Meanwood Valley Urban Farm Event Review – 16 Jan 2017

So I’m trying out a few new things with my blog to see where it takes me…If nothing else I will document the hilarity and the challenges of our family days out! So here is the first one of hopefully many – Meanwood Valley Urban Farm, Leeds.

Picture the scene…It’s a wet Sunday morning, the online shopping has just been delivered and your child has just smudged half a tub of Play-Doh into your light grey carpet. Your significant other is hoping that as it’s raining, bit dramatic; drizzling we will be having a day in the house where he can take a nap when the baby does and he can switch over from CBeebies to the Sky Sports Channels whilst I head up to the toilet or to put the washing away etc (he thinks I don’t know he does it, I do).

Anyway, I had other ideas…We’ve been to loads of places now in and around Yorkshire (blog posts / reviews on these to follow this one) but I fancied going somewhere new. I hit Google to see what was available. There was a few things on there, some of which were not really aimed at crazy toddlers – Thrackray Medical Museum, Thwaite Mills Museum etc and a few places we had already visited so I picked the first one we had not been to yet. Meanwood Valley Urban Farm it was.

The place was easy enough to find as it is well signposted off the main road…as we were driving through a housing estate I did question if I was going the right way but I though hey, it’s an urban farm after all so it must be right and it was! We parked up in the carpark with no problems (no charge for parking), dressed everyone ready for the inclement weather only to get to Reception to be told there was an entrance fee and they don’t accept any kind of debit or credit cards!! I was mortified – I managed to force a smile/grimace and asked where the nearest cashpoint was. We were directed to a Waitrose about 5 minutes up the road. Thankfully on arrival at the Waitrose the ATM had cash in it (I think a mini meltdown would’ve occurred if not) and we headed back to re-create the coat, wellington boot, hat and gloves rigmarole! Moral of the story – make sure you have cold hard cash in your possession when visiting these smaller attractions #LessonLearnt The entrance fee was £2 per adult and 50p per child so I handed over our Waitrose wonga and we were in. The Reception also sells bags of animal feed for 50p a bag. We decided to buy one bag as they seemed pretty substantial but with hindsight we should’ve bought a few given that there are quite a few animals dotted about and the fact that Phebe decided to pour approximately 2/3 of the animal feed onto the concrete floor nowhere near an animal!

The animals. There were some lambs and alpacas in an indoor shed. There were donkeys, sheep, rams and pigs in outdoor pens and in the fields and then there were some converted stables that housed piglets, guinea pigs and rabbits – Phebe’s favourites ❤ The pens all seem to come off one long concrete path so its great access for wheelchairs and pushchairs, lots of ramps for getting to the higher and lower bits of the farm too. The animals were all pretty well behaved apart from the alpacas which hissed at us a lot! As a breed they are now officially on my shit list! What even are alpacas anyway?! Also, down by the stream there were some little huts or hutches that look like in the Spring/Summer they may house chickens or ducks.

Now onto the important things – the café! There is a really nice little café on the Site which sells quite a nice range of hot drink and homemade cakes. There was also a small menu of sandwiches, jacket potatoes etc. The staff were helpful, really friendly and attentive even though they were extremely busy which was nice and the food and drinks were reasonably priced. Other facilities were toilets which looked to be in a converted stable, no frills but they were clean so can’t grumble. A little outdoor play park with a small climbing frame/slide and those twangy animals on springs…you know the ones. It would’ve been nice on a warmer day but we didn’t frequent as it was a bit of a soggy mess.

So after our lovely Latte’s and second helping of the Bakewell Tart as it was so nice we left and headed for home…via Screwfix! The joys of being married to someone in the building trade Lol J Anyway, so yes the weather was a bit rubbish, yes Phebe fell over in the mud about a million times and got home looking like Stig of the Dump but it was quality family time in a peaceful and safe environment. Phebe literally ran herself into the ground gallivanting around the flower beds playing chase with her Daddy and she slept like a log for at least 2 hours that afternoon. All in all it was a bit of a win. It was close to home, it didn’t cost the earth to get in and was nice to see and feed the farm animals. I would recommend the Meanwood Valley Urban Farm as a short family trip out to kill a couple of hour’s tops. I think in the Summer it may have more longevity as there may be events on and you could factor in a picnic but in the bleaker months it’s certainly not full day activity.

I hope you all like the review…please feel free to comment with any feedback on the review or if there is anywhere in particular you’d like me to review. Also, stand by for event reviews / blog posts on our family visits to Roundhay Park, Lotherton Hall and the Yorkshire Wildlife Park and many other places!

 

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Moving Forward –>

When I first started out writing this blog it was all about trying to help others that were leaving the Military by documenting my resettlement journey. Being in the AGC(SPS) (Military HR Admin & Finance) there were things that I probably knew that others didn’t…The feedback that I have had from the blog is that people found it very interesting & extremely helpful especially the posts around job searching. The number of visitors and views it’s had would also indicate that it was well received, that and the invitations to write columns and articles for a number of magazines and organisations! Unfortunately I had to turn these amazing offers down as at the time as I just didn’t have the capacity given the enormity of the change I was going through. I am very proud of the blog and would go as far to say it’s one of my greatest achievements.
The thing is, I’ve been out of the military for around 3.5 years now and feel as though I’m relatively well settled in Civvy Street and my ‘new’ life in general. I can’t just keep writing about the Army and all the highs and pitfalls that come with that as that’s all in the past now – no new material will ever come of it. Yes there is a lot to share about my life whilst in the Army and the crazy experiences that it gave me so I’ve decided to try and put that down in an autobiography which I will hopefully publish on Amazon by the end of the year. 
Anyway, enough of that for now. So much has happened to me in the 3.5 years since I left the Army…I have had a promotion and change of role within my Company (Cummins Turbo Technologies), I’m now in a different, much better relationship and I am a mother. I know it’s not Forces related anymore but I don’t want the blog to stop as I just enjoy writing it so bloody much! So I’ve been thinking about the way to progress the blog and rather than keeping looking back I would like to just use it to record the life and times of a thirty something HR professional mother, wife, daughter and friend. I’m not trying to be another ‘Unmumsy Mum’ or anything like that although there will no doubt be shades of that at times but I want it to focus on me as a motivated, ambitious woman who is also a mother and wife in the hope that it can help or inspire other people out there (both male and female) that you can have kids and try and kick on in a career. I hope to cover things from things of interest I do at work, any personal or professional development and my professional journey wherever that may take me…I can’t promise that it will be exciting or as niche as before but it will be written as openly and articulately as I can manage with hopefully some humour thrown in.
Thanks again for reading and for your messages of support, Lucy 🙂

2016

I don’t know why but I always feel the need to write something really profound at times like this.  I’m not sure if I will manage profound so you might have to settle for incoherent rambling instead!

As another year draws to a close I find myself getting really emotional.  The reason?  The reason is that I miss people who are no longer with us. I want them here. I don’t want to go into another year without these special people in my life. My gorgeous Mum, my second Mama Denise, my Grandma Doreen, Grandad Bill…all these people and sadly many others, there are far too many to mention…I miss them every day and would give almost anything to have any small amount of time with any of them.  The family and friends that we have lost are always with me and never more so than on New Year’s Eve.

On a more positive note 2016 has been OK for me and my family.  It’s true that professionally I am not where I would hope to be by now but personally I am in a place I thought I never would be – a mother. I have returned to work after a long period on maternity leave and am happy. Returning to work after so long out of the office was massively daunting. I had lost all of my confidence.  I struggled to even  answer the phone on my first day back but, thanks to the amazing support of my Manager and colleagues after a few weeks I was back in the swing of it.  Work is my solace, it is my place to be me and where I can focus on something other than my daughter, partner, house, car, cat etc etc It might sound selfish or ‘unmotherly’ but I don’t care. It’s the one thing that I do for me and I love it. I could never be without work. Another huge positive is that our beautiful, crazy and wonderfully wild daughter is happily settled in an amazing nursery and is flourishing. The change in her is there for all to see…she is exceeding all the developmental milestones and we couldn’t be more proud. My other half, Mr A  is still working hard for his family in his bonkers job that drives me mental. Racking up more road miles than I don’t know what but he does it and without (too much) complaint…albeit being held together by elastoplasts and neurofen at times but still…We also spent lots of quality time in the form of lovely days out across Yorkshire with Grandparents and extended family who are all happy and in good health.

All in all it has been a good year for Team Aleksic and whilst it hasn’t been without its challenges we are still here, together with love in our hearts and that’s all that matters.

So, I would like to take this opportunity to say, from my happy heart to yours…I hope that 2017 is all that you hope it to be ❤

My Heart On My Sleeve…

 

I’ve recently read back over some of these blog posts and they mostly appear quite negative re the the Army. So tonight whilst laid in bed struggling to sleep as sometimes happens I was thinking about some of my better times in the Army and it made me think…Was it all that bad??
I pondered……
In the early years it was all learning, living! There was no time to even stop to take stock, new people, new places, new experiences, new feelings, breaking all the rules, all the time and not giving a shit about doing it…Then things got a bit weird and a bit tough but after a hard year in Aldershot/Canada/Kosovo it all seemed to fall into place – there was a period of absolute bliss. This was when I was serving with the 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment in Colchester. Here everything just felt right. I was happily married, I was flourishing in my role, I was extremely fit which helped given the Regiment I was with. Even the Op Tour to Iraq (Telic III) was brilliant. I loved it there but all good things come to an end – sadly it all ended under a cloud. I was sexually assaulted by some young, new Private whilst on a night out with friends. He didn’t know that I was part of the Regiment and he also didn’t know that I was married to someone from the Regiment. That ended badly for him and my Husband was subsequently Court Martialled, dismissed from the Army and that was the end of that.

I guess that’s when things began to fall apart – I was posted to Winchester on the Recruiting Team…there was LOTS of separation, lots of nights out in various towns and Cities & lots of Lucy starting to unravel. I made some bad choices. I think I felt that I had missed out on being young & doing all the things that young people do. Ultimately my marriage broke down and it was mostly my fault – I’ve never really ‘said’ that before but yeah, it was mostly my own doing…With that in mind I handed over my married quarter and accepted a posting to the other side of the planet. I literally ran away from everyone and everything…
Brunei – what can I say about this place. This was where I put all my problems to the back of my mind and I partied and I partied and I partied and I partied! This particular 18 months of my life was just a big vodka induced blur. We were a group of about 15 single, young people in the prime of our lives, we were thousands of miles away from anyone that knew us and we had lots of disposable income. We drank in the bar on camp most nights but we REALLY went for it on a weekend…that buzz of finishing work a few hours early on a Friday not knowing what crazy stuff you were going to get up to later on. Getting ready in my room with the music blasting at max volume knowing that everyone was going to be just so up for it was amazing! We would smash shots and drinks and whatever the barman had and when he closed the bar we would crack out our own supplies and there were plenty of them – we would party, hard til the sun came up & then some. People across the Garrison heard about our wild nights and everyone wanted in so we let them. Here I travelled to some amazing places, I fell in love with all the wrong people & saw some bizarre and wonderful things. I shared this experience with a small group of people and looking back only we will ever know how mad and how special it really was. Sadly though over the course of this posting the people changed and so did the dynamics of the group. It was no longer an all inclusive unit who did everything together as a small family but it fragmented into ‘the lads’, some singly couples and a few others – me being one of the others. I asked to leave here and headed back to the UK.
I arrived at Wattisham and was greeted by the same bloke that had greeted me in Brunei – always nice to see a friendly face when you go somewhere new. I calmed down a lot over the course of this posting. I worked as the REME Wksp Clk and it was a happy time…It was a relaxed atmosphere even though I was always ridiculously busy. About a third of the way through this posting was when it dawned on me that my relationship with alcohol was no longer on my terms…I went to the Drs and was immediately sent on 4 weeks sick leave, I was having a break down. All those demons I have tried to party away came back at me with vengeance when the party stopped. My mind was a fragile mess, I couldn’t cope with it all anymore..I was in a toxic relationship with someone that had more issues that me – it all just had to stop. I had lots of counselling, I was dry for 8 months and as a reward (I begged to go so I could save money to buy my own home) I completed a mentally & physically draining tour of Afghanistan. After this Tour I met a man who wanted to be with for the rest of my life – he was everything to me & we moved into a rented house together after 6 weeks. We had only been in the house for a few weeks and I learnt that he was cheating on me with 2 other women. I was devastated but I continued with the relationship as I thought it was early days and people can change – little did I know at the time but I should’ve walked away there and then as 5 years later he would do it again and leave me more broken and destroyed than I knew a person could be…
Anyway, Wattisham was my home for 3 years but I was burnt out from it. I worked so hard there & I was ready for pastures new. I somehow instigated a move to Catterick – I didn’t know the Unit at the time but it turned out to the be the Queens Royal Lancers. Turns out someone had been done for fraud and sent to Military Prison so that was my in! Another great time at the start…I was the Wksp / LAD Clerk for their tiny rear party (The Regiment was in Afghan on Op Herrick), this was the slackest I had ever been. Most days I literally did NO work, I just sat at my desk, talked shit with the lads, went on the Internet, drank brews, ate Frickies & watched Jeremy Kyle! But all things must come to an end and the Regiment retuned and I moved back to a Sqn – B Sqn. Another great bunch of lads but I had so much going on in my personal life that my heart just wasn’t in it anymore. Something terrible had happened to me and I needed the Army’s support – it never came. The people that should’ve wanted to look after me & protect me just didn’t care. I had given the Army everything I had over the years and when I needed it the most it let me down. This is where I became so disillusioned with the Army I knew I could no longer continue in it.
So yeah, it doesn’t seem all that bad…of course there were bad times throughout all of the postings. Things that happened to me, the attitudes of some people, the way you are treated, spoken to, exploited etc. But then there is the other side of it – the other people, the good people, the great managers, the ones that you forget when you want to be mad & when you are angry, the ones that did support you…these people as great as they are and I could name them one by one of you asked me to from Posting to posting, these people somehow sadly fall away.
I still think that the Army is fundamentally flawed as an organisation and hate certain people in it for how I was treated but then these are only my views and my experiences…I hope it wasn’t this way for everyone. And just for clarity – this post isn’t about looking at 14 years of life through rose tinted spectacles…it’s just me trying to be fair and balance things out in my mind.

What Will Be, Will Be…

I’ve recently learnt that in this life things truly do happen for a reason…you may not know immediately know what that reason is, you may never know but you must trust that it’s there.

My late 2013/early 2014 was horrific – my world fell apart. In all honesty if it wasn’t for a kind, calm, wonderful volunteer at the Samaritans I probably wouldn’t be writing this now. The only thing I had as a constant in my life was my work – my colleagues were amazing, they guided me, they held me, they gave me confidence when I had none and then BOOM! My world changed again…but for the better.

A terrible thing happened but that lead to the most extraordinary set of events that leave me where I am today. I am in the best place personally & professionally that I have ever been.

So, the below quote could not be more accurate and is now my mantra. I now make my choices and trust that whatever happens – good or bad, is what is meant to happen so I just let it go and move on ❤️

CVs

I see lots of people giving lots of advice on CVs…What to have on there and what not to have, CV cardinal sins etc and whilst they are generally helpful they all pretty much say the same thing. I think my own personal view is slightly different – here goes…

CVs do matter so you should put as much effort into it as you can. If you are not a person who is good with a computer or spelling then get someone who is to help you! 

The order of the information on the CV (to me) doesn’t really matter. Whether qualifications come at the end or the start or whether information is in reverse chronological or in paragraphs about core skills/attributes or greatest achievements. The main point to note is that the information you think is pertinent to that role, the information that you want to communicate is on there and is clear to read and/or extract. Over the last few years I have seen CVs in every shape, size and format – some conformed wonderfully to my OCD tendencies ie Nice font, all the same size, applicant not gone rogue with commas and apostrophes but then again others were very different!! Some candidates used lots of text and we’re VERY wordy, some used bullet points to present information in succinct bite size chunks. I’ve seen tables, I’ve seen CVs covered with numbers and percentages and CVs that came with photographs attached…I’ve seen them in all manner fonts and text sizes and lord knows what else but guess what?? These people all got jobs! I was viewing these CVs as the candidate had been successful in securing a position. Ok, maybe not the one with the photograph on (I believe that was a speculative CV) but yeah, most of them got a job. (Just want to point out here that I’m not saying don’t add a photograph – in some areas of employment I can imagine this is standard).

I mean of course there are things that you must have on your CV – Contact details are a biggie!! (I have seen them with out of date addresses and phone numbers on) And there are things you definitely shouldn’t do with your CV like tell massive porkers but isn’t that common sense?!?! I mean you will get found out & you more than likely will lose your job over said porker so why risk it?
Anyway, I think the point I’m trying to make is that we all know that a CV is a reflection of ourselves (whether it be over 2, 3 or 4 pages!) and we are all different so why should our CVs be the same?? If you have found a way to make your CV stand out from the crowds then I say go for it…!!  😀

Oh yeah and just whilst we’re on the subject of getting your CV to stand out……Heres a little trick I picked up from my step-dad. If you are loading your completed, all singing, all dancing CV onto an online recruitment site ie CV Library, Indeed, Monster etc then in small font at the bottom of the last page, make the text colour white so it can’t be seen and then add as many key words that you didn’t manage to work into your CV as possible – that way when anyone who is trawling that site using key words or phrases will pick your CV up much easier! Your welcome 😉