Thursday, 25 June 2015

Cafe roulette

There are only a few things that I will refuse to tackle head on, and one of those is entering a cafe when you know there is no available seating.

I mean it is a bit like playing Russian roulette, do you stay in the queue, buy your coffee and hope that a seat becomes available.....or do you turn on your heal and leave as quickly as you arrived.

I am normally the latter description due to the fact that how on earth can you possible determine the speed of a person finishing their large, extra shot latte and Victoria sponge?

Today I entered a cafe and there wasn't an empty seat in the place, but I knew I was meeting friends so I had to just go for it.

I eyed up the queue, eyed up the possible nearly finished tables....was that lady getting up to go or was she just to adjusting her underwear? Oh wait now.....he's picking up his shopping......he's going...he's going.....nope just getting out his new book to read.

Suddenly it was my turn to be served and as soon as I placed my order, two tables left!!!! Bingo!!!! 

This was the slowest made latte ever.....the tables had already been accosted......oh no.....I am going to have to stand in the corner with a cup and saucer and sip my coffee!!!

Lava hot coffee was given to me and I saw a table, I made my way over like an Olympic speed walker, fortunately it wasn't too far away, but only room for two......

A booth came free and I once again speed walked with my latte like a child in the egg and spoon race, one eye on the overflowing liquid, one eye on the booth, I dodged a walking stick, a pile of shopping bags, a child and then.......yes I had made it!!!! 

There was no one to celebrate with but still YES I had done it!!!!!!

Full cafe 0 - Amy 1 :)

Monday, 22 June 2015


What's up with the weather at the moment!?

One minute it's glorious sunshine, next minute I'm running for my poor, tired old umbrella. Last night I had the heating on, today all the windows are open and it feels warm and stuffy.

I feel like the weather changes as much as life can, one minute everything is glorious, birds are singing, sun is shining, and then next, it's torrential rain and wind whilst walking uphill.

Sometimes I can sense that bad weather is coming, a few little set backs here, a few bits of bad news there, and of course who isn't always counting the pennies.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that the freezer was being naughty and beeping all the time, well it's started again and now the tumble drier is leaking. My appliances are rebelling!!!!! and I'm desperately pleading with them to hang on, in the past I would be constantly worrying about this situation, but now I'm not panicking.

Recently, life was described to me as like being in a hurricane. 

When life is going well we are in the eye of the storm where is it calm and peaceful, but eventually the edge of the storm will cross our path and we will desperately want to get back to the place where we were before, where everything was ticking over nicely. 

The fear of not knowing how to overcome the storm, or not believing that we can, can shake us, but having that belief that we can be in that place of calm eventually is a very large umbrella to find shelter underneath.

If both my appliances do pack in over this week, I know it won't be the most ideal situation, but we will be ok, I just know it.

Thursday, 18 June 2015


On our windowsill there are three brown plant pots. They have each been the home to a beanstalk that we have now been growing for a couple of months.

It's been amazing to watch, at first they were a dried up bean with no life in it all all. It was hard to imagine that this brown, dull looking seed would grow at all! I had faith that we could grow the beans, so the children and I planted them, watered them and waited.

After a few days they began to shoot, hubs bought some special compost especially for seedlings and we re-potted them.

They began to grow quite quickly!!! Soon touching the ceiling of the kitchen and lovely delicate flowers started to bloom.

The sunlight from the windows combined with watering and the super compost had done the trick, after a bit of pruning an actual bean pod has grown!!!

I often stand back in my kitchen and look at the bean plants and think about what would have happened if we had not provided the correct method to grow them. Would they have grown on their own with no input?

What if the soil wasn't as fertile? What if we had watered it too much or too little? What if we had grown it in a cupboard in the darkness? Surely the plants would not have thrived. How about if the plant pot was smaller? Would the plant have adapted and still continued to grow?

The combination of just the right input can make everything grow, even ourselves, and when conditions aren't ideal we adapt and try and grow in other ways.

Growing has been on my mind recently, not only because I am quite short, but how far I've come over the past couple of years. I was that dried up old bean a few years ago, but now, after careful nurturing my flowers are starting to bloom and my stalk is reaching up for the heavens.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Swimming pool fun!

"But Mum can't we spend the whole day in the pool???"

Funnily enough this is exactly what I would say to my parents when I was a little girl away on holiday. I was absolutely addicted to spending as much time as possible in the swimming pool.

I loved swimming, I still do, it's a combination of the irresistible call from the glistening water in the sun and the feeling of freedom that swimming brings. The pool water would sparkle like it was winking at me, urging me to jump in.

My ultimate favourite thing to do was get a pair of snorkelling goggles, swim to the bottom of the pool and look upwards, so I could watch the surface of the water dancing around. Being underwater was like a whole new type of adventure playground, I would turn and twizzle moving the water with my legs and arms without thinking twice about it.

The love of water has passed down to my children so we made good use of the swimming pools that were there.

Here is a little movie showing what we got up too, hope you enjoy watching it as much as we loved splashing around!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Canvas Holidays Wooden Lakeside lodge holiday

Accommodation size is a factor that we all take into account, especially when you travel with children.

For us, the Canvas lodges allow our family of seven, or two families in one lodge, to enjoy a relaxing holiday without the worry of being on top of each other.  

Last week Canvas Holidays took us to Camping La Croix du Vieux Pont, Berny Riviere in France with my parents, there was nine of us in total.

Not only do the wooden lodges have a irresistible charm about them, they have a fabulous layout that comfortably accommodates two families.

Is there separate rooms for the children?
Hubs and I had a bedroom with a balcony, perfect for peaceful evenings as the children slept. The children were split over two rooms, two single beds, a bunk and a single.

My parents had the downstairs double bedroom and their own shower room and toilet, we had a toilet and family sized bathroom upstairs.

Can you all fit around the dinner table?
The dining table inside was massive and on the decking was a picnic table that we had most our meals on, it easily fit us all on and with the handy awning we could still be outside but take a break from the sun too.

A corner sofa made the Lounge area a comfy place to hang out and watch TV and the kitchen was a good enough size for two people to operate together without a fight.

But what about all the luggage???? Here are a few packing tips!

We only took one large suitcase for the children and one medium suitcase for hubs and I. As we were driving we only had a small amount of boot space.

The lodge's accessories can help reduce the amount of luggage you need.
  1. There is a great sized drying rack that sits on the decking to dry any hand washing and dry off beach towels. 
  2.  There are heated towel rails in both bathrooms that come on in the mornings (put on wet stuff before bed) which helped dry clothes and towels too.
  3. Choose the linen package and towels are provided, good sized towels too, perfect for around the pool, we only took two extra towels with us.
  4. No need to pack washing up liquid just pack some dishwasher tablets for the dishwasher.
  5. The gas-filled BBQ is the perfect first night meal, no need to pack any dry food, pick up some burgers and sausages from the shop (opens from 7:30am till 7:30pm) is it great value. 
  6. Toilet roll is in the toilets when you arrive, enough for one night, no need to pack any, just pop to the onsite shop.
  7. No need to pack pans, kitchen utensils, extra glasses, the kitchen is fully equipped it even has a mop and dustpan and brush.
  8. For the journey the children packed a back pack of their chosen toys and books. This worked well as they were entertained throughout the ferry crossing and the drive to the site plus it was the right size for them to carry themselves.

So what did I think?

If you are thinking of going away and you are a large family like us. Or you have been thinking about going away with another family or extended family. I can thoroughly recommend Canvas lodges as a realistic, enjoyable accommodation, a place where you can feel relaxed and comfortable, as well as having something special about your family holiday.

Monday, 8 June 2015

A cup of love

I like to collect mugs, tea cups and tea pots.

It's not just because I like the way they look, I like the way a mug can encapsulate a feeling and a memory when you hold it full of your favourite hot drink.

When I want a hot drink, which is most of the time, I will pick a mug out of the cupboard, fill it with tea and as I'm cradling it between my entwined fingers I will slip into the memory of where and when I bought the mug.

I have a wide selection of different mugs, one shaped as a shark, tea for one sets, cute cup and saucers. My favourite at the moment is my glass teapot that I got for Christmas. It looks like Cinderella's carriage and I absolutely love watching the water circle and mix from clear to deep orange as the tea infuses.

I use a milk jug that used to be my Grandmothers. It is fine bone china, one she used to lay out with the matching tea set that my Grandfather would bring to us on a tray in the mornings. It holds many memories of early morning tea and bacon sandwiches in bed and sunny afternoons in my Grandparent's garden.

When I fill the jug with milk I'm instantly took back there, I took the milk jug as the tea set was being shipped off somewhere after she died, I wanted to keep hold of those memories with every stir of my spoon.

My husband asked me if I would ever get bored of being bought mugs, there is no chance of that, it's like travelling in a time machine with every sip.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

One hundred and eighty!!!

"That looks like the right place......doesn't it? Shall I aim for there? I'll give it a go.......oh I'm not sure.."

This line of conversation would have been fine if it was indeed about taking a shot at a dartboard, but it was actually a nurse deciding where to put the needle in my arm to take my blood.

Now I'm not squeamish, I've given birth five times, I've had more blood taken from me than a vampire's buffet table, but I was becoming a little bit nervous.

I'd been at the hospital since 1:30pm and it was now 5:45pm I reeeeeeally wanted to go home.

My left arm was the first target:

Nurse: " a sharp's not coming out shelly *wiggles it a bit and pokes my arm* is this working shelly?

Shelly: "no that's not the right place......"

I glance over and make eye contact with the nurse, I felt like a magic act, tied to a board, the magician is blindfolded and throwing knives.

Nurse: "damn....I'll try the other arm.....*pokes other arm* "

The two nurses discuss the best vein to use, tie the tourniquet as tight as possible, then rub my arm trying to bring some life into it.

It's no use my veins have ran away, probably fearful for the next onslaught, but shelly found it and it's all over, bullseye!!! Reminds me of the game show iiiiiiiiiiiin one!!!!!!!! 

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Top tips for Passport pictures for children

Recently I went through the process of applying for the children's first passports! It was a daunting experience not only because of the paperwork, which most was done online, but because of the cost!!!

Cost of a child's passport - £46 x 5,  
Photos - £5 x 5 
Secure postage - £8
Replacement birth certificates - £20 ( yes I know that's my own fault)
Extra grey hair - £7 in hair dye
Extra gin in a tin - £20 at least

Anyway no matter how well you fill the forms in there is one thing that can seriously delay your application - the photos. I had all my children's application accepted first time! So here's a few tips that I used to hopefully help your applications.

1) If your child is under five the photo booths will not be any good for taking pictures, My five year old just about reached the red guideline for lining up your eyes to the screen and that was with the stool at its highest setting. Have a look at Max Spielman or an online provider, for younger children. 

2) Practice your child's neutral face at home before you get to the photo booth. We had a competiton of who could pull the most boring face. We'd go from happy face to bored face. It was great fun.

3) Spend a little time making sure when your child sits on the stool, that their eyes are exactly level with the red guide that is shown on the screen. Change the stools hight as needed and make it fun! 

4) Remind your child to look at the screen even when you step back out of the booth, I kept talking to mine as they were waiting for the countdown.

5) wait for the preview, if unsure take it again, remember you only get three attempts, I was lucky with three of my children they got it first time, the practice does really help.

6) I showered the children in praise after. After all, non of us like taking ID photos, so I got them a little treat after and they all said they had fun taking the pictures - job done.

7) When cutting the photos out, snip with scissors in one smooth cut.

8) use a ruler and the size guide on the passport advice to get the correct size. Also have a quick check that your child's photo lines up with the passport advice too, are their eyes in the shaded parameter?

Voila!!!! That should be enough to get them ready for countersigning. I had an extremely nice countersignortory who had to repeat the process for each child.....that's five times.....what a super star.

Preparing for posting

You can send up to four applicants in one envelope, but I phoned up the passport office and they said it was fine to send all five in one as long as I put a cover letter in explaining why. My explanation was because I didn't have multiple copies of my birth certificate or marriage certificate.

Also when sending multiple applications, I used a paper clip to hold the photos to the countersignortory form and the birth certificate. Then as I folded the paper in half, bringing the bottom of the paper to the top, I tucked the corner into the paper clip, this stops the photos from slipping around.

I then gathered all five applications together, put my birth certificate and marriage certificate on top and then folded the covering letter over it all, so the first thing that the person would see as they opened the envelope was the covering letter.

I hope my tips help and if you're going on holiday have a fabulous time! We're off abroad for the first time as family in a couple of weeks - I'm so excited!!