30 October 2012

"Messing about on the River"

My Dad used to build narrow boats for a living, so when I was younger we spent many a week’s holiday on one.

I have seen much of the English countryside from the rivers and canals that wind through England.

There are many great aspects to canal boat holidays, from the peace and tranquillity as the boat glides through the water, to sitting in the sunshine on the front of a boat engrossed in a book.

If you are taking children there is lots to see, from fabulous wildlife to trees and open fields.
With many pubs, beautiful villages and towns along canals and rivers it can be the perfect lazy way to spend a week.

And it isn’t all just lazing about, for those that like a bit of exercise on their holidays, depending on where you go, there could be locks that test your strength and offer an opportunity to talk to fellow boaters who are usually polite and helpful.

You can go as far or as short a distance as you want, taking it as easy as you like. 
Don't worry if you haven't been through a lock before or don't know your port from your starboard, if you are using a canal boat hire company they will show you the ropes before you go out.
*This is a sponsored post, all words and opinions are my own.

25 October 2012

Homemade Christmas

So I know this is early, but I am busy so am trying to plan ahead. This year I have decided to try and make a few home made gifts for Christmas.

The first thing is we have loads of apples from the garden, so I was going to make some spiced apple chutney for everyone. I have been saving my pretty Bonne Maman jars to fill and label.

Next I have seen a few of these sort of things in the shops and online so I thought about giving it a go myself.

Hot chocolate spoons, a wooden spoon with chocolate on the bottom to put into hot milk along with some marshmallows. These ones are great although I am sure the chocolate is nothing like what I will use.

I also do a mean chocolate fudge so I was thinking of including this too.

Wrapped up nicely in some cellophane and Christmas ribbons I think this should make a nice little hamper. Would love to know what you think and if anyone has any other ideas? Maybe include some recent pics of the kids?


24 October 2012

Ecover Zero Review

I was recently sent over some fab new Ecover Zero goodies to try out. Ecover Zero is a new range of fragrance free products that have been awarded the stamp of approval from Allergy UK.

First up we have the Ecover Zero Washing Up Liquid, now although we have a dishwasher I do tend to do a lot by hand, so for me this was great. Normally washing up liquid makes my hands very dry but I have noticed with this they aren't as bad as normal.

Although I can smell a slight fragrance when I pour the liquid into the water, there is also no smell left on the pots, this includes the kids drinks bottles who would be first to complain should it smell of anything other than water.

Even though it contains no nasties it still cleans really well and with the additional help of some rather nifty dishcloths (thanks Ecover) the pots have come up clean and shiny every time.

Next we have Ecover Zero Non-Bio Laundry Liquid, this again has a slight smell to it when it goes in the drawer but the clothes come out clean and smell of nothing. Whilst this isn't a problem I do sometimes like being able to smell the fragrance of the detergent on clothes. However it does what it says and for those that prefer it not to smell then this is for you.

I also gave this a try out on reusable nappies and although not as white as with the normal non-bio that I use (probably down to there being no optical brighteners) they were still clean, which if you have used reusable nappies before is always a bonus, and to make them smell nice I just used some lavender oil in the rinse.

Next the Ecover Zero Fabric Conditioner, well this worked a treat. The bottle gives you measurements for soft or extra soft, since I was doing sheets I chose extra soft and quite simply they were. This time the lack of smell didn't really bother me, it was actually quite nice getting into a bed that didn't smell.

All in all, these products work well and do what they say, we have had no skin problems and as I said before my dry hands are looking much better with the change of washing up liquid.

We were send these items to review all words, photos and opinions are my own.


23 October 2012

Olive's Army - Help Reverse Rett Syndrome

Today this post isn't about me it's about a beautiful little girl named Olive and an awful condition called Rett Syndrome.

I knew nothing about Rett Syndrome before Jen a fellow Nottingham blogger mentioned it, she knew Olive and her twin sister Tilda from their local TinyTalk class.

Just over a year ago Olive was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome a cruel condition which means she has lost the ability to talk, walk, feed herself, and play with her sister. As the mother of a little girl myself I simply cannot imagine how it must feel to watch your daughter suffer in this way.

Rett Syndrome is a debilitating disorder which most often strikes previously healthy little girls just after they have learned to walk and say a few words and begins to drag their development backwards.

Parents who discover that their daughters have this condition have no real treatment options. They are impotent in the face of this disease, as their little girl begins to fall, as her spine bends, as her body is racked with violent seizures.

In 2007 Rett Syndrome was reversed in mice in a lab setting. It is now positioned to be the first brain condition that could be reversed paving the way for treatments and cures for other conditions such as Autism and Alzheimers. It is felt that treatments to help Rett symptoms are close, and that a cure will follow.

Reverse Rett UK is a charity set up to raise awareness and funds to work towards treatments and a cure and has raised over $1million in the last 2 years.

If you do one thing today I urge you to watch this video, it is truly heart breaking to watch and I have sobbed every time. But with a cure possible and one that could pave the way for further cures then it is a cause worth supporting.

To find out more about Olive, her family and their journey then you can find them at http://olivesrettjourney.blogspot.co.uk/


17 October 2012

Woolacombe A Great Family Holiday

We had been on a north Devon holiday a few times before finding Woolacombe on a day trip, we decided to go back for a week and have done so several times since.

After searching through the caravan holiday parks and campsites in Devon we decided to go self catering, hubby likes his creature comforts too much.

It is a wonderful place that has everything you need for the perfect family holiday, without really having to go anywhere else.

The huge beach is perfect for families of both younger and older children, with rock pools, surfing and lots of wonderful golden sand to build sandcastles in.

Golden sand a plenty.

There are several wonderful restaurants, a fish and chip shop, amusement arcade and of course cafes offering the obligatory Devonshire Cream Tea.

View from The Beachcomber Cafe which do amazing cream teas!
It really is a great place for a family holiday, plus if you do feel like driving then north Devon has so much to offer.

With Ilfracombes pretty Victorian bathing pools and Damien Hirst's restaurant to Lynton and Lynmouth's cliff railway, there really is something for everyone.

And if that wasn't enough then surely this gorgeous sunset is enough to make you want to pack your bags and go straight away.

*This is a sponsored post but all words, thoughts and photos are my own.

12 October 2012

Tale of the Missing Coat

So on Tuesday my sons coat went missing, they had looked and couldn't find it and would look again after everyone had left.

We have a spare so we sent him in that, but on Wednesday still nothing.

It is labelled, he says he had put it on his peg and yet it has gone...disappeared!

How, why, where is it? School say that if someone else has gone home with it then it will 'probably' turn up, yeah right.

I am so annoyed, how could they let this happen? Fair enough it might come home ripped, covered in paint but gone completely.

What if we didn't have any money and couldn't afford a new coat, what would they do then?

This isn't the first thing they have done that has bothered us and isn't helping my son to settle in, every day we go through the heart wrenching 'mummy I don't want to go to school' and sobbing at the door.

Has anyone else had this? What did the school do?

9 October 2012

Goose Fair in Pictures

It would have been better at night, but with two young children to take we didn't fancy the hustle and bustle of after dark Goose Fair, however even in the day you still get the same atmosphere.

Everyone is there to have fun, there are toffee apples, mushy peas and hot dogs aplenty with rides to suit every taste.

And this is why I love Goose Fair :)



8 October 2012

Banana and Chocolate Loaf - The Big Fair Bake

Wherever possible I try to buy and use Fairtrade, so when I saw the Big Fair Bake over on Tots100 I decided to blog one of my favourite recipes.

Fairtrade is about 'better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world' and you can help with this by purchasing Fairtrade products wherever possible. 

From sugar to bananas it is simple and doesn't usually cost you any more, but could mean the world to someone else!

This recipe is super tasty and the perfect way to use up those left over, very ripe bananas:


125g Butter or Margarine
175g Soft Brown Sugar
2 eggs
300g Plain Flour
1 tsp Bicarb Soda
150mls Whole Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
3 Ripe Fairtrade Bananas

100g Fairtrade Chocolate


1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 25 x 11cm loaf tin.

2. Cream the sugar and butter together with a handheld electric mixer.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.

4. Sift in half the flour and all of the bicarb, stir with the metal spoon. Add in the milk and the rest of the flour and mix well.

5. Fold in the mashed bananas, vanilla extract and the chocolate then pour into the loaf tin, it looks like a lot and fills the tin but will be ok.

6. Usually takes about 1 hour 15mins to 1 hour 30 minutes, but keep checking every 5 minutes after about 1 hour 15 mins.

7. Once cooked take the tin out of the oven and leave to rest for about 20 minutes, when slightly cooled remove from the tin and leave to cool completely. Alternatively you can cut up and serve warm with some butter or Nutella and a nice cup of tea.

Perfect for guests, I will be taking this one to my gran and grandad tomorrow.

You can see the other entries via twitter using hash tag #bakeitfair and more on the Big Fair Bake website.


1 October 2012

Slow Cooking - It's the Future, for us anyway

I was reading an article today about how less and less people are having a roast dinner because of the cost.

But for us this is a staple of the week, a meal to look forward too. It isn't something that has to cost a fortune, you just have to be a little inventive.

We tend to use cheap cuts of meat now days and if anything the meat is better and pretty much anything slow roasted tastes good.

Yesterdays dinner was Beef Pot Roast Ribs, roasted in some red wine and water for several hours gives a beautiful tasting meat that falls off the bone and can be pulled apart with a fork, a huge rib that feeds a family of four cost £3.40.

Brisket is also a fab cut of meat, slow cooked in a BBQ sauce makes a great dinner with pittas and salad or as a spicy roast.

The same can be done with Belly Pork, another really cheap cut of meat. Just slow cook with some apples and apple juice and you will have a sweet tender meat that melts in the mouth at a fraction of the price.

Tough cuts of meat can be transformed into tasty meals by simply cooking slowly, not limited too but some of our favourite recipes include:

Beef Bourginon (using braising steak or skirt)
Lamb Tagine (Using shoulder or replace with mutton if you can find it)
Beef Stew
Beef Daube
Beef Curry with Plum Jam

And if you come across a cut you haven't heard of before don't be afraid to ask the butcher how to cook it, we have come across our best finds this way, just choose flavours that work with the meat you are cooking and you can't go wrong.

If you are willing to try new cuts, then don't be afraid to try a butchers. We go to Gonalston Farm Shop once a month and buy meat on offer and stock up. 

Beef Pot Roast Ribs from Gonalston Farm Shop
I am always trying to find new recipes so if you have a slow cooker one, meat or veggie please do leave a comment :)