Friday, 25 July 2014

Take a Romantic Mini Break this Summer

We all know that relationships need investing in to keep them alive and thriving, but sometimes work, kids and just life in general can get in the way. We all lead super busy lives, which means that romance can often be left languishing on the back burner.
Being spontaneous is a great way to stoke those fires of passion, and what could be better than a exciting last minute mini break to give you the opportunity to spend quality time together? Just wait for the weekend (or book a couple of days off work), decide where you want to go and pack a bag!
If you need a little bit of inspiration to get your juices flowing, here are three of the best city break destinations for romance – and some handy tips to make the most of your time together. For more spontaneous getaway suggestions, take a look at the new Travelodge Get Up and Go guide:

The Scottish capital is a wonderfully romantic city, with its cobbled town centre and the stunning surrounding countryside. Feel like King and Queen of the castle, wander the medieval Old Town or take in fine art at the Scottish National Gallery. If the sun is shining in your favour, why not pick up a picnic from a deli on the Royal Mile and head to the dramatic landscape of Holyrood Park. Or sit among the flowers at the Royal Botanic Garden and let love bloom and blossom.
Edinburgh’s Travelodges make a great base in the city – proving that getting away doesn’t have to cost a fortune. You’ll get a comfy bed for the night and have plenty of cash spare to spend on those little treats that make a weekend away extra special.

The historic city of York definitely lends itself to romance, with its winding streets, world famous chocolate shops and beautiful green spaces. The York Chocolate Story Tour is guaranteed to leave you feeling sweet, and, if you’ve got any hints you’d like to drop, a visit to the breathtaking York Minster is a must. A wander of the Shambles, hand in hand, is sure to see you picking up some trinkets to remember your trip by – or, if you and your beloved share a thrill-seeking side, clinging to each other in the York Dungeons will get that adrenalin pumping!

Bath is a beautiful place to escape for a lost weekend, especially if some rest and relaxation is on the cards. Book a couple’s massage at the Thermae Bath Spa before heading up to the rooftop thermal pool which boasts incredible views across the rooftops of the city – an evening dip is especially romantic, so enquire about the twilight package.
During your loved-up stay in Bath you can also step back in time at the Roman Baths Museum, explore Bath Abbey, picnic in Royal Victoria Park and experience Georgian luxury at No 1 Royal Crescent.
Make time for romance. Squeeze in a spontaneous mini-break to escape the stresses and strains of everyday life, and give your relationship a renewed lease of life.

This is a featured post.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Break time!

We are desperately in need of a break! Usually around this time of year as it's our anniversary we make sure we make time to take some time out - but not this year. At the moment we are in the throes of trying to sell our house and it's all go go go with viewings, obsessively looking on Rightmove, that sort of thing.

However I am determined we will go away SOMEWHERE just the two of us, and I'm starting to do some research!I really like the idea of staying in one of the many Henley Hotels as it's somewhere I've never been before and we can really make a weekend of it! While we are there it's nice to look at the history of the place:-

"The first Henley Regatta was held in 1839. Prior to then the same stretch of river had been used for the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race along with other events. In its early days the Regatta was more about socialising and entertainment than sport and initially was just a single afternoon event.  As its popularity grew more events were added and its duration was gradually extended until 1986 when it became a five day event, which it has remained to this day."

I love stuff like this, it's really Pimms and cucumber which we don't really have up north all that much! The Regatta was before national or international rowing federations and consequently it is unique in the world of competitive rowing and has it own set of rules that are not governed by  either British Rowing of the International Rowing Federation, whoever it is recognised by both bodies.

 I'd really love to go to something like this and I think I've got in mind exactly where we will spend our anniversary this year! It's really nice to do something a bit different and see a different side to English life - even though it's only a few hours from Yorkshire. I love learning about the heritage of it all, having a few much needed glasses of Pimms and enjoying a good row! What more could you want?! In collaboration with Superbreak

Friday, 11 July 2014

Time Off - Online!

If you're reading this blog you probably know how rewarding it is having kids - but you'll also know that to appreciate it (and stay sane) you have got to make time to relax at some point!


It's amazing to think that, fifteen years ago or thereabouts, we were all just starting to get into this internet business. Now it's everywhere, and we're literally carrying stuff around in our pockets that would have been science fiction when I was growing up. Weird to think that children now will never know anything different!


One of the brilliant things about modern smartphones and iPads and the like, is that we can grab a bit of downtime when we get the chance - that's so important for mums of young kids (or any age kids, really), as it means we can take the opportunity when we get it. If your kids have a nap after lunch, you can use your phone for half an hour of Words With Friends, Angry Birds, or even to play bingo online. Imagine having to run out to a bingo hall a few years ago if you fancied a game! Now that wireless is everywhere, even the hassle of getting on the internet in the first place is gone.


The way the technology has changed is amazing. I remember the phone I had ten years or so ago - a tiny black-and-white screen and that was about it. It seems like phones got as small as they were going to get shortly after that, and suddenly, as everyone started getting online on their phones, and the graphics got better, everyone wanted bigger screens. Apple's next iPhone is supposed to be coming with a bigger screen and I'm quite tempted...


also remember the days when the internet was basically just sites that told you stuff. Now there's a forum for just about everything (various parenting ones spring to mind!) and everyone can contribute. It's the sharing of information that makes going online so different these days - nobody, including new parents who often feel like they don't know what they're doing, needs to feel alone.


At the moment though, for me it's the ability to "tune out" when the moment presents itself that I value most. With two small boys I never quite know when it's going to be, but as long as I've got my phone to hand I'm always going to be ready!


 (Image courtesy of



(This post is in collaboration with Ryan James)

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

100 Day School Uniform Guarantee!

My son seems to get through school uniform like there's no tomorrow. The trousers seem to definitely fare the worst - they go at the knees AND the hem, I am forever chucking them away and buying new ones! Now, it seems totally familiar to see him in his school uniform but I remember his first day at school like it was yesterday.

Look at that shiny new uniform! Compare this to my first day at school with my friend Helen thirty years previously.
My first day at school in 1983

 I remember this day still very clearly. My mum took me and my friend Helen to school on our first day, we were in different classes and actually I was the older by five months. Later we would grow to be exactly the same height - five foot eight, and in fact Helen was one of my bridesmaids many years later. How silly putting four year olds in a tie! But there you are.

There's something definitely special about a "first day at school". I guess it's the end of an era, a big transition between staying at home with mum and venturing into the big wide world.

Anyway, back to uniforms wearing out in two minutes! I buy all my uniforms from George at Asda - they are one of the few uniform providers to make navy blue trousers which wash well and last 100 days! That might sound short but in the life of a school trouser it is very long indeed! In fact, if you have any issue at all with your uniform, Asda have a no quibble guarantee which is really reassuring.

George at Asda Navy Trousers only £3!

Where do you buy your school uniform?

This is a sponsored post although all thoughts are my own.

Monday, 7 July 2014

It's getting to the time now where we have to think seriously about moving house - the house we are in is over three storeys and although it's been GREAT for having a young family in, due to our age, if we want to get another 25 year mortgage then we realistically have to start thinking about moving SOON!

It's always going to be a stressful process, and in the past we've always gone for new builds which has been great - everything is perfect when you move in and there is NOTHING to do to it - the downside being that the value of the property does slide over the first few years. This time we're not going to make that mistake, we're not going to take the easy route and in fact we've already got our next house in mind! I'm a really impatient person and I know that when we do make the move, I'll want to have everything looking "perfect" (ish) as soon as possible. I think the way to do this is to get some ideas beforehand so it's not all last minute. I've been having a look at what to do with the bedrooms already and for the boys bedroom I like the idea of something bright and bold and think this quirky crocodile head is pretty awesome!

Singoli Crocodile Head

In keeping with the safari ish theme, I think this giraffe cushion is super cute and a great accessory!

Gola Children's Cushion

I've also come across quite a few lovely blogs on this very subject, I like this one here called My Little Lovebird, there are loads of great images on there with various ideas and concepts. Looking at blogs for home design ideas now seems like a total no brainer for me!

That's about as far as I've got thus far! If you spot any awesome kids bedroom stuff please leave a comment below!

Friday, 4 July 2014

Day out at Lightwater Valley!

Everyone loves a good theme part (secretly) and I must admit that before we had children, I don't think we would have considered visiting one. But do you know what? It's good fun! And now the boys are a bit older we can actually go on most of the rides with them and it's lovely to see the big grins on their faces after the log flume or mini rollercoaster, they think they've been really daring!

A few weeks ago we had the chance to put this into practice by spending the day at Lightwater Valley! It's quite near to our house, probably about an hours drive away - so we set off quite early to make the most of the day. I remember going to Lightwater Valley as a child with school and having a great time, it's nice to revisit old haunts with your own children years later I think.

When we walked through the ticket barriers, this little guy was on hand to greet us! I thought it was a nice touch, especially as my boys LOVE Angry Birds. They were thrilled!

Angry Birds Fun!
The fun times with Angry Birds continued when we went inside and were confronted with a whole Angry Birds section of the park! Awesome! There was even an indoor play area for when it's raining or gets really hot, complete with cafe for tired parents to relax. They also had some plasma screens on the wall so children could play the game, it was really high tech. Outside there was some pretty awesome games too where a voice would tell you to stand and you ran around stamping on various things, we liked it.

Angry Birds climbing frame

More Angry Birds stuff!
After that we ventured into the rest of the park, it was smaller than I remember but apparently they were having some development work done. I was surprised at how quiet it was - the staff said sometimes it's busy and somtimes quiet, you just never know. We rarely had to queue more than a few minutes for each ride which was GREAT with young children, we went on each ride several times!

Fun on the swings

There were LOADS of rides suitable for toddlers as these photos show, though there were some height restrictions on some rides it didn't affect our enjoyment at all. It was quite hard to get action shots of the children on the rides as they all came out blurry!

Looking serene on the swans.
We went on this ferris wheel several times!
One thing to add was how lovely the staff are at Lightwater Valley. We went to Drayton Manor recently and the staff could barely string a sentence together. The staff at LWV were kind, thoughtful and happy to have a chat between rides which I thought was a nice thing.

We had a typical fast food lunch in one of the cafes at lunchtime, there was plenty of choice including baked potatoes, pizzas, hot dogs that kind of thing. Not mega healthy but then that's what kids seem to like on days like that!

I noticed on the way out that plans are afoot at Lightwater Valley to redevelop the closed off area of the park into holiday homes which I think is a lovely idea! It's nice to see they are moving with the times and listening to what people want.

All in all we had a great time, the weather was fab, staff lovely, rides lots of fun - what more could you want!

I received these tickets as a gift but all thoughts are my own.


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