Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Student Pleasures

This time last year I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be excited over printers, new pens and folders.
I am currently on my last break from college before I finish for the year. I have four assignments to complete and revision to do. Next week I start to take my exams. I am incredibly nervous, I was not this nervous in 1998 when I originally took my exams. Back then I was the teen that thought she knew better, the teen that had her career dreams dashed through medical reasons, the teen who had the ability to do well but lacked the motivation. 17 years later I am now a nervous adult who has motivation and has put in the hard work. I currently have distinctions in every assignment; there has been plenty of them too. My controlled assessments have given me a grade A so far in English, I doubt I will achieve that as an overall grade but I am ok with that. I will be happy with a C in both my Maths and English. So as a mature student who is going through a stressful few weeks I am going to share my student pleasures.

My old printer is that old they no longer sell the ink for it and I have totally ran out of spare ink for it. This week I treated myself to a new printer from Tesco. No longer will I have to rush into college early on a Monday to print off my assignments. It is a Canon all in one, I paid just £59.99 and saved £40.00. It prints, scans, copies and can even send a fax(I don't think that last function will ever get used). What is even better is, it is wireless, no longer will I have to move the sofa just to print. It also prints double sided, I will no longer have to waste paper and ink trying to print a document double sided. I am so pleased with it.

What also gives me pleasure is pens, not any pen, Pilot pens! I am in love with my frixon Pilot pens. I chose to use them over my livescribe pen at the minute. Every piece of writing I do is done so using my trusty Pilot pens. I love that I can erase a word if I have written it incorrectly. I often get other students trying to steal my pens so I guard them with my life, ok that is a bit extreme. I would not give my life for them but I would hurt the fingers of the person who tried to steal them.

I have a love hate relationship with my folders, mainly because I have gone through so many of them the last nine months. I have had so many that last week I turned up to my English lesson with an empty folder. I had forgotten I had bought a new one and threw the old one in my bag in a rush whilst running out of the door. It is safe to say I felt rather stupid that I could produce no work that I had completed. I won't be making that mistake again and have learnt to throw the old ones out.

So there you have it, my student pleasures. I can't wait for August when I can go stationary shopping ready for my last year in college.

I really should invest in a new keyboard as the one I have the majority of the letters have rubbed off. That can wait for now, I enjoy playing guess the letter every time I type .

Friday, 22 May 2015

A Life of Freedom

Two weeks ago I opened up my collection point for Fresh Start for Hens. Fresh Start for Hens are an organisation that I volunteer for. They rescue the hens before they go to slaughter and find them homes. Every few months I open up my garden to these little beauties. I give them all a health check; which takes a while when you have over 50 hens. I give them fresh food and water and sit with them until their new owners come and collect them, to take them to their forever home.  
This rescue, the hens were all barn hens, I was quite surprised at the feather loss to be honest. It breaks my heart to see them like this but in true hen character they were all active and tucking into the feast that was provided. They never fail to make me laugh, they have their own little personalities too. Some are really nosy and will come and see what you are doing. They all had their first taste of grass. They mowed my lawn for me which saved me digging the flymo out at the weekend(yes I strim it all as we have no lawn mower). This lady above had this piece of grass hanging out of her beak for a while, she made her claim on it and was not letting go. 
As I carried out my head count of the hens I found I had one extra hen. Having lost one of my girls earlier in the year to egg yolk peritonitis, I had room for one more. That is when I saw her. A scrawny, almost featherless hen who looked paler than the rest. I quickly started to make a quarantine room for her. Once her space was ready I scooped her up away from the rest of the group and allowed her to rest. I carried on with the rescue. Slowly but surely I waved the rest of the hens off on their new journey. A journey that carries them to better places. Places of freedom, places of grass a plenty, places where they feel the sun on their backs and wind through their feathers.
Turning my attention to my new lady I checked on her, she was so timid. Her little head poking out to see me as I talked softly to her. 
My youngest daughter is as crazy about animals as I am. I picked her up and carried her outside. She asked why the hen had no feathers, she felt compassion towards our new, frightened hen. She then asked her name. I told her that she had no name at the minute. A puzzled expression came across her face, then she announced that she had a good name for her. I thought here we go, we will have a new Disney princess. She then surprised me, she named her Lucy. So here she is, Lucy the hen with a few feathers on her tail and some on her wings, everywhere else is bald. She has a wound on her back that is healing and feathers are now starting to grow. I will update on her progress soon. I urge you to buy locally sourced eggs, from farms that show you their set ups or buy from neighbours who keep hens. Better still why not keep a few hens of your own, you will never taste a better egg.

Friday, 3 April 2015

My Top Three Travel Bucket List

Usually when it comes to writing posts for competitions I avoid them as they have proved to be fruitless in the past. I made a pact not to do them, however last night I decided to break that pact. Late last night I notice a competition with Transun over on Emmy's Mummy's blog. I was sold at Northern Lights and knew I needed to enter, if it hadn't been so late I would have tapped away at my keyboard right away. 
I have traveled to a few countries with my family, and without them. I met my husband in 2006 and already had three children so we have not really had much alone time together as a couple. 
The last time we had a night away, never mind traveling together was almost 6 years ago which happened to be our honeymoon in Mexico. There, we visited the Mayan Ruins, swam with Dolphins, came face to face with a huge Parrot Fish and got the pleasure of snorkeling with wild Sea Turtles. I have some amazing memories and loved every part of it.

I would love to travel more and have a bucket list as long as my arm. 

My top three destinations are:

The Northern Lights
I am not saying it just because it is the prize, but I have wanted to go and see them for years. I even had my desktop image as the northern lights, up until a cute Spectacled Bear, named Bernardo took its place. The prize is perfect to what we would want to get out of a trip so it is perfect. Every opportunity to see the northern lights in the UK have been a disappointment for us, we never got to see even a hint of the spectacular lights in the sky.

We toyed with the idea of going to Africa on honeymoon but the cost put us off as we were paying for the wedding. This one I may get to for fill in the next few years. I am hoping to study Zoo Management after my Animal Management course is complete. The university I have set my heart on offers the opportunity to spend two weeks in Africa studying the animals out there. I would love to see the animals I love to watch in the zoos and safari parks in their natural habitat. I am not sure how my nerves will hold out at the time but I am sure it will be an experience I will treasure forever.

I would love nothing more than to take my children to Disneyland. They have asked numerous times to go. Daddy2five has been twice when he was younger but as a family we have  never had the opportunity or funds to go. One day I will make there dreams come true, I have no idea when but I will get them there!

So that is it, my top three. I have many more that could have easily been in my top three. They will move up when I can tick off, Northern Lights, Africa and Disneyland.

This post is my entry for the Transun competition.

Stingray Adventure at the Blackpool's Sea Life Centre

Cownose RayOn Wednesday we all jumped in the car at 6.45am to head up to Blackpool to attend the launch of Stingray Adventure at the Sea Life Centre. A new feature for 2015, Stingray Adventure allows you to get up close to these magnificent creatures that glide through the water with such grace and beauty.  The Cownose  rays were not shy, they swam around the glass front of the tank giving us all spectacular views and amazing photography opportunities. I can't help but smile when their undercarriage comes into view, they look like they have little smiling faces.

Official opening of Stingray AdventureThe launch was attended by press and special little stingray ambassadors. Officially opening the new feature was the general manager of the centre and the beautiful Sammy Winward. My mother in law whispered to us "isn't she beautiful" Big T responded with "Nanna you're right, she is beautiful". My eldest daughter reconised her and was a bit star struck.
I found a good spot to get a picture. As the scissors touched the blue ribbon, clicks of the cameras filled the air, with a final snip, Stingray Adventure was officially open.

Underwater Bubbles
We spent quite a bit of time around this feature. We sat by the glass mesmerised by the rays gliding past. We also spent quite a bit of time in the underwater bubbles, I think my children loved them the most. They would each take turns discovering what it feels like to be in the deep with all of the sea life. You are never too old to have a go either, my mother in law patiently waited her turn to have a go. Big T got a lot, sensory wise from the bubbles and loved sitting quietly taking in all of the wonderful sights that Stingray Adventure has to offer. 

One of the largest spider crab in the worldWe strolled around the centre taking in all of the other displays. Big Daddy, one of the largest spider crabs sat right at the front of his tank. Usually being the center of attention he looked a bit put out that all of the cameras were not on him. In reality I am sure he did not care one bit and just wanted to check out what all of the commotion was. He is so big, it was quite amazing to see a crab so large, every minute detail of him could be seen.

starfish, clownfish, regal tangs and seahorses
We stopped by the rockpool to touch shrimp and starfish, the starfish did not feel as I imagined they would. An interesting fact about them is, they can grow new arms if one is broken off.
We also spotted the clown fish and regal tangs that my children know as Dory and Nemo, 
in the yellow submarine. We also found the seahorses. They are such strange, yet beautiful creatures. An interesting fact about these is, the male of the species delivers the young.

Bowmouth guitar shark and black tip reef sharkIn the ocean tunnel we saw the sharks, lots of them. The Bowmouth guitar sharks swam around the whole of the tank, passing over head giving us all excellent views. The Blacktip reef shark, looked the meanest in the tank, with its razor sharp teeth. It gets its name from the black tips on its dorsal and caudal fins. Did you know, over 70 million sharks are killed each year for their fins! The shark fins are tasteless and are flavoured using chicken or pork! I honestly do not see why anyone would want to pluck these magnificent creatures out of the sea and onto the plate. They have been around 350 million years, way more than the dinosaurs!

I have not covered everything that was available to see, I could go on and on but won't. What I will say is, we had an amazing day and learnt a lot about the creatures of the deep. A family of four can visit for as little as £43 when booked online. I would recommend a visit to Blackpool's Sea Life Centre. We would happily return next time we are in Blackpool.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Mr Tumble's Circus is coming to an Arena Near You

Mr Tumble's Circus is touring arenas this Easter. His first tour in 2013 was a sell out so I know all who go to see his 2015 tour will be in for a treat. My children love Justin. I remember seeing Big T's eyes light up when he saw Mr Tumble doing makaton. He had been taught it from a young age: due to his disabilities his speech was delayed. My two youngest children also love Mr Tumble and have quite a few toys of his, even his spotty bag which I am sure will be coming along with us when we go to see Mr Tumble's Circus in Liverpool. This will be the first time they get to see him live, they will think I am the best mum in the world!

Anyway back to the tour before I talk about my children for the whole post. Mr Tumble is bringing along some very special guests with him on his tour. From Something special he has Aunt Polly and Grandad Tumble.
Cat Sandion and Swashbuckle presenter Gem will be on stage which will be their first CBeebies Live! show. My children love Swashbuckle, they dream of being on the show as much as I would dream of being on Fun House as a child. If that was not enough the fabulous, adventurous Andy Day will be making an appearance.

But uh-oh!
Mr Tumble's Circus is delayed on route!

The CBeebies mega-stars with the help of Gigglebiz favourites, including Keith Fitt, Dina Lady, Gale Force and Arthur Sleep - must swing into action and save the day! In doing so, they discover that they too have some pretty amazing talents as well!

But with Robert The Robot insisting that everyone do their chores and Little Monster just wanting to cause mayhem and mischief...Will Justin and the CBeebies stars help get Mr Tumble’s Circus to town on time?

Nine different arenas, 11 different dates and each day has two shows available to book. To find out the dates and time head over to the CBeebies Live website.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Easter is almost upon us

Easter is just around the corner. Usually we would be very busy right now as we usually spend Easter on our annual holiday however this year we decided to book for the summer time. We made that decision as I knew I would be snowed under with work from college and we were right. I have assignments to write, revision for Maths and English and just as return I have the dreaded mock exams. This will be the first time we have been home in 5 or 6 years.

I am excited to take part in all the exciting events that are on in our area for a change. Next week we are heading off to Blackpool to delve into the deep. Okay we are going to the Sealife Centre to see their brand new stingray adventure. We will be tracking down Nemo(clown fish) and watching out for the scary sharks too. The children do not know about this so shhh, top secret! 
I hope to fit in a few extra days out, maybe to the zoo or safari park. 

Booted Bantam Chick
We will be kept busy at home. Two weeks ago we had nine little chicks hatch, two of them I loaned to college so that leaves me with seven little babies at home. They are messy little things and I have to clean them out more often that I have in the past as they keep getting their little feathered feet clogged up. I think you'll agree that they are super cute and worth it. Another thing we usually do at Easter in bottle feed lambs. The closest park that offers bottle feeding is Park Hall Farm so maybe a trip to there is in order.

If the weather wants to be extra nice maybe we could fit in a beach day. I know I am wishful thinking but miracles do happen.
Blackrock, Wales

Whatever your plans are, have fun and make memories.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Must have skills for every 11 year old

Little T joined Beavers last year and he thoroughly enjoys it. He loves nothing more than running through the door to tell me that he has several new badges for me to sew onto his uniform. He happily shows me as he knows I am not a massive fan of sewing them on. He beams with pride as he has worked hard to achieve each one. One badge I will be happy to sew on is the farm to fork badge. It is new partner badge launched by the Tesco Eat Happy Project in conjunction with the Scout Association.
The skills that the scouting volunteers thought that children should have by the age of 11 are:

1.     Know what to do in a first aid emergency
2.     Spend at least one night away camping
3.     Be part of a team
4.     Be able to make new friends
5.     Navigate a short trip with a map and compass
6.     Know how and when to call 999
7.     Know how to cook safely on an open fire
8.     Cook or prepare a healthy meal
9.     Know how to stay safe online
10.  Know how to tie three knots
11.  Tread water for three minutes in a vertical position 

The badge they receive is one I am sure all of the children will have fun achieving. I think it is really important for children to learn where our food comes from and how it is best prepared. At home we have chickens so all of my children know the process of how we get fresh eggs. I have also grown my own vegetables in the past and every time we have a roast we talk openly about what animal it comes from. As part of my college course I work with the farm animals, even delivering some lambs just last week so they know where our food comes from. 

Bear Grylls, Chief Scout said  “Many young people have lost touch with where their food actually comes from and it’s great that Tesco, in partnership with the Scouts, have created a Farm to Fork Trail that Beaver Scouts and Cub Scouts can go on that provides a meaningful way of reconnecting young people with what’s on their plates, and that knowledge and experience will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives.” 
I have to whole heartily agree with him, not because I am a massive fan but because what he said is true. Often the food served up to them looks polar opposite to what it looked like in its raw state. Many children no longer spend the time in the kitchen with their parents, helping them prepare the meal. It is time we get back to basics and teach our children skills that they will carry with them into adult hood.

Watch the short video below to find out how the children learn about the foods we eat through the Tesco Eat Happy Project.

I can't wait for my own little Beaver to achieve his farm to fork badge.