What can you not bear to leave behind when holidaying in the UK?

October 31, 2014 in Competitions, Holidays, Travel by Emma Day

Let me tell you… when you go on holiday with toddler twins, it’s easy to end up taking everything but the kitchen sink. Even moreso when they were babies! Holidaying in the UK is becoming more popular for families with young children, due to the fact there is no restriction on luggage and you really can take the kitchen sink if you want to.

I got asked by holidaycottages.co.uk what items can I not bear to leave behind, when holidaying in the UK?”

(I’m afraid that when I started writing this post, I spent a little bit too much time on their website and now I have a head full of dreams, of spending Christmas in a cosy little country cottage somewhere, with an open log fire and sheep in the garden!)

Here are my top five…

1. My camera.

Camera

 

As a family travel blogger, my camera is essential to take EVERYWHERE. In fact, let’s not stop there. When we go on holiday in the UK, we take all our technology! My camera, my laptop, chargers for both and the cable that connects the two. The camcorder, two tablet computers and a variety of mobile phone chargers. Yes, it appears we have become “one of those families” who are technology dependant. Deprive me of WiFi on holiday and I go CRAZY! It’s what I do. It’s my passion and I love it!

 

2. My car.

IMAG7626

(Okay… so the one in the picture isn’t technically mine!)

My car is my wings. It’s my freedom. I love to be able to go where I want, when I want, especially on holiday, when there are always places to go, sights to see and new things to try. We learnt the hard way in Italy, that twin toddlers do NOT appreciate coach trips. Or train trips. Or aeroplanes. It is so much easier if they can sit in their own car seats and have a little rave in the back seats to the radio.

 

3. My onesie.

IMAG7679

 

British weather is renowned for being unpredictable and quite frankly rubbish. I HATE being cold. I am only happy when I am warm, so my onesie is like my best friend. It’s nice to put on first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening or any time I feel cold.

 

4. Tea.

The Claremont Hotel (41)

 

I am 28 years young, but I like my cup of good old fashioned English breakfast tea like an old lady. I have become a bit of a tea addict. On holiday I have to have a nice cup of tea in the morning when I wake up, when I’m getting ready to go out, after a shower, and before I go to bed. It relaxes me and it warms me up.

 

5. My window cleaner.

IMAG7530

 

Yep, you heard me. Because you see my window cleaner is actually… Hubs! And he does not stop at cleaning windows. He enjoys cooking and I think he secretly enjoys cleaning too. Whenever our apartment gets messy, he will tidy it up. If we don’t feel like eating out, he will cook us a nice homemade meal. He takes care of us all on holiday and I’m not sure what we’d do without him!

So there you go. My top five things I cannot go on a British holiday without! What items do you consider your “must-have” items when holidaying in the UK?

 

This is my entry into the holidaycottages.co.uk must-haves competition

 

Nearing my due date after an ectopic miscarriage

October 30, 2014 in Charity / Awareness, controversial, Health, Medical, Parenting, Pregnancy, Radioactive mum, Uncategorized by Emma Day

People often don’t think of an ectopic pregnancy as a miscarriage… but it is.

Miscarriage is often a taboo subject and ectopic miscarriage seems to be even less talked about. It’s difficult to talk about. Nobody knows what to say. Sometimes a virtual hug is enough. Someone to say, “It’ okay to feel sad about it”.

We can talk about it when it happens, but afterwards, that’s it, get on with it. Everyone else has forgotten, so why haven’t you?

With an ectopic, you have the surgical scars to remind you, every time you see yourself naked.

I’m sure that it will get easier, once time has passed, but here’s the truth…

I had surgery for an ectopic pregnancy in April. My due date would have been in November. It’s nearly November. And as November draws closer, I think about it more and more. There are good days when I don’t think about it, until I get undressed for bed. But there are other days, when I’m reminded that I should be pregnant. That I should be just over 8 months pregnant. I should be huge. I should have people guessing the weight and sex of my baby or how long I’ll be in labour. I should be massively excited, whilst grumbling that my back hurts.

There is no bigger reminder than when I see someone who is pregnant in town. Or when I go online and read all the pregnancy updates of my friends and fellow bloggers. Or the new baby announcements. Of course I am thrilled for them, I am happy that they have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies, but I also feel the jealousy building up inside me.

Yes I know that a pregnancy for me would have been risky, and I’m certainly not trying for another, but the fact remains, I was still pregnant. For a short time, I was growing a baby. People telling me “It was only tiny and not fully formed”, does not help. It still would have been a little life, that I had grown. It was there, inside me. I had created it.

People saying, “But you have three beautiful girls already”, doesn’t help either. Implying that I’m greedy to have wanted my fourth to survive, or that I don’t appreciate the three incredible girls I already have, only serves to make me feel worse. Whilst an ectopic pregnancy is nobody’s fault, it’s unavoidable, it still comes with a substantial amount of maternal guilt.

So here I am, breaking the taboo… I am still sad about my ectopic pregnancy. There are days when I am happy and there are other days where the sense of loss feels like a kick in the stomach. Those days when I have mood swings or cry for seemingly no reason… there is a reason. So if you know someone who has suffered a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy and not yet reached their due date, don’t just assume they are okay. Give them a hug and let them know you care.

Ectopic Pregnancy. Laparoscopy April 2014 (1)

Bunny passed level 4 gymnastics

October 28, 2014 in Childhood, Fitness, Parenting, Sport by Emma Day

Level 4 (5)

 

Two years ago, to the month, Bunny started doing acrobatic gymnastics as a hobby. One hour every Saturday. She loved it from the very first day.

Two years on, she is about to take part in her third Christmas show with the club. She now does gym for 2.5 hours per week and has been working her way through the British Gymnastics Proficiency Awards. These start at Level 8 and work their up to Level 1. 

I was really proud of Bunny last weekend, when she passed her Level 4. I think that four certificates in two years is quite good, especially for an extremely lively child with very little patience.

It’s amazing how much she has improved just since March last year when she gained her level 5 certificate.
March 2014 - Level 5 (13)

Admittedly it can be a teensy bit annoying when she spends most of her time at home practising headstands and we see more of her feet nowadays than we do her face, but I love that she enjoys it so much. Since she started the extra hour and a half session during the week, she has come on in leaps and bounds (quite literally) and is spending a lot more time practising at home.

I’m really looking forward to watching her Christmas show this year, as she will be in two performances – one with her Saturday group and one with her weekday group.

It dawned on me the other day, that we are currently spending around £45 a month on gymnastics… and in 7 months time, the twins will be old enough to start too! *Gulps* They are already doing roly polys non stop so I’m sure they are going to want to start gymnastics as soon as they can! It’s not about the money though is it? It’s about children finding something they are passionate about and nurturing that. It gives them focus and drive and something to feel excited about and proud of. I will support her for as long as she wants to do it.

3 Children and It




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Ethans Escapades

It’s not just me… 65% of Parents hate the school run!

October 27, 2014 in Parenting, rants, School, Uncategorized by Emma Day

Oct 2014 (6) edited

It’s no secret that I HATE the school run. Last year, I only lived 3 miles from the school, but due to heavy traffic, it still took over half an hour to get there every morning and evening. Now, I live about 8 miles from the school and the school run takes about the same amount of time as before. Which when you add it all up, means I spend two hours of every day doing the school run.

This is two hours I could be blogging, writing, doing housework, or more importantly, spending time with my two year old twins. Toddler time is precious, because one day, they will be at school and I won’t have this time with them.

For the eco-friendly amongst my readers… There have been occasions when I used to walk the three mile school run… that took an hour each way and stole four hours from my day, which is just not practical with twins who don’t like sitting in their pushchair!

The school run is just about tolerable in the summer, but in the winter… with toddler twins… the school run is horrible! When the weather is bad, blowing a gale, pouring with rain or even snowing, getting the twins in and out of the car, is a real hassle. We have to put their socks and shoes back on (which they take off every time they get in the car). We have to put their coats on (because they don’t fit in their car seats with them on), then we have to fight through the crowds of parents who never look where they are going. We drop Bunny off and then we have to get everyone back in the car again and do the same again to get back in the house when we get home. Then dry off if it’s been raining. And all the same again to pick Bunny up from school.

We are now going on a waiting list for the school round the corner from our house, so we can walk to school and get over this in-the-car, out-the-car charade four times a day.

It turns out though, that I am not the only person with an extreme loathing for the school run. The Car People recently did a survey on how many parents think the school run should continue and a whopping 65% said no. For most though, there are no alternatives. School buses seem to be a thing of the past. We ourselves tried getting the bus… that involved a ten minute wait, ten minutes on the bus, then a twenty minute walk… each way. Plus the bus fare of £3.00 for me and £4 per child, meant it would have cost us a fortune to get the bus everyday.

It’s really good to know I’m not alone in hating the traffic, hating the bad weather and hating the school run every morning and evening, five days a week. I hope to be able to give it up soon, in favour of walking to a nearer school!

 

Disclaimer 2

Thorntons Chocolate Hamper Review

October 27, 2014 in Christmas, Food, Reviews, Shopping, Uncategorized by Emma Day

Thorntons hamper (1)
I love chocolate and Thorntons has always been one of my favourite chocolate brands. It’s my mum’s too. I still remember her treating us to a little bar of Thornton’s chocolate when we went into town shopping, when I was little.

Thorntons now do chocolate hampers, which I have to admit, make a pretty awesome gift. I got sent a Chocolate Spectacular Hamper to review.

Firstly, it came very well packaged and in a gorgeous box. Secondly… WOW… that’s a lot of chocolate in there!

Thorntons hamper (4)
I’m quite a sharing person, so I gave some of the chocolate to my children, some to my mother-in-law and some to my own mum. I wanted to say thank you to my mum for helping me out with a lot of things lately, so in my hamper, I ordered the personalised truffles, especially for her. Here’s what message I chose…

Thorntons hamper (8) Thorntons hamper (9)
I don’t think I need to comment much on the tasting… Thorntons chocolate always tastes amazing. My personal favourite is the Continental selection and also the cappucino bar. A few of the other continental chocolates are available as bars too – like the Alpini and the Sicilian Lemon one. My children particularly loved the giant chocolate smile buttons.

Thorntons hamper (10) Thorntons hamper (11) Thorntons hamper (12)

The Hamper contained:
A box of Thorntons Milk Classics
A box of Thorntons Continental Selection
A box of Thorntons Moments
A personalised box of Alphabet truffles.
A box of Toffee, Fudge and Caramels (this has now been changed to Puddings in this hamper)
A bag of chocolate smiles
A bag of dark chocolate gingers
A bag of dark chunky caramels
A bag of milk chunky caramels
A bag of almond marizipan
A Continental bar
A Sicilian Lemon bar
An Alpini bar.

Thorntons hamper (6)Thorntons hamper (14) Thorntons hamper (21)

 

This particular hamper is currently (at the time of publishing this review) retailing at £40, which I think is really good value, for the amount of chocolate it contains and would certainly make a great present for somebody. There are actually 47 different chocolate hampers available on the Thorntons website and some of them can be personalised. I’m definitely going to be bearing these in mind for Christmas presents this year!

 

 

Disclaimer 1

My Sunday Photo – March on Cancer

October 26, 2014 in #EmmasArmy, Blog Hops / Memes / Linkies, Cancer, Charity / Awareness, My Sunday Photo, Photography, Radioactive mum, Travel, Uncategorized by Emma Day

I actually meant to post this photo the Sunday before last, but it slipped my mind. This is me and Bunny and the Cardiff March on Cancer, for Channel 4’s Stand Up To Cancer appeal. Hubs lead the 500 strong march as the event drummer, whilst, Bunny, Tiny, Fluffy and I joined the rest of the crowd in the 2.5 mile March on Cancer.

Silent Sunday

The event was great fun and quite emotional in places. Unfortunately, we didn’t do very well on the sponsorship front.

Please pop over to our page and sponsor us if you can spare £1.

OneDad3Girls

Which pair of glasses should I buy?

October 25, 2014 in Health, Radioactive mum, Shopping, Uncategorized by Emma Day

I recently found out I need glasses for reading, blogging and driving. I am someone who never even wears sunglasses, because I can never find a pair that suit me. After five weeks of trying on glasses, I have finally narrowed it down to four pairs. So I put it to you, to help me decide, which pair I should buy?

Which pair suit me best? Please comment with A, B, C or D. No insults please as I am paranoid enough about having to wear them!

GlassesABCD

Which pair of glasses should I buy?

Tommee Tippee Travel Bottle and Food Warmer Giveaway

October 24, 2014 in Giveaways, Parenting, Shopping, Travel, Uncategorized by Emma Day

I’ve always been a big fan of Tommee Tippee products. The Closer to Nature bottles served all three of my children from the end of breastfeeding to about two years of age. Those were actually one of the first baby products I ever bought and certainly the ones that got the most use!

The juice bottles, spoons, cutlery, non slip table mats, food storage pots, food blender, bottle insulators and steriliser all played a big role in the first two years of all my children’s feeding and weaning journeys. 

All their products are high quality, long lasting and well designed for babies and toddlers. There is a huge variety of products available, for all babies and toddlers and I love that those products account for the fact that not all products suit all children. The spoons come in different textures and sizes, the juice cups have different styles of teats and spouts. It’s not a one-size-fits-all brand, like so many others are.

You can read my review of some of the Tommee Tippee weaning products by clicking here.

Myself and Tommee Tippee are now giving one lucky reader the Tommee Tippee Travel Bottle and Food Warmer. This dual function product enables you to warm up milk or even food, on the go. 
Tommee tippee

I know how many times I struggled to heat milk or baby food when out and about in public places. A lot of places won’t reheat food at all and won’t allow you a jug of hot water, due to health and safety. This product can just sit in your changing bag and save you a lot of hassle.

To be in with a chance of winning one, just follow the instructions on the rafflecopter below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize is provided by Tommee Tippee, but all words and opinions are entirely my own.

As listed on ThePrizeFinder.com

Doubletree by Hilton Hyde Park Hotel Review

October 14, 2014 in Holidays, Reviews, Travel, Uncategorized by Emma Day

The night of the MAD Blog Awards, which was hosted in Kensington (where I was lucky to be a finalist in the Outstanding Contribution category) I decided to stay in the nearby Doubletree by Hilton Hotel at Hyde Park.

First impressions

It was a beautiful sunny day, so I walked from Paddington station, the scenic route (as it’s actually quite close by), through Hyde Park. I arrived way before my check-in time, but I was still greeted with a warm chocolate chip cookie (a pretty amazing tasting cookie), which I thought was a charming and delightful novelty. Check-in was smooth and easy and the staff were very friendly. The reception was clean, bright and airy and I was excited about seeing my room later on. I left my heavy bag there and headed to Oxford street for a spot of window shopping.

Doubletree by Hilton London Hyde Park (5) (Small)

The Room

The room was clean, modern and contained most of the things the modern traveller needs in a hotel, like an iron, ironing board, hairdryer, fridge, telephone, safe and large flatscreen tv. There were a few nice extras in the room too, like a bowl of fruit, a mini box of complimentary truffles, ipod dock and a posh coffee machine. For those not adventurous enough to use the coffee machine, there are also normal tea and coffee making facilities. It would have been nice if there were instructions for the air conditioning though, as once it was on, it was hard to figure out how to turn it off again and I woke up in the night cold.

Little touches

The bed

The bed was spacious and extremely comfortable, which could be something to do with “The signature Sweet DreamsTM by DoubleTree Sleep Experience” which includes a custom-designed mattress, plush pillows and luxurious linens. I slept like a baby!

Doubletree by Hilton London Hyde Park (2) (Small) Doubletree by Hilton London Hyde Park (9) (Small)Doubletree by Hilton London Hyde Park (8) (Small)

The decor

The room was decorated in a simple, sleek, and clean design, in natural earthy colours, with everything coordinating perfectly and crisp white sheets. This style is suitable for anyone from individuals away on business, or couples on a leisure break to families with young children. The grassy views out the window were a pleasant surprise for a London hotel.

Doubletree by Hilton London Hyde Park (20) (Small)Doubletree by Hilton London Hyde Park (21) (Small)

The bathroom

Small but spotlessly clean, the bathroom contained the usual high quality hotel toiletries and a placard stating extra items you could get by calling reception, if needed. The large shower was hot and powerful, just how it should be and there was a plentiful supply of white fluffy towels.

Doubletree by Hilton London Hyde Park (1) (Small) Doubletree by Hilton London Hyde Park (18) (Small) Doubletree by Hilton London Hyde Park (17) (Small)

The negatives

The only downside I found to my room, was that the design seem more geared towards men. There was no mirror situated near to a plug socket and the mirror in the bathroom had extremely unflattering lighting. As I was getting ready for the awards, this made doing my hair and makeup difficult. I had to dry and straighten my hair in the reflection of the tv and my makeup looked very different in the light of day, to what it did in the bathroom. This also meant that there wasn’t anywhere to sit and do make-up, so I had to get ready for the awards standing up. The positives for this hotel, far outweigh those few minor negatives though and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay.

Breakfast

Serving times for breakfast went right up to 11am, so I didn’t have to rush in the morning. I was greeted in a bright airy restaurant with a huge selection of buffet items. These included contintental meats and cheeses, fresh fruit, pastries, cereals, a selection of fruit juices and a full hot buffet. I had hoped to sample a bit of everything, but my hangover sadly refined me to just the hot buffet.

Doubletree by Hilton Breakfast

Breakfast at the Doubletree by Hilton 

Overall

The service, the style, the food and everything about this hotel seemed effortless. It was everything you expect from a four star hotel, barr the socket-mirror issue. I would happily stay in another Doubletree by Hilton, with my whole family. I would also love to see how Doubletree compares to the other Hilton brands.
Doubletree by Hilton London Hyde Park (27) (Small)

A bit about Doubletree by Hilton

Doubletree by Hilton have more than 400 locations in 33+ countries on six continents and every guest is always greeted with a hot chocolate chip cookie. Doubletree are part of Hiltons huge loyalty rewards programme HHonors which allows you to earn airmiles for a large choice of airlines, as well as free stays at Hilton hotels. The Wake Up DoubleTree BreakfastTM provides a wide range of full and low-calorie buffet items from both a hot and cold selection. You will find complimetary gourmet coffee and high quality Crabtree and Evelyn toiletries in every hotel room. At most Doubletree by Hilton hotels, you will also find state of the art conference and leisure facilities.

Blogging has changed my life

October 13, 2014 in Blogging, Uncategorized by Emma Day

There’s a blog post I wrote in December 2013, but didn’t publish. A post that explains just why my blog is so important to me. There are a lot of people who read my blog, who have no idea how incredible this community is or how life changing some of the opportunities are. How theraputic writing can be or how passionate I am about writing. Today I read a blog post by a very admirable blogger and entrepreneur, Sally at Who’s The Mummy. She asked, “What’s blogging ever done for us?”

Sometimes I admit, there are times when I get a bit disheartened if my stats plummet or I get a post with only a few comments. I think that happens to us all from time to time, but most of us blog because it is our passion, rather than for the number of readers we please. That is something to hold onto.

This… is what my blog means to me…

This… is what my blog has done for me…

 

Blogging has changed my life and filled my heart with glee.

It has ignited a passion and motivated ambitions that I couldn’t find within me.

It has been my prayer throughout illness and my friend when I’m alone.

It is my sanctuary, my therapy and a little piece of my soul.

It’s a celebration and a photo album of memories and unforgettable moments.

It is a new faith in humanity and a wider world to explore.

It’s an outlet for creativity and inspiration and a place to inspire too.

 

It opens your mind in a way that both softens you, and toughens you.

It’s words on a page, journeys, products, brands, handshakes, pictures and faces.

New ways of life and a new appreciation of life.

It’s an olive branch and a weeping willow.

It is collective tears and collective smiles.

A virtual hug.

A firework that sparks a twinkle in my eye.

A fundraiser, a community and an army of supportive parents, incredible writers and loyal readers.

It’s a glimpse of a future full of opportunity.

It’s taught me about the kind of person I want to be.

It’s a little piece of me.


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