Thursday, 29 October 2020

Learning to Live with Psoriasis

Photo by Anastasiia Ostapovych on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

Psoriasis is a little-known and sometimes taboo disease to suffer with, and I think that until you or someone close to you has it, your understanding on the profound impact it can have on a person's life is severely limited. 

About three or four years ago my son started to develop some red patches on his upper back and on his face, slowly they got bigger and then the skin started to thicken and it would look like he had white scales on him. This, of course, prompted a visit to our GP, who thankfully was wonderful and prescribed some steroid cream. After a couple of months without progress, she referred my son to a dermatologist to get an expert opinion.

After a few months wait we saw the dermatologist and he recommended that JJ wash with an emollient, moisturise twice a day and use more potent steroids on his patches of psoriasis, by this point, it had also spread to his upper arms. He also had to stay on the lower potency steroids for his face and make sure he had adequate breaks so his skin did not thin too much in this delicate area.

A skin biopsy was taken to check what type of psoriasis it is that my son has and it was thought that as he had skin damage (such as his teenage acne) the body was responding with rapid cell growth and he was ending up with psoriasis plaques (patches). Sadly over the last couple of years, it has progressed quite a lot and he now has psoriasis covering most of his body. Thankfully he doesn't seem too worried by it, but I know that as a 17-year-old lad it will only be a matter of time before he will wish it wasn't there!

The Many Reasons to Choose Amtico Flooring

Thanks to Floorbay for the image

{This is a collaborative post}

Reading this title, you might be thinking, how many reasons can there be?

Well, when choosing your new flooring you need to be assured that there are enough legitimate reasons on which to base your final decision and Amitco go above and beyond to show you why choosing this product for your home is a lifelong investment. By now, you may have already considered laminate and hardwood but perhaps they’re not quite fulfilling your expectations.

So, you’re in the right place to learn all about Amitco luxury vinyl flooring and why you should choose it over the alternatives.

Cost Friendly

A great starting point when renovating or upgrading your flooring is considering the financial implication. Authentic and natural materials such as wood and stone undoubtedly have the largest price tag in the flooring market, followed by high-quality engineered wood or laminate flooring. These all offer great style but what if there was an alternative that was more cost-effective and durable?

When looking at authentic luxury wood effect flooring options you also need to account for the installation costs and price of repair or replacement should the flooring become damaged or chipped in areas of heavy use. As you can see the original price you pay has the potential to increase and could increase even further based on your installation choice or added extras such as coating or underlay.

Luxury Amtico vinyl planks and tiles present great value when installed by an experienced fitter as they will last for decades. Amtico even comes with a 20 year UK residential guarantee that it will tolerate regular foot traffic and not wear out. 

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Foraging for Sweet Chestnuts in the UK

Guidance for the novice forager to help them pick, store and cook sweet chestnuts

October is the perfect time to head to your local woods and find a bounty of sweet chestnuts to enjoy both alone, or within sweet and savoury dishes. They really are very versatile and quite easy to prepare. Don't assume that foraging is just for the experienced person, all it means is searching for and using what nature has provided for us to eat. I suspect you've done it with blackberries before if nothing else!

Collecting your Sweet Chestnuts

The first thing you need to do is identify your sweet chestnut tree. You don't want to be trying to cook and eat conkers (the fruit of the horse chestnut) as they are mildly poisonous. You tend to find that conkers fall a bit earlier from the end of August through September and then sweet chestnuts fall more like the end of September and through to early November. Of course, this depends on the temperatures/ weather for that year. 

Monday, 26 October 2020

COVID Cleaning Tips for a Stress-free Home


{This is a collaborative post}

As COVID-19 surges in the UK again, families are scrambling to keep their homes clean. But it’s important to remember that we don’t just clean our homes for our own sakes or for fear of infection. We also clean our homes to create a safe haven for the ones we love.

Home should be a place where we can feel comfortable and relax. It should be a place where we can leave our stresses at the door and enjoy peace, love, and togetherness. Nothing’s worse than coming home to stress and anxiety and that’s why it’s so important to make sure we disinfect and clean properly during the pandemic. Not just for our physical health, but for our mental health too.

We’ve rounded up some fantastic cleaning tips to make your home feel cleaner and your mood lighter.

Disinfect with UV Light

Walking into a home that smells like a hospital isn’t very reassuring or relaxing. But that’s some homes smell like due to the constant chemical spraying and bleaching. To ditch the fumes and odours (and the scrubbing too!), you can disinfect just as effectively with a UV light wand.

UV light is proven to kill coronaviruses like COVID-19, and it’s so effective that it’s been used by the NHS in hospitals for years. However, it’s never been practical or affordable to use in the home until now.

Now, you can get a handheld UV light wand that kills 99.99% of bacteria, viruses, mould, fungus, and more in seconds. It’s 100% natural, so it leaves no stinky odours or toxic residues behind and, for parents, it requires no scrubbing at all! Just pass the UV-C light wand over objects in your home as if you were shining a torch on them. That’s all it takes!

Our favourite UV-C wand is called Allume, and it’s made by Violet Healthcare. This wand is powerful and effective, but it also has the necessary safety features to prevent UV light from shining on your skin or eyes.

Friday, 23 October 2020

Perfect Vision: Expectations versus Reality

Photo by Scott Van Daalen on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

The seasons are changing quickly, and trying to see your way forward past the chaos of Covid-19 can feel like a never-ending derailment. 2020 vision is what all optometrists hope for their patients and what the year ahead had hoped to deliver: a more exact brighter future with the vision to see the road forward easily and without a million pitfalls.

However, rather than this beautiful ideal, it has been a year of chaotic upheaval and change. The key to our survival has been family, friends, and the relationships we have with other people. With eyes wide open, we have all watched as our world transforms into a new reality, which is all a little abstract and remote from the streams of our previous existence.

Faith and family are what help us to see past all of the uncertainty and change. For sure faith and hope have steered the direction of many people's lives during this pandemic and with our great British resolve we will get through this difficult time and come out the other side accepting a new normal.

As the days in lockdown or with restrictions have rolled by, we have embraced new ways to relax and keep a clear mind. Here, in this linked resource are a few techniques you can use to find direction and motivation, helping you explore the things you love. There doesn't have to be anything complex or sophisticated about the techniques you embrace, simple acts like taking a walk in nature and observing the changing season can help us to embrace the vision of our new reality.

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

National Trust Ightham Moat: A great place for a Walk, Kent

We've been to Ightham Moat a couple of times now and enjoyed it both times, although they have felt quite different visits, with the first being back in October 2017 with 10-year-old twins and then the next time was this summer, during the COVID pandemic, and we took our three teenagers.

If you're looking to visit in the near future the moated house is currently closed but you can enjoy the outdoor space, both the gardens and the wider estate. The gardens aren't too big and with a one way system currently, they will only take an hour or so to walk around. If I'm honest, they are not impressive like the gardens of many National Trust sites. I think the gem of this site is being able to go inside the house, so with that closed the site doesn't have quite so much wow factor as normal. However, if you are willing to head out and take a longer walk, then the wider estate is fabulous and well-worth exploring. There is a big hill though, so be warned!

I think pictures speak a thousand words, so have a look at these from our visit this summer. The first few photos are within the gardens.

A visit to the National Trust Ightham Moat site in June 2020, when covid made everything different Walking the wider estate is still a delight.

We captured the same photo in 2017 and then again this year and you can see just how much my twins have changed and grown!

Friday, 16 October 2020

Feeling Grateful for Time, Photography and Flowers

Hello friends, I hope you’re well? I’ve been trying to write this R2BC post for days now and I keep running out of time but I’m now wondering if that was God’s intention, so I had to write it today. I have a terrible headache today and I just feel like I want to curl up in bed, but instead, there are things to be done - JJ to run to college and back, Miss M to collect from her friends later and dinner to be sorted, so making time to sit down and reflect on the things I am grateful for is just perfect.

Here is my grateful list for the last week or so -

1.  I have time to have a cup of tea alone and with my hubby.

2.  I've been Trying out new settings on my phone camera and really liked learning a little more. 

3.  Discovering the glass doors on my cooker can come apart for cleaning in between them. I had no idea! Why haven’t I known this for the last twenty years?

4.  Having a lovely walk and coffee with a friend by the beach the other day.

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

6 Gift Ideas For Parents of a Newborn

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

It’s always exciting when someone you know has a baby. But what do you buy for a new arrival? It’s easy to go for something cute and obvious, or vouchers always come in handy for new parents. But if you’re looking for something a bit different, here are a few ideas to give you some inspiration. 

A photo album or frame 

With camera phones to capture every waking moment of a baby’s first months, one thing new parents are not short of is pictures of their baby. A personalised photo album or frame can let them print and frame some of their lovely photos to cherish for a lifetime, and their child will enjoy looking back on them in years to come, I know my kids do.

Practical gifts

While it’s great to buy cute teddy bears or baby clothes, practical gifts are worth their weight in gold. You could put together a little baby medicine kit that includes a digital thermometer, some medicated nappy cream, a bottle of Calpol and some teething gel or powder. While you might think it’s boring, it will be one of the most welcome gifts when the time comes. 

Many times I have put together a practical hamper for friends who already have all the cute clothes. You can never have enough nappies if you are going the disposal route, or if you're friend if using reusable then buy them a super cute wrap or two.

Monday, 5 October 2020

Choosing a Holiday Destination in the Age of Coronavirus

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

We all recognise that times have changed over the last six months and it now seems widely-accepted that things will be different for quite some time to come. With these changes in mind, it is important for us all to think through our holiday choices before we rush out and make a purchase that could set us back a few thousand pounds. 

Here are a few things to consider when choosing a holiday destination in the age of coronavirus -

Check the Government Travel Requirements

It's always been standard practice to check Government advice when you are planning to travel far afield but nowadays it is not just visas and vaccinations that you need to check. You also need to familiarise yourself with what our Government are saying if you visit one of our neighbouring countries such as France or Belgium. Will you have to self-isolate on return to the UK? Are there specific virus hot-spots that you should avoid? Or even is the Government recommending you don't travel to specific countries? There are a lot of factors to take into consideration.

Check you're Protected

Booking a package holiday will give you the greatest protection if the holiday can't go ahead or if a travel operator goes out of business, so this is a good option for those who don't mind paying a bit more and are risk-averse. However, if you are happy to do your own research and want a better value holiday with an affordable hotel and bargain flight then it can save you money to book each element of the holiday separately.  If you do this, make sure you use your credit card, so you have some purchase protection from your card issuer. 

There is always the chance that you or one of your party will fall ill with COVID-19 at the time you are due to travel, so before you book check your travel insurance to see how you are covered for this and also investigate the terms and conditions for the companies you are booking with. 

Saturday, 3 October 2020

Feeling Cheery this October #R2BC

It's time to share a positive update again. I find this process of thinking through the last week or two and looking for the highlights so therapeutic that I vowed (back in 2011) to do it regularly, and sometimes I've been great and others a month or two can go by and I've forgotten. But not to worry, here I am now and that is what matters.

Studying the Enneagram

I'm feeling very optimistic as we head into October, as I was on a course for a couple of days last week, studying the Enneagram. This is an ancient tool used to discover your personality type, which I really like as it isn't static, there are lots of opportunities to grow and become more balanced as a person, whilst understanding what deeply motivates you. 

I feel as if I went really deep earlier this week and discovered more about myself and now I have some work to do to learn more about why I act and react in certain ways. I'm not sure this will be the most painless process but it feels very necessary, so I am game!

Even though the course was held at Ashburnham Place (my home) I went and stayed in one of the guest bedrooms and attended the course as an external guest. So I enjoyed good meals, chats and time alone without any responsibilities except to look after myself. 

A visual depiction on my course, of how we are all living in the dark and bound to our ways,
before we become enlightened and move into the light

Owning what I do

I noticed this last week that I have made progress when talking about my life and what I do. The common question when you meet someone new is that they ask what you do, or what your work is and for the last seven years since I left my role as a trainer at a university, I have always mumbled as I answered and given variations on the answer 'not a lot'.

This week I told anyone who asked me that I was self-employed. That I'm a paid writer and social media manager and I didn't add any ifs or buts. It felt good. 

Grateful for a fabulous local Garage

A stupid pheasant with a deathwish decided to fly into my wing mirror as I drove along at speed the other day. I saw it walking across the road but doing 45 mph and with cars behind me I could only brake a little and the stupid bird decided to try and take flight in the direction of my car, then boom! It caused me £110 of damage, but it would have been a lot more if I hadn't had a great local garage who helped me sort it out. I have no idea what to do about car stuff, so I am so grateful to be able to just turn up and Carlton always helps me. 

JJ's Provisional Driving License has Arrived

My boy turns 17 this month and he is keen to get started with his lessons, so I am very pleased his provisional driving license has arrived and now we can book the lessons and also his theory test. I'm hoping that it is all quite a quick process for him as he has great information retention and recollection and normally good reactions and spatial awareness too. 

Making an Effort

I've felt for a while that I am looking a bit old and worn. So I treated myself to a nice new bright top from the charity shop (a bargain £3 and you could see it was new) and each day of the course I put on make-up and rocked my mask. I think I'm finally getting used to wearing them.

Thursday, 1 October 2020

Review & Giveaway | Leather ICON Valencia Footstool from Bean Bag Bazaar

Giveaway closed - Congratulations to @Faridah,Brooker, you are the lucky winner. 

I told my kids the other day that my husband and I have reached middle-age and we're OK with it. In fact, we are embracing it; I treated myself to a new tapestry and he got some slippers and a footstool, so he can watch his favourite boxset in comfort and with toasty warm toes! It really is the little things in life that can make a difference.

I wanted to share with you the footstool that he got, as it is totally different to how I imagined but he is loving it, and yes I admit it, I have used it a few times in the day when he is at work and I'm doing a bit of work on the sofa. 

We were sent the ICON Valencia real leather footstool from Bean Bag Bazaar, which is currently on sale for £79.99, this is great value for a quality leather product. The footstool is fairly small and light-as-a-feather as it is filled with beans. The dimensions are 27cm height and 43cm both width and depth.

Friday, 25 September 2020

Operation Christmas Child - Box Packing Update for 2020

Operation Christmas Child shoebox header

I've now been involved with Operation Christmas Child for around 16 years and I still love it as much as I ever did. JJ has moved on and no longer helps me pack boxes but my twin girls are still keen and we often invite friends around for a box packing party, so a few of us can all do it together. 

Over the years I have been involved in various ways, from packing boxes as a family to organising assemblies at school, services at church, box packing parties (online and in real life), school and church collections, checking boxes before sending and even travelling to Belarus with Samaritans Purse to distribute boxes, be involved in live-streamed box opening and writing up the stories of the children I met. 

Things have been changing over the years and regulations have tightened up, meaning that not everything can be included in your box anymore. Also, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, you might be wondering if you can still create a physical box and the answer is yes. Samaritans Purse are still accepting boxes during the week of 9-16 November 2020. 

I thought it was important to update our box packaging tutorial here on the blog with all the latest 2020 information -

How to pack an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Gift

1)  Get a box - Either take a medium-sized shoebox and wrap the lid and box separately in festive and fun wrapping paper. Or you can use a pre-printed shoebox. available from Samaritans Purse. You can't buy these in packs of any less than 20, so they are good for schools, churches and community groups to buy and give out os sell individually. 

2)   Choose the sex and age - Choose which age group and sex you will make the box for. The choice is boy or girl for ages 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14. You can download and print labels from here for free. Make sure you attach the appropriate one to the top of your box.  

Thursday, 24 September 2020

How to Make a Pre-Teen Party a Success

    Photo by Amy Shamblen on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

Planning the perfect party can be a headache for any parent. Kids can be changeable at the best of times, and what they loved last month might not be what they like today. If you want to deliver the kind of amazing experience that your kid deserves, you might need a bit of help.

Planning a party for a preteen can be even more challenging because it’s often difficult for parents and guardians to find the balance between delivering the grown-up teenage experience that kids crave, and still catering to their younger tendencies. So, how do you make sure you impress your pre-teen with your party planning? These tips will help.

1.  Get the Right Gift

The great thing about pre-teens is that even if you mess up the entire party experience, they’re likely to forgive you as long as you get them the right present. The problem with this is that it can be notoriously tricky to figure out what your kids are going to enjoy. To avoid any mistakes, make sure that you keep an eye on your child for gift clues, for a couple of weeks leading up to the big day. You can also check out gift ideas sites like for inspiration relevant to their interests.

Ask for hints on the kind of presents that your child would like – most of the time, they won’t mind helping you out. You can also do some hunting online for some of the most popular items in the industry right now. Preteens generally like to keep up with what’s trending.

2.  Pick the Perfect Food

Another thing that can save just about any preteen party is the right food. Now probably isn’t the time for you to go all-in on your healthy eating strategy and try to get your kids to eat as many veggies as possible. Unless your child is one of the very few that actually likes eating healthy foods, ditch anything green and nutritious and replace it with the items you know your kids love.

Crisps, biscuits, candies, and home-made cakes always go down a treat. It might also be worth mixing up some mocktails for your kids too, to make them feel more grown-up. Placing fancy drinks into cocktail glasses can really class up a party. 

Thursday, 17 September 2020

What Next?

Girls going to secondary school

The girls have returned to secondary school and I dropped JJ off for his induction day at college and now I am sat at home, thinking 'what comes next for me?' I know I am in a season of mothering and supporting my husband but I also hope (and pray) that there is something really fulfilling in my future for me to do. I understand the importance of supporting others and being there to facilitate their lives, hopefully helping the kids to grow into decent citizens but I have to be honest, it doesn't give me that immense satisfaction that I get from paid work.

I feel like I'm sharing a dirty secret in having said that, as many homemakers and fellow Christian mums will be finding their satisfaction, contentment or purpose in serving their family, but it just doesn't do it for me. I do really enjoy being home for when I am needed; I like to clean, launder and make the house feel clean and comfortable but I also love the buzz of achievement.

I don't know if it is just the way I am wired or if it is because I didn't become a Christian until I was 28 and the world's view of success is deeply ingrained in me. Whichever, nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing my to-do list get ticked off and knowing I am achieving. It doesn't have to be anything particularly high-level or aspirational, I literally just like to be busy and work my way through a long list most days.

How to chose a Successful Wedding Venue in Covid Times

Photo by Jeremy Wong Weddings on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

We all know this year has been one of the trickiest in recent decades, never before have we had our civil liberties curtailed in quite the same way, without there being widespread war. We're not out the woods yet though, the complete lockdown might be over, but we're seeing local lockdowns across the country and the World Health Organisation are warning us that there will be many differences, such as distancing and wearing face coverings for some time to come yet, maybe even a couple of years.

Having said all that, life can still go on for most of us and we're having to adapt to our new normal. People still wish to get married, celebrate their birthday or hold a wake for a lost loved one and we can do these things, we just have to make sure we are meeting the current Government guidance. 

This week we saw the introduction of the 'Rule of 6' in England and this means that right now social gatherings that you are organising as an individual can only be for 6 people, whether they are indoors or out. The good news is that when you move a wedding celebration or funeral wake to a COVID-secure venue provider, you can increase the number to 30 and there is hope within the event industry that this number will increase in October when new announcements are made by the Government. 

It's important that we still have things to look forward to and as such, I believe you should go ahead and still plan and book your celebrations for 2021, so here are my top tips for doing so -

1.  Think about what You really Want

You might have always imagined you'd have a winter wedding in a stately home with 200 guests but now is the time to really think that through. Could it be that an intimate outside tea party in spring with just 30 guests would suit you just as well and take away most of the stress of planning something so fancy? The great thing about our current situation is it frees you to think about what would really make you happy and to drop any expectations that family or others might have. 

Once you have decided what you want your event to look like, you need to agree your budget, choose the season/ date, set the attendance number and decide on the location. Basically, draw up a blueprint for the event and decide how hands-on you want to be. Do you need a dedicated event planner? Would the venue event organised be enough, or would you prefer to do everything yourself? The choice is yours!

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Reasons to be Cheerful - Suiting Myself!

ashburnham place

I have to say that I am really pleased that the girls have gone back to school and JJ has started college, this means I am getting a bit of time alone in my house again. I treasure this time. It's when I do the cleaning, listen to the silence and just suit myself.

Today all three kids were working and then the girls went into the local town with my hubby, this again left me alone to do whatever I wanted to do. So it has been the most lovely day and I feel as if I have achieved loads but it has been simple, no stress activities without having to travel anywhere. 

The only downside of my day was getting up early to ensure the girls got to work for 8am and JJ for 8.30am. I figured because I was already awake I might as well do an exercise DVD and clock up some good steps to start my day well.

It was then time for some yummy scrambled eggs on toast and preparing all the veggies for tonight's roast dinner whilst watching church online. I enjoyed the service and as it was just me in my kitchen I was able to sing to my heart's content.

A quick tidy of the kitchen, put the washing on and do the few bits of ironing I had and then I headed for a leisurely shower and a read of my book whilst I dried off. It really was a very slow-paced and enjoyable day!

I met JJ for lunch and we had ham and cheese paninis in the sun and then a walk around one of the lakes before he had to go back to work and I continued around the other lake and sat for quite some time praying and waiting on God. 

By the time I got back home, it was time to cook the roast dinner and watch a bit of Chicago PD as I did so. We then had a good family dinner together and everyone shared a little of their day. I got the kids to clear up and I read some more of my book.

And here I am now doing a spot of blogging whilst watching Home Alone. It really has been a lovely day, just suiting myself but still looking after my house and family. I'll be heading to bed soon for a little more reading and feeling quite content that I clocked up over 13,500 steps on my leisurely day.

I hope you've had a nice Sunday and been able to find even a little time to suit yourself too.

I'm linking this post up with Becky at Lakes Single Mum for Reasons to be Cheerful.

Friday, 28 August 2020

Visiting Nymans, National Trust, West Sussex in Summer

View from temple at Nymans
View from the Temple

We've really enjoyed getting out to many National trust sites over this strange Covid summer. We've found all the sites to be excellent at taking pre-booked customers and ensuring there is plenty of room for distancing, as well as being stunning to look round of course.

Miss E decided to join my husband and me on our trip to Nymans in July, and it is a perfect place for wandering and chatting to your family as you walk the stunning grounds. The National Trust describe Nymans as "a garden lovers' home for all seasons, with an extensive yet intimate garden set around a romantic house and ruins." 

There is a one-way system around the site at the moment and we found it easy to follow as a map is available. They have also mapped out a more accessible and level route for those who need it. At the moment the cafe and bookshop are closed but the shop was open and beautifully stocked.

It is worth noting that the only toilets available at the moment are the ones in the car park as Nymans are having some extensive work done to create a large suite of modern and accessible toilets for future use. 

I think pictures speak a thousand words, so have a look at Nymans in the sun. 

View to Nymans woodlands

The view out to the wider country estate with woodland, lakes and bird hides, perfect for exploring and seeing what wildlife and birds you can spot. The woodland walks are again open and there are circular waymarked routes of between 0.75 miles and 2.5 miles. Here is a map of the gardens and woodland. 

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Eight Considerations for Successfully Converting your Loft Space

Photo by SEASHELL IN LOVE - Kristin on Unsplash

                              {This is a collaborative post}

If your house is starting to feel as if you are outgrowing it, but you can’t afford the expense of moving, have you thought about renovating your loft and converting it into another bedroom, or maybe a study or playroom?

Financially speaking, loft conversions are always a good idea as they can add a large amount to the value of your home. Of course, there will be some disruption to your comfort of living whilst the renovation is going on and a new staircase is installed but the extra space and the value you gain will be totally worth it in the end.

Check out these eight considerations for successfully converting your loft space –

Do I need planning permission?

If you are mostly intending to do internal work and just put in some roof windows to gain light, you shouldn’t need to seek planning permission. Generally, a small-scale loft conversion is considered to be permitted development, but of course, it is always worth checking for your specific circumstances at the time, as there is nothing worse than having to apply for retrospective planning and potentially having to undo your hard work if planning consent is not given.

Does building regulations approval apply?

If you are creating a liveable space (that is a space that you’ll regularly use as part of your home) then UK building regulations are sure to apply and you’ll need to ensure that internal and external walls, floors, roofing, drainage, electrics and doors and windows all meet the regulations. If you are new to this area it is definitely worth contacting Building Control to discuss your plans and seek feedback on what they need from you.

Thursday, 20 August 2020

Getting Your Fill Of Fitness As You Get A Little Older

Image Credit

{This is a collaborative post}

As we get into our middle-ages, it can become all too clear that we don’t have the physical prowess as we did in our youth. You might not quite be over the hill just yet, but keeping yourself in good condition becomes a little more work. As such, here, we’re going to take a look at what you can do to make sure you’re getting the exercise you need as you get a little older, and how to make sure you’re doing it safely and securely.

Get your heart pumping 
First of all, let’s talk about making sure you’re doing the right kinds of exercises. Aerobic exercises typically tend to be the easiest ones to get into since they don’t require as much equipment. Simply put, this is any exercise like jogging, skipping, swimming, and dancing that gets your heart pumping, improving your cardiovascular system. For instance, you can make use of a walking app to get 20 minutes or more in, 3 or 4 days a week. To make sure you’re not pushing yourself too hard, you want to exercise at a pace where you can carry a conversation, as this ensures you’re able to get enough breath to support the processes of the body during exercise.

Support your body 
You don’t have to want to build a body replete with rippling muscles in order to see the benefits of some strength training. In fact, as we grow older, it becomes more important than ever to build the muscle that will help support the rest of our bones. This can help prevent issues in bone strength in later life, as well as improving your posture, reducing your chances of a back injury. There are plenty of body-weight strength-building exercises that can help you build a reliable level of bodily muscle. However, you can also look at using light hand weights for a range of simple exercises. You can add these into your cardio exercises or do separate sessions, whichever feels most comfortable.

Stay limber and stay happy 
As we get older, one of the biggest risks to our bodily independence is when we find we’re not able to move as well as we could before. You might feel right now that you can’t bend over as much as you could in the past or aren’t quite as flexible. As we get older, this can extend to things like an inability to climb up the stairs or into the bath. The best way to prevent this is with stretching and flexibility exercises like yoga. These can help you greatly increase and retain your body’s range of motion. Furthermore, you should be stretching before and after every single exercise you do, anyway. Otherwise, you can end up injuring yourself, delaying your next workout session which can, in turn, diminish the results of your otherwise healthy lifestyle.

Friday, 14 August 2020

Super Hot Reasons to be Cheerful

I have to admit that I don't much like the heat. I'm really not built for it and unless I am on a sun lounger, under a parasol, reading a book, by the pool then I'm not interested. If I had my way, I'd just stay in and be cool, but of course with kids and especially being away from home I had to head out and make the best of it. Usually, I'd slip into a supermarket for a bit to enjoy the air-conditioning but right now with Covid and masks, I'm staying away from those as much as possible.

Despite the crazy heat here in East Sussex, it has been a great month and here are some of the things that have been making me super happy.

My Mum and Dad came to stay in the cottage we have on-site here and it was lovely to spend a whole week with them, visiting lots of open spaces.

I've had a few trips to Bodiam Castle recently as it is super close to my home. Here is Miss E feeding the ducks, they do seem to love her.

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

How much do you know about Laser Hair Removal Treatment?

Image Credit: Thérapie Clinic

{This post is written in collaboration with Austin K}
For those who are tired of plucking, tweezing, shaving, and waxing their unwanted body hair away, laser hair removal treatment could be your perfect choice as it is one of the most advanced hair removal treatments chosen by thousands of people each year, because of its outstanding outcomes.
If you are looking for a permanent hair-free solution within just a few treatments, then search no more, as laser treatment could be your answer. As a cosmetic treatment, the laser is known for its non-invasiveness, precision, and speed in treating unwanted body hair anywhere on your body. The concentrated laser beams target and destroy the hair follicles that are present inside the skin’s surface so that hair no longer grows back and it only affects the specific structures of the hair and follicle, leaving the surrounding skin undamaged.
If you’ve held back, worrying about how much it will hurt, then fear not as the cooling technology attached to the laser will reduce the pricking sensation and make the entire process mainly pain-free and super simple, whilst being very effective. A top tip is to avoid caffeine before your treatment as this can make your skin more sensitive.

Saturday, 8 August 2020

5 Things to Consider when Preparing to Rent your House Out

Handing over keys
Photo by Maria Ziegler on Unsplash
{This is a collaborative post}

Like me, you might never have considered becoming a landlord, but what I now know is that it is far easier than I feared. I have a couple of local friends who are in the same situation as me, where we get our houses provided with our husband's jobs and whilst they both went for the renting option, we decided to sell our old house. Well, now they are quids in and we are £130K down! Yep, you read that right, in the last 7 years, the house we sold has risen by £130,000 without any works having been done on it, as we did all those before we moved out.

I think because our move was quite a quick one, it just felt far too scary to rent our house out and to live over 100 miles away from it, but I need not have feared as I now know that is what a good Lettings Agent does for you. If you're in the position of thinking about renting your property out because you're heading abroad for a bit, been given a house with your job or for another reason entirely, read on to see what you need to consider when you rent out your property and become a landlord -

1.  Do your Preparation and Research

Have a look at sites like Zoopla and Rightmove and see what kind of rents people are achieving in your area. Think about what kind of people you think your home might suit best - a professional couple, a small family, roommates? Each different demographic comes with their own pros and cons, so have a think about this and who you think it might be best to let your property to. Do you want to let your house furnished or not?

Also, work out your budget, how much does it cost to pay the outgoings for your property each month, add on the cost of the letting agent and any profit you with to make and you have an idea of what you need to be charging. Hopefully, it will fall in line with what you have discovered others are charging for similar properties.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

3 Inspiring House Warming Gift Ideas

Photo by 8-Low Ural on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

With the coronavirus-induced lockdowns easing slowly, we are now able to meet people outside and enjoy some socially distanced company. If you are eager to head around to your friend’s new place, you might want to take something with you for a house warming gift.

With the world having been closed down for the past three months, it can be difficult to work out the tone of the gathering that your friend is hosting. House-warming soirees are usually full of hugs, congratulations, and close contact. This cannot happen at the moment, so you are restricted with what you can experience at the new dwelling. A house tour may be off the cards but a garden barbecue might not be. Take a look at these ideas to inspire your house warming gift-giving during this time of pandemic -

Go Personal 

The most thoughtful gifts are those that veer away from the generic. Rather than picking up some tea towels for the kitchen of your nearest and dearest, you could opt for a more customized approach. Tea towels printed with their faces, their names, or a Google street view of their new pad can be quirky and raise a smile. Alternatively, consider personalized mugs, glassware, and coasters. Gifting them something that is bespoke will ensure that your present remains in the home for a long time and will be a memorable addition to their new pad. If your friends are cooks, his and hers aprons could go down well. Or perhaps some personalised egg cups will generate a few laughs. You know them best and there are so many great personalised gifts out there now, go wild and choose something special.

Staying Safe on Holiday in Columbus, Ohio

Photo by Oz Seyrek on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

Going on holiday with young children can be incredibly daunting. While you are familiar with your local area, going out of your own county/ state or even to a different country can pose new challenges. You may not be certain on the laws of your destination, or about how to navigate your way around with children.

There are also a number of reasons which may cause illness or injury on holiday. Even something as simple as the tap water at your residence, the meals you consume, or bites from insects local to the region can cause illness, injury, or distress. If something does go awry, you may find it beneficial to speak to a personal injury lawyer (based in or around Columbus).

There are also a number of ways in which you can reduce your chances of issues arising whilst you're away, read on to find out...

Plan Ahead in Case Children Get Lost 

Even younger children may be able to understand some basic instructions regarding what to do if they get lost. Instructing them to speak to a Columbus police officer, or shop employee can be a good way of them getting help. Giving them information such as your full name, as opposed to “my mommy” and we're you're staying will also help officials find and reunite you.

Alternatively, you could also look into means of tracking your child via GPS. Whether you use a watch or stick-on device, knowing that your child’s location will always be a click of a button away can give you some peace of mind.

A trip anywhere can pose dangers if you do not consider all aspects beforehand. By planning ahead, and ensuring everyone knows what to do in the event of separation, you will be arming your family with the tools they need to navigate common dangers they may face in life, not just on holiday.

Saturday, 1 August 2020

Eat Out to Help Out - Find out who is Offering 50% Discount in August 2020

Orangery Tea Room, Ashburnham Place
Orangery Tea Room, Battle, East Sussex

Do you feel ready to join in with the Government's August scheme to help boost spending within the hospitality sector? From the friends I have spoken to, this scheme feels like a mixed blessing. On the one hand, they are keen to get out and have a meal, enjoying a sense of normality in this strange time, but on the other, they can be fearful that too much of a sense of normality is what will lead to a rise again in cases of coronavirus.

I've been out for a couple of meals since restaurants were allowed to re-open again at the beginning of July and personally I have found them to be fine. We booked for a time we knew would be less busy and found there is excellent distancing between the tables and considerate servers. So, for us, we will be joining in with this scheme and enjoy taking advantage of 50% off food and non-alcoholic drinks at participating businesses.

I felt it was apt to be organised, as all restaurants have less capacity than normal and booking is encouraged for most good restaurants, so I have booked for one night a week to try out a few new places and have some (hopefully) really enjoyable meals. My husband said to me to book for the ones that are normally more expensive and we might avoid, as this gives us an affordable way to try them out.

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Bedgebury, Goudhurst, Kent - An Amazing Day Out for all the Family

Bedgebury Header

Back in April 2017, we visited Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest as we were going to try out the Go Ape course. Despite having lived only 30 minutes away for a good few years it was our first visit there and we were impressed. We all had an amazing day at the Forestry Commission site that is a 200-acre Pinetum and 2000-acre forest. I'd heard many times before that it is a great place for families to visit but I wasn't in a hurry to drive over and pay for parking as we ourselves live in 220 acres of glorious East Sussex countryside. 

It wasn't until a couple of weeks ago when we were due to head to Go Ape again that we made our next trip to Bedgebury, and it still is as glorious as ever. We need to go back as a family and take a picnic to spend a number of hours there walking the trails without the distraction of doing Go Ape and being tried afterwards!

I love that the Forestry Commission describe Bedgebury as a 'world of trees' and you can check out their website before you travel if you want to know more about all the tree species you'll see once there. If you like to be outside there is so much to do at Bedgebury and it is open 8am - 7pm daily at the moment -

Walking Trails

Again head to the website to download maps for various trails across the massive site. There are gentle strolls, nordic walking trails, seasonal trails, challenging health walks and calorie mapped trails. Normally you can pick up maps in the Visitor Centre too, but right now, due to Covid-19 it is closed. They are working on reopening it soon though and you can find lots of information on the website.

There are four orienteering trails for all abilities, they are professionally designed and affiliated to the British Orienteering Federation. The four different routes are suitable for children, beginners, intermediate and advanced.

Dogs are welcome at Bedgebury, but of course, you must follow the forest rules.

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Planning to get Pregnant - 7 Things to Consider

Photo by Anna Pritchard on Unsplash
{This is a collaborative post}

Getting pregnant, having a baby and becoming a parent are something many of us take for granted. Growing up I had no desire to have children of my own; I didn't have any younger family members, so I never babysat and spent time around little ones and I just didn't think they'd be a part of my life. Roll forward a number of years and I found the right partner and kids very firmly become a part of my future.

I never realised what a rollercoaster it could be to conceive and then have a baby though, that knowledge only came to me through experience. In October 2002 when my husband and I were on honeymoon we decided to try for a child and I stopped taking the pill. Having been on it for around a decade I was led to believe it was going to take 6 months to a year for it to leave my system and for me to fall pregnant. Not so! It really is different for everyone. I fell pregnant on 31st December 2002 and had JJ in early October 2003. From planning to having a baby in my arms in just under a year, it was no wonder I thought the second child would come easily.

Things often don't go as expected though and when we decided to try for another baby about a year after having JJ, it just didn't happen. It took until late 2006 and having been off work for a while with neuralgia bought on by bells palsy to fall pregnant again. Then we discovered it was a twin pregnancy, probably due to my taking a super high dose of vitamin B12 (for the bells palsy) and also folic acid at that time, as well as being stress-free.

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Summertime Reasons to be Cheerful #R2BC

Time just seems to have been escaping me recently. The easing of lockdown has meant that the centre where I live is slowly re-opening and this means I've been busy helping my husband get things ready and also doing the social media. Add that to my regular work, looking after the house and trying to keep the kids interested in their education and I've been a busy girl. Here is my home looking really beautiful as I drove back in at sunset the other day -

I've had some great walks out in our grounds with my kids over the last few months. Sunset is a popular time, once dinner and tidying up is done, we head off and wander. The girls go on the swing, they teach me tik tok dances and they laugh at me, it's bliss!

Saturday, 11 July 2020

8 Ways to Feel Better about Yourself

Photo by Ellieelien on Unsplash
{This is a collaborative post}

We've been living through such a strange and difficult time the last few months and as lockdown starts to ease and hopefully life becomes a little more normal again, it is good to think about what we can do to give ourselves a little boost. Many of us have been desperate to get our hair cut or our nails done, and those simple actions can make you feel more confident and ready to face the world. But I've also been musing some other ideas of what we can do if we are feeling a bit flat right now and as if we need to start to feel better about ourself again.

So how about these ideas? -

1.  Have a day to yourself

If lockdown has meant you've been home with those you love 24/7 then you might just be desperate for some alone time. Now that more places are opening up and perhaps you can get out as you have a babysitter, why not consider a day shopping in your favourite town. Or maybe taking a very long walk in a local country park, seaside or forest. Pack a flash and a picnic if you still want to stay away from people, or it might be your idea of heaven to be able to have a good coffee al fresco outside your favourite cafe.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Go Ape Treetop Challenge in a time of Social Distancing, Bedgebury, Kent

2 females on Go ape treetop challenge

It's my girls birthday next week and for quite some time they've been wanting to do the Go Ape Treetop Challenge. They've both completed the Treetop Adventure a few times and enjoyed it but as tall girls, they were ready for a new challenge. I have to admit, that I have never fancied going up into the treetops myself and had put off going as I assumed they needed an adult up there with them, what I now know is that if the child is under 13, they have to have an adult participating with them, but if they are 13 or over the adult can supervise from the ground. Perfect, I suspect we'll be going more often now I know that!

There used to be a minimum age for participation on the Treetop Challenge but now with new safety technology it is just a minimum height and any child can have a go (along with their supervising adult) as long as they are 1.4M (4FT 7”) or more.

The cost to do the Treetop Challenge is £25 for an under 18-year-old and £33 for 18 years plus. It's advised that the course will probably take around 2-3 hours. We arrived for a safety briefing at 9.45am, but it didn't start until closer to 10am by the time all participants had arrived and it probably went on until about 10.30am, because of the need to keep a distance from others.  We finished the course at 12.25pm, so that was just under two hours up in the air. It's great that there is no time limit and you can enjoy the course at a leisurely pace if you so wish.

3 females in the trees

Monday, 6 July 2020

First-Timers’ Guide to Visiting Italy in the Summer

Photo by Flo P on Unsplash
{This post is written in collaboration with Emily Jones}

Even though there is a lot of uncertainty due to COVID-19 right now, one can still plan and dream. It’s actually fun and refreshing to talk about going somewhere with your family, even if it may not be for a bit. One wonderful destination to go to is Italy, especially with kids. The food is incredible, the locals are friendly, the natural landscapes are stunning, there is so much history and culture here, and there is something for everyone.

So if you are looking to go to Italy for the first time, here’s your guide to visiting Italy in the summer!

Travel tips for Italy in the summer

Plan ahead
You know how important planning is to me and with so much to see and do in Italy, it is crucial to make a list of ‘must-see’ spots before you go. Especially when you are travelling as a family, you want to see the beautiful sites, visit some museums, and also experience life around the places you visit. Plus, while you are in Italy. you don’t want to be planning what next, you just want to make the most of your time there!

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Recommended Self-Catering Accommodation in the South of England

In the wake of this pandemic, many people are rejecting the idea of holidaying abroad this year and will be staying in the UK instead. Whilst many of us are keen to get away and to start feeling a bit more normal, there is still a certain level of caution and worry around being away from home and being around too many people. For that reason, booking self-catered accommodation could be a great option.

Here are some recommendations of places we have stayed, in the south of England, and have really enjoyed, thus being happy to recommend them -

East Sussex - Blue Doors Cottage, Ashburnham Place, Battle

This comfortable cottage sleeps 5 adults easily, has a large private back garden, allocated parking and good WiFi. Nestled in the woods at the 220 acre Ashburnham Place it is a great place to holiday. You can walk or cycle the extensive grounds and enjoy all that Ashburnham Place has to offer.  It's only 8 miles from Bexhill beach and the towns of Hastings and Eastbourne are around 30 minutes away.

Blue Doors Cottage, Ashburnham Place

Check out the Ashburnham Place website