Saturday, 13 October 2018

10 Things I Learnt From Attending My First Kids Halloween Party

This post is one from the archives. From back when I only had one child and everything was new...including Halloween with kids. Enjoy!

I attended my first kids Halloween party yesterday, something I have managed to avoid miss out on since Ted has always been too small. However this year with his love of all things Halloween and an invitation from a friend we took a step into the unknown and I learnt a lot along the way! 

1. My friend Jess has balls! Not hairy man balls though...just seriously brave ones! 

2. I can totally pull a costume together in 5 minutes. (Ted changed his mind as we were about to leave the house)

3. Donning a pair of epic homemade Maleficent horns makes for uncomfortable driving.

4. Get petrol the day before and not whilst dressed up in said Maleficent horns.

5. Toddlers don't know who the F' this Maleficent chick is. FYI...I was not a cat!

6. I did well to check if all parents were dressing up beforehand.

7. My son is awesome! He settled in despite not knowing anyone and wasn't the slightest bit worried. 

8. I will never again attempt to judge a party game for a room full of toddlers dressed up. They are too cute to judge and you will fail.

9. It is best to try and ignore the amount of junk food your child is eating and instead of worrying...join in! 

10. 20 small children, just as many adults, sweets, cakes and cobweb will come out looking worse than you went in's good fun! *brushes cobwebs and toddler lick from trousers*

***Top tip...Roll with it!***

Monday, 27 August 2018

Our First Glamping Trip - Ready Camp Canterbury

Where has the summer gone? A week or so until the kids go back to school and the weather has suddenly turned. It may be drizzly outside this bank holiday but we have had some sunny days. We also managed to squeeze a weekend break to the seaside in which was long overdue. We had heard about Ready Camp after reading reviews from The Mummy Adventure and Just Eilidh so decided to take a small step into the world of camping with two small children. 

We don't own any camping equipment and had considered borrowing from family but the thought of erecting a tent with a toddler in tow filled us with dread. Ready Camp was the perfect option. Pre-erected canvas tents, proper beds and a kitchen sounded so much easier for us and at under £300 for three nights was affordable for the summer holidays.

We hunted on the website for the best location and after considering Cambridge we settled on Canterbury due to how many seaside towns were nearby. The drive from Northampton took a lot longer than we had predicted and after stopping for some lunch we arrived in Whitstable (our first stop before checking in) to a LOT of rain. Deciding that a rainy day at the seaside wasn't ideal we popped to Tesco and picked up some supplies then headed to our camp site. 

Ready Camp is part of The Camping and Caravanning Club with the glamping tents being in a corner of the site. We initially were asked which tent we would like and thinking about our own children and keeping them occupied we opted for the tent nearest to the play park (we soon regretted that decision!). The tent was gorgeous though and a lot more comfortable than I expected. We had taken our own bedding as it isn't supplied but this meant we had our own duvet and pillows which automatically made it feel more like home. We had however forgotten Callie's travel cot (school boy error) meaning she would have to attempt to sleep in a proper bed.

The site was clean and well managed. Site staff were really helpful and friendly and when we arrived the site was silent. Unfortunately our first night soon began to go downhill. The silence was broken when our 'neighbours' arrived. One family arrived at 8pm and and sat talking loudly into the night and another family decided 11pm was a suitable time to use the play park. They were sat in the park 3 meters from our tent with torches so that their kids could play...

Callie was in our bed all of the first night as she was so unsettled. I must have walked to the toilet 6 times before we eventually fell asleep at just gone midnight and were woken at 5am shivering as our duvet wasn't as warm as we thought. There is a heater in the tent but we had turned it off for safety...lesson learnt it gets cold in the night! 

Anyway. That was just the first night. Determined not to be defeated we had a cooked breakfast, washed up and got ourselves ready for a day at the seaside. We were off to Margate! A Jolly Boy's outing at last. I had watched Only Fools and Horses growing up yet had never visited this iconic seaside town so now was my chance. We had also been given tickets for Dreamland to review for them (post to follow) and the kids were really excited! 

We had a great morning, it was Margate Pride so the place was buzzing. Lunch was Peters Fish Factory (easily the best fish and chips I have had in years) and when we had explored enough we bundled into the car and headed along the coast to Ramsgate to visit my lovely friend Becky (The Mummy Adventure) and her children. FYI the donuts on Ramsgate seafront were 100% better than the Margate ones! 

Our kids got on so well with Becky's and after stuffing our faces with Papa John's (yep more junk food) packing our car with a borrowed travel cot and extra blankets we headed back to our tent for a much better night. We were warm and cosy, the neighbours kept the noise down and the kids slept straight through. Finally some sleep! 

The next day we headed back to Whitstable which is such a beautiful place. A proper coastal town without all of the arcades and funfairs. Much slower paced. We had a mooch around had some lunch at Wee Willie Winkles then as more rain began to fall we hopped back in the car and off to Canterbury. We really wanted to visit as many places as possible in our short time in Kent and Canterbury is fab! 

The weather really wasn't on our side though so after a couple of hours we headed back to the camp site for another pizza tea and the kids enjoyed a bit of time playing before bed. Our final night matched our first night with the kids from over the way (some teenagers too) staying on the park next to us until way after dark. They hit our car with a football too at one point with no apology when we went out to check on it. Eventually at 11ish they were told to go back to their own tent's leaving us to get some sleep. 

Waking up on our final morning we had managed to get a relatively ok sleep. We packed up and headed out early to drop our borrowed items to Bex and then spent the day at Lakeside shopping centre with my Auntie and cousins before heading home. 

We honestly can't fault Ready Camp. Their site was clean, facilities excellent, staff friendly and prices reasonable. Had we ended up with more considerate families around us and better weather our weekend could have been amazing. That said we still had a great time. The kids enjoyed being outside lots and we can now tick Kent off our places to visit list. 

We aren't completely put off camping but perhaps will wait a few years before attempting it again. Once the kids are older it will be easier and we certainly won't make the mistake of choosing a pitch next to the park again! 
*Just to note we paid for our accommodation it was only Dreamland that was covered for review. All opinions on this post are my own.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Bambo Nature Press Launch at Kelmarsh Hall and Gardens

We were recently invited to an event at the very beautiful Kelmarsh Hall and Gardens in Northamptonshire by a new environmentally friendly family brand called Bambo Nature
The event was to launch their new vegan and cruelty free skincare range as well as showcasing their eco nappies and wet wipes

The event was planned with children and babies at the forefront. The whole day was hands on and relaxed, plenty of activities to keep little ones entertained and boy was Callie entertained! We were introduced to the brand and given a bit of background into the ethos and history. 

Their nappies are Skin-Friendly with no dangerous chemicals and or allergens. Eco-Friendly using sustainable resources and less waste. Sleep-Friendly with maximum absorbency and are ultra-soft and flexible.

After we had the chance to meet the brand and take a look at the products the tiny babies were given massages with parents getting guidance from Emma at Tiny Toes Reflexology Callie however was never going to sit still long enough for a massage and got stuck in to some craft activities with amazing natural materials. We crafted a stunning dream catcher which I am in love with and Callie loved threading the wooden beads and bamboo...mostly onto Mummy's fingers! 

We then had a mini photo shoot with Natalie from Imaging Eye Photography. She was great with Callie and really made her relax in front of the camera. She already has her 'Cheese' face down to a tee but I think all of the candid photos taken throughout the day were perfect too. 

After a spot of outdoor painting we all enjoyed a delicious lunch complete with the yummiest victoria sponge and I was able to sit down and talk to a couple of other bloggers and the brand themselves. We talked about Callie's sensitive skin and I was able to try some of the Splish Splash Bath Oil out on her arms. It is fragrance free and felt really gentle and soft. She has mild eczema so I am always cautious about trying new products but they are really good. 

We were sent home with some products to try out, the nappies fit perfectly, are absorbant but thin and flexible. The wipes come in a larger pack size which is great and they aren't super soapy or heavily scented like other wipes on the market. Most of all though we wanted to try out the Bath Buddy Hair and Body wash so into the bath both kids went for lots of splashing...and I mean lots, I got soaked! 

The hair and body wash was so mild and Callie didn't come out of the bath with flare ups like she quite often does with lots of the leading brands. We then lathered her up with the bath oil and it soaked in nicely leaving her skin really soft and moisturised. 

Actually that night I decided to try the Love Balm Soothing Cream myself. It has the colour of a barrier cream but a bit looser than Sudocrem. I wasn't sure how it would rub into my skin but it actually was easy to use and didn't feel greasy. The next morning my makeup went on so well and my skin felt the best it has done in a long time! 

Although Bambo Nature nappies and wipes are on the higher end of changing products when it comes to their price, I do think they are a great disposable alternative to cloth nappies and a good in between item if you are wanting to embrace an enviromentally friendly lifestyle but are unsure if cloth nappies are for you. 

The skincare products however are really reasonably priced at £3.99 for the Snuggle Time Lotion and Bath Buddy then £7.99 for the Love Balm and Splish Splash Oil which will both last a long time. 

Overall we had a great day out and I am really glad to be able to share this brand with you!

Bambo Nature UK: @bambonatureuk on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram 

Imaging Eye photography: @imagingeyephotography on Facebook @bannernatalie on Instagram 

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Aldi Garden Event

Although the weather hasn't quite got the memo it is actually spring. Spring is the time where everyone and their aunt dig out their lawn mowers ready to get out in the garden. Strangely for us this spring the only garden work we are doing is sorting it out ready to hand back to our landlords. If you didn't know already we are moving house soon and we will be in for the summer! 

I have already started making plans for our new garden and when Aldi asked if I would like to feature some items from their Garden Event I was made up. Our new garden is small but I am quite looking forward to less grass to mow and a clean slate when it comes to plants. My plan is to make it like an extension of the house. Lots of comfy seating, potted plants, a water feature and tonnes of twinkly lights for those summer evenings. Which was where Aldi came in. 

I was sent a selection of their solar lights and am thrilled with the range. Starting at £2.99 with these gorgeous crystal glass stake lights which will look great in amongst some planters. My favourite have to be the crackle ball lights which come in a pack of 6 and are great quality despite being only £12.99!

I was also sent 3 large plastic planters at £7.99 each and a grey hanging basket. They are all well made and really hard wearing, ideal for our garden with Callie 'The Destructor' McDonald! I can't wait to pick up some new. plants for them but I currently know nothing about botanicals so will have to do some research on which ones I am least likely to kill off within 2 weeks. 

The final items were BBQ and furniture covers, great for keeping them all clean and dry in this unpredictable weather. We may actually need to buy a BBQ when we move though as our last one is still sat having been uncleaned since last summer after Joe forgot about it. Off to the tip with that bad boy I think and I vow to make sure one of us cleans the next one after each use. 

I have created a mood board over on my Pinterest for the garden and cannot wait to get started. I will be sharing more pictures of these products in the new garden so do pop over to Instagram where our First Time Buyers updates take place on an almost daily basis! 

Aldi Garden Event is in store now and can also buy some select specialbuys on the Aldi website -

Sunday, 8 April 2018

"Goodbye Bock Bocks" a Farewell to our Pet Chickens

If you have been following the blog for a while you will know we used to have chickens. We gt our first ones when Callie was tiny and hatched 2 from eggs. In total we had 14 chickens which sounds crazy in the space of a year but I wanted to document our backyard farmers journey so here is our story.

We started out with 3 hens. A white scruffy looking Silky we named Steve. She wasn't pretty and pristine like the other birds in her enclosure but we always end up backing the underdog and so she came home with us. Alongside Steve were two Plymouth Rock's called Red (because I had a chicken called Red as a child named after Hellboy) and Zelena because she had a little green ankle tag so we named her after the Wicked Witch of the West!

We got on really well with the three of them but after a while Steve began to get broody. We decided to buy some fertilised eggs to put under her and see if we could get some chicks. Several eggs and weeks later an egg hatched. We were on holiday at the time so my Dad chicksat, he has always bred birds so was the best person for the job. Along came little Rainbow!

We were in Center Parcs when Rainbow arrived and Ted named the chick for us. Rainbow was a Polish chicken and was so so beautiful. Not long after one of the other eggs began to hatch and unsteadily at first little John hatched out, Ted named this one too. John was a bit weaker but after 2 days was perfectly well.

Not content with having two babies to take care of alongside the 3 hens Joe decided to buy a couple of tiny chicks to join the family. We found a local breeded who specialised in Serama's, they are the smallest breed of chicken you can get and are adorable. We picked out two fluffy yellow chicks and introduced them to John who was still very small. We named these two Nelson and Murdock after the characters from Daredevil, sadly Murdock didn't live up to his namesake's strong persona and died a few days later. This was when I began to realise having pets would be an emotional rollercoaster!

Nelson, John and Rainbow continued to grow and get stronger. The two Polish adolescents were constantly sizing eachother up and John in particular gave the big girls a run for their money!

It wasn't long after that Joe was speaking to a work colleague who had two larger hens that he was looking to rehome. Joe being a sucker for a feathered tail and perky crest agreed to take them on and that was it we had gone from 3 hens to 8 in a few months! Our new friends Frank (named after The Punisher) and Major (a character from iZombie) were big girls. Compared to our bantams they were quite big and kept picking on the babies. Our worry about them hurting one of the little ones meant we sadly had to rehome them. 

My sister had a friend who happily took Frank and Major on and as far as we know they are very happily living their life in the next village to us. For us though we had a rocky few months. Red started to get a funny cough, she didn't seem right so we separated her from the flock for a while and not long after Rainbow was experiencing the same symptoms. Separating Rainbow from the others too we thought they were just a bit unwell and some TLC would help but sadly Rainbow didn't make it and a couple of days later Red died too.

I cried for those birds. They lived happy lives but there was just nothing we could do when they got ill. We couldn't justify vet fees for all of them and had no idea what was actually wrong. Thankfully the other hens were fine and continued to thrive as a family of 4. 

Our girls were always very noisy. Steve more so than the rest would make such a fuss about laying an egg and it was no surprise to us when John started to make noises too. She is just learning from the others, she will be laying soon...but one day the tiniest little squawk became a crow and John wasn't a girl! She was a he! A little polish cockerel who was beginning to get a bit big for his boots. His feisty nature had him sizing up the older girls and one day he decided to jump our 6 foot fence and made a run for it. 

We searched the whole village worrying he had been run over but hours later found him in the garden behind ours, an alley separating the two fences, hiding from their pitbull! We couldn't keep him anymore he needed space and was getting too loud to be in a built up area. Off he went to the local farm shop where he would live for a few weeks before someone took him on. We checked on him a week or two later and he had gone, hopefully to somewhere nice. 

That was us down to 3. Steve, Zelena and little Nelson. 

Yeah...this is Joe's flock we are talking about here! 3 didn't last long and a few months later he talked me into getting another 4 Serama's. From the same breeder as Nelson and Murdock came Dart and Dusty (Stranger Things fans will get those ones) Chip (who had a bad leg) and Mamba (Black Mamba...the most aggressive chicken we have had). Two black and two brown. They were very cute, they settled in well with the others and started laying within 2 weeks of being with us. We now had 7 hens but because they were small the space was fine, they got on well and life was really good. 

Life was good. We wanted to keep them forever, our feathered family, but our house move threw a spanner in the works. Our deeds state "domestic pets only" and upon further clarification that doesn't include chickens. Our babies had to go. 

We made a decision to sell them at a low price to anyone who could provide them with a happy life and a local farm agreed to take all 7 of them together. The farm is amazing, they have cattle, sheep, a riding school and the birds have free reign of the farm with a cosy roost to come back to at night. I sobbed as we drove away leaving our girls behind, I cried 3 more times that week as I saw their empty run or thought I heard pecking at the back door. I miss them now but our new garden wouldn't have been big enough even if we were able to take them with us. 

I will miss them, we all will but it was the right choice to make. They are happy in their new home and they gave us an amazing insight into breeding animals that we never would have had. We have plans when the children have grown up to move to a house with some land and to start our own smallholding. Joe can be the real Old McDonald! 

Friday, 30 March 2018

Our First Time Buyers Journey - Saving for a Deposit

When it comes to buying a house of course the first step is getting the deposit together. It is by no means easy but there are a few things you can do to get there quicker. We are so lucky that we both have a steady income, we have low overheads and minimal childcare costs but there are smaller things you can do, little changes you can make that will help with savings.

It is hard to increase the money coming into your household. It means new jobs, working overtime and not to mention tax returns if earning on top of your regular salary. This can include things like online surveys, babysitting, dog walking or anything that is an additional income which needs to be declared. The easiest way to save is to reduce your outgoings.

This sounds like a no brainer, we all know saving money means spending less but you would be surprised how much money you waste without even thinking about it. For example Joe and I sat down recently and worked out how much we spend on takeaways, meals out, lunches (yes all food related) and it was quite shocking. We could have saved up to £500 more a month if we had been more sensible with food. 

Cut down on unnecessary spending by writing weekly meal plans, shopping around, prepping for lunches and planning outings ahead of time to pack a picnic. My meal plan template looks pretty and will help you plan ahead and keep those food bills down.

Other outgoings you can reduce include utility bills, insurance and phone contracts. Shop around and see if you can find a cheaper deal, don't just let them roll over at the end of each renewal term as the chances are you will find a better deal elsewhere. 

Speak to colleagues and see if you can organise a car share to reduce petrol costs, if you are a smoker then consider quitting, stop picking up that overpriced coffee on the way into the office or check out my post about buying clothes on a budget!

If you have children then teach them the importance of saving and cut down on unnecessary toy purchases by doing your food shopping online! We got conned into wasting £7 on a toy today just because we nipped to the shops to get a couple of bits we had forgotten in Aldi this week.

Check your bank account and move to a different savings account if you can find one with a better interest rate. Banks will also offer you great deals for transferring to them, a few years ago we moved to Halifax and got paid £100 for moving. Don't make this a regular thing though as it can damage your credit rating but if you have been with the same bank for years why not consider moving and making a bit of extra cash?

I also have a list of 30 Ways to Save Money which I think could be really helpful, there are some quite unique tips there.

It is a struggle I am not going to tell you saving for a deposit is easy but it will be worth it. You will need to make big changes but with the above tips you should be able to get well on your way to buying your new home!

For more about our First Time Buyers Journey and for a sneak peek of our new house pop over to my Instagram page