Wednesday 30 May 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday 20 May 2018

Our Fabulous new Laptop Bags from Inateck

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

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

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

Friday 18 May 2018

A Family Trip to Polesden Lacey - National Trust, Surrey

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

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

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

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

polesden lacey house

Thursday 17 May 2018

Reasons to be Cheerful - A Right Mix! #R2BC

Good morning friends, how are you today?

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

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

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

Monday 14 May 2018

5 Great Places to Mountain Bike as a Family in Sussex

mountain bike header
Image thanks to Jonty Wilde

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

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

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

Friday 11 May 2018

Visiting Hever Castle With Kids - 10 Top Tips

hever castle title image

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

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

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

hever castle water maze

hever castle water maze

Thursday 10 May 2018

A Very Cheery Week #R2BC

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 8 May 2018

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

reception club farret camping

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

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

pool club farret camping

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

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

Sunday 6 May 2018

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

Image Credit

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

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

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

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

Thursday 3 May 2018

Whoops! Very Late Reasons to be Cheerful

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

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

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

7 Things Your Travel Planning Should Involve

Tourist taking photos image by LiskaM, thanks to Shutterstock
{This is a Collaborative post}

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

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

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

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