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.

2.  Listen to them

Very similar to number one, make sure you listen to the wishes of your parents. Don't take over and start making choices for them if they have the capacity to do so. Let them take the lead and tell you what they need, how they want your help etc. Their choices may not be what you would do but what does it matter if what they are choosing is safe and affordable? It's still their life, they're just getting older. 

3. Give them your time

Then as well as listening to their wishes, give them the time so you can listen to their hearts, to their stories, to the past. Just before my Nan passed away I went to stay with her for a long weekend and it will be a treasured memory for me forever as she talked to me all about her past. About growing up and looking after her siblings, meeting my grandad, bringing up my mum and her sisters. It was wonderful to hear so many of these tales and there were some my mum had never heard before too. 

4.  Adapt their home


From a practical point of view, there may be adjustments that need to be made to make their home suitable for them to continue living in. Whether it is a stairlift or walk-in shower Age UK Mobility can help. There are so many small changes that can be made in the home to help, such as changing bulbs to brighter ones to make reading easier, buying large clock faces, putting in a ramp at the door, adding a bannister or lowering a kitchen work surface. 

You may also want to talk to your parents about setting up a safety net, like getting an emergency call button or rope installed. Or maybe buying them a wearable medical alert system.

Image Credit: Age UK Mobility


5.  Help them downsize if they'd like to


The family home may not prove to be the best home as your parents get older, or maybe it is just too big for them now. It would be such a blessing to help them find a new home that suits their needs better, maybe a bungalow or assisted living flat. My Nan lived in a wonderful complex as she got older with communal rooms and activities, but she was still independent and lived alone. Make sure you investigate all options, don't make assumptions, actually have a look around different options. 

6.  Sort through the loft/ shed/ garage


I'm hopeful that my parents are not going anywhere for a long time yet but my Dad is already on a mission to sort out and clear down all the areas in their home where things have been stored and hoarded for the last forty years. You can help your parents to sort through their belongings and ensure that they are only keeping the things they use and those that bring them joy. I know this can be a very hard job as my friend's parents are downsizing currently and she has been house sorting with them for months now. 

7.  Get on top of the paperwork


Most people don't like having to think about future eventualities like losing a loved one or losing their health but they are realities of life and as you get older they become more timely, so offer to help your parents get all their paperwork and financial affairs in order. Have they got a current will? Have they got a living will recording their wishes? Are all the essential details gathered together - like bank details, property deeds, shares, insurance, life insurance, pensions etc?

8.  Seek their wisdom/ advice


Then lastly we go back to where we started and it is so important to remember that these are your parents and they love you and still wish to nurture you. When you have something going on in your life and you need a listening ear, or you need some advice go and ask your parents. It may be that you don't take their advice and that's OK, but it will be worth so much to them that you trusted them and wanted to spend that time seeking the benefit of their years of life experience. 


I hope you've found these tips useful and you are able to use them to maintain a great relationship with your parents. 


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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 behaviour 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.


Send Out Invitations in Good Time

To make sure that as many people from your guest list as possible are able to attend the event, it makes sense that you send out the invitations in plenty of time. If you leave it all to the last minute, then people are going to have their diaries fill up and you may be disappointed. While e-invites are a modern phenomenon if you want to do things the old-fashioned way still, why not go for some more traditional invitations, to match your chosen theme?


Photo by Tania Miron on Unsplash

Consider Your Food Options

As for your food, you now need to think about whether you are going to go for fun and simple fare or whether you want to go all out for a full sit-down meal. Really, it depends on the type of party that you are going to be hosting, as well as the budget that you have initially set for yourself. Oh, and do not forget that you are going to need to order a birthday cake as well!


Plan the Entertainment

The entertainment can really make a party so make sure that you have plenty of games to hand. Alternatively, you could leave it all to the professionals and hire a magician or another similar type of entertainer. It depends on how much you want to be involved on the day itself. 

Hopefully, these top tips have given you a helping hand and some more direction in planning the perfect birthday party for your child, one that they will remember for years to come.


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Sunday, 20 June 2021

20 Fabulous Things To Do in the Test Valley with Kids, Hampshire

Suggestions of 20 great places to take the kids when you are staying in the Test Valley, Hampshire

Earlier in June, we spent a few days in the Test Valley and we had such fun. It is definitely an area we fell in love with. It feels like you are in the depths of the countryside but then it is only a 10 or 15-minute drive to a major town or the motorway. I'd highly recommend the area for a short break, either as a couple or with your family.

Here is just a taster of some of the many, many wonderful things you can get up to in the Test Valley when you have your kids with you (and of course many of them are suitable without kids too)

1.  Walk the Test Way. This runs alongside the Test River for 44 miles and it is divided up into eight sections so you can navigate it easily. Many parts pass through gorgeous market towns and villages, where you can stop for a nice drink.

2.  Stop off at Paultons Park/ Peppa Pig World. Depending on how big your kids are will dictate which part of the park you visit and if you have kids of both ages, don't worry as the entrance fee covers both parts. We have visited a number of times but not for a few years and the girls are keen to go back and experience the new Tornado Springs area.

3.  You're sure to have a great day if you visit Marwell Zoo, as there is 140 acres filled with hundreds of animals and five adventure play parks to enjoy and explore. We last visited in 2015 and the giraffes were a highlight for us. 

Saturday, 19 June 2021

3 Getaways Abroad for a Relaxing Trip

Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash

{This post is written in collaboration with Emily Jones}


After a year of staying indoors and lockdowns, we are all craving some sun and a fun excursion. A relaxing holiday to an exotic location can help to relieve the anxiety and stress caused by the pandemic and will be a really welcome release for most people.

If you are planning a getaway abroad, here are three destinations worth considering -

 

1. Blue Lagoon, Iceland

Experience ultimate relaxation soaking in the geothermally heated water surrounded by breathtaking views of the Icelandic landscape. The Blue Lagoon is an artificial spa that utilizes water from the surrounding geothermal plant. The water is warm all-year-round making it perfect for soaking in even in extreme temperatures. Besides, the minerals and silica boost its healing properties, making it perfect for rejuvenating your skin and relaxing your mind.

The ideal time to vacation at the Blue lagoon is during winter if you want your skin to reap the benefits of both warm and cold temperatures. Apart from swimming in the spa, you can enjoy a drink in the swim-up bars. You can also enjoy premium services like facemasks and other treatments from the in-water mask bar at Blue Lagoon. The silica and algae masks have numerous health benefits for your skin, reducing signs of ageing and nourishing your skin.

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Which Quick-Step Vinyl is Your Preference?

{This is a collaborative post}


A person's home can say a lot about who they are and what is important to them. It's interesting to see all their design choices, furniture and fixtures in place, giving an idea of who they are and what they like.

With this in mind, what floor you put in the home could be a major factor to decide upon before you fit out the rest to match your vision. Thanks to luxury vinyl flooring you can get to explore your potential vision at a fraction of the cost and hassle you may experience with products such as real hardwood.

With quick step luxury vinyl, you have a wider choice for much less. It's a great choice!

Light Wood

Having that all-natural look and feel in your home allows you to showcase a unique combination of nature as well as a bright interior.

Team your lightwood effect flooring with some light curtains or blinds and you can really feel the benefit on a sunny day, where your light wood vinyl floor gives your room a real gorgeous glow. If you like to lay on the sofa with a book and brew, light wood style vinyl provides a very calming feel to the room, allowing you to relax and soak in the feel of your environment, without a care in the world.

Saturday, 12 June 2021

Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Romsey, Hampshire - Fun for all the Family!

Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Romsey, Hampshire is great for all the family to explore and has some fun children's activities too

{Dislcosure: We received free entry and a drink in exchange for an honest review}

A couple of weeks ago we stayed in the Test Valley, Hampshire for a few nights and we had the most wonderful stay. The glorious weather, of course, helped but more than anything, it is just a fabulous area to explore. It is easy to access, close to both towns and countryside and there is an abundance of things to do on your doorstep.

One morning we visited the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, which were just a 10-minute drive from where we were staying at Michelmersh Manor Farm near Romsey. You might not think that some gardens are the perfect place to take teens but we had some really lovely family time there. As we wondered and enjoyed all the different vistas, plants and the sunshine too we just chatted and mused about our lives.

Any parent of teens will know how important it is to be able to easily chat and sit alongside their teenager. So much of the time they are super busy and out with their friends or chatting to them online, so this kind of relaxed downtime together is perfect.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

The True Importance of Our Gardens


{This is a collaborative post}

After the past year our gardens now feel more important than ever before, what is it that makes them so beneficial to our everyday health? Keep reading to find out some of the ways that outdoor spaces can positively impact your life, family and the local environment.

 

They Are Great Places for Exercise

It may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking about where to complete your workout but our gardens provide a great spot for exercising. Outdoor gym equipment can be easily installed to allow you to work out in the fresh air. This will also save you money in the long term as you can cancel your expensive gym membership. Many sports can also be played outside such as football and padel – a popular alternative to tennis. Doing all of this outside in the sun will also allow you to soak up some much-needed Vitamin D which supports healthy teeth and bones.

 

You Can Spend More Time with Loved Ones

Our gardens are also great places to hang out with your friends and family. From starting a garden project, hosting a BBQ, to practising yoga or painting the options are almost endless. Gardens are also ideal for encouraging your children to spend time with nature and learn about the world around them. Just make sure that you’re keeping your littles safe from the sun with a canopy or adequate shade.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Staying at Michelmersh Manor Farm Cottages, Romsey, Hampshire - 10 Things I love!

Michelmersh Manor Farm is a beautiful working farm with various self-catering holiday accommodation. You can feed the animals and explore the area

{Discosure: We received one night's accommodation free of charge in exchange for an honest review. We paid for two nights ourselves}


Earlier this week we spent a few nights in the Test Valley at Michelmersh Manor Farm self-catering holiday accommodation and we had a fabulous time. The Farm is near the town of Romsey, in the Test Valley, Hampshire and there are a selection of self-catering cottages and a shepherds hut that you can book to stay in. We had a really wonderful time staying in Bluebells Cottage on this working farm and we would happily go back again.

I want to share with you ten things I loved about staying at Michelmersh Manor Farm -

1.  Accessibility of the Location 


The Farm is situated under 4 miles from the town of Romsey and it is very accessible from the A3057. I was super pleased that you don't have to go down too many tiny lanes to access it, just the one small road that the farm was on and in the four days we stayed we never came across another vehicle on the road, so no dreaded reversing for me! lol. 

It is 18 miles from Southampton, about 8 miles to access the M27 and 14 miles from Winchester, it really is very easy to get to towns, shops, cinemas and days out attractions but still be in the heart of the beautiful Test Valley countryside with the stunning River Test running through the area. You can also access the major attractions locally like Paultons Park/ Peppa Pig World which is just 8 miles away and Marwell Zoo is 13 miles. Whilst you can get to the heart of the New Forest in just 16 miles and the beautiful coast at Bournemouth is only around 45 minutes drive away. It is a perfect location.

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Visiting the Hawk Conservancy Trust, Andover, Hampshire - A Great Day Out!

The Hawk Conservancy Trust near Andover is a great day out for all the family and Feathers Restaurant is worth a visit too

{Dislocusre: We received free entry and lunch in exchange 
for an honest review and sharing our opinions}


During our recent stay in the Test Valley, Hampshire we headed to the Hawk Conservancy Trust, near Andover. If you're just looking for the punchline as you don't have time to read this article then I can safely tell you it is a wonderful day out and you should go and visit there if you enjoy watching beautiful birds of prey. Their Feathers Restaurant also offers great casual dining for a reasonable price. If you have a bit of time, then read on...


What is the Hawk Conservancy Trust?

It is clear from the start how much the staff and volunteers love what they do and have a real passion for all birds of prey. This is what they say about their purpose 

"By working with many organisations and conservation groups across the world, we are able to deliver conservation, education, rehabilitation and research programmes and generate awareness for birds of prey, their habitats and the problems they face. This includes projects such as the Raptor Nest Box and Red Kite reintroduction projects in the UK through to the International Vulture Programme in southern Africa and South Asia."

I have to be honest, I don't know much about birds of prey except that I like to watch the Kestrel who nests in the church behind my house and the Red Kites who regularly fly overhead. But it doesn't matter if you're clueless like me, as the trust is not only an education and conservation charity, it is also running a fabulous visitor attraction and that was what my family got to visit.

The Hawk Conservancy Trust near Andover is a great day out for all the family and Feathers Restaurant is worth a visit too

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Fathers Day - Gifts to Suit All Dads

{This is a collaborative post - I have received the items in this post free of 
charge for the purpose of writing about them}

It's only a few weeks until Fathers Day in the UK and as such many of us are thinking about what gift to buy our dads or our kid's dad. It's always nice to get something a little different and I definitely enjoy buying gifts that will be well received and suit the recipient's interests, but men are notoriously hard to buy for. Therefore I am sharing some ideas of different items to get the dad in your life. 


For the Dad Chef - Opinel 4 Piece Kitchen Knife Set from Whitby & Co

A couple of Christmas' ago my son received a classic Opinel working man's knife, which he takes camping and out into the woods. It is a great product that has stayed sharp and still remains his favourite for outdoors work. With that in mind, I ordered my husband this Opinel Loft 4 piece kitchen knife set. It contains all the essentials - a peeler, paring knife, serrated knife and vegetable knife. I love the fact they each come with a different coloured wood handle, and there are loads of colourways available so you can order what suits your kitchen.

Both my husband and I originally trained as chefs, so we are very fussy about our knives and have owned many knives from the big brands, but we'd never had an Opinel between us and I can honestly say they have now become a favourite. I would happily buy their knives again and at £32.95 for the set, I think they are great value.

Monday, 24 May 2021

Hello Springtime - So much to be Grateful for...

Yes, there is an awful lot of rain about at the moment but there are also wonderful glimpses of the sun and Spring really is in evidence here in East Sussex. I wanted to share a few pictures I have captured in the last couple of weeks, as I'm loving the colours of Spring.

We've got the bright yellow rapeseed fields right behind where we live, gorgeous bluebells in the woods and wisteria up the side of the main house. My parents stayed locally in a cottage last week and it was so nice to spend some time with them, even if we couldn't actually go in any restaurants or such. 

We had a lovely day in Eastbourne for an al fresco lunch and a good walk. The repainted pier is looking magnificent and we are looking forward to trying the new family amusements on there. 



This is the view from the cross on the other side of the lake where I live. Look at those glorious rapeseed fields in the background.



This little fella really made me smile, when he came to join my Mum and I as we enjoyed our sausage sandwich whilst shopping. Don't you think he looks really inquisitive?


We've started to have a farmers market at my home once a month and it has been really lovely. I've found some great new local suppliers and I also bought this handmade mug at the last one. I'm a bit in love with it.


Not really a springtime photo, but I love this picture I captured of our dopey cat.


And here's my mum with her furry friend, Archie the old lab.


One of my favourite trees. I call this one the seasons tree as it stands alone and you can really see the seasons change by looking at it.


I got sent some artisan cheese from the Hampshire Cheese Company this week and we have all been enjoying them. The Tunworth was my favourite, it is a British version of Camembert and it was so good. The Winslade was interesting as you can spoon it from the rind and that was popular with our girls. 


I do a fair amount of hanging around at the moment, waiting for the kids when I have to drop them off and collect them. I found this lovely spot this week and enjoyed a read and a coffee whilst I waited for JJ to finish college. The smell of the wisteria was delightful. 


Isn't this a great view? This was just before the sky opened and it poured down, but I was loving the contrast of colours of the courtyard outside my house.


I have to love my local town, as we have regular yarn bombers who cheeer the place up. This is a definite spring theme to all the knitting and crochet creations this time.


I hope you're enjoying springtime too. There is always so much to be grateful for if you take the time to look for it. 

Thursday, 20 May 2021

Understanding Portable Air Conditioners Before Buying

Photo by Mikey Harris on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}


With more and more people starting to work from home, many of the creature comforts we have come to know from our offices are finding their way into our houses. Air conditioning is very high on this list, and a good air-con unit can go a long way in increasing comfort and efficiency during the hot summer months, even if you work from home. But a permanent air-con installation is not always possible, as various restrictions can come into play, from building regulations to rental agreements. Enter the portable air con unit, and all that comes with it.


How does it weigh up, price-wise?

Mobile air conditioners can be pricey – a few hundred pounds is well within expectation. But for comfort and productivity during the hot and muggy months, it’s not a high price to pay.

If you are not one of the lucky ones to have central air conditioning, window-mounted air conditioners can be another option, but not all rooms can accommodate these. A lack of space, or awkward placement of existing fixtures can impede the installation process, and in a case like this, a portable air conditioner really comes into its own.


Don’t forget about insulation!

Despite the fact that your portable air-con will be a freestanding unit and will not be fixed to a window frame, you will still need to cater for the outlet hoses of the unit. These hoses are responsible for getting rid of the hot air and any water that was generated as a by-product of running the unit.

This means that you will still need access to a window, in order to vent these waste products, and additionally, you will also need to place it in a position where a plug socket is easily reached.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash


Check your ratings

The area that a portable air-con unit can cool, is rated in British Thermal Units (BTU). The higher the BTU number of the unit, the greater the area it can cool. However, with an increase in BTU numbers, also comes an increase in size, operating costs and carbon footprint. Look out for this number on the box before buying a unit, and this will be the best way to guide your purchase decision.

Another option, although not strictly speaking an air conditioner, is an evaporative cooler. This appliance will bypass the need for outlet hoses, and as such, will not need to be vented to the outside. Because they require an amount of water to cool a space, they are great for dry areas where a bit of extra humidity could add to the comfort level.

The best advice there is, in summary, is to go for a unit with an optimal BTU rating, or alternatively, one which has some form of green functionality, to help save on power while maximising on efficiency. The sweet spot is to find a unit that does not burn through more energy than what is required to do its job. It makes such a difference to your productivity to feel cool whilst working and therefore a portable air conditioner can be a really beneficial purchase. 

 

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Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Accepting Yourself as You Are #TheSelfieTalk

Image Credit: Dove


I was very interested to see that Dove have a new campaign, the #reverseselfie where they take an image that has been shared on social media and roll back the time, removing any filters, edits etc.

When you arrive at their webpage, titled “building self-esteem in the social media age” the first statistic that greets you is “by age 13, 80% of girls distort the way they look online” and as you read that you might feel pretty shocked, sickened or saddened. I know I did. Why? I thought to myself, why do they feel the need to edit their pictures and make themselves look different? Just look at those images above, that young girl on the right is almost unrecognisable by the distortions to the image on the left, and a 13 year old has become 20. That's truly what you call a lost youth. 

As I mused on this for a few days, I started to wonder if the problem really is as big as many adults assume? Are young girls intrinsically unhappy with the way they look and feeling pressure to be different? Also, Is it any different now to when I was 13, 34 years ago, before the age of social media? When I was at school I remember there being girls who wouldn’t come to school without a full face of make-up or their hair pristine. Isn't this just a newer version of that?

I suppose the big difference now, is that back in my day if you had bad hair, maybe 100 people saw it at school (if they even noticed you) but now if you post a bad hair day picture on social media there is an infinite amount of people who could look at it and it could go on being viewed for days, weeks or even months. Nowadays you have keyboard warriors too, those who want to share their opinion, even if it is negative. Believing that by sharing a photo, you invited their criticism or comment. 

So when I found myself in the car with my twin 13-year-old girls last week I asked them about posting pictures on social media and how they feel about it as I've noticed they both rarely post anything to their Instagram grid preferring to share stories instead. There are also a lot of filters and specific poses or effects used. For instance, I notice they like to take photos of themselves in the mirror, so it is a reflective look and maybe their tongue will poke to the side, or they make a sign with their hands. I'm pleased to say none of the trout pout or porno style shots has been in evidence from my girls. 

One pointed out to me that many of the filters or apps she uses are for fun, they aren’t about looking more beautiful or perfect. They might be a selfie in a face mask, or with silly big eyes, they are just a bit of fun, a way of expressing herself with her friends.

The other said she didn’t know anyone who actually took the time to use a photo editor to slim their body, change nose shape, elongate their neck etc. So that felt encouraging. She said that young people just want to post a photo they are happy with on social media and to show their best self. How is this any different to many adults, she questioned? And she is right, I wouldn't put a photo up where I felt I looked awful. For me, it won't be about a full face of make-up, but it might be about hiding my crooked smile, left from when I had Bells Palsy, or making my huge tummy not look so big. We each have our insecurities and just because I do not share photos of them on social media, does not mean I am tricking the world. I'm just posting what I am happy with and that is about me, and not you.

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Seasonal Colour Trends to Embrace For Your Child's Bedroom

 

Photo by Blake Woolwine on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

The colours that you use to decorate your child’s bedroom will play a crucial role in the overall atmosphere and feel of the space. Certain shades can create an emotional response and make a room feel more comfortable and inviting.

The start of a new season is the perfect time to freshen up your child’s bedroom and create a more stylish look Luckily, there are dozens of quick and easy ways to add fresh colour and interest to your little one’s room. Let’s start by discussing the best shades to use in each season:

Winter

When it comes to interior design, winter is all about creating a warm and cosy atmosphere. According to Little Lucy Willow, you should use shades like red, coral, and yellow to add warmth to your child’s bedroom during the cold winter months. Vibrant shades will lift your child’s mood and help you create a welcoming and inviting atmosphere in their bedroom.  

Spring

You should use cheerful colours to freshen up your child’s bedroom as we move into spring. Vibrant shades like green, yellow, and purple look amazing in spring and will instantly add life to your little one’s room. Soft pastel shades are also extremely popular in spring design and will help to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Don’t forget that patterns can play a big part in spring decorating too. Floral and natural patterns look beautiful in spring and will instantly liven up your child’s bedroom. Check out this article by Good Housekeeping for some of the best spring colours to consider.

Summer

Summer is all about going bold with bright hues and patterns. House Beautiful list the best summer paint colours as marigold, flamingo pink, tangerine, and pale purple. When summer arrives, freshen up your little one’s room by adding a splash of vibrant colour. You could also get creative and design an eye-catching summer mural or a gallery wall full of family holiday photos and summer memories.

Thursday, 6 May 2021

5 Top Tips for Securing Affordable Life Insurance for Mums in 2021

Five top tips to help you make simple changes which will enable you to secure affordable life assurance as a mum

{This is a collaborative post}

It’s natural for us mums to worry about our family’s future and COVID-19 has not helped matters. The pandemic has highlighted the need to have the right financial protection in place to ensure your family are taken care of. As a mum, you’ll want to know that your children will be protected in the event of a worst-case scenario.

Life insurance is essential in securing the financial future of your family and ensuring they don’t struggle financially should you pass away. Life insurance works by providing a payout to your loved ones should you pass away during the term of your policy.

Your loved ones can then use this payout to help cover any financial commitments. These are often things such as:
  • Mortgage payments
  • Bills and utilities
  • Outstanding debts
  • Childcare costs
  • Funeral costs
  • Leaving an inheritance
There are a number of policy types available to suit every family’s need. From term based covered (cover for a specified period of time) to whole of life cover (cover for the rest of your life), to family income benefit (monthly income payments).

Whether you’re a young mum, single mum, stay at home mum or working mum, life insurance is essential for protecting your family should the worst happen.

Below are 5 top tips for securing affordable life insurance cover for mums from Hampshire-based award-winning life insurance broker, Reassured -


1. Lead a healthy lifestyle

It can be hard juggling motherhood while taking the time for yourself to lead a healthy and active lifestyle, but doing so could help you to secure a more affordable life insurance premium. 

The price you pay for your life insurance premium will be calculated according to the level of risk you pose to the insurer – the riskier they deem you to be, the more you’ll pay. 

At the point of application, you’ll need to provide information on your health and wellbeing, such as:

  • Your lifestyle
  • Your medical history
  • Your weight
  • Your BMI
  • Your smoking status

This information will help to paint the picture of your current health (and, therefore, the risk you pose to the insurer). Ill health, being overweight, having a high BMI and being a smoker are all factors that can lead to premiums being inflated.

This doesn’t mean you’ll need to swap quality time with your children to hit up the gym every day but simple steps such as quitting smoking, eating a balanced diet and keeping active could all work in your favour to lead a healthier lifestyle and secure a more favourable premium.