August 2015

1. Time spent paddling in the sea. You just can’t beat it, can you? Sitting by the sea watching your child splashing in the shallows! We met my sister in law and kids on the beach and they all had a great time mucking around and getting soaking wet!

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2. Blackberry picking. We went blackberry picking for the first time this year with the kids. A bit early but they were starting to come through and we got enough for a crumble or pie. I suddenly feel like autumns coming!

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3. Zoo trip. At long last we have got round to renewing our annual membership passes at Paignton Zoo and made our first visit. Soooo worth it! My sons fav place! We’re planning another trip the day before he goes back to school this week! Cramming as much in as possible, the school holidays are going too quick now!

4. Sunday morning fun. We had a lovely Sunday morning this week, playing board games and baking, in our pyjamas until midday! My daughter went down for a nap and I got some lovely one to one time with my son and he really got stuck in to the baking!

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5. New shoes. I thought it would be more of a chore but surprisingly our trip to Clarksville this week was hassle free!! Despite not pre booking an appointment we arrived and left two pairs of shoes later just shy of 30 mins!

Mummascribbles

Mummy and Monkeys
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The experience of my son asking me questions about life and death, has left me feeling very sad and left him feeling even sadder.  I’m not sure I handled his questions as well as I could.  I answered his questions honestly and as truthfully as I could. Should I not have been honest? How do you explain life and death to a 5 year old?

So this is what happened…

My son is 5 and we were discussing his reading and writing as I was tucking him into bed tonight.  I said to him ‘when you are 6, like your cousin, you will be able to read and write!’.  To which he smiled and looked pleased.  He then asked ‘why is my cousin older than me?’ And I said ‘because he was born before you’.  My son then went on to say ‘so I was still in your tummy?‘ And I said ‘yes‘ (half truth as his cousins 1.5 years older!).

My son went on to ask ‘whose tummy were you in mummy?‘ And I said ‘nanny’s tummy, because she’s my mummy‘.  He then asked ‘whose tummy was daddy in?’ And I said ‘Granny, his mummy’.  Then he said ‘whose tummy was grandad in?’ ( my hubby’s dad) And I explained ‘grandad was in his mummy’s tummy, your great granny‘. My son then asked where great granny was and I told him that she was dead. ‘Whys she dead?!’ Said my son, with concern. ‘Because she was old and just died, that’s what happens when your old’ (oops could have said that better!) I could see his face changing and all if a sudden he screwed up his cute face and burst in to tears!

‘But I don’t want to die!‘ He said through his sobs.  I held him close and said ‘you won’t die for a very long time, you will do so much before then‘. ‘What will I do mummy?’ he asked, slightly more composed.  ‘You’ll travel and get married and have your own children...’ To which he interrupted with ‘but I don’t want to leave you!!’ Through floods of tears.  ‘I don’t want you to die, I want to be with you forever!’ (More sobs).

This broke my heart and I started to feel very upset and tried to hold the tears back. ‘I won’t die for a long time‘ I told my son ‘and I will always be with you’ (sort of). I wasn’t sure what else I could have said and wanted him to know I would always be there for him.

I held him close and quickly changed the subject and told him to dream about something nice, like playing with daddy on the beach today and getting wet paddling in the sea.  He immediately perked up a bit and I told him I loved him and gave him a kiss and we said good night.

I left my son with wet teary eyes, with a slightly broken heart and very confused and I felt so awful.  What do you say? What do you tell a 5 year old? I think I could have done better. I’m sure in his head, life exactly as it is now, is what he thinks life will be like forever.  And I think I just crushed a bit of that today. Will he remember our conversation tomorrow? Will he ask me more questions? Was he just really upset because it was late and he was tired? I’m not sure how much a 5 year old really takes in or understands.

Surprisingly, he didn’t ask me about my dad and where he is.  My dad died when I was 13, so he’s never known grandad from my side of the family, just my mum, his nanny.  He did ask once when he was 3 ‘where’s your daddy mummy‘ to which I said ‘he’s dead darling‘ and that was it, end of conversation. I don’t have any pictures up of my dad either, so there’s nothing really to prompt a question. But I know, one day, we will have to have that conversation and I will have to answer some difficult questions.

I never expected that I would be putting my son to bed and asked about life and death. I was completely unprepared. It just happened. But it’s got me thinking about it.  Oh how I want to bundle him up in my arms and tell him we will all be together forever.  Bless him, his little face craved it.  But is it better to be honest?

It’s not the first time recently the subject if death had come up. Very tragically my sons best friends dad died a month a go and I had to break the news to my son.  I had been dreading it and definitely got more upset than him.  He asked why his friends dad was dead and I just said he had been in an accident. That was the conversation.  I didn’t think he had taken it in, then a few weeks ago he said something that made me realise he had.  We were playing with daddy and mucking around playing shopping and I asked who would buy daddy. To which my son said ‘David (not real name) would as he hasn’t got a daddy anymore because he’s dead’. I could have cried there and then.  Bless his heart.

Have you ever had to answer any difficult questions about life and death from your children? And how did you handle it?

Jess x

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

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Today, I made this impromptu crumble for our dinner.  We don’t normally have home made puds  during the week! But I’m currently off work and feeling particularly domesticated! My hubby came back from the allotment with some home grown rhubarb and we still had some of last years blackberries to use up, so we had the perfect ingredients! Crumbles are super quick and easy to make and perfect for all sorts of berries and fruits. I just love a super crunchy crumble topping and adding muesli to a basic crumble topping is a superb way to achieve this.

This recipe makes a smallish crumble, enough for 4 people. Double the mixture for an extra large crumble!

Time to prepare: 20-30 mins

Time to cook: 20-25 mins

What I used:

For the fruit filling:

4 x large sticks of rhubarb

A couple of large handfuls of blackberries (as many as you want really)

For the Crumble topping:

4oz plain flour

1.5oz butter

1.5oz caster sugar

A very generous bowlful of muesli (I used Tesco Fruit & Nut Muesli)

What I did:

Pre-heat the oven to 200c

Firstly, I washed, stripped/peeled and chopped the rhubarb into small chunks and cooked it in a saucepan on a medium heat for approx 15 mins.  Don’t over cook them, I think it’s nice to retain some of their shape and texture, so just cook until they are softened – so you can stick a knife through the chunks easily.

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Whilst the rhubarb was cooking, I made the crumble topping.  I did this by rubbing the butter and flour together in a large mixing bowl, until all fine and ‘crumbly’.  Then I mixed in the caster sugar and muesli, simple!!

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When the rhubarb was cooked, I added this to the dish and sprinkled the blackberries on top.  The blackberries don’t need cooking first, just pop them straight in. Lastly, sprinkle a generous amount if crumble topping on top (arguably the best bit!).

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Cook in the oven, on the top shelf for approx 20-25 mins, until golden brown on top and all bubbly at the sides.

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Serve hot – I like mine with double cream!

My son thought it was funny sticking his action figure in front of the camera when I took a picture of the crumble in the bowl! Obviously not included in the recipe!!

Enjoy!

jess x

Cuddle Fairy

 

Gym Bunny Mummy
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I wasn’t sure whether this would work or not, but thankfully it did. I’ve not added honey to a sponge mixture before, so was experimenting a little, but it paid off.  For this recipe I used some of last years blackberries from the freezer, to make room for our new pickings soon!  I think this cake would be particularly lovely warm with double cream!

Time to prepare: 15 minutes

Time to bake: approx 50 mins

What I used:

A basic all in one sponge mix as follows:

8 oz self raising flour

8 oz caster sugar

8 oz butter (as usual I use Stork)

4 large eggs

Plus I used:

2 large heaped tablespoons of clear honey

Blackberries (about a large cupful) – sorry didn’t measure!

What I did:

Pre-heated the oven to 180c

Firstly I mixed together all the ingredients for the all in one sponge in a large mixing bowl.  Then I added the blackberries and honey and stirred (don’t over stir!).

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Then I poured the mixture in to a lined loaf tin and baked in the oven for  approx 50 mins.

I baked the cake in the oven at 180c but I think 170c may have worked, as its in the oven for a reasonably long time. Mine crisped on top and on the sides a bit, so could maybe have done with less time, but actually it added a nice sweet crunch.  I did cover the top with some baking paper, for the last 20 mins, as the outside was done but the middle still needed some time and I didn’t want to burn the top.

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Let me know how you get on if you make this, so I can add more tips and tricks!

Jess x

Cuddle Fairy

 

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My #10 Things this month, just has to be ‘My Top 10 Camping Tips’ for Families, following our own recent camping trip in the gorgeous Cornwall.  It must be noted that this isn’t aimed at those hardened campers out there in the wilderness. But more for those visiting camp sites with a family in tow!  I’m far from a pro camper too, but these would be some of my tips following our own experience.

1. Don’t forget wellies even if the weather forecast is looking good. This was my big mistake, or more the hubby’s mistake! I asked him to pack mine and he forgot to pack them and we both brushed it off thinking the weather would be ok. BIG mistake!! I regretted it all week.

2. Take duvets and pillows, it’s worth it. They’re bulky and take up precious room in the car, but trust me, you will be glad of the extra home comfort.  For my boy, it was like from home to home, as we took his own set and he was warm, cosy and happy.

3. Pack the thickest fleece jumper you own. My friend made the mistake if not taking one, but luckily I remembered to pack not one, but two fleece jumpers! It’s always colder than you think in the evenings when camping, even in summer. Especially this summer!

4. Pack thick blankets. These are lovely to wrap round your shoulders when sitting outside the tent, first thing in the morning and last thing at night.  I wrapped mine round my shoulders when nipping to the loo in the night, a bit like a dressing gown.  The kids will make use of these too, when feeling chilly, as ours did (below – other than my hardened daughter).

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5. Invest in an extra large ground sheet. Wish I’d known this before our trip, so this is on our list for next time.  All the advise says to put an extra groundsheet underneath your tent, to provide extra protection and warmth  if it rains, as the ground gets really damp and cold. This would have made a big difference, as I was starting to get a damp bottom, come the end!

6. Camp beds are great but a blow up mattress is more comfy.  We debated over camp beds or blow up mattresses.  My hubby won the blow up mattress argument and I’m glad he did.  Camp beds are great for keeping you off the ground, but are bloody uncomfortable (I tried my friends). Plus if you follow tip 5. above, you won’t need to worry too much.

7. Take more than one torch and spare batteries. we took one and kept losing the bloody thing! So it would have been so useful to have had at least one spare and extra batteries just in case.

8. Buy bottled water. We took bottled water with us and it made life really easy, as we had drinking water at the tent and didn’t have to worry about how and where to get any.

9. Use a pasting table as a make shift tent table.  I had to persuade my hubby, but we took ours and it was great for storing everything off the ground, food, drink, toiletries, clothes, everything.

10. Accept you and the tent will not stay clean. Once I accepted this, life in the tent was fine.  There was no point struggling and stressing to keep things clean and tidy, there is going to be mud and dirt on the floor no matter how many times you clean it! I also accepted I wasn’t going to have a shower or wash my hair every day.  I barely bothered with deodorant come the end…

Here are some of the happy campers…

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Most of all, enjoy your camping trip come rain or shine! The kids will love the experience whatever! And we survived (just!).

What are your top camping tips?

Jess xxx

A Cornish Mum
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Theres no doubt about it, camping is a fantastic option for those families on a budget, who want to get away during the school holidays.  Camping wasn’t my first choice, but it was our realistic choice financially this summer.  So we were brave, and at the last minute booked a week camping at Mother Iveys Bay Holiday park in Cornwall.  I rarely look anywhere else but Cornwall for a family staycation. Those who read my blog will know I’m a big fan of Cornwall! To add to the excitement our best friends and their kids decided to book with us!

I’ve stayed at Mother Iveys Bay Holiday Park before, pre kids, with the hubby in one of their lovely caravans.  In fact, we visited a few times pre kids, and loved every visit.  I would say the cost of hiring a caravan is slightly more expensive than other parks, but personally I feel it’s worth it, as it’s set in such a beautiful place.  The price of a caravan was slightly out of budget for us this summer, but we’re definitely planning on returning and staying in one of their caravans soon.

We booked our holiday on line via the website www.motheriveysbay.com with no probs.  we booked a camping pitch in ‘The Meadows’ for 7 nights.  You can choose different pitches, with or without electric/water hook up, but the price obviously goes up if you choose a pitch with electric and/or water. You can also choose to just turn up and pitch up wherever is free and pay on arrival. We chose to pre-book a pitch on the perimeter of the field near to the toilets and showers, without electric or water.  We pre-booked to ensure we could be close to our friends. The cost for the week was £234. We also paid and extra £40 to park a second vehicle (will explain why later!).

Mother Ivey’s Bay is about 10 minutes from well known Padstow on the north coast of Cornwall. The holiday park is set right by the sea with its very own private beach.  A lot of the caravans have sea views and ‘The Meadows’ where we camped had a lovely view across to the sea.  We travelled by car from home, which was about an hour and 20 minutes, so not too long, which was great for the kids.

We decided to take two vehicles as we couldn’t fit all the camping gear in to the car! So we paid extra and took the hubby’s van too. Of course that meant we could take as much as we wanted! A good thing and not such good thing! Blimey, we had so much stuff!

The kids were amazing on the journey down. My daughter slept the whole way (whoop) and my son watched a DVD on his in car DVD player (one of the best purchases ever). So the journey was quiet for me! Hubby had gone on ahead in the van with all the camping gear. On arrival (following the traffic stand still at the entrance – but we will skip over that!) it was just as I remembered, but busier – it was our first trip there in high season.  The place had hardly changed, it still looked in great nick, neatly cut grass, flowers in amongst the walls, clean looking caravans and friendly staff.  Despite my hubby leaving before us he pulled in to the car park at Reception just after us, so we all went in to Reception together.  We were met by happy and friendly staff who instructed us on how to get to our camping pitch.

We arrived at our pitch in ‘The Meadows’ to see our friends in the next door pitch with their tent half up and kids running around.  It was so lovely to see them and all the kids were super excited.  Our pitch was right by the shower and toilet blocks, bar one pitch in between. Perfect for the kids needing those last minute wee’s but not too close, so as to avoid any unwelcomed smells! The view was amazing, you could see the sea from our pitch (although the tent entrance faced side on). It really is beautiful there, perfectly positioned.

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Once the tent was up (less hassle than I was expecting) we enjoyed exploring the site and familiarised ourselves with where to wash up, etc. and then we took the short walk to the beach (about 5 mins) and the kids enjoyed running in and out of the sea as the waves chased them – such a highlight for me.

Unfortunately on our first night, my son was sick in the night (literally) which was a bit of a low point and I felt so bad for him being ill on holiday. This introduced me to the on site launderette, which was great – lovely and clean throughout, so I didn’t mind spending an hour or so in there! Poor boy spent the next day asleep under the parasol on the beach – one out of the two days spent on the beach – such a shame for him.

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The weather could not have been any more perfect those first two days, and we spent every moment on the beach (other than the visit to the launderette of course!). The first day we spent on Mother Ivy’s own private beach and it was as lovely as I remembered, a beautiful golden sanded cove.  The second day we walked round the coastal path to one of the smaller quieter coves, which are so pretty and worth the walk. It was lovely waking up early on those sunny mornings and watching the sun come up with a mug of warm coffee and a blanket round your shoulders. Perfect.

I tell you something, I’ve never spent so much time outdoors, as I did camping. If the weathers kind, you are literally outside from the minute you get up to the minute you go to bed. No telly, no wifi, just the outdoors and the company. I loved it.

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On the third day, unfortunately the weather changed and it rained (a lot). Our spirits weren’t dampened though and we went in to Padstow for a potter and some lunch (love that place). We went to the lovely ‘Cornish Arms’ for dinner on the way home and sat outside during a break in the weather.

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After a while you get in to a bit of a camping routine. Get up (early), put on Uggs, walk to toilet block, go for a wee, put the gas stove on, make coffee, put the kids Wellies on, make kids breakfast, get dressed (a shower if you can manage the effort), walk to the washing up block to do the dishes, etc. For some reason it took us forever to get ready to go out in the mornings! I think it was the logistics of everything. I also got used to not having a shower every day and not having cleanly shaven legs! You can’t worry about those things when you camp!

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After the third day of persistent rain, camping wasn’t fun anymore and we decided to call it a day and go home early.  I think this is when some more on site facilities would have been useful, particularly for campers, like a bar/restaurant to keep warm or a swimming pool to entertain the kids – although you can swim in the sea in the rain as your wet anyhow! But what makes Mother Ivys Bay special in part, is the fact that it doesn’t have these facilities – it’s just you and the beautiful setting.

Its a shame that the weather put a slight dampener on our trip (excuse the pun) but it didn’t put me off camping and it certainly didn’t ruin my experience of Mother Ivys.  Mother Ivys is one of those hidden gems and a beautiful place to stay. We’ve already tried to rebook but unfortunately their caravans are all full in half term (couldn’t quite face camping in late October!).

Mother Iveys Bay is as beautiful as I remember and I’m so pleased we returned. It’s a perfect place for families looking for somewhere a bit quieter. The fact that it is set right on its own private beach is a big bonus. I wouldn’t recommend it for families who prefer  somewhere a bit more lively with on site entertainment (as there is none – other than nature itself) and they have a rule about there being quiet between the hours of 11pm and 6am (they have a guy walk round at 11am to check!). I actually liked this rule, it made it a bit more civilised and great for young kids needing a decent nights sleep (and adults!).

We will definitely be returning, maybe camping, maybe in a caravan, and I’m looking forward to it already.

Please visit the Mother Ivey’s Bay website here 

Please also see my other post about our camping trip ‘My Top 10 Tips for camping’

Jess xxx

Please not this is not a sponsored post. 

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I last set myself some blogging goals back in May, so this was well over due and I’m feeling fired up to do well in September! Especially as it will be one year since starting my blogging journey! I find that by setting myself some goals I can capture what I want to achieve, large and small, in a way that can be recorded and celebrate my blogging achievements in a positive way! I’m not putting too much pressure on myself, but do feel that by writing this, I’m giving my self a little push this next month to do some of the things I’ve been meaning to do for ages.  I know that if I don’t end up achieving all my goals I wont lose sleep and I’ll just make sure I achieve that goal sometime in the future!  Im being realistic and ambitious at the same time!

1. Run my first competition.  This is a goal that has been carried over from my May blogging goals. I have two competitions in mind so I’ll plan to do at least one in September and one in October.

2. Tidy up my home page, menus and sidebar. I’ve just switched themes, which I had been playing around with for weeks and weeks.  But it all needs tidying up to look more professional and orderly. im always willing to hear people’s tips on improving the look of a blog site!!

3. Increase my Tots100 ranking to within the top 1000.  I was really pleased to have climbed 116 places to 1271 in August as I had dropped a few places in July. It’s such a great feeling when you improve your rankings!

4. Launch my Facebook page.  This has been on the ‘to do list’ for ages. My worry with this has been keeping my personal Facebook page separate from my blogging Facebook page.  I really want to keep the two separate but not sure I can.  Any tips out there??

5. Increase my social media following, including: Reach 2000 followers on Twitter, 100 followers on Pinterest, 200 followers on Instagram.

6. Double my followers on my blog site.  200 would be amazing! Please come and join me so I can reach my goal!!

7. Average 200 visitors to the blog each week.  I’m close to this actually, but want to make sure I reach a consistent and regular number of visitors.  This is important for the success of my blog.

8. Write a ‘Work with me’ section. I’ve been meaning to do this for ages (another one!) as I really want people to see that I want to work as a blogger and reviewer.  I want people to know I do mean business!

9. Keep climbing the Parent Blogger Club Leaderboard.  I’m currently 299 and wound love to be within the top 200 soon.  If I can just keep going in the right direction that would be a start!

10. Try and establish a bit more of a routine, with my writing, reviewing, commenting, linkys, etc. I brought myself a blogging notebook a while ago but what I think I need is a blogging diary! Any recommendations/ideas?

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What are your blogging goals this month? and what have been your blogging achievements? 

Jess x

You Baby Me Mummy
A Cornish Mum
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Thank you Laura from ‘Laura’s lovely blog’ for tagging me to write what it means to me ‘being a blogger’.  I have to say, I’m not sure I had actually ever thought of myself as a ‘blogger’ ! But I guess I must be if I’m writing this!  I feel I’m still at the very start of my blogging journey, but recognise how much I have already learnt (and achieved) in less than a year of blogging.  Here’s just some highlights of what it means to me ‘being a blogger’, I’m sure there are many more. A very timely post really, with my one year blogging birthday just around the corner!

1. Blogging is providing my family and I with a journal of our lives together.  I hadn’t realised this, until a few months in to blogging.  It is capturing a wonderful account of our lives, which I hope my children will enjoy looking back on in years to come. I’m sure I will enjoy looking back on it too.

2. Blogging has taught me how to create and build a website and make a brand. I naively jumped into blogging without realising the skills it would require.  But I very quickly self taught myself and well, here I am! Don’t get me wrong, I still have so much to learn, but I’ve got hold of the basics. Who knew the ‘Mrs Puddleducky’ name would stick too! All thanks to my hubby and his cute nick name for me when I was pregnant!

3. Blogging has opened my eyes to social media.  I’ve used Facebook for years and attempted Twitter for work, but never to the extent I use it now in my life as a blogger!  It took me a couple of months to realise that my blog was going no where, without the power of social media. I’m more than a regular on Twitter and Instagram now and getting the hang of Pinterest! Facebook next…I promise…

4. I never realised the extent of the blogging world and how it would introduce me to new and wonderful people.  I feel I’ve joined the blogging world so late, but better late than never as they say! I’ve met some wonderful people with inspiring stories to tell.  Who knew there were so many lovely people out there as addicted to blogging as me. It’s great sharing your stories with others who can relate.

5. Blogging has given me a new hobby.  I’m still referring to blogging as a hobby as I don’t do it as a job, but as a past time as and when I can.  It takes me away from the realities of life and enables me to focus on something different.  I’m learning something new all the time and it’s helping me make new friends and grow as a person.

6. Blogging has made me ambitious again.  I never would have considered blogging as a career before now but I can see the potential it offers.  I have so many plans for my blog and can definitely see a future for it now.  But it’s slow progress and I’m willing to be patient and put the hard work in.

7. Blogging makes me happy.  Every day blogging makes me feel happy, either from reading an amazing blog post or writing one of my own, that makes feel proud.  The blogging world is a very happy place to be.  If you let it, it will welcome you and reward you, with new friends, inspirations, memories and ideas.

8. I enjoy telling stories about my family.  Blogging has been very good for me.  Every time I write a post or post a photo, it makes me feel happy and proud of the life I have and the people in it.  Blogging reminds me every day how lucky I am.

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I tag the following lovelies:

Kirsty from ‘Something Crunchy Mummy’

Jess from ‘Mummy of Boy Girl Twins’

Carl from ‘The Twinkle Diaries’

‘Tne L’s Mum’ – just realised I don’t know your real name !!

Apologies if you’ve already done this one girls x

Jess xxx

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I’ve joined up the last couple of weeks for this happy list posting as it’s been super busy and we’ve been away.  We’ve had so many happy moments over the last couple of weeks, mainly centred around our week away camping in Cornwall.  I’ve captured some of my favourite happy moments below:

1. Discovering the highs and lows of camping.  This has been our first camping experience (other than the odd night) and it truly was an eye opener! Despite the rain I’m not put off doing it again and it’s great as a cheaper option to get away during the school holidays.  If you can put up with living in a small space and sharing toilets for a short while, you’ll be fine!

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2. The kids being cute together.  The absolute highlight of our week away was seeing my kids and our friends kids having so much fun together.  They got on so well, had lots of hugs, played all day long and didn’t care about the rain.  It was a sad moment when they were parted.

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3. Enjoying the outdoors.  I loved living in a tent when the weather was kind to us.  One of the great things about camping, is the amount of time you spend outside.  On the sunny days we enjoyed sitting outside having our morning coffee as the sun came up and star gazing at night with a glass of prosecco.

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4. Having quality family time.  Because the hubby is self employed and has to live and breathe his business 24/7, we have to physically go away to switch off and have some proper quality family time.  We knew we couldn’t afford to do much this summer, so camping was perfect for us.  To get time away from it all and be together is so important and worth it, even if it is camping!

5. Spending time with my dear friend.  We don’t see each other as often as we’d like and when we get together it’s like we’ve never been apart! We always have such a laugh when we’re together.  I really wish we lived closer to each other so we could see each other more.  I loved being on holiday with my best mate and we shared many of the same camping highs and lows! And kept each other sane!

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