Monthly Archives: December 2018

What to do with family between Christmas and back to school.

That awkward stage between Christmas Day and back to school, how do you survive it? Pre-Christmas Day, it was easy to find festive things to entertain everyone. But then the excitement of Christmas Day is over, LEGO is built, family visited and the children start to ask is it back to school yet…

Currently, we’re in the midst of eating up the Christmas food. At least one meal a day feels quite snack based – if only as I’m saying if you eat this healthy soup (made using left over vegetables) you can have a slice of yule log… There also feels like there’s a lot of TV watching too. But that might be just because we are suffering from a Christmas cold?

Yesterday, we hosted a BBQ for friends. Yes, a BBQ in December! It was the perfect way to make the most of the very mild weather. It also encouraged the children into the garden. They actually stayed outside until it was going dark! Being outside was definitely something they had all needed! Whether you have space to encourage the children outside or take them to the park, getting them outdoors will give you a nice quiet evening!

Days Out

Days out, there are still some great days out to have before back to school! They don’t have to be expensive, and places which are open are often a little quieter at this “off season” time. Remember to utilise your National Trust or English Heritage Passes if you have them. Another great place to visit is country parks. Local to us we have a country park which offers a huge play park, and mountain bike trails. Great for burning off energy!

Remember to check out what’s on in your local area, sometimes local events can be great fun and good value. Our local garden centre has family events on next weekend just before the children go back to school. It’s worth checking out local to you bloggers e.g. High Wycombe parents – What Mummy thinks. They often give great tips on where and when to visit places local to them!

Staying in?

If you’re staying home make the most of Festive TV. If you have younger children have a cinema afternoon at home with the curtains pulled closed and some snacks – left over goodies from Christmas or some home made ones will work well.

Get your craft on! There are plenty of  ideas on including lots of makes to do with things you would normally bin! 

How I’m preparing for unexpected bills in 2019!

Disclaimer: Collaborative Post. 

I’m sure many of us have been there, it’s half way through the month, two weeks until pay day, and something needs paying for. Last month, my car decided to breakdown, it’s the first time it has ever let me down. I’ve got a bit complacent. I’d not allowed for a garage bill, and it was mid way through the month. 

This got me thinking, how can I deal with an unexpected bill better in 2019?


For 2019 I’m going to start transferring the pence balance of my current account into my savings every day. I’m hoping this will be an easy way to save a small amount over the year without noticing. Of course if you can save regularly, then it’s worth looking at a site which compares saving accounts to make sure you get the best rate. I’m hoping by June I’ll be able to do this, but I don’t want to commit to it just yet!

Look at spending.

Direct Debits are great, no more trying to remember when to pay what! But, unless you check up on what you’re paying and when, it is easy to end up paying for things you don’t necessarily want or need! So I need to be doing a direct debit audit.

I know that keeping a spending diary really helps me to stay on track and see where I can cut back on spending. For example, I have a tendency to pop to the shop for milk, but then I pick up a packet of biscuits too. By identifying this small (but expensive over a year..) habit, I now only take cash in to buy milk, therefore avoiding overspending.


Budgeting for key events is really important. So I’m going to start saving now for next Christmas! It sounds silly but it really will make a difference next year. Ridding myself of a weekly coffee shop visit for the year and that’s roughly £120 for Christmas next year. 

I need to start a budget for the unexpected, or in other words I need to start a car repair fund! Of course sometimes you can’t plan for something really unexpected, especially if it is on top of another unexpected bill. There are times when borrowing the money to pay for a repair or eg. replacement washing machine may be an option. Some lenders consider those with bad credit, though it is best to try to improve your credit score. I’ve been trying to improve mine using a credit score checker.

Remember, if you’re worrying about debt, seek confidential advice from a debt adviser. 

Some Interesting Facts You May Not Know About Orthodontics

This article is published in partnership with Mediabuzzer.

When it comes to having braces fitted to your teeth, some people do not mind the concept, and in parts of Asia, it is considered a fashion accessory. There are cases of people having braces fitted that they do not really need, just so they can be seen as fashionable.

ImageSource: Pexels

You can read more about the subject of using braces as a fashion accessory from articles available online, and below are other interesting facts about braces that you may not already know.

Braces Are Older Than You Think

Although we may make braces using a modern material, braces have been used on teeth for almost 300 years. Although the technology has changed a lot, the principle has not. The first form of braces was a flat piece of metal which was connected to the teeth using a bit of thread.

Braces Do Not Only Straighten Your Teeth

Braces will help to straighten your teeth, but there is also another benefit to wearing them as they can assist in fixing your bite as well. They can assist in lining the teeth up so that when you bite down, your front teeth on the upper jaw cover the lower teeth and the cusp of your molars do not touch each other so that you have the perfect bite.

Image Source: Pexels

Made From Space Age Technology

You find that the Newtown orthodontics service offered by Sydney Park Dental and other dental practices will often use a nickel-titanium wire in the braces, which is a metal that was first made for NASA. As with a lot of other technology that we take for granted, this alloy which is heat-activated was first developed for the American space program but has a lot of applications in our everyday lives.

You Can Have Braces At Any Age

Braces are not something that is exclusive to spotty teenagers, and a person of any age can wear braces to help align their teeth. There are millions of people that are over the age of eighteen that wear braces around the world. You do tend to find that the older people who wear braces are doing so for a specific purpose other than the aesthetic look of their teeth.

There Are Over Ten Different Types Of Braces Available

You may think that all braces are the same, but you could not be further from the truth. There are over ten different types, but not all may be suitable for you. Your orthodontist will evaluate your teeth and go through the various options such as invisible braces, porcelain or mini braces. You can then decide which option will be best for you.

Fixing Some Myths About Braces

There are various myths about dental braces that people think are true, when in fact they are not. For example, dental braces will not set off a metal detector, and you can still safely play sports when wearing them. Braces are not magnetic and nor do they affect radio waves in any way. Another myth is that if two people that wear braces kiss they could get locked together, but this would not happen.

ImageSource: Unsplash

If you are considering wearing dental braces, speak to your local dentist and see what they recommend as the best option for you, and they will also be able to answer any questions that you may have.

Christmas and making the most of your home.

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Ahh Christmas, the time when many of us have family and friends over to visit. I’m the first to admit I love entertaining, but as a bigger family, we have a lot of “stuff”. Christmas always adds to our “stuff”. The Christmas tree, decorations, gifts… it is all stuff. So how do you balance having a wonderful Christmas with having a wonderful home? 

Rid yourself of clutter Pre-Christmas

So, for me the de-clutter pre-Christmas is an on-going process! I am going through outgrown clothes, toys and unwatched DVDs. Then dropping them off at the local charity shop. I get a tidy home, they get new stock – everyone is a winner! It’s a great time to clear out, and you may even be able to sell some of your unwanted items via local selling sites too.

Storage is an investment!

The children have toys which I can’t get rid of, so I have discovered finding nice storage really helps to keep us looking tidy! It doesn’t need to be expensive or flat packed, we have a great vintage mini trunk which looks great and is a godsend at storing LEGO! Choose storage with care to suit the style of your decor and it will work well for you!

Consider how to best use your living space.

Our kitchen is quite roomy, and I have worked out that using the kitchen as a living space is vital to having a happy home! It has meant thinking carefully about making sure it feels homely, but it really works for us!

Moving furniture around to maximise floor space can help, I’ve moved a sofa to the opposite side of the room to create a less cosy but more roomy sitting area for the Christmas holidays!

One option for next Christmas if you have space, could be a garden room, which would be ideal as either an extra playroom or a grown up space! Perfect to keep for entertaining friends or just when you need somewhere quiet to hang out!

Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs Panto – Basingstoke Hampshire – Review

Disclaimer: Tickets received for review

Theatre is very much part of our family Christmas. So we were excited to get the opportunity to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at The Anvil, Basingstoke.

Leading lady Dani Harmer played a charming Snow White, and the Dwarfs were brilliant!

The Anvil, Basingstoke. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Christmas Pantomime 2018. Photograph By: Sean Dillow.

Supported by jester Muddles (Chris Pizzey) whose comedy double act with pantomime dame Dolly (Jamie Steen) had us in fits of giggles. There were jokes for children and more subtle ones for adults too. Some were hilarious and others verging on naughty! The slapstick nature of the comedy is all part of a traditional pantomime though, and it was fabulous!

I could write a whole review of the fabulous costumes, Dolly’s wardrobe alone was spectacular! Causing much laughter and chatter from the audience.

The Anvil, Basingstoke. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Christmas Pantomime 2018. Photograph By: Sean Dillow.

The Wicked Witch played by Kirsty Sparks, was for me the star of the show. Her voice was superb as she effortlessly tackled versions of Queen’s “Killer Queen” and Brittany Spears “Toxic”. She was scary as the Wicked Queen without being too terrifying – ideal if you have a younger child with you!

The Anvil, Basingstoke. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Christmas Pantomime 2018. Photograph By: Sean Dillow.

The pantomime is great family fun, my 4 year old did struggle a little sitting through the show. But she has asked if we can go back to see Snow White again, so I think it was a success!  

Book your tickets here.

Last Minute Gift Ideas For Children

If you’re looking for some last minute ideas for what to buy under 11’s look no further. We have listed our favourite gifts to buy last minute for tough to buy for children!

Messy Play

Slime is a huge hit with children of all ages! Slime Baff means children can have fun with slime, but the mess is contained to the bath tub! You can also use it as a messy play or small world play activity. Gelli Baff is a similar product which turns bath water into goo! Great fun for the reluctant bather! Our favourite though, was SnoBall Play!


Sno Play turns water into a snow like product! My children thought it was great fun, it could be moulded, and importantly thrown! It easy to clean up and I think it is a great little gift!


Last year our house was Pokémon crazy, and little has altered this year! With a great variety of branded gifts including Pokemon headphones, there are plenty of gift ideas for Pokemon fans!

We like the Pokémon beaker with straw as it’s a fun, functional gift. Certainly one which will get a lot of use! Especially over the festive season – catching Pokemon is thirsty work after all! This could also be a lovely gift for adult Pokémon fans too!

Puzzles and Games

Puzzles and game are firm favourites in our house. Puzzles allow a little bit of quiet time, and games encourage everyone to sit together! We love Tumble Tower from Jaques of London, it has already provided hours of fun for all the family. It’s unusual to find a game we all play happily together. This is a great after dinner game, perfect to play on the dining table!


If you have a pre-schooler you must know exactly who the Gruffalo is! Popular with children everywhere there are a great selection of Gruffalo products on sale. We love the Gruffalo Dinner Set which includes a bamboo plate, bowl  and cup set! A great alternative to plastic kids plates, and it is a gift which will be enjoyed time and time again!

Of course if you’re not sure what to buy, consider buying an experience gift instead. Something like Panto tickets, or a contribution towards an annual pass to a local attraction.

Disclaimer; Some items received for inclusion.

Truly unique dining experiences

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Whether you’re after Michelin-starred restaurants or exquisitely exotic cuisine, the UK has it all. And if you’re seeking a dining experience with a difference, where should you head for and what should you expect?

With this in mind, here are four unique dining experiences that promise something out of the ordinary but still offer top-quality cuisine.

1. Events in the Sky (various locations)

Fancy a dining experience that gives you a whole new perspective – and some serious vertigo while you’re at it? Suspended 30 metres in the air, Events in the Sky offers foodies a magical meal to remember with stunning views of the skyline while they’re at it. The menu itself presents a host of delights, all prepared by executive chefs whose culinary creations look as good as they taste. Yes, you’ll be wearing a seatbelt. And yes, you’ll be attached to a crane, but as you sip your Champagne above the pulse of the city below, all fears will be firmly forgotten.

2. Dans Le Noir, London

Sounding like a posh French perfume, the food at Dans Le Noir in London smells good…and tastes just as wonderful as well. The concept involves diners eating in total darkness, with only the merest of guidance from their hosts to ensure they navigate the space without bumping into the furniture! The lack of light results in a sharpened sensory experience, where cuisine and curiosity combine. All meals are prepared using a variety of locally sourced ingredients that merge flavours, textures and tastes.

3. The Treehouse, Alnwick

Situated in the glorious Alnwick Garden, the Treehouse Restaurant takes ambience to a new level. From wooden walkways and bridges to twinkling lights and roaring log fires, it boasts a beautiful backdrop. As a region, Northumberland boasts a plethora of tasty produce, including locally sourced seafood and meat. The menu aims to reflect seasonal changes through its dishes, too – the Lindisfarne mussels and Alnwick sausages are particularly worthy of note. In addition to the hearty cuisine, there are regular live music events, where expert flautists accompany the memorable meals.

4. Dinner in the Great Hall, Leavesden

Another magical dining occasion is Dinner in the Great Hall at the Harry Potter experience in Leavesden. On arrival, guests are greeted with wine and canapes before entering a winter wonderland featuring original props from the film. The dining tables are a spectacle in themselves; guests can expect all manner of delights, such as flaming puddings and striking red carpets. Regal trees are bedecked in beautiful golden baubles shaped like partridges and moons, providing a charmingly quirky take on Christmas traditions. Your seats for the occasion will be on the same set that was used during filming, with dinner and all the trimmings to follow.

While the food is important, it’s the atmosphere that makes the occasion. Whether you’re seeking an innovative sensory experience or an alternative take on Yuletide traditions, all four venues provide a truly unique dining experience!


Collaborative Post.

With a new year looming, it’s often a time to reflect and start thinking about lifestyle changes. It is also a time when I have in the past started to think about the options when moving home. While I don’t anticipate moving away from the area we currently live in, I am also aware that work or personal circumstances may alter. So when I was approached to learn a little more about Cheshire I was intrigued.

Have you ever considered moving to Cheshire?

When I think about Cheshire, I tend to think about million pound properties. Mostly due to the footballers who I see in magazines living there! Of course, there are lots of those! But according to property developer average house prices in Cheshire are just over £245,000. Which sounds more reasonable!


So, what does Cheshire have to offer? There’s the market town of Nantwich, which is famous for the black and white buildings dotted around the town. Nantwich hosts many events and festivals throughout the year including the International Cheese Awards.

The beautiful city of Chester has a wonderful array of shops and culture. It is a walled city, and has easy access to Wales! With museums, a castle and even a castle – there is plenty to see in Chester! There’s also nearby Delamere Forest, which covers 972 hectares. So plenty of outdoor space to explore! There are 3 walking trails, 2 walking trails and even a Go Ape! There’s a picnic area and café too, making it a lovely destination for a family day out. Perfect for weekends and the school holidays!


I think choosing a property is such a personal decision. There are so many things to consider. Whether you want a property which has character or a new build which you can add your own personal touches. Cheshire appears to offer a good variety of older and new properties. Would you consider a move to Cheshire? Or what do you like about the county if you already live there?

Christmas Shopping For Toys

Collaborative Post.

It’s now officially the countdown to Christmas! How prepared are you? I have written a long list of things to do to make sure Christmas runs smoothly! Or as smoothly as it can with 4 children in the house!

While Father Christmas brings gifts, we also treat our children and family to gifts too. So toy shopping is a big annual event. Shopping is always fun, I say that with a hint of sarcasm! I will be honest, I try to avoid shopping with the children as it is often just too busy! It’s no fun trying to push a buggy around a busy store, and the children get bored in queues anyway! So, I either shop while the older children are at school, or shop online. 

Online or In-store?

Online shopping is great as it means I can often find a deal to save money on gifts. Though I have also discovered you can find deals online which are valid in store too! Sometimes you just want to shop in a store rather than on line – so you can see the item you’re buying! 

If you’re shopping online, remember to check how the item will be delivered. You don’t want a toy delivered with the packaging on display as it could ruin the surprise! Some retailers allow you to select discreet packaging to ensure the parcels get delivered wrapped. 

Which toys?

There are some classic toys which children seem to want every year, these are relatively easy to shop for as they never seem to run out! But then there are the newly popular toys, or TV character toys. At the moment PJ Masks toys are really popular at the moment, and I’m sure they will be appearing on many Christmas lists! These are sometimes harder to get hold of, and even hard to get a deal on. But it is always worth checking for toy deals!

Things to remember…

When you’re buying toys, do check you don’t need any extras to make them work. Whether it is extra batteries or an accessory, you don’t want to discover you can’t get the toy to work on Christmas day! 

It’s also worth considering whether the packaging is frustration free, or whether to take toys out of the packaging before they get handed over. We tend to make sure there is always a pair of scissors on standby for Christmas morning!

Panto in Basingstoke – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Post in collaboration with The Anvil.

It’s officially the start of Panto season! The Anvil in Basingstoke plays host to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from 13th December until 6th January! Starring Dani Harmer – perhaps best known for her role in the CBBC show Tracy Beaker!

Anvil Theatre, Basingstoke. Snow White Christmas Panto 2018. Photograph By: Sean Dillow.

“When the Wicked Queen’s magic mirror declares that Snow White is the fairest in all the land, the evil Queen wants her out of the way.  Snow White escapes to the forest where she meets seven little friends. But the Wicked Queen doesn’t give up, and with a poisoned apple in her possession she tracks down Snow White …”

Anvil Theatre, Basingstoke. Snow White Christmas Panto 2018. Photograph By: Sean Dillow.

There is a BSL signed performance on Tuesday 18th December 6pm. There is also a relaxed performance on Wednesday 2nd January at 2pm. 

For more information or for tickets, call the Anvil Arts box office on 01256 844244, or visit the Anvil Arts website