Recent Posts

5 Household Chores Best Left to the Professionals

16.9.19

Most of us have some sort of cleaning schedule, and those of us with children / and or jobs will find that your home can quickly get out of control if we don’t keep on top of things. You might clean your bathroom every Friday or mop the floors on a Saturday morning, whilst constantly trying to find the bottom of the laundry basket too.

But whether you’ve got your cleaning plan written down and even divided up between family members, or it’s all in your head, there are still some jobs that need that little bit more attention. The ones that are a little more complex, and you find yourself thinking “I wouldn’t know where to start” with. Honestly though, some of these jobs are best left to professionals! So in this post I'm going to be sharing 5 of these household chores, in the hope that it will help you realise you simply cannot do it all.


Rug Cleaning
A small cheap rug could probably be popped in the washing machine. But anything wool might shrink, and an large area rug almost certainly won’t fit. The best thing to do for these is to use a professional rug cleaning service. They may even come and collect your rug and return it clean, meaning one less thing to worry about! They’ll use appropriate detergents, remove stains and bacteria and dry your rug carefully. If you spent a lot of money on your rug, it’s undoubtedly worth cleaning it right - especially if you have children who sit on it often.

Cleaning Your Gutters
Most of us don’t think about our gutters at all, especially if they've never given you problems in the past. But over time they can become filled with leaves and other debris, causing them to become blocked. If this happens and then it rains, the water can start to run down the side of your house, leading to damaged brickwork and more serious problems. Getting someone out to clean your gutters every few months will help keep on top of them. 

Window Cleaning
You might be able to clean the inside of your windows yourself, but who realistically has the time (or the effort) to give the outside a good clean? Not me that's for sure! You can usually hire a window cleaner to come one a month / few months to keep on top of them. Just make sure you remember what day they are coming, so you don't get a big surprise outside your window!

Chimney Cleaning
Not all homes today have chimneys, which means that fewer of us know how to clean them. We actually have 4 working fireplaces in our small house, so it's something we have to think about often (although we've never actually lit any of them). It's best to hire help to keep you safe and your home soot free - especially as they will have the proper tools for a good clean too.

Mould Removal
Mould grows in warm damp areas, and can be made a lot worse in the winter when we dry washing inside. It’s perfectly normal to find some growing in your bathroom, or around windows, but that doesn't mean you should leave it. You can buy detergent to get rid of it, but you’ll probably find that it keeps coming back. So it might be best to a professional to treat it, to make sure it's gone for good!

Are there anymore you would add?

This is a collaborative post.

5 Reasons to Install Solar Panels to our Home

Solar panels are a form of renewable energy that have been used for decades now, to power our homes and small lights in our gardens. And solar energy is one of the most useful natural resources that we have! In this post I'm going to look deeper into the world of Solar Panels, and outline the perks and the reasons why you should consider getting some for your home today. 


Reduces Electricity Bills
If you are sick of paying through the nose for your electricity bills every year, and your premiums have just risen again; maybe it is time to consider getting some solar panels fitted to your house instead. Although most of the time solar panels won’t be able to power everything in the home, they can do a lot of supplement your electricity, in turn helping to lower your bills.

Diverse
Solar panels can be used for a number of things, so you can actually utilise them in many parts of the home. They can be used to power a house, to power things such as payphones and bus stops, and even for security cameras and lights outside your home or in the office.

Low Maintenance Costs
There is nothing worse than a faulty fuse or a boiler on the brink. These things can both cost a lot to repair, and the strain we put on them in the home can mean they only have a short life. However solar panels can be used for a number of things and they don’t need to be maintained much at all. Apart from cleaning the sensors now and again it should be easy going and this will allow you to focus your efforts on other things.


Cost
Did you know that you could be paid to have solar panels on your house? Because you are producing energy, the government will often pay you a small fee to help you maintain the solar panels so that the energy can be used elsewhere too. It is a mutual agreement and the more people who have solar panels, the more things will be powered.

Be Green
The most obvious reason for us to make a change from regular energy to solar, is the impact it will have on the environment. It is always important for us to consider our environment and we should take the chance to be green and save energy wherever we can. If we all do our own little bit, it can really make a big difference!

This is a collaborative post.

Me and Mine Project | August 2019

10.9.19

I am incredibly late with this post, but with Indiana back at school and Parker starting this week, I feel like normality has resumed a little bit. Although with that in mind, I feel as if the madness of the Summer Holidays were a lifetime ago already, even though it was only last week!

August was a month of absolute highs and incredible lows for us as a family. We celebrated Parker turning 4 with his first birthday party with friends, plus an amazing day out at Chessington World of Adventures. We also spent my birthday as a family at Colchester Zoo, which I hope to write about soon as it amazing, one of the best zoos we've ever been too! We ticked off everything on our Summer Bucket List apart from visiting the lavender fields (we ran out of time!) too, which made for lots of super fun summer memories.



August was also filled with incredible sadness for us as a family though, as on the 19th we lost my amazing nan. She was such an incredible woman, and the littles absolutely loved their great nanny, so it has been (and still is) a very difficult time. The littles have taken the news really well though, and know that nanny is watching them in the stars now.

The summer holidays meant we actually got plenty of family photos this month - although most are grainy selfies! All of them bring back fun memories though, from watching a film at the outdoor cinema, exploring a local NT property and getting lost in the maize maze. It was chaotic, crazy and stressful at times, but I do already kind of miss them all being at home. So here's to the next half term holidays!


4 Fun Holiday Ideas for the Whole Family!

9.9.19

Family holidays are a fantastic way to take a break, refresh, and spend some quality time with your children - especially when they're at school age. But finding a holiday that everyone will enjoy can be a complicated job. Whilst your perfect break might be a leisurely wine tour somewhere in the South of France, it’s probably not going to keep an eight-year-old entertained for a whole week. Plus, if you’re going to be spending a fair bit of money, filling suitcases with holiday gear, and getting everyone onto an airplane, you want the destination to be well-and-truly worth the effort!

So if you need a few ideas to get the ball rolling hopefully this blog post will help. I'm going to be sharing 4 fun family holiday ideas that everyone will love and remember forever.

Activities and Adventures
When we think ‘holiday’, we imagine a week away from work and chores, probably not doing very much at all! But we all know that children love an activity they can get stuck into and keep them busy. Luckily, there are plenty of holiday options which combine R&R with a healthy portion of action and adventure on the side.

Water sports can include anything from surfing, body-boarding, water-skiing, white-water rafting, scuba diving or canoeing. Basically, if there’s a body of water involved, you’re good to go! And when the children (hopefully) get tired, that’s when you can get some sunbathing in too.


Mark Warner provide some brilliant water-sports family holiday packages in several beautiful locations including Turkey, Greece and Corsica. They also have a special childcare option built in to help children learn, have fun and most importantly stay safe, whilst enjoying an action-packed break. They allow you to enjoy activities you want to do, while not having to worry about your children being bored or left in a regular kid's club.

If rock-climbing, cycling or hiking is more your thing, check out Activities Abroad for some land-based packages with a similar focus on family fun and safety. They also offer a number of cheaper options in the UK too, so you could forget the airport hassle altogether, and have a UK staycation instead.

And if you like the idea of snow-capped mountain peaks and hot chocolates by the fire, then why not consider a winter skiing holiday? Neilson ski holidays are all about making the most of the snow, with ski and snowboard lessons, a kids club for under-12s, Snowman Club for toddlers, and a range of hotels and chalets for accommodation options. Perfect!

Great British Camping 
There’s nothing like sleeping out under the stars, getting some fresh air and recreating your own childhood camping experiences. So if you’re planning on a budget or aren’t keen on air travel, camping can be a brilliant option for summer holidays in the UK.

Alton, The Star is a highly rated, family-friendly campsite right on the doorstep of the Peak District National Park (and Alton Towers)! It also boasts Carsington Water and Visitor Centre, which offers a wide range of activities for all the family on and off the water, including miles of footpaths and bridleways to explore, a children’s play area and fishing.


If you fancy taking things to the next level and giving glamping a go, Drayton Manor Park should be top of your list. There’s not a soggy ground mat in sight at Drayton’s pre-pitched tents, as these luxury canvases are fully kitted out with everything you could want. And nearby, you’ve got the Snow Dome, the National Forest, and Drayton Manor Theme Park.

If your children are mad about animals, you could even look into a Farm Stay camping holiday. With loads of locations to choose from, farm stay holidays offer a range of activities and accommodation options, including petting and feeding animals, swimming pools, cycling, walking and indoor games, all within the UK.

And if you’d like the luxury of taking the family on holiday whenever you like, it could be worth investing in a caravan of your own, from somewhere like Lyons Holiday Parks Caravans For Sale. That way, whenever and wherever you want to go, you’re fully equipped and prepared!

City Breaks
When you think family holiday, taking a city break may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But some cities in Europe are a lot more child-friendly than others, and can be a great way to absorb another culture and have fun.

Rome has plenty to offer for curious little ones, including the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum, with it's hundreds of machines and models designed by the Renaissance genius. You can also climb the cupola of St Peter’s Basilica in The Vatican, and at just over 136 metres, the 551 steps become increasingly adventurous as you near the top. In terms of tasty treats there's plenty of options that are child friendly, with pizza and ice cream a plenty!


Paris is similarly full of things for children to do, from exploring the Magic Museum and it’s 100 bizarre mechanical figurines, to enjoying the giant whale skeletons at the Museum of Natural History’s Gallery. If that’s not enough, you could always take a couple of days to visit the nearby Disneyland Paris too!

Cruises
Not every cruise holiday is going to suit children, but some packages really have it covered with water parks, swimming pools, cinemas, kids clubs, games rooms and everything else a little one could ever want.

Norwegian Getaway packages have something to offer literally everyone, from musicals to waterslides, cruising between a series of glamourous locations including Miami, Mexico and the Caribbean. With 14 decks and 26 different dining options, as well as kids clubs, bowling, rock-climbing mini-golf and more, it would be virtually impossible for anyone to get bored!

For a trip a little closer to home, check out the Regal Princess, which boasts an eleven night round trip from Copenhagen to Scandinavia or Russia, visiting cities in six additional countries: Stockholm, St. Petersburg, Oslo, Helsinki, Berlin, and Tallinn. The whole family can enjoy movies under the stars on the giant poolside screen, and The Voice of the Ocean singing competition and Discovery at Sea activities. The perfect mix of culture, fun and relaxation!

This is a collaborative post.

6 Details to NOT Forget when Planning your Wedding

6.9.19

Planning your big day is fun and exciting, but there is an awful lot to remember! With so much to consider, it’s not surprising many couples forget things when they’re organising their wedding. If you’re worried you’ve forgotten something or you want to make sure you’ve got everything covered, then hopefully this post will help, as I'm going to share 6 things that you simply cannot forget when planning your wedding.


Provide extra seating
People don’t like to be crammed into a small space, so provide extra seating when you can. This is particularly important at the ceremony, when people may want to sit next to other guests they know. Wedding professionals often recommend having around 20 extra seats to ensure your guests are comfortable. 

Assign someone to manage the day
Suppliers won’t naturally know where to go or when to act, so you’ll need someone to be in charge on the day. As the Bride and Groom the day should be about relaxing and enjoying the wedding, so make sure you appoint someone else to do this for you. If you don’t have a designated wedding planner or master of service, make sure to ask a family member or friend to step in. This will help with sitting guests at the ceremony, or announcing timings for things such as photographs or food.

Set up a wedding website
A wedding-specific email address and wedding website can make the organisation of your big day straightforward and efficient. When you’re contacting suppliers, you can ensure all replies are collated into one inbox, rather than mixing it with your personal or work mail. Similarly, a wedding website makes it easy for people to RSVP and check venue details before the big day. This saves you answering endless queries from your guests and ensures you receive your RSVPs as quickly as possible!

Plan the honeymoon
When you’re caught up planning the wedding day itself, it can be easier to forget about the honeymoon! However, you’re going to need a holiday to relax after all your planning and prep so take advantage of honeymoon packages before it’s too late. With the best locations and resorts already in high demand, planning in advance will ensure you get your pick of hotels and benefit from the best prices.


Arrange transportation
If you’re holding your ceremony in one location and your reception in another, you’ll need to factor in transportation. While guests may have vehicles with them, the wedding party won’t so make sure you have cars arranged in advance.  Even if your ceremony and reception are being held in the same location, you may require transport from your hotel to the venue. Groomsmen and bridesmaid might arrive after the other guests but before the Bride and Groom, so make sure everyone can get to where they need to be on time. Just make sure the transport you have arranged can fit everyone in!

Plan for bad weather
You can never guarantee sunshine, so it is always a good idea to have a contingency plan in place for bad weather. If you’re getting married outdoors for example, check the venue has a suitable room available in case it rains. Similarly, scope out some suitable indoor locations for photographs so you’ll have alternative options if the weather lets you down.

When is your big day planned for? Good luck!
This is a collaborative post.

4 Ways to Simplify your Home

The world can be a pretty complicated place. Or at least that’s what it feels like sometimes! Therefore it’s important that we find ways to gain some control from time to time. We can only do that, however, in the places that are ours - those spaces where we have full say over what happens, such as our homes. If we can find ways to simplify our homes, then we’ll have a buffer against the madness that the outside world can throw our way. But of course, wanting a relaxing, stress-free place and having one are two different things. So in this post I'm going to share some tried and tested tips that will hopefully help push you in the right direction.


Themed Rooms
The first way to simplify your home is to think compartmentally (which is to say that you should divide the house into sections). While it would be nice to have a property where everything flows nicely into one another, this generally isn’t possible; there are too many variables in the mix. Things become much simpler if one reason is for relaxing, one is for hanging coats, others are for bedrooms, eating, and so on. It’ll allow you to be just fine with a little mess in those rooms where it’s normal.

Decluttered Spaces
You can’t have a clear mind if your brain is cluttered, and the same goes for your property. If you have too many material goods taking up space, then it’s not going to be a very simple or straightforward home. If it feels like things are too crowded, then why not look at decluttering your home first. Look into skip hire, then go through your home and collect anything that hasn’t been used in six months, or things you no longer need. Once all those unused items have been thrown away or donated, you’ll have a more clear and easier to manage property.

Modern Tech
A home that’s without computers, the internet, televisions and so on would indeed be simple, but are you happy to live that way? If not, it’s best to upgrade so you have the latest and best. Your home will only be more stressful if you’re handling outdated tech, or if there are too many wires cluttering up your rooms. You can even consider designating one room as “tech-free,” so it can be used for calming and peaceful activities, such as reading or crafts.

Relaxing Green Spaces
Don't forget that your home doesn't end inside your 4 walls. Make sure to look at transforming your garden and green spaces into a calming space too. Some furniture, a bird feeder, and a water feature will all help to put you into that zen state of mind. There’s nothing like the simple pleasures of enjoying the outdoors on a lovely summer's day with the family by your side!

This is a collaborative post.

How to Jazz Up your Garden by Adding a Pond

2.9.19


If you have just bought a pond or an aquarium for your home, then you will need to purchase some supplies to ensure that all your fish have a happy home and stay healthy. It is of the utmost importance that you find a quality company which provides aquarium supplies, so that you are assured that you are benefitting from top quality products! After all, you would not be happy if you had to live in a dirty home all of the time or eat food that you did not like because it was of a low standard.

The first thing you should do is make sure that the company is easily contactable. This is especially important as you are likely to want to seek advice before or after you have brought products. A good company will be backed up by those who are experienced in the industry and they should be able to reply to your questions and queries quickly in order to give you a helping hand. A good example of this is https://www.swelluk.com/pond/pond-liners-54/, for information on quality products like pond liners.

In addition to this, the supplier you purchase from should also boast an extensive range of products. After all, all fish, aquariums, and ponds are different, so they will have a diverse set of requirements and needs. If you aquarium is large then you may require more substantial methods of filtering and air pumping in comparison to a smaller version. If you were to purchase from a supplier who only had one type of type air pump, then how would you know that this was suited to you specifically?


It it is also very much recommended that make sure the supplier has been credited or certified by any bodies or professionals. OATA is the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association, and it is a very good sign if the business you are buying from is a member of this. This shows that the company takes pride in what they do, that they are ingrained within the aquatic industry and that they are always striving to do better.

A final little tip, is to sign up to relevant newsletters, to receive helpful information and advice, and sometimes discount codes and special offer too. You will find that a lot of the top garden and pond suppliers will email their customers newsletters if they sign up, so it's worth looking into.

This is a collaborative post.

How to Plan your Child's Birthday Party!

27.8.19

The thought of planning your child's birthday party can be quite daunting. Where to have it? When to have it? Who to invite? I remember asking myself all of these questions on repeat when planning Indiana's party last year. And even though your child might not remember every detail (or be too worried about it), that doesn’t mean you want it to be any less special.

The planning and preparing doesn't need to stressful or crazy though. As long as you have your child's best interests at heart, you can plan the perfect party with whatever budget or plans you have! In this post I'm going to be sharing some top tips and ideas on how to plan a child's birthday party - whether they are 5, 10, or 15.


The Entertainment

Hiring an entertainer can often be a worthwhile means of keeping children engaged and active at a birthday party. It can also be quite entertaining for the adults too. We all know that clowns can often create a lifelong fear of said performers, so this could be a risky move. But what about a magician, a children's entertainer, or even character performers that fit your party theme? We had Elsa and a pirate at Indiana's pirate and princess party, and they were fab! You could even hire a photo booth to capture the fun at the party too.

If you're not having a full class party in a hall, then why not think about attending something that is entertainment in itself. For example, if your child’s birthday is there in the lead up to Christmas, bringing them to a pantomime could be a great idea! The cinema, bowling or even soft play are great ideas for a party - especially if you don't want to invite a large number of guests.

A party at your home can often be one of the easiest yet also most freeing parties to plan. It can help you avoid the worries of taking a large group of children out, and make it feel a bit more personal too. Booking a bouncy castle, purchasing a large paddling pool or simply playing some fun party games could be all you need. You needn’t spend over the odds to enjoy a successful birthday party for your child, as long as they are having fun!

Who to Invite

Invite lists for parties change a lot depending on the age of your child. Most reception classes have a whole 'class party', so everyone is invited and able to join in the fun. However, once your child moves up the school and creates close friendships, it's probably easier to get them to pick a smaller number of guests to celebrate with.


If your child hopes to spend their birthday with a particular friend from school, but you have yet to speak to them or their parents, try to befriend them in the playground. This not only helps with future get togethers, but will maybe create a new friendship for you too! And if your child has requested a sleepover party, it would be a good idea to invite the chosen friends over for a play date first, just to make sure they're all going to get on okay. No one wants an unsuccessful sleepover!

The Small Details

If you invite more than three children to the birthday party, it is a fantastic idea to enlist the help of other parents or friends. Most parents will want to attend a birthday party with their child, but some may not. It can be handy to have an extra hand to keep an eye on everyone, and can also help you offload some of the stress too. It can of course be nice to invite family and friends along if your party venue is big enough, so everyone can celebrate with your child together!

If the parents decide not to stay with their child it's a great idea to keep them in the loop anyway. Give them the address and contact numbers of at least two adults at the party, and contact details for the venue if it's not at your home. Ask for the child’s dietary requirements or medical needs and any emergency numbers you can ring too - it's always better to be safe than sorry.

And finally, make sure you consider the time and length of the party. A short but sweet birthday party can sometimes be better (especially for younger children), then an all day event. Then once you know the venue, guest list and times you can plan the final details such as food, drink and the party decorations!

This is a collaborative post.

In The Book - My Personalised Nursery Rhyme Book | Review

24.8.19


At 19 months, Lilah is absolutely obsessed with books. She loves nothing more than to snuggle up on my lap and read book after book, only stopping to race over to grab the next story. So when In The Book got in touch and asked if I we wanted to review one of their personalised books, how could I say no?

In The Book are book specialists. They know just how important books are - especially to children - so have made them that extra bit special, by writing the reader into the adventure too! Their goal is to spark the love of reading in every child, which as a parent myself, I feel is incredibly important too. They have an extensive range of titles, featuring beloved characters such as Peter Rabbit and Winnie the Pooh, and of course classic fairytales and Disney characters too. They also cater for a number of occasions, making the decision of which title to pick that little bit easier.



We received their My Personalised Nursery Rhyme book, and of course had it personalised for our little Lilah. Nursery rhymes play such an important role in childhood, as the rhymes are a fantastic way to teach children new words and ideas. With this personalised book from In The Book your child's name appears not only on the cover and title page (which you can also add a personalised message to), but also incorporated into the illustrations throughout too. How special is that?

Flicking through the book, I surprised myself with just how many of the nursery rhymes I could remember. The book features 23 classics nursery rhymes such as Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and Humpty Dumpty, all beautifully illustrated on their own individual page. You can even add an image of your child at the back of the book, which really is a special touch for the book (this is no extra charge too).



We received the book with the standard A4 Paperback cover, which I am a little disappointed to say isn't very sturdy. I'm not sure I could trust Lilah to look through this alone for a long time yet, in fear that she'll rip a page or bend the cover. You can pay extra for the hardback or special hardback cover though, which I think looks much studier and special. I wasn't really keen on the barcode on the back either, as I feel this slightly takes away from the specialness of the book. I know this is just me being picky though, as the rest of the book is lovely!

Overall I do think the My Personalised Nursery Rhyme book from In The Book is a lovely keepsake, and would be a perfect gift for a special occasion, such as a birthday or christening. The special touches such as the reader's name throughout the illustrations and the picture at the end are such a fab idea!


The book with a standard cover is priced at £14.99, and the hardback cover versions are £19.99. I do personally feel this is a little overpriced, however if buying for a special occasion like I mentioned above then I think this could be justified. And I know that we'll be reading it long into the future, teaching Lilah those important classic nursery rhymes!

This post is written in collaboration with In The Book, however all opinions are honest and my own.








Exploring the Maize Maze at Penshurst Place and Gardens

22.8.19

If you saw our Summer Holiday Bucket List this year, then you'll know that one of our goals was to visit a maize maze. It's an activity that I've seen others do over the years so we couldn't wait to visit one locally - especially as it was just around the corner at Penshurst Place and Gardens. We haven't actually been back to Penshurst since our visit in 2015, and I think I loved this visit even more.

Penshurst Maize Maze is located in a field off of the woodland trail (go right when you enter, past the adventure play and through the woods), and this year is an exploration-themed puzzle. The maze actually comprises 3 different trails too:

A smaller 10 minute maze perfect for young children (they must be accompanied at all times).

A tricker 20 minute maze that features an exploration game.

A 40 minute maze that features another exploration game.








If you choose to try the bigger two mazes and play the puzzles, you can be in with the chance of winning a Penshurst Place family season ticket! You simply need to find the clues from the different checkpoints hidden in the maze's twists and turns, and then crack the puzzle to enter. We tried out the 20 minute maze, but with three little ones to run after we quickly got lost and gave up with the hunt. It was lots of fun though, and really got the Little's involved as they raced around looking for the clues! 

Close to the start of the maze you'll find a raised platform, that if you climb up you'll be able to see the whole of the maize maze. Inside the maze you really can't work out where you are, so it's amazing to see where you've been exploring (or where you got lost!). Don't worry about getting lost though, there are stewards at hand to help you out.





The maze is open from 13th July - 1st September (11am to 6pm - last entry at 5pm), so there's still plenty of time to visit and explore. Entry is also included in your admission to Penshurst Place, so once you've finished exploring you an enjoy the house, grounds, and adventure play too!

The Siblings Project | August 2019

21.8.19

My goodness getting these siblings pictures is hard work these days! Getting all three to stand still long enough, and to look at the camera AT THE SAME TIME is practically impossible. But I'm going to keep trying for as long as I can, because I love having these monthly photos to look back on and remember. This month's pictures were taken on my birthday trip to Colchester Zoo (the pig they're sitting on stopped them running away, hooray!), and although they're not taken on the big camera or have them all looking, I really love them!


We're now onto week four of the Summer holidays, and the best way to probably describe our household at the moment is chaotic. Those first few weeks were so, so hard having all three of them at home. It was incredibly intense (especially as we were all ill during the heatwave), and with Jack working long days / weeks, it was hard to find any breathing space.

These last few weeks I feel we've settled into our groove a bit more though. Embracing allll the lazy mornings snuggled in my bed, deciding what we're going to do at the last minute so there's less rushing around, and actually enjoying each others company! The older two have actually wanted to play together, instead of fighting constantly, which has made for much easier days. And as difficult as these 6 weeks are, I already know I'm going to miss having them all around when school starts. Especially as Parker starts school this year... sob!


How to Make the Most of your Garden this Autumn / Winter

20.8.19

If you are like me and have young children, then you'll have likely spent most of the long Summer holidays enjoying your garden and outdoor spaces. You might have spent your days playing in a paddling pool and other outdoor toys, and enjoying bbqs and eating outside in the early evening sunshine. Having a garden is such a fantastic way to make the most of the sunshine without spending money on expensive days out! Especially as the garden can be educational as well as fun - learning to grow fruit and vegetables, spotting different animals and insects, and even improving motor skills by climbing, jumping and exploring.


But with the Summer holidays almost over, and the evenings starting to become darker and cooler, it's almost time to start thinking about preparing your outdoor space for Autumn and Winter. But although your thoughts might have turned to packing away the garden toys and moving some of your less hardy plants to sheltered areas, there’s no reason that you can’t continue to spend time in the garden in the Autumn months, or even as Winter sets in! So in this post I'm going to share four steps to using your garden more this Autumn / Winter.

Protect It
As winds start to pick up and rain sets in, your garden might need a little extra protection. Source quality fencing supplies from a reputable company so that you know it won’t come down in a storm, and make sure any decking and furniture are weatherproofed. Lighter and more delicate items should probably be stored away (or properly covered), however more hardwearing items can still be used all year round. You might want to move any delicate flowers and herbs to sheltered areas so that they survive the colder months too. 

Keep it Simple
The Summer might be time for pretty garden flowers and delicate pottery, but if you're happy to let your children play outside in the colder months, you've got to keep things simple. Don’t worry about keeping everything neat and tidy; just let them play. Put their coats and wellies on and let them splash around in the puddles and explore the area. Try not to be to worry too much about keeping things pretty, there will be plenty of time for that once the warmer months roll around again.


Keep Warm
If you want to spend extended periods in the garden, and enjoy relaxing and even eating outdoors when the weather turns, you will of course need to find ways to keep warm. A sheltered area such as a wooden gazebo or a patio will protect you from the elements, and outdoor heaters will provide extra warmth too. A weatherproof playhouse would be perfect for little ones to play in too!

Add Light
A lack of light is one of the main reasons that we spend less time outside in the Winter. When it’s dark outside at 4pm, it can almost feel like we’re not allowed out. But by just adding pretty lanterns, post lights and even some fairy lights to your garden, it can make such a difference to the space. It can look romantic and warming and will encourage you to spend more time outdoors as the darker evenings set in. 

This is a collaborative post.

How to Bring Modern Technology into your Home

18.8.19


Modern decor and interior style is now slowly stepping into the futuristic age, with the things that we have previously only seen in movies now becoming actual reality. Homes are no longer just about what type of sofa you have, or what kind of ornate fixtures or fancy ornaments you have. Technology has now taken centre stage, and unless your home is truly modern, then no matter how good it looks it will be seen as behind the times.

But where to begin?

Firstly you should focus on what a home is actually for; comfort. Modern decor should be about making life easier, and making you want to come home and enjoy your own space. For this you need a few things that will make your home much more connected to satisfy your needs.

Sound When you Want it
Remember back in the 80s and 90s those huge sound systems? They were bulky, heavy and took up way to much room. Plus they were only in one place so you had to be careful where you plugged everything in! Now however, you have the Google Max Home, which is a home assistant made with some fantastic speakers. You can plug several of these in and connect them all to your system via Bluetooth. They will not only be your search assistant, but also play and control music with the sound of your voice. Compatible with Chromecast speakers, all you need to do is activate it with your voice and say what song you want to hear. No matter where you are in the home, every room where there are speakers the music will play. How amazing is that?


Dancing with the Heat
Central heating is quite rudimentary if you think about it. It's all controlled by boilers, and every room is heated even if you're only using one. So switching to something such as this modern electric Panel Heater would be an amazing improvement. The heater might be electric but it features an artificial fire that replicates traditional fireplaces with different colours and style of flames.

Get Informed in the Morning
You could also replace your bathroom mirror with a smart mirror, to bring modern technology into another room of your house. These connect straight to your WiFi and can inform you about the weather, time, play music and even tell you headline news! Of course they still look and act as a normal mirror too, if you're not wanting to ready to hear about the news while you're brushing your teeth.

Making life easier is what futuristic decor is all about. Merging this style with modern day comfort is something we will all start looking into in the near future. So why not get a head start and start future proofing your home now!

This is a collaborative post.

A Family Day Out at Chessington World of Adventures, August 2019 | Review

9.8.19

Chessington World of Adventures is somewhere I have been visiting since I was a child myself. I've shared a review on my blog before - back in 2015 when Indiana was 1 and I was 35 weeks pregnant with Parker. But as so much has changed since then, I thought it was about time I shared an updated review. We recently visited for Parker's 4th birthday treat and had the most amazing day out!


Rides and Attractions 

Chessington is much more than a theme park. Of course there are plenty of thrill rides for the whole family to enjoy, but there's also a zoo, a Sealife Centre and lots of fun interactive shows and talks. This summer Chessington is celebrating the amazing Gruffalo Summer Party, featuring lots of Julia Donaldson's beloved characters with interactions and a brand new show. Plus until 2nd September you can enjoy Beach & Bounce - a 100 metre long inflatable obstacle course and pop up beach that is included in your admission ticket.







In the theme park itself there are over 40 rides and attractions over 10 themed 'lands'. Our little ones are aged 5, 4 and 18 months, so we haven't really experienced the bigger rollercoasters and thrill rides. But there are plenty of rides that younger children can enjoy!

Rides that we all enjoyed as a family:

The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure
The Adventure Tree
Room on the Broom
Tomb Blaster
Tiny Truckers
Toadie's Crazy Cars
Sea Dragons
The Gruffalo Summer Party

Rides that Indiana (5) and Parker (4) enjoyed with either parent:

Zufari: Ride into Africa!
Scorpion Express
Treetop Hoppers
Seastorm
Flying Jumbos
Jungle Bus
Griffin's Galleon
Tuk Tuk Turmoil






We visited during the Summer holidays, but by arriving early (the park opens at 10am, but we like to arrived by 9.30am to get parked and ready) and making use of the Chessington App, we never queued longer than 20/25 minutes for any ride. You can also pick up a Parent Swap pass from the Guest Help and Information centre to cut down on queuing too - these allow one parent to queue with the child/ren, ride and then swap with the other parent via the exit, so you don't have to queue twice!

The Zoo and Sea Life Centre

Chessington Zoo is home to over 1,000 exotic animals, including tigers in Tiger Rock, gorillas, penguins, sea lions and giraffe. By riding Zufari you can get up close to some of these animals (you can also do feeding experiences at an extra charge), or you can simply wander around the zoo at a leisurely pace. Throughout the day you can experience keeper talks and feeding times, which are really special to see. We got to enjoy the Gorillas up close - including a teeny baby that was oh so sweet!

As well as the bigger zoo animals, there is also a children's petting zoo tucked away next to Room on a Broom. You can see sheep, goats, pigs and also meet guinea pigs, rabbits and kunekunes at certain times throughout the day. The Lawn in front of Room on a Broom is also home to an Animal Antics show which is usually on around 3.30pm each day. And don't forget you can feed the Lorikeets (extra charge), which is such a lovely activity for children.






The Sea Life centre is only small, but it's absolutely perfect for little children. There's lots of fun sea life as well as interactive rock pools, daily talks and feeding sessions, and the walkthrough ocean tunnel at the end is definitely a highlight! My three loved finding the Nemos and rays, and were even brave enough to stroke a starfish.

Food and Drink

To save money on our visits we have always taken a picnic with us to Chessington - we like to sit and watch the show at The Gruffalo Arena while eating, however there are lots of picnic spots dotted around the park too. If you do want to buy food while there though, there are plenty of options. From a quick burger and chips or fried chicken, to a proper sit down bbq meal, there's something for everyone. You can also buy meal deals in advance for places such as the Pizza Pasta Buffet to save some money.

There are also lots of places to grab a quick bite to eat or snack (the Gruffalo cupcakes looked SO good), and the the ice creams at Tuk Tuk Treats are a must. You can also purchase a Quencher drinks cup for £8, that allows you unlimited refills of soft drinks throughout your visit. These are a great deal, especially during a hot summers day when you're drinking lots more.

Ticket Options and Prices

Booking online will always save you money, however you can of course pay on the day. Chessington offer four different types of tickets: basic entry ticket, an 'all inclusive ticket' (includes entry, a meal deal and a Quencher drink cup), a late entry ticket (entries after 3pm), and an adult and preschool child ticket (entry for one adult and a child aged 5 and under). Children aged 3 and under are free.



We actually got our tickets from 365 Tickets, which offer amazing deals to attractions and days out across the country and worldwide. You can save up to 40% off tickets when booked 5 or more days in advance - making standard entry as little as £29.50 per person. This ticket is then instantly sent to you via email (which you can then print off and redeem) meaning you can save lots of time at the gates.

Parking is an extra charge at Chessington, which can either be prebooked or purchased on the day. Standard parking costs £4, and express parking (which parks you closer to the entrance) is £10. To find Chessington, make sure to use the postcode KT9 2NE on your Satnav or Smartphone.

This post is written in collaboration with 365 Tickets. We received our tickets in exchange for this review, however all opinions are honest and my own.