Friday, 23 June 2017

Hastings Country Park - Fabulous, Fun, Fresh Air! #CountryKids


We've lived in East Sussex for four years now and we are only about ten miles from Hastings and we are there at least once a week so it was a real surprise to me to find that Hastings has a country park situated up on the cliffs.

What a great find it is and there is enough to keep every keen walker or explorer busy. The country park forms part of the Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve along with Hastings Cliffs Special Area of Conservation, Hastings Cliffs to Pett Beach Site of Special Scientific Interest and is 345 hectares (853 acres) of coastal gill woodlands, open pasture and cliff top grassland, together with five kilometres of dramatic soft rock cliffs and coastline.


Some of the most stunning views of the south east coast can be experienced from the cliff tops but sadly not on the day we visited as there was to much sunny haze! On a clear day there is spectacular views overlooking the coastline from Beachy Head to Dungeness and as far afield as Folkestone and the coast of France.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Scottish Friendly's Money Saving Diary Challenge


It was with good timing that Scottish friendly got in touch with me and asked me to join in with their Money Saving Diary Challenge. Whilst I am so much better at being thrifty nowadays I know that there is still some money being wasted and I could do a better job.

So with this in mind, I kept a record of my spending habits for a week, so see where I could cut back or where I was already saving some money.  Here is how I got on -

Monday 
We have just returned from our holiday and Hubby is still on a days leave so we decide to have lunch out amongst the washing and catching up on work.  The plan is to eat at the local college restaurant where you can get a really lovely 3 course meal for £9.99 and then use your Taste card too to get 2 for 1! It normally means we end up spending around £16 for us both for 3 courses and a soft drink.

However when I called the College restaurant they were closed and we headed off to a local fabulous burger joint and ended up spending £25.48 for our meal and thus I totally failed on this first opportunity to save money. I have a Taste card and local TownCity Card so I really should have used one of those and for a 2 for 1 meal - oh well, next time! Overspent by £9.48

On the way home we do go into Lidl though as I want to get the kids some yogurts and again I am reminded just how good their pricing is. I spend £19.79 and this is comparison to buying the same goods at Sainsburys is a saving of around £7, so I really must shop there more often. Saved £7

Sunday, 18 June 2017

The Facilities and Services at Playa Montroig Camping Resort


This is the second part of a review of our recent holiday to Spain to stay at the Playa Montroig Camping Resort with Eurocamp. You can find post one here and that is all about our stay with Eurocamp and their fabulous accommodation and attentive service. This post is about the facilities at the Playa Montroig Camping Resort.

We arrived at the parc at about 1pm and received a friendly greeting from the Playa Montroig staff. They informed us about logging onto the wifi, gave us some information sheets about opening times and events taking place whilst we stayed and then sent us off to the Eurocamp reception. I was pleased to see there was a security guard at the gate and entry and exit barriers to monitor who was on the parc. If we had had a car with us we had a sticky permit to display for the duration of our holiday and we also had an identity card to prove we were staying there.



Friday, 16 June 2017

National Trust - Knole, Kent - Conservation in Action


Enjoying the Deer
Last month we took a minibus full of friends over to Kent to visit Knole. We headed over there as it is only £4 to park in the grounds and this gives you access to the 1000 acre medieval deer park. We knew that our children and all the young international friends we had taken would love the deer, so we packed up a picnic and took a drive.


Of course the deer didn't disappoint, there seem to be hundreds of them across the grounds and they are so friendly. There really isn't any struggle locating them because as soon as you park they are waiting right next door, probably hoping to snaffle a little of your picnic! But please remember not to feed them as the deer keepers ensure they have a good diet and also use your common sense when around them as they are wild animals, even though they appear tame. Autumn is the time to be really careful as it is rutting season and the males can be very hyped up.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Reasons to be Cheerful - Parents Evening, Tina and All Paid Up!


Evening all, It's getting late and I totally meant to write this post last night but you know what it is like, sometimes time just runs away.

I was tempted not to bother with this post but Becky had emailed me earlier to say she has a bit of an emergency and won't be hosting R2BC this week and seeing as I am sat here n a fug, feeling very grumpy, of course what I need to do is focus on the positives.

So here are my positives -

1.  We just had an amazing family holiday in Spain and I had a wonderful time and not only that but as soon as school is out in about 5 weeks I'll be off to Bournemouth with my parents and the kids for another holiday. I'm a lucky girl.

2.  I went to JJ's parents evening tonight following his report we received last week and there were no surprises there. He is a super bright boy, with a great future ahead. He just needs to stop rushing, put a bit more effort into homework and work on his empathy/ kindness. I need to set him some challenges over the summer months to help with this, do shout if you have any ideas!

3.  I'm off to the food bank tomorrow to volunteer and I always enjoy helping there. I am thankful that I am not in the position to need the help and grateful that I can do a small bit to make someones day just a bit brighter.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Staying at Playa Montroig Camping Resort with Eurocamp



You might have seen me excitedly sharing that we were off to the Playa Montroig Camping Resort on the Costa Dorada, Spain with Eurocamp and now we are back it is my pleasure to share with you how our holiday went. 

This is the first part of two posts about our holiday away, I've split it into a post about the Eurocamp accommodation and one about the Playa Montroig Camping Resort facilities and services.

Rather than leave you in suspense as to whether we liked staying with Eurocamp, I'll give you the headline quotes from my kids first and then get into the full review -
Miss M "where are we going next year with Eurocamp Mum? I love it! Can we try a new camp with even more pools?" 

Miss E "I've had so much fun Mummy, I don't want to go home but I'm so tired as I've had so many late nights!" 

JJ "I've really enjoyed chilling on the deck of our mobile home in the shade with my iPad. Oh and the pool is pretty cool too but does it have to be so hot in Spain?"

A bit about us
We are a family of 5, two forty something adults, a 13 year old (tech-mad) boy and near 10 year old twin girls. This is the first time we have ever taken a European campsite holiday. For the first 11 years of life with children we always holidayed in the U.K. and stayed at places like Butlins and Haven or hired a house in a seaside town. Then last year we took our first abroad holiday staying in a hotel and the kids loved the outdoor pools in the sunshine so much we wanted to do it again but we had found being in a hotel on a half board basis a bit restrictive and we wanted the freedom of self catering, hence trying out Eurocamp.



Sunday, 11 June 2017

Bringing Families Together at Prezzo with #PrezzoLaFamiglia



It's no word of a lie when I tell you that Prezzo is our favourite of all the Italian restaurant chains. They always offer an amazing spaghetti carbonara for us girls, mini Nutella and banana calzone for the kids, crisp and tasty pizza for my boys and Coke in a frosted glass for me, what more can I ask for?

Well to be honest another reason we go there so often is because there is always a great deal to be had. Sign up for their mailing list and you'll regularly get sent deals like 40% off main courses and kids eat for £1. Oh and you can also convert your Tesco vouchers into deals to be used there too, so about once a quarter we get a free meal (just having to pay for our drinks).


Last week we headed over to our local Prezzo in Hailsham, East Sussex and we have eaten here dozens of times before and I cannot ever recall even one bad dining experience. I'd booked a table via their website, which is nice and easy and it is reassuring that you get an email confirmation and even a reminder email the day before. There are over 250 UK based Prezzo restaurants, so there is bound to be one near you, check here for locations.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Seeing my Feisty Girl through your Eyes #R2BC


Dear Sarah,

I want to thank you, sincerely. You had me worried for half a minute but then I realised you wouldn't do anything crazy and it was just great to really be able to see my Miss M through your eyes.

I've always said to anyone who'll listen that Miss M might not be easy to parent but she'll be the one to do something world-changing when she is older as no isn't a word she's scared of. But I think, to be honest when you have a feisty child it can wear you down and it is good to have a reminder of just how special they are.

It was obvious to all from the moment you met Miss M on our holiday that you fell in love with her, not in a bad way but you were just swept off your feet by her larger than life personality and outward confidence. You kept telling me she reminded you of you as a kid and it's funny if you ask my parents, they'll tell you she is a little clone of me when I was a child. I know you found that hard to believe as I'm quite reserved now and won't get up to dance on a whim but people change and mature.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

8 Unusual Gifts for Fathers Day and Beautiful Hallmark Cards


If your Dad is anything like mine then he is mega difficult to buy for. My Dad is the most wonderful man but there is never anything he wants and I'm sure for some people he would be a dream come true as he just tells me 'no need to buy me anything Shelly' but I love to give gifts.

The only things I know my Dad likes are a bar of Cadbury chocolate, some nuts, theatre tickets or a meal out and I've bought all these things a hundred times. Add to that socks, personalised frames, photo books, mugs, slippers and the like and that is him done for birthdays, Christmas and Fathers Day.

But I like Fathers Day to be special, it is the time when I say thank-you for always being there for the last 43 years. Thanks for coming out in the middle of the night to pick me up, thanks for bailing me out with my debt when I was at Uni, thanks for decorating my house when I was pregnant and thanks for having my kids when I need time with my hubby so the least I can do is get him a loving card and fill it with heartfelt words.

Then talking of my hubby, there is another difficult one to buy for. Like me with my dad, my kids also adore their dad and he is a really ace father - taking them away or spending one on one time, playing monopoly when they are sad and taking them to Cubs. The things he does for them are numerous and they want to say thanks too.

Of course the classic way to say thank you is with a card and Hallmark have a lovely selection at Tesco. They will be available right up to the day but try and be a bit more prepared and you'll have a wider selection to choose from. Take a peek at the ones my girls have chosen. Miss M opted for the 'from your princess' card (£2) which is very apt and Miss E's is really classy and had a tri-fold to it, spelling out Dad (£3). I'm loving the Hallmark range at Tesco as there is great variety and you can see the cards are quality with beautiful coloured or patterned envelopes to match.


Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Review: Looking4Parking Stansted Official Meet & Greet


We've just returned from a week away in Spain at the Playa Montroig Camping Resort. We were lucky enough to stay there as guests of Eurocamp and this meant we needed to sort out all our own transport and transfers. In the past my husband and I have always travelled as part of a package holiday, so this was a first for us. Also last year on our first family holiday abroad we travelled from Gatwick as it is is the closest airport to where we live and there is a train straight straight from our local town where we could leave our car.

This year the best priced and timed flights I found were from Stansted and I wasn't really sure what to expect as the last time I flew from there was around a decade ago and that was only to Ireland. It sure has changed and for the better!

After a heart-attack moment where I got an email from Jet2 to say they had cancelled our flights but would happily swap us to another date (which in the end resulted in us travelling on a better day and saving around £1000 in air fares) I started to search for airport parking at Stansted.

I came across Looking4Parking.com and they were giving me some really good prices, so I got in touch with their PR to see if they would like me to review their service and luckily for me they said yes as I needed to save every penny I could going away in the expensive school half-term.

Searching and Making your Booking
The search page was very easy to use and I love the fact that you can be really flexible in the amount of days you want and the drop off and collect times. We weren't flying until the Sunday morning but rather than worry about sorting the car before an early flight with the kids we dropped the car off Saturday evening and then used the hotel shuttle bus to get to and fro.


Once you have put your requirements into the search system you'll be given a whole host of parking options to choose from and of course the price varies with the service you receive. The official Stansted airport car parks tend to be more expensive than those operated by private companies and for me I think I'd always go with an approved one but from what I could see they all seem to have pretty good reviews.  I'd say do your research and see what it says on sites like a Trust Pilot and Trip Advisor and usefully the Reevoo scores are even shown on the Looking4Parking page with all the results.

I found the price was definitely better when booked with more notice, so I'd say get your booking in as soon as you know that you have a confirmed flight. We were offered the Stansted Airport Meet and Greet service to try out and I have to be honest I was a little nervous about this as it is not something I'd tried before.

The cost for parking for 8 nights was £61 and this was booking it six weeks in advance via Looking4Parking.com. Once my booking was made I received an email confirmation from Looking4Parking and this contained everything I needed to know and was nice and clear on what I needed to do when I got to the airport. 

The cheapest option that came up was the airport long stay car park at £49.99 and I think for the sake of £11 I'd definitely go for the Meet & Greet in the future as it is 2 mins walk from the check in desk. You literally could not get any closer.

I checked about a week before flying and the price had risen to £83 although there was a £72 option with no transfers/changes allowed.

Dropping the car off
Following the instructions on my confirmation email I drove towards the airport terminal and quickly saw the signs for Meet & Greet parking. I pulled into one of the lanes and automatically the buzzer started to sound as if I had called for assistance. Within a minute or so a lady greeted us and asked how she could help. I said I had a reservation and she took my surname and told me to proceed through when the barrier opened and one of the staff would direct me.

We drove through and could easily see Vusani on the other side. He was super welcoming as he greeted us, telling us to park in lane 2 close to the car in the front and then to head into the reception and drop our keys off and gain instructions about our car collection. As I thanked him and we finished our conversation he wished us Hakuna Matata, which means no worries! Once parked we headed over to Vusani to say hello and thanks for such a great welcome.


We then went into the reception area and were acknowledged straight away by Lamisi. He asked for our surname and located our papers which were ready on the side. He then checked all the details were correct and took our keys.

He gave us a card for picking up the car and it had a mobile number on it. He explained that if we were more than 1/2 hour either way of the specified collection time for us to please send a text. This way if we return early they can get the car out ready so we don't have to wait at all or if we are returning late so they know to store it. I asked what happened if our flight was delayed and we were really late, did we have to pay extra and he smiled and said of course not, which was great to hear.

We then thanked him for his service and said he'd been really friendly and helpful and I think we made his day as it was first day at work. I predict he'll go far!

In all we took about 15 minutes to drop the car, the keys and gain pick up instructions. It would be quicker if we didn't stop to chat and if we were repeat customers as we would have known what to do. Even my kids were bowled over with how easy and seamless it was.

Collecting Your Car
Once we had settled on the plane ready to depart from Spain our Captain advised us there was a backlog of planes waiting to take off and we would be at least half an hour late. I took this opportunity to text the number I had been given to advise them my plane would now probably land at about 3pm rather than 2.15pm. I didn't get a reply but it felt good knowing I was keeping our parking provider up to date.

Once we were back in Stansted and through baggage reclaim and customs it was close to 4pm when we arrived at the Meet & Greet office and as before the staff were all friendly and efficient. I was asked if I had a good holiday and given my keys back in exchange for the parking card receipt. I was told which zone and lane my car was in and off I went. I was in and out of the office in around 2 minutes and it only took another minute or so to walk over to the car. We were able to put our bags in and head straight off and it was so simple.

In Conclusion
Looking4Parking provided us with a great price for our parking requirement at Stansted and I'll certainly be using them again in the future. Their booking system was very easy and the actual parking facility fabulous.

We needn't have been nervous at all about using a Meet and Greet service and leaving our keys with them as we found the service superb. It was quick and efficient and there were so many staff about that I didn't see anything that made me nervous security wise.

Thanks so much Looking4Parking, I'll happily book with you again. 



Disclosure: I was provided with free parking for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest. 

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Monday, 5 June 2017

Women's Plus Size Fashion made Easy with JD Williams


I hadn't heard of JD Williams until they got in touch with me and then all of a sudden I'm seeing their adverts everywhere and I have to admit that I am so glad I now know about them. As a larger lady I don't always find it easy to buy clothes that look good and suit me. I go into shops like New Look that do a plus size range but they are all trendy cut-away styles that would suit someone in their early twenties and then I look in M&S and I might see a few things I like but I can never find the larger sizes.

A Massive Range
Well now my problem is solved as JD Williams have the biggest range of clothes that I think I've ever seen and all available in my size. Their range is available from U.K. Size 12 to 32 and they are constantly making changes to ensure there is always the latest styles and something to suit everyone. As well as ladies fashions there is also fashion for men (again catering for the larger sizes), kids, homes and electrical goods.

When I first had a look round the JD Williams website I was a little overwhelmed with the choice but once you use the search filters to make sure you only see the items that fit your criteria you are left with a good selection of items that you could purchase. I was really pleased to see there is a whole range of price points too, some of the items are a complete bargain and it is definitely worth looking at their Outlet area on the site as there are dresses from £6, tops with up to 60% off and boots with up to 70% off, there is certainly something to be said for buying your boots off season!

Saturday, 27 May 2017

6 Top Tips for a Great #TeenTalk #Ad

Mother and Daughter image from Shutterstock

I know some people cringe at the thought of the conversations they need to have with their children as they grow up but I've actually found that having a very honest and open relationship with my children is the making of it. Unlike the 68% of parents (1) who find it hard to broach the subject of puberty I just dove right in and had a really successful chat with my near 10 year old twin girls a few months back.

I don't recall many conversations with my own Mum about growing up; how my body would change, getting periods, having the ability to do anything I put my mind to, choosing to say no, about becoming sexually active, about being responsible with money and all those sorts of things. This seems strange when I think back as I have a really great relationship with my Mum but thinking about it now I don't think she had anyone to do it with her and she wasn't the sort to read parenting manuals etc.

On the other hand, I love to read and to find out information and thankfully I like to talk as well, so I thought it would be useful to share six of my top tips for having those 'can-be' awkward #teentalks.

1.  Talk to your child shoulder to shoulder rather than face to face
I learnt this trick with JJ when he was younger, he would always open up when we were driving in the car. So I used this to my advantage and had some of the more tricky conversations whilst we were driving along.

The first one I can recall was picking him up from Scouts about three years ago (so he'd have been around 11) and there was a bumper sticker on a car that said something about pornography and he was laughing at it. I then asked him if he knew what it was and he mumbled 'not really', so I told him, in language that was appropriate to his age and he was really shocked but this then led on to a conversation about how his body will change and his mind and that one day he will start to find girls attractive. It was all going well and about 15 minutes in he said 'Mum, can we talk about something else now?' and that leads me into my second point

Friday, 26 May 2017

Three Ways to Reclaim Space in Your Home (Permanently)

Fashionable Living Room Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a sure-fire method of making sure the house was always tidy and there was plenty of space for everything? Sadly, there aren’t any sure-fire methods, but there are a few tricks that can vastly help busy people reclaim more space, and make it stick. Here are three of them:

#1 - Don’t Keep Things at Home that You Don’t Use

This doesn’t mean throwing everything away as soon as it falls out of use, because we all have stuff we want to hang onto but that we don’t use every day - or even every year.

Instead of getting rid of possessions, an inexpensive way to keep hold of them without having them take up space at home is to put them into self storage. It doesn’t matter whether you have a vast collection of items, or just a few precious objects, as self storage facilities have a good range of room sizes, even lockers.

The terms are short (you can rent a room from a week upwards), the security is high, and the locations are convenient for most town dwellers. Parking is good, even for large vehicles or lorries, and there are trolleys to help move bulky or heavy items.

One excellent idea is to use self storage on a seasonal basis so you’re not, for instance, tripping over lawn mowers and garden furniture through the winter, or fighting for closet space for summer clothes because all the room is taken up with winter boots and coats. Twice a year, you swap things round and only keep at home those items you know you want for the next few months. But because locations are handy, it’s a quick job to pop back if you want to retrieve anything.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

UK Recipe - Fabulous Fun 2 Minute Make Kids Silly Putty/ Slime


Over the last couple of weeks I have been testing out loads of slime recipes and trying to find one that works every time with UK ingredients. I have at last been successful and here is the recipe -

Ingredients - 
  • PVA glue (clear is best but white works fine) 
  • Bicarbonate of soda
  • Food colouring (or you can use paint)
  • Contact lens solution (must have boric acid as an ingredient)
  • Optional - baby oil, to stop the slime being sticky
  • Optional - shaving foam to make fluffy slime




Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Girls have gone Smiggle Mad!

If you have tween girls you must by now have heard of Smiggle. It is the Australian born stationary and gadget brand that is taking the UK by storm. It has only been in the UK since 2014 and already there are nearly 100 stores.

Go back a year ago and my girls had to wait until we went to a big town like London or Brighton to get their Smiggle fix but now even our local town, Eastbourne has one!

Smiggle isn't just aimed at girls though, it seems to be a hit with everyone. They have all sorts of colours, styles and images to suit girls and boys of all ages.

As a family we are loving Smiggle and here are 5 reasons why -

1. The styling of the products is super colourful and funky.
Just look at some of the latest products from the 'Smiggle Says' emoji range that my girls were recently sent to try out and enjoy. They seem to have received quite a blue selection and were totally thrilled with them but you can see from the picture below that there are lots of different colourways within this new range.

From top to bottom: Smiggle Says Double Hardtop Pencil Case £15.50, pack of erasers £4.50
and Scented Yay Pop-Our Pencil Case £15.50

Sunday, 21 May 2017

16,800 Average Steps a Day - Go Mich! #SlimmingSunday

A post shared by Michelle Pannell (@michelletwinmum) on

Morning friends, welcome to this weeks link-up for #SlimmingSunday.

I'm afraid it is a short and sweet one for me this week as time has just run away with me. My parents have come to stay for a week, which has been great but they have kept me so busy that I haven't had any time to devote to my blog.  I suppose you could say that is a good thing, I've just been out there enjoying life and not closeted away indoors. This post has literally been written in 10 snatched minutes between the recycling and the summer fete.

Exercise wise I'd say it has been a good week as I worked hard at my Monday night Fit Club and then I have really upped my steps again, finishing on just over 84,000 steps for Monday - Friday, so that's an average of 16,800 steps a day. I had said I would do two early morning DVD workouts but that didn't happen. I suppose because I hadn't thought about my parents being here and not actually having any free time.

I did teat myself to some new exercise gear this week though as I saw my jogging bottoms were getting some holes, I then realised they are 20 years old - that will be why! I'm hoping to put these though their paces Monday night but I'll have to see as I hurt my knee yesterday. I stepped down some stairs and felt the crushing pain as if too much impact had gone through my knee. It is no fun having arthritic knees at age 43.

I weighed in at Fit Club last Monday and as I mentioned a few weeks ago I have decided to do it blind for a while, so I have no idea what the scales said and truthfully I don't expect they said anything too different to the week before. I haven't been consciously dieting but I have been being mindful of my foot, trying not to just eat for the sake of it and I've been good with my water intake too.

Next weekend I head off to Spain on holiday and that means it will be Emma (Mrs Shilts) hosting #SlimmingSunday alone for Sunday 28th May and 4th June as I won't be here, so you'll need to make sure you link up over there.  I am enjoying keeping up with your journeys though so once I am back and the washing is done I'll be over to visit to see how you are getting on.

From Monday 5th June I am treating it as if I am back at Slimming World and following that diet plan to give myself a good kick up the bum and to get some weight loss going. I was going to say ready for the summer but actually it is just because it needs to happen.

Wishing you a fabulous week, Mich x

How to Join in

Slimming Sunday is a weekly linky hosted by Mich at Mummy from the Heart and Emma at Life According to Mrs Shilts. The posts go live at 7am every Sunday morning and you are most welcome to join in with any slimming/ weight loss/ exercise/ healthy recipe type post. Join as little or as often as you like. No pressure!

1)  Write or link up an existing post about diet/ slimming/ healthy eating/ exercise or anything related to these topics.

By linking up you'll receive a weekly email reminder about Slimming Sunday, of course there will be an unsubscribe button on every email so you can opt out any time but lots of people have been asking me for a reminder.

2)  Grab the badge or add a text link to either Emma or I (or both if you are feeling super generous)

3)  Go share the love. Please comment on both Emma and my posts and also at least one other but it would be great if you feel you could comment on a few more. I'm sure you'll feel the love back if you do.

Emma and I will come and visit you too and tweet out your links. Feel free to tag us with #SlimmingSunday, @michelletwinmum and @mrsshilts and we'll give you an RT.

I can't wait to read your post. Have a fabulous week, Mich x

Slimming Sunday at Mummy from the Heart

Subscribe to #SlimmingSunday

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Friday, 19 May 2017

Arlington Bluebell Walk, A Superb Afternoon Out


We have a mass of bluebells where we live and it would be so easy to go for a walk in the woods and capture some amazing pictures, we do have 220 acres at our disposal after all! However it isn't half as much fun to visit something beautiful in a setting that you know like the back of your hand, so we decided to travel about 30 minutes from our home and visit the Arlington Bluebell Walk.

The Arlington Bluebell Walks were established in 1972 and are open for a limited season each year, to tie in with the bluebells of course! This year the walks have been open from 8th April to the 14th May and most years have a similar time period with the opening hours of 10am - 5pm each day.


Thursday, 18 May 2017

There's Good in Every Day - #R2BC

Good morning friends. I hope you are well.

This week I am going to share #1GoodThing in every day of the last week. During Advent I did this purposefully on Instagram and it is fab for helping you to see that every day has joy in it somewhere. Now I am posting more sporadically but I'm super pleased to see lots of people have kept on using the hashtag on Instagram and there are now a whole ton of positive and gorgeous pictures under the hashtag of #1GoodThing.

Here are mine from the last week -

Thursday - I had dinner out at a local pub with my lovely friend Izzy and it was so good to be able to talk uninterrupted without the kids. We talked about everything and anything and she is a real tonic to me, helping me to see things more clearly. 

Friday - Lunch with my hubby. Whilst the kids were at school he took a couple of hours off work and we headed to a local Italian that does a really good 2 course lunch menu. The food was exquisite and we didn't stop chatting the whole time and really deep and meaningful chatting. 


Saturday - We took our Pastoral Group over to visit Knole, a National Trust site with a 1000 acre deer park. The weather wasn't brilliant but it was good enough to have a picnic outside and we looked round the house and had a wonder, feeding the deer. It was a great day out. 

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Why I’m Starting to Prepare my Daughters for the 2018 Year 6 SAT Tests Now

Image Source: Mum in the Mad House

My twin 9 year old daughters will sit their SAT tests next May and I felt it was important to start the preparation now.

Why?

Well, I want them both to do well of course. It is important to me that they are fulfilled; attaining everything in life that they seek to achieve and that they do the best they can.

Does this mean I am employing a tutor to help them along? Or maybe sending them to weekend prep classes as I’ve heard a few schools run or maybe I’ll just be getting their (very clever) big brother to coach them into how to become a set one student?

No, my preparation doesn’t take any of those forms. The preparation I am doing is gentle and low-key. One of them asked me the other night if you can have a reader to help you do a SAT test if you have dyslexia, I told her I didn’t know but that we would find out if it would make her feel better.

I then got both my girls together and asked them what they knew about SAT testing and they told me how they had done some tests in year 2 and one of them had achieved the national standard and the other hadn’t.  The one that hadn’t spoke of having been upset at the time, as she felt stupid. I asked them how these tests they took three years ago have effected their lives. Was the one who had met national standard doing any better than the other? Was she happier than the other? Was she more fulfilled? Had she achieved more?

I loved watching the light bulb switch on when they both realised that the year 2 SAT tests had been really inconsequential in their lives. Nothing had changed as an outcome of them. We then talked about the year 6 SAT tests being much the same. Whatever result they get will be OK. Their test results do not define who they are or what they will achieve.  They will just be used along with the CAT tests they will take in the summer of 2018 to help their secondary school know which set to put them in and isn’t it better that they are in the right level for their academic ability?

One of them then asked me why they had seen year 6 students crying and getting stressed and why they had to be quiet around the school hall for the SAT week if it wasn’t important? I made sure they understood that to the school the tests are quite important, they are a measure of their teaching. Both girls then said how wonderful their school is and that they have fabulous teachers and I advised yes, they do and that is why they will do wonderfully in their SAT tests and how important it is not to worry.

So this year’s preparation will be about open conversations, reassurances that they are both accepted and doing well whatever the outcome of the tests are and that it will always be far more important to me that they are kind and loving above anything else. Over Easter one of the girls took it on herself to raise money for two charities and the other (I’m sure) was sent to sooth my soul when I'm having a tough time. Those things make me far prouder of my girls than their ability to pass a test with top marks.

My girls have all the wonderful life skills in them that they need to do well and whether their SAT scores say they have met the national standard or not does not matter to me.

You'll notice at the top of the page I share a screen print of a FB post from Jen at Mum in the Mad House. One of her sons took his SATs this year and she has made sure he understands that he is judged on the way he treats others and not defined by a test he takes at the age of 10.

I'm completely with Jen and I'll be reinforcing this message to my girls this year as well.

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Sunday, 14 May 2017

Facing My Fears - #SlimmingSunday


Morning friends, How are you doing on this fine Sunday?

I'm doing well, it has been a good week. Again I couldn't tell you I have been massively focused on my food, so it hasn't been a dieting week as such but overall it has been a really good week and I am pleased with my progress.

I've shared a little about how my eating and food issues are tied up with so many other things and one of the things that keeps me fat is fear. I have a fear of being hungry, a fear of losing weight and having loads of saggy skin, a fear of being too confident in myself and a fear of facing some things that have gone on in my past that have led to me wearing this fat suit as protection. I don't expect you to understand but it has been my reality.

This week I have done a session from the marriage course with my husband and we had a really deep and open conversation, been out with a friend where we also shared deeply and then had lunch out with my husband and continued the conversation. All this honesty and talking has been good and as my husband said, 'you can't not lose weight just because you are fearful Michelle'.

I realised I have been living under a sprint of fear and that I don't want it to continue as God wants me to be free and not fearful. So I took a symbolic step and I drove down a one-car wide country lane. I've lived in the countryside for four years now and I never drive down them as I get scared but I approached the lane and knew I had to drive through it and show myself there is no need to fear any longer.

I also went to my Fit Club on Monday night and I loved it. It really tested me and boy did I ache for a couple of days after but I am even looking forward to my session again tomorrow. Then I also need to start exercising more often, once a week is a start but it is not enough. I've been great at upping my steps and moving more but again it is not enough as it doesn't raise my heart rate.

So this week I am going to get back to a habit I had some years back. I woke early and came downstairs and did about 20 or 30 minutes of a fabulous workout series I have, called Walk at Home by Leslie Sansone. I just love them as they are walk aerobics and can be as low or high impact as you like but they are simple and get your heart pumping.

Last weeks Targets -
I did OK. I got my sleep, which is important. I don't think I had as much water as 2 litres each day and I forgot to write a full meal plan! No wonder I didn't achieve that one, if I didn't do the meal plan. I'm not writing a meal plan this week as my parents are visiting and that will mean lots of unpredictability and meals out.

I think I hit my step target except one day and I say think as I had let my Fitbit run out of charge without realising and missed a day and a half of steps logging. It's amazing how much this annoyed me as my track record now doesn't look so good!

Targets this week -
  • 7 hours sleep every night
  • 2 litres of water per day
  • No chocolate all week
  • 2 sessions of working out to my DVD as well as Fit Club
I'm looking forward to another good week ahead and I hope you are too. Wishing you all the best, Mich x

How to Join in

Slimming Sunday is a weekly linky hosted by Mich at Mummy from the Heart and Emma at Life According to Mrs Shilts. The posts go live at 7am every Sunday morning and you are most welcome to join in with any slimming/ weight loss/ exercise/ healthy recipe type post. Join as little or as often as you like. No pressure!

1)  Write or link up an existing post about diet/ slimming/ healthy eating/ exercise or anything related to these topics.

By linking up you'll receive a weekly email reminder about Slimming Sunday, of course there will be an unsubscribe button on every email so you can opt out any time but lots of people have been asking me for a reminder.

2)  Grab the badge or add a text link to either Emma or I (or both if you are feeling super generous)

3)  Go share the love. Please comment on both Emma and my posts and also at least one other but it would be great if you feel you could comment on a few more. I'm sure you'll feel the love back if you do.

Emma and I will come and visit you too and tweet out your links. Feel free to tag us with #SlimmingSunday, @michelletwinmum and @mrsshilts and we'll give you an RT.

I can't wait to read your post. Have a fabulous week, Mich x

Slimming Sunday at Mummy from the Heart

Subscribe to #SlimmingSunday

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If you like what you have read and want to stay up-to-date then subscribe by email for free and receive blog posts directly to your in-box - just click the link Subscribe to Mummy From The Heart... by Email or perhaps you like to keep all your blog reading in one place, if that is the case you can follow me on BlogLovin too!Follow on Bloglovin

Friday, 12 May 2017

Review: Middle Farm, Near Lewes, East Sussex


The other Saturday as we awoke the sun was shining and we decided it would be a shame to waste it so we headed over to Middle Farm, near Lewes. We've popped in the tea room before (and not been impressed if I am honest) but at just £5 each entry (for children over 3 years and adults) to the actual farm we didn't think there was too much to lose and friends had said they'd enjoyed time there before.
Middle Farm is a 625 acre working farm. It has been in the Pile family for 50 years and they are proud of their high quality produce. It is really heart warming to read the history and learn that the family have innovated and pulled together in all sorts of ways to make Middle Farm what it is today.

Plenty of room for everyone 
As we arrived, we were surprised to see just how busy the overflow car park was and we started to worry that we had made a mistake and the place would be rammed. We needn't have worried though as there is loads of space within the farm and we got to see everything we wanted to and there wasn't long waits for the animal petting or play park equipment.

Explore at your leisure 
You don't get a map on entry to the farm but it is small enough that you can just explore and see where your feet take you. There was a big sign up as we entered advising us when the day's events were - lamb feeding, pig feeding, animal petting, cue milking etc. These were well spread within the day and whatever time you arrive I'm sure you'd get to see or take part in something.


Thursday, 11 May 2017

Reasons to be Cheerful: Stepping It Up, Bluebells and Cleaning #R2BC

Happy Thursday friends,

I hope you're having a fab week. I am and next week my parents come to visit for a week so it will get even better. I'm hosting Reasons to be Cheerful for all the month of May so I'll be digging deep for my thankful moments.



Thankfully the weather has cheered up a little and we've been able to get out and about more. This has helped my steps no end and I was super pleased to finish last week on just over 103,000 steps taken. I also started back up at the Fit Club that runs in the grounds of my home and it was so good to do some exercise, even though I didn't really want to go before hand! I did show myself just how unfit I have become as this one hour session was very hard going but it felt good to be doing something positive towards better health.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

I asked him to marry me with a sweetie!



I have been with my husband for a long time, we got together on 28th December 1994, he rescued me from a wet and windy pier and a horrid creepy guy.  He was my hero! OK scrub that, he still is my hero.

I've been feeling a bit nostalgic recently and was thinking back over our eventful relationship together. In 1999 my husband asked me to marry him when we were on holiday in Tenerife, I said yes,  I had been waiting quite a while for that proposal.  It was very romantic - late at night and we were sat at the waters edge looking at a beautiful electric storm out at sea.  He asked me if I could see where the sea met the sky and I replied no. He told me he loved me that much, further than we could ever see. It may sound corny to you but that was possibly one of the most lovely, unprompted things he has ever said to me.  He is not much of a talker you see.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Wasting Time or Enjoying Life? #SlimmingSunday


I've been musing this question this last week - 'By being fat am I wasting my life or am I just choosing to enjoy life by eating the foods I fancy?'

If you've read my blog before you'll know that I have spent the majority of my life for the last 30 years as an overweight women, probably around 20 of those as a very overweight woman and much of that time I have been exceedingly unhappy about my size and weight. In recent months I've been doing a lot of what I call 'head work' in relation to some of the issues I have that send me to the food as my drug of choice.

Friday, 5 May 2017

A Whole Year of Fun at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard


On the Sunday/ Monday of the early May bank holiday weekend we headed two hours down the coast to Portsmouth to visit the Historic Dockyard. For a few years now I've been seeing posts from other bloggers and FB posts from friends sharing their great day at this huge attraction. It is somewhere I'd been meaning to take the family to explore for a long time but you know what it is like, life is busy!

I'm so pleased we made time to visit, even though the weather was miserable and rainy and I can tell you from the start, we will definitely be going back. We didn't even manage to get half of the attractions done in the five hours we spent there. Portsmouth Historic Dockyard really is a great day out for all the family - old and young. It offers a unique experience which spans 800 years of British Naval history and as it is situated within a working Naval Base, the dockyard is the only place in the world to see the Royal Navy past, present and future

So what attractions are there?
First off there are two main parts of the Historic Dockyard, there is the main site which houses the Mary Rose, HMS Victor, HMS M.33, HMS Warrior 1860, the Action Stations interactive kids area, Boathouse 4, harbour tours and The National Museum of the Royal Navy. Also at the moment there are a couple of special exhibitions in the museum - 36 hours: Jutland 1916 and Women and the Royal Navy. Looking at the map I wondered if we would have to do a lot of walking during the day but actually the site is really compact and whilst we did lots of walking, as we toured the boats etc, there wasn't actually far to go.

Then there is the Gosport site, which you can access by waterbus from the main dockyard site. Here there is the Royal Navy Submarine museum and Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower. There is also the Royal Marines Museum a Eastney too.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Reasons to be Cheerful - Farms, Mast Climbing and Muffins! #R2BC

Good morning friends. How are you this week?

It is time for our Thursday dose of cheer. I'm looking forward to reading your posts and finding out what is making you full of joy this week. It's been a while since I've done an #R2BC post - March in fact. First we headed off on holiday, then the Easter holidays and to be honest this is the first week I feel like I have caught up since the kids were off. Sorry for my absence. Let's dive straight in with a few reasons from the last week -


We had a fun weekend over the May bank holiday. On the Saturday, my husband, myself and the girls headed over to a local farm. It wasn't particularly big but it was nice to see the animals and the girls had a great play together. Miss E was enjoying using her camera and we are going to make a photo book as a memory of her weekend (as she won a free one in the McDonalds monopoly game).

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Doing It Blind #SlimmingSunday


Morning friends, how are you today? I hope you have fab plans for this bank holiday weekend.

As you read this I'm away in Portsmouth with my family. We have taken a trip to see the Historic Dockyard as I've heard so many good reports about the attractions there and I'm so happy to be spending some time with them.

Last week in my Slimming Sunday post I said how I had finally realised things need to change. I can't go on as I am, getting more and more unhealthy and suffering from numerous health ailments because of this. Because I have such a large amount of weight to loss I don't want to do a crash diet meal replacements or such as I know this isn't a healthy and sustainable way to live.

So this week has been about making a start and cutting down. I set myself four small steps to follow last week and they were to -
  • Sleep for 7 hours each night - as I write this post I have achieved this each night and I don't think it will be a problem for this to continue as I know how much being well rested helps me to resist all the foods I shouldn't be eating
  • Glass of water before each meal - I've been very aware of keeping my water consumption up and need to keep with this
  • 3 meals and 3 snacks to ensure I do not get too hungry and reach for the wrong things. I've been really good with my meals, and haven't had as many snacks as I thought I might need
  • No cake. I forgot that on a Wednesday evening my husband and I are doing a Marriage course at the moment and at this they give us tea and cake. So I have had one piece but for me that is amazing, as I had turned into a cake most days kind of girl!

Friday, 28 April 2017

Learning is Fun with Education Quizzes

Life is funny sometimes as a Mum, never would I have pictured myself and my near 14 year old son JJ sat at my laptop the other night at just gone 11pm (yes, yes, I know, it is too late for a school night but thankfully he got up OK) doing algebra together.

Now, let me be clear. I don't really have any idea about algebra, at the ripe old age of 43 I have managed to gain an OND, HND, Ba (Hons) and Masters without ever improving on my D grade GCSE Maths.

Maths isn't my subject. I can do business finance, give me a P&L to analyse and I'm your girl, I'll highlight all the areas of concern and provide a plan for improvement. But clever maths type stuff - algebra, Pythagoras and calculus, I haven't got a clue.

So you'd be forgiven for wondering what we were up to. Well, I'd been asked to take a look at the website Education Quizzes to see how useful I felt it might be for my children and more generally for my kids school. In fact, all schools.

What is Education Quizzes?
Education Quizzes is a site with over 4000 quizzes (all written by qualified teachers) covering most subjects/curriculum's for ages 5 to 16. There are quizzes for KS1, KS2, KS3 and GCSE. Oh and even for parents too, to help us refresh our knowledge so we can ensure we are available to help our children as they need us. Take a quick peek at this video for an introduction to Education Quizzes -




Thursday, 27 April 2017

Family Fun at Petworth House, National Trust #CountryKids


A few weeks back on a Sunday our family headed over to West Sussex to Petworth House. I've been wanting to visit this National Trust site for well over a year but as it's about a 90 minute journey we needed to have enough time available to us to make it worthwhile. Petworth houses the finest collection of art in the care of the National Trust and I thought my arty daughter and I would particularly enjoy seeing this.



The Mansion
I wasn't wrong, there are some really magnificent pieces on display and my favourite by far was the walls and ceiling of the Grand Staircase painted by Louis Laguerre (1663 - 1721). I stood there and gazed in wonder for such a long time. There are many other internationally important paintings on display too with works by Turner, Van Dyck and Reynolds to name just a few. There are also dozens and dozens of interesting classical and new-classical sculptures too and my girls were chuckling away at all the body parts on display!

Of course what the National Trust always does well is engage the kids and they had a trail around the house to look for stuffed dogs around the house and then if they spotted them all they got an exclusive badge.

Most every day there is some kind of talk or tour within the mansion and the volunteers at entry will let you know what is going on or you can check the webpages before travelling. If you are thinking of taking your family in the next couple of weeks then I'm sure you'll be pleased to hear there is a Cadbury Easter egg hunt from 8th - 23rd April 2017 with a cost of £3 per child.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Holidaying at Eurocamp - Playa Montroig, Costa Dorada, Spain


Last August we took our first holiday abroad as a family and we had an amazing time. So amazing in fact that we are again this year heading back to the Catalonia region of Spain and will be enjoying a holiday with Eurocamp at the Playa Montroig Camping Resort in Miami Platja, Costa Dorada and I was very impressed to see that it has made it onto the Guardians list of the top 20 family friendly campsites in Europe. We are all getting excited!

Situated right on the Beach and there are 4 Swimming Pools
I think this year we will probably spend most of our time on the parc, at the local beach or maybe just travelling into the nearest port town of Cambrils, which is about 15 minutes away. Of course it is the pools that the kids are most looking forward to enjoying and there are four of them so they won't be short of water-filled fun. This was in fact one of the main reasons we choose this particular site as the kids had such a ball in the water last year that I knew this would be what they would want to do at least 80% of the time. We just need to pray for some good weather now!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Facing Reality and Planning for My Future #SlimmingSunday

I love this picture. This was taken at BritMums in 2015 and I'm around the same size then as I am now
but we are lying down and it seems to be pretty flattering. This is how I'd like to see myself every day!

Morning friends, how are you this week?

I'm really loving reading the posts that you are linking up each week. It isn't easy starting a new linky to be honest and in this day and age everything seems to be judged on numbers and popularity and by traditional standards 2 - 6 people linking up to #SlimmingSunday in a week wouldn't necessarily be considered a linky success but I think it is a success.

You know why? Because you are helping me to stay focused on the goal. I seriously need to lose weight, not just for my vanity or my mental health but for my physical health too. I have so many aliments that are exasperated by my size and they will only get worse as I age but I don't seem to be taking them anywhere near as seriously as I should.  By being accountable and having to report in here each week I have to stay focused and whilst I have not been perfect with my eating, I have been so much better than if I wasn't being accountable with anyone. The good news is that I am continuing to take tons of steps and having a good nights sleep.