Thursday, 6 September 2018

The start of year 3

School Year 3

Leo is now in year 3, where did that time go? 

It almost feels like we get comfortable with the class and teacher and then BAM, another year has rolled around and the change is on the horizon again. 

I know that we are supposed to roll with the punches and welcome change, and I know that the children are meant to be the ones who dread the return of school... But I can't help the feeling in the pit of my stomach that materialises at the 'back to school' thought.

Let me explain why. 

Leo has always found school hard. He has overcome more than his fair share of hurdles, and do you know what? He does me proud each and every single day. But those hurdles continue to throw themselves into Leo's path, with each year at school and the demands and expectations of him becoming more, I worry about what the coming year will bring. 

At 7 Leo can see a difference between himself and some of the other children, he knows that he finds the day to day tasks that much more difficult, and that in itself is hard to bare witness too. 

The summer has highlighted a couple of avenues that I feel I need to explore for Leo, but right now I feel that to voice what those concerns are, may just lead to me prematurely putting a label on that dear boy of mine, so until those mountains can be climbed... I am just going to leave it there, and hope that I can share more in the coming months. 

Now don't get me wrong, I am not opposed to having an official diagnosis, but until it is that, official. I don't want to use any terminology that could be incorrect, because I don't think throwing these words around should be taken lightly.

For me Year 3 just seems slightly more daunting, because that means when this year is up he will be going into year 4, and then after that the very final year at this particular school, and this thought scares me so much. It scares me more than it would scare the average parent, it's not just a concern of a new school, new teachers and children, it's a deep set worry that he is going to find this even more difficult.

I guess now he is getting older too I am also concerned about overstepping my place, so some things may always have to be kept back somewhat.

Despite my concerns, September 4th rolled around, the summer holidays had once again vanished in the very blink of an eye, and I found myself walking up to the school gates just as I did on that very first day 3 years ago, only this time Leo is not holding my hand and probably never will on the school run again. On this day he confidently walked in through the gates and ran off to find his friends.

The first few days seem to have gone well and we are getting back into a routine, but I am already counting down the weeks until the half term break rolls around so that we can enjoy the Autumn weather and hopefully get out and about. 

Until next time....




Monday, 3 September 2018

Autumn Appreciation

Autumn

This last week you can most certainly feel that Autumn chill in the air, and I have found myself wrapping up warmer on the school run, and even for those dog walks that up until recently have been too warm for a jacket of any sort. 

It really is pretty incredible what only a few weeks can do to the weather, It was only a couple of weekends ago that the entire family dispelled to Kenilworth Castle to make the most of the beautiful sunshine in nothing but shorts and t-shirts, yet now summer has all of a sudden just vanished into the distance, almost as though it had never been at all. 

I do love the cooler weather, but equally I hate being cold so I have to make sure that I am dressed for the occasion, and that for me involves a thick snuggly coat that is comparable to a duvet or a warm hug. It can't be argued with that Autumn is a truly beautiful time of the year, yesterday I decided to take the puppy out for a long walk to take in all of the gorgeous colours that were now starting to show on the trees.

Autumn Tree

There is one tree in our village that I always admire, the leaves have already started to turn and very soon the entire tree will be dressed in a sea of orange, almost as though it is alight in flames, before finally they will all drop to the floor and Winter will be truly here.

With it getting so much chillier I am having to start thinking about a new coat, and as it will have to be something that accompanies on walks with Lux (aka the asbo puppy), I always tend to opt for darker colours as he has a tendency of  getting me pretty mucky while we are out and about in muddy fields. 

I found this gorgeous puffer coat which would be ideal for those colder dog walks, being a dark colour means that I don't need to be as precious with it as I would if I was going to wear White, Cream or Beige. 

Image Credit: Lyst
Lyst

There are some really nice new Winter Coats in at Topshop right now.

It might only be September but it really does feel like we could be in for a rather cold few winter period, and I for one would absolutely love that. Leo has only ever seen snow when he was very young, and he has been wishing for the last couple of years that it would come back for him to build his first proper snowman, as for the dog he has never seen it before at all. 

How nice would it be to have a white christmas? Yes I did just say the C word, because realistically now is the time to be preparing for the big day. I have already started making lists of gifts that I am planning for those nearest and dearest to me, because I am determined not to be running around last minute come December. 

I am definitely going to be adding a new dog walking coat to my own Christmas list this year!


Saturday, 1 September 2018

Uggs - Boots that last

Uggs


Years ago my other half treated me to a pair of Uggs, I think this was partly because he was fed up of seeing the worn out soles on my unofficial Ugg boots, and I have to admit that all these years later they are still serving me well. The soles are still in fantastic condition and they are looking over all super.

This one pair of Uggs has ultimately converted me, because as with anything else in life you really do get what you pay for. I have a feeling that my Uggs were a Christmas present dating back from before Leo was born, which makes them over 6 years old. 

How amazing is that?

I used to think that the initial cost was quite pricey but when broken down over a 6 year time frame it really isn't much at all. It is for that very reason that I have been considering a new Uggs purchase now that it is officially winter boots season. 

Uggs

As I have a perfectly good pair of what I refer to as traditional Uggs (black knit ankle length), I have been considering something a little different. There is a fantastic Ugg Sale on LovetheSales.com and they currently have these gorgeous Ellecia Wedged Boots in Chestnut, they are very similar to a pair of boots I already own, but they don't get worn very often as they are so uncomfortable (which again reiterates that you get what you pay for!), and if a new pair of Uggs lasted as long as the pair that I already have, it can only be a win.

Uggs

When it comes to wedge boots they are my absolute favourite, but unless I can combine the comfort with the look, then I can't help but put them to the back of my closet. I don't mind paying more for something if I know it will get used, they will be comfortable and they look good (even 6+ years later!).

Every girl needs a pair of brown ankle boots, and I think that I may just have to pick a pair up from LovetheSales!

After all £138.00 over 6 years works out as a complete and utter bargain!




Wednesday, 8 August 2018

A Top Tip for Freeing Up Space in your Home

Freeing Up Space in your Home
If your home is cramped and there is little room to move around, it can be incredibly frustrating and stressful. This can make it difficult to relax and also challenging when you have people over. When you have a family, any spare space seems to immediately get taken up by clutter and this only contributes to your stress. This is why it is important to look for ways to maximise your space and create a cleaner and tidier looking home.

A Smart Switch
One top tip is to replace your traditional doors with sliding doors. These doors slide in on themselves instead of outwards, consequently freeing up a huge amount of space. The doors are an often overlooked part of a room, but their arc takes up a large area when opening/shutting and this contributes to the cramped feeling.

The Benefits
When you have sliding doors throughout the home, it can look fantastic and create an open plan and minimalistic feeling. Not just this, but this also allows for easy access as they can be gently pushed open. Using them to access the garden can bring the outdoors in and create a flow between indoor and outdoor spaces. If you use glass sliding doors, this will also allow plenty of natural light to cascade through.

In addition this, these doors can also be efficient insulators when fitted with composite gaskets. When they also have aluminium seals and fixed leaves, they can also offer great security when used as a door between your garden and home.

Primarily, it is the space saving that makes these doors worthwhile and particularly if you have limited space or a large family. You could use the extra space for storage or for a piece of furniture, but it is also worthwhile leaving it empty as this will really have a positive impact on how the room and entire home looks and feels.

Elsewhere in the Home
In addition to internal sliding doors and glass sliding doors to your garden, you could also consider sliding cupboards and wardrobes; these are a great way to free up space in the bedroom. To find the widest range of sliding doors, as well as all the accessories and hardware you need, you will need to visit hardware stores like Barrier Components.


If you have limited space in the home and find that it makes it difficult to relax, switching to sliding doors could have an enormous impact on both your mood and property.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

A Rhodian Summer

Electra Palace Hotel Rhodes


It has become a tradition to go on a large family holiday each year, and it is something that both Leo and I always look forward to. This years destination was Rhodes and although we didn't get out to do all of the typical tourism sites, we did have a relaxing week by the pool and I fell in love with a new part of the world.

Leo has become a little fish in the water, and the one to one swimming lessons have really paid off. It was incredible to see him looking so confident and competent in the pool (Even if he has inherited his Mum's fear of the sea).

We stayed in the beautiful Electra Palace, a 5* hotel set near enough of the waters edge and with some scenic walking routes into the nearby town. Leo accompanied his Granddad and I on what we believed to be a short stroll, but an hour and a half later we finally arrived at our destination, and by this point Leo had well and truly lost his sense of humour and a serious word of warning about how he wasn't leaving the pool again for the rest of the holiday. (It resulted in a taxi ride back to the hotel). 

Electra Palace Hotel Rhodes

Getting away with Leo, my parents and siblings is something that I truly believe is really special. Sometimes things in life happen that really help you appreciate what and who you have in your life, and sadly an event like that took place this month. 

Standing on the beach with my nearest and dearest as the sun began to set in the distance, I couldn't help but feel truly thankful. I might not have millions of pounds or drive the flashest of cars, what I do have is modest, but when it comes down to it family is priceless.

Electra Palace Hotel Rhodes

I am really lucky to have such a close knit family, and one of the things that I am truly proud of is that I get to share all of this, and all of these people with Leo. They have all helped shape him and watched him grow, and I know that they not only have my back, but they also have his too.

Electra Palace Hotel Rhodes

Electra Palace Hotel Rhodes

Electra Palace Hotel Rhodes

Old Rhodes town was somewhere I was really excited to visit (of course Leo by this point was not), but I am so glad that we had the opportunity to go along. It's absolutely beautiful and if boat tours are your thing then I highly recommend checking out the Yellow Submarine in the harbour.

We took a walk around the harbour and then found ourselves inside the old town walls, there were street vendors selling all sorts of weird and wonderful things and I was in my element when I found a whole herd of wild cats and their young kittens. 

Old Rhodes Town

Old Rhodes Town

Old Rhodes Town

With amazing food and Greek culture there is something for everyone in Rhodes. I know I need to go back in the not too distant future, as I didn't even begin to scratch the surface of this beautiful, beautiful place.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Wedding Vs. Engagement Ring – What’s The Difference?

Wedding Vs. Engagement Ring

Image by Gena M via Flickr

An engagement ring is an important part of the marriage proposal. Usually, it is a beautiful gemstone that’s set on a band. Sometimes, the engagement ring is referred to as the wedding ring, but this is incorrect. So, let’s look at the differences between the two.

The Wedding RingWedding Vs. Engagement Ring



Image by  diamondcentre via Flickr

Wedding rings are the rings that partners exchange during their wedding ceremony. Usually, these are simpler bands compared to engagement rings and don’t have a prominent gemstone or centre diamond. During the ceremony, both partners normally receive a wedding band and they place them on their third fingers on the left hand. Since the wedding band is put on the same finger as the engagement ring, brides often choose to move their engagement ring over to the right hand just for the ceremony. View the Diamonds for Less custom wedding bands in Toronto to choose the perfect ring for your partner.

Men tend to receive their wedding bands on their wedding day, at the ceremony. The men’s varieties are usually thicker in width and made of one type of metal, such as platinum, gold, or titanium. Some men’s band contain small jewels or diamonds.

The Engagement RingWedding Vs. Engagement Ring


Image by Tambako the Jaguar via Flickr


An engagement ring is presented at the time of the proposal. As tradition, women receive the ring and wear it right from the time of the proposal to indicate she is spoken for. Engagement rings vary greatly in style and price, but diamonds tend to be the most common choice.

What Do the Rings Mean?

The tradition of an engagement ring dates back a number of centuries, when a man would ask his beloved’s hand in marriage by presenting her with a valuable ring in exchange for the approval of her father.

Over time, engagement rings have become more extravagant as they grew to represent a man’s wealth. While this may be a dated notion, the tradition of offering an engagement ring has continued.

Should You Wear Both an Engagement Ring and a Wedding

 Band?

Since the engagement ring is often the flashier ring of the two, many women choose to wear the engagement ring on their left hand or they stack their wedding bands beneath the engagement ring. Some women prefer just to wear a wedding band. It’s really down to personal choice.

Often, men prefer to buy an engagement and wedding ring set to ensure the rings match in style and can be comfortably worn together. But, this is not a set rule, and you can buy the rings separately or even have them custom made.

What About the Cost?

Both engagement rings and wedding bands vary in price depending on the metals used, the size, and the diamonds or gemstones. Generally, engagement rings will include at least one diamond whereas most wedding bands don’t have gemstones, which means that engagement rings are usually more expensive than wedding bands. How much you choose to spend on the rings is a personal choice that comes down to budget and preference.

Both rings represent the bond you and your partner have committed to each other. Whether you choose something elegant and understated or flashy and big, it is a piece of jewellery that will show off your commitment to one another.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Leo Turns 7

7th Birthday Balloon

7 years have gone by oh so very fast. 

Each year it feels like the world speeds up a notch and the years roll by even faster. Never did I imagine that the little baby I brought into the world all of 5 minutes ago (because that is quite honestly how it feels...) would grow up on me and turn 7 years old.

That little baby who used to wake me up multiple times a night for a bottle and a cuddle, now climbs right into bed next to me and curls up into a little ball. Every once in a while I will catch a glimpse as his beautiful face lights up into a sleepy smile. 

That little baby who couldn't speak a single word has amassed the wealth of a dictionary and now talks my ears off on a daily basis. 

Broadway Tower - Cotswolds

It's pretty crazy to think about how far we have both come over the last 7 years, we are on this journey together. I make mistakes. Many mistakes but I think he knows that even when I do get things wrong, I am always trying my best for him, and for us. 

Like that time a few short weeks ago when I called him 'baby boy' in front of all his friends in the classroom, a term that is perfectly acceptable at home... But by no means in front of his friends. Boy did I get a stern look for that, but he didn't let it phase him and he rode out the short haul of taunts that flew his way, even if he did look a little red in the face. 

I promised to try and not do it again, but a week later I did it again... Sorry Leo.

7th Birthday Balloon

We are at the age where everything has to be on his terms. The 50 kisses I used to get in the playground have dwindled, and these days I have to grab a stealthy kiss as you run off without glancing back at me. 

It's pretty incredible what changes over the course of a single year isn't it?

This year you really have become so much more confident in doing things for yourself, and I have struggled to stand back and let you shine on your own. You don't always need me to run in and fight all of your battles for you, you like to do these things for yourself. Just remember little man, your mother battleship is always there if you need to call her into battle. 

All you have to do is shout.

Broadway Tower - Cotswolds

You didn't ask for much at all for your birthday, in fact the only thing you asked for was a Gameboy. You are so into your Nintendo items right now, and you have amassed quite a collection, and that is purely why you wanted the old console, to add it to your ever expanding Nintendo treasure trove. 

As we are sticklers for tradition we booked a table at Frankie and Benny's as we do each and every year. We celebrated your special day just as you wished, and judging by how much you thanked your Daddy and I over and over, it is safe to say you had a fantastic day.

You thanked me again and again, and when I told you that you didn't need to thank me as you had already done so, you simply said 'Thank you for everything Mummy', and those magical words simply melted me.

Happy Birthday beautiful boy, we are all so proud of the little man that you have become, and I know that this year ahead is only going to make us even prouder.


Tuesday, 19 June 2018

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Goblet of Fire Feature - Review

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour - Hogwarts Castle

Leo is just about to turn 7 years old, and it seems rather crazy to think that my little blog baby has grown up so much, and it's just as crazy to think that my blog is the same age! Over the last 7 years I have shared so much of myself and my blue eyed boy here, and I love that all of those memories are safely tucked away.

Just over a week ago we took a family visit to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour to experience their latest feature: The Goblet Of Fire. The Goblet Of Fire experience commenced on the 30th March 2018 and runs through to September 23rd 2018.

If like myself, you have visited more times than you can count on your fingers.... You will still go along and see so much for the first time. This was Leo's second visit, and on the run up to our visit we worked our way through the first 4 films all over again. I wanted Leo to come along and have everything in the very forefront of his mind. I wanted him to be able to recognise what he saw on screen in the studios, because after all that is what it is all about. 

It's been 2 years since Leo's first visit, it was nice to see that he had retained many of the memories he made even after all this time. The tour starts as it has always done, only this time while you are lining up in reception you can feast your eyes upon the very large Goblet of Fire that has taken up residence there.

Ok... So before I go into our most recent visit, all I am going to say is... I hope you like photos. I have so much I want to share with you, so sit back and prepare yourselves for photo spam!

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Goblet of Fire Feature


The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Goblet of Fire Feature

You are then taken into a side room where you are shown a history of the Harry Potter series and how Potter mania was born, once this wraps you are taken into a cinema screening, and this is where the real fun begins. I never like to give to much away on this front because I will never forget that initial WOW factor I felt when I first visited... I would hate to take that away from any of you!

Just trust me, you will not be dissapointed!

Once the cinema screening wraps your first point of official set touring is within the.... *Drum Roll*.... Great Hall! This set is not to be underestimated, it is incredible. The floors are solid slabs and the attention to detail is second to none. 

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Goblet of Fire age line

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Goblet of Fire age line

You look up expecting to see a bewitched ceiling (which of course isn't there), but the rest of the room is exactly as you see it in the films. As everything is set up for The Goblet of Fire, you will find the special effects version here, and you will even get your own demonstration, so that you can witness how the cup drew the names. You will even get your own parchment to take away with Harry Potter's name on it!

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Goblet of Fire Feature
























Fact: There were 2 versions created of the Goblet of Fire. The original goblet was handcrafted by head prop maker Pierre Bohanna. This was crafted from one single piece of wood. A mould was then taken from the original and the special effects version was made (You can see the original goblet on the tour).

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Great Hall

I loved that they had even set up the age line around the goblet and had the Weasley twins trying to put their own names into the cup. You could quite easily spend all your time in this one set, but your time in this room goes very quickly, as the next set of people on the tour have to come in. We moved on into the next part of the tour at this point and I was impressed to see just how different it all was to the last time I went along.

Some of the props and arrangements that have always had a place were still there, but it was nice to see that they had been refreshed or had some additional details added.

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Goblet of Fire Feature

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Goblet of Fire Feature

You will recognise this from the Yule Ball in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I have always been impressed by this particular piece.


The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Goblet of Fire Feature

Remember when Harry Potter receives the egg from the dragon in the first challenge of the Triwizard Tournament? You will recall that Cedric Diggory gives Harry the heads up about taking the egg with him for a relaxing bath. These are the Prefect's bathroom taps complete with the multi-coloured water from the 53 spouts! 

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Goblet of Fire Feature

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Goblet of Fire Feature

The original Goblet Of Fire: It was carved out of one single piece of wood that was specifically chosen for its twists and knots!

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Philosopher's Stone

In all my visits I had never come across the Philosopher's stone before, I loved this cabinet that was full of little trinkets from the films. You will even spy a Rememberall to the very back left of the below photograph!

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Goblet of Fire Feature

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: Triwizard Egg

The egg Harry retrieved from the dragon in the first Triwizard challenge.

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: Triwizard Egg


Harry Potter Studio Tour: Gryffindor Common Room

Leo inspects the Gryffindor common room at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Harry Potter Studio Tour: The Womping Willow

The magical car that almost had Harry and Ron exposed to the muggle nation in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is set up against the green screen to show it's encounter with the womping willow!

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets door

Another favourite from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Many people thought that the door to the chamber of secrets was in fact a computerised effect... But as you can see, that is not the case. It is a real work of art.

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: Tom Riddle's Grave

Now here is a pretty cool aspect for those of you who are really into your dark arts or have a secret (or not so secret) soft spot for the Dark Lord. Tom Riddle's grave is on display at the studio tour and it really does have to be seen to be appreciated. 

Leo really threw himself into our most recent visit to the studio, and for me that just makes me so happy. Leo can often hold himself back from experiences because he feels unsure about them, you could say that he over thinks the scenarios that he faces. This really does make me feel sad at times because I know that deep down he really does want to take part. 

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: Broomstick ride

He had talked about going on a broomstick against the green screen, but he didn't want to dress up. In fact it wasn't just that he didn't want to, he was going to point blank refuse. When the time came though, he slipped on his Slytherin robes (his choice of house no less), and he rode that broomstick like he was a pure blood wizard. 

And doesn't that smile speak volumes? I know it sounds crazy to be proud of your muggle son for riding a green screen broom, but on that day he overcame obstacles and stopped caring what everyone thought for a moment. At that precise moment in time he was as carefree as any other boy his age. 

With our green screen photos under our arms we moved toward the Forbidden Forest. Luke and I had both come along just before it opened to the public last year, but for Leo this was the highlight of his visit, and we hadn't even got all the way through the gates before he was telling me just how cool it was!

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Forbidden Forest Gates

Now I know that Hippogriffs are entirely a creation from J.K Rowlings imagination, but seriously.. How cool is Buckbeak? Leo was convinced that he was real, and reluctantly edged closer so I could snap the picture below, all was good until Buckbeak moved his head forward, which of course caused Leo to jump right out of the way! I am still not convinced that Leo doesn't believe it was just an animatronic model...
 The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: Buckbeak the Hippogriff

Another highlight from the Forbidden Forest was the spiders... You MUST go along and see Aragog.... and prepare yourselves for a jump or two. I am absolutely gutted that I didn't capture Leo's reaction on film!

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: Arragog

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: Arragog

Leaving the spiders far... far behind us we made our way through to Platform 9¾. 

On our last visit this had been the absolute honey pot for Leo, but I think this time it came a close second to the Forbidden Forest. 

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Hogwarts Express

We tried are darndest but unfortunately we are all muggles through and through.

Harry Potter Studio Tour: Platform 9¾

So instead we focused our efforts on simple muggle opportunities (maybe that is why there are so many photographs in today's blog post!).

Harry Potter Studio Tour: Platform 9¾

We tried Butterbeer, and Leo decided that it is nice but the best bit is the frothy top.

Harry Potter Studio Tour: Butterbeer at the Backlot Cafe

And finally we made our descent from the castle, preparing ourselves to walk back into the muggle world. I may or may not have got very excited to spot the Beauxbatons carriage complete with their winged horses flying in to Hogwarts ready for the Triwizard games!

Harry Potter Studio Tour: Beauxbatons carriage

Harry Potter Studio Tour: Beauxbatons carriage

I particularly loved this shot because you can barely see the wires holding it in place. 

Platform 9¾

I will finish this post with a photo of Luke having way to much fun with the baggage trolley...

It was yet another incredible visit, we all had the most amazing time (even Luke who hates to admit it!), and we WILL be returning again. 

Disclaimer: We were invited along to the Goblet of Fire feature and provided with entry and a few other little goodies. All views and opinions expressed within this post are completely honest and my own.