Shopping for a crafternoon of soap making and letterpress printing

    We’re really lucky to live near to Victoria Retail Park in Nottingham, which has some great shops for keeping the kids busy, crafting and present finding. One of our favourite ways to while away an afternoon is crafting, so when the park invited us to go for a little pre Mother’s Day look around, we immediately planned an afternoon of making stuff together. We ended up making soap and trying letter press, with lots more things to try next time. It’s probably my dream way to spend Mother’s Day, sat at the table with tea, cake, my kids and a load of creative ideas.

    It’s the Red Nose Day crafternoon soon too, perhaps this might inspire you to make something to sell for charity or host a crafternoon to raise money?  Continue reading

    Barn Owl Spotting

    I’m over the moon this week, my Dad called me with two updates on the barn owl box we funded when Macclesfield RSPB had a crowdfunding appeal for bird boxes. It’s sited on a public SSSI (Site of Specific Scientific Interest) in my old hometown, so all news comes via my Dad.

    Last year he spotted a tawny owl which was lovely, but as the box was specifically designed to host barn owls I was totally thrilled to hear a barn owl had finally moved in.

    I was still smiling about this news when Dad called me again two days later to tell me there were now not one, but two barn owls in there. This makes me so happy! Continue reading

    Could You Put Up A Nest Box?

    nesting box blue tit

    Having had some lovely news about the barn owl box we put up in a nature reserve with Macclesfield RSPB – a pair of barn owls have been spotted – we’ve also been turning our attention to the bird boxes in our own garden. It makes me so happy hearing news about our barn owl box from afar, but it also makes me want to do more in our own garden too.

    Kennedy Wild Bird Food asked me to share some insights into putting up a nest box this week, something we loved doing and have had a lot of fun with. Continue reading

    8 types of family bonding holiday that are a little different

    Family camping holiday

    Family holidays are a great opportunity to make life-long memories and bond with those closest to us. After all, even though families come in all shapes and sizes, they all have one thing in common – they benefit from quality time together. In fact, family holidays can make children happier and smarter.

    But it’s quality of time, not quantity, that counts. It might be a cliché – but it’s true. To help your family bond, we’ve come up with eight suggestions for your next holiday. Check them out: Continue reading

    5 Reasons I love North Wales

    Do you have a go to place to escape to when you are feeling overwhelmed by life? I grew up in Cheshire with lots of holidays in North Wales, I have so many happy memories: I can still see myself sat in a caravan with my Mum and brother eating boiled eggs and soldiers, or walking back to the caravan from the beach holding my Dad’s hand as he contemplated pieces of driftwood, or playing with a brightly coloured plastic toy watch I’d spent my pocket money on, or cooling after a day at the beach under the shadow of Harlech castle.

    Wales is still my favourite place to escape to when I want to feel like a carefree kid again. Once with Mr A and my kids, I stumbled on a tiny shop in Harlech where I had once bought a handmade pottery hedgehog and owl as a kid, to find the same items still being made and sold. My kids bought their own, just as I had done. My Mum had died 6 months earlier and it was the most wonderful gift to be able to take my own family back into my childhood once more. I hope my kids will always find peace in Wales and continue the little legacy!

    Here’s five reasons why I think you might love North Wales too: Continue reading

    A Thank You: The Honk Line – Team Honk Raise Money for Comic Relief


    Five years in a row of doing something funny for money with Team Honk for Comic Relief – Snowdon, a Lands End to John O Groats Relay, The Danceathon,  The Museum Dash and now The Honk Line.

    Thanks so much to all my wonderful sponsors, your generosity will make a huge difference to those living in unbelievably tough circumstances in the the UK and across Africa. There is still time to sponsor, or indeed to raise some money for Red Nose Day on Friday 24th March.

    Today I wanted to share some photos to say a huge thank you. We walked 10 miles around London, in fancy dress – I went as the Mad Hatter – and prepared breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea in London Parks. Continue reading

    How we’re helping our kids to navigate the internet

    Building Digital Resilience. Photo by gaelle-marcel

    Currently my kids, aged 8  and 10, haven’t had access to their technology for a week. It’s been lovely, they’ve been out in the garden more, they are playing together, we’ve been to see a performance, we’re all snuggling up together in the evening instead of sneaking off with gadgets to different corners of the house.

    The gadgets won’t be gone forever, that wouldn’t be reasonable, or even desirable. Both Mr A and I work with the internet, he makes video games and I write online, we love the creativity it offers and like any self respecting member of Generation X ( did you read that brilliant article about Generation X in the Independent recently?) we want our kids to be able to build with the internet and get the best from it. Sadly, we also we know the pitfalls all to well. Taking time to regroup and give our kids a taste of the internet free childhood we loved has given us all some headspace.

    We’re a bit sick of being bombarded with alarmist messages about parenting and screen time, on the flip side we’re also a bit fed up of managing screen time and negotiating their rapidly expanding requests for more access. It’s ok to take charge and to put the brakes on, we’re the grown ups after all.

    And to pause. And to breathe. Continue reading

    Cirque Du Soleil’s Varekai, with Kids

    My 8yo who often pushes me away when I attempt a cuddle these days is curled up against me, watching intently and grabbing my arm from time to time or gently moving my face to deliver questions in my ear.  We’re watching Varekai, by Cirque Du Soleil, the world’s largest theatrical producer, each Cirque show combines no-safety-net-daredevil acrobatics from around the world, with a magical theme and storytelling.

    Theatre and performance are amazing for the soul and Varekai completely reminds me why I need it and why I love taking my kids. The rush to leave the house, to park the car and the bickering over appropriate treats soon vanish as we feast on on a riot of colour, music, costume, lights, a magical set and thrilling circus skills. I could watch their faces all night, I love seeing how humans performing on stage can elicit such incredible reactions in other humans, and it’s especially magical watching a show mirrored in a child’s face. Continue reading

    Talking to kids about sport – Anything is possible

    Muddiest 10k ever! Feels amazing to be home, clean and drinking hot chocolate though. What a buzz!

    We’ve been talking a lot about overcoming sporting barriers in our house recently. I try to set a good example with my kids practically and I think talking to kids about sport is really important too. I run with a ladies’ running club twice a week, from time to time we enter races too, from 5k races at 5am to half marathons. This weekend some of us were silly enough to enter a 10k race which is notorious for it’s brutal weather conditions. The location has its own weather system and the timing at the beginning of March seems to guarantee wet and wild weather, “In like a lion’ as they say about March.

    Continue reading

    Sleep tips for holidays (and the days before)

    sleep tips for holidays

    I wake in a blind panic, thumping pillows, sweating and heavy breathing as I stumble round the room on my hands and knees. I have no idea where I am and I can’t see a thing. I work my way round the room like some kind of crazed zombie woman. A light comes on and I slowly come to my senses on the floor, my hands on my son’s face. He is muttering at me to get off and my husband is sat up bolt upright in bed, calling my name. Continue reading