29 April 2014

Celebrating Our Birthday With A Balagan Giveaway

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I can't believe that today is my blogs 2nd Birthday. It doesn't seem that long at all since I started writing and now I just can't seem to stop. 

To celebrate our birthday and, as a thank you to all my lovely readers and followers, I thought I would run a giveaway with one of my favourite jewellery companies, Balagan, who I have worked with many times before. But this time, it's a bit different as I'm working with their sister company, The Karma Cafe. 

The Karma Cafe, also the brainchild of Balagan owner, Rachel, and once launched, will include jewellery designs, notebooks, candles and the like incorporating these with motivational phrases and sayings. I really cannot wait to see their items and how they will work the phrases into them. 

For now though, back to the giveaway. The Karma Cafe are letting me hold a giveaway for one of you lucky readers to win a Balagan 'Home is where your mum is' necklace from the One Wish collection. I love this necklace, its understated beauty is stunning. Simple yet elegant. 

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For your chance to win a Balagan 'Home is where your mum is' One Wish necklace all you have to do to is fill in the Rafflecopter form below. 

Please remember to check the T&C's at the bottom of the Rafflecopter application and our full terms here. This giveaway is open to the UK only and any entries left that do not follow the mandatory entries will be disqualified. After the one compulsory entry of answering the given question the Rafflecopter will then open a round of optional extras, you do not have to enter any of these but these will give you extra entries into the competition. 

And please, if you are commenting on the blog as 'anonymous' can you please write your name in the comment otherwise I cannot count your entry.

Ends midnight 18th May

28 April 2014

5 of the best Upcycling Ideas for your Old Jars

Upcycling is a rapidly growing trend and it’s clear to see why – it’s a fantastic way to save money and to create something for your home/lifestyle that is perfectly unique to you.

We’ve had our eyes on a particular trend at the moment that captures this essence perfectly and it involves upcycling and renovating your old mason jars into new, beautiful decorative pieces for your home. You’ll be amazed at the thinks you can do with those old jars that are gathering dust at the back of your cupboards!

We’ve listed 5 of our favourite ideas to get you inspired to give it a go.

1. Do-it-yourself candles
The prospect of making your own candles sounds a little daunting, but it’s actually surprisingly easy. It’s a pretty appealing venture too, with decent scented candles in pretty jars/holders being really pricey. You can choose your own scents and colours and follow a how-to guide to get your desired end result! You could do one for each room to go with your colour scheme and mood in each space of your home. They make lovely gifts, too.

2. Filled with fairy lights
Fairy lights are a great atmospheric feature of any space – indoor or outdoor. Crafters on sites like Pinterest are getting more inventive with what they do with fairy lights and how they can use them for differing effects. We absolutely adore the idea of using them displayed in mason jars for a really pretty, arty feel. You can get indoor fairy lights from lights4fun.co.uk very cheaply, too.

3. Paint it with your colour scheme colours
If you are the sort of person where every item in your room has to work together perfectly, finding little ornaments and decorations to match can be a bit of a challenge sometimes, especially if you have a very specific taste. Therefore, why not make your own features? Painting glass usually requires special techniques and paints to keep the effect and to avoid looking streaky. There’s a great tutorial here for avoiding just that and for creating a distressed, vintage look.

4. Hanging tea light holders
Another way to use candles with your mason jars is to put tea lights (or other candles of your choice) into them and use them as candle holders. If you want to amp-up this look further and to make them more of a conversation piece, you could try attaching a handle for them to suspend them from ceilings/high furnishings. For special occasions and things like garden parties, you could hang them outside from tree branches and things, too!

5. For use as small vases
If you never seem to have enough vases or you just love the idea of always having flowers in your home, you could use mason jars as vases for your flowers. You could use just a few stems in each jar or fill them with blooming, bright bunches to create two beautiful and feminine effects. These ones found on Pinterest looks absolutely stunning. We think they’d make great centre pieces for a vintage style wedding, too!

26 April 2014

Inspiring Playtime with Tomy Toys

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Being a Tomy Official Blogger means that we get to try out new toys all the time. Test them out for durability, style and fun-ness and the kids have a great time doing so. This time, we have been sent a range of items from the Tomy range of musical and moveable toys. 

Tomy are celebrating 20 years of expertise in infant developmental and creative play. They have a fantastic range of toddler toys, suitable for children from six months right up to three years old although Thomas is nearly 5 and still plays with them. This new collection that inspires playtime now falls under the Tomy Infant and Toddler Toys umbrella. There are new toys and a whole new look for the brand this year, including modern, vibrant packaging with more visible age grading, allowing the bright and colourful toys to really shout out on shelf. 

This new range launched in January and we were lucky to be sent 3 toys from this range. 

Luke the Loop
New for January is a counting toy called Luke the Loop. A loveable elephant in his own little plane, who loves looping and counting. In his little stunt plane the engine sounds, the propellers turn and as you rotate the plane around, it counts from 1 to 10. 

Designed for small hands to hold, it has a small handle on the top to make playing with it even easier and as the child makes a loop with the plane, it counts. It is an absolutely fab toy that both boys love playing with. The fact that they are having fun, getting to play and fly the plane around but also learning the basics of counting too. 

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Ready Steady Musical Giraffe 
This one is probably the favourite of the toys and is also new to the collection. You simply push the giraffe’s head down and the engine starts. It rattles around as it's starting and then this cute toy rolls along the floor. 

The car vibrates as it revs and plays music and eventually shoots off. I love this toy as not only is it a great motion toy but for smaller children, it will help them in learning to crawl as they'll want to follow it as it moves aiding them in the process of growing up. 

Push ‘n’ Chase Turtle 
This is the perfect toy to encourage follow-along fun for little ones. It has a ring-shaped body. making it easy for children to hold. You can simply push him down and release to see him roll forwards.

The motion makes little ones want to follow along, encouraging movement, like the toys above, aiding the ability to crawl. If you push the turtle along the floor, you hear him ‘click’ as he moves and you can also shake him to hear a rattle sound too. I think that this toy would be perfect for children of a younger age as, it will help with learning to move around the floor but also the shorter, quiet sounds will keeps them entertained too. 

I have done a short video showing the Ready Steady Musical Giraffe and Luke the Loop in motion which you can see here:

I am so privileged to be a Tomy Official Blogger and get to receive these items to test out. If you would like more information about them, or to see the other ranges they do, check out the Tomy Toys website.

25 April 2014

Dressing For Summer

With the summer holidays getting closer and closer, it's a good time to start thinking about getting your summer wardrobe in order, choosing what you'll be packing for your jolly's and getting organised. 

I am a very organised person. We go away to the coast again in the summer school holidays and already, I have part of the case ready. You know, things such as swimming items, sun cream, sunglasses and summer clothing. 

The above photo was taken on our last holiday to the coast a couple of week back. I love anything floral and think that it is the perfect summer style. I try to always have at least one floral item of clothing on and that time, it was my shorts. 

Here is Monsoon's new video, showing how to pack for the perfect holiday...

You don't need to pack everything and the kitchen sink. Mix and match items to suit. Pick a skirt that can be matched with a few different tops for varying looks. Choose a dress that can be worn on the beach but then paired with a pair of heels for a night-time style too. 

Accessories are easy. Go for bright and bold colours to stand out in the summer sun and make sure you pick colours to match in with the clothing you have packed. 

Most of all, don't go overboard. There is no point packing the whole content of your wardrobe when you are going for a cheeky weekend away. Be practical and have fun with it. 

22 April 2014

Keeping Busy In The School Holidays

These school holidays will end soon and Thomas will be going back to school. I am glad that nearly every day of these holidays, we have been out, visiting new places, having fun and going on holiday. But after these 2 weeks out of school, I realised just how expensive keeping the boys entertained for the 6 weeks holidays will be and so thought that I better had start getting prepared now. 

6 weeks is a huge amount of time to fill so I thought that if we started saving now, we would have enough money to plan ahead and get everything ready for when the summer arrives. 

Seaside Escape
The main things that will make a huge dent out of the time and money will be a break away. As you all know, last week we took a family holiday to Cayton Bay, near Scarborough, and even though we loved it, we were gutted that it was such a short break. And so we are planning on booking again for the summer holidays but going away for a full week. 

Paddling in the sea, building sandcastles and getting to do loads of activities that are being held their. All keeping the boys entertained whilst we get a lovely week away from work, away from bills, away from everything. 

Wheely Good Fun
Buying the boys some ride-ons will be great for the summer days of playing out on the street. Thomas already has a bike, which he loves, but has recently been wanting to play at the skatepark at our local park. For that reason, I have been checking out Penny Skateboards UK to find a nice skateboard for Thomas to practice on. I remember when I was a child, sitting on a skateboad and riding down the street and it would be nice for Thomas to learn some new skills whilst playing too. 

Creating a Masterpiece 
Well, maybe not the Mona Lisa, but getting the boys to get creative is a good way to pass the time and make something that can show off their creative sides. Papier-mâché hot airs balloons are fun to do and easy to make. Finger painting is messy but what child doesn't like being messy. Even getting a couple of sticks of chalk and drawing on the pavement is fun for children, heck I find it fun too. I love a bit of hopscotch.

Keeping It Educational
Going out for the day can be super fun but also educational too depending on where you decide to go. We regularly take the boys to significant spots, to bird watch, look at ruins and educate them whilst they get to play. 

This week, we popped to Kirkstall Abbey for a walk around. Kirkstall Abbey is a ruined Cistercian monastery set in a public park on the north bank of the River Aire in Leeds. 
The picturesque ruins are open for the public to walk inside (after extensive renovations a few years back to make it safe) and they are truly beautiful to see. 

Not only did the boys get to run around, climb and check out hidey holes, but as we walked around, I explained all about it's history to help them understand about the building, what is was built for, why it was destroyed and how come we love to visit places like this. 

There are so many activities we can plan to keep the boys entertained for the holidays and I just can't wait to get started organising our days. What do you have planned to keep your children entertained?

21 April 2014

Enjoying The Great Outdoors For Free

I love being outdoors, okay I prefer it when the weather is warm, but nevertheless, I love being outside. Being stuck inside is so depressing so we try to get out as much as possible, even if it's just into the garden. The boys love being out too, although they much prefer the getting muddy aspect of things.

The only negative thing about going is, is the expense. I see a lot of advertisements for 'family days out' but once I research them, £300, £400, £500 later, I decide that we cannot afford to go. Recently, we have been out quite a bit so I thought I would write about what we have done, things that haven't cost a penny. 

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Beach Fun
Okay, okay, the holiday did cost us money, but I am talking about the actual activity. Going to the beach cost us nothing. You don't have to go abroad to get the good weather, the UK has some of the most amazing beaches around and when the weather is right, they are just perfect. 

The amount of different things you can actually do at the seaside is immense. From, building sandcastles and burying daddy in the sand to paddling in the sea and blowing bubbles into the breeze. Everything is free, fun and fantastic. 

We visited Scarborough beach and Cayton beach whilst on our holiday in Cayton Bay which I wrote about last week (you can read my post here)

Water Fun
If the weather is warm enough, dig out the paddling pool. Once again, it costs nothing to have water fun and we regularly have ours out in the summer. 

The pool is a great way to have fun and keep children cool in the hot weather also. Water fights are even better and these needn't cost a thing by using jugs, cups and good old splashing hands instead. We even put our slide into the edge also to create our own water-slide which the boys love. 

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Walking In History
Getting out and about is great fun, but it's even better if children can learn as your having a fun day out too. We love going to historical buildings, learning about nature and seeing beautiful surroundings. 

Local reservoirs are a great place to visit. We went to our local, Eccup Reservoir (you can read our post here) and learnt all about birds, the water system and had a fun filled day. Yes, it was a really long day, a 7 mile walk left us feeling shattered at the end but it was a stunning place to see and the kids loved seeing all the nature. 

Old buildings are also great places to learn through play. Kirkstall Abbey, in the north-west of Leeds, is a ruined Cistercian monastery that has now been opened up to the public for viewings. Little sign posts all over explain about the history and what actually happened in each area. (you can read our post here). Not only can you learn about the Monastery but you can run, climb and play in the areas to keep learning fun. 

All these days out are super fun and cost nothing to do. You could even simply play football in the garden or at the local park or dig out your chalk and get sketching on the pavements. Days out don't need to be expensive, you just need to use your imagination and figure out how to do things on a budget. 

20 April 2014

A Photo A Day Project Week 16

The last week of the school holidays have flown by. We have managed to get out quite a bit and the great weather means that we've had fun in the sun also. 

The boys got bored of sticking to paper all the time, so this week I bought some chalk and they loved drawing on the pavement in the garden. We made a hopscotch, wrote our names and even did little doodles too. 

Just making sure the Easter eggs taste okay. Ooops, naughty mummy pinched an egg. Don't worry though, I have replaced it now hehe!

The reason I am always up early on a morning. These 2 monsters always pop into the bedroom and slip into bed with me, usually kicking me out in the process.

Kirkstall Abbey is a beautiful place to visit. We live close to it so visit quite a lot. A few yeas back, they renovated it all, fixing the unsafe parts and then opening up the building to the public to view the beauty and history. 

We've had lovely weather this week so I thought I'd get a selfie whilst chilling in the garden. The boys enjoyed some down time in the pool and Charlie enjoyed riding his scooter. Well, not really riding it, but having fun nevertheless.

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19 April 2014

Our Day At Kirkstall Abbey

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This week, we went out with my sister-in-law Nina and her daughter Laurel. We visited Kirkstall Abbey so that the boys could see some of our local heritage. Kirkstall Abbey is a ruined Cistercian monastery in Leeds, not far from us. It is set in a public park on the banks of the River Aire. 

I remember visiting the abbey a lot when I was a child and wanted the boys to grow up seeing our local significant buildings, getting to learn about our history and also getting to play through learning too.  

The abbey itself is huge. You have to go through the visitor centre to get access to the inside of the building, but first of all, we enjoyed walking around the outside ad viewing the form of the abbey. It's a lovely walk around the grounds and you can even make your way right to Leeds City Centre by walking along the River Aire from here. 

Going through the visitor centre and into the abbey is a truly amazing experience. Before now, I have never been inside the building itself and getting to do some was such an emotional experience. 

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The hard work, the architecture, the true scale of this monumental building is shown from the inside, but not only that. The ruins of the building and destruction are easy to see from the inside. 

Most of the abbey is open to the elements as it has no roof, stair cases are either eroded, damaged or not even there any more and there are random boulders of stone about that have fallen from the abbey in the past. 

Little posts around explained what happened in each aspect of the abbey. What it was used for, who would go there and how it was destroyed. There was also a very dark, quiet area where we could see religious people praying and such and so did not go in there as we didn't want to disturb them. 

The abbey is such a beautiful place to have the pleasure of getting to visit and we all had an amazing day out, learning about its history, viewing the ruins and getting to play a little too.

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History of Kirkstall Abbey
Kirkstall Abbey is a Cistercian monastery. A Cistercian is a member of the Cistercian Order, a Catholic religious order of monks and nuns. The Cistercians were adversely affected by the Protestant Reformation, the Dissolution of the Monasteries under King Henry VIII. 

On 22 November 1539 the abbey was surrendered to Henry VIII's commissioners in the Dissolution of the monasteries where it was disestablished. Henry VIII was the Supreme Head of the Church in England which meant that he had the authority to do this. 

After this time, it was owned by various people and also got destroyed too, as much of the stone was removed for re-use in other buildings in the area. But in 1889 the abbey was sold to Colonel John North, who then gave it to Leeds City Council. 

The Council undertook a major restoration project and in 1895, the abbey was opened to the public to view from the outer edge due to it's unsafe buildings. After a £5.5 million renovation programme to make the building safe, the abbey was then opened and entry into the buildings itself was allowed. 

The abbey is a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument (a scheduled monument is a 'nationally important' archaeological site or historic building).

17 April 2014

My 1st Years

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My 1st Years was founded in January 2010 when the founders realised that they couldn't find anything unique enough as the perfect baby gift. They realised that they had found a gap in the market for a new company that could provide baby gifts that were unique, fashionable yet affordable.

From blankets, shoes, bears & simple accessories, the company grew and grew and now sources products for occasions too and, with Father's Day just around the corner, they have a great range of items perfect for Father's Day gifts

They sent us out 2 items from their ranges, a Personalised Sweetie Jar and a Heart Outline Keyring too. 

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Personalised Sweetie Jar
The retro style glass clip top jar comes with up to three lines of personalisation. It is very pretty and looks lovely in our kitchen. I have been meaning to buy my hubster his own jar as he does like his own sweets but have just never got round to it, now I don't need to. 
We have just got back from Scarborough and whilst there, my husband bought himself some brandy snaps. The jar is a perfect fit for them and will keep them fresh and away from the children also. 
It's £18 for the jar which comes personalised. I love the fact that you can have your own writing on it, from sweets to treats. 

Heart Outline Keyring
This is a lovely heart outline keyring with a personalised disc. It is such a thoughtful gift as not only is it the heart shape to sow your love but the disc can be personalised to make it extra special. 
We had the initials 'SMTC' which are all 4 of our initials, on it and it is stunning. 
It is £15 for the keyring but that includes personalisation and it came in a solid My 1st Years gift box just to give it that special edge. 

There are loads of personalised gifts from My 1st Years so why don't you pop over to their website and check out what else they produce. 

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Why I Want a Samsung Galaxy S5

When I was asked to write about why I deserve to win a Samsung Galaxy S5 from Virgin media, I got to thinking, well, I'm definitely not going to win. I haven't done anything exciting, haven't saved some long lost puppies, haven't invented anything remarkable to warrant me winning. 

But then I thought that I'd enter any way as I definitely wont win if I don't enter, at least I have a chance now. 

For me though, I don't need a new phone. I never spend money on myself. I don't even remember the last thing I bought myself. The boys, and my husband, always come first and I'm just happy as long as they are. 

Someone who does need a new phone though, is my husband. For over a year now, he has struggled along with a phone that he hates but cannot afford to replace. His is one of the fruit variety *wink*wink* and although having a keyboard on it does make typing a doddle, the fact that it cuts out every time he makes a phone call means that it can get somewhat annoying. 

My husband works hard for our family, doing as many hours as possible to give us enough to treat the boys, take them places etc. Even though he is currently on the waiting list for a back operation, he has 2 discs which are bulged into opposite directions causing pain in his back, pelvic area and legs, he still works through the pain to make sure that he is always providing for us. 

The main worry for me is that when he does eventually have to go for the operation, I wont be able to get in touch with him as his phone has cut out, or the battery (which has as much power as a donkey powered aeroplane) has died. 

And for all the reasons above, I declare that I do not deserve to win this prize, my husband does... 

I am writing this post to enter the Virgin Media competition to win Samsung Galaxy S5.

16 April 2014

Asda's Baby & Toddler Event

I love Baby and Toddler Events. When I was pregnant, I would only ever go buying baby things when there was a sale on, as I could then get things a little cheaper. It meant that we stocked up on loads so never ran out of necessities like nappies and wipes. 

On the 17th April, Asda's Baby & Toddler Event starts and I will definitely be straight up there, stocking up once again. 

There will be hundreds of great products to choose from. George clothing, Little Angels products and even Little Tikes toys will be in the event.

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Asda's Little Angels range is fantastic. We buy nappies from there all the time. The quality is just as good as the big brands but they were better on the purse. They have soft and stretchy elasticated leg cuffs to help prevent leaks and breathable materials that help your baby stay dry all night long.

I love Huggies baby wipes. They are thick and great for cleaning up any mess. When the event starts, they will be a box of 12 packs for only £8 which is fantastically cheap. Huggies Pure Wipes are perfect for maintaining the natural perfection of your newborn baby's skin, providing gentle cleaning, just like using cotton wool and water.

The Asda Baby & Toddler Event starts online on the 17th April and in store on the 21st. You can buy everything at the Asda Baby & Toddler Event, from car seats, moses baskets, nappies, clothing and much more, so get in store or online when it starts to stock up!

Balance Activ: National BV Day

Today, Balance Activ are encouraging women all over the world to talk to their friends and family, talk to Balance Activ and get involved with National BV Day.

Organised by Balance Activ, a female intimate health brand, National BV Day was created to encourage women to put aside their uncertainties and to openly discuss intimate issues, particularly about Bacterial Vaginosis (BV), a little known vaginal condition which affects millions of women and is twice as common as Thrush. 

BV affects one in three women in the UK and yet 61% of women surveyed had never heard of, or are unsure of, the symptoms for BV and 2 out of 3 women's problems were misdiagnosed as thrush.  

The Balance Activ website is offering a buy one, get one free promotion across the whole BV range and they will be tweeting facts and chatting to followers about BV symptoms, using the hashtag #BOGOFBV and #NationalBVDay.

For further information about Balance Activ, National BV Day and other effective yet gentle products in the Balance Active range, visit Balance Activ.

14 April 2014

Let's Grow Wild

I love flowers and since we have 2 big gardens, we decided last year, to plant some flowers. 
It was nice to see Thomas learning about flowers and how to plant them, water them and watch them grow when we got involved in the Kids Grow Wild challenge last year.

That was until Charlie got a hold of the pots and emptied them all out before they had a chance to fully grow. 

So this year, we are going to try again, to grow some pretty flowers.

Neon Jungle, the girl group, played a very special, exclusive gig to just a handful of fans on 6 April 2014 to celebrate the launch of Grow Wild UK's 'Let's Grow Wild' campaign. 
The gig took place on a London Bridge rooftop where teens learnt how to transform unloved urban spaces in the UK.

You can see all about it in this film:

I love flowers and so have signed up to the Grow Wild UK Facebook page and requested our free pack of wild flowers to get us started on our flower garden.

This year though, Charlie is older an understands more about looking after things. I am also going to keep them up high whilst they are first sprouting to stop little hands getting close. It will be great to see some lovely flowers growing in our garden and will mean that more wildlife will around our garden for the boys to see. 

I think we'll have to pop out and buy a few accessories that we will need to help with the growing process and then get growing!
- pr collaboration 

13 April 2014

A Photo A Day Project Week 15

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This has been my most favourite week to date. Not only have we been out for a walk around a reservoir and had a play in the garden, but we had our first family break away to Scarborough. 

I now have quite a few games on my phone. They are fun to play when I am bored but it also means that the boys are constantly pinching my phone to race on Angry Birds Go! and draining the battery. 

On Monday we went for a stroll around Eccup Reservoir. Well, I say stroll but it was more of a 7 mile struggle through mud with 3 children, 2 prams and a dog. 

The boys spent the day playing football in the garden whilst the hubster was at work and I packed for our break. 

Wednesday came and it was time for our holiday. Off to the train station we went. The boys loved watching the trains go by and being on a train too. 

We were lucky to have gorgeous weather whilst we were away. I was expecting rain but we got lovely sun and made the most of our time by playing down at the beach. We stayed at Cayton Bay Caravan Park which was a 5 minute walk away from a quiet cove.

On Friday we went to Scarborough before getting the train home. We enjoyed playing on the beach once again and I was able to get this snap of Scarborough Bay. We were all gutted to be going home and are already planning our next trip to Cayton Bay soon. 

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Our Family Break to Cayton Bay - Scarborough

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Finally, we got to go on our break. You really don't know how happy I am that we actually got to go. You see, Simon's colleague had already booked this fortnight off work which meant that Simon had to work this week. 

We had thought about cancelling the holiday altogether but, after much persuasion, Simon's boss said that he could take a few days off, as long as he got the weeks work done first. This meant that our Monday to Friday break was cut to Wednesday to Friday instead, but we didn't mind, as long as we got a couple of days away. 

So, rushing around to pack and booking last minute tickets from Red Spotted Hanky, which were surprisingly cheap, we finally set off to the station. Going from Leeds to Scarborough only took just over an hour and the boys loved getting to go on a train. Watching the other trains pass by, seeing the animals in the fields and hearing the train 'toot toot' was a young boys dream and both boys loved every minute of it. 

We then arrived in Scarborough Railway Station and just outside was our bus stop which took us straight to Cayton Bay, only a 10 minute ride away.

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Cayton Bay is a caravan park run by Park Resorts. It is quite a small caravan site and being totally truthful, I was dreading arriving there. I had spoken to a few people about us going there and all I heard was bad things about it being small, nothing to do and a bit run down. Why people told us things like this before we went I really don't know, but it meant that we were expecting the worst.

And then we were pleasantly surprised...

It was a lovely place. Yes, it was smaller than other caravan sites, but this meant that it wasn't as busy, queue's weren't as long and it was peaceful. I really don't know what all the fuss was about as, for the whole duration of our stay, I had nothing but praise for the place. 

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Our caravan was fab. It had a spacious living room area which included the dining table and the kitchen came from there. 3 bedrooms and a bathroom were at the back of the caravan which were all space saving. I loved that they had worked in more space by making bunk beds in one of the twin rooms and that there was nifty storage everywhere around the caravan. You could even make it into an 8 berth as the sofa pulled out into a bed too. 

Everything inside that we would need, fridge, cooker, even a t.v. and the beds were already made, ready for us to jump into. A small t.v. in the living room gave the boys cartoons to watch on a morning before we started our day.

The only problem we found was, when we entered the caravan, none of the electrics were working. Just our luck right?! But after a simple phone call to the reception, a maintenance man arrived within 5 minutes and had the electrics on in seconds. 

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Choosing to spend the remainder of our first day in the complex, we popped along to have some tea. The restaurant was lovely and serving some yummy food. Simon had a grilled chicken burger whilst I had gourmet mini burgers and the kids had sausage. 

Whilst we were waiting for the food, the boys went into the soft play area which was great. A huge area full of climbing frames, slides and all fun for the kids. Thomas loved that he could throw himself around and, since it was all soft, did not hurt himself. He took to siding down the stairs quite well!

After the scrummy food, we went into the amusements and had a play before heading back to the caravan for the night. The first day was so shattering that we were all asleep early. 

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On Thursday we went to the beach. Luckily, it is only 5 minutes from Cayton Bay, just across a road and then down a very, very steep hill. When we finally made our way down, the view was wonderful. Such a beautiful beach where all the other Cayton Bay holidaymakers were enjoying themselves also. 

We were really lucky to get some fine weather. It meant that we could don our shorts and head into the water, which was freezing! But Thomas loved it, choosing to throw himself around in the water and build sandcastles in the sun, 

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It was truly amazing, British weather at its best!

We played all day, building castles and blowing bubbles and then finally made our way back up the hill to the caravan site to have a play in the park area before settling down for the night. 

Friday was our last day away, boohoo! but we made the best of it. Checking out in the morning and going for breakfast at the restaurant. We were all a little gutted that we were only there for a few days as there was so many activities to get involved in but we were too late arriving to book. 

You could have breakfast with Sparky and his Krew, make pirate ships and go on an adventure and even go swimming in the pool which had awesome slides. So many things that we missed out on but didn't have enough time to do. After having one last play in the soft play area, off we went to Scarborough for the day. 

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I love Scarborough and have fond memories of going many times when I was a child. I know people love going abroad and seeing the sights, but I love our British seaside's, our heritage. 

We walked along the pier to see the lighthouse close up and see the huge gun that was found it the sea after World War 1, which my husband used to make rude gestures with!

Hot dogs, burgers, fish and chips. We stuffed ourselves full and then filled up some more on delights. Doughnuts that were made fresh, right in front of us. Waffles, squirted with chocolate sauce and whipped cream and as many ice creams as we could fit in. Lovely!

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We then spent the rest of our time on the beach. Enjoying the gorgeous view and playing in the sand before going for the tram, to take us up the hill to go and wait for the train. 

After a few short days away, we arrived home. back to business as usual. But dreaming of the lovely time we had and already planning our next break away to Scarborough again!

A Photo A Day Project Week 14

I know, I am behind with this and will also be putting out this weeks today also.

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I couldn't not show you our new light fittings. I love them so much and have been wanting these for ages. They are brass on the outer with coloured droplets, which catch the light, on the inner. 

My nana has found it increasingly hard to look after her dog, Pixie, as she thinks she is a bit of a diva and is always getting angry at her other dog, Gizmo. For this reason, Pixie has gone to live with my parents and their dog, Sam. Although she does still think that she is a diva, she wont mess with a collie.

Since I had a spare Love2Shop voucher, I decided to pop into HMV to see if there were any good films out but as usual, ended up spending it on the boys. We decided on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs as we have just received the 2nd one from the competition we ran earlier this month. We also got Despicable Me 1 and 2 and the new Frozen film. 

We love baking but need some new cutters as all our biscuits end up as men or stars. This are chocolate shortbread. 

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

11 April 2014

Our Trip to Eccup Reservoir

Since it's the school holidays, I had been planning to get the boys out as much as possible, no one wants to be stuck in the house during the holidays. So, obviously when we got invited to have a stroll around one of Yorkshire Waters many reservoirs, I said yes. To document our visit, Yorkshire Water sent us a camera to take shots on and this came in great use. 

After having a looks at their walks and leisure guide, I finally settled on Eccup Reservoir. The woodland surrounding the reservoir is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is nationally important for birds. The walk passes the village of Eccup, over a dam and alongside a local golf course and is 4.5 miles long. 

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We went on Monday but my husband had to work, so instead, myself, Thomas and Charlie went with my sister-in-law, Nina, her daughter, Laurel and their dog, Diesel. It was a very full car, but we got there in the end and I'm glad that we all got to go.

I must admit before we go any further, getting to the reservoir was a bit hard. It was about a 1/4 of a mile walk just to get to it from were we had parked and this crossed a golf course and very muddy pathways. It was beautiful when we got there though!

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Yorkshire Water provides households with an essential service. As one of the country's largest landowners they work closely with numerous tenants to capture rainwater in the best way - the minute it falls from the sky, so they can deliver the highest quality water possible to your tap.
It's a huge operation and often taken for granted when you turn on a tap or flush a toilet. The rain water falls into the reservoirs and then is processed from there, cleaning and travelling all the way to our taps.

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Rather than keeping the reservoirs and there beautiful landscapes and structural features (such as reservoirs walls) under lock and key, Yorkshire Water open up the sites for everyone to enjoy. It's free entry, free parking and idyllic walking routes and there are so many to choose from.

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We always think that reservoirs are just a place to keep water, but their surroundings are just stunning. The greenery, the trees, the birds, just the whole experience of being outdoors, walking around something that powers hundreds of thousands of houses water supplies. Something that the whole lot of us relies upon.

2 adults, 3 children, 2 prams and a dog later, it was very hard work. I think we picked the worst day possible to go as the weather was horrendous. This meant that the walkways were even muddier than usual which was very hard to get prams through. We made it though, slowly but surely, we got there. 

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Yorkshire Water make sure the precious resource of water is looked after from the water we drink to the safe removal of waste water. Allowing their customers to enjoy the beauty of these reservoirs empowers us all to take care of our little part of the world; playing a part in our Blueprint for Yorkshire!

I am so glad we brought our wellies as, after a long day trawling through rain and mud, we were all pretty muddy!

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Little Face of Venture Competition

Have you ever thought about getting your child, or children, into modelling? Do you ever enter them into 'cutest baby' type competitions? Then the Little Face of Venture Competition may just be for you. 

It is basically a competition but is also about having fun too. To enter, all you have to do is book and enjoy a Venture Photography experience. Your Photographer will then choose the best photo of your little one, and the studio will upload it on to the Little Face of Venture website

Then it's up to you to get all your friends and family to pop over to the website and vote for your child. This is the part where you can get it out there, ask teachers, customers, managers, colleagues, ask people in the street if needs be. Just get those votes coming in.

The competition is split up into regions and one winner from each region will be picked. These winners will receive their winning image in a hand made Venture frame worth £350, a pair of Start-rite shoes and a set of LEGO.

After this period, the overall winner will be picked and this lucky winner will win a fantastic one year professional modelling contract with top agency MOT Models, a year’s supply of shoes courtesy of Start-rite and an amazing prize from LEGO.

That's not all though. For every child who takes part, a £1 donation will be made to Wellchild, from Venture.

It's so simple and even if your child isn't lucky enough to win, you still have your gorgeous Venture photographs and will come away knowing that your entry and donated to charity too!

10 April 2014

Savvy Shopping on Livingroom Accessories

We recently redecorated our livingroom as, before, it was a boring cream colour and so plain. It is now a bright red with cream and silver accents which makes it so much brighter. The only problem I came across was buying accessories as everything seemed so expensive. 

The light shades I wanted were designer and a few hundred pounds each, the fact that our room is long and had 2 lights means that this would end up costing a fortune. 

That's when I got a new campaign to join in with called 'Savvy Shopping' whereby I would be helping to determine how cheap supermarket own brand items compare against the high street and well-known (and more expensive) brands. 

I was asked to search for own brand accessories for my livingroom which I thought would be hard work. Own brand are usually plain and boring and I didn't want to have this fab red room with boring accessories. But then I got looking online...

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First of all, I went online to Asda. I knew that we needed some new cushions. Ours were a cream colour and again, I wanted nice new coloured ones. I actually couldn't believe that I could get 3 cushions for £10 and in pretty styles too. 

I picked 3 gorgeous Red Stripe Chenille Cushions from the George range. With vibrant red, cream and white stripes, they suited our livingroom perfect and when they arrived, they were great quality too. Even better that these cushions are machine washable for easy cleaning too. 

Deciding that I wanted a nice centrepiece for your table, I went on the hunt for a nice vase. The one I found was more than I imagined as it came with flowers already in it. Okay, they are artificial flowers, but, it means that I don't have to go changing them every week and they will always look pretty. The deep red peonies create an exotic arrangement and come in a textured red glass vase which is bright and looks beautiful on a night with a candle burning at the side of it.

After I'd finished there, I decided that the best place to find accessories would be on Wilko's website and I was not wrong. A lovely red glass bowl for only £4 and Dreamweave Pot Pourri to put inside the bowl look gorgeous on our side table. It has a stylish element which also letting off a beautiful scent that immerses the room. And then only £2 for a red berry scented candle which, again, matched our colour scheme so I chose 2 of these, one for each side of the fireplace. 

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Then I went on to looking at light shades. I didn't expect to be able to get any as I'm not in to plain and thought that highly decorative ones would cost a fortune and that they wouldn't be in the own brand range any way. But, boy was I wrong. 

£25, yes just £25 each for these Wilko Brass Beaded pendant in colour mocha. This Casablanca lantern pendant injects exotic elegance into the room and, when it gets dark and the lights come on, the droplets burst the light everywhere to make it look sparkling. 

Making Money Go Further is a blog written by the money experts at Debt Free Direct that provides money saving and thrifty tips and they are running the 'Savvy Shopping' campaign. Now I know that supermarket brands are just as good as high end,  I'll be buying them more often. Less money out of my pocket and more to spend on the children.   

Just to finish, I thought that I would show you the light shades in different lights. Morning, afternoon, evening and night to show just how much the colours change as the light does. Truly beautiful!
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Spicing Up Your Next Mum's Night In!

My favourite comic, Jo Brand, came up with this neat little joke to stress the responsibilities of housework: Q. How do you know when it's time to start on the housework? A. Look inside your pants, and if you find there's a penis in there, it isn't time.

Actually, my own hubby isn't too bad, although for some reason he refuses to even consider cleaning the toilet. He does take over full responsibility for the house when I have the girls round for a MNI – Mum's Night In. Here are three of the ways in which we make the most of our mum's down-time:

Pamper Party 
There's a company close to us who provide pamper nights, with the convenience of the evenings taking place in our own homes. They provide aromatic candles and music whilst us mums are told to strip off and relax in gowns made of pure silk. First of all, there's a foot soak in warm water gently fragranced by rose petals, then a foot scrub and massage with mint-scented creams. Next, we get a hand massage which includes filing and polishing, and we round the evening off with a classic facial ex-foliation and mask. There's nothing quite like it for re-charging the mum batteries!

Omaha Hi/Lo 
This has become our favourite card game (full rules here)– it's a kind of poker that's more fun and you have more chance of winning, even if you get dealt a bad hand. We only play for fun – not for cash! You use a normal deck of cards and each player gets dealt four 'private' cards, then five 'community' cards are dealt face up in the middle of the table. You can bet on having the best hand, the worse hand, or even both! Once everyone is done betting you have to turn your cards face up and see who has the highest hand, and who has the lowest – you make up the hand using five out of your four cards and the five 'community' cards. It's a real achievement if you can get the best and worse hands at the same time.

Swap Shop
When you're a mum, you usually become friends with other mums at playgroup or school, meaning you usually all have children who are around about the same age. The great thing about that is you can usually swap toys and clothes around, which can save you a pretty penny. We have the occasional swap night, where we bring items that our own kids have got bored with or just don't like, and swap them around. To our kids, it's just like getting new stuff. Anything that doesn't get swapped gets donated to charity – so everyone's a winner!

9 April 2014

How Can Detecting a Hearing Problem Early Help?

Warwick Medical School, in collaboration with the UK National Screening Committee, has developed a new five-day training course on health screening. The programme aims to assess when screening is appropriate and look at which screening programmes locally and nationally represent best value for money.

Early identification of any health problem is beneficial in terms of finding the right treatment or solution to manage the problem. National charities predict that by 2031 there will be 14.5 million people suffering from hearing loss in the UK. Currently, the figure stands at around 10 million – that’s one in every six people. Of that number, 3.7 million people are aged between 16-64 years old (of working age), whilst 6.3 million are 65+ (retirement age). About 2 million Brits are now turning to healthcare experts like Hidden Hearing to seek hearing aids and other treatment for hearing loss.

The statistics are striking – more than 70% of those aged 70+ and 40% of those aged 50+ experience some form of hearing impairment. There are at least four million people who are living with hearing problems but aren’t yet being treated – on average it takes an entire decade for people in Warwickshire to ask for help when it comes to hearing loss.

So, what are the early-warning signs to look out for? Hearing loss may be gradual or sudden. In the case of the former it is harder to spot because it may build up over a number of years. Sometimes it is easier to see the symptoms of hearing loss in other people than in yourself. Key things to look out for include having the volume turned up loud on the television or radio; difficulty making out a conversation by telephone; missing everyday audio cues like the doorbell ringing; not noticing or reacting to loud noises; turning your ear towards the source of a noise; not being able to follow a conversation, particularly if there are multiple people involved or there is background noise like music; talking unusually loudly yourself; fatigue from having to concentrate very hard to hear throughout the day.

According to the research, it is important to have regular hearing tests to identify any problems as early on as possible. Treatment is often much more beneficial if it is started early. Another reason to seek assistance as quickly as possible is that people facing the onset of hearing loss alone often suffer tertiary conditions, for example a reduction in confidence or problems coping in the workplace. A recent article in academic publication, The International Journal of Otolaryngology, claims that the use of a hearing aid is directly linked to reduced depression, increased life expectancy, as well as the ability to keep hold of a job.

The key is to look out for warning-signs that you or those you care about are struggling with hearing. The next step is to take immediate action with a screening test to check the problem out. A hearing test is painless and can take just 15 minutes for a shorter test or up to an hour for a longer one.
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