Start ’em young

Took Lily and Elsie to do their first fell race this evening at the traditional ‘clocks just changed’ Liver Hill race in Rossendale. Run by our home club, it’s great to just be there, but with it being Elsie’s first running race, it was a special evening for a proud mum and dad.

It was almost fairy-tale, in that sporting stoicism shone deeply in my littlest girl (the type we’re just used to now in her big sister). Almost… but for a crumbling into tears on the start line. All the under 14s went off together, but ELsie’s age group, the under 8s, were to turn round a little sooner up the muddy course than the others, running about a kilometer. However, with all the Rossendale Harriers girls looking at her and saying “she’s so cute”, as they tend to, Elsie suddenly awoke to the fact she was the youngest and smallest under 8 (at just 5). She freaked and decided she would sit it out. By the time the 4 or 5 minutes of cajoling her for a jog (coincidentally on the course) had happened, she restarted the race (with me at her side) and went about it with quite scary levels of vigour. Job done.

She came in to claim her Cream Egg, belted it down her mouth, and that first running race experience was a historical event. Then she carried on running about with boundless energy, until Lily’s longer, steeper course was over. All of it makes me gleam with pride, as you can probably tell.

Photos here


Lily’s Eleventh

Chocolate Fondue

Don’t get me started on the ‘they grow up quick’ thing. Lily, who was a babe in arms the day before yesterday, was eleven yesterday. Lovely quiet but perfectly formed day including

  • a day’s leave for me
  • bit of tolerable shopping for Converse for both girls
  • Ten pin bowling with Elsie and Lily
  • Lunch for us all at Pizza Express
  • Picking up Lexie and Leah, and a visit from Lucy to make too many children beginning with L party
  • Sausage & Mash and a Chocolate Fondue
  • Netball with gloves on because the ball was too hard for delicate girls

Video here and photos here


Summer Holidays 2013 – a Spain of two halves

We tried to combine the needs of parents and children this year – mainly to success.

The first half of the holiday, having flown into Bilbao and driven from the Basque country to Asturias, was a week in the Picos de Europa. The Picos has been on my ‘must see’ list for about 20 years and the wonderful blend of real, rugged mountain stuff and pretty, rural streams, gorges, villages etc. seemed right for a holiday. The accommodation – a couple of miles outside of Potes – was really lovely. Spacious  self-catering agri-tourism and a pool too, to help us cool down after a long morning out and about.   We also enjoyed a trip up the Fuente De cable car and a rather longer-than-eastimated nine mile walk down in the building heat. It was ace though.

Lasting impression, apart from the sheer beauty of the place, was that of a nice mix of tourism / services and proper unspoilt tranquillity. You can get the balance right in some places. Heartily recommended.

So, from the ying to the yang. We needed to go to the beach. That’s why Brits go to Spain, after all.

The 7 hours of driving across a whole load of Spain was a real treat. The topographic changes as we coasted from coast to coast were dramatic, exciting, rewarding, and spectacular. Coast to Coast

Even the girls tolerated the driving quite well, really.

The second week was in an apartment in Tossa de Mar, Costa Blanca. Gorgeous pebbly beaches, impressive waves for the med, lots of swimming, nice pools, friendly campsite, cramped apartment, and lots of wine. It was fun.

Oh, and I grew a beard.

Photos here

Video here

Lily’s Gone to the Dogs

Pesky Husky

It’s normal for a ten year old to have a bit of love for animals.  Lily’s always been very enthusiastic about dogs, big cats, and horses in particular.  They’re definitely her thing.  You can feel the enthusiasm glowing from her when near animals, and it demonstrates itself quite a lot when you try and chat to her about them (and generally get corrected on your inaccuracies – quite disturbing at times)

For her Christmas present (2012!) her treat was to go on a husky ‘sledding’ trip.  It was the end of May before we and the weather finally both got our acts together, and we went to a great place called Pesky Husky in Staintondale, just north of Scarborough.  The sun shone for seemingly the first time all year, and the trip was just a delight.

Video here

We tagged along to the the trip, a couple of days over half-term staying in Hartlepool – where Katie was born and brought up.  It was great to share some of her old memories and places, particularly in such lovely weather.  A trip up Roseberry Topping, a morning at the beach in Saltburn, as well as a trip to Robin Hood’s bay and round Ward Jackson Park in Hartlepool itself.

Photos here


Elsie’s 5th

Elsie's Fifth Birthday

Another year older… my littlest girl enjoyed her 5th birthday on 24th May.  The last day before half term, Elsie’s return home from school was a double-treat, and we shared a great day with close Grandparents and a few local friends.

The day was slightly early for the first batch of spring weather (I’m writing this a couple of weeks after – bad dad), so the idyllic spring party on the lawn didn’t really happen.  It was lovely to have everyone round though, as usual!

Things of note this year:

  • ‘Brave’ is very big at the moment in Elsie’s life
  • A decent scooter with pneumatic tyres is a good present for people who live on bumpy lanes

Photos here

When all goes to Plagne – A family ski holiday

The Haygarths were very lucky in 2012 and squeezed in a ski holiday into the New Year on top of two other lovely family breaks in Scotland and Sardinia.

Our first outing as a family onto the slopes has been talked about for years after a massive break from skiing for me (basically, since we had children…!) and finally we were prompted into action when friends Rach and Jon booked their holiday in La Plagne. A lot of the decisions (accommodation, dates) were made for us – we just had to decide if we could afford it and afford (me) the time off work. We did.

There are so many things to remember in any holiday – with young children especially – and I can honestly say every moment was cherished. With a minor thing like Christmas in the way, it felt a bit odd to say the least to do a bit of packing then get in the car and drive 920 miles to the middle of the Haute Savoie.

The journey was wearing but tolerable. A 10pm Eurotunnel crossing meant driving through the night on easy roads. The new Led Zeppelin CD VERY loud in my headphones meant the family slept and I drove the quiet autoroutes focused and entertained. The sun rose as we neared Lake Annecy and the final miles were pretty mind blowing (especially for someone who grew up on watching Stephen Roche!)

The resort, accommodation, weather and tuition were just perfect.  Watching the girls learning to ski was much more simple than predicted – young people just learn without having to consciously do so.  It’s fair to say that Lily was apprehensive about being a beginner at the age of ten when so many more experienced 4 year olds flow about our ankles on the first day, but after one lesson she was snow-ploughing and turning like she’d been at it for ages.  Elsie was just a classic 4 year old on skis. You don’t need to teach her how to turn  you just say ‘follow me’ and she can.  It’s all quite  surreal how it seems to be ‘in us’.

The girls had lessons and the ESF instructors (Vlad and Daniel) were just lovely.  They nurtured and encouraged the girls so well and made us feel very secure.  By the last day we were all skiing together pretty unhindered.  When things got too steep, Elsie held on to my ski poles at my side and we pottered down pretty much anything.

The apartments were great and we had a swimming pool – meaning a lovely relax and play after a day on the slopes. We paid a bit more than we’d have normally done for such luxury but it was a welcome distraction for tired little bodies.


There’s some photos here and a video here – and embedded below

The 2012 Three Peaks Cyclocross:

Penyghent Lane

I’m tired. It’s probably not the best time to do this, but it’s important to try and gather thoughts fairly soon whilst still fresh in the head.

My 16th attempt at the three peaks Cyclocross yesterday was a tough one. It was the same for everybody who took part. The weather forecast had been bad, and it turned out to be a very accurate forecast on the day. Everybody was mentally prepared for a hard one. Still, no matter how much preparation you make, it doesn’t stop it from being hard. Yesterday was hard. Continue reading “The 2012 Three Peaks Cyclocross:”

Mum’s birthday

Popped up to have some lunch with mum on Sunday – for her 71st birthday today. Lovely but brief visit. Went out to Kitridding Farm for some smashing lunch and then went for a play on the new play equipment in Kirkby Lonsdale. I made a short film too – was in the mood.

Four Play

“Eeeeehh they all grow up too fast don’t they?”, etc. etc.

Elsie turned four yesterday, much to our amazement and mild mourning of an era in our house starting to end.  She’s our littlest one and she’s pretty much out of pre-school-dom now, and it’s exciting and fun but does make one feel ever so slightly melancholy.

But come what may it’s an achievement worth celebrating. There are many occasions in the last few years when I’d thought she could never get to the age of four without some period in prison.  🙂

She’s certainly living life to the full and making every minute count – a lesson to us all. Happy Birthday, Elsie.

We opted for a smallish get together with a few friends rather than the full troupe from nursery, and were gifted the kind of weather you can only dream of for a party.

I made a film (below or here) – with help from the lovely version of Summertime by Jim Hall and Pat Metheney – and took a few photos here on Flickr.

Happy days.

Easter Holiday on Arran

Holiday on Arran

Been too long since our last family trip to Scotland just over 2 years ago and we were all very excited to get a holiday booked on the Isle of Arran this Easter. It has all the necessary aspects of a good family holiday venue for us Haygarths. More outdoors stuff than you can shake a stick of driftwood at, wildlife, mountains, beaches… just great. Continue reading “Easter Holiday on Arran”