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» Listings for May 2017

  1. Warm weather is finally here and you can win a summer dress in my blog giveaway!

    I’m so excited the warm weather is finally here.  I’m not so into the wind and rain, but I can cope with it if it’s actually warm outside!  I find summer clothes so much freer to wear and love the simplicity of less stuff.  Wearing sandals, shorts, dresses and not bulky coats, socks and boots, is my kind of style!

    I’m also so much happier when the weather is warm and the sun is out.  I absolutely detest being cold and it makes me want to wrap up warm in a cocoon and not move or talk to anyone!  The warm weather makes me want to adventure out and take part in activities once again.

    Waking up to sunshine puts an instant smile on my face.  I feel at peace walking along the streets on a warm sunny day.  I’m pretty certain I suffer with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) as I can be a totally different person in the winter mood-wise.  It does not suit me at all.  I’d love to live somewhere where the weather is permanently warm, at least 20 degrees every day.  No need for winter coats or boots.  That would be my ideal!

    To celebrate this shift in weather, I’m giving one lucky blog reader a Floral Maxi Dress in Size Large.

    Blog Giveaway: Win a Size L Floral Maxi Dress

    It’s a beautiful pale pinky/cream stretch long dress with a bright summery flower pattern all over.  It’s gorgeous for the summer holidays with a pair of flat sandals.

    Entry is to UK residents only and is open for two weeks.  There are four ways to enter in the Rafflecopter widget and you can come back to enter daily!  Please share the giveaway with your friends and family.  It really is a lovely dress (I have one!)

    Good luck!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  2. Great days out for the whole family in the Midlands

    What phrases are best suited to describe the Midlands? Some will choose words such as family-oriented, fun, engaging and eclectic. Others opt for terms including beautiful, pristine, relaxing and historic. The fact of the matter is that both of these perspectives are just as relevant. Often referred to as the jewel of the United Kingdom, there are a host of activities to be found here. Let us look at a handful of attractions which are ideal for both the young and the old alike.


    Discover the Midlands - Great days out for the whole family in the Midlands

    Cadbury World

    It can be argued that Cadbury World is one of the most famous Birmingham attractions. Whether you have a sweet tooth or not, this is an ideal destination for the entire family. Self-guided exhibition tours, afternoon tea and the chance to catch a first-hand glimpse of how chocolate is made are only a handful of the activities which can be found here.

    The Black Country Living Museum

    Why not enjoy a bit of living history during a trip to the Midlands? Located in Dudley, the Black Country Living Museum will transport you and your visitors back to pre-industrial times. On-site actors display traditional clothing and customs; offering an entirely unique experience that can hardly be duplicated by a traditional museum. The buildings themselves are extremely authentic and you will suddenly feel as if you have been transported back in time. As the museum is found only ten miles outside of Birmingham, civilisation is nonetheless not far off.

    A Unique Flying Experience

    If you have ever wanted to soar high with the birds, there is perhaps no better way to learn than by taking a chartered flight at Tatenhill Airfield. Personalised flying lessons are offered or you can simply remain a passenger and experience the majesty of the Midlands from the air. Of course, it is always wise to book reservations in advance; this is a very popular tourist destination.

    Exploring the River Trent

    The River Trent is one of the most important waterways within the Midlands and it has been used to transport goods and materials for thousands of years. Thankfully, you can experience its majesty without having to pay a single pound. There are many picturesque spots to be found along the way. One example is the famous Trent Bridge located just outside of Nottingham. You can take a relaxing walk along its shores or sit down for a picnic with the family. There are also a handful of guided boat tours available. 

    The Dudley Zoo

    If you are looking for a fun outing regardless of the weather, The Dudley Zoo is another great option. At no less than 40 acres in size, the amount of flora and fauna within its confines is impressive. This zoo is one of the largest in England and it has been in constant operation since 1937.

    The National Sea Life Centre

    This museum offers a unique glimpse into the maritime environment. There are currently over 60 displays which showcase life from the deep blue sea. Some of these contain tropical reef fish, magnificent giant turtles and even black-tipped reef sharks. Many of these exhibits provide close-up views of creatures that would otherwise remain unknown. There are also a handful of interactive exhibits and these are perfect to entertain any children during a visit. The National Sea Life Centre is likewise a stunning masterpiece of architecture and it is immediately recognisable once you arrive.

    The Heights of Abraham

    The Heights of Abraham is a large country park that offers an incredible 60 acres of pristine woodlands. It is particularly famous for its underground caverns and some of these stretch on for miles. These were used for lead mining since the Roman times. Colourful lighting displays offer a unique touch to this environment and guided tours will help to explain the rich history of such an interesting location.

    So, it should now be clear to appreciate the numerous experiences that the Midlands has to offer. This entire region is full of surprises and each will provide memories to last a lifetime. There is no doubt that the Midlands is one of the most amazing regions within the United Kingdom.

     

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  3. The best ideas for gifts for school leavers

    Pretty soon, thousands of young adults across the country will be leaving either secondary school or graduating from university. If your child is one of them, then have you thought about what you’ll get them as a gift? Of course, you don’t have to get them anything if money is tight (or they haven’t deserved it!), but if you have the cash (and they’ve done well), then buying them something special can be the perfect way to mark the end of that phase of their life. Here are some ideas on what you can get them.

    Travel

    It’s almost become a rite of passage for young adults to head off into the wide world for exploration, fun, and reflection. If your child is responsible and has a yearning to travel, then why not make your present something to do with travelling? You don’t have to pay for the whole thing (that’ll be expensive!), but putting money towards a flight or experience when they’re overseas could be a good idea. There are also some essential travel accessories that could do with having when they’re away, so maybe look at them too.

    Throwing a Party

    Your child has been working very hard recently, so they’re probably in the mood for having some fun! You could combine their yearning for fun with your gift, and host a party in their honour. If you have a garden, then pick up a gazebo, fill it with delicious drinks, and have your child invite their friends around. His or her friends, who will also be graduating or leaving school, will also be ready to let their hair down and have some fun.  Also, invite family members...and OK, you can make a speech about how proud you are of them if you want!

    Gifts For School-Leaving or Graduating Child

    Ultimate Freedom

    Your child is about to embark into the world for the first time. They’re leaving the safety of formal education and will not embark on a new phase of their life, one where they’re bound by nothing and in which they can do anything they put their mind to. You can foster this new found sense of freedom by delivering to them the tool they need to really feel free: a car! You can pick them up for pretty cheap these days, and you might just get a ride or two from your child too. Win-win!

    A Special Memento

    If your child has done exceptionally well during their time at school or university, then it’ll deserve more than just a gift that, while good, is temporary. Sometimes, what’s called for is a special memento, one that they will have for decades and decades to come. If you think they’ll like a piece of jewellery, take a look at 14k gold chains or gold rings, or a watch that fits in with their style. If you already have an heir loom in your family, now might be the right time to present it to them.  

    The Money to Progress

    Your child might be bursting at the seams with ideas about what they want to do with their life next. Unfortunately, having the big ideas is pointless if you don’t have the financial backing to those dreams come true. If your child knows what they want to do but needs some cash behind them, then make that your gift to them. There’s every chance that your child has a better idea of what they need than you do; by giving them money, you’ll be letting them carve out their own future.

    The Gift of Time

    Some parents are of the school of thought that when a child leaves the education system, it’s time for them to pack their bags and move out of the family home. This can be a good thing, as it pushes them to make a success of themselves straight away rather than become complacent, but for some people, it’s a little bit too far. If they want their dreams to come true, they need a little more time under the roof they grew up in. If your child is like this, let them stay on in the family home until the time is right for them to move on. Just make sure they know they can’t stay forever!

    Gifts For School-Leaving or Graduating Child travel

    An Experience

    There are a million and one fantastic things to do during the summer in England. Does your child have an eye on one particular event, but doesn’t have the money to make it happen? If so, then make sure right at the top of your shopping list is a ticket to that event. It could be a concert, festival, or show.  Whatever it is, it’ll be the perfect send off for what will have been an intense period of hard work for your child.

    A Day with the Family

    You can always make things pretty grand, but sometimes the best things in life are the most simple. If you’re a close-knit family, then you don’t have to automatically send your child off on their travels or to a concert. Instead, you have a family day, a special one, where the focus is really on them. You could celebrate by having a picnic at your favourite family spot, or go to the beach, or go to your child’s favourite restaurant for dinner. As long as everyone they love most is there, they’re sure to have a great time!

    Words from the Heart

    You can get your child a gift, but you should also take this opportunity to let them know just how proud you are of the person they’ve become. We’re only presented with a few obvious opportunities during a lifetime to tell a person how well they’ve done, so don’t miss it! Write them a letter, make a speech at dinner, or simply sit them down and express some words from the heart. They’ll appreciate the words just as much as the gift you get them, and you’ll also be inspiring them to kick on and do even greater things in the future!

     

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  4. Have you heard of the crazy cheese rolling event?

    Yesterday was the crazy cheese rolling event in Gloucestershire.  It’s right behind our home and we can see the lunatics tumbling down the vertical hill from our back windows and garden!  Coopers Hill has a practically vertical patch of grass on it.  You really can’t tell how vertical it is until you are there.  We can walk to the top in around half hour from our home and once there in person, you really realise how crazy they are!

    brockworth gloucestershire cheese rolling 2017

    Every year on the last bank holiday in May the annual cheese rolling event takes place.  There are a few races in which a giant round block of cheese is rolled down the hill and participants chase after it down the hill to try to catch the cheese, or at least be the first to the bottom.  There’s often a rugby team at the bottom waiting to catch you, amongst all the news reporters.

    It’s impossible to run down the hill as it’s so steep, so they end up tumbling and rolling down bouncing as they go.  It’s quite a sight!  I’ve only been in the crowd one year and the atmosphere is amazing.  It brings crowds of people from all over the world and the energy and buzz is fantastic.

    I don’t think I’d ever be brave enough to do it – some people have broken bones and all sorts in the past.  There is an uphill race which I’d consider.  It sounds a lot less painful!

    No-one really knows how this event started, but there are various rumours.  One being the rich people threw the cheese down the hill for their entertainment by making the poor run after it!  There are two totally different theories on Wikipedia.

    One of my favourite TV programmes is Lives in the Wild and the presenter Ben Fogle took part in the cheese rolling yesterday.  Very brave, but he says he won’t do it ever again!

     

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  5. A weekend in Wales with camping, beaches and castles

    On Saturday me and Ben dropped the kids off at Nana’s after Bella’s morning swimming lesson and headed to Wales for a much needed night away.  For the past three years whenever we’ve had a night or day to ourselves, we’ve spent it busily doing up the house or garden and spent many romantic weekend trips alone to B&Q!  My Mum banned us from going to B&Q this time!  Though we did end up in Homebase which I’ll explain later!

    Having poured all spare money into our home for three years, I’ve been desperate to start having some family trips away as well as just adult trips away.  This year sees us finally doing so and as well as this trip I’ve booked another night away for me and Ben in July, a family weekend away in August, a family visit to Germany in August and a beach holiday next year!  We are also off to Wychwood festival on Friday for the day and we’ll do something in the October half term too as Ben has booked it off.  It’s so great to finally have plans to look forward to as a family and as a couple.  I’m ready to start adventuring and travelling once more.

    A Kid Free Camping Trip to the Vale of Glamorgan - llantwit major beach aco

    Booking a night away

    I was originally looking at The Gower when booking our night away to Wales as I still haven’t been, but Ben has and I hear it’s beautiful.  Being the bank holiday weekend at the start of the half term holiday they were fully booked, so I looked for a beach a little closer and discovered Ogmore Beach in the Vale of Glamorgan.  Pictures of castle ruins and stepping stones enticed me and I set about ringing campsites to see if they had availability.

    ‘Oooh that’s the bank holiday weekend isn’t it?’ said the first.  Oh dear I thought!  Fully booked?  But luckily, nope!  The very first campsite had a pitch for us so I booked it straight away.  My mum was actually with me when I rang and she was in disbelief I was booking a pitch for a tent.  I’m not a big camper!  Well, I’m more of a glamper!  I loved Our First Time Staying in a Yurt and a comfy bed and good night’s sleep definitely makes me enjoy a night away camping!

    I wanted to get away near a beach for a night though and Ben has a small tent, so for £17.50 for a cheap night away I couldn’t really complain (much)!

    Arriving in Ogmore

    When we left Gloucester it was around 20 degrees and I was in shorts and a t-shirt.  When we arrived at Ogmore it was 15 degrees and super windy.  Brrrr!  Ben had thankfully packed for all weather, but I hadn’t packed anything warmer, only a maxi dress, so our first trip was to Tesco to get me a pair of jeggings and a hoody!  I should know by now in this country to pack for all eventualities!

    Before Tesco, we popped to a beach café called Hilary and Iain By Sea for lunch.  Ben had their Famous Surf Burger which looked insane!  It was beef, chicken, bacon, you name it!  It was one of those tower things stacked ridiculously high with an actual knife stabbed through it!  I went for a more modest veggie breakfast of eggs, plum tomatoes, mushrooms and a hash brown.  We shared a pot of tea and it was a great start to our kid free trip away.

    Acorn Camping and Caravan Park

    After lunch and buying me some suitable clothing for the windy weather, we found the campsite and set up the tent.  By set up, I mean let it out of its zip case and TA-DA!  It’s up.  It’s a pop up tiny little thing that takes no setting up at all.  We took four duvets with us, so tried to make the best marshmallow sleeping land inside we could.

    The campsite was lovely.  Clean and tidy and Ben said the toilets were the cleanest block he’d ever seen at a campsite.  The foodie inside me was also pleased to see they served breakfast in their café, so that was the morning sorted!

    A Kid Free Camping Trip to the Vale of Glamorgan - llantwit major rocky bea

    Cwm Colhugh Beach (Llantwit Major Beach)

    The campsite was next to farmers fields which stretched out to the cliffs so we walked through the peaceful fields to the path along the cliffs for a walk.  It was bliss!  The sea view and luscious green countryside is my kind of heaven.  I’d love to live by the sea in the countryside one day.  It’s the perfect combination.  It was super quiet so we were able to explore by ourselves.  We walked to Llantwit Major Beach which was around a half hour walk.

    It’s the rockiest beach I’ve ever seen!

    There were rocks everywhere, giant boulders all over the place!  We had a good go at walking along the beach using the rocks as stepping stones.  Ben decided to take us through a watery area where the stones were quite sparse and I fell in!  Oops!  He managed to catch it on film too and finds it hilarious.

    The cliffs and rocks here are really something and well worth a visit if you’re nearby.

    Il Vesuvio

    We walked back to the campsite and changed my wet seaweed shoes.  Ben looked up the best place to eat nearby and found an Italian in Llantwit Major which was rated #1 on TripAdvisor.  Travelling is so easy with an iPhone and internet!

    Il Vesuvio is a lovely authentic family ran Italian restaurant with a great choice of food and drinks, including plenty of vegetarian options.  Ben chose a meaty pizza (because he hadn’t enough meat at lunchtime!) which was super spicy and burnt his face off!  Not really, but he caught a big bit of chilli in his first bite which was amusing to see!  I had a mushroom and gorgonzola pasta which was delicious.  The portions were very generous and we felt overly satisfied afterwards.

    On the walk back we ran into a park to have a go on the zip wire like giddy teenagers!  We needed to work our food off!

    A Kid Free Camping Trip to the Vale of Glamorgan - acorn camping brigend ll

    The tent

    We stayed in the tent and one night was enough for me.  I just can’t do tents!  I need a mattress of some sort.  I found it really hard, even though I was on top of three of the duvets and I was constantly woken by people walking past the tent.  At 5am it was bright daylight, so that was me awake.  The tent is so small I just needed to get out and couldn’t face getting back in again – claustrophobic!  It’s so dinky I can’t even sit up in it!  We really need to invest in a bigger tent and then perhaps I’ll enjoy the sleeping part a little more.  There was a lot of talk of getting a camper van, so this sounds much better to me too!  Anything I can get a decent night’s sleep in.

    Ben says he had a great night’s sleep!

    A Kid Free Camping Trip to the Vale of Glamorgan - cooked breakfast acorn c

    Flat tyre

    Ben noticed his car looked a little wonky and the tyre wasn’t right.  On closer inspection he saw a nail in the tyre!  Yikes!  He changed it for the spare tyre and we found a Kwik Fit which was open on a Sunday.  After a delicious breakfast at the Acorn campsite we headed for a very exciting trip to Kwik Fit to get a new tyre.

    Unfortunately there was a one hour wait, so we had a browse in Homebase and grabbed some lunch from Tesco.  We could only find a patch of grass near a busy road, so had a picnic here.  Luckily it was super sunny and not windy at all on Sunday.

    £130 later and we were on our way again!

    A Kid Free Camping Trip to the Vale of Glamorgan - ogmore castle ruin wales

    A Kid Free Camping Trip to the Vale of Glamorgan - stepping stones river og

    Ogmore Castle Ruins

    We had a lovely walk along the river by Ogmore Castle Ruins and crossed the huge stepping stones, with me being super careful not to fall in this time!  Ben tried filming to put me off, but did not succeed, ha-hah!  We walked through a field filled with horses and back up to the ruins.  It was so sunny and peaceful and very picturesque.

    I just love ruins and especially castle ruins.  They make me want to go back in time to see the castle in use.  In very stereotypical Wales style, there were sheep everywhere, including in the castle!  One ran in and baa’d so loud it made me jump!  This means there is poo everywhere, so watch your step.

    A Kid Free Camping Trip to the Vale of Glamorgan - raglan castle ruins tudo

    Raglan Castle

    Feeling inspired by castles, Ben suggested a trip to Raglan Castle on the way home.  He’s visited last summer with his brother and Dad so knew it was amazing. 

    It really is an incredible castle and ruins.

    I was surprised we would have to pay to see a ruin, but I could see why when we arrived.  It’s not a tiny ruin, but huge!  We were able to climb two of the towers up spiral stone stair cases to admire the ruins from above and great countryside views, as well as climb down into the creepy dark dungeons!

    It’s well worth the entrance fee and I was amazed by this magnificent castle.  It was where a young Henry Tudor was raised and one of the grandest castles of that time.  The walls are so thick it could not be destroyed when seized in the 17th century, so instead they dug under it to try and make it collapse into the moat!

    A Kid Free Camping Trip to the Vale of Glamorgan - raglan castle ruin wales

    We did so much in just one night away and had a really great time kid free.  It was great to spend a rare weekend away as a couple and I look forward to our next trip in July. We’ll be staying in a quarry in Chepstow and experiencing a zip line across!

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