A cycle ride at Moors Valley Country Park

After spending the days since Christmas Day eating leftovers and having relatives to visit, we decided that it was time for some fresh air.

After a quick check of the weather yesterday morning to see that Friday was going to be a washout, we decided to get wrapped up in our new scarves and gloves to take TJ for a spin on his new bike around Moors Valley Country Park.

When we got there, the car park was full of people with the same idea as us. We headed straight for the cycle hire to get bikes for us so that we could cycle round with TJ – something we’ve never done before.

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Winter Sun

Luckily for us, we all finished work/school on Friday so we have a good week to get ready for Christmas. We kicked off our holiday yesterday with a trip to Brighton to visit family and drop off some Christmas presents (stopping off at Starbucks for the obligatory Gingerbread Latte!)

We visited my dad and grandad first and TJ was so proud to show everyone how well he could read now and managed to read all of Green Eggs and Ham which was super impressive.

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Pull a Pine – Arne RSPB Nature Reserve

Since moving to Dorset, we’ve made it our mission to explore as much of this beautiful county as possible. We stumbled across Arne about 2 years ago now and it’s one of our favourite places to go.

Every year, they host a ‘Pull a Pine for Christmas’ event in order to help clear away the pine trees to enable the rest of the plants and vegetation to grow properly. Last year, over 2000 people cleared 17 football pitches of pine! In return for helping, you get to take away as many Christmas trees as you like! It’s a completely win win situation.

Non-RSPB members had to pay a £10 entry fee with members only paying £5. When you consider that even the smallest real Christmas tree will probably set you back £25 in the shops, this represented incredible value for money and you are helping with conservation at the same time.

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Camp Bestival – 5 reasons why you shouldn’t miss it

Last summer, we were very lucky to get the opportunity to take TJ to Camp Bestival for the first time. Our friends over at My Two Mums have been going for the past few years and have always had an amazing time and it was great this year to get to share the fun with them.

We were very excited last week when this year’s theme – Camp Bestival Sets Sail – was announced and can not wait to see who the headline acts are for this year.

This got us thinking about the top 5 reasons why you should dig out your tents, dust off your sleeping bags and get your tickets booked for 4 days of fantastic family fun.

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Prestige Christmas Hampers – A Review

When you have children, Christmas is a time that makes you reflect on your childhood. I have fond memories of my nan getting a Christmas hamper from the milkman every year and literally bursting with excitement when we went through it.

The concept of a Christmas hamper has moved on slightly from tinned meat and Fruit Jellies (thankfully) and we were really pleased to be offered the chance to review a luxury hamper from Prestige Hampers.

We were sent the Christmas Wishes Carton (RRP £94.99) which is packed full of delicious goodies and not one, not two, but three bottles of wine – a red, a white and a prosecco! There really is something for everyone in this hamper. There are some lovely sweets and chocolates, some delicious cheddar biscuits, some gorgeous mince pies and Christmas Spiced Butter Fudge (which will be the first to be sampled!) Although this particular hamper didn’t come in a basket, the Taste of Christmas Carton Hamper can be bought in  willow basket if you wish.

The hamper included:
Barfield Bakery Mince Pies x 4
Baru Swirly Hot Chocolate Powder with Chocolate Figurines 250g
Buiteman Cheddar Biscuits 75g
Butlers ‘The Festive Menu’ Chocolates 130g
Copperpot Christmas Spiced Butter Fudge 175g
Farmhouse Biscuits Traditional Hand Baked Biscuits 125g
Frank’s Luxury Cranberry & Spice Oaties 300g
Just Sweets Jelly Beans 125g
Paxton & Whitfield Poppy & Linseed Biscuits for Cheese 150g
Quibbles Three Nuts and a Cranberry Assortment 100g
Riegelein Solid Chocolate Santas 125g
The English Provender Co. Caramelised Red Onion Chutney 325g
The Original Cake Company Top Iced Slab Cake
Yorkshire Crisps Tomato, Basil & Mozzarella 100g
Filipetti Prosecco Italy 75cl
Merlot Primera Luz Chile 75cl
Sauvignon Blanc Primera Luz Chile 75cl

I think that hampers are a fantastic idea for a present. They contain items that you wouldn’t normally buy for yourself and have that touch of luxury to enjoy – especially at Christmas.

Prestige Hampers sell a wide range of hampers for all occasions ranging from a £9.99 sweetie box to The Luxor which is £419.99 and contains everything you would need for Christmas day. Just click here to see what they have on offer https://www.prestigehampers.co.uk/christmas-hampers

I will definitely be taking a look when I (finally) start my Christmas shopping!

**We were sent this hamper for the purpose of a review – all opinions are our own.**

Half Term Fun

We’ve only been back to work/school for a week since half term, but it seems like it was ages ago! We had such a busy, fun packed week with lots of outdoor fun in what turned out to be a week of amazing weather.

On Monday, we took a trip to the Sealife Centre in Weymouth to visit Zelda the witch and to take part in the Halloween activities. There was a pumpkin hunt where you had to find the letters written on pumpkins to spell out a word which TJ was able to do completely on his own this year. We then went to visit Zelda in her hut. I have to say the Zelda experience was a bit of a let down – last year the children made a magic potion and were then given a slush drink to take away with them. This year, the activity was making slime using tarantula legs (shaving foam) and some form of glue – I think TJ was fully expecting another slushie drink (as were we) and, although he enjoyed the activity, I’m not sure it was worth £4 (£5 if you don’t have an annual pass).

On Tuesday, we went to Bailey Ridge to pick up some pumpkins ready for Halloween. As I have written previously (Pumpkin Picking – An Annual Tradition), it wasn’t quite the same as picking your own pumpkin from a field, but the place was really nice and TJ was able to make his very own broomstick which he loved.

Wednesday morning was spent in Southampton recording a debate for BBC Woman’s Hour about whether it was safer for children to be brought up in the city or the countryside. I really enjoyed being able to talk about this matter as it is something I feel really passionate about and it was good to be able to discuss our reasons for moving out of the Big Smoke. You can listen to the podcast here.

On the way home, we stopped off in Lyndhurst in the New Forest for a walk. It was approaching ‘Golden Hour’ and the light was absolutely beautiful. It wasn’t long before we came across some ponies and donkeys. You are advised not to touch or feed the animals, but the donkeys came straight over to us and were literally standing next to TJ to be stroked. They were so gentle and stayed there for ages. It was a lovely end to an exciting day.

On Thursday, we went to Longleat to visit their Autumn Exhibition. We also got a sneak preview of the Festival of Light which looks like it’s going to be absolutely amazing. After the success of last year (Santa Train), we have booked to see Father Christmas there again this year and can’t wait to see the stunning lanterns in all their glory. The Autumn Exhibition was really good and TJ got to make a fish out of willow as well as learning about Owls.

On Friday, our friends came down for the weekend from London and we met up at Kingston Lacy. Again, the weather was glorious and the children loved running around, hiding in dens and taking part in some of the autumn activities which had been set up for them.

Although it was a bit chilly on Saturday, we decided that we couldn’t have our friends down without a visit to Weymouth. The children loved it and all managed a quick paddle before having a much needed hot chocolate to warm up. We then went to Billy Winters for a bite to eat and got to watch people Kite Surfing while the children carved pumpkins which had been kindly provided for them.

Our half term ended with a brilliant Halloween Party over at MyTwoMums’ house. We met for the first time at Halloween while we were living in London, so Halloween has become a kind of anniversary for us now. The boys had a great time together and we are looking forward to meeting up again soon.

As per usual, our holiday was full of fun, friends and adventure. Next stop……..Christmas!!!!



Country Kids

City vs. Countryside – where is it safer to bring up children?

Last week, I was invited to take part in a debate on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour discussing whether I thought it was safer to bring up children in the city or in the countryside. (Click here to listen the the Podcast we recorded after the show)

The producer had stumbled across our blog through a google search (hooray!) and decided that our experience of living in the Big Smoke and then deciding to move to Dorset would give her some interesting material.

Tuesday evening was spent scribbling down notes and organising my thoughts ready to travel to the BBC studios in Southampton on Wednesday morning. It really got me thinking about why we decided to move out of London and what I missed about city living too.

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A New Family Hobby

When we lived in London and saw photos on social media of TJ’s godmother out kayaking or paddle boarding, we couldn’t help but get pangs of jealousy. We both lived by the sea as children and really missed it during our time in the Big Smoke.

When we moved to Dorset a couple of years ago, we were determined that TJ would enjoy living by the sea the same as we did and that he would also get the opportunity to try a range of water sports.

We are lucky to live pretty close to Weymouth Watersports on Ferrybridge which hires kayaks and paddle boards for very reasonable prices. TJ’s first experience in a kayak came when he was just 3 years old. We hired a 2 man kayak and paddled around with him in the front for almost an hour! He absolutely loved it and so did we. There’s such a sense of freedom and calmness being out on the water.

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TrackR Pixel – Never lose your keys again! 

Every single morning starts like this:

Me: Have you seen my keys?

H: Nope, did you hang them up on the hook?

Me: Errr….no.

*frantically spends at least 5 mins searching for them before invariably finding them under a piece of paper on the dining room table.

I am absolutely terrible at losing my keys and ending up late for work so I was very excited to get the chance to try one of the new TrackR Pixels.

The TrackR Pixel is a coin sized Bluetooth device which you can attach to pretty much anything (keys, wallet, luggage etc).

You then download the TrackR app (available on Apple and Android devices) and use it to locate your belongings in seconds.

One press on the app and the TrackR Pixel lets off a short series of beeps and lights up which is very useful if your keys are at the bottom of your bag!

In addition, you can also use the TrackR Pixel to locate your phone – even if it is on silent. Simply press the button on the TrackR and your phone rings making it easy to locate.

I have to say that the TrackR came in very useful while camping last week as our tent has lots of different pockets to put things in and, as usual, I misplaced my keys on numerous occasions.

There is also a Crowd Locate function within the app. If your item goes missing, the TrackR app records its last known location on a map. When another TrackR app user comes within Bluetooth range of your lost item, its location will be automatically updated in your app. Pretty handy if you drop your keys on the beach or at a festival.

The TrackR is incredibly simple to use and is ready straight out of the packaging. With TrackR’s battery replenishment Programme, you get an alert when your battery is running low, press a button and a new one is ordered for you so you will never run out of power – you just have to pay for delivery.

I have really enjoyed using the TrackR Pixel and would highly recommend it.

The TrackR Pixel is available from Amazon (among other retailers) priced around £25.

*We went sent a TrackR Pixel for the purpose of this review. All opinions are our own.