Sunday 28 March 2021

Visiting Bewl Water, East Sussex/ Kent - Fun for all the Family

Bewl Water is a vast estate on the Kent/ East Sussex border. It is £5 to park a car for the day and you can enjoy watersports, fishing, cycling etc

I'm so optimistic about this summer with better weather and a greater ability to be able to see friends and family in the coming months. Of course, not all is lost at the moment though as there are places we can safely go and visit and as of tomorrow, we'll even be back to the rule of 6 or able to meet with another household outdoors.

Bewl Water is a perfect place to be able to visit now or later in the year as it is all open air and there is so much space to explore. The reservoir itself is a huge 308 hectares and if you take the walking path around the reservoir will keep going for just over 12 miles. With this kind of space, it is perfect for exploring on bikes, foot, sailing or even horseriding.

We visited last year for the first time and had an enjoyable couple of hours there in the early summer sun, there were plenty of families with children paddling in the shallow waters by the adventure playground, but I'm not sure they are supposed to! lol

Before you travel check the current opening hours but right now in March, they are 8am - 4pm for the car park and adventure playground. The toilets are open from 9am to 4pm and the cafe (for take-away only) is just Wednesday to Sunday 11am - 3pm currently. 

Wednesday 17 March 2021

11 Boxsets to Watch with Your Teenagers

11 recommendations of boxsets you can stream in the UK that are fun for parents to watch with their teenage children
Mollie Sivaram on Unsplash

As the children all go back to school and restrictions are starting to ease I'm sure that those of us with teenagers will start to see a lot less of them at home. That seems like a real shame, as we've developed a special closeness over the lockdown periods and as such I'm keen to still spend time with my teens just relaxing and at home.

With that in mind, I thought I'd compile a list of great boxsets that you can happily watch with your teens. I've put the official age guidance next to each one and of course, you as the parent can choose if the program is suitable for your child or not. I have to admit I'm not particularly strict on these age restrictions when we are watching something together as even the most challenging of topics can be a great in-road to a tricky conversation. 

Cobra Kai - Netflix - 15

It was one of my daughters who introduced me to this as I hadn't even heard of the series but as someone who adored the original Karate Kid film, it was always going to be a real hit with me. I love the way this appeals to teens and adults alike as it focuses on both age groups. Basically, you roll forward 34 years and Daniel (son) is a married successful businessman who uses his love of karate as a gimmick in his car sales business. Then we see his old arch-enemy Johnny who is a bit of a loser and ends up reopening a dojo. Of course, the two styles of karate come to war again. It's fabulous, have a watch!

Vicar of Dibley - NOW TV - 13 (suggested by Common Sense Media)

This is an old classic. I do love Dawn French and I think she portrays the boisterous and lovable Vicar Geraldine so well. As a Christian family, I think we enjoy seeing the church references but the show is definitely fun for every Brit who has lived in a small village or finds old-school British stereotyping quite comical. It's a super easy watch and you'll find yourself wanting to know how the characters lives pan out.

Friday 12 March 2021

National Trust Bodiam Castle - Wider River Walk, East Sussex

I adore the National Trust, I make no secret of that and I've posted so many times about the sites we have visited. Bodiam Castle is probably the closest site to my home, so we have been there dozens and dozens of times. My husband and one of our daughters love to feed the ducks (with birdseed, no human food please), whilst I have a coffee and read my book. It works well. This is one of my husband's photos from a recent visit.

Bodiam Castle in East Sussex is a magnificent example of a moated castle, there are also wider estate walks to enjoy

You can read about our previous visits to Bodiam Castle, about the superb Living History events they put on in normal times and how it is fabulous for all ages. This post is about the wider area, if you park at Bodiam Castle you can take a 3KM river walk and enjoy some great views as well as time at the castle itself.

This is perfect at the moment, as you can't explore inside the castle right now, so it gives you somewhere extra to walk and make your visit really worthwhile, as the actual Bodiam Castle grounds are not very extensive. 

We are all being encouraged to book in advance before visiting any National Trust site at the moment as this allows the site to prepare and ensure that social distancing can be maintained. We have been to Bodiam Castle a number of times in the last year and we have always felt safe with sanitiser available, toilet entry being managed, the cafe having a one way system and card payments only and as the site is outside, you can keep a good distance from other people. 

Monday 8 March 2021

Being Self-Employed - Planning for all Eventualities

Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

I became self-employed back in the Spring of 2013 and in many ways, I have never looked back. It provides me with the flexibility I never had when I was traditionally employed. As a mother with a growing family, it allows me the freedom to be there when the kids need or want me, to be able to volunteer for charities and my church and to just take an afternoon off if I fancy a walk in the hills with my husband. 

There are so many advantages to being self-employed that I'd be hard-pressed to name them all, but there are also a few worries that come alongside it. Thankfully we live in a house that comes with my husband's job and this takes away some of the financial pressure that we used to face when we had a mortgage, utility bills and council tax to cover.

I've happily gone along over the last few years, enjoying our lifestyle and spending the money I earnt on family holidays, meals out and some nice treats for the kids, but the events of the last year have really made me think about how protected we are as a family for all eventualities. Of course, our faith is in Jesus as we are Christians but we're told in the bible to have faith and also to take steps forward and to do the footwork.

So, recently I've been looking at our family's finances and the plans we have in place for if the worst was to happen. The areas I have been reviewing are -

Income Protection Insurance

If I was to fall ill or get injured and we lost my self-employed income we'd certainly feel it as a family. Thankfully we'd still be able to pay our bills and eat but our lifestyle would rapidly deteriorate as the girls wouldn't be able to have their trendy trainers, our odd takeaway would be a thing of the past and our holidays would be in our own home. 

Once we move out of our current home and we either buy or rent a property again, then my becoming ill and the loss of my income would probably have a far more detrimental impact and we may find ourselves not being able to pay the bare essentials like the gas bill, or having enough to buy food. That kind of situation doesn't bear thinking about and to be honest, I don't need to as I could ensure that even if I fell ill or got badly injured we could still have a similar amount of money coming in each month if we take out income protection insurance.

Income protection insurance will usually pay out between 50% and 70% - and the cost of a policy depends on your age, job, your health and lifestyle and the percentage of income you’d like to cover.  When self-employed and taking out an income protection policy, your monthly income is based on your share of the pre-tax profits generated by your business.

Sunday 7 March 2021

9 Life Lessons for my Children to Live By #ChooseToChallenge #IWD2021

For International Women's Day 2021 I share 9 life lessons to live by for my teenage children

It's International Women's Day tomorrow (8th March) and I try to mark this special day each year, either in real life or on my blog. It's a day when we recognise that although there have been great steps forward in terms of gender equality, we acknowledge that there is still a long way to go for there to be equal representation of women in all forums - business, the media, politics, religion and academia.

This year the theme of IWD 2021 is #ChooseToChallenge, where we are all encouraged to challenge gender bias and inequality. I think you can also take the meaning of that hashtag wider too and choose to challenge any kind of discrimination that you witness or become aware of.  Also, it's important to choose to challenge behaviour and attitudes that you don't agree with. As an outspoken and ballsy woman, it has been a journey for me to be able to challenge things in a non-threatening way. Many people find me too much, a bit forceful and for a while that shut me up, but starting to work with charities and NGOs like Save the Children and ONE Campaign changed all that and I had to start shouting about the things that upset me and I was happy to challenge once again.

As I reflected on that today I was keen for my children to know that it is OK to challenge the things that do not sit right with them. This is something I have been teaching each of them since an early age, especially Miss E as she is less forthright than the other two. Of course, with the noisy ones that are naturally more like me, I've been trying to help them soften a little and be able to put their point across in a kind way, allowing others to feel differently too. 

This reflecting led on to more thinking, as it often does with me and I ended up making up a list of the life lessons I want my children to know and understand. Things I think it is important to live by. They are, of course, very different people to me so they have to make up their own mind whether they want to live by these nuggets of wisdom or not, but I'll just do my part and pass them on.

Monday 1 March 2021

February's Lockdown Teen Style with Femme Luxe

{This is a paid collaboration with Femme Luxe}

Lockdown - Home School Style

It's been the strangest of years and now we're heading towards the end of (what we hope is) the final lockdown and the girls and I have been reflecting on how being home has been a blessing in so many ways. They've loved being able to dress in comfy and casual clothes for months and I think it will be a big shock to have to get back into tights, ties and blazers for school.

Let me share with you some of the great lounge suits, tracksuits, call them what you will, that they've been wearing this February. They have been gifted to us from Femme Luxe and the girls are really pleased with them.

Above Miss M is wearing Lizzie joggers in hot pink and these retail for £11.99 currently, although as is very often the case with Femme Luxe, you can use their current discount code for 25% off, making them £8.99. So always check on the price or google for discount codes as I've always found one each time I've ordered so far.  Other colours differ in price and are £12.99, £13.99 and £14.99.

These joggers are available in sizes 6 - 16 and I'd say they come up generous in size. They are also a really good length, both of my girls are 5ft 7/8" and they are long enough for them, which is unusual and really pleased them both. 

They have a hidden drawstring inside, cuffed bottoms and really generous pockets, which is always a plus. They feel nice and fleecy on the inside and are a mix of polyester/ cotton. I've found them to wash up well, but you can't tumble dry them, which is a bit of a shame.