Author Archive


Self-Hosting: The term self-hosting was coined to refer to the use of a computer program as part of the toolchain or operating system that produces new versions of that same program—for example, a compiler that can compile its own source code.

So readers, the time has come when I have finally been brave enough to go self-hosted on my blog. I’ve been blogging for 6 months now and have got so much more out of it than I ever thought possible. When I first started I didn’t know what a big part of my life it would be me and now seems like the perfect time to take the leap and plunge head first into hosting my blog myself. I’ve been putting it off and putting it off as I’m not a great fan of change and, as with everything, I have heard a few scare stories,but….I have gone with a hosting company that has been highly recommended and hopefully the transfer will be quick and painless.

So I am writing today to say soon this blog will stop…and if you would like to continue reading my posts you will be able to do so at I’m not entirely sure how it works yet, but if you’ve signed up to receive email notifications of my blog then you may need to do so again, and there will undoubtedly be a new Bloglovin link as well. Please, please be patient with me!, I will write an updated blog post with the correct link when it’s all up and running.

In the meantime, I found this quote on Pinterest and it’s one I’m sticking with through this process!



Walkers Mighty Lights Review

Crisps: A potato chip (known as a crisp in British English and Hiberno-English, and as either a chip or wafer in Indian English) is a thin slice of potato that is deep fried or baked until crunchy. Potato chips are commonly served as an appetizer, side dish, or snack.

Crisps are a firm favourite in this house, but like many parents I try and restrict the amount my children eat as I feel they’re not always the healthiest of snacks. As a parent I try and ensure that my children are well nourished and are growing up learning to make healthy choices about the foods they eat and enjoy, but with so many delicious unhealthy foods out there it can feel like fighting a losing battle at times. And whilst I’m usually more of a sweet toothed person myself, recently I have switched to savoury, and crisps (especially with dips) are something I regularly crave. (however I’m not quite as obsessed as a very good friend of mine who once wrote to Walkers as a child thanking them for bringing such delicious crisps into her life, I kid you not!)

So when Walkers Crisps offered to send me some packets of their new crisps Mighty Lights, with 30% less fat than standard crisps, I thought it sounded like a good idea to try something we all enjoy that wouldn’t be as bad for our health as usual. I thought it would be amazing to have an essentially ‘naughty’ snack which wasn’t actually that naughty. (if someone could now do this with chocolate that would make me very happy!)

I was sent the crisps in three flavours; Ready Salted, Cheese and Onion and Chicken. (yes, I was slightly disappointed there were no salt and vinegar packets) Luckily in this family we all like different flavours so there was no fighting over the packets! My four year old loves ‘red crisps’ (which is handy seeing as he is on a strict dairy free diet at the moment) my twelve year old loves meaty flavours and I, as you will know if you are a regular reader of my blog, am cheese obsessed so quickly opened a packet of cheese and onion.

As they are lower in fat I was worried they’d be a bit thin as low fat varieties of crisps sometimes are, but no….ridges! Thick lovely ridges! Made me feel like I was eating a real crisp and not a skinny imposter!

The flavour was good too, not too overpowering at all, which again can be the case with low fat varieties attempting to add something that’s just not there. They are suitable for vegetarians, contain no MSG, artificial colours or preservatives and are a source of fibre! Plus they taste great! Perfect!

Needless to say that the crisps were so good that only a week after they were delivered all eighteen packs have been eaten; on picnics, for snacks and even as ‘pudding’ one day! I shall definitely be buying some more for the children’s pack lunches when they are back at school…safe in the knowledge that if the crisps are the only thing they eat at lunchtime (I hope not!) then they’ve eaten something that’s not too bad for them at all!

This is a sponsored review for Walkers. All opinions are my own.

Slinkiness post holiday!

Gain: Resources or advantage acquired or increased, profit . The act or process of gaining. An increase in amount, magnitude, or degree.

So, it’s #slinkylinky Friday; nearly a whole week after I have come back from a very indulgent holiday where, if I’m honest, I had a bit too much to eat. (no surprises there!) I mean I was on holiday, so it was ok right? It was quite liberating to not have to count calories and feel guilty for eating things I knew I shouldn’t be. I wasn’t a complete pig, but just having a glass or two of wine every night which I don’t do at home, was enough to add weight on. And the food in France is so tempting. I love hot buttered toast for breakfast, but French bread is something else. And it has to be eaten with proper butter…and jam!! We didn’t eat out much, but when we did we soon discovered that the portions in the restaurants were gigantic. I ordered a salad one day and when it arrived there was easily enough on my plate to feed an entire family for a week, in dressing alone!

So I knew whilst I was away that I’d put weight on without a doubt, the question was…just how much. It’s easy not to care when you’re on holiday and you are relaxed and in a different place with no access to scales. Wearing loose summer clothing that never feels too tight round the waist, no clue to the inches that are building up. And then you come home, try and put your jeans on with no luck and come crashing back down to reality. I made the silly mistake of getting on the scales on Sunday night, a few hours after I’d got home, and the result wasn’t pretty. 11stone 9pounds. A whole half a stone more than when I left. I wailed, had a small tantrum and had a brief moment of anger at myself for being so careless over the last couple of weeks. And then I got a grip (there was plenty to grip onto) and put it in perspective. It was a holiday. An amazing holiday. One that was much needed and every pound that I’d put on meant more food and more of the holiday that I’d enjoyed.

But now I am back, and back on the slimming #slinkylinky wagon. I’ve been quite good this week and have been back to some of my old eating routines, eggs for breakfast…not too much bread and NO cheese! I promised that I would weigh this morning and post. Needed to kick myself up my lardy arse and the scales said…11stone 5 and a quarter pounds. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Phew. That was better. Sometimes I think with me that the quicker I put it on the quicker it can come off. And I’m quite lucky like that. I’ve had no alcohol either which must’ve helped.

After weighing I decided I needed a plan for losing some more as I’m still classed as overweight thanks to my BMI and I’m still stupidly unfit, I really need to exercise more. Earlier in the week I bought a Weightwatchers magazine for some recipes and in it there was an article about the ’40 best ever weight loss tips.’

I have chosen 5 that I am going to stick to this week and thought it might help to share them with you…

1) Be prepared! I am so much better if I write a weekly meal plan and stick to it, less opportunities to eat too much! I like a plan!
2) Eat slowly! This one will be tough as I am always wolfing down one meal as I’m so busy, but in the evening I must do this, it does help!
3) Stop blaming yourself! Apparently it’s not willpower that let’s us down it’s being surrounded by the wrong sorts of food, there are adverts, fast food outlets, billboards all around tempting us to eat rubbish! And I’m also not going to have that stuff in the house, then even if I’m tempted I can’t do anything about it!
4) Talk to someone! It says that when you’re having a bad day to talk to people going through the same thing, on Twitter for example! Perfect for me!
5) Play with your kids! Now I do obviously do this already, but could do it more. Instead of watching my daughter jump on the trampoline in the garden I could actually get on it myself. And before we went to France we were going for bike rides in the evening which we could start doing again. I definitely need to be more active.

So, those are my five things for this week! I feel quite positive about it all at the moment and am pretty focused. Let’s see how long that lasts! *starts making a meal plan for next week* 😉

Thank you as always to @ladyemsy and @Mrsfinn86 for the inspiration and support!


The Gîte

Gîte: A gîte is a specific type of holiday accommodation. A gîte is a holiday home which is available for rent. Gîtes are usually fully furnished and equipped for self-catering.

She stands tall and proud,
Elegant on the outside, decorative.

Flowers hang by the door, swaying in the breeze.
Shutters open wide,
Daring the observer to take a closer look through netted curtains.

Looking out onto fields of corn,
Nestled in the perfect spot,
Tucked away and private.

Yet inside holds a secret.
Once grand and new, once solid and clean,
Now she lies dusty and dormant.
Only coming alive when a family enters,
Bringing with them laughter and life.

Look closely and you will see the fireplace crumble,
Touch too hard and a light shade will fall,
Exposing live and dangerous wires.

She is tired inside,
In need of some love.
She is old and worn.

Strong wooden beams support her still,
Strength on the inside keeps her standing on the outside.
Looking at the outside no one could know what is hidden in the depths,
Until they dare to enter deeper.

She could be grand again if someone just took the time to look after her,
Nurture her back to her former glory.
She is not lost forever.
Appearances can be deceptive.

Prose for Thought


Home: A home is a place of residence or refuge. When it refers to a building, it is usually a place in which an individual or a family can live and store personal property, such as a single-family detached home or an apartment. It is generally a place to provide safety and is used as a center from which people or animals base their daily activities. Most modern-day households contain sanitary facilities and a means of preparing food.

A few weeks ago when I was attempting (and failing) to sell my house I had the opportunity to go along to the Homesense store in Bristol with some other bloggers.

Excited about moving house I was keen to see what the store sold and if there was anything quirky and individual I could buy for my new house whilst sprucing up my current one to make it more attractive for the viewers. (yes new fancy cushions do sell houses, so I’m told!)

Homesense is actually ridiculously close to where I live and I’m amazed I’ve not discovered it before! It is the homeware part of TKMaxx which I love, and just like TKMaxx the store did not disappoint! As soon as we walked in we didn’t know where to start first. On two floors the store is gigantic and full of individual items for every room in the home. There are sofas, sideboards, mirrors and so much more.

As I was with @ladyemsy we naturally gravitated towards the teapot and mug section. So many to choose from, but naturally this was the mug for me…

Next, unsurprisingly, the bloggers all ended up at the notebook and paper section. What an amazing selection!

I picked up a wonderful pad of paper for scrapbooking and came home and made this to hang up in my study. I don’t often get the chance these days to be creative and I’m pretty pleased with the result!

What I liked about the shop was the amount of different, unique items in it. From strange shell-like massive dolphins (should’ve taken a photo!) to vases in styles I’ve never seen before.

They have deliveries everyday and so the store is constantly changing with wonderfully different things to purchase all of the time. And the prices are amazing too, everything less than it would usually retail for. I also picked up some new cutlery and a baking tray to replace the ruined ones from my oven trouble.

So if you’ve a new home to furnish, or an old home in need of some fab new items then I can recommend you visit Homesense. Stylish, affordable and so many different things to choose from. Everything you need for a home all in one place! Go!

This is a review for which I received a £30 Homesense gift card


Restore: To return (something, esp a work of art or building) to an original or former condition. To bring back to health, good spirits, etc.

You know the phrase ‘I didn’t know how hungry I was until I ate something?’ or ‘I didn’t realise I was so poorly until I felt better?’ Well now I’ve invented a new one….’I didn’t realise how much we needed a family holiday together until we had one!’

For the last two glorious weeks we have been in France, staying in an old and crumbling gite near Royan, which is on the west coast near Bordeaux. Just the five of us for two whole weeks. The last time we went on holiday abroad for two weeks was four years ago, and then only week of it was just us as a family (then only four of us) and the last week was with my mum, brother and sister-in-law. It was the holiday where we got engaged, proposed to at Mont St Michel and it was lovely, but not in the same way as this. This has been magical. We have slotted into a relaxed, carefree routine and blended together as a family. Work and PND have not enabled that to happen for many reasons over the last year or so. My husband often works long hours and can be in Bristol on a Monday, Leeds on Tuesday, London on Wednesday and then Edinburgh at the end of the week. Sometimes we are definitely like ships that sail in the night and only have time for a brief ‘hello’ before tiredness sets in and one of us has dropped off to sleep on the sofa. We haven’t had a “date night’ when it has just been the two of us for at least the last six months, if not longer. And often the children see daddy briefly in the morning as he’s rushing out of the door or for a bit before bedtime. Weekends are also often so busy visiting lovely family and friends that again it’s never just us. In essence we’ve almost been too busy to be a family.

So last year when I wasn’t very well and it was a difficult time for us all, my husband thought it a good idea for us all to have something to look forward to. A two week holiday in one of my favourite places, where I used to holiday as a child and is filled with wonderful happy memories. We saved up and found a gite we could afford. The gite is very traditional and is a bit tired and things tend to fall apart in your hands the minute you touch them, but it’s been our home for the past two weeks and has been fantastic!

Somehow France has worked it’s magic. It’s relaxed us all; the 12 year old has had less hormonal moments than usual and even the 1 year old has been sleeping! Work and the groundhog repetitiveness of everyday life have been forgotten. The silly things my husband and I used to bicker about no longer important. I’ve actually managed to read two whole books and I haven’t worn any make up or done my hair once! It’s been so refreshing!

But more important than all of that is the little traditions and memories we are making as a family. Songs on the radio that become our French holiday songs. Games on the beach and in the sea that become our holiday games. Time spent making wonderful memories for the children to look back on when they are grown up, just as I have been remembering my wonderful holidays from when I was a child. You can read a poem I have written about building memories here. And also, in the evenings when the children are all in bed, my husband and I have had precious time to ourselves, time where we’re not too exhausted to have a conversation, time to listen to each other and laugh.

I know we’ve been very lucky to have been able to afford a holiday abroad (next year we will almost certainly holiday at home) and that this holiday as been the perfect first one as a family of five. We shall all treasure it forever and need to remember how important time as a family is. It is so easy to get eaten up by everyday life and all of the cr** that it can bring so….my mid-year resolution is to make sure that we have more time together as a family….and that my husband and I will have that all elusive ‘date night!’

Building Memories

Memories: The mental faculty of retaining and recalling past experience. The act or an instance of remembering; recollection: spent the afternoon lost in memory. All that a person can remember. Something remembered: pleasant childhood memories.

Lives together,
Yet often apart.
Separated all day,
Joined by five hearts.

Goodbye in the morning,
Gone all the day.
Home-time, bedtime,
Sometimes away.

Holiday different,
Together at last.
Memories building,
Like my childhood past.

Same beach as then,
Twenty-five years on.
Father not here,
Fourteen years gone.

Memories built then,
Still vivid and clear.
Just like it was yesterday,
And he somehow near.

A family then,
When I was the child.
As the parent now,
New memories are filed.

Time away important,
A chance to rest.
Recharging spent batteries,
Time out with the best.

Laughter and love,
Five of us as one.
Living and loving,
Memorable fun.

Different culture,
Wonderful sights.
Days on the beach,
Long, lazy nights.

Precious time together,
My family, my world.
Breathing in new memories,
My heart forever will hold.

Prose for Thought

Guest Post: Ancestors

Ancestor: An ancestor or forebear is a parent or (recursively) the parent of an ancestor (i.e., a grandparent, great-grandparent, great-great-grandparent, and so forth). Ancestor is “any person from whom one is descended.

This is another wonderful guest post for whilst I am away en France! This time it is from the lovely @raspberryswirls. She used to blog and this post makes me wish she still did…because it’s brilliant!

One of the wonderful things about the summer holidays is that I get to be at home with my 13 month old son, R. I miss this time so much when he’s at nursery and I’m at school. I spent the other morning sat with a cup of tea, just watching R play and explore. He was trying very hard to make his bricks balance on top of each other and it wasn’t going so well, possibly due to the fact that he was trying to do this on a cushion – not the most stable of bases. His little face was set in such a pose of stubbornness and concentration and for one brief moment, he looked so much like my grandma that it took my breath away.

My grandma was, for the most part, a cheerful, gentle Scotswoman. However, the genial exterior hid an inner determination and focus that she could use to move mountains, if needed. You always knew when Gran had decided ‘something was going to be done’ as her eyes slightly narrowed and her lips slightly pursed…it’s very hard to describe her exact expression, but trust me, once her face showed it, you knew STUFF WAS GOING TO GET DONE. Whether that was getting donations from companies to support her charity fundraising, or simply getting me to do the washing up, it worked. I know from talking to my mum that when Gran received the news that she had breast cancer, she fixed that steely look of immovable determination onto the consultant, took a deep breath and simply asked, “So. What are we going to do about it?”

It was quite a surprise to see that distinctive expression on my young son, but I didn’t think anything of it till the other night. I was pondering what to write for my guest blog while ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ was on in the background. Nigel Havers was exploring his family tree and discovered that one of his ancestors was a bit of a cad, a role he has played many times during his acting career and he said something about how these genes get handed down and affect the next generations without us knowing.

These ideas of ancestry and inherited characteristics have always fascinated me. Through choice, I have never had any contact with my real father or his family; therefore there has always been a large part of my personal ancestry missing. This has never really bothered me, as I am so much like my mum that we could be twins, so I’ve never had any curiosity as to what made me ‘me’ – I’m essentially a carbon copy of her. Mum’s always answered any questions I had about my father openly and honestly, so I know that he was very tall, hence me being slightly taller than the rest of my family, and he was a musician, which explains why I’ve ended up as a teacher specialising in music, despite there being no previous history of musicians on my mum’s side.

Despite never having met my real father, blood will out, as the saying goes, and these traits have shown up in me. I do believe that there are certain things that are inherent in our genetic make-up that get passed down through the generations, traits that go beyond chromosomes and DNA. It made me think about R, his family history and the little personality he is becoming. What will he inherit from us? What will be unique to him? How much of his ancestral past will shape his future?

Physically, R resembles his paternal side. He is the absolute image of my father in law, but seems to have inherited his height from my side. His personality so far seems to be a mix of both me and my partner; he has his dad’s laid back and calm demeanour and my confident, gregarious nature. He adores music, and according to his nursery, shows a natural sense of rhythm. This isn’t a great surprise, both his grandfathers and his dad are accomplished musicians and I’m a music specialist teacher. Is this early love of music nurture, nature or a combination of the two? He’s certainly been exposed to lots of music and singing, so it’s part of his day to day environment but I like to think that music is hardwired into him, part of the genetic code that is in every cell of his little being.

Genetics are not the only thing that gets passed down. Family traditions and histories follow and shape us as we grow into adults. We chose R’s middle name to honour his Great Uncle, a man he’ll never meet, but whose name he will carry for the rest of his life. If R had been a girl, his middle name would have been Anne, like me, my mum and my grandma and every girl born into my family have been named for as far back as we can trace using the family Bible. I don’t know who the original Anne was or why the name holds so much importance to our family, but I continue to honour her memory, and so will any future daughters of ours. I’d one day love to find out who this woman was, and why her memory has echoed 150 years down our ancestral line.

We are responsible for forming our children, physically, emotionally and mentally. They develop according to how we nurture them, what influences we expose them to and those threads of our family histories and ancestors. Whether we mean to or not, our parenting choices are influenced by our own parents, who in turn were influenced by our grandparents, and so the pattern goes through the generations. I think it’s awe inspiring that when that microscopic sperm and egg meet, it’s not just physical characteristics like eye colour that are passed on, but hundreds and thousands of years of our ancestry and family history combine to create these walking hopes and futures that are our children.

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