Wednesday, 4 March 2015

#ARWOMAN


Atterley Road have launched their #ARWOMAN campaign and have asked me to tell my readers about a woman who inspires me. Well I'm going to bend the rules a little bit and talk about the two most influential female figures in my life ( aside from my daughter!) My Mama and my younger sister Ali.

Growing up, my father would often be away on business for long periods of time, so really my mother brought my sister and I up entirely on her own. Sadly, she lost both her parents quite early in life, with her in-laws across the continent in Greece and as an only child, she had no one to fall back on should she ever needed a helping hand. I can't imagine how exhausting it must have been for her and this was undoubtedly one of the reasons why I hoped that my firstborn would never be an only child. My mother would tirelessly drive my sister and I to the best school around which was an hour round trip, morning and night, followed by after school activities every night of the week. During the school holidays, my father would often summon us to join him wherever he was in the world, at a moment's notice and I can distinctly remember my mum up all making lists and packing for the three of us. Even though my sister and I have now left home, her dedication to our family continues- when I was working part time, she would travel up to London from Wales every week to look after E and Rufio to save me going to the expense and stress of finding childcare for them. She is undoubtedly one of the most organised people I know, we jokingly call her the family PA as she is always trying to plan and coordinate things for us.

In a similar vein, my sister Ali gave up her high flying career in Banking to bring up her young family and pursue her love of photography. She is the smartest, sweetest and kindest person you could meet, I often joke that if she wasn't my little sister I would probably detest her for being so perfect! Bringing up two girlies under four, being the main carer for our family's three wayward Boston Terriers, all whilst pregnant with no 3 is no mean feat! Housewife, Stay-at-home-mum, full time mum- what ever you want to call it, (I personally find all three titles slightly patronising for various reasons), It constantly irritates me to witness the derogatory way that people treat women who chose to focus on raising a family rather than going out to work every day. I myself have been in both positions myself and neither is easy, going out to work and leaving the children takes it's toll emotionally, particularly from a guilt perspective and although staying home with the children is wonderful, being able to be part of their lives day to day, it is physically exhausting as you never get time to switch off.

I firmly believe that it is high time us Mamas stopped judging each other for one minute and appreciate the wonderful job that we are all doing. Ultimately we all have the same goal - to provide the very best for our families.

I would love to know who inspires you, why not share a photo of them on Instagram using the #ARWOMAN hashtag, tag your friends and get them to join in!

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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Nails of the Week: Pinterest Gone Wrong

This week's Nails of the week is one of those Pinterest fails that actually turned good in the end. It was inspired from an image found on Pinterest, taken from Cupcakes and cashmere, one of my favourite blogs! I use the term 'inspired' quite loosely because in reality, my mani turned out nothing like the Cupcakes and Cashmere version, it is in fact very distant relative. I contemplated removing it all as soon as I had finished but in the end it kinda grew on me, so much so that I'm actually blogging about it. The neon pink was quite old and ended up streaking when I applied the topcoat but this unintentional effect ended up being my favourite part of the manicure in the end!!



The base colour is Essie Sand Tropez, I'm having a bit of a moment with this shade, it sat untouched in my stash for a few years but I have been using it more and more lately. The left dot is Essie in stitches and the streaky right one is the positively ancient, Essie Disco Pink.

I'm still working on my Shellac Hack- I'll get back to you as soon as I have found the winning formula ;)


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Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Mama Rant: Nuisance Calls!

We have a pest in our house, not ants, or wasps or even mice, unfortunately I don't think Rentokil can help us with this nuisance because it is to do with that archaic household device known as 'The Landline' . Why we even have a Landline, I do not know- no one ever calls us on it except for my parents and now increasingly so, the nuisance callers, usually trying to sell something we don't need. From PPI to no win no fee accident claims to people calling for whoever owned the landline prior to us, we have them all! But by far the most annoying is the recorded message calls, which are apparently voice sensitive so if you do swear at them and tell them to P**S off as errrrm I may or may not have done a few times, it will register that the phone line is in use and call you even more.



What irritates me most about these calls is that the always seem to call at the most inopportune moments! I will have spend hours rocking my son to sleep in the buggy for his day time nap, no sooner will his eyes have shut and the landline will wail waking my toddler up. I run to pick up the phone before it wakes him beyond the point of no return, only to hear some robotic recorded message on the other end. Otherwise it's usually at meal times when I have two hungry children screeching at me whilst I try to prepare some food. No, I really do not have time to answer your customer service survey right now and no, you can't call back!!

So I've been doing some research as to how we can put an end to this pest. By far the easiest solution seems to be to buy a call blocking device such as one of these Panasonic call blocking phones  I have also signed up to www.tpsonline.org.uk which is a free service that allows you to record your preference not to receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls. I'm not sure that there is a way to completely block these calls out as they probably could just call from other numbers but I really hope these steps will help.

Do you have any tips on reducing nuisance calls?

 


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Monday, 23 February 2015

This Mama Loves: Cussons Mum & Me Ultra Mild Head to Toe Wash

My oldest who is 3, has super sensitive skin. From pretty much the day she was born she was on medication for a skin infection picked up at the hospital where she was born, so we have to be really really careful with any products that we use on her. Cussons Mum & Me sent me their Ultra Mild Head to Toe baby wash to try out, and so far it has been absolutely brilliant. Apparently it's so mild that it can even be used on newborns so it really super gentle. It is also hypoallergenic, paediatrician approved kind to eyes, it also has a really light and pleasant camomile scent which you barely notice. 



When E and Rufio were newborns, I could never find any products gentle enough for either of them in the supermarket and would always have to order separately online and let's face it as a new Mama, you have enough to do! The great thing about this is that you can pick this up in the baby aisle in the supermarket or in Boots and the recommended retail price is a very reasonable £2.99 but you can find it even cheaper if you shop around.

So our verdict: A really lovely and gentle product which we will continue to use. I would love it even more if it was Paraben and SLS free but generally another great product from Cussons Mum & Me, we loved their Baby Bath to Comfort Snuffles and we love this too!

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Thursday, 19 February 2015

Our Bluestone National Park Resort Review

As you may have guessed from the deluge of photos on my Instagram feed, few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of being invited to review Bluestone National Park Resort in Wales. It was just the pick me up we needed from our post Christmas blues, and a short break from city life.

Although I grew up in Wales, just outside Cardiff, I'm not all that familiar with Pembrokeshire, Mr Jones and I had visited Tenby for a wedding a few years ago and loved it, we couldn't wait to go back!







Arrival
It took us around four and a half hours to drive from South West London to Bluestone, despite the snow towards the end of our journey. It was all very well sign posted, as we got closer, we followed signs for Oakwood ( the theme park next door to Bluestone) and eventually there were signs directing us towards Bluestone itself.
We checked in at the drive through reception and were directed towards our home for the next few nights. As we pulled up, the lights were on inside and it looked very inviting and cosy.



Accommodation
During our stay, we spent four nights in a Grassholm lodge in Preseli View. A four bedroomed Lodge that slept 8 people with one double bedroom and three twin rooms ( you could easily push the beds together to create four doubles) and three bathrooms one of which ensuite.  We brought some good friends of ours along with us so altogether we were four adults, three toddlers and a newborn. The lodge was clean and spacious with neutral decor throughout. I loved the open plan layout and despite us being 8 people it didn't feel at all cramped.  You do have the option to pay extra for maid service, we toyed with the idea but as we were only there for four days, we didn't bother.
Bluestone is self catering and the lodges come very well equipped with utensils, we have never stayed at a self catering hotel before and found it really convenient with the children.









Activities
Before we arrived at Bluestone, we were sent quite a few e-mails encouraging us to book activities beforehand. I didn't have time to book anything before our stay but there was plenty to do nonetheless. The children could not get enough of the indoor adventure centre, with it's bouncy castle, soft play area, the lego wall and a huge overhead wooden climbing frame, for older children. They had so much fun here, I'm not sure how we managed to avoid tantrums when it was time to leave but we did!

We also adored the Blue Lagoon waterpark, I lost count of the number of times we went around the lazy river, which E and our friend's little boy were absolutely obsessed with, especially the part where the current takes you out outdoors. The pool is created to mimic the sea shore so the water's edge is really shallow and perfect for toddlers to splash around. There is also a very shallow toddler pool to the side of the main area with a little slide and even some rock pools!






Spa
The bit you've all been waiting for- The spa!! The gorgeous Well Spa is located in the village in the centre of Bluestone. I had looked at the menu online and the prices were eye-wateringly expensive- think high end London spa!

I decided to pop in to the spa to see if they had an offers on and fortunately they did!! I booked a 1 hour personal yoga class for myself at a very reasonable £20, I would pay this for a group class in London. The teacher Bethan Walton was trained in Viniyoga  and was absolutely fantastic. To begin with we sat down and discussed what I wanted to achieve with yoga and then we moved on to some poses and breathing exercises. If you are at all interested in yoga, I highly recommend you book this class, I left feeling motivated and very much inspired to take up yoga once again.

I also booked a spa morning with my friend, we left the children at home with the guys and had a relaxing morning catching up in the luxurious spa. We paid £35 for an hour's use of the Thermal Rooms which include a salt room, ice room, sauna and outdoor plunge pool. A half hour facial was also part of the deal and this was lovely.

In short, take advantage of the offers before arrival or call up the spa and ask what deals they have, on arrival.







Food
We loved Bluestone but to be honest we found that the food on offer wasn't really to our taste. One evening we ate at the Knight's Tafarn, which is kind of like a pub, the kids loved their bangers and mash!
 There's a local store in the town which is pretty well stocked but with heaps of local produce on offer but as we didn't really want to cook every night, we ended up driving out of Bluestone for dinner in the evenings. Fortunately my friend who was staying with us is actually from a seaside town close to Bluestone and was able to suggest places for us to eat in the evenings but on driving in and out of Bluestone we encountered something of a problem which leads me on to my next point....






Parking
Bluestone prides itself on 'Free range fun' with it's no car policy and my city children absolutely loved being able to run free. You are allowed to drive your car to your lodge to unload and load your luggage but for the rest of the time you leave your car in a long stay car park.

The week we visited it was absolutely freezing and as Bluestone is quite vast, Mr Jones decided to rent a golf buggy for the week which was undoubtedly the highlight of his trip. As we were visiting mid week, we paid £65 for 5 days use.

However, on the evenings when we drove in and out of Bluestone, we encountered a problem. Each night on our drive home from dinner, the children would inevitably fall asleep in the car. There was absolutely no way we could then transfer all four sleeping children, ranging from three and a half to three months into a freezing golf buggy in order to drive from the car park to our lodge. On both occasions we had to plead with the guards at the door to let us drive to the lodge and although we loved the free range concept, we did find it to be a touch inconvenient in the evenings with such small children.






So what's our overall verdict. Well although Bluestone isn't the sort of holiday we would usually choose we absolutely loved it!! We thoroughly enjoyed our stay and would most definitely go back again. For families it is ideal and there is something for everyone to enjoy regardless of the weather. It has definitely open our eyes to the concept of holidaying in this country as we usually go abroad.

One of the things that I liked most about Bluestone was that with all the optional extras such as maid service and welcome hampers you can really tailor your holiday to suit your individual needs and your budget.

We found Bluestone to be seriously relaxing and heaps of fun, the perfect family escape from London! Just what we needed!!


 www.bluestonewales.com
















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