Silent Sunday

by RosieS on February 22, 2015

Silent Sunday


Caribbean colour

by RosieS on February 18, 2015

Mexican bar

Everything about these photos says colour. It’s a gorgeous bar called Fat Tuesday overlooking the port of Cozumel in Mexico.

Mexican bar Cozumel Mexico

If you follow me on Twitter you’ll have seen the top photo before. I was one of those people that bombards everyone with a stream of happy, sunny holiday shots during the school holidays. This was taken in October half term last year.

Mexican bar Cozumel Mexico

Just beyond the bar docked in the harbour is our cruise ship. We’d headed off to the Caribbean on a trip of a lifetime with Carnival Cruises, just IJ and I. It was as amazing as you can imagine.

You’ll be thrilled to know there are lots more photos of the Caribbean sunshine coming soon. In the meantime you can buy the Feb/Mar issue of Cruise Magazine and read all about it in there. The feature is called ‘Here Comes the Fun’.

Thanks to Tara for the prompt. This week’s photo gallery there is: colour.


Sandra Howard: Charitable Mum of the Year

by RosieS on February 14, 2015

Sandra Howard Charitable Mum of the Year

It’s humbling and inspiring to read about individuals who do so much to help others as a direct result of the difficulties they’ve experienced in their own lives.

To use the knowledge and insight they’ve gained from their own struggles – when to an extent that means reliving difficult times - takes courage, strength and commitment. Not everyone could do it. I have huge respect for those who can and those who do.

One such person is Sandra Howard from Sheffield. Sandra has been providing help, support and advice to epilepsy suffers and their families through her charity Fable (For a Better Life with Epilepsy) for almost twenty years. Sandra’s son Gareth, now 35, had a stroke at birth and was diagnosed with epilepsy aged three.

Fable - Epilepsy charity

Gareth endured dangerous seizures throughout his childhood, with his condition deteriorating until Sandra heard about VNS therapy (vagus nerve stimulation) when he was a teenager. Following a period of intense fundraising Gareth underwent the procedure in 1995 and his life dramatically improved.

It was while fundraising for the treatment that Sandra came into contact with other parents like herself, struggling alone with no one to turn to. She launched Fable the year Gareth had his treatment, offering a lifeline to families and helping raise awareness of VNS. The charity has raised a staggering £3.5 million since it launched and offered invaluable help, hope and support to numerous families.

I’m delighted Sandra’s work is receiving recognition and being bought to our attention. Her commitment and dedication makes her extremely deserving of her Tesco Charitable Mum of the Year win. You can read more about Sandra’s story here

This year celebrates the 10th Mum of the Year Awards.  During that time Tesco has awarded over 80 ordinary mums, like Sandra, who have done extraordinary things for others.

Read more about the awards and their success over the last decade over on Tesco Living.

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Discovering Chessington with Merlin

by RosieS on January 13, 2015

Minions at Chessington

Just before Christmas, Merlin (the entertainment group not the wizard) gave us complementary tickets to visit Chessington World of Adventures’ Winter Wonderland.

We’re regular visitors to the theme park and even stayed in their Safari hotel last year for IJ’s birthday. (Here’s the view from our room).

But we’d never visited in winter before when only a tiny selection of the rides are open, so we weren’t sure what to expect. In fact IJ wasn’t particularly excited about visiting Chessington without the roller coasters.

In the end we were pleasantly surprised. It was calmer and more relaxed without the need to rush from one ride to another. There were no long queues and a lovely festive atmosphere.

Sealions at Chessington

We were able to take time to explore the areas that we normally overlook in the race for the dodgems or the log flume.

So we walked around the zoo with its tigers, lions and gorillas. And we watched a fabulous sea lion show although we decided against taking the opportunity to feed them. I’m not one for holding fish but plenty did and seem to enjoy it.

We went along with my brother, niece and nephew and had a really lovely family day out.

Angry bird hat

The highlight for the younger two (3 and 6) was definitely the Gruffalo stage show with the man (or creature) himself. IJ particularly enjoyed the arcades, and we all enjoyed the Bubbleworks ride.

The Gruffalo at Chessington

We didn’t queue to see Santa because when you’re nearly 12 he doesn’t hold quite the same magic, which was a shame. I would have liked to have seen him. I’d been particularly good all year.

We ate far too many warm sugary donuts and drank too much hot chocolate, but then again we always do when we visit Chessington, even in summer. It wouldn’t be quite the same if we didn’t.

The purpose of the trip and this post is to promote the Merlin Annual Pass, which is now on sale.

Merlin Annual Pass

Merlin kindly gave us two individual passes, which means IJ and I can visit over 31 attractions free of charge, including Legoland, Alton Towers, Thorpe Park (read our review here) and Madame Tussards. That’s our weekends sorted for the rest of the year.

The Merlin Annual Pass January SALE is now on. You can grab a Merlin Annual Pass at the YEAR’S LOWEST PRICES – from just £99*.

*The Merlin Annual Pass is just £99 per person when you buy a family set of four passes.


It’s going to be THAT year

by RosieS on January 5, 2015


Just five days into the New Year, I can tell. I can feel it in the air. It’s going to be THAT year.

If you’ve got teenagers or pre-teens already, you’ll know the one. It’s the one where there’s an obvious shift in behaviour and attitude.

The one where your child grows up, pushes the boundaries and you find yourself having the most ridiculous arguments.

It’s the year when everything changes and probably doesn’t stabilise until several years hence.

It’s the year when your patience is stretched, your parenting skills challenged and you’re not quite sure what’s going on anymore.

Reader, already today we have argued at length about eating dessert before the main course at dinner.

We’ve fallen out over a game of Minecraft when IJ lost patience when I couldn’t build fast enough. We’d been playing for all of three minutes.

My simple enquiry about homework was met with a shrug and an exasperated sigh.

And apparently I stood too close to the bus stop when waiting to meet her from the school bus.

Last term – all of two weeks ago – I got into trouble for not standing so close to the bus stop that I could be seen when it came around the corner.

How quickly things change and goalposts shift when you’re eleven and a half years old.

In about one hour’s time we’ll be arguing about suitable bedtimes.

So we’re at the start of something. I’m not quite sure what but I’m strapping myself in and preparing myself to cling on for the ride.

Wish me luck!


Travelling safely with GetTaxi and a discount code for first-time users

December 26, 2014

If you’ve ever attempted to negotiate the London Underground with a child and a heavy suitcase, on one of the busiest shopping days of the year, you’ll appreciate the relative luxury of travelling by taxi. That’s exactly what we did at the weekend thanks to some credits given to us by GetTaxi. It saved us […]

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Crafting with Craftmerrily

December 16, 2014

It won’t be a surprise to many to read that I have huge respect for small business owners. I’ve also a newfound appreciation of the level of time and commitment that goes into running one, particularly in the Internet age where you’re a click away from a competitor and those dominant ‘Internet giants’. So when […]

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The Photo Gallery: Christmas

December 10, 2014

Winter flowers for a Christmas wedding. Huge congratulations to my little sister who got married at the weekend and looked absolutely stunning. This week’s Photo Gallery theme is Christmas. Check out Tara’s blog for more entries.

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When you hear your child is not in school

December 8, 2014

There are some parenting moments that make you physically shake, like I’m shaking right now. Sitting on my own in my office, with thoughts running endlessly through my head. I’m typing this to get them out on to paper (or ‘screen’) instead. The school has been in touch. IJ isn’t there. As her parent I’m required […]

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December 4, 2014

They eat all the food. They break your toys. They mess up your dolls. They tread on everything. They trail mud through the house. They put football boots on clean clothes. They leave empty chocolate bar wrappers in the cupboard. They use up all the towels. They turn the garden into a skateboard park. They […]

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