Friday, 17 September 2021

Fantastic Steak at Flat Iron, Denmark Street, London

Review of our weekday evening meal at Flat Iron Denmark Street, London

Have you heard of the London based restaurant brand Flat Iron before? I hadn't until last month when they were recommended in a theatre group on FB. My family were heading up to London for my husbands birthday and after the theatre, I wanted something nice for us all to eat that wasn't going to cost the heart but that felt like a bit of a treat. Well, steak always feels like a treat but normally it costs a fair amount too. Not so with Flat Iron!

Monday, 13 September 2021

8 Considerations when Planning to Move into a New Home

Eight essential areas to think about before you move into your new home. Planning now will make a difference when you move in.
Photo by Roselyn Tirado on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

Buying a new home is always exciting but it can be a little daunting too, as there are so many factors you need to think about and often new houses come with a to-do list as long as your arm. You probably chose your new home due to its location and/ or size but that doesn't always mean it is all ready for you to move into. 

So here are some pointers for a few areas to think through once you have secured your sale but prior to moving in -

1.  Insurance cover in place 

In England, once you have exchanged contracts the house is your responsibility to have insured, so make sure you have good building cover ready to go. You don't want anything to happen and then not to be covered, that would be the worst, incurring costs without ever having moved in. 

2.  Renovations

Does the layout of the house meet the needs of your family? Would it suit better if it had an open-plan downstairs, or do you need a small extension to convert into the granny flat? If you have the money available it may be easier to do these kinds of renovations before you move in and have all your belongings everywhere. Or maybe it would work to just move into the upstairs of your home whilst the downstairs is worked on. There are lots of possible solutions and it is definitely worth speaking to your architect or builder as they may offer solutions that have never even occurred to you. Remember they've probably seen and done it all before.  

3.  Decorating required?

What redecoration is needed and how quickly do you want to get it done? Plan out a timeline of when you'll be doing the decorating or do you want someone to come in for you? If you want someone else to do it seek quoted in good time as the best tradespeople get booked up well in advance. It might be worth leaving one of two rooms empty or with just boxes/ furniture in the middle covered with dust clothes so you can decorate before they get in the way and you don't have to be moving things unnecessarily. 

Sunday, 5 September 2021

Embracing the Great Outdoors with Regatta Edgepoint Walking Boots

{This is a review post: we received the walking boots
free of charge in exchange for an honest review}

It's so important to me to get outside and to be amongst nature. I know that I am calmer, less anxious and more happy when I have spent time walking through the forests or exploring somewhere new. Getting out for a nice long walk also provides me with a great excuse to spend some time with my near 18-year-old son. I'm becoming very aware that I only have a year before he'll head off to university and I'll only see him occasionally. 

Today we headed out to Hertsmonceux Castle which isn't too far from home but JJ has never been there before. I was excited as it was just the two of us and he had his new Regatta walking boots to wear in, before he heads off on a long hike next weekend. 

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Helping your Teenagers enjoy a trip to National Trust Beningborough Hall, York

Teenagers, they are a funny thing. In my experience, one minute they are still your little child, holding your hand and cuddling up to you on the sofa and then the next they want nothing to do with you and you are so embarrassing! Despite this, I actually love being a parent to teens and I find them great fun to be around. I've known from the start that my job as a parent wasn't to be their friend, it was to train and nurture them, so they grow up to be great human beings.

I know many parents have given up trying to get their hormonal teenagers to go out for the day with them, but I am persevering and as long as we have a nice treat in the cafe they tend to be quite tolerant and enjoy their time out with me.

Whilst we were on holiday in early August we headed to Beningborough Hall, a very nice National Trust site in York. I had the normal groans when I announced that we heading there, but they soon got into it and had a good time. 

I thought it would useful if I shared a few tips for getting your teens to enjoy going out and spending time with you. I tend to be quiet relaxed with them, as I find the tighter I try to control the outing and their behaviour, the more they want to be contrary.

Give your teen space to be who they are. 

We're all different. We wouldn't expect our adult friends to like all the same things as us, so why would we expect it of our children? On the day we visited my twin teens were pretty tired and they both decided that some of the benches looked like good places to have a lie-down. Not something I'd do but they weren't hurting anyone, so why not?

Saturday, 28 August 2021

Holidaying in the UK: Planning for All Eventualities

{This is a collaborative post}

More and more of us are choosing to stay in the UK for our holiday this year and I suspect it may become a trend over the next few years as well, as people recover financially and emotionally from the scars of Covid 19. 

Personally, I love going on holiday here as we have such a beautiful country and there is so much to explore, with great diversity in our towns, countryside and coastline. There is no need for holidaying in the UK to be looked down on as the poor relation to foreign travel. It is far more kind to our world, it can save you a decent amount of money and you know the language!

In the last couple of years, we have explored so much more of our home county, East Sussex and found some real gems for days out. Also, we have also stayed in West Sussex, Kent, Yorkshire, Surrey, Hampshire, Hertfordshire and London and I can honestly say the only thing we have missed is the guaranteed sunshine and massive swimming pools that you tend to get abroad. I've found that going on holiday with the right attitude and knowing that the holiday will be more about exploring a new area, eating great food and enjoying time as a family has allowed us to not feel as if we have missed out. 

Of course, things can go wrong on holiday here in the UK, just the same as they can anywhere else so it is important to be ready and prepared as you can be. Here are a few things to think about and organise before your holiday, so that you can have the most stress-free time whilst you're away. 

Monday, 23 August 2021

Making your Home really Special with Floately

Post introducing the Arsai floating plant pot and Volta levitating light bulb from Floatley

{This is a collaborative post}

They say that home is where the heart is and that is so true for me. I love being at home and I even start to miss my home when I have been away on holiday for a length of time. I know most people never want to return from their holiday but I'm that odd person who likes to go back and get into my usual routine.

As my home is such a sanctuary for me I love it to look nice and to be able to welcome friends over to enjoy the space with us. We are lucky enough to live on the grounds of a Christian conference centre and we usually have around forty to fifty young people living here at any one time. So, we are never short of guests to come over and enjoy a meal or some games with us.

We've found that with each new set of young people who come over there are certain things that are always a talking point. They love our gallery photo wall on the stairs and enjoy seeing pictures of all my family when we were much younger. They also always enjoy checking out Miss E's artwork on the walls as she has a real talent and we have some interesting pieces collected from the last six or seven years.

I have been looking for some new contemporary decorative pieces to add to our lounge and kitchen spaces in recent times, as these are rooms that get used a lot and I think it will be good to have some more items that attract the attention of our guests.

Let me introduce you to Floatley, a company that supply stylish floating home decor items. They have a lovely range of items from floating blue tooth speakers, to plant pots, to all different lights and lamps. 

Sunday, 22 August 2021

6 Situations where Self Storage could be your Perfect Answer

Six reasons why renting a self-storage unit might suit your cirumstances
Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

I suspect that like me there have been times when you have felt your house is bursting at the seams and you just need some more space.  But upgrading to a new house is financially impossible and getting rid of some of your treasured things just feels too heart wrenching, Never fear there are other solutions, which mean you can restore your house to uncluttered harmony.

You may never have considered using self-storage before but it is so practical and there are so many of them now, that you can almost always get once fairly close to home and you're free to access it whenever you like (within the site operating hours). Here, I'll share six situations where self-storage could be the right answer.

1. Your home is undergoing major renovations

You might be adding an extension, changing the layout or just refurbishing some of the most used rooms. Whichever it is, it probably won't be practical to move all the belongings from those rooms into other rooms in the house if you are planning to still live there whilst the renovation goes on. So why not invest in self-storage for the short term. Now Self Storage is a family run business, established for over ten years with a number of sites across the country.

2.  When you're moving house

A number of years back my husband and I both switched jobs at the same time and this meant we had to move out of the house that had come with our jobs. We invested in a new build flat and were excited to move in but sadly there were delays and it turned out we needed to find somewhere to stay for two or three months. Thankfully, my husbands, Nan gave us a room, but we had to take a storage container to house all our stuff, as there was no room for it all in his Nana's 2 bedroom house. 

Friday, 20 August 2021

Visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London

At the beginning of July, my Mum and I took a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens or Kew Gardens as many know it.  Despite having lived about 25 miles away for much of my life I had never visited, and nor had my mum so we were really looking forward to exploring and Kew Gardens didn't disappoint us.

Getting there

The drive up to Kew from Woking along the M3/ A316 was easy and took about 35 minutes, I was heading for the Kew Ferry Lane car park, which is £7 for the whole day and I thought this was very reasonable for London. However, before we even reached the car park we saw loads of spaces around Kew Green and we were able to park right in front of Elizabeth Gate and enter there. It cost us £5.65 to park there for 4 hours using the RingGo app and at the time Mum and I thought this would be fine, but we actually could have done with double that time. I'd say leave at least six hours free if you want to have a good explore and enjoy some lunch/ a coffee. 

There are good public transport links to get to Kew Gardens - 

  • a mainline train stationat Kew Bridge, just 800 meters walk to Elizabeth Gate, 
  • Kew Gardens tube station for the District Line and LOndon Overground
  • Bus routes 65, 110, 237 and 267 all come close by
  • There are bike racks at each of the four entrance gates and note that bikes, scooters, skates, skateboards etc are not allowed to be used within the gardens

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Planning Your Own Funeral in the UK

Tips to help you think through and plan for your own funeral, so you don't have to leave that task to a loved one
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

I know that many people don't want to think about death and funerals. For them, these are just sad and morbid times that only need to be considered as a necessity. However, for me, as a Christian, I'm not scared to think about dying and I know that the best is still to come.

Of course, all funeral planning will involve some sad moments as it means you have lost someone or that you're thinking ahead to a time when you may leave loved ones behind. It's always those left behind that death is the most devastating for. With that in mind, I want to be able to plan my own funeral and take away any stress from my husband or children when it becomes time for my funeral to be planned.

I don't want my funeral to be another burden to add to the list, and I don't want them to have to think they have to create something big and fancy to say goodbye to me, so I hope that in laying out some plans of my wishes, they will feel freed from the obligations that can come with this life event. 

I'll share my tips for the things you need to think about and consider when leaving instructions for your own funeral. 

Think about what is important to you

There are so many things to consider, like do you want a burial or a cremation? Is there a particular resting place where you'd like to be laid to rest? Do you want a large funeral and wake? Or just close family and something more personal? Should it be a religious ceremony or not? Is there particular music to include? Do you want to make a video reel to be shown? Should people wear a particular colour, or donate to a charity in memory of you? The list goes on and on. 

Take some time to have a really good think about what is important to you and also what is affordable to you. You might also want to speak to those you love to get their input so that whatever is planned can be a truly collaborative effort and be as heartwarming as a funeral can be.

For some people, it isn't important to have lots of people or a big party afterwards and they would prefer a simple option, like direct cremation and this is OK, every person is different and should be able to choose what suits them and their loved ones.

How formal will you make your plans?

You can, of course, just put all your wishes into a word document and save them for the future, or you may wish to go one step further and actually meet with a funeral director and firm your plans up for when they are needed. Many funeral arrangers such as Heart of England Funeral Care allow you to specify in a plan what arrangements you'd like and then you can pre-pay and however much prices rise before your funeral, you won't be charged any extra. This is such a good idea, as funeral costs have almost doubled in the last decade and are set to continue rising. There are all sorts of payment plans so you can spread the cost over a number of months or years, so talk to your funeral planner to find out what is right for your circumstances. 

Thursday, 5 August 2021

Flip Out Trampoline Park Chichester - What did we think?

A couple of weeks ago we stayed in Worthing for a weeks holiday and we had a great time. When I asked my twins what they'd like to do, trampolining was top of their list and when they saw there was a Flip Out not too far away they were over the moon, as they'd heard before how good these trampoline parks are. 

What does it cost?

Flip Out Chichester is super easy to find, as it is situated just a short way off the A27, which skirts around the outer edge of Chichester. There was a large car park available and notices to remind you not to park on the industrial park roads, so I assume it can get crowded at times. 

It wasn't at all busy when we went on a weekday during term-time. I booked for the Daytime Bounce session which is 2.5 hours of bouncing. We booked the slot from 10am to 12.30pm and truthfully my girls didn't need that long as they were super tired after about 90 minutes. The cost was £12 for the session, which seemed reasonable but it was also mandatory to buy the Flip Out socks for £2.50 a pair, which seemed such a shame as I had trampoline specific socks with me from our local venue. But they told me some story about them not being tested on their trampoline and thus my girls could not use them. I had the socks to show them and they had the same kind of rubbery bottom, but they wouldn't even look at them and that feels like a bit of a con. 

I also had to pay £2.50 per spectator to be on-site and wait for them. Again this feels like an unnecessary cost. I understand during busy times they may need to limit spectators and this is a way of doing that but when there were only about 10 people in the building, it is obviously just another way to make money. Thankfully they did offer a complimentary drink for each paying spectator, so my mum and I had a coffee and it was very nice.  

During busier times, it is £10 for one hour at the early bird time of 9am or £12 for one hour for the rest of the day.