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Hello everyone,
Well it's been a while since we've been here folks, but if you do follow my blog, you'll know that I have been very poorly! But you'll be happy to know that I am feeling much better and just in time for preparation for Blogmas! Are you taking part?
So what have we been up to this week?
Well the week didn't have the best start. My daughter, like most two year old toddlers is inquisitive, but being inquisitive nosy led to her somehow burning her finger on the lamp on my mums sideboard. It was awful. I felt like the worst mother in the world and as everyone was trying to help I couldn't help but feel angry, not at my mum, the lamp, or my daughter, but myself. I couldn't believe she would even think about actually touching the lamp. But my mum, as they do, made me see sense. After twenty minutes and my mum putting plasters on all her fingers, even though she only needed one, she was singing and dancing again. The next day she was absolutely fine other than wanting me to kiss her finger every two minutes but we managed to get outside as the sun was out. We played with leaves, jumped in puddles and met Bonnie the dog who loved her tummy tickled.
We also started our Christmas shopping for the adults in our families and looking for inspiration for  our daughter and a main present, she hasn't really mentioned anything. But every time we think of an idea a family member has got there first, the buggers! I am leaning more towards a small wooden kitchen for her but again there are just so many to choose from, she's going to move into a bigger room in the new year so space wouldn't be a problem. Any recommendations for a wooden kitchen play set would be appreciated. Did anyone get any good deals during the black Friday sales? As my husband was working I decided to do a little online shopping and to be honest thought it was a bit pants - there wasn't any 'oh wow I must get this' deal! Maybe next year?
This weekend my husband's brother and nephew came down. It was so good to see them both and we had so much fun, it so lovely to see my daughter and nephew play together. The age gap between them is four months and you can already tell who is going to be the bossy one. I wonder who our daughter gets it from. We took the children for a walk around our area and the two little ones were seeking every opportunity imaginable to run away from us, in either direction, let's just say I hit my steps target for that day. Then we dropped by some relatives for some tea, cake and more fun. They both found a burst of energy from somewhere and went absolutely crazy and my daughter? Had to have two time outs in a day, I very rarely have to give her one.
How was your week?

BAKES | Salted Caramel Drip Cake With Caramac


A delicious sweet and salty cake that everyone will enjoy.

I love baking and I'm always looking for an excuse to make cake but at the moment, I have been extremely poorly and not up to baking, yet I have somehow managed to find the time to bake my Dad a cake for his birthday. It never fails me that almost everyone I know has a birthday during the months leading up to Christmas which makes me a busy little baker. Now that I have rambled on a little bit, I want to give you all the recipe for my Salted Caramel Drip Cake with Caramac, which will sure be the perfect cake for any Caramac fans.

So what you'll need:
400g Unsalted Butter, softened
400g Light Brown Sugar
400g Eggs (6-7 eggs)
400g Self-Raising Flour
2tsp Baking Powder
4tbsp Whole Milk
Salted Caramel Buttercream
250g Unsalted Butter, softened
600g Icing Sugar
175g Carnations Caramel
Pinch of Sea Salt
Carnations Caramel
Pinch of Sea Salt
Salted Caramel Buttercream
First try and prepare all your ingredients into separate bowls so adding them together will be much easier. Heat your oven to 180c/160 for fan assisted ovens and line three 8inch cake tins with baking parchments and set aside.
In a mixer beat together the butter and light brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the flour, eggs and baking powder and beat until combined. As I have used this recipe for a few cakes I have found that if you add the ingredients into the mixer in parts prevents you from over beating the cake mixture. If the mixture is a little too thick now would be a great time to add some of your whole milk. Then divide your mixture between the three tins and smooth over, I have found that if you weigh each cake tins ensures that they rise to the same level when placed on the same shelf in the oven. Bake your cakes for about 25-30 minutes until the cakes are golden brown and the cake springs back, placing a skewer should come out clean too.
Once you have baked your cakes, set aside to cool in their tins for 10-minutes and then remove them from the tins to fully cool on a wire rack. Once they have cooled you can prepare them for decoration. Even when you weigh out the mixture evenly there may be a dome on the top of your cakes so cut off any excess with a knife or cake leveller, and brush the crumbs off with a crumb brush.
Next comes the exciting part, the decoration. In a stand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and beat in the icing sugar. But be careful, unless you want to look like a snowman! It's best to try and beat in the icing sugar a little bit at the time to prevent any lumps and looking like a snowman. The first time I done this recipe I put all the icing sugar into my mixer and it went everywhere, it look liked Santa's Grotto in my kitchen. Keep beating the buttercream for 5-minutes until fully combined. Add the carnations caramel and beat again with a pinch of sea salt for a further 5-minutes.
As the cakes are already prepared we can start adding the first layer of buttercream. Put the first cake onto the serving plate and some of the buttercream onto the top of the first layer, add the second cake on top, and then top again with some of the buttercream and add the final layer. Cover the sides and top with a thin layer of buttercream and set in the fridge for 10-minute. Repeat again with a thicker layer of buttercream until it's smooth.
Once you have finished set aside in the fridge again and pop the rest of the carnations caramel into a bowl and beat, microwave for 10-seconds and beat once more. Using a disposable piping bag, pipe it around the edge of the cake to create the drip, fill the top of the cake with more caramel so the top is covered completely. Pop back into the fridge for 15-minutes. Then pipe the rest of your Salted Caramel Buttercream around the top, add some Caramac pieces in your buttercream and grate any left over Caramac for the middle of your cake.


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The Christmas Clean Up

 We all look forward to the Christmas holidays - spending quality time with our nearest and dearest,  sharing a tub of Quality Street, and deciding what to watch after you have eaten your body weight in turkey. But where there's celebration, there's guests, there's mess so therefore a good clean up before Christmas is essential to ensure there's no rush two days before. We've all done it! Running around like a headless chicken on Christmas eve with the last minute wrapping, baking more mince pies as eating them all the night before was a good idea and the Christmas Clean Up. This year I thought that I would be a little more organised and actually have a plan to tackle the Christmas Clean Up before Christmas Eve arrives.
It's a good idea to get prepared by cleaning and tidying different areas of your home. I have found that is becomes easier if you divide each part of your home and perhaps get other family members involved, even children. After all they have to be good for Santa Claus.

Let's get started...
Every year I always start my Christmas clean up in the kitchen, it's where the magic happens and where most people congregate. So with this in mind it needs to be spotless and look presentable, showroom style. First task would be to clean the oven so that it's ready to cook that turkey to perfection. I normally opt for a safe, natural and effective way to clean my oven - no harsh chemicals and no high heat auto-cleaning with smoke alarm funny business. All it takes is a little time and some good ole elbow grease along with some vinegar, baking soda and rubber gloves!
Next, is the fridge! Before you start to stock up on all that oh-so-naughty food for Christmas you need to have a clean fridge and clear out any out of date food. Then pull out all the left over food, shelves, draws and the bottle shelves and set aside for cleaning with warm water, soap, baking soda, and a cloth. I prefer the natural way to clean my fridge. The warm water helps the soap bubble up and is perfect for dissolving any stickiness and picking up crumbs. The baking soda helps naturally deodorizes any stinky corners or drawers, cutting a lemon in half will also help. Boom! A nice sparkling clean fridge. Now for the oh-so-naughty food shop...

This is probably one of the most important rooms to clean as it's a room that most family and friends will visit. While you have visitors it's best to check that it has clean towels, toilet roll and top up the soap dispenser if it's needed. I have a toilet and a bathroom in my home so it can be quite the challenge to keep them both clean for any guests and as much as I hate cleaning the bathroom it needs to be spick and span for any guests over the festive period.
Begin with removing any items that don't belong in the bathroom such as clothes, cups, rubbish, toddler toys - take any removable units out of the bathroom while the clean up is in progress so you can clean under them. Then pour some bleach or another disinfectant into the toilet bowl, pop your toilet brush inside the bowl, after an hour or so clean around the exterior, lids and handle.
In general, when cleaning any room, start from the top down. So clean cobwebs in the corners of the bathroom, and brush other dust and dirt directly onto the floor to sweep up later no forgetting those skirting boards. Cleaning the shower can take some time, spray cleaning product on the shower walls, and the shower head and let it rest for a couple of minutes, then scrub and rinse. Then it's time for the bath! Spray cleaners that are especially designed to help get rid of soap scum around the bath, good ole scrub and then rinse away. Cleaning the sink any counter top should be the last task in the bathroom so start by scrubbing any soap scum and toothpaste off with cleaner, rinsing and wiping as you go along. Then sweep or vacuum the floors, spray air freshener and finish up by mopping the floors with some cleaning product, phew, glad that's done.

This is the room where you are most likely to entertain your guests so a clean, clutter free living area is a must. In our old house we had carpets and would hire out a carpet cleaner but thankfully our new home has wood flooring so it's easier to keep on top of the floors clean. Vacuum to your hearts content, move any furniture where you think any dust bunnies are lurking and the dust everywhere - units, shelves, skirting boards, TV and ornaments. It would also been an idea to try and keep on top of the vacuuming so the last days leading up to Christmas won't be so stressful when you're already running around like a mad woman, because you forgot to buy some cranberry sauce!
Once the Christmas Clean Up is complete in the living room and you finally get all the Christmas decorations down there are a few things that you could do to help create that lovely Christmas smell in your home. The first and most obvious would be air fresheners and plug ins, winter spice smells are just the best. We buy Christmas scented candles by the truck load during the winter and then for the tree? You can buy a Scentsicles that are scented ornaments that emit a fresh smell over the Christmas period, you are able to attach them to your tree, wreath or garland.

When it's time to clean the bedrooms there are a few things you have to consider - the bed and bedding, wardrobes, carpets, windows, units, and mirrors. It's best to start with the beds by stripping the duvets, bedsheets and pillow cases, then bung them into the wash, while they are in the wash it gives the mattress a chance to breathe. Then just before you put cleaned sheets back on, vacuum the mattress and add fabric freshener to keep any odours at bay. Try and remove anything that is not supposed to be in the room, if you're cleaning the children rooms make some time to clear out their wardrobes and toys boxes to make room for their new ones from Santa Claus.
Next you will need to dust, dust, dust. The bedside units, chest of drawers and wardrobes. While you are cleaning the wardrobe it may be an idea to rearrange your clothes, if you're anything like me they can get messy. If there are clothes that you no longer want or need there are ways in which you can dispose of them, my post on what to do with old clothes may inspire you. When moving the furniture make sure you keep an eye out for those dust bunnies and suck them up into the vacuum and don't forget the ceiling and skirting boards. Check the windows, curtains and blinds usually I will take my curtains and nets down and add these to the ever growing washing pile, wipe down blinds with soapy water. Once a month I normally grab an old toothbrush and scrub around the inside of my window anyway, but during the Christmas Clean Up it will only take a wipe down and they are good to go. Once everything is cleaned, dusted and back in it's place vacuum the flooring and go outside to bash any rugs if need be.
Phew, that's a lot of cleaning. If you're looking at this list and thinking that's way too much on top of everything else I have to do for Christmas, you could always seek professional help with Sparkling Clean Apartment By Handy, who are more than happy to help with your Christmas Clean Up!

Do you ever do a Christmas Clean Up before the big day? What would your tips be?

BOOK REVIEW | Taboo by Thomas Piggott

I'm an avid reader and so I thought that my blog would be the perfect place to tell you about some books that are unforgettable. An opportunity arose with Taboo by Thomas Piggott and I knew from the title that it would be a good read and I wasn't disappointed.

This book is fascinating and heart-breaking all at once. It's an eye-opening book into the reality of the horrendous childhood abuse at the hands of person who was thought to be trusted and a friend. Thomas Piggott depicts the survival techniques of a young child and despite it all having the amazing ability to survive circumstances that are beyond imagining.

The Plot
Set in the Midlands during the 1970s, Taboo tells true story of Thomas Piggott who as a child was subjected to the most brutal sexual abuse imaginable and by a person who was supposed to be a trusted authority. But it also follows Thomas into adulthood, highlighting how the pain and emotional damage caused by the abuse caused a domino effect into his life.
The book begins with Thomas Piggott explaining why he's decided to share his story and what he hopes to gain from writing down all his thoughts. In a unique way, writing his book acted like a type of therapy where by sharing his story he could help others who have been through child abuse to feel less alone and to speak up. You have to admire the courage that Thomas has with Taboo as it couldn't have been an easy writing about your life for the whole world to see.
My thoughts on the book
As I have said Taboo immediately grabbed my attention. But I do have to be completely honest and say that some parts of the book I found quite difficult to read, due to the narrative nature of the story it did seem to jump from one thing to another. I understand that this book is a true account of a victim of child abuse and therefore it cannot be so clearly set out, chapter by chapter, but this alone cannot detract from the serious focus of the book. In my opinion this book teaches you about child abuse through an unforgettable account. But it also teaches you about the seriousness and the effects that child abuse can have on an individual creating a domino effect into their adulthood.
Thomas is so courageous to write about his life experiences. No one should have to go through that pain, but unfortunately it does happen. This books goes into quite graphic detail about the child abuse which can be hard to take at times, whilst reading I wanted to put it down because it made me so angry. Beware it's an emotional one! But even though at times it was graphic, I don't think that it would get the same reaction from it's readers if it was sugar's very real.

Sadly, I believe that many people will be able to relate to Thomas and his life story. Child abuse is something that no one ever wants to share however over recent years it happens more than we all realise and usually by someone who thought could be trusted. I would like to think that because Thomas Piggott found the courage to share his personal experiences of his childhood it may give his readers who may have been through similar experience the courage to speak out.
Conclusion and rating

Overall, I would have to say that Taboo is an unforgettable book and reading this certainly put me on an emotional rollercoaster. At times it was hard to read due to the sheer descriptive nature but also because it's jumps from one thing to another. It's reasonably fast-paced with plenty going on with a select few characters that play a crucial part for Thomas Piggott and his life. Nonetheless it's an unforgettable read and I would give this a rating of 4/5. You can buy your copy on Amazon and it's currently retailing at £6.99 and twenty per cent of royalties will go to Children In Need.

Our Honeymoon in Cuba

As I have said before 2013 has to be one of the most memorable years I will ever have. In March I got to marry my best friend, in April we honeymooned to a beautiful country and then in October we found were going to have a baby. What a year! I want to take you back to our honeymoon where a newly married Mr and Mrs Combes caught a plane to Holguin in Cuba. I am so glad that my husband and I decided on this destination as we took part in so many adventures that I never thought would be possible.

We honeymooned and stayed at the hotel Playa Pesquero for 17 nights and we decided for the first week we would relax and recuperate and the second week we would take part in some excursions on the island. During the first week...BOOM...I am in the doctors office getting a shot in my bum because someone cannot have too much sun, damn you pale skin. I was advised to stay inside during the day but Tony and I did make our own fun and he taught me how to play pool. Now even though the rum cocktails were amazing I do remember that I won at least one game during our honeymoon. Also in the first week Tony and I made a big mistake in not putting sun cream on our feet, what absolute plonkers! Always, always put sun cream on your feet.

The second week was the week we began the excursions on the island and the first one was called the Green and Blue Jeep Safari where we were driven around in our own 4x4 to discover the real Cuba. We also visited a fishing village and went to a local farm that had the most adorable family who opened up their home and even gave us a shot of their home-made rum. Next we got to drive our own speedboat and this was so much fun as you can imagine Tony had the best time, I wasn't allowed to drive, but I thought that was for the best as I was learning to parallel park back then. Okay I must confess I am an awful driver!

The last activity that we did on this excursion was horse back riding, this was something I was least looking forward to and I hadn't been on a horse since I was about seven. But nonetheless I got my riding hat on listened to instructions from the leader about the 'well behaved' horses, but mine started to go the opposite way to the group. I just knew something like this would happened, my horse scared the living day out of me when he got too close to a sheer drop edge. You can clearly see from this...

The second excursion on our honeymoon was Dining with Dolphins the one we were both looking forward to and a chance of a lifetime. We enjoyed a swim with these beautiful creatures while they showed us some tricks, the truly are a magnificent animal. We even did some tricks with them, pushed across the water by water-skiing on the dolphins nose and the pulled around the pool by the dolphin. Next we watched a dolphin show where they really showed us what they could do followed by the sea-lion show.

As we were a newly wed couple our tour guide stitched us up and poor Tony had to participate in the sea-lion show. I was quite glad to be honest. I love this photo and as Tony was relieved that he could change into clean dry clothes after the swim and then Cecilia the sea-lion literally laid all over him. He smelled like fish but I didn't notice so much during our lobster meal. 

Our final excursion for the honeymoon was Island Paradise on a catamaran. It truly was an fun filled day as we sailed out to the Cayo Saetia, and even went snorkelling. Something that I was excited to try and I was a complete natural...NOT. There I was looking out to the beautiful blue ocean in my snorkelling gear and my flippers and I was urged to get off the boat as others were waiting. I then thought I will use the steps, but because I am so short it...but they were too steep. So I thought just jump - yes ladies and gentlemen I literally belly flopped into the sea with my snorkel going one way, flippers the other and me coughing as I swallowed lots of salty water. Where was my husband??? Oh being a snorkelling natural...typical 

Once we arrived on the island we could go exploring the beautiful and tranquil place. Amid the greenery Cayo Saetia has been stocked with both local and introduced wild animals such as antelopes, deer, ostriches, turtles, water buffalos, zebras and others. Alongside the wild animals, a camel and a few cattle and horses as well as a number of parrots roam freely on the island. After our lovely meal it was time to go, sailing back on the catamaran it was so calm and peaceful as the ship glided through the waters without a sound, a memory I shall cherish. 

Our honeymoon was amazing and I am so glad that I got to share so many new experiences with my new husband. If you ever get the chance to go to this beautiful country, please do. You will not be disappointed.

L'Oréal Elvive Extraordinary Clay Range

I don't know about you but I do feel as if I have tried everything to get my hair looking shiny, healthy and try to eliminate my dry ends. Regular cuts, letting my hair dry naturally and trying every hair care product going to battle these problems. FINALLY! A hair care range to targets oily roots and dry ends! L'Oréal you beauty! I have always struggled with oily roots and dry ends I could even go on to say straw like ends that break so easily. I have tried no end of products to try and nourish my dry ends but these can leave my roots looking very greasy, so greasy that it doesn't always even look as if I wash my hair. It is rather frustrating, as my hair only lasts a day and I am having to wash it every other day, everyone knows that regular washing can create more problems rather that combating them. So when I saw this L'Oréal Extraordinary Clay range in Boots that promises to purify roots and hydrate those pesky dry ends I had to put them in my basket and give them a try.

L'Oréal have combined 3 refined clays which aim to absorb oil and balance the hair from root to tip. This clay range includes a Clay Masque Pre-Shampoo Treatment, a Re-Balancing Shampoo & Conditioner, an Anti Dandruff Shampoo and a Dry Shampoo. I picked up the Shampoo, Conditioner the Masque and the Dry Shampoo.

Let's start with the Clay Masque Pre-Shampoo Treatment and seeing as it's a clay I expected it to be a grey colour but the masque was a vibrant blue colour. The recommendation is to leave the masque on your hair for 5 minutes to deeply absorb excess oils and impurities before rinsing the clay out whilst massaging the scalp until the water runs clear. The consistency of the product is easy to apply to the hair but it does feel strange applying to dry hair because it feels so heavy. I really thought that the clay masque helped my roots feel really light and my hair wasn't oily after three days. 

After using the Clay Pre-Shampoo Masque, I applied the Re-Balancing shampoo onto wet hair, gently massaging into the scalp and then rinse. This product is great! It smells lovely and my hair feels and looks so great. And when paired with the masque and conditioner it has truly extended the length of time my hair has stayed clean and grease free. It is so easy to use and is great value, I also think that colour of the packaging is cute too. I could even go on to say that without the masque the shampoo and conditioner combo improved the length of time my hair has remained clean, grease free and nourished!

The Re-Balancing conditioner claims to deeply purify roots, hydrate dry ends to create perfectly balanced hair condition. For best results it's recommended that after shampooing, apply onto the hair focusing on the mid-lengths and ends, then rinse. I absolutely love the rich texture of the conditioner which makes it so easy to apply and to be honest you don't need to use a lot. I have long hair with split ends, that is prone to frizz and gets greasy quickly, this conditioner eliminates all of those problems. 

By using this trio has left my hair feeling soft, nourished and I feel as if there is a definite lift at the roots so my hair has more body. It has to be one of the best products that is available at the moment that promises to combat any grease build up in the roots to hydrating dry ends - this perfect trio will help break the vicious cycle of oily roots and dry ends in no time.

Have you tried the Extraordinary Clay Range?

Have you heard of the KidloLand app yet?

What are your thoughts about screen time for children? Generally I think it's quite a mixture of opinions and a case of choosing what you think is best for you and your child. A big yes for technology or a big no-no - I believe that there are advantages and disadvantages to screen time. Even though most parents try to limit screen time for their children, I believe that it can be a great learning resource. I have used a number of different apps and educational programs to help and encourage further learning with my daughter. I would go as far to say that these apps have helped my daughter in her learning development but also encouraged her to go through certain learning milestones at a faster rate. 

As a parent it's quite fascinating watching my daughter learning and developing because it means that she's becoming more independent and even if I don't like it she is growing up. That is the reason why I like the Kidloland app so much. My daughter is two years old and can quite easily navigate herself around the app without prompting, but I can also see that by her interacting with this app she is beginning to understand key parts that is crucial for her development.

What is Kidloland?

If you own a pre-schooler and haven't heard of the Kidloland app - then you really need stay and find out what it's all about. Kidloland is a fun and educational app that is jam-packed with Nursery Rhymes, Songs, Games, Stories and Activities that will be sure to engage your pre-schooler and promote further interaction. The app teaches about different fruits, vegetables, animals, ABCs, numbers and shapes just to name a few. But what makes this app even better is that while my daughter plays with each activity she is learning something new each time. I'm not just saying this but it really is a 'must-have' app for any parent with children of a pre-school age. But the greatest thing about this app aside the educational aspect of it...there's NO advertising. Kidloland that gets a big thumbs up from us because my daughter can't get onto Amazon and order me something that she shouldn't be able to. 

In a nutshell

This app is probably one of the best thought out apps aimed at under 5s on the market at the moment. It's an app that is engaging with the bright, colourful characters and illustrations that will be sure to encourage an interaction with your pre-schooler. My daughter found navigating herself around the app and it's content easy and thoroughly enjoyed the fact that there was just so much to choose from, we are still getting through some activities. More songs, stories, activities and games are added every month so there is always something new every time she plays. 

What the toddler thought?

As I'm sure you can imagine my daughter absolutely loves Kidloland and sometimes I struggle to get her off it! I'm really glad that my daughter took to the app pretty much straightaway and this has become her go to app now, which means I can get rid of all the ones that have the annoying advertising! 

When I asked my daughter what she liked about the app she said that she loved the Dinos, Fruits, and Vegetables and she will sit there for some time happily singing along. My daughter likes the chomping monsters which is like a puzzle where she has to fit the pieces together to make the fruit. The musical petals is also becoming a firm favourite where she chooses a song and touches the petals to sound out the song. There is so much to this app we haven't even managed to get through all the activities yet. But while we discover all the new activities not only is my daughter is being entertained but she is learning! 

Would I recommend the app? Without a doubt!!!KidloLand have created the perfect app that is fun, educational and interactive. It has been designed to help stimulate babies through to school starters and I would highly recommend this app, I wish I found out about it sooner. The app is available to download on the App Store, Google Play and Amazon App Store. Due to the amount of apps on my phone I decided on this occasion I would download it onto my kindle and now I have pretty much lost my kindle to the toddler and this app!!! You can buy a 3, 6, or 12 monthly subscriptions, we were send a code to try the app out for free to find out exactly what you get for a yearly subscription which retails at about £27.99 - great value.

If you are looking for the perfect app for your pre-schooler then honestly don't look any further than KidloLand, you won't be disappointed! 


BUTLIN'S SKEGNESS - Teeny Tots Review

Over a month ago I was asked whether my daughter and I would be interested in road testing a new 'Teeny Tots' break at Butlin's in Skegness and of course I had to say yes. The new 'Teeny Tots' breaks are for families with children aged two and under, a new programme added to the already popular 'Just For Tots' which gives little ones an opportunity to experience new adventures alongside their families. Butlin's have partnered with a number of industry-leaders to include sessions from baby swimming specialists Puddleducks, music and movement classes from Little Magic Train, post-natal fitness groups BuggyFit™ and baby yoga with To Baby and Beyond.
Along with my mum and my two year old daughter we set off on our girls trip to Butlin's. We don't live too far away so it wouldn't take us long to get to Butlin's with a stop off for the little one for some lunch.  I will warn you this is a quite a long review but it's only because I have so many great things to tell you about our adventure so go grab yourself a cup of tea and stay a while.

In a nutshell...

We had an amazing adventure in Butlin's, so much so we are already making plans to come back with the entire family next year. There is so much to get involved with during these breaks and the introduction of the 'Teeny Tots' activities is a big bonus for younger families. There wasn't one day where we weren't running around like headless chickens trying to fit everything in - I will probably need another holiday to get over this one.

What the toddler thought?

Well as you can imagine she absolutely loved Butlin's and even though we've been back a while she still talks about her 'horse'. My daughter has never really been keen on motion rides and even when we went to the Tots Town Fairground she pestered me to go on most of the rides but cried almost immediately before the attendants kindly stopped the ride so she could get off. A big thumbs up from us Butlin's. This particular horse ride has seen lots of £1s from us during in our stay. Apart from that blooming horse she really enjoyed the live shows, Mister Maker, Aladdin Rocks and Angelina Ballerina.  I still can't get over how many shows that are available at Butlin's and from what I have been told they can differ each year, which is fantastic. My daughter also enjoyed a few other activities during the day - the Play-Doh sessions, messy time, Tikes Town and even  enjoyed our ride in the hired Butlin's golf buggy where we had a good look around the complex.

The lovely Charlotte over at the Butlin's PR office booked us into their beautiful Seaside Apartment which are perfectly designed for families to get the best out of a break by the seaside. These recently refurbished apartments take their place in the Lagoon Bay, a short stroll away from the Skyline Pavilion, Splash Waterworld and the sandy beaches of Skegness.  It was perfect! The light and bright apartment offered an open plan lounge with an L-Shaped colourful settee with some adorable ice cream cushions, which I wanted to take with me. Complete with large patio door overlooking a patio set and being on the ground floor we would get regular visits from lots of ducks.

The kitchen had a blue teal and striped splash back colour scheme with a cooker, hob, fridge and microwave alongside all the crockery cutlery and even oven dishes. What I loved most about the kitchen was that there was a magnetic pin the tail on the donkey game which my daughter thoroughly enjoyed. In the kitchen there was an adorable teal table and chairs for mealtimes which were surprisingly comfortable and would be perfect for a family of four who have decided to go self-catering. We had a two bedroom seaside apartment and the larger bedroom of the two was a double which had an oh so comfortable bed, flat-screen TV loads of storage and a safe. My daughter had the twin bedroom all to herself, which had a contrasting deep cerise wall with a beautiful cloud mirror/light which has inspired me for my daughters room at home. My daughter was just too small for the beds themselves so we just put a mattress on the floor for her.

To be honest it was all the smaller touches that made our stay even better. My favourite had to be the poems on all the blinds throughout the bedrooms, it's such a unique touch. Housekeeping would spend time in making sure that all our clothes were folded neatly into piles and placing my daughter's Bing Bunny toy nicely on her bed - I think I need to mention that they even washed and dried up crockery we used in the morning. And the towel animal creations would always keep us guessing as to what we would go back to in the evening and no matter how hard we tried we just couldn't pull off these animal creations.

As a part of the package we were offered a premium  dining experience which gave us the choice to eat at the Yacht Club or The Deck. They both were lovely restaurants but we preferred the Yacht Club because it was the smaller restaurant of the two, quieter and the atmosphere seemed so much better. Throughout our stay I couldn't fault the front of house or the dining staff because they were always happy to help, whether it was to make small chit chat, cleaning a table for you or collecting a highchair. The only negative experience that I encountered was on the last evening. Staff were handing out balloons and unfortunately my daughter let go of hers when we left so I went back to ask for another and I was greeted by a very rude chap who rolled his eyes at me. It wasn't as if I was asking him to go out of his way to get me one I was more than happy to grab one myself but the eye roll was unnecessary.

For the breakfast dining menu there was just so much to choose from including cereals, porridge, pancakes, omelettes, a full English, fruits, yoghurts, warm pastries plus fruit juices, squashes, tea and coffee. You could help yourself to as much as you wanted as often as you wanted. Amelia tried watermelon for the first time on this break and couldn't get enough. Some weeks we can get through a whole 'water-lemon' as she calls it, in a week! The evening menus were just as varied as the breakfast menu and we would normally choose a roast dinner but the night gammon was served I decided to try the spinach and ricotta cannelloni, it was blooming delicious. For children there was a number of choices they could make for their evening meal to suit their liking, which is great news if you have a picky eater. There was an endless options for your dessert and as you can imagine we made sure we tried something different each night.
First off I wanted to talk about the main headliners for Butlin's Teeny Tots break. My daughter really enjoyed Mister Maker and went absolutely bonkers when the shapes came onto the stage, I was so pleased that Mister Maker managed to keep her attention throughout the whole show. Before the show you could buy some of Mister Maker's merchandise and unsure what she wanted we opted for a signed magazine that was £8 and came with a free bag. The next night was Aladdin Rocks and again my daughter watched the entire show without a fuss. I was so pleased with her because it seemed as if she understood what was happening too, to a point where she was telling the baddie to stop being naughty and go through the door to cry.  The last evening was Dave Benson-Phillips and if I am honest I didn't have a clue who he was at but we all thoroughly enjoyed singing along with him.

There was some fantastic shows on at the Skyline Pavilion. Angelina Ballerina, Mike The Knight, Thomas The Tank Engine, Fireman Sam, Billy & Bonnie Bear and of course  the Skyline Gang, my daughter was a big Mimi fan - must be the name. We also saw the puppet shows and the emergency entertainment which literally popped up anytime and anywhere. The Red Coats were always amazing, they would always sit with the children during the shows and encourage them to dance and join in but being friendly and professional at all times.
In addition to the entertainment there was always something to do during the day and most the time we were running around like headless chickens trying to squeeze in as much as we could. The Play-Doh Activity session was a very big hit with my daughter as there was so much involved with the session - the tables were set up with lots of Play-Doh, moulds and cutters so we were occupied for a while. We also attended the Messy Play session and it really didn't take my daughter long before she got stuck in, we did have to make a hasty exit after she decided to pour sand on another mum, I was mortified. But we found that there was a play room just on the other side of the building and we stayed there for a couple of hours and my daughter seemed to make friends very quickly, I must say even I enjoyed the play room as there was a big castle you could get lost in.
One of the Teeny Tots activities that my daughter thoroughly enjoyed was the Little Magic Train which was great for all the children to get involved with by using their imagination. Even some of us adults had fun joining in with the Little Magic Train and I would have to say that this was by far the best activity for the my Teeny Tot. With all the teeny tots activities you had to book them in advance which would mean that the sessions would fill up very quickly, but other than that they really are worth all the smiles you receive.

All three of us had an amazing adventure at Butlin's Skegness. It was excellent value for money and perfect for all families, we were never short of activities to do during this Teeny Tots Break and there seemed to be something for everyone, no matter how old you are. I don't think that I could recommend this break anymore, all the smiles on my daughter's face showed what a fantastic place Butlin's is for children. So if you have an opportunity to go to Butlin's...go! You won't regret it!


Guess who's back....

Have you missed me?
I have missed you. It feels so long ago that I have been able to sit down at my laptop, with a cup of tea to write and it feels fantastic!
How are you all? It's Christmas next month and I am wayyy to excited. Not that excited to get the Christmas tree up though, anyone else noticed that lots of people are doing this really early this year. Come on people it's only November...but I guess if it makes them happy! Fill your boots.
Anyway back to why I am here...
So, I guess you're wondering why I have been neglecting you all! Well I have been a one poorly mummy and if I am honest it's been absolute hell. I guess it started a few months ago where I would literally have zero energy to do anything and I would always want to nap. My lovely daughter would always be there ready to share her blanket and give me cuddles though, so it wasn't too bad.
We had a little break away with my mum and I tried hard to focus on that but even then the fatigue persisted but I began to get pains in my abdomen which were hard to deal with some days. I managed to make it through our little break with lots of painkillers but I knew I needed to see a doctor. But if I'm honest he was a bit pants! I told him my symptoms and he took my blood pressure which was high because I hate doctors and the cheeky sod told me that I needed to 'run'! Oh great, thanks for helping me by telling me I'm fat and that I need to run! A big thumbs up for you! NOT.  As you can imagine I wasn't too happy leaving that appointment!
Over the next week or so I was back and forth to the doctors. I think I had been to the doctors more in that week than I had ever done in my entire life, that's how much I love doctors. But it seemed to be one thing after another though during these weeks - I had swollen glands, sore throat, water infections, back pain, abdomen pain and in the end the triage team prescribed me antibiotics.
These didn't really help and I was sent for blood tests, which came back with a high liver function. This news really upset me because they couldn't really explain as to why my results returned with that in my blood stream. Then my symptoms got worse. I actually choked on my tablets and found it extremely painful to swallow water and I went back to the doctors. I managed to see the triage team, who almost immediately knew that I had severe tonsillitis - I had two huge golf balls in the back of my mouth and an IV would be the quickest way to help me. But during this appointment I had an ECG which showed an irregular heartbeat due to the infection but the hospital wouldn't accept me on the ward until the irregular heartbeat was assessed. I was told to come back in TWO days!!!
That night I couldn't handle anymore pain and my husband rushed me to hospital. I was put on an IV straight away and we were told that we were lucky that we came in when we did. The ENT specialist said that I had glandular fever, I was severely dehydrated and I had kissing tonsillitis which could have blocked my airways if I had waited the two days.

You could say that I have had an eventful couple of weeks. Glandular fever is a bitch. After my stint in hospital and about 18 IVs I was told that my symptoms could be with me for some time and it had caused some abnormalities in my liver function. I would have to go home and rest completely and no alcohol for six months to give my liver time to hopefully get back to normal - oh no its Christmas next month!!! But a small price to pay now that I am feeling more like myself!
I just wanted to share my story with you all and let you know that now I am feeling more like myself you can expect to see lots of blog posts over the coming weeks.

Explore The Adventure: Fawkes in the Walks

There is nothing better than getting yourself prepared for the colder, darker evenings than wrapping yourself up and attending a pretty firework display. It's also nice to know that Christmas is not too far away too. Ever since I could remember I have loved Bonfire Night. My family would always put on some amazing party to celebrate Guy Fawkes and of course my Nan who shared her birthday with the celebration. However, today hosting Bonfire parties are not always so easy and can be expensive and so many choose to go to safe, professional display. Something that we did this year. We attended an event in Norfolk called Fawkes in The Walks a free firework display. This is not the first time that we have attended but each year the display gets better and better I do think that this year was by far one of the best. 

Another great thing about this display is that we are practically withing walking distance, and so we involved the whole family and made the walk into town. It did take us all about half an hour to walk into town with small children and push chairs, but it was so much fun. We arrived about 7pm and the display wasn't due to start at 8pm so we had plenty of time to find a good spot. 

I must admit, both my husband and I were a little apprehensive about taking the little lady, because we just didn't know how she would react, but thankfully she absolutely loved it. Little lady loved to point out at the different colours and all the 'bangs'. 

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