Thriving: why you won’t hear the ‘f’ word in our house

No, not that ‘f’ word. I mean ‘fat’. 

Other vocabulary that I want my daughters to wait as long as possible to learn, and even then they won’t come from me, are ‘diet’, ‘lose weight’ or any of the other words that are far more common than the ones I can’t wait to teach them: ‘health’, ‘strength’, ‘kindness’. I’ve got my work cut out! 

We are so obsessed with not being fat or being skinny, dieting and losing weight, that we completely forget about the real, important things in life. I hope I can raise my daughters to grow without guilt attached to food – I know this will be hard; even food that’s nutritious is often labelled as ‘guilt-free’ – why label it at all then, surely it is just ‘food’ then?

I want my daughters to enjoy food without obsessing over calories, whether it will make them fat, or whether they should be feeling guilty about eating it. It took me 30 years to learn how to do that, and although I do have moments of overindulging anxiety, generally I now enjoy food for what it is. 

I hope I can teach my daughters well about nutrition; that if they eat real food most of the time then it will help them to thrive and be strong, physically and mentally. 

Currently I am a stay at home mum so my task is pretty easy – I can cook them their three meals a day and know they are getting the nutrition they need. One day soon though, they will go into the big, wide world, and they will inevitably end up with all nature of ‘food’ as part of their diet. It’s going to be really important that they can learn how to handle anything; chocolate, McDonald’s, cakes, ice cream included, as part of their diet, without guilt and without fear of getting fat. 

I hope they can learn to love themselves, to focus on their strengths and how their body feels; and I hope I can lead the way – I’m still working on it! So, although it can be hard at times, the words ‘fat’, ‘diet (verb)’ and ‘lose weight’ are banished in our house! 

The Twinkle Diaries

Our favourite places: Dan yr Ogof caves, Wales

I last visited this place with my parents as a pre-teen, so I had a pretty sketchy memory of what it was like. In fact, all I could remember was a hazy picture of some dinasour models, the entrance to the caves, and the Shire horse centre (pretty much all me and my horse-mad sister were interested in so we sulked our way round the caves and only cheered up when we got to see the horses – our poor parents!). 

What we found was so, so much more!! So many people, myself included, are guilty of ignoring the treasures that surround them on a daily basis. I have been lucky enough to travel the world and visit many caves; in fact it was only when we were at Dan yr Ogof that I realised that I’ve actually become a bit of a cave tourist! The amazing lava tunnels in Masaya volcano, Nicaragua; Balancanche caves near Chitchen Itza in Mexico; Dau Go cave in Halong Bay Vietnam; and Waitomo caves in New Zealand, it turns out I have a big thing for caves! Yet I’d only ever been to Dan yr Ogof, less than an hour away from where I live, once in my life! Shame on me! As part of my resolve to be a traveller at home last weekend we finally  went, and our visit has left a lasting impression on me.

We visited during a very humid but thankfully dry, August day. It was pretty busy, not surprising given it was the Summer holidays. Although this didn’t ruin the experience, next time I want to go back out of school holidays as I believe this will make the cave experience even more special. 

We made a beeline for the first, longest cave system, passing through the pretty impressive dinasour park – I’m not really into dinasours but even I loved it, and our toddlers were in raptures! We took the girls in backpacks – a good move – and wore sturdy footwear. It was cold in the cave so we should have put an extra layer on the girls really but they didn’t seem to mind.

 We had to watch the girls’ heads and mind our step as the cave was slippery in places. The girls found it incredibly good fun, especially trying to catch the water cascading down in places. 

 Deep in the cave there is a beautiful natural cave sculpture which looks like an angel. It was a pretty profound moment for me due to recent personal circumstances and even my very pragmatic sister who openly admits she normally doesn’t have a spiritual bone in her body said she came over all spiritual at the sight! 

Exiting the caves into the humid dinasour park was like being in the tropics, and despite the crowds for a moment we did feel like we could be walking with the dinasours! 

 The second cave ‘Cathedral cave’ was perhaps even more spectacular, so grand it is in size and sculpture. Amazingly, the cave is licensed for weddings! 

We headed down the hill to the farm park and the girls were enthralled by alpacas, sheep, goats, pigs, horses and ducks, amongst many others. We didn’t get to go in the play barn as it is for children 3 and over, but we were all pretty exhausted by then anyway. 

The trip is pretty expensive for a family, at £13.50 per adult, although children under 2 go free. However I really think it is such good value for money – this is a world class accessible cave system and those dinasours can’t be cheap! All in all, I would highly recommend this place to anyone visiting Wales and especially to those living in Wales that have never been, with or without children. 

More info here: Dan yr Ogof website
Monkey and Mouse