Sunday 26 November 2023

Christmas Gift Ideas for Her 2023

Christmas Gift Ideas for Her 2023

Welcome to the Christmas Gift Ideas for Her 2023! 

My other half has been asking me for weeks 'What would you like for Christmas?' and the desperation in his eyes tells me that he really would like my help in coming up with some ideas. The thing is, I don't ever really feel that burning want for something. 

Over the last few years I have been so engaged in saving every penny that comes my way, I haven't really left much room to consider what I would like for myself outside the realms of practical everyday necessities. 

If my other half is asking the question, then I can only imagine that there are other men out there on the run up to Christmas feeling just as puzzled by this assignment, and I am thinking that maybe I should pop some ideas out there? Things I would like and enjoy, that maybe you would too?

 I guess I should begin by painting a little picture of what I am like as a person, my like's and interests so you can see why I am recommending certain things?

At 34 years old I am ever the practical head, I can talk myself out of any purchase even if that burning want is there to make it. I absolutely adore walking and fitness, disappearing into the mountains and spending the day climbing peaks. I like sensible purchases and would be more inclined to treat myself to a new walking coat over going and having my hair done (even if I really needed it!), I am more likely to make and take my own coffee on my daily errands than call into a coffee shop, and you can almost guarantee that I will lose my car keys at least once a day...

Ultimately I like practical and thoughtful gifts, but my all time favourite extravagant present has to be my Apple Mac. This was a purchase that I managed to talk myself out of, but was over the moon and beyond surprised to receive as a birthday present a few years back and it has certainly made my blogging life a lot easier!

Stocking Ideas for Her 2023

As a couple we always enjoy picking out each other's stocking fillers, it's always nice to receive a little indulgence over the festive season. I am usually not one to eat chocolate all that often as I don't have a stop mechanism once I have started... But over the Christmas period I tend to look the other way and indulge!

Nomo Christmas Chocolate Range 2023

NOMO is the UK's number 1 Vegan and Free From Chocolate. They have announced their Christmas line with six new products and eight products in total!

The NOMO Chocolate Fudge Reindeer would be a great stocking filler exclusive to Sainsbury’s. Filled with rich, decadent fudge, it makes a perfect treat or stocking stuffer for all chocolate lovers—kids and adults alike.

Both of these are priced at £0.90p.

Nomo Christmas Chocolate Range 2023

They also have the Cookie Dough Chocolate Reindeer which is filled with delicious cookie dough filling and coated in creamy plant-based chocolate. It was the top selling vegan and free from chocolate product in 2022!

Depending upon how big your stocking is... Some more great NOMO additions are their sharing boxes that come in a range of very delicious flavours:

- Caramel Sharing Box

- Orange Sharing Box

- Mint Sharing Box

The sharing boxes are priced at £5 a box.

We have been sent a few samples to taste test, I handed a few chocolates to the other half while we were wrapping presents. He really enjoyed them and it wasn’t until after that I told him that they were vegan free from! He told me that he couldn’t tell and that they tasted really good! 

You can view the full NOMO Christmas Chocolates here.

Tile Mate Tracker - Christmas Stocking Ideas

Tile may be the perfect stocking filler idea for the lady (or man) who continuously loses their car keys. If you aren't familiar with the concept, Tile Mate is a small disc that you can attach to your keys, bags or anything you can think of that you would like to be able to find again.... After you have misplaced them!

I have been known to leave my keys in some weird and wonderful places that can make them rather tricky to re-locate. For this reason, I have had a Tile Mate Tracker on my keys since 2018. 

In the years since I have had mine, they have changed the shape slightly and really streamlined it. I have just added a second to my Tile account which means not only can I keep a live location on my keys, but I can now ALWAYS find my handbag! 

The Tile app allows you to see all of your Tiles on one screen, and from here you can click 'Find' and it will ping the Tile on the item you have misplaced. Pinging the Tile will make a noise that you can then follow to retrieve your missing item. 

You can reverse this too, if you have the item but have put your phone down somewhere - You can press the Tile twice and it will call your phone! 

The Tile Mate costs £19.99 and is a fabulous stocking idea.

Serenata Flowers Christmas Range

If there is one way to show the woman in your life that you are thinking of her, you can never go wrong with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Serenata Flowers is an online florist that bring beautiful floral arrangements right to the front door of the person you want to treat. 

We have been sent one of their beautiful bouquets from their Christmas flowers range. Now we have all the decorations up and are feeling super festive, they have added that finishing touch to the room on the dining table. 

The bouquet is full of red roses, darker tones and festive greenery. A highlight for any festive space over the coming months.

Christmas Flowers from Serenata Flowers

The Christmas Flowers from Serenata are priced from  £39.99.

Around the Christmas Tree Gift Ideas For Her

If there is one gift idea that I would recommend for the on the go coffee drinker, it is a cup that will firstly keep your coffee warm until a time you are ready to drink it, and secondly one that will not spill. 

The Contigo Westloop AUTOSEAL Travel Mug

I am pleased to report that I have tried and tested this and have had zero spills. I took this along with me on a recent visit to Drayton Manor Park, I made the coffee in the morning before we left the house and by the time I came to drink it at lunch time it was still piping hot!

Christmas Gift Ideas - The Contigo Westloop AUTOSEAL Travel Mug

Christmas Gift Ideas - The Contigo Westloop AUTOSEAL Travel Mug

I had been carrying it around all day in my backpack with the picnic, and no leaks occurred in the bag despite me throwing it down on the side of each ride we hopped on. I even popped it upside down on the picnic bench just to see what would happen... Nothing happened. All the coffee was still safely stored inside!

The AUTOSEAL technology means that you have to press a button in order to drink from the cup, I found this very convenient. As soon as you remove your grip on the button, the cup seals back up and won't allow any leaks again, amazing if you were to accidentally knock it over or for it to jump out of the cup while you are driving. 

You can purchase the Contigo Westloop AUTOSEAL Travel Mug on Amazon.

Magical Bright Lights Signature Yankee Candle

We are big fans of scented candles in our house, and Yankee Candle are right up there as one of our favourites. Since the arrival of our Magical Bright Lights Signature Yankee Candle arrived, the other half has been asking me repeatedly 'When can we light it!?'. Sadly his enthusiasm fell on deaf ears as I told him we couldn't like it until I had photographed it for all of you!

This candle smells like CHRISTMAS in a jar, it actually reminds me of a scent from my childhood but I cannot put my finger on what that smell is! If you have this candle, does it trigger any of your childhood senses and if so... Any ideas what it smells like?

Magical Bright Lights Signature Yankee Candle

Magical Bright Lights Signature Yankee Candle

The listed aromas in this candle are frozen pear, mint leaf, jasmine and vanilla, and if you think it smells good before it is lit. 

Wait until it fills your whole room.

I have deliberately waited to light this candle as I wanted to have all of the decorations around us, because this candle makes you want to snuggle down and enjoy the upcoming cosiness of the festive season. 

Another great gift for her come Christmas Day!

 The Yankee Candle Magical Bright Lights can be purchased here for £29.99.

Hippy Dalmatian Flower Power Dog Art Ilk Prints

I have been looking for MONTHS to find a piece of art to sit in a big blank space within my home. I knew it needed to be something vibrant and large enough to fill a large gap in my dining room. I considered a piece of bumble bee art, and I was convinced that this is what would go in that particular space. 

Then I came across Art Ilk.

Art Ilk have an extensive collection of art prints that draws inspiration from both classic and modern master pieces. Before I settled on the above print, I did search for bumble bees! Nothing jumped at me, and then I find the Dalmatian!

This particular print is called the Hippy Dalmatian Flower Power Dog, and regular readers of this blog will know that we have a Dalmatian of our own, Lux! This automatically screamed to me that this was the piece I needed in my dining room. Not to mention that it incorporated all of the colours that have been used in this room. 

The flower jacket is an array of vibrant colours that have all been captured in the rug, and the teal around the dog's head is captured on our fireplace feature wall.

This size is the 60x90cm which comes in at a bargain £34.95. 

You can opt for frames at additional cost, we decided to get a frame seperately, but I am completely in love with the finished piece!

I just need the other half to hang it now...  

Hippy Dalmatian Flower Power Dog Art Ilk Prints

The Christmas Tree Gift Ideas - SHOW STOPPER

Outdoors is my favourite place to be, during the 2020 lockdowns I spent an incredible amount of time outside. This love for the outdoors has grown in recent years and in 2021 I completed the UK's 3 highest peaks and I began to invest in some essential outdoor equipment. 

One thing I found myself without, even all these years later was an intermediate coat, one that I could wear under my bigger waterproof coat, or even just under a waterproof shell. A coat that I could add and remove layers to as needed depending upon the adventure and the weather at hand.

Helly Hansen's Verglas Down Insulator Jacket

Helly Hansen's Verglas Down Insulator Jacket is an essential item in the bag on my next adventure, a lightweight down insulator layer that you can pair with additional layers to get the absolute best out of the jacket whatever the season.

In this mild Autumn weather we have been enjoying up until recent weeks, I have been using the coat with just a jumper underneath. I have loved this jacket on my evening walks paired with my gym leggings, it's a nice layer to keep the wind off you while you are warming up but also not too thick to discourage your workout efforts. 

Once you have warmed up and wish to case off the jacket, it is so light that you can just drape it over your arm or wrap it around your waist for the rest of the walk.

Helly Hansen's Verglas Down Insulator Jacket

Helly Hansen's Verglas Down Insulator Jacket

The Verglas is a wonderfully light coat that packs down for transportation, ideal if you are planning any walks or hikes and want to go prepared. I will be adding this into my kit bag moving forward for all of my future mountaineering adventures.

With Winter upon us I will be using this as an extra layer under my bigger Goose Down coat to provide an extra layer underneath. I have always found that the bigger coat (not Helly Hansen) has needed a coat like my Verglas as an additional under layer. It certainly makes all the difference when you are out in the elements for the day, and pairing it up like this means I then have the waterproof shell of my other coat.

The insulation is made up of 85% Goose Down and 15% Goose Feather. 

Helly Hansen's Verglas Down Insulator Jacket

Helly Hansen's Verglas Down Insulator Jacket

The Helly Hansen Verglas Down Insulator Jacket retails at £210.00.

This is the show stopper for my Christmas Gift Ideas for Her this year.

 I do hope that my personal perspective on the gifts that I would enjoy seeing under the Christmas tree may help you in your mission to find the perfect gifts for the women in your lives (I know that buying for us is no easy feat!)

Disclaimer: The products listed in the above gift guide have been received in exchange for my honest views and opinions within this post. 

Monday 30 October 2023

The Haunted Manor at Drayton Manor 2023 Review

Drayton Manor Haunt Manor Halloween 2023

Drayton Manor is about an hour away from us by car in Evesham, and over the years has been one of Leo's and my own favourite days out. We hadn't been of late, I believe the last time was a few years ago when we went along with my friend and her son and Leo was just a little shy of being tall enough to ride Shockwave.

We had thought at the bottom of the ride that we were smack on the line, but when we approached the top we were sad to learn that he was just a smidgen too small.

We decided to change that this month, we were confidently over the 1.4m in height and knew that this would be the first occasion that we could go and do absolutely everything! My not so little boy had officially outgrown Thomas Land and was ready to set his sights to the wider park.... and the bigger rollercoasters!

Drayton Manor were in full preparation for their upcoming Haunted Manor Event running from Saturday 28th October through until Tuesday 31st October. Pumpkins were dotted all around and the sunny Autumn chill proved to be a great day to visit.

Drayton Manor Haunt Manor Halloween 2023

Leo enjoyed Shockwave for the first time and followed it up with subsequent visits, but his absolute favourite ride of the day had to be the Maelstrom. I think he must have enjoyed this 5 times consecutively!

Following our latest successful visit, the other half and I were excited to be invited along to The Haunted Manor! This was a first for us as a couple, we hadn't had a theme park date and of all the weekends to be invited along it found us with NO children! This is pretty unheard of but we decided that it was an event that couldn't be missed. 

The park opened at 10:30am and for this event they are open until 7pm, which means you get to enjoy the rides after dark!

Drayton Manor Haunt Manor Halloween 2023

We decided to start our day a little later and arrived at the park for 1pm. The sun shone and we thoroughly enjoyed hopping on The  BountyPirate Ship for our first thrill of the day. In my older age it has definetly become apparent that my sea legs are not as strong as they once were. It takes me a lot longer to adjust to the swings and sways! 

We made our way around the park and loved the new addition of  Thor which opened back in 2022. We hopped on Accelerator and tried to contain our squeals as we were catapulted around the track before setting our sights on Shockwave. Sadly this had suffered a system error and was out of use for a good few hours during our visit.

Drayton Manor Haunt Manor Halloween 2023

Timings of Events

For the younger children you can catch the Thomas Land Spooky Show at 11am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm. 

Or you can even pop along to see Sir Topham Hatt and enjoy a spot of Trick or Treat.

Rory's Boo Bash at Dayton Theatre is at 1pm and 3pm.

There were scare zones operating in Chaos Cove and Vikings: Ragnarok between 4:15pm - 7:15pm. They were welcomed by the guests who much enjoyed taking photos with them!

The Frightful Fireworks Finale is at 8pm.

Castle of Shadows Scare Experience

This is a 15 minute experience for the older kids - recommended for kids aged 10 Plus. A brand new scare experience set in Grimoire academy where you will find yourself inducted as a new pupil of the school, did someone say something about a coven and an ancient demon?

£3 per person additional cost.

The Haunted Express Scare Experience

The train that tours around the park has taken a dark twist for Halloween, you can now take a frightful trip  around an eerie Adventure Cove where you will come across live actors and some spooky surprises! Recommended for kids aged 10+.

£3 per personal additional cost.

The Haunting Reclaimed Scare Experience 

For the braver families within the Haunting ride where the story from '96' continues...

Scares here start from 5pm.

Frightful Fireworks Finale - Finish the day with a 7 minute long fireworks show at the Haunted Manor before you bundle back into the car and make your way home.

The Haunted Manor at Drayton Manor is a fantastic family day out, and as always when we visit there are many laughs and memories made.

We missed the kids on this last trip, but I am so glad that I managed to take Leo to experience the park at this next level just a few short weeks ago!

It got me thinking about our previous visits, and my now pre teen is a far cry from the small toddler boy who used to ride around the Thomas Land Troublesome Trucks all day long.

You can check out our previous visits below.

Drayton Manor with a 2 Year Old

Thomas & Friends - Tale of the Brave

The Thomas Land Expansion is officially OPEN!

War of the Worlds Firework Spectacular at Drayton Manor Theme Park

Drayton's Magical Christmas Review

Disclaimer: We were invited along to the Haunted Manor event at Drayton Manor and provided with complimentary tickets to enter. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.

Thursday 10 August 2023

Burford House AirBnb (On the Outskirts of the Cotswolds!)

Cotswold AirBnb

2020 was a busy year for my then family of 2, even though the whole world came to a complete stand still. 

Covid, Lockdown, a relationship breakdown, the brief hello and inevitable goodbye to little Louis, the purchase of my very own home, and later a new relationship. Some incredibly heartbreaking moments and also some poignant highs all rolled into one rollercoaster of a year.

With the help of my family, ultimately my Father. I purchased my very own forever home. A safety blanket that wrapped Leo and I up after a very turbulent time, a place that would always be ours regardless of the twists and turns that life may welcome.

I remember walking out of the flat door with Leo one Summer's day, as covid raged and lockdown loomed. We walked around the houses in the streets away from the flat, Leo Pokemon hunted and I pondered whether the house we would buy was in this area...Were we walking near it? Passed it?

The house we actually went on to purchase was one that we did walk past on that summer's day stroll. It was a serendipity find that actually came about very early in lockdown while I was still pregnant with Louis. 

Cotswold AirBnb

Cotswold AirBnb

Scouring RightMove in those early days were one of the things that kept me going. Planning our future and finding a property that spoke to my heart was at the very forefront of it all. I knew that the original dream of a home with a drive and big garden was going to have to be compromised on, now there weren't Two people buying their family forever home together... It was just me on my part time income.

I had to re-adjust and let go, when I did this I found the ideal home just a street away from the flat. I remember it becoming the bench mark in my house search. Sadly it was removed from RightMove before I even had chance to request a viewing. The weeks rolled on but nothing else spoke to me the way that the first house had done. 

Summer gave away to Autumn and by October I was back living in my parent's home with a goal of saving all I could muster and continuing my house search. Then... Sernedipity played its hand and the very house that had been removed from RightMove came back!

I recall sitting down with my Dad in early December and telling him that the house had returned to market, and with his approval, we booked a viewing. Armed with my Dad and my new partner... We viewed my benchmark house.

I knew from the moment I walked through the door, maybe even before... That if I was ever going to buy a house, this was the house. After that viewing, we put in an offer against 2 other interested parties. It was a pretty nerve wracking process and my heart stayed firmly in my mouth for the entire time.

A day later, my offer was accepted and the wheels were put in motion for the purchase. It was the most incredible feeling!

The completion date took some time, but by May 2021 I had the keys to my very first home in my hand. I decorated every room myself and between my family and I we lovingly restored the Victorian Terrace back to life. 

Cotswold AirBnb

Now here we are in 2023, my relationship has gone from strength to strength which has put me in unchartered territory. We both own our own homes, and there is not a fibre of my being that could ever consider selling mine. Which has meant that between us we are running two properties (hello cost of living crisis!).

This has meant I have had some tricky decisions to make, and for me private renting my home was completely out of the question... Then AirBnb entered my mind, an idea that meant that I could keep my home, I could keep the furniture I had lovingly chosen for it in situe, and I could welcome guests into my MY home.

This idea still worried me to the very core, but one afternoon I sat down and uploaded my property on to the AirBnb system not really expecting to get a bite. There was still a lot to be done before my home was even ready to lay out the welcome mat and invite in the first guests.

A few days later, the first booking request rolled in. Someone actually wanted to come and stay at my family home in Evesham! This push was all that was needed for me to throw caution to the wind and turn the house around over one weekend in time for a Monday arrival. 

My forever home had become an AirBnB over night.

Cotswold AirBnb

By some grace of God, and lots and lots of help from the other half and of course my hero Dad... We were ready.

I am pleased to report that are have now hosted some wonderful guests who have really respected and loved my home. In return we have had some fabulous reviews on the AirBnb platform, and we are always looking at ways in which we can better ourselves for future guests. 

This is such an exciting prospect for us (I won't lie I am still terrified of sharing my home!), it means in the time that I am away I can offer the full house out for AirBnb rental, and welcome people to our Riverside town of Evesham to enjoy the local area. 

My 3 bedroomed house can comfortably sleep 5 people, it's walking distance into town where we have a great array of restaurant's on offer and some beautiful walks that can be picked up within Abbey Park by the River Avon. The Regal cinema is at the very end of our road, meaning you can pop out to enjoy a film and a cheeky beverage or two without needing access to the car.

Cotswold AirBnb

Cotswold AirBnb

Cotswold AirBnb

We are a stone's throw from the Cotswolds, Broadway and Chipping Campden just to name a few! These coveted destinations are about a 10 to 15 minute drive from the house. 

We are 25-30 minutes away from Worcester and Cheltenham (we are a great base for the Cheltenham Racecourse and the Race Week that comes around in March!).

Stratford Upon Avon is also about a 25 minute drive, meaning you can enjoy a day out in Shakespeare's birth place during your stay with us.

Cotswold AirBnb

We have installed a key box to enable remote check in at the property, this means that all of our guests can check in without the need of us being there. We send all guests a message with the key code on the morning of their arrival so that they can arrive at their leisure after checkin (14:00pm) and also check out on the day of their departure (10:00am).

This new venture is something we are very excited about, we hope that we can continue to offer my home out to families and guests while perfecting our hospitality.

If you come across this post and wish to stay in the area, definitely drop us a message on AirBnB and we will do our upmost to provide availability for you!

Wednesday 12 April 2023

The Days After Louis

Baby Loss Oligiohydramnios

We left the hospital on the 22nd July 2020 without baby Louis. 

Leaving him there in the hospital was perhaps the hardest part of all of this. I had just delivered my baby and now I was leaving with empty arms. Heading home to an empty flat for a full nights sleep that I desperately needed, but also a sleep that should have been disturbed with newborn baby cries and feeds into the twilight hours. 

We had spent the entire day drinking Louis in and memorising the curves of his face. Now it was the evening and it was time to leave him. My Mum drove me home, the feeling of guilt growing with every step I took away from the cold cot, away from the bereavement room, away from the hospital.

As I got into the car and we put miles between Louis and the hospital, I really believed that would be the last time I ever saw him...

The evening was spent eating pizza with Leo at my parents house, and thinking of words to write a Facebook post to announce the arrival and departure of my Louis Christopher to my immediate world. The tears fell silently down my cheeks with each sentence I composed, and they fell even harder when the comments from friends and family started pouring in after learning that despite all the fighting of the last 8 and a bit months, there wasn't to be a happy ending.

Eventually Leo and I returned home to the flat, the flat that never felt like home. I don't recall arriving back or even putting the key in the door. I don't remember getting into bed, I don't remember sleep coming and I don't remember waking up the following morning. 

All I do know is that the next morning, I knew I needed to be back at the hospital. I needed to see Louis again. I couldn't stop thinking about him being all alone in the hospital morgue. My Mum and sister came with me, and we spent a second afternoon in the bereavement room at Worcester Hospital. 

I had brought along a swaddle blanket that I had bought for Louis. It was what he was supposed to spend his first nights fast asleep and dreaming in…I spent time wrapping him up and making him cosy. I found it ironic that I was putting all of these warm aids on him, when ultimately the biggest concern was making sure he was cool enough through this heatwave. 

I asked the midwife for some baby wipes, Louis was still as he had been born. I hadn't thought about cleaning him the previous day, while he was alive I didn't dare move, and once he was gone cleaning him didn't even cross my mind.

Baby Loss Oligiohydramnios

Now my natural instinct was to clean him up. I wanted to see who the baby boy was under the dried blood, I very gently wiped him all over, his face and his hair, revealing his beautiful face as it was meant to be appreciated. Watching his real features appear as the dirt lifted away made me feel like I was finally getting to be a Mum to him, even if it was just for a short time.

Simply cleaning Louis up changed his whole face, it revealed his blonde locks and from certain angles you could almost convince yourself that he was just sleeping. 

By 16:30 we had spent another summer's afternoon within the confined walls of the hospital, stealing every moment that we could. I already knew that I would be back again the following day (July 23rd 2020).

I tucked Louis back up into his blanket and back into his cold cot, and I knew that this wouldn't be his resting place for the night. After I left he would be moved back to the morgue where he would be entirely on his own again. 

Leaving that afternoon was just as hard as it was that first day, and I spent that night going back and forth over bringing him back home with us... 

Suddenly I knew I had to bring Louis home. I needed my baby home for however long I could.

It was a strange realisation, I had gone over and over this while I was pregnant and for a long time I always was going to bring him home. Somewhere along the way, that plan changed. I think out of concern for Leo and how it may effect him. I had a chat with Leo and asked what he thought about bringing Louis home, he jumped at the opportunity. Leo had taken everything the last few days had presented in his stride, and now he just wanted to bring his baby brother home. 

Baby Loss Oligiohydramnios

The 23rd July dawned, and I knew that today I was heading back to the hospital to discuss bringing Louis out of the hospital and back with us to the flat. My bereavement midwife was amazing, as she had been ever since I met her on the run up to my delivery. Straight away she started making all of the arrangements for us to take Louis out of the hospital and transport him in our car back to our modest 4 walls.

We were provided with a cold cot and a police reference number just in case we were pulled over on our journey, and had to explain why we had a deceased baby in our company. Something that I really hadn't considered in all of the thoughts I had had over getting Louis from the hospital back to our home. 

We loaded the cold cot into the car and then we brought Louis out, it all felt very cloak and dagger. It didn't feel like we should be seen, we didn't want to upset anyone else. Louis was placed in the cold cot on the back seat with me, he didn't need a car seat, he didn't even need restraining with a seat belt.

I remember that my Mum was driving, and I remember leaving the hospital for the last time, but I don't remember arriving back at the flat or how we transported Louis from the car and into the flat. From that day, Louis was with us.

Leo had been staying in my room since his dad left at 28 weeks pregnant, my little comfort blanket. This meant that we could set Louis up in Leo's room with his cold cot. We could take Louis out of the cold cot as often as we liked and there was something extremely comforting about having him there with us. 

We were in the midst of a heat wave so I was very worried about how this may affect him, the cot had come with a set of instructions of what we could expect, but we were also advised that we may have to take ice packs from the freezer and put them around him to ensure that he was kept cool enough.

Leo and I would stay up watching television and bring Louis for cuddles on the sofa. It felt completely normal and Leo adored this time with his brother. He got the snuggles and I got the snaps I had always dreamed of having, of my two beautiful boys together. 

A good friend of mine very kindly offered to take some photos of Louis for us, I jumped at the chance. We had some shots taken by a charity when we were in hospital, but I wanted something that I could have my own personal spin on now I had cleaned him up and we were home. We had these new photos taken and I am so pleased that we did. They highlight a time of immense sadness, but also a moment in time that was fleeting and would soon only be in our memories.

Baby Loss Oligiohydramnios

Having this time at home allowed family members and friends to come and meet Louis who wouldn't have ever had the chance to meet him otherwise. Some kept coming back to see us, no one seemed to be worried about meeting him. The most un-natural thing had happened in losing Louis, but having him close to us in the days after his passing and the run up to the funeral was the most natural thing in the world.

On July 24th Taylor Swift released her surprise album, Folklore. This became the soundtrack to Louis being at home. To this day when I hear it playing it takes me right back to being in that flat with Louis and Leo. After everything 2020 had thrown at us, I felt like this album was written for me.

I kept busy in those days, covid and lockdown were still raging on outside the confines of the flat but I had reached a point where covid was the last thing in the world I was worried about. The hospital had very kindly taken casts of Louis's feet with a set I had purchased, and I couldn't wait to get them painted up and framed. When I wasn't painting I was writing bits for the funeral and making plans for our final goodbye all while Folklore played continuously in the background.

I began walking again and exercising a few days post birth, I knew I had to get those endorphins flowing for my own sanity. Walking and Folklore became my therapy as I walked and took in the words, as I began to process all that had come to pass.

Being left how I was left is something I still struggle with. A lockdown, a pregnancy, a baby with a prognosis not compatible with life, another woman, an affair, the lies, the hurt, the mourning of my family, the mourning of Louis. All the milestones that ultimately made me face the rest of my pregnancy alone, the birth without the one person who should have fought fiercely to be by my side. Instead after Louis arrival and departure, I was in the bereavement room all alone. 

Baby Loss Oligiohydramnios

When I wasn't walking I was organising,  I had a wonderful funeral director who was already an acquaintance of mine through work, and I knew that as soon as we got on the phone together we were going to get along just perfectly. We discussed the dates that were available for Louis's funeral and how I wanted it to look. I always thought I would opt for a burial, but actually when the time came I chose cremation. 

I didn't want Louis to be anywhere I wasn't, I knew that I could keep his ashes with me for the rest of time, and perhaps at some point place him in a ring. This was something I was looking at while I was still pregnant, I think I always knew what was going to come to pass despite the blind hope burning.

Louis was due on my birthday, August 8th, and as we were now well on our way into August we decided to have Louis's funeral on August 7th 2020. The day before my birthday. We kept Louis at home with us until July 28th after having him home for 6 days.

I made the decision to take him to the funeral directors when the heat wave persisted and I was just incredibly worried about how this would affect Louis body. Just before 5pm I wrapped Louis up for one final time, I stood and took a photo in front of the mirror just to remember how he looked in my arms and then we got in the car to drove him the short distance to the funeral directors.

Baby Loss Oligiohydramnios

I knew I was leaving my baby boy in safe hands at the funeral directors, and I was invited to pop in to see Louis whenever I wanted to. I did do that a few times over the days that followed. We chose Lous's casket, a beautiful wooden coffin, the smallest I have ever seen. The next time I saw Louis he was placed carefully inside.

With Louis safe from the heat at the funeral directors, it was back home to the confines of the flat to continue planning his final goodbye.

Monday 10 April 2023

The PAJ Power Finder 4G GPS Review

Glyders Snowdonia

 During the lockdown of 2020 as Covid raged without prejudice, I found a comfort in walking. I began walking locally at first but I was covering some serious miles each and everyday and very soon needing a new challenge to push me further. 

When the lockdown eased and we could travel again, I progressed onto walking our local countryside, Bredon Hill and then the Malvern’s. Eventually covering the Malvern Hills from end to end and realising a desire to give some mountain peaks a go! 

By the end of 2021 the other half and I had completed the 3 peaks, Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis. Each were incredible for different reasons, some more challenging because of weather conditions but each a huge achievement in their own right.

We always travelled using our car, and we found that often we were having to leave the car quite remotely and then of course we were covering some large distances. It always worried me that we wouldn’t be able to find the car again, parking up on a quiet Mountain view road and then walking away into the unknown. I often thought it would be a great idea to have some kind of device that would help us find the car again at the end of our adventures….

When you think of a car tracker, you ordinarily consider the anti theft properties or even retrieval of your vehicle post theft, but when I was asked to review the PAJ Power Finder 4G GPS Tracker I knew that there was a real value and sense of calming in always knowing where your car is in relation to yourself (and you can actually see this on the app! You can use your phone to ping your location and exactly where your car is!)

Over the past month we have been putting the tracker through it's paces. Our model arrived ready to go after a short charge, ordinarily you have to follow the short instruction manual that is included within the box.
PAJ Power Finder 4G GPS Tracker

What's in the box?

- PAJ GPS Power Finder 4G

- Charger and cable (please note that the charger is a 2 pin plug, so if you are in the UK you will need to use the USB charger with a compatible plug)

- Power Finder Quickstart Guide

- Power Finder 4G Instruction Manual 

Setting up the PAJ GPS Tracker

PAJ Power Finder Set Up

The tracker comes with absolutely everything you need to get started. Simply scan the QR code on the the quick start guide and it will walk you through the steps on your phone. Here you can purchase your subscription to the PAJ GPS Portal (5.99 a month, £54.99 a year) and get the app downloaded so that you can begin to keep an eye on your vehicle.

Before you use the tracker for the first time though it is recommended that you fully charge it for 8 hours. The battery terminal can be found underneath the plastic cover, as mentioned above if you are in the UK you will need to use a USB plug with the included USB charger as the included plug is 2 pin.

You will know when the tracker is fully charged as all the bars on the battery indicator will be lit and none will be flashing. 

The SIM card is already installed in your tracker and you do not need to take it out or do anything with this. 

Once charged it is time to turn on your tracker for the very first time. Admitedly when I first attempted this I had neglected to read all of the instructions and the other half had to step in and save the day! It's pretty simple though, it's just a case of opening the housing cover, removing the rubber cover and sliding the slider to 'on' and then closing it all back up again.

That's the PAJ GPS Tracker charged and ready to go!

PAJ Power Finder 4G GPS Tracker

Using the PAJ Finder

We have been using the tracker in the other half's BMW, I don't really think my 2010 Skoda is at much risk of being taken... and the reality is we go pretty much everywhere in his car. We have popped the tracker inside the glove compartment where it gets a lovely strong signal, you know if you have a good signal because the Red LED will flash quickly. If it flashes slowly then there is either no signal or it is looking for one.

PAJ Power Finder 4G GPS Tracker

 When you have a good signal your car shows up on the Online Finder App, this is where you can watch your vehicle on the app, it refreshes every 30 seconds, so you can always see where your car is but it does jump when it refreshes if you are following live. 

The app is nice and simple to use and offers a range of features, you can tailor alerts for:

- Vibration - If the tracker gets dropped or lifted

- Low battery

-Speed limit - You can set the speed limit here too.

PAJ Power Finder 4G GPS Tracker

The app provides you with precise, worldwide location data and what I really love is that you can click on your vehicle, and then then open directions to it in Google Maps! This is an absolute god send for us when we head off on our adventures, as we now know that we can always return to the car at the end of play.

I have even used the tracker to pick Leo up from rugby training, the other half took him and I couldn’t recall exactly where it was! Thankfully I could view the car on the app and then export the directions to Google Maps! I was there on time to pick him and bring him back home. 

The battery lasts around 40 days and up to 90 days in stand by mode, as of this review we have not yet had to charge the tracker, but we have set up the low power notifications in the app. When the time comes we will be ready!

We are really pleased with the PAJ Power Finder and it is reassuring to know that we can check in on the car whenever we feel the need. For us it offers a level of security in the event that the car ever would be stolen, but it also has a very practical use for our day to day running. 

Another feature that we have really liked is the speed limit notification. If this has been purchased for a new driver, the wary parent can keep a watchful eye on the fledgling child as they take to the roads but also know if they have been giving care due and attention on the roads.

It's incredibly versatile and easy to use and the other half has already laid claim on the tracker long term. He runs a British Super Bike Race time (BSB) and he is excited to use it in the lorry that carries the race bikes all over the UK. Most importantly he wants it for the security as often the lorry is left fully loaded and if it was stolen, at least we would have a better idea on how to potentially retrieve the contents!

The PAJ Power Finder is available from Amazon for £149.99.

Disclaimer: We were sent the PAJ Power Finder in exchange for this review. All views and opinions are completely honest and my own.