Friday, 30 September 2016

Top UK Breaks Wishlist ǀ Travel

If you asked me to list my dream holiday destinations I would probably go for far flung places such as New Zealand, Canada, China and the like, without giving much thought to the places I'd like to visit in the UK.  It's funny really because there are actually plenty of places that I would love to explore right here on my own doorstep, and I can regularly be found browsing hotel sites and AirBnB looking for accommodation and badgering James into planning some time off so we can escape.

I just haven't gotten around to visiting some of these places yet:-


Bath
Bath has long been at the top of my list for places in the UK I would like to go.  I did once pay it a flying visit for the wedding of a friend but I didn't get further than the reception venue so I don't really count that!  From the stunning architecture to the ancient Roman baths, the connection with one of my all time favourite authors Jane Austen to its proximity to fascinating sites such as Stonehenge; I could easily spend more than a weekend lost in this intriguing city.

Edinburgh
On my mum's side of the family we hail from Glasgow and I have been there a handful of times but never to Edinburgh and there is a real draw for me (in fact this may well be the next place we head to if we can find a brilliant last minute break perhaps!)  I love the fact that it has a medieval Old Town and a Georgian New Town, I'd love to visit the Castle and head up to Arthur's Seat to check out the gorgeous views.  


The Cotswolds
Chocolate box cottages, thatched roofs, rolling hills and glorious countryside...I'm fairly sure there is a lot I could learn to love about the Cotswolds.  The fact that it covers such a vast area and I would have to pick just one small part of it to explore is neither here nor there, at the minute anyway!  I think a trip to the Cotswolds would have to take place during the summer so I could really make the most of the beautiful surroundings and spend my afternoons sitting in postcard perfect pub gardens.

Stratford-upon-Avon
For some reason Stratford stays on my list, even though I have been quite a few times and have even got as far as doing the open bus tour.  I just don't feel as though I have fully done the town justice, especially given that it is the home of such a renowned writer as Shakespeare.  I'd like to the whole Shakespeare experience with visits to his home and the people connected with him.  I'd also like to visit at a time when it isn't raining but I don't suppose you can have everything!

Is there anywhere you would love to visit in the UK?  I'd love to know.


This is a collaborative post.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Puppy in My Pocket Party


We were really excited to be able to share with you all the exciting Puppy in my Pocket twitter party, I hope you all had a great time as well!




We received a fantastic box of goodies in order to host our own party alongside the twitter party and all the girls were very excited when they arrived.  They burst through into the lounge, immediately squealing with delight at the Pet Palace and the Puppy Playground which I had laid out for them.


I gave them a few minutes to explore the puppies and the playsets which were out and then we got stuck into our first game; I had spent the day before cutting out 64 cards to play either snap or matching pairs with.  The overwhelming response was that snap was the favourite game and so we settled down to what turned out to be a very competitive game!

But in the end we had our winner and she was very pleased to receive the charms bracelet as her hard-earned prize.




After the game of snap it was snack time.  The girls adored the cupcakes with the little sugar-paper Puppy in my Pocket picture; these were a definite winner and I had trouble keeping one back for Eli to enjoy!  I moved the playsets out of the way whilst the girls enjoyed their snacks but it was hard to keep them away from playing, they were keen to open the blind bags we had been sent to see which puppies they would all get and they wanted to know the names of the ones they had already been playing with.  


After snacktime we moved onto one of the other activities which had been provided for us; making kennels.  This was a lovely activity which I think was meant to be quiet(ish) but was peppered with giggles and chattering about the puppies they were cutting out and how they were going to use their new kennels.  It was quite time-consuming but eventually the kennels were constructed.



Finally after all their efforts they were allowed to open the blind bags and engage in some free play with the playsets.  There was a lot of love for the little slide which is attached to the palace and there was real enjoyment from opening the bags and seeing which puppy they had, then comparing with everyone else and learning the names and breeds.  Blind bags are always a winner and this was no different.


I had laid out the colouring sheets and pencils in case any of the girls didn't feel like playing and they had soon lined up their new puppy additions and got stuck into some colouring.  This was a brilliant activity to end with as they began to wind down and I finally managed to enjoy a cup of tea whilst they were all occupied and quiet!

Then it was time for pick-up and giving out the goody bags which were well stocked with some more activities, a poster and some more blind bags; where these girls spoiled or what!?

So thank you to UKMumsTV for allowing us to host the party, all the girls had a great time.  And we would definitely recommend the Puppy in my Pocket collections, it went down a treat.

We were provided with a party pack for the purpose of this post and the party.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.


The Summer of 100 Adventures... ǀ Family Lifestyle

As I stare out of the window at the grey morning and the rain hitting the pane, I think it's finally time that I admitted to myself that summer is truly over.  And I pull myself together and share with you some of the fun that we got up to.

I have approached the summer holidays in a variety of ways since Meg started at school but this year I determined to adopt a more relaxed approach.  Rather than making spreadsheets and downloading mountains of information about days out and investing more money than necessary on craft materials which never got used...I opted to write a basic bucket list of things we'd quite like to do and then just see how it all went.

The activities on the list varied from things which were easy and free such as water play in the garden to things which were costly and more complicated to organise such as an overnight stay in a hotel.  The important thing was that there was no pressure to complete all 100 but I think we did pretty well over the six weeks, managing 77 in total.


(This layout idea was totally nicked from Hayley at Hayley From Home who recently started bullet journalling and has a very enviable style!)

Some of our highlights included:-


Sailing a boat (kind of...!)



Catching fairies...



Making smores and having a BBQ...



Orienteering... (not so successfully!)


Trying the skittles experiment...


Visiting the beach...


Lots and lots and lots of water play...


...and pond dipping.

Although this is just a tiny snapshot and the list and photos could have gone on for a whole lot longer!

I think that the idea of just seeing how the day felt before we decided what we were going to do worked really well.  Meg and Eli are reaching the age when they don't need me to constantly be hovering over them making sure they have got something to do and the overall vibe was quite relaxed.  Sure, we had days when it all just seemed to go belly-up and the kids couldn't stop squabbling but as a summer of adventures went?  I think we did a pretty good job.

Just in time to start on our autumn bucket list!


Wednesday, 28 September 2016

I See You by Clare Mackintosh ǀ Book Review


Back in February I picked up my first thriller book for a long time; I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh.  It was on a total whim but after the first few pages I was absolutely hooked  and finished it within a day.  I'm fairly sure the kids had to fend for themselves that day (kidding...)

So when I saw that Clare Mackintosh was releasing a second novel I knew that I would have to pick it up.  I even went against my usual rule of waiting until a book comes out in hardback because I knew I wanted to read it N.O.W.

I See You is the story of Zoe Walker who is reading the newspaper one day on her commute home from work when she sees a picture of herself in the classifieds section.  She takes the paper home and shows her family who assure her that it's just someone who looks like her.  But Zoe is not convinced.  The next day there a picture of another woman, and a different woman the day after that and so on.

Soon after Zoe realises that one of the women who appeared in the paper has been the victim of a crime and she begins to wonder whether the website and phone number which accompany the pictures don't represent something slightly more sinister.

The book is told from three perspectives; predominantly you follow the POV of Zoe and then the POV of Kelly Swift who is the police officer investigating the possible connection between the photos in the paper and the crimes being committed.  However, there are also inserts from the person behind the pictures in the newspaper which offers an interesting, if slightly chilling, insight as well.


This book is incredibly fast-paced and leaves you guessing all the way through about who might really be behind the adverts.  Every time I thought I had it cracked, there would be a curve-ball thrown which made me question it all over again.

There isn't a whole lot of character development which goes on and I found Zoe a very difficult protagonist to like which somewhat dampened the experience for me although I loved Kelly Swift and the insight we got into her life and background.  I think perhaps because Clare Mackintosh worked in the police force she writes that side of things very well.

If you like page turners with an interesting plot development then I think this would be a really enjoyable read.  Just be prepared to change up your routine a little afterwards!

I See You by Clare Mackintosh is available from all leading retailers including Amazon and Book Depository.


Links are affiliate.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Roald Dahl at Tatton Park ǀ Day Out


I am a huge Roald Dahl fan, so I was thrilled when I realised that lots of places local to us were celebrating the 100th birthday of Roald Dahl.  In particular Tatton Park in nearby Cheshire has a whole years worth of events taking place so we decided to take a day trip over the summer holidays.

I will try not to gush too much about the fun that we had but I have to admit that I was seriously impressed with the level of thought and attention which has gone into the different Roald Dahl themed activities and exhibits installed at Tatton Park until the 30th October.




I think we were helped a lot by the fact that the weather turned out to be absolutely gorgeous and we were able to spend a large part of the day exploring the outside areas.  There is a trail for Danny, Champion of the World which takes you slightly away from the main hub but there are themed installations dotted all around the estate.




The kids were absolutely delighted when we headed into one of the greenhouses and stumbled across the BFG; I think it was so unexpected and he is one of their favourite characters so there was much jumping and pointing and squealing in delight.  I may have joined in just a little bit.



Aside from the installations outside there was also a Matilda in the Mansion trail which was a great way of getting the kids inside the house and engaged; I've chosen to only share a few pictures of this as I wouldn't want to spoil the fun if you did decide to go.



We didn't manage to make it to the farm to see the Fantastic Mr Fox themed activities as we had to make a choice between that and the Enormous Crocodile due to time constraints but I think Eli in particular was very pleased with the choice.  He loved counting the footprints and trying to spot where the next crocodile had tried to conceal himself.




If you choose to visit Tatton Park and missed out on the Roald Dahl events then I would still recommend visiting.  The adventure playground, woodland trails and sheer space for children to run around makes it a worthwhile family day out.




We will definitely be returning; we didn't make it onto the wider estate to see the deer which was something I would like to do.  Perhaps an autumn visit to see the leaves falling would be nice too.



Overall we really enjoyed ourselves and I've tried to capture as much of our day as possible without waffling on too much; but do check out this video for even more of what we got up to.



Tatton Park is free for National Trust members although there is a parking charge.  There are entry charges for the gardens and the houses for non-NT members.


We visited Tatton Park of our own accord and were not asked to write this review.  All thoughts and opinions are our own.  We genuinely had a great time and wanted to share it with you!