Tuesday 31 March 2015

Best family holidays in Wales

I for one am already casting my mind to distant shores and hoping that this year I get to jet off to sunnier climates as Summer swings around. Whether or not this dream will become a reality is a whole other question in itself, and as the weeks roll by and nothing is booked up, it becomes more apparent that a dream is the only place this will be a reality. 

Of course as much as I would adore to jet off to the blue skies and white sands of tropical lands, there are other options available to us even if we can’t afford to jet off abroad this year. 

There are of course many options right on our doorstep and one of those that has come to mind in recent discussions is taking a holiday to Wales! 

There's not a lot not to love about Wales, it's full of breath-taking national parks, charming villages and countless historical landmarks, Wales is among the most attractive tourist destinations to visit for a jam-packed holiday with your family. It's always growing as a tourist destination as there are endless places to visit, meaning that there is something for absolutely every member of the family, no matter your interests or hobbies, Wales probably has it on offer. Here are some of the best family holidays in Wales:

Cardiff: The capital city of Wales. It’s a modern, metropolitan location that has many roman-era historical sites. It is ideal for family holidays as it gives children a great taste of much of the culture and history. Cardiff offers a large array of entertainment, quality shopping and amazing places to eat and drink. It’s got a lot on offer for a great family break.

Pembroke: An ideal break for those who appreciate the wonders of nature, within close proximity to the town centre, Pembrokeshire is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Wales. Known as the dog-friendly destination, Pembrokeshire has over 50 beaches and endless country footpaths for you to enjoy beautiful walks.

Carmarthen:  The oldest town in Wales, but here you will find the perfect mix of old and new. In the town centre you will find high street names next to independent traders. You can find beautiful handmade crafts, homemade food items and unique clothing. The day will be written off due to the endless hours you will spend walking around the beautiful town that is oozing character.

Aberystwyth: Home to much culture and heritage, Aberystwth is a  University town that is the site of an Iron Age fort built before the coming of the Normans. You can take an unforgettable railway ride on Britain’s longest electric cliff railway and be taken back by the amazing views.
Snowdonia:  A peaceful retreat to get away from madness at home, Snowdonia is located in northern Wales, where the coast stretches for miles. Here you can find many indoor and outdoor activities that are suitable for everyone. Choose from the likes of rock climbing, white water rafting, hiking and much more.

Conwy:  One of the most popular destinations for history enthusiasts is Conwy. Conwy has an authentic atmosphere that makes you feel relaxed. It was built in 13th Century and is a great place to discover mediaeval wales. There are also stunning beaches for those times when you don’t want to go exploring and just, relax and unwind. 

Tip: Look out for great deals online for the likes of UKBreakaways and similar sites.

I am however still hoping to jet off over seas... But that is still a work in progress!

Sea Stars at Birmingham SEA LIFE Centre

Weekends bring adventures, there’s no doubt about that. With the rising sun we can be seen chasing the horizon on the hunt for our next greatest endeavor.  This last weekend we were invited along to the Birmingham SEA LIFE Centre to see the all new Sea Stars Exhibit.

As soon as I told Leo about our weekend plans, he couldn't stop talking about the Penguins. On the weeks running up to our visit, Leo has been so excited about all that he will see and the things that he will do on his next visit. His memory is so amazing these days, and he can cast his mind back to previous visits. We have been a few times already in the past year, and the latest addition upon our last visit, actually happened to be the Penguins.

Living in Worcestershire, the commute into Birmingham isn’t a tough one and there is parking in close proximity to the SEA LIFE Centre which is always welcome. We arrived early before the SEA LIFE Centre was actually opened to the public so that we could be one of the first to experience the Sea Stars attraction. We signed in and were greeted by the team and were pointed in the right direction.

First up is the Penguins, this is a firm favourite for the entire family. I love watching them waddle around after one another, jumping out of the water onto dry land and then all diving back in one after the other. They are like real life Happy Feet, and there is something quite calming about watching them. Leo loves them, he gets down on the floor so that he can watch them as they fly around under the water, seeing sights that you don’t see all that often. It’s like a complete other world.

We tend to follow Leo’s lead when we visit, and we were thankful that on this occasion he seemed to be taking things slowly and pacing himself. This meant that Daddy and I got to have a proper look at everything and really take everything in. Leo stopped to inspect the rock pool but decided he wasn’t brave enough on this occasion to touch the Star Fish, Daddy on the other hand decided to give it a go! That’s one of the great things about the SEA LIFE Centre, there are so many different things to see and do, something for every age and interest.

We stopped for ages just watching the Clown Fish swimming around, and I found myself and Leo both mesmerised as we watched two clown fish brushing up against the sea anemone just like in Finding Nemo. Of course we had to keep our eyes peeled for  Dory too.

As we moved around we came across creatures from all over the world. Sting Rays, Jelly Fish, Sea Horses, and of course.. Star Fish. As we got to the area that used to hold all of the very beautiful Jellies, we were met with a brand new part of the tour. Sea Stars! The first thing I noticed was the tanks with cut outs in the rocks, making room for young and old alike to place their head inside the bubble and see the world housing the beautiful Star Fish from a whole new angle. I loved this and of course had to be the first to give it a go. I did manage to bump my head in the process, much to Luke’s delight! I always have been a big kid at heart!

As we moved around the Sea Stars I noticed a big tank that was pretty murky, and among the murky waters was the biggest Star Fish I think that I have ever seen. For the first 5 minutes or so as I peered into the tank, I thought this Star Fish was a plastic model, not for one moment did I think it was…Alive! It was round about then that a very helpful member of staff came over and told me the story to the larger than life Star Fish inhabiting the murky tank. For starters he was real, and very much alive. Up until that very morning the waters had been clear and ready for the Sea Stars grand un-veiling. It was only that morning that the cheeky Star Fish decided to test the waters so to speak…In the hope that there were some lady Star Fish around to reap the benefits… I was told that it’s a very rare occurrence and that they only do it when they are very comfortable, and out of all the days for it to happen…

Around the Sea Stars there is lots of information to hand, quirky facts that I actually had no idea about. In fact there was and is so much that I didn’t know about Star Fish, crazily I didn’t actually think they could move, but I was wrong. Although I didn’t witness it myself, I apparently just missed some rather sizeable Star Fish wiggle their way, quite quickly across one of the tanks! Now that is something I wish I had seen with my own eyes! There are computer aids and Leo enjoyed having a play around with those before we made our way out and carried on our tour around the rest of the SEA LIFE Centre.

We were all really impressed with the new Sea Stars attraction and came away knowing much more about the mysterious Star Fish than we knew before visiting. It is certainly worth a visit to see the new addition, and of course the larger than life Star Fish himself!

On this occasion we decided not to head into the 4D Cinema, Leo gets a little worried about the water splashing out and he hasn’t forgotten about the time I brought him back in September, so for the sake of arguments we decided to keep going forward. We then came face to face (So to speak) with the Piranhas! I think they are fascinating, and told Leo about how vicious they could be, and that was exactly why they were in a tank with very high sides, so that people couldn't poke their fingers in. Of course Leo looked at me like I was bonkers and said ‘You winding me up Mummy!’.  Of course we all know that I was being perfectly honest, but we will save that argument for another day and hope that he doesn’t try and make friends with any Piranha’s in the coming days…

We made our way to the lift to take us down to the walk through bubble, this part is always rather spectacular and I have fond memories of visiting as a child. Although within those memories are the ones that still put a humorous smile on my face to this day. As a young child, I remember being told that we were heading for a family trip to the SEA LIFE Centre. Then my parents told me all about the bubble you could go into and see the fish. In my head a bubble is a circular object, or a sort of pod. So in my head before visiting I had dreamed up very high expectations of what this bubble would be like. The bubble would pop up out of the water, a door would open to the glass pod allowing me to climb inside, and it would then lock tight and dive back down into the watery depths! I do remember tears when I discovered that this ‘bubble’ wasn't quite what I had in mind, but we can blame my over active imagination for that one!

We spent a while just watching the sharks swimming around among the sea of fish, and then laid eyes on my favourite creature. The Sea Turtle. He really is something else and so majestic.

You can see a snippet of our exciting day at the SEA LIFE Centre, and all of the exciting creatures that we came across! The new Sea Stars attraction is definitely worth visiting and we look forward to our next visit in the coming months.

Disclaimer: We were invited along to the SEA LIFE Centre for the Sea Stars opening. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Time Tower at Warwick Castle

The weather is starting to brighten up and the cold days are relenting giving way to warmer trips outdoors, so when my little family were invited along the Time Tower un-veiling at Warwick Castle over the weekend, we were very excited to spend the day at one of our favourite local attractions.

We have visited the historic grounds a handful of times over recent years, and each time a little bit more is opened up to us as Leo is that little bit older. The last time we visited especially to meet the one and only Mike the Knight and we dedicated a whole day to the activities that were on offer, this time are purpose for visiting was to be one of the first people to see the brand new attraction. Time Tower.

Time Tower is the brand new attraction to Warwick Castle,  it is unlike anything else that is currently on offer to visitors of the historical grounds, and offers a sophisticated technical time travel experience for families to hurtle right from 914AD, right through to modern day, combining all of the stories from the middle ages, War of The Roses, The Tudors and the Victorian Era. There are so many myths and legends surrounding Warwick Castle’s past, and for the first time…ever. The true story of Warwick Castle’s dark history of death, treachery and bloodshed will be told in full in the Time Tower.  I’ll elaborate on this exciting development a little later on!

We arrived at the castle around 11:00am ready for an exciting day of discovery, and with Leo leading the way (only dropping behind occasionally because his feet hurt…) we were ready for a day full of family fun. We were directed to the Conservatory which is nestled on the Castle grounds overlooking the beautiful gardens, it’s a new venue that will be opening to the public very soon for food and beverages. We were lucky enough to get to enjoy some of the delicious cakes that will be on offer, and between the 3 of us, we wolfed down the entire selection! If you are visiting Warwick Castle soon, I must insist that you pop in and enjoy a cake (or two!) while looking out at the beautiful gardens.

It was here that the rest of the press group were gathering ready for our Time Tower preview, so after everyone had over indulged in the rather generous selection of goodies available, we were shown over to the Time Tower.

We all lined up and were split into smaller groups to accommodate for the audience sizes, and group by group we were lead in. Our group was the last group to get inside, and once we went through the gates we found ourselves in a room with screens and seating. Everyone sat down and looked ahead… patiently waiting. Leo was on his best behavior, he sat on the bench next to me and curiously asked questions about what was going on. Within a few moments the screens in front of us sprung to life and we were walked through the history of the castle in a series of clips, video footage and graphics. I for one learnt a thing or two that I didn't know before!

With the introduction over you make your way out of the back of the room and head up some windy spiral stairs (typical castle staircases!) to another room that features a model of the grand Castle. This is what really impressed me, how the model castle was used to demonstrate the destruction and peace that has been part of Warwick Castle’s past. This is where the technical aspects make Time Tower a visual master piece, and I couldn't take my eyes off the model castle as the history unfolded right before my very eyes. Leo was asking so many questions and watching the model so intently.

Figment Productions who are the creative team behind the LEGO Factory Toy Experience at LEGOLAND Discovery Centres and Octonauts at SEA LIFE, has used their 3D Scanning and modelling experience to create a scale model of Warwick Castle, that transforms through the times with projection mapping and 4D effects. This is all complimented by Green Screen filming, CGI and visual effect techniques! 

Time Tower may be aimed at older children, but there is nothing stopping younger children going along and enjoying the experience all the same.

When your time finishes in this room you head down a further stair case where you come across a number of portraits (screens). The portraits reminded me of what you would find in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and given the castle settings I didn’t think that was too farfetched! Once the group has assembled again, the portraits walk you through more of the castles colourful history, and just like Harry Potter, the occupants of the portraits can move among each other and even communicate! Certainly a magical experience for the children in your group!

I won’t go reveal much more of the details as I don’t want to give too much away, but Time Tower is visually stunning, informative and really interesting. It is going to make a fantastic addition to the already jam packed itinerary at Warwick Castle, and I think it is safe to say that it is going to be greatly received by the general public when it opens its doors on the 28th March 2015.

The rest of the day was spent enjoying the castle grounds and climbing the Ramparts, this was a first for Leo as each visit before had seen us bringing the pushchair, and we didn’t want to risk climbing the 530 steps only to find Leo wanted carrying! So on Saturday, Leo…My 3 year old climbed the 530 steps to the very top. He saw it more of an adventure than something he had to do, he absolutely loved it. He maneuverer around Guys Tower like a boss, and pretended to shoot the rather big gun out of the watchman’s tower.

We enjoyed a very lovely lunch in the State Room, which is right within the castle itself. As you can see from the photos, it’s absolutely gorgeous and we had a real feast. After lunch we informed Leo that Mike the Knight was indeed in the building (Or should I say Castle!) that day, and we made our way over to the meet and greet.

We saw so much more of the castle on this occasion and we had such a lovely family day together. Leo always has the most amazing time when we visit, so we will be sure to come again in the not so distant future.

Disclaimer: We were invited along to Warwick Castle for the press preview of Time Tower. All views and opinons expressed are completely honest and my own.

Open, Light & Authentic: How to Get the Nordic Look in Your Home

Getting the Nordic look in your home comes down to choosing the proper woods and designs. You can check out this page to see the kinds of furniture that offer this aesthetic and you can use these simple instructions to create a Nordic feeling inside your house.

#1: Light Woods

The woods that you choose must look like they came in directly from the forest. The lightest woods are most like the woods that you would find the forests of Norway or Sweden, and these woods help to create furniture that looks light on its own. Choosing darker woods hurts the Nordic image because those trees do not grow in Scandinavia.

#2: Light Construction

You should choose furniture pieces that are designed with the lightest construction possible. These furniture pieces should have very few parts, and they should look small enough to fit in a mountain cabin. Your choice of large furniture pieces and heavy woods will damage the Nordic aesthetic because Nordic carpenters must work in the cold nearly all year. They use the lightest woods possible to make their work easier, and they use lighter construction to conserve materials.

#3: Authenticity

There are many authentic pieces -- all signed or dated by the artisan. You can choose pieces that actually came from the old country, or you can choose pieces that look like they belong in the old country. You want to be as authentic as possible when you are decorating your house, and you can ask an associate to help you choose the right pieces for your home.

#4: Open Design

The open design of a furniture piece makes it look much more Nordic in style. These furniture pieces are built to be as light as possible, and they tend to have an open design that helps them to stand. A desk or table that is in the Nordic style is going to have higher legs and much more space for people to sit. 

You can make your home look Nordic if you buy the right furniture. Consider how you can make your home look authentic with the designs above.

Monday 23 March 2015

The Catimini Boys Down Jacket Review

Spring may be on the way, but for the moment Leo and I are still living in our warm winter coats trying to avoid the all too familiar British chill. In recent weeks Leo has been sent a rather beautiful Winter Catimini coat to review from Petit Fashion.

I picked it out from among all of the other gorgeous coats that Petit Fashion retail, because this one was just Leo, and I knew as soon as I saw it that he would look the bee’s knees in it. We opted to ge the Catimini boys navy down jacket in age 4 so that it could see Leo through next Winter as well, as in reality the weather will be warming up very soon and I wanted to make sure that he would get the most possible wear out of it.

The jacket features faux leather detailing over the shoulders, two side pockets for all the little items that Leo decides to store away, a zip fastening and a lovely fleece lining to keep him toasty and warm. The coat is filled with 70% down and 30% feather, so this coat really is going to be great over the colder months.

As soon as the jacket arrived I invited Leo to come and have a look, he wanted to wear it right away. We weren’t actually going anywhere at that moment in time, in fact it was almost bedtime, but Leo wanted to wear it there and then! So Leo modeled his new coat for us and strutted back and forth around the lounge. Then the next day he decided he was going to have to wear it to nursery to show all of his friends, and I may have been a bit precious here.. But because it is such a beautiful coat, and one that I want him to be able to wear over the coming year.. I insisted he wear his old coat and keep his special coat at home so that it didn't get damaged at school.

Our first trip out with the Catimini was when the car decided to start making a funny noise, so armed with Leo’s new coat and stroller we dropped the car off at the garage and decided to stroll into town and spend the day in the park and feeding the ducks. Getting Leo out of the car and ready for our stroll, I instructed him to put on his coat and he instantly exclaimed ‘I love my warm coat Mummy!’ and happily assisted me with everything that needed to be done before we left the car. It was a sunny but chilly day and I wanted to make sure that Leo was going to be warm enough, especially as he was strapped into the buggy for the walk in.

Of course Leo kept telling me how warm he was, and I only had to place my finger inside his sleeve to know that there was absolutely no way he was feeling cold. He was so warm even just sitting in the buggy. It was about a 25 minute walk to the park from the garage and when we were there, Leo was up and out ready to enjoy his time there. We fed the ducks, played on the swings and of course the tunnel slide!

It was a beautiful day all be it a cold one, and although I found it a little chilly, Leo in his rather snazzy warm coat didn’t seem to notice or mind in the slightest.

The Catimini Boys Down Jacket is from Petit Fashion and is currently on offer at £55.00 down from £122.00. The sizes are fair and Leo at 3 is happily wearing a size 4, and he will continue to get lots of wear out of this next winter. Leo and myself are very pleased with the coat and the overall quality.

Doesn’t he look super?

Disclaimer: Leo was sent the Catimini Boys Down Jacket in exchange for our honest review. All views and opinons expressed are completely honest and my own.

Thursday 12 March 2015

Debenhams Flowers For Mothers Day

With Mothers Day being the next big date on the calendar, we had all better start casting our minds to the treats we will be inflicting (I mean giving of course!). I guess it depends what route you go down? Is there something that she wants? Something that she REALLY doesn’t want? Stuck? Well you can’t go wrong with a beautiful bunch of flowers can you?

Flowers really do show that you care, they are a lovely gesture and are always greatly received, because who does not love receiving a bunch of flowers? Especially on Mother’s Day.

Debenhams Flowers are all kitted out and ready with their Mothers Day Flowers, they have a bouquet to suit every budget (Prices start from £18.99) and a truly beautiful selection. You order them online and have them delivered directly to your front door, and that’s exactly what I have had done for my Mum this year. I chose the Designer Elle Bouquet that boast beautiful Avalanche Roses, set amongst Lilac and Scented Lillies. They truly are beautiful and I know that they are going to be enjoyed.

Ordering is really simple and all you have to do is fill out the recipient’s name, address and specify the delivery date required. They are delivered by the Royal Mail Floral Courier and are guaranteed your Flower Delivery to arrive on the day specified.

The Designer Elle Bouquet retails at £54.99 and having received the flowers today, I can confirm that they look beautiful and smell just as good as they look. For the price I did expect the bouquet to be a little more substantial, but aside from that I am really pleased with this specific bouquet and the over all Debenhams Flowers experience.

If you are still looking for the perfect Mother’s Day gift I am really pleased to be able to provide my readers with 25% off a bouquet of your choice, it really couldn’t be easier to order your Debenhams Flowers by Post!  Simply enter: DFBLOG25 at the checkout to receive your exclusive discount.

Disclaimer: We were sent the above bouquet in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinoons are completely honest and my own.

Visiting Aylesbury: Top 10 Attractions

This year is already off to a flying start, and I am sure I must have blinked at some point and by passed the whole of Christmas.. Because suddenly Easter is on the horizon! I do enjoy Easter, the bank holiday weekend and getting chance to spend the time with the entire family… The chocolate also makes it that little bit more bearable, but really it’s the opportunity to get out and about and visit places and attractions together with your loved ones.

This Easter we are looking to visit Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, it’s just under a 2 hour drive from us so we will be looking to fill up a few days of the best attractions to suit the entire (extended, think Granny and Granddad!) family! Of course this means that we have to think about many different needs, we have to find attractions that will appeal to a wider audience and also keep our mischievous 3 year old entertained in the process.

Top 10 Attractions

With the needs that we need to meet in mind I have been having a look online at the attractions that will best suit us over the Easter Break.

1. Abbotts View Alpacas are a small family run farm and they specialise in breeding Huacaya Alapacas, Berkshire Pigs, Pygmy Goats, Greyface Dartmoore Sheep, Manx Loaghtan Sheep and Miniature Ponies, along with Guinea Pigs, Rabbits and Ducks! Visiting is by pre-booking only and there is so much to do once you are there, so it really is a family destionation for old and young. Fancy taking a Alapaca for a walk? No problem.

2. Waddesdon Manor is a must on our list for Granny and Granddad, and is an ideal place to spend the day with the family. You can take a walk around the formal gardens and take in the now blossoming Snowdrops and Daffodils (Spring is coming!) or enjoy the stately home. I am sure that we can persuade Leo to look around the house for a short period of time, but I think he may enjoy the garden’s more than the house it’self.

3. Buckinghamshire Railway Centre is a destination that I know a certain 3 year old will want to go before I even mention it. If it is a train then Leo will be one very happy little guy, and visiting a 25 acre working steam museam… Well that is just the cherry on his cake. It features one of the UK’s largest locomotive collections, rolling stock and railway memrobillia, and even on special days offers guests the chance to take a train ride!

4. Roald Dahl Children’s Gallery is a place that I myself would love to visit, never mind the kids! It’s a chance to discover the oh so magical world of Roald Dahl himself, I have such fond memories of reading his stories back in my childhood, Matilda, The Twits, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and we can’t forget his twist on the traditional fairytales. I was actually only reading those to Leo the other week, and I had forgotten how funny they are. 

If we have time we will certainly be wanting to visit:

5. Buckinhamshire County Museum

6. Stoke Mandeville Stadium

7. Whipsnade Zoo

8. Milton Keynes Museum

9. The Old Gaol Museum

10. Silverstone Race Track

So we have found a great selection of different things to do together over the Easter half term, but with the drive being around the 2 hour mark we are definitely going to want to stay over and turn it into a break.

Accommodation in Aylesbury

 When we visit a destination we like to know that we are going to have everything that we may need, a nice room, access to the local area but enough distance from the hustle and bustle so that when we return to the hotel, we can simply relax. 

We came across the Holiday Inn Aylesbury and liked that it is set in a semi-rural location on the outskirts of Aylesbury. It's easy to reach from the M25, M40 & M1 which makes it a great option for us travelling in, The hotel is a great base for visiting Silverstone, Stoke Mandeville Stadium, Whipsnade Zoo, Bicester Village Outlet Shopping Centre and RAF Halton.

The Holiday Inn hotel in Aylesbury boasts 139 bedrooms in all and they all come equipped with high speed internet! What more could a blogger neeed?  Then of course there is the Junction Restaurant, Hub bar and lounge and not to forget the Spirit Health and Fitness Club that even includes an indoor swimming pool, steam room, gym, sauna, spa and two beauty treatment rooms.

We have lot's planned for our Easter Break and are really looking forward to some time away, and of course enjoying some sights!

Disclaimer: This is a featured post.

Wednesday 11 March 2015

44 Months Old

A month can change so many things, and the more I watch you Leo, the more I realise how much you have grown and developed. All of a sudden you are reciting the days of the week to me, and I have to admit that the first time you did it you caught me completely off guard. I had no idea that you knew how to do this! I felt a warm wave wash over me, I was so proud of you and happy that you were absorbing new life lessons that you were going to need come September.

You were talking non stop (I mean…Non stop!) and coming out with so many new things. It was just the other evening at dinner that you told me to ‘Stop nagging me Mummy!’ and in that second I forgot completely what I was telling you not to do, and just laughed. You…My 3 year old…Had just told me, your Mum to stop nagging you. There was something ironic about that that really did tickle me.

Your sense of humour is always something that I have adored about you and with your speech coming on so quickly now, it has been fascinating to hear you coming out with your own little jokes in an attempt to wind me up. It was just this evening that you decided to attempt using the potty for a number 2, it's still something you really don't want to do, and usually wait for your bedtime nappy to go on to do your business.. But I persuaded you tonight. You sat there for ages, and I sat with you. You did a bit, but you got frustrated and told me 'It's stuck, it's gone to sleep' and then you said 'Oh no! More wee come out! Stupid wee wee!' and then you got pretty rivaled because you just couldn't go, and that wee of your's had a mind of it's own!

You tell tall stories and let your imagination run away with you, and that is just beautiful to behold. At bedtime we always, always sit and have a cuddle with a story, a long cuddle where you lie on my arm and snuggle in tight. It’s my favourite time of the day, and despite what mood you were in when you came up to bed, angry, sad or excited, you always wind down to the perfect snuggle mood and we share a special half hour just you and I. Daddy tells us that we drag bedtime out and that you have me wrapped right around your little finger, and he’s probably right, but that time is so precious, and I steal it when the opportunity presents itself.

The other evening when we lay there we were talking about big school, you don’t seem totally sold on leaving nursery and starting your new school quite yet, and I explained that it was all part of growing up. Somehow the conversation managed to go from school… to the tooth fairy and how sometime in the next few years, your baby teeth would start to come out to be replaced with your grown up teeth. You sounded particularly interested in this and began to tell me how you currently had baby teeth and that I had grown up teeth. I told you that the baby teeth that come out will be taken away by the tooth fairy, and that you have to place the tooth under your pillow at night so that she can fly in and collect it for her tooth palace. Your face said it all, you were amazed, you told me that the tooth fairy was Tinkerbell and that she could come and play trains with you in your room and that she could then stay and sleep on your bed.

Your kind nature is something that everyone is commenting on at the moment, it’s like your old before your time. A complete gentleman. While I am lay in bed with you, you turned to me and said ‘Mummy, you lie on my arm now?’ and with that you are asking if you can cuddle me! You my boy are going to be a real heartbreaker one day!

We were out for lunch one day last week (In Subway of course!) and as usual you reserve the table while I line up to get our cheeky lunch. I could hear you chatting away to an elderly lady and asking her all sorts of questions, and she looked really pleased that you wanted to talk to her. When I came back to the table with your lunch, the lady turned to me and told me what a well behaved little boy you were. She said you were completely gorgeous! It is the most amazing feeling when a stranger comments on how well you behave and how lovely you are, because these are things I already know, but it is so amazing to hear someone else see those same qualities in you that I do. Then when the lady got up to leave, you rushed over to the doorway and swung the door open for her to leave, completely on your own accord. You stood there until she had left the building and the returned to finish off your lunch.

My little gentleman.

Of course with all of your many qualities it has to be noted that you have been a bit of a grumpy bum this month. I think nursery is really tiring you out at present, but of course at least that means I have no problem getting you to bed in an evening! You have been so excited about your birthday creeping up, it seems a little mad that come the end of June I am going to have a 4 year old on my hands! We have been discussing what you would like to do, and whether you would like a birthday party this year. Which of course you do! You seem to have settled on a Thomas theme for your 4th birthday, which means I am going to have to get lots of cake practice in if you expect a Thomas cake this year!

I have been looking at venues and even found the perfect bouncy castle for your big day, so the next couple of months are going to be requiring some serious party planning! Because obviously we will be inviting all of your nursery friends!

So we have had yet another busy month, filled with days out and lots of quality family time. And we are now on the run up to your big day and of course finding out if you have got into our chosen school for you in April! Time is seriously flying and I don’t like it one bit, but we are having a great time and I couldn’t be happier about the little boy your turning into.

Until next month little man…

Tuesday 10 March 2015

A Netflix Original Series: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

It’s no secret that I love a good boxset, in fact I love my television and Netflix subscription whole heartedly. When I am not having to endure Leo’s latest favourite film over and over again, I can quite happily slink into bed and plough through my current boxset addiction. When I start to watch something, I blitz it pretty quickly, everything I watch these days is almost always on demand, and when I cast my mind back to the ‘olden days’ where I would have to wait an ENTIRE week for my next fix, I wonder how I survived it.

For the last year I have been on board with Netflix as part of their #StreamTeam, it’s a role that I have felt very privileged to be awarded, and one that I thoroughly enjoy. I was so excited to discover that this role was being extended into the year ahead (Yes I may have squealed!) and the excitement didn’t stop there. Oh no! I was then invited to London to an exclusive Netflix Stream Team event, for the un-veiling of their latest Netflix Original series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

If that wasn’t enough excitement, the invite was for me and me alone. Leo was to stay at home while I was spoilt rotten and pampered in the rather swanky Soho Hotel, where cocktails and wine were on the cards from 12:00pm and massages and manicures were there to be taken advantage of. Not to mention the very attentive staff who couldn’t do enough for you, and that was before Netflix provided everyone with big foam hands to get their attention! Of course it is needless to say that I made sure I enjoyed a massage and got my nails (they were crying out for a good polish after being abandoned for many, many months!) done.

It was a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and make some new ones, I got to see the beautiful Charlotte from Berice Baby and even meet the wonderful Jess from Lily Pod and Sweet Pea. It was such a lovely day, and the three of us hit it off right away and spent the day enjoying the child free time and obviously had one to many cocktails, which of course made playing around with the new Selfie Sticks we had acquired a rather hilarious experience.

With the Stream Team fed and watered it was time to make our way into the screening of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, where we were to be some of the first people to enjoy the new show before it launched on Friday 6th March 2015.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt centre’s around Kimmy Schmidt, who has spent many years being locked away in a underground shelter, after being abducted by a priest who has brainwashed Kimmy and her new found Mole sisters into thinking that the apocalypse has ended the world, and that they are now the only living beings left.

The series starts with the rescue of the Mole sisters and so begins Kimmy’s journey. After being kept captive for so many years, the world is not what she remembers and she realises early on that it is going to be a struggle to find a sense of normality. The other Mole sister’s want to head backt to their home town’s but Kimmy wishes to stay in New York and make a new life for herself, she knows that going home will mean being seen as a victim, and staying in New York provides the opportunity to carve an entirely new existence for herself.

Unbrakeable Kimmy Schmidt is hilarious, and I thoroughly enjoyed each of the 3 episodes that we watched. I laughed, a lot, and so did everyone around me for that matter. The show was clever and flowed so well. Yes the scenarios are out there, but that’s part of it’s charm. Ultimately the show is about a girl who just wants to fit in and live a normal life, and who out there doesn’t want that?  Of course life has a knack of not going the way you plan for it too, and as if poor Kimmy hasn’t had enough bad luck, she is about to find out just how un-predictable life can be.

This is a series that I am thoroughly enjoying, if a show has the power to make laugh then it’s a winner in my eyes. The show is live on Netflix to stream right now, so if your looking for a new boxset to enjoy, I highly recommend giving Unbrakeable Kimmy Schmidt a try.

It’s love at the first episode! 

I had such a fantastic day with Netflix and my fellow Stream Team, it was so lovely to just sit back and have my nails done while sipping one of the very tasty cocktails, and it was nice to just have a bit of time just for me. Thank you Netflix for spoiling us all rotten and I am so excited to be on board for 2015!

Disclaimer: I was invited along to the Netflix Original Unbrakeable Kimmy Schmidt Screening as part of the #ScreenTeam. All views and opinons expressed are completely honest and my own.

Finding Me

9 months ago I set myself a challenge. That challenge was to shed a few lbs and get back into my size 8 clothing. I just wanted to feel more myself again, and ultimately feel comfortable in the clothes I longed to wear.

It was a challenge I had set myself time and time again, one that never happened, one that seemed to share the same probability as me venturing on a trip to Mars. The idea seemed laughable and impossible. But it only seemed that way because I didn’t believe in myself,  and when you don’t believe, you don’t give yourself a real chance or a shot at achieving your goals.

How can you set out to change if you aren’t really ready to change, or really want to? Or even believe that you can change? Or you aren’t prepared to put the time and energy into it? You can’t. It really is that simple. A challenge like this really does require you to WANT to change, to BELIEVE that you can change and have the WILLPOWER to make those modifications to your lifestyle that will allow the changes you want begin to happen.

It’s actually amazing what you can do when you believe in yourself. Now I don’t mean to come across as cheesy, but that’s the truth of it. When you believe you can do something, you will find a way to accomplish it.

It’s not going to happen overnight, it’s going to take time and effort. Lots of effort. Yes there are going to be days where all you want to do is reach for the nearest chocolate bar, some days you will. That’s ok. We all need a treat every now and again, but what counts is all those other days that you DON’T reach for the chocolate bar. What counts are all those other day’s that you plan your meals and stick to them, the days you walk instead of taking the car, or even join the gym.

By taking lots of little steps you will soon see them transform into something more, you don’t need to take gigantic leaps all in one go, it’s all about paving the way for a sustainable lifestyle, because ultimately that’s what you are doing. You are changing your life, it’s not just a diet you are implementing, it’s a lifestyle.

When I started out in June all I did was remove all the rubbish from my life. Instead of a can of Coca Cola I would have a bottle of water. Ok so I am a bit fussy and don’t drink tap water, so instead I buy bottled water. I have them to hand and can grab them when leaving the house, they are great for work and I justified the cost as I no longer buy cans of Coke. I began to eat healthier meals and waved goodbye to the weekly takeaways that I was admittedly eating far too many of. Just by making those small changes I was well on the way, my weight started to decrease and I was heading in the right direction.

9 months later I have lost 25lbs, changed my lifestyle, joined the gym and began to tone up. In under a year I have found a confidence I never knew I could have, a waistline I didn't think I would ever achieve and a new challenge. A new challenge because with a little self-belief and willpower I have achieved my original goal, I got back into my size 8 clothing, I actually even replaced my wardrobe just because I could!

So what’s my next goal? My next challenge is to tone up further, I want to be completely comfortable in my skin. It’s no longer about being skinny or thin, it’s about being strong and lean. So over the rest of this year I am going to be doing just that, working hard at home and at the gym and continuing to eat well.

This time last year I never thought I would be going to the gym every night, I didn’t think I would head out in PUBLIC for a jog or that I would fit in a dress that I have NEVER fit in since I obtained it. But I have done all of that, and now I want to push forward with my overall fitness.

I have even been enjoying extra protein in recent weeks in the form of PureTrition which is a Chocolate flavoured high protein energy supplement, that has been made from multiple organic sources. I have found it really beneficial before a work out to give me a bit of extra energy, and post work out to help pick me back up and aid muscle recovery. I have been mixing the protein up in my Nutribullet with a banana and almonds, and this makes a rather tasty smoothie and a great breakfast alternative. I find the smoothie very filling and it wakes me up and gives me bags of energy (More so than a cup of tea!). It keeps me going until my mid-morning snack and is something I can enjoy during a busy morning at work.

Being a Mum means that I come across other Mum’s, Mum’s who want to lose weight and achieve goals. I was at the school gates just the other day when I heard one parent talking to another about a meal replacement diet. I just wanted to jump into the conversation and tell her to save her money. Just invest in your grocery shop, put the chocolate and crisps back, and instead buy fruit and vegetables. You really don’t need to subsidise food, you just need to eat well. It’s surprising how when I am talking to fellow Mum’s they all say ‘I wish I could do this, I wish I had your determination’. It’s all there to be taken, you just have to ask yourself how much you want to change. I have even had people say ‘Wait until you have kids! You won’t be able to shed the weight then!’ of course I have Leo, and when I tell them this, they look shocked, like I have just use a curse word in front of them.

I don’t blame my weight gain on pregnancy, my weight gain came down to my love of un-healthy food and drink and a complete lack in exercise. I put the weight on all by myself, and I have lost it all myself too. Anyone can do it, absolutely anyone!

What I would say to anyone looking to lose weight or start toning up, is set realistic goals. The journey really does come down to what you are eating, as they say ‘abs are made in the kitchen’, and they couldn’t be more right. The next step is to throw all of those excuses that are holding you back to the floor, stamp on them, crush them! That leads me on to moving more, leave the car at home, do a few more body slams on those excuses… just in case and take a stroll instead,  just with those few changes you are heading in the right direction.

I was petrified at the prospect of going to the gym, of how I would look using the equipment, and actually having no clue on how to use any of it! But I have been pleasantly surprised. People are kind, helpful and only there to train themselves, they won’t be watching you, they won’t be judging you, they are there for one reason and one reason only. If like me though you do happen to feel a little conscious, dress for the occasion. Treat yourself to some new gym wear, something you feel confident in. It will make the world of difference.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been trying out the new Helly Hanson Fitness Wear, and I love it. I was sent the W Aspire Lite Flow top and the VTR Printed Capri bottoms. I absolutely love them, they provide comfort when I am working out and I feel great in them.

The Capri bottoms come in a range of colours and I have them in Navy with Pink detailing on the lower leg. They boast X-Cool Quick Dry Fabric and are nice and stretchy, ideal for when you are in the throes of an energetic workout or having an mad half hour on the cross trainer. I have been using them at the gym and when I have been out for a jog. Jogging is an entirely new way of training for me, but I have actually surprised myself with my stamina (I didn’t know I had any!). In the last week I have been running to the gym as my car has been out of action, it’s about a half hour walk, but my fitness has improved quite drastically over the last 9 months and I have somehow pulled it off! These bottoms have quickly become one of my favourite to work out in, and I love the style. I have actually been asked at the gym where they are from and where they can pick a pair up which is always a bonus right!? They retail on Helly Hanson for £50.00.

The W Aspire Lifa Flow Singlet adds to the outfit choice and is again one of my favourites to work out in, the fabric used in this has been formulated through years of research and testing in order to provide us with the moisture management that it provides today. It has been designed to pull heat and sweat away from the skin, which in turn helps to keep you cool and dry when you need it the most. The material is thin and boasts light mesh on the back to accommodate on warmer days, and really is a godsend when you are either running or in a gym setting. I have this top in baby Blue and Pink and really like it, it retails at £30.00 with Helly Hanson.

I am so excited about the coming months and the Summer beginning to roll around. I feel like I have come so far in the the last 9 months and it is great to finally start seeing the fruits of my labor. 

Disclaimer: I have received the above items in exchange for my honest opinion. All views expressed are completely honest and my own.