Sunday, 2 August 2015

Summer book delivery

Flicking through the latest Book People leaflet I noticed loads of great value sets that I wanted to get the kids to keep them (and myself) occupied over summer. The Book People's books can be highly discounted and they are always bringing out new ranges which is why I often cannot stop myself from buying more and more!

Coming home to a new delivery always gets me excited especially when it has all these goodies inside...

My youngest son is just getting into action novels and was eager to start The Maze Runner collection so hopefully that will keep his evenings busy. I doubt very much I will get through 10 novels but for £4.99 for the whole collection I couldn't not order them, I'm sure eventually I will read them all!

My daughter loves YouTube and is a keen crafter so if she gets bored of watching Alfie and Zoella, she can just read about them instead, or make something with some fabulous fun tape.

I am not sure who is more excited about the Querkles and the Dot to Dots, we have all had a turn and I am amazed at the outcome! They actually take a lot longer than I expected to complete but I suppose that means I just get peace and quiet for a bit longer.

It cost me just over £25 for 17 books which I think is a bargain, although I still have loads of other sets that I have my eye on!

What are you reading over the summer?

Saturday, 1 August 2015


Last week myself, a few friends and the kids took a day trip to Hastings. We were very fortunate that we chose a day that had really good weather as both the previous and next days were pouring with rain and probably would have ruined our fun!

I hadn't been to Hasting since I was at school and learning about the battle of Hastings in History class but I had some expectations of there being really sandy beaches, not sure where I got that idea because as far as I could see the whole beach was just covered in stones! We didn't let the stones bother us, it was not sunny enough to be laying around sunbathing and there were so many other things to do anyway.

We started off with a ride on the Go carts (the kids, not me) they felt very grown up with the helmets and petrol race cars although I thought the price at £10 each was pretty steep considering they only had about 5 laps around the short course.

A short walk up from the Go carts is the funfair, it is no Thorpe park but there are a fair few rides. I would say it is mostly aimed at younger children. The fair runs on a token system and they cost £20 for 40 tokens which is pretty reasonable considering each ride is around 3 tokens each. The tokens can also be used on the the lake to take a ride in the swan boats.

After tiring ourselves at out at the fair we enjoyed a meal from one of the many chip shops along the seafront, with the seagulls flying over us looking for their lunch. We then spent quite a bit of time (and 2ps) in the arcades winning lots of tat that we didn't need but it is my favourite thing to do!

We couldn't take a trip to the seaside without having a little paddle in the sea so before going home we enjoyed the views and the weather while the kids got their shoes off and went for a dip.

We had a thoroughly enjoyable day and would definitely go back, although next time we would leave the bucket and spade at home! 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Thursday, 23 July 2015

How I lost 16lb and gained £60

Over the years I have slowly gained weight, so slowly that I didn't even notice it was happening! I was bumping into people that I hadn't seen for years and they would always say 'You're looking really healthy' or 'you've gained weight, but it suits you' and it has never bothered me because to be honest I do believe that everyone has a weight that suits them. I think I do look a lot healthier than when I was a size 8 but it is more than just how you look.

My regular clothes size is a 12 and I am quite happy as a 12 but I noticed that my 12 was becoming a little too snug and flesh was starting to hang over the top of my jeans, everything felt like it was being released when I got undressed, like I have been holding it hostage all day. So I decided to weigh myself!

At nearly 11st it dawned on me that I weighed more than I did when I was nine and a half months pregnant with my first child (he was two weeks overdue) and thought it was time I got myself into shape.

Well this was a couple of years ago and it is easier said than done isn't it? I found it pretty difficult to give up eating anything so I signed up for a 5k superhero race in the hope that training would help me drop the pounds. It did for the time it lasted but after the race I lost all motivation and stopped running. My aim was to get to 9 and a half stone and I have even put it on my bucketlist as a reminder to keep trying.

In January I decided to join the health-club at work, its been running for a few years but as I only work part-time I have never got involved before. The health-club is run by one of the teaching assistants who also happens to be a qualified zumba instructor and she started it to encourage us to live healthier lifestyles and achieve our weight-loss goals.

How the health-club works

It runs between January and July and is great for all those with new years resolutions to lose weight or be healthier. We had 16 members and held weekly weigh in sessions on a Friday morning. We each set a weight loss goal that we would like to reach (and maintain) by July. There started off with 16 members and every Friday we would pay £1 while being weighed. Our weightloss was tracked to see how much we lost and it would be a big talking point in the staffroom by lunchtime to see who had lost (or gained) the most.
All the money was put in to a kitty and saved to use as prizes for the participants that had lost the most. Over the weeks there were members that were not seeing changes and dropped out but for those of us who had lost a few pounds it was great to compete against each other and the prize money was a great motivation to keep going.
I didn't want to go on any fad diets and lose loads of weight only to put it back on again by the end of the challenge so I decided to make healthier choices, cut down my portion sizes and do some more aerobic exercises that would get my heart pumping. It can be a bit disheartening when you don't see massive changes or even when there are weeks that you stay the same or put a pound back on but perseverance is a great thing and the challenge of competing against others and reaching an end goal really kept me going.

And the winner is....

Not me, but I did come second and got myself £60 worth of Debenhams vouchers as a prize, but even better than that I don't have to squeeze myself into my size 12 jeans anymore! I lost 16lb altogether and was just 1lb away from my target of nine and a half stone, this was a couple of weeks ago and I am pleased to say that I have kept the weight off and according to my scales I am now 9st 7lb!!

There are no massively different 'before and after' pics because I don't think I particularly look much different but I do feel better and that is the main thing, I am now happy with my weight but would love to tone up a bit more so that is my new challenge (I love a challenge I do) over summer.

The healthclub was a great motivator for me and can be set up by anybody (you dont even have to be a zumba instructor) in any workplace or setting that has a large group that would like to join in. It would be great to do between August and December as the prize money could help towards Christmas (sorry to mention the C word) so if you have a target why not go for it!

Now I just have to decide what to spend my vouchers on...

3 Children and It

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Boat riding in Dulwich

Summer time can be a bit of a challenge when you have have kids and need to keep them entertained and away from Minecraft for five minutes! Not wanting to travel to far from my doorstep or spend too much money, I like to see what activities we can do that are close to home.

Dulwich park is one of my favourites, we often go there for a kick-about and the kids find it amusing to use the exercise equipment but we rarely go on the boats, so as it was a nice day we thought we would join the ducks in the water.

I was a bit worried about using the boats so close to the ducks in the lake and thought I may cause a WTA (think road traffic accident but in the water) but they did not seem bothered and it was nice to see them close up.

Considering it is such a tranquil setting, peddling those boats around was far from relaxing and my legs were aching afterwards! It obviously didn't effect the kids as they got straight on the bike to learn some new skills straight after.

So that was day one of the summer holidays sorted, now I just have to keep them busy for another 43 days!


Monday, 13 July 2015

Never too old to learn

A year ago I sat on my mobile phone flicking through Photography Degree courses at University thinking how great it would be to apply but knowing that I would never get onto a course as I don't know the first thing about photography! Yes I love taking pictures and I have a DSLR camera but would that qualify me for a place at University? Not likely!

I had a great career working with children and I still do, but what I really want is a job that doesn't feel like a job, doing something that I would do for free anyway as I enjoy it so much, but with the added bonus of getting paid for it! (unfortunately I couldn't find anybody to pay me for playing candy crush)

My first step was looking for an access course that could qualify me for University so I started looking online at all the local colleges, there were times when I questioned myself, do I want to be a student, going to college and university at the same time as my own children? I am a great believer in the saying 'you are never too old to learn' so decided to bite the bullet.

One thing that worried me most was the cost of returning to college. I found a great course but with the price being in the thousands it seemed out of the question. Luckily while browsing I came across a link for the 24+ learning loan, this is a loan from the student loan company that covers the cost of many courses between level 3 and degree level. It is paid back through your wages when you are earning over a certain amount just like other student loans, and even better, if you go onto higher education (degree level) then the loan is wiped out! Without the help of this loan I doubt I would have even considered going back to college!

I decided against studying just photography at college as I didn't want to be overloaded with five years of studying just that and then get fed up of the sight of my camera. I decided to study Video, Photography and Digital publishing which was only a year long and was aimed at just adults as opposed to the photography course which was two years and 16+.

This year has been a bit of a whirlwind, juggling work, writing essays and keeping house but I have managed to keep my head above water and have learnt so much, including...

  • How to use a DSLR camera in manual mode
  • Exposure - Aperture, ISO, shutter speed
  • Composition - Rule of thirds, leading lines, symmetry
  • White balance
  • Documentary photography
  • Reportage
  • Studio and portraiture
  • Photography and the law 
  • Photography development, dark room skills
  • Photoshop editing and design
  • Video camera settings
  • Script writing
  • Interview techniques
  • Video sound and vision
  • Making a drama
  • Making a documentary
  • Voxpops
  • Essay writing
  • Report writing
  • Research techniques, finding and reading information
  • Writing a blog post (kinda knew that already)
  • Graphic design 
  • Portfolio building
  • Personal statement writing
  • Preparing for university

And probably so much more that I cannot remember! Oh and did I mention that the head of Creative Arts and media gave me an award for being inspirational and a great role model to the other students...get me! Unfortunately I knew nothing about it and didn't turn up to the event where he was giving it out...oops!

Many of my classmates were not impressed with the way the course was run and had other expectations but to be honest I attended (nearly) everyday, took each challenge as it came, completed the work on time and managed to achieve 7 merits and 5 distinctions along the way. Most of all I met some really lovely people who I hope to keep in contact with (the joy of social media) and follow their progress into the world of photography and film making.

For anybody wanting to learn a new skill or take the plunge into a new career I would urge you to look up your local learning centre/college and see what is on offer.

I was offered a place at Southbank University where I will start my next learning journey in September and feel completely prepared and super excited! I also gained a new interest in graphic design while on my course and am currently working on a new this space!

You Baby Me Mummy
Not My Year Off
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