Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Advice from my 11 year old Twins about Starting Secondary School

Back to school flat lay
Photo by Matt Ragland on Unsplash

This time last year I had two very excited 10 year old's living with me. They couldn't wait (on the one hand) for their school year to finish and to be a step closer to starting at secondary school. But of course they were also a little sad about losing contact with the friends who were going to go to different schools.

If you've got a child about to start secondary school this coming September you'll probably relate to what I've said and will know this is a time of change, worries and uncertainty, as well as great excitement.

I asked my girls to share their experience and give me some tips of what helped them make this transition and to settle in to their new school. So here are tips from my tweens to yours, hand the laptop over now -

Before you Start

*  If your school has an option to attend some summer classes to meet other new pupils and find out how the school works, make sure you take the opportunity to attend as you'll be ahead of many others on your first formal day and will feel much more confident.

*  Make sure you get the right uniform. You might want something different to what they state but it won't be worth the defaults or maybe detentions that you could end up with.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Passing on a Love of Photography


Since I was young I have enjoyed taking photos and making albums full of memories. At University I had photo collages on my wall, I'd make them as gifts for others and then once I got my first digital camera back in 2001 I took all the wedding photos for my friend of her marriage in Cyprus. It was such a delight choosing the best photos from the hundreds I had taken and presenting her with an amazing keepsake album as my wedding gift to her.

Looking back, I didn't really have any skill and I never had a very good camera to use. It was only once my blogging became more professional and I started to attend conferences that I knew I had to up my game. So in June 2013 after the BritMums conference I headed to a big department store I trust and asked for some advice, they sent me packing with my very first Panasonic Lumix (Professional) Mirrorless Camera.

Mirroless cameras were still fairly new on the mass market back then and many people had no idea why I had gone for one of them rather than a classic DSLR camera, but I just loved the smaller and lighter weight camera body. I still had the capacity for changeable lenses and full user adjustability but I didn't have to carry a heavy or cumbersome camera. My Panasonic Lumix DMC G5 is still serving me well six years later.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

9 Top Tips for Visiting Windsor Castle, Berkshire

External Windsor Castle view

Last week my Mum and I visited Windsor Castle, this is the second time I have visited and I thought I'd share some tips for visiting this super busy tourist attraction. Windsor Castle is a very grand example of one of the Queens official residences in the UK, and from what I understand she chooses to spend many of her private weekends there. So if you're then on a weekend check if the flag is flying! You never know, you might glimpse her riding her horse one morning if the weather is fine.

Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world, having been founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, it has since been the home of 39 monarchs and thus has a very good pedigree! It's also still used for many state occasions and ceremonies, so when you visit it does feel very special, as if you could have been at the wedding of Harry and Megan! lol

Windsor Castle garden view

When visiting somewhere like Windsor castle that has international appeal for Royal fans, it is best to be organised and plan your day in advance. Here are my top tips -

1.  Book your tickets in advance
We skipped a 40 minute queue when we visited last week, as we had our tickets and could join the short queue (6 people) at the booking office. The queue went right back to the end of the street by the Queen Victoria statue (this was at 11.30am). Make sure to check the website for any changes to opening hours and days, as they can change due to royal requirements, and you don't want to be disappointed on the day.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Reasons to be Cheerful: End of Term, the Sun and Time with Mum


Joining in with Becky for Reasons to be Cheerful.  It's been another good week so I need to celebrate and make sure I record all the things making me feel grateful.

The End of Term
We still have a couple of weeks left but it is definitely on wind-down. The end of term exams have finished, the kids all seem to be without homework, JJ's had a couple of good taster days at college, ready to make a decision of where he wants to attend in the Autumn and the girls have a trip to a zoo Monday. JJ is also starting work experience for a week very soon.


Time with my Mum
It's my Mum's birthday and so I took a couple of days to go and stay with her and my Dad. We had a lovely time, eating good food, seeing Rocketman, visiting Windsor Castle and having afternoon tea as we sailed on the Thames. I also got two days free of cooking, cleaning up and washing.  Wish me luck when I get home Saturday, we'll see what the house looks like!

I love this photo as it is part of a series when mum was larking around and laughing so much!

The Sunshine!
Yes, I am a tad pale and I do get burnt easily. It's also not the easiest in the heat when you are my size, but I really can't moan as it has been just lovely. In fact I'm sat in my parents garden with the laptop writing this now. I've enjoyed Pimms on the bench outside my house, read my book out, supervised the girls at the lake, chatted to neighbours and tomorrow we have an event shelter (gazebo type thing) arriving so I can get some shade outside!


That's it, back to basics, a classic Reasons to be Cheerful 1, 2, 3.....  post!  Just like in the good old days when this linky first started.

I'm linking up with Becky at Lakes Single Mum as she is the host for this month.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Hooray for Summer - 2019 Bucket List


I'm very excited that summer has finally arrived. There are only three weeks until the kids break up from school and then all the real fun can begin!

As I was thinking about summer I thought it might be fun to do a bucket list, I think its been a few years since I last did one. I'm working in my new job two days a week this summer, so I'll have to be creative how I fit in all the fun that I want to have, as there will still be my freelance work to do as well. Luckily the girls have various church camps that they'll get involved with over 3 or 4 weeks of the summer, so they won't have time to be bored.


Here's a few things I really want to do over the summer holiday -

Planning The Perfect Family Holiday To Singapore

Image Source
{This is a collaborative post}

You probably haven’t considered Singapore as a family holiday destination because Southeast Asia is usually associated with backpacking and hostels. But Singapore is actually a great destination that is ideal for families. It gives you the opportunity to experience a culture that is so completely different from what you would find in most typical family destinations which is important because travel is a great educational experience for your kids. The city state of Singapore, just off the coast of Malaysia, is incredibly safe and it’s a fairly simple place to get around, even though it’s a bit of a culture shock. It has a very multicultural population and you’ll find a great mix of traditions and cultures from around Asia so it’s the ideal introduction to the region if you have never been there before. It’s also very tourist friendly and the locals are very welcoming and helpful to visitors. 

If you’re looking for something a bit different for your next family holiday, Singapore is a great choice. Here are a few tips to help you plan the perfect trip. 

When To Visit 
One of the best things about Singapore is that there isn’t really a bad time to visit. Obviously, you want to go when the weather is nice which isn’t a problem in Singapore because it’s nice all year round. It has consistently warm weather all year with an average temperature of around 27 degrees, but it can feel a lot hotter than that when it’s particularly humid. Rain is always a possibility so you can’t really avoid it but if you spend a week out there, it’s likely that it will be warm most of the time. 

When it comes to the prices of hotels and flights etc. the prices are pretty much the same for most of the year. Singapore is a hub for international business so people are visiting all year round and the prices shouldn’t change too much. However, there are a few exceptions to that rule. November through to January will be a little more expensive because of the Chinese New Year and June and July are often popular because there are some other festivals going on. But even then, the prices won’t change drastically so you can plan your trip whenever is most convenient for you.