Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Beautiful Blogger Award

I have been the recipient of a couple of blogging awards now.  The ones that other bloggers nominate you for.  And everytime I have received one I am equally as amazed as the time before that anyone is still reading!  I just hope I continue to provide useful content!

The utterly gorgeous Luci at Mother.Wife.Me has presented me with the Beautiful Blogger Award.  It was a good few weeks ago that she kindly did this and I feel bad that it's only now that I am blogging about it.  I hope she'll forgive me.  Luci has recently started a new website; Ma Puce, a French for kids website.  If you are thinking of teaching your youngster a second language, look no further.  This website is a great place to start, full of resources, tools and ideas.

I am completely overwhelmed at receiving my fourth blogging award.  There are a great many blogs out there, so it's lovely that folk are visiting my little corner of the interent and having a good time.  I do supply plenty of virtual tea and chocolate cake, chocolate biscuits, hot chocolate and, well, chocolate, so it's a sweet tasting place to visit at the very least!

These awards come with rules (doesn't everything), so I am supposed to tell you a few things about me that you don't already know.  The difficulty now is considering how personal to get, and how far back into the murky depths of my past to wander to collect these gems of trivia.

Some of my more embarrassing revelations came curtesy of the Versatile Blogger Award, so what could possibly be left?  Err... plenty.

1.  At 17 years old I drove my dad's car down the road on the starter motor to get it to the garage after it 'wouldn't start normally'.  A small fixable problem unfortunately then became a rather larger problem.  An entirely new starter motor was required.  Dad wasn't best pleased.  This is a good reason why schools should include lesson's in practical things like mechanics in preference to, say, algorithms.

2.  I can knock up any item of IKEA furniture like a pro.  Just throw me an alan key and watch me work my magic!  See; I might be useless at car mechanics, but I am a star at furniture construction.

3.  I have a current and ongoing obsession with sleep.  I appear to need loads, but am never tired at 11pm and always exhausted at 10am.  I take at least half an hour to go from 'disturbed by alarmclock' to 'can possibly move legs and get out of bed if need is urgent enough'.  A current attempt at dragging myself out of bed at 6am 3 times a week to work out for half an hour appears to be improving my morning energy levels, but I'm struggling to keep it up. (er hem)

4.  I wore shorts to the last wedding I went to.  Yes; shorts.  Yes, this year.  There might be a post on that later.....

5.  I can play the introduction to Dire Strait's 'Money for Nothing' on electric guitar; I think.  Or at least I could last time I tried, only I haven't tried for a long while and I'm not sure my memory will stretch to sophisticated finger movements at speed. Let's just say I can, and we won't check.

6.  I can do a pretty good portrait of anyone using just black and white oil paints.  Or at least I used to be able to.  Not sure if the skill sticks after 10 years of not actually painting. Hmmmm...

7.  I like to think I can sing, but I can't.  And if I am in tune it's only when singing along with men like Justin Timberlake.  Not sure what that says about my range, or lack of it?

8.  I have an unhealthy interest in HTML at the moment.

9.  I love films and books and stories of all kinds.  I just don't get nearly enough time to watch any films, or read many books, so it's children's stories for me at bedtime!

10.  I write children's stories (cor, something I still do now!) and would love to get one of them published.  Watch this space.

I'd like to nominate for the beautiful blogger award the following brilliant bloggers.  Their sites are well worth a visit.

Sally at Recipe Junkie and the attack of the custard creams.  A woman that regularly inspires me with her recipes and gorgeous looking morsels of food.  This site is well worth a visit if you have an interest in food!

Maggie at Red Ted Art.  If I ever need inspiration for a craft project to entertain the girls for an hour or so, this is where I head.  Absolutely brilliant.  Though I will need to start budgetting for more stocks of glue and tape at the rate we got through it this summer!

And finally, the fabulous Mum of all trades, whose home interiors posts and ideas inspire me to tidy up and buy more cushions!  This Toy Storage post is genius!  If you are having any problems at all with toys taking over the house, check this out and bookmark her blog for future reference!

So there you are ladies!  I hereby pass on the blogging love.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Breakfast at The Gallery

Tara, over at wonderful blog Sticky Fingers, has set the theme of breakfast for this weeks photo gallery.  In case you haven't come across this before, every week Tara hosts a collection of wonderful photo posts on her blog.You can click on the coffee mug at the bottom to view the collection.

Now breakfast is one theme I can easily get involved in!  I have more than one photo for this!

What would be in your breakfast photo?  Would there be food at all?  Are you a smoothie drinker? A coffee en route to work drinker? What about a bacon butty at the cafe?

I'd love to hear about your breakfast routines and whether they are complete chaos (which is usual in our house with a 6 year old and a 4 year old to contend with) or whether they are serene calm affairs.  Feel free to add a comment below, contact me on Twitter at @ymummyreally, or join the discussion on Facebook where you can share your pictures with me if you don't have a blog.

So here's my breaky photo attempts!  My favourite is, by far, the tea.  Just call me Marple.

Latest Gallery theme

Sunday, 23 September 2012

There will be NO scooting in the playground!

My daughter's infant school have gone straight from 'not expressing an opinion on scooters' to 'banning them from the playground entirely'.  There was no middle ground.  No gentle request that parents ensure to keep an eye on their own children and ensure they weren't ramming the ankles of other parents or crashing into other children.  There was no recognition that scooting is currently preferred to biking as a method to encourage children to walk to school (yes, walk) rather than get in the car.  There has been no view expressed on whether bikes (larger, harder to control) also come under the 'too dangerous for the playground' category.

You may be able to sense a little frustration in this post.  You would be right.

I am sick and tired of 'health and safety' and the 'litigation culture' effecting our children's ability to just BE.

How are they going to learn how to look where they are going, avoid collisions, do those amazing mental calculations that happen automatically when you see someone coming towards you at speed and you have to work out if you have enough time to keep walking in front of them, or if you need to change direction.  These mental calculations need to be practised on scooters, bikes, skates, basically anything with wheels, in order for children to have half a chance of taking that ability and applying it to the oncoming cars when they attempt to cross the road.

Apparently children do not have the mental ability to assess speed and distance accurately enough to safely cross the road on their own until they are 11 years old.  (If anyone at the Times can point me in the direction of the link for the article I read this in a few months ago I'd be grateful.)

If it takes them until they are 11 years old to master that skill now; what age will they be if we take away their opportunity to practise that skill with slower wheeled vehicles?

I suspect that the schools 'banning' of scooters in the playground has occurred either because one child has bashed into another child, or because a parent has had their ankles bumped.  I would humbly suggest that any child that has bashed into another on a scooter would be far less dangerous a rider after the event than before because, dare I say it, they will have learnt that if they don't look where they are going it will HURT.

So now the risk of accidents has actually decreased overall. 

Hmmm.  It's funny how, despite being such a risk adverse person, I still want our children to be children.  Even if I have to put knee and elbow protection pads and a helmet on my child riding a scooter, I'd much rather they RODE THE SCOOTER.

Hey, maybe that's an idea?  Maybe the school could change their rule to "No scooting without helmets and pads".  At least the kids would have a chance to be kids.

What do you think?  If you were in charge of the school would you have immediately placed a ban?  Does it depend on what circumstances (that we may not be aware of) have happened?  Should they have issued a 'warning' first?  Do your children walk, scoot, bike, skate to school?  Do they wear any protection?

Feel free to share your thoughts by clicking on 'comments' below or connecting with me at the Facebook Page or on Twitter @ymummyreally.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Piddle Valley: SeaLife Adventure Park - a review

This is the fourth of a series of posts based on our crazily busy holiday down in Bournemouth and Slough.  Yes, you heard that correctly; Slough.  We've had an intense week of family days out; it's cost us far too much, but we've had an absolutely ball.  Sleep is high on the agenda this week.

I am publishing the posts that were drafted during the trip over the next few weeks between other yummy musings.  The first one: Sandy Balls is here and the second; Wet Bottoms: A review of Peppa Pig World is here.

The third: Painful Groynes - a day at Bournemouth beach is here

The fifth and final in the series - A review of Legoland Windsor is here.

Enjoy the series.  If you don't want to miss a thing you can subscribe by email over on the right hand panel, or follow on Facebook or Twitter.

Day four: Piddle Valley and Sea Life Adventure Park, Weymouth - a review

 It was absolutely throwing down with rain when we pulled into the car park by Sea Life Adventure Park.  The puddle outside my car door was so big I had to leap from a sitting position in the car to a standing position about a metre from the car, all in one go!

The irony of the name of the place we'd driven past en route to Sea Life Adventure Park wasn't lost on me; Piddle Valley.  I do love the place names around here!

But with ponchos and umbrellas, and a day bag with spare clothes, snacks, plasters, germoline etc (with 2 adults and 2 children under 6 years old.  We ALWAYS need a first aid kit of sorts!) we braved the weather to enter the park.

I have to be honest; if we were at home and I was on my own, there's absolutely NO WAY I would have braved the weather to go on a trip out with the two girls.  My excuse would be fairly persuasive and would focus on the logistical difficulty of keeping hold of two child in a potentially busy, unknown environment whilst also carried the day bag (rucksack in this case) and the umbrella.  I have to also admit to being really pleased that we DID brave the weather, because we had a lovely day.

Special Events


Within 2 minutes of entering the reception area pretty much at opening time, we bumped into Timmy.

For those who have older children, or indeed no children, let me explain quickly who Timmy is.  Remember Wallace and Gromit?  Shaun the Sheep?  The brilliance of the Aardman team?  Their venture into cartoons for pre-schoolers took the form of Timmy.  He is the cutest lamb ever, who gets up to all sorts of fun at his nursery school with his other animal friends (their are ducks, owls etc.  They probably have names, but since it doesn't have 'speech' in the cartoon I'm afraid I've never worked out what they are.)  There's even a website with lots of resources, games and activities where you can watch clips called Timmy Time.

Timmy was stood in reception.

Just to clarify this further; a 6 foot Timmy was stood in reception.

As part of a promotional tour of various theme parks, (Timmy has a feature length DVD out called Timmy's Seaside Rescue) he was today at the Sea Life Adventure Park.  My girls were, luckily not traumatised.  After all, they'd been cuddling 6 foot tall Peppa and George only two days ago.  So they launched themselves on Timmy; who may well now be traumatised, and wouldn't let go for quite some time!

It's funny how it's the deviations from the days plan that are often the most memorable moments!  Future events in October 2012 include Shark Week, so it's worth checking out the Sea Life website here before you go to see what special events may be on.

Things to see and do


So what was the park like?

The exhibits are amazing.  I didn't want to take any photos inside the habitats, as obviously it is kept fairly dark for the comfort of the creatures used to living miles under the sea.  These pictures are courtesy of the Sea Life Adventure Official web page.  Head on over there to see more.

There are sharks swimming over your head....

..turtles (some the size of small cars).....

...sea horses....

.. enormous crabs (really enormous - I felt ill watching the trainer handle him - I did risk a picture of that....

 ...penguins (I took this photo too.. not bad?)...

...and tank after tank of amazing sea life exhibits.

And on top of the amazing habitats; there's so much more to do.
  • a penguin footprint trail, so that you can ensure to see everything; 
  • a trail of questions to keep the children engaged.  Whilst we were there, they had an additional trail of Timmy's sea life questions, which they also had a go at.  
  • Face painting.  I don't know if they just do this in the holidays or not.  The guy that did the beautiful fish and starfish on my girls cheeks was good at it though!

  • Model making.  Again, this may have been a holiday extra.  They had large laminated posters of various different clay modelled sea creatures.  The girls got a big lump of, well, dough, or clay, and shaped their won starfish and puffer fish respectively.  
  • A splash park.  Within the main park there is a small section of fountains.  The sort that the children run about underneath on a spongy surface.  By the time we reached this part of the park it was after lunch and the sun had made an appearance, so the swimsuits came out and our girls ran around for half an hour!  This was in August, so it wasn't cold (just wet!)

  • A mini arcade area and slides by the cafe area midway around.  I suspect this area is a lot nicer when it's not still throwing it down with rain.  It was a fine place to sit and eat lunch though, as it took us until then to get to this part of the park!  There's a larger facility by the main entrance which we didn't use but looked fine.
  • A smallish log flume.
    As if we weren't wet enough!?
  • The Sea Life Tower is not at the same location as the Sea Life Adventure Park.  You can buy joint tickets, but you'll need to travel from one to the other and treat them as separate trips.  We didn't bother with the tower this time.  Check it out here.
  • There's another theme park next door.  Don't be fooled though; you can't access it from Sea Life.  It's entirely separate.
All in all there's a great layout and a good portion of the actual exhibits are inside.  Check out your visitor map here to plan your visit.

The down side


Bear in mind that many of the exhibits are inside because the creatures are used to living miles under the sea where it's fairly dark.  Therefore the lighting within each building is very low.  Even though it was overcast outside, I still found it difficult transitioning to the new light levels as we entered each area.  Because of this; the fact that adults start by checking out what's at eye level, not necessarily what's around their knees; and because some of the flooring in some areas is a little uneven; I'd keep a very tight hold of young children.

Other tips


Always pack a swimsuit and a small towel.  We pack one poncho style towel between the two children.  Enough for the types of splash parks that this, and many other theme parks now have.  And even if they don't, the towel came in handy after a ride on the log flume.  We also packed (through necessity) rain macs, umbrellas, sun cream (I know it sounds crazy, but did you see the crazy mixture of weather we had in the UK in August?), snacks and bottles of water.

Opening and Prices


Sea Life Adventure Park, Weymouth, is part of the Merlin Group. It is open from 10am til 5pm daily.  You can buy tickets in advance online here from £13 each.  Or treat yourself to either a Sea Life Adventure Park Annual Pass, or a Merlin Annual Pass (incorporating access to other Merlin attractions such as Legoland and Alton Towers) here. 

This is NOT a sponsored post.  We paid full price.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Painful groynes: a day at Bournemouth beach

This is the third of a series of posts based on our crazily busy holiday down in Bournemouth and Slough.  Yes, you heard that correctly; Slough.  We've had an intense week of family days out; it's cost us far too much, but we've had an absolutely ball.  Sleep is high on the agenda this week.

I am publishing the posts that were drafted during the trip over the next few weeks between other yummy musings.  The first one: Sandy Balls is here and the second; Wet Bottoms: A review of Peppa Pig World is here.  Enjoy the series.  If you don't want to miss a thing you can subscribe by email over on the right hand panel, or follow on Facebook or Twitter.

Day three: Painful groynes - a day at Bournemouth beach

The theme for our holiday so far appears to be unusual and slightly sniggersome (if it's not a word, then it should be) place names.  The fact that there are also signs warning people not to bump their feet on the groynes on Bournemouth beach was suitably in keeping with the holiday so far!

We wandered down the pier (you have to pay to do that!  I was shocked!  Only 60p, but still!)


We made sandcastles and collected shells.


We had Harry Ramsden's for lunch, sat in a window seat with the beach and sea providing a beautiful view.  Our younger daughter was particularly impressed that her request for a bucket of chips (she was joking) was honoured, and a bucket duly arrived!
A ride on the mini train along the sea front... lovely opportunity to nosey at the design of the beach huts.

A quick go on the park at the other end, a return journey back past the beach huts and a quick go on the bouncy castle, before a lovely wander through the park and past the balloon and bandstand....


A perfect English seaside day.

We parked at the car park next to the pier.  The train ride is £2 per adult (over 5s) single. It was £3 per child for 5 minutes on the bouncy castle. If you fancy a day at the beach, you can't get much better than this.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Amazing (HUGE) Wooden Toys!

My daughters are incredibly lucky to have both sets of Grandparents.

They are even more lucky to have both sets that both spoil them rotten! I have a rubbish memory, so couldn't tell you exactly how spoilt, or not, I was personally, but I am fairly certain I wouldn't come close to my two girls in the 'being spoilt' contest.

My girls are now 4 years and 6 years old respectively.  The youngest turned 4 this weekend.  She received all manner of gifts, from us, from her family and from her friends.  By far the two biggest gifts, and I mean biggest quite literally, were the 8 foot trampoline that it took my husband and I four hours; in the garden, until 11pm at night, in the dark; to construct.  It was worth it for the look on her face when she aw it!

We thought that the 'construction' involved for this birthday was finished.  Not so.  I should have known better.

My mum (and dad; though I don't think he has much say in the matter) have a lovely tendency to buy large single gifts rather than a selection of smaller toys.  The slide and see-saw/bouncy/roundabout combo that are both gracing our garden both came from them.

This time they outdid themselves.  They bought my younger a village shop.

A village shop that takes over half of the room!

You should have seen the look on my husbands face as more and more of it was constructed yesterday afternoon by my husband and dad together (amazingly they didn't punch each other). 

As it happens, we've been able to move an entire IKEA storage unit out into the loft, as the contents are now all in the village shop.  It does provide some fabulous storage.  It took us all most of the afternoon to rearrange the room to accommodate it though.  My mum left us to it, giggling as she went.

But the thing I like most about it, is that it's wooden, not plastic.  So much better, don't you think?

Friday, 7 September 2012

The Ultimate Collection of Slow Cooker Recipes


It's been a week, and a hectic week it's been.  What with school, nursery and work starting afresh, my new 6am work-out routine, a new slow cooker to get to grips with and the second in the 50 Shades trilogy to read, I've been busy, busy, busy!

This month I decided to have a pause from the out of the mouths of babes monthly linky and have decided to take the opportunity to collect and share the best slow cooker recipes out there instead.  Yes, I know I have a vested interest now I have joined the slow cooker club.  But it's my website, so I get to pick!

How will it work?

Here's what to do.

If you are here looking for slow cooker recipes, enjoy!  The list below should continue to grow so please feel free to pop back another time too to find plenty of recipes for you to try.  
If you are here shortly after publication on 7th September 2012, there may not be many links listed below yet.  DON'T FRET!  Folk will add their scrummy offerings – you are just a little early!  Please, please, please pop your email address in the box on the right to subscribe to this blog.  Future posts will pop into your inbox and not only will you find useful parenting and beauty information, you'll also be reminded to pop back to this post to find a growing list of brilliant recipes!

Alternatively you can subscribe to 'comments' over on the right and get an up-date every time a fellow blogger adds their slow cooker recipe here.

If you are a blogger with a slow cooker recipe post you'd like to share click on 'click here to enter' below and add your link.
  • Please try and give the name of the dish as the title. 
  • If you could also add a comment below this post that would be great as it will automatically let other reader subscribers know that a new recipe has been added. 
  • Finally, you don't have to, but it would really help if you could add the link of this post to your recipe post so that readers can get back to the main list.  I've added a button below.  Simply copy and paste into your post and check the link remains intact.
  • If you are here with a link to share and the list has closed, then please comment, or email me, (tweet/facebook, whatever) and let me know.  If there are enough people interested in joining in I will make the linky a regular one.

Thank you all lovely readers!  I'll look forward to discovering a host of new recipes and will be trying them out and reviewing them in later posts, so make them good!  I might even pick my favourite for a special mention next month.

Look out for another out of the mouths of babes linky next month.

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