Saturday, 14 September 2019

Happy and Stuff Mix Tapes - Childhood Memories

I have been wanting to start this series on the blog for a while. Music is something that can really change my mood, If I need a pick me up popping on one of my favourite playlists never fails to pick me up. I don't know about you but I rarely listen to any new music, often taking a trip down memory lane to the times where I was happiest can really cheer me up. 

That is why I wanted to share with you some snippets of my life via the medium of music (plays a little flute like Little Britain...who gets that reference?) I have taken all of the songs each week and put them into a Spotify Playlist so that you guys can listen along! 

Those of you reading this first weeks post will have a sneaky preview on there for the next 2 posts which will cover my teenage dirtbag phase and the party years! Can't wait to hear what memories the songs bring back for you all so please do let me know in the comments. 

I will also be sharing some pictures along the way. Starting off with me and my sister meeting Mr Blobby wearing a Rosie and Jim T-shirt and double denim, I mean could we get any more 90's?

Anyway, without further ado I will kick off the memories from my childhood with...

Wet Wet Wet -Love is All Around. This song is a powerful one for me. When I was little my Uncle suddenly passed away. It was a huge shock for the whole family, he was just 21 years old. There are lots of sad memories from that time of my life but when I hear this song I have one amazing memory. Uncle Brett being the cool young Uncle would take his nieces (there were a few of us before the boys were born) for walks along the beach on the south coast where we used to holiday. One of those days he taught us the lyrics to Love is All Around and every time I hear the song I remember walking along that pebble beach with him and my cousins. It is a good memory to have.

Bryan Adams - Everything I Do is one of my Mum's all time favourites, many of the songs on this playlist were on in the background when we were kids. Mum would get up on a Sunday morning, throw open the windows and listen to her favourite music while she did the housework. We would help her with dusting and dance around the room. I hope my children carry memories like that with them too. 

UB40 - Red Red Wine - I have probably mentioned on the blog that my siblings and I have different Dad's and my sister's Dad used to have us to stay once a fortnight when him and Mum got divorced. Anyway his Mum used to listen to UB40 quite a lot when we were kids. I don't have the best memories of her as she was quite strict with me but I do recall listening to this song in her car and the sun was shining. We were on our way to the supermarket and we would get lunch while we were there. I was an odd child and always chose cheese salad. This song reminds me of sunshine and my favourite lunch. 

Another picture for you, me and my sister (we were born 3 years apart so until my little brother was born most pictures are just us two) meeting Rick from Neighbours!

Next song...

Inner Circle - Sweat - Man I love this song, yet when I was a kid I remember someone telling me I shouldn't sing it. Probably my Mum and now I know why. The lyrics are so inappropriate! Still a tune though right? 

Billy Rae Cyrus - Achey Breaky Heart - This song takes me back to being really little. I remember singing it along with the next song Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini on my kids cassette player with microphone. You remember those ones in the 90's that you could carry around, probably from Early Learning Centre or something. I loved singing when I was little and still do, something I am planning to share a bit more on my social media soon (if I am brave enough!)

Kylie Minogue - Locomotion - I realised that I may have the wrong version of this song in the playlist due to how many times it was covered but I think it was the Kylie version that used to play a lot at the clubhouse where we used to go on holiday. I remember prancing around on the dancefloor to this. It is always guaranteed to make me boogie. 

Last picture of us looking super cute, fresh from the bath with our jammies on. Little Mermaid FTW!

Now for the last few songs...

Phil Collins - Can't Hurry Love - Another of Mum's favourites. This was always the one I would ask her to play as it was good to have a jiggle about to. We were all so excited when Disney's Tarzan was released because Phil Collins did the soundtrack. If you haven't seen the film it is one of my favourite from Disney and the songs are beautiful. 

Final one is a fun one, Star Trekkin' by The Firm. Who doesn't remember this song? It was played at every birthday party and disco in the early 90's and alongside The Purple People Eater was a real classic. I think I may have to relearn the dance moves and teach it to the kids! 

Well, that brings me to the end of my Childhood Memories playlist. I have so many more songs that could have made the cut but I want to hear which ones you would add and how old you were when these came out. I forget that readers of different ages may have been either out clubbing during the early 90's or not even born yet! Let me know in the comments. 

If you want to check out the playlist and get all nostalgic you can find it here!

Friday, 6 September 2019

Family fun on the Swanage Railway

I have been meaning to write this post up for a while so apologies if it is a bit out of season (just seen the weather outside) but I thought it would be good to share. 

Dorset has always been one of our favourite areas to visit because of the wide variety of days out available. You are never far from something fun to do with the family and when we stayed at the start of summer we were torn with where to go. One day we were split between going to Farmer Palmers and the Swanage Railway. The price for entry to the farm as a family and for the train ride were around about the same price but after realising we go to the farm a lot at home and have a few on our doorstep we settled on a trip to Swanage on the train!

I remember going on the same trip with my family when I was little and we rode the line when Ted was two so it was nice to go back with Callie now in tow and Ted had no memory of it so was all like new to him too. 

We were staying at Rockley Park so the trip to the train station was about 35-40 minutes along the coast. To drive from the car park at Norden to Swanage only takes 5 or 10 minutes so it always makes me chuckle that the train takes 40 minutes to make the same journey but there really is nothing like travelling on a steam train. 

The parking is £3.50 for the day and train costs £39.00 for a Family Ticket which can be used by 2 adults and 3 children or 1 adult and 4 children. We decided against adopting another child for the day but if you have 3 children it is quite a saving from the £54 for individual tickets. 

There are refreshments available at the station which is really quaint and old fashioned. The smaller children get a My First Train Journey ticket which is a lovely touch and we still have Ted's from his first visit. 

All of the staff and conductors are really friendly and come round to punch your tickets. Dogs are welcomed if well behaved and we made friends with one on our journey home. 

Swanage itself is a traditional seaside town, it is quintessentially British and there are lots of areas to explore. Our kids love the old fashioned toy shops, arcades and ice creams on the sea front. We found the "Old Gaol" and the kids giggled pretending to be "baddies" stuck in jail. We joked about leaving them there then decided we rather liked them and carried on with our holiday!

We treated ourselves to Harry Ramsden's for lunch which was delicious and although we would have preferred to support local businesses we have fond memories of HR chips on the night Joe proposed to me 7 years ago so had to be done. I had pie with chips and gravy and the hand made pie really was yummy. They do take away too but it was closed the day we went. I must admit it was nice not to have to share my chips with the seagulls on the beach for a change.

We had a brilliant day and certainly one to add to the memory bank. I am sure we will come back in the future too and are looking into another train journey on our next break in Norfolk this October

Have you ever been to Swanage? What did you think?

Friday, 30 August 2019

*Review* Home Education for Pre-Schoolers with Early Years Fun Subscription Boxes

Since becoming a stay at home Mum and pulling Callie out of nursery I have began to feel the pressure to educate her and keep up with her increasing need to learn. She is really smart, I don't mean that in a "my kid is a genius" kind of way, like all parents think their kid is "da bomb" right? She is genuinely quite advanced and it is tricky to keep up with her. 

She is already talking at a level a year ahead and is sharp as a button, not much getting past this kid. She keeps me on my toes and made me realise if I have 2 years before she starts school I am going to have to pull out the big guns to keep her from getting bored. 

My eyes lit up when I saw Early Years Fun were looking for people to try out their new subscription boxes. They took the thinking out of it for me and provided us with all the tools we needed for fun and educational activities from home. 

The box comes with everything you need for 8 activities and all cover off a wide range of areas from sensory and reading to craft and creative play. The set we have is the transport box and Callie loves playing with toy cars and spotting all the different vehicles when we are out and about so it was a perfect match.

We really liked that not all the activities were messy meaning we could take some with us when out and about. The vehicle scavenger hunt with little velcro images was a particular favourite as was the sticker sheet. Callie had so much fun creating her race track picture and showed it off proudly to anyone who came to visit. There was also a pack of Geli Baff in our box which we are going to try out this weekend before Ted goes back to school.

As every activity in the box ties in with EYFS curriculum I found it good to be able to see what ones she was able to complete. It made me feel more positive that when she does start pre-school in January she will be able to carry out these sort of activities and understand what is happening.

Since starting to do more hands on things with her she has come on leaps and bounds, her mark making has improved and she is following instructions well. She thrives when she is using her creativity and it makes me happy having one on one time where she is calm (it has been a tough few months!)

As well as the one off boxes like this one, you can sign up to monthly subscription boxes where you will get a new theme each month. I love the look of the seaside and mini beast ones and hope there will be a Christmas one in the pipeline. There are also a wide range of subscriptions so you can do 3 monthly, 6 monthly or annual sign ups as well as the offer of half size boxes which would make great presents! 

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Creature, I name you Anxiety! - Facing your demons and removing their power

I recently I had a wobble. A crisis of confidence. I am not even sure where it came from but I cried. I cried a lot. I was tired because this underlying anxiety I feel most days wiped me out. I was tired from trying so damn hard to be 'normal' but then a good friend reminded me that there is no such thing as normal.

I put a huge amount of pressure on myself to pretend the anxiety doesn't exist because it isn't pretty. I convinced myself that nobody wants to hear about my struggles because it made me feel guilty that it makes them feel awkward.

Guilt is a huge underlying feeling for me because I never want to feel like I am putting someone else out. Like I am making someone else feel bad. Instead I beat myself up and internalise my feelings. I am working on taking that pressure off myself one day at a time and my CBT has really been helping. 

Anxiety, as my CBT therapist so brilliantly put it "likes to bring you down, the more down you are the happier anxiety is" it is its life goal. By acknowledging the anxiety and almost naming it you are calling it out. Remember in Doctor Who (any fans here) where he says "Creature, I name you Carrionite" followed by "I named her. The power of a name. That's old magic" He has called aliens out with their names a few times over the years each time with great results.

Now I am no sonic wielding time traveller but I am never one to ignore a Doctors orders. Call out that dark creature, learn all you can about it and take its power away! Of course, I joke, this is just fiction but can totally be applied in real life. 

The next step for me is to try and fill my life with positivity to outweigh the negatives that anxiety fills my brain with. I am reminding myself every day that my younger self would be immensely proud of the woman I have become. She wanted so hard to have a family of her own, a boy and a girl (luck sent me those treasures) and a caring husband in a beautiful house in the country side. We have that and I am grateful for it every day. 

I am also grateful for the strength I have inside to keep fighting those inner demons and not running away and hiding from them. I am working on a better, happier future for myself and for that I am proud.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

5 Busy Mum Makeup Favourites

I love makeup but rarely write about it because when it comes to beauty products mine need to do the job quickly and with minimal effort. Being a Mum of two young children I am strapped for time when it comes to getting ready in the morning. That means I need products that are easy to apply, cover dark circles and last all day. 

These are my 5 go to makeup items I use most days. They are also relatively cheap so perfect when budget is tight.

1. Concealer - Loreal Infalible

I picked this up after using up the last of my Collection concealer. I need something that is full coverage for my rosacea on my lower cheeks and this works really well. Actually most days I don't use foundation I just pop this on and some bronzer. It is quite a thick consistency but applies really easily and is a doe foot applicator which I prefer to brushes. 

I did notice that the brand call it the Infallible concealer but it says Infaillible on the product. I took to Instagram to see if I could get an answer but they didn't get back to me so who knows!

2. Foundation - Collection Iluminating Touch

I have always been a fan of Collection makeup since it was Collection 2000 back in the day. They were the one of the original low budget brands alongside Miss Sporty before the days of Revolution and MUA. The concealer is fab but while I was trying the Loreal one above I thought I would give the foundation a go and this is my second bottle. 

It is a medium to full coverage but doesn't feel too heavy. It makes me look super healthy too as it adds a dewy glow that is natural. I don't wear a lot of highlighter as lots can be a bit over the top but this achieves that glowy look without the extra product. I use shade Warm Beige which works perfectly with my skin tone. I can't believe it has taken me this long to realise I need to go for neutral undertones as opposed to pink ones. Making that one change has made a huge difference in the colour matching. 

I love the price tag on this too, having previously used the Lasting Perfection which is around the same price they are both great value for money. I prefer this one because the LP one is quite matte and made my face look a bit flat if that makes sense? This is perfect though and I will definitely continue to use it. Just seen it is down to £3.99 on the Superdrug website too!

3. Mascara - Loreal Miss Baby Roll

Mascara is an odd product. I have always found myself getting on better with cheaper brands, I like my lashes to have a proper coating and thickness to them without being clumpy which is hard to find in more expensive brands. They all seemed to be quite runny and although they coated my lashes naturally it wasn't the fullness I get from the likes of Collection and this Loreal one. The brush is really chunky too which is always a must have for me, I can't get on with those rubber ones.

4. Bronzer - Collection Bronze Glow

I have used this bronzer for a long time. Before this one I think I used a more expensive brand that was really similar and thought I would try this. I was converted it was exactly the same for a lot less money. It isn't too orange and I use it as an eyeshadow when I am on holiday to save space in my bag. 

5. Lipstick - Maybelline Color Sensational

This lippy is probably older than you are meant to keep a product for so I probably should get another. This shade Nude Embrace is a lovely warm nude colour and has a lovely creamy texture that lasts all day. It isn't drying at all and as usual the Maybelline packaging is simple but lovely. 

TOP TIP - Buy your makeup when there is an offer on, I know if I buy two items from the same brand there could be an offer in Boots or Superdrug to get something free and many of my lipsticks and nail varnishes have been totally free from these deals! 

Let me know in the comments if you have used any of these products or can recommend new favourites to add to my kit! 

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Skinny Tan Review - Coconut Water Tanning Mist

I worked with Skinny Tan a few years back and was really impressed with the products so when they got in touch to see if I would like to try their new Coconut Water Tanning Mist I was delighted! 

I am naturally quite pale, one of those people who gets asked if they are unwell on a regular basis because they "look a bit pale". I also understand the importance of sun safety and am always careful to apply plenty of sun cream throughout the summer. Which means if I really want a healthy glow then fake tan is my only option. 

I have tried a lot of products over the past year but they all have that biscuity smell that really isn't appealing. Skinny Tan however has a really lovely scent and the Coconut Water is no exception. I tested the product on my arm before applying over my whole body. After 5/6 hours my patch test had developed and you can see in the picture below that the colour was quite strong but not too orange. 

I made sure to exfoliate and shave the day before application and applied using the Dual Tanning Mitt which is super soft and velvety allowing a smooth application. The mist is clear so I did struggle a bit with the application, it is hard to know where the product has gone and where you have missed. It dried quickly though and left my skin feeling nicely moisturised. The benefit of this product is that you don't need to wash it off, you can just allow it to develop on the go. 



I applied mine in the morning and once dry put my clothes on. I didn't have a lot of transfer onto my clothing other than on the waistband of my dungarees so I would recommend wearing darker clothes just in case. 

I did get a really great colour with Skinny Tan that I have struggled to find in other brands, it is very natural. and I got comments about how good it looked. They couldn't see the patches under my clothes though. I had a shower the day after application and most of the excess product came off but the areas where I had applied a little too much product were still quite patchy. I really had to scrub my toes to get that off. 

The issue with the product is most certainly the fact it is clear, once it has absorbed into your skin you just can't see where you have missed. I think I would probably choose one of the other Skinny Tan products that I reviewed in the past over this one if I am honest, the 7 Day Tanner had a bronzed guide to help with seeing where you have applied it. 

Overall I don't know if I would pay the £24.99 price tag for this product but recommend lots of other products on the Skinny Tan website and the tanning mitt is one of the best I have ever used. 

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Weekend Break at Rockley Park Haven with AirBnB

Sometimes you really need to just get away from it all as a family to appreciate what you have. This year we have been away quite a bit but not ever just the four of us. Joe and I went on our cruise, I went to Alcudia with my family for my sister's birthday and we have had a few overnight stays in hotels for family events. All of these trips though and I felt like we just needed some quality time as a family. 

I made a promise to myself that this year we would plan more breaks with the kids and the first one was a trip to Dorset for a few days. I had already priced up Butlins, Centre Parcs and Haven with them all coming in higher than we wanted to spend. Being the back end of half term it was expected but with them all coming in between £600-£1000 for a long weekend (I mean seriously £1k for a weekend?!) I took to AirBnB* to find a self catering holiday home. 

I found lots of cottages and apartments that were lovely, there was a fab one in Somerset we liked but actually we all love Dorset so I had a look down there and came across the perfect little caravan in Poole. It was privately owned but based in Rockley Park Haven site. We got 3 nights for £200 which was such a good deal. We have been to Rockley Park a few times and it was the place Joe proposed to me all those years ago. 

We love the site and with Callie still being quite little we didn't think we would use the facilities (pool, clubhouse, entertainment) a lot so a private caravan without the extra cost of these was perfect. You can pay extra for entertainments passes at the below prices but given Callie is terrified of the characters and isn't overly confident at swimming yet it just wasn't worth the money for us. 
  • 3-4 Days - Adult - £35.20  Child (under 15) - £17.10 
  • Day Passes - Adult: £10 | Child: £5
Instead of buying the passes we spent our evenings on the beach before heading back for dinner and bed. The beds were suprisingly comfortable in the caravan and it was really quiet where we were. We have stayed at many a Haven site in the past where the evenings are spent wide awake listening to drunk people wandering home from the clubhouse. This being a private home we were tucked away down the hill from the entertainment complex and hardly heard anything at night. 

The caravan was immacculate and nicely decorated. We had plenty of bedding, the kitchen was well equipped and the personal touches of toiletries, milk, tea and coffee on arrival were what we usually miss when going on a caravan holiday. The little details make a huge difference. We also had some Dorset Tea and Biscuits as a welcome gift which were yummy!

Just down from our caravan, which had a beautiful sea view, was the private beach. This is a fab addition Rockley Park have as well as access to a nature reserve which we didn't get round to visiting. The beach though has a little cafe for getting hot drinks and ice creams, a park and area perfect for crabbing! We found the perfect time to visit was about 5pm when the tide had gone out and you could explore the rock pools. There is a boat club down there too with a huge list of activities which can be booked directly with Haven at an additional cost. 

Despite not having entertainment passes we could access the onsite shop, parks and takeaway places. We have had chips from the onsite fish and chip shop on previous visits but got a Papa John's this time. We were quite disappointed as it wasn't anywhere near as good as ones we have had in the past and Joe's pizza was wrong. It wasn't cheap either so we were glad we had stopped at Asda in Poole on the day we arrived to get supplies to cook our own dinner the rest of the break. The kitchen was well equipped so perfect for knocking up a quick pasta dish or jacket potatoes. 

I would definitely recommend checking out Luxury Holiday Homes Dorset if you are in the area and AirBnB for other privately owned caravans in the future. We will probably be heading to Somerset in October if I can find a good deal again. 

Where are your favourite places to visit in the UK? 

Let me know in the comments and we will add them to our list! 

*In order to be completely transparent this post isn't in collaboration with AirBnB but I have included a code which allows you to get £25 off your first home booking. And £9 to use toward an experience worth £36 or more. I then get a discount off my next booking with each referral. As I say this isn't in collaboration with the brand it is just a link I was given when booking!