‘To blog or not to blog’ was yesterday’s question. Today the answer was ‘to blog’ so here we go…..

This is us – The Cowie Family!

Adam – early 30s, male model, fitness fanatic!

Claire – earlier 30s, registrar, AKA Maaaaaam! Dreams include peeing in peace, drinking a cup of tea while it’s still hot and getting a full night of sleep!

Hannah – teenager. Whatever I write will be soooo embarrassing so I’ll just reiterate….she’s a teenager!

Ell – our little book worm.  Loves musicals and swimming.

Ash – the baby of the family.  When he grows up he’d like to be a dinosaur (specifically a gigantisaurus), a baker or Elsa!

Featured post

Our visit from Auntie Biotic!

What a week!!!

So the littlies are sick. Ash ended up in urgent care on Monday with a temperature of 41C. Tonsillitis had struck. A couple of days of antibiotics and he was on the mend …… queue Ellana getting ill!

Back to the doctors we went and she, too, has tonsillitis!

All timed perfectly to coincide with the demolition of our garage and various workmen turning up. On the plus side the kids loved having their sick bowls on the windowsill whilst watching the JCB! Gross!

So we now have good old Auntie Biotic visiting! This would be slightly easier if Ash wasn’t allergic to the one Ellana has.

All I can say if thank God for modern medicine!

The No Tech Challenge has begun!

No Tech Challenge – Day 1


We survived our first day of the ‘No tech challenge’! I’m not going to pretend it was easy; embarrassing as it is to admit Adam and I are definitely addicted to our mobile phones. You really don’t realise how often you check your phone!   In the first hour alone, I went to use my phone 11 times!

I hadn’t really considered all of the things that I use my phone for! My first problem was I forgot Ellana had an after school club (my calendar is on my phone!) so I went to collect her an hour early! Then I nearly burnt the tea because I had no timer to remind me to get things out of the oven! Adam and I both wanted to check our social media accounts which we really didn’t need to do but we have obviously become addicted to doing this so regularly.

Here is a breakdown of how the evening went!

3.30pm – We started the challenge! I had to put my phone in a drawer to stop me reaching for it!

3.45pm Knowing that I had to make tea without putting the kids in front of Peppa Pig (we all do that….right?) I set up a teddy bears’ picnic for Ash and Ellana to play with while I made tea. I felt good about this; I’m being a good mammy right now!


4.00pm I leave the kids with their picnic and slope off to the kitchen to make tea, leaving the kids to play nicely……… for a whole 7 minutes!

4.10pm The teddy bear has eaten Ash’s slice of cake (it is wooden and is still on the plate in front of the accused bear but this seems like a very unimportant detail to my heartbroken son!) I head to the living room to reprimand the bear, console my son and give him ‘another’ slice of cake (it’s the same slice of cake because, I repeat, the bear hadn’t actually eaten it!).


4.15pm Back to cooking tea and I face another problem; how will I time the chicken in the oven without my phone timer? I’m not the greatest of cooks, taking away a vital part to my tea making strategy may well result in burnt chicken and mushy vegetables! I resort to looking at the clock and writing the time down; I really like that clock! It’s been a while since I looked at it! Who needs a clock when you have a phone?!

4.30pm Tea is ready! It isn’t burnt and it isn’t mushy. More mammy points for me! Thank you clock; what a genius invention you are!
5.00pm I want to sit and enjoy my cuppa and biccy while looking at totally unnecessary, yet highly amusing, videos on Instagram. I WANT MY PHONE! Adam gets to check his emails now (in case there is anything work related he needs to action). I’m jealous! I know the only email I’m likely to have is from ‘Paul’ who needs my bank details to release $100,000,000 from his frozen account!


5.15pm The kids decide Duplo is next on the agenda and I grimace as I hear the whole box of it being emptied onto the playroom floor.   An Ipad would NOT make this much mess! I clear the dinner plates and stack the dishwasher. I usually have an audio book on whilst I do this. Instead I can hear the children happily building the Duplo castle. It is beautiful listening to them play and, for the first time since this started, I see the positive side of having no technology.

I just heard a text come in on my phone! I want to read it!!!

6.30pm Wow! We have just spent an hour playing together – Me, Adam and the little ones. We’ve finished the Duplo Castle, played Marble Run and read a book about scary animals! It has been LOVELY! Please don’t think we never play with our kids, we do, A LOT but usually we would have had our phones in our hands for, at least, part of this time.

7.30pm The last hour has flown over – baths, supper and getting ready for bed. I nearly fell asleep putting Ash to bed – I wonder if this is the affect of no light stimulation from the phone?!

Adam has been doing yoga and missed his podcast A LOT! I suspect he hates me and my crazy ideas right about now!


8.15pm Adam, Ellana and I have spent about 40 minutes telling each other stories! It has been fun. Adam and I are both feeling shattered though. Ellana is going to read her bedtime story to Adam, then the challenge will be nearly over!

9pm Ellana’s in bed and it is over!!! We did it!


I think it went really well. I enjoyed the extra family time, I liked not being distracted by my phone but I missed the practicality – I really could have used my calendar and timer!! Usually when I’m playing with the kids I am working/playing on my phone at the same time and this is something I want to stop doing all the time!

I do, however, now feel the need to spend three hours on my phone to ‘catch up’ on what I’ve missed! I have a lot of social media notifications and I have 18 text messages!

We will do the No tech challenge again next week so please sign up to the blog to be notified when I report back on how day 2 goes!!!

The No Tech Challenge

As I write this, I’m sat by a swimming pool on a family holiday in Spain. My husband (Adam) and I, despite sitting next to one another, haven’t spoken in over an hour. Instead we’ve been on our iPhones, on social media. At least 50% of the adults I can see are sat glued to a mobile phone. Those children who are not in the pool are, also, glued to tablets. Look around you right now, I bet at least 50% of the people you can see have a mobile phone in their hand!

My kids happily sit on their sun loungers with an iPad and I reminisce about my happiest holiday memories –

🦎 Hunting for lizards,

🦀 Looking for crabs in rock pools, 🐜 Watching ants carry off stray pieces of cake,

☀️ Building dens between sun beds,

✍️ Making friends (pen pals!)

It saddens me that, unless I intervene, my childrens’ holiday memories may include ‘snap chatting, watching a video and playing on snakes vs blocks!’ Instead I periodically remove their technology and inflict real life fun on them, like jumping waves! 🌊

No doubt that technology can be amazingly educational but I am definitely guilty of using it as a ‘virtual babysitter.’ ‘Mam, I’m bored’ is often pacified by ‘Here, have an iPad because mammy needs to …. <insert boring, mundane job that Mam is currently doing!>’ I rely on the virtual babysitter to entertain my children while I cook tea, do the washing, fill in endless forms from school, reply to party invitations and OK, I admit it, look on social media.

I’m up for a challenge though and a mixture of mindless curiosity and a touch of lunacy have led to me announce ‘Cowie family we are doing The No Tech Challenge’!

Adam responds to this announcement by suggesting I’ve maybe had a bit too much sun ☀️ or perhaps I should lay off the all inclusive cocktails 🍹! When he realises that I’m serious, he lists the endless reasons why he can’t possibly do this!

I pacify his objections and assure him that we will, of course, still use technology at work because, otherwise, we simply couldn’t do our jobs!

Other than that, for one day each week, there will be no technology used in our house. No phones, no iPads, no TV, not even a radio!Instead we may actually engage in conversation, play one of the many games that have never been out of the box and forget the distractions of social media, podcasts and that dastardly, rude, cartoon pig that the virtual babysitter inflicts on my children! We may also argue, drive each other crazy and hubby may well leave me for that virtual babysitter!

Whatever happens, you’ll be able to read all about it in our blog! The Cowie Family No Tech Challenge starts next week! Follow our blog to see how we get on or, even better, join the challenge!

Hamsterley Forest

Parents’ rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Kids’ rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Price £6

Visit length 2 hours – 8 hours

Parking On site (£6 per day, £10 on a bank holiday)

This is hands down our favourite day out; so much to do and so cheap!

Top tips – A Discovery Pass is £47 for a year of free parking. There aren’t many bins – take a carrier bag for your rubbish.

What is there to do?

🚴‍♂️ Bike riding – take your bikes or rent some while you are there. So many cycle routes for all different abilities.

🎣The river – we love to go paddling, skim stones, catch little fish (make sure you let them go again!) and race sticks on Pooh Stick Bridge.

📖 Julia Donaldson trails. You are spoilt for choice when it comes to character walks for kids – there’s The Gruffalo, The Highway Rat and The Stick Man. All of them are excellent – we love the Gruffalo trail the best though. The characters are carved from wood and are perfect. It is a couple of miles of walking though so you may need a pushchair for little legs.

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Play areas – there’s loads of them. Obstacle courses, swings, slides, everything you could think of and all made of wood. Hours of fun!

🥪 🍎 🍌 Take a picnic or a disposable BBQ. Lots of picnic tables.

☕️ 🍴 🍰 Cafe – serving hot food and drinks plus tasty freshly baked cakes. Reasonably priced.

🍦Ice cream van with a large variety.

🐶 Dog friendly.

🚽 Toilet facilities and baby change available.

📱 No signal. I LOVE that we have no phone signal here – no distractions just good outdoor family fun!



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