Thursday 31 August 2017

Family Day out at Newhaven Fort #CountryKids

Back in March I recall reading Fiona's Countrykids and her family had been up in my area visiting family, whilst here they had a trip to Newhaven Fort and I thought it looked good fun, so I've stored that piece of knowledge away, ready for a spare day. Well that day came over the Summer holidays and my family took the 45 minute drive over to Newhaven.

It's not an area I've ever stopped in before, it has always just been a drive through but the harbour and seafront there are great and we would definitely stop there another time. To get to the fort you drive up quite a steep hill and the car parking is free (but be aware there is a 1.8 metre height restriction). At the top you can see out to sea and down to the harbour where there is a massive scrap metal yard and also enormous ferries come in to dock, the kids really liked it. We arrived about lunch time and had a picnic on the cliff top before going in as there are some very useful benches right by the parking.

New Haven Fort, East Sussex is a fun family day out. There are lots of interactive exhibits to explore

Newhaven Fort is open from February to November 10am - 5pm each day with the last admission being at 4pm. I feel the entry cost was really reasonable at £19.95 for a family of 5 and if you book in advance (it must be at least the day before) you get 10% off the admission price.

We spent around four hours at the fort, some of this was because we choose to sit on the clifftop and relax in the sun as a family and also to have a coffee in the 1940's tea room. I would say it is probably a couple of hour attraction normally for a family that likes to have a look around but not to read every piece of history (you could be there all day if you did that).

Sunday 27 August 2017

Review: The Works - Make Your Own Slime by Karina Garcia

Back in May I decided to make slime with the boy that I coach through the charity TLG. I needed a fun activity we could complete in about 40 minutes (including clear up) and slime was his suggestion. It was nothing I'd ever attempted before but after some googling and browsing of the web, I came up with ingredients I thought I could source in the UK and that would work.

Thankfully they did and we had lots of fun. I shared a short video clip on Instagram and quickly got asked to share my recipe, so this led to me making a YouTube tutorial and I was super impressed with how well it did in the first month, getting about 10K views and then it must have been added to an autoplay list or something by YouTube as it now has over a quarter of a million views on it and I seem to have developed a little fan base of kiddie slime makers. It is like another world, a world I was not part of and didn't really know existed. There was I thinking I was making a tutorial for parents to make slime with their kids but I've found that most kids go it alone!

As a parent it can be a bit of a worry that your child is off exploring YouTube alone as all sorts of random and inappropriate videos can pop up on the recommendations. For this reason I was really pleased to be offered the new book by slime guru Karina Garcia. This year she has published her first slime making book called Make Your Own Slime and it is ready for the UK market, so all the ingredients needed are easily available in the UK. This is something I can give to Miss M and Miss E and let them have some fun knowing they won't stumble across things I don't want them to see on YouTube.

Friday 25 August 2017

WWI Weekend at Bateman's, National Trust, East Sussex

WWI header image

Last weekend on a whim we decided to head over to Bateman's, a beautiful National Trust site just about a half-hour from our home. My husband had seen a tweet that they were having a World War I encampment weekend complete with a mess tent, field ambulance, planes and more.

So without there being any extra cost to go along (just the regular entry or your membership if you have already joined), we headed over there. We could see it would be busy as we headed into an overflow car park but it was all managed well and it only took minutes to park and get settled. There was also no parking cost, which is unusual for NT sites.

We've been to Bateman's before, back in May 2014 I wrote about our fun family day exploring the house of Rudyard Kipling, author of the Jungle Book but this time we didn't even get into the house or to explore the grounds too much as the focus of our visit was the WWI re-enactments. We are intending to head back again though in the near future as there are loads of estate walks that we want to take, the scenery there is just stunning.

The camp was open from 11am - 4pm each day and you could easily spend a few hours there as there were so many ex-soldiers and historians who were delighted to speak to you and help you to understand what life was like back in the early 1900s. There was also a central roped off area for displays and demonstration and the things happening here changed throughout the day.

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Back to School with Start-rite Shoes

My twin girls have been trying out some Start-rite shoes ready for back to school in September. They have already worn them for the month of July at school and now the shoes are put away for the next couple of weeks until they start back to school. Both of their senior style brogues and loathers have done an ace job so far and I feel fully confident they are going to last them well into year next too.

As part of Start-rites back-to-school campaign they wanted us to really put the girls shoes through their paces, so they have been to school in them, walked through the woods, scooting on their new Micro Scooters in them and playing at the park too.

Monday 21 August 2017

Take a Safari Experience in Kent with Port Lympne Reserve

My word, I have no idea how I missed this gem for such a long time. We've lived in East Sussex for just over four years now and a couple of friends had mentioned Port Lympne but just in passing. It's around 40 miles from me and I had (mistakenly) thought it was a small animal conservation centre, so I hadn't made any effort to take the family over there.

Then I sat down in June to plan our Summer holiday days out and was looking around the web for places to visit as a family. It is always fun to see somewhere new and my husband is a real bird and animal lover, so I was checking out zoos, farms and the like for him to be able to practise his photography. I came across the Port Lympne Reserve website and realised what we have been missing out on for the last four years!

Will we go back there, now we know?  An absolute yes, it is the most amazing day out and because so many of the animals are roaming free I bet it never feels like the same experience twice. Who knew there was a UK based safari experience? And don't think I am exaggerating, as we drove around in the safari truck we saw Giraffes, Water Buffalo, Antelopes, Rhinos, Eland, Greater Kudo, Ostrich, Zebras, Deer and Wildebeest and all of these were roaming free as we passed through their home. There are dozens more types of animals too but I'll mention more about those later.

Friday 18 August 2017

A Family Day Visit to Seaford, East Sussex #CountryKids

A few weeks back we had a spare Sunday with nothing planned and the kids suggested a trip to the beach. Since moving to East Sussex we've been to Eastbourne, Bexhill and Hastings so many times and they are all great but I thought it would be nice to visit somewhere new. So we got ourselves together and headed over to Seaford, I had no idea what to expect as it is more of a local residential town rather than a tourist one.

As we visited on a Sunday there was plenty of free parking around the town and that's always a bonus. We didn't really walk around the town, preferring to head straight for the seafront as it was a lovely day. It wasn't massively busy on the seafront and the kids could easily have bought their skates, scooters or bikes with them as it is a lovely long, smooth promenade.

Wednesday 16 August 2017

It's my Birthday - Reasons to be Cheerful #R2BC

Happy Thursday friends. Reasons to be Cheerful is over with Becky at Lakes Single Mum for August and will be back with me in September.

I'm away in Norfolk with my family at the moment staying in a lovely little cottage in Little Snoring. We booked via AirBnB and it was our first time but certainly won't be our last as it has been wonderful.

The owner has chicken, ducks, cats, sheep and Shetland Ponies in her grounds and my kids have been able to feed them, pet them and we have enjoyed fresh hen eggs too. Miss M has been in her absolute element, being around animals is her idea of heaven and I admit it has been magical. We head home today and I'm expecting some tears.

Dressing my Man with Jacamo - 23 Years On

Our family back in early 2004 when JJ was being christened

My husband and I will have been together for 23 years this Christmas, we were just young 21 year olds when we met working at a hotel in Eastbourne all those years ago. It always makes me smile to think how much I was dreading being sent to work in the hotel over the Christmas period. I was based up at the London Head Office at the time but as a new Graduate Trainee Manager I wasn't allowed to have Christmas off when everyone else on the programme was working so Eastbourne it was to be!

I had visions of a run-down hotel full of grannies where bingo was the highlight of their stay. I thought all the staff would be old and stuck in their ways and the town would have shut down for the Winter period. Of course in some ways I was right, the hotel was full of elderly people and bingo was a definite attraction, as was Jean on the Piano and Malcolm on the Organ but what I hadn't banked on was that the Assistant Manager would become my husband and that most of the staff were young and there was a great many nightclubs in town all catering for our age group.

When I first met dh I wasn't too impressed if I'm honest, I thought he was a bit camp and he tried to give me a staff room with a door that wouldn't lock. I did of course notice how good he looked wearing a suit and tie and it is funny but my overriding early memories of him were that he had great hair and nails. It was almost as if I was assessing him for future pedigree!

Sunday 13 August 2017

Thirty Years on and I'm still dreaming of a Mercedes-Benz

I have to laugh when I think back to my younger years and the ambitions I had. Growing up I had a very strong sense of what I wanted from life and there wasn't any way of steering me away from it. I knew I would be a manager in a large, quality hotel after I completed university and I would work my way up to being the General Manager so I had ultimate control and was earning a good amount of money.

As a teenager I remember having the ambition of earning forty thousand pounds a year. If I earned this I thought I would be set for life, of course that was thirty years ago and it seemed a mega amount of money. Nowadays it wouldn't be buying me so much with a large family.

A four bedroom detached house with a U-shaped gravel drive was next on my must-have list. I never really had any vision of what the inside of the house would look like but I knew it would have the drive for parking my Mercedes on. I had my heart set on a sports model, a SL500 convertible in red. Mercedes-Benz has always been the premium brand that I'd love to own, even now I'd happily have one if I could find the money.

Image: Thanks to The Sandown Group

A lack of money doesn't stop me from dreaming though, I've recently been perusing the Sandown Group website to see what Mercedes-Benz I might one day own. Of course if I was to buy one now Id need something big to be able to comfortably seat all five of my family. Since having the twins ten years ago we’ve opted for a seven seater car and we could do that again and get a V class. It certainly looks awesome in comparison to our much smaller car. Oh what a joy it would be to have enough boot space for all our luggage and to take the three kids without them arguing about who is nudging who and how that bag is in their area! Also with a seven seater we can continue to share the school lifts and take our neighbours kids too, which means I get some days school journey free.

Saturday 12 August 2017

Fabulous Twin Fun - Micro Scooter Sprites - Unboxing at the Beach

As part of my girls being involved with the Start-rite back-to-school shoes campaign they were sent new Micro Scooter Sprites in the teal owl design. Start-rite want the girls to put their shoes through vigorous testing and to make sure they really can stand up to the beating that a normal 10 year old gives them. How better than by regularly scooting in their shoes and lets be honest, kids don't always use the brake on a scooter, they often do it with the sole of their shoe!

Both girls have had Micro Scooters before, they started with the Mini Micros when they were just toddlers and then moved up to the Maxi Micros when they were around 5 years and to be honest they have been moaning at me for the last couple of years that they wanted a grown up 2-wheel scooter. Well now they are super happy and their wish has come true!

The Micro Scooter Sprite scooters start from £89.95 for the silver, £94.95 for the coloured and £99.95 for the patterned ones. They are available in a variety of colours. My girls were sent the Teal Owl with a bell and flower accessory included in the box. I noticed it was on special offer last weekend so it is definitely worth keeping an eye on the Micro Scooters website and signing up for their newsletter, which will keep you informed of their current deals.

Have a watch of our video and see the girls unbox and set up their scooters themselves. I love it when a product is so easy that a 10 year old can take it out the box and do everything they need to make it ready to ride. Even putting their bell on the Sprite scooter is child's play.

Wednesday 9 August 2017

Keeping Yourself Safe at Work - In The Office

Work Safety Image from Shutterstock

Do you know how to keep yourself safe when you are at work?

It might seem a strange question if you work in an office as you're wondering what can possibly go wrong but having worked the last ten years before moving to East Sussex in a very busy HR department of a large University I can honestly tell you how important it is to ensure your work space is safe and efficient.

We were very lucky at the University as we had an Occupational Health Department and Health and Safety department so when you started a new job with the Uni, you were met at your desk by a trainer assessor to review your work space and ensure it worked for you. These two departments worked really closely with us in HR to ensure if any ill health or accidents did come about in the workplace we could be immediately responsive.

Of course this is a luxury and doesn't happen in most offices, especially small ones like I'm currently working in. We have six of us all along a window in a fairly small space and we have to be quite careful not to be tripping over each other and our equipment.

Given the amount of people who are working in offices without the support of specialist trained staff I thought it would be useful to share some tips for keeping yourself safe at work in your office environment -

Tuesday 8 August 2017

Choosing the Right Swim Wear as a Plus Size Woman

I don't think there has been a time in my life when I haven't been classed as plus size. Even at my slimmest, I was a size 14, which I have to say looks really good on me but for at least the last couple of decades I've been a 20, 22 or 24. I've had a turbulent relationship with my weight and the way my body looks and whilst I have no desire to be a tiny size 10, I do want to be healthier and to have far less of a tummy.

For now, I am still a size 22 and in years gone by choosing a swimsuit that flatters my shape has been my least favourite thing to do but not any longer as Simply Be have the most amazing collection of swimwear available in all sizes to suit women of every shape. In my current size they have 217 swimwear items available, that is pretty awesome, right?

I've had a good look through and thought I'd share my top picks for various body shapes -

Apple shape - wide waist 
You'll want to create the illusion of more of a waist if you have a rounded middle shape. Swimsuits with two colours in panels can really help create this silhouette. Look at the Beach to Basics swimsuit in black and white on the left, it retails for just £32.00 at Simple Be and I think it would be perfect. Or take the Magisculpt swimsuit (£45.00) on the right, it has level 3 tummy control in the swimsuit and a beautiful blouson top over it to glide over the tummy area.

Sunday 6 August 2017

#SlimmingSunday - A Time of Change

Welcome friends to August’s Slimming Sunday, the linky for all your weight loss, healthy eating, exercise and healthy living posts. #SlimmingSunday goes live the first Sunday of each month and your hosts are Emma at Life According to Mrs Shilts and me, Michelle at Mummy from the Heart.

This is a small, friendly linky and we’re happy to have you join in. We are not big on rules but please, if you link up visit some fellow linkers and leave a bit of comment love to encourage them and I'm sure they’ll do the same for you. I'll be over to visit, comment and tweet out your posts.

So, come on and share - how has July been for you? Share your highs and lows and let us know where you need support. I'll be really happy to pray for you too if you'd like.

It's been a good month for me, it feels like I'm in a time of change and I'm hopeful this is the start of my forever journey to healthy living. I started taking Orlistat fat blocker tablets (prescribed by the doctor) and I was a bit fearful of taking these as they can lead to quite explosive results (if you get what I mean) but thankfully because I've been making good decisions to eat well most of the time I have been fine and at my first check-in at the doctors I had lost just over 3kg which I'm happy with.

I've also had a number of doctors appointments in the last month to try and get some of my health ailments sorted and again I feel as if progress is being made. I had an MRI scan on my foot and there was no evidence of a Mortons neuroma which is what they thought, so on the one hand that's great but on the other I'm no closer to having any answer as to what is wrong with my foot and why I get so much pain. I'm praying that as I lose weight the pressure on my foot will lessen and naturally help it.

Friday 4 August 2017

Fun for all Ages at Mighty Claws Adventure Golf, Bournemouth

Whilst on holiday in Bournemouth recently we headed to the new Mighty Claws Adventure Golf which is situated over by Littedown on the way to Christchurch at Play Golf Bournemouth.

I grew up holidaying in Bournemouth and Boscombe and it was always a key part of our holiday to have a game of crazy golf. Back in those days it would have been in the Boscombe gardens and I can still recall many of the holes from the course. In recent years I've been taking my kids and my parents on holiday to Bournemouth so we have carried on this tradition and played crazy golf each year. The place we have chosen to play has been in Bournemouth gardens opposite the band stand.

However, this year we broke with tradition and took a drive over to the newly opened Mighty Claws Adventure Golf and played there instead. My son was really resilient at first as he loves everything to stay the same but by the time we had played two holes he was converted. The course is just brilliant. It is so well themed and I'd say that at 13 and 10 years my kids are too old to be into dinosaurs but it isn't just for little kids at all as it is so well done. They really must have spent a lot of money as the dinosaurs are animation too and move and make noise.

Days out by Coach - Do you Enjoy Them?

White bus in Summer Landscape from Shutterstock

I bet some of you read that title and are wondering if you've landed in the right place. I can hear you now ‘Michelle’s 43, right? Not 73. Why she is she writing about coach trips?’ But I love a day out by coach, it is such fun to be amongst a big group of friends and be heading somewhere all together, without having to drive and worry about traffic. Do you not find that the journey always feels quicker on a coach?

I've loved going out on a coach day trip since I was a kid. The company my Nan worked for were very keen to be family friendly and each year as well as Christmas and Easter parties they organised a few family trips to the seaside or local attractions by coach and all for free. I was chatting to my brother the other day and we were reminiscing about the trips to Littlehampton where we would enjoy fish and chips, a few goes on the funfair rides, a dig with our bucket and spade and of course something beachy to take home. I used to buy real shells or maybe a shell full of those candy sweets that looked like pebbles. It was the stuff that childhood memories are made of.

I'm pleased to be doing the same with my children too. You might know that I live as part of a Christian community and there are probably around 100 of us nowadays at the conference centre where I live. A few times a year we close the centre and have community day where we all spend time together and deepen our relationships. Very often these involve days out and we've had recent coach trips to Dover Castle, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and Windsor Castle. I've been able to get to know people on a level that a day at work or a shared dinner just doesn't provide by sitting next to them on a coach for 2 or 3 hours chatting.

Thursday 3 August 2017

Well Fed is Best! #FedisBest

Image from Shutterstock - Young Nursing Mother

I realise it is World Breastfeeding Week right now but what I am wondering is do we really need a world breastfeeding week promoted here in the UK? It was only six weeks ago that we had National Breastfeeding week and surely there is enough pressure on women to breastfeed in the UK already?

It is of course a different story in the developing world and breastfeeding is often the best option for nourishing a baby as there isn't access to sanitary water to be able to prepare formula milk. Although, as I saw in Ethiopia, even this isn't as cut and dried as it might seem as so many of the mums are so undernourished themselves that after having a baby their body can struggle to produce milk and certainly to produce milk that is of a good enough quality to adequately nourish the child. So of course the fight still needs to continue to ensure that all people in our world are able to be fed and nourished well.

But don't get me wrong, I am not at all anti-breastfeeding. I successfully breastfed two of my babes and really tried with the other but it wasn't to be so we moved to bottle feeding and it was the best thing for us as she finally started to put on weight instead of losing it and and heart-ripping label 'failure to flourish' was removed from over her head.

Tuesday 1 August 2017

Review: Codenames Board Game #BoardGameClub

 {As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, any affiliate links will be marked with #ad}

I was super pleased that our family were asked to be part of the Blogger #BoardGameClub where we will receive a different board game each month for twelve months and our family will get to try the game out and share with you an honest review.

Codenames - an Introduction
The first game we have received is Codenames which has been crowned the Blogger Games Club game of the year 2016. It's not a game I've heard of before but it sounded interesting from the box blurb -
Two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their CODENAMES. In Codenames, two teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. Spymasters give one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the board. Their teammates try to guess words of the right colour while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin. Codenames: Win or lose, it's fun to figure out the clues.
Codenames is designed by Vlaada Chvatil, a Czech board game designer who has had much success in the last decade. When you look across the web at reviews for Codenames it seems to be widely agreed that Vlaada has done it again with Codenames and it is a massive hit with games geeks. Take a look on Board Game Geek and see for yourself what the self-proclaimed board game experts say.