Thursday, 28 August 2014

Glamping Weekend in Pembrokeshire: Part Three

I promise this is the last post you will have to endure about our glamping weekend break!  Here are parts one and two if you missed them earlier on this week.

This will be a much shorter post as we basically headed home as soon as we woke up.  The torrential rain and blustery wind arrived in force in the middle of the night meaning that none of us got a good rest and we all looked bleary-eyed and fed up when 6am rolled around.

Added into that was the fact that the rain and wind were still going when we woke up and it made for a very miserable morning.  We tidied up the tent and our belongings whilst the kids got themselves very wet and muddy and then we hopped in the car and headed for home.

It was probably a good job we did as we decided to stick to the motorway even though it was longer to avoid any more car sickness incidents but unfortunately traffic added another 2 hours to our journey...again.

Here are some of the photos taken on our final day.

We had such a good bank holiday weekend, Pembrokeshire is a stunning part of the country and we loved the bell tent.  I hope that we can visit again, perhaps next year and spend a little bit more time exploring the area.  We might even get some nicer weather too!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Glamping Weekend in Pembrokeshire: Part Two

Yesterday I shared the first part of our glamping weekend in Pembrokeshire.  So this is the second chunk of the hundreds of photos we took, and the many adventures we squeezed in to our short visit.

Day two was a bit more miserable and wet than the first day had been although it was clear enough in the morning for us to be able to cook our breakfast on the fire pit.

The kids were thrilled at being able to get involved and help their Daddy and the food was delicious; we had popped into a local butchers on the way back to the site the day before and it paid off!

After breakfast we decided to visit Pembroke Castle.  I know what this is going to make me sound like but I am a HUGE Elizabeth Chadwick fan and some of my favourite books are the ones she wrote about the Marshal family who occupied Pembroke Castle so it was only natural that I wanted to go...although I think James spent much of the time having a laugh at me.

There are many, many, photos of me standing by dilapidated bits of castle looking thrilled.  I managed to just stick to showing you one though.

Whilst we were there they had a pirate event on which was brilliant.  The local drama school teacher and his wife had written a little show which they performed with one of their sons and it was honestly one of the best we've seen.  I'm not sure who laughed more, us or the kids.

The show was followed by a treasure hunt around the castle grounds before handing out Pirate certificates to all the children.  The kids loved posing and having their photo taken with the Captain too.  I think this may have been the highlight for Eli, he couldn't take his eyes off him when they were posing.

Naturally, the kids had to have their faces painted too as this seems to be a requirement for any day out we take them on.  

After we had exhausted the delights of Pembroke Castle we decided to visit Barafundle Bay.  Although the day was dreary and we anticipated getting very wet and cold, it had been recommended to us by a number of people and we wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

We did get wet and it was raining but the kids still absolutely adored it.

I love that they are becoming such sea monkeys, we had to repeatedly tell them to come back closer to shore before they got themselves swept away by the crashing waves.

We managed to squeeze in some sandcastle building too before the heavens really opened and we had to make a hasty retreat back up the cliff to the car.

I wish that the weather had been brighter as I imagine it's a gorgeous place to be on a sunny day but at least we can say that we have now visited one of the best beaches in the world! 

We were all exhausted by the time we got back to the tent, although there was still obviously time for me to enjoy a little glass of wine and read my book by torchlight.

I won't bore you with any more photos, so I will leave our final day until tomorrow.  Which I promise will be a much shorter post!

P is for...


This little piggy was keeping us all very entertained on our recent trip to Folly Farm.  I'm not sure what he thought he would find inside the sow's ear but he was very determined to get in there.

I also love his colouring.  I know next to nothing about pigs so I'm not sure if this is typical of a certain breed but I haven't ever seen colouring like this before and none of the other piglets had quite the same adorable spots that this one did.  Hence why I snapped him, although I may possibly have gone overboard with this given the amount of grumbling my husband did when he was looking back through the photos later!

I am taking part in the Alphabet Photography Project which is being hosted by Charly over at PODcast.  Head over there to see more photos on the letter P.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Glamping Weekend in Pembrokeshire: Part One

Last week I was lucky enough to win a competition for three nights stay in a glamping bell tent at Warren Farm, Pembrokeshire.  I was beyond thrilled to win as I have been desperate to go glamping and we hadn't been able to get away as a family this summer so the timing was just perfect.

We did a lot of research on Pembrokeshire, which is in South West Wales before we left, as neither myself nor James had been before and we really wanted to make the most of the days we were there.  Luckily the site owners, were both really helpful and only too happy to point out the best places for us to visit, which was great.

Unfortunately, our journey down wasn't quite plain sailing.  It took us 8 and a half hours to do a 5 hour journey and Eli decided that this was the time he was going to develop car sickness.  Fantastic.  But, we made it and although it was raining when we arrived, seeing our little bell tent lit up with fairy lights and candles, and then going to sleep listening to the light pitter patter of rain on the outside was lovely.  

The first morning we had a quick look around, noting the picturesque little copse we were set in, our outside kitchen, fire pit, outside shower(!) and compost toilet.  I have to admit that I wasn't brave enough to use the compost toilet and did opt for the flushable, indoor ones available although I did use the outdoor shower which wasn't as bad as you might think, as long as you had someone looking out for you as it was slightly exposed to whomever might fancy a walk past!

The bell tents are new and there is still a lot of work being put in to renovating the site so not everything has been thought of, and we did have to ask for a few things but again, the owners were only too happy to help.

On day one we visited Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo which was a great day.  Meg and Eli were particularly impressed with the adventure playgrounds there, especially the ones which consisted of two pirate ships, one full, one 'sunken' and a castle.

I opted out of going on the Big Wheel, although James said that the views were amazing and the kids seemed to really enjoy themselves.

Meg was really taken with the penguins and made us stand for a good 20 minutes watching in case one of them did something 'interesting'.

On the way back we stopped in a sweet little village and ate in an Italian restaurant we discovered; we were all exhausted from our day out and didn't fancy trying to cook our dinner using the fire pit!  

When we got back to the site there was just time for James to try and make a fire (with a little help from our neighbours and their fire lighters) and to toast some marshmallows before bed.  

...and to set fire to marshmallows, which is a skill that appears to have been passed on from father to son.

Once the kids were tucked up in their beds we enjoyed a sneaky glass of wine by candlelight before joining them, at around 10pm!

I took so many photos that I couldn't possibly squeeze them into just one post so pop back tomorrow for part two.  There may even possibly have to be a part three...

I am linking this post up with Share With Me.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Simple Lunchbox Ideas

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This #CapriSunSchool shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for #CollectiveBias and its advertiser.

Getting Eli to eat lunch has always been a tricky endeavour, so the realisation that we are going to have to start coming up with healthy lunchbox ideas from September when he starts at preschool, has been met with mutual feelings of dread.

Somewhere along the line he decided that 'lunch' equated to jam sandwiches, cheese, and grapes.  It didn't matter if you gave him something else, he would eat what was offered and then ask when it was lunchtime as he hadn't had the jam sandwiches, cheese and grapes!

So, we have been putting our thinking caps on over how we can send him with something that is healthy, that he will eat, and that is not the same thing every single day.  It's not an easy concept.

Scouring the internet I came across lots of creative ideas for Bento-style lunchboxes.  If you haven't come across these before they are basically the idea that you use the food in the lunch box inventively, to fit a certain theme.  If you want to spend several hours staring at food which looks too nice to eat then type it into an internet search...go on...

Luckily I have hit upon an idea which *so far* seems to have worked and has got Eli eating a number of things he wouldn't previously touch.  It has allowed us to feel a bit more confident about not being there in September to hover over him and make sure he eats what has been put into his lunchbox and, best of all, it takes hardly any extra time to do and it only utilises things which most parents are likely to already have: cookie cutters

A recent trip to Tesco allowed me to really put the theory to the test; that Eli will eat anything as long as it is cut into an interesting shape.  For the purpose of this post, I have placed the items onto a plate but they would all easily fit into a lunchbox; I've even included a juice drink as well in the form of Capri Sun.  The 200ml pouches are the ideal size for lunchboxes and with no artificial flavours, colours or preserves, there's added peace of mind too.  It's on offer as well in Tesco at the moment...which was an excellent added bonus.

It took us a while to find the Capri Sun, strangely, as it wasn't on the aisle I would have expected but tucked away in a mini-aisle at the bottom of the supermarket.  We managed to turn it into a fun game though, seeing who could be the first to find it.

The great thing about this idea is that you can buy cookie cutters in literally almost any design, we have hearts and stars and princess ones for Meg and we were given the transport ones I used for Eli as a Christmas present a few years ago.  So, whatever your children are into, there is bound to be cookie cutters which work.

It didn't take any extra time either, although next time I might ensure my cheese isn't so crumbly!  But it would be easy enough to do first thing in the morning, without having to get up any earlier or plan far in advance.

...and although he wouldn't look at the camera, I now have evidence that it works.  Here is Eli eating, and enjoying, his tractor watermelon.  

Something I never thought I'd say...I am actually quite looking forward to getting creative with Eli's lunchboxes and have already got a few more ideas up my sleeve!

How do you plan your children's lunches to ensure they get eaten?

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Collective Bias.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Book Review & Giveaway: Vanilla Salt by Ada Parellada

Vanilla Salt by Ada Parellada

Published by Alma Books, Vanilla Salt is the debut novel of renowned chef Ada Parellada.  It tells the story of Alex and Annette; two very different people who are both trying to conceal painful parts of their past.

Alex is a Catalan chef who is struggling to keep his business afloat due to his brusque manner and refusal to use ingredients which can be traced back to America.  Annette is a Canadian who has come to Catalan to escape from something...which I can't tell you as that would give too much of the story away!

We follow their story as they try to firstly, learn to get along and work together, and secondly overcome the many obstacles which seem to crop up along their journey.  Some of the characters are more belivable than others although I'm not sure if this is down to the translation as the book was written in Ada Parellada's native tongue.

As translations go, and as far as I can tell, it's pretty good.  I did struggle initially to capture the pace of the story as the sentences are quite short and abrupt.  However, once you get used to the style of the writing, it's a really enjoyable story and you do find yourself wishing for a happy ending for all involved.

One of the things I really liked was the amount of mouth-watering recipes included.  I am still, as I write this review, really tempted to give some of them a try.  From the descriptions you can tell that Ada Parellada really knows what she is talking about and it gives the book an interesting perspective.  

If you have an interest in food based books then I would certainly recommend reading this.  Better yet, Alma Books have offered me a set of four delicious fiction novels for me to give away to one lucky reader.  Just use the rafflecopter below to enter.

Good luck!

Giveaway ends on Friday 26 September.  UK entrants only.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of Vanilla Salt for the purposes of this review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Eureka Museum and Little Live Pets

Last weekend we were invited to visit the Eureka Museum in Halifax to attend a Little Live Pets Event.

We love Eureka and have been several times before with the kids so we were all very excited to go; especially since the last time we visited they were in the middle of renovating their All About Me section and we were keen to see the changes which had been made.

On arrival, the first thing we did was to visit the dedicated Little Live Pets room which had been set up with a range of activities including colouring and face painting.  Meg, naturally, had to get her face painted and Eli waited patiently decorating a butterfly and watching the demonstrations of the Little Live Pets.

The Little Live Pets have recently come onto the market and they are proving very popular indeed.  In fact, if you visit the website, a number are sold out already.  It's easy to see why with their bright colours and interactive functions; the birds will tweet and sing, even repeating what you say and the butterfly will flutter in the palm of your hand.  Prices vary depending on what you purchase but start at £9.99.

Eli was a little hesitant at first; I don't think he could ascertain whether they were real birds and butterflies or not but once he realised they were toys he was happy to touch them.  Meg has added one to her Christmas list too so I think they must have made a positive impression.

Once we had watched a few demonstrations from the staff we allowed ourselves to be dragged away to explore the rest of the museum.  

One of the reasons we love Eureka is that it is just so hands on.  Quite often when we go out we find ourselves repeatedly telling the kids to slow down, or to not touch, but the whole point of Eureka is that they can get stuck in.  Which they did!

I was really impressed with the new All About Me section of the museum.  Lots of the exhibits had been there since I was a child and I thought the changes they had made were impressive.  There was much more to see and do and we spent the most amount of time there.  I hope that they are going to work their way around the museum and update all the exhibitions as they did a really good job with this one.

During the school holidays, Eureka hold a number of events and one of the ones taking place on the day we attended was den building with Robin Hood and Maid Marian.  Although I think our children were a little young for this, as it lasted quite a while, my Other Half certainly enjoyed offering advice on constructing the dens and Meg was really excited to meet Maid Marian; she trailed after her throughout the entire session in complete awe!

We really enjoyed our day at Eureka, I always find the staff to be really attentive and engaging with the children and there is so much to see and do that we managed to last the whole day without the kids once complaining they wanted to come home, which is always a winner in my book!  Thanks to Little Live Pets for inviting us along.

Disclaimer: We were given complimentary tickets to Eureka! for the purpose of this event.  All thoughts and opinions are our own.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

O is for...


I was a bit stuck for this week's letter.  I'm not even sure whether my chosen word and my chosen picture work together but I think so...I hope so!  Fingers crossed the letter P isn't as tricky.

I am taking part in the Alphabet Photography Project hosted over on PODcast.  Head over there to join in or keep an eye out for the #alphabetphoto hashtag.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Me & You {August 2014}

dear beautiful

As I've sat down to write this post I have just realised that I didn't do a Me & You for July.  Whoops!  Clearly the month just passed me by.

I know that I have posted this month's photo a fair bit on social media but I have to admit that it is one of my favourite photographs ever of us as a couple.  None of the other photos I took this month even came close so I couldn't help but use it.

When I look at it, I am reminded that once upon a time, I met my best friend and was lucky enough to marry him.  That although there have been exceptional highs and devastating lows, although we have laughed until our sides ached and argued until we'd have happily shoved the other off a cliff, although we may spend the next 40 years doing the whole thing over and over again, he is still my best friend and I know I did good in finding him.

A word which has been prominent in my mind at the moment is 'adventure'.  I recently bought some wall art to hang above our bed which says 'I want to have adventures with you.'  I wanted to be reminded every night that although life isn't always easy, it is, in it's own way, a beautiful adventure to be embraced and enjoyed.

As it's our anniversary next weekend, I was reminiscing about our wedding day and recalled the song we walked up the aisle, out of the church to.  I adore this song, and listening to it again this week I think that it still means as much now as it did then.  Incidentally, it is also called 'Adventure' by Angels & Airwaves.

If you're gonna fall I'll let you know,
That I will pick you up,
Like you for I.
I felt this thing
I can't replace.

Hello, here I am.
Here we go, life's waiting to begin.