Sunday, 13 May 2012

Thinking Space... Our Holiday to West Moss-Side Farm!

I say that I am coming back and then I disappear again! Here's what I've been up to...

Things have been really hectic of late and I feel like I've had no time to unwind or to think. We had a pretty hardcore schedule of days out during the Easter school holidays, with only 2 of the 20 days spent in the house. On Friday, after a visit to ENT at the Sick Kids Hospital with Miss B (another story for another time) we headed off for four days of wilderness (sort of). I turned my phone off, had no computer or related gadgetry and went back to basics (maps and candles).

                        Ben Ledi at West Moss-Side Farm or Heaven as it's now known in our house.

We set off to the Trossachs for four days to stay at West Moss-Side Farm. The farm is a little slice of rural heaven and while there, we stayed in one of the farm's yurts. Kate Sankey the owner of the farm offers these yurt stays through her Trossach's Yurts site. We had a fantastic time there and would certainly go back again in a heart beat. We had such a wonderful time and the kids are still talking about it after weeks of being back on our home turf. West Moss-Side is a working cattle farm and while there, our kids loved seeing the animals and being more free-range than their usual habitat, loved to wander in the lush fields and play near the burn. Our stay was really scenic and peaceful.

           I honestly had no idea that my inner city kids knew what Pooh Sticks were!

Kate is incredibly artistic and crafty and on site there are rotating exhibitions of work by local artists on display in the centre. It was also really interesting to watch the maintenance of the farm while we were there. Kate and her husband were busy installing a 'green roof' while we were there. Kate's passion for arts and crafts fuelled her desire to introduce stays on the farm:

 "Having established the craft workshops and environmental education centre at West Moss-side it was my dream to be able to offer facilities to provide a total experience of this wonderful place. Trossachs Yurts is the realisation of this dream; come and visit us soon!"
- Kate Sankey, West Moss-Side Centre

Kate's vision adds a real warmth to the farm and she was on hand to greet us every day to check how we were doing and finding out about our plans for the day. Although I had planned a hectic four day itinerary (I think I would die if I had to lie on a sun lounger for two weeks in the heat!) we came back thoroughly relaxed and happy. It really was an experience staying at West Moss-Side and as I site here writing this, I really am missing it. It is ideal for families of any shape and any size! The location makes for an ideal base for all of the local attractions and more. We could have easily stayed for a week there is so much to do. We explored Aberfoyle, Callender, Lake of Menteith, Blair Drummond, Briarwood Farm, Stirling and its Castle and lots more during our stay. We took it all a relaxed pace because the location meant that we didn't have to travel more than 20 minutes to reach any of these.

For nomads, very simply, there exists the everyday necessity of living in harmony with nature, otherwise they can’t survive – and this situation never changes.” Where Horses Fly Like The Wind - Silk Road Film Series

The yurts were beautiful and so cosy (on our holiday, two nights were below freezing temperatures)! There are three 18’ diameter Krgyk yurts on platforms with decking.  They are a fusion of the traditional yurt design and construction from Krgykstan with local yurt builder Red Kite Yurts from Callander.   A boardwalk leads to the first yurt, Stuc a'Chroin.    This one is in the orchard paddock which is close to the West Moss-side Centre and the fully accessible facilities. A minutes walk from this are the other two Ben Ledi and Ben Lomond.  From the decking of the yurts there are panoramic big-sky views to the west across Flanders Moss National Nature Reserve to Ben Lomond and the Arrochar Alps and north to the mountains of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.

Waking up to this every morning was certainly refreshing!

Inside they are really cosy with wood burning stoves (specially lit for your arrival and including your first basket of logs). The stoves have an oven so you can be as adventurous (or not) as you like. There is also a gas hob and grill for simple things and cups of tea and coffee (there is a cafetiere for coffee addicts like me!), 25 litres of water, and all the kitchen utensils and crockery you need.  See the list of things so you can check out what you need to bring (and don’t need to bring).

West Moss-side offers a special environment where you can experience solitude and tranquillity within a stunning landscape. The  farm will be yours to explore – there is a small fold of rare breed Shetland cattle which are the conservation grazers on the edge of Flanders Moss National Nature Reserve. Organic Shetland beef can be sampled – barbequed or even slow roasted in the yurt's wood-burning oven.  While you are here you will share the place with all the wildlife that you will see and hear: the bird list is well over 100 and there are some specials to look out for depending on the season: red kites, ospreys, hen harriers, barn owls, skylarks, cuckoos, yellow hammers, peewits, snipe, curlew and in the autumn and winter 1000s of pink footed geese. The geese arrive and leave the same week as the swallows – that’s early October and mid April.

Special West Moss-side organic and local (no more than 60 miles) food is offered in welcome food hampers which can be pre-ordered to include West Moss-side organic Shetland beef sausages/steak burgers/steaks from the farm, local free range eggs from the nearest village Thornhill, local bread/rolls from Mhor Bread in Callander, Scottish local wine or sparkly stuff from Cairn o’ Mohr  winery, Carse of Gowrie, and homebaking and home preserves from West Moss-side. 

Sleeping – there is one double bed, one double futon and one Futon company ‘sleep over’ so they will sleep 5 comfortably.  Lighting is very atmospheric by solar and by lanterns. All sheets,duvets and covers, pillows and pillow cases are provided.


There are two brand new and excellent heated shower/ toilets (one accessible) in the newly converted steading very close to the accessible yurt in the orchard paddock, and a couple of minutes for the woodland yurts. Showers are inclusive with hot water part provided by the sun!  A washing machine can be used and there is an honesty box .  There is a fridge and freezer in the yurt kitchen. Parking spaces available in the yard but we hope that you will share cars or perhaps even come by bike!  


Stays at West Moss Side can be booked through the site Canopy and Stars. You can keep up to date with Yurt-related happenings on Kate's blog. Visit West Moss-Side on Facebook too!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Cloudbabies on CBeebies - A review.

We are delighted that we were asked by the BBC to preview and review a brand new showing coming to your screens next week, called Cloudbabies. The series is due to start on Monday 14th May and will be aired at 11:25am.

Created by award winning art director, Bridget Appleby, the series is produced by Hoho Entertainment. The show was created by award-winning art director Bridget Appleby (Roary the Racing Car, Fifi and the Flowertots) and is being animated by Manchester’s Studio Liddell, which is also a co-production partner for the series.

Cloudbabies is a 52 x 10 minute CG animated pre-school series about four enchanting, childlike characters, Baba Pink, Baba Blue, Baba Yellow and Baba Green whose job is to look after the sky and their Sky Friends, Sun, Moon, Rainbow, Fuffa Cloud and Little Star.

They live together with Bobo White, a mischievous little Sky Imp, in a house on a big fluffy cloud. Every morning, they jump on their Skyhorses and begin their day's work of looking after the sky.

The series promotes caring for others and the world around us and also introduces children to notions such as day and night, sun and moon, rainbow and the stars.

A host of heavenly delights are in store for the Cloudbabies this week as they begin their full run on CBeebies. 

About the Characters

Baba Pink

Baba Pink is spirited but sympathetic, and can also be a little bit bossy! She cleans, stitches and mends with her Caring Kit filled with “mummy stuff” and is always looking out for the other Cloudbabies and their Sky Friends.

Baba Blue

Baba Blue is enthusiastic and keen to show how quick and efficient he is, though he can be a little clumsy at times! He is always ready to tackle the task in hand, with his toolbox filled with useful stuff for fixing things and mending cracks in Rainbow.

Baba Yellow

Baba Yellow is gentle and shy, but always cheery and optimistic. She is very creative and carries round a satchel filled with paints, brushes and musical instruments, including her Fluteytoot, which has ‘Pied Piper-like’ properties.

Baba Green

Baba Green is quiet, thoughtful and somewhat serious. He is a great story teller and often makes up stories for his friends and Little Star; though he is happiest when tending the garden with his bag full of gardening tools.

Bobo White

Bobo White is the Sky Imp the Cloudbabies found asleep at the bottom of the Rainbow, and he is desperate to become a ‘proper Cloudbaby’. He rides around on Skydonk and with his energy, mischief and curious personality, Bobo White is sometimes frustrating but always loveable!

Sky Friends

Sun is always jolly and likes to laugh. He is boisterous, easy-going and very sociable, and what he really likes is to be super-shiny!
Moon is a shy, sensitive and motherly character. She often needs to be dusted and polished by the Cloudbabies, and fed moonrock so she can transform into a full moon.
Rainbow is very proud of his colours and a bit of a show-off. Mostly described as a loveable grump with a hidden, kind hearted and helpful nature. Every night he helps fling the stars into the Sky.
Fuffa Cloud is a playful, overgrown kid who’s learning to rain but needs encouragement. She can change colour and has to be fluffed daily by the Cloudbabies, which she finds a bit of a bother.
Little Star is the youngest of the Sky Friends. An innocent character with a sense of wonder and curiosity. He has to sleep during the day in order to twinkle at night, but is easily tempted out of his cot and into mischief.


On Monday, Fuffa mischievously tells each Cloudbaby that the door needs a new coat of paint. Can Rainbow come up with a solution to their colourful squabbles?

This is the episode that we previewed. The sky is home to a team of ‘Baba Clouds’, who are led astray by Fuffa. Luckily, there’s a talking rainbow on hand to provide moral guidance and teach the little guys important lessons in life. I have to say that the animation is lovely and so appealing to kids around Boo's age (nearly 2 and a half!). The episodes are just long enough to engage the children and the message behind the episode (sharing, caring and team work) was clear. Young children (mine in particular) are fascinated with the themes that will be featured throughout the week. 

What's in store for the rest of the week?

In Tuesday’s show, a rumbly noise stops Little Star from twinkling.  Can the Cloudbabies solve the mystery so Little Star can twinkle again?

Moon is hungry on Wednesday and the Cloudbabies have run out of Mooonrock.  Can they find some in time to feed Moon so she can be full?

Rainbow gets himself in a knot on Thursday which means he cannot take part in the star flinging so there will be no stars in the sky. Can the Cloudbabies find a way of unravelling him?

All the Cloudbabies are sneezing on Friday, but why? Could it be the mysterious yellow cloud from the Fluffigold flowers?

To join in the Cloudbabies fun tune in Monday at 11:25am or go to the CBeebies website here