Saturday, 6 September 2014

Transport emergency headaches

In case of an emergency it is always good to have a money back up because not all of us have a money tree hiding at the bottom of our gardens, throughout our lives we will all need a back up at some point. Whether it be the bank of mum and dad, credit cards or even loans we all will need it at some point.
Recently I had transport issues for college. As I am a mature student I don't automatically get free transport so I was in a bit of a pickle when with just 2 weeks till my start date I was told it would not be possible for me to be able to get onto the college bus after I was told I could do so earlier in the year if they had a spare seat.
I don't drive and as my college is in such a rural location no public transport goes there in the morning. I had 3 options, give in and just accept that I would not be able to attend my course, this was the worst option. All year I have been working towards starting this college course and I would have been devastated if I would not be able to attend over something so silly such as transport. Option two was to get my provisional, take the day test for me to ride a moped then take out a loan to buy a bike, they don't come cheap despite but are far cheaper than a car. I was not a fan of this option due to the roads being more like a bike rally track & It was highly likely that I would come off the bike and injure myself. However despite all of that is was an option and it was my back up plan. My third option was to fight for a place on transport. I had help from a family member and the college were doing all they possibly could too so this was my first option. I am pleased we went down this route because I now get a comfortable ride to college and back again without riding the gauntlet.
I guess I am one of the lucky ones, a loan for me would be for a luxury but I know people who need loans to get by on the odd occasion, thousands of students each year take out student loans, thousand will take out a loan for their next car or even a holiday.
Next year when I go into my second year of my course I will be in a pickle again, we only have transport for one year so next year I might just have to take out that loan, hopefully it will be for a car and not for a moped. I have a plan, I will get my provisional and take driving lessons. We can't afford to run two cars at the minute but at least next year it will be a possible option.  I will need to drive when I attend university for veterinary nursing so I may as well set the wheels in motion now.

In collaboration with Santander 

Friday, 15 August 2014

Cirque Du Hilarious

The school holidays are in full swing now and I bet you are marking the days off on the calendar, fear not you only have 2 more weeks to survive. Just kidding I know you all love the 6 weeks holidays, it is these holidays that we cram in all the fun filled days to make the kids summers one to remember.  We recently took a trip to Blackpool to see Cirque Du Hilarious, you might recall I hosted a giveaway for them back in July, well in return I got to visit too. We attended with my in laws so were a party of 8, my eldest 3 children were staying with my Mum for a week so this gave us the perfect opportunity to spend with my niece and her Mum and Dad.
When we arrived we collected our tickets from the box office, and was told to go to the entrance, from here we were offered the lift but me being a huge chicken opted out and walked up the stairs instead. Once at the top we were asked to fold our pushchairs and take a seat, we chose a nice big table near the bar, right at the back. We ordered our drinks and waited for the show to begin.
Cirque Hilarious are award winning father and son duo so you know the chemistry and humor between them will be, well, hilarious. They have been together for 15 years and it really does show in their act. You will get Slapstick comedy along with a bit of cheekiness, a bit of magic, some audience participation  and if you don't laugh you are made of stone. I was amazed by the magic tricks, I still don't have a clue how they did it, little T almost popped a vein laughing at Danny. I laughed so much when Mick was trying to stay in character but found it difficult as he was trying not to laugh at what they were doing. I love that they laugh at themselves too. 
For those that are visiting with children I will warn you that some of the ladies are dressed in burlesque outfits, no more is shown that what you would see in my images but I just thought I would mention it. 
 No matter what your age you will enjoy it, there is something for everyone and the faces that they pull will have you in stitches. We all still say the comical catchphrases that Danny says now and it has been a few weeks since we went. All of us would happily return to watch them again. When their act went slightly wrong how they dealt with it was hilarious and they did all of this in the middle of the scorching weather we had, I know you will all know when I mean as it has rained since. They all worked incredibly hard to entertain us and entertain us they did! I highly recommend a trip to see them if you are a visiting Blackpool this summer.

Disclaimer- We were given free entry to Cirque Du hilarious, however all opinions and images are my own.

What do you want for your birthday?

Buying gifts for someone you have no idea what they want can be difficult, it can sometimes leave you in the middle of a store trying out your telepathy skills with the person who is to receive the gift. If you're like me your telepathy skills are as strong as your ability to fly. I hate surprise buying so I always ask them what they want, sometimes they still won't tell me and others give me a list of things that they would like, who do they think I am, Santa?
My husband for instance is easy, tomorrow he is one year wiser and I knew before asking him that he would know exactly what he wants, true to form he asked for a game for his PC, the game is not out till September so he can pre-order from Origin and have it as soon as it is available. He is so easy to buy for.

I am pretty easy to buy for too, this year I'm asking for a canvas. I have been looking around and found one with Photobox that I like, I also like the price, at the minute they have a sale on,  £23.99 for a 20" by 16" canvas is a bargain. The last canvas I had is the picture of my blog background, it is an image that is 3 years old now and everyone still comments on how they love it and ask how I managed to capture it. I find it hard to explain how to get the perfect shot but Photobox recently sent me this guide they created which explains it perfectly, the only thing I would add is to choose your subject carefully. They say never work with children or animals and I have to agree, if you want a posed shot, follow the guide provided and have patience. Candid shots are much easier to capture but I never get all 5 of the children in a candid shot. 
Animals can be very tricky to capture too but they can also be pretty funny. I wanted to get a shot of a giraffe the other day whilst at the safari park using the sky as the backdrop, it would have made a great picture only I chose a pretty nosy giraffe. The scene was set, I had it pictured in my head and now I just needed it in my camera, it wasn't meant to be though. My button pressing was not quick enough, before I knew it the giraffe was making friends with my camera lens. Once it saw I had no food it went back to head scratching with its giraffe mates and the picture opportunity was gone. I do like the picture I did get but lets face it, it isn't an award winning image. 

The picture I will be getting on a canvas this one, it is a posed shot and again people comment on how they love it, I love it too but I giggle when I see it. What people don't know is that little lady was about ready to thump her brother, I can still hear her now telling him to get off her and to go away, you can see in the image she is pulling away slightly. Little T just looked at us like she was so amateur. I think it will look great on canvas.
Next up is buying for the children, some of mine are easy and some are difficult. Big T is always hard to buy for. I wrote a post on hunting for the elusive indestructible toy last year and it still stands only now he has found something he loves, loom bands! He would happily spend most of the day creating huge lengths of looms bands only to unpick them and start again. If I buy him the scented ones he goes into sensory heaven. They are brilliant for his fine motor skills too. They are most parents worse nightmare but for me they are a learning tool. My older children get creative with them too making figures for the younger ones so they all get to enjoy loom bands.
That is the remainder of the birthdays sorted for 2014, games, canvas and loom bands galore!
Now to get started on the next gift buying frenzy that is known as Christmas, did I mention it is only 19 weeks away? 
Are you easy or hard to buy for?

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Which Haven park do we choose next?

It is that time of the year again when we start thinking about our Easter holiday. Earlier this year we did something we have not done before and surprised the kids with an extra short break. We split out holiday in two and visited two parks.
For our first week stay we headed to Perran Sands again. Easter 2013 we stayed at Perran Sands for 10 nights, things didn't run quite smoothly but I am pleased to say this year was perfect. Again we stayed in a prestige caravan and the funny thing was it was the exact same caravan in the same location as the year before. We were pleased as it was a good location, yes you are far away from the main complex but it was very quiet.

The weather was much nicer this year too, it was windy but we hardly had rain. The pool was warmer, the entertainment was excellent and guess what, they have a roller disco. This was brilliant for the me the girls, most nights they would go down and spend some of their evening roller skating, well M did, C spent most of her time falling over. I took the boys down during the day, I expected big T to be on his bum most of the time and little T to not do too badly. I was wrong, little T was worse than Bambi on ice and Big T would not allow us to help him and braved letting go of the side. I of course hired skates too, I was dragged back to the  early 90's skating on the concrete outdoor rink at Golden Sands, I loved every part of my Haven holidays as a child so I love that my children can do the same activities. Every Haven should get a skating rink, I loved every second of it. Whilst we were skating or being Bambi on Ice little lady was entertained in the same building, she made sand art with her Nanna, I did scoop her up and carried her round the rink a few times, she loved it and I can't wait till her feet fit into a pair of skates. We had activity passes this year and I highly recommend booking them, there is lots to use them up on and you save money if you book in advance, we will book them again for next year.
Throughout the week we took advantage of abundance of activities to do in the surrounding area. We visited St Micheal's Mount, Dairy Land(twice) and St Ives. I highly recommend visiting all of them, it was my first time at St Micheal's mount and I loved it as did all of the children. They thought it was hilarious that the sea had started to come up to the cobbled causeway as we were walking back, we warned them that if we were not quick enough we'd get wet feet but little did we know how close we were to those wet feet. About 1 minute after reaching the other side we looked back to see people wading through the water over the cobbled causeway. Big T was in stitches laughing at them, I might be guilty of giggling too. So take note of those times on the board otherwise you will get wet feet or have to take the boat.

On site there is always something to do to keep you all entertained, we went out most nights and loved the entertainment, there is also great places to eat. Papa Johns was my favourite to order in to the caravan, the Fish and Chip shop was the kids favourite because they got their meal served in little red boats which they all loved and ours was the Surf bar, everything we ate was delicious. I also highly recommend the hot chocolate from there, it is one of the nicest I have ever had. I love the food and how they present the food too. Before we ever went to Perran sands we cooked a lot back at the caravan but we love the food that much here and the prices are what I would expect to pay for the quality of the food we ate out a lot! It is safe to say we loved Perran Sands.
Our next holiday journey took us to Devon cliffs, the kids all thought they were heading home but we surprised them with a 4 night stay at Devon Cliffs. Their little sad faces turned to beaming smiles and happy tears fell from their eyes when they knew we were staying for real and not kidding. We were placed in a lovely caravan with its own decking and was situated in a new part of the park. It is not a place to be put if you have walking difficulties but again it was quiet up there. We love Devon Cliffs, it has an amazing pool and we love visiting the World of Country Life and the Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth. Devon Cliffs is one of the bigger park and in the past we seeked out those lively flagship park but we found ourselves missing the smaller quieter park. What had come over us I don't know, I used to grumble at the thought of visiting a smaller park and now we were missing it, we were missing Perran Sands! Don't get me wrong Devon Cliffs is excellent, if I could take that pool with me to every park I would, I loved the caravan too.
We ate out at the Mash and Barrel and again the food was lovely but it lacked the sparkle that the Surf bar offered us, it didn't help that people don't know how to close a door behind them so we kept having to get up to close the door whilst eating our food. We tried Papa Johns, Burger King both were great places to eat. My mother in law is not a Burger King or Papa Johns fan so she ordered from the fish and chip shop, I liked that whether we ordered from Burger King, Papa Johns or the fish and chips we could all eat together. You will find something to suit your taste and the service was always great. 
The show bars at Devon are separate, young children's shows in one bar then moving onto another bar for the shows aimed at the older guest. Both had a great range of entertainment, I loved that I could play cash bingo in the Capones show bar, it was my little me time, I never won but I had fun.
Both Perran Sands and Devon Cliffs are great Parks, as we have visited Devon Cliffs 3 times now I think we will give it a miss for a few years so we get that sparkle back when we do return because it is an amazing park. I would go back to Perran Sand next year because there is still so much more to do in Cornwall and I love the park. So what do we do, 10 nights in Perran Sands or go for 7 nights there and 4 nights in a completely new park, maybe Rockley Park?

What ever we do we need to make a quick decision so we can book exactly what we want.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Royal Welsh show with Joules

Last Thursday we filled the car with petrol and set off on a 2 hour journey to attend the Royal Welsh show in Bulith Wells. For a good while now I have wanted to attend the show, the urge to attend was even stronger now that I start an animal management course this September. The college I will be attending also had a stand at the show so I was looking forward to stopping by to have a chat.
I invited my sister in law along for the ride too so our children could spend some time together and of course my mother in law came too. 
We were offered free entrance for one adult and a voucher to spend at the Joules stand, I would have been rather silly to say no especially as I was attending anyway. I had a few stands in mind that I wanted to attend, Joules for a warm jumper and welly socks for the cold winter days when I will be at college, the college stand just so I could say hi, the Donkey Sanctuary to say hello and make a donation. You were spoilt for choice with the stands. The events that were on my must see list were the Sheep dog trials, Equus & Falco and the Royal Signals White Helmets Motorcycle display. All of the others were added bonuses.

After spending a couple of hours watching the events we headed indoors to get out of the glaring sun. We came across a stand that made things out of bees wax and had a few of their European honey bees with them, I was amazed to learn that a queen bee will only sting another queen bee and she is the only one to repopulate the colony, I have never been so interested in bees in all of my life. We walked away with a little more knowledge about bees and the kids made some bees wax candles that we will save and light on Christmas day. 

We had spent some time looking at all of the animals in their holding pens and decided to go and do a spot of shopping when my sister in law and I managed to get ourselves stuck on the opposite side of some barriers. The assembly of the livestock for the parade was about to begin so my sister in law was on one side and I on another, in between a line of huge bulls and cows paraded by. It turned out quite well that we had to wait for them all to go into the cattle ring because we had an excellent view of all the prized cattle. Each cattle that went by had won a prize at the show so what we saw were cattle that were at their best. I am not sure exactly what makes a prized cow or bull but what I do know was that they all looked excellent.

The parade finished and off we went to do our shopping with the first stop being Joules. At the show some of the prices were slightly cheaper than they are online, I bought some welly socks for £5.18, a new candy pink pony print coat for little lady for £19.98 and lastly a Cowdray striped jumper to keep me warm, it should have been £49.99 but was just £24.99. I just wished they did steel toe capped wellies so I could have some pretty wellies for college too, I do however have Joules welly socks to keep my feet against something soft, they are that soft I will be buying more.

I bought little lady the coat for this winter so its a little big for her at the minute, it is microfleeced lined and 100% weather proof so will be perfect for keeping her warm for when she is at nursery.

Disclaimer-We were given one free adult entrance to the show and a voucher to spend in Joules. All of the other tickets we purchased ourselves. All opinions and images are my own.

Monday, 28 July 2014

When did you stop loving me?

When did you stop loving me?
It has been four months since you last called me,
almost a year since I came to visit.
Last time you called it was my birthday,
do you only remember me on special days?
Well that isn't true you forgot me at Christmas!
I saw you the other day, you did not expect to see me,
guilt was all over your face, you handed me money.
Does handing me £10 make you feel better?
I wish you had kept your guilt money and used it to call me,
your excuses are lame, the latest two were the worst yet!
You have no phone and are decorating.
When did the decor in your home become more important than me?
For one whole week I stayed just around the corner from you,
was it too hard to come see me?
I hope you and your family had a great time at Lego land,
I bet you didn't expect me to see the pictures either.
I am not mad at you for going on holiday without me,
I am mad that you never called, I am mad that you lied.
It is the same as last time when you took your children abroad,
you left me at home though and told me you was working.
I played in the percussion band at a music festival the other week,
I also played at my local theatre.
I am learning to play the flute too, these things I've been waiting to tell you.
I have been waiting for you to call, the call never came.
I remember when I would see you all of the time,
we laughed at funny things and ate Pringles.
I also ate delicious jam tarts, they are still my favourite.
You'd make me pack lunches for our train journey home.
I would see you every two weeks then and you'd call me lots.
When did everyone else get put before me?
When did you stop loving me, Dad?
Was it on my birthday?
I know I turned 10 but I still need you.
You may have forgotten me but I have not forgotten you.
I am still the same little girl you once adored.

I love beach days

 A couple of months ago my mum asked me if she could have the 3 eldest children for a week, yes a week, 1 whole week, 7 days, 168 hours of not having my 3 eldest children here. I jumped at the chance once I knew she was 100% certain she would manage. Now I am not certain if it is the same with all families but teens and pre-teens are hard work, throw Big T in the mix and we have mini volcano's ready to explode on many occasions, they have opinions and are not afraid to give them to you whether you want them or not, they push buttons that I never knew existed so a week off sounded brilliant(the last one was 5 years ago), they too would benefit from a week away with their Nanna, a Nanna who they don't get to see that often. I knew they would be spoilt rotten so I set about making sure the youngest two didn't miss out. I bet you are now wondering why all 5 didn't go to stay, the simple answer is that my Mum just does not have a bond with them that she does the eldest 3, we moved away before they were born so they never really spent much time together. It is strange for me to have 3 children close to their Nanna and the other 2 not to be but that is the way it is.

Having spare seats in the mini bus meant we could grab a rare opportunity to spend some time with my niece, sister in law and brother in law. Along with my mother in law we hit the beach, we always go to a place known as Black Rock in Porthmadog, you can drive onto the beach and they have toilet blocks so you can literally spend the whole day there, it is one of my favorite places to be. We had packed the minibus full of food, windbreakers, spades, kites and suncream. I also bought a fantastic gazebo with netted sides from Asda for just £30, it kept the children out of the sun whilst they ate their dinner or paddled in the pool. It will be coming to every beach day from now on.
 We had an amazing day jumping over waves and eating sand sandwiches, we all took turns to fly the kite, and the kids all threw sand in each others eyes despite being told not to a million times. We each winced at the cold water as soon as the sea level went above our knees whilst watching the kids just dive in without batting an eye, do they have no feeling? We then all retreated when the sea started coming in because it brought with it a range of jelly fish, jumping waves whilst being on jelly fish watch is not as fun but having said that it is still my favorite place to be, I just wish the jelly fish would not have the same beach fondness.
Of course I missed the eldest 3, I think little T missed his older sibling too as they normally help him to dig holes. Little lady loved having her cousin though, she loved splashing in the pool and making sand castles with her. I will cherish the day we had, we do not get to spend enough fun days with my niece and her parents so special memories were made. I will now however cross my fingers and toes that we get more beach day weather so we can go back with all of us because my eldest 3 love the beach just as much as I do.