Wednesday 24 June 2020

Enjoying the Parkland at National Trust Sheffield Park during Lockdown

Sheep at Sheffield Park

As lockdown started to ease in the UK the National Trust started to open up some of its larger estates for people to be able to enjoy the outdoor space whilst also observing social distancing. We headed over to Sheffield Park in East Sussex a few weeks back on a Wednesday afternoon, taking advantage of my husband being on furlough at that time.

Then, only the wider estate/ parkland was open, but now they have opened up the formal gardens too and you have to book online to be able to visit and ensure your parking space and entry. Tickets are being released each Friday for all their sites across the UK that are open and they are the only way you can gain access. You need to book at least the day before, but I'd recommend looking on a Friday as it gets super busy and sites are selling out quickly. I had to wait in the Eventbrite queue for about 40 minutes last week to get tickets for a different East Sussex site.

I wanted to share some photos from our time walking the 250 acres of parkland, as it is really beautiful and just perfect for families to get some fresh air. Dogs are welcome on short leads but you need to be mindful of the sheep and cattle that are in the fields you'll pass through. Normally the kids can enjoy the natural play trail but it's closed at the moment.

Sunday 21 June 2020

Bridging the Learning Gap with MyTutor

16 year old boy doing online tutoring session

{This is a collaborative post}

What a funny old year this is turning out to be, and of course, I mean funny, weird as adverse to funny and making me laugh. The children have now been home since mid-March and the girls are slowly (but hopefully) surely badgering away with their school work via the online system. I've been quite impressed with their school, who keep setting work and checking in with them to ensure they are OK.

It's a bit of a different story for JJ, my 16-year-old though. He should have just been finishing his GCSE examinations, but of course, they have been cancelled. So, in reality, he hasn't done any schooling for about three months and he still has another three months until college starts in September (hopefully!). He is the kind of lad who has a thirst for learning, so he'll often watch educational programs and listen to podcasts just for enjoyment and that's reassuring for me.

Thankfully he is a really bright boy, so I'm not too worried but had he have been a different kind of kid, I'm sure I would be much more concerned. Six months without any formal learning is a long time to go and that's why I was so pleased to let him have some online tutoring with MyTutor. He'll be studying Maths and Further Maths at A-level, along with Computer Science and Law, and realistically maths is a skill that needs continual input and practise to keep your skill level up.

When I first chatted to JJ about doing some online tutoring, he really wasn't interested. He didn't think it would be interesting and he said he probably wouldn't like the tutor. Nothing like having an open mind, right? However, I'm pleased to say that he is loving it and asked me for more sessions.

Read on to check out mine and his full review of our start to end experience with MyTutor.

Tuesday 16 June 2020

Lockdown Crafting with my Daughter - Enjoying New Projects

Miss E is my arty daughter. She loves painting, making things and generally being creative. Give her a sewing machine and some fabric and off she'll go and create something, maybe a new pillow for her bedroom or clothes for Alfie, her favourite teddy. I'm highly impressed with her skills and her imagination, she has that creative eye that can just visualise how beautiful a project will look when it is finished. We've done all sorts of projects together over the years - making tree decorations, Valentine's crafts and birthday gifts. 

I also enjoy being crafty, but I wouldn't say I'm a natural. It takes effort to hone my creative skills. I love making cards and know I make some lovely ones to send to friends and family, but I have a set way of making them that works for me. A few years back Miss E and I really enjoyed our Eurocamp holiday at Club Farret, as they had an inclusive crafting room where we could paint, mosaic, silk dye, sculpt and so much more.

My Mum is amazing at knitting and crochet; all through my childhood, she'd make wonderful clothes and such. I think this was what has prompted me to pick up a tapestry, as this felt like something beautiful I could make, without it being too difficult. Over the years I've created a few stunning tapestries but in the last five or so years, I've got out of the habit and truthfully, blogging and being on the PC has taken over most of my time.

Friday 12 June 2020

Reasons to be Cheerful - Dentists, Walking and Embroidery

Where does the time go friends? How did it end up being Friday evening already? I remembered yesterday morning that it was Thursday and I should write a reasons to be cheerful post but then time has escaped me. I do find that the kids being home totally sucks my time away, but I'm trying to remind myself not to moan about that as they won't be around and be of an age where they want to be with me forever!

Despite the miserable weather June has been a good month so far and we've been making sure we have some family time together out and about. Here are just a few of the things that have been making me grateful -

*    I've been taking part in some FitBit challenges to help me move more and they have been fun.

*    I've been taking lots of walks around my home and some of the grass is being let go to meadow, it is so pretty!

*    Miss E and I have both enjoyed taking up a new craft project each, I am trying embroidery and she is doing chunky cross stitch.

Choosing your Childcare with

{This is a collaborative post}

Ensuring that your children are well looked after is one of the biggest worries for working parents. I remember when I was pregnant with JJ nearly 17 years ago and I was all set to go back to my high-flying career, where I worked crazy long hours and commuted 30 miles each way. Then came the reality of him being born and looking at childcare options that would suit our family, and it really wasn't easy finding the right option that would allow me to commute, work late and have some flexibility.


How I wish the website has been around then, to help me see clearly that there were more options open to me than I realised. It is such a great resource that over 2 million people have used since it was set up in 2009, and I find it reassuring that it has been around for over a decade now, so I know that it is reputable. is the UK's largest online community of parents, childcare providers, household helpers, schools and private tutors. You can use the website to find all forms of childcare - babysitters, registered childminders, nannies, private tutors and nurseries.

I did a quick search on my old address to see what options would be open to me if I was now seeking to get JJ looked after and I was astounded to see there are 535 childcare options with a 5-mile radius of my address in Hertfordshire. In truth, this could feel a little daunting, so I was glad to see that I could filter the results to show the aspects important to me, such as those with a DBS certificate or first aid training, or perhaps those who have experience with children with special needs, are purely male or female carers and more. There are lots of options, which is great.

Saturday 6 June 2020

Waking up to Racism and White Privilege

Black girl with a Black Lives Matter sign
Original source unknown

Yes, I am one of those white people who would say I am not racist. I don't believe I have ever treated someone less favourably on the basis of their skin colour and therefore how does racism apply to me? However, what I have been realising over the last week is that I haven't really considered racism too much. I haven't had to in my life, it hasn't been a feature and I now know that amounts to white privilege.

I'll be honest, I didn't realise racism was an issue that I needed to make my business. If I wasn't oppressing black people, holding them back or being derogatory and hurtful, then why did I need to think about racism, or champion the rights of BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) people?

My husband and I are both inclusive and happy to be around, work with, befriend and live with people from other races and those who have a skin colour different to our own. I've led inclusivity and diversity training quite a number of times in my past job role and I'd have considered myself abreast or many discrimination issues. I'm a HR Manager by trade and this means I have to be aware of and encouraging inclusivity. I have no problem with positive action, and I've employed people on the basis that our workforce was not an accurate representation of the community we served.

However, I now see how narrow my tunnel of vision has been for most of my life. Just because I wasn't treating people differently, it doesn't mean that the system wasn't. Yes, I've heard statistics of how BAME people are less likely to rise up the ranks in employment or have access to higher education, but I didn't really get why.

Monday 1 June 2020

Visit to Sissinghurst Castle Garden, National Trust, Kent

Sissinghurst Castle Garden Header

I seriously can not wait for the lockdown to be over and we can all start to get out more and visit great National Trust places again. I know that things will be different, numbers will be limited, distancing will be enforced etc for quite some time but I'm happy to book and wait my turn to visit some amazing places once again. 

Literally just before lockdown started we had the pleasure of visiting Sissinghurst Castle Garden at Cranbrook in Kent, this is under an hour from where we live and we had an enjoyable few hours there with Miss E, one Sunday afternoon.

Sissinghurst has a very long history, and the Tudor buildings were used as a prison back in the 18th century as well as being a private family residence, then in the 19th century, it became a poor house with around 100 men living and working there before it went back to the Cornwallis family. In 1930 the house was sold to Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson who lived there until Vita's death in 1962 when Harold gave the property to the National Trust.

In the time they lived there, they cultivated the now world-famous gardens that you can stroll around and enjoy. 

Sissinghurst Castle Garden Tower

It's fun to take a walk up the spiral staircase in the tower (78 steps) to see were Vita used to work, writing novels, poems and letters. There are great views from the top and I felt very safe up there, as the walls are high enough.