Saturday 31 August 2019

Changes are Coming....

It's been a lovely summer and it feels like a very long one. We've had a short break in Kent and a couple of days in London and now my parents and brother are here staying for the week. I've been at work one day a week, and that's been a nice escape and the kids have all had time away at camp and grandparents.

But now I am ready for school to resume and normality to come back. I like a break and a rest, but then I love routine too and I really am craving some quite times to myself without any shouts of mum or moans as they wind each other up and bicker.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record I have realised (again) that I must lose weight and this isn't just something I fancy, it really is something I MUST do. I have developed carpel tunnel syndrome in one hand, I still have pains in my left foot that never go away, my calves ache after too vigorous exercise, I have arthritis in my knee joints and my right thigh goes numb/ has pins and needles if I stand for too long. Add that to asthma and high blood pressure and you can see that I need to do what I can to try and give my body a fair chance at being healthy.

I've been burying my head in the sand for too long and I need to put as much effort into my own health as I do to anything else in my life. Nothing else will give me the quality of life that a healthier body would, so it completely makes sense to invest in that area. It really does seem crazy that I choose to eat too much and the wrong foods, rather than sacrificing a few calories.

Wednesday 28 August 2019

National Trust - Sheffield Park - Summer in Pictures

We've visited the National Trust site Sheffield Park a couple of times before and both times had a lovely visit, but recently with the kids away my husband and I decided to visit again and see what the colours and plant life were like in the summer months (we visited at the beginning of August). 

Sheffield Park is acres of landscaped gardens, surrounded by parkland and woodland. There is a gorgeous looking stately home there too, but that is a private residence and you can only see if from afar.

So far my favourite time to visit has been Autumn as there is an abundance of colour across the gardens and we could see this developing in August. The colours at this time of year mostly seem to come from the trees and foliage. There isn't really many floral plants there.

Sheffield park trees in glorious colour

I do love the four lakes, they are probably my favourite feature and there is a nice variety of styles and bridges that you can cross and get great pictures on. You can really see the influence of Capability Brown.

lake view at Sheffield park

Saturday 24 August 2019

Double Reasons to be Cheerful - Moments of Joy #R2BC

Happy Saturday friends!  I hope you've been well and enjoying Summer. I have a double whammy edition of Reasons to be Cheerful today as last weekend we'd been away for my birthday and then I was doing a car boot sale so I didn't have time to get one organised.

I thought I'd share some simple moments of joy with you from the last couple of weeks.

Strawberry picking with my girls, we managed to get the very last of this years crop.

Playing with our cat. He really does love the laser light and a ribbon on a stick, we had him running everywhere!

Simple moments in London. On the way home from the theatre, after a bus ride through London the girls were thrilled to find this very cool wall near our hotel. Totally perfect for Instagram!

Tuesday 20 August 2019

Our Stay at Ro's Place, Near Whitstable through AirBnB

Lounge/ dining room

I love to get away with the family but with three adult sized kids, it is becoming harder and harder to find an affordable option that has enough flexibility to allow us all to be happy and relaxed. Air BnB seems to have become our accommodation of choice. I can opt for a whole house, with enough bedrooms and also choose the other factors that are important to our family like good WiFi, easy parking and a garden.

We first stayed in one back in 2017, when we stayed at the White House in Fakenham, then again earlier this year at Squirrel Court in Bradford and recently we spent a few very pleasant days at Ro’s Place close to Whitstable in Kent. This Air BnB only opened up in April this year, so it’s new to the market and as such I thought I’d share about our stay there.

Beach front near Whitstable
Just a few minutes walk from the house is the seafront

Sunday 18 August 2019

Family Visit to London Zoo in the Rain with BuyAGift

It was my birthday earlier this week and our family had decided to have a night staying up in London, along with a theatre show. We were pondering what we might do on our second day when BuyAGift offered me the chance for us all to visit London Zoo, on one of their experience day vouchers.

I was very happy to take them up on this and I was thrilled to see that if we had bought one of their family London Zoo entry vouchers for £76 (based on 2 adults and 2 kids), we would have been making a great saving against the advance ticket price for the same, direct with the zoo. A saving of just over £14 on an off-peak day and nearly £20 for a peak weekend date. No worrying about peak and off-peak with the BuyAGift voucher though, that can be used any time for 10 months from purchase.

I've worked with and bought BuyAGift vouchers before, as you can often find really good deals. I've made sure I am signed up for their newsletters and then I get to know when there are deals like 10 or 15% off. One of my favourite deals to buy when there are special discounts on, is the Prezzo 3 course meal and a glass of wine for 2 people.

Tween taking a photo of a bird

I was pleased to find that using our BuyAGift voucher was super easy too. Sometimes you have to convert your voucher online and book in advance, but not so with the London Zoo one, we literally had to turn up to the gate and exchange it for entry. It was really easy.

Wednesday 14 August 2019

What does the Future Hold? Going back to my Catering Roots?

Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash

As I turn 46, I find myself thinking about my life and what has passed. What I'm doing now and what the future might hold. I've recently taken on a new part-time job and I'm very much enjoying doing that for two days a week, along with my freelance work, for another two days a week. These commitments still give me time to volunteer, shop, exercise and be available for the kids too.

I've definitely got a good balance right now and being in a Christian environment is the right thing for me at the moment, but I do have those times when I pass the seafront hotels in Eastbourne and I wonder if the future might take me back to my hotel and catering roots. At age 14 I decided that I wanted to be a hotel manager, I'd been inspired by my Grandad who was a chef in the navy and then worked as a chef and catering manager in many local places. 

From the minute I left school I was training for my future, I went to college and trained to be a hotel manager, and I took my chefing qualifications as well. I then went to Uni and did a Hospitality degree, knowing I'd be a hotel manager when I left, and I was. I had a couple of years with Friendly Hotels as a Trainee Manager, learning the trade from the bottom up, adding to my work experience that started when I was 13 years old.

Monday 12 August 2019

Ways to use your Smartphone to create a better Financial Future for Yourself

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Most of us spend hours on our smartphones. We have become very reliant on them. So much so that smartphone separation anxiety has become an actual condition. We love these little devices and would find it hard to live without them.

Yet, most of us are only scratching the surface when it comes to what our phones can do for us. As you will see below, with the help of the right apps you can start to build a more financially secure future for yourself and your family. Sounds good, right?

Invest on the fly
Using this investment app, you can keep track of the investments you already have. But, perhaps more importantly, it also enables you to invest on the fly. So, for example, if you get a bonus from work, you can immediately identify a way to invest that cash. This will stop you from frittering that bonus away over the weekend.

Track what you are spending
Managing your day to day spending is critical if you want to stay out of debt. Knowing how much the essentials of life cost and budgeting accordingly can easily be done using a money management app. One of the best ones on the market is Mint.

As well as letting you set and stick to a budget, the Money Dashboard app has several additional features built-in. For example, alerts that tell you when your bills are due.

Saturday 10 August 2019

More Summer Reasons to be Cheerful #R2BC

I'm really enjoying the summer and I hope you are too. I think it helped immensely that I had a whole week without any children! My hubby and I had a great time, visiting a National Trust park, going our for dinner, seeing a Tina Turner tribute act, going to the cinema and getting coffee! It has been bliss and shhh, no I didn't actually have time to miss them!

The kids all had a great time away as well. The girls were at our church youth camp, with around 8000 other people and JJ was with my parents.

Time to just read and snuggle with the cat

Tuesday 6 August 2019

10 Ways to get your Teen Away from their Screen this Summer

Tween girls feeding ducks

We're fully into the summer holiday now and I'm sure you might have heard the dreaded words 'I'm bored' so far. No matter what, every kid seems to get in this rut and I've always believed that my kids need to break through the boredom barrier. It's good for them to be bored for a little while, as that is when they engage their creative mind and start to think laterally about what they used to or could do.

It's so easy for teens (especially boys) to get stuck in a rut and end up endlessly playing computer games, surfing the web or getting immersed into social media but we all know that too much of it isn't good for us, on so many levels - our physical health, our mental health and our ability to converse and communicate with others.

Here are a few ideas that aren't going to break the bank, that may just help you get your teen away from their screen. Of course, you have to be realistic, they probably aren't going to thank you initially, as they think they want to spend 24/7 glued to their phone or laptop.

1.  Volunteering / Work Experience
This one will depend on the age of your teen and realistically it probably should have been sorted out before now, but whats friends or family do you have who they could accompany to work for the day? My son has done voluntary work gardening, learning maintenance tasks, working in a cafe and marshaling traffic. Each has been great experience for him and provided something different to his skill set.

Don't just assume your teen is too young or that they shouldn't be working yet (childhood is for fun) these kind of educational days can excite, inspire and develop your teen.

Saturday 3 August 2019

Summer Reasons to be Cheerful #R2BC

Morning all, I hope everyone is well and enjoying the summer holidays. Reasons to be Cheerful is back with me for the month of August and I'm hoping to be a cheery example and inspire you to share all those things (big and small) that have made you smile, if only for a moment. Life isn't always good but there are always glimmers of hope there, when you are brave enough to look for them.

A Fabulous few days in Kent
Last week we had 3 nights away in Whitstable before the busy summer kicked off for my husband at work. It was really great as we were only 90 minutes away from home, but it was far enough to be totally new and a lot of fun. We loved spending time on the local beaches as the sun went down.

Thrills at Dreamland, Margate
We received free wristbands to enjoy the day at the Dreamland theme park and we had such a great time. It was far too hot but that didn't put the girls off going on so many rides! We all truly loved it there and would definitely visit again.  I've written a review over here.

We're Kid Free!
The girls are away at a camp with our church and JJ is at my parents this week, so dh and I have had the house to ourselves. We been out to dinner, coffee and the theatre. It's been very nice, if a little unusual!

We've still got nearly five weeks left of the summer holidays and lots of fun things planned, as well as some down time for chilling. I plan on having a fabulous time!

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