Thursday 27 February 2020

Too much Pressure on our Girls! It has to Stop #BeALady

Mother and tween daughter
Miss E - artistic, expressive, loyal, hard-working, conscientious, honest, great sense of humour,
true to herself, authentic, brave, determined, self-disciplined, diligent, caring and creative

I came across a video today and it makes for a very interesting, powerful and scary watch. The video has been created by Girls. Girls. Girls. magazine and it shows Cynthia Nixon narrating the words of Camille Rainville.

"Don’t be too fat. Don’t be too thin. Eat up. Slim down. Stop eating so much. Don’t eat too fast. Order a salad. Don’t eat carbs. You need to lose weight. Go on a diet. God, you look like a skeleton. Why don’t you just eat? You look sick. Eat a burger. Men like women with some meat on their bones. Be light. Be little. Be petite. Be feminine."

To be truthful it made me feel sick, as these are the messages that I've heard for the last 46 years and my girls are hearing every day now. They are not new messages, but it is time for them to stop.

Girls, women, ladies, call us what you will. We are people, just like men are and as such we deserve to live our lives as freely as men do.

We can be who we want to be.

We can look and dress in a way that pleases us.

We do not have to conform.

We do not have to live up to your standards.

We have value and worth without doing anything.

We are lovable and likeable.

We are so much more than a body.

We deserve respect.

We are unique, every last one of us and that is exactly how God meant it to be.

Tuesday 25 February 2020

Bodiam Castle - Amazing History and Great for all the Family

Bodium castle from the front

Amazing History

The other week after Storm Clara, my family were desperate to get out for a bit and enjoy the blue sky that had shown itself. As it was already after lunch we didn’t want to travel too far and thus decided to head just twenty minutes up the road from us to Bodiam. I hadn't been to the castle for 3 or 4 years and whilst nothing much changes at this 14th century moated castle, the views are always beautiful and there are plenty of walks local to the castle to enjoy.

Bodiam Castle is what many people refer to as a ‘proper’ castle as it’s outer walls are beautifully intact, and it sits fully surrounded by a moat. It makes for the most magnificent pictures and is fun inside too, despite being ruins. You can still climb some of the spiral staircases to go up and see how it looks from the top of the castle on a rampart and also the Posters tower, but be aware these are narrow, well-worn and spindly stone steps. If you don’t like enclosed spaces or have physical difficulties they might not be for you. I’m fully able, but was a bit nervous and took it slowly up and down the rampart staircases. However, I declined to go up the tower as that has two-way traffic on one small staircase and that was too much for me. My husband and daughter went up there and said it had amazing views though.

Inside Bodiam castle

Saturday 22 February 2020

Put Your Home in Order – Useful Tips

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

For many of us, cleaning means a lot of unpleasant, time-taking hard work. However, in reality, there are some simple tips that will ease the process of cleaning, and most importantly, change your attitude to the cleaning process.

The primary cause for negative attitudes towards cleaning your house is the wrong internal motivation or even a complete lack of motivation. Often, one person does most of the cleaning work, but the whole family creates a mess. In addition, no matter how much time was spent putting everything in order, by the very next day the mess seems to have recreated as if by itself! It can feel neverending. 

Here I'll share some tips on how to make cleaning your home pleasant, easy and not burdensome.

Cleaning as you go

Urgent cleaning prevents a shallow, easily removable mess from escalating into a serious problem. For example, after cooking dinner, a few greasy spots remain on the stove, they are barely noticeable and do not bother anyone at all, you could easily leave them there. However, if you don't wipe the mess away immediately, and if you leave the dirty stove unattended every day, then a multi-layer burnt crust will form, which will require a large amount of cleaning products and hours of elbow grease, all when you could have spent just two minutes each day keeping your stovetop nice. It really is a false economy to leave it for another day.

Thursday 20 February 2020

A Gratitude Catch-Up!

Hey friends. It is time for a little catch-up, and rather than telling you about the bits that have been a bit tricky or darn-right exhausting, I'm going to share my gratitude for all the great things that have been going on over the last month or so.
  • I've been pro-active with chasing up paid work and January was a really good month. February is quieter but a couple of jobs came in just before the weekend.
  • Time with my boy - we spent an afternoon together at TEDx Tunbridge Wells at the beginning of the month and had a fab Prezzo meal afterwards. Even better was that I had bought a voucher from Red Letter Days for about £20 as there was a deal and money off. Three courses and a drink each for £0, I was very happy!

  • I got my monthly email from Kobo and it informed me I had read for 27.5 hours in the last month.  For me, that is 27.5 hours of pure joy, as I only tend to read fiction on my e-reader.
  • Every week recently, we've been having a yummy home-cooked roast dinner. I love doing a roast with loads of different veggies, that we can all sit at the table and eat together. These simple things really make a difference with teens. 

Tuesday 18 February 2020

Puppy Care: How To Look After Your New Furry Arrival

{This is a collaborative post}

When you decide to push the boat out and take on the responsibility of a puppy, it can be so much fun for the whole family. Dogs truly are man's best friend, so having a puppy of your own can provide you with so much positivity and joy! However, it takes dedication and effort to provide the best level of care for your new arrival, and you must take steps to ensure that your dog can be well looked after until the end of its days - a pup is for life, not just for Christmas. Having a puppy can also be a great learning experience for your children, as introducing them to animals in such a fun and enjoyable way will encourage them to form bonds and lose their fear of other species. So, what are you waiting for?

If you’ve decided to get a puppy for your family, then read on to uncover some of the best tips and tricks that can help you to provide them with the best level of care to improve their quality of life and make the most of your time together!

The Right Breed 

Choosing which dog breed is the best for family is one of the most important features of your project. Opting for the wrong kind of dog could mean that your family does not develop a positive bond with the animal, therefore resulting in a bad quality of life and eventual rehoming. You must consider the basics, such as the age of your children and the experience they have with dog handling, otherwise, they could get scared or frightened and potentially receive some kind of injury when mishandling the dog. Small pups are often much more suited to families with younger children, as they appear less intimidating and can perhaps do less damage, however, some breeds such as Jack Russell terrier are partial to nipping and barking as a larger animal might also during play.

Monday 17 February 2020

Supporting your Friend through their Divorce

female friends walking a country path
Photo by Joseph Pearson on Unsplash
{This is a collaborative post}

Whilst the number of heterosexual couples getting a divorce in 2019 may have dropped by over 10,000 from the year before, 90,871 (Source: ONS) is still an incredibly large number of people choosing to end their marriage.  As such you are bound to have friends going through this difficult period. Even if your friend is the one who instigated the divorce and was fully fed-up in their marriage, it can still be a very tough time for them and it's good to be able to offer support and let them know you are there for them.

Here are a few ideas of how to support your good friend thought their divorce -

Be available to listen

Your friend many have loads of unresolved issues and hurts that they need to get off their chest, so it is good if you are just able to be there for them and listen. You don't have to provide answers, or platitudes, just show you are interested and offer a big hug as necessary.

Don't judge or place blame

Even listening to your friend talk for hours, you may never know exactly what went on it their marriage, so make sure that you do not judge or apportion blame. No-one wants to hear that they should have listened to you and left their spouse years ago, nor that you saw this coming. Avoid bad-mouthing their ex too, as they may just get back with them again in the future and then where will you be?

Saturday 15 February 2020

Have you considered Engineered Wood Flooring?

Comfortable seating area with engineered wood flooring
The images are all of the newly installed engineered wood floors at Ashburnham Place where I live
{This is a collaborative post}

Growing up as a child in the seventies and eighties everyone I knew had a carpeted house, in fact, most had a shagpile in at least one room. As I grew older trends started to change, carpets got cheaper but the quality also seriously declined and it seems that due to that, and the worries about keeping them clean, as well as the rise of allergies that many people moved to a hardwood floor, more in line with what our European and American brothers were doing.

Vinyl flooring or lino was a cost-effective and easy choice for quite a while, especially in bathrooms and kitchens were traditional wood flooring was unsuitable due to the amount of moisture and potential water spills. However, as home design moved on and houses became more slick and modern, a vinyl-covered floor didn't really cut it. Thankfully we've seen the rise of the engineered wood floor over the last few decades and today it is accepted as a really good choice for flooring that looks fantastic and just like real wood (as of course, it is real wood) and is long-lasting and durable.

What is engineered wood flooring?

It is a number of layers of veneers, which are thin slices of different real woods put together and sandwiched under pressure with a high-quality glue. The top layer is the highest quality wood, giving the beautiful final appearance. Make sure you do your homework when choosing your engineered wood floor as not all engineered wood flooring is the same, it can come in a range of thicknesses from 14mm - 20mm and depending on the footfall and where the floor is placed will help you decide what is best. Ask for boards that have at least a 4-6mm top layer, to help protect from damage over time.

Friday 14 February 2020

Getting To Grips With Everyday Technology

Image Credit: Janeb13 on Pixabay
{This is a collaborative post}

If you find that you frequently struggle to understand what you are meant to do with the technology in your life, you are not alone. A lot of people feel this way, and, likely, it will only continue to get more and more confusing and frustrating as time goes on and technology becomes more and more advanced. Of course, there is plenty that you can do to ensure that you understand it better and that you are getting to grips with it better, so that is a good thing to bear in mind. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the essential things you can do to make this process a lot easier, so that much of your life is going to be a lot easier too. Let’s take a look at this in some detail.

Simplifying Your Usage
First of all, you should bear in mind that you only have to use technology to the degree that you want to. You should not feel as though you have to use it any more than that. If you force yourself to do that, you will only end up being more stressed, and that is not the direction we want to be moving in here. So the first thing to do is to look at the technology you use in your life every day, and ask yourself whether it might be necessary or whether you might be able to do away with it instead.

If you can apply this kind of rigorous vision to all the technology in your home, you will already find that your usage of technology is much simpler indeed. So that is something to be aware of - and likewise, you should make sure that you are not over-complicating things by trying to use as much technology as possible. If you can do that, you will find that technology becomes much less stressful over time.

Wednesday 12 February 2020

When did you last check your Pension? It could be time for a Health Check

Photo by Michael Longmire on Unsplash

{This post was commissioned by Profile Pensions/ Mumsnet}

With an ever-ageing society as people live longer, it’s now quite different as a woman heading towards pensionable age. Well, I say heading towards, but I am actually quite a few years off the age to claim my state pension. As a youngster, all women could take their state retirement benefit from age 60, but now for me, as someone born in 1973, I’ll be 67 when I can take my state pension, that will be in 2040.

Will my State Pension be Enough?
If I was of the age to retire today the full level of the new state pension is £168.60 a week (£8,767.20 a year), as long as I have 35 years of NI contributions. If we assume that this raises in line with inflation, it means that when I retire this would be no-where near enough to allow me to live a comfortable lifestyle. How do you pay rent, bills, food and other living costs on around £700 a month, especially if you don’t have a council or mortgage-free house?

I input a few brief details into the Profile Pensions calculator to see how much yearly income my husband and I might need if we were to retire at age 67, whilst renting a house, and it showed that between us we’d need £24,589 per year on top of our state pension. Are our pensions operating at a level to give us that kind of yearly pay out in twenty years? I suspect not.

Sunday 9 February 2020

Planning our Travels for 2020

{This post contains gifted content}

As soon as Christmas is over, I am always keen to start planning the year ahead and plotting out when we might be getting some nights away and quality family time. We're not a family that has loads of disposable income, so I can't generally plan European short breaks and Florida summer holidays. I have to be a bit more creative with the money we have, and try to make it go as far as possible. It's also incredibly fortunate that I can secure some breaks away due to this blog.

2020 is panning out really well and I am feeling excited and looking ahead to the great times we'll have. The kids half term is next week and I'm always dubious to book anything much in the February half term as you can never tell what our weather will do. So, the kids and I will just be heading for February for a few days to spend time with my parents, and we always love doing that.

April - Spring Harvest at Butlins, Skegness
On Easter Sunday we'll head up to the in-laws to celebrate Easter and then on to Skegness for our yearly holiday at the Spring Harvest Christian festival. JJ won't be coming with us, as he will be staying with my parents and revising for his GCSEs that will start the next month.

So, it will be just the four of us and the one good point of that, is that it is cheaper, but I always miss my boy when he isn't there. I love this holiday as it is a mix of relaxation and fun, with swimming, the fun fair and chilling with my hubby, as well as great times of teaching and celebration. It is completely joyous and I haven't been to Skegness since 2011, so it will be great to experience the changes they've made there in the last decade.

Wednesday 5 February 2020

Low Cost or Free February Half Term Fun in East Sussex

We're only a couple of weeks away from the February half-term and the weather can be unpredictable at this time of the year, so if you're anything like me, you'll be looking for things to do with the kids that will keep them occupied, but won't break the bank.

Check out my round-up of fun activities going on in East Sussex for February 2020 half term -

Scotney Castle, National Trust, Lamberhurst
The National Trust are amazing at catering for primary school aged children and each half-term there seems to be some great activities going on. Scotney Castle has a murder mystery trail this half-term, along with a great outdoor play area and of course the ongoing initiative of ticking off the 50 things to do before you're 11 3/4.

Scotney Castle is a great site as it has the large manor house, which you can explore inside, the old castle ruins, again you can explore inside, massive grounds, a play area and cafe.

Check out my review of Scotney Castle. We are very lucky in East Sussex as there are loads of good NT sites. I've written about Batemans, Bodium Castle, Standon, Sheffield Park, Sissinghurst Gardens and they're all fun to visit, especially if you have membership!

Top Tip: Visit the second hand bookshop where you can always pick up a great book for a donation, and whilst you're there have a look through the binoculars and see if you can spot some birds out the massive windows.