Category Archives: Lifestyle

My life, the comedy sketch show.

It occured to me that much of this blogging malarkey is focused around writing about your life. Should anyone actually be interested. But much of what us bloggers write are now well thought out, controversial, educational pieces. That’s when we are not writing reviews. But what about the mundane, everyday realities of life?

“Who wants to read about your life!” I hear you cry.

Well, you for starters otherwise how did you find yourself here eh (winks slyly whilst dodging a virtual slap). So I’ve always had a knack for making my seemingly normal and pretty average life seem a little more entertaining. I don’t know if it’s my ability to see the positive in everything that allows me to give my everyday situation a lighthearted edge. But nonetheless I often feel like if I was starring in my own episode of “Friends” that I may get a few titters if anyone was watching in.

Today has been a fine example. After conquering this mornings toddler meltdown before 6am, I dropped the Georgeous off at preschool. There are some great mums at the preschool and we often have a little chat. We got to talking about my mornings childfree plans.

I’ve got a bit of a crazy week trying to organise the house in prep for going away. We also have a friend coming to fit us a new fence and gate tomorrow. Checkout Bored Monkey UK for your Essex craft and handyman needs.

So I was explaining to my fellow mamas the need to move bits away from the fence in prep. My reluctance being, that I knew a huge spider was living in that vicinity with who knows how many of his mates. One of the mama’s amusingly named him Fred and then off I went home to tackle Fred and his temporary eviction.

Fred was the least of my worries. On the way home I stopped in town to collect hubs meds from the chemist. As I was walking along I noticed a bank note on the floor. With no one close by and it being right in the middle of the path, I picked it up, wondering who could have dropped it. The owner nowhere obvious in sight. On closer inspection it was a Nigerian bank note for 500 Naira. I popped it in my bag and decided to Google its value whilst I was walking along. I wanted to know how much I was dealing with here before deciding how best to find its owner. As much as you can with an abandoned note.

Shit! It came up it’s worth £1,030 great british pounds! I suddenly felt like I was in too deep! Who carries a grand’s worth of note on them. It was fresh, not damp so it’s obviously been dropped recently. Shall I hang around and see if anyone comes wandering back looking for it?

I check for CCTV camera’s thinking the person could maybe find it that way using local shops. I couldn’t see any. I called hubs and he told me if it’s unclaimed after 30 days it’s effectively finders keepers. We have a local Facebook page I could post it to, but how best to word it so I don’t just get a chancer claiming it. After all it’s a currency note. It’s not easy to prove the owner.

Then my little devil kicked in. Of course I would feel absolutely terrible keeping it secret and spending it but we are all guilty of thinking a little naughty sometimes. But that poor person. What did they draw it out for? What was they going to spend it on? But George would love a trampoline and a fancy wooden playset in the garden. Hmmm.

I called hubby back. He’d now pulled over on his way to work as his cogs were turning. The GBP is usually worth more than foreign notes. It doesn’t quite add up. With him on speaker I opened my Google and there it was. In my tired state and not fully concentrating as I was trying not to trip over loose slabs in flip flops I had entered 500,000. My discovery was actually worth just over £1. Not even enough to buy George an ice cream. Laughing at my stupidity, hubs hung up whilst I went home to tackle Fred.

Back home in the garden and Fred is happy to run off once he sees me with the broom. He’s also clearly been taking part in the Healthy Mummy UK eating plan I’ve been following (not an ad, it’s just fab) as he’s now half the size I thought he first was. CHECK IT OUT! Healthy Mummy UK

Fred and his mates had no worries. Whilst I’m not a fan of spiders, I don’t like the idea of killing them if it can be helped. I once missed my train because I was moving a worm out of harm’s way off the pavement. I accidentally squashed a woodlouse and could almost hear the echoes of his (or her) screaming family. I instantly feel dreadful that I’ve killed someones Mum, Dad, brother, sister uncle. The world of woodlouse under my paving slab is mourning his loss this evening.

Jobs done it’s time to bring the child free period to an end. My three hours are up! I’ve achieved what I had hoped, minus making myself look foolish about the note. But before I dash off to pick the Georgeous up I see a large bumble bee scrambling around in the  dirt with a thick cobweb caught on his back leg. I try to help him get it off but he keeps buzzing it me.

“Calm it mate, I’m trying to help you, you stupid fuck” Lord knows what the neighbours are thinking.

After a good few minutes I decide that turning up late to the preschool pick up because I was trying to free a pissed off Bee isn’t going to cut it. My time is well and truly over. Not before I notice a pair of ladybirds shagging on a pallet. Literally never witnessed it in my 34 years. Can cross that off the bucket list now can’t I! And just in case you were wondering…

I’ve since learnt a lot about Ladybirds! The Truth about Ladybirds . Enjoy!

What do you reckon? Did I give you chuckle? Never mind…there’s always tomorrow…

How I got my name – and other inspiring stories

I’ve always considered my name to be a little unique and I wanted to share with you how it came about. I also asked some fellow bloggers the happy stories of where their names or their children’s names derived from. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did.

My proper name is Cassandra but I have many abbreviations and nicknames. The most common being Cassie. I’ve met a few other Cassie’s in my 34 years on this Earth and I always get embarrassingly excited. I’ve always wondered how people with quite commonly heard of names feel. To me it feels like you are a instantly connected to the person who has the same name as you. It totally amazes me, as weird as I am for admitting that.
So how did my name come about? Being an 80’s child, most people assume I was named after Cassandra from the classic show “Only Fools and Horses”. In fact for the first 3 days of my life I was nameless. Deliberating over calling me Daisy (I’m soooo not a Daisy), my maternal Nan suggested to my parents they call me Cassandra. She had been watching a lesser heard television programme at the time Bouquet of Barbed Wire. Cassie was one of the featured characters.

I love my name and the meanings and stories behind other people’s names.

Cassandra was actually a Greek Goddess who was given the gift of prophecy but also the curse that nobody would ever believe her.

I often joke this is a pretty accurate story of my life. I’ve always come out with silly things and lacked a certain degree of common sense, despite being quite intelligent. Usually any knowledge I tend to share with people they don’t believe me and I have to go to great lengths to prove I know what I’m talking about.

  • Sally from The Happy Home With 3 Boys named her son Beau, meaning beautiful boy. Inspired by the John Lennon song, and after a 7 year infertility and IVF struggle it seemed beautifully apt. She also has a son named Rudy, owing to his Grandad (whom he resembled at birth) being a ska fan. Her third son Sonny whose theme song for life is the classic Sunny by Bobby Hebb.
  • Lianne from Ankles Biters Adventures owes the spelling of her name to dad Ian. See what they did there.
  • Jade from Raising The Rings is grateful to her Auntie for her name. Her Dad is still regretful that he didn’t get his way in calling her Mercedes.
  • Clare from Freddies Mummy UK has her partners love of cricket to thanks for their son Freddie’s name. Ironic considering Freddie Flintoff is actually called Andrew in real life.
  • Suzanne from And Another Ten Things also has a son called Fred but rather amusingly due to her daughters love of Scooby Doo. She quickly abandoned her preferred name of James after the realisation hit that her daughter would forever call him Freddie regardless. Her daughter was named after a local pub covered in Ivy.
  • Victoria from Lylia Rose incorporated her husbands name Ben into their son Reuben’s name.

Baby Names

  • Kate from Five Little Stars has such a beautiful story. She has a son called Albion after her and her husband were married in Scotland which is Alba in Gaelic. A little known fact, Albion is also the oldest known name of the island of Great Britain. They have since moved to France and named their daughter Elyse. This derives from the Elysian Fields, meaning paradise. She was born in Paris and so the spelling is also a nod to the magnificent Champs Elysee (so named after the Elysian Fields as well). So perfect.
  • Nadia from Scandi Mummy didn’t understand her husbands suggestion to use the name Aidan for their sons middle name. He then explained the tribute as he arrived on her birthday and it is her own named spelled backwards.
  • Sarah at Mummy Cat Notes spent hours searching for a girls name, having only decided on a boys name. She then read about  the famous female pilot Amelia Earhart. The first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic ocean. And thus Amelia was decided.
  •  Katy from KatyKicker.com used the middle name Blue, after reading a wonderful poem from the book “A Field Guide to Getting lost” by Rebecca Solnit.

The world is blue at its edges and in its depths. This blue is the light that got lost. Light at the blue end of the spectrum does not travel the whole distance from the sun to us. It disperses among the molecules of the air, it scatters in water. Water is colorless, shallow water appears to be the color of whatever lies underneath it, but deep water is full of this scattered light, the purer the water the deeper the blue.

The sky is blue for the same reason, but the blue at the horizon, the blue of land that seems to be dissolving into the sky, is a deeper, dreamier, melancholy blue, the blue at the farthest reaches of the places where you see for miles, the blue of distance. This light that does not touch us, does not travel the whole distance, the light that gets lost, gives us the beauty of the world, so much of which is in the color blue.

  • Gemma from Mummy In The Madhouse wishes her mum had the final say in her name. Her Dad believed the name Gemma to be pretty rare whilst she much prefers her Mum’s choice of Zanthia. Desired after they met a little girl in Brazil called that.
  • Hannah from Little Rainbow Dreams was herself named after the late Hannah Hauxwell who passed away at the age of 91. If you haven’t heard of  the life of Hannah Hauxwell you must google her. She was an inspiring female farmer in the Pennines who was absolutely full of determination and fire. Hannah’s parents named her after this wonderful lady hoping she would follow in her amazing footsteps.
  • Rebecca writes a lifestyle and parenting blog at I Always Believed In Futures . Her son Jack is named after Jack Reacher in the Lee Child novels. Their daughter Olivia was really adorably named by her older brother. He was given the final say from the shortlist. I love this notion to get older siblings involved.
  • If there was ever a methodical approach to naming a child then Becka from Mummy Est.2014 is the master. She and her partner found it really challenging to find a boys name to agreed on. They bought a baby name book and had a different colour highlighter each. They highlighted names they liked and any that had been highlighted by them both were written on paper and stuck on the fridge.

As the last few weeks went by they scribbled off the names they fell out of love with and it came down to 2 names. Becka was  induced early and when bubba was born her and her partner decided that their new son looked like the second name on the list…Jared.

  • Finally Laura, whose sounds like an incredibly strong lady. Her blog Five Little Doves will tell your more about her incredible journey. After 15 miscarriages and a stillbirth, she was absolutely terrified when she was pregnant with her daughter. She named her Eva, as it means “Life” and she was the first little one to make it into their arms.

Baby Names

I hope you have enjoyed reading these inspiring and often incredible tales of how myself and others got their names. If you are struggling to come up with a name for your child, these stories may offer you some guidance.
If you have an interesting story of how you or your child got their name I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Thanks for reading.

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

The ambition of an exhausting life

Life is so, so short. Plus, you never usually know when it’s going to end. For me, life is like an oozing slice of chocolate fudge cake, being dangled in front of of my inner fat girl. The idea that I HAVE to make EVERY day count. A mission for ambition. It’s fucking exhausting! Do you agree?

Believe it or not, I’m ambitious I’m just not particularly productive since I became a mum. Some may even say lazy! I also have a dubious husband that takes a lot of convincing when it comes to my plans and ideas.

You know when people say the days aren’t long enough, I’m one of those people. I’d love for days to be longer so that I could fit more into them. More productivity, more relaxing, more fun, more adventure. But to achieve that I’d need to either be a robot or a vampire as clearly the human body requires sleep.

Unfortunately for me, sleep is another thing that I can’t help but feel wastes a load of time… but I love it. I literally could marry my bed. My imagination is so overactive that my dreams often make me feel like the star in my own crazy, ridiculous film. I could NEVER give that up. Sometimes the dreams get a little intense and I dread going to sleep but on the whole I’m having a pretty exciting time whilst my human shell catches some Zzz’s.

Now here comes the notion, a rule to live by if you will.

Prior to becoming a mum I worked in the NHS for 11 years, quitting to be a stay at home, come blogger. I do harp on about it a lot to be fair but I achieved a lot and worked my way up through the ranks, achieving the some of the greater parts of what a qualified Pharmacy technician can.

So my theory became that staying in the  same career my whole life was not my ideal use of this short life. There are so many careers I’d love to try. A post person for example. You may laugh. It may not be everyone’s ambition but I’m nosey and I like to keep active so it kills two birds in my opinion. So what if I changed career every 10 years and got to experience a varied life? That way I could experience all there is to try out there and never get bored or too comfortable.

Does that now mean I have to be a stay at home Mum Come blogger for 10 years? Well I think I’ll call this 10 years my experimental phase. I’ve already dabbled in my husbands career in finance and accounts. I decided numbers aren’t my thing so I’ve fallen back into the admin/ date entry role. I’ll continue to work on my blogging and I’m also working on my childhood passion of story writing but I’m not sure which genre will be the most successful as I’m currently working on stories for preschool children and a novel aimed at adults.

When George starts school I’d absolutely love to take a course in carpentry and woodwork or soldering and welding. I’d like to eventually create custom pieces of art and furniture, up cycling scrap metal or crafting naturally felled trees. I’ve even contemplated midwifery in these past weeks. That totally took me by surprise.

Career ambitions aside there’s a whole exhausting world out there that I’d love to be exploring. But it’s so hard to “have it all”! So hubs and I have set our sights on kicking George and any fellow siblings out at 18. Ok we may let them look after the home whilst myself and hubs go travelling as we will only be early fifties. Is that a risky strategy though? Who knows what is around the corner? What if we are no longer able bodied..or heavens forbid no longer here!

There are always the people “I must catch up with soon”. I find making friends easy and like to enjoy a variety of company. But weeks turn into months and before you know it, it’s midway through the year, and you haven’t seen half the people you expected to. I’m always regretting not making enough time for EVERYONE that counts.

I’m so, so fortunate to be able to be at home looking after George. But I can’t help but think this gives me time to crave more. More ambition, more time with people, more expectations of myself. Before you know it you are left head spinning, feeling life is fucking exhausting.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Except to live in a universe where time is infinite or at least slower. (Insert big cheesy grin here)

Can you relate?

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

“We Need To Talk About The Conditions Of My Imprisonment : …and other funny parenting stories”, a book review

** Disclosure – I was sent an electronic copy of the fabulous compilation of parenting stories in return for my honest review. This does not detract from the fact that this book is fucking hilarious and I can’t lie about it!**

I was recently fortunate to be sent a digital copy of the wonderful, “We Need To Talk About The Conditions Of My Imprisonment : …and other funny parenting stories”. This compilation of rib tickling parenting stories was sent to me by the fabulous Susie.

Susie is one of my favourite bloggers over at So Happy In Town . Mrs S.H.I.T as she is known under her blog persona, is a part of this fabulous book along with many other fantastic bloggers from across the U.K, USA and Australia.

parenting stories

With a glass of some yummy cloudy lemonade in hand (it was the middle of the day!), I set about reading some of the most truthfully hilarious 186 pages of my parenting life! When I became pregnant and as the pregnancy progressed, I became rather angry with the world.

Despite researching my heart out over what to expect, this pregnancy malarkey was total BS! Don’t get me wrong, it had its magical and wondrous moments, but my word was it tough! In ways I never thought were possible, my body punished me hourly for making it endure the supposed magic of growing a child.

Cut to once the Georgeous was born and that wondrous magicalness again returned until reality hit. As hubs returned to work after his 2 weeks paternity leave, the shit storm that was now my life hit me. And yes I loved it BUT it wasn’t as other mums had led me to believe.

It was tougher than my spinal surgery which I endured as a teen and spent a year recovering from. Tougher than climbing one of the more difficult paths of Mount Snowdon in Wales as I had done in previous years. Often relentless, overwhelming,intense and sometimes depressing.

I so wish I had a book like this brought to my attention prior to becoming a mama. Now mama to a 3 year old George, it’s easy to relate to. Whilst non parenting types reading it may think you can’t possibly live like this, trust me…you can’t make this stuff up!

This collection of hilarious parenting stories has been compiled by the amazing Michelle Tan.

“Michelle is the absurdist comic writer behind the Facebook persona, Ms. Awesome, Mother Extraordinaire, where she dispenses unsolicited funny advice about surviving parenthood.”

It’ll make you feel human, restore your confidence that you aren’t actually insane and this is in fact life for many parents across the globe even! Most of all it will leave a big, fat smile calorie free on your face. Better than any glass of wine or bar of chocolate.

Get your copy here We Need To Talk About The Conditions Of My Imprisonment…and other funny parenting stories.

Press release :- 

The book will be launched at a public event on Saturday 21st April 2018 at XSCAPE, Yorkshire. There will be activities for children and many of the writers. Families will find solidarity and humour on offer throughout the day. People will be invited to share their experiences of the absurd, surreal and downright funny things about parenting.   We want to spread the message that eating their chocolate in hiding is perfectly normal because some things in life should not be shared.

Breakfast and Champagne at The Royal Hotel, and Dr Legba’s Emporium Southend On Sea. *Review*

** I’d like to disclose that I was plied with copious amounts of delicious food and alcohol in return for this honest review. This neither affects the integrity of the post or the honest opinions held within it**

I had the pleasure of attending The Royal Hotel and the attached Dr Legba’s Emporium for the second time as a blogger. My mum and I were invited to try out The Royal Hotel’s brand new breakfast menu. The surroundings were as sumptuous as ever without feeling pretentious. The Royal Hotel isn’t actually a hotel any longer. For more information about the history of the building and how brothers Matt and Dave made it what it is now, read my previous rave review here.

Mum and I were hoping and praying telepathically to the Royal Hotels chefs that Eggs Benedict would be on the brand new breakfast menu for our visit. It’s an absolute fav of mine and when I am reviewing somewhere new, I like to see their take on my personal favourite. I also have a notion that when I eat out I try to order things that I am rubbish at making myself at home. So eggs benedict it was and a life saving cuppa, brewed from the pot with plenty of sugar cubes to liven me up. (I have a three year old don’t you know!)

Dr Legba’s

The decor there is inviting and really pleasant on the eye. I love the pictures we sat in front of for breakfast. I mean this in a totally complimentary way when I say The Royal Hotel is an extraordinarily ordinary everyday, special occasion kind of venue.

You can pop by for an impromptu breakfast or a drink at the bar and feel like it’s a completely acceptable everyday place to frequent. On the flip side you can also book an amazing lunch, dinner or afternoon tea and feel like the most special guest ever. The Royal Hotel is my everyday and save for best. I can’t recommend this place enough.

Dr Legba's

Brekkie done, Matt treated us to a tour of the ballroom. He allowed us to venture to the top of the staircase which is supposedly haunted. I had already had a tour on my previous visit where I found out a lot about the history of the famous hotel, Mum on the other hand hadn’t so I was excited for her to come and check the place out. read more here.

Dr Legba's

The Royal Hotel has a not so secret and intimate basement bar which goes by the name of Dr Legba’s Emporium . A place of Cocktails and Curiosities, led by the cocktail master of the brothers, Dave. Dr Legba’s feels like another world whereby you can disappear for hours, completely oblivious to the real world outside.

A complete heaven for a cloud dweller like me. When you re-emerge from your Dr Legba slumber onto Southend high street, you will likely be in an Absinthe induced daze. Almost like you’ve been dancing with the absinthe fairy herself. Her portrait is shortly to be adorned to the door leading you to the loo’s. Here’s a sneak peak.

Dr Legba’s

The tipple for our delectable afternoon was a rather stunning and unusual champagne by the name of Veuve Clicquot Rich, also available in Rosé.

Now I wouldn’t normally consider myself a champagne kinda gal, but Veuve Clicquot Rich totally changed my mind. At approximately £59 a bottle, it can certainly be reserved for a more special occasion on a night out. But let me tell you why you would consider this.

The Veuve Rich has been developed specifically with mixologists in mind and is intended to be used in cocktails. It’s also much, much sweeter, almost ten times that of standard champagnes. The first unusual trait to the Rich is that it is served with ice. Then by adding one or several flavours, you can create your own taste. This makes every individuals experience of the Rich different.  During our visit we were invited to taste the Rich with cucumber, orange or black pepper. I declined the black pepper, but Mum enjoyed it. The orange was divine and the cucumber almost refreshing.

Dr Legba's

A visit to Dr Legba’s isn’t complete without trying the absinthe. With a choice of varying strengths, it’s fascinating to watch it be prepared. Much of it using the equipment Dave made himself. Our treat for this visit was a take on the famous Hemingway Champagne, Death in the Afternoon. Dave artistically mixes the absinthe with water and the Veuve Clicquot to produce an amazing cocktail. At approximately 68% alcohol and topped with a star anise you may start to feel like Hemingway himself. I get a little excited to see what Dave is going to do next with the absinthe. It really is an amazing flavour, if that’s your thing.

Dr Legba’s

If you fancy trying the breakfast at The Royal Hotel or an evening getting lost Dr Legba’s I can totally recommend you give them a visit. Dr Legba’s has a capacity of 40. To ensure you don’t miss out, it’s advisable to arrive there early on a Friday or Saturday night. It is also available for private hire Wednesday to Sunday during the day or night. I’m totally considering it for my next special event or even baby shower!

With thanks to Penny from A Penny For Them for organising.

Until next time…

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Things to do when it snows.

SNOWDAY!!! Are you bored of the word snow yet? I’m not. The beast from the east (as they say) has arrived and we have a full on snow day here in Essex. Let me tell you there’s more to snow than simply getting cold and building a snowman. Here are some ideas I’ve seen throughout the internet or gathered from friends.

  • You simply can’t have a snow day without building a snowman! It’s standard snow protocol! I’m yet to master a decent Snowman. True to my crazy cat lady form, I do make a pretty mean snow cat (checkout the featured image) but my snowmen always end up looking like giant smiling dildo’s!?snowday
  •  Sledding! A snow day pastime which I’ve never actually done! I’ve never committed to the purchase of a sledge as we can go some years and have no snow. Plus I’ve always been at work when it snows. Now I have a child I really need to invest in one as we have a town famous hill near us, perfect for sledding that just looks epic!

    snowday
    Image courtesy of Pixabay
  • Even the best snow day can get tiring and cold. If you don’t want to waste all that precious, rare white stuff then bring the snow indoors! Taking messy play to a whole new level, this activity can surprisingly entertain your child for a decent amount of time. Simply fill a bowl, bucket, tuff spot, whatever your container of choice with lush snow and place inside. Add a selection of toys suitable for playing in the snow eh voila. When the snow melts (which takes longer than you would imagine) just get some more. My little George chose octonauts, go jetters and dinosaurs to use in his snow bowl. I suggested digging with a spoon. snowday
  • Snow days seem to be very creative driven, (when you aren’t just lobbing snowballs at each other). So why not extend this further with some snow painting. Fill some squirty bottles with food colouring and water and let the children have great fun making coloured patterns in the snow. Or as my friend once did, get the paint and brushes out and paint the snowman. Checkout her fab page for more ideas on activities to do with toddlers and preschoolers; Entertaining Ava – Ideas for Toddler and Preschooler Play

    snow day
    Image courtesy of the facebook group Entertaining Ava – Ideas for Toddler and Preschooler Play. Permission given.
  • Snow day taffy. Now this is one of those things I just happened to see pop up on twitter in amongst the trending snow posts. I have to admit that this seemed as bizarre to me as the idea that most Americans don’t own an electric kettle. But apparently this is standard behaviour in Canada. I found this fab how to here; How to make Maple Syrup Snow Taffy .
  • Send a special message to someone. It just so happened to be hubs birthday one year when it snowed. I used the shingle we had in our garden to create a message but you could use the squirty bottle idea previously mentioned. Your message doens’t have to be for a birthday, it could be a marriage proposal, disney announcement, baby announcement or just to brighten someone’s day.snow day
  • Snowball fights don’t have to be the only thing to use snowballs for. Grab a bucket or draw a line or circle in the snow and see who can get their snowballs in the circle/bucket. That way no one ends up sad because they have snow down their back or in their eye.
  • If you have a willing cat or dog, let them out in the snow and just sit back and enjoy. Cats and Dogs can be so funny in the snow and if you film them and send them into You’ve been Framed you might get £250 for your efforts.

    snow day
    My beloved cat Missy who we lost 10 years ago.

So there are just a few ideas to keep you going for a snow day. I shall be investing in a pair of waterproof gloves in prep for the next snow.

Have you tried any of these? Do you have any ideas to share? I love new ideas. I am becoming a bit of a pinterestaholic.

Until next time…..

Bluestone Wales – Winter Lights – January 2018

**Disclosure – I was invited to Bluestone Wales for a midweek break  in return for this honest review. All opinions are my own. This does not affect the integrity of this post.**


This post is about the magical, chilled, friendly, chilled, welcoming, adventurous, did I mention chilled? 5 days we spent at Bluestone National Park Resort .

BluestoneCheck-In

We arrived around 2:30pm on the Monday and checked in whilst still in our car. A traffic light style system calls you up to the check in window where the staff handed us a welcome pack with our entry key cards and premium wifi code that hubby had purchased, along with a copy of the Village Voice. We parked up and headed straight to the golf buggy hire as this was also the nearest loo’s and nature was a’calling. I’ll talk more about the golf buggies later.

Before I could finish in the loo, hubs had completed the gold buggy pickup so we thought we’d take it for a test spin on a mini tour of the site. We located our lodge which we would be able to access at 4:30pm (or 3pm for other lodge types). You are allowed to bring your car onsite to unload and load up on check in and checkout day but otherwise it must be stored in the car park.

George was loving the golf buggy but we felt after the long journey he needed to stretch his legs in the treehouse play area. The treehouses are fab for children of all ages to explore and overlook the newly refurbished adventure playground which was colourful, clean and great quality. It was lovely to see families congregate here whilst the little ones ran round dizzily deciding what to play on next.

Bluestone

Accomodation

We were staying in a Caldey Lodge in Bartholomew rise not far from the lake. Our two bedroom lodge came complete with an open plan kitchen, diner, lounge with tall ceilings to add to the feel of space. There were french doors which opened onto a patio area with picnic table and bike rack. Off of this lounge area was the twin and master double side by side with the bathroom with shower and large heated towel rail.

The lodge was comfy, cosy and the heating worked a treat.  What struck me most was the high quality of everything. Heavy, solid wood furniture in the bedroom and dining area. Strong and decent cooking and kitchen utensils which were all well kept and sparkling clean. It felt like a home from home. (It was actually better than my home!)

Bluestone

Having had spinal surgery when I was a teen, I’m pretty fussy about the beds I sleep in. Don’t get me wrong, I can sleep anytime anywhere,but if I don’t sleep in the right bed then my body can suffer for days. At home we have a half sprung/half memory foam mattress with a feather down topper. It’s my ideal bed and sadly I always miss it when we are on holiday. Bluestone’s mattresses however were absolute bliss. Due to having a toddler that likes me to be near, I spent time in both the twin bed and the double and both were equally comfortable. I literally could have stayed in their beds all day ( if I wasn’t being dragged out at 6am by George every morning)

Getting around

A unique perk of Bluestone is the ability to be able to hire a golf buggy for either a day or the duration of your stay.The golf buggy is a great novelty and it helps a lot with a toddler in tow. Our trusty steed for the week was number 77 Lili-Mai and we had great fun taking it in turns to whizz round on her.

A warmer time of year we might be tempted to walk more or hire bicycles and trailers but we are so glad that we had the golf buggy as a semi refuge from the rain. It meant we could get from A to B quicker without turning up drenched. Little tip: take extra towels/tea towels for wiping the seat dry which (thanks to Welsh weather) you may find yourself doing half a dozen times a day.

You can also take your own bikes and there’s also guest transport to help you get around the resort with designated bus stops. If I am honest though, the site was not as vast as I’d  expected. It’s easily walkable and only marginally hilly in some places. The paths are continually being maintained, with staff filling in puddles and holes with gravel on a regular basis.

Top tip – if you aren’t from Wales, make your peace with the weather before you visit. We went expecting nothing but rain so that anything else would be a bonus. Plus, Rainbows!

Bluestone

Food and Drink

This is mine and hubs favourite part of holidays. We love eating out and trying different eating establishments so we wanted to ensure we tried as many of the onsite restaurants and cafes as possible.

In the end the only places we did NOT try were:-

  • The Knight’s Tavern which I popped in to use the toilets and the atmosphere was pleasant and very similar to that of a pub that serves food. It’s the lower end of the budget of the restaurants onsite.
  • The Oaktree restaurant which is a pizza / pasta restaurant but on the first night George wanted to be in the lodge so we got takeaway chip shop food from…..
  • The Chippy which was nice but I have had better and the staff there lacked a welcoming persona. The fried halloumi is worth a try.
  • Farmhouse grill – The second time we planned on visiting the Oaktree we actually changed our minds as we couldn’t resist returning to the Farmhouse Grill for the second night in a row. I’d recommend booking a table here to ensure you get seated. You can tell it’s freshly made using top notch ingredients. To quote their menu;

Using quality local ingredients to instil a sense a place

Staff are so attentive. Hubs was massively impressed on our second night when someone accidentally smashed a glass at their table and before you barely heard the smash there were already two members of staff dashing to the table with a mop and broom.

Checkout piccies of what we had below.

BluestoneBluestone

The children’s menu is fab and is a world away from the typical chicken nuggets and chips but still appealing to children. The ‘kids platter’ was such a perfect dinner for him with so many of his favourites.

Bluestone

  • We also ate twice in the Ty Coffi cafe. Once for a breakfast, (they do a mean beans on toast which went down a storm with George) and their panini’s are great too. There was so much more we could have tried. It was often very busy in there so they definitely could do with a few more staff as the ones there seemed rushed off their feet which meant they didn’t really have time for ‘service with a smile’. t didn’t prevent us from returning though. Their hot chocolates and sausage sandwich are the best way to warm up after a hike through the vast forest.
  • Bluestone also have a cafe, Caffi Môr, within the spa which I sadly didn’t try, along with a camp style rustic woodland diner which wasn’t open for the season of our stay.

Bluestone

Things to do

There’s such a vast timetable of activities to do at Bluestone, from shadow  puppet shows to baby yoga and massage, 4×4 safari driver experience round a track or a host of tree top activities at the steep ravine. 

Explore the forest

We chose to check out the Winter lights enchanted walk in daylight and continue on into the forest where we squelched through mud and then washed our boots in the stream. The forest towards the steep ravine is full of really tall, narrow trees, which when the wind blows creates a creaking noise as the trees all knock together. We enjoyed standing still for a while and listening to this noise, before pretending the trees were going to come crashing down and racing up the hill. George loved this game and natures own sound effects added to the feel.

Bluestone

 

Adventure playground

We also spent a fair amount of time playing at the playground which we nicknamed the Teletubbies playground due to the green hill feature.

Bluestone

Family shows

We tried the shadow puppet show which was great and the village hall decor is magical. It involved participation and dancing from the kiddies rather than a sit and watch puppet show.

If booking via the website you can find a brief description for each activity but I didn’t use this, preferring to book at the booking office after we got a feel for our surroundings. The show was great and top marks for the effort put in by the staff. Bluestone

Swimming

When we had enough of being outside we visited the Blue Lagoon swimming pool. They have  something for everyone. Slides, wave machine, pirate ship spray area, lazy river taking you outside and an enclosed baby and toddler splash zone where balls float on the water, they can explore walking round an artificial rock pool, squirting gadgets and basketball. This area has a lockable gate to prevent little ones wandering off towards danger.

The Blue lagoon is also open to the public but it wasn’t overly busy when we went mid morning (residents only) and there was room for everyone. There are also designated photo points where you can use your camera without capturing unknowing suspects in your shot.

Adventure centre

The adventure has something for all ages and brings the fun inside. The under 5’s circus zone is completely in another area of the building and features a bright, clean and colourful soft play area. It has a fab mini ride on car on a track. As well as giant building blocks, and baby gym and balance equipment.

The large main area of the adventure centre downstairs contains masses of wooden climbing frames in a tree house style. Some reaching up the ceiling easily 20 feet in the air. There are free ride on trikes available and a bouncy castle. You can help yourself to a game of mini golf or play some games at the amusement arcade. There’s also a mechanical digger to dig a large pit of sandy stones. For the bigger kids inner child in us all there’s bookable indoor wall climbing. A mezzanine platform allows you to grab a coffee from the Wildwood cafe whilst the madness ensues downstairs.

Bluestone

Seasonal dinner show

On our final night there we’d booked ourselves into Merlin’s Magical Dinner show. This was in the Wildwood Cafe situated in the adventure centre. Here we had a set menu of roast dinner and desert. This was brought up on a big serving plate to our table where we helped ourselves. Meanwhile the staff were extremely attentive, asking if we needed any more potatoes, gravy etc.

Bluestone

Before and after dinner the staff entertained us by putting on a show in the areas around our tables. There was magic, music, comedy and some audience participation from the children too. This really was an unforgettable dinner experience.

Winter lights parade

The dinner experience over, we all wrapped up warm ready to march in the parade through the site. The parade was led by a 12 foot Merlin wizard. A member of staff accompanied Merlin whilst banging a drum. He encouraged us through the cold, night with chanting and singing. The children ran and flashed torches and various items they had made at bookable groups that week.

We gathered in the courtyard at the Knights tavern where the staff and Merlin took to the balcony. They guided us as we watched the light show featured in my video below. They then sang into the evening whilst  the crowd sang and danced along. It felt like such a wonderful community vibe and no one was in a hurry to be anywhere.

Check Out my youtube video to see more of the light show

My verdict

People tried to warn me I would be cold in Wales but I didn’t anticipate HOW cold. I lived in 3 layers all week. I’d defo buy thermal undies if visiting in Winter again.

Having said that, our stay has totally changed my outlook on going out in bad weather. As a football supporter and follower, bad weather has never really bothered me. But Bluestone has really cemented the ideal that whatever the weather, fun can be had.

Hubs and I have already said we would love to return in the summer, maybe with friends or family. Travelling from Essex is a long way for a mid week break. In future I’d opt for a 7 day break. I’d love to checkout the local sites and beaches too as we didn’t leave the resort this stay.

This is a place where you can return again and again and never tire as every activity differs. I’d also love to try one of the upside living lodges, offering fab views of the Welsh countryside.

If you like the sound of a stay at Bluestone, checkout prices and availability on their website http://www.bluestonewales.com/

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

My Vagina’s not pretty enough for cervical screening – #SmearforSmear

My vagina is getting a treat next month , and not because it’s pretty but because I believe prevention is better than cure. I have just booked my smear test following an invitation from my GP surgery. I’m jumping on board with cervical cancer prevention week to give you this lecture low down on why I believe all women eligible for the smear test should be getting one.  If you read the news, you will know that the number of women taking up their invitation for a smear test is at a 10 year low! The reason, embarrassment over the look and smell of their pubic areas! Yes apparently so!

Erm hello! Have we all gone fucking mental! 9 times out of the 10, (I’m taking a gamble) the person conducting your smear test is a women too! You can request a women carries out the test when you book the appointment. Said nurse/doctor has a fanny/ foof/ noo noo/ noonie/ flange/ vag/ vagina/ pussy herself! It smells at different times of the day or month. It varies in how hairy or not hairy it is. And do you know what else I’m going to take a gamble on? I bet you that nurse trained in her role so that she could help and save others in matters of their health. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t give a shit what state your fanny is in!

I mean be considerate, don’t turn up there unclean. But a simple wash and fresh underwear will suffice. Vagina’s smell! They’re ugly and unless you are a porn star there’s not much you are likely to do about it.

Are we that shallow now that we are risking our LIVES due to another body confidence issue! Please ladies! TAKE SOME PERSPECTIVE!

If you are a Mama then it’s very likely that you have endured childbirth and up to a dozen or more people have seen down there already so you really have no excuse. Plus you now have kiddies to care for and you are pretty useless to them in a coffin. Hey never mind kiddo. Mummy may  not be here for your biggest moments in life but at least she had a good looking vagina! Sounds absolutely ridiculous and yes I’m being harsh but it’s necessary.

How often are you confronted with a petition on social media for the NHS to test for this, that and the other. There are so many conditions that could be avoided due to routine testing but these tests aren’t available. Smear tests are so use them!

Cervical cancer isn’t pleasant. I haven’t experienced it myself but I know one way or another that the treatment for it can leave you with less than pleasant lifelong side effects. A small price to pay for staying alive but nonetheless if you can avoid developing it all together then why wouldn’t you. Although the smear test is actually a test to determine the health of your cervix, it stop around 1 in every 100 women’s from getting cervical cancer (according to the NHS pamphlet.

So where will I be February 15th? I’ll be at my smear as I have been every third year around my birthday since I was 21. (Although the age of testing is now 3 yearly for 25-49 and 5 yearly for 50-64 year olds.)This will be my 5th smear and once you’re on the table with your legs open you just get chatting about Eastenders and before you know it it’s over. I tend to pop to the loo after to properly wipe away any excess lube if he nurse has been a bit over generous. I also put a panty liner on as I can sometimes get spotting after. I’m then careful not to lift anything to heavy that day as I do when I’m on my period as I often feel tender. Everyone is different though.

After 2 weeks I receive a letter, which for me has always stated my results were normal and no further action is needed. Sometimes they may find “abnormal cells” but again I know many ladies who have been called back for this and have been fine. Sometimes there is a need to remove the abnormal cells, sometimes a repeat test is needed as it may be that the results were compromised.

Ideally avoid using lubricants, vagina creams or having sexual activity 48 hours prior to your smear to better prevent your results being inaccurate.

So you see ladies it’s just another stage of life that us ladies ideally need to go through. Yes it’s a bit of a bitch but isn’t most of the shit our bodies throw at us. It’s what makes us strong and powerful. It’s what makes us women!

My top tips when attending a smear test

  • Wear a skirt/ dress or long top so you don’t feel like you are getting so exposed. Although you will be given paper towel to lay across you once undressed.
  • Don’t feel embarrassed to chat to the nurse just like you would if you was having a blood test or any other test. Remember she’s seen it all before and the mor me you relax the easier it will be.
  • Take a panty liner just in case of any bleeding/ spotting afterwards.
  • Treat yourself to your favourite chocolate/ coffee/ manicure afterwards. You did good lady. Be proud.
  • Tell your girl friends all about it. Let’s not be shy. The more of us share our experiences we can hopefully encourage one another to do this.
  • Don’t over clean yourself before the test. You will remove some of the natural moisture and in fact dry out your vagina making it harder for the speculum to be inserted ( although again don’t worry about the nurse struggling if you are naturally dry because she will use lubricant anyway).
  • Book your test mid cycle.

Ultimately it is your choice whether to have a smear test or not but in my eyes if you are too embarrassed to share your vagina for prevention of cancer how will you cope if you ever (heaven forbid) require treatment for cervical cancer?! Book the appointment.

#SmearforSmear 

For more information on Cervical Screening in the U.K. checkout the NHS website here;

Cervical Screening – NHS.UK

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Just call me Switzerland.

As a blogger, (or at least a mama pretending to play blogger), my role is to write riveting pieces. It is my observation of both the world of blogging and journalism that often, the way to attract readers is to write controversial pieces.

Controversy after all sparks emotion in people, leading to debate and a more wider coverage of the piece. Sadness, anger, pity, sympathy, rapport, they are all feelings that often make you want to read more. Once roused, you feel more inclined to share with others what you’ve found. This is of course the same for humour, but humour is a delicacy that differs depending on taste and isn’t always easy to get right. 

Overall it is my stance that if you read a piece and it makes you feel something then the writer has done their job. As an aspiring writer myself I think that’s what we all strive for. Only for me I’m a bit more selective. I only want people to feel positive emotions. Or at least compel them to think compassionately about the feelings and emotions of other living creatures. But I dread the thought that any of my posts would spark people to feel anger, hurt or disappointment. 

See I’m happy to admit that I am a people pleaser. Although a quick google search will tell you that this is a pretty substandard type of person to be with numerous articles on how to stop it.

I want my posts to trigger thoughts and feelings about things you may not have considered. I can’t tell you what to feel but I will try my utmost to make sure that it doesn’t make you dislike what you are reading. 

So if you are looking for controversy you won’t find it here. If you do then it was NEVER intentional. I hope I don’t sound like a complete sap without morals because I am very far from that. If I truly feel strongly about something I WILL argue the toss in the most diplomatic way I can. 

I consider myself to be a strong and independent woman but the people pleasing side to my personality is supported by my position also as a fence sitter. When it comes to many a subject, just call me Switzerland. Ever striving to remain neutral. 

Even if I start off with an opinion or a belief on a subject, I am very easily swayed once I start a discussion about it with somebody of an opposing view. This all combined makes me the worst candidate for a controversial post as I would undoubtedly receive a ton of back lash only to have changed my opinion on the topic. People’s opinions of me however may take a lot longer to change. 

So if you ever want a mediator to an argument. I’m probably your girl. Efficiently adept at seeing both sides I’ll help you to find a resolve. As for looking for a contentious post on the latest hot topic…I reckon I can point you in the direction of a fab fellow blogger or two. 

This said, my New Years Resolution for this year is to try and give less of a fuck. Last year I tried it and this year I shall continue to improve on the notion of treating others as I wish they treated me but without the expectation that this will be the case as it rarely is. 

Much love and peace to you and remember where to come if you need a neutral viewpoint in a disagreement. 

#ablogginggoodtime

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking SundayLetters to my Daughter

It’s Christmas! The Christmas Tag!

Any self respecting blogger is bombarding their readers with copious amounts of posts, piccies and present ideas relating to Christmas. Me? Not so much. Maybe next year. I have 14 nieces and nephews to buy presents for so that has more than kept me busy. Chuck in the Georgeous getting chickenpox and my blog has more the  fallen by the wayside.

That was until a fellow blogger and local mama friend Kate from The Less-Refined mind tagged me in the Christmas tag. A chance for me to answer questions on my Christmas loves and habits. A chance I couldn’t turn down. You can check out Kate’s answers at It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! The Christmas tag! 

Enjoy!

1. What’s your favourite Christmas movie? 

Santa Claus the Movie (1985) with Dudley Moore was always my favourite growing up. I loved that and The Snowman. George loves the snowman now and we even have a twinkly Christmas pic in the living room.

Christmas

These days I love Elf but a tradition is for me and hubs to laugh our heads of at The Griswold family in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation.

2. Have you ever had a white Christmas?

I can’t vividly remember one but I do remember there being some mild panic that people wouldn’t be able to get to us if it snowed when I was younger. These days our families are so widespread that travel is a must so a white Christmas is no longer the dream

3. Where do you usually spend your holiday?

We alternate between my family one year and in recent years have been visiting my in laws the other year. On the years my family don’t get together because my sisters and I are all with our in laws, we all get together and repeat Christmas on Boxing Day round my sister’s.

4. What’s your favourite Christmas song?

I have a few with stories behind them.

Feliz Navidad (the Michael Bublé and Thalia) – Hubs has always sung  this and I honestly believed he made it up. So when I bought the Michael Bublé Christmas album and this song came on I was literally stunned and let’s just say we enjoy laughing at my stupidity when this comes on.

Last Christmas by Wham – This was always my song to wander round the dancefloor towards the end of the night, hands on chest, drunk and merry singing away and pointing to each of my girlie friends when  I say someone special. Those days are gone and sadly so is George Michael so this song now only makes me feel like welling up.

Merry Christmas Everybody by Slade -It’s an absolute classic. Every age knows it and it has brought with it a classic punch catchphrase of just yelling at the top of your voice “It’s Christmaaaaaaasssss!!!!”

5. Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?

Yep. We always were allowed to open one small present on Xmas eve as kids so I’ve carried that tradition on with hubs and now with George. You open it in the evening.

6. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?

Erm, without cheating with google probably not. How many are there? 7? 8? Rudolph, Donner, Dasher, Dancer, Blitzen, Comet, Cupid? Let’s give up there shall we!

7. What holiday traditions are you looking forward to this year?

The big FC coming round on his mighty sleigh, speakers blaring, pulled by his trusty Ford Mondeo. It’s a beautiful tradition that brings me and my neighbours together in our town. With thanks to the Rotary CLub for organising this year after year.

We always try to take George to Santa’s grotto (only one mind you). We are cutting it fine this year though with the intrusive chicken pox making an appearance.

8. Is your Christmas tree real or fake

Fake. I would adore a real tree so so much but I’m a cat lady. We have three cats and I know the wally’s would eat the flaming needles and end up in the emergency vets over Christmas. It’s so fab that you can now get little scented sticks to put in your fake tree to make it smell real.

9. What’s your favourite holiday food/sweet/treat?

I don’t like mince pies, egg nog, mulled wine or gingerbread men. I don’t like christmas pudding. So that just leaves turkey and chocolate. I never tire of turkey. Turkey curry, turkey dinner, turkey sandwich. As long as it’s warm I love it. Warm leftover turkey sandwich with cranberry and stuffing, mm mmm.

10. Be honest, do you prefer the giving or receiving of gifts?

It’s always been about the giving for me. These days I have so many niece and nephews we only buy for the kids in our families. I still get a few pressies off parents and hubs but quite often me and hubs are so skint this time of year that we agree to not buy each other much. My list of wants is always long, but I live without them. I just love seeing people open their gifts from me/us.

11. What’s the best Christmas present you ever received?

It has to be my bike I got from my mum and stepdad when I was 13. Me and my step sis J (who’s only 18 days older than me) were each given a different coloured sweet wrapper and told to find something that colour in the house Christmas morning. When we did we could keep it. We had a brand new bike each. I still have mine now. Me, sis and hubs have cycled so far on that bike. It holds so many memories.

12. What’s your dream place to visit for the holiday season?

Lapland. The whole caboodle. Sleigh ride, so much snow. As soon as George is old enough to remember (say 5 years+) I’d love to go.

13. Are you a pro present wrapper or do you fail miserably?

I like to think I’m pretty decent. Using ribbons and bows and suchlike although I don’t always bother with the ribbon anymore because of the aforementioned cats. It’s like drawing a moth to a flame and those presents end up with holes torn in them before I even get them to the recipient.

I used to be a proper annoying so and so and put people’s presents in a box wrapped inside a box and so on.

14. Most memorable Christmas memory?

When I was younger and all the Nans and Grandads were alive. All of us, my uncle, cousins, 3 sisters round the table. Usually around 15 of us. It’s how Christmas should be in my book. Now we make a toast to the never forgotten grandparents but still the 15 of us with the addition of our own children and partners.

15. What made you realise the truth about Santa?

My sisters are 8 and 10 years older than me ( and as mentioned previous J is the same age as me). One year, I think I was maybe about 7 years old, it fell to one of my sister’s to deliver the stocking to the end of mine and my step sis’s beds. I can’t remember which one of them it was but they made too much noise and I saw them. Silently. I didn’t make a big deal. I knew from then.

16. What makes the holidays special for you?

Time spent with family, guilt free eating and drinking, making magical memories with George and going out of my way to make people feel special. I love the way everyone comes together to try and create that spirit.

Have a wonderful Christmas all. And if you know anyone alone at Christmas. Try and encourage them not to be.

This is my Christmas tag. What did you think? Do you share any of my Christmas loves?

Here are my tags;

Tracey over at One Frazzled Mum

Franca over at A Moment With Franca

Susie over at So Happy In Town

Here are your questions.

  1. What’s your favourite Christmas movie?
  2. Have you ever had a white Christmas?
  3. Where do you usually spend your holiday?
  4. What’s your favourite Christmas song?
  5. Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?
  6. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?
  7. What holiday traditions are you looking forward to this year?
  8. Is your Christmas tree real or fake
  9. What’s your favourite holiday food/sweet/treat?
  10. Be honest, do you prefer the giving or receiving of gifts?
  11. What’s the best Christmas present you ever received?
  12. What’s your dream place to visit for the holiday season?
  13. Are you a pro present wrapper or do you fail miserably?
  14. Most memorable Christmas memory?
  15. What made you realise the truth about Santa?
  16. What makes the holidays special for you?
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday