Monday 24 February 2020

Travels without Kids, we're off to Dubai!

We are just shy of 24 hours before myself and the other half head away for a few days away. Thousands of miles away to the UAE. Eek. Just us. No children. Whatttttt?! I know, sounds ideal doesn't it,  many parents would jump at the chance of having some adult only time, a chance to reconnect, a chance to talk without the usual 'mummy'.....'daddy' yells. No crazy mornings trying to juggle school runs, getting to work, packed lunch days and life in general. I have to admit I'm not dreading it but it's taken a while for me to feel excited, the anxiety is creeping in from time to time for a variety of reasons, but I am hopeful we are in for an amazing few days away. 

I guess I should start with the reason why we are heading away without the kids, we're not been selfish and not taking the kids with us was a huge decision for us and not one that we made lightly but there are reasons behind it, but first let me explain a bit more about why we're going away.  In 2010 I married my man, a dream wedding and memories made to be cherished.  Fast forward to 2020 and here we are 10 years later, unbelievable. Not quite sure where the blur of 10 years has gone but yet here we are. 10 years is pretty special I think, a whole decade of marriage and 2 children that we are keeping alive....go us, whoop! We knew we wanted to do something special but weren't quite sure what. Weeks went by and we still weren't really sure, did we want to do something with the kids? Did we want to renew our vows.....well I have would but hubby thought this was silly! A party? Do people even do that?! No clue.  It then occurred to us that we had tons of Avios points to spend with British Airways as we'd been collecting them for the best part of 10 years! We had a ton accumulated with no real idea what value it would equate to. My husband also had a companion flight (effectively a free ticket) after a massive cock up on a previous flight to San Diego *don't ask* which had an expiry date in the end of April so we knew we had to make a decision. We chatted about places in Europe (pointless waste of a our free flight though as we could use it long haul), we discussed Florida (too much to organise for this year), we thought South Africa and maybe New York again but wanted to go somewhere we hadn't been before so but I suggested Dubai just on a whim and it suited us.....short(ish) flight time (6 1/2 hours ish) and a reasonable time difference of 4 hours ahead so not too much in the way of jet lag and we could go for less than a week but more than a long weekend so it seemed a winner! 

Unbelievably,  and after a mammoth phone call to British Airways it transpired we had enough points to get us both a business class flight there and first class on the way back! Crazy! Never thought I'd ever get the chance to fly in luxury that's for sure, and considering I am not keen *slight understatement* on flying this was a massive positive. We chose our hotel and because the flights have cost us virtually nothing but taxes we have been able to treat ourselves to  (what we hope) is a rather nice hotel situated on The Palm. So, we are off to Dubai, in a matter of days ...... without kids to celebrate our anniversary.  It is a weird feeling as neither of us have never been apart from the children together for an extended amount of time. We did go to NYC for my 30th but Alfie was about 8 months old and was non the wiser, we have, of course had a handful of weekends away without the kids but never have we both been such a distance away for this period of time. We fly tomorrow and return Sunday so it's not even a week and they will be back at school which is why we arranged it at this time so I'm hoping this will mean it won't be too traumatic for us, them and/or the grandparents! We haven't made a big deal of it and I'm certain our anxiety is so much more than what the kids will be. 

I admit I have found it difficult to be excited, although I am starting to feel a bit more of that building but naturally it is mixed with a bit of in-trepidation and anxiety, a bit of both stressing about the kids but also the flight! I know the children are going to be fine, they will be looked after and I have total trust in the grandparents that they will make them feel safe and secure, I'm sure there might be some tears on leaving (probably from me!) But all will be fine. 

I am looking forward to visiting somewhere completely new and different and everyone I have spoken to has been so enthusiastic about Dubai and about how we will have a great time. I've stocked up on the kalms and rescue remedy to get me through the flight so hopefully my anxiety regarding the flight will be less so! It is going to be weird, I know it is and we are going to miss the kids terribly but I think this will be good for both myself and my husband and the kids and as they are a bit older it's going to teach them that we won't always be around and time away as a couple is potentially something that we could look forward to in the future. I just hope I can enjoy myself while I'm there. 

Wish us luck and watch this space for updates!! 

Sunday 23 February 2020

Is a Quiet Retreat what you Need?

{Collaborative content} Sometimes a nice night away is all that you need. A night where you can relax and forget about the troubles that are going on in your life. But what about the troubles in life that mean even a night away is going to help you truly relax and forget about them all. Sometimes it's better to have an all out break, but we know that it's not always possible to do so when money won't allow it. The cost of trying to go abroad at the minute just seems to be going up and up. If you think about the cost of an all inclusive break for a week now, compared to what it used to be a few years ago, the prices have skyrocketed. Going out of school time doesn't make as much of a difference as it used to do. So, if you do need a quiet relaxing break, we're going to show you some of the places that you could go. We're also going to talk about what you could do whilst you're away and why it's going to be good for you. Keep on reading to find out more.

Where Could You Go?

There are so many places that you could go and if you're not looking to step on a plane anytime soon then why not stick to the UK. We're so blessed to have many areas of outstanding natural beauty, with greenery for miles and waters flowing through. The Dorsett Hotel, Shepherds Bush is just one of the locations that you could visit in the UK. It's in West London, which many of you may find funny to think of a quiet getaway. But London offers some of the most luxurious spas, there's Hyde Park to wonder around, and there's cute cafes to spend the afternoon in. Whilst there is the element of hustle and bustle, you can still find the calm in London. If you want to get away into the countryside, Barton-Under-Water is a great place to visit. Found in Gloucestershire it's a fabulous place surrounded by beautiful green countryside.

What Could You Do?

It all depends on the type of break away that you're wanting. If you want a break away to truly relax, you could go somewhere completely out of the way and spend your time walking and hiking. It's relaxing, something you can do at your own pace, and it's a great way of exploring. Or, you could go to a camping site that has plenty of activities. Some of them have archery and assault courses to complete.

How It'll Benefit You

There are tons of benefits to a quiet retreat, and one of them is that your mind needs to get away from everything in life. If all you keep doing is working to pay the bills, you're winding your way into a repetitive routine that you hate. Getting away for a quiet break rather than going abroad offers you the chance to spend so much less, yet still have such a great time.

Wednesday 19 February 2020

Things that Kids Love but Parents Hate!

{Collaborative Content}There are many things about parenthood that are a total joy. The snuggles, the sweet baby who smiles at you with their eyes wide open filled with love and affection, the laughter - it’s all a part of parenthood and we love it. There are, of course, other things about parenthood that we all hate - and these are things that our children love!

Parents get a lot of hassle from their kids. They want to have the newest toys, the best kid's party entertainment in the school, the latest gadgets. They watch TV shows that are so different from the ones that we watch and we just don't get them! So, with that in mind, we’ve got five examples of things that children love and parents just hate. Let’s take a look!

  • Crafting
Every parent loves the magazine pictures of sitting with the children and painting, or making PlayDoh. The problem is that while baking cookies is fun, it’s so frustrating to try and make cookies with a child who doesn't know how to do it right. Almost every parent hates the mess, the glitter, the tidy up (because let’s face it, we do that!). Crafting? Best for kids, not for parents.
  • Kids Magazines
It’s a nice treat to give, considering you don’t want to buy candy or chips from the store, but kids magazines get left to one side for the cheap plastic toys stuck to the front. The educational part of the magazine with the pictures to color in aren’t as exciting for a child, and guess who’s going to leave plastic toys around for you to clean up? Yep - the kids!
  • YouTube
You may only have a baby and haven't been introduced to the joys of YouTube yet, but you will. And then you’ll meet Blippi and the whole gang, and you’ll want to bury your face in a pillow and scream.
  • Balloons
Whether you have been to the stores or to a kid’s party, your child will beg you for balloons at some point or another. When they see one, they need it, and you’ll be the one carrying it home so it doesn't blow away. Once it’s at home, they want nothing to do with it. They want to leave it in the corner as it slowly deflates for two weeks, and when you go to dispose of it? THEY NEED IT. Yeah, balloons aren’t your friend, especially if it pops and traumatizes your child.
  • Bubbles
Every child goes nuts for bubbles, but parents? Not so much. Bubble residue all over the floor makes the floor slippery and when the bubbles run out, you do your best to replace them with dish soap and it’s just not the same! Bubbles are great for five minutes and then the child wants to hold them and SPLASH they go all over the floor.

There are plenty more things that parents hate but their children love, but that’s something to discover as you go on this crazy parenting ride you’re on. Enjoy it!

Monday 17 February 2020

How School Trips can Benefit your Child.

{Collaborative} When we send our little ones to school, we send them somewhere they are going to have set routine. They will attend classes, attend assemblies, have set break times and lunch times, and return home having learnt everything they need for the day without being torn from a comfortable schedule that they know well. This can create comfort and balance in their lives and learning in a familiar environment can make for learning without excessive distractions. But every once in a while, it can be worth breaking free from the mould to let your little ones attend a school trip. Now, school trips are exciting for kids. It’s an event in their calendar that they can really look forward to. But they can still prove highly educational and can allow them to learn in a completely different way to that which they’re used to on a day to day basis. Here are a few different ways trips can benefit your little ones.

New Environments

New environments can stimulate your kids’ imaginations. They can see things they haven’t been exposed to before and can gather new interests that they might not have discovered if it wasn’t for their trip. Taking a step away into a new environment or atmosphere with Adaptable Travel can widen their imagination and see the world outside of the realms of the classroom.


Museums can introduce your little ones to real artefacts, making the stories and tales from their history books more than just accounts, but instead, something very real. This can peak interest in all sorts of areas, ranging from Ancient Egypt with its pharaohs, pyramids, and scarab beetle to natural history, dinosaurs, evolution, planets and more.

Art Galleries

Art is a great area for kids to get invested in. It’s not limited to visual creativity. It can also convey a host of hidden messages, familiarising your child with emotions. It encourages your kids to view the world in a different way - through the artists eyes. It can help them to appreciate colours, textures, and patterns. Art can also have a historical aspect, introducing your little ones to the ideologies and norms of different times and allowing them to reflect on how things have changed since.


Plays don’t catch all children’s imaginations when they’re just words printed on the page. But trips to the theatre see these words come to life. Shakespeare tends to be much more easily understood in motion than read from a book. So why not encourage a school trip to the theatre? It’s a great way to engage kids with literature.

These are just a few different types of trip your kids might end up going on. There are plenty more. Some are based on exercise and physical education. Others based on geography. Some scientifics. No matter the subject area, chances are there’s a trip that can greatly benefit your little one and their educational progression!

Sunday 16 February 2020

R.I.P Caroline. This is not ok.

Yesterday a bright, beautiful and vivid woman took her life. A woman that I admired, loved watching, her beauty, personality, that laugh and her down to earth presenting style and cool fashion sense. A woman that should have had a whole life in front of her. One of the only dancers on Strictly Come Dancing to reduce me to tears and one of the best show dances in the history of Strictly.  I was shocked to the core to read such news. However,  not overly shocked that she'd reached that place of despair after the constant media hounding after that 'alleged' assault, but shocked and deeply saddened in the sense that she'd reached a point in her 40 years of life that she felt she was better of dead. Even just writing this now I feel utter sadness, I can't comprehend what a dark place someone must be for these thoughts to transpire. I remember a few years ago going on some suicide awareness training for work and was advised that if someone really wants to commit suicide they will do it, if just an attempt it's a cry for help. This has stuck with me for years, Caroline's cry for help was clear to see I'm just sorry that she felt her life wasn't worth living anymore.

Many people who know me will be surprised to hear that at times I suffer with anxiety,  I'm a prolific over thinker and spend alot of time with consuming thoughts but it's mild in comparison to many, I'm a worrier about everything but I don't need any help, I deal with it but many don't and I'm aware of just how easy it is for thoughts to take over, I can't imagine how Caroline was feeling at this point in her life. The signs were there, her social media is screaming for help, the sparkle had gone from her eyes in photos. It is all just so sad and an unnecessary loss of life.

I feel the media are very much to blame for this, of course we will never truly know the depth of her mental health state, what actually happened on that evening in December and I guess we never will, but what we do know is the media dragged this poor woman's name through the mud and I was pretty disgusted with the fingers that were pointed at her, the trolling she endured was sickening. Where was the support for her like there was for Ant McPartlin? How did it get to the stage where she felt she needed to end her life, this being the only way out.

Caroline may not have had any mental health issues, of course we make the assumption and are lead to believe  that there must have been some concerns there as reports state she was on anti depressants which are a fair indicator of where her state of mind may have been at this point, but it should not have reached the stage where she took her own life, there are some serious questions that need to be asked. 

As humans, as grown adults we just aren't very good at talking. Many, including myself keep alot of things close to our chest. For me, I always feel like who wants to hear my woes? I'd hate to drag anyone down when I feel a bit low but really this is the worst thing to do. We should be more open. We should talk more. It is nothing to be ashamed of. This is why there is still this stigma surrounding mental health, depression and everything in between.  We should become better at talking, it's good to off load and release some inner demons. We need to become better in self care and recognising when we need help or extra support, it is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of to say do you know what I'm not ok. It's fine to not be coping and it's ok to reach out for help and it's ok to take medication if that helps. It's ok to not be ok.

What's not ok is that a 40 year old woman has taken her own life leaving behind her family, her friends and a vibrant career. She had so much for this world and was clearly loved and adored as the social media tributes for her have shown. If you haven't read them please do. It stands as a good reminder of just how many people you touch through your life without even perhaps realising it. She leaves a legacy behind and Caroline you won't be forgotten and I hope that the media learns from this horrifically sad and traumatic loss of life. 

RIP Caroline Flack and thankyou for the Strictly memories, you were one of my favourite contestants ever, thankyou for the summers of love and your vibrant personality. May you have found peace away from this media filled world full of people that take pleasure in being cruel. From one of Caroline's post 'in a world where you can be anything, be kind'.

For anyone needing any support please talk. Visit your GP, self refer to your local mental health service. Call those numbers where there is someone at the end of the line that can help. Please don't suffer in silence.

Monday 3 February 2020

Top Tips for Choosing an Awesome Kids Gift!

{Ad} Ahh kids birthdays! Children just love, love, love their birthdays don't they. Once Christmas is out of the way they just count down the weeks until their birthday. Or is this just my two?! I have two kids fairly close together for birthdays, my four year old daughter is April then quite closely followed my seven year old in May. Then throw into the mix all the school birthday parties as with two at school there seems to be a celebration or party every week at the moment! Both of my children generally have certain requests of things they would like but I always like to get some surprises too and try to think outside the box to get them things are are usual or memory making activities that will enrich their life. Of course they get things that they have asked for but I do like to get a few surprises also.

It can be easy to be generic when it comes to purchasing presents and sometimes we all need a little inspo when gifting, (check out Wicked Uncle’s gift list for 18 month olds, which I love). Sometimes, even buying gifts for babies and younger children the pressure can feel immense to 'get it right' and it can certainly be quite tricky to purchase for children that you don't know or have any idea of their interests but hey I love a challenge! After thinking about how, at times it can be a struggle to be original and not to over think things I decided to put together a few tips to help anyone else who stresses or worries about buying gifts for your children's friends that you don't know. Ultimately, it's the thought that counts of course but it's always nice for a child to turn up with a little gift after being invited to their party.

Photo by Hello I'm Nik 🇬🇧 on Unsplash

- Firstly, as mentioned above don't stress about it, children really are just so happy with a token gift and that they are having a party! 

- I often buy a load of small pocket money gifts and books and make up a party parcel which has several little things in it like pens, stickers, a book, blind bags, lip balms, bath bombs and things like that. It depends on the age, I find this most useful for Alfie's age but for Elarna's age group I enjoy choosing a bit more fun and colourful toys and sometimes a bit quirky and unusual. I also find craft items are always a good choice.

- Don't think you have to spend a fortune, it is always the thought that counts so it's important to keep that at the back of your mind and remember that.

- If you are still struggling, head to a website like Wicked Uncle and choose the age category to help you with options. There are tons of products and I can guarantee that I will find something that will be enjoyed and loved by the kids. I love doing this as it so good for inspiration and there are some awesome gifts to choose from!

- Ask the parent. If you know the child's Mum or Dad then ask for the child's interests or if there is anything that they would love or even that they dislike!

- If you are really struggling to think of ideas pop some cash in the card so the child can choose to spend their money where they would like!

Overall just don't over think these things, have fun choosing gifts and enjoy celebrating all those birthdays.

Blippi Toys - Newly Launched *Review*

{Gifted items}. Hands up....who has a Blippi fan in the house? I do, I do! My daughter absolutely loves Blippi and would spend hours watching him if she could. 

Now for those of you who are wondering..... who on earth is Blippi? Blippi is a popular You Tube star that creates bright, colourful and educational videos for children from around 2 years old to 5 years old (ish). Once you've heard theme tune it will be forever grained in your brain! We were recently sent a bunch of goodies to review as a whole load of fabulous merchandise has recently dropped at leading retailers, head on over to Smyths Toys to have a look at some of the range available. The items arrived in a Blippi themed colour blind box and Elarna was so excited to see what was inside!

Packaged in Blippi's iconic colours Elarna couldn't wait to open it up and have a look. There is a wide variety of new merchandise and toys available for the Bliipi fan in your house and range from around £9.99 upwards. They toys range from small items like the blind bag ball pit surprise to the plush buddy Blippi toy.

Inside we discovered a whole range of Blippi fun, one thing that I noticed that most of the items had an educational spin to them also. We had a dress up set which will encourage imaginative play and role play, some Blippi educational vehicles which are great for learning to play independently. There was also lots others so please read on!

Elarna is really good at playing independently as well as with other children but she was delighted with these little cars that she could push around and make little stories up with them, they are brightly coloured and the perfect size for those little hands.

Next up we had the item that Elarna was THE most delighted with. A my buddy Blippi plush toy. OH my goodness I can't tell you how much she loves this toy, he has to be tucked in next to her at night and she genuinely just loves it so much! The Blippi buddy features 15 recognisable sounds and phrases by squeezing his tummy! To be honest I found it a bit irritating but I guess I would as an adult, for a 4 year old however it's the best thing ever! I would say out of all the items this was her favourite and an absolute winner!

Also included in the box was learning numbers set. This little set consists of cardboard cubes with blind bags hidden inside as well as a little Blippi model. Inside each of the blind bag is an item that can then be used to help with numbers and counting. I have to admit I found the items inside the boxes a little bit odd, I wasn't quite sure how they would help with numbers as such but I guess you can use them to learn counting up to 9 or for simple addition and subtraction with the items, Elarna enjoyed playing with them and they are of a nice size for reception aged children. The cardboard blocks are also numbered and can be used to stack and play simple number games with but will not last that long due to thin cardboard that they are made of.

We were also sent some blind ball pit surprise balls, these toys are so popular at the moment and children just seem to love them! I won't spoil what is inside them but as pocket money gifts these are great little items. 

Overall these toys will be loved and adored by Blippi fans. I like the educational aspect and the toys are of good quality. They vary in price which means there are plentiful options for parents to choose from. They are very much loved in our house and Elarna has been delighted to receive them, especially the Blippy buddy, he has been everywhere with us! As mentioned above these are available from leading retailers although I think they have been pretty popular as certain items are sold out from some retailers! Keep your eyes open though as I'm sure they will be restocked soon. 

Do you have a Blippi fan in your house? Would your children loves these toys?

* Please note we were kindly sent the items free of charge in exchange for a review, all thoughts are my own.