Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Newquay Zoo

Over the summer when the sun actually came out to play we took a trip to Newquay Zoo whilst we were on holiday. We have visited Cornwall many times but had never visited the zoo before. Upon arrival we found a parking space up on the top car park by the skateboard park. Parking is not free so ensure you have change on you if you are travelling by car. We paid to get in and was offered a free return ticket that was to be used within 7 days. Sadly we didn't get to use this but would have had we been staying on holiday for longer.
As a family we love animals, especially myself, as most of my regular readers will know I hope to work within the zoo industry. This means as a family we love nothing more than a trip to the zoo or safari park and we have had the pleasure of visiting many.
The first enclosure we came to at Newquay zoo was the Squirrel monkey enclosure, my children loved seeing the babies clinging onto the backs of their mums. For me with a love of photography the enclosure was not that photograph friendly with the bars thick and tightly packed it took me longer than usual, but with a bit of strategic positioning and patiently waiting I got a shot I was happy with. 

Monday, 17 August 2015

GCSE Results Day Countdown

As Thursday 20th August 2015 creeps nearer my nerves are growing. This year was the first time I had sat a GCSE exam since 1998. The results that will decide if I get into university next year could not be any more important. It is not only me that is collecting results. My eldest daughter will be collecting some of her results too. Academically she has always struggled, it has never come naturally to her and she has had to work hard to achieve what she has. Her dreams are to become a hairdresser, she is currently studying hair and beauty as one of her subjects so she has taken the first steps. I hope she gets onto the course she would like as she has no interest in anything else. 

It is full of ?????

For myself the studying has been hard, juggling five children, a full time course and retaking Maths and English GCSE was never going to be easy. I am proud that I achieved a Distinction* overall in my course. I just hope that on Thursday when I open that email I will be just as proud. I really do not want to have to sit those exams again. If I have to, of course I will. If that is what needs to be done for me to achieve my goals then I will do anything that is required. When I originally sat my exams I didn't care what I got, I had already had my dreams of joining the army ripped away from me due to eczema so I was a 16 year old on a path of self destruct. It is funny how years down the line your career goals change. I am pleased I never reached my goal of joining the army, I would not have had my beautiful children if I did. I would not be leading the life I do now and I would not be working towards my goal of working with animals.

In three days I will know my results, I will know what my next step is. Will I be celebrating or crying into a pillow? I honestly have no idea, I have no idea what those results will be!

Friday, 14 August 2015

Bird House Upcycling

 Ocean Finance  have a lovely competition running. I was selected to take part and I am so pleased with the results. The competition is to upcycle a bird box, they supplied me with a plain bird house and gave me a voucher for Buddly Crafts to purchase craft supplies to decorate the house. 
As soon as I started looking through the Buddly craft website the ideas came flooding in. I saw the natural straw sticks and knew they would make a great thatched roof.  I bought some twine to place around the edge and some wooden birds to place on the top. I glued down two horizontal straws that over hung the edge of the roof. I then applied two layers of straws vertically on both sides and rounded the front and rear edge off. I then glued a single layer of straws over the middle whilst creating a pattern. To finish off the thatched roof I placed the twine around the scalloped edges and placed a line around an inch and half from the edge.  I topped the thatched roof with two birds that I had glued together. No thatched roof is complete without an animal placed on top. Be very careful if you choose a glue gun to stick down your straws, the glue gets hot and you may get burnt fingers.
Now for the decoration. I love pyrography so I knew I wanted to include this in my design. I bought some tags with a scalloped edge and wood burnt the words "Home Tweet Home" onto it. I also darkened the edges a little. I then searched the internet for a design that I could place around the entrance of my bird house. I came across a beautiful doodle that would fit perfectly. I wood burnt it onto my bird house and placed the wooden shapes I had bought around the side of the bird house to finish it off. 

Now all I need to do is find a safe place out of the cats reach and hope that new residents of the bird variety move in.

I really enjoyed upcycling this bird house, I may purchase some more to decorate and place around my garden.

Disclaimer- I was sent the bird house and a £25 voucher to purchase craft items

Monday, 10 August 2015

Back to School with Leitz

As many of you know I am a full time student, my course entails a lot of written work and over the past year stationary has played a huge part in my life. Every weekday I would carry around a heavy file, that file would often change as they could not cope with the work I placed inside it. The lever hinge would break on me all of the time which meant I would have to buy a new file. I think I have solved the problem.

Leitz have sent me a selection of the their products. As soon as I saw the Leitz 180° Active Style lever arch file I knew that this one would be able to hold all of my work without breaking. It has a soft brushed finished in titan blue. It is lightweight and comes with an elastic band fastener to keep the file closed when not in use. It is made from a lightweight pp polyform material which is much stronger than a standard file. I find the corners of my old files broke down easily but I feel confident that I will not have any disintegrating corners with this file. Inside it features transparent pockets in which you can store items in, it will hold my timetable perfectly. I am a campus rep and possibly will be going for college president this year so it may also hold an whole new schedule of events and meeting. It has a pen holder which is perfect for when you are on the go and don't want to carry around a bag full of pens like I usually do. The mechanism on the file is what I love most about this file, it is the best I have seen, it also comes with a five year guarantee which shows you that the quality is far better than a standard file. It is always the mechanism that breaks on me, I am 100% confidant that this file will last me a long time. If I need to buy more than one file for either my college course or when I attend university I will always return to the quality of Leitz.
The file is not all Leitz sent me, they also sent me their NeXXt series style metal office hole punch and NeXXt series style metal office stapler. Both of them are also titan blue with the brushed finish. Both come with a 10 year guarantee and both are excellent quality. The stapler can easily staple 30 sheets of 80gsm grade paper together and comes with an integrated staple remover. As part of my assignments at college I am required to produce booklets and I would always have to use the college stapler but now I can complete my work at home. The hole punch is able to effortlessly punch holes into 30 sheets of 80gsm grade paper. It features a guide which allows you to place the holes where you need them and also collects the little circles of paper in the compartment under the hole punch.
Leitz also sent me one of their softcover A5 notebooks. Just like all of the other products the notebook is titan blue with a brushed finish. It has 80 sheets of 100gsm grade paper and is pacted with features. The features are:
Silver elastic fastener to keep the notebook closed when not in use.
Two page markers which allows you quick access to marked pages.
Pen holder
The last 8 pages are plain and perforated to allow you easy removal of those pages.
Two silver stick notes piles which allow you to mark extra important pages.
Integrated expanding pocket on the back cover.
This product will come in very handy when I need to add important notes during my campus meetings.

Lastly is the Leitz slim folio case for the ipad Air2. Now I am not that lucky to own and ipad Air2 so I can only tell you of its features. Its features are:

  • Sophisticated soft cover with a brushed metal finish in titan blue which provides all-round protection for the iPad Air 2

    • Cover provides an adjustable stand when open and folded to set the perfect viewing angle
    • Flexible for quick and easy iPad Air 2 removal
    • Full access to all sensors, connections and controls
    • Holds the iPad in landscape mode

    I would like someone to make use of this product so I am offering it as a prize, to enter just fill out the rafflecopter form below.
    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Wednesday, 29 July 2015

    Be in control of your journey, be rewarded

    Learning to drive can be daunting. Going out on the roads after passing your test can be just as daunting. With the increasing prices of insurance, tax, MOT and petrol if you could save a little and be rewarded for safe driving would you want to? Of course the answer is yes! More Than insurance have created telematics driving style score for young drivers. It is aimed at young drivers aged 18-24 years. How it works is a black box is fitted to your car out of sight so it won't ruin your beautiful new car, young people can afford new cars right? This then measures your speed and braking. If you are driving safely and don't break excessively then you could be rewarded. You could get up to 10% of your premiums back in the first year! That is a massive saving. I wish I was within the age limit as soon I will be embarking on my own learning to drive journey.
    I have done a few lessons and I am not too bad to be fair, it is just scary. My husband keeps telling me I can just go on our insurance and use our current vehicle. I have told him where to go as we don't have a normal car, we have a huge 9 seater mini bus! I envisioned a much smaller vehicle for my first car. One thing I have learnt from him though is I should do long journeys without any of my family as when we are all together our journeys tend to go wrong. We have had a fair few mishaps which all seem to occur on our holiday journey, a few of them I will share with you.

    The pesky fly and attack of the giant bumble bee
    We were on holiday in Devon and a fly was bothering my mother in law. No matter what she did this fly would not die and it kept appearing in her room of the caravan. She would say "I have hit it, I have put it out of the window and it just keeps coming back". We joked that it would be funny if it flew out of her case when she returned home. Packing up her case she was careful not to pack the fly, we said goodbye to our caravan and headed off back home. About half way through our journey home I noticed my husband was scratching his legs. The scratching became excessive, I was worried he was not concentrating on the driving and asked him what was wrong. He said "I think the fly is in the car" well that was me in a fit of laughter. He pulled over and got out of the car and started hunting for the fly! He found it and evicted it from our vehicle. A few more miles and he started itching his leg again. I couldn't help but laugh when he said "I don't believe it, the damn fly is back!" Again he pulled over, evicted the fly, closed the windows and set off.
    A few miles down the road we all started to get warm so we opened the windows again. I opened a pack of cheddars and began eating them. I heard and felt a big whack on my packet. I looked down on my lap and the biggest bumble bee was staring back at me! Well I did the only thing a normal person would do, I screamed and threw my bottom off the seat. Of course the bee now fell between my legs and was poised on the seat ready to sting my rear dare I sit back down. I had nowhere to go, the seatbelt meant I was stuck there and I could not sit back down. I screamed for my husband to pull over, he did, but took his time in doing so. When the car pulled to a pace that I could jump out I did, I would like to say it was a graceful leap out of the car but it wasn't! My husband evicted the bee and I returned to my seat. Nature had it in for us that day and we did the rest of the journey with the windows closed!

    The journey with the sick bucket and almost lost teeth!
    We were returning from Cornwall, some of us had had a pretty bad sickness bug. The bug chose the day of us travelling back home to hit my mother in law. 317 miles of sickness is no fun at all. Especially when the smell of vomit makes me vomit. It sort of came in waves, one minute she was fine the next she had her head  in the bucket. We lined the bucket with carrier bags so we could just bin the bag of sick every time we stopped. My husband would ask if we needed to stop as we approached every service station or lay by. She would reply "no, I'm fine" and every time just as we were going past a turn off she would start throwing up. My son who was sat next to her would look at her in utter disgust every time. The funniest part came when my husband went to throw a bag of sick in the bin. My mother in law started to mumble something whilst her head was still over the bucket, she seemed distressed. Out of the window she was trying to get his attention as he approached the bin. That is when is dawned on me what she was saying "my teeth, my teeth" whilst throwing up, her false teeth had flew out of her mouth and into the bag of sick. The bag of sick that my husband was about to bin! Thankfully we managed to stop him from throwing away her teeth, the look on his face when he realised he had to retrieve her teeth from the sick was priceless. I don't think he will ever recover from having to retrieve his own mothers teeth from her bag of sick! My stomach still churns when ever I think about that day.

    Lastly is our journey that we have just returned from. Travelling from North Wales to Cornwall is one we have done plenty of times. At 5am I asked my husband if he needed the sat nav on but he told me he knew the way. So off we went. We drove past Telford and eventually arrived in Birmingham. I picked up my magazine and started to read about Peter Andre's wedding, head in the magazine I was not being a very good copilot. The next time I lifted my head I was puzzled as I was not seeing signs for Bristol. It is here I should have said something but thought best not, my husband will only think I don't trust his navigating skills. A few more miles down the road I started seeing signs for London, then Heathrow! I looked at my husband, he glanced at me. We were on our way to London! "How the hell have we ended up in London" I asked him in a rather unimpressed tone. "erm, um, erm well you was watching the road too" was his reply! I put on the trusty sat nav for the rest of the journey! He had added an extra 137 miles onto our journey. We arrived late and we were all a little grumpy for the rest of the day. The day before we were due to come home I asked him how much petrol will be needed for the journey home. My mother in law quickly responded with "it depends if we go via London" He did not look impressed so I don't think we can laugh about the time we went to Cornwall via London just yet!

    The correct journey on the left and via London on the right!

    So what have I learned from my husband?
    Drive alone or with just the kids, NEVER drive with grown ups in the car!

    Tuesday, 21 July 2015

    Spanish Tortilla Let's Cookalong

    My children and I recently took part in Tesco Eat Happy Project who are working with Children's Food Trust  to launch a series of cooking videos called Let's Cookalong. We were sent the ingredients for us to make a Spanish tortilla. My children love to cook and bake, I think it is important for us to teach our children the skills needed to be able to cook for themselves. 
    I was sent an instructional video that was really easy to follow, it gave you step by step instructions and told you what skills to use to chop the ingredients. This helped my children greatly as they could visualise what they was required to do. The video also prompts you when to pause so you are able to carry out the task given.
    The ingredients we were sent are:
    1 onion
    1 red or orange pepper
    50g mushrooms
    400g leftover boiled potatoes
    50g frozen peas
    4 large eggs
    1 teaspoon of mustard
    Cooking oil
    30g reduced fat cheese

    The equipment needed is:

    Weighing scales
    Sharp knife
    Chopping board
    Kitchen paper
    Oven gloves
    Small bowl
    Medium bowl
    Whisk or fork
    Spatula or fish slice
    Frying pan
    Plastic cup

    We followed the video together and chopped up our ingredients as shown in the video. Little lady loves to crack eggs, having our own chickens means she has had plenty of practice at doing this and for a 4 year old she is quite the pro. Little T almost left the kitchen when it came to chopping the onion but thanks to the tip on the video there was not one tear in our eyes, I will definitely be chopping my onions the way I was shown in the video from now on. To learn more skills take a peek at the Eat Happy Project YouTube channel 

    I highly recommend following the Let's Cookalong recipes and videos, my children and I had lots of fun today and it is a way to teach your children valuable life skills no matter what their age is. Our Spanish tortilla was a hit, especially my eldest son who asked for more. My husband does not normally take an interest when we are baking together but his nose pulled him towards the kitchen today. I will be following the rest of the series.

    Tuesday, 7 July 2015

    Education and restricting access: two keys to keeping children safe online

    For those of us who didn't grow up with internet access, this tech savvy generation of youngsters often has us in awe of its skills. However, while we may feel rightly proud of our children and grandchildren, it is important to remember that however knowledgeable and confident they are when it comes to technology, they are still children and do not have the wealth of life experience to make them wary of some of the dangers that they may encounter online.

    There is no doubt that internet access offers many benefits to children. It provides access to a wealth of resources that can help them with their homework. It also offers a way for them to share creative work such as stories and drawings as well as allowing them to play games and stay in touch with friends and family, wherever they may be in the world. However, it is sadly also the case that there are less benign aspects to the internet and, without the right kind of protection and guidance, children may unwittingly put themselves at risk - for example by sharing information with a stranger who is not as friendly as they may seem - or compromise the security of the computer by accidentally exposing it to viruses or malware.

    Such risks are not a reason to prevent children from benefiting from all the positive things the internet has to offer, but they do mean that responsible adults need to educate themselves on the types of hazards that exist, so that they are in a position to ensure children are safe online.

    Fortunately, the internet itself offers a wealth of knowledge about online safety, which responsible adults can access to inform themselves and the children in their care. One of the best ways of raising children's awareness of online safety is by discussing the subject and finding out what they already know - or think they know - and encouraging them to think about the kinds of situations they could run into online and how they might respond to them.

    As well as learning what risks to be prepared for and discussing these with children, a practical step is to install goodquality anti-virus program which also features parental control tools. Using the parental control settings, adults can restrict the websites that a child can access in order to reduce the risk of them viewing inappropriate content.

    Anti-virus software and parental controls will help keep your child safe when he or she uses your home computer, but remember that other parents may not have taken the same precautions. If you are concerned about what your child may access online at friends’ houses, it may be a good idea to discuss the subject with other parents to make sure they are aware of online risks and how they can protect their children from them.

    I would not allow my children access to any computer that does not have a fantastic antivirus program on it. I also like the parental controls that comes with my program