40 Gifts for HIM

40 gifts for HIM

I recently organised my Mr A’s 40th. Forty is a big milestone, at first I was really daunted, but, with a little help from some family and friends and some friendly PR folk, I soon got inspired. In fact I found loads more ideas than I needed, so I thought we would share 40 gifts for him here.  I found some unusual online stores, and it’s nearly Christmas after all.

We gave him forty gifts somehow, in the end! Some little, some bigger, some promises, some pledges for days out in his fortieth year written on star shaped gift tags – I will share a mix of ideas here. You can get full product details by clicking on the moodboard. Continue reading

VIDEO – The dawn in all its majesty


Last night when I edited this I might have cried a few times. Once because iMovie was being tricky, twice because I managed to solve the problem, thirdly because I feel ever so slightly overwhelmed by my to do list right now, that this holiday footage seems like a dream, fourthly because the world is just so incredibly beautiful, and fifthly because the ending just slotted in, exactly as you see it, best timed ending I ever did. Then I laughed a lot as I sped up the Trunki races, and smiled at time spent with old friends J and C, who live out there. J was our best man.

Our time spent reviewing Villa Kentia in Malta for James Villas was magical, you can see just how magical the villa was in the video. Several times I woke, for some unknown reason, and found myself walking out onto the terrace to look at the view, only to be greeted by the most incredible sunsets and sunrises. David Gray’s Real Love was constantly buzzing round my head, so I wanted to use it somehow.

The dawn in all its majesty
Is stealing me away
The dawn in all its honesty
Is turning me to clay

It’s a song that also reminds me of tough Winter mornings driving to work as the sun rose, before I had kids, before I worked from home. So it was great to find it pop up in a happier context.


I don’t think there is anything I have found that makes me happier than travel. The more we travel as a family, the more I feel like it is the most important legacy I want to leave my kids.  But the cruel blow is that the travelling life is one of huge highs and lows.

And something in the heart of me
Is telling me it’s time
To meet the eye of destiny
And leave it all behind

It’s hard to adjust at times, to ‘leave it all behind’ to go, and to come back.

It was amazing to see friends we don’t see enough of, to celebrate Mr A’s birthday in the sunshine, to eat cake and walk down to the beach, to collect glass, crystal, driftwood and to see the waves crashing. To spend loads of uninterrupted time as a family. To eat and drink and play board games once the kids were tucked up in bed.

I don’t write this blog as a way for my kids to remember stuff particularly, I hope they will be too busy filling their lives with new experiences and taking us with them in spirit, to dwell on the past. But kids, you might like this one, I sped up the Trunki races just for you.

More on James Villas, Malta and Gozo

Find out more about James Villas

Find out more about what we did beyond the villa

Read my Top 5 Things in Malta with Kids on Space in Your Case

Tour the stunning doors of Malta and Gozo over on A Residence

Disclosure – our villa stay was provided by James Villas.

Barbie Malibu House


Two weeks after the Barbie Malibu House arrived my 8yo decided it had to go. ‘It’s too pink!’ she complained. I am inclined to agree, so I offered to find a new home for it, but four weeks on and she has changed her mind. It is the ‘pink corner’ in her bedroom. Her friends like to play when they come round and she and her brother have actually been getting up early to play with it before school. Continue reading

What’s On at Lakeside Arts Nottingham this Winter?


We’ve been having some fun at our local arts centre, there is always so much to do on a Winter weekend there. Two show write ups from Lakeside Arts which are touring the UK too…sometimes it is so much better to hear what the target audience thought – two young people kindly told me what they thought. Don’t forget, if you are in Nottingham – Flat Stanley is coming this Christmas – we love that show.

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November Parenting Focus – Be Safe Be Seen

be safe be seen badge

It is that time of year, it’s goes dark so quickly, visibility on the school run decreases with each passing day. It is time to really make sure all children have the Be Safe Be Seen message clear in their minds. Please put aside ten minutes this week to watch a quick You tube video as a family and to run through a checklist?

More than two in five children told a Brake survey they had been hit or nearly hit by a vehicle while on foot or bike.

Think about reflective badges, strips and clothing and working with your school. Each year The Co-operative Funeralcare branch staff and funeral directors deliver badges to schools from week commencing 27th October. This is something you can easily arrange for your school. Continue reading

Grandad me and Teddy Too, Polka Theatre Wimbledon

Grandad, Me and Teddy Too_Polka Theatre Press

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Review by Natalie Shepherd

Last time I was in Wimbledon with Nat we were celebrating the end of term as Drama teachers, nowadays, as well as taking school trips, Polka Theatre Wimbledon is her go-to place for children’s theatre for her own children.

Quietly thought-provoking yet hugely engaging, Grandad me and Teddy Too is a heart warming piece of young children’s theatre which manages to entertain whilst sending some serious messages to both the young and the old alike.

From the moment the tiny theatre-goers enter the space, there is an atmosphere of excitement and expectation. The set, though simply designed with a white washed children’s bedroom, contains all the right toys to set young minds and hearts alight. From the ‘clickety clackety’ duck to the light up globe, imaginations are fired and the excited ‘woo’ as Grandad’s face (including sweaty nose) pops onto the computer screen on Skype firmly confirms this. Continue reading

10 moments I will never forget in Malta

unforgettable family moments in malta

1. Arrival at Villa Kentia, James Villas

It was dark, but we knew we had hit on something pretty amazing.

“Good Lord” I exclaimed as I reached the top of the steep steps from the driveway to this incredible terrace and saw the villa itself. My 5yo sensed he was onto something, I’m normally very careful not to swear or blaspheme, and Good Lord is not something I would ever say, but I was so very taken aback by the size, the luxury and the incredible placement of Villa Kentia in a valley overlooking the sea, the view is just incredible. An hour later and G was still opening cupboards and doors, bouncing on beds, flicking the switch to make the pool light up, and calling out in disbelief ‘Good Lord Mummy Look!’ Continue reading

Garage conversion can be a small home’s door to playtime, but is it wise?

Contemporary Garage And Shed by Los Angeles Interior Designers & Decorators 22 INTERIORS

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For a growing family, space can be a persistent problem. Many parents have chosen to respond by converting their garages into playrooms. 

But how does a garage conversion affect your home’s value, and seeing as the garage is one of the most vulnerable entry points to your home, can you ensure it will be safe? Continue reading

Micro MX Trixx Scooter and how I really feel about the school run.

Micro MX Trixx Scooter

Waiting for the rain to stop….

Something wonderful happened this week, on many many levels. I was invited to take part in a secret santa style scooter swap a while back with Amanda of The Ana Mum Diary. This week it arrived. But there is much more to it than that.

I found making this video of my son testing out the Micro MX Trixx Scooter, therapeutic. Amanda knows how tough I find the school run. She has a wilful 5 year old, and a dog, she needed a scooter too, but for herself. You can see the scooter I sent Amanda, over on her blog,  The Ana Mum Diary.

The whole MX range has been designed in conjunction with pro stunt riders and Micro engineers to provide the very best in style and substance for children and adults aged 5+

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Barbie Campervan and Tawny Horse


barbie campervan

Children love toy caravans, there is something about having a world in miniature, a house on wheels they find endlessly entertaining. Quite frankly the best thing about The Barbie Campervan is the toilet. As a caravan owning family we have owned a fair few toy caravans from Fisher Price to Sylvanian and now to Barbie – it is always the toilet facilities that seem to cause not just hilarity but endless play.

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