Turn your Home into a Rustic Retreat

19.10.21

A lot of people are now turning away from the once popular white and sterile looking home. Instead they are wanting a warm and cosy feel around the home, with rich tones and comforts you would expect from a country cottage. It's much easier than you think to live out your country dreams without having to relocate though! You can create a warm and inviting atmosphere with exposed textures and a vintages style - so if you are looking to turn your current space into a comfy cottage, then hopefully these six tips will help you achieve your dream! 


Unique Decor Items

When you add a touch of the unusual to your home, you’ll be able to create a unique feature for every room. Whether it’s a hanging birdcage, a wooden flowerpot, or a wicker basket, these little design additions can really make a difference. Sites like Etsy are a great place to source vintage and handmade assets to improve the rustic aesthetic of any room. Or if you're feeling particularly crafty, why not have a go at making your own art work or craft to decorate your home!

Indoor Plants

Take a trip to local garden centre and pick up some greenery to turn your home into an indoor jungle. Not only does friendly foliage give your home a more welcoming, earthy feel, but they’re excellent at removing toxins from the environment too. From large stand-alone stubs to cute coffee table plant pots, the possibilities for you to connect with nature are endless!

Reading Nooks

There’s nothing cosier than curling up with a good book under a blanket, and although you probably don’t have views of vast lakes and rolling hills to admire, you can still designate your own little space full of pillows, blankets and stacks of novels. A well-stocked personal library ensures you’ll never go bored, and even if you never get around to reading them all, they'll make a great visual feature too. Have a look out for a large, comfy chair to fit the area too, and don't hold back on the blankets!


New Doors

White doors are always popular, but they can be a little too bright to fit the look that you’re going for. Instead, consider the wide range of artisan, stained oak options from the experts at Oakwood Doors. These doors will give your home the warm, rural feel you’re aiming for, and changing up your internal doors can have a real impact on the vibe of the room in general. 

Exposed Beams

Not a step everyone can follow, but if you can then exposed wooden beams for your ceilings are an excellent way to give your interiors those country vibes. They’ll have the most impact in the kitchen and lounge where they can be admired by your guests, adding a point of architectural interest to a room. You could always fake it if you really want to add this unique touch, as you can actually buy faux wooden beams now too. 

Second-hand Furniture

Choosing second-hand furniture is an excellent way to add a little bit of character to your interior design. Vintage pieces are perfect for that rustic look, especially when they’re mismatched. Finding these unique treasures can be so much fun too! Scour your local antique shops for the perfect cottage feel. Failing that, there are plenty of online options such as Preloved, or even Facebay where you can find some real hidden gems (and usually at a bargain price too).

How have you added a touch of cottage life to your home decor?

This is a collaborative post.

Fantastic Winter Holiday Ideas for all the Family

18.10.21

Most families decide to take their family holiday during the summer months, but there’s so many benefits to actually holidaying in the winter instead. Not only can destinations be slightly quieter, but how good does escaping the wet and miserable British weather sound? So if you are thinking of taking a winter trip the good news is that there are so many great options on the table, and in this post I'm going to run through some of the best ideas to consider.


The Big City

Okay this one isn't technically leaving the country, but there’s arguably no better place to be (especially in the run-up to Christmas) the than capital city, London. For the whole month of December the city is awash with bright lights and outstanding shows. You don't even need to spend much money to enjoy a lot of these as well, as locations such as Covent Garden and Leicester Square have plenty of lovely free festive sights on offer. You could even team your mini break with a trip to the theatre for the perfect London visit!

Explore Nature

Everyone thinks of visiting the Lake District during the summer months. However, while it is pretty great during that season, it’s also pretty great during the winter months too. There’s something magical about seeing frost - or even snow - covering one of the UK’s most gorgeous landscapes! Why not book a festive package with the Inn Collection Group, where during the day you’ll be able to go for long walks when you’re all wrapped up; and then during the evening you can cosy up by the fire for a meal and drinks. Perfect!

European Cities

There are many great European Christmas destinations that would make the perfect winter trip. Many of them excel at festive markets and culture, so you’ll be able to get your fill of winter goodness. Pretty much any capital city will do the trick. Prague, Budapest, and Munich are all fantastic during the colder months and, in the case of Prague and Budapest, can be highly affordable, too. They’re close enough where you can go for a long weekend too, so you won’t need to book any time off work.

Don't be put off thinking these destinations are more 'adult' appealing. There's SO much for younger ones to enjoy too! Tivoli Gardens is a must for families if you're visiting Copengagen - the Han Christian Anderson inspired amusement park is fully decked out with twinkling lights and festive decorations. And of course I can't mention family winter holidays without talking about Father Christmas! Rovaniemi, Finland is the official hometown of Father Christmas, and you can visit Santa Claus Holiday Village to enjoy dog sledding, snowmobiles, excursions to see the Northern Lights and more. Of course Lapland is a famous destination for this kind of trip too.


Snow Holidays

Another option is to look at going on a snow sports style trip. It’s not really possible to ski in the UK (though there is a resort in Scotland), but there are many ski resorts that are easily accessible to us. If you’re looking for a more budget friendly option, then look at destinations such asAndorra or Austria, which can be really affordable. If money is less of a concern, then France or Switzerland are considered among the best skiing areas in Europe. If skiing isn't your thing then you can try your hand at a number of other snow based sports, and little ones can even learn some sport skills while there too!

This is a collaborative post.

Our Month - September 2021

17.10.21


It's taken me this long to write about September for a few reasons. Mostly because our weeks are just so busy now that we're back to school life, but also because I feel like nothing really happened during the month and I've just been trying to think about what to write! I'm also really gutted I didn't get a family photo during the month for the first time in years. Silly really, but I love having them to look back on each month.

Of course I can't write about September without talking about school. We seemed to go back extra early this year, but the littles settled in really well. Indiana started in year 3, meaning a jump to KS2 and a lot more 'harder' work. Parker moved up to year 2, and despite a few niggles (he's not really a keen writer and is struggling with the more structured day), he is loving reading and maths. He still hasn't had a full year of school yet so I'm not surprised it's taken a bit of time to settle - here's hoping this year is a good one for him. And of course Lilah headed back to preschool for her final year there!






The same week they were all back to school, Jack and I actually had a weekend away just the two of us as one of my late birthday treats. We left the littles with Jack's parents and jumped on the train up to London, where we got to wander around the city at a lovely relaxed pace, before heading to the theatre to see Hamilton! I am a HUGE Hamilton stan (I have the soundtrack on repeat all the time), so it was incredible to see if performed live. Just the atmosphere in the theatre alone could have brought me to tears too, as it just felt extra special to be in a packed theatre again after the last few years we've had. 

The trip was made extra special as we stayed up in London too, spending the night at the Hard Rock London Hotel. We actually ate the Hard Rock as it was just so convenient, and I can confirm the food (and cocktails!) were delicious! Especially as we got to enjoy some live music while we ate too. We finished our evening with a wander through London and enjoyed a few more drinks in the gorgeous Covent Garden. We really didn't want to head home on the Sunday, but a sunny stroll through Hyde Park, and catching the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, was the perfect way to end our little trip






The rest of our month just consisted on school runs, weekly playgroup with Lilah (our first time back since March 2020!), and then ballet and rugby at the weekends. I did start the Couch 2 5K with my friend, but after a week I managed to get myself an ankle injury that's actually still hurting me now...whoops!

Thankfully October has looked a bit brighter already and there's some really fun weeks ahead now too. Roll on half term though as we're all absolutely exhausted!

An Interview with my Three Year Old | Lilah at 3 1/2!

After asking the big two this set of questions for the last few years, last year was the first time I got Lilah involved too (you can read her answers at 2 here). She's now 3 1/2 and full of funny phrases and witty remarks, so I know these answers are going to get even better over the years. Here's her answers for this year at 3...


What’s the best thing about being 3?

I liked doing stuff on my birthday

What makes you laugh? 

When you tickle me like that

Who do you love, and why?

I love Parker because I love him!

What’s your favourite book?

Peppa Pig books

What's your favourite food?

Spaghetti!

What's your favourite song?

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star


What's your favourite outfit?

Dresses and my new tutu (We struggle to get her in much else!)

What's your favourite TV programme? 

YouTube Kids and Teen Titans (she watches the same strange videos as Indie!)

What's your favourite toy? 

Teddy with a dress when we went to Peppa Pig World

What's your favourite thing to do?

Playing with babies

5 Tips for Getting Your Proposal Right

13.10.21

It’s such a special moment when your partner says 'yes!' and you get to experience that rush of love simultaneously. But how do you make sure the most crucial moment in your life is perfect? In this post I'm going to share 5 tips, that will hopefully make your marriage proposal unforgettable and romantic.


Include Flowers

Receiving a bunch of flowers always make my day, so of course they are perfect to include in a proposal. If you are stuck on ideas, get the help of experts in a flower shop to help you select the flowers that will best fit your partner’s personality or those that represent your relationship. Comforting words for your partner is also essential during the proposal. If you are composing a poem or song to sing to your partner, you can work with experts to help you pen it, so it comes out beautifully.

Choose a Good Location

Of course the location of your proposal it is up to you, but it's always a good idea to make sure you look for a romantic and private location to make the moment memorable. Some ideal locations could include your partner’s (or yours as a couple) favourite spot, a romantic restaurant or out in nature where it’s quiet and serene. You might think your partner would prefer a more public announcement, but try to remember it's about the two of you, and not how many people are watching.

Pick out the Perfect Ring

An engagement ring gives an impression of stability and is an excellent example of commitment to your partner. You could ask a professional designer like Reve Diamonds to help you pick the right ring, as they will be most knowledgeable about gem stone and different cuts. It's always a good idea to consider the wedding band in the future too, as your partner will most likely want them to match and fit together nicely.

Plan Ahead

It is best to try to plan for your proposal at least two months ahead, to give you enough time to pick and purchase the ring and plan the moment properly. You could get family and friends on board if you want too - just make sure you only tell those that you know won't ruin the surprise!

Be Creative

It's always lovely to get creative with decorations in the spot you're planning to propose. Why not try and hire a professional designer to create the perfect romantic atmosphere with flowers and your partner’s favourite colours. I've seen proposals written in the sand, or held up with perfectly placed signs. Whatever you do though, just make sure it's something you know you'll both love and enjoy.

The steps mentioned above are the basic rules that will help you to make your marriage proposal unforgettable. But of course the most important thing to remember is the love and happiness between you and your partner. When you are ready to propose, be willing to accept your partner’s response however it may go. And good luck!

This is a collaborative post.

An Interview with my Six Year Old | Parker at 6!

12.10.21

I shared Indiana's yearly interview yesterday, so of course I had to share Parker's today! He is becoming more and more grown up as each day passes, and I honestly cannot believe he's now 6! You can read his answers at age 3 here, age 4 here, and at age 5 here, and keep reading to see this year's responses.


What’s the best thing about being 6?

I can go on lots of rides!

What makes you laugh? 

Things that are funny and funny faces

Who do you love, and why?

Ewan because he had a fun party! And mummy because you make me smile 😭

What’s your favourite book?

Harry Potter (we’ve just finished The Philosopher’s Stone)

What's your favourite food?

Fish and chips and spaghetti

What's your favourite song?

We Will Rock You


What's your favourite outfit?

My Mario tops

What's your favourite TV programme? 

Teen Titans Go!

What's your favourite toy? 

Lego and The Switch (of course)

What's your favourite thing to do?

Go to school.. I'm not sure I believe this one!

An Interview with my Seven Year Old | Indiana at 7 and 3/4!

11.10.21

I love that I've kept up with this yearly tradition of interviewing the Littles. I've asked Indie this same set of questions for the last few years now, and love that I can look back on her answers from age 3age 4age 5 and age 6. She's almost 8 now and I not actually surprised anymore that her answer to her favourite food hasn't changed... the girl loves chilli!




What’s the best thing about being 7?

There’s more rides I can go on at theme parks

What makes you laugh? 

People telling me jokes and being tickled

Who do you love, and why?

I love Amelie because she plays with me, and mummy and daddy too

What’s your favourite book?

The rainbow magic fairy books! (she's read SO many now)

What's your favourite food?

Chilli! (I’m not sure this will ever change!)

What's your favourite song?

I don’t know, but I like Disney songs

What's your favourite outfit?

Dresses


What's your favourite TV programme? 

Spirit, and My Froggy Stuff on YouTube (I had no idea either, but it's a lady who role plays with Barbies and does toy unboxing)

What's your favourite toy? 

My baby dolls

What's your favourite thing to do?

Colouring, drawing and writing stories

5 Steps to a Beautiful Budget Wedding

When you're planning your wedding, you want every detail to be perfect. You want the day to be something you'll remember fondly rather than something you'll look back on and wish you had done differently! You might assume that if you have a limited budget, it won't be feasible to have a gorgeous wedding, and you'll have to make some sacrifices, but that's not entirely true – you can have a beautiful wedding on a budget, and in this post I'm going to some suggestions on how to accomplish it.


Catering

The food is often one of the most expensive aspects of any wedding. You may want to provide a three-course dinner to your guests, but this can end up being incredibly pricey. However there are other options when it comes to your Wedding Breakfast. If you schedule your wedding properly, you can simply serve a buffet-style dinner, which will also help add a more relaxed feel to the day.

You could even choose to provide the food yourself if that is a possibility. However, if you want to go down this route you've got to keep in mind that preparing for a wedding, and making sure the food is ready might be a bit too much for one person to do by themselves. If you intend not to hire an outside caterer, then you'll need to plan well in advance, and you'll need to enlist the help of friends and relatives to save you from getting too stressed.

Other ideas include a big barbecue after the ceremony or even a potluck event where everyone brings a dish and shares it out. There's so many different options available now, so just make sure you research, research, research!

Invitations

Invitations are another major expense that is often neglected and when it comes time to obtain estimates, the truth price can come as quite a surprise. All of that printing, not to mention mailing the invites, will quickly add up - just one 2nd class stamp costs 65p. One option to save money in this regard is to email the invitations to as many people as possible. In this way, you can still design something lovely, but it will be digital and therefore not cost anything to send.

If you prefer to be more traditional then the best advice is to shop around. In that way, when you find a place to buy printed foil invitations, you can be sure you're getting the best deal. Some companies will now let you design and send straight to the recipient which might help you to save some pennies too.

The Dress

When you think bride, you're first thought it most likely going to be about 'the dress'. Luxury gowns can cost thousands of pounds, and when contrasted to the rest of the wedding, it simply doesn't seem fair to spend so much money on just one thing. Some shops sell used wedding gowns that you can visit (or even look at online). Remember that these gowns have only been worn once for a few hours, so they are usually in excellent condition, and they are a fraction of the price of a brand new on!  Plus, unless you tell them, no one will ever know it's a secondhand dress. You can look at places like Asos for wedding dresses these days too, where you can find beautiful gowns at a fraction of the cost.


Don't Ask for Gifts

Many weddings include a gift list that specifies what the happy couple would want guests to send as gifts. It may make more sense to ask for help with the wedding budget rather than presents, particularly if you're already living together or have been living independently and have everything you need.

For example, if you know a photographer, instead of gifting you anything, ask them to shoot photos of the day. The same can be said for a cake maker, a dressmaker, a florist, or anybody else who might be able to assist. It will save you a lot of money and ensure that you don't get any unwanted presents. Of course, it's important to be sensitive; some people may not want to offer their services, and instead they might want to let their hair down and have a break. Always let them know there is no obligation, but that if they want to help out, they certainly can. 

Choose the Right Date

Consider getting married outside of the usual season, or even on a weekday, to save money on your wedding. According to Bridebook's 2019 wedding report, couples could save almost £5,000 by having their wedding in January or February instead of the busy months of June to August. And you could save up to £6,000 by getting married on a Tuesday or Wednesday rather than a Saturday! Although it may not be quite what you imagined at first, a winter wedding can be stunning, and many people would be glad to take a couple of days off work to celebrate your special day with you.

This is a collaborative post.

5 Ways to Embrace the 'New Normal'

4.10.21

The last two years have brought, at best, havoc to our lives and routines – and at worst, devastation. For many we're now on the brink of optimism as life returns to something resembling the normality we once knew. But since we’re all battling to adapt to the ways in which life has changed forever, could there be some aspects of the new world we’re entering that are surprisingly encouraging?

If not going out is your new default mode then this post may be for you, as I'm going to share five ways in which you can embrace the new normal. 

Meal Boxes

Did you go on a bit of a takeaway binge during lockdown 1.0? We were totally guilty (and that was during lockdowns 2 and 3 too). But although it’s worth restricting treats to one a week or so, the benefits of healthy meal boxes transcend lockdown. There are several providers to choose from, but Gousto is a great pick. The recipe cards are easy to follow, and you can prep many of the meals in around half an hour or less. Plus there are over 60 tasty UK, international and fusion recipes a week to pick, with plant-based and gluten-free options too! 


HIIT Training

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is another pandemic habit that’s worth continuing as we move back to some sense of normality. When your workout time and space are limited, HIIT sessions with or without equipment like kettlebells can give you a full-body workout in as little as 15 minutes. If you aim for three sessions a week, you only need to find a spare 45 minutes to make a big difference to your physical and mental health... plus they can easily be done from home!

Online Learning

Earning a formal higher education qualification is still a great way to spur a career migration. But in the current environment, and especially when you’ve got family commitments, attending a physical campus doesn’t always feel viable. However, trusted providers like ARU Distance Learning offer accredited courses like MBAs, biomedical science MScs and Applied and Clinical Psychology BScs, that you can study from the comfort of you own home. 

No Commute

Has anyone really mounted a convincing defence of the daily commute? If sitting in a crushed carriage constitutes ‘me time’ then maybe it's for you. But I'm sure there are many that won't miss the commute one bit – it’s valuable time better spent with family (or asleep). Not only are you saving time, but not having to commute into work will also be saving you a large sum in travel costs too. Win win!

More Family Time

Don’t get us wrong – trying to work from home whilst also trying to tackle homeschooling was an unpleasant experience to say the least. But now most children are back at school, having that extra time when working-from-home might give you the chance to do the school runs and spend evenings at home together. Take a look at these Parent Club tips on working from home if you’re still struggling to adapt, they might be able to help.


Hopefully these five ways of embracing the new normal help you look on the bright side – good luck!

This is a collaborative post.

10 Beautiful UK Destinations to Visit this Autumn

30.9.21

The end of summer brings a feeling of sadness and longing to a lot of people. The days start to get shorter again, and those long sun filled days are quickly taken over by the rain and chilly evenings. But it is hard to deny that autumn is also a wonderfully beautiful time of year. From mid-September to the end of October, the landscape is full of crimson and golden yellow colours from the leaves that fall from the trees, and there are plenty of autumn treasures to find on woodland walks. It's a great time to get those wellies on and get exploring! In this post I'm going to share 10 fantastic spots from all over the UK, that I think you should try and explore this Autumn.


Faskally Wood, Perthshire, Scotland

Perthshire is famous for it's huge trees - having around 25 species including the Scots pine - and you can find lots of these whilst enjoying a walk in Faskally Wood. It is a charming destination for autumn as the colours and the natural landscape offers visitors an unforgettable experience, while the bright lights and musical performances, make the nights take a magical form.

Marbury Country Park, Cheshire, North West England

Located in the heart of the Northwich Community in woodland part of the Mersey Forest, Marbury Country Park has plenty of explore and enjoy. The blonde shades that the unique autumn landscape of the area will give you will force you to photograph it a dozen times till you get that perfect shot.

New Forest, Hampshire, Southern England

The ancient woodlands of New Forest National Park cover over 50 acres. You can discover the impressive sequoias planted in the late 1850s, as well as elder, beech, chestnut and many other varieties of trees. Take the path with the tall trees under the iconic conifers on the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive - one of the most beautiful places to experience the image of vibrant autumn shades, which are at their best at the New Forest Hiking Festival in October. Make sure to always keep an eye out for the famous New Forest ponies too!


Richmond Park, London, England

Escape the city and enjoy the rich autumn colours by cycling or walking in Richmond Park, at a time when the old oaks seem to be painted in bright orange. Richmond is one of the largest royal parks in London and is actually three times larger than Central Park in New York! You will likely discover wild animals living among the autumn leaves too, since Richmond has been a deer park since 1637.

Bodnant Gardens, Colwyn Bay, Wales

Bodnant Gardens boast a magnificent location overlooking Snowdonia's Carneddau Mountains, with its most impressive sites being the majestic chestnut trees, a waterfall and a deep valley with tall trees. October is the best month to enjoy the shades of the season and find plenty of autumnal treasures amongst the leaves..

Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest, Kent, South East England

Located in the 'Garden of England', Bedgebury is the place to find the finest coniferous trees in the world. Most of these species come from all over the world, and you will see trees from California, Scotland and even Taiwan along your walk. If you are looking for something a little more adventurous, you can climb, balance, and zip the treetops at Go Ape Bedgebury, or if you're visiting with little ones, there is a fantastic play trail, easy bike paths as well as the Gruffalo Spotters Trail to enjoy. 


Mount Stewart, County Down, Northern Ireland

The majestic house is surrounded by one of the National Trust's most unusual gardens. The warm climate of Strangford Lough lagoon favours the growth of exotic plants, which has led parts of the garden to look very much like parts of the Mediterranean. In October, Mount Stewart guides take guests on an autumn walk in the bronze colours of the garden.

Stourhead, Wiltshire, South West England

The world-famous 18th-century Stourhead Gardens, which include classic temples, a pond and a vaulted cave, were described as a 'living work of art' when they first opened in 1740. The reflection of the trees in the lake with all their golden glow is an incredible spectacle and something not to be missed in the autumn months.

Kew Gardens, London, England

Just 20 minutes from the city centre, Kew Gardens is home to some of the rarest plant species in the world. If you wish to learn more, then why not sign up to enjoy one of their organised excursions and tree identification courses - perfect for budding gardeners or plant lovers!

Westonbirt National Arboretum, Gloucestershire, South West England

The Westonbirt Arboretum was created in the mid-19th century and is home to around 15,000 species from around the world. The serene oasis is perfect to explore from late September to November; however, October is generally the best time to visit the place when maple is at its best. There are 17-mile trails along the 600-acre area, which is divided into three main areas: the Old Arboretum, the ancient Silk Wood Forest and Downs Meadow. 


Of course in order to be able to enjoy all these incredible autumn landscapes, you will need to have a reliable car to get you there. If however, you don't have a car of your own, then the ideal choice for you is to focus on choosing a rental car from a reputable company such as Enjoy Travel, that will transport you safely and comfortably all over the UK. Let me know if you get to enjoy any of these beautiful locations this autumn!

This is a collaborative post.

Top Tips to Ensure you're Working to your Full Potential from Home!

11.9.21

If you own your own home business or are now working from home, you will want to find ways the maximise your efficiency and keep yourself working to your full potential . Working from home can result in your feeling disengaged from the company you work for, or cause you to feel lonely and / or unmotivated. However, there are many ways you can post your enthusiasm and find ways through those through periods. In this post I'm going to share four ways to help you combat these issues, to ensure you succeed whilst working from home.


Dress the Part

Even if no one is going to see you all day, psychologically, it is better if you dress the part. This is because the whole process of getting ready and dressed will put you into work mode and can definitely give you a little spring in your step to start the day! There's nothing worse than sitting in your pyjamas for a long work day - you definitely won't feel productive this way. You will most likely have many face-to-face meetings virtually anyway, so making sure you're dressed correctly is best practice.

Create a Home Office

Ideally you will want to have a room dedicated to work, or at least a dedicated corner of a room to call your home office, which is free from distractions. You may want to put your personal mobile away while you're working too, maybe in a different room to help stop the temptation of looking at it! Decent home office desks are a must; try to position your desk so that you're near a window to help with natural light. Be sure to check the desk and chair you have are suitable for extended hours of sitting, as you do not want to end up with a long lasting injury or pain from bad posture. 

Have a Structure to your Day

Try to keep to your regular working day schedule as much as possible - if you used to wake up, shower, and then have breakfast by a certain time, try to stick to this routine (although you may be able to benefit from those few extra minutes in bed). It is far better to have a regular structure to your day, as you will be able to work more effectively. Getting up whenever you want to eat or stretch your legs would not happen in the office environment, so try not to get into bad habits at home. BUT do make sure to take regular breaks for lunch and getting some fresh air - you'll need it!

Stay in Regular Contact

If you are in a situation where you are working remotely, ensure you maintain regular contact to stay connected with the company you work for. This can be done in a variety of different ways, for example a daily call, or an open instant messenger chat with one or several of your colleagues, where you can quickly throw a question is another. Zoom meetings are a great way to see colleagues face-to-face, and although you don't have to be on screen, it can be good to see some familiar faces. The more connected and in touch you can be, the better you will feel.

This is a collaborative post.

Our Month - August 2021

10.9.21


The best word I could use to describe August 2021 would be BUSY. The month absolutely flew by as well, thanks to life with three children and packing in as much as we possibly could! So with our bucket list created we were ready to enjoy the month ahead.

As I mentioned in last month's post, we started off the summer holidays with our week away in The New Forest. We were then only home for a few days before we were busy celebrating Parker's 6th birthday. We spent the morning bowling with family before heading to Bluewater to enjoy their Backyard Beach (think splash pools, sand and fairground rides). His big birthday day out was spent at Legoland, where we managed loads of rides and of course purchased plenty of Lego in the shop on the way out. The excitement didn't end there either as Parker lost his very first tooth on his birthday too!








Legoland was just the first of our Merlin Annual Pass adventures over the month. We then spent my birthday at Chessington World of Adventures - an extra special visit as me, Jack and Indie got to feed the giraffes on a VIP giraffe safari! We spent a day in London to enjoy Shrek's Adventure and Sea Life London. And then we ended the month by spending the bank holiday weekend visiting Warwick Castle and Alton Towers. We made so many memories thanks to our passes and managed to capture it all in vlogs and photographs to look back on too. I have had a look at putting the pictures from our Merlin trips into a photobook with Bonusprint. Bonusprint prints your photos and brings each moment to life, so you can look back on memories and moments forever.

Of course we had lots of more relaxed days closer to home over the summer too. We visited all the parks, spent time at the library and some days we would just stay in our pjs as late as possible and binge watch TV... balance right? I did sign Indiana and Parker up to their first summer sports camp this year. I was anxious about how they would be with the camp, but actually they both really enjoyed the experience (and have already asked to go again next summer). Indie was so pleased to be presented with a trophy for her great sports skills too which was a lovely surprise!







Another fantastic day out we had over the month was our visit to Hever Castle. We have visited numerous times now and it never disappoints. Over the summer they had some special events on including a jousting show. We had never seen anything like it before and it was SO much fun to watch! The littles really enjoyed the water maze as always, and also joining in with the wizard school activity they had on for summer. It was so sweet watching all of three of them joining in learning to do spells and ride a broomstick!

Overall we had a really lovely summer, and although there were moments (because life with little ones isn't all wonderful days out and fun is it?) I was genuinely sad when August ended. We ticked off nearly everything from our bucket list; the only thing we missed was swimming in the sea, but I totally blame the weather for that. But I'm double vaccinated now and life just feels as normal as it has ever been in the last few years. Here's hoping it continues!





This is a collaborative post.

7 Marketing Tips to Really Engage your Audience

2.9.21

To achieve success in any business, you need to make sure that you are highly focused on the marketing that you are using to do so. This is something that can be easier said than done, but it is absolutely necessary to try to make it true for you and your business. One of the main qualities of good marketing is that it finds a way to connect with the audience powerfully. If you are curious as to how to achieve that more effectively then hopefully this post should help. Here are some of the things to focus on in order to make sure that your marketing will really engage your audience well.


Know your Buyers

One of the most important considerations in all this is to make sure that you know your buyers inside out. This means that you are fully aware of what kind of personal they tend to have, as well as what they tend to respond to well. And this of course just comes down to one thing - research. The more that you research your consumers, the more you are going to know about them, and the more thoroughly and easily you can direct your marketing to make sense to them! It’s important that you don’t just focus on your target audience though. It is much more important to know who your actual audience is, as this is much more important.

Use Social Media

It can’t really be overstated just how important social media is to a contemporary business’ marketing efforts. With so many people on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, it’s just where you need to go if you want to get in touch with as many people as possible. If you are looking for higher engagement levels with your audience, social media has to be a central part of your campaigns.

But how you use these sites is just as important as the fact that you do, so you need to make sure that you are doing all you can to use them right. That means adopting a voice that you know will go down well with the particular audience you have, and doing all you can to actively engage and interact with those people using that branded voice. You should also be linking back to your website wherever it makes sense to as well. Playing the social media game is going to really help you out in the long run, and will ensure that you have a much more engaged audience.

Be Unique

Branding and marketing more broadly are often all about being as unique as possible. As long as you are able to show what makes you special / different as a brand and as a business, you should find that you are much more likely to make things a true success. Of course this is why you have to design a brand to stand out, and it is not just something that happens by accident: you have to really work at it, looking at what design gaps there are in brands in the marketplace and doing all you can to make yours as unique as possible.

Focus on Interactivity

Make sure you try and interact with your audience, and not merely focus on one-way communication. The more that you interact with your audience, the more engaging your marketing material is going to be for them. Interact with people as people, rather than just think of marketing as pasting up a message and then leaving it for people to see. Increasingly it is interactive marketing which sells.

This can take the form of polls and quizzes online for example, which are immediately attractive to a lot of people and can be a powerful way to subtly get your brand across. Or it can be live video, a mode which many companies make use of these days and which can work very well in creating a sense of intrigue around the business. For that you will want to use a professional video production company rather than just trying to produce the video yourself, to ensure the highest possible quality at all times.


Answer Customer Questions

In the age of information, what people really thirst for is the answers to their questions. If you can give it to them in the form of interesting branded content, then you are going to find that you can engage with them in a much more powerful way indeed. Think about and research all of the common questions that people ask relating to your area of expertise or industry, and then it’s about compiling clear, sensible and well-formatted answers to those questions, in such a way that you are able to get your webpage right up there at the top of the results pages. This allows for a greater audience engagement, and it empowers your business to achieve so much more.

Consistency and Trust

Better and fuller engagement comes only if you are allowing your customers to really trust you, so this is something that you are going to want to think about too. Trust is only ever earned so therefore it is important to try and find a way to do so, and the best way you do that with marketing is by making your brand and your voice as consistent as possible. With greater consistency comes much more trust, and the ability to engage with your audience more powerfully and directly comes from that in turn.

To be consistent, it helps to have a style guide that all of your employees know to follow. This will cover everything from which colours to use to what kind of voice you are going to employ on social media, and it is one of the most powerful tools you can have.

Social Listening

Social listening is all about going where the engagement already is, where the conversation is already happening. It’s about seeking out people talking about your brand already, and inserting yourself into it. This helps in a few ways: it cuts out a lot of the work in trying to build conversation, and it allows you to actively show your brand in whatever light you like. It works well on social media, in response to people’s threads and conversations, and you should definitely start doing it if you aren’t already. It could be one of the best changes you ever make to your marketing. Twitter is a great place to benefit from this!


This is a collaborative post.