Making Holidays Simpler

As you’ll know if you read MTW regularly, we’ve yet to take the girls away on holiday. Having an elderly dog makes it basically impossible, but we’d love to take them away sooner rather than later and are lucky enough to live close to an airport which flies to some really great, family-friendly destinations. I’ve been doing some research on how to make family holidays easier to manage and thought I’d share some of them with you here:

Know the Lingo

I’m not suggesting that you get yourself fluent in the language of the place you’re travelling to, but having SOME knowledge of the language is really important. I find that, here in the UK, language education is woefully lacking and according to a survey conducted by Holiday Autos Car Hire, over a quarter of Brits don’t bother to learn ANY language before they go on holiday, and just under a quarter said that they only holiday in resorts where they know people speak English. It’s all well and goo d until you find yourself lost or in an emergency and completely unable to communicate, when knowing a bare minimum could really help.

Know The Etiquette

When I was 16, I went on holiday to Malta. I stayed in an area which wasn’t really full of holiday makers and I wondered why the locals looked disgusted with me when I left the flat in a bikini top! I was young and naive, failing to realise that this wasn’t really the done thing in a fiercely Catholic country, but had I bothered to read up first I’d have worked out that bikinis should be limited to beaches and touristy areas. This kind of knowledge is absolutely essential in some countries and could be the difference between staying safe and not.

Have Your Papers in Order

When Husband and I went to the Maldives, we didn’t realise until the last minute that we’d need to purchase a visa to stay there once we got to Male airport. All of our money was in travellers cheques and it was only by luck that we managed to change some up to enable us to get our visas. Knowing what paperwork you need to either gain entry, or in case you need healthcare, is vital.

Provisions?

When travelling with young kids, it’s essential to know what you can buy once you get there and what you need to take. Are things like nappies, wipes, formula milk and kid-friendly snacks readily available or do you need to pack these before you go? Getting to a foreign country and realising you can feed your kids or buy them nappies is a huge disaster!

Medications

If you don’t speak the native language, the prospect of finding medications like Calpol or Nurofen to give to your kids can be really daunting. From not knowing what to ask for to the potential of giving the wrong dose, it’s a minefield which can be easily avoided by packing your own. Take a First Aid kid along with paracetamol, antihistamines and anti-inflammatories and you’ll have most of your bases covered.

Do you have a holiday tip you’d like to share? Leave me a comment below!

Husband and I Take a #CouplesQuiz for Bed Guru @bedguru

This weekend is my 33rd birthday and I realised that this means that Husband and I have been together for a third of my life, which is pretty damn significant in this day and age. We don’t claim to have a “perfect” relationship (is there even such a thing?) but the fact that we’ve lasted this long is pretty damn impressive when you consider how common divorce is these days (and how difficult I am to live with!).

Just recently, Bed Guru got in touch to ask us to collaborate with them and take a Couples Quiz as part of their campaign to show that couples who sleep in the same bed don’t always have the same needs in terms of sleep comfort. Bed Guru is an online bed retailer who are sleep specialists, they understand that no two people share the same sleeping requirements and see it not just as a belief but an obligation to ensure that everybody gets a great night’s sleep!

They sent us a list of questions to answer, which we did independently of each other and here’s what the outcome was! (Husband’s answers are RED, mine are TURQUOISE)

1)      How did you meet?

We met through mutual friends although it turned out we’d been drinking in the same places for years and our paths had never crossed.

Through friends

2)      How long have you known each other?

4139 days, to be precise! 11  years and 4 months – we got married after knowing each other just 6 months.

11 and a bit years.

3)      What do you do to keep the love alive?

When you’ve got kids, it can be hard to find time as a couple but we make sure we do things together as regularly as we can, even if that means going for a walk or watching the boxing together.

We don’t need to do anything to ‘keep it alive’. 

4)      What are your partners pet peeves?

He hates dishonesty more than anything else.

Loud chewing, impoliteness (especially on the road), poor time-keeping, Tories.

5)      What do you love the most about each other?

We have a really similar sense of humour and makes jokes with one another than no-one else would ever get! We like a lot of the same things but also learn a lot from each other. We make a good team and he’s always got my back. 

Kindness. 

6)      What is the most memorable gift you have received from your partner?

That is a hard one for me to answer because he’s RIDICULOUSLY good at buying me gifts! I’m literally typing this out on on the laptop he bought be for my birthday whilst wearing the Pandora bracelet I’ve wanted for months that he also surprised me with. The best gift of all though was the vintage working Teddy Ruxpin that he sourced from America and had shipped over. He knew it was a toy I’d wanted as a child and never got so he went to all that effort to get it for me, which meant so, so much to me.

Not strictly a ‘gift’ but the best thing I’ve ever received is my children.

7)      What is your favourite memory as a couple?

Oh gosh, that’s difficult too! Looking out of the window of the seaplane that took us to the Maldives and seeing the islands dotted through the Indian Ocean…adopting Chuck…having our babies…seeing some of our favourite bands and comedians together, as well as watching Liverpool play at Anfield.

The births of our children. The day we adopted our dog. Our wedding and honeymoon…(the 4-1 drubbing of West Brom we took our eldest to at Anfield, it was her first game).

8)      What is the most key component of your relationship? e.g. trust, loyalty etc

Trust. Nothing lasts without trust.

Honesty, caring nature, trustworthiness.

9)      Where is your dream destination for a couple’s holiday?

Back to the Maldives, maybe?! Or anywhere Scandinavian.

Iceland.

10)   What are your favourite things to do as a couple?

Going to Ikea 😉

Go out to eat, go to the cinema, talk.

I think our answers show that we’re pretty compatible actually, and I laughed out loud when I read Husband’s assesment of my pet peeves because they are SO spot on! The irony is, Husband and I have often said that we’re totally incompatible in terms of sleep because he likes a memory foam mattress and I find them uncomfortable, so we’ve often joked about getting two totally different single mattresses and pushing them together so that we an each be comfortable on our own sides – but with Bed Guru’s couples mattresses we wouldn’t need to do this as their mattresses can be separately zoned.

Are you and your partner sleep compatible? Leave me a comment below.

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In collaboration with Bed Guru

How Much Will Your School Lose Under the Current Government?

Anyone who follows this blog or my social media accounts will know that I am a socialist, through and through. Somehow, that seems to have become a dirty word to the uneducated masses who think that socialism revolves around lots of people on benefits, scroungers who don’t “pay their way” and take more from society than they contribute, but I’d like to hope that my readers know that isn’t the case. Socialism means “a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.”

One of the biggest concerns I have during this General Election campaign are the absolutely savage cuts that are going on in the most nonsensical of places. Old people, poor people and the disabled are being hit the hardest and things we’ve taken for granted such as universal healthcare and free education are under threat. Watch this video from the National Union of Teachers:

I used the calculator myself and discovered that Sausage’s school is set to lose a, quite frankly FRIGHTENING, £331,000 by 2022. HOW the Tories can justify taking money from the educations of children rather than calling in the taxes which are OWED by massive companies such as Amazon and Vodafone is appalling.

School Cuts

There are so many issues on which I am diametrically opposed to the Tory view, however health, social care and education are the ones about which I feel MOST strongly and I appeal to you, as a human being with empathy; PLEASE do not use your vote to help our Government to turn it’s back on the most vulnerable and needy in society. The children of MY kids generations are the ones who are going to have to work against climate change, against all of the wrongs done by the previous generations, and I for one would like them to all have access to a good enough education to be able to do this.

This year, I restart my English degree in the hope that I can go on to get my PGCE and eventually become a teacher. Having spoken to lots of people who work in this profession, the resounding opinion has been to tell me not to bother. Teaching used to be a well-respected profession and here in the UK, we prided ourselves on the education that we offered to our kids. Now, more and more people are dropping out of teaching and retraining because of the terrible conditions they’re working in, or simply being made redundant because schools cannot afford a full staff to cover lessons.

The UK is currently the 27th richest country in the WHOLE WORLD. Do you really think we should be worrying if our kids schools can afford pencils and glue? I think the most poignant thing I’ve seen all week is a tweet (and I can’t find the original or I’d link to it here!) which said something along the lines of “Why are we talking about 30 year old pictures of Jeremy with the IRA. I’m a teacher and my school can’t afford glue. Let’s talk about EDUCATION”.

Do we really need to say any more than that?

In the Wake of Terrorism: Do We “Let Them Win” By Changing Our Plans?

It feels wrong to be writing about this less than a day after the horrible events in Manchester yesterday but it also feels wrong to let it go without saying a word. Apologies if anyone feels like the subject matter is too raw, but timings can’t always be perfect.

Since the news broke about a suicide bomber at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, I’ve seen a lot of people reconsidering their own plans; one friend is due to go to a completely different gig in Manchester at the weekend, and Husband and I are even umming and ahhing about the Bad Religion gig we’re taking Sausage to later in the year. The main response I’ve seen to people questioning their worst fears is other people saying “You can’t change your plans, that way they’ve won” and while I agree with the sentiment to an extent, it’s an issue which is so much more complicated than this one glib statement.

Ideological warfare perpetuated by extremists is ALWAYS done to incite fear in people and in this case, it seems to be working. I won’t go into theories of why this has happened, not least of all because there were so many children involved, but between this and the attacks at the Bataclan in 2015, it seems that places where people are going to enjoy themselves in large crowds are being seen as an easy target (remember when the IRA bombed pubs in the 1980’s? Same concept, I guess).

I think it’s a uniquely British thing to say “Keep Calm and Carry On”, but by the same token, isn’t this level of stubbornness putting us a risk? We can’t change our lives and cancel all of our plans but at what point do we draw the line and decide that some things are too dangerous? I just don’t know. I don’t WANT them to win, but I also don’t want to do something I regret.

In the grand scheme of things, the odds of something like this happening to you are in the millions to one; obviously the odds get slightly higher with each attack but as it stands you’ve got more chance of being struck by lightening or run over by a bus. We don’t stay indoors for fear of lightening strike, so should we be equally ambivalent to the threat of terrorism? I wish I had an answer for you, because at the moment my main instinct is to collect Sausage from school early, come home, stay indoors and not leave again for a really long time.

My heart hurts for the families who’ve lost someone during what they thought would be a joyful night of pop music and fun and I’m struggling to come to terms with even more cruelty in the world. I know we can’t, as humans, enjoy peace and love all the time because it just doesn’t work like that, but I just wish that I could envisage a future where any of this gets better. If the men in spaceships turned up today and offered us a lift to another planet, I think I’d take it.

Stay safe, love each other, be kind. 

Manchester

If you’re in or near Manchester and want to donate blood, there’s a link here to tell you where and how.

Getting the Best Night’s Sleep #SleepExperts

SleepSleep is a massively varying issue in our house; Husband is an insomniac (as in a proper, can’t sleep for days at a time insomniac) whereas as it’s a running joke in our house about how easily I fall asleep. I once fell asleep STANDING UP and almost broke my neck by falling backwards like a felled tree and catching myself at the last second. The girls seem to fall somewhere in the middle; Sausage fights sleep every single night and stubbornly forces herself awake for as long as possible, whereas Burrito Baby is a dormouse like Mummy and falls asleep with ease most nights…unless she’s napped late and then she can sit awake, sometimes until 2am! Zzzzz…..

Getting a GOOD night’s sleep is actually really different to be able to FALL asleep though and many mornings I’ll wake up not feeling very rested at all. I think I have mild sleep apnoea (based on how loudly I snore most nights and the fact that my friends used to be terrified at sleepovers because I’d take one big breath and then not breathe again for about a minute, I’d say it’s pretty certain) which obviously interrupts the actual quality of my sleep. I’ve also noticed that since I upped my exercise schedule, I’m far more tired every day just because I’m physically doing so much more.

The guys at Adjustamatic have been doing a load of research into getting a good night’s sleep and their #SleepExperts have put together some advice for everyone to follow. Watch the video to find out more:

I actually LOVE the idea of an adjustable bed; Husband and I often say that we should get two single beds and push them together because he prefers a hard mattress and I like something with a little bit of cushion. He’s a light sleeper and I turn over with a LOT of gusto, which often wakes him up. He likes a bit of hip support whereas I need my neck and shoulders a bit more propped up. We’re compatible in marriage a lot more than we are in sleep, it seems!

I must admit, I also quite often end up in bed with Burrito Baby – we’ve co-slept pretty regulalry since she was born and she’ll still call out for me most nights and it’s easier for me to just go and slip in with her. She’s sleeps in the bottom bunk and she’s still absolutely tiny for a three year old so I get plenty of space, lots of snuggles and she never complains about my snoring 😉

Do you share your bed with a Husband, Wife, partner or co-sleeping child? Have you ever considered single beds, pushed together as one big bed?! Would you benefit from an adjustable bed? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this so please do leave me a comment below!

 

What’s Your Excuse?

I’ve been thinking long and hard about writing this post because I don’t want it to seem like I’m attacking anyone. My friend Kate bestowed a mantra upon me a while back – “You Do You” – and I really strongly believe that everyone is free to do whatever the hell they want when it comes to their own body, but I’m not addressing people who CAN’T exercise here, or even those who don’t want to. If you’re happy the way you are or have physical difficulties, this post is not for you.

Now I’ve cleared that up, I want to talk about EXCUSES.

Last week, I saw an article about how “fat shamers” were on the wrong side of science and cited 7 different studies which apparently proved that some people were fat for reasons completely beyond their control and how people who “shame” others into exercising are bad. It gave reasons such as an “obesity gene”, poor sleep and how being overweight can make it harder to lose weight. In fairness to the people who wrote the article, each point was based on an academic study which proved the points they were making in a roundabout way. But here’s the thing:

They aren’t REASONS. THEY ARE EXCUSES.

I feel really well qualified to talk about these things because up until January of this year, I made a lot of excuses, including but not limited to:

  1. I have a range of conditions which make it hard to lose weight
  2. I don’t have time to go to the gym
  3. I can’t justify the money I spend on a gym membership
  4. I don’t want to be left with a lot of loose skin
  5. I can’t ask someone to look after the kids every time I go to the gym

There are SO many more that I could list, but we’d be here all day. Back in January, I decided to get real with myself and start being brutally fucking honest. I’d spent the majority of my twenties being overweight and I was damned if I was going to be unhappy with my body for the whole of my thirties too, so I decided to do something about it. And when your state of mind shifts, it’s amazing how those EXCUSES that you’ve made in the past become irrelevant.

Yes, I have diabetes and an under-active thyroid and endometriosis, but those things don’t stop me from exercising or moderating what I eat. Yes, I have a busy life, but so does everyone and if I can make time to binge-watch whole series of shows in a week, then I can definitely find time to exercise. My current gym membership costs £9.99 a month – I used to spend more than that in a week just on sushi! Loose skin wont kill me. High body fat will. I’m lucky that my MIL is an absolute gem and looks after BB when Husband and I work out, but even if she didn’t there are PLENTY of forms of exercise which can be done for free and with a toddler in toe.

As I said above, if you’re happy with yourself and don’t WANT to diet or exercise, then all power to you. But, if you fall into the HUGE percentage of people I see who give excuse after excuse for why you can’t eat better or move more, can I suggest taking a really long, hard look at those reasons? If you look and come up with solutions, that’s awesome. If you look and realise that it’s actually more to do with the fact that you don’t WANT to exercise, go from there.

I usually hate motivational bullshit which assumes that a one-size-fits all approach works for everyone, but there’s a poster up in my gym which really speaks to me;

If you want to make a change…I mean REALLY WANT IT, you’ll do it. Start small, install MyFitnessPal and track your food. Walk a little bit further than you normally would. Join a gym and try ONE class. You have nothing to lose except the weight and it will happen if you make the effort. Don’t allow the part of your brain which wants to sit at home eating ice cream and watching Netflix to overpower the part of your brain which wants to be healthier. Articles like the one which prompted this post are really not helpful because they just nurture unhealthy excuses for you to remain overweight or unfit. I’m all for love and support and being happy with yourself, but kidding people into thinking that their weight is completely out of their control is damaging and dangerous.

As I said, I’m not attacking anyone, just hoping to make you think a little differently about things in the hope that it might help you a little bit. What excuses are you making to yourself? Leave me a comment below.

My Dream Hobby Room

My Dream Hobby RoomI have to admit, I spend more time looking at Rightmove than is really necesary for someone who has no intention of moving. I’ve always loved looking at other people’s houses and can often be found binge-watching episodes of Grand Designs or Location, Location, Location just to get my interiors fix! I love dreaming about what I’d do if space and money were no object and at the moment, a hobby room is at the top of my list. Read on for an insight into what I’d have in my ultimate hobby room:

A Sewing Station

I absolutely love to sew and make clothes but I often lack the space to do it, so a dedicated space with a dressmakers dummy and lots of fabric storage would be a great way to enable me to get sewing. Valentino’s Displays has an amazing range of clothes rails, mannequins, hangers and storage bins and I reckon I could get everything I needed for my sewing area on their site.

A Reading Nook

I’ve always been able to read just about anywhere, probably from years of reading on buses and trains, but these days I do require a little bit of quiet to enable me to get lost in a book. A comfy armchair in the corner of the room with a little table for a lamp and my latte is definitely a bit part of my fantasy room.

A Writing Area

Writing is both a hobby and my profession and although I tend to work on a laptop literally on my lap, Burrito Baby is off to nursery in September which means I don’t have to only work in the room she’s in! A proper working area where my laptop could sit and I could use a decent ergonomic chair would not only be a novelty, but it would probably also be a lot better for my back!

A Proper Coffee Machine

These days, my vices are well and truly confined to the virtuous, never more so than now, given the fact that I even eat clean and don’t drink alcohol (well…hardly ever!). However, one thing that I absolutely refuse to give up is decent coffee! I tend to use my Waitrose card to get a free cup every day and I think I’d be considerably poorer if I didn’t get my coffee fix from there! Having a coffee machine in my hobby room with a proper milk steamer would be the ultimate indulgence for me.

A Yoga Corner

Since I started going to yoga classes at my gym a few months ago, I’ve found a really deep love of it. It’s one of my favourite hours of my whole week and I look forward to it every Saturday. I’d love to be able to do it more often but we really don’t have much space at home for yoga because our house is pretty cluttered. A dedicated space to find my zen and get my stretch on would be a dream!

What would you have in your dream hobby room?

The Cost of Being a Motorist

Living in the middle of nowhere means that we have no choice but to drive everywhere. The school run alone is 7.6 miles each way, and although I’m working on my fitness I don’t think more than 30 miles of walking a day is hugely realistic for me! Having said that, our current car is getting really old and I’m not hugely confident about the MOT, which means needing to save for something new and that’s not all that easy when you factor in what we’re paying in every month to keep THIS car on the road!

New research by affordable car hire company autoeurope.co.uk reveals British motorists will drive over half a million miles in a lifetime – the equivalent to 22 times around the earth. They
will also fork out £168,880, on running costs of vehicle ownership, have 1,935 rows – and 2,709 episodes of road rage in a lifetime. Scary stats! Here’s a few more for you to get your head around:

When you look at the cumulative cost of having a car, it’s quite shocking to think that we’re all spending that much on it! Having said that, I’ve often said that learning to drive is one of the best things I ever did because of the amount of freedom it’s given me over the years. I’ve had my licence for 14 years and I still love driving, to this day. Aside from the obvious issue of being stranded where we live now, I think I’d be totally lost without a car to use on a daily basis. It’s my little space (and is usually full of empty coffee cups and biltong wrappers, if I’m being totally honest!) and I love it.

Are you a driver? Would you ever consider giving up your car? Do you find the cost of owning a car is just to high these days or are you happy to pay for the privilege of being able to get around independently? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear what you think.

Getting #ASoundSleep with MattressNextDay

Ever since I was little, I’ve always preferred falling asleep with noise in the background, be it the telly playing or music, and Husband is the same. Over the years I’ve developed a preference for certain TV shows to watch in bed and fall asleep to and some of them have such a soporific effect on me now that I think watching them at ANY time of day would help me to drift off! MattressNextDay is currently running their #ASoundSleep campaign, asking people to share their aural bedtime preferences and I thought I’d give you a little run-down of my favourite shows to watch (or, mostly listen to!) in bed:

The Golden Girls

My current favourite bedtime viewing is the complete boxset of The Golden Girls. I absolutely ADORE this show and never fail to be impressed by the topics they tackled way back in the Eighties. There’s something about the incidental music that I find really comforting, which makes it the perfect show to drift off to.

The Good Life

This is probably one of my favourite TV shows of all time and even though there were only 30 episodes made between 1975 and 1978, I could probably watch them all on an endless loop! There’s something about the gentle humour and banter between Margot, Jerry, Tom and Barbara that makes me drift off to a restful slumber.

Red Dwarf

This one comes from when I was a kid – I was allowed to watch TV in bed on a Friday night, on an old black and white TV which used a dial to find the channel, and Red Dwarf was always on at 9pm, right after Gardeners World. I’d sit through the end of Alan Titchmarsh warbling on about hardy shrubs so that I could watch Red Dwarf straight after and would inevitably fall asleep within about 2 minutes of the show starting, but I still adore it to this day and get super-cosy vibes from the theme tune.

The Mighty Boosh

I’d never seen The Mighty Boosh until I met Husband but it soon became a huge favourite and I still watch it in bed fairly often. I absolutely adore the humour in the show and there are a couple of episodes that I can’t have on while I’m trying to doze off as I’d spend more time laughing than drifting off!

Alan Partridge

I’ve come to the conclusion that Alan Partridge is the televisual equivalent of Marmite – people seem to either love it or hate it, or at the very least can’t handle the sometimes ENORMOUS cringe-factor that Steve Coogan injects into his most famous character. However, it’s an all-time favourite of mine and I know the episodes so well that I could recite them in my sleep. It’s perfect for watching in bed and always sends me off with a little chuckle!

Are you a bedtime TV watcher? What graces your screens while you’re trying to doze off? I’d love to hear all about it so do leave me a comment below.

Personalising Your Stationery with Basic Invite

Anyone who knows me knows that there are a few things about which I’m passionate. Eating a keto diet, lifting weights, spending time on my blog and social media are a few (aside from Husband and the kids, obvs!) but the other thing I love is stationery. When I was a kid, I’d get my pocket money each week and the first place I’d want to go would be WH Smiths to buy pens, pencils, notepads and anything I could use to write and draw with.

As an adult, I love stationery that I’m able to have a hand in designing (I made some beautiful thank you cards for Sausage to send to people a few years back and I’ve been hooked ever since) and Basic Invite is one of my favourite sites. It has so many unique features that make making our own, personalised stationery an absolute delight.

As well as offering almost unlimited colour options on the actual design of your invites, grad announcements, thank you cards or whatever else you’re making, there’s a choice of over 40 colours for your envelopes too, allowing you to really dial-in the colour scheme you’re aiming for. Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers the ability to order a printed sample of their actual invitation so they can see exactly how it will print as well as the paper quality before they ever have to place their final order.

Grad Announcements Basic Invite

However, I think my absolute favourite feature of the site is the free address collection service. In just three easy steps, you can share a link with the intended recipients of what you’re planning to send asking them to give you their full address, making the whole process of collecting everyone’s details a doddle. Anything that can make my life exponentially simpler is a complete win, in my opinion!

We’ve got a lot of important stuff coming up in the next few months; Sausage is having a surprise party for her birthday (she knows she’s having it, she just doesn’t know what the party will be!) and we’ll be needing some special custom invites, plus a few family members are graduating this year too, AND one of my best friends is having a baby so there will be a bunch of reasons for using Basic Invite and I couldn’t be happier about it. There are also a load of really gorgeous free printables on the site, perfect for a birthday party or baby shower.

Free Baby Shower printables

You can check out Basic Invite on all of their social media channels (FacebookPinterestInstagram and Twitter) and you can also follow the link above to head over to the site and see all of the wonderful design options for yourself. he whole process is really simple and fun to do, and it’s a HUGE amount cheaper than commissioning someone to design something for you. We’ll definitely be using the service a lot more in 2017 and beyond!