Saturday 30 March 2019

Deliciously Light Wines from Black Tower (Slimming World Friendly)

{This post has been commissioned by Black Tower}

As a woman in my 40's I rarely drink alcohol nowadays. I don't like to feel out of control, I live in the middle of nowhere and it means I can't drive, I'd rather eat the calories than drink them and I want to wake feeling fresh and ready to take on the day, rather than headachy and sluggish.

I do miss it sometimes though; when I go round a friends for a BBQ and they are all drinking lovely long coolers or a glass of wine, I sometimes pine for the days of old, before children when I could drink and not worry about the effect it has on me. For this reason, I was very excited to learn that Black Tower have launched a new range called Deliciously Light. It has the same great taste as the full alcohol versions but there is only 29 calories per 125ml glass and it only had 0.5% ABV, so it's a winner.

You see that big glass I'm holding in the picture above that was 125ml of Black Tower Deliciously Light white wine mixed with soda water, so that's just 29 calories, or for me as someone who is currently doing Slimming World, it is 1.5 syns. How great is that?

The new Deliciously Light range offers red, white, rosé and sparkling varietals, so something to suit every taste, and of course for someone like me who is following the Slimming World plan at the moment, they are very welcome low calorie drinks.

The range is available from Ocado and costs between £3.50 - £4.00 per bottle, so they are super affordable too.

Black Tower holds many fond memories for me as it is one of the first wines that I discovered I really liked. I can remember being in my late teens and always ordering a bottle of Black Tower when we had a meal out. French wine was all the rage back then, but I always preferred German and the Black Tower Reisling was my favourite of the time.  After the meal I'd always take the iconic black bottle home and place a candle in it; we had loads of those in our student home for a number of years.

Thursday 28 March 2019

Jobs that are Ideal for Stay-at-Home Mums

Image Credit
{Collaborative Post}

There are many jobs that stay-at-home mums can do, but sometimes it is easy to forget that many of the skills we have can be useful to other people. We’ve been so wrapped up in caring for our children for many years that we’ve forgotten we are capable of much more.  It can be great for stay-at-home mums to be able to run a business that fits in with caring for the family, and there are many opportunities for us to do this. Here are a few ideas -

Being good with a needle and thread is a skill that many women envy. If you are good at making or altering clothes there will always be a demand for your services. You can do the jobs while the children are at school or in bed and the only thing you may have to watch is that you do not take on more work than you can cope with alongside your family duties. It only takes a few friends to pass the word around, and you will wonder where all the sewing suddenly appears from.

Pilates Instructor
Pilates is more popular than it has ever been and the number of people who want to attend classes is increasing all the time. More people wanting to take part means more instructors are needed and with classes held while the kids are in school, this could be a great way to earn some extra cash.

If you want to become a Pilates instructor you will need to get a level 2 fitness qualification. This may seem like a barrier initially, but it is worth the time and money investment as you can then work at the local gym or set up private classes of your own.

Tuesday 26 March 2019

All Pregnant Women Deserve Good Care #DifferentPathChallenge

{This is a collaborative post}

When you're pregnant and expecting a baby, the one thing that every woman wants is for that baby to be born healthy, in a safe environment.  We all share in this basic right, every woman being the same. Where you live shouldn't be a factor as to whether that child lives or dies, or in fact, whether you live or die. There is recourse for you, your child, and your family should the unthinkable occur and result in a birth injury. Should that happen, it is important to know that there are empathetic Birth Injury Solicitors in this country who are available to guide you and help you every step of the way.

In Togo, West Africa, 1 in every 20 babies (1) will die before their first birthday. This is the equivalent of you going to your local toddler group and knowing that one or two of those babies won't be here in the next year. Just think how shocking that would be, thankfully in the UK, it isn't every week we hear of a baby dying.

In the UK our figures are quite different, with only 1 in 250 babies (1) not surviving their first birthday. So what's the difference, why are those babies in Togo not surviving? The quick answer is poverty, most families can not afford to access good healthcare or buy enough food. This means birth complications, infections and malnutrition are responsible for claiming far too many little lives.

I don't want to linger on these sad facts for too long though, as us being sad doesn't actually help anyone. What does help, is us using what we have to donate to programs that make a difference to these mothers. Compassion (a charity I have been supporting on a monthly basis for around 15 years) has 1520 Child Survival projects worldwide, with 52 of these being in Togo.

Thursday 21 March 2019

Girls Time in London - Remembering to be Thankful! #R2BC

Despite the promise of strong winds, rain and pretty horrible weather all round, as well as a landslide closing my regular train line and thus having to take a much longer route, I headed up to London last Friday to meet my Mum.

It's become a tradition that we meet just before Mothers Day and enjoy some time just the two of us. We were booked in to the Premier Inn at County Hall on the South Bank and had plans to go to the Shard on Saturday morning but the rest of the time was free of plans.

We love to see a show together, so were hoping for a musical but due to my train problems I didn't arrive into London until much later than normal. I hadn't managed to bag any deals in advance even though I'd played the theatre lotteries and tried to get rush tickets via TodayTix and I figured we were a bit late for the Leicester Square half price ticket office so I went for tickets for a play instead. I'd read rave reviews for The Curious Incident but sadly it didn't turn out to be a play we enjoyed. It was certainly clever and an excellent insight to what it must be like to live with Aspergers but we ended up leaving half way through.

This one hic-cup didn't spoil our time though, here's some of the things I was super grateful for -

*  Finishing up series 2 of Designated Survivor on the train. I love that you can download Netflix programmes,

*  Great bedroom at the Premier Inn, County Hall. The position is amazing, you get two king size beds in a twin room and we even got a free breakfast as we were woken by noisy door slamming by the staff.

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

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.