Monday, 31 March 2014

Ten Tips For Travelling With Kids

Over the years we have travelled a lot with our four kids and now we have Granddaughter we are doing it all over again. You can make the journey as easy or as stressful as you want. The key is to be prepared, be organised and to keep things simple.

1. Research Your Journey - If flying make sure transfers are included in your booking or if you are travelling independently book them yourself ahead of your holiday to guarantee a seat. If you are more adventurous you could travel by public transport. In the days before kids I wouldn't bother booking seats, instead choosing to live by the seat of my pants, in those days I didn't care if I had to plonk my bum on the floor but with a brood in tow my advice is to research your journey thoroughly and book  seats. If travelling by train buy a family railcard, it will save you a small fortune.

2. Pack A Snack Bag - Pack a bag of snacks with drinks, biscuits, dried fruit, crisps etc. Whatever your kids like to snack on, just in case you end up delayed and the kids get hungry. Station and airport prices can be a bit expensive and sometimes you might be stuck somewhere with no shop in sight, so a bag of snacks is essential. The best drinks to pack are capri suns as they are not as heavy to carry as bottles and cartons. N.B - Restrict drinks as much as you can though, as toilets are not always readily available.

3. Kids Backpacks - Give each child their own small backpack and include some activities inside for the journey. Things like, Colouring pens, pencils or crayons, colouring book, note pad for writing (you could encourage them to write a journal about their trip), a teddy bear or comforter, a blow up neck rest or pillow, Hand held games console, ipod with audio books, a book and travel games like Connect 4, chess, playing cards etc.

4. Don't Forget the Teens - They need entertaining too so make sure wherever you stay they have good facilities for teenagers like a disco, teen sports, local adventure/theme parks, a great pool and cool local attractions. If you can afford to squeeze in an extra one, then let your teen bring along a friend, trust me they will love you forever as they enjoy their holiday much more with their best friend. Just think no teen whinging "I'm bored!" when they have someone to disco with.

5. Research Local Attractions - If you research your destination thoroughly, finding out where all the local hot spots are it will help you make decisions about the best places to visit with kids and who offer the best facilities for the ages of your kids. Get your teens involved by asking them to find a cool local attraction on Google before you leave. Discussing local historical sites with them will encourage them to gain an interest and some knowledge about your destination. I remember when I was a kid, my Mum pointing out local architecture every where we went, and at the time I would roll my eyes but now I'm a 'grown up' I love old buildings and do the same to my own kids. Buy them a fun kids local map to get them excited about the area. All kids love maps!

6. Don't Forget Ted - Whatever you do, don't forget your child's favourite teddy and/or comforter. Bedtime in a strange bed can be horrendous for some kids (and parents) and their ted or blankie can help them settle. Make sure you tie a label around its neck with your email address just in case your child loses it or leaves it behind.

7. Essentials Bag - Make sure you have a bag with wipes, sun cream, hand wash, tissues, sick bag, travel sickness tablets, a fleece, spare socks, mints or barley sugars for bigger kids & a dummy for toddlers to suck on your flight (to help prevent ears popping during take off & landing).

8. Research the local Dishes - This is particularly important if you have a fussy eater and you are travelling abroad. If you make a note of local popular foods, then establish what your fussy eater would like, it could help with any expected melt downs in the restaurant. 

9. Keep Luggage To A Minimum - The last thing you want when travelling with kids is to struggle with big heavy bags. Keep suitcases small and preferably on wheels. Keep your packing to a minimum and resist taking too many pairs of shoes, handbags and unnecessary items. I'd rather do some washing on my holiday than drag heavy bags around when travelling.

10. Packing - Roll clothes to prevent creasing, pack medicines like calpol, piriton and pain killers,  insect repellent, antiseptic cream, plasters, re-hydration salts and medicine for diarrhea. Remember to take a few pegs, travel wash, needle & cotton. Pack swimwear in your hand luggage so you can use the pool while you are waiting for your room to be ready.

The London Bus - A Symbol Of My Childhood

For Christmas Hubby bought me a Pandora bracelet and I was totally surprised. I wasn't expecting it and ever since I've been receiving charms to build up my personal story bracelet. Yesterday was Mothers Day over here in the UK and the kids bought me a London Bus charm. 

I was so thrilled as I associate London buses with my childhood, not only because I used to catch two of them to school & back everyday but also because my Brother (His lovely wife blogs over at Lou's Lake Views) and I would buy a red bus rover for 60p every Saturday morning and go off exploring the London bus routes.

Most of the London buses in the early 80's were the old Routemasters, complete with a conductor. We would spend hours swinging from the back pole of the buses and we were skilled at running for a Routemaster and jumping on the back, grabbing hold tightly of the pole, praying we wouldn't fall off.

We discovered lots of new places, saw lots of weird & wonderful sights and sat many times on the Lions at Trafalgar Square eating jam sandwiches as we tried to spot our Great Uncle Sonny, 'The Bird Man Of Trafalgar Square' feeding the pigeons. It was an adventure and I often wonder how the hell we ever survived it!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Mothers Day Gift Ideas From Find Me A Gift

With Mother's Day looming everyone is rushing around looking for ideas for a nice present for Mum, who can sometimes be a bit hard to buy for so I thought I'd put together a few idea's from one of my favourite gift stores Find Me A Gift. Their website is full of all those gifts that you just wouldn't have necessarily thought to buy, like these really cute Westie dog slippers.

These slippers are really comfy and cosy. I've been wearing them every day and love them. My teenage Daughters love them too and keep trying to pinch them from my feet, cheeky girls. If your Mum likes slippers then she will love these. Priced at £12.99 they are a bargain (in sizes 4 - 8).

Ideas for Mothers Day presents from Find Me A Gift

Cuffs of Love Bracelet, from £24.99 - feature two white gold plated handcuffs symbolising being locked by love.
Personalised Family Canvas Print, from £39.99 - A canvas that displays the family name surrounded by memorable dates, favourite activities and special occasions as chosen by you.

Bomb Cosmetics Mrs Miracles Set, £11.99
- luxurious bath set from Bomb Cosmetics. Included are a handmade bath blaster, creamer and mallow as well as fragrant bath oil and soap.

*We were sent two pairs of westie slippers from Find Me A Gift free of charge for the purpose of this review. We have received no financial reward and our opinion is completely our own.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

The Happy Spring Garden

Harry the Gnome is smiling and the sun is shining. Daffodils wave cheerily enticing me over with their playful charm. The closer I get, the heady sweet scent of Hyacinth intoxicates my senses. I breathe in deeply eager to consume as much of their perfume as possible.

I struggle to think of a sweeter aroma than that of the hyacinth and as my eye wanders over to the delicate lilac pansies, I can't help but compare them to the crepe paper flowers that we once made in junior school. Our small fingers covered in a runny white glue that had the distinct odour of marzipan, we would clumsily stick bright paper flowers onto our handmade Mothers day cards, excited to take them home to Mum. Pretty, perfect Pansies, another flower in the garden that conjures up happy memories of my childhood. My happy spring garden.

Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Amazon Studios - Britain’s Youngest Group Of TV Critics Get Their Say

Amazon Studios are celebrating the arrival of the latest selection of kids TV Pilots by assembling Britain’s youngest group of TV critics to watch them and gauge their reactions.

Amazon Studios Put the viewer at the heart of the decision making process by allowing TV fans of all ages to watch, rate and review pilot episodes and along with their feedback they decide which shows are made into full seasons. 

Featuring a mixture of entertainment for nursery school children and kids aged 6-11, the crack team of junior critics watched shows including:

  • Wishenpoof!: the story about Bianca who has the power to make wishes come true for her and her friends

  • Hardboiled Eggheads: a show where two no-nonsense brainiacs save their school from zombie killer bees

  • Maker Shack Agency: where a group of school children invent gadgets to help with their school work

  • Gortimer Gibbon's Life on Normal Street: where life is anything but normal for Gortimer and his two best friends as they navigate themselves around their normal street

  • The Jo B. & G. Raff Show: when Jo B. realises his friend G. Raff is missing, he goes on an adventure to find him and bring him home

Helen Cowley, Head of Programming at Amazon Prime Instant Video, UK says; 
"With Amazon Studios we're giving TV fans of all ages the chance to have their say on the shows they'll be watching in the future. Children are spoilt for choice when it comes to great entertainment, so it's exciting to see them so animated with the TV pilots!"

To watch, rate and review the latest pilots – which include a selection of kids, comedy and hour long dramas – and have your say on the future of TV, visit

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Thrifty Garden - Geranium Plug Plants

I love Geraniums and I like my garden to have lots of them during the summer months. They are perfect for gardeners who may not be very confident in the garden, as they are really robust and not that easy to kill off. If you take good care of them then they will give you a glorious display all summer long.

Geraniums usually cost around £2 each from garden centres, but if like me you want lots the price soon adds up and before you know it you have spent £20 - £30. A much cheaper way to have lots of geraniums is of course to grow them from seed/cuttings or you can buy plug plants. Plug plants are great because they have already been started off for you. All you need to do is re-pot them until they have grown a bit larger then you can add them to your borders, baskets and displays.

Plug plants are tiny versions of the bigger plants that you usually buy at the garden centre and varieties sold in this way often include Fuchsias, Bacopa, Surfinia, Million Bells, Diascia and Geraniums. They are really easy to transplant and are so much cheaper, you can purchase them for as little as 8p per plant. 

Fill some pots with compost, pop the plugs out of their cells (you can use a pencil poked through the hole at the bottom of the plastic cell to push the plugs out) and then you simply plant them. This is the ideal time of year to transplant your plugs because it gives them plenty of time to grow. I don't put mine directly out in to the garden just yet though as it is a bit too chilly for them. I leave them in the summer house or you could leave them on a window sill until the weather warms up a bit.

Once these stand around 6 -8 inches tall I will add them to bigger pots and baskets for a gorgeous summer display. A must have plant for any garden. What are your must haves for a summer display?

Monday, 10 March 2014

Your Image 2 Canvas Review

When I was asked to a review a personalised canvas from the very lovely people at 'Your Image 2 Canvas' I knew straight away which photo to use as my twenty two year old Son had been hinting that he would like a photo from his birthday BBQ last year transformed into a canvas for his flat. 

Your Image 2 Canvas specialise in creating beautiful canvas prints with any image of the customers choice. These products are handmade to the highest quality and can brighten up any home with a meaningful piece of art. They really are fab. I've hung it on my wall to give you an idea of the quality of the print. The solid pine frame is really sturdy and my Son is chuffed to bits with his new canvas.

Prices Range from £11.49 for a 5" x 7" up to £85.99 for a 40" x 40".

Great value for money and with FREE delivery too.

*I received a personalised canvas free of charge for the purpose of this review. I have received no financial reward and my opinions are honest and completely my own.

Friday, 7 March 2014


As I reflect on my life I ask myself if I have any regrets and of course, I have a few obvious ones like I wish we had relocated to the West Country when my four kids were small, home-schooled them from day dot, and never spent a year separated from my husband. 

The thing is, my life would not be as happy and content as it is today had my life taken a different path. If we had moved to the West Country & home-schooled when the kids were little, we would not have our treasured Granddaughter in our lives today and if I had not spent a crappy year separated from my Husband, I would not be as in love with him as I am today.

My regrets are actually the things that have taught me lessons in life, sometimes very harsh painful lessons, but they have taught me to appreciate every twist and turn that my life takes and during the periods of struggle and heartache I know that a new lesson will be learnt. So on reflection, no I have no regrets in life. Everything really does happen for a reason.


Linking up for the first time to mumturnedmom's linky The Prompt

Thursday, 6 March 2014

How Does Your Garden Grow - The Spring Tidy Up

The dusty remnants of last night's bonfire lay eerily abandoned in the garden. The once jovial flames that danced the night away are merely a distant memory. A memory of the enthusiastic spring gardener who tossed hedge cuttings, fallen tree leaves and sawn off branches onto the hot red blazing glory, leaving a trail of grey smoke drifting across the neighbourhood. 

This morning the garden is now clear of most of it's winter debris. Neglected Leylandii hedges have been trimmed to a more manageable height and the stunning wild rose bush that suddenly sprung from within the hedge last summer has been pruned to perfection. The Ivy has been cut with a heavy hand revealing a wooden fence that sits unassumingly beneath the huge mass of creeping, twisted foliage.

The hens appear to have unexpectedly taken a liking to the Sedums. They have pecked at every plant, every rubbery leaf showing signs of chicken attack. Strange...they have not touched them in previous years and as one of my favourite plants in the garden, I feel an overwhelming urge to protect them so the hens have now lost their freedom to roam and will be sectioned off. Naughty girls!

The compost heap is once again full, the winter cobwebs in the shed have been left intact, shrubs have been transplanted, the deck swept, the red watering can eagerly waiting to be filled and fresh garden plans have been drawn. I stand before my garden, anticipating the hard graft ahead and triumphantly whisper "Bring it on!"

Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

11 Potty Training Tips

Does it seem like you’ll never crack potty training? Some kids take to the idea much sooner, and quicker, than others so it’s no wonder some parents find the whole process tedious and stressful. The trick is not to panic – it’ll all click into place in its own time, but if you need a few tips to help you get started, here are some snippets of fab advice for you.
  • Make sure there’s nothing else stressful in your life that you’re contending with, because it’ll just prolong the process. If you’re moving home, or expecting a new baby any time soon, avoid potty training until afterwards. This will not only mean that you will have more patience for it, but it will mean less upset for the child too. 
  • Make sure she’s ready because there’s no point starting the process if she’s not. Pick up some affordable girl’s underwear in advance, and be prepared to deal with plenty of accidents. George’s girl’s underwear is great value and also washes well, which will be handy. Take her to the shop with you, or browse online together, so that she can choose her ‘big girl pants’ herself. 
  • If you haven’t already got one, pop a waterproof mattress cover on her bed so that if she does have any inevitable accidents, the mattress will be protected. 
  • Choose a couple of weeks when you are the most free and make sure anyone else who looks after your child is aware of your plans so that they can continue with them. 
  • Before you even consider potty training, introduce her to the potty, so that she can become familiar with it. Often, tots will sit on it by themselves without you having to cajole them at all. 
  • In the beginning, they will not automatically think that they need to go to the toilet, so make sure that you ask them every half an hour or so. 
  • If you’re out and about, make sure you have a change of clothes for them, just in case. 
  • Praise them every time. 
  • Use reward charts if you wish, to add an extra incentive for them to learn this new routine. 
  • Don’t be alarmed if they take longer to be dry at night. Focus on daytime dryness first, particularly if they are heading off to pre-school and would, ideally, be dry for that. 
  • Look out for signs that they are ready to train. There’s absolutely no point forcing them into it before they are ready, because if anything, you’ll just delay their progress.
It’s natural for parents to worry about their child’s development, but you shouldn’t be alarmed if your child isn’t ready when other parents say they should. You know your child better than anyone, so remember that. Also remember that while most children learn to be dry during the night between the ages of 3 and 5, 1 in 6 five year olds wet the bed, so don’t worry too much if they’re taking a little longer to master being dry. It’ll happen eventually! 


Tuesday, 4 March 2014

International Womens Day - My Mum, My Inspiration.

With International Womens Day on Saturday 8th March Team Honk are encouraging us to celebrate inspirational women by sharing stories of a woman who has inspired us during our life time. My Mum is my inspiration and words I would use to describe her would be strong, independent, reliable, grafter, determined, giver, carer, disorganised, random, innovative, resourceful, trusting, honest, clever and loyal.

Before she was married to my Dad in 1969 she was a teenager had already began saving hard for a deposit for their first home. Mum was really good with money, whereas my Dad wasn't, so she saved every penny of her wages without relying on Dad, which meant they could buy their first home in East London and it cost them £7,000. Mum pushed my Dad to make things happen and after renovating their first home she decided it would be a great idea to buy some land and build their own house on it.

Self building in London was virtually unheard of during the early 70's. Young families just didn't do it, but Mum spotted an opportunity and along with Dads building skills they built a gorgeous four bedroomed detached house. Because of Mum's ingenuity they were mortgage free by the time they were 30. Mum made things happen and in 1981 after Mum & Dad split she sold the house they built together, gave Dad his half and bought another property. A property that had a large garden, a garden big enough to build another house. She was a single mother of four children, all under under eleven and she built her own house. I couldn't be more in awe of her strength and resourcefulness, bearing in mind our Dad never paid her one penny in child support.

After the divorce Mum's first concern was to make sure us kids were ok. We idolised our Dad and after they split we hardly saw him. He was a free man and we were very quickly forgotten. I can still picture my two youngest brothers sitting at the living room window with their wavy brown hair brushed to one side and their little shoes polished, tears rolling down their cheeks because yet again our Dad hadn't turned up to collect us for the weekend. 

It was hard on Mum, but she still never once criticised our Dad, instead she would scoop us all up, put us in her grey beatle and take us to Southend to cheer us up and when Dad was going through a particularly distant phase she packed up our tent and took us camping to Jersey, where we spent two weeks on the beach. I guess this is why I now find the sea so healing.

Mum did go on to marry again, although her choice in 2nd husband was painfully wrong. He was verbally & physically abusive to my younger brothers and he made my Mum unhappy. When she divorced him, she had to start all over again and had to cope with the fact that a lot of her friends (and even her brother) didn't support her decision to divorce, not believing this charming, friendly chap was in fact abusive. A lot of her friends turned their backs on her, and it was the first time I had ever seen my Mum cry as one by one her friends stopped calling. 

However, in true style my Mum picked herself up and packed herself off to the University of East London, gained a degree in psychosociology, made new friends, renovated another house and was one of the first Brits to buy a house in Bulgaria, again accomplishing so much as a single Mum. She totally loved Bulgaria, it's people, culture and scenery, her next venture would have been to retire over there and we laughed as I told her she would 'do a Shirley Valentine', sadly though it wasn't to be.

My Mum was one of those people who made you believe that anything is possible, wishes can come true and that you can achieve whatever you want from life. Positive thinking and self fulfilling prophecies were often discussed and I miss her strength of character so much. Because of Mum I married my soul mate and have remained married to him, she encouraged me to constantly work on my marriage and to be happy, she knew Papa Syder was meant for me even during the times I doubted it.

I wish I had Thanked Mum for all she did before she passed away in 2006, for her positive outlook on life and her determination to succeed. My Mum was a true inspiration.

Inspiring Women Blogging Prompt


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