Monday, 21 March 2016

Lambing at Lackham Farm

The last few weeks have seen me coming around to country life a bit more. On sunnier, warmer days like today, I've really looked forward to afternoon walks with the dogs. The birds are singing, flowers are popping open and lambs are bleating in the surrounding farms. It's so nice to be wearing sunglasses (not that they went anywhere over winter though) and to be able to walk around without a coat. Spring in the countryside is beautiful!

Saturday this past weekend was no such day; coats, hats and gloves were most definitely needed as the clouds were grey and the temperatures were freezing once more.  Nothing however, was going to stop us from getting in the car and venturing out a little further afield to Lackham College in Wiltshire. I'm not too sure who was more excited but after reaching the college on the Lackham estate, we jumped on the tractor and trailer to reach the farm.

Living where we do surrounded by farms we had seen plenty of lambs running around the fields, but to get this close to them was brilliant. Some were only just born as they couldn't walk (lambs attempt to stand between 30-60 minutes after birth), but the little guy above stole our hearts as he wandered over to see us and seemed very curious. 

We were quickly in need of a hot drink to warm up and as I couldn't eat the donuts and cookies on offer of course the choice would be hot chocolate and marshmallows, which was surprisingly delicious considering it was in a polystyrene cup! 

The goal of the day was to hold or feed a lamb and thank goodness the photographer was willing to let each girl have one as we had foolishly told them beforehand (without checking first) that they could. There was a long queue and the lambs were getting a bit tired by the time our three reached the front, so the girls were happy when they cuddled in tightly. Fear not, the lambs were not taken from their mother to be held, these were lambs that were being hand reared on the farm and they were rotated frequently. I have to admit I was a bit envious as I wanted one aswell, but decided against throwing a childish tantrum!

I took the photo above on my phone but were really pleased with the two photos we purchased from the photographer. They were priced at £6 for one, or £10 for two 6x4. We purchased two and they are so lovely that we are getting copies for family and frames for ours.

All around the farm and pens there were snippets of information about the animals and farming. I was shocked to find out that farmers are only paid 75 pence per fleece, which doesn't cover the cost of shearing. 

There was also a trail / quiz that you could do whilst walking around but we didn't do that. There was plenty to see in the tents and stalls, all featuring local produce. You could purchase ducks, chickens and hatching eggs which the girls were eager to do; however our dogs would also have been very pleased!

It was funny watching both the lambs and their mothers trying to sniff each other out. A few weren't particularly fussy and wanted to suckle on any mama in the pen!

I did feel sorry for this mama pig; they can suckle 14 piglets at a time!

There were plenty of other animals to see and you could watch the cows being milked; feed the deer; climb onto tractors and other machinery and Tractor Ted was there for the younger children.

All in all it was a lovely day out and at £20 entry for a car (otherwise £6 per adult; £4 per child) it was reasonably priced, although some of the fair rides cost extra. Lambing weekends are not finished for the year at Lackham but it is definitely worth a visit next spring. 

The only thing we would have enjoyed more (apart from warmer weather) would have been the opportunity to bottle feed some of the lambs at a certain time of the day; but how viable this is for them I don't know. 

We finished off the weekend at the Mendip Farmers Point to Point yesterday, which again was freezing. I've never wanted to go to any horse racing, but at this grass-root level the horses seemed to be loving every minute of it. I've not seen so much tweed in one place ever but yeah, the country life is growing on me! 

Here's hoping this warm weather continues :)


Linking up with #CityCountryLife & #IBOT

Lizzie Somerset

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

New Series Launch // The Importance of Female Role Models

This post may be a little more serious than is usually found here however, it is something I feel strongly about. Yesterday was International Women's Day and this year I pledged to 

.....continue to help and encourage girls and women to achieve their ambition.

This pledge was an integral part of my mission statement when I set up my business and has continued both in my heritage work and my role as an athletics coach. 

Gender stereotypes are still played out and apparent, not only in other parts of the world, but also in communities throughout the UK.  Through my community engagement work for example, I have seen first hand that in many industrial areas that there remains a very distinct view on both men and women’s roles within society, resulting in girls having a limited view on what they can achieve in life and many not partaking in further education or setting career goals.

Although gender equality has come a long way in recent years, there is a long way to go. The World Economic Forum has predicted that it will take until 2133 for gender parity to be achieved; that's another 117 years! The pace of progression has slowed down so drastically that some parts of the world are actually regressing and we must all take responsibility to create a world where respect, opportunity and pay is equal, regardless of sex, race, religion and education is a given for all.

Not only is this a basic human right, but our economy prospers when women hold senior positions.

As a mother of girls this is not just a professional belief, but also personal. I feel that in order to raise girls' aspirations there is a greater need for positive female role models.

I am thankful that our girls are growing up wishing to reach out beyond the norms with varied interests from rugby and politics to dance. They recognise and are in awe of strong women such as Emmeline Pankhurst, Malala Yousafzai and Jessica Ennis - Hill and that they are growing up feeling able to embrace their feminity and becoming kick - ass women! However, it worries me that many of the girls I've worked with their age aspire to be reality television stars and are unaware of the achievements that are being made by women on a daily basis. 

The media holds a significant role in this; only today statistics have been produced stating that there has been a 54% increase in the number of children or young people in the UK between 2005 - 2012, many presenting with eating disorders and feeling that their self worth lies in how they look and not in their strength and abilities. 

Not only does the media sexualise women, but it fails to give equal coverage of women's sports and role models and minimises their achievements where they could inspire girls to break through the prehistoric, glass ceilings that have been set under stereotypical gender norms.

This of course is not a new phenomena; the daily lives of women and their impact on local society should be an integral part of our history and heritage, yet throughout history has frequently been ignored and in education is still patchy at best. 

It is important to promote and mainstream women’s history, enabling the public to engage with a ‘whole’ history; recognise women’s contribution and enrich their understanding of how people lived in the past. Promoting women’s history alongside the history of men in our countries past also enables reflection on women’s position in contemporary society.  

It is time for all of us to step up and raise the next generation of confident, successful and independent women.

As part of my pledge, I am launching a new series that will profile inspirational, female role models each Wednesday. Role models need not be famous; women up and down the country hold incredible skills, achieving great success or helping other people on a daily basis. 

Feminism is still sometimes seen as a 'dirty' word, wrongly conjuring the idea of a quest for female superiority and domination. Feminism stands for equality. 

Is it really too much to ask that our daughters and granddaughters, wherever they may live, grow up in a world where they are treated equally and with the same life opportunities as men? 

I am lucky enough to work with some amazing organisations and individuals (men and women), who will not stop working until gender parity is achieved. 

Will you make a pledge?

Join me next week for the first profile in the Insipring Women series.

Linking up with #CityCountryLife

Friday, 4 March 2016

Style // The Trainer Trend

I absolutely love Victoria Beckham! Always have done, "Posh" was my favourite spice and as a designer she is also one of my faves. I drool in Harvey Nics at her dresses and adore her accessories collection. I may not have her wardrobe budget however the most unobtainable part of her look for me were her sky scraper heels! Pre-children I lived in heels however, pushing a buggy and then developing fibromyalgia made wearing them so painful that my large collection usually remain in their boxes and hidden away.

As much as I love ballerina pumps, boots and brogues, some days when when I'm running around on the school run, shopping etc I just want something a bit more comfy. Outside of the gym and training, I've been reluctant to wear trainers as they just seemed casual for my usual look, but I loved VB's look with cropped trousers, a cosy sweat and Adidas Stan Smith trainers. With trainers being a huge trend for this season, the high street is abundant with trainers. It didn't take much searching and I found three pairs that I think would give any smart outfit a sporty look without being too casual. As usual for me MK can do no wrong!

I've surprised myself by becoming increasingly drawn to the off duty sporty look, probably because I've turned a bit lazy after coaching and realising that comfort is so much better than cold feet! Here are my favourite three pairs that are great for a casual weekend look.

I'd love to know what you think? Are you rejoicing in comfort or sticking to heels?


Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Review // The Bath Bun Tea Shoppe

We popped into Bath on Sunday afternoon to meet up with my mum and aunt for a couple of hours. After a difficult few months and my grandfather sadly passing away last Tuesday, we were in need of an afternoon out to cheer us up and clear our minds. It was very busy and we were struggling to find somewhere to accommodate seven of us; we were just about to give up when we came across The Bath Bun on the Abbey Green. Thankfully they could fit us in and we made our way upstairs to sit down, warm up and chat over tea and cake.

If you are tall then mind your head as the building dates from the early 1700s and is complete with low ceilings and narrow staircases; the d├ęcor is very traditional and quaint with large fireplaces, tea sets that reminded me of elevenses with my grandmother, china displays and pictures on the walls. The girls loved that the staff wore traditional dress and girls commented that our waitress looked like a maid from Downton Abbey.

For such a small tea shop, we were very impressed with the menu. Not only did we find the prices reasonable (£16.50 for afternoon tea), there was also a good gluten free selection costing only 50p more for a gluten free sandwich alongside a range of gluten free cakes. We decided to go for tea and a cake and not used to having a choice when we eat out I decided on a slice of lemon cake, which was delicious.

The girls loved that the orignal recipe for the Bath bun was hung on the wall and curious as to why. The Bath bun was invented by Dr. William Oliver who came to Bath as a physician in 1728, however it's rich fruit and sweet taste meant that many of the patients that Oliver treated for rheumatism, became obese on them and led to him experimenting and creating the less fattening Bath Oliver biscuits (for a full history click here). A part eaten bun from the Dr. Oliver years was found under the floor boards by workmen, providing a link to the time when the buns first appearance in Bath.

Although Bath is only a half hour drive from our house, we don't often tend to visit. However, I will definitely be retuning perhaps to try their afternoon tea but at least working my way through the selection of gluten free cakes! We had a very enjoyable hour or so catching up with my mum over tea; cake most definitely helps cheer me up! The only thing I would say about The Bath Bun is to make sure that you have cash on you as they don't take card payments; also if you are planning to visit during peak tourist times, I would suggest booking in advance. 


Linking up with #CityCountryLife

Lizzie Somerset