Friday, 20 October 2017

Norman's Pond - Local places, hidden gem review

We first heard about Norman's pond from a friend and were then reminded of it at Maresfield Village Fete where they were promoting it's existence.  Last weekend we finally made it along for a walk and it's a great hidden gem!  Had I not been told about it I'd never have known it was there.  It's near the recycling centre by the Maresfield Bypass hidden away amongst the trees.



We had a lovely time exploring, the path is wheelchair & buggy accessible so it wasn't too muddy and the path extended much further than I expected, around the pond and beyond, there's still more for us to explore next time.  We found plenty of benches around, including picnic benches near the entrance.  It'll be a lovely place to visit in the summer too, I wish we'd found it sooner.




The twins loved kicking up all the leaves and throwing them in the air, collecting chestnuts and acorns and hunting for toadstools and mushrooms (we don't pick any as I'm not confident identifying safe ones but they love pointing them out and finding big ones).












It's such a handy place to visit as it's just 5 minutes from us and free.  There's no parking on the road as there are houses further down so they don't want any obstructions but I found a clearing by the gate which I assume is for parking cars (since confirmed by the above map).  It was so quiet, I'm not sure how many people even know about it but we'll be heading back again soon.  I didn't want to head too far in as I was solo with the twins and didn't want to be carrying both back if they got tired/grumpy!  We'll have to take Nik to check out our new countryside walk next time.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Twins' 3rd birthday Halloween party plans!

The twins are nearly three!  I know, how did this happen already?!  The last year has gone even faster than ever before and I'm back in full on party planning mode.  As I'm busier than ever these days with work, the blog and bexphoto (I've had to call in help on Baking Club and Book Club as I just can't cope!), I have decided to combine their birthday party and Halloween as I just can't manage two parties this year and yet don't want to miss out on a Halloween one, you know how much I love Halloween!

So, not only are we having a fancy dress Halloween party for their birthday, but we're also having it a couple of weeks early as that also coincides with when my Mum is in the country (to visit my brand new nephew who I'm heading up to meet after the party weekend).  I'm still leaving things a bit late as all I've managed to do so far is pin some ideas and book the awesome face painter we met at Wakehurst's Science Festival.  I've provisionally booked a hall (as I don't want 20+ toddlers smearing painted faces on my sofa/carpets/anything else) and have some ideas for activities and food but I really must get organised!


I have NO idea what to dress the twins in.  I am not very good at coming up with good ideas or utilising the potential cuteness/funniness of the twin thing when it comes to Halloween outfits so any ideas would be very gratefully received!  It needs to be something that needs an awesome face paint design.  I did spot a cute Day of the Dead outfit in Asda but the girl's one only starts in size 5-6 despite the boy's being available in 3-4.  It wouldn't bother me at all putting them both in the boys one but I would like them to have similar but different outfits if possible.  (I also like that they both have blue AND pink.)


As for activities, I've come up with the following ideas.  Again, if you have any thoughts or have seen any cool (but easy to organise) Halloween activities, please let me know!  



There will be the classic pass the parcel too and I might get a Pumpkin Pinata and fill it with little bottles of bubbles (trying to avoid too many sweets!)  There will have to be apple bobbing too of course but at the start before they all have their faces painted!!  I also saw an idea of burying bones in a tub of dirt for the kids to dig up and I have plenty of bones I could use from previous parties but Nik thought dirt was a bad idea so I might use brown dyed rice instead.

I've written a separate post with food ideas and cake plans you can follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram to keep up with blog posts and other random things I share ;)

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Food Rocks Lewes

I'd heard of Food Rocks as they ran the Weald on the Field food festival in Uckfield this summer and having met some of their usual vendors at Joy Festival, I heard about their regular food market in Horsham but I only recently realised they also run one in Lewes every 2nd Sunday of the month and it's obviously much closer for us!

We went along to check it out with the twins and weren't disappointed!  It was set up on the main pedestrianised area of the High Street and had plenty on offer to tempt us.  We are all big foodies in our family so we love to find new food markets and love street food in particular.  It's taking us a while to discover more variation in the food around where we live now.  It used to be so easy in Glasgow where we had SO much choice with new restaurants opening all the time and so many tastes covered.  In Uckfield we're lucky to have some great pubs offering good food plus we've got Italian covered, Chinese and now Thai.  Nik and I love Chaula's in Lewes for Indian food but we have missed having more variety.



At Food Rocks we were spoilt for choice!  We ended up opting for Punjabi street food from Jah Jyot, a vendor I first came across at Joy Festival, their curries are so delicious and authentic, we had one Amritsar Chicken and one Mamaji's Mutton curry to share, they are so good!  The twins were wolfing them down despite being pretty spicy (they made all our noses run)!  As the twins ate so much of our two mains, we were still hungry which was a great excuse to try another dish from one of the other vendors we'd been attracted to, Kabak.  They serve Middle Eastern foods and we chose a portion of Halloumi fries which came served with a lovely salad, pomegranate molasses, pickles and some nicely spiced rice & lentils.  They also had pulled lamb which looked amazing so I think I'll be trying that next time!





Al the Pieman was there who we've also met at a couple of festivals and I had a lovely chat with Anna of My Little Gluten Free Kitchen who we met at Firle Vintage Fair, she'd almost sold out of everything!



There was also scandi food, burgers, bacon & brie rolls, marmalades, cordials, scotch eggs, pates... So many lovely foods on offer plus jewellery, live music and garden ornaments.


I'm excited to check out what's there next month!

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Hempstead Park, Uckfield - local park review

Hempstead park is one of our favourites in Uckfield.  It's at the end of Hempstead Road, next to the Scout hut, and has a car park right next to it which I've never had a problem parking in.  Again, it's got the usual things you'd expect - see-saw, swings, climbing frame (they actually have two - a little one and a bigger one), roundabout (again, two of these in different designs) but it also has a tunnel in a little hobbit hill with tree stumps to balance on, a webbed net climbing frame which also spins, a large webbed swing for multiple kids to swing together and a springy jeep and it's all enclosed and has spongy flooring covering most of it, although the bit by the jeep tends to get very muddy.  There's also a big green area next to it which has a very tall slide, a zip line, adult exercise machines and a big rotating swing set.  Kalyan loves to push me on the roundabout and make me feel dizzy!  

The following photos have all been taken over the last year but clearly on different days.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Parties Taylored 4 You

We were invited along to check out a toddler party run by Parties Taylored 4 you in Uckfield recently and the twins had a great time (once they got over being afraid of Spiderman!)

Parties Taylored 4 you organise various themed parties as well as offering personalised children's party services for birthdays or special occasions.  The event we went to was a fancy dress disco with crafts at Ridgewood Village Hall and there was so much for the twins to do!


As we had a fairy themed birthday party afterwards, the twins wore tutus and butterfly wings (as we don't have any proper fairy wings).  There were lots of princesses in attendance and 3 spider-men too.


The hall was decorated with various themes including tropical, princesses, trolls, pirates...  They had a baby corner with a ball pit and various tables set up around the room with lots of activities for the older ones to enjoy.  The crafts were so varied with lots of painting, sticking and gluing options.  The twins painted pirate ships, stuck pom poms and foam stickers, painted paper plates and foam pads...





And of course there was the disco with flashing lights and balloons, they loved it!




Tickets cost £5 in advance or £6 on the door and under 2s go free.  There were drinks available to purchase (squash, tea or coffee) but I didn't see any snacks or cake available.  The twins kept asking for cake as it was a party and parties obviously parties = cake, lol. 

They're having another event on 29th October for Halloween with another disco and Halloween crafts, also at Ridgewood Village Hall.  You can find more details about the event on their Facebook page.  They also run private parties with all sorts of themes available.  Check out the Parties Taylored For You website for more info.

We received free entry to the event in return for this review.  As always, my review is my own honest opinion.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

A Vogel herbal remedies - review

I was recently sent some A.Vogel products to test and although I tried out one right away, the other one had to wait until I needed it in order to give you my honest opinion on how it works.


The first one was the Bioforce herbal hand cream which has a yellowy tinge, presumably due to the herbs used, but smells quite nice.  I found it soaked in quite quickly and definitely made a difference to my hands.  I suffer from pompholyx eczema when I'm rundown and/or stressed which seems to be pretty much all the time lately!  As a result I need to keep my hands moisturised so this was ideal as it's a handy size to carry around as well as being gentle and not heavily scented.

The second item was the Po-Ho inhaler which contains essential oils of peppermint, eucalyptus, juniper, caraway and fennel.  I loved the smell of this as soon as it arrived and actually find it quite relaxing and as soon as Spider Season hit (OMG those blighters are huge this year!), so did the cold so I was able to test it out.  It is basically like the oils I've used before on a hanky or my pillow, a similar scent but in a handy lip balm sized inhaler you can pop in your pocket although it does also come as an oil.  It definitely seemed to work the same as other brands I've tried in the past and I found it very useful to keep on me when I was out with the kids and feeling bunged up.

I love essential oils (apparently peppermint oil keeps those spiders at bay too!) and have always liked herbal remedies like arnica cream for bruises so it's nice to have a couple more herbal treatments up my sleeve.  The A.Vogel products seem very high quality and they have a great philosophy with their Naturally Beautiful Promise: "Our beauty experts use fresh, active plant extracts to bring you luxurious skincare products. We make our products with love, care and respect for nature. Our beauty range is 100% vegetarian and we do not test on animals." 

Have you used any A.Vogel products before?  Do you have any herbal remedies you swear by?

Friday, 13 October 2017

Spiced Parsnip & Orange Cake Recipe - The return of Pin It Do It! #ODPIDI linky

Its back!  Pin It Do It was requested in my recent survey and I am delighted to bring it back.  I missed it myself and have PLENTY of inspirational pins to utilise and get off my boards to real life.

Original Pin

To make it easier for you to submit your own Pinterest inspired projects, I've added a linky to this post so you can just upload a link to your own post.  I will then choose one or two favourites to feature the following month.  We also have a badge to put on your post (and in your sidebar if you wish), just click on it to be taken to the HTML code you need to add it to your own blog.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Rose & Olive Tearooms in Uckfield - review by Bex

I've been wanting to check out Uckfield's beautiful new Tearooms, named after one of the owner's grandmothers, since they opened back in May but I only recently managed to visit.  It was worth the wait, such a beautiful venue for a relaxed catch up with a friend!


Sunday, 8 October 2017

Olive Dragonfly Relaunch

Hopefully you can tell I've been working on this here blog lately and I'm posting more regularly again.  It's true I lost my way a bit after moving 400 miles and the birth of the twins but over the last year, things have settled down, I've found my place, my tribe and I've found me again.  I'm loving being back doing more of what I love.


Now that the twins have started pre-school, I envisaged more time for the blog to really make it a success again and while I have managed to get readership back up to our previous levels, the blog itself is still not what I want it to be.  Unfortunately I'm far too ambitious and rather than having loads of spare time to spend on the blog now that I have two free mornings a week, I decided to launch a business so I've been super busy setting up bexphoto with a new website, building my client portfolio with some reduced rates for lovely friends and working on some marketing materials.  Things are going well and I am absolutely loving it but I love my blog too so I'm hoping to somehow balance my two favourite hobbies (and lets face it the photography ties in nicely with picture perfect blog posts) around my other part-time profession and first and foremost, being a mother to my two favourite toddlers.

The design for my first flyer.

And so, Olive Dragonfly, my 6 year old baby.  What plans are afoot.  Well, I am bringing back Pin It Do It by popular demand!  (This time for any PIDI submissions, I'm setting up a linky so you can just add your own and I'll choose favourites to feature the following month.)


I will be posting more regularly and in a planned fashion rather than ad hoc as it has been for the last 3 years.  I am hoping to focus it more in general as I have trouble describing what it is I actually write about.  I'm not sure anyone wants to read a blog about "um, all sorts of things, whatever takes my fancy".

There will continue to be guest posts about various home makeovers.  Namely Amy's gorgeous Pink House in Essex, hopefully we'll get some more updates of Roz's epic Glasgow mansion and we're soon to see the new addition of Gemma's stunning Victorian home in London as well as a 10 bedroom, Grade II Listed Sussex abode that I'm hoping to include which is being turned back into a country home after being five flats for a number of years.  And of course there's my own home which pales in comparison but I'm doing a few tweaks in at the moment (you may have seen a sneaky peek on my Instagram stories which I've only recently started to use and have fast become addicted to)!

I mean, seriously - HOW gorgeous!?

I'm hoping to include other guest writers too and have lined up another local Foodie Dad after Alan struggled to find time to write his recipes for us.  Stu will be joining in with some of his favourite recipes and I can assure you he is an epic cook!  (If you're reading this and think you have something to contribute too, please do drop me a line.)

There will be more Twin Updates again including Twin Togs (toddler fashion) although with a reduction in the sheer number of photos, I promise.  I'll also be adding the fun extra of our YouTube channel featuring our family days out or just cute/funny videos of the twins and possibly me rambling about various things.  There was only one reader who wasn't so keen on all things twin related, almost everyone else who took my survey wanted more twin stuff but hopefully with the return of more of everything else, there will be plenty to keep everyone interested.


I'll be writing more in my Toothy Tips series too which so many of you found helpful which is great news!  And I'm hoping to include more recipes again too.  There will still be the odd random post such as my TV binge watching habits and seasonal stuff like Halloween and Christmas decor/party ideas as well as any product reviews I think might interest you like Priya's fab Dinosaur and Rainbow dresses and any associated giveaways and/or discount codes.

There will continue to be local reviews of places to eat, festivals, events all featuring my photos as we love exploring and sharing everything we find going on in our amazing local area and these feature in my Uckfield News column.  As a result of my local posts, I'm also going to be interviewed on Uckfield FM about the blog this coming Thursday (12th Oct) at 11:30am which is simultaneously super exciting and nerve wracking!  You can listen/watch live on the Uckfield FM website too if you're not local.


I'll be adding an email subscription option so you can receive updates directly to your inbox and keep up with what's happening.  I've already created easy to navigate indexes for various topics such as recipes, Local Roasts, restaurant reviews and festivals so it should be easier to find certain posts and topics.  I'm still working on pages for Twin Life - twin specific posts (advice and life updates), Homes & Interiors, Travel, Fashion, Toddler Fashion, Pin It Do It and other tutorials and crafts.


In order to be a bit more consistent, my plans over a month will be to include:

Pin It Do It
Twin Togs
Recipes (from myself or Stu)
Local Roasts review
Local Park review (or other free local activity if I run out of parks!)
At least one Home related post (mine or one of the others)
Toothy Tips
Life/Twin Update

Bonus posts may include:

Personal posts
Parenting (how I deal with it)
Event & Restaurant reviews
Product reviews
Seasonal Inspiration
Photography update
Vlogs
Craft tutorials (for kids or grown ups)
My own fashion
Healthy Eating/Fitness posts (I need to get back on this)
Adventures/Travel

I can't promise when the proper relaunch is going to happen, as I mentioned, I'm still pretty busy with various other things, especially with the twin's 3rd birthday coming up (how?!!!) so I'm in party prep mode but I am beavering away in the background and hope to have the blog up to scratch asap!  Changes will probably continue to trickle in as I work away.  It's exciting and I can't wait to see how it all goes.  I hope you'll be along for the ride!

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

bexphoto launches new website - family photography in Sussex

I am thrilled to share my brand new photography website, www.bexphoto.com.  It's the same old domain I used for my photos before but it's had another makeover and I'm now working as a professional photographer for hire!


I've been working on the new website over the last couple of weeks and may still make a few tweaks but I'm really pleased with it.  I have various portfolios to show off my family, newborn and commercial work as well as some of my favourite old landscape and nature images.  (I really must try to get out in Sussex for a spot of landscape photography one weekend, any tips on where to go would be most welcome!)


Of course, I'm just getting started and I'm building up my portfolio of other families (apart fromm my thousands of the twins) with some reduced sessions for friends which I'm delighted were snapped up and have been keeping me busy with a newborn and two family sessions already plus two more coming up soon.  Not only that but I had my first "random" booking from a stranger who noticed my photos on Facebook so that was exciting!  I wasn't quite ready for other clients yet but obviously didn't turn it down and it's really boosted my confidence after meeting them, we had a lovely afternoon at the weekend and a giggle about them being invoice no.0002.

There's also a new bexphoto blog where I'm sharing sneaky peeks, photo sessions and various other photography jobs and personal projects and a new About page which I may edit at some stage but I've kept it brief for now.  I also have a Features page which I hope may fill up more in the future and of course, some Kind Words from clients.


My cousin, Georgia, has designed me a gorgeous logo and I love the little bp, hence the change to bexphoto without the capital (as much as the grammar warrior within me hates a moniker without a capital, it just looks prettier)!  Credit for my tagline: Families | Memories | Moments, must go to Becca who suggested it on Facebook.  (Thanks Becca!)


I plan to focus mainly on family lifestyle photography as it's what I've grown to love since having the twins but I do really enjoy the odd commercial session like I did for Into Mills' homeware products and Oast Farm's shop & cafe recently.  And of course, I do events like England's Medieval Festival to review on this here blog which I also love.


So, here we go.  Just as I thought I was about to get more time to spend on Olive Dragonfly, I've had it all sucked up by my new business instead!  But I am loving it!  It's so much fun and such a privilege to be invited to hang out with other families in order to capture their real lives together.  Even though it's something I never thought I'd do professionally, I am so glad I made this decision, I'm so excited about this!


You may have noticed my little ad in the sidebar and I'd absolutely love it if you'd like to follow bexphoto on Facebook or Instagram and of course, I'd be even more thrilled if you fancy booking a session!  You can email me at mail@bexphoto.com with any questions.

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