Category Archives: Seasonal

Shopping for gifts made easier with Wicked Uncle

** Disclosure – I was provided with a voucher code from Wicked Uncle in return for my honest review. All opinions are my own and this is no way affects the integrity of the post. Enjoy**

Do you struggle to know what gifts to buy people? We all have that friend or family member who has everything. What about the children in your family? Then there’s the never-ending kids birthday parties where you know nothing about the child. It’s often difficult to know what they might like. This is where Wicked Uncle becomes your gift shopping guru.

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About  Wicked Uncle

Wicked Uncle offer a service where-by they scour the world for toys that are that little bit different, unusual and great fun. Why spend hours looking through shops and search engines when Wicked Uncle does it for you.Not only does Wicked Uncle find and compile a list of the best gifts, they also test them. Puzzles are made, games are played and T-shirt’s are worn. Many of the toys they select are put through their paces by dedicated children.

Wicked Uncle are so named because they felt it sounded cool. “Wicked” may not be the term that’s “down with the kids” nowadays but their products certainly are. They currently offer an award-winning service, with 99% outstanding customer service reviews on Feefo.

The website is really easy to navigate. The menu gives you the option to choose the intended gift recipients age and gender. Whilst Wicked Uncle are aware that both genders can like an item, many still find it useful to search items by male or female. There is the option to select all if you don’t want to select categories by gender.

Once you’ve chosen your gift, you have the option to choose from a selection of gift wrap options, complete with handwritten card. They also offer a reminder service in case, like me, you have 15 nieces and nephews and struggle to remember all their birthdays.

Wicked Uncle isn’t just useful for buying children’s gifts. They also have a Big Kidz section for ages 12 to infinity. Me and hubs are total big kids at heart and love a novelty item. Some of the items that caught my eye, I’ve honestly never seen before.

Magnetic Football Tables – I can imagine this being a little (or big) football lovers dream.

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Image courtesy of www.wickeduncle.co.uk

100 ways to win a tenner –  I can see this being a hit with students, pub goers or just a good laugh round the table Christmas day.

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Image courtesy of www.wickeduncle.co.uk

Piano Playing Plant Pot, Musical Leaves! – Gifts don’t get more unique than this! Note the green strip around the pot, this changes colour. It’s a piano playing, bluetooth-speaking, light up plant pot. The plant isn’t included. You can add or grow any in the pot. Although Wicked Uncle recommend you steer clear of a cactus. I can’t say I’m not massively intrigued.

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Image courtesy of www.wickeduncle.co.uk

My Very Own Rainbow, rainbow projector – I literally didn’t know these existed! The only reason I didn’t order one is because George already has an abundance of night lights and light projectors. I’m sure I won’t be able to resist for too long. Heck I might even get one for my own bedroom. Can you imagine having another child and telling them “yeah you was conceived under a rainbow”. I’m laughing so much right now, but I genuinely want one of these in my life.

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Image courtesy of www.wickeduncle.co.uk

So that’s enough of what I could have ordered and here’s what I did order. So we recently celebrated George’s 4th birthday. In the run up to his birthday he would wake each morning and ask “Is it my birthday today?” I thought it must be horrible to not know when your birthday is.

So I made a calendar on the whiteboard that he could count down and cross off the days until Halloween, his birthday and his birthday party. George responded really well to this and enjoyed coming down each morning and taking it upon himself to cross of the days.

With this in mind, I thought he would really enjoy this Melissa and Doug My Magnetic Daily Calendar – Wooden.  This is great for learning the days of the week, months, years, seasons and certain recognised days like Halloween, remembrance day and alike.

George loves looking out the window and choosing from the options for the day’s weather and he often changes this as the day progresses, along with his moods in the “I feel” section.

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The other thing I purchased because it was unusual and I hadn’t seen one before, my Dad was in awe of the concept. Tub Time Grand Prix – 36 piece set. Complete with rubber duck style race cars, this foam race track floats on water!

It has foam cars, trophies and other accessories that stick to the bath or tiles when damp. There’s also a handy net with suckers to attach to the wall to store it all when you are done. George literally cannot get enough of this and I imagine we will use it in the paddling pool during the summer also.

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My verdict

In my family the name Wicked Auntie would be more apt. The women tend to be in charge of buying the gifts. The first the men know about what has been bought is when they see the person open it. Hubs’ family still wouldn’t get any gifts if it wasn’t for me. With a tally of 15 nieces and nephews I’m most defo the Wicked Auntie, in the coolest sense of the word I hope.

I think Wicked Uncle are fab. They are UK based and they have a real fun, family vibe. They present themselves as being approachable and willing to ensure their customers are happy. Price wise I have done a few comparisons and their prices are not dissimilar to those on the high street.

The products we received were a beautiful quality and they arrived packaged in a box size suitable for the items contained. I shall definitely be using Wicked Uncle in the not too distant future.

Rather weirdly, I had a job position within Wicked Uncle pop up on my phone. Secret I-Phone spies at work again. Looking at the salary on the advert made me realise not only do Wicked Uncle value their customers, they appear to value their staff too. I often worry that our online order come at a price for some poor humans soul so this is reassuring.

So what are you waiting for? Head over to the Wicked Uncle website and getting hunting for your Chrimbo gifts.

Stink Bomz – The Must Have Toy for Christmas 2018 #JoinTheFarty

*Disclosure – I was provided with a Stink Bomz goodie box courtesy of Tomy Toys in return for my honest review. All opinions are my own.*

You may remember me attending the Tomy Toys Christmas in July event. To bloggers this is standard behaviour. For the rest of us it’s a little bizarre talking about the C word in July. For me, hubs and George it was an informative and fun filled day. Here’s where our introduction to Stink Bomz began.

I don’t know about you, but when I heard about Stink Bomz my first thought was that they sounded lethal. Did I even want to welcome them into my home? Then the day arrives where a box marked “Caution! toxic” arrives at our door. I was thankful we had been pre warned about the packaging.

The fun began as we started to unbox. I think this is the most engaged and excited I’ve seen George for an unboxing. It was fab. After tearing the yellow caution tape, he lifted the lid on the black box to reveal oodles of green shredding paper.

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As George dived in he found some chocolate balls, cute Stink Bomz biscuits and a whoopee cushion, which George quickly became obsessed with. As he continued searching he found the Stink Bomz. Whilst I got a fab surprise as I opened the virtual postcard which gives a humorous VT if each of the Stink Bomz characters.

“You’ve heard them…you’ve smelled them…but have you ever met a fart? Meet the Stink Bomz! All Stink Bomz contain a collectible fart friend known as a Stink. Each Stink has their own silly smell and makes 3 unique fart noises. But best of all, every Stink has their own fun personality. Even though they’re all different, they have one important thing in common – they are ready to get the farty started!” Taken from the TOMY UK website.

If you have or have ever encountered a three year old, you will know of their obsession with poo, bums, and pop offs farts! George walks around, and even has us in the habit of, playfully cussing;

“poo-bum-poo-stink-smell-bum-smell-face”

Once I helped him open the Stink Bomz pod and open the shrink wrap, it revealed a Stink Bomz character by the name of Squirmy. As I had already used the words “Stink Bomz” several times to describe the package he was opening, it was very interesting what he said next;

“Eugh that wrapper smells!”

The wrapper didn’t smell. I think it just goes to show how suggestable their little minds are. He was quite happy when he actually realised what they smell like. We both agreed that they smelled like “biscuits”. But the piece de resistance was when he realised if you squeeze their tummies they make a fart noise.

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#JoinTheFarty

Just to talk about the elephant in the room…whilst I don’t encourage the use of the word “fart” I can see why it’s a great marketing ploy for these Stink Bomz. I’m not sure how other parents would feel?

I’ll admit I do swear around George,  and he knows which words are naughty and not to say them. That said, I allow him to experiment in the safe confines of our home. Whilst making it clear that in public and at school and around others, there may be people who don’t like to hear those words. Given the freedom to understand this, he rarely uses these words.

Occasionally he will create rhymes and mistakenly say a word that he knows sounds like a “naughty” word and then justify why he said it. I think this is really important in allowing him to make choices and understand things. Rather than just the old fashioned command of “Do as I say, not as I do”.

The name “Stink Bomz” reminds me of my days in school back in the 90’s. You would all be congregated in the corridors, minding your own business. When suddenly the smell of rotten eggs would grace your nostrils. Everyone would be quickly dispersing from a certain area groaning  “eugh, someones let off a stink bomb!”I don’t know if this was the inspiration behind these toys. Was the creator an 80’s child reliving their youth?

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The main thing to remember about Stink Bomz is they aren’t just a plush toy that smells nice and farts. Each one has a crafted personality for your child to learn and build upon. The Stink Bomz range will also have a supporting app, which at present is only available in the US but will be coming to the UK soon.

My verdict

The product itself I have to admit I was slightly disappointed to discover they actually smell pleasantly of vanilla and biscuits. I understand why. There wouldn’t be many parents rushing out to buy a toy that smells like rotten eggs. Overall I think they are great but a reduction in the plastic packaging given the current climate would be reassuring. The green pod that the Stink Bomz come in is reusable. They don’t appear to have the option to change batteries so I don’t know how long it would take before the sound runs out.

I loved seeing George get a cheeky smile on his face when he squeezes them.  Stink Bomz are a great little gift and George looks so proud to show them off. Almost like his own little gag. Would I buy these? At £9.99 I think they are reasonable and would make great stocking fillers.

George’s verdict

He likes playing with them and wants to get them involved in his game. Squirmy featured in a game he was playing the other day, as a big bad monster that farted and blew everyone away.

Let us know what you think. All positive shares and comments welcomed.

My September beauty faves – Inspired by Mam Rants and Reviews

I’m about to do something a little different to my usual posts. My world has recently been brightened by a fellow blogger Shân Williams. Living approximately a six-hour drive from one another and technically in different countries, we are yet to meet in real life. Nonetheless, this lady and I have clicked and she’s definitely one of my new faves.

New to the blogging scene, Shân is already inspiring me. I learn something new about her everyday. She first caught my eye the day I watched her #BraveTheShave on Instagram. An act she completed to mark her eighth year since she got given the all clear. Each year she does something different. I’ve always wanted to shave my head but never been brave enough and here was this woman, whacking on her fave lippy and braving it.

So Shân blogs over at Mam Rants and Reviews. She recently blogged about her Fall Fashion Faves and asked me to join her with some of my own faves. Life being as it has in the Gorgeous George’s Mama household, fashion has been bumped off the budget list of late. I’m hoping things are on the up though as I’m desperate for a few new key pieces for this Autumn/Winter. Beauty is an essential though in my eyes and I can always find the pennies to look after my ageing bod. Stick with me…I’m not a beauty blogger and I’m not about to impersonate one.

ANEW Anti Wrinkle, Line Erasing Serum with A-F33 by Avon

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I’m proper pleased with myself about this stuff and not least because it’s a great product. So I’ll tell you the story about how this came into my life. Whilst attending the last of the Summer family fun fetes, hubs took George to a tombola stall. I needed to park ym aging bod for a moment as I;ve been suffering with my hip. I reminded him that we didn’t need to be taking any toot home as I had just decluttered our home ready for sale.

“Don’t worry” he reassured me “this time I’m going for something for you”.

So off he trots and a few minutes later and £2 lighter he appears with a gorgeous set from Boots and this wonder serum. This stuff retails at £25 from Avon! I effectively got it for a quid! I’m already loving it. I started to use it every morning as a must and I will never got back. This is going to be part of my morning routine for life!

Avon were the first major cosmetic company to end animal testing nearly 30 years ago. The serum isn’t greasy at all and it’s currently on sale for £18 (prices as of September 21st 2018). What’s not to love!

Before and after. See the difference? Me neither but it feels lush.

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Coconut miracle penetrating oil by OGX.

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This little beaut presented itself to me in the reduced section during my weekly shop in Asda. Again OGX Beauty ltd are a company that do not support testing on animals and this particular miracle oil is vegan friendly too.

I’ve been going grey since I was 15 and it reached a point where I was home dyeing my hair every 3 weeks to cover the greys. This became something I couldn’t maintain once I became a Mum, so I started getting highlights at the salon. This does involve the use of bleach as I am a natural brown.

After this summer’s heat wave and the bleaching, my hair was feeling a little dry on the ends. I needed a quick solution so I thought I would give it a go. It was reduced from £7.99 to £4.99.

I wash my hair every other day and literally just put an amount the size of a penny in my palm and run my fingers through towel dried hair. It makes it feel silky again without being greasy and removes frizz. It’s definitely revived my hair.

“>
.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/IMG_22251-e1537562226369.jpg” alt=”faves” width=”270″ height=”480″ /> Couldn’t resist a Snapchat twat pose[/caption]

nSPA Cherry Body Mist

nSPA Cherry Body Mist

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This spray was a gift from my sister along with some other nSPA goodies. nSPA are another of my faves that is vegan friendly and against animal testing.

Just before the summer break we visited the step up room at George’s preschool. Another Mum, who I have made friends with was sat with me. I asked her what she thought of the place whilst we were there and she replied;

“It smells nice so that’s a bonus….oh no that’s you”

 I’m rarely complimented on my scent. I rarely wear one as it can aggravate or trigger my migraines. Now every time I spray this I feel like I’m one of those people you walk past in the street and think

“mmm they smell lush”

The nSPA range is available from their website or at Asda. Their Blooming Gorgeous range served me well during my pregnancy with Gorgeous George.

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So there you have it. Some fab products for you to checkout, each with their own story of why they are my faves for this month. This post is not sponsored or paid. They are just products I wanted to shout about after Shân inspired me and suggested we collaborate.

Be sure to go show her some love over at

Mam Rants and ReviewsFacebookTwitterInstagram.

Much Love x 

Lucy At Home UK parenting blogger

Christmas in July – Tomy Toys UK

I recently attended the Tomy Christmas in July Event and it was a really informative and fun day, albeit bizarre when it’s 32 degrees celsius outside. George had great fun testing out all the latest toys. These have either recently been released or shall be available to buy in time for Christmas 2018.

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I’m sure most of you have heard of TOMY Toys but how much do your really know about them?

I was lucky enough on the day to listen to a talk from Marketing Lead for Tomy, Tom Ueshima who had travelled over from Japan. He explained how Tomy originated as a Japanese toy manufacturer. After making toys for over 90 years, the company originally manufactured toy aeroplanes.

Whilst Tomy UK was established in 1982, an extension of Takara Tomy in Japan. Tomy is actually ONE of the top FIVE toy companies in the world! I honestly didn’t realise just how much of the market Tomy dominates.

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Fundamentally children and the Good Toy Guide

I was also fortunate to meet Amanda from Fundamentally children who have partnered with Tomy. Fundamentally children endorse products listed in The Good Toy Guide.

The guide can help you choose the right toy, app or product for a child based on age, type or skill they will develop. I’m a big believer in children learning through play. I’ve witnessed it with George. I wasn’t aware of this guide. I heard of it but I didn’t understand how valuable it is.

Fundamentally Children is an organisation dedicated to helping children develop skills through play. 

Their vision is;

To help create a world where children are able to fulfil their potential and develop the skills they need to thrive throughout their lives. whilst enjoying a safe, happy and playful childhood.

Tomy is one of the first brands who have committed to submitting every item in their range to the fundamentally children independent evaluation. The good toy guide are selective about who they work with so this is a big tick for Tomy.

In order to be approved for the guide, a toy has to have 9 out of the 15 marks. The toys are tested by children, observed by play workers. By making this commitment Tomy are opening themselves up to scrutiny.

Some of the things the guide look for are what happens the first 5 minutes after a child receives a toy. Following on, the next half an hour do they get bored? Do they share it with their friends? Do they develop a new skill or learn something new. Fundamentally children also organise in Store play days in toy store Smyths and they also attended this years 3ft festival in Chelmsford, Essex (my local).

Fab toys to look out for.

As we were shown around the games room, we recognised a familiar face from our visit to Kidtropolis back in October last year. George instantly remembered the ladies face and sat down to play one of the new must haves for Christmas 2018, Run-Around-hamster. This is available from Smyths for ages 5+ at the RRP £22.99.

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Who needs subbuteo when you have robotic football in the form of Soccerborg! After this years World Cup excitement, we are definitely more hyped than usual for footie games. One controller can control up to 4 robots. Each set comes with 2 robots 2 controllers 2 balls, 2 goals.  Age 6+. Available from Asda and Amazon at the RRP £59.99.

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Some of the favs that caught the boys eyes were Stinkbomz . You open the capsule to reveal one of 8 Stinkbomz. Each with their own smell and sounds. None of them were as offensively smelling to me as the name suggests, thankfully. RRP £9.99.

I was also embarrassingly excited to see the Thomas and Friends Big Loader set still being made. I remember playing with this when I was younger with my younger nephew or cousin.  This is available for RRP £34.99 in Smyths, Amazon and Toymaster.

Hubs and George (pictured below), had a blast racing remote control Tractors. Whilst I listened to some of the informative talks on throughout the event, George was really engrossed in playing with the hugely realistic Britains farming toys. The detail and quality was spectacular as the vehicles are a 1:32 scale of the originals. Ranging from £21.99-29.99 they really are a worthy investment for any agricultural enthusiasts.

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Before attending the Christmas in July event, I hadn’t realised that Tomy have many sub brands including AquaDoodle and Lamaze. We totally need to upgrade our Aquadoodle that we purchased for George’s 1st birthday.

The new Super Rainbow Deluxe reveals a scene underneath and retails at £24.99 in Smyths, Amazon and Argos. George goes crazy for the Aquadoodle Designer Dress advert when it’s on tele.

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Another sub brand of Tomy, Kii-Pix, have developed a smartphone picture printer you can use on the go. It’s the perfect pressie for the tween/teen in your life.

They come in pink, blue and black and work without any batteries, wifi or the need to install an app. I could make great use of one of these. See the Christmas tree montage they created below. Along with the fab sushi art to promote the brand.

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Moving on to the baby range. If and when our dreams of having another baby happen I am without a doubt getting some of the more modern products from the Boon range. For George we have our eye on the Frog Pod available from Amazon RRP £21.99.

The Lamaze Spin and Explore garden gym adds a new perspective to tummy time. The centre Ladybird, slowly spins round giving your baby their own little fairground in your front room. RRP £38.99 from Argos.

The Lamaze 4-in-1 play gym evolves into a fun teepee for toddlers if you have children of varying ages. It retails at £69.99 from Debenhams.

I hope you have enjoyed reading all about our day and I hope I will be bringing to you more posts in collaboration with Tomy.

Do you have any of these products? Are there any that catch your eye?

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Lucy At Home UK parenting blogger

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

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

The year of the alternative advent calendar.

For me, 2017 will be remembered as the year that advent calendars went mad. They stepped into a whole new level. Some smart Alec (where the heck does this phrase come from?) decided that chocolate advent calendars were not enough. Cover my ears! You can now get an advent calendar containing almost anything.

Of course there have been “fill your own” advents for a while now. Mainly focused on children and adopted by parents who don’t want their precious munchkins having chocolate or because they suffer with allergies. All fab reasons.

But now our little munchkins are being indulged by the supermarkets. A couple of pound (if that, thank you Poundland) on a chocolate advent calendar will no longer suffice. You can now be nagged into buying advents anywhere from £15 upwards to £10,000 (yes really, the feature gift being a £300 Dyson hairdryer) containing Cars, Lego, Playmobil, Frozen characters. The list is endless. I know this isn’t that new but it’s got bigger and more varied this year. Everyone is in on the act.

As for the adults? Well this is where the fun really starts. Counting down to Christmas? For many this is still a celebration of the birth of Christ. So why not count down with a sex toy a day (enter monkey that sees no evil emoji here)! I’m not religious myself but I’m sure this has gone down fabulously amongst those who still hold sacred the true meaning of Christmas.

Sex toys not your thing? We’ve got wine, gin, Yankee candles, bath bombs, makeup, some YouTube girl that everyone has gone bonkers over her charging £50 for bits you can find for a quarter of the price. I just can’t even imagine how next year can top this! Will people be hitting self storage. 25 lockup’s, each containing a new Range Rover a day for the missus. Our consumerist minds have gone mad!

So this year I’ve treated myself and hubs to a little more upmarket calendar in the form of Lindt Chocolate. £5 each in Asda if you don’t mind (not an ad).  Next year I may well demand a nail varnish or bath bomb advent calendar who knows but for now I’ll sit back and enjoy my first love, milk chocolate. Mm mmm. And this little festive rhyme for your reading pleasure.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me

12 Yankee candles

11 Star Wars Lego’s

10 sample scents

9 gins for drinking

8 Peppa Pig toys

7 fizzy bath bombs

6 tins of Pringles

5 wines for swigging

4 Clarins skincare

3 toot toot cars

2 nipple pasties

And a box full of stinky cheese.

I hope you enjoyed that. Hands up if your are now googling nipple pasties?

Advent

Have you and your family opted for an alternative advent calendar this year? Please share them with us. Seasons Greetings to you all.

Much love until next time.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Mummy’s first day at preschool. 

Ah it’s here. September. Back to school. It feels like when you are starting a new job. Excited but nervous. The kid? Well he’s oblivious. I have a two (nearly three) year old. He doesn’t NEED to go to preschool. So why am I putting us through this?
 

Well he’s always gone to nursery as I DID return to work for a few months. After I left I kept it on just to give myself some child free time if I’m honest. 
My health hasn’t been fab in recent months leaving me unable to drive to where George attended nursery. We had to make the difficult choice to remove him from the wonderful privately owned nursery that he attended from ten months old. 

We opted to get him a place in the government preschool adjoined to where will hopefully be his school in the future. 
This was always going to be somewhere he had to end up eventually. 

So why the anxiety Mummy? Well in his private nursery he was in the presence of two carers and roughly six children per room. I was reassured he would get the love and attention he would at home. He would be in view all the time so no one could hurt or bully him. 

His new preschool is linked to the primary school. When he starts tomorrow he will be in the regular presence of 27 children and 6 carers. I attended the settle in day. It’s a large space both indoors and outdoors. The carers physically could not be everywhere and see everything. 

There were what can only be described as several sadistic shitbags that I wouldn’t want to be left alone with George. I know the apron strings have got to be cut loose at some point and he’s got to learn to find his own way of dealing with things in the world. But he’s two. You can’t even explain to him. 

When George has been upset by other children I often respond by removing him from the situation and giving him a cuddle. I know some parents may argue that he should “man up and hit back”. I’ve asked George if he would hit another child back that hurt him and his response was “why?”.
This left me realising this little boy is being kind, thoughtful and considering just like his mummy and daddy. We are raising him to be as such so why would we suddenly tell him to hit people!
That said, hubs is teaching him to box. Although he currently only uses that on hubs. 

So I turned to my gentle parenting train of thought and suggested that if another child hurts him anytime I’m not around he should say 

“stop! That’s not nice, I’m going to tell a grown up”. 

Again I asked him if he would do this instead of his current method of simply standing and crying until someone rescues him and he said “no, I’ll just stand and cry”. 

So here I am. So excited for my little boys first day of preschool. All the wonderful new toys and children to play and interact with. New staff to meet and learn the schools ways. We have attended several seasonal open days there and he has never wanted to leave due to the sheer expanse of the place and how many activities there are to do. 

Yet my protective, worrying side is scared. I know children, as fickle as they are, can be put off by things after only one traumatic incident. That said he still absolutely loves any child that hits him so perhaps he is also going to be a forgiving soul too. 
As I wave goodbye tomorrow and give him a big kiss and a squeeze, I’ll run home and immerse myself in some wall knocking down (yes seriously, it’s on my to do list). And when I return I know my fears will be banished. I know he will have had a fab time. I know he will excel and flourish even more there. But I know this worry is here to stay. 
As he grows, so will my worry. I’m losing the grip. He will no longer have me to protect his every move. He’s two for crying out loud. It’s ok I tell myself. There is always home schooling. 
And then there are the other mums. What if none of them want to be friendly. What if they all know each other and aren’t very welcoming. Perhaps you can tell but I was bullied at school. If I was the person I am now I don’t think they would have been so successful but then perhaps if I wasn’t bullied I wouldn’t be as strong as I am now. 
We all just want our children to be happy, safe and protected. Don’t we? 

So for all the anxious mummies in the playground tomorrow, I feel you. A few words of wisdom for each other and a bit of support and I’m sure we will all get through this. And for the mums of the sadistic little shits, (although you probably don’t call them that) I feel for you, really I do. It must be tough looking after a kid like that, you have my empathy. 

Good luck to everyone starting or returning to school tomorrow, Daddy’s too. I’m sure this probably applies to you. Although I can’t help feeling Daddy’s just get on with things without all the worrying us women do. Would love to hear from some Daddy’s with little ones starting or returning to school. 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Manners, the forgotten art of – how NOT to thank someone for a gift.

I’m noticing more and more that manners are becoming a forgotten art. Just watching an episode of Eastenders the other night it was even apparent. Michelle pulled up in a black taxi and said “wait here while I get your money”! What! This is not how I would speak to anyone! I would have said “please could you wait here a moment whilst I grab my money from inside. Sorry about this”.

I’m not even going to ask if anyone thinks I’m wrong because I’m a believer of manners and I’m disliking this world that has not only forgotten them but doesn’t seem to be teaching them to our children. 

This leads me to my biggest and longstanding bug bear. Thanking people for gifts.

When I was growing up, after each Birthday and Christmas, I would, along with my sister, write thank you notes and send them out to everyone that had sent me a gift or card or money. This wasn’t under duress. I actually enjoyed writing a thoughtful letter to each person that had sent me a gift or money. I would explain how much I liked that gift and how or what I was intending on spending the money on.

As I’ve aged and technology has advanced, I have on occasions switched to the same routine but sending it via text message, email, whatsapp and alike or phoning the individual. A personal thank you to let them know that the thought and effort they placed into ensuring I received something for my birthday or christmas had not gone unnoticed.

I took a leaf from my sister, as a fellow list lover and would have a running list next to me as I opened the gifts. Documenting who the present was from and brief description of what it was. At my baby shower my sister ran the list for me. I just find it helps later on in remembering who gave what. Especially if you receive a lot of gifts.

As George is now in our lives, I quickly jot down presents as he opens them also. I try to ensure this doesn’t take away from me watching him open the gifts. In between making a list and taking photos of him, gift opening is somewhat of a military operation in my world. It’s still fun though I promise.

It encourages him to take his time and appreciate each gift. I’m not sure how practical this will be at christmas if we have more than one child but I’m sure we’ll manage.We usually open gifts over the course of several days so as not to overwhelm him and also to encourage appreciation. We have a relatively large family so he receives quite a lot of gifts.

Here’s my list of acceptable and unacceptable ways to thank people for a gift.

Totally acceptable and I will love and respect you forever

  • Bespoke postcards – mass ordered but with a handwritten note thanking me for noted gift
  • Text message/Whatsapp to me personally, thanking me for the specifically identified gift. (Bonus points if you include a picture of you wearing the gift, of it in your home, your child playing with it etc).
  • Handwritten letter or card
  • Creative art from the child who received the gift. (A scribble, a scrawl, a handprint in paint, it’s the thought that counts.)
  • A verbal thanks at the time of opening

Pretty unacceptable methods of thanks leaving me unlikely to give you any more gifts , or at least no longer put much thought or effort into them.

  • no thank you at all
  • A verbal thank you on being handed the gift but nothing after you have opened it and actually discovered what it is.
  • A “one message fits all” Facebook status, thanking “everyone” for their gifts. No! I want to know you personally received and liked MY gift not everyone’s.

I try to treat people the way I wish to be treated. Unfortunately this sets my expectations of people far too high, often leaving me disappointed. I’m making a stand though. No longer shall I spend hours of my time putting together well thought out gifts for those that cannot find the time to thank me properly.

Here’s a fab post I found with some great tips on how to thank people for gifts for many occasions;

12 ways to say Thanks and mean it

What’s your idea of good manners when it comes to thanking people for gifts? Do you think I expect too much? Do you get annoyed by people’s apparent ungratefulness in this day and age?

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday