Springtime Camping Tips

There’s little to no chance of snow during May, so surely it’s time to break out the tent?

As avid campers, we try to get pitched up as early in the year as possible to get plenty of use out of the camping season. Camping in April and May isn’t for the light hearted though, so here are five tips to keep you snug and warm under canvas in Spring.

spring camping tips 1


If the days are still quite breezy, you might be better off avoiding coastal sites. Stick to camping on sites that are more enclosed, or in forest sites. We’re actually off to one soon in Snowdonia National Park and in the middle of a forest. Perfect setting for early in the season. Hopefully!

spring camping tips 2


The weather is going to be your biggest concern, so make sure you pack the right stuff for getting out and about during the day. We take welly boots on every camping trip regardless of season. Sometimes we don’t need them, but more often than not they come in handy. Hats, gloves and sunglasses at the ready! Inclement weather doesn’t  have to mean an end to outdoor fun as long as you have everything you need. Also, if you remember one thing from this list, remember this: LAYERS. From base layers to merino wool, layers are the key to keeping warm in less-than-perfect conditions.

Spring camping tips 3


If you’re going to camp while everyone else is cosy in their lounge at home, you deserve to enjoy the open space in which you’re pitched! Make the most of the outdoors by geocaching, foraging or simply by playing sports games in the empty camping field!

Spring camping tips 4


Despite all of the other advice I’ve just given you, I’m not completely delusional and know that sometimes, it’s just too miserable outside to unzip that door. Instead, plan ahead. If you’ve got children this is absolutely imperative! I always have ‘busy bags’ for the children to use in the car, and making a couple of these for wet days or evenings is a great idea. For busy bag inspiration, Twinkl is my go-to website for family entertainment that takes up very little space when packing. Just print at home, pop into a folder and you’re ready to go!

spring camping tips 5


If you can, I would definitely recommend paying that little bit extra for electric hook up, or EHU, when camping. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t camp without it now for more than a couple of nights. Cold? Plug in the heater. Too dark? No probs, just stick the lamp on. There are, of course, ways around this with battery operated equipment and ever-improving sleeping bags, but for me EHU is indespensible, particularly with children.

So there you have it.

What would you add to the list? Do you disagree with any of my suggestions?

Tree Fu Tom DVD Giveaway

TFT_Tom Saves the Day DVD
Snuggled up on the sofa, wrapped in blankets and listening to the rain lash down onto the windows, the boys and I love a good telly day from time to time.

One of Rowan’s favourites is Tree Fu Tom. To the uninitiated, Tom is a resident of Treetopolis, where magic is created by movement!

Tom may look like a normal boy but when he puts on his magic belt and performs a series of magical moves (known as Tree Fu) he transforms into a tiny but mighty, magical superhero.

Tom, Twigs and woodland friends have lots of amazing adventures around Treetopolis but when trouble strikes it’s up to him to save the day! With viewers help Tom can make Big World Magic and tackle anything from warbling Warble Weeds to stopping those naughty Mushas make mischief! Tree Fu Go!

The DVD features six action-packed episodes:-

  • Ranger Tom: Super Helper
  • Tom and the Warble Weeds
  • Super Squirmtum
  • Ranger Tom: Fun Guy
  • The Golden Spore
  • Twigs’ Tall Tale.

Now, courtesy of Abbey Media, I have the wonderful opportunity to offer you, my lovely competition loving readers, a copy of Tree Fu Tom’s latest DVD. It hit the shops on 6th April so it’s all new and sparkly, and it would make a great gift! All you need to do is complete the Gleam widget below.

Tree Fu Tom Saves the Day DVD

Good luck!

Overheard in the waiting room

‘Stop moaning, it’s not like YOU have to do anything, all you do is sit in your bloody chair.’

Does that sound to you like someone with a caring nature? Not sure? How about this one …

‘I’m not taking you again, you’ve been twice since we got here.’

The man in the waiting room is speaking to his elderly, wheelchair bound mother.

They are sitting just a few feet away from me and the frail looking lady mouths something to me. I smile, and she beckons me over.

‘Has he gone to the toilet?’ She enquires. The lady is referring to my son who has indeed nipped to the loo while we wait from Grandma to be done with her appointment.

‘Where is it?’ she whispers to me, ‘Will you take me?’

This quiet, unassuming lady is asking me, a complete stranger, to take her to the bathroom. Why? Amongst other things, I am trained in moving and handling, in safeguarding vulnerable people and in person centred care. I am qualified enough to take this lady to the toilet. I have had countless legal checks done and have a current and valid enhanced disclosure. I am a safe enough person to take this lady to the toilet.

But they don’t know any of that. I am a stranger in a hospital. Why is she asking me to take her?

‘Yes of course’ I reply.

Her son interrupts our exchange when he stands up with a huff and says ‘I’ll take you!’. So off they go.

I think about that lady. I think about her son, and their conversations. She asked her questions more than once and each answer was agitated. I feel terribly sad for that her. Imagine depending so much on someone who speaks to you like you’re a huge inconvenience in their life. Imagine being reliant on someone to take you to the toilet, which is difficult enough, but then for them to make you feel like you’re wasting their time. Growing old is not a glamorous affair. It’s difficult both physically and emotionally. She didn’t choose to be wheelchair bound or to need assistance with personal care, yet her son is speaking to her like she’s a burden.

I feel angry towards the son for a while, until something else occurs to me.

I think about often my children asked me the same question seven or eight times. I admit, I don’t always have the patience to answer them in the same quiet, calm manner each time. Sometimes I have sounded exasperated. Sometimes I’ve been snappy. Sometimes I’ve completely ignored the question. Nobody is perfect.

I have no idea what that lady’s situation is. I don’t know her medical history; but she struck me as maybe having Dementia, causing her to ask the same questions over again. Perhaps she was confused and asked me to take her to the bathroom because she mistook me for someone she knows or a member of staff.

I don’t know what his situation is either. That lady may have had her son up in the night eight times to go to the toilet, only to change her mind when she got there, or asked him forty times what day it is today.

The mother and son go in for her appointment and when they return he is smiling. He has a little joke with the consultant, says goodbye to me and they leave. He appears completely different.

It isn’t easy, caring for someone. It’s harder still when you find yourself caring for the very person that has always cared for you. Adjusting to a new normal is tough. Being at someone’s beck and call is tough. Watching your loved one become a shadow of themselves is tough.

The last thing I hear him say is

‘No, Mum. I’m James. John is your other son.’

And I’m sad for him, too.

Something for Me 29/04/15

When you’re a mum, your needs aren’t at the top of your list of priorities. Heck, you’re lucky if they’re second or third down the list!

Before now, if I had ‘spare’ money (what is spare money?!) it wouldn’t ever just be spent on me. I would always treat the boys to something they wanted – but very rarely needed.

Now, I’ve decided to opt for a little ‘me time’ and treat myself to something special each week. Something for me.

I doesn’t need to be something big or expensive. It could be a chocolate bar, a good book or a particularly bubbly bath.

This week, it’s shoes. I love shoes. I have far too many pairs and never wear many of them because they’re ridiculously high and make my feet hurt after less than an hour. It doesn’t matter to me though – new shoes to me works like calpol on the kids; even if there’s nothing wrong I feel instantly better!

Aren’t these little ballet pumps cute?! I saw them online for a fiver (Yes, really!) and had to have them! They’re a little bit tight around the widest part of my foot but I think that with a bit of ‘wearing in’ they’ll be great! I’m at a wedding soon and my heels will no doubt make me want to chop my own feet off, so maybe these will be handy to have in my bag.


New shoes make me happy!

I did order a new dress and jacket too, but I’ll tell you about those another day!

Have you been kind to yourself this week? What have you done to congratulate yourself on being as awesome as you are? Remember – it doesn’t have to be a big deal, just something that makes you smile, gives you five minutes peace or relaxes you just a little.



Clifton Country Park

Last weekend we braved the chilly winter weather to take the children and the dog to Clifton Country Park in Salford. We’ve only ever been once before to this park so we weren’t au fait with the layout of the park at all. We decided to follow the marked footpath partly because we didn’t know where we were going and partly because anything off the footpath (and much of the actual footpath) was covered in icky mud.


A muddy walk through Clifton Country Park

Off we went, the dog zooming off ahead, the children getting more splattered in mud with every squishy step. It wasn’t too cold and the sun peeped out just the tiniest but from behind the clouds. Lovely walking weather really.

After about a mile we spotted a familiar place. Giants Seat Garden Centre is a lovely little place that we’ve been to several times and when the children spotted it they were surprised at how far we’d walked. It’s a lot easier to walk a fair distance when you’re having fun! There is a wood at Giants Seat too, so we’ll may well do a nature walk there very soon.

2015-01-04 12.15.59

Giants Seat Garden Centre

We walked on a path running adjacent to the train line and the boys were thrilled to see the trains whooshing past at such high speeds. We lost count of the carriages each one had and ultimately decided that there were ‘a lot’. Unfortunately we didn’t manage a photo of the trains because they appeared without enough notice!

On we walked, eventually stumbling (not literally, thankfully) on to part of the River Irwell Sculpture Trail. We only saw the one piece because we turned off down another path so I’m pretty sure we’ll be back to find the other sculptures soon.

2015-01-04 12.37.34

One of the sculptures on the River Irwell Sculpture Trail

The view from the sculpture

The view from the sculpture


Louis got a camera for Christmas and loved putting it to good use. I’m going to ask him if he’d like to blog about his own photos from this walk. He has a blog, but we really need to knuckle down with it if he’s going to build it up. I think this may be the way to go with his website actually because he has such a passion for all things outdoors.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

The Wooden Furniture Guide


Wooden furniture adds depth and character to any room, whether you’re looking for

something contemporary or classic. However, without some knowledge behind your

purchase, then you may buy something that isn’t as good quality as you thought it was.

Types of Wood

There are many different types of wood and wood effects.

Wood-Effect – this is furniture made from synthetic materials, but is designed to look like real

wood. It is cheaper than real wood, quite durable and easy to clean; wood effect is an ideal

budget option.

Veneered – this furniture can be made from a range of materials, but they have thin solid

wood layers applied to the outside. If the base is solid wood or plywood, then it is a piece that

will last.

Solid Wood – a piece of furniture made from solid wood, like these ones from Furniture Plus

Online, is exactly what it says on the tin. However, a wood veneer is sometimes placed over

the top of tables for aesthetic or structural reasons.

Sheesham Wood – with an irregular grain structure, sheesham wood is an Indian wood that

makes for really beautiful furniture.

The Construction of Wooden Furniture

The construction of wooden furniture is a really important factor in determining a quality

piece. If it’s held together with staples or nails, or glue where you can see the glue, then it’s

not a good piece. If, on the other hand, it’s constructed with dowels, screws and dovetail or

mortise-and-tenon joints, then you’re onto a quality piece.

How to Clean Wooden Furniture

The way you clean your furniture will depend on what piece it is, but there are some tips that

are universal.

– Dust your furniture daily to avoid dust and dirt build-up. Use a lint-free damp cloth.

– Wooden furniture with a hard lacquer or waxy finish can be dusted with a dry soft


– If your wooden furniture is oiled, then you will need to re-oil it when it dries out.

– If dust and grime has built up, then a solution of mild liquid detergent dissolved in

lukewarm clean water will clean the surface. Use a damp cloth to rinse, and use a dry

cloth to buff. Don’t use water in excess, or be allowed to stand on the wooden surface.

Using Your Furniture

– Natural light can bleach solid and veneered wood furniture, so regularly moving or

turning furniture can minimise discolouration.

– Don’t place plant pots on wooden surfaces, unless they are watertight.

– Always bear in mind any weight restrictions of the product.

– Wooden furniture is not heat resistant, so try to avoid placing hot items directly onto

wooden surfaces.

*partnered post*

Are you a Smart Ass?

We love to play board games on a rainy day or after a filling Sunday dinner. That’s what we did when we reviewed the latest addition to our games collection. Smart Ass from University Games is GREAT fun. It’s a simple enough board game to grasp but you need your wits about you because it’s a general knowledge trivia game.

Smart Ass 1

The thing I loved most about Smart Ass is that you don’t have to wait your turn. We had four players (the game accommodates up to eight players – more than your average board game!) and we also had a brilliant evening!

The aim of the game is to answer questions and move around the board, and the winner is the first to land on the … Ass.

Smart Ass 2

The question cards are split into four groups:

Who am I?

What am I?

Where am I?

and finally – Hard Ass.

A colour die determines which question card is chosen and questions are open to all players, which as I previously mentioned makes the game more interesting because everyone is involved in every round.

The person who answers correctly then throws a second die to determine how many places they can move. Watch out though – a Kick Ass square sends you back three spaces!

The questions cover a wide variety of subjects and we encountered some really tricky ones as well as some easy peasy ones – it’s a game suitable for everyone.

The game doesn’t go on forever like some can, and it’s pretty light hearted too. We had a giggle over who didn’t know things that were obvious to everyone else, as well as being astonished at some of the stuff we did actually know between us!

Do you know where Oxfam was founded? Have you brushed up on your peace prize winners lately? You might want to consider a bit of light reading if you’re to be crowned the local Smart Ass!

The suggested minimum age for Smart Ass is 12 and over. That’s pretty fair, I’d say, because anyone younger would lack the general knowledge.

Smart Ass 3

Smart Ass retails at between £10.00 and £15.00 and is available at all the usual games retailers.

It really is a great after dinner game and definitely worth having at home – who doesn’t love a good board game!?

But before you go out and buy one for yourself, why don’t you enter to win one for yourself – all you need to do is complete the rafflecopter widget below … good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

#FlashbackFriday: The Lion Edition

 Just lion around! Flashback Friday today is from April 2013 and is a photograph I took from the car. I love lions, they’re such majestic creatures and despite being in a safari park I felt in awe of them and could have sat for ages just watching them laze around.


I love how clear this photograph is and how obvious it is that the lions clearly couldn’t care less about our presence. I took a lot of photographs that day but this one is most definitely my favourite.

My Three and Me

ChillFactor Squeeze Cup: Review

Earlier this week the children received a ChillFactor Squeeze Cup to review.

It isn’t just a cup though, it is a slushy maker! What kid doesn’t love a slushy?!

I had a Mister Frosty when I was a kid and I remember it taking an absolute age to produce a drink. Now my children can make a slushy within a minute. That’s progress for you!


We received the purple Tutti Fruity cup, but there are also three other colours to choose from. In the box there is the cup, a lid, a spoon/straw and an instruction booklet. The box is covered in vibrant colours, making it appealing to children and adults alike. The cup is also bright in colour, is made of durable plastic and is lightweight too, making it easy for even the smallest of thirst-quenchers to have a go at making their own slushy drink. The cup is 11cm high so it fits upright in the freezer drawer, which is where it should be kept all the time.

I’m glad this arrived while they were at school because the Squeeze Cup needs to be frozen before use for between 4 and 6 hours, but by the time they arrived home it was ready.

We set to work …

The boys enjoyed doing this, and actually it wasn’t really about the drink but about the process of making it. They were impressed by the cups ‘magic’ and I’m sure I’ll probably be asked if we can do it again today. The cup serves as a great little introduction to making things for themselves and they were very proud of the end product. They didn’t lose interest of become frustrated because the process is too quick for that.

The only thing I’d consider improving on this would be the volume of the cup. There is enough for one slushy and the cup needs to be re-frozen for a few hours after every use. You can’t make two slushies out of one cup without freezing in between, so you’d need one cup per child. That’s okay if you have plenty of room in your freezer and if your own children had one each, but visiting friends would only ever get half a cup and you’d also have to sacrifice half of one of your freezer drawers if you bought more than one.

Overall I think this is a great little piece of kitchen kit for children and I think they’d make lovely gifts too.

The ChillFactor Squeeze Cup is made by Character, and is available at Argos, eBay, Amazon, Hobbycraft and more.

The RRP is £12.99 for one cup.

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre: Get yo’ Ninja On!

This weekend, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre will be taken over by Ninjas! Don’t worry though, I’m sure they’re harmless. In fact, they might be ninjas you know!

For the entire weekend of 7th and 8th February, all children dressed as ninjas will receive free entry when they bring a full paying adult with them. If you’re anything like me, you’ll think 1) What does a ninja wear? and 2) How the heck can I make that without breaking the bank?

Well, I had a little google and I found this really lovely tutorial for a DIY no-sew ninja costume. It looks really easy and I could even manage this without pricking my finger!

LEGO Ninja

Photo courtesy of the LEGOLAND Facebook page


As well as a fun day out in fancy dress, your little ones will also be the first to see the new LEGO® Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu   episodes before their launch on Cartoon Network in March. Lucky them!

Also, if you go down on Saturday 7th February, you might just catch a sneak peek of the awesome and amazing ‘The Little Ninjas’ martial arts school, showcasing their skills throughout the day.

Not only do you have all the fun of an every day trip to LEGOLAND, if you go this weekend you’re certain to get incredible value for money. Get there early though – it’s bound to be a popular event!


If you’ve no little ninjas of your own, and you love LEGO but would rather visit without the deafening noise of children, then Adult Friends of LEGO is for you.

Held on a very regular basis, AFOL is a strictly child free zone where the over 16’s can enjoy the wonder of the brick in their own time – and I suspect without queuing for refreshments either! For all the up to date info on AFOL nights, click here.