Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Give your children the freedom to travel

Throughout our lives, we may find the opportunity to travel. It is an important way of extending our awareness and improving our knowledge and appreciation. Travelling to other countries is vital and should be experienced by children as well as adults.

The first time you get your kids together to go away, there is an overwhelming sense of responsibility. You need to organise the passports, the insurance. You need to get everything right because what if something happens? What if someone hurts themselves? Dealing with that in a foreign country could seem even more stressful; however if they see you suffering, then it will naturally become something they are fearful of.

If finances are tight, then you may simply not be able to afford a holiday. If this is the case, then you can find alternative ways to help your children see the world. Talk to the school. If there are London school trips coming up then you might find there is a way of getting financial support which will enable your child to go. It isn’t the same as travelling with them, but it will feel great to know they are seeing the world, even if you can’t do it together! 

If you can manage to save, then you need to consider what you want your kids to learn. Maybe you just want to teach them that travelling isn’t difficult, so heading out on fun summer holidays is enough for you. Perhaps you want your children to learn a little about arts and culture, so you take them to Venice to see some beautiful galleries and the architecture of the city. While it is important to teach children about other cultures, do remember this needs to be age appropriate. Dragging young children around art galleries could potentially put them off this experience as they get older, so choose your destinations around the age and personality of your children.

As they get older, they have more options. A great way of travelling in your late teens is to volunteer abroad. So you could help them set up fundraising ideas and research the options. Ghana offers great gap year experiences where your child would spend a few months helping to teach sport, English or life skills. They get their accommodation for free and are allowed plenty of free time to explore Africa which is a diverse and beautiful country.

Giving your children the freedom to travel is a unique and special gift. You can do this by inspiring them with fantastic trips and experiences from a young age and by working hard to ensure they get the opportunities you may not have had yourself. Travelling is amazing for personal growth, so make it an important part of your family life!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

My top 5 dining options at Bluestone Wales

Your self catering accommodation at Bluestone provides all of the equipment you need to create delicious meals yourself but if you're anything like me, I like to take a break from preparing meals and washing dishes on holiday and I love trying out new cafes and restaurants. 

For a resort that isn't super huge, Bluestone has a vast range of delicious dining options to suit all tastes and budgets. From freshly made pizzas and tasty pasta dishes at the Oak Tree Restaurant to takeaway fish and chips from The Chippy, there really is something for everyone! 

Little ones are not forgotten either, with children's menus, delicious treats and lunchbox meals available and colouring in sheets, crayons and magical settings to keep them entertained whilst you eat your meal. We are a family who dine out a lot and little touches like this are always very much appreciated! 

We ate out a fair bit on our last trip to Bluestone and so today I wanted to share five of my favourite dining options at the resort.  

Ty Coffi

Located in the village just by the playground. Ty Coffi is somewhere I was really looking forwards to trying this year as I had seen so many pictures of delicious looking cakes and treats over on instagram. It didn't let us down either, it's the perfect place to relax and enjoy a sweet treat and a warm drink. The menu offers everything from delicious cream teas to sandwiches, baguettes, soups and quiches. The ice cream is incredible too, you absolutely must try it! 
The decor inside is gorgeous and the cafe has a really relaxed, friendly vibe. We had cream teas, ice cream, cakes and smoothies here.... everything was delicious! 

Wildwood Cafe

The Wildwood Cafe is located upstairs in the Adventure Centre. The lunch menu offers a pretty standard but delicious selection including burgers, jacket potatoes, baguettes and topped nachos. It also has a great kids menu! We've dined here a few times now, we really like the food which is always freshly made and tasty. The enchanted woodland theming is just magical for children (and adults!) too. 

Wildwood Cafe is also the destination for breakfast and evening dinner shows, which are held on certain dates throughout your stay. This is something we didn't get around to doing and I really regret it. Next time, this will be a 'must do' for us!

The Knights Tafarn

The Knights Tafarn was hands down my absolute favourite at Bluestone. Located in centre of the village, this 'country pub' offers a roaring log fire, a delicious menu, local ales and a welcoming family friendly vibe. We ate here quite a few times during our stay because, well, it was just fantastic!

The portion sizes here are generous and the menu is super varied offering everything from beer battered cod and chips to stir fries and traditional lamb cawl. Desserts are absolutely spot on too, I love a 'proper' pudding.... you just can't beat a treacle sponge and custard, can you?! 

Camp Smokey

We loved Camp Smokey which you'll find hidden amongst the tall pines tucked slightly out of the way. It's a lovely walk through the woods here from the village or down the steep path from the top of the resort. This gorgeous little venue offers dining with a difference. A whole range of experiences can be enjoyed at Camp Smokey including the "Smokey Joe Shindig" complete with loud music, wild dancing and foot stomping. We visited in the day and thoroughly enjoyed toasting marshmallows on the open fire and making chocolate smores. The perfect end to a lovely walk! 

The Village Shop

Finally, Newton Stores in the village. I know this is technically not a 'dining option' as such but this wonderful little grocery store is the perfect place to stock up on local treats to enhance your self catering experience. In addition to all your basic grocery needs (seriously, this shop is so well stocked!), this store sells a range of delicious cakes, yummy treats and a great selection of local drinks. Whenever we cooked meals in our lodge, we'd pop by the village store before to pick up some local ales and a sweet treat for dessert!

Monday, 27 March 2017

Upcycling // Tips and tricks for getting started

I love thinking about different ways to help me cultivate a warm yet stylish home environment. I’ve often found myself getting lost on the Internet or in interior magazines, figuring out the latest trends or simply trying to understand the best way to save space in my small terraced home. What’s most important to me though, is making sure my home has a bit of character!

It’s those little quirks of originality borne from your imagination that mark the fact that this is your home. I’ve found that a wonderful way to do this is through upcycling, where you take something destined for the dump, and turn it into something that is different, better and truly your own.

Upcycling can save vast amounts of money, unleash your creativity, and you honestly don’t need to be a professional carpenter. I hope my guide on some of the basics of upcycling will get you revved up for your own tiny transformations.

Starting small

It’s easy to get lost in the plethora of upcycling projects that have overrun Pinterest, and make a million grand plans to turn suitcases into beds and beds into fireplaces. The enthusiasm is great, but like with everything, it’s best to start small to get into the mood and rhythm of your upcycling adventures. Find something already in your home, like an unused stool, and get started will a simple sanding down and repainting. So easy right? Remember, upcycling needn’t cost a fortune either – otherwise, you might as well have just bought something new.

Elbow grease and what else?

Turning trash into treasure needs the right equipment, your own ingenuity and just that little bit of elbow grease. If you enjoyed your first couple of small projects, why not start stocking up on some of the essential tools as your projects get bigger and more creative:
  • Paint stripper - to get rid of any coats of paint and finishes
  • Power sander and sandpaper – for sanding the surface once you’ve stripped the paint
  • Paint sprayer – can save you a lot of time when you want to coat your furniture quickly
  • Brushes – good quality brushes create smooth, beautiful colourings and minimise the messy appearance of brush strokes
  • Glue gun – like the ones available at Kenyon Adhesives can help you to stick on appliques and knick knacks onto your nearly-finished pieces, giving them that final cute touch

It’s the little things

It’s those inspired finishing touches that can truly make your upcycled project; they are the cherry on the cake so to speak. Things like replacing simple knobs on doors to more ornate ones you may have found at a car boot sale, sticking on little appliques or knick knacks as already mentioned, maybe some buttons or fake flowers, or even a bit of wallpaper onto a surface. These can make all the difference and create such a pretty end product.

Remember most of all to have fun with it! Make your upcycling experience as vibrant as the furniture you create, and you’ll never want to stop.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Things I've loved this week // 033

A little Sunday round-up, some of the little things that I've been loving this week!

Mothers Day

Mothers Day this year has been absolutely lovely. Honestly, I love my little family to bits! We had a trip out to the Peak District in the sunshine for a delicious lunch, kiddo picked out flowers for me and I received some lovely, thoughtful things. Being a mama is incredible, isn't it? I'm so lucky. 

Beauty and the Beast

This weekend we finally got to see Beauty and the Beast at the cinema. I feel like I have been waiting forever to see this movie! The original is my all time favourite Disney movie and one that has been so close to my heart for most of my life, I am so glad that I could share this new experience with kiddo. 
It was absolute perfection in every single way, expanding on the original story and answering many questions including why nobody in the village knew there was a castle there all those years! 
The casting is spot on, the songs are beyond i n c r e d i b l e (don't even get me started on Evermore... I think it might be my new favourite Disney song)... oh, I need to see it again as soon as possible!

Elsie's birthday

This weekend, Elsie turned 6. I cannot even fathom how it is almost 6 years that I bought this little peanut home with me.... I honestly don't know what I would do without her! She might be a lazy bum and hate the rain but this dog is the best fur baby I could ask for, always there for cuddles no matter what. She's amazing. 

'To do' lists

This week I have been blitzing those 'to do' lists. Every once in a while, everything seems to build up to the point where I find myself with a million shitty jobs to complete. Instead of getting stressed though and not knowing where to start, I have been making concise lists and powering through them before adding more. It feels pretty satisfying, even if I'm only crossing off mundane things like 'return library books' or 'eBay parcels'!


Finally, we all know I like cleaning.... right?! I'm crazy, I know! I have recently started using Zoflora after seeing it crop up on Instagram over and over so I picked some up at Poundland (I also love my bargain shops!). I'm absolutely hooked! This multipurpose product is good for so many things. I mainly use it for cleaning the bathroom, mopping floors and cleaning sinks but it leaves everything feeling so clean and it smells amazing. It's cruelty free and the sheer amount of things this product can be used for is insane. I need to grab some more scents next time I am out shopping, for sure! 

What have you been loving this week? Let me know in a comment below!

Friday, 24 March 2017

Unique gift ideas for mums

Looking to show your mum how special she is? When there’s a special occasion on the horizon, chances are you want to find the perfect gift to really treat her and show her you care. However, some mums are hard to buy for. Maybe they’re not that interested in material things, or perhaps they’re the kind of person that seems to already own everything? Sometimes nothing on the shelves can seem quite right. If that’s the case, why not do things a little differently? Here are some alternative gift ideas for mum!

Something homemade

The great thing about homemade gifts is that it shows a whole lot of thought and effort, and with each piece being completely unique you know they’ve never had one just like it before. If you have a skill in an area, utilize it! Whether it’s baking, sewing, paper crafts, candle making- create something special with your mum in mind. You could even buy a kit with all of the equipment you need included to help you create something if you’ve not done it before. 

Hampers also make great gifts for mum, you can buy these or create them yourself. This idea is useful if you’re not particularly crafty since you still get the homemade element without actually making anything. Get a selection of different items, and bundle them together in a pretty basket. Homemade gifts are a good choice whether your budget is big or small. Have a look on sites like Pinterest for ideas, there are so many wonderful things people have made it’s sure to inspire you! 

An experience day

If you’re looking on the shelves for presents and nothing seems quite right, why not gift an experience day instead of a physical item? It could be tickets to see a performer or a show at the theatre. It could be some pampering treatments at a spa or salon or even lunch or dinner at a fancy restaurant. It could be something you could do together, great for spending more time together if you don’t see them as much as you’d like. Or you could simply gift two tickets and let them choose who they bring- whether it’s a friend or even your dad. Instead of an item to unwrap you get to give them incredible memories and treat them to something that they might not have done for themselves.

A subscription

A magazine subscription is the obvious choice, but actually you can get subscriptions for anything these days. Food, beauty products, books, even tea and coffee. Rather than just a gift on Mother’s Day it keeps on giving, they will receive a treat in the post for the next three, six or twelve months depending on what you sign up for. Make sure you order early enough that the first box arrives for Mother’s Day, that way you can keep hold of it and give them the first one on the day. Or you could purchase a one off box to arrive as soon as possible, along with the subscription for future boxes.

Spend time on gift wrapping

The thought shown in a beautifully wrapped present might be lost on an excited child, but when it comes to your mother, it’s something they’re sure to really appreciate. Handing them a gorgeously wrapped gift shows that you’ve put time and effort into it, even if the gift itself isn't especially expensive. You can find so many gift wrapping ideas online. You could go with anything from rustic brown paper or coloured paper tied up with ribbons and strings, paper that you have printed or designed yourself or some gorgeous gift wrap from a store.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Bluestone Wales // Check-in, Buggy Hire and Accommodation Tour

Bluestone is the perfect place for the whole family to enjoy. Nestled in the beautiful Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, your arrival at Bluestone instantly transports you to a calmer way of living... a place where you can stop and be still and a place where the fun is free-range. It's a fantastic base for getting out there and exploring the surrounding area whilst still retaining that luxury holiday feel.

After a day of fun exploring everything that Bluestone has to offer, what's better than to return to a cosy warm lodge in the evening? 

Today I wanted to share a little tour of the lodge we stayed in on our recent trip to Bluestone. The range of accommodation available at the resort is impressive. There's everything from studio accommodation sleeping two people and cosy cottages to a wide range of lodges that sleep anywhere from four to fourteen people.

On this trip, we stayed in a Caldey Lodge which sleeps four people across two bedrooms. This is in fact the second time we have stayed in a Caldey Lodge and our return visit was just as good as the first. Everything was spot on and just right for us as a family.... the perfect place to relax, dine, wash and sleep!

Before I show you around our lodge though, I just wanted to quickly mention the check-in process when you arrive at Bluestone. It is all so easy and well thought out, arriving to our holiday destination couldn't have been more simple!

On the day of your arrival, you are welcome to use the facilities at Bluestone from as early as 11am and you can access your accommodation from 4:30pm. Perfect if you have travelled a long way as you don't have to worry about hanging around for check-in time. 

When you arrive at Bluestone, the road leads you to the 'welcome lodge' which is where you can check in. Yep, there's no having to park the car and find a reception.... the check-in is a drive through. This is so good when you have tired little people in the car! 

Once we arrived at the welcome lodge, we gave the member of staff our booking reference at the window and in return we were handed a super welcome pack which was complete with key cards for our lodge, swimming passes for the Blue Lagoon and an assortment of maps and details of all the activities that would be on during our stay. Basically everything you need to make the most out of your stay!

All checked in, we parked the car in the long stay car park and popped across the path to collect our golf buggy which we had pre-booked on the website. Bluestone prides itself on being a car free resort and we were keen to explore as much as possible so booking a buggy was the perfect solution. If I remember rightly it cost around £85 for five days and was worth every penny in my mind. We were keen to have a relaxing holiday, plus driving it around was so much fun! I really do recommend hiring one (or even a bike) if you want to take things a bit easier during your stay.

Once 4:30pm came, the barrier at the top of the car park lifted allowing us to take our car down to our lodge to unload our suitcases and food. Once unloaded it was time to take the car back to the long stay car park (which is free for the duration of your stay). 

And so, here is the Caldey Lodge we stayed at on this trip. 19 Augustus Way.   

Our lodge contained everything we needed for a wonderful stay. It was clean, modern, comfortable, warm and most importantly, safe and well equipped for children!  

Let me show you around! 

Our lodge had a nice little porch area which was the perfect place for removing muddy boots and wet coats. The porch led into a large open plan room which contained the living space, dining space and kitchen. I really grew to love the open plan way of life during our stay, it was lovely being able to cook and keep an eye on kiddo.... something that is much harder to do at home! 

The kitchen was well equipped and contained everything from fridge and mini freezer to a dishwasher. Everything was absolutely spotless and I had no problems finding anything when it came to making meals. 

The dining area by the french doors was such a lovely place to sit in the morning and enjoy a cup of tea. In fact, we all loved sitting around the table together planning the day ahead! We often spied bunnies, birds and all kinds of wildlife from the window which felt magical. Kiddo absolutely loved it!

In the kitchen, a starter pack had been left which included items such as bin liners, a small bottle of washing up liquid, dishwasher tablets and cleaning cloths. I thought that this was a nice touch and in fact, it kept us going all week (admittedly, we dined out a fair few times so there wasn't much washing up!).

Onto the bedrooms! Here is our double room which was super cosy. Not pictured is a large wardrobe containing a safe and a tall chest of drawers. We all slept amazingly well during our stay which was down to a combination of fresh air, long walks and those super comfy beds!

Also, I must point out that the blackout curtains were a m a z i n g. Such a great touch for families with children... kiddo actually slept in because the room was lovely and dark even though the sun was up! Hooray! 

The second bedroom was a twin and contained two single beds that had been pushed together. Again this room contained ample storage and those all important blackout curtains!  

We loved the decor in the bedrooms. Clean, contemporary and relaxing. We all slept so well during our stay, something that is really important to us on holiday! 

A travel cot is provided in every lodge if you have a baby with you, no mattress is provided for this though so you'll have to bring one along with you if you intend to use it! 

Before we move onto the final room of the lodge, I just wanted to quickly mention the TV in the living area. A DVD player is provided which we made use of on more than one occasion as the regular WiFi in the lodge was good but not good enough to stream movies/youtube at all on our iPads. I do believe you can upgrade your WiFi for a small price though this is an offer we didn't make use of as I feel that decent WiFi should come as standard as it does in other resorts! 

On the TV itself you'll find a special Bluestone channel which is the perfect place to find out more about the resort, whats on and much more information. A nice touch, once again!

Finally, on to the bathroom! A small but well equipped room containing all the essentials in a wet room setup. The shower worked perfectly, we loved the heated towel rail and also the illuminated mirror which was great for putting my makeup on in the morning! 

We have stayed at Bluestone twice now and have found that the quality of accommodation is consistently fantastic. Clean, comfortable, modern and well equipped.... what more could you want?! 

Have you stayed at Bluestone before? What do you think of the accommodation available at the resort? Let me know in a comment below! 

Monday, 20 March 2017

Our Holiday at Bluestone National Park Resort // 2017

I seriously have the post holiday blues this week. I'm currently sat typing this after a soggy, wet nursery run and in between trying to get all of our washing dry. I have a 'to do' list that fills an entire sheet of paper but hey, I'm going to forget that for a little while because today I wanted to share a few photographs from our break in Wales last week. It was absolutely wonderful

You might remember a couple of years ago we were very kindly invited to Bluestone National Park Resort for a stay. Kiddo was just a year old at the time and because we loved our time there so much (it's so child friendly), we always planned to return as soon as we could! 

A month ago I checked my inbox to find an email asking if we'd like to come and stay again and well, of course I said yes immediately! We were feeling very much ready for a break after a difficult winter and I couldn't wait to see how much Bluestone had changed over the last few years. I also couldn't wait to explore more now that kiddo is older!

I really want to share this holiday with you and there's so much I want to talk about so I'm going to spread it across a few blog posts. I'll be writing a post on things to do at Bluestone with a young child, I'll do a tour of our accommodation and also share where we ate though if there is anything you'd like me to talk about then please do get in touch!

As a family, we have a tendency to hardcore our holidays and try and do e v e r y t h i n g which usually results in us coming home feeling like we need another holiday to recover! This year though, I really want to conquer that FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and take a more relaxed approach to our holidays. 

At Bluestone we did just this. And? It. Was. Amazing. 

We still crammed in loads of stuff (there is so much to do at Bluestone and in the surrounding area) but we took it easy, slept well, ate well and for once, we actually came home feeling refreshed. This break was just what we needed and we've returned with a pocket full of wonderful family memories and feeling ready to take on the world. 

Thank you Bluestone

* We were provided with a Monday to Friday stay at Bluestone in exchange for an honest review