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Garden Furniture Fun for Summer

This September will be 2 years since we moved to our little place in the countryside and we’re hoping to finally get around to doing some of the bigger things that need to be done. Husband is waiting for the drier weather to paint our bedroom (we have a rather annoying damp problem that makes it impossible to do anything until the weather warms up a fair bit) and I’m hoping to get into the garden and make it a really nice space for us to enjoy this summer. We don’t currently have any garden furniture (a hammock and a trampoline doesn’t count, right?!) and I’ve been looking at Alexander Francis to see what sort of thing we’d like. Here are some of my faves:

Tuscany Black Rattan Corner Sofa and Dining Table

garden furniture

I really like the idea of a multifunctional set like this one. It has comfortable seating and doubles up as a dining area, so we’d have the best of both worlds. There’s plenty of space for us to all enjoy a bit of alfresco dining, plus it would be the ideal place for Husband and I to lounge in the evening anf anjoy a glass of Pimms together. This is also spot-on in terms of current garden trends.

Sicilia Black Rattan Garden Dining Set

garden furniture 2

A slightly more formal dining set could also work well for us as we’d be able to enjoy dinner in the garden and there’s more than enough space for us and dinner guests. It would be a lovely place for the girls to sit and paint of craft in the summer, or even a nice place for Sausage to do homework or sit and read.

Milano Large Rattan Garden Corner Sofa and Chair

garden furniture 3

We’re lucky enough to have a really decent sized garden, so we don’t have to worry about space, which means that a set like this would also work well. It’s huge, which means we’d have plenty of places to sit, and the set would look absolutely stunning on our lawn. I can also imagine it being arranged very nicely around our huge paddling pool when we get it out in the summer!

Napoli Black Rattan Sun Loungers

garden furniture 4

I’m not much of a sun worshipper and certainly don’t actively sunbathe, but I do really like the idea of having somewhere to lay in the garden and read while the girls are playing outside. I’m a bit gun-shy after sitting on one of my MILs sun loungers last year and breaking it, but these look very sturdy and comfortable, so it’ll be less of a worry!!

What type of garden furniture do you prefer?

Summer Adventures

Great Ideas for Cheap Days Out

Here in the Mum’s the Word household, we’re almost delirious with happiness about the fact that summer is finally here. We’ve got Sausage’s birthday next week, so parties and picnics are in order, plus we’ve got a few days out planned, some restaurants to review, plus a whole bunch of other stuff on our summer ‘must-do’ list. There’s no denying though, that summer can be an expensive time, whether you’re paying for days out or added childcare, so when I found out that we can use our Nectar points towards summer activities, I was pretty excited. The video below tells you more:

Nectar are offering the chance to double, triple or even quadruple the value of your points towards attraction tickets – having checked our Nectar account, I’ve found out that I have enough for a £20 voucher which we can use at Legoland Windsor which would effectively make Sausage’s ticket half price.

The website is great as it’s possible to refine your search by area; we’re in the South East so I was able to narrow it down to attractions in the South and South East, which means that I didn’t have to trawl through pages and pages of places that were too far away for us to travel to on a day trip.

Best of all, the site is packed with ideas for summer activities which are completely free, really helping families to make the most of their summer without having to spend a fortune. Here’s what the folk at Nectar have to say:

To ensure families really have a summer to remember, Nectar Summer Picks will be running prize draws until the 30th September, offering families the chance to win amazing prizes including Nectar points, PizzaExpress vouchers or a Merlin Family Pass. There are several ways to take part, from sharing your favourite Nectar ‘Summer Pick’ online or even by submitting your own ideas at nectar.com/summer 

Don’t forget that, between the 23rd July and the 12th of August 2014, your Nectar points could be worth double, triple or more when exchanged for Double Up & More vouchers to spend on fun-filled days out this summer.

For more information and great summer holiday inspiration, visit the Nectar Summer Picks website at nectar.com/summer

Head over to the Nectar site and see what your points could get you – you’ve got nothing to lost by taking a look and you might be pleasantly surprised by just how much of a saving you could make, helping you to make summer really great!

nectar collage

Holidays · Parenting · Summer Adventures

Are Our Kids Lonelier Than We Were?

kids playing in streetWhen I was a child, playing in the street was a normal occurrence. My Nan lived in a ‘walk’, which was a pedestrian-only road with no cars anywhere near where we played, and she happened to live next door to a family with a daughter of the same age as me, so I spent countless summers playing Barbies and cartwheeling on my Grandparents lawn with Sara, who was my best friend. Eventually, my parents moved nearer to my Nan and we lived in a cul-de-sac with a huge green in the middle, on which all of the kids who lived in the cul-de-sac played. We were a mixed bunch but we got on well and there was always someone to hang around with.

As I got older, I was allowed to go to the park with my friends. I grew up on an estate in Basildon, a new town that was built to accommodate the overspill from London in the late 1950’s, which meant that my grandparents were, and still are in fact, the only people to ever live in their house. The entire estate was populated by first and second generation Basildonians and us third generationers were blessed with a level of freedom because of the perceived sense of safety that comes from living in an area where everyone knew everyone else. In those days, it meant that misbehaviour was also fairly low, because no sooner had you thought about doing something naughty than a well-meaning onlooker had told your parents!

With Sausage at the beginning of her first ever summer holiday from school, I’ve been thinking a lot about things we can do to keep her occupied. She’s an only child, like I was until the age of almost 9, which means that she doesn’t have any ready-made playmates in the form of siblings. As much as I’d love for her have a playdate every day, that’s simply not possible, so it’s down to us to arrange other things for her to do, like the weekly pony lessons that she’ll be starting on Wednesday. But, I can’t help but wonder; are our kids lonelier than we were?

She’ll probably never be in a position where we’d let her play in the street, not least of all because people drive down our road like utter twonks, but mostly because the world is not the shiny, happy place it once was. I wrote this post a year ago about how shocked I was to see someone leave their child in the car while they went into the shop and had many comments suggesting that I was over-reacting and judgmental. I revisited the post after April Jones disappeared and wasn’t at all surprised to know that many people now agreed with me about how much freedom children are able to have in modern times.

Sausage will never have the level of freedom that Husband and I did and as such will never know what it’s like to ‘knock for’ someone, play in the street, ride her bike up and down until she’s called in for dinner, do cartwheels on a front lawn, knock on the door and ask for a pound when the ice cream man turns up, or be best friends with the kids next door. And I have to admit, that makes me really sad.

However, as sad as it makes me, it’s not something on which I’d ever compromise as her safety is the most important thing. So, what do you think? Are your kids lonelier than you were as a child? Should we do more to make sure they have someone to play with everyday? Or is that just not possible in modern times?

Leave me a comment below.

Parenting · Summer Adventures

Summer Adventures – A Walk in the Woods

Summer Adventure is a collaborative linky hosted by: Adele at Playful Learners, Becca at What Kidder did next, Jayne at Mum’s the Word, Laura at The Mummy Life.  

A stream, caused by all the rain.

 Sausage will be starting school this September, so it’s important to me that we really make the most of this summer and do as much as we can together. Of course, an average family budget doesn’t extend to an expensive day trip every day and although we’ve enjoyed the cinema and Marsh Farm so far, I’ve also been doing a lot of research and brainstorming about nice, fun things we can do together that cost little or no money. 

Hoof Prints in the Mud

We live in an area that’s fairly diverse, in terms of the landscape, so not only do we have a coast for lots of beach fun, we also have countryside and wooded areas, and all of these represent opportunities for learning, fresh air, fun and exercise. Husband has planted and nurtured a really keen interest in nature, animals, science and learning in Sausage and when she was at nursery, they did a regular thing called ‘Forest School’, sometimes at the local woods and sometimes simply in the garden of their classroom.

Squirrel stalker.

Last weekend, we decided to take Sausage on our very own family forest school at Belfairs Woods, a wooded area which also has stables and a playground area. The parking is free, which is always a bonus and it’s right on a bus route too, so it’s easy to get to for most people. To make it as stimulating as possible, we let Sausage take her own camera with her and set her various challenges, simple things like ‘How many different types of leaves can you see’ and ‘What animals can you spot’, which gave her a real sense of purpose and she thoroughly enjoyed herself.


Although the day was sunny, the previous day had been torrential rain, so we were ploughing through muddy puddles in our boots and dodging mini streams that had appeared, all of which Sausage loved. We also encountered lots of horses as the riding school was trekking at the same time as us, so she really enjoyed seeing the different sized horses and watching their swishy tails!

We had a great morning, didn’t spend a penny (other than the petrol it took to get us there) and Sausage was really engaged and stimulated by the whole day, especially when a very friendly and inquisitive squirrel decided to stalk us through the forest, all it took was a little imagination to turn a run-of-the-mill activity into something fun.

If you’ve had any adventures this summer, we’d love to read about them, just link up below.

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