If you go down to the woods today…….

School holidays + Easter weekend around the corner + the Hubster taken time off work = the obligatory family day out.

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We took our family day trip yesterday, to Rendlesham Forest in Woodbridge, Suffolk. Despite the weather being a bit iffy of late, we threw caution to the wind, donned our welly boots and coats, packed some sandwiches and off we went. And what a wonderful day we had.

To our surprise the weather decided to give us a beautiful day, sunshine, a small breeze, blue skies and no rain!

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We have been to Rendlesham Forest before, however this time we actually completed the 3 mile walk without much moaning from the rugrats. We spent a lovely, exhilarating two and a half hours walking around the long “red arrowed” trail looking for pine cones, squirrel spotting, muddy-puddle jumping, or in my case avoiding. We collected sticks and the girls pretended to be Maleficent with a large walking stick. I taught the children how to age a tree when we came across a tree stump. We took a break half way around and had a break; we shared a packet of “pink Panther” wafer biscuits and a bottle of drink, got damp bums and laid in the sunshine enjoying the complete silence.

Taking a breakT & G taking a break

L taking a break

It truly was a really family orientated, no technology allowed (you can’t get a signal in the forest!) (n.b. photo taking IS allowed), getting back to nature, getting exercise and fresh air and not spending any money on completely un-needed tat kind of a day.


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Rendlesham Forest is a wonderful experience, and I would urge everyone to pay a visit if at all possible. You are able to dogs, ride bikes, and have picnics. The kids loved the play park, and we all enjoyed our picnic in the sunshine.

Happy Easter. xx

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Personality Vs birth placement

So I saw this picture on Twitter recently…..



It got me thinking about my children: Girl one is 10 years old (going on 17!), Girl two is very nearly 5 years old and the boy is 3 on Saturday. Does this apply to my children in any way?

Coincidently, I was recently struck by a realisation that despite I have brought my children up in the same way, by the same rules, values and beliefs; they are all very different in personality. Girl one is sporty, tomboy-ish, nervous and eager to please and fit in. Girl two is a girly-girl, wants everything purple and sparkly, wants to wear dresses, be a princess with lipstick. Boy is football mad (yes even at the tender age of 2!), loveable, stubborn and loves laughing, and wants a bit of everything. So even though they have been raised following the same rules as each other, their individualism is starting to creep out.

But does the pecking order of birth into the family have anything to do with it? I have looked at the list and broken it down.

I will start with the First born: Girl one

Natural leader: When amongst her siblings, yes she is very much a natural leader!

High Achiever: As with most children I suspect, only when it comes to subjects she likes, enjoys and is good at. Jujitsu for example, she is doing brilliantly with this.

Organised: Not at all! I am afraid that her bedroom is like a constant bomb-site, clothes everywhere, can never find anything let alone remember where she left something. Very much the opposite in fact.

On-time: Mostly, but as with any child her timekeeping is usually handled by the parent. I suppose I will have to watch this space on this one.

Know-it-all: She very much likes to think so, but she isn’t afraid of asking. She will argue her point, especially if she knows she is right. Like Mother like Daughter!

Bossy: Yes Very. A mini-me in this respect. Occasionally she will over step the mark with her siblings. But she does like a good boss-about.

Responsible: She likes to think she is, and when given the confidence is showing good signs that she can be.

On to Middle child – Girl two

Flexible: Mostly yes. Although routine has always played a big part of her life, as she is getting older change doesn’t faze her, and usually as long as she sees that the end result is the same, she isn’t overly bothered.

Easy-going: Yes she is very easy-going. She doesn’t look for arguments, and is a delight to spend one-on-one time with, but she can be demanding when the need calls for it.

Social: Extremely, especially with people she is comfortable and confident with.

Peacemaker: To date she is showing no signs of being a “peacemaker”. Unless you want to turn it on its head and use the phrase “walk-over” in which case I would say that she can be a walk-over, particularly when she is the less dominant child in the room.

Independent: A close relative recently defined Girl two as “having the perfect only-child personality” By this they meant that she is more than happy to go and play on her own, she doesn’t require her siblings to entertain her. Yes, independent she is.

Secretive: Oh my goodness, She is a child of such subtle cunning, you have to see it to believe it. She is such a good little liar, actress, and sneak that I have to stop myself from smiling a lot when telling her off. Her slight of hand is AMAZING!

May feel life in unfair: I am sure if you asked her this, she would say that it is unfair, and then probably perform the worlds best sulk to prove it.

Finally, Last child – The boy

Risk-taker: He knows no fear. He is the boy who will jump feet first into the swimming pool without any armbands on and give Mummy a heart-attack in the process. He is the boy who will try every type of new food put in front of him without asking what it is. This is the boy who will jump off anything. Why? Because he can. Because he wants to be Superman and fly.

Outgoing: At first he isn’t. Put him in a new environment with new people and although he is comfortable and confident, he is not what I would call “outgoing. For example he recently had his first settling in session at his new preschool, he went in and focused on the toy cars and trains. He was more than comfortable playing on his own with these. He didn’t immediately hunt out someone to play with. When other children came over the join in with his game, he was more than happy to make friends. He seems to be more silently confident than outgoing.

Creative: When he goes off on his own with his many toy cars, planes, trains, action figures I love listening to him. His imagination is simply wonderful to witness.

Self-centred: He is mostly a very caring and loving little chap, however he does have a streak of self-importance about him. This comes out occasionally but not all that often.

Financially irresponsible: Not relevant in this child – He is not yet 3 years old. Time will tell, but I sincerely hope he isn’t.

Competitive: This should be his middle name. Everything is a race or competition. Who is going to be first up the stairs? Who will finish breakfast first? Who will get dressed the quickest? It drives me absolutely insanely nuts! I am always the referee!

Bored easily: Like any child he is capable of having a short attention span. However, he attends football matches and manages to stay focused on those (which is more than you can say for me!).


What’s my conclusion of my children and whether or not their personalities match up to the picture. If I am honest I don’t really have one I suppose. Not at this stage of their lives. I feel it unfair to base their entire temperament, personality and outlook of life on their ranking of birth. I am sure that many people could turn it around and say that Girl one is bossy because she is the eldest, but I can assure you that the other two are equally as bossy.

Each child is different. Each child has their own sparkle. Each child has it faults. And each child brings something different to our family, whether is it stubbornness, kindness or competitiveness. By bringing them up in the same way and loving them same, they will grow and develop in their own way. And I will continue to love them regardless of where their “ranking” is in the family.



A weekend of firsts – Part one

So T went to her first Jujitsu lesson at the weekend. We’d spent the week talking about it. She was very excited, she’d asked lots of questions – “Can I take a toy with me?” “Will I get my suit like L‘s?”. The sleeps had been counted, “4 sleeps until Saturday!”, “3 sleeps until Saturday!”, “2 sleeps until Saturday!”, “1 sleep until Saturday!”….until finally it WAS actually Saturday. “Today I’m going to Jujitsu!”

She happily and enthusiastically got dressed, had her unruly and crazy hair tied back. She did the rounds, saying goodbye to Husband and G, exiting the house squealing “I’m going to Jujitsu now!”. Climbed into the car and off we went, myself, T and L (who wanted to come and watch her little sister do what she herself loves.)

Once there T skipped in, but she suddenly became shy and clingy. She can get like this sometimes, but I haven’t seen it in a long time, and assumed that as she had been so excited by attending, that it wouldn’t be an issue. How wrong I was.

She did go in, with some gentle coaxing by Hayley one of the seniors and Tots instructors. Hayley was brilliant, gentle and encouraging, without smothering her. It was unfortunate that T was the only girl in the group. However, that can’t be helped, and she’s never had a problem with boys before. So she went in, L and I went upstairs to the viewing area, we watched, noses almost pressed against the glass. We sat with the other parents, all of whom were all ooing and ahhing at the youngsters doing the warm up exercises. It was lovely to watch all the little people, clearly enjoying it. Renshi came up and introduced himself and explained that the Tots sessions would be different from the Juniors and Seniors, as they would not just be learning solely the art of Jujitsu and self defence, but they would also learn about bullying. He also explained that he would also organise a visit from the local Police to speak to the children. Attending these sessions would also, hopefully, increase their confidence.

I relaxed, and sat back to watch. Blissfully unaware that at that moment Hayley was bringing T back to me. She was in floods of tears. My heart sank. I knew by looking at her that she wasn’t going to go back downstairs and join them. There was nothing wrong, I believe she was just overwhelmed by it all. I suppose I had wrongly assumed that because L loves it, and that T had been to watch and knew what it entailed, that she would slot right in. We spoke to Renshi before we left, and bless him he even tried getting her to go back in by promising to shave off his beard! But when T makes up her mind, there isn’t much you can do to change it.

So we left early, and we’ll try again in a couple of weeks. I know I sound like a pushy parent. Please believe me  when I say I’m not, but I am a firm believer of getting back on the horse and facing your fears. If the next time is unsuccessful then at least we’ll know for sure.

(Big thanks to Hayley and Renshi of A S Jujitsu, for the support and encouragement you showed T at the weekend.)

Please visit for further information.

Girl did good…

L with her new and well deserved yellow belt and certificate

L with her new and well deserved yellow belt and certificate

You may remember my post about eldest L learning Jujitsu a while ago. Well I am over the moon to say that last weekend L undertook her first “grading” (to non Jujitsu folk, much like myself, this is the term used when the individual displays their knowledge of the moves they have learnt – much like an exam.) L is now a yellow belt is she is very proud of herself and quite rightly so.

Since my last post she has increased her weekly classes from 1 to 2. She attended very nearly all her classes throughout the summer holidays. And not once has she shown any lack of enthusiasm or boredom. Not once has she had to be encouraged, nagged or talked into going. It’s clear that she absolutely loves it.

Myself and others have started noticing a real change in L. Physically she looking great. Is it wrong for a 33 year old to be jealous of a 9 year olds muscles?? The definition in her arms and legs are discreet but enviable. She is even starting to show signs of a mini six-pack! Jealous much?!? Oh yes big time!

Her confidence and self-assurance is growing in bundles. This is very welcoming.  She has always been sensitive and worried about others think to the point where it irritates me immensely. But I am seeing this bubble grow around her. She is growing to like herself and  to enjoy  what she is doing without constantly worrying about pleasing others and what they think. She even carries herself in a different way. She has even offered to “look after me” if trouble started at the local fair!

I still cannot see any downside to this hobby/sport/martial art. So much so that my middle child, T will be starting the TOTS sessions (4-7 year olds) when they begin in a little over 2 weeks. She is over the moon. She has been intrigued ever since L began going, and seems to love the fact that she will be doing the same as her big sister. She has been with me to watch a session and doesn’t seem put off. She has even asked me when I will be buying her a “suit” of her own. (Suit = GI). Personally I think that Renshi (*) is mad! T has the energy of a nuclear powerplant on overload, is a complete Little Miss Chatterbox with not much in the way of physical prowess . But hats off to the man – rather him than me!

L is also looking forward to T starting and has been giving her some verbal coaching. “You must listen to Renshi.” “You must not chat when he is talking.” “You have to listen and try really hard to do what he shows you.”  L has even shown and tried teaching T the basic break-falls which, I believe is one of the basic first things taught. It’s hilarious. I think L likes the fact her little sister is following in her footsteps. And so do I. Who knows maybe in two years time G, my youngest, could sign up too. I could have my own little Jujitsu clan who can look after their old mum!

I’ve even considered joining myself (Please pick yourself off the floor and stop laughing…!)I have approached Renshi about if I would be able to join. Although he said yes with no hesitation, I am worried that after three children and not too much (any!) exercise I may be too wobbly. So watch this space.

So I end this post on a very happy note. I am big time, excessively proud of L, of her achievements, her hard work, effort and enthusiasm.

And  still hold a HUGE big thumbs up children learning Jujitsu or any sport for that matter. Encourage, don’t push. but GO FOR IT!


* Definition of the title of Renshi

 (Special thanks to Renshi Aaron Stevens 4th Dan of A.S Jujitsu for the following text, and for providing me with much assistance.)

The title signifies that you are a polished, expert instructor, who have devoted themselves to the powerful transformational effects that martial arts have, when taught properly and with upmost care. It is not necessarily associated with rank like most people commonly perceive. It’s about a person’s ability to teach and share knowledge to those students under their care. Because it takes many, many years to become an expert (in any field of study), spending an average of 10,000 hours practicing the craft, normally only high ranking black belts receive this statute.

There are today ten Dan levels and three Samurai titles that can be awarded in Kosho Ryu Kempo & jui Jitsu in our United Martial Arts Academies. The tenDan levels are awarded in the following order starting from the lowest rank,Sho Dan (1st Dan) and going to the highest rank Ju Dan (10th Dan) :


  • Sho Dan or 1st Dan – at this rank no formal samurai title is awarded.
  •  Ni Dan or 2nd Dan – at this rank no formal samurai title is awarded.
  •  San Dan or 3rd Dan – at this rank no formal samurai title is awarded.
  •  Yon Dan or 4th Dan – at this rank the formal samurai title of Renshi may be awarded.
  •  Go Dan or 5th Dan – at this rank the formal samurai title of Renshi may be awarded.
  •  Rokku Dan or 6th Dan – at this rank the formal samurai title of Renshi may be awarded.
  •  Schichi Dan or 7th Dan – at this rank the formal samurai title of Kyoshi may be awarded.
  •  Hachi Dan or 8th Dan – at this rank the formal samurai title of Kyoshi may be awarded.
  •  Ku Dan or 9th Dan – at this rank the formal samurai title of Hanshi may be awarded.
  •  Ju Dan or 10th Dan – at this rank the formal samurai title of Hanshi may be awarded.


The three Samurai titles hold the following meanings :

 RENSHI : “A person who has mastered oneself”.

This person is considered an expert instructor. Renshi are no longer one of the many and is usually given at Yo Dan (4th Dan) or Go Dan (5th Dan). It is not unusual for a Renshi to have over 20 years of training before this title is ever conferred upon them.

 KYOSHI : “Knowledgeable person”.

Usually this title is conferred at Roku Dan (6th Dan) or Shichi Dan (7th Dan). It is not unusual for a Kyoshi to have over 30 years of training  before this title is ever conferred upon them.

 HANSHI : “Root Waterer Master”.

A title given to the oldest and most senior black belt, usually the head of an individual karate organization, someone who has studied the art of karate for most of their lifetime. This rank signifies their true understanding of the art. It is not uncommon for a Hanshi to have over 40-50 years of training before this title is ever conferred upon them.

Jujitsu on a Wednesday night

L's Licence & Grade record cardDeclarationSo it’s Wednesday evening and I’m sitting in my car (I was at the time of writing this) intending to draft some book reviews I plan to blog about; a new section I want to integrate. Why? Because quite simply I love a good book.

But the question you should be asking is, “why are you sitting in your car?”

My answer: My eldest daughter L is attending her weekly Jujitsu lesson.

It runs from 7pm until 8pm. It costs me £4 per lesson (plus the £5 babysitting) and she thoroughly loves it.

I was dubious at first I’ll be honest. L has started clubs before, but it’s never lasted past 3-4 weeks. And if I’m honest it’s never bothered me. Actually I was always secretly relieved that she would lose interest; it took the pressure off. Juggling an evening club with younger children and fitting into my ‘routine’ has always been a headache.

But with Jujitsu – so far – it seems to be an activity that is scoring high on the interest/enjoyment ranks.

What do I like about L learning Jujitsu?

I’ll start with the discipline aspect. I knew nothing about this sport/martial art, absolute ZILCH. But it became apparent from the onset that discipline is a major part and something they are taught.

  • Listening
  • Bowing (Rei): The students, and instructors(Renshi), are required to bow when entering and exiting the DOJO (*)
  • Showing respect
  • Obeying the rules

Club Rules

It is very strict; I like this. I believe it’s important, especially today for children to have rules to work to and have them instilled in them.

Physical exercise – this speaks for itself. L is in no way overweight/obese. She is always running around and has always been slightly smaller than her age group. But this sport gives her a little bit more. It teaches her how to put muscle, strength and control into what she does. It’s not just about running around getting all sweaty and hot.

Self-defence – What parent doesn’t want their child practised and confident when it comes to knowing how to defend themselves. You simply cannot turn a blind eye to some of things you hear about. Attacks/rapes, etc. You would be stupid to believe that it wouldn’t happen near you/to you or someone you love. But as the clubs motto says: “It’s better to self defence and not need it, than to need it and not know it.

The class is run by an instructor (Renshi) called Aaron, and has immense experience with both juniors and seniors.

The juniors, the class L is in simply love him. He makes the class fun while managing to teach them and keeping them interested. The class has a very healthy mixture of both boys and girls; they work and practise on each other.

I simply cannot find a negative thing to write about it. I’m proud that L is learning and almost able to defend herself and is getting more confident with each passing week.

She is currently working towards being graded, where if she passes she will be upgraded to a yellow belt. She’s not quite ready yet, but she’s getting there.

…..And the best bit? I get an hour to sit by myself – no kids or distractions with peace and quiet so I can draft my blogs/read or just sit listening to the instructions being called out through the doors of the Dojo.

L's Club Membership card

L’s Club Membership card

I’ll keep you updated about L’s progress with her grading, (and if she actually sticks to it). I really hope she does.


I would like to thank Aaron of A.S Jujitsu for firstly allowing me to post photos and for approving the draft of this post. I would say that I have only lightly touched on this subject; my knowledge, as I have said, is very limited. I hope to be able to expand further in time, there is so much more to it. Should you wish to gain any further information, I would recommend that you contact AS Jujitsu on .


*do·jo – a school or practice hall where karate, judo, or other martial arts are taught. Origin: 1940–45;  Japanese