Friday, 28 February 2014

Bodium Castle, East Sussex


A National Trust leaflet fell out of a magazine the other day and tempted me to spend just over £70 on a years membership for all the family. So given that I had just spent out we decided we better start to make good use of it and off we went to the 14th century Bodium Castle.

We had visited back in the Autumn before we were members and you can have a great walk round just for the cost of the car park (£3 for a car) and you only have to pay if you want to go in the castle.  This time armed with our temporary membership card we were access all areas and had a fabulous time looking round.

When we went it was half-term and there was archery available on site if we wished (with a charge) but we felt ti was too windy and when we went in the autumn there was craft activities for £1 per child.

This time around there wee some great living history actors in the castle and it was great to chat to them and find out what life was like and they also took a little talk which included some drama that we all got involved with and my twins were star actresses, turning the spit for a roasting hog! lol


There are some good displays in the castle if you wish to learn more and a small room with an informative video to watch. The girls had an 'eye-spy' sheet and they had to spot things around the castle and JJ had an A3 map of how the castle would have looked and he loved being our tour guide and telling us what would have happened in each room.


The boys climbed up the narrow and steep staircase and took a windy wall across the top of the front of the castle whilst the girls and I explored some more.


All the children enjoyed our time at Bodium Castle, there are plenty of fields to run around and normally there is a WW2 shelter that the kids can play in but today it was closed due to the flooding and a fallen tree. We were looking around for a good couple of hours and no-one was bored. It would be a great place to take a picnic when the weather is finer.

We finished off our afternoon in the cafe with a cream tea. The prices were fairly reasonable, I spent £14.00 on drinks and a cream scone for all 5 of us.


Check out the National Trust site for full details of costs, opening times etc.

Our day finished in a harmonious way, which is always amazing with my kids, so nice to see them having fun and getting along without any squabbles!


I'm linking this post up with Fiona over at Coombe Mill for her #CountryKids linky.
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
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Thursday, 27 February 2014

I'm grateful for making good choices


It would not be an understatement to say that my life has been plagued with unhappiness, self-loathing and shame for many years now.  Those who know me fairly well will be surprised at that, they will tell you I'm a really confident woman who is comfy in her own skin, but those who know me properly will see that it is me and my relationship with food.

Last week I went to a healing meeting for prayer and it was a fabulous hands on session as three Christians prayed for me. The things they said effected me deeply and made me do a lot of thinking and also gave me the confidence and strength to hand my food struggles over to God. For some crazy reason it is the only area of my life that I have not fully turned over to him.  I struggle all alone and that is silly I know.

Well, I am feeling immensely grateful that I am starting to make good choices and I'm being mindful of what I eat and how I spend my time. I really feel as if  a growing in this area of my life and it is long overdue.

I want to say thank you Jesus that I -
  • have stopped eating once I feel full, even if there is food still on my plate
  • have sat in McDonads while my family ate and chosen to have a coffee and then something more healthy for my tea once I am home
  • have taken smaller portions
  • have been conscious to drink more water so I don't want to snack
  • have been to the cinema and not bothered to have munchies while I was there
I find it so easy to beat myself up and to be cross that the weight does not fall off me but it is really important that I celebrate each success and know I am taking steps towards where I want to be.

I'll get there in time, for the first time in a long time I feel confident of that!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Psalm 3:5-8
I'm linking this post up with Jo at Reasons to be Cheerful, why don't you visit and see what the cheerful ganga re up to?
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Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Spring Cleaning with my Karcher Steam Cleaner SC 2.500 (Review)

A few weeks back I received the Karcher SC 2.500 steam cleaner to use and review. I've had a steam cleaner before from a competitor and whilst it was OK I found it heavy and more trouble than it was worth so I was interested to see how the Karcher lived up to the tests I had in mind for it. I've heard of the Karcher name before and my husband uses their products in his work and he said they are a good reliable brand and to be honest that is what I expect from any German brand. The Germans do seem to build things to last and work well.

Setting the cleaner up
This was really easy, I took everything out the box, which was pretty compact and whilst the instruction booklet looks huge and scary it is actually only a few pages in English and the rest is for other languages. Inside the front cover are visual instructions for set up and it took me literally 2 minutes, it was so simple. As you can see all the fittings are yellow which help you to see where they should join and they are an easy press and click system.


With the steam cleaner you receive a floor cleaning head, a smaller head for handheld tasks and a tiny precision head with grout attachment. I also received 2 cleaning pads fork the floor cleaner head and two for the handheld.

The SC 2.500 model retails for £232.09 and there are other models available for both more and less, depending on your cleaning needs.

What can it clean?
Really the list of what your steam cleaner can clean for you is limitless, I have not tried everything yet but I'm loving having something that can clean at such high temperatures that it is hygienic and can kill bacteria.

The types of areas it can clean are hard floors, hard surfaces, plants, upholstery, carpets, glass, shower screens, bathrooms, cookers and on and on.

Lino floor -
The first thing I decided to tackle was my lino floor which covers much of the downstairs of my house. I normally use a traditional mop and bucket and whilst this is fine in the main it never really seems to get the ground in dirt by the front door. As we live in the countryside we are out and about in our wellies an awful lot and as we do not have a garden attached to our house the kids scooters come into the house and thus this area gets very dirty. Here are the before and after pictures -


I didn't find the cleaner hard to use at all and as the water is contained in the floor unit (rather than in an handheld cleaner like I had before) it was light and you could pull it around with you easily. I would have liked the cord to be a bit longer than the 4 metres supplied but obviously it was easy to use an extension lead. You can see from the pad above that it sure gets some dirt up and I just put the cloth in the washing machine afterwards and it came out fine.

Window Frame -
Next up I wanted to clean a window frame that has been going mouldy through lack of ventilation. As I live in an 18th century listed building we have old lead windows that we can not change. One of them is in my galleried hall and this means that we can not actually access the window at all without an extra tall ladder. The joy of the steam cleaner is that the arm is so long I could stand on the balcony and use the cleaning arm from there, of course it is a bit hard to get the same kind of scrub from a distance of about 6 foot but it is better than nothing. Again I have some before and after pictures for you to see, look at the bottom of the frame in both pictures, there is a massive improvement and of course I can now do it each month rather than letting it build up again.


Tiles and grout -
One of the things I hate to clean are bathroom tiles and especially grout, it is so boring, therefore I was pleased to see the steam cleaner can help me with that. I haven't got any pictures to show you but take a look at my short video to see me both cleaning the window frame and and also the tiles. The next morning in the light of day I could really see that  the cleaning had made a difference and as I mention in the video it is great to know the tiles are now hygienic.



Pros -
  • Can be used on a massive range of surfaces/ areas and is easy to use
  • Great range of accessories that you can purchase to expand it uses, I wanting to get the bathroom cleaning set so I have a cloth which can be a but more abrasive too
  • Super website with loads of cleaning tips
  • Hygienic cleaning, great for peace of mind to know those high temperatures are killing harmful bacteria
Cons -
  • It is not cheap but I do believe it is an investment
  • Storage space is always an issue but this does pack up nice and streamlined
I've been using my steam cleaner each week since it arrived with me and it is fabulous. I've found out since my early cleaning attempts (those on the video) that you can use some cleaning products (natural or man-made) with the cleaner. So with the really ground in floor dirt, I can spray on some cleaner and leave it to soak for a few minutes and then use the steam on it to really clean it up - fabulous!  I'm happy to recommend this and give it a 9/10 overall, it only didn't quite get a 10 as I know the cost will be a stretch to some.

Disclosure: I was sent this Karcher steam cleaner free of charge for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

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Pinks & Greens of my Garden

It has been a while since I have joined in with Annie's great linky. Earlier this week when the rain had given way I really enjoyed getting out in the garden and seeing how things were growing. You might know I live on a big estate so before you get excited, these are not actually my gardens but the 220 acres I live in.

I did have a chat with the gardener and confirm that we would love a vegetable plot this year though, so soon enough I can start to share some photos of our very own (tended by us) garden plot, which will be cool.

This is the view from my front door, we have a massive courtyard for the kids to play in and I adore sitting on those benches and listening to the bird song when the weather is nice.


As for what is growing right now, there is an awful lot of pink and green going on here, it is truly beautiful -




I think even moss can you look pretty too...






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Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Being a couple can save you money, who knew?

It has to be said that I'm very happy to be married, of course there are always times that you fancy your own space but ultimately I do subscribe to the school of thought 'that two heads are better than one'.

 It was also good to read that being in a relationship can save you money. I suppose I've never thought about this before as my decision to marry my husband was not about money but it makes sense now. You can save on car insurance, shopping, energy bills, hotel rooms and so much more. If you need a reason to take your relationship to the next level then the thought that you will both be better off at the end of the month might just  swing it!

 How being in a relationship can save you money
Find out some more about getting cheaper electricity deals



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Sunday, 23 February 2014

Review Macdonald Frimley Hall Hotel, Surrey

Last night my husband and I were super excited to stay at the Frimley Hall Hotel in Surrey, we dropped our three children off to my Mum and Dad's, who live just 8 miles away and we checked in for a restful and romantic stay away (Valentines has come late to us!).

Let me start by saying we had a fabulous time and we would definitely stay again. Frimley Hall Hotel is easily accessible, comfortable, very beautiful and the staff in general were exemplary.  I'm happy to be able to share with you my full review of our stay -

Arrival at the hotel -
We found the hotel easily, there was lots of signage pointing us there, which is good as it is in the middle of a residential area. The first impression is really good as the hotel fascia is very beautiful, as we arrived there was a massive wedding party spilling across the front drive so we headed the wrong way into the car park and took the very last parking space, considering it was only about 3pm in the afternoon I did wonder what any later arriving guests might do.


We were greeted in reception by Amy and she was very friendly and welcoming. She explained about our stay and checked our details and confirmed our dinner reservation. We were offered help with our luggage and wished a pleasant stay. As we only had an overnight bag we saw ourselves to our room heading up the grand wooden staircase.



The bedrooms -
We were super excited to see that we had been upgraded to a suite and this means we had one of the rooms in the original part of the house. The room literally took my breath away, it was stunning with an enormous mullioned window that had views out to the front over the lawns. I can honestly say that every part of the room was comfortable - the sofa, the 6ft bed, the enormous bath and the double shower. We were very spoilt.

In the room was an iron and board, tea and coffee making facilities, complimentary water, paper and pen, hairdryer, flat screen TV and air conditioning. Of course in the bathroom there was also complimentary premium toiletries from Arran Aromatics.


As we were at the front of the hotel there was a little noise from the wedding party going out on the terrace area in the evening but not enough that we were unhappy.

I asked to see one of their classic (standard) rooms, as we had been upgraded I wanted to be sure that if I recommended this hotel that the regular offering was good too and I was very pleased. The standard rooms in this Macdonald hotel are far better than many of the chain hotel rooms I have seen in my time (and that's quite a few as I used to be a hotel manager). Obviously there is a lot less space than in the suite but the quality of the décor, beds and extras being offered was exactly the same, take a look -


Vital Spa -
I was invited to have a massage whilst I stayed at the hotel so I headed over to the Vital health and wellbeing centre. I had a really relaxing swim in the 17 metre pool and whilst there were a few children there (it was half-term after all) I was pleased to swim in the roped off lane. I also made use of the steam room and relaxed on one of the poolside recliners for a while before my treatment.

Towels and robes are provided for your use and there is no charge for the locker. I didn't try out the spilt-level Techno gym but it looked well equipped. The treatment area is very tranquil and my masseuse was pleasant and professional. I then took advantage of having a herbal tea in the low-lit relaxation room afterwards and fully took advantage of the chill-out time. My massage would normally cost £65 for one hour and I think this price is comparable to others I have had before.

Image Credit - Frimley Hall Hotel
Linden Restaurant - 
As part of our package we had been booked in for evening meal and breakfast as an inclusive rate. This meant we could eat from the set three course menu in the AA 2 rosette awarded Linden restaurant. The restaurant is very nice and well presented, you get real silver cutlery, quality linen napkins and extremely attentive service. I think I honestly have to say this is the best service I have received in a restaurant for a very long time. The F&B Manager, Gareth was exceptional - very friendly, efficient and not at a stuffy.

The three course menu is normally £32.50 per head, or I see it is £25 if you book at the time of making your room booking. This is more than we would normally pay but you do get to try out some menu items that might be new to you and are very good quality. Probably my favourite part of the meal was the corn fed chicken on a bed of vanilla risotto with vegetable ribbons and a sweet chilli sauce. My husband adored his fig roly poly with szechuan custard and bramble jelly. We had a very nice bottle of Merlot and this cost us £25.00 for the bottle, which was one of the cheaper bottles of wine.


As well as being aware of our own meal I also watched the service in the restaurant in general and I can confirm that every customer had the same kind of attentive service that we did, there really is an air of professionalism and pride in this restaurant.

The next morning we headed down for breakfast about 9.45am and we expected the restaurant to be heaving with all the wedding guests that had stayed over. I was very pleased to see they had set up a dining room in their function suite and they were all eating together there so we enjoyed a tranquil breakfast with the most amazing buffet. The buffet contained every item you could possibly want from a continental breakfast - cereals, nuts, croissants, fresh fruit, fruit compotes, dried fruit, yoghurt, danish pastries, doughnuts, muffins, bread, juices, cheese, vegetables and sliced meats.

As well as helping yourself to as much of the buffet as you fancy you could also order porridge and cooked breakfast and they were happy to offer seconds or bigger portions of the cooked items if you so wish too. The buffet costs £10.00 per person or it is £13.50 to have the hot meal included as well. I can not recommend breakfast here highly enough.


Gold room lounge -
After dinner my husband and I decided to sit  in the lounge by the roaring fire and enjoy a liqueur, it was a great end to a fabulous evening. The sofas and chairs were big and comfy and it was not too busy at all. I did find the service in the Sandhurst bar a bit brash, the Assistant Bar Manager seemed quiet flustered about the wedding and had to keep running off to get things but once we had our drinks we were happy. It seemed odd that he would not let me charge the drinks to my room yet the restaurant had just got me to sign for dinner. I had to go to reception to give a credit card swipe, which was fine but I would have preferred to have been asked for that at check-in.


As you can tell we had a lovely break at the Frimley Hall Hotel and I'll be very happy to visit a Macdonald hotel again in the future.

Thanks so much to Macdonald hotels for allowing us to undertake this impartial review and big thanks to my fabulous parents for having our vivacious kids for the night!

Disclosure: I was provided with one nights DBB for my husband and myself. I also received a complimentary massage for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.
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Saturday, 22 February 2014

A year in photos - week 8

I'm back again with my weekly photo post and the sun has been shining this week, which has made taking photos so much easier. I have over 500 taken in the last week so I was spoilt for choice of what to use, it is half-term after all.  In the interest of not boring you too much, here are a few that I liked -

Taken on my Lumix G5 on manual and then cropped a little and no editing

Taken on my Lumix G5 on manual but using Dynamic Monochrome setting


Taken on my Lumix G5 on manual and nothing done

Taken on my Lumix G5 on manual and then played about with in Pic Monkey, I used the Urban filter

Taken on my Lumix G5 on manual and nothing done to it

I really feel like I am improving and that is very exciting. I have even found myself becoming a bit of a photo snob and wondering why on earth some people use some of the pictures they do. Oh Lord help me before I get too big for my boots! lol

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky
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Thursday, 20 February 2014

The joy is in the ordnary......

This last weekend saw the sun shine and the rain stay away.  Our family literally whooped for joy and Sunday morning we headed to the beach and postponed our church time until that evening.

What a fabulous day we had, just doing the ordinary stuff.....

Skimming stones on the sea..... or taking photos in my case!

 Scooting along the prom....
Playing together in the local park...
 Collecting stones on the beach on the way back to the car...

Working hard with Nanny to paint all those stones....
 A beautiful collection mummy has now got, what shall I do with them?

I'm linking this post up with Reasons to be Cheerful as I'm so grateful we are living by the beach and able to visit it so easily and also to Country Kids, as at last we got outside and had some fun again!

Ojos World

Click on the badges to head over and see what others have got up to......

 Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
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