Friday, 18 December 2015

Nearly Christmas!

Hurrah, it’s nearly Christmas again! It seems to come around quicker and quicker each year, but I’m not complaining – it’s my favourite time of year. Last Saturday Ben and I took the kids Christmas shopping in Preston, which really got us in the festive mood. I love shopping in Preston just before Christmas – there are lots of great shops and there’s a lovely Christmassy atmosphere created by all the festive lights and decorations. Tomorrow I intend to go Christmas shopping with a friend in Leeds, which should be fun. I haven’t been Christmas shopping in Leeds for years. 

Ben and I have already bought most of the presents for the kids. And we added a bit more fun by turning some of the buying into a game – we decided that we would both buy each sprog a gift that cost no more than £30 and then on Christmas Day we would let the kids tell us which they preferred. The parent with the fewest preferences would have to do all the housework for a week and in case of a tie the kids would decide who did the housework. (The latter was my idea - I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to bribe the kids into voting in my favour!)

Anyway, here’s what we ended up buying. First, Ben bought Sarah an adorable hand smocked lemon summer dress with: white Peter Pan collar, tie at rear with bow and white and orange daisy flowers embroidered on the chest. And I bought Sarah a gorgeous Mayoral girl’s dress with intricate camelia flowers embroidered throughout, front and back. (Both from Cachet Kids.) I know that Sarah will love them both, but she's going through a pink phase and so I think that will sway her preference in my favour. 

Second, Ben bought Simon a Dash II radio controlled boat from
Giggle Gadgets and I bought Simon a radio controlled inflatable Minion from Argos. (It was actually half price in the Argos sale!) I’m not sure which Simon will prefer as he asked for a remote controlled boat for Christmas, but he’s also a big Despicable Me / Minions fan, so we’ll have to wait and see.  

Third, Ben bought Crissy a lovely pair of special occasion girl’s white party shoes decorated with a diamantes ring and white wrap fabric from Cachet Kids. And I bought Crissy a gorgeous pair of red patent Mary Jane shoes by Pretty Originals, with leather flowers and diamonete decoration, also from Cachet Kids. We both knew that Crissy would love shoes and I’m not sure which she’ll prefer, so again we'll have to wait and see.

Finally, Ben bought Keith a Race Tin Micro StuntCar from Giggle Gadgets and I bought Keith a Star Wars Stormtrooper jumper from M&S. I know he’s going to love both presents but we’re (hopefully) going to see the new Star Wars movie before Christmas and that might tip things in my favour. Anyway, I’ll let you know the results of the competition after Christmas!

Sunday, 8 November 2015


I hope you had a great Halloween, I certainly did! My sister threw a fabulous fancy dress party, and it was a lot of fun. 

Ben and I decided to get masks for each other, and I bought him a really scary pirate head and neck mask and he bought me a scary goblin face mask, with hat – both from Giggle Gadgets. They’re really high quality (mainly) rubber masks and it was such fun scaring the kids with them!  

Keith decided that he would rather spend the evening with his friends and chose not to go to the party (he's at that age), but my other kids went and had a great time.

Simon was dressed as a vampire pirate. He wore a lovely blue, white and black pirate costume from Cachet Kids, complete with pirate hat and sword. And we vamped him up him with some special effects make-up and fake blood from Giggle Gadgets. He absolutely loved the costume and managed to stay in character most of the evening.

Crissy was dressed in a witch’s outfit which she and I had made together last year. The outfit comprised: a long black dress with a jagged hemline, a large black pointed hat and a black haired wig made of wool. It just needed a few alterations for it to fit again this year. We didn’t bother with a paper mache nose this year as last year as it was more trouble than it was worth. 

Finally, Sarah was dressed as a Pink Princess in a gorgeous Frilly Milly costume from Cachet Kids. She loves dressing up as a fairly and she looked particularly adorable in her costume.  

Anyway, we ate lots of good food, drank lots of lovely drink and played lots of fun games (as is the norm at our family’s parties). One of my favourite games has to be ‘inflatable dodgeball’, invented by Ben (or so he claims). You split into two teams and occupy two sides of a room with a divider across the middle. (We used some Halloween bunting.) Each team member is given an inflatable (like an inflatable guitar, hammer, sword, etc) and a balloon. You can only touch the balloons with your inflatable and the idea is to hit members of the opposing team anywhere on their bodies with a balloon bashed by your inflatable. When you get hit you have to sit the game out until all of your team are similarly out, then the whole team is back in play. Every time a whole team is knocked out like this the opposing team gets a point and the first team to get to ten points wins! It’s very tiring but a lot of fun.  

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

A Double Christening!

Sunday was a very special day for me! In one of my earlier blogs I mentioned that my friends Sandra and Clive had had twins – two adorable baby girls. Well, on Sunday I had the very great pleasure of attending their christenings – my first ever double christening! And what’s more, I got to be a godparent to both! I’m so happy and proud!

On the morning of the christening I went to the church early with my aunty Emmie to help prepare it. (She regularly does voluntary work at the church, including helping to prepare it for special occasions.) After putting on the heaters and doing a little tidying, I helped my aunt set up a wonderful flower arrangement at the front. She used to teach flower arranging (and other crafts) and the arrangement she produced (with little help from me) was absolutely stunning.

When Sandra and Clive arrived at the church carrying their two bundles of joy they looked like they were about to explode with happiness and pride. And with good reason - their girls (Emily and Louise) looked absolutely gorgeous in their matching Sarah Louise ivory silk heirloom christening gowns from Cachet Kids

They are good natured babies and were happy and smiling throughout the ceremony; they didn’t even mind being crossed with water, which most babies seem to hate. Anyway, the whole ceremony was very enjoyable and I was glad to be a part of it.

After the ceremony we all went back to Sandra and Clive’s house for an informal Sunday roast dinner, which was absolutely delicious. (Sandra is one of the best cooks I know.) The happy couple then opened the large pile of christening presents given to them by friends and family. 

Among the presents were: some cute christening keepsake photo frames, two silver spoons with the girls’ names engraved on them and a variety of children’s clothing. I think that my favourite gift was a pair of Little Darlings silk baby girl’s christening hats in ivory with a cute bow on them. Either that or a pair of frilly lace white christening shawls with: ‘My christening day’ embroidered on them, a crucifix in silver effect threads and frilly lace trim. One or the other – they both looked sooooooo cute!       

Thursday, 13 August 2015

A Return To The Festival

We had such a great time at Clitheroe Food Festival last year that we decided to visit again this year, and we had a really great day out once again. In fact, quite a few of our friends and family also went to the festival on my recommendation and they had a great time too. The weather was lovely, the drive to the festival was very pleasant (through some gorgeous countryside) and the food was irresistible!

Like last year, we decided to buy one of everything that took our fancy and have a little each so that we could sample a broad range of things. Also, many of the exhibitors provided free samples, which was great. I enjoyed all of the food I tasted, but thought that the FatJax Chutney was especially scrummy! I tried lots of different kinds and ended up buying enough to feed an army! It makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

Ben made a b-line for Leagrams Organic Cheeses. He had some last year and really enjoyed it and so decided to stock up on it this year. And I have to say that it goes very well with crackers and my chutney! In fact, it goes well with just about anything – it’s so delicious.

We were also very keen on Susan’s Farmhouse Fudge, which was beyond delicious! It’s apparently made in Samlesbury (not far from Clitheroe) using local cream, butter and British sugar. And it’s some of the best fudge I’ve ever tasted! Hmmmm! I can feel the pounds piling on just thinking about it.

And as for the Polka Pops homemade cakes, forget about it! (I’ve been watching too many mafia movies, I know!) Apparently the cakes are baked using home laid eggs, they are then crumbled and mixed with delicious frosting to create yummy balls of truffle, which are then put on sticks and hand decorated. The kids really loved them, especially the two youngest.

The only downside to the day was that Sarah tore her new Dolce Petit ruffle dress on a damaged fence and was (understandably) very upset about it. Fortunately, they’re on sale at the moment at Cachet Kids so replacing it won’t be a problem. And Sarah quickly cheered up when I told her she’d be getting another one.

Overall, it was a great day out – great weather, great scenery, great company and great food. What more could you ask for? 

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

A Day To Remember

I had a great time at the weekend. Ben and I had the idea of getting together with friends and family and collectively throwing a massive garden party and that’s just what we did!
The party was held at Judy and Dimitris’ house. Well, to be more precise it was held at the back of their house in a field that their garden backs onto. They’re friends with the farmer who owns the land and he was happy to let them use it for free.

Dave and Elizabeth borrowed an enormous marquee from Elizabeth’s father. He had bought it for the wedding reception of Elizabeth’s older sister a few years earlier and said that he would be happy if Elizabeth could get some use out of it. And it’s a good thing that we had it as it rained non-stop for the duration of the party.

Ed contributed by bringing along his band mates and playing live music at the party. He’s played lead guitar in local pub bands for quite a few years now and the band went down really well at the party, playing lots of crowd pleasers like Meatloaf’s ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ and Queen’s ‘Tie Your Mother Down’.

Ben and I provided a lovely spread of food and drink. We also asked guests to bring some edible goodies to the party, which they did aplenty! In fact, there wasn’t enough room on the tables for all of the yummy guest contributions and some of them had to go in the house. (I can feel the pounds piling on just thinking about it!)

Lots of family and friends turned up to the party, including my aunty Elsie who I hadn’t seen for over ten years! She lives in Scotland close to Inverness and Ed brought her down for the party as a special surprise. It was great seeing her again and catching up on family news. I have such a big family that it’s easy to lose track of what everybody's up to.

The party was a lot of fun from start to finish (despite not being able to have a barbecue because of the rain). We kicked the party off proper with a kids’ disco, which everybody seemed to enjoy. It was so funny watching my little niece Dina doing her toddler dancing. She was actually pretty good at it. And she looked adorable in the new outfit that Ben and I bought her for her birthday – a Tutto Piccolo white dress with red flowers, some ankle high red socks with frills and bows and a pair of red bow hair clips

 We then played lots of party games, like dunking for apples, musical chairs and pass the parcel. And we finished the day with Ed’s live music, followed by some highly embarrassing Karaoke. (I think the lowlight of this was Uncle Jim’s lager fuelled, topless rendition of Rod Stewart’s ‘If You Think I’m Sexy’!) Anyway, we all had a lot of fun. It was a real day to remember!

Tuesday, 30 June 2015


As I mentioned in my last blog, I recently got back from a holiday in Greece. I absolutely love Greece - it’s got great weather, great beaches, great food and most of all great people! I’ve visited quite a few of the islands in the past, and a few places on the mainland - most notably Athens, Thessaloniki, Giannitsa and Pella. I even did some walking in the foothills of Mount Olympus when I was young(er) and more adventurous. I didn’t see any gods but I could see why the ancient Greeks thought it was the home of their gods – much of the scenery was divine!

Speaking of divine scenery, my latest holiday was on the island of Santorini (Thira) in the southern Aegean, probably the most beautiful Greek island I’ve ever visited. It was created by volcanic activity thousands of years ago and the landscape is absolutely stunning, with: steep cliffs, lovely beaches, a striking blue caldera and clear warm waters. And among all this are gorgeous blue and white buildings. It really is a place of great beauty.  

The only negatives I can think of are as follows. First, it was quite windy (in my experience, the islands in the Aegean are all quite windy) so it’s worth hiring a wind break for the beach.

Second, when you wade out into the sea you have to walk on volcanic rock, which can be quite hard on the feet, so it’s a good idea to wear some foot protection when you do this.

Third, if you arrive by boat the bus ride from the harbour to the main settlement involves snaking up a steep cliff face, which is quite hair raising. Fortunately, the island has an airport which makes it possible to arrive by air. Next time I think I’ll do that and forget about visiting Athens first.

Finally, the island is a little on the expensive side. For example, in one of the clothing shops in the main settlement I found some Ben Sherman polo shirts that were exactly the same as the ones worn by my boys at the time and they were on sale for the equivalent off roughly £32 each – about £12 more than I paid! 

Anyway, all in all Santorini is a wonderful place that is well worth visiting. 


Monday, 22 June 2015

INCHworm Trainers - Update

Just got back from a great holiday in Greece. I’ll tell you all about it in my next blog. In this blog I just want to give you a quick update on something I wrote about in one of my first blogs.

Back in October 2013 I wrote a blog about a new type of trainers that I bought for my kids called INCHworm trainers. They looked really cool, but the thing that attracted me to them the most was that they could be adjusted to grow with my children’s feet and so (hopefully) last a lot longer than normal trainers. (They could be extended by 1 full size in 2 half size increments.)  I wrote that I liked them, but had a worry that if they aged like normal footwear and lasted a lot longer than normal footwear, then my kids would be running around in tatty looking trainers, which I wasn’t keen on.

Well, before the holiday I had a clear out of my kids’ wardrobes and came across the trainers. All the kids had grown out of them (which was no surprise as they had had them for over a year and a half), but they got a lot of use out of them and I have to say that the trainers had all worn very well. In fact, none of them looked tatty at all. 

I ended my previous blog on these trainers with the following words:

“… I think that the idea of adjustable trainers is a great idea, especially for kids with one foot bigger than the other (which thankfully none of my children have) but I’m not sure that these are the trainers for me … or my kids! Only time will tell.

Well, time did tell and I’m happy to report that INCHworm Trainers passed the test of time!