Tuesday, 25 April 2017

New Lanark Heritage Village

*Sponsored Post.

Set on the banks of the River Clyde, between two valleys and surrounded by woodland, New Lanark Heritage Village is a great day out for all the family. Now a recognised UNESCO World Heritage site, the restored 18th Century cotton mill still has a population of residents on site, small businesses, a visitors centre, hostel and hotel. Caroline, Mara and myself had a great few hours strolling around the exhibitions and attractions.

Established in the late 1700's, New Lanark was built in the hope that the Falls of Clyde would power the mill. It was a hope that paid off, and for nearly 200 years the mill manufactured cotton.
The Visitor Centre experience allows you to take a look inside the mill buildings, school, and the tenements  where the mill workers themselves lived. There is also a roof garden giving spectacular views of the valleys, the Clyde and a view of the whole village from a different perspective.

On arrival to the visitor centre, we received a warm welcome from Anne on reception who pointed out some key areas to visit during out trip and also informed us of the recently established guided tours on offer. They run twice a day at 11am and 2pm and last around an hour. Our guide, Paige, told us the history of the village, then took us into Mill 3. She informed us that it is still a working mill, with a spinning mule, but as we were there on a Sunday it was out of action for the day. I imagine it would be quite interesting to see it at work, stretching out the yarn and winding it onto bobbins. (I've literally just had one of those light bulb moments while typing this! The children's nursery rhyme "Wind The Bobbin Up" must have originated from children working in the textile industry! Huh, every day is a school day!)

We moved from Mill 3 over to the tenements where the staff lived. It was crazy to think that in one room there could be upwards of 10 people living there at any given time.
It was during this part of the tour that Mara decided she was hungry so we had to excuse ourselves from the rest of the group and go for lunch.
The café is sited upstairs in Mill 3, with an easy access ramp for wheelchairs and buggies.
There is a lot to choose from, from soup and sandwiches to hot meals, cakes and coffees. Caroline had a tuna mayo baked potato, I had the days special pulled pork panini, Mara had her packed lunch that we brought but we bought her some jelly too.

From there we headed back outside and took a walk around the grounds. We had hoped to get up close the Falls of Clyde for a better look, but the path seemed inaccessible for a buggy - unless there was another route we weren't aware of. We hit the kids play park for a bit before nipping back into the visitor centre to go to the Annie McLeod experience.
En route, we passed the rather impressive donkey engine, which was used to power the mill when the Clyde froze over in winter.

The Annie McLeod Experience is told by the ghost of a young girl called Annie McLeod, a mill worker from 1820 who shares the story of her life with you as if you were really there in that time.
Set in darkness, you are strapped into a carriage suspended from the ceiling on a rail that slowly guides you around, while holograms of Annie and her family are played to you with Annie telling you her story about life and work in the village. The ride lasts around 8 minutes and may not be suitable for those with claustrophobia or those afraid of the dark. Also not ideal for little children, as we found out the hard way half way through when Mara decided she wanted off! It is a very insightful experience though and definitely worth it.

After the ride was done, we made our way up to the roof garden which is beautifully maintained with breath taking views of the surrounding area.

On our way out we stopped off at The Mill Shop which has lots of Scottish products on sale as well as toys, homeware and other locally produced items, but the main attraction is really the wool which is produced on site.

Fun Fact - The wool produced at the New Lanark Mill was used to create the Christmas jumpers made by Mrs Weasley in the Harry Potter films. How is that for a claim to fame?!
We concluded our visit with a couple of ice cream cones by the side of the river overlooking the Falls of Clyde before heading back up the hill to the car.

As well as all the usual things that New Lanark has to offer, there are also various events held throughout the year too. When we visited they were gearing up for some fun Easter activities.
The next major event on the horizon is the LEGO Brick City Exhibiton. Held from June 28th to August 9th 2017, Brick City will allow you to "see the world in Lego Bricks." Another bonus feature of this event is that it is also Autism Friendly. They'll be offering quiet, sensory friendly morning sessions with very limited capacity (check website for details.) If you're a fan of LEGO, it sounds like an amazing event that shouldn't be missed.

One last thing I should mention. New Lanark is not that far away, especially if you live in the Central Belt. We live in Longridge, West Lothian, and it took us around 25 minutes to travel to New Lanark. It was a great drive through the country side on a lovely spring day!

Thank you to Melissa from New Lanark Heritage Village for the opportunity to visit and review.

If you fancy a day trip to New Lanark Heritage Village yourself, I have a free Family Pass up for grabs! A Family Pass covers 2 adults and 2 children under 16 (under 3's are free.) To enter, click the FAMILY PASS GIVEAWAY link below. Thanks for reading and Good Luck! Competition ends on Sunday May 14th 2017 and I will contact the winner.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

10 Things Ive Learned As A New Dad This Week - Part 24

1. That pesky sleep deprivation bug is doing the rounds again. I caught Caz spraying her hair with deodorant on Sunday morning instead of hairspray.

2.There's nothing weird about getting poo on my hand anymore. Which, in itself, is also weird.

3. For reasons unknown, I still set my alarm for 7.30am every morning. Utterly fucking pointless.

4. Nothing encourages you to quicken your pace like a baby wet-farting while you're mid nappy change.

5. I'd rather see Mara's empty plate at the end of any meal than have my lottery numbers come up during a rollover.

6. It turns out your little one doesn't have to be two for you to begin experiencing the Terrible Twos...

7. Pushing a pram up the hill on Longridge Main Street should be a part of basic training in the military! Climbing mountains would be piss easy if you've already mastered the incline between the bottom and top of the road.

8. Instead of companies spending cash on expensive risk assessment procedures, they should just put a crawling baby into the building as they would instantly find all the danger areas. Mara's current hotspots are the two wooden coffee tables in our living room (sharp corners and drawer handles) and under the dining room table (occasionally with a grumpy bunny laying around!)

9. Talking of grumpy bunnies, Mara has learnt to pat Elvis on the head softly and not whack him between the eyes like she used to. It makes us melt a little.

10. She's also learnt to blow kisses. This is my new favourite thing.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Im A "PRO" At...

Bathing my daughter... Allegedly!

(This is an article I recently wrote for a new website.)

Hi, I'm Mark and I blog over at Thoughts Of A First Time Dad.

I was recently asked to write an article for They Call Me Dad's new website on something I think I'm a "Pro" at in regards to being a parent.

When my wife Caroline was pregnant with our daughter Mara, I attended a Dads2B class for four weeks in my local area. Myself and a dozen or so other expectant fathers learned the ins and outs of labour (no pun intended) and changing, bathing and feeding techniques in order to give our children the best possible care and attention after their arrival.
Some of the guys had previously had kids and were there, some under duress, to brush up on their dadding skills. Other, like myself, were there as complete novices.
We practiced on dolls. I felt like a total clown, I'm not going to lie, but it stood me in good stead.
Not long after the course was finished Mara came rocketing in to our lives 8 weeks early and caught us a bit off guard. Long story short, after 5 weeks in the Special Care Baby Unit I was finally allowed to bathe her for the first time with Caroline by my side under the supervision of the nurses before we got to bring her home from the hospital.
All wrapped up in a towel, washing her face and head then supporting her in the water while washing the rest of her I knew this was going to be my time to shine.

A year later and I'm still the only one who gets to bath her. Apart from the occasional "poonami" while I've been at work and there has had to be some emergency washes from Caroline!

Mara is a natural water baby, she loves to splash around and more than once I have likened bath time to a visit to Sea World after being soaked through by baby sized tidal wave.

I wouldn't change it though, and I admit I'll be upset when she's to big for me to bathe like this anymore, bath time gives me something to look forward to after a hard day at work! Plus there are all of the fun toys for me... I mean, for Mara to play with!

(Ignore the fact that she's in a vest, it was a dry run to see if she would like the inflatable duck bath!)

Saturday, 1 April 2017

10 Things Ive Learned As A New Daddy - Part 23

1. It doesn't matter how long you've been a parent for, there is nothing that can prepare you for sticking your fingers in shit.

2. Mara is desperately trying to climb into the bunny condo we built for Elvis. I'm convinced she's actually part goat.

3. It takes longer to get the toys out of the bath than it does to fill it.

4. Swings are dangerous.

5. If I was only to eat the food Mara refused to, I'd still be a fat bastard.

6. All those happy toddlers enjoying their food in books and on TV are CGI, right?!

7. Toddlers never run out of fresh new ways to twat their head off of things. Mara is at the " I want to try walking, but I'm not letting go of the sofa to walk 3 steps towards you" stage and keeps falling down and skelping anything in a 10 foot radius.

8. The first time you discover your toddler can climb the stairs is utterly TERRIFYING. Where did she even learn to do that? Its not like Elvis showed her, he's getting old now so rarely drags his furry ass off his big cushion to do anything other than eat!

9. I don't care how strong you think you are, when a baby doesn't want to get dressed they develop some kind of inhuman strength.

10. DADS, it's not called "babysitting" if it's YOUR child!

I'm Mark, dad to Mara, sharing his views on being a modern father. Also a UK Blog Awards nominee for 2017. There's no filter with me, I kinda just tell it how it is. Please click HERE to head to our Facebook page and give us a like, or HERE to head to our Instagram. (don't forget to follow us there and turn on your post notifications so you never miss a photo) and here on Google+!!) New to Twitter now too - @TOAFTD x