Monday 28 November 2016

Shrek's Adventure! London - Our Review

Shrek's Adventure! London
Last Saturday the girls and I set off to meet our friends in London for a visit to Shrek's Adventure! This is perfectly placed by the London Eye making it easily accessible to many main line stations such as Charing Cross and Waterloo and the District, Circle, Jubilee, Northern and Bakerloo underground lines. We had booked our tickets online and this meant we had timed entry and didn't have to worry about any queues, result!

My family had visited Shrek's Adventure! when it first opened back in July last year (check out my full review from then) and we had a good time but there was one big niggle for us and that was the queueing internally. Well I am super glad to say that this issue really has been sorted out and it meant that we were in the attraction about 70 minutes, which is pretty close to the 75 minutes that the attraction advertise it as.

Saturday 26 November 2016

Join in with Me? #1GoodThing for Advent/ December

Last year during Advent I chose to relax on the blogging front and to express my gratitude for all the blessings I have in life by taking part in a visual record on Instagram and Facebook, sharing one photo a day with the hashtag #1GoodThing.

I really enjoyed it and it helped to keep me grounded and grateful during December and the run up to Christmas which can be a bit crazy, so I will be doing the same again this year and I wonder if you might like to join me?

My project will be for Advent, which is from Sunday 27th November through to Christmas Eve but if you don't celebrate Advent then your project could be for all December or the 24 days leading up to Christmas, just like an advent calendar but instead of a chocolate a day you get a blessing in the form of a photo and remembering just how wonderful your life is.
I learnt a long time ago that choosing to be happy and thankful is the major difference between living a contented life and longing for more, more, more.....
Of course things might actually be tough for you right now, I'm not trying to make light of that but I know from experience that lightening the load by focusing on something positive can really make a difference, so I encourage you to dig deep and join in.

I'm not strict either, I don't care about rules, so join in every day, some days or just once, whatever you fancy but any posts shared with #1GoodThing I'll like and comment on and then each Sunday I'll do a round-up of my four favourite photos from that past week on the blog here.

I hope this sounds like something you might enjoy.

Be blessed, Mich x

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Family Fun at London's South Bank

Everyone in my family loves the South Bank in London, there is so much to see and do there and what I really love is that much of it you can enjoy for free. I have to be honest and say I'm not entirely sure how far the South Bank stretches but I'm sure you won't mind if i mention some places that are beyond the remit of the South Bank. Basically it is all easily walk-able along the river.

Shrek's Adventure!
We visited here last weekend and had lots of fun, my review will go live on Sunday but you can read how we got on last year when we visited for the girls birthday. The niggle we found back then has been totally rectified so they are doing a good job. This attraction takes about 75 minutes to go round and it is like an interactive theatre show. Something really different to everything else available.

Other Merlin Attractions
You can buy super value combo tickets if you fancy a day of high energy fun and so many of the attractions are all grouped together in the same area of the Thames. There is the London Eye, Sea-life Aquarium, London Dungeon all literally next door to each other.

Thursday 24 November 2016

I really can't grumble - Reasons to be Cheerful #R2BC

Morning friends, how are you this week? I'm well, despite numerous aches and pains that I am sure would suit a body at least thirty years older than mine! lol

But enough of my niggles, it is Thursday morning and that means for me and the cheerful gang that we will share the reasons this week why we are feeling grateful. There are so few of us who join in with this linky nowadays that it would be really tempting to just give up and to be honest there have been a couple of times I've handed over the reigns and walked away for a bit but I can't get it from under my skin. There is nothing better than giving thanks and acknowledging that there is always a silver lining, a glimpse of blue sky and that when we choose to approach the world with a thankful heart even the roughest times can be got though.

I've learnt so much from some of the women who have (and still do) joint in with this linky over the last five years. Thank you especially to Becky, Candi and Rachel who tirelessly post and encourage me to look again at my own life. I am especially thankful that Reasons to Be Cheerful gave a prompting to some people in their darkest times and helped them through a rough patch.

If you are new here this week, why don't you join us? All you need to do is link up a post that is making you cheerful, one where you share your gratitude, or boast about your kids or look for the silver lining?

Thursday 17 November 2016

A Child Free Weekend in London - A Big Reason to be Cheerful!

Happy Thursday, I hope you are all having a wonderful week.

I've had a great week, it has been pretty low key but the weekend was superb as my husband and I got to go and stay in London together without the kids. It happens once or twice a year and you just can't put a price on the value of that time alone as a couple. So thank you Annie for looking after them so well and they had a ball with you, there are not many babysitters they ask for again.

Quiet Train Ride 
We set off fairly early Saturday morning so we could make the most of the day and it was great to spend 90 minutes just chatting without any interruption. I had downloaded some programmes to watch and taken my book and I didn't need either. Hubby was on good form and good company! lol

Premier Digital Conference
We attended the Premier digital conference during Saturday and had a good time. Neither of us had particularity high expectations as last years conference was a little basic for us but they had upped their game and the stream for experienced bloggers was way better. I particularly liked the sessions on legalities and vlogging. I've made a promise to myself that I'll vlog once a week from Jan, ekkk. I better start getting in some practise.

I was a finalist in two of the award categories for the Premier Digital awards for my faith blog Progress Not Perfection. We didn't go to the awards in the evening though as I already knew I wasn't a winner or runner up and sadly they only pay for those tickets and the cos was beyond our means.

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Rediscovering Netflix

I have a little confession to make - Netflix has been sitting there unloved for a few months. I went off and had a little love affair with another on-demand TV provider and shhh, don't tell Netflix but I liked it.

This other service seduced me with more variety, newer films and shows my kids love but then.... it went and started to change things. The kids channels were no longer included and the price of having variety was nearly £20 a month so I let them go and here I am, back with my first love Netflix and rediscovering all it has to offer me for less than half the price.

Here a few recommendations of shows/ films my family are loving right now -

White Collar - I adore this box set so much. I am on season 4 now and the plot just gets better and better. Of course it helps a lot that the eye candy is so good and I'm not sure about you but I find it so easy to fall in love with TV characters, Matt Bomer who plays Neal Caffery is just divine (but also gay in real life!).

Monday 14 November 2016

Fooling Myself or Fresh Revelation?

Call it what you will but I’ve been living under a lie for the last few years. If you asked me (or even if you didn’t) I would have told you that I’m a glass-half-full kind of girl. I believe I’m very positive and I’d have said that I have my attitude sorted; I am positive and I know how lucky I am and I’m grateful for all I have.

But last Saturday as I sat listening to Angela Kemm at a conference I had a fresh revelation – there is so much work for me (for you Lord) to do in this area. Yes I’ve made massive progress and leaps forward since becoming a Christian fourteen years ago but actually I still have that negativity and unbelief at the heart of me.

On Thursday before I went along to my coached running session and it wasn’t easy. My coach Jax was pushing me and I said something along the lines of being too heavy to do something and quick as a flash she stopped and talked good forthright sense to me and told me to stop with the negativity, I talk as if I’m the heaviest woman alive and I’m not.

What she did was give me a good old virtual slap round the cheek and pass the message on to me ‘get over yourself Mich’. I needed to hear this and Angela picked up on it and spoke similar to me again on Saturday and as I walked out of the conference I was reminded that I need to change my thinking. There is no more I can’t, everything must be I can. The Bible tells me –

I can do all things through him who strengthens me’ Philippians 4:13 (ESV)

So today Lord, in your strength I stand on my virtual soapbox and say yes Lord…

I can lose weight

I can run for fitness and fun

I can be a good wife

I can be whatever God destined for me

I am enough and today God is already very satisfied with me, whether I change or not.

He loves me and is pleased.

Thank you father. Mich xx

Sunday 13 November 2016

Can you Give-up a Tub of Quality Street to help the Homeless this Christmas?

I wrote in my other blog recently how I'm going to be helping at a pop-up winter night shelter over the next few months. It's not something I've done before and truth be told I don't feel that equipped to do it but I know that after I've attended the training I'll feel more confident and to be honest, with God by my side I'll be able to do anything that is required of me.

Whilst I'm focusing my (small) helping efforts here, others have it so much worse. Can you imagine having no place to sleep and then the temperature drops to minus 9 and stays at that temperature? Back in 2012 I travelled to Minsk in Belarus for a week with the charity campaign Operation Christmas Child. Our remit there was to deliver shoe box gifts to those in need and as such I saw a great deal of poverty and met many children living in orphanages.

As I read some of the stories that MissionWithout Borders (MWB) have shared with me for their Street Mercy Project I was transported back to my time in Minsk and meeting all those gorgeous kids who were living in homes with holes in the roof (literally) and having to deal with the issues of abandonment and neglect by parents who have been driven to binge on cheap home brewed 100% proof vodka.

Friday 11 November 2016

10 Reasons to Visit Nymans, National Trust - West Sussex

During half-term we fancied out a day out at a National Trust site, our son was staying with his grandparents, so it was just the girls and us and we wanted to visit somewhere new to explore. About an hour away from us in West Sussex, just five miles outside Crawley is Nymans, which the National Trust describes as a garden lovers' home for all seasons, with an extensive yet intimate garden set around a romantic house and ruins.

It is a busy enough site that they have regular trails and activities for all the family and we felt sure there would be something to keep us all interested. We weren't wrong, have a look at these ten reasons why we would recommend a family visit to Nymans - 

1. Loads of Opportunities for Play

Thursday 10 November 2016

Bloggy Reasons to be Cheerful

Happy Thursday friends. I hope you are well and managing to keep a smile on your face in the wake of the US presidential elections. All is good here and I'm feeling tip top.

Just a short post this week as I'm super busy but the reasons to be cheerful that I'm sharing are all blog related. It has been a fab week and in fact I am feeling really good about blogging at the moment. Maybe after 8 years I have finally found my happy place and feel confident in what my blog is and where I fit into the web-sphere.

Viral post
I've been a fan of Operation Christmas Child for about 13 years now and every year my family enjoy making shoe boxes. In 2012 I was lucky enough to travel to Belarus with them to give out shoe boxes and present some live webcasts. There can be a lot of negativity about Samaritans Purse, the charity that runs the Operations Christmas Child programme so I wrote a post this week about the reasons you might not want to take part and it has gone viral. My best page views in a very long time and a very decent amount of shares on Facebook too. 

Tuesday 8 November 2016

8 Reasons Not to Take Part in a Shoe Box Appeal (Operation Christmas Child)

Shoebox header

Christmas, it is a time for giving and for receiving but for me, much more than that it is a time of goodwill, for thinking of others, for being generous and for reaching out.

You'll see lots of blog posts at this time of year from people taking part in shoe box Christmas gift schemes (particularly Operation Christmas Child) and your children might come home from school, church or something like brownies with a leaflet asking you to help and make a shoebox of gifts for a child, family or elderly person in need.

What do you do with this leaflet? That request from your children? Because let's be honest most kids want to get involved, their heart is to do something kind.

Do you bin the leaflet and hope your kid will forget? Do you tell them 'No, we are not getting involved as that charity is making kids become Christians'? Do you quickly remember how low your bank balance is and decide that £10 would be better off spent on your own child? Or maybe you adopt that age-old opinion, that charity starts at home.

Let's be honest, it is completely up to you what you do. No-one has to do anything they do not want to and no-one has the right to judge you for your choices. You just have to be happy yourself with what you choose to do or as the case may be, don't do.

Friday 4 November 2016

The Benefits of Time Outdoors for all the Family

Just over three years ago our family took the brave decision to sell our house and move away from the area we had lived in for fifteen years. My husband and I both changed jobs, the kids changed schools and we swapped a town and being close to London for the countryside and being close to the beach. It was the best thing we have ever done!

At the time we moved the children were 6, 6 and 10 years and becoming increasingly accustomed to indoor play, multi-media activities and days out to theme parks, swimming and the like. Yes we took them to the play park and we would sometimes walk around a local lake but there was no-where near enough time spent outside just enjoying being kids, breathing in the fresh air and running free.

When you live on a main road and children are not allowed out to play it really does restrict their freedom and imaginative play. Here in Sussex we live in 220 acres of land and the kids have friends who live in the same community and they go and collect conkers, play make believe in the church yard, skate on the private roads or organise mini sports days on the west lawn. The world is their oyster and they have so much freedom to play here.

"For a new generation, nature is more abstraction than reality. Increasingly, nature is something to watch, to consume, to wear – to ignore." Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods.

Thursday 3 November 2016

It's Thursday and that is a Reason to be Cheerful

Happy Thursday Fiends, I hope you are well. Welcome to this weeks edition of Reasons to be Cheerful.

I have a very busy day today but I am loving Thursdays at the moment.

1.  First off I have my coaching session with a little boy that I am meeting once a week for a year and it is a real joy getting to know him. I'm praying that I'm able to make a difference in his life and to help him enjoy school more. Check out the charity TLG if you are interested to volunteer to do the same they run this service in schools all across the country.

2.  Then straight after I head off to my coached run, where I will be put through my paces by the lovely Jax. Running isn't at all what I would choose to do but I have to do some exercise and this is as good as anything. It also helps that it is funded and fun. I definitely want to give a shout out to Jax's blog Walk2Run as it is really inspirational and if you are local to Bexhill/ Hastings then you must come and join one of her fun walks or coached sessions, she is ace.

3.  I've then got a delivery to make and a quick rush home for a shower and lunch before being at the girls school for their parents evening at 2.30pm. I'm praying that this goes well as I need to speak to the teacher about Miss E as she is already getting really concerned about her year six SATS. I'm not sure if I need to push for another formal dyslexia assessment or not.

4.  We are then off to JJ's school for a special awards ceremony where he will receive a prize for work of excellence in IT last year. He is very chuffed and I am super proud. This is the boy that we all wondered whether he would be able to settle into school or if it would always be a struggle for him.

Then once that is done, it is home for dinner and relax......

Wednesday 2 November 2016

The Boots We Wear


I’m in a good place right now, one where I am hearing God speak to me and that is both exciting and also scary. I find it really interesting that at times I can tune in and others I just have no idea what is being said or how God is prompting me. I suppose, logically there has to be times of rest or quiet otherwise I would get exhausted from constantly hearing God’s promptings for me to change and improve.

At church on Sunday our Senior Pastor Paul was speaking on unbelief and fear, he felt God had given him a powerful message to share with us about being careful what boots we step into each day. He had a big, heavy pair of wellies on stage that he stepped into and told us that each day these ‘old faithfuls’ sat by the side of his bed waiting for him to step into. His boots have a word branded onto the bottom of each of them – on one is fear and on the other is unbelief.

It is all too easy each day for any of us to slip into the habits that we are used to, the things we find familiar and comfortable and his boots of fear and unbelief are what he could easily wear every day if he didn’t put some thought and effort into it. BUT and this is a big BUT, when Paul gave his life to Christ he got given a new pair of boots, a much better pair, those of love and faith. Of course being new boots they are not as worn-in, or as comfy and familiar as the old ones but with time they too can become our favourite boots and of course they are much better and the rewards from wearing them are much richer.

I’ve been musing over this message since I heard it and of course praying for guidance on what it is that my boots have branded onto the bottom of them. At first I thought one of mine might be fear too and there are definitely times that I suffer from unbelief but this morning as I drove home from dropping the kids to school and I was musing how the children prefer to go in the car with a different parent to me I realised that the branding on the bottom of one of my boots is rejection.

Oh my word, what a revelation. I now know for sure I suffer with a spirit of rejection and I have never knowingly realised this before. I feel rejection in my life in so many ways and it is so easy for this to make me feel negative and down. There is nothing massive that I can pinpoint and say was the crux of my problems or issues and therefore this is probably just something I have dismissed before but for me it is real and it is a big deal and I need to get past it. So I’ve ordered a book by John Eckhardt called ‘Destroying the spirit of rejection’ and I’m hoping it will help, it has great reviews and over the next few weeks I’m going to be doing some praying with a friend and immersing myself in this subject.

As I think about this more and more I realise that I’ve felt rejected in so many ways in my life and it is now probably just a lens that I view life through. It is turned on as a default setting and that is bound to steal my joy. So I have doctored my shoes and tonight when I step out the house to go to a new bible study group (ekk a little scary) I am wearing the shoes of love and acceptance as that is what my faith in God gives me.

I am OK. I am more than OK. I am good enough. I walk in love and acceptance and spirit of rejection and fear be gone in Jesus name. Amen

Tuesday 1 November 2016

8 Ways to Prepare for Baby Number Two

Image Credit: Boy cuddling pregnant belly from Shutterstock

You've found out you're pregnant, you've had the three month scan and all is looking good so now is the time you can start to tell all your friends and family and spread the joy of knowing that a new babe will soon join your family. Of course you are excited, but if you are anything like me you'll also be a little nervous and maybe even overwhelmed. Your family of three will never be the same again!

How you feel might well depend on the age of your first child and the potential gap you'll have between your children. According to the U.K. office for National statistics the average age gap between a first and second babe is about 36 months, although I have friends who had as little a gap as 8 months by falling PG with a newborn and then having their second baby prematurely. That really would scare the pants off me! My age gap was a much more sensible 45 months but the tricky part for me was that babes two and three came at the same time of course!

To help you beat that feeling of being weighed down with worries of what might be it is important to get prepared for your second babes arrival. Try and get all the practical things but of the way nice and early and this means if you do feel tired or poorly later on in pregnancy you are not stressing about all the tasks still to be done.