Monday, 23 April 2018

Essential Summer Holiday Preparation - 25 Ways to Ensure You are Ready

pool in Spain

It's now just four weeks until we head off on holiday to the South of France for our Eurocamp holiday at Club Farret Campsite and we've been getting ready. The kids are really excited and I'm on countdown but we are feeling very well prepared so I thought I'd share with you the things I do to ensure I am fully ready for my family summer holiday.

Once you've booked the holiday itself it would be easy to just sit back and think that you're sorted but there any many more things you can be doing in advance that will help you save money and ensure that your vacation goes really well.

At Least 3 Months in Advance

1.  Check your Passport and if you need a Visa
Depending on where you are travelling to will dictate whether you need a visa or not. This site is the best place to start. Also make sure you check your expiry date on your passport as travel to some countries will require you to have at least 6 months left on your passport once you re-enter the UK.

2.  Do you need any Vaccinations?
Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website, so make sure you check their about health and vaccination information relevant to the country you are visiting.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Personalised Phone and Tablet Cases from

photo phone case

Let's be honest, personalised phone cases are nothing new. They've been around for years now and there are hundreds of suppliers of them. I've never had an interest in them before as the ones I've seen have mostly been low quality hard cases or wallets and that's not what I like. I know what I want and I'm quite a hard woman to please.

Since I got my first iPhone back in 2012 its always been a soft silicon type case I like, usually plain as I like to keep it simple. I choose silicon or rubber as I love the reassurance of the big plastic bumper around my fragile glass screen and in the four iPhones I've had I've not had a broken screen yet! So for me its the right choice.

My New Phone Case
However, now I have a personalised phone case I have to admit that I didn't know what I was missing. I haven't compromised, I still have my flexible silicon cover but I also have the most divine picture of myself, my twin girls and my mum smiling at me each time I grab my phone. It is the best photo and it reminds me of a great day together.

My phone cover came from and cost £14.99, this seems a very reasonable price to me as the generic ones that I can find in the shops are either that price or more. It's also one of the better silicon covers I've owned as the material is nice and thick and fits my phone very snugly, so it can't escape. The lip (or bumper) over the glass screen is also thick and quite raised to give the best protection.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Fancy Changing your Teens Life with NCS?

teens kayaking

If I told you that your year 11 could develop leadership skills, build their confidence and make new friends this summer would you be interested?

Would you be even more interested if I said all this would cost you just £50 (maximum) and that your teen would be fully engaged in the most amazing outdoor team-building exercises, a residential for participants to learn ‘life skills’, a community-based social action project and an end of programme celebration event, all over a period of two to four weeks?

The National Citizen Service (NCS)
It sounds amazing, right? I'm sure you want to hear more about the National Citizen Service (NCS), the providers of all this fun. My JJ isn't even 15 yet but I am so pleased to have discovered NCS as I'll definitely be chatting to him about taking part once he has finished his GCSE's. He despairs of me sometimes as I'm forever on at him about being a good citizen; it is one of the most important values I aim to instil in JJ (and my girls to as they grow) as I feel it is far too easy in this day and age to be self-centered and to forget the value of community and working together for the greater good.

“Programmes like NCS are a good way to develop confidence and leadership skills to encourage a new generation of business and community leaders.” Sir Richard Branson

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Easter Happy Holiday Days

We've had a lovely couple of weeks with the kids off school but I have to be honest, I am now ready for them to go back to school. I haven't really done any work and my house is feeling neglected BUT if you asked my girls I bet they'd say they've had a wonderful time and whilst JJ hasn't done half as much with me as they have I bet he'd say he was happy too, as I let him indulge his online gaming passion with his mates these last couple of days!

Easter was spent at home relaxing and we had a great early morning service up by the cross on Easter Sunday morning. Then Monday we headed to Bridgwater and stayed over there before a stop at the beautiful Dunster Castle.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Booking a Cottage via Airbnb: The White House, Fakenham, Norfolk

the white house

Booking with Airbnb
Last summer for my birthday we took our first Airbnb break. I was a little nervous as I booked because I'd heard both good and bad stories of people's experiences. We just wanted a few days away as a family of five but because it was the Summer school holidays everything costs a bomb. Luckily we’d already had our main family holiday so I figured if it all went wrong we’d still be OK, only four hours from home.

Nothing went wrong though, I need not have feared, we had the most amazing stay at the White House, Little Snoring, Fakenham, Norfolk. The owner Ceila was efficient from my first email communication and when we met her it was clear she could not do enough to make her guests stay memorable. We stayed for three nights and it so was good to be able to choose our length of stay rather than being dictated to by a holiday park. I paid £275.35 in total for the three nights, so that's less than £100 a night for the five of us and I think that's good value for the school holidays. 

With Airbnb bookings it is worth noting that you have a price per night quoted when you search and then there will be a cost on top for cleaning he property and also the service charge, which goes to Airbnb for running the website and providing the support.

I found all the communication very good via Airbnb, you can send questions to prospective property hosts and then communicate with the host of the property you book. I got both emails and text messages from Ceila and she was happy to help with all my queries.

Each host has their own terms and conditions in regard to cancellations, so it is worth checking those out before you book and see if there are any reviews. I like to book a tried and tested property with a number of good reviews. I have seen a few properties and the only reviews are that the host cancelled the booking at short notice, of course I wouldn't dream of booking one of those. 

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Reasons to be Cheerful: Social Media, Baptism and Italian Food

Happy Thursday friends. How are you doing? Can you believe it is Easter tomorrow? This month seems to have gone by in a flash and next Thursday Reasons to be Cheerful will be back over with Becky at Lakes Single Mum for the month of April.

I've had a good week and here are just a few of the things that have been making me really cheerful in the last week -

*  I've been getting great feedback on the social media work that I'm doing for Ashburnham Place. It's so nice to be doing something that is appreciated and hopefully making a difference to the number of people who know about what we do and perhaps want to volunteer here.

*  One of our community members got baptised on Sunday evening.We had a great time of worship and prayer by the bonfire and then she braved our lake for a full-immersion baptism, it was really beautiful.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

A Beginners Guide to Giving Blood in the UK

A beginners guide to giving blood in the UK, It is safe, quick and simple and could save a life

Last week I was super happy to give blood. A pint, that's all they take. My body doesn't miss it and luckily for me I've always found it a really easy and painless process. This time I was at the donation centre for 35 minutes start to finish and that blood I gave might save someones life. It's worth it, right?

This was my 23rd donation and I'm already booked in for my 24th in September. As a woman I can give blood every 16 weeks and men are able to give every 12 weeks but of course you have to do what is convenient for you and that's why I've only given 23 times since 1998. But I refuse to beat myself up that it could have been far more because that is 23 pints of blood that have made a big difference to some people and I really love the fact nowadays that I get a text after donation to tell me where my blood has gone to, it really helps me feel connected to the process.

Surely they have enough blood already?
I bet you know someone who has received blood. Most of us do whether we realise it or not. The NHS need 6,000 blood donations every day to ensure there is enough blood to meet demands within England. This means they need 200,000 new donors every year to replenish those who can no longer donate. Over half of regular donors are over 45 years old and as such more young people need to start donating to ensure there is enough blood in the future.

There is a particular need for more people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities to give blood so there is adequate supply of certain blood types. Especially blood from black donors that can be given to black patients with sickle cell disease.

A beginners guide to giving blood in the UK, It is safe, quick and simple and could save a life

Saturday, 24 March 2018

JJ, Age 14 Reviews the Young Driver Experience at Bluewater, Kent

boy in front of young driver sign

Today we took the 90 minute drive from our home on the South-east coast up to Bluewater, the massive shopping centre in Kent. Shopping wasn't our main reason for the visit though, no today was about JJ enjoying one of his Christmas gifts. He had received a gift voucher for a 1 hour Young Driver experience and he was super keen to get behind the wheel of the car.

He's nearly 15 but hasn't tried out driving before so we had no idea how well he would take to it. On the one hand he is very intelligent and takes in information really easily but on the other this was the kid who had occupational therapy for a few years as he could hardly balance and had no spacial awareness. I need not have worried though as JJ took to it like a duck to water.

young driver lessons
Off they go to start the lesson

What are Young Driver Lessons?

If your child is between 10 and 17 years of age they can sign up for a 30 or 60 minute lesson at one of over 60 venues across the UK. Young Driver have been giving lessons since 2009, delivering over 500,000 lessons with hand-picked, DBS checked instructors. The cost is £36.95 for a 30 minute lesson or £67.95 for a 60 minute lesson. I also see that they do birthday party packages and I think the price of £66 for a 15 minute lesson for four children is excellent. Do keep your eyes peeled on money saving sites too, as I've spotted a number of special offers around.