Thursday, 26 November 2020

Lockdown 2.0

We knew this lockdown was coming, it was inevitable and in all honesty I am not convinced it will be the last one.  It feels so different to the first though, probably because the schools have remained open throughout which gives us all a sense of normality, a structure to our day and week and some time apart - all things I struggled with a lot over the first lockdown.  Today it was announced that next week it will end as planned, but my county will be going into tier 3, the highest restrictions. I expected it, I have seen the local case numbers rising and it makes sense, but I know the older children who have been counting down to the end of lockdown because they want to see their friends, are going to be disappointed. 

Our life isn't going to change so much for the next month, our weekends will still be spent outdoors in our own family group, the children will (fingers crossed) stay in school and Ed and I work from home anyway.  Hopefully if we are careful in the lead up to Christmas, we can keep some normality there for the children as they are so excited to be able to go to Grandma and Grandpa's house again! I am considering the idea of pulling them from school a few days early so we can self isolate in the lead up .

The situation hasn't been all negative for us and one thing I will take from it all is how enjoyable it can be to slow down the pace a bit.  After school lazy afternoons with no clubs to run around to and weekends with zero plans where we walk and play it by ear have been enjoyable.  We don't need to be busy all the time to feel content, we can do less and still be happy.  Our weekends are for walks in the woods or hours spent playing in the sand at the local beach, warm baths and onesies, family games and movie nights in Mummy and Daddy's bed.  Sometimes they play on their consoles whilst I can sit and read, not feeling the pressure to be anywhere.  There is definitely something to be said for appreciating what is all around us and what we have.  We are privileged to be able to retreat to our little bubble and feel safe. I know our situation isn't everyone's and we are the lucky ones, I feel that every day.

This is more a rambling brain spill than a blog post, but this is my story to look back on when these days seem so far behind us, and so I am writing it down. 






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Thursday, 19 November 2020

Gamer Kids Gift Guide

I am sure my children are not the only ones whose Christmas wishlist this year includes a large number of gaming related items.  Their dad is a gamer and so far he has passed on the love to three of them.  I must admit, that over the lockdowns, being able to let them having their gaming time has given me some much needed peace to get things done and for my eldest especially, it is the way he connects with and communicates with many of his friends.  I have put together a few ideas for gamer kids ahead of Christmas 2020

With three children that game, I have to admit it isn't always as peaceful as I would like so I feel giving the gift of headphones is a gift for everyone.  These Milo the Turtle headphones from Planet Buddies are designed with children in mind and feature a child-safe audio limit and a microphone and come in a variety of endangered species characters.  They are sustainably packaged and even better, you can get 30% off with the code BUDDIES30!  These make a beautiful gift for children aged 3+ and we love the friendly characters.

gamer kids gift guide, Planet buddies headphones

gamer kids gift guide, Planet buddies headphones

gamer kids gift guide, Planet buddies headphones


My children have been asking for a Nintendo Switch for a long time and they might be in luck this year.  I discovered Outright Games and their selection of games which are available not only on the Switch but also Playstation 4, X-box and pc.  

Trollhunters is a favourite TV show here and the game sees you pairing up with Claire to face unknown evils and stop the time-pocalypse.  Become the hero and levelling up your armour and abilities as you battle to save the Trollhunters universe.


gamer kids gift guide, Nintendo Switch games, Trollhunters

Ben 10 Power Trip is a new game packed full of adventure.  Ben and his family are enjoying their European vacation... until evil magician Hex unleashes the power of four mysterious crystals! Only Ben 10 can break the curse – so get ready to transform into powerful aliens to battle enemies, solve puzzles and freely explore an exciting 3D world. It’s hero time! With Gwen and Grandpa Max on your side, all the humor and rivalry from the Cartoon Network show is here

gamer kids gift guide, Nintendo Switch games, Ben 10

Race with Ryan allows you to race against your brother (or a friend of course) in a split screen mode and has simple controls, optional auto-acceleration and a tutorial to guide younger players through their first video game, drivers of all ages will love to Race with Ryan. Race your way to the top in Career Mode or speed past your friends in 2 - 4 players split-screen races. 

gamer kids gift guide, Nintendo Switch games, Race with Ryan


Whatever you do. don't be caught out without batteries on Christmas morning.  Panasonic Evolta Neo batteries have the longest lifespan in the history of Panasonic batteries as well as being safer.  They are ideal for gaming controllers, toys and anything else you can think of.  The Pro-Power batteries come in Power Ranger branded packaging and you can enter this brilliant competition to win the chance to hang out with the Power Rangers! 

gamer kids gift guide, Panasonic batteries

gamer kids gift guide, Panasonic batteries


My gamer kids love programming and Robo Wunderkind make fantastic robotics kits that allow you to build and program your own Robot.  The building blocks are compatible with lego, the free, intuitive  app helps tell your robot what to do, drive in a circle, turn on a light or something else.  The creativity element is endless and this a gift that not only plays to the gamer side but is also educational, nurturing a love of science and technology, creative and so much fun!  It is available in three different kits and I think this is going to be a big hit this Christmas!

gamer kids gift guide, Robo wunderkind

gamer kids gift guide, Robo wunderkind

gamer kids gift guide, Robo wunderkind


Gamer kids doesn't always mean technology and this Tasudoku game is great for those that prefer to be competitive in board games instead.  Sudoku is great for problem solving and this multiplayer game is ideal for multi-generation gaming.  Only released this month, this is new out and I am excited to try it out with the bigger boys.  Test your logic and skill to become the champion.  Tasudoku doesn't require previous knowledge of Sudoku but is perfect for beginners as well as those who want to work on their speed!

gamer kids gift guide, Tasudoku game

gamer kids gift guide, Tasudoku game


Whatever your Gamer Kid is into, I hope these suggestions give you some ideas for Christmas!



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Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Eczema and Me

This post is developed as part of a competition with Epaderm, #BlogonEpaderm

I grew up with Eczema, I remember the rash on my arms and legs and the uncontrollable itch.  I seemed to grow out of it for quite a few years but when I was taking my final exams at university it came back with a vengeance and it was quite a shock having to swap back from all the products I was used to using and sticking with something simple and that didn't aggravate my skin, Epaderm.  I again got through it and it went away but I have found as a parent that it keeps popping up and I think stress might be to blame, especially when I look at the big flare up I am having that started at the same time as the current pandemic!

My skin can't tolerate any products at the moment other than a simple emollient and the change in weather certainly isn't helping.  As an adult my flare ups aren't always in the obvious places (elbows and behind the knees) that I had as a child and I am finding it more important to use only the right products for my whole body as I don't know where the next itch will start.  As I type this I am supressing the urge to scratch my right shin which has been inflamed for several weeks!

None of my children had eczema or skin problems as babies but with my history, I have always been very conscious of what products I use for them and how often we use products on their skin.  As they grew however, two of the boys have developed sensitive skin and patches of eczema  and so Epaderm junior cream has become a staple on the bathroom shelf.  Thankfully neither of them suffer as much as I did as a child but I hope that by using the right products from the beginning we can keep their skin healthy and moisturised.



If you or your child suffers from eczema or sensitive skin then here are some tips that work for me:

-Get rid of all the products and stick to just one that does everything (for me this is Epaderm emollient that I use as a shower gel and a moisturiser).  It lowers the risk of you reacting to something and keeps the bathroom from getting cluttered!

-Don't cover up your skin all the time.  I currently have a flare up on my shin, but I still wear dresses.  My skin needs the air and it means no risk of anything rubbing on it and irritating it further.  

-Once you are in a routine with specialist products, stick with them as these conditions don't tend to disappear, just stay at bay for a while sometimes.

How do you cope with problematic skin?


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Monday, 16 November 2020

52 Books in 52 Weeks

I set myself a challenge at the beginning of 2020, that I would read 52 books this year, the equivelent of one per week.  I was an avid reader as a child, something that followed me through life and culminated in my studying an English Literature degree at Reading Uni.  I loved studying literature, but I found that the extensive reading lists and pressure to read widely around the topics meant I wasn't able to fit in reading for fun and all the crime thrillers I had previously enjoyed were neglected.  Motherhood seemed to turn my brain to mush for a while and books were not a priority, and reading stopped being such a big part of my life.  I have tried to get back into it many times, but I thought a challenge would really help (nope, not competitive at all).  

I started out with some safe books, following a series I had started last year, easy reading page turners but I wanted to make sure I read well, adding variety to keep it interesting.  I finished book 52 in early November and realised I have learned a few things throughout the year that I should share, so here goes.

52 books in 52 weeks



1. The best way to find time for reading is to make it part of your daily routine.  For me, this means turning off the tv/laptop at 11pm each night and reading until I am ready for sleep. It might be first thing in the morning, over lunch or another time, but make it part of every day.

2. The classics are that for a reason (with the exception of Middlemarch, possibly the most boring book I have ever read).  I tried to add a few that I had managed to miss during education and realised why they were still so popular many years on.  To Kill a Mockingbird and The Colour Purple were new reads for me that I really enjoyed.

3. Reading doesn't have to be expensive.  I love buying a new book and can spend hours browsing the shelves in a bookshop, but I can't afford to buy 52 new books a year so I chose a few, ones that I really wanted to read and couldn't get hold of any other way.  I also used the library, charity shops and book swaps with friends.  Some of the books I have loved this year I found for 20p in the local charity shop and it has been fun borrowing books that friends recommend.  My local library also offered a service over lockdown where you could submit favourite genres, authors and likes and they would pick books for you to pick up.  I am hoping this is something they continue!

4. If you feel in a rut, try diversifying your reading list.  Try different genres, different authors or different styles.  I found some great book-instagrammers who recommended books I probably wouldn't have found on my own and loved them.  I also tried non fiction, travel writing and autobiographies as well as the stories I am usually drawn to.

5. It is ok to start reading a book and decide it isn't for you, but make sure you give it a real chance.  One of the most interesting books I read this year was one I put down 20 pages in and almost didn't pick it back up.  There is only one that I started and really couldn't get into but I tried three times just to give it a real chance.  We won't all love or appreciate the same books and that is ok.

6. Instagram is a great place for inspiration.  I have picked up lots of books based on the recommendations of book influencers but I have also found many parenting or lifestyle bloggers I follow have shared what they are reading and loving and have influenced me to hunt something out too.  I have loved Book of Cinz this year and have a whole folder on Instagram of books she has shared that I want to read!.

7. Once reading becomes a habit and you find interesting books, it is so easy to fall back in love with it.  I have read the 52 books I had challenged myself to and I am half way through a fascinating number 53 (War Doctor about surgery on the front line by David Knott)with a pile next to my bed ready to go!  I won't share every book I have read this year, but I will pop down a top 10 for anyone needing inspiration.  If there is anything you think I should add to my reading pile then please leave a comment or pop me a message.













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Saturday, 14 November 2020

Days Out on the Isle Of Wight // Robin Hill

We have been to the Isle of Wight a few times with the children and always visited Blackgang Chine but this was our first visit to the sister park, Robin Hill and it was a huge hit with all of us. With a little bit of everything and a whole lot of space, this is a wonderful way to spend a day and even with rain nearly all day, we could access most of the attractions.  Sadly the slides and toboggan run which looked brilliant fun were shut, but the rest of the park was open, and the rain meant it wasn't too busy!

If you do decide to visit on a wet day, then I would strongly advise waterproof trousers for the children as the park is full of activities that they can use their whole body for and my kids were keen to get stuck in straight away.

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

The first attraction we found was actually a 4d cinema simulator experience which the three boys loved and did twice (there are a few different versions so it is easy to revisit.  Due to Covid there were no 3d glasses but the seating was well cleaned and masks were compulsory for all ages.  Cora was too short to be allowed on but there is a playground next door if families need to split for this.

We walked further into the woodland next and found our favourite bit, Jungle Heights.  A mini obstacle course in the trees that feels safe and secure and that my middle two boys (aged 5 and 7) could have done over and over for most of the day given the chance.  As it was made mostly of netting, the rain didn't affect it.  Nearby was a squirrel tower playzone which was a bit more adventurous.

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

As we continued walking through the woodland we came across a little construction area with diggers to play on which the younger ones really enjoyed,  Over the half term, Robin Hill was running a series of 'Autumn Nights' events with a later closing time, light walks and live music and we had visited on one of these days, although we sadly missed the evening entertainment as we had arrived at the park at 10am and by 5pm we were all pretty tired!  It did mean that there were lights hanging in the trees though and as it was a dark day, they were already on, making the woodland feel even more magical.

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

Whichever direction we went in, there was so much to discover.  We wanted to stop for food and could see a few places selling lunch in the park but none had a seating area in use.  There was a main cafe near the front entrance though which was shut for food but available for indoor seating so we grabbed a seat in there.  Once we were refuelled, we went in search of more ways to get muddy and found a play area near the pizza place which had a lake you could cross on bouncy bridges.  The kids loved the assualt course play area and running and jumping on the bridges. 

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

There are two rides in the park, a swinging boat that only one child wanted to try out, and the 'Cows railway' which I think they all went on about ten times.  Designed more for younger children but with humour for adults, this mini train does a short track and passes many novelty cows.  The kids all wanted a go in the drivers carriage and it was a calm moment in the day. As the park was quiet, they could race round whilst the seats were being cleaned between each person and get back in the queue.

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

We found a tiny village full of little houses and shops they could play in, similar in a way to cowboy town at Blackgang Chine.  This is somewhere they can let their imagination run wild and there was plenty of space to run around (as there was everywhere in the park)

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

As our energy was fading, we searched out a coffee hut and found a beautiful park surrounded by animal statues. The playground was extensive and fun and all around were things to look at, as well as a lake with real fish that came over to us, clearly looking for food.  We could see them setting up a music area here ready for the evening entertainment and there was a big shelter with hay bales in preparation.  I would love to revisit and stay for the evening Autumn Nights session. The playground was covered in colourful lights too so the children would be entertained into the evening.

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

We had a fantastic visit to Robin Hill and the children all picked it as their best day out.  I would say the park is aimed mostly at the 3-8 age group so it was perfect for us.  The space was ideal for children that need to run wild and the nature of the facilities made it easy to stay Covid compliant as it was nearly all outside.  There was other things to explore that I haven't mentioned but our favourite parts were definitely exploring the variety of outdoor play zones where they could wear themselves out.  We chose a joint entry ticket for Blackgang Chine and Robin Hill which was roughly £35 per person (under 4s are free) and with each entry you can return free of charge for 7 days, something we would definitely take advantage of on a longer trip!  If you are visiting the Isle Of Wight with toddlers or primary aged children then I would recommend Robin Hill park as a fun day out.

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight

Robin Hill, Days out on the Isle of Wight






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Thursday, 12 November 2020

Gift Guide for Outdoorsy Families

Products were sent to me for the purpose of inclusion

We are a family that loves being outdoors, discovering everything nature has to offer and with Lockdown 2.0 upon us, I think most people are learning more about their local area and what there is to do outside to keep their mind and bodies healthy.  I have put together a gift guide for the outdoorsy family, with ideas for parents, children and whole families.


outdoorsy family christmas gift guide



For the Grown Ups

I used to run on empty pavements in the evenings but this year I have seen more people than ever grabbing their trainers and starting the couch to 5k challenge.  It makes me so happy to see so many people running and as the weather gets warmer and the light starts fading, the Proviz reflect360 hoodie will be perfect for keeping them warm and visible as they maintain this fantastic hobby. It is both breathable and warm and is exactly what I have been looking for to help me through the colder months. The silver areas are all light reflective and are on both arms and the hood

outdoorsy family gift guide, Provis running hoodie

outdoorsy family gift guide, Provis running hoodie



Keeping up with children requires comfy shoes and the slip on trainers from Rieker are easy to wear and have super comfortable memory foam insides as well as shock absorbing flexible soles.  They will be ideal for all sorts of outdoors adventures.  These anti-stress shoes are designed to keep you walking with a spring in your step all day!

outdoorsy family gift guide, Reiker trainers

outdoorsy family gift guide, Reiker trainers



This summer I spent a lot more time swimming in the sea and one thing I have been meaning to buy is some good goggles.  Aqua Sphere Kaiman goggles offer 180 degree vision, a scratch resistant coating and extra comfortable materials.  These will be ideal for anyone braving sea swimming over the winter months but also for those who are sticking to indoor pools whilst the temperature lowers!  Aqua Sphere have ranges for men, women and children.

outdoorsy family gift guide, Aqua Sphere goggles

outdoorsy family gift guide, Aqua Sphere goggles



The Zippo Heatbank 9s is a brilliant device that not only works as a handwarmer with six different heat settings, but also charges devices via USB.  Ideal for camping trips, long walks and everything in between, this multipurpose tool is a great gift for a grown up who loves to be outdoors.  The ergonomic shape fits a hand comfortably and has a run time of up to 9 hours. 

outdoorsy family gift guide, Zippo powerbank 9s

outdoorsy family gift guide, Zippo powerbank 9s








For the Kids

For any child who has big dreams to explore the world, the Travel Edition of Atlas of Adventures would make a beautiful gift. Each section begins with an illustrated map of the area followed by its most fascinating locations.  If they want to learn more about riding a gondola in Venice, sleeping under the Northern Lights or showering with elephants in Chiang Mai, this book will inspire them.  The Atlas of Adventures is a book I could easily get lost in and is such a beautiful gift.

outdoorsy family gift guide, Atlas of Adventures

outdoorsy family gift guide, Atlas of Adventures



Childhood is the perfect time to learn a new skill and two of mine are desperate to give skateboarding a go.  I think this Rampage Skate board would be perfect for a beginner and a great way to make the most out of being outdoors.  Skates.co.uk also sell helmets and other protection - something I think we will need! 

outdoorsy family gift guide, Rampage skateboard



With our plans including getting outdoors no matter what the weather this winter, I need to make sure the children are dressed for adventure and won't get cold.  This starts with the first layer and a good pair of thermals will be vital this winter.  We love Reima for outerwear, but their merino wool thermal sets are not only super fun and colourful (there are four different colourways in this print) but snuggly warm, making sure we don't have to cut our fun short.  Base layers are something I would always advise investing in and these would be a great Christmas gift for mini adventurers.

outdoorsy family gift guide, Reima Thermals

outdoorsy family gift guide, Reima Thermals



The more my children travel, the more interested they have got in the world.  With every subject they study at school inspiring questions, I think Our Wonderful World is a perfect present this Christmas to encourage curious minds.  Full of beautifully illustrated maps that not only share the geography of each country but other interesting information, this is something that any little adventurer will love, as well as it being a book you want to have on display thanks to the fantastic artwork. 

outdoorsy family gift guide, Our Wonderful World Book

outdoorsy family gift guide, Our Wonderful World Book



If you are looking for an Eco-Friendly gift idea then The Bike Club is a great way to keep up with growing children's bike needs.  You pay a monthly subscription from £5 per month to borrow a bike and can exchange it every time they grow (which is very regularly in my house!).  There are options if you would rather only borrow new bikes or whether you are happy with used, but each one is carefully looked after by the team so you are only getting the best. This is a great way to get kids cycling without the big expense at the beginning!

outdoorsy family gift guide, The Bike Club



We are a family that love to camp and one thing that I think will make life easier as well as way more fun, is a kids head torch like this one from Whitby and Co.  Designed to be as robust as the adult version but with extra safety features, this makes the dark so much more fun, not just on camping trips but for nightime treasure hunts and mini adventures too.  With 9 hours burn time this head torch is easy to use and full of fun possibilities!

outdoorsy family gift guide, Kids head torch



I can't leave out the smaller adventure lovers and this Kinderkraft balance bike from Kiddies Kingdom is ideal for children aged 2 years and up.  A great reason to get outdoors, balance bikes make a brilliant first bike and encourage balance and movement in preperation for pedals later on.  The seat is height adjustable, the bike is sturdy and easy to carry and the frame is made from environmentally friendly beech wood.  

outdoorsy family gift guide, Kinderkraft balance bike






For the Whole Family

Outdoor adventures can be tiring and we often want to stop for a picnic or a drink, so this camping chair from Helinox is ideal for camping trips, woodland walks, festivals and more.  It packs up so small and light and can be popped in a backpack, it is easy to assemble and is so comfortable! If you purchase one at the moment it comes with a free seat warmer which adds extra padding and stops any drafts.  The chair one weighs 960g and is 35cm long in the bag but easily accomodates an adult, this is a great gift for the whole family to enjoy.  

outdoorsy family gift guide, Helinox camping chair

outdoorsy family gift guide, Helinox camping chair

outdoorsy family gift guide, Helinox camping chair



Playing cards are an essential family camping game and this pack of Foragers playing cards from Kikkerland Design is educational and multi purpose with each card sharing a fun foraging fact.  Whether you are a novice or an expert at foraging, these cards are full of interesting information and will make any woodland walk more interesting. 


outdoorsy family gift guide, Foragers Playing Cards

outdoorsy family gift guide, Foragers Playing Cards



Gifts don't have to be something we can open and one of the best ideas for the family that has it all, or wants to give back is a tree from Treedom.  You can buy a tree in one of 17 countries around the world in partnership with NGOs and small farmholders.  Your tree is photographed and geotagged and you can watch it grow as well as learning about the farmers you are helping.  My cacao tree is in Cameroon and I can track the co2 absorbtion and its growth.  This is the ideal gift for a family that wants to work towards balancing their emissions and help efforts to reforest. You can find my tree here

outdoorsy family gift guide, Treedom



We all know how much better it is for the environment to use a reusable water bottle and for anyone who doesn't already own one (or for those of us that like a collection), then this Friends of the Earth bottle from Ion8 is a beautiful and eco friendly gift.  It is never too late to change a habit and this bottle works towards eliminating the fact that over 1 million plastic bottles are bought worldwide every minute.  Fill it with your favourite drink and let it accompany you on all your adventures.

outdoorsy family gift guide, Friends of the Earth ion8 bottle

outdoorsy family gift guide, Friends of the Earth ion8 bottle



With the temperatures dropping rapidly and many of us hoping to keep up outdoor adventures all winter, a hand warmer is a great gift for a family.  This one from Whitby and co is compact and easy to use with a flameless burn that lasts up to 12 hours.  It can be used 90 times before it needs refilling and comes with a protective fleece bag.  Whether you need to keep your hands warm during a sport or on a long walk, this pocket sized warmer is a great companion. 

outdoorsy family gift guide, Whitby hand warmer

outdoorsy family gift guide, Whitby hand warmer


There are so many wonderful gifts for an outdoorsy family and there has never been a better time to get outdoors and explore!






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