Monday, 18 March 2019

Five Great Places to Visit in North Norfolk With Tweens/ Teens

Cromer beach header
Cromer Beach

For the last two August's we've headed over to North Norfolk for a break for a few days. It wasn't an area we'd explored before but straight from the off we were hooked. The gorgeous coastline spans miles and there are so many quaint traditional seaside towns to explore. Of course, if you're looking for the bright lights and glamour of a big city then this area isn't going to be for you, but if you like the countryside right by the coast then it could be perfect.

During our stays, we had some great days out and they don't have to break the bank, so they're a winner on all fronts. Let me share -

Father and daughter on a boat

1.  Visit the Seals at Blakeney Point by Boat
We travelled with Beans Boat Trips but there are a few companies who do the trips and from what I saw they were all much of a likeness. You park at Morston Quay National Trust site to catch your boat and the trip takes between 60 - 90 minutes, depending on the time of year. Either before or after your boat trip you can walk the nature reserve at Morston Quay, which is maintained by the National Trust too.

The cost of the boat trip is £12 per adult and £6 per child, and you'll also need to pay £4.50 for a days parking at Morston Quay. You could easily spend a half-day in the area if you like to walk, explore, fly a kite, bird spot or pond dip.

Beans boat trips

2.  Play the Penny Machines in Hunstanton
My kids love the penny arcades and I have to admit, it does transport me back to being a child. That moment when your parent hands over a couple of quid or a bag of 2p's and you see how long you can make them last.

Nowadays when you do the 2p penny push machines you can win prizes and my husband is the worst culprit for heading home with a bag full of tiny tat! Quite often JJ and I will disappear for a coffee, whilst the other three continue to play, long after our interest has wilted. In Hunstanton the penny arcades are next to the Sea Life Centre so we headed in there for a Costa and then we all took a nice walk around the little town and enjoyed seeing the multi-coloured Hunstanton Cliffs.

3.  Eat fish and chips in Wells-next-the-Sea
Wells-next-the-Sea is well known as a destination  for excellent fish and chips. French's seems to be the restaurant that most people rate and the queues can take hours, but I'm told the food is outstanding. Each time we've been we've chosen to eat in Plattens, which is also on the quay front but never has quite the same extent of queues. We've found the food to be superb, service very good and we always manage to get a table inside too.

Whilst you're in Wells there are good ice cream shops and the Albatros boat restaurant that serves good Dutch pancakes for dessert too. There's also a fabulous play park, super walkways and a sandy beach all easily accessible too.

Family at Blickling Hall

4.  Spend a Day at the National Trust Blickling Estate
This estate is immense, it even has its own pub in the grounds. We've been to dozens of NT sites but this one still remains one of our firm favourites. There are 950 acres of gardens and woodlands to explore and the multi-use tracks are suitable for bikes, scooters, pushchairs and the like.

The house is in excellent condition, with loads of rooms open for you to explore, we all very much enjoyed taking photos there, with the kitchens and servants quarters being a real highlight.

As with most NT sites there are lots of events going on, especially trails for the children and the chance to get outside and complete many of the activities on the things to do before you're 11 3/4 initiative. A family ticket is currently £37.00, but considering you can easily spend the whole day here exploring, I think that's good value and of course if you're NT members then it is already taken care of.

mother and twin tween daughters

5.  Picnic on the Beach at Sherringham
We liked Sherringham, as we were able to find free street parking, there was a fabulous play park above the promenade, the beach is super sandy when the tide is out and there were lots of good cafes, delis and take-aways.

We went in the Town Deli and bought ourselves some pasties, sandwiches, cakes and pop and enjoyed a nice picnic on the beach. The kids were able run around, play in the sand and jump the waves and even in August, it wasn't too busy at all.

There is also the North Norfolk steam railway in Sherringham, which we didn't visit but if you have a train fan, it has a great reputation and is surely worth checking out.

Sherringham beach
Sherringham Beach

Other Places to Visit
There are so many other places to visit that either my kids are too old for or we just haven't found the time yet. In the future we have plans to visit Pensthorpe Natural Park, Holkham Hall and Amazona Zoo.

Sarah at Boo, Roo and Tigger Too shares five places she likes t visit and I think these are all great for families with younger children too.

Why not pin this post for later?

north norfolk places to visit pin

I'm linking this post up with Louise for CountryKids.

Country Kids linky

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Visiting The Llama Park, Forest Row, Sussex

Tween feeding a llama

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I took our twin girls over to The Llama Park, it's about an hours journey from us, but it is a pretty easy one. We had a pleasant few hours there, taking a walk, feeding the animals and enjoying a snack.

The regular price for a family of 2 adults and 2 children is £25 and I think this is a bit steep for what there is. We got a deal on Wowcher, which was £6 for an adult and a child, so we paid £12 entry for the four of us and that felt about the right price.

2 llamas

What Animals are There?
At the park there are llamas, alpacas, sheep, horses, goats, donkeys, pigs, a reindeer and many different types of ducks, geese etc. All the animals are in fairly close proximity and you could easily cover them all in half an hour, if you didn't linger. If you do want to be there longer you can utilise the woodland walks and explore more of the 33 acre site.

We all really enjoyed feeding the animals and you can buy a small bag of feed for £1. We ended up spending £5 on the food, so you need to build that into the cost for the day. I was impressed that there was a couple of hand washing stations with soap and disposable towels to ensure that you don't pick anything up from the animals. Although that shouldn't happen anyway as we saw signs telling us the animals were regularly tested and they all looked happy and well kept.

animals at The Llama Park

Thursday, 7 March 2019

I love My Bed: It's the Heart of Our Home

Our current bedroom

We love to sleep in this house and I am so grateful that I now have children who can (and will) sleep the night through, and even better they lie in sometimes too. It's taken a while to get here but the value of a really good bed contributing to a great nights sleep can't be underestimated.

In those early days when I was trying to feed baby twins in the middle of the night and deal with a toddler having night terrors or maybe a little accident, I wasn't getting much sleep and therefore the small amount I did, really had to count.

I've always been an advocate of investing in a super comfortable bed and great bedding, and our fabric bed is a really good example. I choose to view buying a bed as an investment that is going to last us around ten years and as such I don't mind spending a good amount of money on it.

I think I've passed my love of my bed on to all my kids though, and this isn't necessarily a good thing as they are always on it, or in it! It really has become the heart of our home. I was thinking back to how it became this way and to my horror, I realised I created it. When JJ was a pre-schooler I used to encourage him to go to our bed on a Saturday night with my husband and watch Doctor Who with him. Inevitably he'd fall asleep and we'd lift him out later.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Category: Mummy's Boy // And the Winner is....

This post has been commissioned by James Wellbeloved.

lady cuddling her labrador dog
Look at the soppy boy on holiday with Mum and my aunt in September last year

Eight years ago my mum lost her heart to a new male. His name is Archie and he's a Golden Labrador, or Mum often refers to his colouring as a red fox. We believe he is a pure breed, but she doesn't have pedigree papers for him and as such he'd never be able to enter Crufts (which by the way, is taking place from 7th - 10th March this year). Well, let's be honest, it won't be his lack of pedigree that prevents him from competing at Crufts, it will be the fact that Mum has turned him into a complete mummy's boy. Just look at him in the photos above... in his happy place, on her lap.

James Wellbeloved, the makers of natural dog, cat and ferret foods, and the sponsor of both Crufts and the crossbreed equivalent, Scruffts, challenged me to come up with a category that I just knew Archie would win. It was a toss up at first, would I go for 'scaredy cat' or should it be 'mummy's boy' and the latter won, because it's not Archie's fault that some nasty youths on a motorbike scared him as a puppy and he's been fearful ever since.

Archie really is a pampered pooch and a very much loved mummy's boy. The two of them are always found out walking together, enjoying the fresh air, running after a ball (that's Archie, not Mum) and meeting up with the other dogs and walkers in their little gang.

woman resting on a dog walk, with a labrador

Saturday, 2 March 2019

The Priviledge of Being the Default Parent

mother and tween daughter under umbrellas

I remember early last year coming across the term 'default parent', it was an article in the Huff Post from 2014 that for some reason was popping up in my Facebook feed. I must admit it wasn't a term I was familiar with, but a bit of googling led me to find it is pretty well used and often in a derogatory fashion.

M Blazoned, the writer of the Huff Post article suggests "the default parent is the one responsible for the emotional, physical and logistical needs of the children", and she points out that generally it will be the mother. 

Most articles I read were from mothers who were fed up and worn out of being the one that the children always come to. Often, they were juggling a paid job, childcare and taking care of the family home, and frankly they were burnt out and wondering why it all fell to them when they had a partner who could technically take half the load.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Quick Fire Reasons to be Cheerful #R2BC

It's not quite Thursday yet and I'm trying to get ahead and get this sorted as I feel like I have a ton of things to do right now. I hate that heavy feeling, I have to get myself in check and remind myself that all is well. It really doesn't matter that the washing machine is not working, I got the clothes out and I have access to another washer, even if I do have to walk some way to use it. It's all good for the step count after all! Then, next Tuesday the engineer will come and I pray he'll fix it, as it is a £1K machine that I've only had for 2 years, so he better be able to, or that will be rubbish.

So this week, it is quickfire reasons to be cheerful. Counting all those big and small things that are making me smile -

  • Time with my Parents and brother at the end of last week
  • My Dads operation went well and he is recovering
  • Visit to the Llama Centre at the weekend with my hubby and the girls
  • Superb worship at Church on Sunday
  • Miss M stood on a plug and punctured her foot, which of course isn't a R2BC but I was so grateful the damage wasn't worse
  • Tuesday with my hubby; we got an appointment booked to get our finances in order, had a nice Toby carvery and bought a new car! ekk
  • The kids are back at school, which is good for both them and me
  • I secured a nice new piece of work
  • I only put on 1/2 lb in the two weeks over half term. I thought it might be more as I really wasn't focused. I'm pleased that some of the changes I've been making are just coming naturally and it is showing on the scales
  • School listened and acted on a complaint I had made before half-term
  • A snatched coffee with a lovely friend
  • I sorted out the plan on Miss M's pay as you go phone, it was something silly that had been hanging around to sort and now it's done!
  • I got an evening with just Miss E, as we hung around for a couple of hours whilst JJ was at Police Cadets
  • Our cat continues to enthral us all with his funny ways. He has certainly settled in well here

My excitement for today is that I am picking up our new car, wish me luck!

For the month of March Reasons to be Cheerful will be over with Becky at Lakes Single Mum, so if you fancy joining in, you'll need to link up there.

Come and Join In!

I'd love to read your Reasons to be Cheerful and it is as easy as 1, 2, 3 to join in -

1. Link up a post about something that is making you super happy/ grateful. It can be in this style or it can be anything you like - a recipe, a tutorial, a from the heart, a list - it's your blog, you choose

2. Add the #R2BC badge onto your post or blog so that people can easily find the linky and join in too if they fancy

3.  Share the love. This is the really important bit. Please don't just link and run, comment on at least a couple of posts and why not share with #R2BC too?

I'll stop by all linked up posts to comment and I'll share on twitter too

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Review - Our Day Out at Leeds Castle, Kent

Leeds castle view

If you live within, or about an hour from Leeds Castle, near Maidstone in Kent I’d say you’re worth a visit. It’s one of those attractions where your entry ticket will gain you admission for a whole year. So, on the basis that you can return again and again, it’s great value, but if you have further to travel and might only visit the once then it’s a costlier affair.

Entry Costs
The price of an adult ticket is £25 if you buy in advance online, or a pound more if you get it on the day. Children are free up to 4 years and a child ticket (4-15 years) is £16.50 in advance. I was pleased to see that customer feedback had been noted and acted on in the last year and there are now family tickets available for a cost of £70 (that’s either 2 adults and up to 4 children or 1 adult and up to 5 children). As mentioned, £70 is a great price if you return multiple times.

We visited Leeds Castle last Tuesday during the February school half-term and it was fairly busy with families with small children, but being a big site there was plenty of space for everyone. Inside the actual castle was quiet, as was the maze but the falconry display was fairly busy and the play park was heaving.

At 11am as we arrived there was plenty of parking, with friendly attendants directing us and we didn’t have far at all to walk to the entrance. I was super pleased to see massive (and clean) toilets by the entrance and it didn’t take us long to get in. You’re best to check opening hours on the website before you travel, as the times change from the low to high season. We could have arrived as early as 10am if had wished and last entry is at 3pm, with the park closing at 5pm in February.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Join #TeamMum to Help Women gain Breastfeeding Support in Meru, Kenya

Any mother will know that breastfeeding isn't always an easy journey. Yes, I think we all understand that in most circumstances it really is the best thing, and of course when you're in a country that can't guarantee a good, clean water supply it becomes even more improtant, but it can still be super difficult.

I was lucky enough to attend breastfeeding classes run by the NHS, along with NCT antenatal classes when I was pregnant with JJ. I can honestly say that these classes made the world of difference to me. When I was in hospital after my C-section and I couldn't get JJ to latch on properly I remembered all I had learnt at the classes and had the confidence to persevere and seek out help. We then had a good few months of successful and enjoyable breastfeeding.

With girls the situation was different, as tandem breastfeeding is quite a skill and add a toddler in the mix and you are pretty busy and quite a demand on your time. But again, I had the help of the local breastfeding counsellor and my health visitors to help me, enocurage me and find the right way through for my family.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Half Term Reasons to be Cheerful - Feb 2019 #R2BC

Time for my weekly dose of joy and its always a bit strange writing this when I don't feel that joyous. I'm feeling quite flat and anxious as I write this and wondering why. I assume it's because my Dad had an operation on Tuesday and I haven't seen him yet. I'm also stressing about stupid stuff and because the kids are off school, I'm not getting the time to take myself off and just be with God, which is what I'd normally do when I'm out of sorts. But it is only a short while they are off and I need to embrace it and enjoy it. I can focus again next week!

So there has been some good times in the last week, many things to be thankful for -

Friday - my lovely friend Krisha came over for the day and we chatted loads, ate cake and had a great walk around the lake. I started that day feeling sad and ended it much happier.

Saturday - We all went out for lunch at the Toby Carvery and I helped the girls make some cupcakes for sale at church the next day. 

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Review of our Day Spa at Bannatynes, Hastings, East Sussex

Exterior of Bannatynes Hastings
Image Credit

I wanted to get my husband something different for Christmas, he’s the kind of guy who never wants anything and doesn’t appreciate people spending money for the sake of it. So I decided that I’d book for us to do something together and enjoy a day or a night out. We often go to the cinema, out for a meal or enjoy the theatre. I’d already bought us some comedy gig tickets with money from his Grandma, so I was racking my brains for something different.

As I was browsing a marketing email from Wowcher, I saw loads of great deals for spa days and I thought that might just be perfect. He works hard and his job can be stressful, so I figured a massage might be just the ticket. Without telling him why, I got him to take a day off in January and I booked for our local Bannatynes in Hastings, East Sussex.

I’d definitely recommend checking out both Wowcher and Groupon if you want to book a Bannatynes spa day for two as they have some great deals. There were a few different options I could have booked, starting from £69 for two people, but I wanted the option with the most treatment time, so I spent £95 for the two of us to have 4 mini treatments each (55 minutes of treatment time), and full use of the spa, leisure facilities, gym and classes.

To be honest we only spent a half day there, as we headed off to enjoy a late lunch elsewhere, but I’d definitely go back and would spend more time next time. I wanted to share my experience with you, so if you book, you’ll know what to expect.

Spa reception area, Bannatynes Hastings
Spa reception - Image credit

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Blogging Reasons to be Cheerful #R2BC

hands on a laptop
Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash

Thursday has rolled around again and that means it is time for me to share my Reasons to be Cheerful. This week I have chosen to share based on blogging reasons, I quite like to mix things up and have a theme or do a different style to keep these #R2BC posts interesting.

Blogging is a very funny animal. I've been doing it a long time now, in fact some would refer to me as an early innovator and this does make me laugh as I've never been a forerunner or innovator in anything. 

Blogging Anniversary
On 10th February 2019, I had my 11 years of blogging anniversary, isn't that mental? I only started sharing so my friend and mum could see some pictures of the kids and then my comments led other readers back to me. I didn't even mean to do it!

But blog I have, many of my old posts have now gone back into draft now, as frankly they were just appalling, but there are also still some pretty abysmal ones lives on the blog from the early days, but I figure they are all part of the journey and show just how far my writing and skills have come.

However, despite all those old posts being back in draft, on 2nd February 2019 I published my 2000th live post on this blog.

Successful Blog Posts
There are some crackers, I still marvel at the fact that a post I wrote back in 2011 to publicise Chris from Thinly Spread travelling to New York to attend the UN General Assembly on behalf of Save the Children, has over 100,000 views on it. I think back then was when the parent bogging community was it its best, it was far smaller, we all knew of each other and the support was immense, withing 48 hours Hello It's Gemma and I had encouraged 164 other bloggers to write and publicise an article to support Chris and Save the Children. 

Monday, 11 February 2019

#TeamMum are Creating Pregnancy Support Groups in Meru, Kenya - Join Us?

Long term readers of this blog will know that back in 2004 I had an awakening, I'd definitely say it was a spiritual one. For 31 years I'd merilly gone along believeing that charity started at home and burying my head firmly in the sand. Then after becoming a Christian it was as if the blinkers were lifted as I started to see all the injustice in the world.

And you can't see it without it impacting you, so my husband and I started to do what we could, small steps - sponsoring a child abroad, helping with Christian Aid collections at church, giving our time and money where we could, around our work and family.

Then in 2011 my passion and fight intensified and I could see the difference that coming together with other bloggers makes. Each of us making a tiny ripple in a sea of change and those ripples, coming together and creating a wave and ultimately a long-term tidal wave of change that is necessary to erradicate extreme poverty.

Sadly this isn't a sprint, the journey towards an end to extreme poverty is very much a marathan, and one I want to remain in training for. I've realised that my heart is breaking for those who live in extreme poverty, especially women and children, and Africia is the continent that I particulalry have a heart for.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

How to Save Money on your Groceries

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
{Collaborative Post}

Christmas is over now, but you may still be feeling the financial effects of the season and you’ve been to the Creditfix website to find ways of spending less this year. One of your main expenditures will be groceries and it’s perfectly possible to reduce your food bills and still eat well, if not better, than usual.

Here’s six ways to spend less on groceries and maintain a full fridge (and stomach)!

1.  Have more plant-based meals
Those pesky experts all tell us to eat less meat nowadays, not just for our health, but also because a vegan or vegetarian diet has less of an impact on the environment. Getting more protein from plant sources also means you can reduce your spending too, so explore the vegetarian versions of your favourite stews. At the very least, replace half of your usual minced beef with some lentils or pulses.

2.  Go shopping in the evening
You don’t have to get all your shopping from the reduced aisle, especially if you’re looking for meat products, but some items are perfectly safe to pick up from there. Pasteurised cheeses and dry goods are good bets, as well as ready meals that you’re planning to eat when you get home. You might also find bargains like bottles of bubble bath with small cracks in the screw caps. Always be ready to swoop in and grab a bargain.

Thankful for a Slow Saturday #R2BC

Happy Thursday friends, I hope you're all well. It's a new month and that means that Reasons to be Cheerful is back with me for February.

Today I wanted to share a full days gratitude. Last Saturday was a day with no plans and I was so grateful for that. Some days I like to stop and remember to be grateful in all aspects of the day, it really does heighten the experience of being thankful and living as if I am blessed (which of course I am!)

So here's my daily list -
  • The cat let me sleep in until 7.45am before he started miaowing at my door to be let out
  • The girls had a really good lie in after their adventures the night before, breaking down in the snow with my husband after youth club
  • I enjoyed bacon and eggs for breakfast and cooked them for everyone else too
  • Cheesy catch-up TV was the order of the morning, so I watched some Dynasty and Designated Survivor

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

When you have Nine Stone to Lose....

Photo by HENCE THE BOOM on Unsplash

Nine stone, that is a lot of weight.

It is a whole person.

Did I ever dream I'd weigh as much as two people?

No of course not.

It was never my dream.

So how did it happen?

I couldn't even tell you quite honestly.

I've been overweight for as long as I can remember.

It has been the primary focus of my life since my early teenage years.

My being fat is completely tied up with my mental well being and my beliefs about myself.

I've been seriously working on unravelling those beliefs and being kind to myself for the last five years.

I am making progress.

Internal progress.

Yet again I have started at a diet club.

I joined Slimming World on New Years Day.

And I've been struggling ever since.

There have been small loses. To date in 2019 it is 5lb that I've lost.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Creating a Family Valentine's Night with CoolStuff (Review)

light box saying welcome to family valentine

Who says Valentines Day has to just be about celebrating romantic love? When you start to investigate the origin and history of February 14th you find lots of stories about a man called Saint Valentine who was martyred. But not just one of them, quite a few, the Catholic church alone recognises at least three saints called Valentine or Valentinus.

Then you have tales from the Roman times of a man called Valentine who was killed for trying to help Christians escape from prison, and before his death he apparently sent a card to a young girl he had fallen in love with, and simply signed it "from your Valentine".  There are also Christian stories and Pagan stories, and let's be honest, we have no idea what is the truth.

In my younger years I considered Valentine's day to be an exciting time, one when I might receive beautiful flowers, a meaningful card and I'd dress up for a night out. After 25 years with my husband I'm no longer seeking for him to spend our well-earned money on tokens and over-priced flowers. We often go out together and I'd rather do it at times when the rest of the world isn't out, showing how much they love each other.

So with this is mind I started to wonder why I couldn't celebrate Valentine's Day with all my family, with those I love most, but maybe not in a romantic way.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Reasons to be Cheerful - TEDx, Cake and Winter Walks

I'm feeling super grateful today, there are lots of things to celebrate in the last week. 

Like going for an impromptu coffee and cake with my hubby -

Collecting all our pottery from the Masterpiece paint your own pottery studio. I was particularly impressed with my snowman.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Ten Resources that might just Change your Life View

feet over the edge of a mountain
Photo by Ihor Malytskyi on Unsplash

I'm really passionate about self-development and each person becoming the best version of their self. For me, becoming a Christian really changed my world view and was the catalyst for me starting to work on some of my more challenging character traits. 

For around the last 16 years I've been reading books, listening to podcasts, watching TED talks and attending courses that are helping me to shape into a less materialistic and more selfless person.

I thought it was high time that I shared with you some of the resources that have had a profound effect on me. Some are Christian resources, and some are totally not, so you don't have to share my faith to be interested in this list.

1.  Don't Sweat the Small Stuff - Richard Carlson
Back in 2002 I started to listen to some cassettes (yes it was that long ago) in the car on my hours’ drive to work and the wisdom in these recordings really started to help me realise that life is too short to get hung up on the silly things, or small stuff, and realistically it is all small stuff. There are a variety of spin-offs from the original like not sweating the small stuff at work, in your family or with teens.

These short, manageable chapters have titles like - stop blaming others, count to ten, choose being kind or being right and seek first to understand. The thing that always sits with me and has been life changing is Carlson’s lesson about us all living in separate realities and how that plays out. Truly when I first heard this story and learnt the concept it was mind blowing to me. 

The book is currently £3.52 on Amazon

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Enjoying our Time at Masterpiece Pottery Painting Studio - East Sussex

tween painting pottery at masterpiece studio

The girls received some money for Christmas and from the first envelope opened Miss E was adamant that we would have to head over to Masterpiece pottery painting studio, near Hailsham in East Sussex. It's somewhere we've been a couple of times before and enjoyed, so I was happy to promise that we would go over there during the Christmas school break.

Pottery Studio
Masterpiece is a pottery painting studio based on the Holmes Hill Estate, on the A22 heading from Eastbourne to Lewes. There is an abundance of free parking and also onsite is a furniture store, fabric warehouse, cafe and a couple of nice lakes where you can sit or walk. You're always best to call first and book in so that a table can be ready for you but on occasions where we have turned up without a booking, we have been able to be accommodated, just maybe on a shared table.

Masterpiece studio East Sussex

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Visiting the Seven Sisters Country Park, East Sussex

view of the seven sisters cliffs

We've lived in East Sussex for coming on six years now and visited the Seven Sisters cliffs so many times. It is a stunning area and wonderful to walk, but with the massive dips (or seven sisters) it can be a demanding hike and takes a bit of energy and kind weather. Recently we wanted to head out as a family to enjoy a good walk, but not a really demanding one, so we decided to trial the flatter walk from the visitor centre down to the Cuckmere Haven, where the River Cuckmere meets the English channel.

I'm so glad we discovered this area, it was a little further for us to drive than Beachy Head or Birling Gap where we normally go, but it was well worth it. The country park is maintained by East Sussex country council and there are two car parks, one on each side of the road. We found plenty of parking on a mild January day but I'd imagine it would be heaving busy in the summer. It costs £3 for up to 2 hours and £4 for the day. The machine takes coins, credit cards and you can use the Ringo app too.

I was really pleased to see that there are toilets (including an accessible one), a visitors centre (open for limited periods during the year) and a gorgeous cafe serving fabulous coffees, homemade cakes and a super selection of salads.

cafe at seven sisters country park

The easy access trail that we took is 4km down to the beach and back and it is great for pushchairs, wheelchairs, mobility scooters and all sorts of kids fun, like bikes, skates and scooters. My girls preferred to be runining all over the place, up the hills, down to the river side, looking in streams and jumping puddles. It is certainly a fun place to explore.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

A Week of Reasons to be Cheerful #R2BC

Hey friends. I hope you're well today. I'm feeling a bit peaky, I think I've been hitting the exercise a big hard for someone who is quite new at it! lol

I've generally had another good week and have many reasons to be grateful and cheerful. I'm going to do one of my posts where I name something good in every day.

Thursday - Not at all good for my weight loss but we had a lovely pastoral night with waffle and prayers.

Friday - I took my girls swimming in the evening and we had a fun time together.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

6 Top Tips for Avoiding Points on your Driving Licence

Photo by Anwaar Ali on Unsplash

Every driver dreads the time that they happen to be over the speed limit and the yellow camera catches them speeding. It happened to me a few years ago, I was driving in a new area and one side of the roundabout was 60 and the other went straight down to 30, I missed the signs and was doing 38mph and ended up with a nasty letter in the post advising me of my offence.

Of course if you get caught speeding it isn't the end of the world, but penalty points can soon add up and here in the UK once you have 12 points you'll be instantly disqualified. Luckily for me it was my first offence and as such I chose to pay the fine and attend a speed awareness course (which you also have to pay for the privilege to attend) rather than take points on my licence.

To help you avoid getting points on your license, here are a few easy to follow tips -

1.  Be a Responsible Car Owner
When you agree to lend your car to someone else, always make sure there is the necessary insurance in place for them to drive legally. Then if you receive a notice of intention to prosecute in the post for a time you know you were not driving, don't just ignore it, that could cost you 6 penalty points and up to £600 for failing to respond.

Also don't forget to update your driving licence and vehicle registration document when you move house. These are easy ones to forget, but if you do and you are caught speeding, the notice will go to your old home and as you will not provide the necessary details, the case will be heard in your absence and you'll end up with a hefty fine and 6-8 penalty points on your licence, all without your knowledge!

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Wearing a 24-hour Blood Pressure Monitor - My Experience

woman wearing blood pressure cuff

After a few jumpy readings and a history of pre-eclampsia in pregnancy my GP requested for me to wear a blood pressure monitor for 24 hours to give a true and consistent reading of what my current blood pressure is and whether there is any cause for concern. She wondered if I had been having a case of white-coat hypertension, where you get unusually high readings in the doctor’s office because you’re anxious. I have to say I didn’t think this was the case as I’d felt quite calm at the doctors and I am not normally anxious about having my BP taken, but I was happy to comply.

Fitting the Monitor with the Nurse
Two appointments needed to be made with the nurse, one day after the next to have the monitor fitted and then taken off. I found it all very straightforward and there’s nothing to be feared wearing one of these monitors. The only surprise for me was that it was much bigger than I expected, it’s a full arm cuff with a long tube leading down to an electronic monitor, housed in a case with a shoulder strap or a clip to go on your belt.

at home blood pressure monitor

The nurse explained that it was all automated and I didn’t need to do anything. Each half hour during the day the cuff would inflate and take a reading, then when I went to bed, I needed to press one button to tell it to change the readings to hourly, so I could get some sleep. I must say I was a bit worried on the sleep front as the GP had joked not to expect any, but I did quite well with only a couple of awakenings. So, I suspect it’s different for everyone.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Making Positive Changes #R2BC

My Instagram best 9 pictures of 2018

I’m feeling excited about what 2019 holds for me. I feel like it might finally be the year when I make the eating and exercise changes that I need to be healthy and fit for purpose. That might sound a bit odd, as obviously at the moment, I’m fit for many purposes and I don’t for one minute dismiss my abilities. But as a Christian I try to tune into God’s will for me and I’ve felt for a number of years now, he’s been telling me to get ready and be fit for purpose. I am both excited and a little scared to find out what that purpose is.

I joint slimming world on New Years Day and I’ve had my first weigh in on Tuesday night, the result was 5.5lbs off and that's pretty good. This is probably around the thirtieth diet I’ve tried in my life and to date, I’ve not stuck with any or lost substantial amounts of weight but that’s neither here nor there, as this is now and that is all I need to focus on.

In the last few years, many aspects of my health have been diminishing and that is why I can no longer put aside the urgent need to lose some weight and improve my fitness. It’s not easy but I do feel ready and I’ve been pleased with many of the small changes I’ve made.

  • In the last few weeks I’ve been going to the gym and swimming regularly.
  • I’ve paired back my commitments to allow myself time to exercise and focus on eating, without getting distracted or stressed
  • I’ve cleared out all the Christmas goodies and given them away to others who will enjoy them far more than me.
  • I’ve been wearing my Fitbit and clocking some some great days steps. 21,729 is the best day yet this year.
  • I’ve been eating fruit daily (this is a massive change for me) and remembering to take it out, so I don’t snack on chocolate etc
  • I'm not feeling deprived and I’m still enjoying eating, we went to Pizza Hut as a family at the weekend and I enjoyed a little pizza and loads of salad (with none of the unhealthy stuff on the salad cart).
  • I took the car in to be fixed on Monday and had to hang around, normally this would mean a McDonald's breakfast, which I adore but I had beans on wholemeal toast at home and then a pear and banana instead. This saved me a massive 33 syns!
  • My changes are already starting to influence my family in a positive manner, which I’m thrilled about.
  • I’m being mindful to be active. This weekend we are using a voucher for 40% off a meal at Toby but before we do we’re heading up onto the Seven Sisters cliffs for a good walk.

It feels like I’ve made a good start. Now to keep it up!

I’m linking this post up with Becky at Lakes Single Mum for Reasons to be Cheerful as this new positive mindset and approach is making me very cheerful indeed!

Monday, 7 January 2019

The Egg Donation Decision: Helping Women Struggling with Infertility Become Mothers

Photo by Laercio Cavalcanti on Unsplash

Becoming an egg donor can be rewarding in many ways and to many people, but the decision is a deeply personal one - one that must intrinsically come from you. It’s also important to recognise that such a rewarding decision, which can potentially have a lasting impact on others, doesn’t come without its’ sacrifices or concerns. There are many factors to consider when making the decision to become a donor, but rest assured, there’s no right or wrong reason to donate eggs.

As an egg donor, you’ll have the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourself. You may find the ability to gift those struggling with infertility the opportunity to become parents far outweighs the physical and emotional task ahead. Remembering your motivation to donate your eggs can help see you through the entire egg donation process and give you permanent peace of mind you made the best decision for yourself.

Meeting the Requirements

To become an egg donor, you must not only be willing to commit physically and emotionally to it, but you also must be willing to commit your time. As a potential egg donor, you’ll be subject to a thorough screening process which involves medical tests, evaluations, and questionnaires. Your screening results will be used to determine if you meet the standard egg donor requirements listed below.

You must…

·       be between 21 to 33 years old.
·       currently be tobacco and drug-free.
·       not have any sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, chlamydia, or hepatitis.
·       be in good overall mental, emotional, and physical health.
·       be prepared to have genetic screening.
·       have a psychological evaluation.
·       be available approximately 3 to 4 months to complete the donation process cycle.
·       be capable of self-administering injections with medication to stimulate your ovaries.

Friday, 4 January 2019

New Years Reasons to be Cheerful - 2019

Happy New Year cheerful friends. I had totally forgotten it was Thursday until Becky gave me a prompt and even then this is a day late, but I have had the most lovely time over Advent, Christmas and New Year, so it is only right that I post and record some of those wonderful moments.

I started reading my daily bible again and have been enjoying regular quiet time in the prayer centre.

I'm really loving reading at the moment and I'm getting through at least one book a week. I've enjoyed many yummy coffees and cakes in December and now I've started Slimming World, so they have to go on hold for a while!

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Gag House Comedy Superstars at White Rock Theatre, Hastings - 8th February 2019

As a busy mother of three I am always looking for an excuse to escape for the evening with my husband. There is nothing we like doing more than laughing, and going to see a comedy show is a great way to do this. In 2018 we went to see loads of comedians at our local theatres and we hope to do the same for 2019.

It's not always easy to see the big stars though as the prices can get pretty steep, and last year we missed a couple as it would have been £80 for the two of us and for a local night out in East Sussex, we thought that was a bit steep. For this reason I was super pleased to learn that Gag House Comedy are bringing a show to the White Rock Theatre in Hastings on Friday 8th February 2019, with the show starting at 8pm.

The cost of the tickets for this show is £20.50 - £22.50 including the booking fee, so I think that's really reasonable and especially when you consider it's a show being compared by Mark Dolan, with Lee Nelson headlining, accompanied by Jen Brister and Stephen Bailey.

If you're anything me, those names might not mean that much to you, but I suggest you do my trick and google them because photos and YouTube clips resonate much better than names. As soon as I start to see the likes of Lee Nelson and Jen Brister doing sets on Live at the Apollo, I know they are going to be brilliant acts and I'm getting excited for a great night already.

Lee Nelson
From council estate to comedy and entertainment king, Lee Nelson had over two million people watching his BBC 3 hit Well Good Show. With five sell-out tours to date and a host of appearances on Live at the Apollo (BBC1), Lee Nelson’s Well Funny People (BBC3), Al Murray’s Multiple Personality Disorder (ITV1), Sunday Night at The Palladium (ITV) and The John Bishop Show (BBC1), Lee Nelson is one of the biggest stand-up stars in the country.

Have a look at Lee in action, to give you a little taster of his style -

Mark Dolan
The night will be expertly compered by Mark Dolan who recently emerged unscathed from a stint on Channel 4’s The Jump. A highly skilled comedian, broadcaster and writer, Mark is best known as host of Channel 4’s iconic comedy series Balls of Steel.

Stephen Bailey
Stephen's winning comedy and charming personality have propelled him to starring in a number of varied TV projects. Stephen is the host of Channel 5’s newest reality show Celebs On The Farm and can be seen weekly as the resident agony uncle on ITV1’s Zoe Ball On Saturday & Sunday.

Jen Brister
Completing the line-up is critically acclaimed stand-up comedian, writer and actor Jen Brister. She has written and performed five solo shows at comedy festivals around the world and has toured extensively — with comedians Kerry Godliman, Francesca Martinez and Roisin Conaty, among others — and is currently supporting Frankie Boyle in London.

It sounds good, right? You can book direct with the White Rock Theatre online or by calling 01424 462288.

Don't forget that the show is of an adult nature and will suit those who are 18+ years and not offended easily.

Go on, why don't you follow in my footsteps and spend some of that Christmas money on a great night out for you and your other half. You'll never regret laughing and making memories, it's money far better spent than on new clothes!

Disclosure: We've received two complimentary tickets for this show, in return for my helping to spread the word. 

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Why would people do this to their bank cards?

A new web phenomenon is becoming more and more widespread throughout the UK. People are redecorating their bank cards and doing so for their friends and family. Here’s why:

1. It’s super fun 
Bank cards always look so plain and boring, so we were quite happy to see more and more people redefining what a bank card should look like. This is happening all across the web: on Facebook, Twitter and even on personal blogs.