A Candy Making Masterclass With Spun Candy

[GIFTED] As usual today my sense of direction failed me and we ended up crashing and bashing our way into Spun Candy in East London.

Luckily we were greeted by the lovely Hannah who got us all set and ready to join the rest of the group who were all there to take part in a candy making masterclass.

All set to go and a little more relaxed after a glass of Prosecco was placed in my hand the two bubbly confectioners talked us through the art of making handmade hard and soft rock confectionery.

We were guided through the process of the heating of the sugar, the addition of the colours and flavours and finally the mixing of it all until we finally got to see the final product.

I have watched bits and pieces on the TV before but nothing is like seeing how much thought, care, attention and elbow grease goes into this process.

A huge sticky horn of goodness was created and now it was our turn to get hands on and make our very own lollies.

We were shown a couple of examples to try and were also encouraged to use or own ideas and imaginations to make something that was very much our own labour of love.

There was help every step of the way and I relished in watching the children just go for it and try their best to come up with some amazing creations.

The boys ran back and forth grabby pieces of candy and eagerly asking for help to come up with new ideas and I was super impressed with how well they both did; but I have to say I was pretty taken back by how engrossed the class kept Izzy.

This holiday the teen has certainly been unleashed and I can count on one hand the amount of actives that haven’t caused an eye roll or a deep breath at every moment. Instead she took in all the information, exclaiming it was like a fun science lesson and then really let her creative side out which meant so much to me and was lovely to see.

At the end of the class we all gathered in the shop at the front of the store where there were the most amazing lollies on display…Donald Trump seemed to go down a treat with the boys!

We were all awarded a certificate for our hard work and it was lovely to listen to everyone congratulating each other.

Spun Candy offer a whole host of different masterclass and parties to suit a range of different tastes and after such a great experience today I urge you to take a look as there was so much fun had by all!

A Child Friendly Escape With The Esplanade Hotel

[PRESS TRIP] For me the words ‘hotel’ and ‘child friendly’ are not something that go hand in hand and I almost always opt for self catering with the family as I find it easier to keep the children happy and I don’t have to worry about them all annoying other guests!

However when The Esplanade Hotel asked me to come and stay for a few days I was eager to see how we would all get on.

I haven’t been to Cornwall since I was a child and for a long time I have wanted to return with the children as I knew it was going to be somewhere we would love and I wasn’t wrong.

As soon as we arrived at Fistral Beach the view took my breath away and the children were itching to dip their toes into the inviting sea and as we were a little to early to check in we did just that.

The children ran on ahead with Frankie exclaiming ‘this is the best day of my life’ and it was then I knew that seven hour car journey had been worth it.

Sopping wet, caked in sand and ready to see where we would be staying we took the short walk back to the hotel and this is when my anxiety kicked in.

We were more than a little windswept and I was panicking about walking into the beautiful hotel reception in such a state of disarray, but all those worries were lifted when we were greeted by a warm smile and not a judgmental look in sight; In fact while the receptionist was getting everything sorted my gaze was drawn to a huge trunk with a sign above encouraging the children to borrow buckets and spades and enjoy the beach as well as a board full of children’s activities from pizza making to arts and crafts, doughnut decorating to bingo and a whole host of other things to keep the children entertained.

From this alone I could tell that the hotel was more than child friendly and certainly settled my nerves.

We headed up our room to clean up and I was really surprised at how spacious the room was. There was a huge double bed, a set of bunk beds and a sofa bed in a little anex off of the main room which was perfect to create an area that the older children could use to get a bit of time away from the little ones. This also lead onto a decked area that I enjoyed sitting on in peace watching the sunrise before the children got up!

The room had everything you could need for your stay and included a lovely personal touch of buckets and colouring books with the children’s names embellished on them. My preconceived ideas of a hotel stay being stressful were being quashed at every turn.

All settled in the children were eager to take part in the ‘build a bear’ session which was a really relaxed activity where they got the chance to make a bear of their own whilst making some new friends.

We were all ravenous by now and headed to the restaurant for dinner. We were seated by the window and the view alone was worth eating at The Esplanade. The friendly waitress went through the menu with us and although there was a separate menu for the children they also gave you the option to select anything from the main menu and they would make up a smaller portion which is always something I love to see.

I can honestly say that each and every dish was absolutely outstanding. From my soft and flavoursome breaded Brie to the creamy seafood linguine my meal couldn’t be faulted in any way.

The children made their way through all three courses and enjoyed every mouthful and it was lovely to see them have something that wasn’t based on the usual ‘beige’ offerings a lot of restaurants offer.

After a good nights sleep it was more food on the menu and on the proclamation of Izzy (an extremely opinionated teen) it was the best breakfast she had ever had, with top marks going to the buttery, flaky croissants.

The buffet style breakfast offered a huge range from a full English to fresh fruit and yoghurt, a great selection of pastries and all kinds of cereals.

I think it was definitely the pancake station that won Oscar over though!

The children were certainly in need of running some of the sugar off so we headed to the soft play area that was perfect to keep them entertained and let off some steam before we made our way for a dip in the pool.

The pool was perfect for the children and they were over the moon that they were allowed in the jacuzzi as this is so often of limits for little ones.

Whilst we were enjoying a bit of water play we stayed with the theme and headed to the Quicksilver Surf school that is attached to the hotel for our surf lesson.

Fistral beach is famous for its surfing and it would be a crime to not have a go whilst staying at the hotel.

We meet our instructor JJ who was young, bubbly, full of fun and hugely passionate about surfing which really helped to keep the children engaged.

After our pep talk we hit the sea and put what we had learnt into practice. Izzy was annoyingly a natural and took to it straight away whilst it took me a good few attempts to even get to my knees.

Oscar in hindsight was a little young and even though he gave it a good go it wasn’t really for him, but Frankie relished in every moment and hasn’t stopped talking about JJ since!

Fistral Beach really does have so much to offer and aside from the surfing we spent plenty of time swimming, rock pooling and strolling along in the evening watching the sunset.

We came away from our stay with a new found love of Cornwall, a new set of skills by the way of surfing and a realisation that a hotel stay with children needed been something to worry about when a hotel like The Esplanade has got it so right.

It was the perfect combination of somewhere for the children to explore and enjoy freely with a touch of something special for the adults too.

We have been missing those sea views in the morning and will certainly be back to visit very soon.

My Top Ten Cheap Summer Holiday Activities

I love having the kids home for the summer…well most of the time, but my purse certainly feels the strain so I always try to find as many cheap activities to get us out of the house as I can I have have listed my top ten here for you to take a look at.

  • IKEA – This Is my saviour at least a couple of times during the holidays. We head over there early to grab their cheap breakfast and avoid the queues and then the kids absolutely love walking around and playing house in all the different room set ups. As long as I can resist popping candles and pot plants into my trolley then it makes for a really cheap day out.
  • Swimming – Over the summer months a lot of council run pools offer free or heavily subsidised swimming for kids. This is perfect to keep my teens busy for free as well as the little ones. Check out Croydon Pools or Donyings, Redhill if you are a Surrey local.
  • The Library– Most libraries run a reading scheme over summer that gives the children a chance to use the library and gain merits of different kinds once they complete different stages.
  • Fruit Picking – This is something I love as much as the children to be honest. They get the chance to see where the fruit is grown and then can go home and enjoy the fruits of their labour.
  • Soft Play – To be honest soft play is never my first choice of activity but the kids absolutely love it and many independent soft play facilities such as Little Lambs Soft Play have some great offers running over this period.
  • National Trust – We have had a National Trust card for a few years now and it really is so worth the money. A couple of trips and you will have covered the years membership and it gives you a whole hosts of homes and gardens to discover and lots of activities to take part in once you’re there.
  • Play Dates – A change is as good as a rest so they say. Sharing play dates is a great way to get out of the house, see friends and save on having a big day out.
  • The Park – For us a trip to the park is good wherever the weather. There is puddle jumping when the rain shows it’s face or bug hunting and picnicking when the sun comes out to play.
  • Hit The Beach – A trip to the beach is great whatever the weather too. For the price of a packet of chips or an ice cream you can have a whole day of exploring.
  • Food Shopping – Now this one is a little random but all my children have loved to help with the food shop. They can read items off the list and find them on the shelves and even get all the ingredients to then get home and help out with dinner. For me it’s an essential thing to do that can be made fun!

Simple Happy Parenting:Book Review And Giveaway

[AD] I’m not going to lie, since my last two came along parenting has taken a completely new turn for me and has become a whole lot harder than it ever was with my first three.

I have spent so much time trying to work out what has changed. Has my will become a little broken with the more children that have been added, is it the fact that they are both very strong willed boys close in age, is it that I haven’t been as strict with them, is it I’m older and feeling the strain more. The list really has been endless and I am still in search of the answer to make for an easier and happier home life.

The combination of a large family and busy work lives makes things pretty manic and I do thrive off of the hustle and bustle of a large family but sometimes it really does take its toll and a quieter, more relaxed pace of life would be a welcome change.

When I was asked to review the book – Simple Happy Parenting I was immediately taken in with its promise to show the secret of less for calmer parents and happier kids.

The basis principles were put together after Denaye Barahona had her first child and found herself trying to give her all to her children by ways of gifts and activities which I’m sure we are all guilty off and actually realising that maybe this isn’t the best thing for them and a simple way of parenting is more beneficial to you all.

By simply buying less, fearing less, referring less and entertaining less we can make a happier life for the whole family.

This is all done in stages and over the summer I am going to implement some of these strategies to see if they can help us.

First up is to have a declutter to make for a simple family home and this is something I going to get the children involved in and explain to them that they don’t need such an abundance of ‘stuff’.

It’s not only going to be toys, it will be their wardrobes and mine and my husbands too!

With step one complete it will be time to move onto meal planning. This is something that I can actually say I’m already pretty good at but getting the kids involved is something I don’t always do enough so this will certainly be happening more.

For me the next steps will be a little harder as it involves slowing things down, letting the children get bored and find amusement for themselves and letting them explore and adventure without any fear from you.

All of these tips seem so easy to implement and it certainly sounds like a much more relaxed, happier and easier way of life and I am going to enjoy reaping the benefits.

If this sounds like something that your family would benefit from then I have three copies of the book to giveaway over on Instagram so click HERE for your chance to win.

The Perfect Way To Show Off Your Art With eFrame

[AD] Since moving I have found a new passion for art and filling my walls with colour has become something I absolutely love.

Our dining room was very bare and I wanted two large prints that would make a real statement rather than the gallery wall style I using opt for.

The prints arrived and I feel in love with them but I hadn’t taken into consideration the size and soon realised that after exhausting all usual places for frames I wasn’t going to get something off the shelf and needed something customised.

This however came with a pretty hefty price tag until I came across eFrame. They offer a fantastic customised service at brilliant prices and I can honestly tell you I wouldn’t go anywhere else for frames now with frames starting as little as £9 and mounts for a mere 40p!

eFrames allow you to get the exact frame to suit your artwork/pictures in just a few simple clicks and even have a section for you to browse to get some inspiration if you are not sure what look to go for.

You can chose from a variety of different materials and colours and can opt for it to be mounted too if needed.

With my prints being pretty bright I wanted a dark frame to show this off and to give a good contrast against the white walls.

The frames arrived within a matter of days and were super easy to use. The frames were off a super high quality.

eFrame off an all round fantastic service and I couldn’t recommend them enough, I particularly intrigued about there new service where you can upload a photo to their site and it comes printed, mounted and frames for you so I think I will be trying this out very soon!

Finding The Right Broadband Deal For You

When it comes to household essentials I would say for us good connection to the internet is essential. My husband and I both rely on it heavily for work, the youngest two use it to watch their favourite tv shows and as for the teens well it would be like cutting off a limb if we got rid of it!

We have always opted for fibre broadband as it provides super fast connection through fibre optic connections to the copper cabling that would already be in home from existing phone lines. These cables transfer data at super high speeds and can cover a great range of distances.

It can however be a bit of a minefield when it comes to choosing a provider and there are a lot of factors to consider before you make your final decision:

  • How many people using the connection – This is a big consideration for us as we have such a large number of people in the house using the internet at any given time so we need a package that can cope well with this.
  • Who supplies your area – It is all well and good to pick a provider that will offer you the best service but it is essential you check to see if they cover your area as without that the deal is worthless.
  • What speed do you need – Some people are happy with a slower connection time that will save them a little money wise. We however are usually on a pretty tight schedule so speed is the key for us. This also needs to be thought about if you like to download a lot of movies and tv shows as your connection needs to be able to cope with the demands of this.
  • Do you want an entire entertainment package – We actually got rid of our tv entertainment package a few years ago now but a lot of people still like to have the option to have this alongside their broadband so would be something to look into if this is you.
  • Budget This should probably be ranked at the top of the list but I think all of the other options need to be thought about before you find an entire package that suits you and your family. Getting all the things you need for a good price is ultimately what most of us want and those are some great comparison sites that can do just this for you.
  • I would love to know if there are any other things you consider before choosing your home broadband.
  • Top Five European Destinations Everyone Should Visit

    [AD] Whether you want a city break, a beach location, or even a skiing resort, Europe has it all. Since there are so many places to see and destinations to enjoy, it can be challenging to decide where to go. There are many European destinations that people often forget about in our beautiful world! After a lot of research and dreaming of the perfect holiday, below is a list of the top destinations that I think everyone should visit. 

    Madrid, Spain

    Tourists often overlook the capital and largest municipality of Spain, Madrid for its counterpart, Barcelona. The city lies on the River Manzanares and has a rich culture that is evident from when you arrive. Madrid is known for its entertainment, fashion and education, and as well as this, it holds an art status for one of the world’s major leading artistic cities. In 2017, it was named the 10th most liveable city in the world, and its popularity is only increasing over time. 

    Bari, Italy

    A reinvigorated old town, Bari was once filled with boarded up stores and empty tourist locations. However, after multiple cosmetic changes and a lot of hard work, tourists can’t get enough of this beautiful city. The nightlife is great, but the cocktails on offer here are better, the streets are now safer, and the surrounding beaches will for sure make you want to take Instagram pictures for your following to see. Bari is finally bouncing back into the European spotlight. 

    Manchester, United Kingdom

    Another regenerated city that is worth a visit is Manchester in the UK. Property investment companies like RW Invest have taken advantage of the market with many burgeoning residential and student developments. The city has never seen so much energy and passion. Located in the North West of England, Manchester is full of history, architecture and media links. It’s a popular destination for tourists due to vast shopping complexes, as who doesn’t love to shop till they drop! The regeneration and new developments in Manchester have allowed hundreds of young professionals and students to move to the city, and there are new restaurants and bars are being opened daily. 

    Istria, Croatia

    For all of those food lovers out there, Istria may be your new ideal location. The history of Istria is vast and vibrant, which makes it popular with local Italian tourists and those coming from international countries too. If you visit, you won’t be short of things to do while you’re exploring the city. From gourmet cycle tours during the spring months, to music festivals in the summer, and hunting excursions come autumn. It may not be a tropical Hawaiian island, but the weather during the summer months can get hot, meaning the beaches fill up with visitors quickly!

    Poznan, Poland

    Once named Poland’s most colourful city, Poznan is nestled towards the North of Poland. Visit places like the old market square, or try a boat tour on Lake Malta. There is an endless opportunity for adventure in Poznan. The gothic architecture and beautifully painted houses are a sight to see. It’s more than worth a visit if you’re around the area, as people often forget about Poznan because there is such an array of things to do elsewhere in Poland.

     

    Daily Goal Planner And Giveaway

    [AD] I am notorious for my lack of organisation, love of procrastination and can usually be found somewhere compiling a list on an old envelope which will within minutes be lost and forgotten about.

    This skill set doesn’t really lend itself well to a self employed mother of five and for as long as I can remember it has been something I just wish I could change.

    With each new year comes a new zest to make it work and within a few months things are back to normal and I am chasing my tail with little knowledge of what is going on with my week ahead.

    When I was asked to try out the Daily Goal Setter from Mal Paper I thought this might be the perfect opportunity to get myself into a little more order.

    I continually feel that I have hundreds of tabs open in my head and none of them are complete and ready to close; so this planner has been a great way to dump the junk in my head onto paper and get it into some kind of order.

    The goal setter starts off with a great introduction on how you can segment your day and get it into order. It allows to to scribble down goals you have for the short term and long term which is a great way to start thinking positively about life as a whole.

    Things are then broken down and you can fill out tasks ranked in order of importance for your week ahead.

    Breaking it down even further you can do a day by day list of tasks and notes that are interspersed with sections for you right down things you are grateful for, daily affirmations and great things that have happened to you that day.

    For me life can sometimes get a little mundane and it can be hard to see all the good things that have happened day to day so I think having this allows you to take a moment to think of simple pleasures that have pleased you or have made you proud is a great way to make things a little more interesting and grateful.

    My evenings are often spent scrolling aimlessly through my phone and this has given me a little outlet to be more organised, grateful and productive and I highly recommend you take a look.

    If it sounds like something that would benefit you then click HERE for your chance to win your very own copy.

    The Cutty Sark:A Day Out For All The Family

    [AD] I am ashamed to say that although the Cutty Sark is less than an hour away from us I have never visited, either alone or with the children. It’s one of those places that is so close I’ve simply overlooked it and never made the trip.

    However during the half term holidays we were invited along and I was as excited as the children to have our first visit.

    After a short journey that was made extra special with a trip on the Docklands Light Railway – another first that I highly recommend if you have little ones we arrived and were immediately taken aback with the sheer beauty and splendour of the ship.

    There was no queue at all to get on which is always a bonus when you have children as hyperactive as mine. There is the option to take in the sights of a ship with an interactive guide that talks you though each and every step; but the boys are a little more hands on and decided they just wanted to go ahead and get exploring.

    A big worry for me was that the whole set up would be more aimed at adults but this couldn’t be further from the truth. All three of the magnificent decks have been geared up for inquisitive little fingers which certainly placated my nerves.

    The lower deck was the first to be explored and it gave you the first insights into the history behind the tea clipper and how and where it carried its precious cargo. It also allowed you to witness the skeleton of the ship and just how much detailed is in the inner workings. The boys were absolutely amazed by the length and the thickness of the huge chains that would have anchored the ship down all those years ago.

    Next up was the middle deck which was definitely the area my boys enjoyed the most. There was a special bench that mimicked the movement of the ship, lots of wooden toys for tiny ones to get their fingers on, a chance to sail your very own ship and a whole host of interactive displays to explain what everyday life would have been like onboard.

    For me it had to be the top deck that was most impressive. The beautiful glossy wood and brass fittings along with the masses of ropes the seemed to fill the sky really was an amazing sight to see.

    The boys ran up and down the decking and exclaimed, “we feel like a Goonie”. They loved being able to get inside the sleeping quarters to try out the bunk beds, peep through the port holes and take a look at the grand dinning area and see where all the food would have been prepared.

    The last port of call was to take a look under the boat. I was just expecting an area to take a look at the ship itself but it was in fact a really laid back, peaceful area where you can grab a bite to eat, sit down and take in the beauty on the boat or indeed the stunning views of London from the viewing gallery or take part in one of the many activities on offer for the children.

    Whist we were there there was a big group of children all playing a game to help them understand a little more about the ship in a really fun way(you can check out the highlights on my instastories to see a little more).

    My preconceived ideas of what the day was going to hold we’re completely smashed after our visit. I took on a whole host of knowledge from the trip as well as the boys and it is definitely well worth a visit.

    There is so much for the children to see and do and if you check out Royal Museums Greenwich they will keep you updated on all the fun things on offer for the family such as toddler time, meet the captain and Cutty Sark characters and lots more.

    Just Go To Bed!

    It’s Friday night and I’m sitting here writing this at gone 10pm, wrinkled from hiding in the bath at my absolute whits end after seven years of no sleep.

    Tonight really has pushed me to my limits and after three hours or pleading, bribery, shouting and crying I really am lost at what to do.

    The oldest three weren’t bad sleepers. I had a few problems over the years with my eldest but all in all bedtimes were pretty much the same routine of bath, book, bed and there they stayed.

    Then along came my fourth. He didn’t really get off to a good start as he suffered terribly with food allergy related eczema that keep him awake at night. I felt terribly for him and night after night would be spent applying creams and trying to sooth him back to sleep. Breastfeeding was a huge comfort for him and for the first few years he spent each and every night in my bed on and off the boob to give both me and him some much needed rest.

    Fast forward a little and the allergies were under control as was the eczema and I had said goodbye to our breast feeding journey but the sleep problems were well and truly still there and to be honest now at the age of seven nothing much has changed, in fact over the past year things have got worse and it is really taking its toll on me.

    You name it I’ve tried it! We’ve gone through countless pillow sprays, special bedtime stories, meditation apps, the list really is endless. There may have been a little light relief every now and then and all this false hope would come flooding in and then bang – right back to square one.

    I’ve sat tirelessly outside his bedroom in the hopes he will drift off to sleep, tried the ‘Super Nanny’ method of returning him every time he leaves his room, none of which have had any effect. He unfortunately inherited my stubborn pigheadedness and it is a standoff between us both and I have to say each and every night he wins.

    When he does eventually decide he can’t take anymore and drifts off it’s not long before he is making his way into our bed, usually closely followed by his younger brother and here starts the next leg. Flying limbs in everyone’s face, the arguing over who is in who’s space and before you know it the alarm is going off and I am ready to face the day on a few broken hours sleep yet again.

    I have to say that over the years I have grown accustom to the lack of sleep and seem to mange pretty well on this but I’m not so sure it’s the same for this little one and I worry what effect it is having on him in terms of his health and learning as it can’t be doing him any good.

    For me the major problem is missing those few hours of time to myself before I hit the sack. A child that won’t go to bed coupled with the demands of two teenagers in the evening, mixed in with all the other admin of life that needs to get done leaves a window of about 30 mins for me to switch off unless I want to push my bedtime back until about 2am.

    I try to remind myself of the quote ‘motherhood – the days are long but the years are short’.

    With grandchildren of my own already I know this too well but I can’t help but feel if my days were a little shorter those years would be they little bit more enjoyable!