Ideas for new decking

During the summer months I spend my time gazing at other peoples gardens on instagram. Large sprawling gardens with an abundance of colour make me very jealous. If I could change anything about our home, it would be a larger garden. Actually I would also love an ensuite but I shan’t be greedy.

We have lived in our house for 15 years, and over that time we have added a decking area which we use to dine al fresco (which happens about twice a year with our wonderful weather). Our garden is triangular shape, so we try and make the most of the space we have.  The area below used to be filled with plants, but we decided to remove them about 2 years ago as we felt it would give more space in the garden.

How it used to look.

We covered the area with stones and at first it looked lovely. It reminded me of a little beach area when it was first done as the stones reminded me of pebbles. But over time the stones became dirty, and full of leaves and berries from nearby trees. So we decided we would add another decking area, which would make it easier to brush up the leaves. I love our new decking area but I am undecided what to put on it. I was thinking of a more comfortable seating area or maybe deckchairs ? And then do we stain it or not ? Oh decisions decisions…..

I have to thank my wonderful step dad for putting the new decking down for us whilst we were away.

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I am linking up with the lovely Jess from Mummy of Boy Girl Twins and

the lovely Caro from  The Twinkle Diaries

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The Ordinary Moments of the Summer holidays

This is my first time linking up with the lovely Katie from mummydaddyme for the ‘Ordinary Moments’. Katie has an amazing talent for capturing the ordinary everyday moments.  Those moments that stop you in your tracks and make you feel grateful. The simple things that make us smile. Whilst our summer has been the usual whirl of holidays and days out, I wanted to remember some of the more calmer moments. The moments which have made us all smile over the summer holidays.

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Playing scrabble

When you have a teen, the only games they want to play are attached to a media device. So when we arrived at Forest Holidays to be met with a Scrabble board, I was amazed that the teen was desperate to play it. He is really competitive, just like his dad, and all he wanted to do was beat us. I was just happy to have some much needed time with him, laughing about the ‘ruder’ words we were coming up with. The board also came in handy for sending each other little notes. This one was from Katie….. bless her.

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The beach

On the eve of Morgan turning 13, we spent a lovely few hours on the beach. This was one of those ‘spur of the moment’ decisions. We quickly threw some food in a bag, grabbed the bucket and spade and headed down to the private beach where we were staying. The boys played football, Katie made sandcastles, and I watched my gorgeous family. 13 years earlier I would have been in labour about to start our parenting journey. I sat on the beach that evening thinking how lucky we were.

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Walking in the forest

I find the forest so calming. I think this is why we head back to Centerparcs every year, and have recently fallen in love with Forest Holidays. Usually ‘going for a walk’ means the teen runs to his room and hides in his bed for the next week. But suggest a walk through the forest, and he is up for it. We enjoyed lots of evening walks when we were staying near Sherwood Forest. We even managed a rare selfie of the 4 of us whilst sitting on a log.

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Kids playing together

Now my 2 have always had a love/hate relationship. They love nothing more than winding each other up and getting the other one in trouble. But during the holidays something strange happens. They actually get on FAR better. When we went to Forest Holidays they had to share a bedroom, something I was dreading. But for 7 nights they were fantastic. One night I sat outside their room as I could hear them chattering away gone 11.30pm. They had made dens out of their beds and were whispering away to each other. I sat on the floor smiling away, and couldn’t bear to go in and tell them to go to sleep. Right infront of me was an ordinary moment. An ordinary moment where my children were having fun with each other.

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A rare picture of my two together and smiling

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My Sunday Photo 30th August 2015

I came across this picture last week.

It was taken 5 years ago on the morning that Katie went off to school for the very first time.

In a few more days Katie will be in year 5.

I can’t quite believe she only has 2 more years of Primary School left.

She looks so happy and proud in this picture, and thankfully she still loves school.

For anyone who will be waving their little ones off for the very first time soon, it really does go in the blink of an eye.

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Valley Mill Handmade Soaps – Review

I was recently asked to review some handmade soap from Valley Mill. They offer a wide range of natural products such as soap, soy candles and gorgeous Welsh slate products. You can order from their website or visit the shop which is based in Neath, South Wales. Funnily enough this is where my husband is from, and his parents and sister still live in Neath. I will definitely be taking a visit to the shop next time we head down to South Wales.

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I received 2 soap products, which arrived beautifully packaged. Everything about the packaging felt natural whilst still retaining a luxury feel to it. As soon as I opened the box, I was met with the most wonderful fragrance. We had been sent the Bergamot and Basil and also the Tea-Tree and Witch Hazel soaps.

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As my son was suffering with the usual teenage spots, I gave him the Tea-Tree soap to try. After using it for a few days, I noticed his spots had actually started to disappear and his complexion was clearer. He said the soap felt nice on his face, and he has been using it daily since I received it. I will definitely buy him some more instead of his usual face wash. With it being 100% natural and hand made, I know its going to be kinder to his teenage skin.

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This left the Bergamot and Basil bar for me to try out. I loved the smell of the soap, which I thought had a liquorice smell to it. The soap lathered up quickly and the smell really lingered on your hands after using it.

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I use liquid hand soap but I will definitely be switching to Valley Mill soaps from now on. They are priced at £4.00 which I think is good value considering they are natural and hand made.

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Thank you to Valley Mill for supplying me with 2 bars of soap. All words and opinions are my own.

Tried and Tested

Auchenlarie Holiday Park in Scotland

Late on Sunday we returned home from our 3rd and final adventure of the summer holidays. We had been up to Scotland for our 4th visit to Auchenlarie Holiday Park, which is in Dumfries and Galloway. Whilst we love to holiday in different places, Auchenlarie is somewhere we have never tired of visiting. The kids love it there as much as we do, and here is why

The Seaview

The site slopes down to the sea which means that virtually every caravan or lodge will have a Seaview. I find it so relaxing gazing out to sea with a coffee/wine in hand.  Here is the view from our decking

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The accommodation

As with most holiday parks, Auchenlarie has a wide range of accommodation.  On previous occasions we have stayed in a standard caravan, even snapping up 4 nights during Easter for £69.00. This year we stayed in the park lodge, which was virtually brand new. It had 3 bedrooms, a huge ensuite and a fireplace I could look at all day. The price was £575.oo for the full week, which for the quality of the lodge was fantastic value. One thing I love is that ALL of the accommodation comes complete with decking, even the standard caravans.

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Private Beach

Whilst it is quite a steep slope getting down to it, it is worth the trip to the private beach. We enjoyed many hours on the beach, playing football, climbing on the rocks, paddling in the sea and having picnics. It was never busy, and one time we even had the whole beach to ourselves. Pure bliss.

Beach

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Facilities on site

There is a small pool, arcade, restaurant, take away, sports bar, crazy golf, shop, and play areas dotted around the site. You have to book a session in the pool, and they also have pool parties twice a week. There is an additional charge of £2.oo per person, but this was well worth it as the kids had a great time. We enjoyed the take away one evening back in the lodge, which was good value and tasted fresh.

Entertainment

There is a modern entertainment suite which usually opens at 7.30pm. You need to purchase entertainment passes, which are around £30.00 for 2 adults and 2 children for the full week. There is a good mix of entertainment in the evening, and there is always a good atmosphere in there.  They also have activities running during the day. My daughter went to Build a Bear, daytime karaoke and we did the family quiz (which we won whoop).

Katie with the bunny she made

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This is the balloon Katie won when we visited in 2014. Oh the fun we had getting it in the car

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The local area

There really is lots to do in the local area, and even though we have visited 4 times we are still finding new places to go to. Some of our favourites are Cream o Galloway (ice cream farm and adventure park), Laggan outdoor activity centre and the chocolate factory. And whilst you are driving to nearby places, sit back and enjoy the stunning Scottish scenery.

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Would we return for a 5th time ?

Before we went, I honestly thought this would be our last visit. But sitting on the decking with the sun shining down (a rare miracle in Scotland), I felt sad with the prospect of not returning again. The park has such a nice atmosphere, and the staff have always been so helpful and friendly. Its a safe site and the children are getting to the age where they can go off and explore by themselves. The children are already asking to go back next year, so I am sure they will twist my arm. Though where holidays are concerned, my arm needs no twisting. See you next year Auchenlarie for our 5th visit.

Linking up with mytravelmonkey and packingmysuitcase for Monday Escapes

Monday escapes

Ravensburger Puzzle Review – Happy Days Tenby

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Ravensburger recently sent me one of their puzzles to review. It has been about 12 years since I last tackled a puzzle with more than 50 pieces and didn’t have a Disney Princess on it. This puzzle was a huge 1000 pieces and was entitled ‘Happy Days Tenby’.

The puzzle is part of the Happy Days series from Ravensburger, and the painting of Tenby’s famous harbour is by artist Kevin Walsh. I love the picture as there is so much detail and colour to it. Which is a good thing when you are tackling a puzzle.

First thing we had to decide was where to actually do the puzzle. I didn’t really want to do it on the dining room table, so we borrowed a large folding table from my mum. I must admit it was the perfect size, and meant we could tackle the puzzle from the comfort of the sofa.

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On opening the box the actual pieces are contained in a sealed bag. There is also a leaflet giving some information on the artist, plus an additional picture of the scene. This is a must when 2 people are tackling the puzzle together. Upon realising the enormity of the challenge, I quickly set to work. Obviously I started with the outer pieces, and then worked on the different colour houses, boats and then the hardest bits which were the sky and the sea.

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The puzzle was well crafted, and thankfully all 1000 pieces were there. I started on the Thursday evening and the final piece was put in on Monday morning. Husband actually thought it would take me weeks to finish it, but I proved him wrong and did it in a few days. Despite not touching a puzzle for all those years, I really enjoyed doing it. I found it relaxing, and kept my hands busy in the evenings. Which is a good thing because if your hands are busy they keep out of the biscuit tin ! And above all a sense of achievement. A sense of achievement that the whole family shared, as husband and the kids got involved too.

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I will definitely not leave it another 12 years before tackling another puzzle. Thank you to Ravensburger for supplying the puzzle for the purpose of this review.

Tried and Tested