Sunday, 21 December 2014

My Mum The Property Developer

It's funny, the things that can suddenly evoke a memory. Sometimes it is a song that comes on the radio, or a smell like a certain perfume, flower or soap. Certain times of the year can also have an effect on our memories, especially Christmas time. Everywhere I turn I'm reminded of my childhood and mainly memories of my Mum. The festive season does that to us doesn't it. Maybe I'm just sentimental, but I treasure every memory that pops into my mind. 

I've mentioned before that my Mum was a self builder, and if she wasn't looking to build a new house, extension or loft conversion then she was dragging me around estate agents looking for a bargain to renovate. If she spotted a 'For Sale' sign outside an old, dilapidated house then I could almost feel her heart racing. She would squeal with delight "Emma, quick, get the name of that estate agent on the board!!" I would sigh and in true teenage fashion I'd mumble ' Strutt & Parker ' or whatever agent happened to be selling the property that mum had just spotted with her eagle eyes. 

It wouldn't matter where we were or what we were doing mum had her eyes constantly peeled. We could be anywhere in the country, I even remember once we were in Hertfordshire for a wedding and she dragged me around every estate agents in St Albans on our way to the church looking for a property that might need some love and attention. Mum had a good eye and she also had the balls to just go for it, to take a risk. I didn't appreciate at the time what a brave woman she was. I miss those sudden moments of the car stopping so she could write down an address and agents name. I miss the random house viewings and listening to her latest property plan. Funny, the things we take for granted and the memories they create.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Our Year On Instagram

2014 has been a good year here at The Syders. Everyone has been kept busy and happy with lots of new opportunities coming our way. A happy and healthy year, that is all we can hope for with no-one needing to make any personal injury claims with the help of someone like Leo Claims. No, this year has been a lucky one and like most of us Instagram addicts I have been snapping away, documenting The Syders 2014.

We started the year with two new additions to the family - Tiger and Casper the kittens, who have not failed to make us smile throughout the whole year. I passed level one of the degree that I'm studying, which was a wonderful achievement for me. We had a productive spring in the garden as we began a bit of a makeover, enjoyed good food in lovely restaurants, had a river boat cruise along the Thames, a day out at The Tower of London, I sewed and I crocheted. I began a juicing diet, losing over two stone and lowering my blood pressure. We visited Thorpe Park, went on long river walks and I discovered that my Mothers cancer was not genetic!

We had an amazing summer, experiencing Camp Bestival for the first time seeing Basement Jaxx live, crying while watching my heroes Chas & Dave and sitting in the woods while the voice of Sinead O'connor echoed across the meadow. I felt completely terrified at The London Bridge Experience - woo, what a place! I went blond and hit the beach on the Costa Dorada. I celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary with the love of my life, my soul mate and my best friend. I went pilar box red and got a new job. This year has been a blast and I'm now preparing for a magical Christmas. I can not wait for another brilliant year in 2015. Bring it on! 

Pop over and give me a wave.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Create A Festive Door Hanger

Country Basketsthe UK’s leading homeware, seasonal product and craft supplier have got some gorgeous Christmas decorations in this year. We were sent some baubles for the tree and a wreath for my front door, and I must say they look really fab. My eldest Daughter keeps commenting on the sparkly white baubles, and she tells me they are her favourite. They are really pretty and a nice, large size too. They look great. 

If you quite fancy having a go at making your own festive door hanger or are looking for something to make with the kids during the holidays, then follow these easy steps as demonstrated by Tracy Rowbottom, a designer at Country Baskets. All supples are available from their online store.

1. Take two small floral candle rings and wire together, back to back.

2. Tie a long piece of rope cord to the top, to create a handle. Make a ribbon band around the centre and tie into a bow on the top to hide your mechanics.

3. Repeat with two large decorative candle rings. Next take one small floral candle ring and tie a rope hanger and bow on top.

4. Cut three pieces of ribbon approx 10cms and secure one to the top of each Christmas decoration with the rope hanger.

5. Lay all you components out on the table, starting with the smallest on the bottom, finishing with the largest at the top. Tie firmly with a knot on the top when you are happy with your placements.

6. Tie a rope loop and make a bow to secure on the loop. To finish tie the bow and rope loop to the top of the hanger and cut off any loose ends.

7. Finished door-hanger

Cooking On A Budget - Eggs

Eggs are wonderfully nutritious. Not only are they packed full of protein, vitamins and minerals but they only contain 70 calories each and are super cheap to buy, making them an excellent choice for cooking on a budget. British Lion eggs have the the little red lion symbol printed on the side of your shop bought eggs. All Lion eggs are guaranteed to be British and the hens are vaccinated against Salmonella Enteritidid and Salmonella Typhimurium, giving you peace of mind that your eggs are safe.

There are loads of meals you can create using eggs, from the basic omelette and scrambled egg recipes to something a little more adventurous like lemon meringue roulade or egg custard. Every now and then we do enjoy a fried egg and chips, in fact it is one of my favourite budget meals. Another favourite egg based meal of mine is quiche. I love it served with chopped salad, warm freshly baked bread and a dollop of mango chutney. Absolutely delicious, cheap and satisfying.

Quiche Lorraine Recipe - Serves 4

  • 250g Ready made shortcrust pastry
  • 5 x Eggs
  • 250g Grated Cheddar Cheese
  • 200g Chopped Ham
  • 100ml Milk
  • 200ml Double Cream
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Two Tomartoes


1. Preheat the oven to 190c / 375f / Gas 5 
2. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and line a greased flan/ pie dish.
3. Fill the centre with baking beans. Place on a baking tray and bake blind for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven, empty the beans and return back to the oven for another five minutes.
4. Reduce the temperature of the oven to 160c / 325f / Gas 3
5. Combine the eggs with the milk and cream in a bowl and season. Add the grated cheese and ham. Stir in well and add to the pastry base.
6. Bake for 30-40 minutes until set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool and set further.
7. Add sliced tomatoes to the top to garnish. Enjoy!

What is your favourite egg recipe?

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Memories of Christmas Past

A couple of years ago I found an old camera film that had belonged to my Mum. Now, my Mum was not one for taking photo's, and I can't even actually remember her with a camera in her hand ever so this discovery was simply mind blowing for me as it contained photo's of Christmas past in the house where I grew up. I was thrilled to find photo's of me and my boys with our Nan & Grandad who are sadly no longer with us. This photo is so precious to me as it reminds me of happier times in our Family.

I love to look back on Christmas past. Certain music albums evoke memories for me like East17's album 'Steam' and Oasis 'Definitely Maybe' when Noel Gallagher was at the top of his game back in 1994. I was 24 and Hubby bought me both these albums on cassette tape. I played them over and over along with Take That 'Everything Changes'. I was a young Mum, full of energy running around after a lively family. I can just imagine watching those albums being performed live on stage at the O2 today. Noel Gallagher tickets would be so much fun and I would think that I am 24 again as I would sing and dance along to every word. Memories would come flooding back.

I'd love to go back for the day and experience Christmas again with our four kids all small again, Mum, Nan & Granddad still alive and all my Brothers sitting around the Christmas table giggling and flicking food at one another. They were very happy times, full of memories that I will cherish forever. 

Christmas is about making memories, not the expensive, lavish gifts that as parents we often feel under pressure to buy. It isn't the presents that I remember so much, but more the good times and the company of loved ones that are no longer with us. People are what make Christmas so special, our Family and our Friends, so enjoy your loved ones this year and make it a Christmas to remember.

Happy Christmas From The Syders!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Camp Bestival 2015 Theme Announced

Last August we experienced Camp Bestival for the first time, and it was an experience we will never ever forget. The memories made over that weekend will stay with us forever. If I can urge you to do one thing in your lifetime, then taking your kids to a Family festival would be high up on my recommendations. 
"On the last night we were sitting in the wooded Dingly Dell, as the sun set over Camp Bestival, bunting gently flapping in the breeze, children playing, tired parents were silent, while the haunting voice of Sinead O Connor echoed across the meadow, and as she belted out 'Nothing compares To You' I realised that this was truly one of the most magical experiences of my life."  Mama Syder - The Acts We Loved.
You can even pay into a weekly plan with Camp Bestival to make the event more affordable and you know me, I did the whole festival on a budgetas we travelled by train with our tent on our back, hot chocolate and marshmallows in our bag. We had such an adventure!

The theme for 2014 was circus and the whole site sprung to live with the spectacular and the wonderful. It was simply amazing, so we were really excited to learn the theme for next year. 

Camp Bestival Goes 'Wild' For 2015

It is all about the great outdoors for next years Camp Bestival "From jumping about in your bare feet, creating wild art and making daisy chains, to wood carving, star gazing and way beyond, a wild imagination goes a long way in nature’s playground, and come 30th July to the 2nd August, Lulworth Castle is going to be the wildest place on earth!"

Tickets for Camp Bestival 2015 (July 30th to Aug 2nd) are on sale now via: Ticketline/ 0844 888 4410
You can use our 35 week payment plan to purchase your tickets meaning that an adult ticket can now be bought at a payment of just £5 per week over 34 consecutive weekly payments following an initial deposit payment. Book online via Ticketline only: select 'Camp Bestival 2015 - Weekend Payment Plan'.
Once you have signed up to the payment plan, which basically means giving your agreement by ticking the bank mandate form on Ticketline’s website, they will automatically debit your card on a weekly basis. More info here .
NB: Booking fees and a deposit (£25 per adult ticket) will be charged with your initial transaction.
Adult Weekend Ticket (inc. camping from Thurs or Fri) - £195*
Student Weekend Ticket (inc. camping from Thurs or Fri) - £180*
Age 15 to 17 Weekend Ticket (inc. camping from Thurs or Fri) - £113*
Age 11 to 14 Weekend Ticket (inc. camping from Thurs or Fri) - £20*
Age 5 to 10 Weekend Ticket (inc. camping from Thurs or Fri) - £20*
Age 4 & Under Weekend Ticket (inc. camping from Thurs or Fri) – FREE (but ticket required)*

Monday, 1 December 2014

Magic Moments - A Catch Up

I just can not believe how fast these months have flown by. I have been so busy since returning from our holiday that I have barely had time to blog. I thought a little catch up was in order as we hit the last month of the year.

We had a fabulous holiday to Spain with all the kids. We are very lucky that our kids still like to holiday with us every year, even the two who are now in their twenties still always ask us where we are off to for our holiday. Usually we choose to go to Center Parcs, but this year as it was our 25th year of marriage we decided to have a change and go abroad. After a lot of research, we picked a place that had marvellous reviews, a Euro Camp site in Salou. Cambrils Park is about an hour and a half's drive from Barcelona and it really lived up to it's excellent reviews. We had a great time. 

Our 25th Wedding Anniversary was last month. We were teenagers when we took the plunge and lots of people assumed we were too young and that the marriage wouldn't last. We had been inseparable since day the day we met and lots of people would delight in telling me that our relationship was unhealthy because we wanted to spend all our time together. Now I realise that those people were simply jealous because we had something special. We have had our fair share of problems and we even separated for a while but we fought hard to get our marriage back on track and we are now happier than we have ever been. Here's to the next 25 years!

We have been really busy preparing for Christmas. It is a big deal in our house and we always go over the top with everything from the presents to the crackers. It really is our most favourite time of the year. The girls made their own Christmas cards a few weeks ago, using a lovely kit from Station Harry (available for just a couple of pounds). The girls made loads of fab cards, the kit is lovely,  be sure to pop over an say hi. Thanks to Joy who lovingly puts the kits together.

Last week our Granddaughter turned nine. We are so proud of what a lovely girl she has become, kind, funny and beautiful, she is such a blessing and she makes our life complete. Happy Birthday to a very special girl!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

7 Clay Craft Ideas For You & The Kids

Clay modelling is a great craft exercise as it is accessible to anyone who wants to be creative and has the means. You can pick up some fantastic modelling clay from Artifolk with products like air dry clay and FIMO providing the perfect material to produce some fun creations. If your kids are a bit young to do the modelling themselves it may be preferable to make some objects yourself and ask them to decorate them. You can get clay paints from the same website mentioned above. Here are some fun ideas for great modelling activities for you and the little ones.

Favourite Cartoon Characters
Cartoon characters, especially those from movies made by Disney Pixar and Dreamworks are perfect to create clay likenesses of. Whether your child’s favourite character is Olaf from Frozen, Woody from Toy Story or Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc., you’ll have bags of fun producing a miniature version.

Practical Objects
There are all sorts of useful household items you can make out of clay. You can customise your keys by putting animal heads on the top to help you differentiate between your front door and your garage. You could create your own plant pot (and perhaps get the kids to decorate it) or simply make a bowl for sweets or a candle.

Present for the Grandparents
Ornaments are often favoured by the older generation. Why not create a small clay sculpture for the grandparents’ mantelpiece? If they are bird watchers a small sparrow would be nice or you could even do smaller cartoon versions of family members!

Fridge Magnets
This is a classic activity which is perfect for clay modelling. All you need is a bag of magnets and then you can create whatever you want from relief sculptures of owls to funny faces. The bonus of this activity is that the magnets will provide a way to pin more pieces of art to the fridge in the future!

Christmas Decorations
Another simple but effective craft exercise would be producing a variety of Christmas decorations for around the house. Simpler Christmas tree sculptures could hang from the tree while candle holders will adorn your fireplace.

This is a fun and educational clay craft activity which enables you to teach the little ones about the various prehistoric creatures who walked the earth millions of years ago. Perhaps show your kids a T-Rex skeleton and then get them to sculpt a fleshed out model.


This is an excellent alternative to real plants to which certain people may be allergic (or just not very good at looking after!). Produce a miniature bouquet for a friend or for your own window sill.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Christmas Gift Ideas For A Music Fan

Do you have a friend or family member always talking about the latest bands? Maybe they are a regular gig goer or buy all the latest albums? Are you worried about what to get them for Christmas as you constantly block out their muso talk and think about something more interesting? Here is a list of possible gifts which you can get without having to worry too much about the musical tastes of your friend. Hopefully, the following pointers will give you some inspiration and help you solve one Christmas conundrum.

Everyone needs headphones these days. On the school bus, commuter train or walking the dog you will rarely see someone not plugged into their portable device. There is a great range of headphones on the market these days, with on-ear, in-ear and around-ear option so if you can stealthily find out what their preference is, this is a sure fire hit of a present. Take a look at the headphones at Hispek for a great selection of top of the range products from the unbeatable brand Bose.

Concert Tickets
Give them something to look forward in the New Year with tickets to see their favourite band live. Check Ticketmaster for 2015 tours. If you are struggling to remember the name of one of their favourite acts or their seems to be no appropriate concerts, you can also purchase vouchers from this website.

Here’s a little bit of a leftfield idea which could be gratefully received. Try getting them an unusual instrument like a ukele, synthesizer or a simple tambourine! You may want to throw in lessons or a how-to guide book to give them a helping hand.

Hi fi
Music fans never want to be far away from a device which they can play their music on therefore a hi fi of any shape or size will always be welcome. Take into account other portable devices which they may want to play through the speaker system when you are choosing such a product as well as whether they are fans of CDs, records or MP3.

iTunes Vouchers
This is the ultimate safe option but one that will not be discarded. If you are really not confident buying any of the other suggestions here, iTunes vouchers are a generous and thoughtful gift.

Magazine Subscription
Here is a gift which keeps on giving. Buying them a year’s gift subscription to a music mag will give them a reminder of your festive generosity throughout the year. For Dance music fans there is Mixmag, heavy rockers are taken care of with Metal Hammer, Mojo focuses on rock and pop while Q magazine caters for music fans in general.

Band Merchandise
Let them show off their excellent taste in music by getting them a t-shirt or hoody of their favourite artist. Websites such as and have a decent selection of all sorts of bands and artists.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Beauty Stocking Filler Ideas From Choice Discount (Includes Discount Code)

I have two teenage Daughters who are both very excited for Christmas and they both still always ask for an advent calendar to begin the countdown. They have had their eye on various cosmetic advent calendars, but to be honest most of them are a bit out of our price range, especially as I would need to purchase two, but I did promise that I would look out for some at bargain prices.

Anyway after shopping around I found these W7 cosmetic advent calendars at Choice Discount for a really reasonable price of £22 each. I know it's a bit of an extravagance if like me, you are planning Christmas on a budget, but these are such a special treat that I couldn't resist them and I know their faces will light up when they see them sitting on the mantle come 1st December.

They are full of beauty treats and I think they are great value for money, much cheaper than other cosmetic advent calendars that I've seen on the market.

W7 In The Buff - Gorgeous Stocking Fillers W7 Naked Nudes Eyeshadow - Gorgeous Stocking FillersLove Heart Nail Varnish, Gloss, Sweet Gift Pack - Gorgeous Stocking FillersW7 Brow Bar - Gorgeous Stocking FillersW7 Honey Queen Blusher - Gorgeous Stocking FillersREAL Lashes - Gorgeous Stocking FillersMorgan Mini Body Lotion Gift Pack (50ml) - Gorgeous Stocking Fillers
Choice Discount have some great cosmetic bargains on their site, like nude eyeshadow palettes, bronzers, mascaras and much more. Their stocking filler section is fab for Christmas gift ideas, some prices are as low as 69p. They also sell women’s, men’s and children’s high-street labels at bargain prices as well as furniture and homeware with up to 70% off RRP. And, they want to offer my readers £5 off a £30 spend or £10 off a £50 spend. All You need to do is use the codes below, at the checkout. 

The website is really easy to use, and the checkout is a very quick & smooth process. You just sign up for free online at, then they email  offers to your inbox every week. It's really simple. Discount are codes below.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...