Friday, 15 June 2018

Staying with Eurocamp at Club Farret Campsite, South of France

eurocamp club farret header

Over the May school half-term break we flew off to the South of France arriving in to Beziers, a very short drive away from the resort Vias Plage where the 5 star Club Farret Campsite is ideally located. It appears that the end of May is still considered low season as the seaside town itself wasn't very busy but this didn't present a problem as there were many shops and restaurants open and the parc itself was so well equipped.

Welcome on Arrival
Due to some great flight times we arrived at the parc at about 5pm and headed in to reception where we met Anette, who spoke excellent English and gave us a super welcome. We received a site plan and details of the activities going on during our week, then I had to leave a 20 euro deposit to make sure we returned our all-access wristbands at the end of our stay and she directed us over to the Eurocamp reception.

The parc is set on two sides of a road but don't let the word road put you off as really it is just a way for locals to access the beach and a few houses. It wasn't busy with traffic and there is a marked crossing between the two sides. The Eurocamp area is on the opposite side to the main reception and I really liked this as it was the quieter side and we were away from the town area, which I imagine could get noisy during peak season.

Our arrival time was outside of the Eurocamp Couriers regular hours so I gave them a call from their reception and they were with us within about 3 minutes; it was great service. The kids quickly helped themselves to a chess set and badminton equipment from the well stocked area that you can borrow activities from and Leanne took us over to our mobile home and explained how things work and what to do if we needed them. All in, it was a very smooth arrival and a fabulous welcome onsite at Club Farret Camping.

Esprit Eurocamp Mobile Home

Our Eurocamp Mobile Home
This year we had a 3 bedroom Esprit home, which is one of the more basic models and I tell you this as it really is good enough. We found ours to be spotlessly clean and that always impresses me as it shows that the company care. There was everything we needed for five of us to stay there for the week and we were able to cook meals in the kitchen and to relax fully.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Understanding Sun Protection Products - What Does it all Mean?

beach bundle
Summer Beach Set Image by Africa Photo, thanks to Shutterstock

After spending a week away in the South of France where we had mixed weather but still some horrid sunburn I’ve been prompted to write a post about sun protection products available here in the U.K. It’s a bit of a minefield really, you choose a well known brand name like Ambre Solaire or Nivea and you assume that all is good and you have chosen well for your family but it might not be the case! Read on for a low down on what all the different terms on your packaging mean and how to make an informed choice this summer.

UV Rays
There is so much information out there about the ultraviolet rays that come from the sun and it can get a bit confusing but I’ll just share the basics in layman’s terms. UV radiation from the sun comes in three wavelengths - UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC does not penetrate our ozone and thus we’re only concerned with the other two.

UVA (Ultraviolet A - long-wave)
Most of us are exposed to large amounts of UVA rays in our lifetimes and it has long been established as a cause of premature ageing and wrinkling but was less associated with damage to the epidermis (the outer layers of the skin) which is commonly associated with skin cancer.  However this is changing as newer research shows that UVA damages skin cells in the base layer of the epidermis as well as penetrating deeply.

UVA is the dominant tanning ray and whilst many of us love that brown glow our skin develops in the summer it is actually in response to our skins DNA being damaged and these imperfections can lead to skin cancer. UVA rays are present during daylight hours and they penetrate clouds and even glass.

UVB (Ultraviolet B - shortwave)
Are the rays that cause skin reddening and sunburn. They are just as damaging as UVA rays penetrating the outer layers of the skin and can significantly contribute to skin cancer.

Monday, 11 June 2018

London Theatre Kids Week: Tickets on Sale Tomorrow

Have you heard of the Official London Theatre Kids Week before?

No. Really? You need to know about this. If you are a parent who loves going to the theatre in London but finds it hard to afford to take all the family then this is the time of year to get excited because you can get your kids tickets for free!

What is Kids Week?
Yes, totally free. For each adult ticket you buy for one of the 40 eligible shows on offer this year, you can get a child ticket for free (for a child 16 years or under) and if like me you have more children than adults in your family then you can buy up to two additional child tickets for half price.

Kids Week is an amazing initiative from the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) which has been running since 1998 and has reached over 1.2 million families, it is such a great way to make the best London shows available to more families and to open children up to an amazing new cultural experience. Last year we went along to see a show called 13 The Musical which wasn't one I'd heard of before but the kids really enjoyed it and the tickets were super cheap. We had a fab time in London as a family.

Kids Week started as one week but is now so popular that it now runs from 1 - 31 August. Tickets are available subject to availability (especially at weekends)

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Why Mental Well-being Should Be On Your Family Health Agenda

Image thanks to Pixabay

When you think about healthy lifestyles, what springs to mind? Most of us tend to think about being active and eating well. Although it’s incredibly beneficial to move more and stick to a healthy diet, don’t underestimate the importance of mental health. For many of us, being healthy is all about having a trim, functional body, but it’s also essential to keep your mind in check. As mental health dominates discussions in the media, is it time to add it to your family health agenda? We all want to be happy, confident, and content and here are some tips to promote mental well-being in your household -

1.  Talk openly 

We live in an age where we’re more connected than ever, but we’re also lonelier. This bizarre juxtaposition can take its toll on both adults and children. Social media and 24-hour access to the Internet can make you feel like you’ve got friends, but many of us go for days, even months without having face to face conversations with people we claim to love and cherish. If your routine consists of the kids coming in from school and firing up the laptop or spending hours on their phone, now is the time to try and introduce periods of time when you can put your phones down and talk. Talk about your day, share funny stories, and chat about how you feel if you’ve had a bad day or you’re feeling a bit stressed. Set a good example for your children. If you bottle everything up, or you devote too much time to chatting online, there’s every chance that your children will follow suit.

2.  Tackle issues head-on 

If you suffer from a mental health condition, you may be reticent to talk about it. There’s a stigma attached to psychological illnesses, and many people still feel uncomfortable discussing how they feel or talking about their behaviour. You probably wouldn’t think twice about telling your work colleagues that you’ve got a bad back, but it’s a totally different story with an addiction or an illness like depression. For some reason, mental illnesses can make us feel embarrassed and ashamed, and there’s also a fear of how other people’s perceptions of us will change. If you are struggling, try and tackle issues head-on, and reach out and ask for help. This can be easier said than done, but you should feel a sense of relief once you know what kind of help is available to you. There are all kinds of options out there, from facilities like an addiction recovery centre and treatments like group therapy to one-to-one counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy, and grief support. Whatever level of support you need, don’t be scared to ask for help.

Family at the Beach Image by Tom Wang, thanks to Shutterstock

3.  Learn what makes you happy 

Mental health is a subject that should concern all of us. You don’t have to suffer from a psychological condition to pay attention to your well-being. There are lots of steps you can take to protect your mental health and boost happiness and contentment. Make time for the people you love, spend time doing things you enjoy, and learn what makes you happy. Make the most of weekends, summer evenings and days off. Experience things as a family, but give yourself a little time off too. Indulge your interests and passions, and figure out ways you can combat stress and lift your mood on difficult days.

Examples of self-help techniques include meditation, exercise and doing creative activities, such as writing or painting. Most of us tend to prioritise our physical health, but mental well-being is equally important.

Hopefully, this guide has provided some useful tips to help you put mental health on the agenda for all your family, young or old.

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Tuesday, 5 June 2018

A Perfect French Holiday for Crafters and Artists

girl making a mosaic

If like me, you're an amateur crafter who enjoys a bit of me-time with paints or pottery then I’ve discovered the perfect break for you. Nestled in the beautiful French countryside by the picturesque beaches of Vias Plage is Camping Club Farret that we recently stayed at with Eurocamp.

We took this family break with the intention of enjoying all the regular fun of a Eurocamp parc - amazing pools, kids clubs, fun evening entertainment, play parks and a beautiful holiday parc to rest at. I had no idea when we booked that there would be the most amazing opportunities to get creative!

The Atelier Creatif run by a lovely German woman called Sabine is fantastic. For six days a week (it’s closed on Sundays) who can go along from 9-11am and 3-5pm and get involved with whatever takes your fancy.

girls learning to tie dye silk
This is Sabine with my daughters, teaching them to tie dye silk

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Would You Use an Online Pharmacy?

Image thanks to Assured Pharmacy

I have to be honest I've never considered using an online pharmacy before. I'm lucky to have enough time to go to the doctors, get my paper prescription and then head to the pharmacy but when I think back to working full-time and the restrictive opening hours of GP practices, it was quite a different story then. Also what about if I was a man with a sensitive problem, like erectile dysfunction. I'm sure I'd want help but I don't think I'd either A, want to miss work to go and see the GP or B, have to talk about this issue face-to-face to my doctor.

Can you trust an Online Pharmacy?
This is where an approved and reputable online pharmacy comes in handy. you can get the medication you need, without having to go out of your way and with minimal embarrassment factor. When I mentioned this to a couple of friends they were both worried that they'd receive substandard medication, or that it would come from aboard or not be legal in the UK but I was able to reassure them.

I've been checking out, who are approved by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) and have a GMC (General medical Council) registered doctor issuing their prescriptions. I particularly liked that I could (within moments) check online that that the MHRA registration is current and that the prescribing doctor - Dr Roisin McHugh is currently registered and able to practise medicine.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Bio-degradable Pads now Available in your Teens Bettybox

Back in November my girls were sent a Bettybox each to try and review. We all absolutely loved the concept of a monthly subscription box that the girls can receive that contains all their sanitary requirements for the month but also has wonderful pick-me-up treats for that time of month. We all agreed that we probably couldn't afford to buy two boxes a month, every month but that they make wonderful treats every now and then. The classic Bettybox is £12.99 including delivery when you order as a one-off, £11.99 a month when you sign up for 3 months and you get one month free when you sign up for 6 months.

I was interested to hear recently that there is now also a pick and mix box, available for £5.99 a month. This is a no frills box were your young girl can choose up to 25 Bettypads that suit her and her period flow. Bettypads are a new product just launched by Betty and I'm so pleased to hear they are made from bio-degradable materials and packaging. The pad itself has an absorbent 100% organic cotton inner and a silky soft bamboo cover.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

How to Get the Best Deal when Renewing your Mobile Phone Contract

young people on a mobile
Teenagers Texting Image by Akhenaton Images from Shutterstock

I've recently just renewed my mobile phone contract and I wanted an upgraded phone but not to have to pay any more per month. I thought this was going to be a very tall order and I'd have to pay quite a lot up-front for a new phone or accept that my monthly bill would be increasing. But no, with some shopping around I was able to secure a new phone that met my specification, the same monthly tariff and only a £50 upfront phone cost. Then considering I was upgrading 40 days before the end of my contract term I even managed to avoid paying off the buy-out charge as I stayed with the same provider and thus the £50 was around the same money. I was suitably impressed!

About a month before the end of your existing contract is a perfect time to look for new deals and to speak to the retention team about leaving your existing network supplier

Let me share with you the stages I went through to get my great value new phone deal -

1.  Choose which Phone you want next
I've been an iPhone user since 2012 and generally I love my phone. I find iOS very easy to use and intuitive and importantly all my music is stored in iTunes and this has kept me tied in over the last 6 years. Personally I've never had the newest iPhone on the market as I can't bear to part with so much money and I've found that by the two year mark each of my iPhones are pretty much done-in and are ready for the scrap heap. At two years my iPhone 4 totally refused to start-up, my 5C camera stopped working and now my SE also has a poor and slow camera!

With this in mind I decided I ought to bite the bullet and give an Android phone a go and I assumed I'd move to Samsung as it is a name I know and trust and my girls had Samsung tablets that worked well but when I started to speak to people everyone kept telling me to try Huawei. The same kind of specs as iPhone and Samsung flagship models but at much lower prices.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Our Fabulous new Laptop Bags from Inateck

Just a few weeks ago JJ treated himself to a new laptop but not just any laptop, a super-special gaming laptop, one that cost twice as much as my regular laptop. With this in mind we said that he definitely needed to get some protection for it and something sturdy to be able to carry it around in.

We started to have a look around and settled on the Inateck anti-theft backpack with USB charging port and it was a super bargain price of just £23.99. The bag is available in a dark grey, black or blue and it has more pockets than you can ever need. Or so I thought but JJ tells me all the pockets are perfect as he can use the bag for school too and it means he won't have to root around looking for things as they can all have their specified space.

I'm pleased to say that the part where you put your laptop in is very padded and there is an elasticated strap that Velcros it in, so it can't be easily stolen. It takes up to a 15.6" laptop, which is good as that is what JJ has. Also inside is a USB cable that you can attach to a power bank, that will sit in the inside pocket and this then feeds out to a another USB port so you can plug your own cable and phone in to charge whatever gadget you want. You can see the external port in the far right photo below.

Friday, 18 May 2018

A Family Trip to Polesden Lacey - National Trust, Surrey

polesden lacey header

I absolutely adore National Trust properties. Looking around an old character house, exploring the grounds and enjoying some good food whilst I am there is my idea of a dream day. I am super lucky that there are so many of them around and I can always find somewhere new within a couple of hours of our home in East Sussex. 

A couple of weeks ago my girls had a Friday inset day so we headed off to Surrey and met my Mum at one of her local National Trust properties - Polesden Lacey and as I expected it was a delight. As you can see from the photos we were very lucky with the weather and this helped us to have a wonderful time there. 

Getting there/ Parking
We took a bit of an 'odd' route as we were picking my Mum up on the way but once we joined the A246 it was a very easy drive and Polesden Lacey was well-signed with the brown attraction signs. They advise that it is best to use the postcode KT23 4PZ for sat navs. There appeared to be plenty of parking and it was on hard-standing. This is free if you are a NT member or otherwise £2 for up to 2 hours or £5 for the whole day. 

There are toilets right at the entrance (including accessible ones and baby change) and also the pleasant Cowshed coffee shop with outside seating, which seemed to be a hit with many dog owners. In fact we saw so many dogs at this NT site and it thrilled my daughters. Dogs on a lead are welcomed in the pleasure gardens and in the wider estate but not in the house or the cafes. 

polesden lacey house

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Reasons to be Cheerful - A Right Mix! #R2BC

Good morning friends, how are you today?

All is fairly good here, my Miss E has a cold, which I think she got from me and I appear to have got from JJ. So we've had headaches, coughs and sneezes hanging around for the last week. Hopefully this will be the last of them and off they'll go!

1)  Miss E has been a trooper, despite feeling ill she has still gone in to school and sat her SAT's. I've been very happy to hear Miss M and Miss E both say they were easy and they feel really confident. They have an end of SATs party tonight at a local soft play and I pray Miss E is feeling well enough for it as she has been looking forward to it for weeks.

2)  I've hardly had to cook this week, which is always an R2BC for me as I don't particularly enjoy cooking. My husband has had relatives staying so we have joined them for food, been out and eaten up at the main house. Then tonight whilst the girls party, JJ will come with my husband and I for a yummy Indian meal whilst we wait to collect them.

Monday, 14 May 2018

5 Great Places to Mountain Bike as a Family in Sussex

mountain bike header
Image thanks to Jonty Wilde

Mountain Biking can be an immense amount of fun and it is a superb way to get or stay fit. My husband loves to go out with our kids for bike rides and I admit that I'm tempted to join them. It's therefore perfect that Halfords have created a comprehensive but super easy to navigate Beginners guide to Mountain Biking and now I can get myself kitted out and on the tracks with them.

Getting Kitted Out
Of course as a newbie I need to head off to my nearest Halfords to check out what mountain bike will suit me. There really isn't a standard bike that fits everyone, so you do need to go in and try them out. All our family's bikes have been bought from Halfords and we've found their staff to be knowledgeable and helpful. I also like the fact you can take your bike back in for a six week check after purchase and if anything needs adjusting they do this free of charge for you.

Once I've sorted the bike then I need to ensure I have the proper kit to wear as nothing is more important that personal safety. A well-fitting helmet is a must, comfortable trainers that are not too hard, gloves to help with my grip and some anti-glare sunglasses will be my first purchases.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Visiting Hever Castle With Kids - 10 Top Tips

hever castle title image

Last Bank Holiday Monday we had a wonderful trip to Hever Castle in Kent. It really is the most beautiful place and so well maintained, so we would definitely recommend it as a wonderful place to visit with kids, whatever their age. We visited with our 10 year old twins and 14 year old and they all had a good time. Younger kids would enjoy it even more I imagine.

Let me share with your our ten top family things to do at Hever Castle and some tips for enjoying them!

1)  Enjoy the Water Maze
This was definitely my kids favourite part of the day and I was glad we had taken some spare clothes and a towel. You definitely need these for a warm day as your children will want to spend ages in the water maze. Everyone has to wear footwear in the maze so maybe pack some flip-flops or water shoes, something you don't mind them getting soaking wet. Don't be fooled into thinking this is just for a hot day though as it will be far quieter on a mild day and you can see where the water will squirt, so just avoid those bits if you don't want too get wet.

hever castle water maze

hever castle water maze

Thursday, 10 May 2018

A Very Cheery Week #R2BC

I'm pleased to say this post was super easy to write this week. After a 4 days weekend, I was bound to have loads of things to be happy about.

1)  A fabulous couple of days with my parents, we headed to National trust Polesden Lacey and it was as fab as I thought it would be. The first picture is my Mum and the girls dancing down the stairs. My Mum is always up for a laugh with them and they love her for that.

2)  Saturday night TV is my favourite. I love Casualty and at the moment there is Britain's Got Talent and the new Who wants to be a Millionaire? too. Could I ask for any more? lol

3)  Sunday afternoon my husband and I took the girls into Hastings to catch a bit of the Jack in the Green festival.  We didn't see too much as we arrived late in the day but we did enjoy some drumming, the atmosphere of the crowds, fresh chips on the beach and a play in the penny arcade.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Looking Forward to our Eurocamp Holiday at Club Farret Camping, Vias, Languedoc

reception club farret camping

All the family are on countdown, there is just 15 days until we fly over to the South of France for our stay at Club Farret Campsite with Eurocamp. I'm really pleased to have chosen this 5 star parc for our next Eurocamp holiday. Brilliantly it is just 10 minutes from Beziers airport and we were able to pick up good value flights with Ryanair from Stansted and and a really competitive in-resort transfer with Sun Transfers.

I can honestly say that every one of us is excited and each of us for our own reasons. Let me share with you what we are looking forward to -

pool club farret camping

Enjoying the Swimming Pools
We are lucky enough to have two great pools at this campsite. There is Tao Beach with a swimming area for both adults and kids (which is heated in the low season), as well as a counter-current river and bubble massage seats. There's also the Pirates Bay Pool area where there is fun by the bucketful with slides, diving board and loads of water games. My girls will also be thrilled to find there is a swim up bar. I do hope they serve mocktails as that will make one of Miss M's dreams come true!

I also see an exciting new aquadome pool with a retractable roof is being built right now. Sadly I think we'll be a little early for it as I believe it opens in Summer 2018. I'll give you an update once we are back.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

What to Do When You're a Stay-at-Home Mum Who Wants to Go Back to Work

Image Credit

When you’ve been a stay-at-home mum for a while it can be too easy to think that any career prospects you ever had have gone down the drain. Especially if you’ve been working exclusively to take care of your kids for a long time, but it’s simply not true. Whether you’ve been staying at home for twelve months or twelve years, you can get back to work and create a life that is fulfilling in terms of both work and family life.

If you’ve decided it’s time to get back into the world of work, here’s what you need to do:

Do a Self-Assesment
There is absolutely no point going back to work just for the sake of it. Don’t let anyone pressure you with their expectations. Unless you actually want to do the job or unless you really need the money, you would be better off staying at home with the kids if that is what makes you happy. So, first of all, sit down and think about what you really want to do. Do you want to go back to your old job or a similar one? Do you want to try something totally new? Do you want to do an online masters in school counseling or become a teaching assistant so you can work in school hours and term-time? Really try to pin-point your desires and then you can work on achieving those goals.

Try Things Out
It may not always be possible, but if you can try out various new careers before you make a commitment, perhaps by volunteering at a local school or doing admin for a charity to see how you go, you’ll get a greater sense of what you do or do not like and find out exactly how capable you are of doing things. It will also be an easier way for you to ease yourself back into the world of work. Over the last five years I’ve undertaken around six different volunteering roles and they have all been good for my development and confidence in different ways.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Whoops! Very Late Reasons to be Cheerful

Hello friends, it is still Thursday, just about! I have to admit that I totally forget about #R2BC, es its May but it hadn't occurred to me this meant I was back on Reasons to be Cheerful watch!

Anyway better late than never. Thanks Kate for the nudge to get posting. Here are this weeks things that are making me cheery -

1.  A lovely evening walk with Miss E
The other night Miss E and I set out for a walk together, we ended up being out about an hour and took so many photos, it was so lovely to just amble along together and chat about nothing in particular. All whilst taking tons of photos.

7 Things Your Travel Planning Should Involve

Tourist taking photos image by LiskaM, thanks to Shutterstock

If you’re going to go travelling pretty soon, your planning should already be underway. If it’s not, what are you waiting for? The planning process is when you lay down all your plans and make sure that you’re ready for the adventure that currently lies ahead of you. There are so many different things that you have to give your attention to when you’re planning an exciting trip.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the planning that you still have to do though. It’s actually pretty simple to break down most of the important things that you have to do into seven simple categories. Each of these is as important as the one before it, so read on to learn all panning a successful trip. It’ll give you the impetus you need to start properly making your own plans.

1. How You’ll Travel Light
Packing as little as possible is a really good idea, especially if you’re going to be moving around a lot from place to place. Even if you’re not planning on doing that, it’s still a good idea to pack light because it makes the travel part of travelling a lot easier and less straining. Give some thought to this and be strict regarding what you need to take and what you really don’t need.

2. The Key Things You Want to Do
There might be a list of 100 different activities you want to fit into a week, but you know as well as I do that you’re not going to get all of those things done while you’re away. Rather than fooling yourself and then having regrets later, you should prioritise your list of key things you want to do. That way, you should be able to ensure you get the most important things done before moving onto the other less important activities.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Review of the Holiday Inn Kensington, London booked via Groupon

entrance holiday inn kensington

The week after Mothers Day my Mum and I met in London for an overnight stay to enjoy some time together without the kids constantly disturbing us. I'd bought the hotel room as my Mums Christmas present and got a very good deal via Groupon. If I'm honest I hadn't really known where I was booking for, as it was advertised a bit cryptically on Groupon. It just said 4* Kensington Hotel with Full English breakfast for two and spa access for £97 in March. It was only upon investigating the postcode that I discovered it was the Holiday Inn.

I'd also bought the same deal for my husband and Miss M to stay there in February and that was just £86 and I had a Groupon 10% off code. With both deals, I was able to go via Quidco too and claim 5% cashback on both bookings. So both bookings turned out to be excellent value for a stunning hotel, that I will happily book in to again.

Arrival at the Hotel
The hotel is literally a 5 minute walk from Kensington High Street tube station and this makes it so easy and accessible. There are shops, coffee shops, restaurants, bars and everything you need very close to hand.

You're greeted by a doorman when you arrive and he'll take your bags if they are big or heavy. Check-in was very easy and not at all busy when we arrived at about 2.30pm. Officially the rooms are ready from 3pm but we were lucky we could access our room straight away. We were up on the 6th floor and there was two lifts to access the upper floors but one appeared to be out of order whilst we were there. It was easy enough to walk down though. I like that you have to use your key card to access the upper floors, that makes you feel safe.

Public Areas
As you walk in the hotel to the left there is a nice Starbucks coffee shop, which is 24 hours and that's so useful. There is also a very large bar area with plenty of comfy seats and it looks stylish and somewhere you'd happily meet friends or colleagues. There is also lots of big seating areas in the lobby so you can relax or wait for a friend. Of course we didn't use them but we saw loads of conference rooms at the hotel too. 

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Visit Guernsey to discover the real Island behind the Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

guernsey header image

For most of us living in the U.K it is hard to even imagine war nowadays. We are so far removed from the concept of war that truthfully it can be hard to relate. But roll the clocks back around 75 years and some of our fellow countrymen were in a completely different situation. Guernsey was under occupation and the Islanders were having to live alongside their oppressors, the Nazis.

When we travelled to the Channel Islands around four years ago I was fascinated to discover that many locals had to live through occupation. I would never have called myself a history buff but it is all riveting and there is so much to see and to learn. Especially when you have children with you as they'll be learning about WW2 at school and visiting Guernsey becomes a living and exciting history lesson.

But why am I bringing this up now? Well, I'm sure you'll have seen the trailers for the new film that was released on 20th April - The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society and if not, take a peek below. I'm can't wait to see it this weekend at the cinema, it looks to be a story of courage, tragedy and love all rolled in to one.

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.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

24 Hours in London - Reasons to be Cheerful #R2BC

This week I'm dedicating my reasons to be cheerful post to a great 24 hours last weekend spent with my Mum in London, belatedly celebrating Mothers Day. We've done this the last few years and it is a really nice treat to look forward to.

We start the weekend off with me heading over to meet Mum at Waterloo and enjoy a good cup of coffee at Costa, of course having a right old natter to catch up on what has been going on since we last spoke. The weather is then far too nice to head down to the underground so we walk along the South Bank and take in the street performers and the great atmosphere on the way to Westminster tube station.

There we pick up the tube to go to High Street Kensington as we are staying in the Holiday Inn just off the High Street and only a few minutes walk from the tube station. It proves to be an excellent hotel and I'll write up a review, even though I paid for it as my Mums Christmas gift.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

The Importance of Spending One-on-One Time With Your Children

If you invest in one-on-one time with your child when they are young then you will build your relationship and their trust in you for when they are older

Every parent wants to have that joyous bond with their child. One where they are both respected as parent and cherished as friend. I think one of the keys to that closeness and developing a special relationship that will last a lifetime and weather the storms is spending intentional one-on-one time with each of your children.

Now before you start telling me that you have six kids, no money and your partner works away from home, this doesn't have to be expensive or too time intensive.

Yes, of course you can have those kind of special times too. Both my girls chose time as their main Christmas present this year, so during February half-term Miss M will go away with my husband to London to see a show and stay overnight. Then a few days later Miss E will go away with me to see my Mum and stay in a great hotel with a pool. We will all have the most amazing time I'm sure and in doing so we cement our relationships further.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Yippee, Its National Slime Day Today! Glam Goo Deluxe Pack Review

Well who knew there was even such a thing as national slime day? I certainly didn't but it seems fitting for this year as my girls love to make slime and there is always a collection of tubs of the gooey stuff on our side.

When I asked the girls if they wanted to have a play with Glam Goo for National Slime Day they were thrilled and said yes straight away, as we make tons of white and coloured slime but good clear slime is a much harder make and that is what comes with the Glam Goo Deluxe pack. The RRP is £22.99 but to be honest it seemed to mostly be selling for £29.99 at well-known toy stores such as Argos and Smyths Toys.

In the Deluxe pack you get the clear Glam Goo in a pink storage case, 3 sprinkles, 2 colour pigments, a scent and of course the glamorous slime storage handbag and ring. The girls love it that you can mix and match all the sparkles and colours to make lots of different small batches of slime and as you can see in the handbag below, they really are very pretty.

The bag has a pink cover that goes inside it to ensure it stays air-tight and the slime lasts. We have had ours made for a couple of weeks now and I find you have to play with it to warm up the slime a little but it then still has good stretch. If you try to do it too quick, it does snap a bit.

My girls have done a full vlog review of the Glam Goo Deluxe Pack. Why don't you take a look at their video and see how they got on?


And if you fancy making your own slime then do head over to YouTube and have a look at our Easy Homemade Slime playlist.

Disclosure: We received 2 packs of Glam Goo for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest. 
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Thursday, 15 March 2018

A Week of Reasons to be Cheerful

Home sweet home and the sun is shining!

It's time for our weekly dose of cheerfulness and I am feeling a lot more like myself than I did last week. Sadly my lovely aunt passed away, so I'll be heading to her funeral on Tuesday but I'm so thankful she is no longer in loads of pain.

Here's my week of cheer -

Thursday - I had a good session with the little boy I coach through the charity TLG. Then in the evening I headed to Tesco whilst my girls were at Guides and I got a new coat for the Spring. It is raspberry coloured and I love it.

Friday - We headed out for a meal for my friend Annie's birthday and the food was exquisite. I had a chicken breast stuffed with spiced lamb and spinach and coated in a mild curry sauce with pomegranate seeds, sultanas and sunflower seeds.