Saturday, 28 March 2020

Reasons to be Cheerful during Lockdown


I feel a little guilty writing this post, as my experience of lockdown and having self-isolated is quite different to most peoples. As most of you know we live in the grounds of the conference centre where my husband works, and whilst normally we yearn for a little private space, during this lockdown we are super grateful for a closed front gate and 220 acres to roam free in.

Thankfully the time we self-isolated went quickly and no-one developed any symptoms but of course, we have no idea if this is because we've already had the virus, which seems to be the thinking at the moment, that around half of the UK population might already have had it and not even realised. It will be pretty cool if this is the case.

Here's a few fo the things we've been really enjoying over the last couple of weeks -

The board game Azul. As soon as I knew we'd be isolating as a family, I ordered this and I was so glad I did. It can be played with 2 upwards players and it is good fun and takes only about 30 minutes to play.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Visiting Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, East Sussex

Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

A great free place to visit


A couple of weeks ago when life was more normal, my husband and I headed out for a walk around the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve and had a quiet lunch together. Of course, right now, we couldn't do that as the pubs are closed and we're all staying home to heed off the coronavirus but I think it is important that we can enjoy the wider outdoors from the comfort of our homes right now.

Also, it's enjoyable to plan where we can go once the lockdown is over and things are safer again. Looking back on photos of all the amazing places I have visited is definitely helping me not to feel so cooped up since we started to self-isolate nearly two weeks ago. 

We were really impressed with the nature reserve, it's free, it is massive (465 hectares to be precise) and there is loads of free parking at the entrance to it, as long as your vehicle is under 2 metres. You are encouraged to make a donation in the car park, to help with its upkeep and ensure it stays free for all to use, but you can't moan at that!

There are easily accessible public toilets too, and nearby are a couple of pubs, a cafe, bed and breakfast, shop and the lifeboat station, all just a few minutes walk from the parking. 

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Updating our Lounge - Dreaming of a Brighter Future!

Photo by Guillermo Nolasco on Unsplash
{This is a collaborative post}

We moved into our house nearly seven years ago now and it's a truly beautiful home. Built-in the 1700's, it was originally a stable block for a large manor house and now I refer to it as the tardis, as on the outside it looks tiny, but when you come in, you realise it is very spacious. We really are very lucky to live here as part of my husband's job.

As the house isn't actually ours, we haven't done too much with it, it had all been cleaned up before we moved in, so we have magnolia walls and beige carpets, but they really are a bit boring and the furniture and soft furnishings we bought with us from our old home are not the most stylish. I've therefore decided it is time for an upgrade and I'm dreaming/ planning how we want it to look.

How is our lounge used?

I've never been one for following trends, I'm all about making the space work for our family and the way we use it. For us, the lounge is a sanctuary, it's where we come together to snuggle up and watch a film, it's where the cat gets played with, where we craft and make cards and often where my husband and I both work. In short, it is probably the most used room in the house and we spend well over 50% of our time in it.


Somewhere amazing to relax

I had a chat with all the family and asked them what they wanted from our lounge and the top answer was an amazing sofa. When we holidayed in an airbnb last year we had two of those sofas where you can raise up the footrest and relax back and everyone loved those, but I do worry about the durability of them, with kids keep flipping them up and down! With that in mind, I think we'll go for a massive corner sofa with deep seats and beautiful, soft cushions. As well as a couple of footstalls, so even when all five of us are together watching something we can still all have our feet up if we fancy.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Cafe Tibbles at Beal’s Barn, Wadhurst - Review


Now the children are older and all at secondary school, it makes it a lot easier if my husband and I fancy a lunch date. He’s been working some weekend evenings recently and this means he gets a day off in the week. We’ve been making the most of these times recently with some trips out to try new places for lunch. It’s all too easy when you’ve been together for a quarter of a century to take each other for granted and not to spend time alone any longer.

The other week we took a trip over to Wadhurst to try out Cafe Tibbles at Beal’s Barn. My husband had been seeing their homemade cakes on Instagram and they’d tempted him in. I was certainly glad they did, as we had a lovely lunch together, but be warned it is definitely at the more expensive end of the cafe market.




Saturday, 14 March 2020

Talking to your Daughter Once she Starts her Periods - The Practicalities

Teen girls in a field together
Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

As parents, we're fully aware that we need to prepare our daughters for when they start menstruating. The NHS states that the average age in the UK is 12 years old, but it can be as young as 8, so it is important to have conversations early on with your child to ensure they feel ready for when the big day comes along.

Chatting to your child about puberty, menstruation, sex and other sensitive topics doesn't have to be difficult. if you can approach it in a matter-of-fact fashion and show that you won't be shocked, your child will probably be more open to talking to you. Have a look at my post from a couple of years ago with some tips for having an effective talk with your child.

What I've found is that it is all good-and-well having good, open conversations so your daughter feels prepared but actually when the time comes and they start their period, it is important to have another conversation. To actually talk them through some of the practicalities of having their periods, discussing items such as -

1.  Help her track it
We know that a young woman's period will last for between 3-7 days and will appear around every 28-30 days, but it is super easy to forget when you are due on and be caught out. So get your daughter a calendar, diary or online app like Period Tracker or Clue (here's a recent article on Good Housekeeping suggesting the best tracking apps) so she feels in control and gets to know her own menstrual cycle. 

Friday, 13 March 2020

Tips for making Dating work, when you're a Single Parent

caring couple and small child
Photo by Lauren Samuels on Unsplash
{This is a collaborative post}

Once you have children life changes, of course for the better but it can also make some things a little more tricky. Things like dating for instance. You haven't stopped being an adult who needs company, companionship, romance or sex just because you have one or more children. So it's important to find a way to make dating work for you if you are keen to seek a new partner or even just some friendship,

Here, my friend Katie shares with you her tips as a single mum who has successfully got back out there after the break-up of her long-term relationship and found a new man that she thinks she'll have a future with.


1.  Be honest about the fact you're a parent

If your new partner has a problem with kids then you need to know this upfront, as your children are always going to come first and if one of them is ill and you need to cancel, you should be sure that he/she will understand. Being honest and having open conversations is definitely the best basis for any new relationship.

2.  Don't overshare on the first couple of dates

Take things slowly with regard to revealing all about your family situation and children. Get to know your date a bit before you go into why your relationship with the kid's other parent didn't work out, or the ins and outs of your kids' lives.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Spring Cleaning Doesn't need to be Overwhelming

Grey colour scheme lounge
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash
{This is a collaborative post}

The stormy weather may be denying that Spring is here but the clocks going forward in a couple of weeks confirm it. The blossom is starting to bloom and I'm not needing to defrost my car in the mornings, so those are both serious reasons to be thankful for Spring. Luckily I'm one of those people who enjoy a good cleaning session, but I know I am in the minority so I thought I'd share with you my tips for spring cleaning, without the overwhelm.

1.  Make a Plan

How deep do you want to clean? It is totally up to you, it's your home after all. Of course, if you want to wash every wall, and clean all the curtains, it is going to take you longer, but that's OK just plan for it. Try to be realistic and depending how much cleaning you want to do and what time you have, make a list of all the tasks that need doing and plan what you will be able to do in a week. My Spring cleaning takes about 4 weeks, as I do like to do the whole house and really give it a good going over.


2.  Tackle the clutter

Before you even get on with the cleaning, it is important to de-clutter and tidy up. Just imagine how much longer it will take you to clean if you are working around the mess. A few years ago I employed the Mari Kondo method for clearing out and I found it worked a treat. I'm probably at the point of needing to clear out again, but being very strict and assessing if items bought me joy was a great way of clearing out and being ruthless.

Sunday, 8 March 2020

International Women's Day: Amazing Sight-Saving Women



International Women's Day is a commemorative day that hadn't even landed on my radar until I started to work with charities and NGO's like Save the Children, One and Samaritan's Purse back in 2011/12. I've never been much of a feminist; my narrative growing up was that women could be who they wanted to be and do what they wanted to do. I was lucky to have parents who believed in me and pushed me to break any glass ceilings that got in my way.

It was having my own children and especially my twin girls that really lit my passion for fighting for the rights of parents (particularly mothers) everywhere. My time as a #ONEMum has shaped my life immensely, and events like International Day of the Girl (11 October each year) and International Women's Day (8 March) are now pivotal in my calendar and I hate to let them pass without marking them in some way, and especially without speaking out on behalf of those who find it hard to share their voice.

See the Way

This IWD I want to share with you the ‘See the Way,’ appeal from CBM UK which is raising money to help more people access sight-saving surgery, glasses and support so they can go to school, read and write, get around safely and support themselves and their families. The appeal has been running since 12th February and goes on until 12th May 2020. The most wonderful news is that they have match funding from the UK government and for every £1 that someone like you or me donates, the government matches it and thus there is twice the money to go towards sight-saving initiatives in Malawi.

Nearly two-thirds of the world’s blind people are women. Too often, women’s health and wellbeing is still valued less than that of men, which means they are less likely to access sight-saving medical care. International Women’s Day, is a day to remember the continued gender imbalance in our world but it is also a day to celebrate the huge role that women around the world play in driving positive change.


Women like Debisa, who is based in the Amhara region in Northern Ethiopia, are working every day to help ensure that fewer people go needlessly blind from conditions that can be treated. When I spent a couple of weeks in Ethiopia in 2012 visiting community projects I met so many of the rural health workers and they were amazing women. Most of them were young and passionate to see change; to help their fellow Ethiopians be as well as possible, despite the very challenging situations most of them lived in.

Debisa goes from village to village to find people living with trachoma and provide them with eye drops to save their sight. Trachoma is an infectious disease which causes roughening of the inner eyelids. This roughness leads to pain, damage to the cornea and eventual blindness if left untreated, but something as simple as these eye drops make a real difference. This region in Ethiopia has one of the highest trachoma prevalence rates in the world – over half of the population have this blinding eye condition, and that is why Debisa and her colleagues are working with CBM to change this.

I'm sure you'll agree that the See the way appeal is very worthwhile and any donations made will help train health workers, equip hospitals and strengthen eye health systems for the future, helping build communities where nobody is needlessly blind in Malawi.

If you'd like to make a donation, however small, please do. 

And this International Women's Day take time to think about all the female champions you know, the women making a difference, whether that is through supporting the next generation as a teacher or mother, or a woman moving to the top of her field and making a worldwide difference.

Who is CBM?
Too many people face poverty and isolation, denied the chance to go to school or earn a living, just because they have a disability. Driven by Christian values, CBM works in the world’s poorest places, preventing blindness, improving health and transforming the lives of people with disabilities. For more information about CBM, visit www.cbmuk.org.uk.

 

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Capturing those Treasured Family Moments


{This is a collaborative post}

When you become a parent a really special thing happens, your heart expands and you are able to love another person as much as your spouse. Everything about that small person who has joined your family captivates you and you feel compelled to store up the memories for a rainy day. Even if you've never been the kind of person to take lots of photos or videos before, I can guarantee that will change when you become a parent.

Luckily in this day and age, it is very easy to capture all the precious moments and memories. Here are a few ideas on how to capture all those little times that you don't want to forget.

Blogging/ Instagram

My blog was born in 2008 when my twin girls were a few months old and I wanted to share photos and the things we had been up to with family and friends that live quite a distance. Little did I know quite how much this hobby would grow. Nowadays many people are more likely to share on social media in the form of a microblog, on sites like Instagram or Facebook as it is far less time-intensive than a traditional blog.

Monday, 2 March 2020

Five ways to Update your Style in your Forties

Glamorous mature woman
Photo by Adalia Botha on Unsplash
{This is a collaborative post}

This year I'll turn 47 and I don't think I'd win any prizes for my personal style. Don't get me wrong I am always clean and presentable but comfort is definitely my number one priority rather than fashion. It's not that I like jogging bottoms or anything quite so horrendous, but I am usually spotted in jeans, a fairly smart top and a cardigan. I think that is my signature look and I've been starting to wonder if I ought to have a rethink.

I am plus size and that impacts what I feel comfortable to wear. I know many body-positive activists will tell me to wear whatever I like, to go for a crop top or body con dress if I fancy and I get that. But the thing is I don't fancy either of those things, I like to dress modestly and in a way that I think is appropriate for a 46-year-old married mother of three. We're all different and we have to embrace our personality and who we are.

Despite not wanting to change too radically, I am thinking that this year should be one of growth for me and updating my style is one way to do that. So here are five ways to update your style when you are in your forties and don't want to go too extreme!

1.  Invest in a human hair wig

I do love my blonde hair but it has a tendency to frizz and won't grow any longer than I have it now. It would be a dream come true to get long and thick hair easily by buying a best human hair wig. I don't think I'd change from blonde, but I would maybe go for a few shades lighter and definitely longer. I've only ever worn a wig for fancy dress before and they've never been great quality, so it would be such a treat to try a decent one that actually looks natural and matches my skin tone.