Category Archives: Lifestyle

Happy Birthday to Me – Bakerdays letterbox cake review

**Disclosure: I was gifted this wonderfully unique cake, in return for my honest review. To design your own unique cake checkout Bakerdays.**

I have received many things through my letterbox in the 10 years we have lived here. (Is it just me or does that sound like the rudest innuendo ever!) Ahem, anyway, my trusty letterbox has, over the years seen nasty council tax bills, charity clothing bags prompting me to have a clear out, and leaflets encouraging me to purchase multiple conservatories, pizzas or garden pruning services.

This month probably saw the letterbox receive one of the best things yet! An amazingly well packed, gorgeously designed and delectably tasting birthday cake pour moi! This was ordered by myself, for myself as a delectable birthday treat, courtesy of Bakerdays.

Now, I say I received it through my letterbox because that is how it was intended to be delivered. However, my letterbox had other ideas! Resulting in a little trip the following day to the sorting office to collect said cake. Simple enough one would think, but with a toddler suffering with winge-bag-itis I dread every attempt to leave the house at the moment.

After collecting the cake, and cursing the postman under my breathe, I decided to try posting it through my letterbox myself. After all, the packaging states “I fit through the letterbox”. Now, I’ve always considered my letterbox to be of an average size but the arrival of this cake has revealed something that I must now hold my hands up to. Yes, I must admit, I have a smaller than average letterbox!

cake

I’m nothing but determined so I kept the cake packaged up through my birthday until I could visit my sisters house. On arriving, I tried to post the box through her letterbox. After a bit of manoeuvring (probably more than the postman could be bothered with), it went through the letterbox. So I can confirm that Bakerdays letterbox cake does fit through some letterboxes.

So enough talk of letterboxes. If your mind is as full of innuendo as mine, then all this letterbox talk is completely off the subject.

Back to the cake. Bakerdays offer a very extensive catalogue of designs, sizes and flavours to choose from. You can personalise the letterbox cake with photos and messages.

Quote from Bakerdays: – “bakerdays is a Personalised Celebration Cake Specialist, providing quality personalised cakes for all occasions. The delicious range of recipes and sizes are available for delivery 6 days a week, and if you order before 2pm, bakerdays can deliver the very next day!”

Imagine ordering one for someone you care for and sending it as a surprise for an occasion be it Birthday, Anniversary, valentines or just because you love them. Either way it will £14.99 well received no doubt. Place your orders here at www.bakerdays.com

I placed an order for the Union Jack Crown Cake in rich chocolate chip flavour. Customised with a picture of my toddler self with the words, “Happy Birthday to Me”. I was impressed with the finished result and it is by far the most personalised cake I’ve ever had.

bakerdays letterbox cake review

The cake, as already mentioned, arrived in a letterbox size box. Inside of this was a pretty tin with air holes, assumably to maintain the cakes freshness. I opened the tin to find the cake wrapped in perforated cellophane.  There was a tab removal system with precise instructions on how to remove the cake without causing damage. For the cake to have withstood the hustle and bustle of the royal mail system, it would have been a huge shame if I destroyed it  at the final hurdle. A thoughtful touch I felt was the addition of  a party streamer, two candles, a balloon and a gift card.

Now for my favourite part, the tasting. The sponge was moist and there was a gooeyness to on the base, presumably to hold the cake to the board securely. I kindly chose to share the cake with my mum and two of my three sisters. They all agreed it tasted great!cake

On reflection, the Bakerdays letterbox cake is an excellent concept. I would recommend Bakerdays despite my expectations not being met by the box not fitting through my letterbox.

Was I completely satisfied with the Bakerdays letterbox cake? Overall I was happy but it would have been great if it cake had arrived via my letterbox as intended. The quality and design was perfect though.

Would I order a Bakerdays letterbox cake for a friend or family member? I would consider it.

Do I think the it is good value for money? Being the thrifty, frugal stay at home mama that I am, I don’t think I could justify spending just under £15 on a 5″ cake. Maybe in the future, if my situation changes.

If you would like to see what others thinks about BakerDays, checkout my fellow bloggers experience here Life As Mrs D

Checkout bakerdays social media sites here.

http://www.facebook.com/bakerdays/

Until next time…..

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A review of Everyman cinema – Beauty and the Beast 2017 #KCACOLS

This post is a review of  Everyman cinema, detailing the experience we had watching Beauty and the Beast, 2017. Please note there will be NO spoilers from the film, so please feel free to read on without hesitation.

Visiting the cinema is something I haven’t done in several years.  To celebrate my birthday, (I totally believe in Birthdays by the way!) I thought it was ideal to try out our new Everyman cinema. I know so many people who claim birthdays are ” just another day”. Not so in my books! Each birthday is a celebration of making it through another year. So many people don’t make it through no choice of their own. To my mind, life is a gift to be celebrated. So I asked my darling mum to have George for several hours. Allowing myself and hubs to have some quality time together.

Our local area has recently received the marvellous addition of an Everyman cinema. If you haven’t heard of Everyman , they are a cinema chain offering a luxury cinema experience. For our film of choice I decided a romantic rendezvous with the hubs wouldn’t be complete without a romantic fairytale ala Beauty and the Beast.

On arrival we approached the desk and informed the lone girl at the counter that we had booked to see the 13:45 viewing online. After determining we were there to see Beauty and the Beast, her interaction with us ceased. I had to ask her for guidance, explaining that we hadn’t been before. It would have been helpful to have been asked if we had visited before and explain how things work.

As we made our way to the main atrium, a selection of boutique styled seating and tables confronted us, along with a bar and several people sitting eating. A quick stop off at the loo revealed all the soap dispensers had ran out. The member of staff I informed was very apologetic and this was rectified when I visited the loos again before we left the cinema. We took a seat in the atrium and began to peruse the menu.

Having done my research, (I’m a stickler for research!) I knew you could order food to have brought to your seat in the screening. Again though, being a total newbie I didn’t know how you went about arranging this.

The barman simply asked for our order so I asked how we arrange for the food to be delivered to our seats. He said he would give us our drinks now and the food would be delivered to our seats. (The film wasn’t due to start for half an hour so in hindsight we should’ve asked for the food there and then). The menu has a choice of pizza, garlic bread, nachos, chips, burgers and hotdogs. With sundaes, brownies and then typical sweets and popcorn for afters. Drinks were varied with upmarket soft drinks, wines, beers, cocktails, coke floats and milkshakes.

We ordered an orange and ginger fentimans for hubs and a chambord royale cocktail for me. We ordered fries with cheese each. Then I ordered a sundae and hubs ordered a brownie. After moseying about for a while with our drinks, we saw ourself to the screening room. You don’t need your tickets checking, unless you want assistance to your seat.

everyman cinema review

After settling down in our comfy, spacious two seater sofa, complete with cuddle cushions, we waited for our food. As we waited for the the trailers to begin, a waitress appeared with my ice cream sun

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The Friday Bruce Almighty helped me out – That Friday Linky

Friday has arrived. The first thing to recognise about today is that it is my eldest sister’s birthday so shout out to her. She really is the most kind and caring person there is and has always mothered me. Yesterday also marked the birthday of my step sister who is the same age as me. We are 18 days apart. I feel more like we are non biological, Irish twins rather than step sisters. Hate the term step. She’s my sister.
So today has been one of those Fridays where you feel like some kind of superhero. Do you have those days? I think it’s really important to recognise days when you exceed expectations of yourself.
This particular Friday morning I had rather foolishly booked a fringe trim for 9am. George is 2 years old and an only child, whilst I’m a stay at home mum.  So I’m not used to early starts and being out of the door before 9. The person in charge of my
Book of life also decided this morning that my alarm would fail and that I would wake at 7:57am!
With under an hour to get myself and a procrastinating toddler ready, I saw he was a sweaty sticky mess and realised it was my hair washing day and the dry shampoo was something I’d foolishly left off the shopping list. (In truth I read a article a while back about it causing bald patches and I’ve not bought it since, despite loving the magic of the stuff!).
Despite all this. I somehow managed to wash and blow dry my hair. Slap on some minimalist make up. Dress and shower both myself and George. Layer us both up, with a quick kiss sending hubby on his way to work, also unblocking  the driveway for my car to leave.
I’m not sure if some Jim Carrey God type, ala Bruce Almighty, froze time for us this morning but somehow we made it on time. George even forgot to throw his routine tantrum over something ridiculous on the way out of the door.
Arriving at the hairdressers at 9.05am with a dinosaur dangled in front of George’s face to encourage him to run faster, I began to explain my morning. The staff there congratulated me on my achievement.
Big fucking deal I hear you say. Well as I explained at the start, for me, it is. So I subconsciously gave myself a little “you’re fabulous” award before settling down for a quick fringe trim.
Feeling tidy and perfected, I headed to McDonald’s for a breakfast of champions. George got some rather satisfying puddle jumping in and we enjoyed a naughty breakfast treat together. Looking at the clock I realised we had a Hartbeeps class scheduled for 10am.
Pulling up at the village hall for our regular Friday Hartbeeps sesh, I was perfecting my reverse parking manoeuvre when I heard a loud crunch. Those vertical paving slabs that were at the back of the parking bay were closer than I had realised. Again, upon looking, I found no damage. Bruce Almighty must have been at work again.
Hartbeeps was its usual crazy dancing and singing self and we got to spend time with some friends. It’s a franchise that offers classes nationwide. I can fully recommend you try it. It starts as young as a babe in arms.
We finished our crazy morning with a play session at a friends house. I had crazily decided to make some avocado chocolate brownies the night before for us mummies to enjoy. The recipe was in the free Asda magazine. They contain a lot of peanut butter and to be honest it’s hard to taste much else. My friend seemed to enjoy them. I don’t like avocado but I know it has great health benefits so this is a great way for me to sneak it into my diet.
I’m don’t practice any religion or believe in a particular holy being. I actually read an article yesterday that suggests I might be a humanist. The jury is still out on that one. But I can’t help feeling like everything was on our side this Friday morning. It may sound ridiculous but if I do have a guardian angel, they definitely gave me a helping hand this morning.
Wishing you all a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend. Achieve what you can and give yourself credit where credit is due.
Until next time……
 This post was taking part in #ThatFridayLinky . Organised by Twin Mummy and Daddy
Twin Mummy and Daddy
Friday, Bruce Almighty, Breakfast, Brownies and Hartbeeps.
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The Natural History Museum – London. A toddler’s experience

Here’s a little run down of our day out at The Natural History Museum in London and our first experience there with a toddler in tow.

A physio appointment for myself brought us all to London for the day. Making the most of our train ticket we thought we would introduce a two year old George to the wonders of the Natural History museum. The museum is easy to get to by tube by most tube stations in this area are not pushchair or wheelchair friendly as they are steps and escalators.

natural history museum

Having refused to nap all day, George wasn’t feeling overly energetic and spent a lot of time at the natural history museum just chilling on Daddy’s shoulders or in the pushchair. Nonetheless he seemed thoroughly fascinated by a lot of what he was seeing. You could see his little mind drinking it all in.

natural history museum

The mammals section of the museum was particularly popular with an abundance of different size stuffed animals and birds. There’s also a human biology section where there were plenty of levers and buttons for George to press and pull to make himself feel useful with. I don’t think he understood what most of them were for. In the creepy crawlies section there were lots of older children using magnifying glasses to inspect insects and arachnids encased in small Perspex cubes. There was also a very large moving scorpion to scare the wotsits out of any passing child.

natural history museum

The most interesting of sections for us was the hall displaying various complete dinosaur skeletons. As well as the centrepiece being focused on various mammals and the late blue whale. It was round a very noisy corner of this hall that we discovered a huge crowd drawn to a life size animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex. We spent some time admiring him and watching him move on the spot and roar at various intervals. George was very dubious of the T-Rex but remained tear free thanks to some reassurance from Mummy that the dinosaur was just saying ‘Hello’.

natural history museum

There was plenty more that we didn’t see as we wanted a leisurely day and reason to return in the future. We did enquire where the large hall was containing a huge diplodocus skeleton. Something I remembered from my childhood. The museum worker informed me that at present the great hall is having a redevelopment and when it reopens it will contain the great blue whale. More information here Hintze Hall redevelopment.

Meanwhile Dippy the diplodocus is due to start a 3 year tour at the start of 2018. This was slightly disappointing as I think George would have been in awe of the scale. Plus it’s his favourite dinosaur. It’s something I could’ve found out if I had checked in advance. We are looking forward to returning once the redeveloped Hintze Hall is complete.

Dippy the Diplodocus Tour Dates and Locations

Now let’s get to food. My favourite part. There was a fab range of shopping and eating facilities within the building. We chose to eat in The Kitchen. Special kids lunch packs were on offer hut George is particularly fussy so snacked on a selection we too with us. We had the choice of lovely fresh cooked pies and alike. The also did lovely crusted sole fillets if your kiddie wanted a cooked meal. We opted for amazingly delicious wraps which were £7.95 but came with your choice of two side salads. Now when I say salad, I’m not talking some chopped iceberg and a bit of cucumber. I chose the delicious cherry tomato and mozzarella ball salad tossed in pesto. As well as the roasted sweet potato salad and was served 4 large wedges. The food was amazingly good quality and the wrapped was stuffed to busting point. With two salads included in the price, £7.95 is very reasonable. Drinks included wine, prosecco, cordials and San pellegrino. My fav! Although it’s worth noting they have a free water drinks dispenser at the cutlery station. For dessert hubby had a honey and yoghurt cheesecake which he was raving about for hours. I had a scrumptious crispy road. A slab of rocky road style treat with maltesers, rice crispies and smarties. It was utterly delectable. We later found a restaurant called the jungle grill which did burgers, pizza and steak. With two arguing animatronic dinosaurs at the entrance to the restaurant they were definitely a crowd puller. The restaurant appeared colourful and great for kids.

Natural history museum

Overall we had a fun filled day with plenty of exercise. I may not have included everything in this review but I have given my verdict on the areas I experienced.

Until next time……..

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A romantic evening for three – Valentines with a toddler part two

Hubs arrival home from work is the start of a lovely romantic evening for three. Valentine’s Day with a toddler, part two.
Valentines, romantic
We’ve evaluated the dinner situation over the phone whilst he drives home,and Chinese takeaway is settled on. I was going to struggle to cook with George insisting I sat on the sofa and held his hand. Not objecting just stating it makes cooking difficult. I know these days are numbered.

One romantic takeaway unpacked and laid out on our laps, whilst George’s body decides now is the best time to have a poo in front of us. Hubs tries to put something grown up on the tele whilst George screams if we try to turn Iggle Piggle off. Meanwhile I eat with just as clingy a cat propped under my arm. Can cats get colds too?

Dinner done. Iggle Piggle has finally finished, hubby declares “yayyy, we can watch whatever we want!” I insist on more CBeebies as Tom Hardy is just about to grace our screens with the ever popular  and much publicised “Bedtime story”. Everyone is told to be quiet whilst I sit, mouth open (yes really), just analysing every inch of this hunk of gorgeousness whilst he attempts to read a kids bedtime story. I declare that Tom and hubs have exactly the same style beard and on that note, bedtime story is over.

Queue hubs getting up to change the pooey nappy, (my best effort at a valentines present) and I suddenly realise I actually haven’t changed George’s nappy since I got him dressed that morning. The tantrums and the neediness due to Geo having a cold have distracted me. Hubs is astounded by my lack of carrying out my motherly duties.

Queue me giving hubs his card that tells him just how much I love his willy.

Back in the good books methinks. Who says romance is dead!

Valentines, romantic
Hope your evenings were just as adventurous………

Until the next time……

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Box set addiction guide

You wanna get yourself a box set addiction, I’m your gal. Ok I may not watch all the current trending shows but when it comes to a boxset I am one committed lady! I honestly feel like you haven’t lived until you’ve got yourself a box set addiction. Here’s my list of recommendations.

Years back, we’re talking VHS here, myself and childhood sweetheart hubster used to spend hours in my bedroom as late teens. Probably worrying our mothers sick with their overactive imaginations, we actually spent a good majority watching box sets.

television box set addiction

Only fools and horses

A classic! I really don’t need to say too much about this do I? I mean where have you been if you haven’t watched this! And it never gets old. Ok, me and hubs can point out a lot of things that aren’t so politically correct these days but aside from that, this is classic British comedy. Please may it continue.

Vicar of Dibley

Should I be embarrassed of this one? The friendly female vicar who has to convince her parish she is worthy of the position. I own them all and hubs and I in our younger days used to watch them on repeat during dinner times. They never failed to make us laugh. Dawn French as the vicar plays the type of person I hope I have become. Forgiving, patient, and able to see the good in all.

Men Behaving Badly

Late nights spent in tears of laughter watching this together. Two guys, two gals living in the flat above and below each other. It’s obnoxious, hilarious and you so wouldn’t want it to be your life but it’s great comedy.

Friends

We still watch these on repeat now. Non offensive they even provide a great background when guests are visiting. 6 friends sharing life together. Although again, if you needed to read what it is about then you truly have been living like a recluse. I used to love having chats about which “friend” we felt we was. FYI I’m mostly phoebe but with a hint of Monica but only hubs see the Monica side of me.

Peep Show
My maternity leave was the start of this particular obsession. A hard going pregnancy and a strenuous job left me starting maternity leave at 7 months pregnant. Enter Peep Show box set addiction. I convinced myself that the baby couldn’t come until I had finished every last hilariously weird episode. Suitably apt for my mind.

Peaky Blinders

Skip to May 2016, and Peaky Blinders. Seeing series three was starting and featuring Tom Hardy (my newest person to swoon over after years of Leonardo-Di-Caprio addiction), anyway, I digress. So with series three’s imminent arrival on BBC one, and my mum having raved about it, I was desperate to get in on the action. I visited my local library and requested to have the DVD sent from another library for me to loan. Both series were on a waiting list.
Queue the moment when hubby made me love him even more by subscribing to Netflix. In less than a few weeks we had watched two full series of Peaky Blinders. I was starting to develop a brummie accent and even threatening to ‘cut’ anyone that upset me or mine (laughs madly). The box set addiction had begun. But as series 3 drew to a close, I quickly found I needed something to fill my time. After all, it’s not like I have a toddler is it! (Winks slyly, gosh I’m struggling to write these days without featured emojis).

The Walking Dead

Seeing that Season 7 was due to start in around 6 weeks of The Walking Dead, I felt compelled to jump on the bandwagon. Luckily Sky had all the series box sets 1-6. With sixteen episodes per season, the house fell into disarray. Every nap time and bedtime I crammed in as much as I could. Nothing else mattered! As Season 7 began on Sky, I was up to speed and happily joined in with everyone else. A bonus to this was my zombie phobia was pretty much cured and I was safe to browse social media without seeing spoilers.

The Crown

So here we here. 2017. My newest and highly recommended boxset (as are all of the above) has to be The Crown. Matt smith is easy on the eye and Clare Foy is just perfection at playing her royal highness The Queen. It certainly gives you a wonderful insight into the little known life of the Royal Family. They have always fascinated me and I’ve always said I would love to be a fly on the wall of Buckingham Palace.

television box set addiction

So there we have it! What are your favourites? I need recommendations to line up as my next addiction. I really don’t think I’m a Game of Thrones sort of girl and as much as I’d love to watch American Horror Story, I really can’t deal with the supernatural. Answers on a….comments box please. Although you can pretend it’s a virtual postcard.

If crime documentaries are your thing (they’re so not mine) then checkout A Suffolk Dad’s top five recommendations for Netflix crime docs. Enjoy.

For more in depth info on all the box sets mentioned I would recommend IMDb .

Until next time………

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Reasons to love and hate Christmas

So here are some reasons why to love and hate Christmas. You may relate to some of these, you may not. But however you feel about Christmas, the reality is that as with anything, Christmas is what you make of it.

So let’s start on a high with a reason I love Christmas.

christmas

Love – It brings people together.

  • Whether it’s forced, whether it happens on 25th December or another date nearer, people make the effort to come together at Christmas. Family, friends, neighbours, communities, they all come together to celebrate and marvel in the wonder of Christmas.

christmas

Hate – Christmas isn’t a happy time for everyone.

  • For some it reminds them all too brutally of those they have lost. Those who are no longer around the dinner table.
  • Then there are those who are homeless and desperately ill. For them can often just be another day of despair. Although many people now commit their time and efforts towards helping the homeless, I’m in no doubt that these services are likely oversubscribed. There are people who miss out and suffer the same as every other day.
  • Not to forget the amazing people who work in our public services on Christmas Day, nurses, police and alike. They all give up their Christmas Day to be there to look after you and keep you safe.

Love – presents.

  • In recent years I haven’t received as many presents. What with me being a grown up and all. We all often mutually agree to just buy for the children. It’s much cheaper and we both come from a family of many siblings.
  • Niece and nephew count this year is up to 12! (Edit for Chrimbo 2018!) But when the unwrapping commences I just love to see the smiles on their faces.
  • Hubby usually buys me something and our parents often disobey the rules claiming that technically we are their children so we receive gifts from them. I love buying, receiving, wrapping and giving presents though.

Hate – presents.

  • Yes unfortunately as much as I love them, I also hate them. The insistence that something MUST be bought for people.
  • I overheard a woman in the queue in M&S saying to her elderly mother, “Eugh, I’ve GOT to get you something yet!”. Talk about take the spirit out of Christmas!

christmas

 Love – The food! 

  • Oh the food! Without meaning to cause offence to anyone, I have always described myself as a fat girl in a not so fat girls body. Although trust me as I age and my metabolism slows, that and I sit on my arse a lot. I’m getting fatter all the time.
  • Nonetheless I love using Christmas as an excuse to overindulge in all the yummy food. Just forget about points and calories and whatever else people worry about and eat, eat, eat.

Hate – The food!

  • You’re seeing a trend here aren’t you. I love my food. I would even describe myself as a bit of a foodie. But my word, I didn’t realise I was a fussy eater until I thought about all the traditional Christmas food.
  • Christmas pudding, mince pies, parsnips, mulled wine! Yuk! I hate them all. Then there’s the weight gain. As much as I spend Christmas minus my conscience, as soon as it’s over I feel bloated and dare not even look at the scales. The detox and healthy eating plans commence for all of 4 days until New Years and it all starts again.

Hate – The Money it costs

  • Ok so you could argue that you know that Christmas is coming each year. So technically you could put some money by each month, but even this is a hardship for some.
  • Christmas is an expense that leaves some feeling stressed or in unnecessary debt. And you could say that these people are silly to overstretch themselves but we have created a society where some kids are getting the latest technology or the must have toy for Christmas.
  • Most parents don’t want their child to feel like they are missing out or not “good” enough. A lot of emphasis seems to be placed on the gifts you get depending on how well-behaved you have been throughout the year when in fact it’s what your parents can afford.

christmas

Love – The Parties

  • The obligatory Christmas work do. Despite being a stay at home mum, I still get invited to the works do where I used to work.
  • It’s food, drink, dancing and silliness and it’s the only time of year it seems to happen.
  • In recent years and more and more of my friends have become mummies, it’s become harder to get us all together for an evening out. Christmas seems to force this and for this reason. I love it.

Love – Father Christmas aka Santa aka St Nick.

  • The man of many names, many a disguise and many a location. He seems to crop up in more and more places and I love him for it.
  • I love the notion of a magical land where the toys are lovingly made and distributed by the fabulous man himself. I love visiting the grotto with my now four year old and knocking on his door waiting to see him.

Hate – Father Christmas aka Santa aka St Nick.

  • There doesn’t seem to be a place now that isn’t cashing in on this guy. He’s cropping up in schools, supermarkets, pubs, garden centres, aquariums, even the Zoo!
  • I’m sure there wasn’t this many a Father Christmas when I was a little un. If anything I feel it spoils the magic. You can take your child to see Father Christmas and as you are leaving you bump into another.
  • Thankfully George was still too young to notice but a few years ago we visited the Winter wonderland at Centreparcs with my brother-in-law and his children.
  • Their little boy was 4 at the time and went in before us. When we both came out and looked at our photos with Father Christmas, my nephew pointed out that ours looked different. There was two FC’s operating at the same time in rooms next to each other!
  • For this reason I have imposed a strict “one grotto a year” rule for George. If nothing but to try to keep him believing just that little bit longer. Kids are growing up wayyyyyy too fast these days as it is!

 

christmas

So there you have it. Do you agree or disagree with any? Are there any big ones you think I’ve missed? Feel free to share with us. This list expresses how I feel personally about Christmas.

Wishing you all a very Happy 2016 Christmas and a prosperous and healthy new year. X

Until next time……

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Our first family holiday – Butlins Bognor Regis October 2016

So our first family holiday to Butlins has now happened! We’ve taken George on several holidays since his birth. However, these have all included other members of mine or hubbies family. Mums, dads, nans, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles.

I have found since having George that group holidays are hard work. You would expect that they would be easier and more relaxed as the babysitting duties can be shared. This hasn’t ever happened though and to be perfectly honest I’ve never wanted it to.

I’ve just spent 30 years holidaying by myself and 16 of those with hubby and I as a couple. I love the notion of having child friendly holidays now that we are parents. Doing all the silly activities we haven’t done since we ourself were children.  Overall, since I became a mum I find myself becoming exasperated with trying to fit in with everyone else’s requirements.Butlins

Imagine my extreme excitement when myself and hubby booked a tots week to Butlins, Bognor Regis. Our first holiday as just the three of us, just a few weeks shy of George’s second birthday. It also included Thomas and Friends as the live show, which I knew he would love. (One of the reasons I booked this specific week.)

Butlins

We arrived at Butlins on a Monday and was greeted with a friendly reception team. They directed us towards our children’s themed hotel room. The corridor leading to the room was carpeted with fish pools and life saving rings printed onto the carpet. Your entrance and exit to the elevator was via a ‘walk the plank’ effect vinyl flooring. Each room had a pirate ship steering wheel and navigation board as well as a large octopus cushion and octopus feet sofa.

George’s bedroom was a double bunk room complete with porthole effect lights as well as a soothing soft coloured night light built into the shelf above the wardrobe. The room also had a small flat screen TV. The ship/sea theme continued throughout the room with smart captions on the drawers and a fishy poem with pictures printed on the the bath area wall. We were impressed. It was clean, comfortable for us and exciting and novel for George.

Butlins

After unpacking our luggage we decided to go on a quick walk around the Butlins site to check out the facilities. We had been previously but not for three years and hadn’t stayed during a tots week before. As we walked around we made a note of all the shows and activity timings that we would be interested in throughout the week. George was running around at high speed in complete awe of everything on offer, including the huge expanse of amusement arcades.

We did note however that there were quite a few older people without children, as well as a very large group of adults with carers. Many had a mental disability or cognitive disorder or down syndrome and it was apparent they needed an intense level of care. Their family didn’t appear to be with them, they all had a minimum of one to one care. I thought it strange they was on a tots week but mentally and emotionally many of them were behaving as children do so thought this may be why. We also couldn’t find anywhere advertising the live Thomas show.

Butlins
Arriving back at our hotel reception we were informed that it wasn’t Just For Tots week and it wasn’t the Thomas live show week. Feeling deflated, we got the reception staff to check for us. One call to the manager later and we were informed that it wasn’t our mistake. The website clearly had sold us a Just for Tots weeks but it wasn’t in fact on until the end of the month.

The manager gave us complimentary tickets to a 3D Dino babies cinema experience to the value of £10 but given we had spent £262 on a break that was meant to be specifically aimed at toddlers we were less than impressed but felt helpless as really there was nothing anyone could do. Seeing George’s excitement continuing to build and the amazing  smile he had on his face helped us to realise that in the grand scheme of things it didn’t matter. He was completely oblivious to what could have been.

We chose to plough head on into our week of fun, despite the fact I couldn’t shake the feeling of disappointment. Having informed all our friends and family of our plans to commemorate George turning two, I felt a bit foolish realising it wasn’t going to fully be the experience we had hoped. A quick Facebook update to friends and family helped alleviate this. I also sent a tweet to Butlins to vent my disappointment, along with a screenshot of the misleading website booking.

Butlins

Hubby, aware of how easily my mood shifts (we suspect I’m suffering a mild bout of depression) tried to boost my spirits by pointing out continually how happy and unaware George was. We threw ourselves into making it as memorable week as possible for us all. Clapping, singing, dancing and just generally being as silly and enthusiastic as the entertainment team on site as we went.

George fell absolutely head over heels with the two star characters featured at Butlins, Billy Bear and his girlfriend Bonnie Bear. We watched and got involved in so many shows, we really did have a blast and the shows are really high quality.

Unlike other holiday camps there are regular children’s shows and activities from 10am through to late at night including puppet shows, putting Billy Bear to bed, and live shows of their favourite TV characters. This week features angelina ballerina, bob the builder and fireman sam.

Butlins

The biggest negative of the week was the overall customer service we experienced at some of the onsite food establishments and bowling alley. In the first day alone we walked out from the Papa Johns after being seated but no service. Three places couldn’t make the cocktails I requested from the menu. This was due to lack of ingredients or “technical difficulties” as I was told.

One restaurant charged us £22 per adult for an all you can eat buffet. They failed to tell us they were closing no more than 10 minutes after we arrived. Realising they were clearing the food away whilst we were eating our dinner, we quickly grabbed deserts mid way through our dinner. The waitresses also didn’t ask if you were finished before they cleared your plate. They made George cry when we visited for breakfast as they removed his food before he had finished. After complaining to management they couldn’t offer any compensation or refund.

We also visited the bike hire to enquire if we George was suitable to sit on the front of a family bike, which he was. We left saying we would return the following day as we had a show scheduled. Returning the following day we found they only had two bikes which wasn’t available. They recommended booking these in advance but had failed to mention this the previous day. This is probably common sense to some, but we didn’t realise and wasn’t informed.

When we visited the bowling alley it appeared to be un-manned for quite a period of time. It was a huge effort just to try to track someone down to enable us to book a game. Overall though we had a fabulous week. George fell in love with the place and we are considering returning next year.
Butlins

I would recommend it as a concept but I’m eager to try one of their other resorts.  And I can’t reiterate enough that the shoreline hotel staff and all the entertainment crew were incredibly friendly and welcoming. I will say that had we not frequented any of the restaurants then this may have been a rave review.

I’ve now tried a mid week break, and an adults only weekend. I am eager to try a just for tots week. This would be something I’d have ticked off my list by now had the booking website been clearer. I would recommend booking over the telephone as the website is quite evidently poor.
The week couldn’t have ended better than with George vomiting on the way home. All over the car. Something I wasn’t expecting as it’s only the third time in his life he’s ever been sick. I hadn’t experienced the previous two times as they happened at nursery. Thankfully we had a car full of spare clothes and towels. But I have a car seat to deep clean now! Oh the joys of going on holiday! (She’s says gleefully)

Until next time……..

Edit: April 2017 – and we have had contact with Butlins and all issues explained and resolved.

  • Butlins believe their website booking system to be clear and easy to navigate. I however must have had difficulty understanding it and actually booked a mid week break. I never booked a Just for Tots week so this was as much my error as theirs. As for the hotel staff corroborating this. The guest solutions team have stated it’s unlikely they understood it as they don’t regularly use it.

My screenshot above is supposedly inaccurate and this one gives a better impression of how to guarantee you are selecting a “Just for Tots” break.

Butlins

  • The Butlins guest solutions team are unable to help with the disappointing restaurant establishment experience. This is due to the fact our holiday was over 6 months ago. The staff now will have undoubtedly changed. I have been assured all staff receive training and Butlins have received positive feedback since my time there.
  • As for why my query wasn’t resolved sooner. I was sent a feedback survey and tweeted an guest solutions email back in October when I raised my concerns. Returning the feedback survey, I didn’t realise it states that Butlins will not respond. Believing I had sent my concerns, I didn’t respond to the guest services email. I was oblivious to the fact that had I contact the email instead then this would have been resolved sooner.
  • To summarise, Butlins have kindly offered me a price drop guarantee and the best discounts for rebooking. I am in liaison with them for some dates for a Just for Tots week. This is a kind goodwill gesture and one I am happy with.
  • I can recommend Butlins and will return myself. My contact with guest services has alleviated some of my worries about returning and experiencing the same issues. I am not a complaining type so I was genuinely disappointed at the time.

Butlins

Plutonium Sox
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Common as sense

I’m pretty common, I lack sense, I’m as common as sense of course.

If becoming a mum has done anything for me it’s certainly improved my common sense. This may be because before I make any mumsy decisions I tend to “research the crap” out of them first. And as for any non mumsy decisions, well they are few and far between now I’m a mum.

So maybe it would be fun for me to enlighten you to my ditsy past. I’m not one of those girls that acts stupid because she thinks it makes her look cute. I’ll be the first to tell you how intelligent I actually am. Alls that I’m lacking is some common sense. “Don’t be silly!” people say, “you have lots of common sense”. Oh really! Let’s see what you think in a few minutes then shall we.

common as sense

  •  I was easily 25 and over and had been driving around 4 years when I discovered, rather amazingly, that miles per hour (or mph) actually means how many miles you will do in an hour at that speed! I mean I still can’t comprehend it now. It actually means something. It’s not just a measurement for measurements sake. It can be used to calculate how long it will take to get somewhere depending on what speed you drive! Now having discovered this marvellous piece of knowledge, I rushed to share it will those around me, and you won’t be surprised to know that this wasn’t only a revelation to myself. So perhaps I am forgiven in the common sense stakes here.

common as sense

  • Before I had George I used to work in pharmacy. During our training years and college days, myself and my two, now very good friends for life, were released from college early one day. Realising this meant returning to work, we quickly talked ourselves out of it. By the time we travelled the hour home to change into suitable work attire, had lunch, travelled to work? It would be home time. No, let’s come up with a full proof story on what we want work to think happened. So we decided we needed to have a lunch break by which point we actually wouldn’t make it to work until after closing. So we all agreed that we would tell everyone we got released at said time and went to have lunch. My friend suggested we say we went to “Greggs” for a sandwich and then headed for home.

“But I had a sausage roll” I piped up.  

“What?!” My friends replied, still in the early days of us all get acquainted with each other.

“Yeah”, I continued “I’ll say I had a sausage roll, coz there’s no way I would go to Greggs and not have a sausage roll, it’s got to be believable!”. Chuckling as I type this. I honestly can’t lie so to me I had to imagine it as if it were the truth. Absolutely bewildered, my friends could not get their heads around my declaration and to this day they have referred to me as “Trig”.

  •  My new nickname soon got round at work, and I was soon being pranked with requests to remove labels from boxes, as I attempted to I eventually learned they were printed on. It was good fun though and I soon realised my gullibility added to my lack of common sense, I often found it as funny as everyone else. My husband also takes great pleasure when we are out in saying to me “drink up Trig, we’re leaving!”

  •  Now the piece de resistance as I like to think, although the tales are a plenty, happened in my early twenties when I was living at home with mum and my number two dad. I had a landline phone in my bedroom at the time. It hung nicely on a nail in the wall, until one day it didn’t. I hated to leave things looking unfinished. It just added to the mental to do list that I carried around in my head. Master of improvisation that I am, and lacking the motivation to go downstairs and get the hammer, I grabbed the most solid and sturdy thing to hand, my deodorant can.

Yes that’s right, for the more savvy readers amongst you, I had just picked up a pressurised aerosol can with the intention of using it to hammer a nail into the wall!

A few seconds later and there was a strange hissing sound. It took me a few moments but I soon realised that the hissing was coming from the, now pierced, aerosol can. In a complete panic with the impression that this was now going to explode in my hand, I ran down the stairs screaming at my mum. Her response to my hysteria was to tell me to “throw it out the front door”. Flinging it out the front door, I watched as it rolled under mums car. Doh! Mum assured me it was fine and before you knew it the panic subsided and the drama was over. That wasn’t before I realised that the fingers on the hand that I had been holding the can in, were now frozen together from the pressurised air that had been released from the can. Ten minutes with my hand in a sink full of warm water and no harm was done and I had learnt a very valuable lesson.

Of course there are many, many, many more tales I could share, but this is a blog, not a book so I shall have to leave it there for the time being.

Until next time……

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Bringing up baby : Unwelcome advice

We’ve all experienced unwelcome advice at some point in our lives. It’s only when I really sit and think about it, I realise we are surrounded by apparent ‘ experts’ in every subject.  And these experts love nothing more than sharing their unwelcome, expert advice.

Having became a Mum to gorgeous George, I have increasingly felt under pressure from almost everyone around me to be the type of mum they think I should be or to mould George to be like the other babies or like their babies were.
When I think about it though, this is nothing new! People have forced their unwelcome advice on me all my life! Any big event in my life, be it getting a job, buying a car, buying a house or planning our wedding, there they were, the orderly queue of advice givers, opinion makers and critiques. Many well-meaning, many not having a clue what they were talking about but liking to think they did. Many advising you on what you should do because that’s what they did, completely irrespective of whether that’s what will be good for me or not. Despite the fact when they last did what I was trying to do it was ten, twenty, fifty years ago! And some I sadly suspect were ill advising me as they didn’t want me to succeed at pulling off something they themselves couldn’t, wouldn’t, or hadn’t.

Now the good soul that I am, and not wishing to offend anyone, I’ve always taken each and every person’s advice on board. Added a pinch of salt to some, a splash of cynicism to others and just let some fly right over my head without so much as a thought. Because I knew how unsuited the advice was for me.

unwelcome advice

The problem is that each of these past life events were in the planning stage, then they happened, then there were over. I got a job, I bought a car, a house and we got married. But with George it’s different. George is an ongoing event. Not including milestones, George will always be a work in progress which I love. He can be anything he wants and develop at his own pace.

But what plays on my mind and makes my heart sink is that the advice giving and opinion making will never end. And as much as I feel confident now that I know I’m doing the best I can with George, I can’t help feeling guilty that I should be doing something else because that’s how so and so did it or that’s what so and so’s child does so why doesn’t George. I hear myself continuously and repetitively justifying the decisions I’ve made with George.
It’s a mentally exhausting battle. Like sifting through a large bag of slightly unwelcome fan mail sorting them into three piles of “ignore completely”, “take pieces and discard the rest” and finally “take wholeheartedly on board” wondering why I hadn’t thought of that myself.

unwelcome advice

So next time you are telling somebody all about what you did with yours, or giving your unwelcome advice that really wasn’t asked for, please realise that person is potentially going to think about your words for a lot longer than you did before you opened your mouth to say them.

Until next time……..

This was written when George was 16 months old (he’s now 27 months). At that point I was experiencing, its safe to say, undiagnosed postnatal depression. I over thought everything and had little confidence in my parenting abilities. I really now that I have always been an amazing mother to George and this unwelcome advice was really not helping the way I felt. I’m glad I spoke out about how I felt and with the help of family, friends and medical professionals, became myself again. If you are feeling emotionally unable to cope with life at any point, talk to the right people about the right stuff and help can be found. Love and strength. x 

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