Thursday, 19 July 2018

Willow & Wild Subscription box - review

We recently received a subscription box from Willow & Wild to review.  The boxes were founded by local Mum Roz with the idea to share her passion for teaching her kids about planting and growing seeds.  Read more about the concept here, it's about making it easy for parents to enjoy spending this time with their kids which I love and appreciate as a busy working Mum with two of them keeping me on my toes!  They're for kids aged 3-8 and inspired by nature, designed to get the kids interested in cooking, crafts, outdoor adventures and conservation, learning and having fun.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Holidaying with twins in Antalya, Turkey

For our recent holiday to Turkey we had a few specifications, the main one being a kids club which would take children from age three.  (It turns out most of them are form age four but it is possible to find them for three year olds, although it's not always easy to find out this information!)  We also wanted a bit of luxury, we needed it after the hard work - Nik's exam study and my PND flare up and a few months of extra hard work plus it had been almost 2 years since our last holiday so we decided to spend a decent amount on a really great trip.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Holiday Fashion Finds, my love for maxis is back!

It's a while since I wore my once trademark maxi dress/skirt.  They're just not practical for running around with two kids whom I may potentially have to carry (stairs and maxis require extra hands so you don't trip) or crawling around on the floor.  Plus I just haven't felt like making much of an effort on how I looked since the start of this year (when my PND got bad and eventually diagnosed).  However, I'm feeling more like me again and that called for less of the black vest and jeans outfits and injecting some colour and "me" back into my wardrobe.

Nik may be a little distressed at the many parcels which have been arriving lately but I'm calming down now I have a new colourful selection of clothes that fit me properly since I have been a bit too relaxed on the old healthy front.  I decided there was no point waiting and waiting for the time I feel good enough to do something about fitting back into my old clothes and actually started to make myself feel better in what I can currently wear instead!  So, retail therapy, obvs.  After all, since working like a dog for a couple of months, I had some bonus cash as a result (not sure it was worth the stress but I may as well enjoy it now)!

I've found a few great bargains among some more expensive options (I finally see what the fuss is all about when it comes to Boden!) and will share a few of my finds below.

First of all, I have finally invested in a couple of jumpsuits.  A trend I have hitherto avoided due to never finding one that worked with my shape/height - no one wants a supposedly comfy outfit cutting into the crotch when they sit down, nor being tight over my wider hips and showing off curves in a less than flattering way.  It just wasn't the trend for me, even though I often admired it on others, although I always wondered if it was too much of a faff when toileting anyway!  Luckily I've finally found not one but two jumpsuits I really love and actually suit me!  One is from George at Asda (£25 - now sold out) and the other from Apricot (£29).  They both have wide legs and cinch in at the waist (but without making my larger post-baby belly more pronounced, damn you diastasis recti!) and the Apricot one has wrap over trousers which makes it even more flattering and nice and cool as the waft open as you walk.  (Sometimes a little too much I discovered as my entire thigh up to my pants started to be revealed recently!!  I have invested in some legging shorts with lace hem to wear underneath now!)

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Catching Up!

Wow, it's all busy, busy, busy again!  The summer holiday starts on Tuesday and I don't feel ready for it at all!  I thought I'd write a quick summary of the last few weeks before I start bombarding you with posts I want to share in my next Uckfield FM chat next Thursday (we had to change this month's from the 1st to the 3rd Thursday due to various holidays).

So, what is keeping me so busy?  We had our amazing trip away in Turkey and I am DEFINITELY going to be writing more about that - I always struggle to post about our holidays because I'm usually knackered when we get back but this time I was away again the very next day for a photography workshop I booked months back!  That was amazing too and has me all fired up and making plans for my Bexphoto business, exciting times ahead!  Nik is back into study mode already as he passed his last big exam, whoop, so proud, but that means part 2 is imminent (September) so I'm trying to prepare for constant solo parenting again without getting into such a mental mess like I did last time!  My CBT starts tomorrow to help me learn coping techniques for the things that cause me anxiety and make it difficult for me to cope so hopefully that will make a difference and at least work has settled down to a more comfortable pace so I'm happy there again now.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Woodlands Festival 2018 - our favourite bits

Oh my gosh, the twins did not want to leave Woodlands Festival, Kalyan actually started crying when we said it was time to go home.  They had an absolute blast!  It was such a lovely event with so much going on without being overwhelming.  The beauty of a smaller festival in a lovely venue with fab bands and fun activities.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Elderflower Fields 2018 - review

I'm so glad we had the whole weekend at Elderflower fields this year.  We just had a day there last year (our first time) and although we didn't camp in the end (Nik couldn't come and Mum and I didn't fancy tenting with the weather warnings for rain).  It actually turned out to be a gloriously sunny weekend, only raining at night so there was just a little slippery mud to navigate.

I'll be writing more about it soon but suffice it to say, we loved it, had an awesome weekend and definitely recommend this family festival!  Here are a few favourite pics:

Family time exploring local places

My brother came to visit from Darlington with his partner and my nephew.  It was so nice having them to stay and of course my furry nephew too, I loved having a dog in the house!  We showed them some of our beautiful countryside with a nice walk near High Hurstwood.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Tinkers Park Steam Rally, Hadlow Down - review

We had another busy weekend after Granny had flown back to Malaysia.  My in-laws came for the weekend as it was Nik's last weekend of studying all hours before his exam.  It was lovely for the kids to see them again as they'd been away the whole time Granny was here so we enjoyed a lovely weekend at home and had a couple of outings as well as getting some more work done at home and in the garden (thanks Dadaji)!

Saturday turned out to be a lovely day after a cloudy start and we enjoyed a brilliant morning at the Traction Engine Rally at Tinkers Park in Hadlow Down.  We'd never been before so weren't sure what to expect but there was lots going on and the twins loved it.  Unfortunately we did run out of cash pretty quickly as the entry fee of £24 for three adults took half our cash (they don't accept cards and we'd forgotten to go to the cash machine) so we only stayed for a couple of hours before we had to go for lunch elsewhere.

We did manage to have some fun on the rides but the majority of our remaining cash was gone on just two rides though as the twins wanted to go on the vintage carousel with Ma & Dadaji so that was a tenner for a fairly short ride.  They loved it though and the vintage style fair looked beautiful.  They had a turn on the little vintage cars (£4 for two of them) which they thoroughly enjoyed in their cute little yellow car.

As for the steam engines themselves, there were so many to see with their dedicated owners polishing and oiling them as well as plenty of real vintage cars and tractors to delight Kalyan.

We had just enough cash for some ice-creams and a few toy cars for their rainbow collection (which inspired me to finally finish building their display shelves (tutorial to follow soon, I promise!)

And luckily a few pennies left to donate for a ride or two on the miniature railway.

And met some lovely friends for a quick catch up too.

The Steam Rally would be a great full day out if you remember to take enough cash for the things you want to do/buy/eat.  We really enjoyed our morning there and would have stayed longer had we been more prepared for all the costs but we had a lovely lunch in town at Hartfields.

Sunday Roast at The Blackboys Inn - review

The Blackboys Inn had been recommended to me by lots of friends so when my brother and his family were visiting for the weekend we booked in there for a Sunday roast.  It's such a pretty pub with loads of outdoor space, lovely flowers in their garden and even a pond with ducks which delighted the twins!

When we arrived the weather was a bit gloomy so we chose to sit inside so the kids wouldn't get cold.  Inside it's proper old pub style with the low ceilings and dark wood with candles and old pictures on the wall, we loved it.  The menu was interesting with the usual roast offerings (and my favourite addition - cauliflower cheese included) and various other main options but what really caught my eye were the puddings - more on those later!

We all opted for the roast with everyone having beef but I chose the pork belly as they said it had a crackling skin.  The roasts cost £13.95 and the kids shared a small portion which was £9.95.

The first thing I noticed was the roast potatoes, they looked perfect, not greasy or too over done but properly fluffy inside and crispy on the outside without being tough.  Loved them, they're definitely in the running for my favourite roasties!  There was a massive Yorkshire which was slightly overdone for my personal taste but still good and fresh.  The beef was served rare and the piece I tried was lovely, Mum said some bits were a bit tough and I did have trouble cutting  one of Priya's slices as it was quite grisly but the rest was delicious, nicely cooked and moist.

I had been prepared for my belly pork to be a bit fatty as it is that kind of cut but it was pleasantly meaty with minimal fat.  Unfortunately it was excessively salty, I suspect due to trying to crisp up the skin but I couldn't really taste the meat for the salt and it seemed to make my whole plate quite salty too and Mum thought hers was also on the salty side due to her gravy.

The veg was all cooked perfectly, we had parsnips, carrots and greens including cabbage which I love.  The cauliflower cheese was perfect, really cheesy and also well cooked - all the veg had a good bite to it.

As for those puddings, when I saw there was a banana and bacon cake I had to try it!  The kids weren't going to last much longer though and my brother wanted to get on the road back up north so I asked to take one away and got a brownie for Nik too since he'd been off studying all day again.  (Plus I really wanted to try the salted caramel popcorn brownie!)  They're usually served with ice-cream which I would have swapped for cream anyway but the chef very kindly wrapped up all the usual extras that came with each pudding (apart from ice cream of course) so the banana & bacon cake came with a treacle sauce and a slice of sweet bacon on top!  The brownie came with a side of toffee popcorn and salted caramel sauce.  I tried to get a decent photo of them at home but didn't have much time and I'm sure they would have been presented much better had we been able to eat them in the pub.  Both desserts were £6.95 each.

I absolutely loved them both - we shared half and half!  The cake wasn't overly bacony but had a nice saltiness to it with the banana and the treacle sauce was lovely.  The brownie was nicely gooey and the salted caramel sauce so good!  I definitely rate their puddings highly!

The twins weren't at their worst but I did have to take them outside for a run about in the garden at one point.  They loved it out there and the sun was shining by this point so it looked very pretty too.  I'd love to go back on a more relaxed Sunday to chill out in the garden for lunch when we're not in so much of a rush.

It wasn't that busy when we arrived but service was a little slow and when we ordered we asked for the bread asap for the kids but it came with all the other meals. They were very friendly and we were asked how our meals were but it was difficult getting anyone's attention.  When we needed a new fork as Priya dropped hers (and also decided she wanted mayonnaise plus we needed some water), we had to go through to the bar area to ask for everything, despite being able to see lots of staff behind the bar, we never managed to catch anyone's eye.

Overall, I'd recommend it, the menu was interesting and varied, the food was well cooked and with the exception of being a bit over-seasoned on the day we went, delicious.  The Inn is stunning with lovely big outdoor areas and very well kept.  It's on the more expensive end of the scale but worth it in my opinion.

Olive Dragonfly Rating - The Blackboys Inn, Blackboys
Food & Drink - 7/10
Atmosphere - 9/10
Service - 8/10
Value - 8/10
Overall - 8/10

Monday, 28 May 2018

Observatory Science Centre at Herstmonceux

On the early May bank holiday Monday we met up with some new friends at Herstmonceux for the "Bubbletastic Weekend" event at the Observatory Science Centre.

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