Tuesday 21 July 2015

Run the Race for Life with Kiqplan

Kayla Itsines BBG Guide

I have been blogging about my fitness for over a year now, I can't quite believe that the time has ticked away so quickly. I recently shared my 12 month update with you all, how I had got on, how I had changed in ways other than with the obvious weight loss. A year doesn't really sound like a long time, but it is amazing what you can achieve when you set your mind and your efforts in the right direction. 

Of course like any idea, you need fuel to get off the ground. For me starting out on this journey, it was completely foreign to me. I had no idea where to start, how to train my body, how to achieve results. We don't all have the financial means to hire a personal trainer to map everything we should be doing out for us, we don't all have that kind of time to afford to someone. For parent's out there like me who want to make a change, it really can all be done at home.

That's exactly where the Kiqplan app comes into the equation. The app is just like having your own personal coach at your side, except that it is all on your terms, and your terms alone. It guides you through exactly what you need to do in order to build up your capabilities and find your strength. The app can be completely tailored to your own individual needs and has been designed with the goal of shifting you off the coach and to get out running a race within 12 weeks! No matter your fitness level when you commence Kiqplan, you will be training up your fitness so that you can run the Race for Life 5k or even 10k race

Train with Kiqplan and run the Race for Life!

'Ladies, lace up your trainers because Kiqplan is here to get you ready for battle! Kiqplan, a digital coaching plan, will stay with you every step of the way for the next 12 weeks, getting you ready for the big day. Whether your goal is to run, walk or charge your way round to the finish line, we've got you covered with 5k and 10K plans to get you there.

Kiqplan is designed to help women of all ages, shapes and sizes and uses information from your activity tracker, smart phone or app about the number of steps you take or calories you eat to design a training plan specifically for you.'

I have certainly improved my stamina in the past year, and although the most running I have done has been going for a jog, I am tempted to don my best running shoes and see how I fare in a race. Maybe even the Race for Life. It would be a massive achievement for the girl, who 12 months ago didn't do much else other than watch Netflix and sip a can of Coca Cola, let alone run a race!

I think this year is my year for something like this, and it really would be a true test of how far I have come, a new challenge to sink my teeth into, while doing a good deed at the same time!

You can download the App for just 4.99 from both the Apple and Android Store.

What are your fitness goals for 2015?

My Four Year Old

BeBop Wizards Den

Almost 4 weeks after Leo's birthday, I am still finding it hard to believe that I have a FOUR year old. When did he suddenly get so big, and so grown up? It's been a busy few weeks, and life with a Four year old is so much fun. All of a sudden he's an actual little boy, not a baby. Not a toddler, a little boy, who walks, talks, and even starts school in September. As if I wasn't finding it hard enough to digest that my baby is Four..He's now starting school in a matter of weeks!

My four year old is funny. So very funny. Not a day goes by where he doesn't have me chuckling away at something he does, or more often than not something he says. According to Leo there are certain songs I can't sing along with, because they are 'boy songs'. It's amazing how young they are before the context of gender roles comes into play. Although having said that, when he is zooming around on Mario Kart with Mario at the helm..It's Peaches Pink car that he covets the most, yet he hates Pink...Because 'It's for girls!'.

My four year old is clever, and he knows it. He knows things that I didn't even realise he knew. We have been practicing our letters somewhat recently, only through fun games usually involving Mario and Luigi.. They are his absolute superheroes at this moment in time, and thanks to them he now recognises the letters M and L straight away. While we were looking at DVDs in Tesco recently Leo pointed at the Shaun the Sheep DVD and picked out the 'M' of the word 'Movie'. I almost choked on my Caramel Cappuccino he caught me that much off guard. 'M for Mario Mummy!' he shouted. The amazing thing is he recognises the letter for a number of words beginning with 'M', which of course is pretty great as this is the year my little man is going to learn to read!

My four year old has a love for adventure, and after our recent holiday to Tunisia he has been determined to return. Unfortunately due to everything that has happened in the country recently it hasn't been a possibility. He's picked up that something awful has happened through the news, he knows that a bad man has hurt lots of people. He doesn't understand how and why this has scarpered our plans to return however. It was just yesterday that Leo told me that he wants to go back, he wants to see his friends and party in the hotel bar again like before. Of course I explained that one day we would take him back, but at the moment no one is out there because of everything that happened. His reply? Well.. Obviously I am just being mean and 'I'm not your friend now Mummy! I want to go back to Tunisia!' was the only fitting answer he could muster.

Toyz World Storm Y Glider Scooter

My four year old loves to get outside, he loves to run, hop, jump and skip and scoot. Scooting is one of his passions, and not a day goes by over the summer months where he doesn't take one of his prized possessions out to play. He never ceases to amaze me with the control he exudes over his scooting, from the movement to the handling, he really is a proper little skater boy. All he needs now are a pair of Heelys to really complete his look!

He loves to keep me on my toes, and he loves popping the roof on the Mini, turning up the music far to loud and playing his current favourite song. 'Life is Life' blasts from the speakers as we drive along the road turning heads...All the while I can't help but smile as I see Leo bopping along and singing as loud as his little voice will let him. 'Life is Life, na na na!' he sings at the same time demanding 'I want it nosier! A little more, a little more!' when the volume isn't to his satisfaction.

Mini Cooper S Convertible

My four year old is my entire world, and I am especially excited for the new challenges that are heading our way this year. I love that he is still a complete and utter Mummy's boy, and there is nothing better than snuggling up together for a movie night under the duvet with a big bag of popcorn, and of course a whole array of naughty treats! While we were away Leo actually shouted at a man who asked to dance with me. He ran over and broke up the two step within seconds. My little body guard.

He's growing up so quickly, and school is going to age him entirely. As soon as he puts on that uniform for the first time, he is going to be a school boy.

And I know he is so very ready for it.

Mummy and son

Sunday 19 July 2015

Life Unexpected: Top 5 ways to get out of debt

Money can be a real worrier, and sometimes there is just to much month left at the end of the money. This month has been one of those months, and it seems that if something can go wrong...It will go wrong. It's been a month of car troubles, starting off with car tax and followed closely by brake pads, a funny creaky noise on the left hand side, and finally the left hand wheel not retaining air... It has been one of 'those months'.

In fact it is months like this that make getting into debt so very easy. I like to spend as much as the next person, but I haven't budgeted for any of these eventualities.. 

With the month of money grating on me I wanted to share my top 5 tips for staying out of debt. Let's face it, no one wants to get neck deep in money worries.

1. Map out your essentials: Do you really need to spend? If the answers no and it isn't one of the 'musts' for the month. Put it back, add it to the wish list and focus on your bills. I know this is so much easier said than done..

2. Keep track of where your debt actually is: How much do you owe? Who do you owe? How much can you afford to pay back a month? Chart everything and keep a spread sheet so that you can see exactly where you are and how much expandable money you have this month,

3.  Leave some money aside for things you enjoy; I think worrying about money is one of the worst things that you can do. Where there is a will, there is a way. Once you have mapped out what you owe and how you are going to re-pay, you need to remember to save a bit for a day out, something fun, taking the kids to the cinema and not take life to seriously. 

4.If you need help..Ask: Sometimes pride gets in the way, we don't want to ask for help. We want to stand on our own two feet and show the world that WE CAN do it. When it comes down to it though, family will want to help if they can. Talk the situation through with them, it may be the best thing you ever did.

5. Smile even through your darkest days: This has to be the most valuable piece of advise I can give you. Smiling is a proven way to make yourself feel better, surround yourself with people that you can't help but smile around. Leave the stress and worries for a while.

This month may have got under my skin a little, but I know I will get through it and that in the months to come all will be back on track. Once the car is sorted, then that's done and dusted and I don't have to worry about it (Crosses Fingers) for a little while. 

Wednesday 15 July 2015

1 Year Later... & The Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide

It's amazing how much a person can grow in a year. I have completely shocked myself in many different senses of the word. When I started my fitness journey a year ago in June, did I think I would ever get this far? Far enough to actually celebrate an entire year of my new lifestyle? 

Who knows... 

I honestly can't say yes or no, all I know is that my goals were burning a path right before me, and as this fire spurred me on form the very pit of my stomach, I was adapting. I was making changes, evolving. I was growing.

Goals start off as dreams and that is what makes them so powerful, and when you completely set your mind to something, you best believe that you are un-stoppable. One of the biggest things that I have learnt about myself is that if I say I am going to do something, I will do it. One way or another, on the very tips of my toes, I will do it.

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide Transformation
Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide Transformation

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide Transformation

How else have I changed in a year? 

Well aside from the obvious weight loss my tastes have changed. My food, my drink, my likes and my dislikes have all been shaken up. My diet is the best it has ever been in my entire life. I love egg, fruit, vegetables, meat, nuts, tea and coffee! Those last two for anybody who knew me before all of this knows that I never touched the stuff. EVER! When everyone else fancied a brew, I would be the one reaching into my bag and pulling out my bottle of Coca Cola. I took one everywhere, I drank it morning, noon and evening, often multiple times a day. I was ploughing hundreds of empty calories into my body, without knowing and without really caring. 

Now I enjoy water, lots and lots of water. I drink Green Tea, Mango and Lychee to be precise. I LOVE a morning Costa... That may be my new downfall, but I honestly can't explain how alive I feel after that morning caffeine rush. 

Everything I prepare, everything I enjoy is now much better for me, it fuels my body and gets me through the day, It's become a second nature, I don't consider myself 'on a diet', because this really isn't a diet. It's sustainable, it's realistic. It's who I am and it's my life.

Deliciously Ella

I am a huge, huge, huge fan of Deliciously Ella. Her food, her recipes and her concepts blow me away. I was so very excited to meet her very recently at Brit Mums Live, and even managed to get my hands on a signed copy of her AMAZING cook book. I use this book regularly, and add my own spin on things. A firm favorite in my house has to be the Pesto Pasta, but I have to admit I cheekily add Chicken and a drizzle of honey. Honey is a staple sweetener in my day to day life and although it's obviously additional calories, I don't feel guilty because it's something I enjoy. I add it to my Green Tea, meals and sauces. Absolutely everything I can possibly think of, and you know what this real life Pooh Bear thinks? Everything tastes better with a little bit of honey!

I am asked all the time 'How do you eat so well all the time!?' - The honest answer is that I don't. We all fall off occasionally, but for the most part I eat well because I have further goals that I want to achieve. I still can't quite believe how far I have come, the 2 stone weight loss I have achieved, and absolutely everything since I hit my target weight. I am now 21 weeks into Kayla Itsines Bikini Body guide, and in a few weeks time I will have completed the second guide. I am the strongest and fittest I have ever been in my life, but as I say, this is a lifestyle, I am only going to continue along this path because it empowers me, and it excites me.

You may have read in my last post that I actually got to go along to London and take part in Kayla's World Tour, it really was a week for meeting heroes that week, as in a matter of days I had met the very lovely Ella! Kayla's work out left hundreds of girls sweating, and so excited for the pain that they were now feeling. it really was the most amazing ache, because you just knew that you had worked hard, and that the Queen Bee herself had shown you first hand, how it's done.

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide

So what exercise do I do these days?

My exercise routine is determined by Kayla's Bikini Body Guide 2.0, and I make sure to complete each work out, It's a series of resistance and cardio training (LISS) over the course of the week with Sunday's designated as your day off. I complete all of Kayla's resistance exercises at home, I can often be found thumping around my room with my trusty bar bell, squatting and performing ab bikes. Exercising has been a complete eye opener for me, when I started and for the first 8 months for that matter (pre BBG) I was a cardio fiend. I didn't know how to tone up. I didn't know where to start, and that was one of the things holding me back. because how can you achieve something if you don't have the fundamentals on how to do it? I had considered a personal trainer but that didn't seem like a sustainable solution to me in the long run, and of course money was a factor. 

Somehow I had started following Kayla on Facebook, I think I clicked through on one of the adds one day. I don't remember exactly how I ended up there, but I remember looking at these fantastic transformations, and you know what? I was skeptical. So very skeptical. In 12 weeks some of these girls had completely re-modeled their entire bodies. How could that be real? How!?

I stuck around though, even liking Kayla's page. I watched in awe as these girls kept on coming, and one evening I decided that I had seen enough. I was GOING to buy the very first guide. That was 21 weeks ago now, and I haven't looked back or regretted my decision once. Kayla's guide WILL work if YOU WORK. I cannot stress this enough, it isn't some magic guide that suddenly slaps abs on you and does the squats for you, but with these tools you can achieve great things.

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide Transformation

Do I do any exercises along side the guides?

This is another question that I get asked a lot and the answer is that yes I do. On resistance days I attend the gym following the resistance training that I complete at home.I spend an hour working with weights on the limb of choice for that session. I do think that this combined with everything that Kayla has instilled in me, and of course my culinary lifestyle aids the results that I have seen.

My LISS sessions consist of 40-50 minutes on the cross trainer, and I have finally worked my way up to the top of the effort level on the machine. I guess it just demonstrated that I had been taking it way to easy on myself, so I am looking forward to seeing how this helps me going forward.

I go for the occasional run, and I have a rather beautiful selection of trainers these days. My favorite to run in, and the most comfortable for that matter are my shiny Blue Downshifter 6 Nikes. I am a size 6 and I have found with other brands that my feet can feel a little cramped, but these running shoes have proved ideal for everything I need out of them. I actually took these away with me on holiday with the best intentions of going for a run...However this was one of those occasions that I fell off the healthy eating cart into a mountain of cake... 

Nike Running Shoes

What's next?

A year into my fitness guide I do feel like I have achieved a lot, but...And yes there is a but! I have so much more that I want to achieve. This next year is going to be amazing. I can't help but think... 'Where will I be this time next year?' and the truth is, that's exactly what I thought when starting out. Did I expect to be here? Nope, never in a million years, but here I am.

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide Transformation

What are my goals?

I want to tone up the bits of me that are being reluctant. I have lose skin on my stomach that seems to want to stick around.

I want my inner thighs to be leaner and stronger.

I want my arms to become more defined and my underarms to get some shape.

I want to keep working on my chest and feel confident in strapless clothing.

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide

It's always good to set goals, give yourself realistic timelines and if you don't hit it right away, just keep at it. These things don't happen over night, they are a reflection of your entire lifestyle. If you really want something, go and get it. Make it happen. It is quite honestly the best feeling in the world, and I cannot explain how happy I am with everything that has come to light in this year.

Set your goals on fire and just do it. 
You so totally CAN!

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide Transformation

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide Transformation

Wednesday 8 July 2015

Leo's Fourth Birthday

4 years ago Leo arrived.

Life as I knew it had changed forever. 

I was responsible for a small person, and it was now my job to shape and mold him into a gentle and caring young man. To show him the ways of the world, to teach him manners and feed his hunger to learn. It's the biggest responsibility I could have ever taken on and it has been so incredibly rewarding, even at the most challenging of times.

4 year old Birthday

4 year old Birthday

As I look back over the last 4 years I can't help but smile at how he has excelled and the things he has achieved as he has transitioned into the beautiful boy that he is today.

We spent a beautiful day together on the 27th June for his Fourth birthday. It was a day of gifts, giggles and family time. Games of Mario Kart on Leo's shiny new Nintendo Wii U, where Leo thrived on beating family members as he whizzed past showing us all that he meant business!

For Leo this was the first year that he understood the true nature of having a birthday. He knew it was something to look forward to and he knew that he was going to be spoiled. Leo had told me early on that this year he wanted a Thomas cake, and that was what I had been planning for the last few months. In my head absolutely everything was going be Thomas the Tank Engine. Until of course he discovered Super Mario and decided that actually...A Mario Kart cake was much more up his street. Yes my then almost FOUR year old was all about Mario..

Mario Kart Birthday Cake

Mario Kart Birthday CakeMario Kart Birthday Cake

Mario Kart Birthday Cake

Suffice to say that coming up with a new cake in my mind that I would be able to do justice for my special boy was a whole other story. I would usually attempt a practice cake a few weeks before hand... But this year there was just no time. So the night before Leo's big day was yet another year that I stayed up late, of course not as late as I did on that very same night all of those years ago! 

I was so pleased with the finished cake (A separate post on how I actually made this will be going live very soon!), it had taken hours, there were moments that I wished I had just paid to have one made, but when this cake was presented before me, complete and ready for Leo the following morning I just wanted to give myself a massive high five, and I may have even fist pumped the air!

With the cake ready, I now had to make sure that absolutely everything was in place for the morning when Leo came down stairs. I made a little hideaway in between the nook in the sofa, covered it with a sheet and placed all of his cards and gifts inside, then it was just a case of filling it with number four balloons! 

Mario Birthday Party

The next morning Leo didn't wake up as early as I had expected him, it was almost 9am by the time he catapulted into my bedroom and announced that it was now his birthday and we MUST now get up and go downstairs. Of course you don't argue with birthday boys (Or Leo full stop as a general rule of thumb!). As we marched down the stairs with speed, Leo stopped dead in his tracks! There before him was a birthday banner, and this only fueled his mission to get downstairs. 

Mario Birthday Party
Mario Birthday Party

He marched like a man on a mission, what he thought was waiting for him I will never know, but he knew something exciting was unfolding. It took seconds for him to scout out the room and find his present treasure trove. 'Mummy! There's presents in here!' He announced, or I should say squealed. Diving in head first he pulled out his finds, of course they were all fittingly wrapped in Mario paper!

Mummy and Daddy had treated Leo to a Nintendo Wii U, we thought it would be a nice treat to enjoy as a family, and of course we had to make sure that our budding racer had his own copy of the new Mario Kart 8 to go along with it. 

Leo now even has his very own Mario hat! The boy was ready for his special day.

When the excitement of presents had died down and breakfast was settling, I decided to pull a surprise from the car. We were borrowing a rather exciting 16 foot Water Slide for Leo's big day, and with the weather being on side we were looking forward to getting into the garden and having a play!

Leo had been really looking forward to me bringing home one of the water slides to play with, and to be honest I had shared his enthusiasm! What I would have done for one of these back in my childhood, kids today quite simply don't know how good they have it!BeBop Inflatable Water Slide

BeBop Inflatable Water Slide

The slide was so easy to set up, it was just a case of laying it flat, plugging the fan into the mains and of course attaching it to the inflatable, filling the included water weights and securing them either side so that there are no toppling incidents...and boom! Time to play!

Leo and his cousin wasted no time at all getting the water out, it was a mild day but I think they soon regretted just how much water they had invested in those first few moments. There was teeth chattering and a few tears, until of course Leo discovered the water cannon! This quickly became Leo's favourite part of the water slide, as it enabled him to shoot Josh with water and stay dry himself, the plan was flawed from the beginning however, and soon Josh had seized control leaving the birthday boy regretting the initial soaking!

BeBop Inflatable Water Slide

BeBop Inflatable Water Slide

This slide is pretty epic to say the least, the size of it (I could have gone down myself if I wasn't absolutely to chicken by the thought of the cold water!), the included hosing that you simply have to attach with Velcro, it means that there is always a constant stream of water! If your childhoods were anything like mine...A water slide was your typical garden slide with tarpaulin draped strategically at the bottom...and a hose. Of course what would happen is, you would shoot down the slide at speed... fly off the tarpaulin and feel your landing... Or if you were feeling a little more adventurous...the slide would be placed in the paddling pool (Usually popping the pool I hasten to add!)...But it was fun while it lasted. 

The 16ft Water Slide is everything you need for fun in the sun and even boasts a splash pool, making this model a summer's day necessity.

BeBop Inflatable Water Slide

As you can see both of the boys were so pleased with their afternoon of fun and games. The water slide really helped us celebrate Leo's Fourth birthday in style and just looking back at these memories we made, I know it's not going to be a day either of them forget in a hurry!. 

The slide was played with on and off all afternoon and well into the evening, and Leo's favourite time with it was when he was all on his own, climbing up and sliding down after it had all been dried off. Watching him climb and play about with such ease really did highlight just how grown up he now is. Those baby days are so far behind us now, but I am completely and utterly besotted with the little boy he has become. 

Mario Kart Birthday Cake

The day went by far to quickly and with Leo requesting Granny's homemade Chinese feast for his Birthday dinner, we were all ready to devour a banquet fit for a king! Birthday dinner was followed by cake and Happy Birthday! Leo's eyes spoke a thousand words as the sparklers were lit (In my honest opinion...If the cake doesn't take off then it's not a real party!). 

Mario Kart Birthday CakeThe world is now our oyster, and this age right now is just amazing. Another birthday under our belts, another day full of smiles and one Four year old boy. A Four year old boy due to start school in a matter of months, a caring, beautiful little man that has grown up far to quickly for my liking!

Thank you Toyz World for letting us borrow the water slide for the weekend!

Four year old Birthday Boy

Disclaimer: We borrowed the BeBop Water Slide for the weekend. I have not been compensated for this post. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own. 

Friday 3 July 2015

Shoes are a Girl's Best Friend: French Connection at Cloggs

French Connection Lattice Wedges

In the last year I feel like I have found a part of me that had been lost, forgotten...gone. My fitness journey has really opened my eyes and in achieving goals that I always thought were out of my reach, I have found a new love for fashion, for treating myself and making more of an effort in my appearance. 

I feel better in clothes, I feel happy in what I wear. I no longer feel frumpy and fat. I was so excited about jetting off to sunnier skies at the beginning of June, I had replaced my entire wardrobe and I was ready to wear everything that I had longed to wear for such a long time. I was going to look, and I was going to feel good.

Tunisia captured my heart, and our time there went by far to quickly. From lazy pool days to full on adventures, we certainly packed a lot into our 7 days. All of my new outfits got out of the suitcase and enjoyed one or two cocktails...

I relished wearing hot pants, and felt confident in my crop tops. I wore play suits and being able to wear anything and everything I had ever thought about wearing made my hard work feel worth it, really worth it.

Of course as any girl will tell you, a big part of any outfit is her shoes. I only took two pairs of shoes with me on holiday, one pair of flip flops and a pair of beautiful wedge shoes.

My French Connection Latrice Wedges from Cloggs.

French Connection Lattice Wedges

French Connection Lattice Wedges

I fell in love with this pair of wedges as soon as I saw them, they go with so many different outfits that I was more than happy to take them with me on holiday as a primary pair of shoes. In fact I practically lived in these shoes while I was away, and even now I am back again they are a staple item of my every day wardrobe.

They have made appearances on the beach, for trips into town and even to the office. The shoes can be dressed up or down and really add that 'wow' factor to complete an outfit. For an evening out you can pair them with a play suit as above, or you can dress down, but still look the part in a pair of denim shorts.
 French Connection Lattice Wedges

Wedges have always been my go to shoes for over all comfort satisfaction. If you could see me attempting to walk in heels you would undoubtedly giggle. Wedges on the other hand are so comfortable, I can keep my balance and get the heel height that I crave. Everyone likes to dress up every now and again, but heels aren't for everyone, especially on a day to day basis. I couldn't imagine having to wear heels day and day out.

These wedges are a statement in my shoe collection. I have worn them all day, I even traveled in them when we flew out to Tunisia in June. They didn't let my feet down once, and I secretly relished how long they made my legs look! You have to enjoy these optical illusions right? I mean at 5ft 5 I am not tall...

French Connection Lattice Wedges

French Connection Lattice Wedges

The French Connection Lattice Wedges retail at £90.00 and I am sure you will agree that they are just gorgeous! They have them in a selection of other styles and I am already eyeing up  the Lata style. You can never have to many pairs of shoes right?

Disclaimer: I was sent the French Connection Lattice Wedges for the purpose of this post. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.

5 Fun Things To Do On Family Summer Holidays

Family summer holidays in South Devon are packed with fun things to do. Here are 5 fun things you have to try when you visit this year.

Laughter, long days out in the sun and plenty of running around, these are the ingredients for great family summer holidays. Fortunately you’ll find them in spades in South Devon.

If you’re visiting this summer, here are five fun things to do with the family.

Get Your Sea Legs

Blackpool Sands is one of the most popular beaches in South Devon. This Blue Flag award-winner is a great place to pitch up and spend the whole day. You’ll find lots of people enjoying their family summer holidays here and for good reason. Not only does it have all the facilities you need for a day out, but there is also water sport instruction by an approved RYA training centre.

Get started with windsurfing and be up and skimming the waves in no time, or enjoy a kayaking tour around the sheltered bay. With expert tuition and lifeguards on duty this is a great opportunity for the whole family to enjoy a day at the beach with a difference.

Experience The Coast Like Never Before

The South Devon coastline is one of stunning beauty, and experiencing it from the sea shouldn’t be missed. Monty Halls’ Great Escapes in Dartmouth offer high-speed explorations of the coast, guaranteed to make family summer holidays stay in the memory long after the sun has faded.

Jump aboard a rigid inflatable boat and travel at up to 40 knots as you delve into remote coves and get up close to the region’s wildlife. Keep an eye out and you may spot seals and dolphins. And better yet, kids under 10 go free.

Travel Back In Time At Overbeck’s

Sat on the cliffs above Salcombe, this Edwardian house was the home of Victorian inventor and scientist Otto Overbeck. Now owned by the National Trust it is open as a beautifully maintained period property.

Inside there is a wonderful collection of curios and artefacts that tell the story of Otto Overbeck’s life and work. Outside the house sits in 7 acres of luscious sub-tropical gardens, which can be explored. Kids will love playing hide and seek among the banana plants and palm trees, while you sit and enjoy the views across the estuary. Who knew family summer holidays could be educational and fun at the same time?

Go Wild At Woodlands

Just a few miles from Dartmouth you’ll find Woodlands, an all-weather day out that is a must-visit during family summer holidays in South Devon. Not only do you have dozens and dozens of thrilling rides divided into themed lands like Ninja Zone and Cyclone Zone, there is also a zoo farm with rabbits, goats, pigs, meerkats, and even crocodiles.

Woodlands is a full day out, and great for letting the kids tear around and let off some steam.

See South Devon In Style

The Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company do lovely trips around the South Devon region using restored steam engines and riverboats.

The Round Robin is a spectacular day out that takes you by train, riverboat and bus to explore Dartmouth, Totnes and Paignton. During the trip you’ll get to see the countryside at a leisurely and relaxed pace with a guide highlighting points of interest throughout the trip.

Family summer holidays should be treasured memories, so make sure you try these and other exciting activities when you visit South Devon this summer.

Thinking of booking a family holiday to remember? Take a look at the South Devon holiday cottages that Coast and Country Cottages have available.

Thursday 2 July 2015

Life Unexpected: Top Travel Essentials

Tunisia Hammamet Mirage Beach

Travelling is a really exciting time, getting overseas and experiencing new cultures and ways of life. It's certainly not something that we should take for granted. Especially when we have it handed to us as easily as we do, while we were away in Tunisia I was shocked to discover just how difficult it is for Tunisian citizens to leave the country. Many of them have never left for one reason or another, and so many of them have dreams that involve visiting distant parts of the world, or even just to see what life is like in the United Kingdom.

For my family of 3 to travel we need to plan. Planning forms the basis of absolutely everything we do, and going on holiday requires planning, additional planning and then just another smidgen of planning for good measure.

How do you you decide what you need to take with you? I personally think it's wise to pack for every eventuality, you really don't know what you might need, what situations may arise, what excursions you may find yourself venturing off on.

Holiday Essentials

Sun Care & Essentials

I have traveled to a few places where I haven't felt to great, whether it's because of the food or because I have mistakenly drank some of the water in the past, I don't know. I didn't want to take any chances with Tunisia, it was to be the first time I have been abroad in a few years, and I was determined to enjoy every moment! I started taking Bio-Culture a few days before we flew out, it's a probiotic supplement that aims to protect you against tummy upsets that are particularly common when you travel. It basically works by helping to balance out the bacteria in your stomach, and it was really easy to take while I was away. It comes in the form of tablets that you just have to swallow with water, they didn't need refrigerating which made them really handy.

Tip: Great items to keep in your handbag:

- Migrastick is a natural solution to quickly relieve pain and headache in a chic and practical pocket format. 

Zap-It Mosquito Bite Relief - I usually get eaten alive if there are Mosquitoes about. Egypt was especially bad, they just loved me. Luke had nothing to show for it, but I had bites all over my legs. Of course being young, I had not packed for the occasion. This time I was ready for everything...And they left me alone!

- Gin Gin's are candies, candies made out of Ginger. Now I love Ginger and add it to absolutely everything. These were interesting and were great to keep in my bag,

Holiday Essentials

While were on the subject of tummy upsets, I would say it's always best to over prepared just in case. Luke always seems to go down with one, always. I had brought along Enterosgel Tummy Bug Gel which was a product I had never heard of before.

It was said to help with a number of different aspects:

- Helps to stop diarrhoea or shortens the duration of diarrhoea;
- Reduces or prevents toxic and allergic reactions;
- Relieves symptoms of indigestion;
- Helps to restore beneficial intestinal microflora;
- Protects gastrointestinal mucous membrane and promotes healing of its lesions;
- Reduces the toxic load on the liver and kidneys.

Luke can confirm that he was indeed poorly, and that this really did help. In fact he couldn't stop raving about it while we were away!

In terms of suncare we took so much with us, different varieties for Leo, myself and for Luke. We swore by Aldi's Kids cream for Leo, it was factor 50 and was absolutely amazing. I slathered Leo in it throughout the day and he didn't burn once. It really did the job, even on the day where we spent hours out off roading on quad bikes! I was so impressed with it, and for the small amount of money that it costs, it really is worth it.

Luke was all about the P20 Suncream, he has always been an avid user since I met him. I remember him insisting on us having to have this brand in our case before we jetted off to Egypt many years ago. We had two different factors with us and he monopolized them both.

For me my heart lay with Palmers, I have adored them ever since I was pregnant with Leo and my morning, and evening ritual for that matter was to smother myself in the cocoa butter. I had made it my personal mission to evade stretch marks, and this was how I was going to do it! I never did get any stretch marks, but whether it was down to my military routine, or because of genetics I will never how. Anyway I digress... I took away some Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula SPF 15 Body Lotion with Vitamin E, and it has the great smell that you associate with Palmers. It always reminds me of being on holiday. A great product that nourishes, moisturises and tones my skin, but also actively protects against UV rays

Travel bags

For Luke and I we always tend to borrow suitcases from relatives, but we were aware that now Leo was that little bit older and had substantially more things that he was going to have to take with him, it was going to be important to have a special suitcase to hold his worldly possessions. I fell in love with the Little Life Dinosaur Wheelie Duffle. It was just adorable, it has been designed at the right size and height for a preschooler to pull along with ease. Leo was so excited about the idea of taking it with him, it arrived after we had already left to go to the airport, but since we have got home Loe has been so excited about wheeling it around the house. I know that he is going to be looking forward to using it when we return to Tunisia in the next few months (I am determined to go back!),

The Dinosaur Duffle retails at £39.99.

Holiday Essentials

I have always loved how fun and practical the Little Life brand is, when Leo was younger we had the Dinosaur Day Sack for him, and it proved a very trusty and handy addition as he grew and wanted to do more walking.


Keeping and feeling safe when you are out of your comfort zone is so important. Having just traveled to Tunisia, arriving back in the wake of the awful goings on that have been all over the news, the Easylock may provide additioal reassurance where it's needed.

The Easylock is a simple but incredibly strong temporary door lock. The core of the lock is manufactured from chromium plated steel, encased in strong ABS plastic with a soft plastic edge.  The latch plate is manufactured from high strength stainless steel as is the sliding mechanism, ensuring that the lock will never fail under attack.

Holiday Essentials

These are some of our essential items that we wouldn't want to travel without. When we do venture out overseas it is good to know that you have everything that you could need, just in case. Prepare a small first aid kit, take your basic paracetamol and ibuprofen. It may sound silly but you never know. I ended up dosing up on painkillers while we were away because my wisdom tooth decided to start moving around. Yes I am a 25 year old parent who is TEETHING! I really under estimated just how painful it could be, but being prepared meant that I could tackle it.

What are your top travel essentials?

Tunisia Mirage Beach Hotel

Disclaimer: I was sent the above products in exchange for my honest opinions.

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Orange is the New Black Season 3 Launch Party

Orange is the New Black launch party

Orange is the New Black is back for a third season, and after only touching down in the UK hours earlier, I found myself whizzing across country to the series launch in London. Obviously it was an event that was to amazing to not make it back for, so I made it my purpose in life to get there...Someway...Somehow!

I arrived with the ever lovely Berice Baby who has become my #NetflixStreamTeam right arm, we always have a good giggle together (especially when there are cocktails or glasses of Champagne on hand) Of course luckily for us there was plenty of that to be had!
Orange is the New Black launch party

Orange is the New Black launch party
Berice Baby and I trying to get into character. We may have taken it a little to seriously...
I was to excited to see how season 3 kicked off after thhe action-packed finale episode of season 2 ends with Vee escaping the prison through Red’s contraband hole. Of course fans of the show know that she didn't get very far. Instead of tasting freedom that she had expected, Vee ends up with a mouthful of blood when Miss Rosa hits her with the vehicle she stole.

This was my second Orange is the New Black Premier (I know, I know! I am one very lucky lady!) and Netflix are always more than accommodating, a really great bunch of people who I look forward to seeing each time I visit with them. Of course they do spoil us, we were very privileged when we were directed into the screening rooms to watch the first 2 episodes of the brand new season BEFORE the release the following day, and they did that while feeding us tasty treats and slipping a few more cocktails into our hands! 

Orange is the New Black launch party

Orange is the New Black launch party

Season 3 has been out for a few weeks now, and I am yet to complete watching it! It's completely outrageous on my part, but I am no good at juggling box-sets. When I get my teeth firmly into something I have to watch it all the way through, and at this moment in time I am glued to Pretty Little Liars. That would explain the radio silence that sometimes sweeps over this here blog (I am probably watching Netflix!). 

Of course as soon as Pretty Little Liars wraps, Orange is the New Black is the very top of my list. I can't wait to see how this season plays out, the first 2 episodes have certainly implied that change is imminent, I won't go into to many details as I don't want to detract the surprses that you will discover along the way.

Just know that it's set to be a great season. Enjoy it and don't tell me any of the spoilers if you have already watched it!

A big thanks to Netflix for hosting such a fun filled evening, as always it was incredible.
Orange is the New Black launch party

Happy streaming!
Laura x  

Disclaimer: I was invited along to the Netflix Original Series Launch of Orange is the New Black as part of the Stream Team panel. All views and experiences shared are completely honest and my own.