Re-decorating – Boys Bedroom Ideas

Now our big boy is the grand old age of 3.5 years, and growing constantly it would seem, we’ve decided that now is the time to think about re-decorating his bedroom. I’m not going to lie, this decision has also been driven by the influx of additional toys since Christmas (cue a requirement for clever storage ideas) and the anticipated arrival in the summer of baby number 2 who will be commandeering the 3.5 year olds toddler cot bed.

Whilst I really like the idea of a mid rise sleeper such as this one, the big boy is still in fact a little bit too small so rather handily his cousins old bed frame from Next will see him through a little longer until we upgrade him to one like this from furniture123.

Mid Rise sleeper

Whilst one remains rather fickle regarding his pure love for Paw Patrol or Ben & Holly, I’m thinking a flexible decorating scheme could be advisable as something he can grow into and I can adapt without spending another fortune. I really like the idea of these stripes on a feature wall incorporating the navy blue without a solid block of colour which may close the room in a little. Also liking the idea of a splash of red.

As it would appear that the current obsession for this week is E.T (it is a classic I have to say!) I’m thinking that incorporating some stars into the space could create a little more interest without having too much of a fixed ‘theme’. I’m currently loving these curtains from John Lewis and the fact that the stars glow in the dark will surely be a winner with the judging panel.

I’m currently on the hunt for some space inspired wall stickers to ensure the room is in keeping with a 3.5 year olds imagination as I’m feeling that it could be a little too grown up for him. It must be a natural reaction to try and keep gawdy cartoon characters out of the way which is entirely impossible with a small person.

However, I have ordered this wardrobe and matching set of drawers from M&S which rather handily is currently in the sale.

And after all this, I’m still yet to solve the problem of toy storage which was the main catalyst for the re-decorating project. It seems there are a plethora of options available so that shall be my next step – toy storage, more research required! x

Unexpected Get Aways – Ibiza 2016

ibiza sunset

I was recently very lucky to be invited by my sister to join her for an Ibiza great escape. Certainly an unexpected get away to the year having not expected to be flying in a plane at all this year! Don’t get me wrong, we had a lovely family week in Norfolk during the summer heatwave but there’s something special about airport departure lounges and aeroplane food that still has that same magic from my first childhood holiday to Majorca many years ago.

Now before we get started, the holiday was a competition win courtesy of my sisters mother-in-law. At almost 70, when she entered the competition on the side of a Pringles tube, she didn’t anticipate a 3 night stay at the Ibiza Rocks hotel with VIP entry to the closing party and free San Miguels all night. She had probably anticipated a more sedate holiday. Lucky for us.

Having visited Ibiza many times before, I was really looking forward to heading back to the White Isle after a 4 year hiatus. Even more excited that it would be a girls only holiday with no children in tow. I do love holidaying with my son (and the husband obvs!) but the thought of laying and reading a book on the beach instead of building sandcastles and relentless kiddy entertaining was pretty appealing!

Now, let’s get the accommodation part out of the way straight away. We were slightly dubious that we would be at the upper end of the average age scale (by approx. 20 years!) staying at the Ibiza Rocks Hotel but we needn’t have worried as it was a complete mixed bag of guests. But this is certainly a party hotel which our ‘Stage View Room’ confirmed as soon as we arrived.

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The accommodation is really very basic but the kind of hotel guest that this place attracts isn’t looking for luxury, they just want somewhere to lay their head in the early hours of the morning. However, the Ibiza Rocks brand does appear to have recognised that they would be wise to invest in something a little more upmarket for the returning Ibiza kid now in their 30’s like me and have created the Sol House Ibiza concept for the more discerning traveler who likes to believe they can still throw some shapes with the young ones.

Ses Salines beach

Whilst we had some relaxing beach days at Ses Salines (my favourite beach and home to The Jockey Club) and Cala Comte (beautiful but absolutely packed) we still partied like it was 2004. Our VIP entry to the Ibiza Rocks closing party meant we had a great view of Wolf Alice performing and the after party at Pikes Hotel certainly provided a little peek of the secret Ibiza we all hear about.

pikes

The famous Sunset Strip and home to Café Mambo and Café Del Mar is still ever popular thanks to the beautiful backdrop of the fantastic sunset. It’s certainly the coolest (and probably most expensive) place on the island but it has lost a little of it’s charm since the days of wonky tables on the rocks and clambering across uneven ground to get to it. However, way more comfortable and in line with health and safety standards I’m sure.

ibiza sunset

We stayed out until 6am, got ourselves a little sunburnt and I read a whole book whilst I was there. Although we had little sleep, I came back refreshed and revitalized. There’s something about the island that takes away all of your worries and, just for a short time, instead of being the mum/wife/worker you’re you again x

 

 

The Gloworm Family Festival – Our Big Day Out

gloworm

Our trip to the Gloworm festival yesterday was our first experience of a family centred festival so we were a little uncertain on quite what to expect. Rather than having a backpack laden with beer, waterproof mascara and wet wipes we (fortunately) had a pushchair loaded with a healthy picnic, raspberry lemonade and an emergency potty. How times have changed.

We were fortunate enough to know one of the performers scheduled to entertain on the day so we picked up our VIP lanyards and headed off to see what we could find. On arrival, our first thoughts were that the site didn’t appear that big. Now, this could mainly be due to many years of watching Glastonbury on the TV from the comfort (and dryness) of our living room. We needn’t have worried, the site was jam packed with activities for the little people and we actually ran out of time to explore everything.gloworm site view

First off was a quick visit to the vintage fun fair for a trip on the big wheel. There were no flashing lights, cheesy music or ‘scream if you want to go faster’ funfair cliches here. We found a lovely little tea cup ride, swing boats and a good old helter skelter.

A quick pit stop at the Pims shed followed (ahem, the kids didn’t have all the fun) and we then headed off to see the fantastic stand of White Post Farm where there were chicks hatching along with goats chickens and even a full size cow model that the kidlets could ‘milk’.

Our small person particularly loved the little balance bike assault course set up by Fox Cycling but it was so popular I haven’t been able to include any pics – I like to think there’s a bit of online etiquette in showing pics with other peoples little-ies.

Whilst there was face painting available, the queue was ridiculous but we occupied ourselves with a little musical interlude on the various random instruments that added a little colour (and a lot of noise!) on a cloudy day.

pink piano

As well as activities, there were plenty of ‘celebrities’ to meet such as Peppa Pig, Thomas the Tank Engine and a lady dressed as a mermaid on a trailer. Not sure who she was (look, I’m still relatively new to this parenting thing) but I reckon in the world of 4-7 year olds, she was probably a big deal.

The day was closed by the legendary Dick & Dom who gave much needed energy to a worn out crowd of mum and dads who had braved the rain to make the most of the family festival entrance fee and stay till the very end.

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Dick and Dom not only took us down memory lane with a classic rendition of ‘Bogeys’ and ‘2 word tango’ (remember those) but also pumped out some well known drum and base and Prodigy classics. Parents in the crowd, for a fleeting moment, took themselves back to their pre-children festival days before a small hand tugging their pac-a-mac and requesting a poo-poo took them out of their momentary nostalgic revelry.

Overall, we absolutely loved it and are definitely family festival converts. As for festival camping with kids in tow next year? Lets not get too carried away, the aforemention Pimms shed would need to be well and truly fully stocked for that to stand a chance of ever happening x

gloworm

*Please note, we were not paid to attend the Gloworm Festival and we received tickets only due to a personal connection with one of the performers. We just absolutely loved the day, hence the post!

Shed Makeover & Beach Hut Love

Beach Hut Shed

Following our recent holiday to Norfolk paired with a slight obsession with whole coastal decor look (I know I’m pretty late to the party on that one) we decided to give our little shed a little makeover. We’ve got a reasonably sized garden for a new build property, and wedged into a unused section is a shed containing numerous stylish garden accoutrements such as a childrens pop up tent (that does not bloody pop down), several broken garden chairs and the lawnmower.

Let’s face it, we all have a shed to hide the stuff we don’t want other people to see and whilst the shed is pretty much tucked away, it seemed a bit of a missed opportunity not to go a little more ‘out there’ to liven things up.

Keen gardeners that we are (ahem) we’re planning on making a better use of our outdoor space and this was the first baby step towards that. Let’s face it, as parents we know spend way more time in our home and garden than we ever used to so it makes complete sense to make it a pretty nice place to hang out.

Now, doing any kind of DIY is pretty tricky with an almost 3 year old, cue a little late night painting.

shed painting

So in case any of you were wondering, it gets dark pretty early already in August so crack on if you’re going to start an evening outdoor job! The blue shade is Cuprinol’s Forget-Me-Not and the white is Pale Jasmine. We touched up some areas once it had dried but we could really have gotten away with the one coat. We then went the whole hog with the life ring from Dorset Gifts…..well, it’s not worth being half hearted about these things is it!

Beach Hut Shed

We’re pretty pleased with the result and it certainly lifts the whole garden. We are looking to continue the theme with some kind of beach hut in which we can put some comfy seats and make the most of the English weather. What I mean is somewhere we can shelter from the rain, turn the music up a little and crack open the wine without disturbing the small person! x

Summer Holidays & A Heatwave

Norfolk Holidays

How lucky were we to go on our summer holiday during the one week of summer in the UK? As we trundled across to a fairly overcast Norfolk, I was filled with some trepidation as to how exactly I was going to entertain an almost 3 year old (+ a husband) on the anticipated rainy days. Well, it turns out I didn’t need to worry at all!

Norfolk Holidays

I know for those of you that spent the hottest day of the year in an air conditioned (if you were lucky!) office, workplace or even if you were doing your regular routine at home, hearing a smug account of one of the few people who experienced Mediterranean weather on an English Costa is not going to float your boat. But don’t click away just yet, I’m not going to bore you with the tedium of our beach trips, kite flying and al fresco dining (I did give the smug-off warning!) I think this post is really a reflection on expectations versus reality.

Sandcastle

Don’t get me wrong, I was certainly looking forward to our summer holiday in terms of having a change of scene and getting a break from the routine, lord knows not everyone is lucky enough to even do that. But, well you know, holidaying in the UK just doesn’t hold the same coconut scented sun cream appeal of holidaying abroad. But, when on the Tuesday of our week away, I was watching my 3 year old create an elaborate seashell construction whilst the husband flew the aforementioned kite and I sizzled in the sunshine on the beach, I realised that it isn’t half bad when you give it a chance.

We stayed in a lovely cottage in a small village called Thornham (check out www.norfolkhideaways, the accommodation selection is excellent) and far from a regular early evening indoors in front of the TV whilst the small person slept upstairs, we had late night (by late night read 7.30pm – rock and roll!) trips to the local pub for dinner, always eaten outside. We all slept in a little later in the mornings (yay, he slept really well in the too-big double bed) and explored the local beaches, country houses and, mandatory with a small person, a wide selection of parks.

Sure, it was a little different from the pre-kiddy holidays in Ibiza and the like, but really, life’s a little different now. Now it’s full of ice cream, play tents and, more than anything, the happiest of times.

The Imagination Station

We were fortunate to receive a VIP invitation to the preview of Lincolns newest soft play facility, The Imagination Station, on Good Friday. It was forecast to be the sunniest day of the bank holiday weekend (which proved to be the case) so we were hopeful that we wouldn’t feel too cheated of sunshine as we explored what is traditionally known as kiddy heaven/parent hell.

Friendly staff greeted us at the door and advised what was on offer. Clearly, the enormous double storey play frame dominated the building but I also quickly spotted a high spec coffee machine being put to good use by the resident barista which immediately put me at ease. All too often, the instant coffee in paper cups offering is enough to see me heading to the door. I need some kind of bribery to keep me in these places as I usually sacrifice my hearing as a result of visiting. Kids don’t half get loud on those play frames.

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The husband was with me on this occasion which meant I was able to forgo clambering through too small awkwardly shaped holes and hurtling down slides with little decorum. He was the lucky one today. It’s worth me mentioning that the hubby is not a small chap, he’s broad shouldered with a narrow waist after years of weight training. Great for me 😉 but a little tricky when trying to get through the aforementioned awkwardly shaped holes. But he did great. In fact I think he secretly loved every minute.

Quite often in these places, the main focus is the play frame which is then surrounded by worn out, battery-less toys and coin operated rides. Not altogether inspirational. However, this is where the Imagination Station differs. There are trained staff milling around who man craft areas and reading corners. There are blackboards on the walls scattered around the place for when creativity strikes the small people (and sometimes the parents). There’s also good quality wooden toys for those that need a little bit of alone time away from the manic craziness of the play frame.

Imag station 2

The menu is also appealing with a move away from the traditional kids offerings of chicken nuggets along with credible food options for the parents that could be enough to tear them away from their usual treasured coffee shops.

All in all, we had a great time and will certainly be paying a return visit. The ethos of the place is what sells it – a safe, creative play area for the kids whilst not compromising on the quality of the experience for the grown ups.

I’d love to hear from you if you’ve been to visit the Imagination Station and what your thoughts were? x

 

It’s All About You

Hello lovely people on the interweb. Its’s been a little while since I’ve posted on here but following on from a business networking event last night with lots of lovely women I thought I would share some musings that I gleaned from the evening.

We were fortunate enough at the event to have a guest speaker who’s subject matter was all about physical fitness. Or was it.

The lovely Lisa from OptiMum Health come along to chat to us about her experiences in the fitness sector. It’s fair to say, Lisa is not your average personal trainer by any stretch of the imagination. As someone who has had first hand experience of juggling work with children along with a whole host of other demands, she knows how difficult it is sometimes to see the big picture. She takes a holistic approach to health, recognising the importance of the wellness of the mind and the associated impact on the wellness of the body. Her passion about the subject shone through and what struck me is that she presented the whole of her self to us.

She clearly has a great knowledge about wellness but she has a great interest in people too. It felt like she was talking to each and everyone of us in the room. She shared her own vulnerabilities as well as her learning experiences and her successes. Essentially, she is a fantastic speaker, business woman and thoroughly lovely person. Like a said, definitely not your average personal trainer.

January seems to be awash with individuals, business and corporations promising to help you achieve your goals and change your life. Really?

For me, its refreshing to meet someone who is truly passionate about teaching people to see something oh-so-very simple. Its all about You.

 

x

 

Surviving the Christmas Chaos

The big day is nearly upon us and I’m still slightly in denial that Christmas has come around yet again. I’m even less able to compute that this is my third Christmas with a small person in tow.

The first year was a blur of broken sleep and constant feeding. The second was spent willing the little chap to get walking and talking. And I anticipate the third will be ‘gently encouraging’ the boy to stop shouting ‘Daddy poo-poo smelly’ whilst constantly being in danger of colliding with beautifully decorated Christmas tree and stealing food from any unsuspecting other small people (and grown ups) whilst they’re not looking.

Ah, they grow up fast don’t they. I’m planning on gritting my teeth whilst drinking copious amounts of Winter Pimms to cope with the toy packaging mountain, battery shortfall and choo-choo train sets overload.

I have to admit, I’m really looking forward to this Christmas with the toddler terrorist and his crew of cousins. They’re all at that young age that makes Christmas so magical. They don’t really care how many toys they have, whether its the very latest action figure or how much money you blow on them at this age. They just absolutely love spending time with everyone even though the thought of a hairy faced fat man coming down the chimney is a little too much to comprehend for them. Well, if you do think about it, you spend the whole year telling your kids not to talk to strangers and then manically enthuse that they should sit on a slightly stale breathed old dudes knee, dressed in disguise in an overly darkened MDF hut in the local garden centre. But you’ve go to love it.

I have leant a couple of lessons in this years preparations though that I’ll definitely be bearing in mind for next year to save on the constant nervous energy when I think of something I haven’t done;

  • Make lists. Lots of lists. And remember where you’ve put them. I’ve found Christmas presents that I forgot I’ve bought and remembered gifts that I haven’t bought at all. Be more organised than me!
  • Start early! Start shopping, start wrapping presents (eurgh, the endless wrapping) and start saving. We all spend more than our average monthly outgoings in December but every year we all are slightly taken by surprise when we check our bank balance!
  • Book your babysitters. In January.

Most importantly, savour every moment. Before you know it, here we’ll be again!

x

Well Hello there, Its been a while!

Howdy world, its been a while…….well about 3 months since my last post to be exact but hey, who’s counting?!

So I keep picking up this blog and putting it down, not quite sure what direction to take it in in an effort to find ‘my voice’ (almost sound like I know what I’m talking about there) but I’ve decided to try and make a concerted effort to commit to writing. After all, I find it both cathartic and fulfilling so I’m deprioritising all the ‘important’ things that have distracted me and am making a commitment to  regularly post. Just to clarify, the important things that suck up my time in the evening include surfing YouTube incessantly, trying to work out Pinterest etc. Don’t worry, I’m not unrealistic enough to believe that the washing, cooking, out of hours work will be shelved whilst a while away a few hours on here!

This is in part fuelled by some work I’m starting to do with a new Mummy app (more about that coming soon) but I’ve found that consistency and structure has always been the key with me – whether it be when studying, exercising or working. My names Amy and I’m a Planner. There, I said it. I need a plan, a structure, a goal – all of these things in order to get things done. If not, well I become a bit of an unsatisfied drifter.

So, starting as I mean to go on, I’m commissioned a person much cleverer than me to give this site a bit of revamp over the next month or two. I’ll come up with a post plan so you know what you going to get and when and (now we’re really pushing the boat out) I might try and get a bit more fancy on the photo front and commandeer the husbands fancy camera to pretty it all up.

Let’s give it a go!

x

Is your Gym Working Out for you?

I’ve been a member of LA Fitness, on and off, for about the last 14 years. Like most, I had the occasional curiosity about what other gyms may offer me and tried Total Fitness (an expensive community sports centre) Fitspace (where there’s no frills and no service), David Lloyd (soooo overpriced with the only extra being on an site Costa with way too much cake on offer). So I stuck with LA Fitness. And then Sports Direct took over.

There was much talk before spin classes about how they might reduce services in order to make a quick buck. How they were going to be getting rid of the pool which was so good for little people to go in due to its sloping lead in. And then, new members were being offered much reduced membership fees. Its fair to say that we regulars were up in arms……..inbetween working up a productive sweat obviously!

Well, to be honest, its still very early days but today I had a great example of customer service from the Lincoln South West Club. I queried my membership fees and within 5 minutes and a quick update of details my membership will now be £25 per month. Brilliant. Also, was updated that the club is to be re-furbished next week with a new bigger spin studio, an extended gym area and a much needed update to the changing rooms. Plus, the pool is staying, hurrah.

I do really think the club will be much better as a result of the takeover from a functional and visual perspective but I do think that Sports Direct could do much more than that. Customer engagement and communication during the process has been limited………..well, I received just the one letter letting me know there would be a brand change. I really think they could be missing a trick here. Our club in particular has a pretty good level of regular and loyal members which can really be built on. Rather than a cosmetic refurb of the gym, how about making it a club again, a community. Engage with the membership, consider encouraging more social events and maximise the onsite Café facilities (& subsequently revenue), bring people together for some team charity events (great for morale, good causes and PR). I think what I’m saying is don’t just chase chase chase the new memberships, retain the existing members, build on their loyalty and, because lets face it that we’re talking about a business here, increase the spend per head per visit by offering some additional services, activities and engagement opportunities – everyone wins.

Lets see how the refurbishment goes, but I for one am uncharacteristically excited by a competitive membership fee and improved services – which is a very rare thing all round!