31 August 2015

ParkLives - Free Outdoor Activities for all the Family

A few weeks ago I was asked if i'd be interested in trying out one of the activities as part of ParkLives, if you haven't heard of it, which I hadn't, ParkLives provides free activities in your local parks and green spaces.  

I had been wanting to try yoga for a while as i'd been told it may help with my Fibromyalgia. There were a few places with Yoga sessions, but Wollaton Hall was the easiest to get too and meant the family could come too if they wanted.

Unfortunately, there was another event on so it meant paying £4 for the car park as opposed to the usual £2, had the family been with me, we could have spent the whole day there but it kind of negates the free aspect of it so I was a little disappointed. However this is just Wollaton, most other locations have free parking.

When I arrived, Lisa, the instructor was just setting up, it was easy to see where she was because she had the ParkLives banner with her, details of the location are also on the activity booking form so make a note of where you need to meet.

Mats were provided but if you had your own then you could bring it along, I didn't have one so I used the ones provided, I did take some water though.

Lisa was really lovely and I spoke to her for a bit before it started, as I am a complete newbie to yoga I was worried I wouldn't be able to do any of it, especially with the Fibro, however she explained if I couldn't do it to stop or she could give alternative positions for me to work in.

There were a few regulars to the event and another newbie on the session, it was really nice and I felt completely relaxed and not at all like I was being judged by anyone who had more experience.

There are so many different events as part of ParkLives, from netball to frisbee, football to tai chi as well as healthy walking and best of all it's free. 

I can highly recommend checking out what ParkLives has to offer, I for one will be back for more sessions, I may even take the family this time. ParkLives sessions are currently taking place in and around Nottingham, Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Manchester and the London Borough of Newham.

NB: This is a collaborative post, however all words and opinions are my own.

30 August 2015

Black and White Photo Project Week 60

We spent out last day in France in the beautiful coastal town of La Treport, about an hour and fifteen minutes drive from Calais. I saw this walkway which had fallen into the see and knew it would look great in black and white.

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27 August 2015

Simple DIY Fairy Garden

I have been promising a fairy garden to the children for a while now, we'd seen them in the local garden centre so we decided to make our own using some simple bits and pieces from the shop.

So what do you need? Well it turns out not much, we bought a large terracotta plant pot holder, a little tiny one to put water in (fairies need a bath right) a succulent as they don't need much attention and then we succumbed to some little stepping stones and some mushrooms from the fairy garden section in the garden centre, you could however use some milk bottle lids for the stepping stones or make your own mushrooms out of some plasticine if you had the time. We also used some pebbles from our  rather over pebbly garden.

So we set to it. First, adding a little bit of compost to the bottom so we can add some more plants later on if we want, then we added in our succulent plant and the stones on top, along with some little tiny stepping stones.

We added the little mushrooms to the the plant and used a cute little windmill straw to set it off, then we added some water to our little pond and then, away we go. Putting the fairy garden in a container means we can move it if we need to and it isn't restricted to one place.

I also bought a small plant pot which I hand't really thought about what to do with, but a quick look on Pinterest soon solved that problem, we are going to turn it upside down and paint it, put a door on it and then add that. We also have a few shells we bought back from our holidays so we will be adding those too and may even make an adjoining garden

Pinterest is a really great resource for things like this, so do pop on over and have a look at my Fairy Garden Pinterest board for some ideas and if you've made one, i'd love to take a look for some more inspiration so feel free to leave your links in the comments.


26 August 2015

A Day Out in Paris with Kids

Whilst on holiday in France, we decided, that since we were only an hour from Paris, we would drive in and visit the sites. We had done a little preparation, we looked on the Time Out website at great places to visit with kids and knew we wanted to visit the Eiffel Tower, Arc Du Triomphe and the Jardin Du Luxembourg. If we could fit in any more sights then that would be a bonus.

My husband spoke with a friend who lives in Paris and he said that in August it would be ok to drive in and he was right. We set off about 8.15am and were in Paris for 9.15am, there was very little traffic even along the notorious Champs Elysee and we found a parking space easily in the Quai Branly Museum car park near the Eiffel Tower, it cost around £20 for the 12 hours parking, which for such a big city seemed reasonable and cheaper than getting a train.

Top of our list was to see the Eiffel Tower, although we weren't going to go up it as we thought it would take too long and with only the day in Paris we didn't think we'd have time. However, when we got there, the queue went down quite quickly so we decided we would. We had intended to go all the way to the top but as we got to the front of the queue they stopped selling tickets for the top, so we only went to the second stage. If we had booked beforehand, not only would the queue have been quicker but we would have been able to go to the top with less trouble.

It was just €9 for adults and €4 for the children to the second stage so €26 which at the current exchange rate meant it was only £18 which is really good value for an attraction as big as the Eiffel Tower. The view from even the second stage was amazing so don't let it put you off if you can't go all the way to top.

After we'd been up the Eiffel Tower, the children had quick ride on the carousel which sits just across the road from the Eiffel Tower, they have these at a lot of the main attractions in France and they are so beautifully decorated it always makes for a great picture and a wonderful childhood experience for the children.

Afterwards, we decided that we would head to the Jardin Du Luxemberg as we'd seen some great information about sailing little wooden boats on the pond, the Metro that would have taken us there was closed and with two little pairs of legs and the weather being so warm we decided to get a Taxi there with a view to walking back. Using the Uber app, we got a ride about 15 minutes across town, it was a quick and easy way to get there, the driver was polite and offered us water and to help us in and out of the car, so well worth considering.

As it was almost lunchtime by this point we sat and ate ham and cheese crepes in the park, sitting in the shade was a welcome relief from the hot midday sun. Although they weren't cheap we hadn't expected anything less from being in Paris, even water is expensive.

Afterwards, we headed to the pond, the children could see the little boats dotted around and were like moths to a flame and they found the lady who was hiring them out. It cost €3.50 for half an hour with the little boat which for how much excitement it generated and the disappointed sighs we encountered  when we had to give it back, I would say it was money well spent. You also get a stick to push the boat into the middle and then hopefully the wind takes it the rest of the way, there was a slight breeze which was great and it moved them along like little colourful ducks.

The adults and children alike enjoyed it and it gave us half an hour to collect our thoughts and enjoy the moment, we've never encountered anything like this before and I feel there are many missed opportunities for things like this in the UK.

Once our thirty minutes were up, we headed towards the Cathedral Notre Dame, we had a lovely gelato from an amazing shop called Amorino, there were plenty of flavours to choose from and they even shape your ice cream into a flower. We carried on walking through the streets towards Notre Dame bustling with food outlets and restaurants, we stopped and had a cold drink and did some people watching. 

My son had started watching the Hunchback of Notre Dame that morning so knew where we were going and it made it all the more exciting having seen it in a Disney movie of course. Although the front is beautiful I now know after seeing another picture on Instagram that the back is actually equally, if not more beautiful and I wish we had been to see that side of it too. 

The queues for the cathedral were really long and and again it came down to time, although i'm sure it is impressive we have visited many cathedrals in France now and they are all kind of the same on the inside. 

We took a slow walk down the Seine on our way to the Louvre, there are some wonderful little shops along the way and many beautiful building to be seen, small street sellers selling gifts and paintings as well as the obligatory cafes and bars that France do so well.

Walking through the Cour Carrée was impressive, the beautiful buildings are ornately carved and you could see the glass of the Louvre through the gates, it was impressive and certainly something to behold. I would have loved to have had the time to go in and see the Mona Lisa but probably 
for the best as the children aren't quite at an age to enjoy such things, unless it's near the gift shop anyway.

Afterwards we walked through the Jardin Des Tuileries which is between the Louvre and the Place Du Concorde, during the summer there is a fair on and the children both instantly spotted the large ferris wheel, we headed on over to have a look and it wasn't too expensive so a little bit tired from our walking we thought it would be a welcome rest, as well as give us another look above the beautiful buildings. It was well worth the money though and meant we could see the Eiffel Tower, Mon Martre and a different view of Paris to the one we'd had earlier.

After we got off we enjoyed some Barbe Au Papa (candy floss to you and me) we kept on walking up towards the Champs Elysee, legs were wary at this point and the children both did amazingly well to walk as far as they did.  

You could see the Arc Du Triomphe from the bottom of the road and as we got closer it's grandness only grew, I didn't realise you could walk to the top so when we drove round it later that evening it was amazing to see people stood on top, definitely one for next time we visit. It is an imposing feature and so beautiful stood in the Place de l'Etoile, a rather unbelievable piece of road that I couldn't help but close my eyes as hubby drove round it.

We'd found a restaurant that sounded nice from some reviews and headed that way but it was shut for refurbishment, typical! So we walked a bit further round the corner and found another one. The thing about Paris is there isn't a shortage of food places whatever your taste. After some food and a well earned rest we headed back to the car, 12 hours of pretty much solid walking round had tired everyone out and so we were all ready for home. 

There is so much more to see in Paris so I have no doubt we will be back, if you are visiting and have a few days then you could also visit the Natural History Museum, the Pompidou Centre which is a building turned inside out, Sacre Coure which is on top of Montmartre Hill and has amazing views of Paris as well as the Paris Catacombs for older children.

It was without a doubt the highlight of my holiday, so many memoirs made in one day as well as for me ticking one thing off my bucket list, i'd love to go back though and it has made me hungry to visit other cities around Europe.


23 August 2015

Black and White Photography Project Week 59

As we visited Paris this week the obvious choice had to be the Eiffel Tower, such an imposing structure and a joy to visit, although we didn't go to the top as it was closed when we got there.


19 August 2015

A Visit to Abbaye De Jumièges

Normandie is a beautiful area of France that is steeped in history. This year we got to visit another little piece of it, we had been staying in a gorgeous little gite on the river Seine for the week and found this beautiful abbey on the way back from our trip to a lake one day.

Originally built in 651 the Abbaye De Jumièges is one of the oldest buildings we've ever been to, it was later added to by William the Conquerer, it has so much history as well as plenty of beautiful architecture.

The lines of the Abbey ruins make for beautiful pictures and I adored walking round them, absorbing the history, looking at the beautiful stonework and finding some fabulous original paint work too.

It always amazes me that these places exist but also saddens me that they are no longer standing in all their former glory, how wonderful would it have been to see these buildings as they originally stood.

The day started off with sunshine but quickly turned to summer showers, rain pouring down yet still really hot! Both the children loved running around the ruins in their raincoats, it was the perfect childhood moment made better by the beautiful surroundings.

There are so many wonderful places to explore in France whether you love history, food, wine or farming and this is just one of them we've visited.

18 August 2015

French Inspired Bedroom

We inherited our current bed base after my husband had a back operation 8 years ago, we've since bought a new mattress from John Lewis to help with my bad neck and added to it a mismatched head board we found in the Pier furniture store when it closed down. The base is discoloured, torn and really not attractive, it is just something we haven't got round to replacing yet, as the children outgrowing their beds and needing new ones was higher on the list of priorities.

Since we moved house, our bed just doesn't look right, the smooth walls and fresh carpets just aren't being done justice by it. After spending a week in France, I felt inspired to seek out some beautiful French bedroom furniture and linen.

I adore this French inspired bed from Loaf and the linen sheets are to die for, I imagine crumpled linen Sunday mornings snuggled up in them. We don't have anything on the walls in our bedroom, and I love these picture frames, perfect for holding memories of special days. Throws and baskets add texture and I love the Thelma & Louise dressing table and stool, perfect for sitting at to do my makeup and hair.

17 August 2015

French Inland Beach Fun

We've been on holiday to France many times over the last few years, one thing we have found is that whether you are by the coast or inland, there is always a way to find a beach to visit.

France is dotted with lakes which have small sandy spaces next to them, often with play areas, picnic spots and much more.

This year we found one that was close by to our holiday gite, Base De Loisirs - Jumieges Le Mensil is a smaller version of the one we have visited the past few years but still had everything needed for a visit to the beach and a day out.

With its blue lagoon like water and small but perfectly adequate beach, it is a great place to take the children for some sand castle building and water splashing fun without the worry of tides and deep water. There are lifeguards on duty too, for that extra piece of mind. 

As well as the beach this particular lake had a park, cafe and a Go-Ape style tree top adventure park, the water sparkled like diamonds on our visit and there were plenty of picnic spots around to have lunch.

After lunch we explored the rest of the park, which included a huge bouncy castle play area, exercise equipment and climbing frames, a great way to burn off some energy. Both of the children along with all the adults enjoyed a great day out

Without a doubt, I think that these inland beaches are a great source of enjoyment and I only wish we had some in the UK, we've always had so much fun visiting them and hope to visit a few more this week.


16 August 2015

Black & White Photography Project Week 58

The moody skies over the Abbaye De Jumieges, it was a sunny and rainy day in equal proportions but we enjoyed walking round the ruins. This part of the abbey was built by William the Conquerer back in 1067 so is one of the oldest buildings we've ever visited.


13 August 2015

My Home Office Shed

I would love a room where I could go to work, write my blog posts, take pictures and keep my vintage pottery. I think a home office shed would be the perfect place to do all of this.

I would fill it with pretty scandi chic inspired gorgeousness, I love this desk and chair, both from John Lewis. The peg board would be great for styling and to keep my notes and to do lists safe.

Beautiful vintage inspired pieces would add colour and shape to make this a room where I could happily spend hours adjusting and readjusting pretty things for photos.

My Home Office Shed

This is my entry into the Ana Mum Diary and Tiger Sheds blogger competition, although I am sure my dream will never become reality, because if we were ever lucky enough to have an office shed, I am sure it would be taken over by my two children!


11 August 2015

Sunshine, Sun Jellies and Cute Temporary Tattoos

Last week, the lovely people over at Sun Jellies announced a fabulous new collaboration with the uber talented Karen Mabon, creating these cute jelly inspired temporary tattoos. I absolutely adore them and have teamed them up with one of my favourite summer colours from the Sun Jellies collection.

The yellow is so bright and wonderfully summery that you can't help thinking of long summer days eating ice cream and dreaming of being young again. Which one is your favourite design?

Sunshine & Sun Jellies

9 August 2015

Black & White Photo Project Week 57

We've been growing some cress this week and my daughter has loved watching it grow.

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2 August 2015

Black & White Photography Project Week 56

When life gives you lemons make...lemon curd in my case this week. I love how the shadow and light and dark looks in this picture, obviously it' looks better in colour with the bright yellow lemons.

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