Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty Eight

Well I nearly catching my tail and I have made it to the end of the school term with my ‘Celebrating The Small Things’ series. I have to say that I’m dreading Oscar starting school but I will give me a chance to really get my working day in order and hopefully get more organised…well we will see!

This week I am taking about school awards, park trips and kids fashion.

Dot To Dot London – My blog covers such a variety of topics which I often think I should kerb to be a little more niche but then realise being a bit of everything opens up some great opportunities. One of which being kids fashion that I have a real passion for.

I have always loved kitting the kids out and to be honest their wardrobes are always way better than mine.

The other week I got the chance to go along to Dot London which is a press show for all kinds of fabulous children’s wear brands. There were some of my favourites there that I have worked with before such as Tootsa McGinty and some brand new companies that I can’t wait to see the Autumn/Winter.

Hours And Hours In The Park – One little thing I am certainly celebrating is the amazing weather we have been blessed with this year. We are huge fans of the great outdoors and it has been made so much more accessible with the sunshine on tap that we have had. I honestly don’t think we have had as many picnics and park trips as we have this year.

Feeling Proud – Izzy has just finished her first year at high school and I have to say I couldn’t be prouder of all she has achieved in her time there. She has never been naturally gifted when it comes to the academic side of life but she always gives her all and works to be best of her ability. This was recognised at the end of term when she received an award for all her efforts and I actually think I was happier than her about it!

Camp Bestival 2018 Highlights

All I can really say about Camp Bestival this year is, “you’ve done it again”.

Despite being battered by 50mph winds and torrential downpours Camp Bestival still managed to keep shinning and gave everyone a weekend to remember.

I’m not going to give you a blow by blow account of the whole weekend, as to be honest there is way to much to cram into one post, so instead I will give you the highlights of my amazing weekend and will have more posts to follow.

Food Glorious Food – When we first visited Camp Bestival three years ago now one of the biggest surprises for me was how amazing and varied the food on offer there is.

The moment we leave the car Izzy is on a mission to have her first Nutella and cream cover waffle whilst Darren finds it hard to move away from the Paella UK stall the entire weekend.

I however like to try something new each time we visit and for me it was DJ BBQ that tempted me this year with his woody flavoured pulled pork, crispy rustic chips and of course the fab tunes blasting out whilst waiting for your order. You really do get a feast for all your senses when you eat there.

Absolutely every taste is catered for from delicious maki rolls that are perfect for vegan diets, crispy breaded chicken, amazingly creamy mac ‘n’ cheese, corn on the cobs as big as your head and so much more!

Music, Singing, Dancing – One of the main attractions at Camp Bestival is the music and in the past the boys were a little young for us to really appreciate it due to the fact they got a little restless. This year however they fully embraced it all and we couldn’t be happier.

It as actually my youngest that made my weekend when we when to see YouTube star HRVY take to the stage in the big top. Izzy had left us all and weaved her way to the very front of the stage to get as close to her teenage crush as possible, while Oscar waited patiently on Darren’s shoulders for him to take to the stage.

His little face lit up and he spent the entire set transfixed on the stage, singing along to his favourite tunes. It so amazing that children so young can get the opportunity to enjoy the wonder of live music in such a safe and friendly atmosphere.

Sarah Cox wowed the crowds with an outstanding set of all our 80’s favourites that we took great pleasure in dancing along to whilst embarrassing the kids. Basement Jaxx and Clean Bandit were as awesome as I expected and we were thrilled that the boys managed to stay awake long enough for the later acts this year…with the help of a little sugar!

Doing It For The Kids – Ultimately Camp Bestival is all about the kids and this year as always there was something for them to do around every corner. This year we didn’t watch so much on the main stage although Dinosaur World Live was pretty amazing. Instead we spend a lot of time in the Kids Garden where the children got their craft on in the craft tent, turned into little einsteins in the Science Tent, wurled around on the helter skelter more times than I can remember, dug away in the sandpit and created some brilliant sandcastles.

A big hit with us was the LOL Surprise stand that was a real crowd pleaser. Izzy and the boys are all big fans of these little collectables and as you can imagine a whole area dedicated to them went down really well. They got to hunt for prizes in the ball pit, get a glittery makeover and even take to the catwalk that Izzy relished in.

All Mucking In – Camping is bundles of fun but far from easy, especially when there are a few little ones to sort out. This calls for everyone to have their own little tasks which is something they don’t really get involved with at home. I’m actually my own worst enemy and take care of all the cooking and cleaning at home for a quiet life so I love that Camp Bestival allows me to relax a little and hand the meal prep baton over to Darren, the washing up and water runs to Izzy and the tent cleaning to the little ones.
A bit of responsibility is certainly good for them and something I love to see.

Good Friends – Over the past few years Camp Bestival has been a brilliant place to make new and meet up with good friends. The blogging world is a funny one with a lot of friendships being built online and I love that Camp Bestival gives me the opportinity to meet with them at least once a year and have a good catch up over a cocktail or two! Aby from You Baby Me Mummy and Caro from The Twinkle Diaries being two of the lovelies I can’t wait to see each year.

Back To Basics – Every year I say the same thing but it always has and probably always will be the most import thing about Camp Bestival for me – family time.
We all spend way to much of our live lost in our own little words and rushing around worry about the next thing, tied to our smart phones and computer screens and forget about the things in life that are really import.
The ability to really get back to basics and forget about everything else for a few days is the perfect way to draw closer as a family and just enjoy each other.

If this sounds like the kind of place for you, and lets face it why wouldnt it! take a look HERE and get yourselves booked in for more fun next year.

*I went along as an ambassador for Camp Bestival and here are all my own honest opinions.

A Rainy Day At Chessington World Of Adventures

I’m sure you are all going to think I have completely lost my mind when I say this, but I absolutely love visiting Chessington World Of Adventures on a rainy day! Don’t get me wrong torrential rain and thunderstorms might make me think twice but a bit of rain never hurt anyone!

In fact for me I find there are a whole heap of benefits to visiting on a rainy day. I mean there are a fair few water rides in the park anyway so why not just embrace it as once you’re wet you’re wet!

We arrived on Friday and within minutes the heavens opened and we took shelter in the Smokehouse BBQ which was a great way to fill our bellies before we started the day.

They offer a great range of BBQ style food such as pulled pork, chicken and hot dogs served with crunchy chips, sweet potato fries and the best creamed sweetcorn I’ve tasted.

Full up and ready to face the showers we made our way to our first ride of the day which is always the Gruffalo River Ride, a favourite of the boys as well as mine. With the majority of the queuing done undercover and the ride itself inside we stayed pretty dry.

From here we moved onto the the Scorpion Express that my little adrenaline junkies love and I have to say speeding around the track whilst getting a face full of rain just added to the excitement.

Zufari was next on the list and I thought the animals might have been talking shelter so we were more than happy to see the giraffes and rhinos up close to the jeep in all their majestic glory.

Due to everyone being scared off by the weather the queue times were incredibly short for the summer holidays and we managed to get on all of our favourite rides within a few hours which allowed me some time to put my feet up in the cafe while the kids dried off in the Dragon’s Playhouse soft play area.

I feel like I’ve let you into a precious secret here but if you are not scared of getting a little wet then the short queue time, space inside restaurants and the calmer pace of things are definitely a huge bonus.

‘I am a Chessington Blogger Ambassador, I was given a Chessington Annual Pass to do this review with my family and I was not paid to do this post. If anyone would like to confirm any details in the post, please email press.office@chessington.co.uk’

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty Seven

This week sees me celebrating much loved toys, birthday celebrations and the love of small businesses.

Lego – Lego has been the most played with and loved toy in our house for over fifteen years now. Those little bricks that clog up the hoover and create the most excruciating pain when trodden on can be a nightmare to tidy away but I love the way it keeps them occupied for hours and always them to use their imagination in a whole host of ways.

Birthday Celebrations – With Oscar starting school this September it has been so lovely to have already meet some lovely Mums and their new starters.

I feel so lucky that my children attend a school where it is so family oriented and such great friendship groups are build for the parents as much as the children.

This has allowed Oscar to celebrate a birthday of one of his new found friends and who is is so eager to start his school life with in the next few weeks.

Book Launches – Through my work I have had the opportunity to work with some absolutely amazing companies and this is just one of the many reasons I love my job.

I do however have a real passion for smaller businesses that are just starting out in this very competitive and crazy world of business.

So when I was asked along to cover the launch of the lovely Kate Bodell’s first book I was so happy to be able to be part of her journey.

Going along and seeing the love and support she had from her doting family and friends was so special and I was so happy to be part of this.

Date Nights At David Lloyd

Date nights when you become parents can be few and far between. The guilt of taking time out for yourselves coupled with the need to find childcare and the logistics of simply leaving the house can be all to much sometimes and I know that this combination leads to my partner and I having very little time to ourselves.

When you finally find the time to take a few hours out to yourselves it then plays on your mind that this time could be spent doing other actives such as following that healthy living regime that is equally as hard to fit into your busy lives.

I know that my husband and I both thrive on having busy and full lives but it can at time be a real juggling act in which things need to be sacrificed.

One way that we have been making life a little easier though is to incorporate a training session at David Lloyd Health Clubs into our ‘date nights’.

As well as killing two birds with one stone training together holds a whole host of benefits:

Quality Time Together – Simply leaving behind the stresses of work and family is a huge benefit in itself and getting lost in your workout and releasing some of those feel good endorphins is a great way to spend a few hours.

Healthy Competition – I would say that the competitive edge in both of us is pretty high and we both thrive on this. Training alongside each other and wanting to be the best can only be healthy…not to say that this doesn’t lead to one or two arguments on occasion!

Better Between The Sheets – I was talking earlier about those endorphins that are released during exercise, the natural byproduct that is created when we train. Keeping fit will make you feel better about yourselves, boost confidence and make you happier which in turn will all help once you get back home!

David Lloyd not only offer a place to work up a sweat and train together, there is also the opportunity to wind down with a swim and a dip in the hot tub followed by a relaxing steam or sauna session.

After all this you can take some time out in the DLicious cafe and have a healthy bite to eat or treat yourself to a tipple or two! I have to say that on more than one occasion I have treated myself to a refreshing gin and tonic after a hard session!

If time has been really tight and we want to grab a hour to ourselves after the school run the fantastic range of childcare at David Lloyd also allows us a have a sneaky childfree breakfast whilst we are safe in the knowledge that Oscar is having a whale of a time in their creche.

If this post has got you thinking about taking some time out with your partner and getting fit too then take a look ‘here’ at everything David Lloyd health clubs have to offer.

*collaborated post

Crate Creatures Surprise:Review

Anything crazy looking, involving monsters and noise making is always a hit with Frankie and Oscar. Although I hate stereotypes my youngest two are definitely boisterous creatures and are always drawn towards toys that are a little bit naughty.

When I was asked to review ‘Pudge’ from Crate Creatures Surprise I knew they were going to be a big hit.

Pudge arrived caged and padlocked up and the boys took great delight in trying to crack the cage open and release the monster. Frankie could do this with ease and I loved the fact that aside from a few little bits of plastic there was no wasteful packaging as the cage could be used to store your new found friend.

Once freed the boys had a brilliant time pulling at his super long tongue that made his eyes glow bright as he shakes with temper that he has been pulled at! Although you need batteries for Pudge I was pleasantly surprised that there are batteries included to allow for a little play on demo mode which is pretty unusual and very welcome feature.

Just like the boys he is always hungry and pizza is definitely his meal of choice. He calls out to be fed pizza and makes noises of appreciation once he has chomped away.

Any kind of fast movements with him such a flipping and ticking will see Pudge squeal with delight which also had the boys in stitches.

I think one of the favourite features though was the response you get from him when spoken too…it has certainly been a breath of fresh air to have questions aimed at him rather than me!

There are four monsters to collect in total and each one has its own unique character offering a whole host of different features.

There is so much to love about these differnt creatures and they would make an absouotly great gift for both girls and boys.

*collaborated posts

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty Six

I am miles behind with these posts as I predicted I would be at the beginning of the year, but I’m going to try and play catch up with them as I’m very good at this and these posts are something I’ve really enjoyed and had great feed back about.

Coaxing The Teen From His Den – For those of you that follow my blog I’m sure that you will have noticed a bit of a gap when its comes to posting about my eldest son. This is not by choice or because he doesn’t want to be featured, it is purely because the lure of the Xbox is to great most of the time and quality moments are pretty rare.

However we had a pretty good run lately as he been taking part…and dare I say enjoying the Disney 24 Hour Challenge that we have been set.

The challenge in short is a way to encourage families to get active together in any kind of way you want. It has been a real breath of fresh air for us and we have thoroughly enjoyed spending time together in an active way and hope to keep it up even after the challenge has been completed.

Strawberry Picking – This is definitely one of my favourite simple pleasures in life and as soon as the sun shows his face I am eager to get out their and pick all those juicy strawberries.

It gives the children chance to run free and get to know a little more about where food comes from. It was always something I loved to do as a child and adore doing with my own.

Afternoon Naps – Oscar to me seemed to skip the toddler phase completely and moved straight onto a pre schooler. He has always been wise beyond his years, tackled toilet training at really young age, dressed independently for a long time and as for those longed for afternoon naps well they were given up at just over a year.

Although I love his fierce independence and grown up attitude I kind of feel robbed of those precious toddler years that seemed to skip by to quickly with him. So walking in on him curled up and fast asleep on my bed the other was a lovely reminder that he is still my little one that I have for a few more months yet.

Petit Fernand School Labels Review And Giveaway

The children may only have been broken up for a few weeks but this year I was determined to get ready for their return to school as early as possible. This is pretty out of character for me but I simply couldn’t stand the last minute panic of getting everything done.

One task that I generally avoid is the labelling of uniform! It really is a thankless task but absolutely essential if your children are anything like mine!

Coming out of school with half the stuff they go in with is a ritual for all of mine and if it wasn’t for labelling their clothes then nothing would find its way home.

When my eldest went to school the only thing on offer were the embroidered labels that had to be sown in by hand, this was something I always passed onto my Mum as she had way more patience and skill than me.

Thank goodness things have moved on a long way since then and the lovely people at Petit Fernand sent me one of their school packs to get me started this year.

Petit Fernand make a range of customised iron and stick on labels that are perfect for school clothes and any other personal belongings that you want to keep safe.

They labels are available to buy separately or in value packs that offer the perfect variety of labels for anything from school, nursery or holiday camps.

Oscar will be starting school this September so the School Pack was perfect for him. The pack contains 140 labels that are a mixture of stick on labels for items such as book bags and shoes and iron on labels that can be simply attached to items of clothing using the heat form your iron and take only 12 seconds to apply.

You can chose from a a variety of fonts, coloured backgrounds and most importantly for Oscar the theme…of which he chose a Capitain America shield. You can have pretty much anything from animals to fairytale characters, space themes to transport and so much more.

If you are looking for something a little extra then they also have adorable personalised water bottles and lunch boxes.

Oscar has absolutely fallen in love with his superhero inspired lunch box that is embellished across the top with his name. Just as you can with the labels, the lunch boxes can be created to suit your child’s style.

The bento style boxes comes with four separate compartments and an integrated ice box so that everything keeps its cool. Not only does it work really well cool it can also be used in the microwave to heat things up when they fancy a warm meal.

If you fancy trying out a school pack for yourself then go ahead and enter the competition below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

5 Things You Should Stop Wasting Your Money On

With it being summer holidays and the purse strings being pulled to the limit I have a great guest post to show you a few ways to save some pennies.

Everyone hates the idea of simply throwing money away, yet more of us do this every day than we realise. It’s easy to assume that you’re sticking to your budget and being as frugal as possible, until you start looking at your spending habits in depth and figuring out where all your cash actually goes each month.

Most people think that the only way to positively transform their spending habits, is to avoid spending money on the things that they enjoy, like evenings out with their friends or fun trips with the family. However, we think the best thing you can do is stop wasting your money on these things first:

1. Gym Memberships

Unless you’re a professional athlete, or you’re training for a local event or marathon, there’s a good chance that you don’t really need a gym membership. The truth is that you can get all the exercise you need to be fit and healthy without paying a huge fee every month. All you need to do is invest in some weights and create a fitness regime you can follow at home.

Even walking to work instead of driving can help to make you fitter and ensure that you save money at the same time. Not only are gym memberships unnecessary, but most of us fail to use them properly too. We invest in memberships with good intentions, then simply leave them in our bags, never to be used. Don’t spend money on a gym membership that does nothing for you.

2. Utilities

There’s a good chance that you won’t be able to give up on paying for utilities altogether – unless you plan on going to live in a tent and cooking your food over an open flame. However, that doesn’t mean that you should continue paying for deals that aren’t giving you the best value for your money.

Countless people over-spend on their utilities simply because they fail to check online for better offers from other vendors. You’d be surprised how much you can save simply by investing a little bit of time into comparing your options online. Check every few months to find out whether you’re still getting the best deal for your needs.

3. Phone Lines

Let’s face it, how often do you actually use your phone line? Many homeowners today are paying anywhere between £10 and £20 a month for a home phone line that they never use, as part of a deal for broadband, phone calls and television channels. Cutting your phone out of your deal could be a great way to cut costs – particularly if you make all your calls via your smartphone anyway.

While you’re getting rid of your phone line, it’s worth thinking about whether you can save cash by abandoning your television channels too. You can find plenty to watch through cheaper streaming services like Amazon and Netflix these days.

4. Food

Like your utilities, your food is something that you can’t simply do without. However, most of us spend more than we need to on food, simply because we assume that we need more than we do. Before you go out shopping, make a list of everything you need for the meals in the week ahead. Remember to check your freezer and pantry for things that you have that you can use going forward. This will help you to avoid leaving items in your deep-freeze for months at a time.

When you’re out at the supermarket, stick to your list – no matter how tempted you might be to buy something on offer. If it helps, try eating before you go shopping so you’re less likely to stray away from the list. Remember to stay away from big-name brands too. Most of the own-brand products include exactly the same ingredients for a much lower price.

5. Excess Interest

Just like you can potentially get a better deal on your utilities by comparing your options online, you can also get a better deal on your credit card and loan balances by making sure that you search for the best offers online.

If you think that you’re over-spending on your interest payments, look at reconsolidating your loan to reduce the cost of your monthly repayments. For bigger loans like mortgages, there’s also the option to re-mortgage with a different lender if you think you can get a better deal. Just make sure that you take the fees of changing your loan into account when assessing your options.

*collaborated post

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty Five

This week has been a real mixture of sentimentality, celebrating new challenges and making new friends.

17 Years Of School Runs – It was only the other day when I was taking the obligatory video of my feet for Instastories on the school run that I realised my little toes had been doing the school run for the past 17 years! There have been different schools, we have taken different paths but ultimately I have wracked up a fair few miles over the years and still have plenty more to go and I love it!

Facebook Live – This was actually a pretty big one for me but wanted to celebrate it as it was a big step in my confidence journey.

I was lucky enough to go along to Mumsnet Head Quarters in Kentish Town to film a Facebook Live to let everyone know about the Disney 24 Hour Challenge that I am taking part in.

Not only did I face my fear of the camera I also had the added pressure of it all going live which aside from a massively dry mouth and sweaty palms I got through. I had some help and encouragement from the lovely Franca from A Moment With Franca and Amie from Mumnet and thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

Oscar’s New Friends – When my older children started school it pretty was just that. There were no meet the teacher days or picnics to welcome the children and their families, we were all just thrown in at the deep end and had to deal with it.

Over the years this transition has become much more of an event and our lovely local softplay organised a meet up for children starting reception at our school. It was a great chance for the children to meet their new friends and the parents to meet over a coffee and of course a big boy of cake!