Confessions of a Pinterest addict

I have many traits, some good, some bad (my husband could make a lot of suggestions here) but probably my most prevalent is my creativity.  I’m not happy unless I’m creating something, anything.  Be it composing a new song, writing harmonies for our ladies choir, prettying up the house or trawling through a myriad of Pinterest posts trying to decide on the next craft project I can undertake. My name is Rachel and I am a Pinterest addict. There, I said it.  In all honesty, I probably spend far too much time saving pins and planning rather than actually ‘doing’.  Its a small (large) issue I have. My head is constantly buzzing with ideas so much so it’s hard to switch off when I go to bed at night.  It can be a real hindrance though as I can never quite decide what to get started on as I want to try EVERYTHING!rachpoppy pinterest profile - twinkle twit

Home and Garden Inspiration Board

I have a ‘Home and Garden Inspiration’ board. Well all I can say about that is, ‘Inspiration’ yes, ‘reality’ erm nope!  All very beautiful but where is all the everyday crap on these pins.  I mean where is the boot that your toddler has decided to place on the windowsill for dramatic effect or the half eaten toast that your one year old has decided to throw on the floor for the dog.  Maybe you don’t have a dog so don’t have the luxury of charmingly customised french doors complete with scratch marks and muddy paw prints or maybe you’re lucky enough to have a fully decorated hall, stairs and landing rather than the one sample piece of Laura Ashley I have sellotaped that’s been there for maybe 3 years? I kid you not!

Food, Glorious Food

Anyone who knows me especially the kids will assure you I’m no chef.  But somehow I feel that saving pins lilke Chicken Parmesan bake and Baked Meatball Parmigiana will suddenly turn me into Nigella overnight.  It’s not that I can’t cook (although the older kids will tell you otherwise with their tale of my Lasagne Soup) it’s just that I basically can’t be arsed.  The vision of myself adorned with Cath Kidston apron, in an immaculately tidy kitchen whilst children sit quietly occupied at the nearby kitchen table is a picture of perfect domesticity that’s almost hard to resist.  ‘Almost’.  The fact is though that the real scene would probably bare more resemblance to an episode of Hoarders. Mismatched pots and pans covering the entire worktop, a flour explosion, kids killing each other in the next room (yes, we don’t even have a kitchen table) and an end result that looks like a science experiment.  Strangely enough this is what puts me off the whole idea.

Baby and Toddler Boards

I have a couple of Baby and Toddler boards which have proved useful.  My particular favourite posts would probably be ’10 ways to stop a tantrum’ and ‘My child whines all the time’.  However, ‘Forty+ handmade gifts for kids’ and ‘How to make a busy box for toddlers’ tend NOT to be utilised quite so often.  A little too much effort and patience required for these and most days the accounts, vacuuming, general clean up gets in the way.

Craft Projects

On the craft project front I’m more willing but by the time I’ve finished saving those pins on DIY Wine Cork Pendants, Fabric Pumpkins and that Burlap Wreath Tutorial I realise I have no corks, the fabric I have is not quite the right pattern and I must pick up a reel of burlap next time I visit Hobbycraft.  I do get started occasionally however and recently had an afternoon working on some mason jars. Here are the results……

ombre spray painted mason jar pink and gold Lilac chalk painted mason jar with white spotsPink chalk painted mason jar with hand painted flowers Off white chalk painted mason jar with hand painted roses

You can find all these in my Etsy Shop. Yeah, shameless plug, who cares ;).

Craft Rooms and Craft Organisation Board

Now let me move onto my ‘Craft Rooms and Craft Organisation’ board.  Fabulously spacious work areas with an array of plastic boxes, storage solutions and general cleverness.  Hmmm if you could only see my craft space.  I use that term lightly.  My actual craft room, in theory should be a wonderfully organised haven of creativity.  You see, I had a gorgeous summer house built in the garden around 2 and half years ago with more than enough room to get my craft on.  Well life, work and two further babies got in the way and my summer house is still just that – a summer house.  No electric, no light and many boxes of craft (or crap as hubby calls it) are piled high, most overflowing and jumbled.

rachpoppy pinterest boards - twinkle twit

So why the fascination?

Despite my own lack of Pinterest worthy loveliness I do love to look at everyone else’s and I think that is where the real appeal lies.  I can very easily get lost in my ‘Cosy Christmas and Winter Wishes’ board.  There’s just something so inviting about a fireside candlelit scene to invoke a warm feeling inside.  Or a picture of children awaiting Santa’s visit to bring back memories and excitement of childhood.  I can dream about the clothes and shoes I’d like to own even if my own bank account won’t allow.  And I can marvel at the uniqueness and creativity of others from beautiful water colour paintings to an upcycled broken chinese crockery dress.

So how do you all feel about Pinterest?  Love it, hate it?  Please don’t tell me though that yours is one of the lovely homes I have pinned to my Home and Garden Inspiration board.  If so, I really don’t think we can be friends.  Those homes are not real, not in my mind anyway.  Everyone is welcome in the Pinterest addicts club, make your confessions now!

Thanks for stopping by! x

And then there were 5

Remember me? Yeah it’s been a few months.  In that time our family has seen a 1st birthday, a 21st birthday, Christmas and a house move.  If someone had told me back in 1996 when Sam arrived that in 21 years time we’d be celebrating his birthday plus that of his 1 year old brother I’d have laughed my arse off to say the least!  But there we were November 2017 doing just that.  For Freddie, we hired a small community room just around the corner and invited friends and family to spend a couple of hours with him, eating cake and sandwiches.  Freddie had a whale of a time with his new toys and my friend made him the most amazing Bing Bunny cake.

Sam’s birthday on the other hand was a little bit more of a lively affair.  We hired a room at the local cricket club and all had a great time dancing the night away.  Sam was a little bit worse for wear by the end of the night, mistaking his sister for his cousin and falling asleep in bed with his head in the sick bowl!   We did discover the next morning that he’d also had a small accident during the night but my lips are sealed on that one.  (You’ll have to ask him yourself if you wish to learn the gory details).

Christmas was fairly quiet with a breakfast out at Gil’s Old Village Stores in Wolverly on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day at home and then a Boxing Day family meal at Bodenham Arboretum.  Eliza really enjoyed the whole Santa experience this time and she had a little more idea what was happening now at the grand old age of 2.  I think Freddie would have been just as happy with the wrapping paper to be honest but wow did he enjoy his Christmas dinner!

Sam with his cousins, girlfriend Masie and sister Abi at Bodenham Arboretum
Christmas Eve Breakfast at Gil’s Old Village Store, Wolverly
Boxing day lunch and Bodenham Arboretum

With Christmas out of the way, 15th January saw Sam and his girlfriend Masie move into their first home.  A very exciting time for us all although they did have a pretty awful first week. Their boiler played up hence no heating, I visited with the littlelies and had my wing mirror destroyed by a complete prat of a driver and then their oven door dramatically exploded on their 4th night in the house showering Masie’s legs and feet with glass and seeing her in A&E.  All has settled down now.  New oven fitted, a nice warm house and all quiet on the western front.  A little too quiet for Sam so it seems especially when Masie’s at work and he’s left to his own devices.  Never thought he’d miss the hustle and bustle of ‘hotel Griffiths’ but appears he does, well a little bit anyway.

It does feel strange having your first born fly the coup.  Everyone keeps asking if I’m missing him and it’s a strange one really.  He’s spent such a lot of time away from home over the last couple of years that I’ve kind of got used to him not being here anyway. I suppose it sort of broke me in gently.  I do miss our occasional afternoon horror film sessions that we used to enjoy. This was something that just we shared as both Paul and Abi hate horror films. We managed to get one last viewing in just before he moved out and spent the afternoon hiding behind cushions (well me anyway) and generally scaring the shite out of each other whilst watching ‘It’.They’ve not moved far and we’ve already had several face time sessions including one where I instructed him how to program the thermostat.  Isn’t technology a wonderful thing!  I also got a text message to tell me that him and Masie, being the responsible adults they were, had decided to have pudding for dinner and were having a sleepover/cinema session in the lounge.  The photo’s that followed confirmed his with them sprawled under the duvet on the lounge floor.  Well as far as I’m concerned if you can’t have you own ‘duvet sleepover-in-the-lounge pudding-for-dinner cinema day’ when you first move in together then there’s something wrong somewhere.

I packaged up some of the things he’d left behind.  I’m not a big crier but I’m not ashamed to tell you a shed a little tear when I opened a box to find the football trophies he’d amassed as a child.  Thinking of him in his various football kits and football boots.  Consoling him when he didn’t get to play and praising him when he got man of the match or scored a goal or two.  From playschool to nursery, to primary school, to high school, to college, to work…..21 years has passed in the blink of an eye.

We miss his loud voice, be it shouting or singing but the language in the house is certainly a little tamer these days.  We’ve discovered that his bedroom has carpet which was a shock to us all.  We miss his ability to make us laugh with the most politically incorrect comments at the most inappropriate moments.  We miss all the things that make Sam, Sam!  I’ve no doubt if he reads this he’ll say “for gods sake mom I’ve only moved up the road” but I know deep down he’ll be glad to know he’s missed.

Thanks for stopping by! x

Blowing the cobwebs away in Ladram Bay

We decided to take a little break prior to the October half term holidays.  When I say ‘we’ I actually mean me and the littlies.  I asked Mom if she’d like to come with me and then Dad and my brother Steve gatecrashed too (along with Abi in the end due to other issues)!  Mom and Dad have visited Ladram Bay many times before in their touring caravan.  I loved the thought of a week of no responsibilities with plenty of onsite facilities for Eliza and Freddie so we decided to book a static caravan.

Photo courtesy of Bay Holiday Park

The Ladram Bay Holiday Park is in Otterton, near Budleigh Salterton, Devon.  A great location to get to, there’s just a 20 minutes drive after leaving the M5 at Exeter.  We arrived on Monday afternoon around 2pm and although our caravan wasn’t due to be ready till 3 we were allowed to enter.  First impressions of the caravan were good although we did find some things during our stay that were less than impressive.  We opted for a Budleigh Premier 3 (ours was B41) which was allegedly suitable for 6 – 8 occupants.  Sorry, Ladram Bay, I beg to differ.  Although the caravan had the correct number of sleeping facilities for this number, the overall space in the caravan told a different story.  The lounge area was tiny and the dining table only seated 4 with a couple of wooden folding chairs left in the corner.

Accommodation = Disappointing

After hearing such fab things about Ladram I was a little disappointed to find soapy marks left on our bathroom sink unit along with an overflow that looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in a loooooong time.  The children’s socks and in Freddie’s case, knees were filthy after travelling around the floor.  The main bathroom blind was completely covered in mould and the dining chairs were replacements from the club onsite.  They didn’t fit under the table correctly which meant it was impossible to seat 4 people at the table at once.  Not great when we were actually a party of 7!

Holiday Park = Fabulous!

However………..taking all this into account I must now move onto the park itself which was, I have to say, wonderful!  Reception staff were extremely friendly upon our arrival and this turned out to be an indication of our experience on the site throughout the week.  We visited Pebbles Restaurant just after arriving and had a lovely meal.  I felt the overall meal prices were rather expensive for a holiday park but there was no denying that the food tasted delicious.  We strolled down to the shingle beach around 6pm and caught some lovely large waves that had arrived with Storm Ophelia.  Eliza wasn’t too keen on the sound on this as the sound of the waves crashing over the shingle was rather deafening.

Waves Bar

We headed to Waves Bar to catch the kids entertainment.  Eliza was a little wary at first.  The little kids were all up dancing and then Pickles the Parrot arrived to entertain the kids along with Ryan and Abi from the entertainments team.  In the end she was up on the dance floor jumping around like a kangaroo and even managed to win a prize (a light up toy) in the ‘Musical Opposites’ game.  During our holiday we visited Waves Bar every night and each night she enjoyed it even more, making lots of friends and winning more prizes.  We won a bottle of fizz for both coming top in the quiz on Tuesday night and also Guess the Year.  Wednesday night we won again for Guess the Board Game.  We thought we’d best give up at this point as we might be banned :).


The entertainments team were superb.  Their rapport with the kids (and adults) was fantastic and the talent during their cabaret shows was exceptional and extremely high energy.  Bar and restaurant staff were also extremely friendly and helpful in particular Sam, who served us in Pebbles on a couple of occasions.

Good weather isn’t everything

Weather during the week was dire to say the least.  The sun shone upon our arrival and once again upon our departure but in between we had a murky mix of rain, strong winds, mist and general bleurgghh.  We had Storm Ophelia at the beginning of our week and Storm Brian at the end!  None of it bothered us though.  We either wrapped up warm and headed to the onsite facilities or we grabbed the crossword and a hot cuppa.  Freddie spent his time using his newly acquired crawling skills to investigate the caravan.

The swimming complex

We made a visit to Budleigh Salterton for a stroll up and down the high street but other than this we filled our days with swimming, the adventure playground and the amusement arcade.  The swimming complex was outstanding!  The toddler pool was a great size with water just 30cm in depth and an array of sprays and slides for the little ones.  There was also one larger slide that ran alongside.  The big pool was just perfect.  It had a non-slip rubberised floor and the whole pool was just one depth which was great for nervous swimmers like me.  We took Eliza in with her armbands on and Freddie in his sit in ring and they loved every minute (well after a slight early meltdown from the terrible two year old).  Abi and I popped into the sauna and steam room which I have to say were two of the best I’ve been in, the steam room in particular.  Changing rooms were unisex with plenty of space for everyone.  Lots of cubicles and a couple with baby changing tables.  Lockers were available to hire for £1.  There was a modern cafe area alongside the pool where spectators can watch through a window.  Mom and Steve came to visit and take photo’s of the littlies.

Other site facilities

Other facilities onsite include a soft play area, jurassic golf, children’s play area, launderette, shop and takeaway.  The shop had a great supply of goods with pretty much everything you might need whilst away.  Abi even managed to get a swimming costume as she’d forgotten hers.  The children’s playgrounds were in good condition with a zip wire for the older kids and big wooden pirate ship.  There was a smaller area for little children although the absence of baby swings was slightly disappointing so Freddie and I had a swing together on the big people swings :).  The amusement arcade was not terribly overpriced like some.  Lots of coin tip games, 30p per play for the grabbers and plenty of others around the 30-50p mark.

There are lovely scenic walks that can be taken from the site but due to our rather unfortunate weather we gave these a miss.  If you’re feeling energetic you could even do the 30 minute walk down to The Mill in Otterton which I’m told is well worth a visit.

All in all I would definitely visit Ladram again but would definitely opt for different accommodation!


Thanks for stopping by! x

10 months and trying mommy’s patience

baby hand in adult handOk so I need to vent. Dearest little Freddie is 10 months now, in fact he’s almost 11. But there’s a serious possibility that Mommy will lose her shit very soon. You see, he’s always been a fairly clingy baby, clingy to Mommy anyway. But all of sudden anything other than him being permanently within 3 inches of me he finds completely unacceptable.  Some days I think he’d rather starve than have me out of his sight for 2 minutes while I make lunch or a bottle.

Is his development behind?

I personally think his physical development and mobility is a little behind. I know I shouldn’t compare but clearly I’ve been there 3 times already and the others were just doing a lot more by this age. Although Eliza didn’t walk unaided till just after her 1st birthday, she was a super fast crawler and very mobile in pulling herself up furniture and cruising around the room. Sam and Abi even walked around the 10 month mark. But Freddie, well he can sit unaided and if you put him in his tummy he kind if slithers around, mostly backward I must add. He likes to stand but only holding onto Mommy and grasping at my clothing and skin! I’ve put him by his walker and stood him by the sofas, being careful to be within catching distance but no, he immediately reaches for me.

Frustrated! Him and me!

Personally, I think his lack of physical ability is causing a lot of frustration and this is possibly part of the problem. I sit him on the floor, play with him for a while but then the second I get up he cries. Show him his toys and then he cries because he can’t reach something and is unable to get himself into a crawling position from sitting. Help him into a crawling position and he ends up going backwards further and further away from his toys which just ends in even more frustration and screaming. He tries his hardest to get on his hands and knees but it lasts a few seconds and then he collapses back down again.

Groundhog day

He finally gets tired, rubs his eyes and I put him to bed. Trouble is he gets up a while later and the whole process starts again. Oh and this morning his nap routine consists of him screaming his head off upstairs while I pretend not to notice the baby monitor and get some washing in and work done before Eliza needs collecting from nursery.

Arrrggghhh tell me you’ve been there? Please tell me it gets better!!

Thanks for stopping by! X

Half Term with the kids – what’s on

We’ve reached October and half term is just 3 weeks away.  I don’t know about you but I’ve already started scouring the local papers, FB events and general media for half decent events we can add to our calendar.  If you haven’t the time for searching then check out my discoveries below, in and around the West Midlands area.  You may find something that will entertain you.

Half Term Activities – October 2017

Open weekend at the Bonded Warehouse – Stourbridge

Stourbridge canal open dayFriday 21st & Saturday 22nd October, 2017
There is free admission to the site and there are a number of attractions which include classic vehicles, traction engines, amusements, canal boat trips, fairground organs and a craft fair in the Bonded Warehouse.


Halloween family fun at Arley Arboretum – Arley, Worcestershire

Kids go free at Arley ArboretumMonday 23rd – Friday 27th October, 2017
KIDS GO FREE – Your little one can explore the Arboretum, searching high and low for clues on our Ghoulish Graveyard Trail! The trail costs £2 and includes a prize.  There will be face painting and glitter tattoos in the Halloween Activity Tent, where there will also be a colouring competition for kids to enjoy.  There are lots of FREE children’s activities too…  Join in the Dinosaur, Fairy and Pre-school Woodland Animal Trails, conquer the maze to reach the castle and play in the adventure playground. Plus enjoy the extra challenge of the spooky night time maze!  Forestry Adventures Clubs and extra evening sessions also available and the tea room will be open in the evening for hot sandwiches and tasty treats.


Half Term Halloween at the Avoncroft Museum – Bromsgrove

Kids celebrating Halloween at Avoncroft MuseumMonday 23rd to Friday 27th October, 2017
Creep down to Avoncroft this half term for spook-tacular fun!  Get into your spookiest costume and fly down to Avoncroft to create creepy crafts, carve pumpkins and make your own witch or wizards broomstick! Complete your scary outfit by getting your face painted too! Brave the Halloween trail around the the extra spooky museum grounds – do you have what it takes to find all the clues? Mwahahaha!  Normal museum admission applies, please note that some of the activities on site may have an additional charge.


Manor House of Witchcraft and Wizardry – West Bromwich

Witch at the Manor House, West BromwichMonday 23rd October, 2017
There are lots of things going on at the Manor House this Halloween for all witches and wizards in training. Attend magic class, story class, see some animals or make some spooky crafts.  Admission 50p per child, adults accompanying a child free. There will be a charge for some activities. Last entry is 30 minutes before closing.  Where an activity or event is staged inside one of our buildings, if the maximum capacity is reached we reserve the right to refuse entry.  Pushchairs are not allowed inside the Manor House.  The Manor House has no disabled access at present


Little Skippers: Halloween – Dudley Canal Trust and Tunnels

Child doing Halloween craft at the Dudley Canal TrustTuesday 24th to 27th October, 2017
Hugely popular school holiday activities and boat trip are back for more family fun this October half term!  Join Little Skippers for a 45 minute boat trip followed by things to make and do. This half term they’re bringing Halloween crafts and activities to entertain in true spooky style.  Get hands on with potions kits to make an animal-inspired super power potion, then make yourself a witchy or wizardly hat to get you properly into the Halloween spirit. Create a creepy creature to add to the display, or take home with you.
Tickets are just £4.75 each and include the boat trip as well as activities for children and a hot drink from The Gongoozler for adults. The boat departs at 10am – visitors are encouraged to arrive by 9.50am to check-in before their trip.


Pumpkin Parlour – Becketts Farm, Wythall, Birmingham

Pumpkin Parlour poster at Becketts FarmTuesday 24th to Sunday 29th October, 2017
Your little monsters will be responsible for scooping out the pumpkin brains, choosing their pumpkin face and pinning out the template and then finally covering in skeleton dust so that the masters (that’s you Mum & Dad) can do the carving.  Fancy dress is optional, but there will be an extra treat for any little goblins, ghosts & witches that make a ghastly effort!  £2 entry per child.  You can buy pumpkins in the Farm Shop (or you can bring your own) and carve it there so no mess in your kitchen at home!  * All children require adult supervision whilst carving pumpkins (At least 1 guardian per 2 children).


Himley’s Halloween Hunt – Himley Hall & Park, Dudley

Pumpkin in the autumn leaves at Himley ParkTuesday 24th October, 2017
The ghouls and ghosts of Himley Hall have escaped onto the park. Find them all and claim your spooky certificate. A chance for the kids to let off some steam during the half term holidays. Children must be accompanied by an adult.  Free event


Trick and Treat – Red House Cone Museum, Wordsley

Ghost, Witch and devil trick and treating - Red House Cone MuseumFriday 27th to Sunday 29th October, 2017
Trick and Treat around the Cone. A safe and fun family event. Decorate a goody bag and then see who or what you can find around the site with treats. Pre-booking required. Kid friendly.  Free entry, £3 charge for crafts



Self-led Halloween Trail – Severn Valley Country Park, Alveley

Spooky Halloween tree against moon silhouette - Severn Valley Country ParkSaturday 21st to Sunday 29th October, 2017
Follow the Halloween trail around the park. See if you can solve the creepy clues to win a lolly! Trail map £2.00 each and are available each day of the school holidays from the visitor centre 11am-3pm.

Halloween Story & Crafts Session

Wednesday 25th October, 2017
There are 2 sessions of this event 10am-12pm & 1.30pm-3.30pm.  Enjoy the popular Halloween story ‘Room on the Broom’ with rangers and volunteers. Also, mix up some spooky potions and make yourself a wizard’s hat and witches broom!
Please dress for the outdoors. Children £3.50, Adults free. Please call 01746 781 192 to book your place. Please call 01746 781 192. Under 8s must be accompanied by an adult. Suitable for ages 4 and upwards.


Thanks for stopping by! x

September remembered

There’s something about September I’ve always loved.  I think Tom Hanks sums it up perfectly in the film ‘You’ve Got Mail’. “Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies.” Maybe I long for the carefree school days when picking my new pencil case, binder and pens for school start in September was my greatest stress in life. 


I think it’s also the anticipation that Summer is over and we’re moving onto new things.  New school classes, new weather, new clothes. Then right around the corner comes the turning back of the clocks, dark cosy nights, Halloween and before you know it (dare I say it?)….Christmas!  Sorry, shoot me now. I mentioned the big ‘C’ word.

So September for us is not quite the hectic time it is for some.  We don’t have school age kids that need a multitude of school uniform items or stationery.  However, this September saw Sam our 20 year old back at college part time doing a teaching qualification, Abi back at college continuing her Music Tech course and little Eliza, well she joined the educational ranks and started nursery 2 mornings a week.  Which I must add she is totally loving!  Not a single tear has been shed and most mornings she can’t wait to get rid of me and run off to the nearest appealing toy.  Must admit I think I prefer it this way though rather than a clingy, crying toddler that won’t leave my side.

So here’s my picture round up as we reach the end of September and move on to October and all things pumpkin and Halloween.

Toddler friendly day trips in the Heart of England – Part 2

Ludlow & Arley Arboretum

So further to my last post, onward to part two of our summer holiday day trips.


Ludlow is a picturesque market town in Shropshire.  Situated on the River Teme it is filled with quaint timber framed buildings and has a castle that dates back to 1085.  We started off our day by managing to nab a parking space on the roadside in the Linney.  It was extremely busy due to the Summer holidays so our luck was really in.  It turned out to be the most ideal spot, a lovely grassed area by the river and alongside the Green Cafe.  The sun was shining so we settled down for a picnic lunch on the grass and mom popped to the cafe to get a cuppa for us both.  Eliza had a great time running around and we popped down by the riverside to see the ducks.

 We’d been to Ludlow many times before but never visited the castle so I thought this might be something a little different for Eliza.  We walked up the steep path from the Linney along Dinham and Ludlow Castle was directly at the top of the hill.  Only £5 each for adults to enter and children under 6 were free.  I have to say at this stage that at no point could I have envisaged quite how much fun Eliza would have.  With her little ladybird backpack she wandered around the castle grounds, in and out the castle ruins, up and down staircases (with Mommy’s help) and even the darkest, spookiest looking crevices without a hint of fear.  She had a permanent smile on her face and couldn’t wait to see the next surprise the castle had in store.  Who would have thought a 2 year old could get so much from a castle of all things?!

Eliza’s little legs were feeling a little worse for wear after her tour of the castle so we found a lovely little cafe directly opposite called the Castle Lodge Buttery and stopped in for tea and cake (are you noticing a theme here?).  We had a slow walk back down the car, or so we thought, as upon arriving Eliza decided she wanted to run around again so we spent another half an hour on the little green where we’d eaten lunch.  Wonderful day out and definitely our first castle of many!

Arley Arboretum

This is one I kept hearing about from other visitors and their upcoming events also kept popping up on my facebook timeline so one day my friend and I decided to give it a go with the kids in tow.  First off I have to say that I stuck the postcode in my SatNav as although I’d visited Arley many times before I didn’t know exactly where the Arboretum was.  Well, it turns out neither did the SatNav as it took us around the back of the park which had no vehicular access.  One conversation with a local later and we were once again on our merry way, in the right direction this time.

Arley Arboretum is situated in Worcestershire near the town of Bewdley and is home to one of the Severn Valley Railway stations.  You can actually see the steam trains from several locations as you walk around the arboretum.  What attracted me to Arley Arboretum was their child friendly outdoor activities.  Aside from the usual play areas (yes, there was one of these too) they offer a range of different ‘hunting’ trails.  We chose to do the Fairy trail on our visit but there were others too such as the Dinosaur Trail and Woodland Animal Trail for the little ankle biters to take part in.  We picked up a sheet on our way in and then followed the directions to hunt for fairies and answer questions on our way around the arboretum.  Both Eliza and her friend loved hunting for the next fairy and looking up into the trees to see who could spot it first.  The cost again is only £5 per adult to enter and children under 3 are free.  Just a note thought, that the arboretum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

In addition to the various trails there was a small maze which was ideal for younger children, a play area, several picnic areas and a sensory garden.  The sensory garden was still under development but there were a few bits and pieces for the girls to play with including some hanging chime bars.  We stopped for a quick picnic lunch by the play area and we could see the trains whooshing along down in the valley.

We were a little short on time on the day we visited so I’m sure there were other areas that we missed.  Eliza was quite intrigued by the fountain as she’d never seen anything like this before.  A bit apprehensive too though as I think she thought she was due a shower and was not very keen on the idea!

The arboretum has a lovely cafe which also doubles as the ticket office on your way in.  We had a super lunch and the rainbow cake was to die for! There are other activities on offer for kids including a Forestry Mini-Adventure Club.  This is at an additional cost to the normal entry fee but definitely worth considering if you have the time.  If you look on the Facebook page too there’s always information on upcoming seasonal events such as Halloween or Easter.  Download the full information leaflet here.

Thanks for stopping by! x

Decoupage candles with napkins – a tutorial

I’ve been having some super feedback recently from my lovely Instagram family as I like to call them.  As you know my crafting ‘time allowance’ is fairly limited these days due to a) having nowhere to work and b) a baby of 10 months and a 2 year old, need I say more?!
However, I discovered that I was acquiring rather a large collection of baby food jars and the crafter in me just kicked right in with thoughts of….. hmmmm I could do something with those.  So, a few post bedtime (for the kids, not me) craft sessions later and lots of trial and error and I managed to create some lovely decoupage jars.  Yes, I know what you’re thinking.  The title says Decoupage Candles? Yes, well I’m coming to that.  My hairdresser upon spotting the jars said how lovely they were and would I like a table at their school Christmas Fayre in December.  At first I thought I’d never manage to produce enough stock with such limited time but then I thought what the hell, I’ll just do what I can.  Fast forward a few Pinterest scrolling sessions for craft ideas and I came across Decoupage Candles.  I thought I’d give others the chance to see how simple these are to make and maybe have a go for themselves.

Decoupage Candle Tutorial

1.To start with you need the following items:

Church / Pillar candle
Metal spoon
Tealight or open flame of some kind
Small scissors

Decoupage candle materials

2. Next you need to decide which part of your napkin design you’ll use for your project and cut it out.  This is where the small scissors come in.  You can see I’ve taken the centre ‘wreath’ part of the napkin and already cut it out.  You don’t need to be completely accurate as you can leave some of the background colour in there too if you think it looks OK.

Napkin for decoupage

3. Now, you need to take the napkin design that you’ve cut out and peel away the layers so that you only have the top layer of the napkin left.  I find most napkins are 3-ply so you will need to peel away 2 layers and discard them.  Peel carefully though as the top layer that you’re left with will be very thin and will rip easily.

Split napkin layers for decoupage

Split napkin layers for decoupage

Top layer of napkin for decoupage

4. Place the top layer of napkin onto the candle and smooth gently with your hand just to make sure you’re design fits. Make any adjustments with the scissors as necessary.

Napkin placed on candle

5. Take your metal spoon and hold it above the naked flame taking care not to touch the heated part of the spoon.  IMPORTANT – you will see from the pictures you need to heat the ‘inside’ or the arched part of the spoon as you will be using the back of the spoon on your design.  Your spoon will turn black from the heat so if you heat the wrong side and then rub your design you will end up with a big black charred mess!

Heat spoon

6. Take your heated spoon and firmly holding your napkin to the candle start to rub the back of the spoon in circles on the napkin. I find it best to start in the middle of the design and then work my way outwards.

Rubbing decoupage image onto candle

7. As the candle starts to heat you will see the wax start to seep through the napkin.  This is what we’re trying to achieve across the whole design.

Wax melts through napkin decoupage

8. Keep heating you spoon and rubbing the napkin making sure to keep the napkin as tight and un-wrinkled as possible.  You may get the odd small crease in the design but it will look fine as long as the wax keeps soaking through and you just keep smoothing.

Heating spoon to continue decoupage

Rub spoon over decoupage image

9. Be sure to make sure that wax has soaked through your whole napkin, paying special attention to all of the edges.

The result – one decoupaged candle!

Decoupage christmas candle using napkin

Would love to see some of your creations if you find time to have a go.  Of course if you don’t fancy the hassle of diy then you can always buy one of mine ;).

Alternative technique

As a side note, it is possible to also get the same end result using a heat gun or blow dryer.  I have tried this technique but personally found the heated spoon much easier.  The blow dryer heated the candle a little too much, creating runs in the wax and I found that I still needed to smooth the design using a spoon.  In conclusion, I simply didn’t have enough hands :)! Try both though, you maybe more successful.

Thanks for stopping by! x

10 things you may not know about me

Ok, so I don’t lead the most exciting life.  I’m not one for jetting off to the Caribbean or skydiving at the weekend but there are a few things you may or may not know about me.  So, for the nosey folk out there, here goes:

  1. I can sing!

    I have a soprano singing voice and have been singing since I was tiny.  Like a lot of kids I grew up singing in the Sunday school anniversary.  Mom and I used to sit at the piano and we’d sing songs from The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady and lots of other musicals.  Then at the grand age of 15 my high school suddenly also discovered I could sing.  This prompted a rash decision by the deputy head to put on the show West Side Story with me playing the lead of Maria.  This was rather a shock as I’d never done the slightest bit of acting before but I loved every minute of it!  From then on I got the same part in an open air production of the same show at Dudley Castle.  Unfortunately, this was a bit of a wash out due to the fabulous British August weather.  I’ve done a few shows since then and just love playing comedy parts.  Family life is a little too busy these days though for the huge time commitment involved in am. dram.  I do run a ladies choir though along with Mom which I’ve been part of for 27 years!  Mom took over as Musical Director when I was just 17 with me assisting but these days I’ve pretty much taken over the baton and Mom likes to sit in with the choir and sing.Rachel Griffiths singing

  2. I suffer live with anxiety

    I’ve always been a person who lacks a lot of self confidence. Yes, I know you’ve just read No.1 above and are now thinking what the hell? Believe me there is a huge difference for me between getting up and singing a solo in front of hundreds of people and walking into a restaurant I’ve never been in or meeting people I never met before.  The latter being FAR worse.  I guess it’s just how we’re wired.  Singing is something I feel comfortable with so performance anxiety is never an issue.
    Back in 2013 my anxiety really came to a head when I realised that the constant worry was stopping me from the living the life I really wanted to lead.  I was turning down friends when they invited me on nights out and even things I’d once enjoyed were just all too stressful.  One trip to the Dr’s later and I found myself on Citalopram (anti-depressants).  The first few weeks on these were extremely tough and I can see why many people give up on them after a few days.  The help they’ve given though has been immense.  I still take them now and although I have occasional off days on the whole I’m more the person I once was.

  3. I can crochet!

    This is something I taught myself to do when I first started taking meds.  I realised I needed something to take my mind off how awful I was feeling and crochet was something I’d always fancied having a go at.  I taught myself using mainly Youtube tutorials and following various patterns found on pinterest and other blogs and sites.  Although, I don’t pick my hooks and yarn up quite as often now, the techniques soon come flooding back whenever I do.Crochet hanging heart

  4. I love horror films!

    This has been a fairly recent thing for me as a teenager/twenty something I blinkin’ hated them!  I have to clarify though, I still don’t like gore particularly so the Saw series is a definitely no no for me.  However, give me a marathon viewing of The Conjuring, Insidious, Paranormal Activity, Amityville and I’m a happy girl.  I share my horror love with Sam as both Paul and Abi both hate horror films.  They say that the subject matter plays on their mind afterwards but with me it just goes over my head.

  5. I’m fab at wallpapering!

    Ok, so it’s not the most exciting bit of info in the world, but damn, do I rock at wallpapering?! 🙂  It was Mom who taught me originally when we first moved into our last house.  From then on there was no stopping me.  Paul has walked in many times to see me smoothing out bubbles or matching pattern and asked me how the hell I have the patience.  Well the truth is it’s quite therapeutic.  Don’t get me wrong there have been the occasional projects where I’ve had to paper around corners and the plastering’s all been out of line.  On these occasions, the wallpaper, pasting table, brushes and bucket have almost taken flight down the garden, I’m only human after all.

  6. I play the piano.

    I started learning the piano at the age of 7 and whizzed through my grades ending my grades at the age of 15 when I took and passed grade 8.  When I was in my later teen I taught piano to youngsters but didn’t stick it for long as back in those days I simply didn’t have the patience.  I don’t get to play as often as I’d like these days.  The piano has assumed position in Sam’s bedroom as he had our downstairs room when Eliza and Freddie came along and seeing as he played too it seemed the sensible option to leave it there.

  7. I love the weather

    Yep, I’m a bit of a weather nut to be honest.  I was never very ‘sciencey’ (ok, so it’s not a word) at school so I never really paid much attention to the whole ‘how it all works’ part.  Nowadays I wish I had as I really would love to know more about the explanation side of things.  I’m an avid Weather Forecast viewer and if you could see the amount of weather related apps on my iPhone you’d think omg she’s such a geek!  It’s the extremes I love.  Scorching hot in the Summer, snow in the Winter and my absolute favourite, Thunderstorms.  My absolute dream trip would be a storm chasing holiday in the USA to see their tornadoes first hand.Mammatus cloud

  8. I’m good at reading people

    This is just something I’ve learned that I have an uncanny ability for over the years.  Maybe it’s just that I have a strong empathy for others, I really don’t know, but I’m very quick to correctly assess the type of person someone is or how they’re feeling.  Can be useful at times but being a socially anxious person it can also be curse.

  9. I HATE olives

    What more can I say?

  10. I love the paranormal

    So this is a love that I had even as a child.  I’ve always loved reading a good ghost story but then as I got older this evolved into reading newspaper articles, websites, TV programs.  It’s not just ghosts but anything a bit out of the ordinary that interests me.  I’m not saying I’m a believer but I’m completely open minded.  I need to experience it for myself to make it undeniably real.
    Quite a few years ago I joined a local paranormal research group and visited many locations to complete all night investigations.  These included The Ram Inn, Gloucestershire, Woodchester Mansion, Gloucestershire, Pebble Mill Studios, Birmingham, The Galleries of Justice, Nottingham plus many more.  Although fantastic fun and very intriguing I never managed to get inconclusive evidence.  I did have a very strange experience on my second trip to the Ram Inn but still not enough to say, “yes that’s it, I’m a believer!”.
    I’m also a big follower of anything to do with UFO’s and love hearing people’s stories of lights in the sky, be they real or not.  I wholeheartedly believe that we are not alone in the universe but whether they’ve popped by to say hi is another matter completely.

So there you have it.  Just a little insight into little old me.  Do you share any loves or hates with me?

Thanks for stopping by! x

Toddler friendly day trips in the Heart of England – Part 1

Bidford-on-avon & Tenbury Wells

After a stressful start to the Summer holidays I made it my mission to have a few decent day trips, well, at least once a week with the littlies.  I don’t know about you but I’m certainly not a fan of soft play areas and most town play areas are generally heaving given the first glimpse of sunshine.  So my challenge was to find a few fun places to visit.  Fun for them AND for me!

Tenbury Wells

Tenbury Wells is a small ancient market town with a multitude of quaint black and white buildings and history galore.  It’s a place I’d only ever driven through until this Summer when Mom suggested a day out there.  Very scenic location, Tenbury Wells is situated alongside the River Teme that separates Worcestershire and Shropshire.  The drive there alone was worthwhile.

Tenbury Wells bridge
Bridge at Tenbury Wells – Photo from
Black and white buildings in Tenbury Wells
Tenbury Wells – Photo from

So, our day out with a toddler and baby started with a trip to the play area at the Burgage.  This is a fab little park and although it was Summer holiday time it was not busy at all.  Eliza had a fab time playing on the slide and running in amongst the coloured ‘pencils’ before we all sat down to a picnic at one of the tables within the play area.

a slide in the childrens play area at Tenbury Wells

Childrens play area at Tenbury Wells

Time for a cake break

After lunch we popped to the nearby loos (yes toilets, essential with kids) and then headed into the high street just a few yards away.  We walked the length of the town and popped into a few gift and charity shops.  The whole walk only took us about 45 mins.  On our way through the town we looked for a suitable place for a quick cuppa and slice of cake but a lot seemed a little tight on space for 2 buggies.  We struck lucky though when we found The Spotty Dog Tearoom.  We had a lovely cream scone and Eliza had a delicious slice of Victoria sponge cake that the lady was happy to serve as smaller slice suitable for a little belly :).  Again, great facilities for a family and plenty of room for us to manoeuvre buggies with ease.

Inside the Spotty Dog Tearoom in Tenbury Wells
The Spotty Dog Tearoom

The Burgage Recreation Area

After our snack we headed towards the bridge and turned right along the riverside path that leads past Tesco and onto the Burgage Recreation Area.  We followed the path and Eliza stopped to give us a little impromptu ‘Frozen’ performance in the small shelter overlooking the river. We carried on in the direction of the play area stopping along the way to sing songs and look for fairies in the trees.  This is a fantastic tree lined space and again not at all busy.  We discovered that there was a second play area right next to the one we stopped at originally.  This one was simply fab for Eliza, it was aimed at the under 8’s so everything was just the right size for the littlies with a super wooden climbing frame with bridges and puzzles to solve.

The younger children's play area at Tenbury Wells
Young play area at Tenbury Wells – Photo from

We sat on the grass and played games and had lots of fun taking photo’s and trying to get Freddie to keep his hat on!  All in all a super little place for a fun day / afternoon out when the sun is shining.


The bridge at Bidford-on-avon
Bridge at Bidford-on-avon

One of our favourites is Bidford-on-Avon, as we visit here at least 2 or 3 times every year.  You can park right on the riverside with plenty of space to run around with a ball, kite or just the dog!  There are a few picnic benches and an absolutely super play area (along with an outdoor gym area that many parks have nowadays).  There’s a small toilet block and we often take a stroll over the bridge for fish and chips from Seafoods chippy.  If the mood takes you, you can walk right along the riverside away from the main parking area and watch the wildlife and boats pass by.

Playing Frisbee at Bidford-on-avon
Riverside park at Bidford-on-avon
Toddler running with ball at Bidford-on-avon
Plenty of room to run around

Thanks for stopping by! x