Our Month - November 2020

26.12.20


There isn't really much to say about November 2020. Just a few days into the month we were put back into lockdown again as case numbers of Covid started to rise. Thankfully this time the littles remained at school and preschool, so I didn't need to become the homeschool teacher again - hooray! Lockdown this time felt a lot different though, and most likely because we didn't have the weather on our side this time. There's only so many times you can go to the park or on a cold and muddy walk before everyone goes a little stir crazy right?

The month wasn't a complete write-off though, as there were some rather lovely moments in November too. We managed to pick up some sparklers for the littles to enjoy on bonfire night. We were treated to almost a week of random firework displays in the evenings too which they also found a little bit exciting. And although the weather wasn't amazing (read that as WET), we did enjoy some lovely walks and days out. A highlight was definitely heading down to Hastings one weekend to wander around the Old Town and enjoy fish and chips on the beach. Simple but a lovely change from woods and mud! I don't think we'll be forgetting about our bike ride / scoot in the park where we there water was so deep the scooters almost disappeared either!






Of course November will always be special in our house because of a certain little girls birthday. We celebrated Indie's 7th birthday 'lockdown style' at the end of the month. She thankfully got to see all of her friends at school during the day, and then we got her takeaway of choice, all the sweet treats and cake, and played party games just the 5 of us. It was super low-key, but she said she had the best day, so that's all that matters really.

Because of the lockdown and how different this year has been, I definitely found myself getting into the festive spirit much earlier than usual. We visited the Christmas event at Hever Castle to kick start the festivities, and then came home and put up the tree and other decorations. I'm usually a strict December 1st kinda gal, but it just felt right this year! 







Could a Motorhome Holiday be Right for your Family?

19.12.20

Over the years we have been lucky enough to have many wonderful experiences and days out as a family. But it's definitely the holidays and trips we have been on that have given us our greatest memories and experiences. Travelling to new and exciting places, experiencing all new sights and attractions, and trying different activities are the kind of memories that will be remembered and cherished for a lifetime. With staycations looking like the more popular option for the next few years, one of the ways to create these family memories is to head out on the road and enjoy a UK motorhome adventure.

Before you go rushing in to purchase your first motorhome suitable for the family, there are some things to consider and be aware of. Hopefully this post will help you if you're looking into purchasing a motorhome for future trips and travels.


Don't Rush to Purchase
The first tip is all about practicing patience. Although you're probably anxious to get a motorhome so you can start enjoying it as a family, there is no reason to rush and end up settling for one that isn't right. Ideally you want to have a list of must-haves and features that you can refer to as you shop around. And remember just because a price looks good, it doesn't always mean it's the best choice to make.

Understand the Different Types of Motorhomes
Did you know that the term motorhome is actually an umbrella term for a variety of different vehicles? The coach-built motorhomes tend to be the more common in the UK and feature a low profile or over cab design. But if you're looking for something really luxe, then the A class motorhomes are typically the way to go. A class motorhomes don't have an attached cab, rather the whole body of the actual motorhome is constructed right on the chassis. 

Stick to a Budget
Once you know what style you're looking for, then it's also wise to decide what sort of budget you are working with. It can be tempting to go a bit over budget, but think how that will affect your monthly expenses, savings, and finances in general. You likely set a budget for a good reason, so it doesn’t make sense to ignore it. There are lots of motorhomes available for a whole range of budgets, you've just got to look for them.

Don't forgot Insurance
Of course, you will also need to get motorhome insurance before taking your new vehicle out on the road. Keep in mind that there are usually different levels of cover that are dependent on the way you use the motorhome and the vehicle type. To make short work of finding the best motorhome insurance, a website like Quotezone can provide you with a list of quotes from the top UK providers. This allows you to not only compare prices, but the type of cover. 

This is a collaborative post.

Gift Ideas for Baby's First Christmas

9.12.20

Can you believe that Christmas is just a few short weeks away? I'm thankfully all done buying gifts for my three, but I know there are many people out there who aren't so prepared. I remember feeling completely lost when it came to Indiana's first Christmas, as buying gifts for little girls isn't something I have ever had to do before. She is now 7 (and I've had two more little ones since), so thought I'd share some helpful ideas if you're looking for a gift for a first Christmas this year.


A Special Keepsake 

Shopping for newborns can seem tricky when you first think about it. What newborn needs a whole stack of toys? But I think this age is perfect for buying those special keepsakes that they will treasure in many years to come. 

You could buy a special bracelet to give to them on their first Christmas. You can then add to this each year until they are 18 and have a whole childhood of memories collected together. Not only is this type of gift extra special, but each charm will contain a memory of Christmas over the years. Wonderful right?

Gift them a special keepsake book that you can enjoy reading now, and well into the future. Make sure to sign it with a special message and the date, so that when they go to read it to their own children they can see just how special it is. Fairytales or nursery rhymes are a good idea, or you could even create a special personalised book where they feature in the story.

A Practical Gift

I know many parents who have chosen to gift practical gifts to their young children. Of course a baby cannot really unwrap gifts properly, and they don't need piles and piles of presents, so this route does make a lot of sense! 

Think of equipment your little one many need over the next few weeks or months and use Christmas as an excuse to buy it now. A highchair, Jumperoo style toy, or even furniture for their nursery - whatever you decide just remember that it's an investment for your child's future.


Toys for them to Enjoy as they Grow

When my three were younger and celebrating their first Christmas (and still to this day actually), I always made sure to buy them gifts that they could enjoy over the year as they grew. They may not be used straight away, but they will be used eventually, and it means you don't have to go out and buy more toys throughout the year.

V-Tech and Leap Frog do a great range of toys that can be used over a large age range. Your little one will probably enjoy the bright lights, colours and sounds at first, but as they get bigger they can use the learning functions. These types of toys are usually got investment pieces too that you can save for future children!

I really hope this post has give you some ideas for your little ones first Christmas. If you're looking for gifts for older ones, why not check out my gift guides that I've created for more inspiration!

This is a collaborative post.

Get your Children Eating More Vegetables with The See & Eat Project

7.12.20

Paid Partnership

Despite all three littles eating anything and everything when we were weaning, getting them to eat certain foods now can be a real struggle. Five year old Parker in particular is incredibly fussy when it comes to meals, especially if they include vegetables that he has decided are 'yucky' or 'sooo gross'. I know that we're not the only parents who struggle though, which is why the See & Eat project was created.

Currently being led by the University of Reading and supported by the British Nutrition Foundation, the See & Eat project has just launched a new website that features a range of evidence-based activities and eBooks. These have been designed to help parents and carers to encourage young children to try - and hopefully enjoy - a wider variety of vegetables. All of the content on the website is available completely free of charge, and is available in English, Italian, Finnish, Polish, Dutch and French to ensure as many people can benefit as possible.




Books are something we introduced at a very early age with our three, and they quickly became a really important part of our daily routine. I know this is the case for many other families too, which is why See & Eat are using eBooks in their project. 24 eBooks have been created based on research that showed that visual familiarity in the form of picture books, can be an effective way to increase a child's willingness to try different vegetables. The interactive books and can be viewed (and even edited to add pictures and audio) using the app Our Story 2, on both a tablet or smartphone under adult supervision. 

I downloaded a range of the books to the app and let the littles decide which ones they wanted to read. Mushrooms are a particular issue in our house, so it was great to go through the book with them and show them where they come from and the different types you can get. The wording is simple and perfect for little ones to understand and Parker especially liked that he could read it himself. I printed off the vegetable colouring sheets from the website too, hoping that by them seeing what they look like, and becoming more familiar with them, it will encourage the littles to be more experimental with there vegetable choices.




Of course reading a book won't create miracles, but they are a great start to introducing different vegetables in a fun and simple way. Getting the conversation going and being positive about different food choices really can make a difference. You can even go one step further and let your little one help in the kitchen; cooking each vegetable you come across in the books or even growing your own in a vegetable garden. You never know what might happen!

The See & Eat project is funded by European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Food, is being led by Professor Carmel Houston-Price at the University of Reading and is supported by partners including the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF).

Hever Castle at Christmas 2020 - Peter Pan Trail and Christmas Lights | Review

1.12.20


We received press tickets in exchange for this review. All opinions are honest and my own.

After the most amazing visit to Hever Castle back in the summer, we were so excited to be invited back to enjoy their Christmas offerings this year. Of course due to current restrictions there are a few changes to their Christmas event this year, but we still had a great visit and it's really got us into the Christmas spirit!

Tickets to the event have to be pre-booked and are allocated in time-slots to ensure there's a steady flow of guests entering the grounds. We opted to arrive at the earliest 11.30am slot so we could enjoy a full day out at Hever, but there is also the option to purchase just a Twilight ticket - entry to the grounds past 4pm to enjoy the grounds in their full festive glory. 



Christmas at Hever Castle

This year Hever Castle and Gardens has a magical Peter Pan theme for their light trail. Following a one-way route, you wander through the beautiful gardens spotting sights and surprises from the classic tale. You first come across the Darling children's nursery, before flying through space past the second star on the right and straight on until morning!

Once into Neverland (a great photo opportunity) make sure to keep your eyes open for all of the wonderful props from the story. Unfortunately, due to current restrictions there are no live actors throughout the trail as originally planned, but it is still incredibly magical. We went through during the day and then again toward the end of the day when the lights were starting to come on, and all three of the littles said it was their favourite part of the day.






Despite new restrictions, Father Christmas has still managed to make his way to Hever Castle for visits this year. He is outside in the courtyard, where families are brought in one at a time to meet him and gifts are placed down a clever chute for little ones. I think this is a great way to get around distancing rules, and actually might be a better way for shyer children to meet him, as they don't have to get too close!

Of course it's not just the Peter Pan light trail you can enjoy this Christmas. The whole of the Castle and Gardens is decorated with twinkly lights and decorations that come alive as it gets dark. Christmas music can be heard as you enjoy the gardens and the Castle itself is lit up in all it's festive glory too. We enjoyed these during the day, but I can imagine they look incredible during the evening!

What Else is Available to Enjoy this Christmas?

Despite current restrictions Hever have done an incredible job to make your day out as 'normal' as possible. The play areas are both open for little ones to enjoy - queuing systems and time-limited sessions still apply. Hever Gift shop will be open to browse for gifts and Christmas shopping too. The cafes, restaurants and food trucks are all available for takeaway food and drinks, including pizzas, bbq, light bites, and of course those well-needed hot drinks and treats. And of course there's there lake walk and gardens to enjoy at your leisure too.







So if you're local to Hever Castle and Gardens and looking for a festive day out this Christmas, I would 100% recommend a visit. Not only is it a wonderful day out for all the family, it's a perfect way to sprinkle some Christmas magic during these strange times we are in at the moment.

How to Decorate Well for Christmas!

Whether you prefer traditional Christmas decorations, or you are open to investigating a slightly more modern look, the fact remains that decorating for Christmas brings out the child in all of us. The right touches in the right locations, are exactly what you need over Christmas-time to make your house look perfectly festive.


When to put up Christmas decorations?

The short answer to this question, is that you should put them up when you feel like doing so! However, most people feel that any time between Halloween and Christmas is a good time to do so, as the natural flow of the seasonal changes lends itself to the visual change brought about by putting up decorations. 

Christmas decorations are also a great way to transition from the natural colour scheme of autumn, into something cosier and more festive!

Start by Decorating Where People will be

It is said that the kitchen is the heart of the home – so why not start there? It is the ideal place to kick off your decorating spree, as the space naturally lends itself to d├ęcor. For example, a wreath on the kitchen table, or Christmas lights framing the window will really set the tone for a festive start. It could even be as simple as swopping out your regular tea towels for something in a red and green colour scheme.

Because the kitchen is where the food is, you could also use what you already have to create Christmas decorations. Nuts and dried fruit in a bowl create a beautiful, warm focal point. You might even consider baking some cookies that can be specifically used as Christmas tree decorations! Gingerbread always works well around this time of year, or you could make salt dough decorations using your children's handprints for a super personal touch!

What is a Good Amount of Lights?

Again this comes down to a matter of personal preference. What you can imagine, you can do, as long as your budget doesn’t get in the way of the overall vision. The type of lights you go for will also affect your ability to expand your system (or not!). Although many types of Christmas lights are manufactured with adapters at the end of the string, your choice of incandescent or LED lights will be the deciding factor in how many strings you can join. This is because the type of bulb also affects the energy usage within the final product, which in turn impacts the running costs!

Real of Fake Tree?

When it comes to the Christmas tree, you really shouldn’t worry about whether you have a fake tree or a real one. People have their reasons for their preferences, and if you are not up for the maintenance on a real tree, but want all of the Christmas spirit, don’t let anyone talk you out of a plastic tree. Just make sure that you take care to fluff out the branches and arrange them symmetrically, as the tree can end up looking ragged if not. Go for broke by adding ribbons, tinsel, themed cushions and whatever else takes your fancy, to turn your home into a Christmas wonderland!


However much you do (or don't) decorate for the Christmas season, just make sure that you follow your own tastes and dreams. Everyone has their own opinion on what is too much, or what is right and wrong when it comes to festive decorations, but whatever you decide will be just right for you!

Merry Christmas!

This is a collaborative post.