28 July 2015

Diary Doll Pants - Pants with Hidden Protection

Periods! There I said it, i've suffered with heavy periods since I was 13. Nature wasn't kind to me, every month I cried out in pain, all scrunched up on the nurses bed or at home. My mum used to send me to school after a good dose of something called Indian Brandy, I now know it is actually for digestive problems not period pains, however I suffered it because what else could I do.

For me periods were heavy and that often meant stopping or changing my every day activities just because of it, there is nothing worse than waking up in the morning to find blood on your sheets, nothing worse than not being able to wear certain things around time of the month! It wasn't great, but life doesn't stop for periods, woman are meant to carry on regardless.

But why am I telling you all of this? Well I still have periods, they are still heavy and I have even more responsibility with two children to run around after. So when Carol Smillie did a talk at BritMums Live about her new venture Diary Doll I was intrigued and excited about the product, something I had needed for so long had been invented.

Diary Doll pants are waterproof pants, they look like a normal pair of pretty pants but concealed inside is a waterproof layer, perfect for catching those leaks which had so often blighted my life growing up. Now I know what you're thinking, they are going to be like wearing a shell suit in your undies, but that was not the case, they didn't make me sweat and they didn't feel crinkly.

Diary Doll pants come in a great little fabric bag, perfect to keep in your gym bag or handbag and it means no one will ever know what you are carrying, great for younger girls who might be more embarrassed by something like this.

These are designed to work with your normal sanitary protection for those moments where you need a bit more protection and for me they did just that, i'm grateful that these are now available and that my daughter won't have to face the same embarrassments that I did.

Normal service will now resume and I will continue to talk about craft, days out and clothes but remember, we all have mothers, sisters, daughters and wives who go through this and it isn't something to hide, it is part of life, in fact it is life, without it we wouldn't exist!

Diary Doll are available from John Lewis, Debenhams and Diary Doll online for the price of £14.95, to be fair I have paid this much for a pair of pants before and these are pretty and will hopefully last a long time.

NB: I was sent the Diary Doll pants to form this review, all words and opinions are my own.

27 July 2015

A Visit to CONKERS! in the National Forest

We have seen the signs on the A42 for CONKERS! many times but never really thought to head over there with  the children, as we normally head to the north of Nottingham. So, when we were invited to spend the day there I was really interested to see what it had up it's sleeve.

The day was planned out with a few tasks to get us exploring the site, we started with some orienteering, this not only tested out map reading skills to find the letters around the park, but there were also clues that got us using our heads to work out a password that would get us some extra treats later.

We figured out the word, which was amphibian, and headed to the meeting point in the Bush Craft area, a wonderful wooded location where we were asked to make our own den/shelter and fire. My two are seven and four and both relished this task, with each of them helping both mum and dad to find wood for the fire and sticks for the shelter.

We were shown how to build a fire and then set about lighting it with flint, steel and some nice dry cotton wool, my son was really good at it and Daddy was alright but Mummy excelled at the task, certainly makes me wonder whether it was cave man or woman that had this sorted?!?

Once we had the fire going (with a little help from the lovely Becky at Baby Budgeting and her family, thanks for sharing your fire guys) we were on our way to marshmallow toasting heaven. We all love toasted marshmallows and it is a really great experience to share with the children, really getting back to the basics.

Once we had finished toasting our marshmallows and had basked in the almost success of den building we headed to the Barefoot Walk, we saw one of these at a farm we visited in France a few years ago but never got to do it as the children were too young. Both said they'd give this a go and, although it was cold when walking through the water sections and slippery on the mud parts, we all really enjoyed it.

After lunch we had free reign over what we did next so we headed to the sensory trail to see what we could see, smell and feel. This was something we had done previously elsewhere and I have to say this one wasn't as good, some of the contents of the boxes were worn and the plants for smell etc long dead and it certainly wasn't as good as it could of been, none the less the children didn't notice and enjoyed running round the woods.

Afterwards we explored the labyrinth and went over to see the low and high ropes, a new installation for July which looked awesome. We didn't have time to book on to one of these otherwise I think my son and husband would have liked to gone on them. This is an extra charge but I don't think it's too overpriced for what is a very unique experience, even without this, there are plenty of trails and assault courses (for teenagers and adults only) to keep you busy which don't cost anything extra.

There were so many of the other areas that we didn't get to visit around the site, we could have spent all day just exploring the woodland and countryside as there was so much. There is a huge playground over at the Waterside Centre which is accessible by the conkachoo train and more woodland to explore but that will have to wait until another time.

Before we left, we did pop into the Discovery Centre, sadly a few of the interactive exhibits were broken and in need of repair, the toilets were covered in toilet paper as the dispensers were empty and new rolls just left on the side. This was a slightly disappointing end to the day and there seemed to be very few staff about at this point, the staff members we did come into contact with though were helpful and polite.

Overall we did have a great time and I think we would go back again, there were so many butterflies, insects, flowers and trees, if you like exploring the outdoors then this is certainly a great place to go. As the children get older and can go on more too, I think it will be the perfect place to take them for a run about.

NB: We were given free entry for the day to the park to form this review, all opinions are my own.

Magic Moments 27/07/15

Jaime is on holiday this week so I get to look after the brilliant Magic Moments linkup, whilst she is more than likely enjoying some lovely sunshine we are enjoying a good dose of traditional British summer weather, rain!

I can't believe we are nearly in August, how time flies when you are having fun, my son has broken up from school and my daughter has her first pair of school shoes ready for September, it's all getting a bit serious.

I do love to read your Magic Moments, it always makes me smile and often gives me some great ideas, so without further ado lets get started!
Don’t forget there is a Magic Moments page on Google+ to, so if you are on G+ feel free to pop over and add your link and visit … also I have just created a Magic Moments collaborative Pintrest board too which you are more than welcome to pin your post onto too! Feel free to email me directly  ( jaime@theoliversmadhouse.co.uk ) so I can make sure I am following and that I can add you to the board too.
If you are new to Magic Moments you can find more information over HERE.
Don’t forget that linkys only work when people take the time to visit and share with others. With such a large crowd linking in please don’t think you have to comment on every one. I know many of you don’t have time for this and it’s unrealistic, however please visit as many as you can manage to share some love and build community spirit.
If you would like to join in  I would love it if you would pop on the Magic Moments badge or a link back to me as it also helps others to see where you are linking up and they may decided to pop over and link up too! Remember the more people who take part and link up, the more people who are likely to visit, but this is only a polite request not a prerequisite.


26 July 2015

Black & White Photography Project Week 55

Love this one from our trip to CONKERS yesterday, we don't get out and about enough like this, we all loved making a camp fire and toasting marshmallows.

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23 July 2015

French Flash Sticks Review

My son has been learning French at school and as we are due to go on our annual holiday to France next month, it seemed a great opportunity to try out some Flash Sticks, these are sticky notes, like Post-it Notes with French words on them.

Below the words it has the pronunciation of the French word, as well as the word in English and a picture of the word for younger readers.

The stickers come on a card which also has the words on the back, we made it a fun game to go round the house and stick the stickers everywhere whilst going through the words.

For the verbs and others words that didn't have a home, we put them on the fridge or window, so things like world we put on the window to the garden.

Both of the children can already count up to ten in french but it is good to have the numbers there as a reminder to practice.

There is also a really handy app, great for the kids to use, all they need to do is open the app, scan the post-its and a video of the word being spoken is then played, so they can hear how it is supposed to sound. It is also handy for myself and my husband who often get it wrong.

Overall we have found these really useful so far, we are always trying to teach our children about everyday objects, things we find at the supermarket or animals and things around us when we are out and these are a great addition to the home to allow us to keep the momentum up. I certainly don't think it will be long before we are on to the next set.

The sets are £4.99 each and are available in Spanish, Italian, German and BSL too.

NB: We were sent the Flash Sticks to review, all opinions are mine.

20 July 2015

Exploring Clumber Park

At the weekend, we were invited to Clumber Park, to explore the grounds by bike and enjoy some of the facilities on offer.

When we have visited previously, we walked around the pleasure grounds near the chapel and played on the woodland play park, so the cycling was a first for us, not just here but I don't think I had even sat on a bike since I was about 12 or 13!

After parking the car, we headed first to the cycle hire centre, where the staff kitted us out with bikes, helmets, a lock and a map of the cycle routes, as well as offering advice on which route to start off with and where not to ride. 

As the children do not ride, my husband had my son on a tagalong bike and I had my daughter on a seat on the back of mine. It was a bit wobbly at first, but got easier as we went along. Traveling by bike meant that we got to see parts of the park that we had not seen before. Past the village of Hardwick, on the other side of the lake, there are fields, full of butterflies, insects and birds of prey, it was wonderful to be able to stop and look at these.

The view from the other side of the lake is amazing and I am quite sad we haven't seen it before, it is definitely a walk or ride we will be taking again. The cycle paths are flat and steep in equal measures, though if you don't mind dismounting, then you can follow the flat path along the edge of the lake.

With the kit Clumber Park gave us, we had binoculars and bug spotting kits so the children enjoyed being able to spot the wildlife across the lake and beyond.

After we'd been round once we stopped for lunch, there was a short wait for lunch from the restaurant itself so we opted for the BBQ outside. 

My daughter chose the child's lunch box which contained a freshly made sandwich, mini cheddars, cheese and crackers, yoghurt, biscuits and a drink, not bad for £4.50. I had the pork cob, hubby had the burger and my son had the sausage cob, with two portions of chips and a couple of beers it came to £31, it certainly filled us up for the rest of the day.

Afterwards we payed a visit to the second hand bookshop and the discovery centre, this is a great little spot to chill out with lots of space to explore, sit and read, learn and play.

After another cycle round the lake, we headed up to the walled garden, you have to pay to get into this area unless you are a National Trust member, it isn't much though, it's free for children and then £3.65 per adult without Gift Aid.

You could spend a good hour and a half  to two hours in the garden and they run talks and tours too, as it heads towards the summer holidays they also have lots of activities for children with the new Sunflower Alley opening this week.

There are so many beautiful flowers and areas to explore in the gardens, from the fruit and herb gardens to their many varieties of rhubarb. It was great to be able to get up close and personal with so many different plants, many of which we hadn't seen before. There was a bug house kit in the bag of goodies we were given so we took a look at the ones in the garden, which made the children excited about making this.

We really had an amazing time at Clumber Park, getting to see so much on the bikes was great and although my legs ached for days afterwards, it was by far the best way to see and explore. As a final treat before we left we headed over to the cricket pitch where there was a match on, we had an ice cream and then took it in turns to fly the pocket kite from the gift shop.

These things are normally something we might overlook in the shop, but actually they made our day out that little bit more special.

Clumber Park is a great place to visit this summer with so much to offer, see and do whether it is just to kick a ball around, go exploring in the woods or go biking round the lake.

NB: We were given free entry to the park, cycle hire and meal voucher to form this review. All opinions are my own.


19 July 2015

Black & White Photography Project Week 54

We went on a bike ride round Clumber Park yesterday and before we left visited the walled gardens, we went in the potting shed and I immediately knew that these would be perfect in Black & White.

16 July 2015

Helly Hansen Activewear Review

Recently, I have been on a mission to exercise more, in a bid to try and help my ongoing health issues, we aren't talking marathons but I have been walking and jogging regularly in order to build up to something more.

A few months back, Helly Hansen kindly sent me some of their collection to try out, I am absolutely in love with the items they sent, the clothes are stylish and the trainers are as light as a feather.

First up are the W Wicked Pace R2 trainers, I love the pink and black combo it looks really great on and I kinda want to wear them all the time. They really are so light to pick up so wearing them is like you have nothing on your feet, my feet don't sweat in them either and so far I haven't got any blisters from them.

Next the leggings, the W VTR Printed Capri leggings in Night Blue are really quite something, they come in a pattern to suit all tastes but I chose the Night Blue, not normally a leggings person I was worried these would irritate me and be more of a nuisance than comfortable sports wear but they weren't.

Once on, I couldn't even tell I was wearing them, they are comfy and lightweight and great for cooler evenings as they keep you really warm. Being tall I always worry they'll come up short but these were the perfect fit.

And finally the W Aspire Lifa Flow Singlet vest, I am quite broad shouldered so I probably should have sized up on the top as it is quite snug and for me I feel quite constricted, however it is lightweight and didn't make me feel sweaty at all. I love the colour way and the look of the vest it is perfect for what I needed.

I love these clothes and trainers, perfect whether you are out running in the countryside or working out in the gym, this colour way is absolutely fabulous and I love attention to detail with the little hearts around the bottom of the leggings and contrasting colours on the waist band.

I look forward to wearing these as my running progresses, we are off on a bike ride on Saturday and I will be wearing these. Hopefully they'll allow me to cycle without getting in the way as well as keeping my legs covered.

Thank you to my husband who came out with me on a recent trip to take some pictures and to the children who waited so patiently.

NB: I was sent these items to form the review, all opinions and words are my own.

15 July 2015

Summer Exploring at Newstead Abbey

Sometimes we become too technology focussed, so for the next few weeks I have days out planned where we can get back to exploring and being silly!

This weekend, we took a picnic and headed in the rain to Newstead Abbey, when we got there it was spitting so we sat on the back of the car and ate our picnic, before donning our wellies, or jellies in my case and heading out down the lane to the abbey.

First of all we do as we always do and headed to the waterfall, you can walk behind it and the children always love to watch the water as it pours down over their heads. Then we headed down to the front of the abbey where there was a band playing, the kids really enjoyed watching and listening to them.

Then we went to explore, whilst we were playing tag we found a little baby froggy, the children both took it in turns to let the frog jump across their hands. It was really lovely to watch them both as they giggled and watched the frog jump.

We've been to Newstead Abbey many times, in the winter, spring and on a typically English day with rain and sunshine in equal quantities, it always looks so different with so many flowers and trees changing shape over the year. 

Over in the rose garden there are plenty of pretty flowers and corners to explore, my children always love peering down into the well.

After a minor incident with my daughter and the floor, we headed back to the car, the sun was shining and the house and lake looked beautiful against the sunlit sky.

Newstead Abbey is a really lovely place to visit, whether it is to explore the Japanese garden or tour the house, to have a picnic or eat in the cafe it is the perfect place to visit in the summer holidays.


12 July 2015

Black & White Photography Project Week 53

We were walking back from a meal out last week and I spotted this on a wall in  the centre of Nottingham, I really liked it and had to stop to take a picture.

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8 July 2015

Summer Sun and Staying Safe

I am a complete and utter suncream nut, my children are always covered in the stuff from head to toe and then if we are at the beach they are in sun suits with UVA protection of 50+ too! 

The reason probably stems from me being covered in moles, having spent years as a child with little to no sunscreen on, who knows how damaged my skin is, but it was one of those things, we simply didn't know as much about the sun as we do now.

So, when I spoke to the Boots team at BritMums about their #SummerGoodTimes campaign and care in the sun for both skin and eyes, I really wanted to pass this information on. It is so unbelievably useful and for me, proved there is so much more to just slapping on the suncream or sitting in the shade.

·     Wearing a t-shirt provides UV protection but only when it’s dry – once it becomes wet it turns opaque so swimming in a t-shirt offers no protection from the sun’s harmful rays.
·     Sand, concrete and even grass all reflect UV but if any of these surfaces become wet the amount reflected can double.
·     UV light reflects off surfaces so you will need to think about sun protection even if you are in the shade.  This effect is particularly strong in countries like Greece where white buildings are plentiful - so keep your suncream handy!
·     Hot baths can dehydrate your skin, leading to faster peeling.  Stick to cool showers and use a moisturising body wash to really lock-in your colour.
·     The effects of the sun are cumulative, so if you burn an area of skin, it will be more sensitive to burning next year…to achieve an even tan, protection is essential from the first day.
·     Around three tablespoons of suncream is enough to cover your whole body. But be careful not to over rub your lotion!  If suncream starts to ball up you’ve rubbed too hard so remove any residue and smooth on a new layer – more gently!
·     Think of your skin as a sponge that needs constant ‘topping up’ to keep it moisturised.  Re-apply suncream at least every 2 hours, and more if you are in and out of water or doing exercise.
·     40% of UV exposure occurs when you’re not in direct sunlight, always ensure you are protected by applying suncream before you leave the house.*


·    UV rays bounce off glass screens, so remember while the surface of your smart phone may be small, as you are holding it close to your eyes you are increasing your exposure to this reflection.
·     Your eyes are ten times more sensitive to UV damage than your skin, so protecting them both in and out of the water is vitally important.
·     Children’s eyes have larger pupils and clearer lenses so are more susceptible to sun damage - 80% of the eye's lifetime exposure to UV light is reached before the age of 18.
·     Lenses with darker tints don’t necessarily offer more protection as even glasses with clear lenses can offer UV protection. Dark lenses which don’t offer a sufficient level of UV protection can be more damaging because they cause the eye’s pupils to dilate and let in more light.
·     Your eyes need protection from the sun all the time, even on cloudy days.  Cloud cover only reduces the amount of UV light by 10%.
·     In the morning and evening your eyes can also absorb light from reflective surfaces such as white buildings, wet surfaces and smart phones – even when the sun isn’t out. All Boots Opticians lenses have all round protection from UV on both sides of the lens as standard.

I have a Vitamin D deficiency and part of this isn't helped by the fact that every time I get out in the sun I have factor 30 on. It's a double edged sword really, but I try to get 20 minutes of suncream free sun time a day to ensure I keep it topped up.

I always use makeup that contains sunscreen, I have burnt on my face a few times in the past and so having something I don't need to worry about is important, I hate burning! I kick myself as not only is it painful but so bad for your skin.

How do you stay safe in the sun?

6 July 2015

Paint a Pot Fun

My daughter and I have written up a bucket list of things we wanted to do together before she heads off to school in September.

Once of those things was paint a pot, with it being my birthday and having nothing else planned, I took this opportunity to tick this one off our bucket list.

I had never been to a paint a pot before so it was all a bit new, but the lady at Razzle Dazzle Pots explained everything to us. First, we each had to choose a piece we wanted to paint, there was so much to choose, everything from animals to plates, bowls to vases, dragons to princesses! Eventually, we made a decision, I chose a vase and my daughter a unicorn.

It turns out that if you chose a blank canvas like a vase it is actually quite difficult to paint, unless you are artistic enough to come up something that is worthy of a place in your home. That said, I think I did quite a good job at creating something at least I am happy with.

My daughters unicorn was as bright and colourful as she is and really captured the essence of being four. I loved how the colours looked dull and lifeless before they were fired, but when we went to pick them up I think we were both surprised at the beautiful bright stripey unicorn that stood before us.

I am really happy with how they turned out and I am really excited to take my son back in the holidays so he can make one too, a great way to make a memory and something you can keep.

We have a few more things to do before she starts school, of which I am sure a few will appear on the blog.


Magic Moments 6/7/15

The lovely Jaime over at The Oliver's Madhouse is having a break this week, so she has passed the Magic Moments torch on to me.

As I was writing this post it suddenly dawned on me that we are in July, how did that happen?! Only few more months and my daughter will be starting school, a bitter sweet time which I am trying to put to the back of my mind!

Anyway, enough of me wittering on, without further ado its Magic Moments time! 

Don’t forget there is a Magic Moments page on Google+ to, so if you are on G+ feel free to pop over and add your link and visit … also I have just created a Magic Moments collaborative Pintrest board too which you are more than welcome to pin your post onto too! Feel free to email me directly  ( jaime@theoliversmadhouse.co.uk ) so I can make sure I am following and that I can add you to the board too.
If you are new to Magic Moments you can find more information over HERE.
Don’t forget that linkys only work when people take the time to visit and share with others. With such a large crowd linking in please don’t think you have to comment on every one. I know many of you don’t have time for this and it’s unrealistic, however please visit as many as you can manage to share some love and build community spirit.
If you would like to join in  I would love it if you would pop on the Magic Moments badge or a link back to me as it also helps others to see where you are linking up and they may decided to pop over and link up too! Remember the more people who take part and link up, the more people who are likely to visit, but this is only a polite request not a prerequisite.