I’ve got the Breastfeeding Blues

Originally posted on Feminist Thoughts from Harrogate:

DSC_0972This weekend I was approached via Facebook messenger by the owner of the Blues Bar in Harrogate. I’ve been a regular there for 12 years. I even had my wedding reception there.

She told me that she’d received a call from someone who had complained about me breastfeeding in there and that I should cover up.

I explained that I struggled with keeping a good latch and that feeding under cover simply wouldn’t work for me.

She told me that it wasn’t up for discussion.

Now here’s where we disagreed. I think that the notion about how women who are breastfeeding in public should be covered up is very much a discussion, one which shouldn’t keep coming up over and over and yet sadly, here we were, having a discussion.

I explained to her that she was actually breaking the law and that I was allowed to breastfeed my three…

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Buxton Opera House: Gruffalo

Last week (wrote a few weeks ago but only just published!) we took E to her first theatre trip, we were very excited to be going to see The Gruffalo at Buxton’s Opera House.

E is nearly 18 months old and hubby was worried she might not enjoy the experience and would be disruptive, but I told him the theatre would be jam packed with kids – of course! We booked our tickets well in advance, a group booking with our neighbour which meant we saved a few pennies.

On the day the sun was shining in Buxton so we had a lovely walk through the gardens before meeting up with (what seemed like) all the children in Buxton ready to go into the theatre. We had seats in the stalls which were easy to get to, but definitely no room for a pushchair so we were glad we had carried her there.

E had her own seat, but being a little girl she sat on our laps so she could see the stage. As the lights went down and the actors started their performance she was quite glad to have us to cuddle. It took her while to relax in the new, strange surroundings, but once she did she was bouncing and clapping along to the songs.

The Gruffalo – what a show! We really enjoyed it, there was a level of humour for the parents as well as the children. The three actors worked their socks off and engaged with the audience through the words to the story everyone knew, snazzy costume changes and songs for people to sing along to. And at an hour in length, the timing was just right to keep the children engaged and the parents happy :-) It also meant we didn’t have to entertain E during an interval or pay for expensive snacks!

I was so pleased we had chosen this show for her first theatre trip. The Opera House is a fabulous building (it was restored…) It’s a great location in the middle of Buxton; there’s parking nearby or the train station isn’t far away. I’ll be checking the programme to find the next kids show we could attend.

Thanks for reading, here’s to our next adventure!

What we liked:
* Great show!
* Beautiful theatre, perfectly formed for little visitors
* Easy to get to location

Would be even better if:
* Can’t think of anything! Um..

Pavilion Gardens Café (review)

We’re so lucky living in Buxton within 5 minutes walk of the Pavilion Gardens and we’re there almost on a daily basis – be it a morning or evening stroll through the park, visiting the Pavilion for an event or popping in for a coffee.

When we first moved here I used to spend time in the Coffee Bar as they sold cakes I could eat! Now E is older we tend to go to the Café next to the gallery as it’s very well set up for children.

It’s a popular spot with local families and also tourists so it’s always good to get there early. If I’m by myself I enjoy sitting by the window and looking out over the gardens, but when I’m with pickle a seat by the children’s soft play is the preferred spot.

Soft play

The soft play area only appeared in the last six months and it’s a great idea. Kids of all ages enjoy playing and compared to soft play centres it is free! There’s also a parking space for pushchairs, microwave for heating baby food and baby changing (though on my last visit that was a bit smelly and dirty and needs a good clean).

This week I didn’t start back to work until the Wednesday so first thing Tuesday morning I took us to the café. It was nice a quiet – as you can see E was queen of the castle!

Pavilion Gardens Café

I ordered a black americano and a toasted tea cake. Price wasn’t too bad, but it’s the only place I’ve come across that charges extra for milk with your coffee and jam with a tea cake!!

E was happy playing, popping back occasionally for a snack and I relaxed and browsed the web as there’s free WiFi.

It’s always a good place to go when it’s raining and quieter than the local soft play centre.

In summary, we enjoyed:

* parking for pushchair
* comfy sofas – would be perfect if still breastfeeding
* free soft play
* free WiFi
* waitress service

Would be even better if:

* they didn’t charge separately for milk – seems a bit mean!
* baby changing was given a good clean

It’s a great local spot, we will be back again.

Thanks for reading and here’s to our next adventure!


The Tea Chest (review)

Yesterday was Easter Bank Holiday in Buxton and, after a few days always visiting family, it was lovely to be home and have a day to potter around town. I’m now starting to feel a bit like a local as I notice changes to the town, such as when commercial spaces are being developed and new bars, cafes or shops open up. The latest new venture to open is The Tea Chest, housed in The Courthouse Building on George Street in Buxton.

The Tea Chest

Opened only a few days before, the chap I chatted to said he was inspired to open the cafe as there were many coffee shops in Buxton, but none specialising in tea. Being tea lovers ourselves (I’ve just counted and we have 8 varieties in the house at the moment) it was a place we wanted to visit.

We turned up with E in her rather large pushchair so took a seat near the front so there was plenty of room. There was a children’s high chair so we plonked her in that so she could watch the world go by. The menu was standard tea shop food – some breakfast items, paninis, cream teas etc. and there were also some lovely cakes on display at the counter.

There were also seats outside, on the courtyard, but we thought it was a bit too chilly. Inside there are lots more seats, some next to the front door and some around to the side. If I was still boobing E I would have gone to the back for a bit more privacy. No comfy chairs but I think I would have survived!

I thought I’d try out their coffee – simple black Americano whilst hubby had the Caravan Tea. I ordered sausage ciabattas for the two of us (sorry h, apparently you’d wanted bacon!) and beans on toast for E.

Food and tea timer!

Drinks arrived promptly, coffee was good (not too bitter, good strength) and the tea was accompanied by some egg timers. You used these to choose the strength of your tea – pretty neat.

H went for the strong timer, but when he poured the tea it was rather weak and he was a bit disappointed. When we lived in Oxford we were spoiled with cafes using Jeeves and Jericho local tea – their Russian caravan tea is sublime – strong and smokey! The ciabattas were tasty (local sausages) and E enjoyed her beans on toast.

After munching through food from the breakfast menu, we were still hungry, but E had enjoyed her bread and beans and was full up.

Before we left we had a quick chat to (we think) the owner, checked that there are baby changing facilities (yes), gave feedback on the tea and wished him luck in his venture. For a tea shop we were hoping to be inspired by a really good cuppa – but maybe next time?

In summary, we enjoyed:
* chilled atmosphere
* small selection of teas to choose from
* fast, friendly service
* option of children’s menu

Would be even better if:
* there was WiFi!!
* teas brewed better (chap thought there might not have been enough leaves in the tea pot)
* wider range of teas to choose from
* better teapots like our cool red favourite

I’m following them on Facebook, so if WiFi is set up and the tea menu expands we’ll be back to sample another brew.

Here’s to our next adventure!

Back again – there’s free WiFi :-)

Peak District Mining Experience

Last weekend we had visitors to Buxton, my sister and her family with two young boys. With a wet weekend forecast we were on the hunt for indoor activities, but unfortunately quite a few are closed this time of year. After a hunt through some tourist brochures we came across an advert for Peak District Mining Experience – open, indoors and suitable for kids, result!


We were terribly organised and made a packed lunch the night before so turned up at 1120 so we could have some grub before the midday tour. When we arrived we paid for the tour / museum and asked if there was anywhere we could have some food before heading to the mine. We were gruffly told no, there were 24 cafés down the road or sit on seats outside. We had a look around outdoors, but as it was raining we instead went back inside and asked if the children could share the table they had for drinks. The member of staff didn’t reply, but the other people at the table were more than welcoming.

Whilst my sister let her children eat, I used the outside toilets to change baby E. Not a pleasant experience :-( It was cold, the changing unit was filthy and, as I often find, no strap so I worried about her wriggling off.

Once E was changed we headed back to the museum where we were handed a dustpan and brush to sweep up the crumbs the children had made! It felt as if the member of staff was going out of her way to make us feel uncomfortable, the adults before us who had dropped crumbs on the floor hadn’t been asked to sweep up…

Housework done, it was off to the mine!

The mine is the otherwise of the road to the museum, up a steep path. On arrival we were told that when we brought the tickets we should have been advised it was wet underfoot, lots of talking (the guide seemed put off by some other children who were starting to fidget) and lots of crouching down to get through tunnels. Nope, we hadn’t been told anything but felt we could probably cope! Anyway, I had it lucky, hubby was the one carrying baby E – with hard hat for safety :-)


The tour guide was a nice enough chap, stopping at various points and giving info. on how mining used to be carried out – I’m surprised anyone survived, a horrendois job – or how much gold was still in the hills. Quite a lot apparently! But excavation would destroy the local area so thankfully that wasn’t allowed, but this information made my nephews even more keen to try out the panning at the end!


The weather had been quite wet the last few days so it was also wet in the mine, our feet and jeans got quite muddy. Mental note – wear wellies next time!


The tour round the mine was just the right length to keep a group of small children engaged and we didn’t have to walk too far. It was tricky in places bending down and walking through tunnels – well it was for the adults but not the walking children! There were a few of us carrying children and this was tricky, it would have been helpful if we had been advised of this when booking our tickets.

When we came out there was the option for panning for gold, I declined but my nephews were very keen so we left them in the cold and walked back to the museum.

After the slight disappointment around the tour, the museum was an eye opener. There was so much to see including real artifacts, films to watch, tunnels to crawl through, pictures to see, text to read… it is fantastic! There was mining equipment that had been dug up from the depths of the ground and was on display, such a lot to see.

Once back from panning, my nephews enjoyed crawling through all the tunnels. There was a digger to sit in and lots to do – they had a lovely time!


Overall with the museum experience as well, we enjoyed our visit. The initial attitude of staff and lack of information did taint the visit, but the explorative and engaging offer from the museum won us over. Not a bad trip for a rainy afternoon in the Peaks.

Thanks for reading, here’s to our next adventure!

New shoes from One Small Step

Last year I posted how lucky we are to have the independent children’s shoe shop One Small Step right on our doorstep!

At the end of last year we bought baby E’s first shoes from there – she was the first ever customer to buy Start Rite shoes from the shop. Start Rite offers a lovely opportunity for you to make a video to commemorate the first shoe purchase, here is baby E’s – click on the image to enjoy :-)

Start Rite video

(Now if only I hadn’t spent the whole of the time watching the video thinking about the production process to create such a product – but that’s the working mum in me!)


The Juggle of Modern Motherhood: Peak District style

Today a different kind of post to normal as I’ve been inspired to write on the theme of being a modern mum. This is my entry to the Mum Network Trusted Blogger Club Autumn Blog Carnival.

I’m trying to write it from the perspective of loving, living and working within the beautiful Peak District. I’m finding motherhood quite tough at the moment, but I’m certain that if I wasn’t in this calming natural environment it would seem even harder.

Enough of my introduction, for me the best way to demonstrate modern motherhood is to describe my day. It’s 05:00 am and I’m finally awake enough to start this post. I’ve been boobing baby E for about 20 minutes. She went to bed (correction we went to bed) around 8:30 pm last night and she woke up every 2/3 hours. If one more person ‘blames’ this on breastfeeding I’ll scream!

Anyway, now I’m awake I’m thinking about the day ahead. Last night I didn’t get back from work till 6:15 pm so after a cuddle and boobing daughter she fell asleep on me and I didn’t move, just enjoyed her cuddles. But, that means before I leave for work this morning there’s the sterilising of my pumping equipment and her bottles to do – everything (including the washing up) I should really do the night before.

But, I’m awake early (as ever) so at least there is time to get things done :-)

Living in Buxton, in the Peak District, on a leafy road means this time of the day there’s peace and quiet – I really don’t miss living in a big city where at night there’s so much noise it can be difficult to sleep.

It’s 05:10, she’s asleep so time to transfer to her cot and start washing up. I’ll use the time effectively to also listen to some videos from a MOOC I’m studying Foundations of Virtual Instruction, I’ve just checked my peer assessment – full marks :-)

Taking part in a MOOC

05:40 I wanted another small cuddle, eek look at the time! Slowwwwlly transfer to cot….. she’s asleep still :-) Time to hit the shower!

Well, it’s now 2.20 pm in a meeting where people are talking about blogs which gives me a chance to update this post!

After a shower this morning I washed up, sterilised bottles and pumping equipment and made my sandwiches. Unfortunately my daughter was still asleep when I left so no excuse for a cuddle :-(

I have a fairly long commute to work, an hour, but I’m lucky enough to have that driving through the wonderful Peak District. Driving from Buxton to Ashbourne and on to Derby I can reflect on my new life here and plan to spend the weekends with my family out exploring the countryside.

I start work at 07:45 – I have a picture of baby E next to my desk but I don’t look at it too much, it reminds me how I’d rather be spending time with her.

But she’s not completely forgotten at work, hubby always texts in the morning to let me know how she was before nursery and I have to express. Not have to, I want to.

It’s funny, I’ve been expressing now at work for 4 months and people are starting to ask why I’m still carrying on. Well BECAUSE SHE’S A BABY I want to say… but instead I smile and politely reply it’s worth the effort!

pumping at work

I used to stress that I couldn’t get enough milk. A month ago I was ill and my supply dropped, but stressing didn’t help. I’ve now accepted she has a bottle of formula a day and a bottle of breast milk, at least I’m still trying.

I realise that as a working mum I’m lucky, I have my own office and asked for a fridge – much easier than where I used to work where I had to book a meeting room. Even though I’d book the room out, cover the windows and put a Do Not Disturb sign on the door people would still try to walk in – very unnerving!

Anyway, the meeting is getting interesting… I’ll come back to this later.

I’m home now, so much for leaving work at 4 pm, didn’t get out of the office till 5 and then with traffic home at 6.10 pm :-( It’s such a long time to be away. But today I know E was taken out of nursery early by her grandparents so that makes me feel better.

She was taken for a walk through the Pavilion Gardens in Buxton – it’s lovely living here where there is so much greenery, she loves the outside and gets quite agitated if she’s not taken out each day!

In-laws are in the kitchen (the bliss of having someone else wash up), I’m on the couch next to E who is snoozing after some boob.

It’s quiet, another benefit of living here. It’s only 7.30 pm but I’m exhausted and want my bed. She’ll wake up constantly in the night – I dream (well, if I had the chance) of her sleeping through!

Tonight I could do with getting some things done on my work to do list, but don’t have the energy. Instead I’ll unpack from our few days away earlier in the week and repack because we’re away again soon. I’m attending a conference for work so the family are coming with me, I don’t really want to spend more time away from them than I have to. I’m even going to take E to a few meetings I’ve arranged – that will be interesting to juggle!

On reflections of the daily routine of being a mum, it’s exhausting. Work and life is tiring. I love E and miss her so. I hope once I start getting blocks of more than 3 hours sleep in one go it will become easier. It has to be easier than this!

But, I’m so lucky. We live in Buxton and the relaxing setting of the Peaks is just what I need at the weekend to wind down and spend time with the family.
view of Buxton from Solomon's Temple

One Small Step

For a small town, Buxton is a peachy spot for new parents looking for trustworthy, local outlets to buy clothes, shoes and toys for their little ones. I feel very lucky to have a bespoke children’s shoe shop almost on my door step, or should I say One Small Step away ;-)

One Small Step

One Small Step is run by the lovely Nichola and since we’ve been here we’ve popped in just to say hello and also to pick up some first stage shoes for baby E.

Our first excuse reason was to get some shoes to wear to her aunty’s wedding. With a dress picked up from Mini Bugs (another post coming soon about another fabulous shop!) she needed some shoes to top off her outfit.

One Small Step stocks the lovely Inch Blue range which come in tempting designs such as bears, ice creams and even trains. I’m a bit of a train nut and the colours of the train shoes matched E’s dress so we had to buy them. I personally believe she had the best shoes at the wedding!

When friends with a baby visited recently, One Small Step was on the must visit list and when I spotted dinosaur shoes for size 6-12 months we had to get them (E insisted, honest).

Today we ventured there again with another purpose – some cozy sock type shoes that would keep her feet toasty and also let her crawl about. With the weather getting colder I wanted something to keep her feet warm but also have grip for her adventures in cruising and crawling. I contacted Nichola via One Small Step’s Facebook page and she advised they stocked lovely moccasins – the Mocc Ons brand. When we arrived the most difficult part was choosing the design, we went for the subtle rainbow colour.


I’m looking forward to baby E needing shoes for her first steps, there’s such a lovely range to choose from – more importantly from a trustworthy shop (no concerns about being told they need shoes when they don’t, like my sisters have had at other shops). They offer a professional measuring service by fully trained staff. But it’s not just shoes stocked, they also have a fabulous range of raincoats (hubby has his eye on a dinosaur design for E), umbrellas, hats, socks… you get the idea.

Oh and even if you just pop in to say hello to Nichola please do, she’s lovely! And the window display is always fab :-)

In summary; a lovely local, child friendly shop with a fab range of goods.

We loved:
* window display – scary Halloween pumpkins!
* service, lots of questions answered
* wide range of items for all children’s ages
* toys to keep children entertained

Would be even better if:
* Nichola had heating to keep warm :-)

Visit the website to browse and buy: One Small Step.

Thanks for reading, here’s to our next adventure!

Get talking with baby sign language

It’s been a good few months since I posted onto the blog, shocking! It’s been a frantic few months getting to grips with a new full time job, a commute and a daughter who still doesn’t sleep through.

But I’m determined to continue with this as a reminder of all the wonderful things we do together over weekend and holidays – especially now E is in nursery during the week and I miss her so much.

Here’s some reflection on a wonderful activity we did back in May. I’ve only just got around to writing this up!

We moved to Buxton a month before I started my new job so that we could take part in some of the local baby activities on offer. Top of my list was baby sign language and I was pleased to discover it was run at the welcoming Alison Park Hotel (place of many a NCT meet up) by Julie Parker as part of the Tiny Talk franchise.

I’m the lucky aunty of four five (congrats sis!) nieces and nephews and I was always impressed by how they could communicate using sign language, before they could even talk, so I really wanted to try it out with baby E. It must be really frustrating for babies when they want to ask or tell you something and they can’t, so I was willing to give it a try.

Julie was incredibly welcoming to us as newbies and let us come for just a few sessions (she even let my mum join in on one). The session takes place in the hotel’s lounge so there are nice comfy sofas to sit on in a relaxing setting.

Julie structures each session really well, there’s a clear introduction to the signs that are covered and of course lots of songs! Signs are always repeated so its easy to pick them up and when sung to a catchy tune, such as The Sun Has Got His Hat on, they stick in your head.

Julie and her signing helper

I was able to ask about more useful signs too, such as ‘more’, ‘all gone’, ‘nappy’ and ‘milk’ – now I just need to remember to use them.

I particularly enjoyed that we were signing with the baby and including them in songs. Too many times I’ve seen people signing frantically to heir babies who just look bored or are looking somewhere else! With Julie’s approach the children are always involved.

After signing and songs the children get to play with some toys and the parents get a cuppa and biscuits – and there were dairy free options!

Elizabeth enjoying the toys

I really enjoyed the Tiny Talk sessions we were able to attend and will miss them. It’s a way to get to know other parents, relax in a welcoming atmosphere and learn to communicate with your baby.

In summary, we liked:

* Alison Park Hotel – relaxing atmosphere
* Julie – thanks for being so welcoming :-)
* Toys for baby E and a cuppa with dairy free biscuit for me!
* The way the session was for parents and babies, I didn’t feel like I was signing at baby E, but with her
* Boobing friendly – comfy sofas, relaxed atmosphere

Would be even better if:
* It was easy to get Tiny Talk books, the local library just has American baby sign language books which are different

Thanks for reading, here’s to our next adventure!

Walk up Solomon’s Temple

We’re lucky enough to live in Buxton within 10 minutes walk of town and, in the other direction, 10 minutes walk of gorgeous greenery and the Peaks.

When I first came to Buxton hubby took me up to the folly Solomon’s Temple which gives the walker wonderful views across Buxton and beyond. Recently, with it being my mum’s first visit to the area, it was top of my list of places to take her.

The walk to Solomon’s Temple starts from the car park by Poole’s Cavern and after a climb up some steps it’s a gentle walk up the hill through Grin Low woods.

I’m not a very good walker, but I found the terraine quite easy. It’s not really suitable for a pushchair so hubby put baby E in the Baby Bjorn and off we went.

It’s obviously a popular place with families and dog walkers. Once we came through the woods towards the summit of Grin Hill there were many excited children and families running up and over the mounds of kilns from limestone mining.

Solomon’s Temple was built in 1896 to replace an earlier building erected by a local landowner and farmer Solomon Mycock. Excavations have proven that it’s not a true folly, as it does have a purpose – it’s built on the site of an ancient burial mound. Several Bronze Age skeletons have been found, alongside later Roman items.

The new (!) tower has a spiral staircase you climb to get to the top, with handrails all the way along and at the top a parapet you can look over. All this meant my scared of heights mum was persuaded to climb and look out from the top! She even obliged with a cheesy photo of baby E, hubby and myself.

Michelle, hubby & baby E at the top of Solomon's Temple
At the top of Solomon’s Temple

After a good airing and hubby pointing out all the local points of interest – such as the impressive dome of the University of Derby – we took a leisurely walk back to Poole’s Cavern to try out the cafe.

Hubby carrying baby E

We picked a corner of the cafe so I could feed E, though to begin with she was more interested in the birds just outside the window, attracted by all the bird feeders. I felt a bit exposed, even in the corner of the room, but the lady needed feeding!

The cafe has recently refreshed their menu, focusing on a wider range of local produce and good coffee. Being a breast feeding mum I was quite peckish, but unfortunately there wasn’t anything dairy free I could eat. I settled down with a decaf black coffee (as did mum – she prefers skimmed milk) and hubby had a white coffee. We all agreed that the coffee should have been stronger, it was a bit disappointing. (Update: hubby has since been back and reports that his filter coffee was much better the second time around).

View of cafe interior
View of cafe

After her feed we entertained E with a selection of the toys available – very child friendly! Mum checked out the toilets and they do have changing facilities, though we didn’t use them.


As the weather was still sunny we decided to go for a walk into town, rather than go into the cavern so that’s saved for another day.

Baby friendly overview:

  • Gentle, short walk suitable for baby carrying with the pay off of amazing views at the end.
  • Large car park.
  • Cafe with baby changing facilities.
  • Toys to entertain children.
  • Large outside play area and picnic tables.
  • Plenty of space for pushchairs.

Would be even better if (in the cafe):

  • Coffee was made a bit stronger!
  • Some dairy free options on the menu.
  • Comfy / cosy chairs for more discreet breast feeding.

In summary; a lovely walk, amazing views, child friendly cafe but the coffee needs to be a bit stronger!

On a rainy day we’ll be back to explore the cavern and I’ve heard it’s THE place in Buxton to see Santa!

Thanks for reading, here’s to our next adventure!