’s usually a crafty activity set up, I like to browse the exhibitions and often pop back two or three times to see my favourites, this summer Fiona Tan was particularly enjoyed but there’s always something to pique my interest. Heading up onto the viewing platform gives a sublime view of the Tyne Bridge, one of my favourite landmarks, and on a nice day you get a great view of the river towards the Ouseburn.

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Tan exhibition

This completed our bus tour of the toon, we headed back to Central Station and chatted about the things we’d seen on the way home.

Do you have any favourite family haunts in Newcastle? We’d love to hear about your hidden gems!

Disclosure: Post in collaboration with Travelodge

Trespass Jada Ladies Waterproof Jacket Review

Why does it always rain on me?

I’m no stranger to the great outdoors; as you know we live in the rainy North in the land of the Fog on the Tyne and we don’t have a car so I’m reliant on decent outdoor gear to see us through the seasons.  There’s nothing like waiting for a bus in the pouring rain after a long day at work, or worse still first thing in the morning seeing me spend the day soggy and miserable!

Trespass Jada Ladies Waterproof Jacket Review – The practicalities

My trusty red rain jacket is bright and fun but it doesn’t really cut the mustard as a waterproof.  Being offered the chance to select a better jacket from the range on offer at Trespass was pretty much my ideal review opportunity!  The women’s Jada waterproof jacket is ideal for those who need a decent jacket that looks good but goes the extra mile in terms of waterproofing.  Coated with Trespass’ specially formulated Tres-Tex membrane it’s waterproof to an impressive 15000mm with taped seams, and that big number with all the zeros is the reason I chose it!  I’ve worn it out all this week in the inclement weather and stayed warm and dry in comfort.

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Style and substance

I like to run in the rain so was pleased to see that the Jada has underarm ventilation zips which allows fresh air to circulate; it has a high breathability rating to boot and I like the slim fit and fab decent sized hood (this probably sounds odd, why would it not have a good hood?! Maybe I’ve always just bought crap raincoats but the hoods are always really small in them!)

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One of my favourite walks is down by the Farm and through the woods near us so the Jada rain jacket got a really good testing this week as we were out for a good couple of hours in the rain and the jacket really stood up to the weather, I was dry and happy which is more than I can say when I wear my usual jacket!

I have to say the best thing about the jacket after all the practicalities is that it fits a tall girl like me without me having to buy a bigger size (this is a medium and I am a size 12)  – I can never understand why a waterproof would have short arms and it’s long been a frustration of mine that my red raincoat sleeves are at half mast so I get wet cuffs!  Even better these have a handy pocket in the left sleeve to keep small essentials dry and close to hand.

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The Jada is currently retailing at £46.99 which is more than half price and makes this a bargain super waterproof!

Disclaimer: I received this review product as a complementary product, all views and opinions are my own

Family Fever

Beachcomber Finds at Seaham

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Late last Summer we spent a week on the beach at Druridge Bay and logged our beachcomber finds - now I’m back with a part two, having spent the day at Seaham Harbour, famed for its seaglass.

Until the early 1920s Seaham was the location of the largest glass bottle-works in Britain and the waste glass from the factories was dumped into the sea, time and tide has transformed the waste shards into polished beads and people head down to the Harbour to collect the End of Day sea glass.

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Beachcomber Finds at Seaham

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The beach is beautiful with great rockpools too.  We started a tradition when she was tiny to always make a ‘family circle’ with our footprints whenever we visit a beach, and then Joss sits in the middle for a photo!

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We are sea glass novices, although I ended the day with a keener eye, but we managed to gather a small handful of gifts from the sea.

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Now to think about a part two on displaying our finds!

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And finally we rounded off our walk with a visit to see ‘Tommy’ the WW1 sculpture installed last year, these photos don’t need any words

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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Edinburgh Zoo with a toddler too!

What a brilliant weekend we just had staying in Edinburgh and visiting the Zoo!  About an hour and a half away from us by train we decided to make a little break of our day out and stayed a couple of nights in a hotel for the first time with J, I was apprehensive about the sleeping arrangements but we actually all had two really good night’s sleep!  Here are some of the highlights from a fantastic day:

First up some brilliant birds

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I’ve always loved flamingo so this was a treat for me, twice in a few months after our visit to the Wetlands Centre!

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Then another treat, Tian Tian the panda was sleeping, but it was wonderful to see her

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Next up, J’s favourite tiger and some very active tussling rhino!

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Plenty of greenery at the beautifully landscaped gardens including this unusual Wollemi Pine

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And that view of the city!

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Not forgetting some hijinks of our own!

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Surprise!

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And finally, gorgeous striped zebra rounded off our visit!

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The Boiler Shop Steamer

Bored of the usual toon eateries? The Boiler Shop Steamer is a great monthly event celebrating great North East food, drink, music and art.

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The Boiler Shop Steamer is held on the first Friday and Saturday of each month in the impressive surroundings of the Boiler Shop; the birthplace of Robert Stephenson’s Rocket, just behind Central Station.  I love the warehouse feel, sparse lighting and smokiness, all those wood beams are gorgeous.

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Whilst we haven’t enjoyed an evening at the Steamer yet the Saturday afternoon slot is a great family day out if you’re a family of foodies like we are, plus it’s free entry until 6pm (when entry is £4 per person)

The food is street food, hot, fresh and plentiful with bags of variety and the smell inside the building is divine! You pay for your food with tokens which can be bought for £2 each and most vendors offer food for 1 to 2 tokens, with long tables for sharing food and plenty of standing room there’s a real buzz about the place.

We bought £14 of tokens and enjoyed food from Fu-Schnickens Kitsch n Crepe and The Hip Hop Chip Shop - I’d say £12 was a good amount for lunch for the three of us which isn’t bad at all for an afternoon out!  J surprised us by tucking into an ox cheek steamed bun, they were soft and light and salty, mmmm, topped off with a banana and nutella crepe, delish!

I loved the retro Hip Hop Chip Shop Van!

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I enjoyed their food the best, triple cooked fries, crab fishcake and an enormous sweet, salty delicious beer battered bacon slice that Joss adored, this was soooooo good, perfectly seasoned and really moreish this would be my ultimate Saturday lunch every week and this portion was easily shared by the three of us!

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Later we headed back out to get some new shoes for our littlun, she chose these herself!  Must say my muscari is looking canny here too!

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Then it was out for a walk down by the Tyne to burn some of those Boiler Shop Steamer calories!

Love this gorse against the cranes and wheels

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And then the most gorgeous sunset!

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Washington Wetlands Day Out

Photos from last weekend at Washington Wetlands Centre, a smashing day out the flamingo were my favourite and the otters were a close second, a gorgeous retreat just next to a huge industrial estate! wp20 wp19 J loved these teeny tiny pinecones so we took some home to paint wp16 wp13 There were lots of little fungi to spot, so intricate Washinton Wetlands Day Out wp7 Otters, a total treat to see them playing wp5 wp11   wp1 Washinton Wetlands Day Out wp18 wp wp17 Heinz tomato soup, my ‘day out’ guilty pleasure! wp14 wp12 wp10 How’s this for an insect hotel? wp8 wp4 wp2 We loved our Washington Wetlands Day Out, thanks to my parents for buying us the day passes!
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Holidaying with a toddler in the UK

We holidayed in Druridge Bay this week and in part I want to use this post to say thank you to Alison and Phil who own Poppy Cottage as we really enjoyed our stay at their gorgeous cottage by the sea; the location is stunning and with  surrounding Farm land on one side and the wild Northumberland coast on the other we were spoilt for choice with local walks with a warm and welcoming holiday home to return to each day, a must on an occasionally chilly Autumn day!

I promised in my last post to say a bit about glamping at Druridge Bay with The Bells of Hemscott.  Alison and Phil started to offer a glamping experience from their working farm this summer and this is something we definately want to return for when Joss is a little older.  Knowing what the calm and cosy interior of Poppy Cottage offers with fab soft furnishings and carefully chosen accessories I have a feeling the tents will offer a similarly welcoming experience.  Judging by what we’ve seen and heard on the travel blogging scene visitors to the site have enjoyed dark starry skies, fresh air and stunning scenery with comfort and a warm bed!

Photo from The Bells of Hemscott website

Photo from The Bells of Hemscott website

And so on to or holiday photos, our first real family holiday taking us from brooding sea fret and bluster to a rare afternoon of bright sunny sunshine!

Holidaying with a toddler in the UK

Joss is really interested in shapes at the moment so we made a huge circle in the sand

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This little fella had washed up on the dry sand so we carefully returned him

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Autumn is definitely coming

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We left the buggy at home and carried her the four mile round trip to the local farm shop, holidaying with a toddler in the UK is a breeze with a sling!

 

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Need to identify this gorgeous sea bird, anyone know?

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Brooding skies

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And out came the sun and blue clouds

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Joss likes to yell “Joss is running” when she’s, well, running!

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We spent most of our time on the beach rockpooling and we have brought back some amazing shells to add to our beachcomber finds series (turns out Joss treasures shells as much as I do – yes!)

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This is my photo of the holiday, I love how she’s supporting her weight on Daddy, the vibrancy of the pools and their intense concentration, magic

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And finally, sandy chops, a sign of a great time!

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Our stay begins at Poppy Cottage

This week we’re taking time out from research and project work and taking a family holiday at Druridge Bay on the beautiful Northumberland Coast.  Poppy Cottage is a literal stones throw away from the most glorious coastline, its site is a working farm and September is fabulous for quiet walks and blowing the cobwebs away.

As we live near an urban farm Joss has loved seeing farming on a bigger scale, with diggers, tractors and different breeds of livestock than we’re used to its a country mouse’s dream!

Sadly Joss is loaded with cold and don’t we know it, a bad nights sleep was much more bearable for these views though and I’ll be sharing more of our holiday snaps as the week goes on.

The Farm itself at Hemscott Hill has also seen camping action this summer with some brilliant bell tents set up, more on those later but suffice to say their pitch is in a beautiful part of the world!

I’m off for a glass of red and a spot of reading before we’re back to exploring again tomorrow!

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