Friday, 22 October 2021

Perfect Personalised Gifts for all Occasions from Wanapix

Wanapix offer amazing personalised photo gifts including blankets, suitable for all occasions
My son loves his Puss personalised blanket

{This is a collaborative post}

When you think of personalised gifts, especially photo gifts maybe your mind just heads to mugs with photos on, or a keyring or mousemat. The kind of items that schools photographers offer for far too much money. But if that is the case then let me tell you, you are seriously out of touch. The personalised gift market has exploded and there are now so many amazing gifts you can buy that are unique and personal to your friends or family. They also don't have to cost the earth and you can get a high-quality gift for an affordable price. 

For quite a number of years now I have been buying personalised photo gifts for my family and in the case of my mum, I think I'd have an uproar if I didn't get her a photo kitchen calendar each year. I truly love the whole process of sitting at my laptop and spending a while going through my photos to choose the perfect ones for whichever project I am working on. It gives me a different pace to my regular work and I'm able to daydream and relive the memories from when the images were captured.  

Then the software used by Wanapix makes it really easy to personalise your chosen item, be it with photos, text or both. The upload times for the photos was really quick (although of course, some of that is down to your internet) and the system was easy to navigate with an advanced edit mode making each item truly customisable. I have to be honest, it was far easier and more intuitive than another similar website I've used recently. I do love finding a new great supplier that I can order from!

Let me share with you some of my favourite picks from the Wanapix website, they have crazy amounts of items to choose from. You certainly will find something for every occasion or recipient.


For your Tween/ Teen - Personalised Blanket, from £21.12

My kids all love to have a good snuggle, whether it is on the bed, sofa, floor or even outside enjoying a smore. Personalised blankets are an amazing gift that lasts for years. In this time of throwaway gifts and things only lasting a short while it is great to invest in a gift that washes well and is timeless. Have a look at my daughter Miss M who I caught snuggled up the other day with her photo fleece. We made this back in 2016 and it was a Christmas gift for her. Here she is five years later still using that gift and it looks like new. 

Wanapix offer amazing personalised photo gifts including blankets, suitable for all occasions


Tuesday, 19 October 2021

5 Art Installations That Found a Home in London

 

Photo by Andrew Ruiz on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

Over the years, London has been graced by many weird and wonderful art installations. Some of these additions became permanent fixtures, while others were there just long enough to attract the attentions of passers-by before moving elsewhere.

Here are five of the most fascinating installations to call the Capital home, however brief their stay.

 

1)     One & Other, Anthony Gormley

Back in 2009, Anthony Gormley organised an occupation of Trafalgar Square’s vacant fourth plinth. For 100 days, 2400 members of the public had an hour to perform for the world.

The Guardian have ranked the top ten of these 2400 participants, including Jonathan May-Bowles who invited members of the public to text him their secrets so they could be read aloud, and Paul Speller who performed numerous scientific experiments. Art can certainly take many forms. 

 

2)     Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Read, Paul Cummins and Tom Piper

In 2014, a moat of 888,246 ceramic red poppies were placed in the grounds of the Tower of London, each representing servicemen that were killed in World War I.

The title of the work was taken from the poem of an unknown soldier, and at the end of the exhibition, the poppies were sold to members of the public, with the proceeds going to charity. It really was the most awe-inspiring installation.

Sunday, 17 October 2021

6 Ways to Get Your Garden Winter Ready

 


{This is a collaborative post}

The weather is starting to get colder, and winter is on the way, meaning now is the perfect time to preen your plant life and get your garden ready for the frosty season. Not making time to prepare your garden for the wet and windy weather can end up causing you some costly damage in the long run.

If you want to make sure that your outdoor space is taken care of this winter, then simply follow these six steps for a winter-proof garden.

 

1)     Evergreen

Unfortunately, many of our foliage friends don’t survive the winter. However, you can keep your garden looking green and healthy by opting for evergreens instead. Either pop down to your local garden centre, or shop around an online stockists that will deliver your plant life right to your door. Suppliers such as Scot PlantsDirect are a great place to search for shrubbery that will stay splendid all year.

 

2)     Grit the Paths

When the weather starts to freeze up, our paths and driveways can become dangerously icy. So, get your garden ready for the winter by stocking up on a bag of rock salt; that way you’ll be able to spread it when the weather forecast predicts freezing temperatures. You'll be pleased to navigate your property without suffering from any slips and falls.

 

3)     Weatherproof your walls

The winter weather can prove detrimental to our exterior walls, leaving them looking shabby and dilapidated. However, rendering solutions from the likes of Direct Building Products can protect your walls for longer, and even improve insulation in your home. Aside from its protective properties, rendering is an excellent way to improve the look of any building.

Friday, 15 October 2021

6 Exciting Ways to Improve Your Home Décor

Photo by Spacejoy on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

Home renovations don’t have to require enormous changes to make a difference to yoru everyday lifestyle and you certainly don’t need to break the bank to craft the space of your dreams.

It’s natural to tire of the same old design choices after a while, and wanting to mix things up is the next step. Have a read of these six simple design tips if you want a home straight from the pages of a luxury magazine -


1)     Polish Up Your Paint Job

 A fresh coat of paint can make a world of difference. A new colour will leave your rooms looking fresh and revitalised.

Light, neutral tones are a classic design move that never goes out of style and light colours limit the number of hard lines that will divide your spaces. On the other hand, if you’re feeling bold, bright colours can go a long way to liven up the room.

Something as simple as painting might seem like a small change, but it can really help to make a room look much larger and more modern.

 

2)     Fun Feature Walls

Feature walls are a great way to add a splash of colour to brighten up a room, and it’s far less effort and commitment than painting a whole room.

However, if you don’t feel like painting, then Rebel Walls are an excellent source for wallpaper murals to create the perfect feature wall to suit any aesthetic! All the look without the elbow grease.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Visiting the York National Railway Museum


If you find yourself in the city of York and have some time on your hands I would definitely recommend a visit to the National Railway Museum. In fact, I'd say if it is within easy travelling distance go ahead and plan a specific trip to go and visit, as my family all really enjoyed it when we went there in early August this year.

The museum is free to enter but they do ask that you make a donation if you can as they have a vision for improvement that needs funding. We spent about three hours at the museum and that was doing it quite casually with a relaxed cuppa, but if you are particularly interested or if you have younger children who'll want to enjoy the outside play area you could be there much longer.

You have to book in advance currently but there seem to be tickets readily available and even for the next day, but obviously, book a bit ahead for weekends and school holidays. 


Friday, 8 October 2021

Reasons to be Cheerful - Heading into Autumn


Hey friends, how is life? 

Things have been quite interesting here, there have been some lovely days or moments, like yesterday when I headed up to London with my hubby to see the Prince of Egypt at the theatre, or today when I did community meals at church and then had lunch with a friend. But there has also been some really hard stuff going on in the last month or so.

With that in mind it is so important that I write this post and look for all the good things in life, the things I am grateful for, as otherwise I could head into a spiral of despair and that's no good. I don't think I have the headspace for anything too wordy, so I'll go back to basics and do a list of all the things that I am so grateful for right now and in the last month or so -

  1. That I can work from home and it gives me the space to support my kids
  2. I got petrol when I needed it without too much queueing
  3. I had a great time at the Blog On conference last weekend
  4. I got to spend some time with my parents and had some good food whilst I was there
  5. It was JJ's birthday and my baby is now 18, We celebrated  very simply and I made him a coffee cake

Friday, 1 October 2021

Gorgeous Lightweight Womens Jacket from Dare2b


{We received this coat free of charge in exchange for an honest review. 
I have not been instructed what to write}


We all want to be warm and cosy in the winter when the weather is cold, but why is it that warm coats are often so very heavy? At the moment we are in that changeable season where one minute it is 20 degrees and the next it is 16 with a biting wind. So, it's important to have a jacket that can keep you warm when it needs to but is also light and small enough that you can roll it up and tuck it over your bag strap or put it in your bag.

My daughter has found the perfect solution, with the women's Surmount lightweight wool jacket from Dare2B. It weighs just 237g so it is as light as a rain jacket but it is quilted with a thermo-regulating wool fill for warmth and breathability. 


3 Ways to Promote Education in the Home

Photo by Picsea on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}


Education is a vital tool and one that will serve us throughout our lives. A good education can set a child on a path for life, but it’s important to make the most of those early years.

Unfortunately, many of us neglected the lessons of our elders as youths, and find ourselves looking back now wishing we’d tried that little bit harder.

It’s never truly too late to turn back the clock, of course, but as parents, we always want better opportunities for our children than the ones we had. That’s why we work so hard to set positive examples and nurture their studies at a young age.

With that in mind, these are just three ways to promote education in the home -


1. Read to your child

Reading to a child from an early age is one of the best ways to foster an early love of literature. It’s also a powerful way to enjoy quality time with them and bond over a story.

By encouraging a love of reading early on, you’ll give them a significant head start in school, as studies show that children who are read to from a young age perform better not just in English, but across the board. It’s also a great hobby to have for life – it’s not too costly, and is even free if you have access to a library!

Thursday, 30 September 2021

The Most Important Sights in London

Photo by Nicole Baster on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}


London is a living blend of grandeur, history, style, and culture that becomes more and more enticing each year. Charming with royal parks, world-class free art galleries, and wooden-fronted pubs with delicious real beer. The ancient streets of London and the majestic architecture take you to the days of the past. Then, the illuminated signs of the West End theatres, designer shops, and the emerging innovative food space that is considered one of the world's premier choices bring you right up to date.

London is a place of diversity, with people from all over the world making up the population. Filled with British emblems, the ubiquitous presence of black cabs and with the towering limestone peaks of Parliament, London combines a colourful history and tradition with extreme creativity and true multiculturalism. Whether exploring one of the famous markets or relaxing in a lush park, you will see people from all over the world.

Culturally, London is unique, with its galleries and museums, some of which are the best in the world. Many of London's cultural attractions are free to enter and there is a great variety of attractions. From the Victoria and Albert Museum to the Natural History Museum to the Tate Modern to the London Transport Museum. There is something for everyone.

Everyone will have a different idea of what the premier sights are to visit when you're in London and many will go straight for the Royal sites like Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London, but read on for three great places to visit that are rich in history and a joy to explore. 

Saturday, 25 September 2021

10 Reasons to Fall in Love with York

Ten reasons why you need to plan a visit to York. It has something for everyone and is easily accessible.

In early August we were lucky enough to spend a week staying at a friends house (a vicarage no less) on the outskirts of the city of York, which is the traditional county town of Yorkshire. I absolutely fell in love with the place and considering I no longer consider myself a townie, having lived in the countryside for the last eight years, I think this is a bit of a feat and therefore I wanted to share just a few of the reasons why I think York is a fabulous place to take a city break, or in fact, to set up home.


1.  There is so much history

The skyline is dominated by the 13th-century Gothic cathedral, York Minster. It is absolutely stunning with gorgeous stained glass and working bell towers. It seems to have been preserved really well and is humongous in stature, being the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe. If you wish to view it as a tourist there is a charge, or you can go along and enjoy one of the daily services without having to pay. It is also quite fun that there is a walking ghost tour from outside the Minster each evening at 7.30pm. 

People meeting outside for the evening ghost tour

Sunday, 19 September 2021

A Room fit for a Teenager with The Fine Bedding Company


{This is a review post - we received a duvet free of charge for the purpose of an honest review}
 

My twin girls are now 14 and boy are they growing up quickly. Both of them are absorbed by Tik Tok, Instagram and everything glamorous, shiny and modern. If we had infinite money I can just imagine what their bedrooms would look like, they'd be beautiful; but this is real life and we don't have loads of disposable income. So it is time to makeover the girl's bedrooms in a creative way.

Miss E has been asking for a double bed for a long time now, she even started to save up her own money to buy it herself but I was loath to waste a good single bed and thus we have held off. Then JJ's bed broke and was beyond repair so he happily had Miss E's bed base and a new mattress as he can't fit a double in his room and this left an opening for us to get a new double bed for Miss E. 


She knew exactly what she wanted and we shopped around and found a good double divan with drawers and pocket sprung mattress for an excellent price, so we were very pleased. Of course, she then needed some new bedding to go with it and luckily The Fine Bedding Company had been in touch with me about reviewing one of their duvets.

Friday, 17 September 2021

Fantastic Steak at Flat Iron, Denmark Street, London

Review of our weekday evening meal at Flat Iron Denmark Street, London

Have you heard of the London based restaurant brand Flat Iron before? I hadn't until last month when they were recommended in a theatre group on FB. My family were heading up to London for my husbands birthday and after the theatre, I wanted something nice for us all to eat that wasn't going to cost the heart but that felt like a bit of a treat. Well, steak always feels like a treat but normally it costs a fair amount too. Not so with Flat Iron!


Monday, 13 September 2021

8 Considerations when Planning to Move into a New Home

Eight essential areas to think about before you move into your new home. Planning now will make a difference when you move in.
Photo by Roselyn Tirado on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

Buying a new home is always exciting but it can be a little daunting too, as there are so many factors you need to think about and often new houses come with a to-do list as long as your arm. You probably chose your new home due to its location and/ or size but that doesn't always mean it is all ready for you to move into. 

So here are some pointers for a few areas to think through once you have secured your sale but prior to moving in -

1.  Insurance cover in place 


In England, once you have exchanged contracts the house is your responsibility to have insured, so make sure you have good building cover ready to go. You don't want anything to happen and then not to be covered, that would be the worst, incurring costs without ever having moved in. 

2.  Renovations


Does the layout of the house meet the needs of your family? Would it suit better if it had an open-plan downstairs, or do you need a small extension to convert into the granny flat? If you have the money available it may be easier to do these kinds of renovations before you move in and have all your belongings everywhere. Or maybe it would work to just move into the upstairs of your home whilst the downstairs is worked on. There are lots of possible solutions and it is definitely worth speaking to your architect or builder as they may offer solutions that have never even occurred to you. Remember they've probably seen and done it all before.  

3.  Decorating required?


What redecoration is needed and how quickly do you want to get it done? Plan out a timeline of when you'll be doing the decorating or do you want someone to come in for you? If you want someone else to do it seek quoted in good time as the best tradespeople get booked up well in advance. It might be worth leaving one of two rooms empty or with just boxes/ furniture in the middle covered with dust clothes so you can decorate before they get in the way and you don't have to be moving things unnecessarily. 

Sunday, 5 September 2021

Embracing the Great Outdoors with Regatta Edgepoint Walking Boots

{This is a review post: we received the walking boots
free of charge in exchange for an honest review}

It's so important to me to get outside and to be amongst nature. I know that I am calmer, less anxious and more happy when I have spent time walking through the forests or exploring somewhere new. Getting out for a nice long walk also provides me with a great excuse to spend some time with my near 18-year-old son. I'm becoming very aware that I only have a year before he'll head off to university and I'll only see him occasionally. 

Today we headed out to Hertsmonceux Castle which isn't too far from home but JJ has never been there before. I was excited as it was just the two of us and he had his new Regatta walking boots to wear in, before he heads off on a long hike next weekend. 

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Helping your Teenagers enjoy a trip to National Trust Beningborough Hall, York



Teenagers, they are a funny thing. In my experience, one minute they are still your little child, holding your hand and cuddling up to you on the sofa and then the next they want nothing to do with you and you are so embarrassing! Despite this, I actually love being a parent to teens and I find them great fun to be around. I've known from the start that my job as a parent wasn't to be their friend, it was to train and nurture them, so they grow up to be great human beings.

I know many parents have given up trying to get their hormonal teenagers to go out for the day with them, but I am persevering and as long as we have a nice treat in the cafe they tend to be quite tolerant and enjoy their time out with me.

Whilst we were on holiday in early August we headed to Beningborough Hall, a very nice National Trust site in York. I had the normal groans when I announced that we heading there, but they soon got into it and had a good time. 

I thought it would useful if I shared a few tips for getting your teens to enjoy going out and spending time with you. I tend to be quiet relaxed with them, as I find the tighter I try to control the outing and their behaviour, the more they want to be contrary.


Give your teen space to be who they are. 

We're all different. We wouldn't expect our adult friends to like all the same things as us, so why would we expect it of our children? On the day we visited my twin teens were pretty tired and they both decided that some of the benches looked like good places to have a lie-down. Not something I'd do but they weren't hurting anyone, so why not?


Saturday, 28 August 2021

Holidaying in the UK: Planning for All Eventualities



{This is a collaborative post}

More and more of us are choosing to stay in the UK for our holiday this year and I suspect it may become a trend over the next few years as well, as people recover financially and emotionally from the scars of Covid 19. 

Personally, I love going on holiday here as we have such a beautiful country and there is so much to explore, with great diversity in our towns, countryside and coastline. There is no need for holidaying in the UK to be looked down on as the poor relation to foreign travel. It is far more kind to our world, it can save you a decent amount of money and you know the language!

In the last couple of years, we have explored so much more of our home county, East Sussex and found some real gems for days out. Also, we have also stayed in West Sussex, Kent, Yorkshire, Surrey, Hampshire, Hertfordshire and London and I can honestly say the only thing we have missed is the guaranteed sunshine and massive swimming pools that you tend to get abroad. I've found that going on holiday with the right attitude and knowing that the holiday will be more about exploring a new area, eating great food and enjoying time as a family has allowed us to not feel as if we have missed out. 

Of course, things can go wrong on holiday here in the UK, just the same as they can anywhere else so it is important to be ready and prepared as you can be. Here are a few things to think about and organise before your holiday, so that you can have the most stress-free time whilst you're away. 

Monday, 23 August 2021

Making your Home really Special with Floately

Post introducing the Arsai floating plant pot and Volta levitating light bulb from Floatley

{This is a collaborative post}


They say that home is where the heart is and that is so true for me. I love being at home and I even start to miss my home when I have been away on holiday for a length of time. I know most people never want to return from their holiday but I'm that odd person who likes to go back and get into my usual routine.

As my home is such a sanctuary for me I love it to look nice and to be able to welcome friends over to enjoy the space with us. We are lucky enough to live on the grounds of a Christian conference centre and we usually have around forty to fifty young people living here at any one time. So, we are never short of guests to come over and enjoy a meal or some games with us.

We've found that with each new set of young people who come over there are certain things that are always a talking point. They love our gallery photo wall on the stairs and enjoy seeing pictures of all my family when we were much younger. They also always enjoy checking out Miss E's artwork on the walls as she has a real talent and we have some interesting pieces collected from the last six or seven years.

I have been looking for some new contemporary decorative pieces to add to our lounge and kitchen spaces in recent times, as these are rooms that get used a lot and I think it will be good to have some more items that attract the attention of our guests.

Let me introduce you to Floatley, a company that supply stylish floating home decor items. They have a lovely range of items from floating blue tooth speakers, to plant pots, to all different lights and lamps. 

Sunday, 22 August 2021

6 Situations where Self Storage could be your Perfect Answer

Six reasons why renting a self-storage unit might suit your cirumstances
Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash


{This is a collaborative post}

I suspect that like me there have been times when you have felt your house is bursting at the seams and you just need some more space.  But upgrading to a new house is financially impossible and getting rid of some of your treasured things just feels too heart wrenching, Never fear there are other solutions, which mean you can restore your house to uncluttered harmony.

You may never have considered using self-storage before but it is so practical and there are so many of them now, that you can almost always get once fairly close to home and you're free to access it whenever you like (within the site operating hours). Here, I'll share six situations where self-storage could be the right answer.


1. Your home is undergoing major renovations

You might be adding an extension, changing the layout or just refurbishing some of the most used rooms. Whichever it is, it probably won't be practical to move all the belongings from those rooms into other rooms in the house if you are planning to still live there whilst the renovation goes on. So why not invest in self-storage for the short term. Now Self Storage is a family run business, established for over ten years with a number of sites across the country.


2.  When you're moving house

A number of years back my husband and I both switched jobs at the same time and this meant we had to move out of the house that had come with our jobs. We invested in a new build flat and were excited to move in but sadly there were delays and it turned out we needed to find somewhere to stay for two or three months. Thankfully, my husbands, Nan gave us a room, but we had to take a storage container to house all our stuff, as there was no room for it all in his Nana's 2 bedroom house. 

Friday, 20 August 2021

Visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London



At the beginning of July, my Mum and I took a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens or Kew Gardens as many know it.  Despite having lived about 25 miles away for much of my life I had never visited, and nor had my mum so we were really looking forward to exploring and Kew Gardens didn't disappoint us.


Getting there

The drive up to Kew from Woking along the M3/ A316 was easy and took about 35 minutes, I was heading for the Kew Ferry Lane car park, which is £7 for the whole day and I thought this was very reasonable for London. However, before we even reached the car park we saw loads of spaces around Kew Green and we were able to park right in front of Elizabeth Gate and enter there. It cost us £5.65 to park there for 4 hours using the RingGo app and at the time Mum and I thought this would be fine, but we actually could have done with double that time. I'd say leave at least six hours free if you want to have a good explore and enjoy some lunch/ a coffee. 

There are good public transport links to get to Kew Gardens - 

  • a mainline train stationat Kew Bridge, just 800 meters walk to Elizabeth Gate, 
  • Kew Gardens tube station for the District Line and LOndon Overground
  • Bus routes 65, 110, 237 and 267 all come close by
  • There are bike racks at each of the four entrance gates and note that bikes, scooters, skates, skateboards etc are not allowed to be used within the gardens


Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Planning Your Own Funeral in the UK

Tips to help you think through and plan for your own funeral, so you don't have to leave that task to a loved one
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

I know that many people don't want to think about death and funerals. For them, these are just sad and morbid times that only need to be considered as a necessity. However, for me, as a Christian, I'm not scared to think about dying and I know that the best is still to come.

Of course, all funeral planning will involve some sad moments as it means you have lost someone or that you're thinking ahead to a time when you may leave loved ones behind. It's always those left behind that death is the most devastating for. With that in mind, I want to be able to plan my own funeral and take away any stress from my husband or children when it becomes time for my funeral to be planned.

I don't want my funeral to be another burden to add to the list, and I don't want them to have to think they have to create something big and fancy to say goodbye to me, so I hope that in laying out some plans of my wishes, they will feel freed from the obligations that can come with this life event. 

I'll share my tips for the things you need to think about and consider when leaving instructions for your own funeral. 

Think about what is important to you

There are so many things to consider, like do you want a burial or a cremation? Is there a particular resting place where you'd like to be laid to rest? Do you want a large funeral and wake? Or just close family and something more personal? Should it be a religious ceremony or not? Is there particular music to include? Do you want to make a video reel to be shown? Should people wear a particular colour, or donate to a charity in memory of you? The list goes on and on. 

Take some time to have a really good think about what is important to you and also what is affordable to you. You might also want to speak to those you love to get their input so that whatever is planned can be a truly collaborative effort and be as heartwarming as a funeral can be.

For some people, it isn't important to have lots of people or a big party afterwards and they would prefer a simple option, like direct cremation and this is OK, every person is different and should be able to choose what suits them and their loved ones.

How formal will you make your plans?

You can, of course, just put all your wishes into a word document and save them for the future, or you may wish to go one step further and actually meet with a funeral director and firm your plans up for when they are needed. Many funeral arrangers such as Heart of England Funeral Care allow you to specify in a plan what arrangements you'd like and then you can pre-pay and however much prices rise before your funeral, you won't be charged any extra. This is such a good idea, as funeral costs have almost doubled in the last decade and are set to continue rising. There are all sorts of payment plans so you can spread the cost over a number of months or years, so talk to your funeral planner to find out what is right for your circumstances. 

Thursday, 5 August 2021

Flip Out Trampoline Park Chichester - What did we think?


A couple of weeks ago we stayed in Worthing for a weeks holiday and we had a great time. When I asked my twins what they'd like to do, trampolining was top of their list and when they saw there was a Flip Out not too far away they were over the moon, as they'd heard before how good these trampoline parks are. 

What does it cost?

Flip Out Chichester is super easy to find, as it is situated just a short way off the A27, which skirts around the outer edge of Chichester. There was a large car park available and notices to remind you not to park on the industrial park roads, so I assume it can get crowded at times. 

It wasn't at all busy when we went on a weekday during term-time. I booked for the Daytime Bounce session which is 2.5 hours of bouncing. We booked the slot from 10am to 12.30pm and truthfully my girls didn't need that long as they were super tired after about 90 minutes. The cost was £12 for the session, which seemed reasonable but it was also mandatory to buy the Flip Out socks for £2.50 a pair, which seemed such a shame as I had trampoline specific socks with me from our local venue. But they told me some story about them not being tested on their trampoline and thus my girls could not use them. I had the socks to show them and they had the same kind of rubbery bottom, but they wouldn't even look at them and that feels like a bit of a con. 

I also had to pay £2.50 per spectator to be on-site and wait for them. Again this feels like an unnecessary cost. I understand during busy times they may need to limit spectators and this is a way of doing that but when there were only about 10 people in the building, it is obviously just another way to make money. Thankfully they did offer a complimentary drink for each paying spectator, so my mum and I had a coffee and it was very nice.  

During busier times, it is £10 for one hour at the early bird time of 9am or £12 for one hour for the rest of the day.

Monday, 2 August 2021

A July full of Reasons to be Cheerful


I'm feeling very relaxed and happy as we went away on holiday last week and now I have the whole summer stretching ahead of me. If only the sun would come out again!

Worthing Holiday

So the holiday is the first super big reason to be cheerful. We stayed in Goring, next to Worthing and it was glorious, the weather was great, our holiday house was right by the beach and it was so good to spend time with my parents and brother. We did all the simple UK beach holiday stuff, time on the beach, swimming in the sea, playing mini-golf, penny arcades, walking (and skating) the prom and the pier, out for meals, as well as shopping, trampolining and car booting!


Sunday, 25 July 2021

Seven Ways for a Busy Mum to Save Time

Seven different ideas of how you can be organised and save time to make family life efficient and enjoyable.
Photo by CDC on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}


Any mum can tell you that it can be relentless trying to keep the home running smoothly, the kids happy and dropped off to all the places they need to go and also to work or volunteer as well.  Or maybe you're busy supporting your husband behind the scenes as his work takes him out of the house for long hours or periods of time.

Whatever your family situation is, when you are looking after a home, children and possibly pets too, things can get really manic and we all need a few ideas of how we can streamline and be more efficient with our time. Just think how great it would be if you could put aside a couple of hours a week from your chores to spend on yourself, doing whatever you fancy. Maybe having a nice long bath, a coffee with a friend or a trip to the pilates studio.

Do your shopping online

Let's start simple, shopping online is a real timesaver and it can also be a money saver too, which is a win: win situation. If you find a supermarket that you like, you can set up your shopping list and add it to the cart each week and then just add or drop a few items to make sure you have everything in for your weekly menu. 

You can choose the time that suits you and your shopping arrives right at your front door. I then have a trundle truck by the door that I unload the shopping into and can wheel it into the kitchen, and get the kids to help me put it away. Depending on the age of your children you can either make this a fun learning activity, talking through the colours of the vegetables, or perhaps counting items, or with older children, they can earn screen time credits or pocket money by being helpful.

Batch Cook

You know what they say, cook once and eat twice, or if you are really good at batch cooking, maybe even eat far more times. Everyday family meals like bolognese, hot pot, chilli, curry, soups etc can be cooked in great big batches and then either frozen as individual meals or maybe in a portion size big enough to feed the whole family - whatever suits you best. 

I have a friend who spends one Sunday afternoon a month preparing meals for the whole month for her family. She says it is the best thing she ever started and proves a real-time saver, as all she has to do on a daily basis is maybe cook some rice or veggies to go with the main course that just needs reheating. Of course, you have to have a super big freezer to do this, but if you have space and enjoy batch cooking then why not?

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Staying at the Macdonald Frimley Hall Hotel, Camberley, Surrey

Reviewing our one night stay at Macdonald Fromley Hall Hotel in Camberley Surrey during July 2021 in Covid times

{This is a review post, but I paid for the night stay myself, so I haven't been requested to write this}


My Mum and I have a tradition of staying in London together to celebrate Mothers Day each year, sadly we had to cancel for 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. We really missed our girlie time and were desperate to spend some time together without the kids constantly wanting our attention, but with my Mum having COPD we were a bit cautious to travel into London yet and thus we opted for a night away together, but not that far from my parents home!

I've stayed at Macdonald Frimley Hall Hotel a couple of times before, once with my husband and once with my daughter as a Christmas treat, both have been lovely stays, so I was happy to book again for a night for my mum and me.

I'm on the Macdonald Hotels mailing list and before Christmas, I had a mailing that allowed me to buy a gift certificate and receive a 20% top-up. So I paid £40 and got a £50 voucher. Then once lockdown eased and they released rooms for sale again I was able to book a standard twin room for £114 for one night for us both to stay and enjoy breakfast and a three-course meal too. I think this is a great price and it is the kind of price I have secured before too, so always look for the deals. Also, make sure you go via Quidco and earn some cashback too, it is 5% currently. 

We could have chosen to use the leisure club too, within the cost of our room, it has a fully equipped gym, 17-metre swimming pool, sauna and steam room. You can book spa treatments and I had a massage when I stayed back in 2014 and it was very good and there is a nice chill-out area for afterwards where I enjoyed a herbal tea. Of course, we went whilst it was still in the time of Covid regulations, so you had to make bookings for using the areas. We didn't make use of these facilities on this occasion as we already had a full itinerary planned.

Friday, 16 July 2021

8 Ways to Help your Ageing Parents

Photo by James Hose Jr on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}


It's a reality for many of us, our parents are getting older and for some their health is starting to deteriorate and maybe you even now feel like the adult in the relationship. Your parents ageing and changing can be a difficult and painful process, especially if something like Alzheimer's or dementia plays a part.

Your parents will have played a large part in your life, helping you through adolescence, assisting you as you leave their home and set up your own home, maybe babysitting your kids and being a\a source of love and wisdom throughout your life. Now, it is time for the tables to turn and for you to be a support to them. However, it is really important to offer this support and care in the right way, as you want them to maintain their dignity and feel in control of their own decisions.

Here are eight ways you can help your ageing parents -

1. Be respectful

This is so important, they're still your parents and they won't want to be treated like children, even if their mental capacity is diminishing you still need to ask permission to undertake any of the tasks you'd like to help them with.

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Five Important Things Everyone Should Know about an MOT

Photo by Sten Rademaker on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}


So come on, hands up, who knew that MOT stood for Ministry of Transport? I certainly didn't, it is one of those acronyms that is so embedded in everyday life that you never even stop to question what it means. The Ministry of Transport test was introduced in 1960, and those first tests were voluntary, conducted on cars older than ten years and only checked brakes, steering and the lights. Despite this, more than half of the first vehicles tested failed their tests! You can see why they felt it eas necessary to introduce this new measure. 

Here are five things you should know about your MOT -

 

Three Year Rule

Instead of ten years, vehicles in much of the UK must be subject to an MOT test when they turn three years old. In fact, my car has just had its first test a couple of weeks ago and I'm pleased to report, it passed with flying colours. Some vintage cars are exempt because they do not have modern technology inside them and because they tend to be used sparingly for specialist vintage events, which means they are very carefully looked after the rest of the time. In Ireland, it's slightly different and cars must have an MOT after they turn four years old.

 

Twenty Checklist

Rather than just brakes, steering and lights, an MOT now thoroughly examines a car, checking everything from the wheels and tyres to the suspension, to the electronics and emissions. Every aspect of the car that could potentially render the driver or other road users unsafe is checked, and just one item failing will result in a fail for the overall MOT. Many people like to book a service concurrent with the MOT test so that the mechanic can fix any issues as he does the service, leaving the car even more MOT ready than before.

Monday, 12 July 2021

6 Occasions when a Delightful Sweet Gift is the Perfect Answer

Photo by Analia Baggiano on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post} 


It's not always easy to decide what you should send to someone when they are celebrating a special occasion, or even if they are having a hard time, but sweet treats are an easy solution and these delightful sweet gifts will be welcomed by most people. Here are a few ideas of wonderful sweet treats that make perfect gifts -


1.  Graduating High School

Many young people are finding that there is no prom this year as the Covid restrictions are still making things tricky, so why not treat your child and their friends to their own graduation party in your garden and have them enjoy a bumper sweet hamper as part of their fun. I can just see the display now with the sweet hamper as the central focus. Why not use it as a backdrop to a photobooth style area, with fun props for use when taking silly selfies with their mates. You can also make some gradation certificates and even give them a little trophy or medal each for surviving schooling during Covid!

My recommendation would be for a Sweet Hamper Company Huge, Huge XXL Sweet Hamper, which is £69.50 and contains over 70 different kinds of sweets, so they'll be something for everyone to enjoy, no matter what their taste. There are retro sweets, old-fashioned sweets and more modern brands so, a really classy and balanced mix of sweets.

Or if you want more variety, you can go for the Huge XL Sweet and chocolate hamper for more variety in the contents of the classy wicker basket. This hamper would cost you £64.50.

Sunday, 11 July 2021

Early Summer Reasons to be Cheerful


Hey friends, it feels like a while since I last wrote a reasons to be cheerful post and shared all the little joyful things that have been going on in my life. In fact, I just checked and it was 24th May, so that's about seven weeks ago and it's no reflection is what has been going on. Life has been good, but it has also been busy and I haven't had the time to focus on writing a post just because I love to share and because being grateful really fills my heart and lifts my mood. 

I can't possibly write about all the good things that have happened in the last seven weeks, so here are just a few -

1.  Having a great time at church - we went this morning and it was fabulous, with a really good sermon, superb lively worship and some guest missionaries who are back from Chad currently. We only joined this church about 9 months before Covid hit, so we still feel quite new, but getting to know people and getting involved in serving as part of church life is great.

2.  A couple of days with my mum - earlier this week I went to stay with my parents and then Mum and I had a night at a hotel too. We visited Kew Gardens for the first time and spent loads of time walking, chatting, shopping and eating. It was so good!

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Tips on How to Handle a Disrespectful Child

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

 {This is a collaborative post}

Some children act disrespectful, imitating what they see in a TV show or video. Or some young children of school age may be imitating their classmates. They may roll their eyes or utter the word, ''whatever,'' when you ask them to do something. Others pretend not to hear you. In the disrespect range, these actions are quite mild. But if your child is displaying physical aggression, disregarding rules, and doing some name-calling, these are already serious issues, and you need some additional help.


Seek professional help

Whether your child is displaying mild or serious behaviour, it is vital to address the disrespectful behaviour as soon as possible. If you allow it to continue, they are likely to carry the attitude and become ruder as they grow older. Take your child to a child behavior therapist for an evaluation to help get to the root cause of their disrespectful behaviour. Their actions may signify that they need help in learning socially appropriate ways to communicate effectively, dealing with their frustrations or managing their anger. Seeking help could be the kindest thing you do for your child if you are concerned that their behaviour is more aggressive than that of the average kid. 

Monday, 28 June 2021

East Sussex Walks: Seaford Head to Cuckmere Haven Beach

Sharing photos from our 4.5 mile walk along the cliffs from Seaford Head to Cuckmere Haven Beach

I absolutely love going for a long walk and exploring new places and to my mind, there is nowhere better to do this than by the sea. I've posted many times about walking the cliffs at Beachy Head, Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters but this was the first time I have walked the cliffs in the opposite direction starting at Seaford Head and walking to the Cuckmere Valley. It really is beautiful and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Drive to Seaford and you can park on the seafront and plenty of it is free for up to 12 hours, so that's great news! Definitely take some time to enjoy walking along the prom and in low season you'll hardly see anyone. They have the classic pastel-coloured beach huts and lots of nice little beach hut cafes as you wander along. We've had coffee at Martello's Coffee before and they have plenty of seating on a deck right on the beach. But my favourite is Frankie's cafe where you can get a slice of homemade cake and a toastie for a very reasonable price. 


Walk down the seafront towards Splash Point. You can fail to notice the enormous white cliff face there, so you'll know you're heading in the right direction. In parts, there is quite an incline to climb up onto the clifftop and I wouldn't say I'm the most proficient hill walker, but I managed fine.  So just make sure you have on good shoes and wear a backpack, rather than a handbag like I did. Turn back to look over Seaford as you head up as it is a really nice view and not too spoilt. You see the gold course at the start of this walk and I can't say I'd fancy golfing on the cliff.

Thursday, 24 June 2021

Stress Urinary Incontinence - Breaking the Taboo

Stress Urinary Incontinence affects many women in the UK, it's time we broke the taboos and spoke about it openly.
Photo by Hollie Santos on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

Some people will have read that blog title and clicked straight away, who wants to read about someone with a leaky bladder? Right? However, I suspect many people, especially mothers will be interested to read on, as this is an issue that is impacting so many women worldwide, even relatively young women. Patient.info states that around 3 million women in the UK are regularly incontinent. Overall it is around 4 in every 10 women, and over half of those are suffering from stress urinary incontinence.

What is Stress Urinary Incontinence?

Stress urinary incontinence is described as involuntary urine leakage on exertion such as coughing/laughing/sneezing or exercise. It is caused by damage to or weakening of the pelvic floor muscle, which leads to an incompetent urethral sphincter and it is largely caused by childbirth thus young women can develop this problem. I was really interested to learn that constipation, menopause and hormonal changes can all have an impact on the effectiveness of your pelvic floor muscles too. 

This isn't your regular topic of conversation at toddler group or in the works canteen though, no it is the kind of thing that women are brushing under the carpet and keeping quiet about. No one wants to be the woman who leaks urine when she laughs, coughs or sneezes. But let me put my hand up and say, I'm Michelle and I suffer from this, and when better to share this post than during World Continence Week. 

I absolutely adore my three children but they have a lot to answer for in terms of the havoc they reeked on my body. Being overweight already and then carrying twins my pelvic floor muscles were put to the test and failed. Ever since the birth of my twins (14 years ago) I've had some leakage and now it seems to be getting worse, but the good news is, I bit the bullet and asked for help.

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

How To Plan A Child's Birthday Party

Photo by Victoria Rodriguez on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}


It always initially seems like a great idea to plan your child’s birthday party – and then you start to appreciate the scale of the challenge and the amount of work that you have in front of you! If you are starting to feel a little overwhelmed, the following blog post is going to help you out with some of the essentials in planning your child’s dream party!


Set Your Budget

Unless you set a budget right at the early stages, it is more than likely that your costs are going to start spiralling out of control. So, divide the party into different areas such as food, venue, entertainment and so on. Remember, the bigger the guest list, the more likely it is that you are going to rack up some steep bills. If you have a limited budget, this is the time when you can start to think about how to stretch it as far as possible. Check out Bustle for how to throw a party on a budget.


Involve Your Child

Unless your child is very young or you are planning a party that is a complete surprise, it makes sense that you involve your son or daughter in the planning stages. This way, they are much more likely to get exactly the kind of party that they want. For example, you may decide to have a themed party. A popular option at the moment is based on superheroes, so perhaps you could ask what your child’s favourite superhero movie is. With younger children, it's likely you'll need to help them out with inspiration.