Friday, 24 April 2015

#Win A Pair of Philips Avent Feeding Bottles



The nation’s most Brilliantly British baby brand Philips Avent celebrated the impending royal arrival last Friday, as some special ‘royal guests’ picked up some last minute items for Catherine and William. 


As you have probably guessed Philips royal couple were a fabulous pair of Charles and Camilla lookalikes. They went shopping with Philips Avent to shop for everything needed for the new Prince or Princess, as well as stopping by the Lindo Wing to ensure everything is in order. 



A bit more about Philips Avent:
-       Philips Avent has made their products in the UK since 1984, celebrating their 30th Anniversary last year.
-       80% of all Avent products, including soothers, bottles and teats, are made in the UK, in Glemsford, Suffolk.
-       The factory employs over 500 people its location was originally chosen because of the accessibility to local ports.
-       The name Avent was born after the team described the launch, at St Katherine’s Docks in London, as a “Happy Event”.
-       Philips Avent has sold more than 100 million feeding bottles since 1984.
-       Avent founder, Edward Atkin, launched the brand because he and his wife struggled when feeding their own baby.
-       After finding the teats too long, hard and thin, and the narrow bottles difficult to fill, Edward used his years of design and manufacturing experience to completely reinvent both teat and bottle and the Philips Avent bottle that millions of parents now know and trust was born!
-       An early challenge was convincing people that the wide neck bottle was a good thing! No-one liked it initially as it was ‘too different’ but once anecdotal evidence started showing it was working well with babies and was so much easier to use it slowly got accepted.
-       Key milestones include launching the first single handed breast pump in 1997 and the first non-spill cup for toddlers.
-       Philips Avent won a Queen’s Award for enterprise in 2007.


WIN!
Avent were always my personal choice with all four of my kids. I was drawn to their stylish design, they were always a bit different from other brands and back in the late 80's they were ultra modern and a bit funky looking. 

How do you fancy trying them for yourself? 

I have some Limited Edition bottles (twin packs) to giveaway to FIVE lucky readers. All you need to do is follow the rafflecopter instructions below.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Does Your Mother Know?



Tick tock, tick tock the sharp rhythmic sound of the clock on the wall in my mother's room sends me into a trance like state. This late heatwave does not help to keep my eyes open, but I mustn't doze off. I clasp her hand tightly as she lies on the bed, her head restfully poised on plumped up pillows. I bow to kiss her hand and notice that her breathing is becoming more shallow. Her once freckled, rosy cheeks are now grey and sallow, her long wavy hair is all gone apart from a wispy quiff at the front that she had point blank refused to let me cut off. A shadow of her former self. I had heard the saying many times before but had never fully appreciated its meaning until now. 

I look around and notice that the potted pink orchid on her bedside table could do with a drop of water. Only a few days before she was so thrilled to receive it as a gift, her brown eyes wide with delight as I handed her the exotic plant that had just been picked up in Tesco's. "I miss being out in my garden," she had whispered as she gently touched one of its petals. I fill up a small jug of water for the plant and try my best not to think about the fact that she will never see her garden again. I reach for the small battery operated radio on the dressing table and switch it on. Humming along to 'Does Your Mother know' I sit back in my chair. Sun rays are beaming through the glass of the French doors and speckles of dust sparkle as they collide with the light. I tap my toes and my mind begins to wander back to the summer of 1979.



I am a confident nine year old and I find my mum to be a very difficult woman, mainly because she always insists on telling me that I'm far too much of a tom boy, "You even walk like a boy!" she scoffs as she begs me to put on the flowery dress that she has spent weeks making for me at her sewing class.  "No way! I am not wearing that! I do not want to look like Laura Ingles thank you very much! I want to look like the fonz!" Mum scowls and chucks the dress at me. My glare is a defiant one; but so is hers. I bite my bottom lip and stomp my right foot; but still she glares. Her nostrils now flaring, I know I am defeated. I stamp hard up the stairs to my bedroom slamming the door behind me. Flinging the dress onto the floor I pick up my frizzy haired Sindy doll. "No point arguing with her Sindy, she always gets her own way!"

I reluctantly change into the hideous dress and switch on the small purple radio that my granny Grace had given to me for my birthday last year. I turn up the volume as far as it will go and from the top of my lungs I sing; "I can dance with ya honey if ya think it's funny..." I know Mum will be cross and no doubt she will be banging on the kitchen ceiling with her broom any minute now, but I don't care. I bounce on my bed as high as I can, striking poses in the air before landing hard on the mattress. I pause for a second expecting to hear mum's cranky voice. "Turn that bloody racket down and stop jumping on your bed, you'll go straight through the ceiling!" 


I yearn to bounce so high that I will fall straight through the ceiling but it never happens. I have thought about bouncing on the bed holding an open umbrella so that I would land safely should the ceiling give way, but I gave up on that idea when Auntie Jilly told me that opening up a brolly inside my bedroom would bring me be a lot of  bad luck and my room would probably end up haunted or something. That doesn't bear thinking about, so I daren't risk it. 

I love my Auntie Jilly. She is ten years older than me and she knows about everything. Honest to God, there is not one thing that she doesn't know. Like, once she showed me how to sing into the handle of mum's new upright hoover, teaching me how to swing my head and hips side to side in opposite directions and  belt out  'Mama, he's making eyes at me...' in a really deep voice. "Growl when you sing the word Mama!" Auntie demands as she demonstrates at the top of her voice, flicking her bleached fringe away from the large rimmed glasses that make her pretty blue eyes almost pop out of the lenses. Blind as a bat without those she is; or so she is always telling me. I didn't even know that bats were blind! See what I mean, she knows everything. 

By the time I was ten I had mastered the art of singing into a hoover and it was all because of Jilly. I was going to be a pop star one day, just like Blondie. And then I would go to live in America and marry Clint Eastwood. I will be a star, Auntie Jilly says so. A loud thump on my bedroom floor breaks my trail of thought "For Christ sake, turn that bloody radio off!  And stop jumping on your bed; you'll fall through the ceiling!"  

"As if that will ever happen!" I shout as I reach over and reluctantly switch off my music. How will I ever be famous if I'm not allowed to practise my singing? I flop back onto my bed, hands behind my head, I sigh as I continue to drift off back into my daydreams. Dolly Daydream she calls me which does not impress me one bit, it actually gets right on my nerves. The fact that she roars with laughter as she says it, annoys me even more. She won't be laughing when I'm number one in the top forty will she! Bet she will be begging to meet David Cassidy then!  "Dolly Daydream my ass!" I say out loud in an American accent, hoping mum doesn't hear me say the ass bit. I rummage under my bed for plimsolls. Pulling my white socks up to my knees I put on the grubby pumps and tie up the laces into a double knot. I run down the stairs, jump the baby gate at the bottom and make my way in to the kitchen. 


The units are shiny blue Formica with white counters, the walls are wallpapered with a bold navy flower print, the floor is covered in cold terracotta tiles and there are spider plants hanging from every corner. Mum loves her modern kitchen-diner and she spends most of her time in there, usually washing nappies, making up baby bottles or sitting at her sewing machine on the big orange dining table. 

I grab a handful of cherries from the fruit bowl and skip pass my mum as she leans against the back door smoking a John Player special. She blows the smoke out into the garden as she watches my little brother playing on the patio, filling up his Tonka truck with mud and stones. He spots me, giggles and chases me down the garden path towards the back gate.  I spit out a cherry pip and turn briefly to look at mum before I unbolt the gate. Her long shiny hair is tousled  around her head like my favourite Charlie's angel. She looks straight at me and smiles warmly. I smile back at her and I suddenly notice how pretty she is; just like a film star. 


The clanging of the nurse's tea trolley startles me back to the present. Not sure if I had dozed off or not, I jump up out of my seat to check on mum. Her breathing is still very laboured. I don't think it will be long now. "Tea or coffee love?" the nurse asks in a strong Irish accent. She has a kind face and I feel the need to embrace her. I start to cry and she rests a warm hand on my heavy shoulder. "I never told her how much I adore her". I blow my nose into a clean hankie and take a sip of tea. My life is about to change and I am really not ready for it.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

North Devon - Rock Pooling in Appledore


This is the second part of my North Devon series, last week I gave you a little tour around the pretty back streets of Appledore and this week I thought I'd share with you a fun free activity that you can do with the kids, should you decide to visit the area this summer. Rock pooling is a lot of fun and you can easily waste hours with your bucket and net, searching for wildlife in the rocky puddles of North Devon. 

From Appledore Quay make your way to the Appledore lifeboat centre by following Irsha Street all the way to the end. It is a lovely walk past the pastel coloured cottages and quirky walkways, and the gorgeous view once you reach the lifeboat centre is breathtaking. Once the tide has gone out, the rocky pools are revealed and they are jam packed full of crabs, tiny fish, colourful sea anemones, hermit crabs, barnacles, molluscs and lots of different types of seaweed. When the tide is out there is a wide sandy area, so the kids can build a few sandcastles too.

This is a particularly nice spot and a personal favourite of mine. It is usually very quiet and the view is so stunning. I have spent many days sitting here, in all weathers. The perfect place for peace, contemplation and relaxation. Also from this spot, the evening sunset around nine pm (ish) during the summer is amazing.


What You Need:

  • A Bucket & Spade
  • A Net
  • A Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Beach shoes, wellies or sandles that have a good grip because seaweed can be a bit slippery.
  • A Picnic
  • Wipes and a towel for wiping hands and drying feet.


Tips:

  • Carefully over turn small rocks and stones in the pools and look for anything interesting.
  • Take photo's to record your findings (Sometimes you find a creature that you are unsure of, a photo can help you identify it when you get home).
  • Keep a constant eye on the tide. It can creep up on you quite fast sometimes.
  • Make sure shells are empty before you take them home because sometimes tiny animals are living inside.
  • If you are nervous about touching the sea creatures, carefully use your net to catch them and transport them to your bucket to view.
  • Be very careful not to slip and keep away from pools close to a drop for obvious reasons. That is why Appledore is so perfect for rockpooling because it is a safe, low area.
  • Always empty your buckets and creatures back into the rock pools before you leave.











Where is your favourite spot for rock pooling?




Linking up to Mari's Time Traveller Club

Monday, 20 April 2015

It Was Love At First Sight


This weekend in 1988 I started seeing my soulmate. I was seventeen, he was sixteen and it was love at first sight. I adore him even more now than I ever did. We moved in together after two weeks, got engaged after six weeks and married the following year. We have had our troubles in the past, but those troubles have made us an unbreakable couple.  I knew the minute I saw him that he was 'the one'. It know it sounds so cheesy, but it's true.




He was kneeling, the first time I ever saw him
repairing an old rusty lock of an even older door
in a building that could have been beautiful
had it not been so ugly.
Concrete grey walls, rotting windows and grubby floors
that turned white socks black. His face so out of place
along side such gloom and decaying decadence.
Slowly he glances up at me  and I notice the green of his eyes
penetrating deep into the brownness of mine
searching for a slither of sensibility. I love him.
I'm sure I do. If only I could speak. I think I might be sick
right here in front of him. I scurry sideways
panicked and peculiar like a crazed crab
searching hysterically for a place to hide
the rubescense of my cheeks, so terrified by this ordinary meeting
with the boy who's name I do not know.

Friday, 17 April 2015

The Judgemental Parent


When I was a young younger Mum people often used to comment on how laid back I was and that nothing the kids did ever seemed to phase me. Some people loved that about me and others found it annoying. It irritated me if someone made a snide comment about the way I raised my children and it would baffle me why they would be concerned. I didn't look at them and criticise the way they were parenting, so why look at me. What business is it of theirs?

Compared with a lot of my friends I guess I was considered a bit of a soft touch. I would be the mum down the street that had all the kids in for dinner or for water fights, sometimes so many kids that you would be forgiven for assuming I was running a creche. I'd let my kids roll in the mud, climb trees, be loud, be silly and be outrageous. We had ropes tied from the tree that would swing us into a giant paddling pool and they had wild bouncy castle birthday parties at home.  I let them be kids and learn to make their own decisions with a feeling of freedom attached to them. We are not a perfect family, but we are happy and isn't that what life is all about? Isn't feeling happy our main goal in life? If so, we achieved it with how we were doing things.


Judgemental parents are my pet hate. I don't really get it.It doesn't affect me so much these days as my four are grown, my eldest three kids are in their twenties and my youngest is fifteen, so I escape a lot of the judgements. But I do get the odd person who might scoff about my Daughters home schooling and it drives me barmy. I don't like the school their child attends but do I tell them that? No, of course not because that school works for them, their child is happy and doing well in school. My child studies better at home and is happy. It is as simple as that.

Generally judgements come from people who have no experience of your life or what has shaped you as a parent. They usually never look at themselves or ever perceive that they might not be so perfect themselves or simply the decisions that they make as a parent works for them, but it might not work for me and visa versa. The need to judge another says more about them than it does me, usually they are insecure about themselves and feel threatened by people who they assume are having an easier time. 


I was raised in quite a strict, religious home. I had a wonderful childhood and my Mum was the absolute best. We had lots of adventures and we were allowed to run free and be 'real' kids, but when I reached my teenage years she was a tad 'old school' and I was made guided to take routes that I didn't agree with. For example, my longed for art degree wasn't taken seriously and I was told "art would get me nowhere in life" so I wasn't allowed to take art as one of my options at school, I was forced to attend a church that I didn't believe in and I wasn't allowed to have the same freedom that my peers were granted. Don't get me wrong, I'm really not complaining, because I did have a very happy home life and I know my Mum loved me to bits, but as I reached my teens I longed to have my very strong opinions valued. 

Some may see mum's parenting decisions as 'discipline', but as a strong willed teen I saw it as control and a rejection of who I was. The result was a very angry, wild, rebellious teenager who run away from home and fell off the rails for a little while. It could have ended very badly had I not met my now Hubby.


Then I became a parent myself, and it suddenly dawned on me that parenting is bloody hard work and making decisions about what you think is best for your child, and your family is no easy task. I realised that Mum come from a different generation to me, and her generation sometimes did struggle to connect with us wild eighties kids. She made me attend church with the hope of raising a daughter with morals and values, and she really did think that a living could not be made from 'art'. Every choice she made for me was because she loved me and wanted the best for me. Some of those decisions were right and some were wrong. Now as I look back, I'm glad she made me go to the church that I hated so much, because while I was there I built, strong life long friendships with people I love and If she had allowed me to take the artist route that I craved, I would never have rebelled and met my soul mate. 


I guess what I'm trying to say is, that we all make certain parenting choices  because of who we are and where we come from. My hubby was badly beaten by his father and suffered a lot of verbal abuse as a child which made him into the wonderfully soft, loving dad that he has always been our with kids. So, next time you spot that parent who you think is a little too soft on their kids, remember that everyone has a story to tell, a past that makes them who they are, and there are often reasons behind parenting choices that you might not know about. Who the hell are we to judge anyone? Live and let live is my motto.




Have you ever been on the end of judgemental parenting observations, or have you found yourself doing it?


Thursday, 16 April 2015

North Devon - The Streets of Appledore


Appledore is a charming fishing village situated in North Devon, smack bang in between Bideford and Westward Ho! It is a tiny village that sits on a hillside overlooking the Torridge estuary and believe me when I say it is a truly gorgeous place to visit. The tiny, winding back streets are great for exploring, it's small Pockets full of colour will have you curious at every twist and turn. Pretty alleyways and cobbled stairways invite you to delve in deeper and deeper.

Follow the teeny roads until you find Irsha street, it is particularly pretty and even boasts a miniature pink house named 'The Dolls House' which is wedged in between two cottages. The kids love it and yearn to take a peek inside. Keep walking and you will stumble across The Beaver Inn, stop here for a pint and some real Devonshire home cooking and take in the stunning panoramic estuary views. Not to be missed. Be sure to visit St Mary's Church, it sits in the Quay and is lovely spot to wander around the grounds. If you climb the grassy stairway you will find a bench with amazing views across the estuary.











Appledore is a very special place, I urge you to spend a day here if you are down that way or even better rent a cottage with a sea view in Irsha Street. An experience you will never forget.




Time Travellers

Linking up to Mari's Time Traveller Club

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Walking For Weightloss



Since losing my Mum in 2006 I almost doubled my weight. I had never been much of a comfort eater before and I always managed to keep my weight below nine stone (I'm 5ft 2"). Then when Mum was diagnosed with cancer I suddenly wanted to eat everything I laid my eyes on. It was a different stress reaction for me, as usually I would lose my appetite when faced with a stressful situation and lose weight instead of gain. I also decided to pack in the fags around the same time which I guess contributed to my weight gain. A lot of stressful scenarios later and I found myself uncomfortably big. 

Last year the doctor told me that stress and grief were likely to be at the root of my weight problem. I was surprised that he mentioned grief because my Mum had been gone for eight years, and as much as I miss her like crazy, surely I must be out of the 'grief zone' by now? The doctor told me that everyone is different so grief affects people in very different ways and for varying lengths of time. It just so happened that I had turned to food as a crutch. He asked if I felt depressed and I told him that I do, but only when I think about my Mum. The yearning to speak to her sends my anxiety into over-drive and then I will cry, finding it impossible to stop the tears, which frustrates me. He suggested walking for therapy and even though I know walking is marvelous for lifting my spirits I sort of felt he was fobbing me off.


Anyway I decided to really try and make the effort to walk every single day, without fail and I did. I made sure I wore my Fitbug pedometer and aimed for 10,000 steps everyday. At first I struggled even to make 5,000 especially as it was the middle of winter and freezing cold winds lashed at my face, but I was determined to make that 10,000. Every walk got easier and easier until I was walking 15,000 steps most days with no trouble at all. That is over seven miles a day and sometimes I would walk that in one go across miles of farm fields. 

I feel really proud of myself for sticking it out because three months in I have lost two stone and feel amazing. In fact it has spurned me on to get fitter and stronger with weight lifting. I still have four stone to lose and my goal is to have that all gone by Christmas. I initially dropped a dress size with walking and then a couple of weeks after lifting weights I dropped another dress size, so I'm thrilled and it has given me the motivation to finish this weight problem once and for all.



Have you had success with walking?




Tuesday, 14 April 2015

The Path To A Stress Free Life - Organising The Small Stuff

One of the things that help me on my path towards a stress free life is being more organised. I haven't quite mastered this to perfection, but I'm a lot more organised that I was ten years ago. When you have clutter everywhere it can make life more stressful because you can never find your keys, the kids PE kit, that important letter that you were supposed post last week or your passport when you need it. I have a place for everything, not in the OCD sense of the word, but I do have certain places for certain things like a safe with key for my documents, a drawer for my make up, and a shelf just for my hair stuff like straighteners, hair dryer and products, hooks for keys and baskets for the crap. 


My life just runs more smoothly if I can put my hand to what I need in a hurry, especially early mornings when I'm half asleep. It also makes me a lot less anxious if I'm not pulling my hair out because I can't find my phone charger or keys before I walk out the front door and it will make me late searching the house. I learnt from my Mum how to be a bit more organised because she wasn't. We were always late for everything because mum had lost her keys, again. I would feel the panic in my toes rising, the minute she'd say "Emma, have you seen my keys?" and then by the time we left the house after searching for an hour I'd feel like I was having a full blown panic attack. I swore that when I left home I would have key hooks. And I do.

1. Train The Kids - I try to train the kids to put stuff back where they found it, they are not great at doing it but it is surprising how quick they realize the importance of it when they get to their teens and they have lost their phone charger for the thousandth time. So I give them baskets to put their chargers and leads. I call it the wire basket. Some kids are better at using it than others, but boy, does it give me a buzz when I see their 'wires' in their baskets. It means no pulling the house apart to find their camera lead etc. 

2. Hooks - I have hooks for everything, A key hook by the front door. Hooks attached to the under-stairs for jackets, cardi's and scarves. Hooks for PE bags were my favorite hooks when the kids were at school because it meant looking for their gym stuff was a thing of the past. I mainly use those cheap small screw in hooks but I also have those hooks that you can buy for backs of the doors and I love them for hanging bags and hats. I just love hooks!

3. Baskets - Baskets of all sizes are great. I have one for junk like batteries, hair bands, sellotape, glue, paper clips, stapler and all those small bits and bobs that you can never find when you need them. A basket for arts & crafts is essential too for the kids, for obvious reasons. I also have a pretty white basket just for me, where I keep my camera, phone charger, lippy and sunglasses. 

4. Greetings - Keep a box or a drawer spare for envelopes, gift wrap, ribbon, stamps, pens, paper and a few greetings cards for birthdays etc. I keep a few blank cards in my drawer for writing out quick Thank you's or notes to friends. I find this drawer so useful and it has been a life saver many times when I have forgotten a birthday.

5. Gifts Galore - I have a gift drawer. I fill it with stuff that I add to my weekly shop like shower gels, body butters, hair products, small toys, candles etc. I mainly save this stuff to make up hampers at Christmas, but it is also really useful for times you need a small gift for someone on the quick. 



Do you have any tips for organising the small stuff?

Monday, 13 April 2015

10 Top Tips For Making Your Relationship Work

I have been married to my Hubby for twenty six years this year and we are madly in love. People often comment on how blissfully happy we are, but it hasn't always been that way. We have been through the mill many times, even separating for nearly a year eight years ago and when we decided to get back  together, we made a pact to constantly work on our relationship. 

We appreciate each other, respect each others wishes and we never bring up past hurts. We have both messed up and we have both been in the wrong, but we chose to forgive and move on. Now we are reaching middle age, we look back at all the good times that we have shared together, bringing up our four children together and now we are enjoying our Granddaughter together as a couple and we know it has all been worth it. We have a long shared history and after working through the stormy times together we know how strong we are.

Marriage and long term relationships are about giving half of yourself and receiving half of someone back. It is about love, honesty and building a life together. Here are my top tips for making your relationship work. These are things that have worked and continue to work for us. 

Remember: For these tips to work you must both want it and be willing to try. Not just one of you.


1. You Are A Team - You will argue and you will bicker, but never battle against each other. Look for a compromise. You won't agree with everything each other say or do, but you are a team so face every challenge together. Go into your marriage or partnership knowing that there will be problems, but make the decision from the start that when they arise you will work through them together.

It wont always be a bed of roses. It takes a lot of work and effort to make a relationship work. There will be struggles and times when you feel like you want to give up. Persevere and don't be tempted to walk away because it gets a little bit difficult. Always step into your spouses shoes and look at things from their point of view. 

2. CompromiseIf he/she hates doing dishes and scrubbing the loo, then be the one to do it and don't be upset when he/she never initiates the cleaning. The jobs you hate working on like clearing the gutters, cutting the hedge or tidying the shed ask him/her to do those chores instead. Discover what you're both good at/don't mind doing, and never complain when the other lacks in 'your' department. Deciding from day one what your household chores will be, will stop a lot of nagging and arguments before they start.

3. No Need for Outside Input - Don't let anyone come between you and your spouse. A relationship or marriage is a partnership of two people, there is no place for outside input. Never discuss your problems with other people because it will cause resentments and it can cause friends/family to become extremely negative towards your spouse, if all they hear are one sided criticisms. Keep private matters private. It really is best not to involve family or friends in your marital grumblings. Some never let you forget the rubbish times and will dredge it up from time to time, raking up old negative feelings which can often then lead to an old row resurfacing. Never badmouth your spouse. 

Don't let others try and push you to act one way or the other. Lots of people will be quick to suggest the easiest option, unfortunately the easiest option usually involves giving up, or just letting it slide. Giving up will leave you without your partner and letting it slide will eat away at you and cause deep rooted resentments.  No matter how bad things get, as long as both of you are willing to work together then you can get through it.

4. Be patient, be Kind, be Loving - Forgiveness is the only way to truly love someone for a long period of time, but often it is the one thing that is overlooked. Learn from your mistakes and forgive your spouse if they mess up. Even if you feel like they have broken your heart, it doesn't mean that it is the end of your relationship because you can move on from almost anything, including infidelity and heartbreak. You can end up stronger and happier than ever before

5. The respect of FriendsIf your friends don't respect your spouse, they don't respect you. Time to move on and find friends who will love and support your marriage/relationship. Joint friends who love you both are the best type of friendships to have. Only have people in your lives who don't involve themselves in your marriage or try and cause you problems by getting too involved.

6. Be Best Friends as well as Lovers - Remain friends as well as lovers. Your spouse should be your best friend and should always come before any other friends. Do activities together. Share hobbies and even if you do not share the same interests then find something that you both enjoy doing together and do it regularlyKeep the romance alive. Initiate sex, kiss, cuddle and tell your spouse how hot you think they are. Compliment often and thank them for the good things that they do for you.
7. The Grass Is NOT greener on the other side - Never be envious of other peoples relationships. What you may view as the perfect couple could look completely different behind closed doors and a lot of those blissfully happy couples have been through many troubles together themselves to have reached their happy place. 
There will sometimes be temptation to stray, especially after you have been together for a while. You are at your weakest during periods of times of mundane routine. Boredom can set in and an interesting stranger can turn your head. As I said previously, you can move on after an infidelity so don't assume it's the end. It can even improve a relationship if dealt with appropriately. You will fall in and out of love many times, but always make sure it is with your spouse. 
8. Would I be Happy With That?Always ask yourself  'would I be happy with that?' If the answer is no then don't do it, for example don't buy that £200 pair of shoes if you would flip out if he spent £200 on fishing gear or don't go clubbing all hours if you don't like him/her going clubbing. Treat him/her exactly how you would want to be treated. 
9. No-one is Perfect When all those little things he/she does start driving you insane, remember all those little annoying things that you do that he/she puts up with. Don't tell me you never annoy him/her because I don't believe you. There will be something. He/she is not perfect, but neither are you. Remember you don't own him/her. Marriage is about committing yourself to the other person, not controlling them. To often people think they possess their spouse instead of promoting their good points. 
10. Communication - Always communicate with each other. If something is bothering you, then talk about it. Be loyal and never talk to a friend about stuff you wouldn't say to your spouse. Compliment your spouse at least once a day if not more and never let them feel unloved or taken for granted. When you have conversations look each other in the eyes and really listen, don't just 'hear them'. Value what they have to say.

Have you got any tips to add? 
What has worked for you?

Friday, 10 April 2015

10 Simple Steps To A Happier Life


Back in 2008 we decided that we needed to change our lives, I had lost my Mum two years before and my marriage had fallen apart. Grief changed me. It made me angry, bitter and lonelier than I had ever been. I pushed my Husband away and we ended up separating for nearly a year. That period in my life was very dark and I shudder as I recall it. The thing is I learnt so much during that time and it put me on the road to being the happiest that I have ever been. 

Hubby and I got back together and we changed a lot of things. The first thing was moving out to the countryside and slowing down our lives, Absorbing my surroundings had a massive affect on me as I got myself back to nature. Six years on we are blissfully happy, but it is a constant work in progress. We never let the ball drop as we soldier on with our quest for a happy life.

1. Ditch The Toxics - I know I go on about toxic people quite a lot, probably because I have had my fingers burned by them so many times before. They affected my life to such an extent that it made me ill. And the reason that they affected my life so much was because I let them. A few of them took me by surprise, family members that I thought would always have my back turned out to be not who I thought they were and others were just a few of life's takers who constantly took advantage of me. I just reached the stage where I realised I would never be truly happy with these people sucking my soul dry, so I ditched them.

2. Exercise - Any type of exercise increases a sense of well being. Whether it be yoga, walking, body building or extreme sports. Whatever your level, exercise really does improve our mood. I find walking really has helped me over the years. I go for long country walks and it clears my mind from all the clutter that tumbles around in my brain. Exercise invigorates me and puts me in a more positive mood.

3. Look Forward - Have things to look forward to, like a new dress, a day out, a party, a holiday or a trip to see old friends. It could be anything from costing you a few pounds to something that you will need to save for. Always have a plan. At the beginning of the year pencil in those plans on to your calender. Things that excite you and small goals to achieve. The more we look forward, the less we look back.

4. Do Things For Others - If you have people in your life that have been good to you then treasure them by giving back to them. I'm not talking money or material things, I mean your time, your concern, your love and appreciation, because the older I get the more I have realised that these people are few and far between. Those who have been good to you in the past or have been there when you needed them are worth their weight in Gold. Show them you care by calling them for a chat or pop in for a cuppa.

5. Learn Something New - Learning a new hobby or signing up for a course or class makes us feel good because we feel we have made an accomplishment with self improvement. You could learn to knit, sew, crochet, grow vegetables, paint, take better photo's, make your own jewellery, soap or cupcakes. Loads of things you can learn for free via you-tube. I am a strong believer in hobbies playing a major part in my happiness, especially writing, it is so cathartic. 

6. Be Realistic - Life is not a fairytale. Sometimes we are blind sided by things we can not control. People die, people leave, people deceive us. It is a part of life and very few people escape ever feeling any pain or grief throughout their lifetime. It is how we choose to deal with those painful life events that determines how big an impact they will have on us. When my Mum died it affected me so badly that I completely fell to pieces and I behaved totally out of character. When I look back at myself during that time, it is like looking at a stranger. I hardly recognise myself, but then I woke up one morning and decided to choose happiness instead of burying myself deeper into the grief.

7. Forgive - I wrote about forgiveness earlier in the week and so many of you agree that forgiving those who hurt us is an essential part of being able able to move on with our lives. Holding a grudge causes nothing but further pain and unhappiness. Why pro-long your agony. Let it go.

8. Focus On The Good - I know it isn't always easy, especially if you are going through a traumatic time in your life, but try and remember things will get better and you wont always feel so helpless and lost. Try and focus on the good, be brave, be strong. You will get through any problem that you have. Even grief can have a happy ending, it just takes time. Give yourself that time, embrace it and look to the future.

9. De-clutter - A tidy home does make us feel better. I bet hardly any of you disagree with that. Even, if you hate housework and struggle to keep on top the household chores, pushing yourself to have a ruthless clear out will energise you. Spend one day per week clearing a room in your house, or dedicate a whole week to taking on the task of a room a day. You will be so glad you did it and it makes life so much easier when you are a bit more organised. Personally, I would much rather be out in the garden than polishing my sideboard, but every now and then I will have a good de-clutter to keep on top of things.

10. Be Grateful - Every day think of the small things in your life that make you smile like the warmth of the sun, your baby's giggle, the smell of cut grass or sharing a cuppa with your best friend. Adopting a daily grateful attitude trains your mind to think with a more positive outlook on life, promoting happiness. It does work, try it. 


What tips do you have for living a happier life?  

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Visit Cambrils in Spain - The Old Town


Stepping into Cambrils Old Town from the newer part of this pretty fishing town is like walking through a time warp. The contrast is surprising and takes you back. Situated on the Costa Dorada it is about an hour or so from Barcelona and a ten minute drive from the bigger town of Salou. The old part of town is a very special place and a must see if you are in the area. It isn't very big, but definitely worth the twenty minute walk from the main town centre to get there.


The town of Cambrils dates back to pre-historic times, although it really began to take shape during the Roman period. Its rich history is evident in its beautiful architecture and if you visit the Cambrils History museum you will discover an interesting past. There is also an unmissable Roman archaeological site with remains dating back from the sixth century BC & AD.

It isn't a place to go shopping although there are a few small shops dotted around, it is more of a place to enjoy lunch, the architecture and to just wander around and enjoy a slice of authentic Spain.



The buildings are colourful, the atmosphere is warm and inviting as locals take shade from the hot sun underneath their balcony's. The pretty winding walkways are a relief from the hot Spanish sun and walking around with my ice cream I felt so relaxed as I admired the gorgeous hanging baskets and pretty pots that the local residents are extremely proud to show off.







This little town is so full of charm and was such a pleasure to visit. The local people are really friendly and as Cambrils is known as the gastronomic capital of Catalonia, the food is really good. And after a leisurely walk around the old town you can walk down to the gorgeous beach in the main part of town, paddle your toes in the sea and enjoy one of the many tapas bars.

Where To Stay - We stayed self catering with Euro Camp  - Cambrils Park which is a short bus ride away that only costs two euros each way or you can walk it along the sea front in about an hour. If you prefer a hotel then there are quite a few places in Cambrils itself. The top three hotel reviews for Cambrils on Trip advisor go to Monica Hotel, Estival Centurion Playa and Tryp Port Cambrils.

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