Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Project Management

Up until two weeks ago my husband and I had clearly defined roles within the business. He took care of all operations, so he was the Project Manager and I did just about everything else; Estimating, Contract Administration, General Administration, Marketing, Book Keeping... 

Then we won a large domestic project in which my husbands expertise was required hands on full time as the client wanted him on the job. As a result he has been too busy to manage the other jobs we have won so I had to do it. Normally I think it would be fine in addition to my usual roles within the company but one of the jobs we won was delayed so our start date was postponed and I ended up trying to run two jobs with identical deadlines at the same time. In addition to this, one of our supervisors was unable to come in for a day so we had to send both our operatives out with a supervisor to one site! With deadlines looming I didn't want to worry the client at the other site so I had no choice but to get out there and work myself so there's a presence on site. Although I worry that I might have made a mild mockery of myself, I hope that I demonstrated commitment to my promise that we would complete on Friday. The following day I was told by our team that my efforts had been a real help which felt good. I think it's good to show the team as well as the client that I'm happy to muck in. 

That site finished on time which was important as they were having a marketing photo shoot the following day, so I breathed a huge sigh of relief and took lots of photographs. The other site was not completed as hoped on the Friday because we are piggy backing on the ground workers top soiling and they were not yet finished. As a result we are now using more man days than we had allowed for, but I have decided not to make an issue of it unless I need to.   

The good thing about doing some project management is that it gives me something front-line to talk about. I rarely get to blog about our work or can hardly think of anything to tweet because I'm not normally involved in operations, but I believe that this involvement will really help with our marketing.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Brentwood Half Marathon

No, I didn't run it but I wish I did have the endurance to run 13 miles! I could have run the 3 mile fun run but without wishing to sound like a big head, it wouldn't be challenging enough for me so I marshalled whilst my husband had little girl and it was a lot of fun. Although the club are going to repay me by funding my entry to another race of my choice, it felt good to give up my time to do something for the community again.

 I got up bright and early to meet my fellow marshalls at the Brentwood Centre and receive my tabbard and it was really misty and cold. We were given some brief instructions about the day, including advice about dealing with angry motorists which worried about me, I hadn't contemplated the likelihood of and confrontation.

Thankfully for the runners, the weather remained misty and cold for the start of the race at 10am right through until about mid-day where the sun finally burned through the mist and it warmed up. I was posted on the Ongar Road by the A12 at the Warescot Road junction so I was near the end of the race. It meant I had to marshall for longer, but it also meant that the atmosphere was a bit more fun, where most runners seemed happy to hear me say "nearly there!", "not far now" or "final push now, you can do it!". At first I felt a little bit silly, like a broken a record, I felt bad for the spectators standing near me listening to me going on and on but my desire to cheer everyone on was stronger than my ego. Besides, if I annoyed the spectators they can always stand somewhere else! When there was a gap in runners I took a sip of coffee and made a jokey comment about sounding like a broken record to offload a bit of embarrassment but when the runners started to come through thick and fast they got into the spirit of it and joined me in cheering them on! 

The reason I wanted so much to cheer everyone on was because I recently ran a race (not sure whether I blogged it or not...) and having the marshalls cheer me on really brightened it up for me and helped me along. 

After the race I made my merry way home. I had walked to my post because I was unsure about road closures. By then it was really sunny so I popped into the High Street on the way to get a white chocolate ice cream from Rossi's. 

I then went to visit my sister who had run 6 miles for sport relief in Chelmsford. It was her first race and the furthest she had run outside of the gym and I was really proud of her. She agreed that it helps when the marshalls are encouraging. She said that only one pair had been cheering whilst all the rest just stood there watching. 

I think that if I had simply stood there I would have felt much more cold and the time would have really dragged on. I had 4 high fives and a lot of grateful smiles, a lot of people were also shattered as they had just begun the 12th mile and I respected that, everybody responds differently when they challenge their bodies but I sensed a lot of endorphins and there certainly was a good buzz. I have volunteered to do a water station at the London Marathon and I'm really looking forward to it.    

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Relaxing in the garden with a child and a pond!

I would like to be able to enjoy myself in the garden with my daughter, but for as long as the pond is there it would not be possible. I wouldn't be able to potter about in the greenhouse while my daughter explores because I wouldn't be able to take my eyes off her as she is so quick, so I reluctantly told my husband he has to coppice the apple tree to make a new fence or the pond has to come out. He didn't feel up to coppicing the apple tree, so he compromised by building a fence using off-cuts of timber we had saved from removing hoarding from one of our recent landscaping jobs. 

He said that the fence would just be "to-do" until he gets around to building a better one, but I was actually quite pleased with it. He cut he lengths at random and left them untreated to weather a bit. It's quite rustic and very sturdy so it'll be little girl proof for a while. 

Whilst Mr. Samuel built the fence, I sowed some seeds in the greenhouse and little girl ran around the garden as we called to each other "she's coming towards you now". It became apparent that the pond was just one of a host of troubles as she ran towards us with a face full of dirt where she decided to see if a pebble was edible. Whilst I'm sure that most children must eat some dirt in their early years, I couldn't help feeling concerned - there are a lot of cats in our area and I remember wearing gloves around the garden throughout my pregnancy because of them. 

I conclude that it's probably a bit too soon to be allowing little girl to explore the garden without full supervision, and I shall have to continue to limit my greenhouse work to nap times for the time being, or at least until she stops exploring with her mouth! I wonder how long that will be...  

Monday, 19 March 2012


Sunflowers are by far the most fun plant to grow from seed with children. Plant a good handful and see which grows the tallest. You can even have a friendly competition amongst family members, friends or neighbours to see whose sunflower grows the tallest. The first year I tried growing sunflowers from seed I was really perplexed because the majority of them were “beheaded” throughout May. I did a little research and it turned out that the culprit was actually wasps, who do it for the cellulose sap in the stems which they use for making their nests. We found that this activity waned towards the end of spring, so it’s worth waiting a while before planting them out directly, unless you’re willing to protect the stems with tin foil from the base to the flower head (which wouldn’t be very pretty). If height is not so important to you, it’s not always the end of the world if your stem gets a bit munched. We left our munched stems to see what happened, and we ended up with several flower heads to a single stem. 
When we are landscaping we are professional, but our private garden is the place where we can experiment and learn these fascinating things. This year we have bought Ladybird Poppy seeds from the RHS Garden Explorers Children’s seed range to try with our little girl, so watch this space! 

Friday, 16 March 2012

My Nutritional Advisor Course

I like running Ellis & Mays with my hubby, but I do miss having a bit of my own independence so he has finally agreed to let me do a Nutritional Advisor Course. I was very excited to get started so I devised a plan whereby I study for one hour every night after I put little girl to bed, and I have already completed my first assignment, in which I introduce myself an my rationale for taking the course.

I developed an interest in nutrition after having my little girl, who is now 14 months old. Not only have I been keen to loose the baby weight, but I have also been keen to make sure that she is getting all of the nutrients she needs. I remember basic classes in food science at school, but they barely scratched the surface, and I don’t want to pass my lack of knowledge down to my daughter. 

I wasn’t a skinny teenager, I was quite athletic because I played football every single day come rain or shine and I also used to enjoy running. When I left school and was interested in meeting friends as opposed to sports I slowly gained weight. I was overweight throughout my late teens through to my late twenties when I got divorced. I went on a very restrictive diet to cope with it, eating just one bowl of porridge for lunch and very little for dinner. I also got back into sports, playing rugby and then cycling every day. I maintained a very restrictive diet with high activity right up until I was pregnant aged 29. I used the pregnancy as an excuse to break free from the restriction and binge. I remember buying apple crumble off the sandwich man at work for breakfast. 

Since having my daughter I haven’t managed to shift the baby weight, my BMI is 28 and I store dangerous fat around my belly, so I am an apple shape. I am quite active but could be better, I play with my daughter as much as time allows, I love gardening and I am a member of the local running club. I have signed up for the London Duathlon Challenge distance event (10km run, 20km cycle, 5km run) 

I'm really looking forward to commencing outdoor cycle training in April, this is when my husband finishes his pike fishing season and can join me for endurance training at the weekends with our daughter on a baby seat. I think it will be great to mix training with family days out, we can pack a (healthy) picnic in my panniers and stop somewhere lovely to enjoy the scenery and a rest. Essex is full of lovely places to visit and hope to fill my blog with lovely day trips throughout the summer!  

I think I eat quite healthily and I suspect that the years of crash dieting have had an adverse affect on my metabolism. I don’t want to return to having just two small meals per day to loose the weight. I want to eat properly and I want to feed my daughter properly too. I hope this course will help me to do that. I hope that I will either learn that I have not been eating as well as I thought whilst trying to loose the baby weight, or learn how to restore the damage that I might have done to myself in the past. I have enjoyed the topic on super foods and look forward to reading more.

If I can go on to help others too, that would be a real bonus. My role within the landscaping business I run with my husband is very much behind the scenes so being a nutritionist part time will get me out of the office more and meet people which would be great. It gets very tiresome in the office on my own.

My daughter goes to a childminder 3 days per week, but as during this time I will be working for my husband, my plan is to study for at least one hour every evening after putting Jessica to bed. I consider this time much better spent than sitting in front of the television, which is one of my areas for improvement following completion of the questionnaire on page 21 of “Nutrition for Life”. Other areas identified for improvement included they type of snacks I choose to eat (currently bread & butter), how often I eat fish, my choice of meal when I eat out and to drink more alcohol (!). I hope that learning how food choices affect my health will boost my conviction for change.       

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Food - sometimes it doesn't pay to have an open mind

For an easy life I have my fruit, veg and milk delivered by Abel & Cole. It's much easier than going to the supermarket because I get tired of looking for the organic produce. I never understood why to bother with organics until I read Jillian Michaels' book "Master your Metabolism". It's a personal choice. I don't buy designer clothes or anything, I just eat well instead (or at least I try to!). 

You do have forewarning what will arrive in your veg box if you remember to log online and check, which I do on a Monday afternoon, and plan the rest of my groceries from there. You do have the option to ban fruit and vegetables you dislike, but I like to keep an open mind. Last week they delivered grapefruit. I remember grapefruit from my childhood. My parents were eating grapefruit with a cherry on top for breakfast. It looked very nice so I protested to eating my usual cereal, demanding that I have one too and I remember the yucky, sour bitterness and never ate another. 

Since my early childhood I have tried one Brussels Sprout every Christmas day to see if I like them yet. Well, I might not like Brussel Sprouts yet, but I have grown to like onions and tomatoes so I wondered whether I might like Grapefruit now. I looked up a rather tasty looking recipe online which involved caramelising the fruit under the grill with brown sugar and cinnamon and decided to give it a go. It smelled lovely, it looked lovely. I sat down to tuck in and no, it didn't taste too lovely. In fact it tasted like the smell of pink (grapefruit!) dettol. I persevered, wondering if the taste might grow on me, but no, it was no good. I do not like grapefruit, even caramelised.      

Monday, 12 March 2012

Website redevelopment

The Ellis & Mays website was originally built by my sister in whole HTML, a language I know only the basics of from the MySpace days (popular before Facebook – you used to be able to edit the layout of your page using HTML). She has a degree in website design, build, management and development and suchlike, and she is employed full-time by HMV to manage their website. Her role is becoming increasingly busy and she can no longer dedicate enough time to making updates and adding photographs to my site so she told me that she thinks it would be best if the website was redesigned using a template I can adjust myself, not HTML. I was perfectly happy with this as it means that I can make updates instantly.

I was going to use a website I’d seen advertised on TV where you pay £5 per month for a template from which you build your own website, but when I went on their website it turned out that it was closer to £10 per month for a decent package. Shortly after I looked on the website for Rockys Fun House to see whether they have WiFi and I noticed a small icon at the bottom of the page for a free website with Weebly. I was curious so I had a brief look and a few hours (and a lot of copying and pasting) later I have a whole new website for free! When I clicked on the “publish” icon an error message came up saying I need to adjust the “DNS” settings with the domain host. Now just imagine the sound of a scratching record, screeching tyres or SUTIN and you have my state of mind… huh? DNS? HELP! I emailed my sister and things got very technical from there and my level of understanding wandered into a rather thick fog. She was able to help me publish my website by creating a different web address and getting my existing one to point to it. I was very excited to have my new website go live – with pictures on it! Hooray! But my joy was short lived. 

My emails stopped working! During the process of changing the website, for some reason I no longer required the services of my existing host so my sister notified him and doing away with that meant no emails! Our business practically runs on emails so it was tragic! We were told by the old host that we needed to revert all changed in order to restore email functionality so I had to wave goodbye to my lovely website. With pictures! The host offered to build a new website for me using Wordpress. He will build the layout in HTML and I would be able to add content in plain English. I would have control over the speed in which content is added to the website. It sounded like the ideal solution, that way we get to retain our emails. So we had a meeting whereby I said I wanted a nice, crisp, fresh, modern looking website with lots of pictures to showcase our fantastic work. I waited just two days before receiving some layouts from the host. I didn’t really like them. It was really hard to explain over email what I disliked and what I wanted, and I had visions of it taking ages. Two further layouts later I was still unhappy and splitting hairs so badly my sister intervened. 

My sister did some research and found out that if I completely transfer both the domain and the host, I can keep my email addresses and have complete control. Brilliant! I found a pre-written Wordpress template to purchase online and a new host and my sister held my hand through the switch. The old host was really understanding that I needed more control and was there on the phone to help the transition, which was instant. The only drawback with buying the Wordpress template was that I had a lot of editing to do, I was up until 2am until the site was in a state I was comfortable to leave overnight (a lot of “under construction” titles!) 

I continued to work on it over the course of the next few days and now it’s almost in a state with which I truly love. It could do with a bit more tweaking, but I like to see this website as an on-going process, it is after all our online portfolio, so it will never be complete until we stop working! Please take a visit using this link   

Saturday, 10 March 2012

P90X - my first day

I have completed the first workout for P90X! It was TOUGH! So tough that in the second round of chest & back I could only manage a single dive bomb! I couldn't do a single pull-up for love nor money so used my only resistance band, which wasn't really challenging enough regardless of how far away from the door I sat, so yet another purchase required. Damn, I'm gonna have a well kitted out gym at this rate! My husband was very unimpressed about drilling the end caps of the pull up bar into the door frame, he didn't get around to doing it last night so I made him do it at 6am before going fishing! The more fitness paraphanalia I get the more determined he gets to build my gym behind the greenhouse, not such a bad thing! The pull up bar was only £12.99 from Argos and was cheaper than a days' fishing so he can't grumble at me, especially as I borrowed P90X from my sister instead of buying it for £100 :-) 

Ab Ripper X, what can I say? Is it really possible to make moves like that? I can't wait until I can! I'm going to have to modify P90X to make it work for me by doing Ab ripper 100 or 200 from Power 90 instead and taking it from there! I'll try 200 next time and if I really strggle I'll take it down to 100 as I know I can do that!

I enjoyed tracking how many reps I could do as I go, it'll be great to see how much I improve. Watch this space!


The only crazy thing is that the 90 days ends two days after I fly out to the states for the in-laws 60th birthday getaway! How annoying is that?! Then I get to totally shock my body by resting up a bit on comparison to usual for a few weeks before moving on the next challenge! I need to think ahead though, I'm going to be in the states for 2.5 weeks and will need to continue duathlon training, so I will need to consider hiring a bike. Last time I went I took my laptop so taking a few exercise DVDs is an option but I'd much prefer to continue to get out there so one of my tasks for the day will be some research... 

Friday, 9 March 2012

A new morning routine to feel better

I have to admit that I perceive my lifestyle as too busy to look after myself properly but actually I’m just lazy! I’m not too bad, I have the discipline to get up and exercise but I don’t currently make time to dress myself nicely, fix my hair and apply make-up. Every time I drop little girl off at the childminders as early as 8am she has make-up on, is always dressed nice and looks lovely, and then there’s me. I look older than my 31 years with my messy hair, uncovered Rosacea and dodgy spare frames because my nice glasses broke ages ago!

Currently I get up, have a drink of water, exercise, shower, put on whatever I can find (don’t bother with hair, makeup and contact lenses), pack little girls’ bag, wake her up, take her to the childminders, come home and work, leave it far too late to think about prepping lunch until I’m so hungry I eat something not as enjoyable as I could have, and the day goes on until 5 when I return to the childminder to collect little girl.  

My list of ideal things to do in the morning is to; 

Snack and drink water (approx. 5 minutes)
Prep lunches (approx. 20 minutes)
Exercise (approx. 45 minutes)
Shower (approx. 10 minutes)
Dress, style hair and apply make-up (approx. 30 minutes)
Eat breakfast (approx. 20 minutes)
Pack little girls’ bag (approx. 10 minutes – takes ages to decide what clothes to pack)
Get up little girl, change her nappy and to go to childminder (approx. 10 minutes)

I currently do 70 minutes of the above and I wake up at 6.30, get little girl up at 8 so somewhere I’m loosing about 20 minutes faffing about which I should apply to the ideal list containing an extra 70 minutes worth of activities. So with 20 minutes already available to use better, I think I’ll start with waking up 50 minutes earlier and attempt the list and see how it goes. Realistically I should round it up to an hour to allow for a degree of error in estimating the approximate timeframes. I also think I should move lunch prep to after getting dressed because there will be more time pressure to get it done efficiently whereas exercising is a set timeframe and getting dressed is often quite regimented, but food preparation is not so it would be easy to exceed the allocated timeframe.

Obviously until I crack it, I’ll have to test it on days that little girl does not go to the childminder so we are not late. I need to commit to doing it every single day so that it becomes an all-time habit, not just for days that I work.

In order to make it work I need to do a small bit of reverse engineering, I need to include the lunches in my meal plan and groceries to ensure I have what I need to do it. I also need to buy in the first thing in the morning snacks such as extra bananas.

It will be interesting to see how I cope with 5.30 am starts and whether I manage to make looking after myself better a habit. Watch this space!  

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Working out

Early morning is my “me time”. My husband gets up at about 6am and I get up with him. When he’s gone at 06.30 I then get about an hour to an hour and a half before little girl gets up of time just to myself. This is where I fit in a good workout. At the moment my workout of choice is EA Sports Active 2 on the Playstation, I love it! Here is the (rather long) review I put on Amazon:
Fitness reviews are difficult to gauge because the ability of the writers vary. I'm about a stone overweight, a Mum of a one year old, and since becoming pregnant haven't committed to any regular exercise. Until now. I love Active 2! I've just completed the 3 week cardio kick start programme and started the 9 week programme. I do it 4 times a week first thing in the morning before my daughter wakes up, and what I love is that every workout is different so it's nothing like doing a DVD which is the same every time. I also love the fact that exercises such as side lunges are adapted into games such as goalkeeping. The coach is very encouraging and not at all annoying. I love the fact that once you've set your workout schedule, it tells you how many workouts you've missed, so in sheer bloody-mindedness I haven't missed a single one! You can adjust the intensity, so if you're feeling under the weather you have no excuse to workout as you can set it to easy. If you're feeling energetic you can set it to hard without worrying about over-committing yourself for the entire programme. There's an online community where you can join groups to contribute to and feel a sociable aspect to the game. Some of the workouts are short, but in addition to the programme it sets for you, you have the option to do an additional workout if you fancy doing some more as there are a handful of preset workouts. You can also customise your own workout once you are familiar with some of the exercises on offer and have developed some favourites so it's really interactive. I think it's absolutely fantastic and an absolute bargain too. Cheaper than the gym and better than the gym too. At the gym it's not so easy to do interval workouts, which are advocated by the experts to be the most effective way of burning fat. With Active 2 you'll so spurts of cardio followed by resistance work, including some combination moves. It's an absolute winner for me.
Since I wrote that review, I exceeded the half-way mark on the 9 week programme and although the game is still great, I now feel the need to step it up a gear.

I liked the fact that it tracked my progress so I prefered to use it instead of other DVDs on my rest days, and I even custom-built an active rest day workout on it. Because of the running and cycling I do (and the fact that I’ve programmed rest days so that they occur after a run), it involved fully resting the lower body and strength training the upper body with abdominal workouts in between sets of reps to give my arms a brief rest. This enabled me to use the game every morning and stack up my stats for that sense of accomplishment. Another reason why I did this was because of a tip from one of my heroes – Chalene Johnson. She says that if you aim to be active for 30 mins every day (even walking), then on those days where life or injury gets in the way and you can’t workout, you will not feel discouraged or guilty for it.

To step things up a bit I have started Tony Hortons P90 series. You follow a set pattern for 90 days consisting of three workouts for the beginning half, moving on to a second set of three workouts for the latter half. Although Tony is very lovely I'm worried that I might grow tired of the three workouts before I am ready for the second set of workouts, so I'm tempted to do P90X instead as there are more workouts to do, but could I handle it? I'm going to see how I get on with P90 first, maybe I'll be okay... watch this space...

The P90 series follows a set pattern whereby you workout for 6 days of the week and rest for one, which is fine by me, however there are times when I can’t workout first thing in the morning, and then later in the day when little girl is having a nap I am faced with the usual work vs health conscience battle, but I have overcome this. Whilst following her Push Jump Start programme, I learned one of Chalene Johnsons’ tricks to get more out of your day. She bought a lap desk off of Amazon to slot on to her exercise bike so that she can check emails etc whilst having a light workout, so I’ve done the same. My set-up is nowhere near as sleek as hers but it does the job. I have to admit though that I am now on the eBay market for a used recumbent bike to make the whole thing a lot more comfortable!   

Monday, 5 March 2012

Food - it pays to keep an open mind

This morning I decided to try a Jillian Michaels recipe for breakfast from her cookbook which accompanies her book, "Master you Metabolism". It was the first recipe I have tried from this book. Her recipes mostly sound amazing, she uses a lot of Mediterranean vegetables and you can see a bit of a Spanish/southern American influence in there together with the use of Caribbean black beans. Some of the fish she uses is quite exotic, but that's probably because the book is American and of course, they'll eat a lot of different fish to what is regularly prepared here in ol' blighty. 

For the particular dish I chose to prepare, the ingredients sounded to me like a very peculiar mixture - feta cheese, yogurt, honey, raspberry (which I substituted for strawberry) and black pepper spread on toast, but I decided to give it a go anyway. Well it was absolutely delish, I will definitely be doing it again. Probably tomorrow!

Before I went shopping on Saturday morning (glutton for punishment) I decided I would do her recipe for home made pizza, I needed frozen wholewheat pizza dough. I knew I wouldn't be able to buy that in Tesco so I thought I'd just make it from scratch, which I did after breakfast. My dough is currently sitting in the kitchen rising (hopefully) while I work. I've made enough to use some for dinner and freeze the rest. I hope it goes okay...

Friday, 2 March 2012


When little girl was just 4 months old we took her to Florida, I decided it would be a good idea to go because as I’m on maternity leave, I don’t need to book any additional holiday. I knew that there would be a pool where we were staying so I thought it would be a good idea to start taking little girl swimming beforehand. When we went to the pool for the first time I felt a little bit lost, I really wasn’t sure what to do with her so I decided to enrol her for some swimming lessons. I eventually chose to take the lessons at First Strokes, in Billericay. Our instructor was Andrea and she was really nice and I made a good friend in another mum but after our second term I decided to stop going because we were setting up the landscaping business and had to cut back our outgoings for the time being. I vowed that I would take little girl to swim at the Brentwood Centre at least once a fortnight to keep her used to it. We have been only once since and that was August.

We are going back to Florida in the summer, so I thought I’d better get back into the habit of going swimming again so I looked at the timetable and decided that we would go the next day. The swim times are not the most convenient, due to lessons the pool is open to the public at around early lunch time, which is when little girl tends to be taking her nap. Nonetheless I kept her awake and took her to the pool. The timetable said that swimming begins at 12.30 so I thought we'd aim for 12.15 to give us plenty of time to get changed. A warning to future potential users - this is not a good idea because you are not allowed in until 12.25. We had to wait in the foyer for 10 minutes in which time little girl got bored and proceeded to make a run for it into the badminton hall. When I stopped that she then went on to destroy displays, making me look like the ultimate I-can't-control-my-child mum!

I was worth it because she was thrilled. It was a lot more fun this time because now she can walk she enjoyed splashing around on the steps and thought it was hilarious to splash at me! She was laughing as she kicked her arms and legs about and pointed at various toys and other children excitedly and enjoyed pretending to swim towards them. Thanks to the swimming lessons, I have plenty of ideas to play with her in the water and how to build her confidence up. Even though she is now 14 months old I noticed it still didn’t take her long to show signs that she was getting cold, so I got her out of the pool after about 35 minutes. It was a lot more difficult to get changed this time than it was over half a year ago, now that she won’t lie on her back for more than a few seconds! Sadly there are no play pens in the family changing room. There are two in the normal changing room, but after using the baby change table to dress little girl I wouldn’t have managed to carry her, our bag, our shoes and outdoor coats into the next room. I can imagine it would be a little easier in the summer. I will definitely keep taking her though. 
Swimming at the Brentwood Centre is £5.00 for one adult and one baby.