Amazon Voucher competition

The best thing about this blogging malarkey is being given the opportunity to review some awesome new products. I often have to pinch myself because it hardly feels real and I am always grateful for everything we receive – from snacks to toys and beyond – this summer Arlo has had the time of his life, and kept our postman extremely busy. The best thing however is that we have been lucky enough to be able to secure prizes from PR companies and toy manufacturers we have worked with, to share with you, our readers.

I’m going to work as hard as I can to get some more fun projects lined up in time for Christmas (and beyond) because sharing is caring – so watch this space! There’s nothing like the buzz of a competition prize win, and even better when it’s a prize which you can choose for yourself. I have collaborated with some awesome bloggers to bring you this awesome giveaway.

For today’s competition, we have two prizes to offer you. The first prize is a £100 Amazon Voucher and the second prize is a £25 Amazon voucher. Both of these awesome prizes will come in handy for Christmas this year. What will you buy with your voucher?

Who Brings You This Competition?

A collaboration of bloggers have got together to bring this prize to you, the prize comes out of their pocket as a thank you for supporting them over the past year. You will find the links below, please pop over and visit them. You never know, you might find a blog that you really relate to. Sometimes we think we are the only person going through something, when in fact there are others. These bloggers share their ups and downs so that nobody ever feels alone. 

Miss LJ Beauty /Me Him, The Dog And The Baby / The Little House By The Sea / Miss Tilly And Me / Mindful Slow Life / Jennie Pennie / The Heaton Fam / Mum Making Money / Just Average Jen/ The Free From Mummy / We Made This Life / Blog Bay Bee / Claire Mac / Ricecakes And Raisins / Life With Jupiter and Dann/ Childfree / Fruit Picking Farms / Best Lodges With Hot Tubs / A Suffolk Mum / At Home With Alice / Its Me Chrissy J / Simple Reveries / The House That Never Rests / Two Hearts One Roof / Lilac Storm / My Healthy Temple / Real Girls Wobble / The Amazing Adventures Of Me /


 

How Can I Enter This Competition?

In order to be entered to win the vouchers, you need to leave a comment on the blog post. Click on the rafflecopter and it gives you the instructions to do this. Then there are other options to follow the bloggers on their social media. The more entries that you complete, the more chances you have of winning a voucher (or even both vouchers). You don’t have to complete all ofthe entries to be entered, but each one you complete is an entry.

Tap this image to enter

Terms And Condition▪ UK Entries only.▪ Blog comments must be over 8 words long otherwise it usually goes to the spam file.▪ This is a collaborated competition and is not associated with Tesco or any other company.▪ You must be over 18 to enter this competition.▪ You don’t need to enter all of the other requirements but if you do say you have completed them, please ensure that you have. Otherwise, your entry is void.▪ You have 28 days to claim your prize or another winner will be chosen. ▪ After you have claimed your prize, you will receive the voucher within 28 days

What to expect in week one of a PGCE

I’m writing this on Sunday evening, tomorrow is my actual course introduction so I’m not an expert by any means but my plan, and hope is to be able to find the time each week to sit down and gather my thoughts as I take on this PCGE year and train to become a teacher. If you have only just found my blog then welcome, I’m a single mum to a four year old who by sheer alignment of the planets is also starting school this week in reception.

I like many people lost my job in the midst of the pandemic, despite this I actually quite enjoyed lockdown. Being stuck at home and having the stress of the corporate career lifted meant that I suddenly had the time to do lots of things which I enjoy – from baking to crafts and redecorating my entire house (twice over). In fact blogging was also added to that long list of hobbies and so here we are. Back in December I had the realisation that I wanted to change my career entirely and it made complete sense for me to head back to University and train to teach Design and Technology.

Week one for me began officially last Monday, but the Friday beforehand I enrolled (online) and got an email about an ISE: Initial School Experience, along with a booklet to print off and complete during this first week.

I read the booklet and thought I understood the tasks and then I arrived in school on Monday and almost instantly forgot everything. With so many new faces to meet and a huge school to find my bearings in I was slightly overwhelmed but I just went with the flow of things. I met the staff in the department, who were busy putting the finishing touches to notice boards and resources and so I tried my best to pitch in and help out. I had plenty of time to chat whilst mixing up some fabric dye. Only a couple of the year groups were in school so it was fairly quiet, and I managed to ease in gently on my first day.

One thing I did notice is that I was introduced to all of my teacher colleagues by first name and then of course I had to clarify their second names before lessons later on in the week. In fact there was so much information I was glad to have my notebook and pen to scribble into during lessons when I was observing. Being the first week there was also lots of opportunity for me to learn about the dynamics of the school. I feel as though I understand the uniform policy, school behaviour policy and all sorts of other policy’s. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I said “wow things have changed since I was at school!”

PowerPoint presentations instead of a blackboard is new to me, as is a “hands down” policy with seating plans for every class and teachers directed to engage all students with interaction during lesson time. Homework set online is also a novel concept – I remember frantically scribbling down questions and details in my planner using tiny hand writing so that I could get down all the details and hauling huge textbooks around with me – now pupils have everything they need online.

Luckily I had the opportunity to shadow a wonderful mentor who helped set me up a timetable for the week which would help me cover all of the written tasks and spend time across the department. My host school covers all aspects of the Design and Technology curriculum: food, textiles and product, from year seven Key Stage Three, right up to A level. It was confirmed that I will be spending my first placement after a October half term in the same school and so I made a note of the exam boards and relevant information so that I can try to find the time to brush up on my knowledge.

I spent most of Monday evening talking to friends about the day and sharing my excitement and then I remembered to read my booklet and double check exactly what I was supposed to be observing in school. I had five tasks … plus a bonus challenge to discuss the impact the pandemic has had on learning, which fortunately came up in conversation a lot. I started to think of questions I wanted to ask and read a couple of chapters from the reading list books which helped me figure out a good way to make notes during observation of classes.

Tuesday morning I got myself in to a year group assembly and a fire drill and suddenly the nostalgia kicked in. I’d forgotten what it was like to sit silently in a hall and finding myself in the position of teacher instead of pupil felt so strange. I couldn’t help but feel emotional and inspired when a video clip of a Michelle Obama speech was played to motivate the pupils at the start of their term. I started to think about the way in which the teachers I was observing were engaging their pupils and made mental notes to save up quotes for future reference.

Moving between classrooms and navigating the layout of the school was a huge challenge but I managed to get myself everywhere I was supposed to be on time. I even found new year sevens asking me for directions so even though inside I felt like a fish completely out of water, it made me feel better to know that the pupils thought I knew what I was doing. In classrooms pupils started to ask me questions too, at first I wasn’t sure if I should just be silently observing, but eye contact and a gentle nod from my mentor teachers gave me the all clear to engage with pupils and I found this most beneficial to my experience.

I really enjoyed lunch, hidden behind the department, there’s an external door which leads to a secret garden, partially tended by the technician. I sat outdoors in the September sunshine with my new colleagues to eat my packed lunch (I’m still trying to eat healthily) With apple trees and rhubarb growing, and a huge stash of wooden pallets saved for a man upcoming project , and even a nest of foxes living under a storage container this outdoor space is the kind of space prospective Design and Technology teachers like me dream of, (I’ve already planted an imaginary herb garden, and thought of the best recipe for blackberry and apple pie) – the possibilities ahead are mind blowing. Of course this daydreaming and getting ahead of myself lasted only half an hour because back to back lessons commenced for the rest of the day. I did end up making toffee apples this weekend at home though.

I got to see my fair share of uniform policy violations last week and so made a mental note of these as part of my written task to observe behaviour management. I was also interested in seeing the differences between the classroom approach with year sevens in their first ever DT lessons in comparison to pupils who have chosen the subject as a GCSE option and are starting their course – in terms of expectations and structure of the lessons there was so much for me to write about, just the way in which pupils enter the classroom, get their equipment out and sit ready for lessons is poles apart.

After each day in school I made sure to go though my written tasks booklet and complete as much as I could as I went along. So many new things happened every day that I think it’s important to get myself in to this good habit so that I don’t end up forgetting any important relevant details. I also found myself sitting in the car park an hour early each day, re-reading chapters of my textbook and gathering my thoughts before school. The environment is so busy and the school day flies by so quickly that making this time and space and time for myself is going to be vital.

I’ve just finished spell checking my workbook and have emailed it across to my tutor for tomorrow’s deadline. I’ve also noticed that I have access to my full course online so I’ve had a bit of a look through – I have a calendar which is so busy it’s scary and seeing so much detail right now I feel a little overwhelmed. With my life timetabled up until next Summer I feel as though I’m going to look back at this blog post and feel like I’ve blinked and it’s flown by. Tomorrow morning Is my first whole course lecture. It’s online but I’ll have more of an idea of exactly what is required (I hope) in terms of written assessments and course assignments to complete.

I’m going to be spending the next eight weeks or so in University before heading back to school again, and I’ll share what I get up to along the way.

Why beach huts are a Staycation Gamechanger

For those of us without our own home swimming pool,surely the next best thing is a trip to the beach! How convenient then, would it be to have your very own indoor space whilst you’re there? Over 20,000 British beach hut owners have prioritised exactly that. A creation that mimics all the home comforts you could need, is literally a short walk across the sand. 

 

What is a Beach Hut?

 

Essentially a beach hut is a glorified shed that sits in a row with others permanently along the coast line. Beach huts can be used for all manner of things from storing wetsuits, to hosting a table and chairs to eat at, to shelter from the rain or for making a cuppa after your swim in the sea. 

 

Where Do Beach Huts Come From?

 

Despite most people thinking that beach huts were originally thought up in Victorian times, the concept of a portable ‘room’ or ‘bathing machine’ as they were known actually began in the 1700s. 

 

Prior to that the only folk who spent time at the seaside were generally fishermen, smugglers and pirates. 

Thanks to new medical advice that sea swimming was inherently good for you, people began visiting the beach and recognising how enjoyable it could be too.

 

The early bathing machines were essentially a horse drawn shed, deliberately portable so that bathers could travel from the top of the beach down into the sea and retaining their modesty whilst taking their naked dip.

 

Famously, King George III insisted that his own ‘medical bath’ would need not only the bathing machine but also a full quartet playing ‘God Save the King’ whilst doing so. 

 

By the time Queen Victoria was in power, visits to the beach and swimming in the sea in general was widely acceptable, but men and women would be kept separate. Queen Victoria had her very own beach hut built at Osbourne House in her beloved Isle of Wight in the 1840s.

 

By the 1900s, both sexes bathing together, along with wearing swimwear, had become the norm. That meant there was no longer a need for bathing machines to be moveable, and so the static beach huts we know and love today were born. 

 

Since then, demand has steadily risen for beach huts. No less so than during the pandemic, as Brits got accustomed to the potential loveliness and ease of a staycation. 

 

Quintessential Britishness

 

These picture-perfect mini houses by the sea are not just the ideal choice for a convenient, low maintenance staycation.

 

They’ve become a statement of personal expression too. 

 

The smartest pastel-hues to the vibrant paint-box beach huts are just the outsides.

Inside, they’re often fitted out to allow for all kinds of enjoyments, from comfortable beach sleep-overs tocharming summer evening dinner parties, with the sea air and sound of the tides setting the scene.

 

The Cost of a Beach Hut

 

These apparently unassuming huts are fast becoming one of the most desirable retro getaway opportunities.

 

So as you’d expect, the increased demand plus the modification of beach huts means a rise in prices too.  

 

Whilst back in 1980 you could buy your very ownbeach hut for just £100, in 2021 it’s feasible to pay awhopping £300,000 for a ‘high end’ luxury beach. 

 

Expensive Bournemouth, Brighton or Christchurch in the sunnier south or Wells-Next-The-Sea and Southwold on the spectacular east coast are some of the most desirable locations, which all ooze the unique andchilled, pure British ambience. 

 

Denisons, a specialist estate agents in the Christchurch area, confirm that prices have increased by 10% or so over the last year. 

 

In fact, of the 400 or so beach huts in Christchurch, Denisons tend to sell approximately five annually – sothe waiting lists can be long. 

 

Bearing in mind that the average UK property price is approximately £230,000, these prices are very steep, but beach hut converts wouldn’t change their lifestyle for a thing. 

 

In fact these low-maintenance little homes tend to remain in families for generations.

Unexpected Luxury

 

Traditional beach huts are usually made of timber, each with its own individual colour theme and modern or retro styling. 

 

The most beautiful can include sea-view decking, a barbeque or even a hot tub outside… but it’s on the inside that the 21st century has made the biggest impression. 

 

Some incorporate two, or even three-level living. Cosy mezzanine bedrooms, Wi-Fi, fully equipped solar-powered kitchen, hot water, toilet and maybe a cosy wood-burner and sofa, are all encased within classic whitewashed walls and wooden floorboards. 

Perhaps the ultimate luxury vision has been achieved by specialist architects Jak Studio. 

 

The Spy Glass beach hut at Eastbourne, combines nostalgia for this iconic symbol of Britishness, with a completely new physical form.  

 

Incredibly, the whole structure sits on a sleek timber turntable, allowing it to be rotated at will to track the movements of the sun. Owners can literally switch between the sand and the pier as their backdrop of choice!

 

Of course not all of our beach-life aspirations run so high. 

 

In many cases the beach hut contains little more than a set of deckchairs and the ubiquitous kettle and a game of boules. A simple yet charming way of bringing the whole family together at the beach, making the special memories that will last a lifetime.

 

The Beach Hut Checklist

 

Thinking about buying your own beach hut?

 

Be sure to check out all the facilities, such as car parking, bathroom availability, power sources (which may be solar or calor gas) and standpipes – remember there will be no mains water, and beach hut life is essentially camping with benefits!

 

It’s also wise to consider whether local facilities will be adequate when the sun does decide to disappear – cafes and restaurants, cinemas and play centres, zoos and castles are all worth investigating.

 

As they are outside, beach huts can of course be liable to erosion, flooding and even vandalism – so insurance is a must. A specialist company such as TL Risk Solutions, can provide comprehensive beach hut cover, with annual premiums from around £150 up to £400 or more.

 

Maintenance should be minimal, but it’s sensible to budget for a repaint every three or four years too.

 

Beach hut owners are effectively renting land from the local council, and this will incur an annual licensing charge that can reach £2,500 a year. 

 

Thoroughly investigate any additional local authority restrictions, for example around daytime-use only of beach huts, whether access to the beach itself is seasonal or year round, whether dogs are allowed, and whether the all-important barbecue will be permitted!

 

Remember that there may be options to rent out your beach hut at times when you just can’t get away. Rental is often by the day or week, and may be managed with a minimum of fuss by a local agent. Prices achieved will of course vary with location and facilities – from £1,375 a week for a three-bedroom, chalet-style beach hut in Tresco, Isles of Scilly, to £150 a week for a traditional wooden hut at Alum Chine, Bournemouth.

2021 may be the year of the staycation – but British beach huts have the style, situation and sheer ease of lifestyle which can be enjoyed for a lifetime.

Little Genius Eco Systems – toy review

One thing is very clear – Arlo loves everything about the natural world. He can churn out animal facts all day long and this summer surprised us all when he revealed he had been keeping a secret pet snail in his bedroom for weeks. Having the opportunity to try out the habitats and ecosystems toy from I’m a genius science seemed like a great opportunity. As soon as he saw the box he was excited.

This is one of those toys I saved for a rainy afternoon, I’d already opened it myself to check the contents and read the instructions and so for the first project I made sure we had some stones and natural materials collected from a nature walk to use whilst decorating our little biorb. When I told Arlo we were going to create our own little world he knew exactly what he wanted to include.

The box comes with a biorb in two halves, with various lids a stand, borage seeds, various scoops and a bag containing peat moss and lichens. Plus a delightful little book which includes various ecosystem projects and all sorts of useful information about things like the water cycle. We set to work immediately and used gravel to line the bottom of our ecosystem.

Planting the seeds and decorating the habitat took us a very long time. Arlo kept running around to find extra bits and bobs to decorate with, eventually settling on a pine cone centre piece with a shell and some wood and moss. He even managed to sneak a bug in there too which I spotted at the last minute. We used water to spray our environment and then added the lid and have placed it on the kitchen windowsill so that we can check in on it every day.

The idea is that the seeds will grow creating a mini ecosystem which constantly changes. You can use different pieces on the lid to emulate a water cycle and even add ice to try and create clouds via evaporation. This is such a great toy for nature loving kids and I like that it can also be used repeatedly as a learning resource for different topics. Available to order from Toys and Bears now for £19.99, however I have been kindly given the opportunity to give away one of these to a lucky competition winner.

Terms and conditions apply – click here for details – live until 18/9/2021- products provided for the purposes of review however as always all opinions expressed are our own.

Thirty days of mindfulness

I’m a huge fan of thirty day challenges, I’ve written about all sorts of different things I’ve tried in the past – from squat challenges which get increasingly tougher to more creative challenges where your skills develop as you try out a new make up technique every day. One thing I’ve been really focusing on is mindfulness. Over the lockdown I found compulsory online zoom calls for this appearing in my work calendar and I used to scoff at it because I didn’t really understand. I’d pop the sessions on, mute it and scroll through Instagram instead. Then when I left my job in December and suddenly felt the pressure and workload from work was lifted I realised just how stressed I had been.

I began to explore mindfulness and different techniques to find my inner calm. I started wearing a Fitbit to track my fitness but at forst I found it more interesting to monitor my sleep patterns – being a self confessed social media addict I realised I was going to bed and not “switching off” until way past midnight most evenings and this was having an impact on my sleep patterns. My scores were terrible. Releasing I had a problem is the first step but doing something about it isn’t quite so easy, especially when social media is a viable income source and I had committed to blogging and freelance writing projects in between my changing career plan.

I don’t know if it’s ironic, but using technology has helped me massively. I set myself personal boundaries on my phone – you can monitor your screen time from settings and then set yourself time limits for apps – I have a daily limit for social media which I have stuck to for six months. I also have a “down time” – I can only access essential apps between midnight and 6am unless I ignore the reminders – and so far I’ve managed to exert some self control and stick to my limits more often than not. This is despite me using my phone to run my blog and social media accounts.

This time away from my mobile screen has enabled me to explore other things – I have been writing from my laptop and have spent some time creating myself a home office set up, so that when I do need to work I’m in a productive environment and not hunched over a mobile device. This also helps massively when working from home with children – Arlo knows that when I’m in my office space I’m not to be disturbed, I set him up in his room next door with an invitation to play and he likes to independently create his own small worlds with his train sets and fire station. Once my work is done, I step away and can join in with him. Previously I would have tried to work from my phone in a shared space with Arlo and it just wouldn’t be productive. Now I can get something done and dusted in half an hour with some focus.

So once I finally got myself in to a decent work / life balance routine it was just around the time that the gyms opened up again – I signed myself up and started to head out to workout classes. I realised quite quickly that I needed to do more, Cardio was a major issue for me, and I found myself struggling at first. I had what was diagnosed as “atypical” pneumonia in February of 2020 and it took me about three months to fully recover – of course the sceptic in me thinks I probably had some sort of long covid but at the time I wasn’t able to get tested. Then almost a year of lockdowns meant that my fitness levels had declined – I struggled to participate in a short 40 minute Zumba class whereas before I would do two hour long classes back to back and jog home, not to mention participating in mud runs at the weekend for fun.

Again I went back to technology – monitoring my heart-rate and steps during workouts is a great motivator – you can see how many calories you’re burning and try and beat your own targets in every class. I noticed improvements as the weeks passed and in about six weeks managed to lose a stone in body weight, inches from my waist and just felt an overall sense of well-being. As my overall fitness improved I found my breathing also improved naturally and I’m back to doing two classes back to back. I’m not quite ready to sign up to a tough mudder but I can see it on the horizon! I do realise however that for some it’s not been quite so simple. The long lasting damage that the new “C who shall not be named” has done is something which we will be researching for years to come.

This topic is one I’ve discussed with many people and something I’ve been hearing lots about is the Powerbreathe breathing trainer – and being such a fan of technology given my own personal experiences I was keen to find out more.

Powerbreathe are a company who have been making Inspiratory Muscle training (IMT) tools since the 90s, and they were recently recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a great tool in COVID-19 recovery. The POWERbreathe has a wide use of applications for a wide range of people. IMT is scientifically proven to benefit patients with respiratory illness and healthy people, including athletes at all levels of competition, including Olympians.

I’m not an Olympian by any means but learning about this did get me to thinking about my breathing and my mindfulness again. I’ve been setting my watch to remind me to participate in guided breathing exercises – I have my own personal mindfulness tracker where I have learnt the basics of meditation and it all starts with breathing. I’ve also tried out some yoga and body balance classes – at the gym and online over the summer and been applying breathing techniques during these which I find helps me to focus, get deeper stretches and I’ve recently noticed that my balance seems to have improved as I focus on my breathing.

I like to approach things like meditation and mindfulness now with an open mind. I create my own versions of a thirty day challenge and I find that if I commit to something new for this short duration then it quickly becomes a habit and a lifestyle change. I start with a couple of minutes of a single simple exercise a day and then build it up and by the end of the month I notice the positive impacts and these new lifestyle changes quickly become a habit rather than a challenge.

Breathing is something I didn’t even really think about until I found myself gasping for breaths and reaching for an inhaler last Easter and this last eighteen months has taught me not to take anything for granted anymore.

Steiff Teddy bear – Elmar review

Arlo has very kindly been sent out a beautiful Elmar bear from Steiff. To commemorate his starting school I thought he needed a special new friend and he makes the perfect gift because he’s just so huggable and soft. In fact this bear is the ideal gift suitable even for newborns. Available to order online from Steiff. They have a great selection of bears in all sorts of different styles and colours.

Steiff was founded in the 1880’s in Germany by a seamstress Margarette Steiff and originally they began life as pincushions would you believe? Of course the play value was immediately obvious and Steiff began to design and make prototypes herself and the business took off after the Teddy bear craze began after a cartoon of the American president Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt was published with a bear cub he refused to shoot on a hunt.

With such a great selection of bears on the website, to suit all occasions, at first it seemed like a daunting challenge choosing the perfect bear but this little guy jumped out at us because there was something familiar about him. Arlo’s grandma has a much loved Steiff bear from her childhood, which was purchased by her dad when she was a newborn. Fred is almost sixty years old but my mum recalls that when she was a child Fred had the same soft golden fur. Fred has been on some adventures in his life and is one of my mums most treasured possessions.

Theres just something so special about a childhood bear and the quality which comes from a Steiff bear really does mean that they will stand the test of time. My favourite feature of a Steiff bear is of course the iconic button in ear tag which was designed to prevent counterfeiting of the bears at the turn of the century and is a unique part of the charm of each bear.

Steiff stands for quality, with meticulous attention to detail and rigorous safety testing. The company motto is that “Only the best is good enough for children” with the materials being highly flame resistant and smaller pieces such as the button eyes have to be able to withstand tension tests and wear and tear. We have called our Elmer bear “Ben” after his great grandfather and we know that just like Fred his eyes will still sparkle brightly in sixty years.

Fred arrived to us as an online order and I must also add that the delivery was part of the high quality experience you would associate with such a traditional brand. Ben arrived resting comfortably in an ample sized branded box and wrapped delicately in layers of tissue, protected and secure. Watching Arlo open the box was a special experience and he couldn’t wait to pull him out. With the five way joints he can be positioned in sitting positions and he’s also great for a cuddle. This bear is an unmistakable original from the famous traditional house and already a much loved member of the family.

Steiff bear provided for the purposes of review, all views and opinions expressed are my own

Plus sized bras – Tutti Rouge review

Let’s talk about boobs.

Bazooka sized boobs which make you feel like you’re carrying watermelons strapped to your front 24/7 and not in a way which is going to make a Patrick Swayze look-a-like swoon all over you. I’ve got them, and I always have, regardless of my dress size and weight I have been blessed (or cursed) with an hourglass figure since puberty.

There’s going to be some people out there reading this who just can’t identify with the struggles of having big boobs, and think it must be incredible to have such an asset but trust me, it doesn’t make life easy at all. Along with the backache and the constant worry about gaping buttons on blouses, there’s the constant need to wear a supportive bra and thus sacrificing style. I’ve never been able to wear a strapless or spaghetti string top because I never wanted my inch thick beige bra straps to be on display. I’m the woman who takes my bra off as soon as I get home so that I can relax and feel free.

When I was younger I used to see friends pick up new colourful lacy little numbers every week from affordable and fashionable stores whilst I ended up heading to stores you’d normally associate with your grandma to spend a whole days wages on an ugly looking bra just because it was the only one in the store which would fit. Once I found the style of bra which worked for me I would buy it in the three shades it came in – black, white and nude. I used to wear these bra’s until the elastic gave in and then go back and try and find the exact same style.

Whenever I plan my outfits, be it work wear, casual day outfits or my Saturday night dresses – everything would have to work around the bra. Nothing low cut would work for me and nothing backless either. Every so often I would fall in love with a new dress and head out to a shopping centre to try on a new style of bra supposedly for “fuller breasts” – heading to nee and upcoming lingerie stores only to find that the design of the DD+ bra’s were simply not supportive enough, with no adjustments made to accommodate the bazookas. I can’t even begin to tell you how many claustrophobic changing rooms I’ve encountered.

The trying on process always begins with a well meaning assistant brandishing a tape measure, throwing it around me and then counting up the alphabet on her fingers. I only go shopping for bra’s when I absolutely have to because I hate the experience so much. It always starts well, with the enthusiastic checking of the tags on the styles of bra’s I like, only for me to be told that they don’t go up to my size. I wait whilst store assistants end up checking the computer system to find which two or three styles do come in my size and then rummage around on the shop floor to find the one that is in stock. I always sit and wait patiently, and then try to feign happiness when the same boring beige number is eventually presented to me through the gap in the curtain.

So here I am, a mid thirties woman who’s only ever worn a handful of different bra’s successfully, and so when I was asked to review some lingerie from Tutti Rouge which was suited to fuller breasts I was sceptical to say the least – especially when ordering from an online retailer. I went off to scrutinise the size guide and was greeted with a series of questions which made me feel like finally this was a company which understood my needs. I confirmed the size of bra I currently wear and then also described the fit of the straps, cups and band to be presented with my size to shop the website. Not quite the size I usually shop but I thought I would trust the process.

I clicked over to the online shop and filtered the shop by my size. Not only did they have something in stock in my size – I had options. Clicking through different styles and colours available gave me a reason to be happy. Each style was displayed on the search landing page on a model with a full bust, and clicking through I managed to get views of the straps and band which made me feel confident that these bra’s indeed were designed with big boobs in mind. Having different options for the first time was a joy and feeling confident I clicked through to look at bralettes too.

As I browsed the website I felt ridiculous for even thinking that they would have a bralette in my size but then I clicked through to the ocean blue colour of the Ana. I’ve never worn underwear in a colour before and I added this to my wishlist immediately just for the novelty of having something bright blue. I hadn’t even thought about how I would style clothes over a bright blue bralette, but I knew I had to have it.

I never usually go for a matching set of briefs and a bra, I usually try to find myself briefs which compensate for the lack of style in the bra’s I wear – the matching granny pants always get left behind by me in the department stores – I can usually find something in the black, white or beige which works and doesn’t break the bank on the high street. Clicking through that website I noticed I had yet more options. Matching briefs in more than one style, and going all the way from XS to 6XL to accommodate all shapes and sizes. This was so refreshing, the online plus sized bra shopping experience with Tutti Frutti was fun in itself.

My order arrived via Royal Mail tracked delivery within a few days of ordering – discreetly packaged in a mailbag with my four items individually wrapped. I tore open the packaging of the Nika bra first. I say tore – even at this stage I was very careful to keep all of the packaging to be able to send everything back if it didn’t fit. With its Lacy black trim across the nude cups I had to try this bra straight on. I noticed immediately that the band felt strong and wider than I’m used to. The clasps at the back are spaced apart well enough to provide a strong and supportive frame. The cups themselves are made from a robust material which gives a smooth shape.

There was no side boob spillage, or appearance of the dreaded four boobed monster. I stood in the mirror and checked myself out from all angles – the Balconette style gave me a lift and a shape I wasn’t used to experiencing and I found myself reaching for a tight t shirt to see how the fabric would fall. I found myself standing just that little bit taller. Very impressed with this style and just to have matching pants was enough, but the same quality in design was represented, both well fitting and strong without losing any style or delicateness. I didn’t even need to adjust the shoulder straps – but I did notice the heart shaped detail on the sliders which is a lovely finishing touch.

The bralette had me feeling nervous – I wasn’t sure how this would even work holding up my boobs, but as soon as I opened it I realised that it had five hook and eye fasteners to the back and the double banding was not just part of the aesthetic but also served a function too. This bralette is basically a marvel of engineering! I was reaching for my high waisted jeans and a blazer and totally ready to rock that look before I realised that the cups were slightly transparent and I’m not quite brave enough to walk out of the house with nipples on display.

Just the feeling of walking out and knowing I have a matching set of beautiful underwear on underneath my clothes is enough to give me added confidence, I can’t believe it’s taken me twenty years to find underwear for big boobs which fits well and looks great too.

A journey to health and wellness

I’ve written previously about how I lost a sense of self over lockdown. A year of sitting at home with nothing to do but bake really had an impact on my waist line which in turn had an impact on my identity.

As the world tentatively re-opened I decided I needed to turn things around and completely overhauled my lifestyle. I started at home with thirty days challenges for myself. Some based on fitness and others on my mental health, and some just for fun. I also began to change the way I eat and incorporated exercise in to my routines.

Then the summer holidays arrived and all routine went out of the window. With a four year old snack monster it would have been easy to slip back in to old habits and I certainly struggle to find time to head to the gym but I was set a little challenge by the team at Everyone Active. We participated in their week long everyone is family challenge – designed to promote health and wellness and make it fun for all the family.

There are four different week long programmes you can choose to participate in, each with a range of activities designed to make it fun for families to engage in sports and healthy activities together, at your local leisure centre or even from the comfort of your own home.

We chose our activities together from the adventure programme (of course) and decided to attempt a family swim session first of all. Arlo and Paloma are both aged 4, Lincoln is 6 and Logan is 9 so it’s been a challenge finding activities this summer which are appropriate and engaging for all of them to enjoy, but they all love the water so it was a great place to start.

On our first visit to the leisure centre we noticed the clip and climb walls and not being the type of kids to shy away from a challenge they insisted we book in for a session. With even the little ones feeling confident and wanting to brave the heights. There’s nothing more energising than getting to the top of a wall! We had a great time cheering each other on and conquering the heights.

This week we have also been participating in fun together outdoors – the activity planner suggested a bike ride but I couldn’t get four in the car to take to the park so we opted for scooters instead – the beauty of these activity plans is that they’re flexible and can be adapted to suit your family. We have been touring our local area and enjoying open spaces. I wear my fit bit and keep an eye on my step count so even if I can’t get to the gym I know I can hit my 10,000 step target which is easily achievable when chasing after these kids.

Of course I managed to squeeze in a couple of hours for myself, and I’ve been doing group exercise classes. I find working out in classes to be really motivating, I always want to finish the sets and pull another rep out of the bag when I see other people beside me putting the work in. I’ve been attending group classes since gyms’s opened their doors back in May and the support from others attending the classes is incredible too. It can be really intimidating attending a class for the first time but my advice is always to just go for it.

After all of this activity it seemed only fair to book in to visit the spa at Bromsgrove Leisure Centre, purely to give the place a thorough review. A couple of hours to myself relaxing and enjoying a treatment is just what I need after all of that hard work!

Everyone Active has leisure centres across the U.K. with a full schedule of family friendly activities and adult workout out classes to enjoy this summer holiday – and beyond. Check out your local leisure centre and find out what’s on, you could start your own family challenge, get the kids active and start your wellness journey.

Membership provided for the purposes of review however all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.


How to travel on a budget

There is nothing better than getting some time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life by going travelling. Travelling is a great opportunity to experience new cultures and seeing countries, giving you the chance to immerse yourself in new environments. 

 

Whether you are going travelling just for a week or two, or are going on an extended holiday for a few months, your trip doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. While of course the longer you are away, the more costs will start to add up, but by being money savvy you can enjoy your travels for cheaper.  So by planning your trip before you go, you can keep to a budget, but still have a great time away. 

 

Choose your destination carefully 

 

If you already have a figure in your head of how much money you have to spend on your trip then this will help you pick your travel destination. While some places are affordable and great for travelling when on a budget, others can be quite pricey. Therefore you should do some research before making travel arrangements to see the average cost of accommodation and eating costs for while you are away. The last thing you want to do is book your flights, to then find that the price of living is out of your budget completely. 

 

You may even find that there are some destinations close to home that will offer you a great travelling experience and allow you to save money when getting there. 

 

Find fun and free things to do 

 

While travelling on a budget, it is important to remember that there are many fun and exciting things to do and places to see that don’t have to cost you a penny. For example, throughout the UK there are picturesque beaches and fun museums that are completely free to enjoy. Heading down to Cornwall to the world-famous Fistral beach is a great way to take in the beautiful views, and you can even make a day of it by taking a picnic with you! 

 

Look out for deals and offers 

 

When it does come to booking and paying for excursions, trips, and travel, you should always look out for the best deals and offers. From family passes to ‘children eat free’ offers, you will be surprised how much money you can save simply by having a look online for some special offers. For example, Chill Factore has a range of offers and discounts available to help you save money while still learning to ski and snowboard. Their deals on snow activities can make it even more affordable for you to learn a new skill and experience something different during your summer holiday. 

 

Pick the right accommodation 

 

A huge contributing factor of how much you spend while you are travelling is the type of accommodation that you decide to stay in. Many people consider b&bs and hotels to be the best and cheapest accommodation options while you are away. But in fact they could end up costing you more money in the long run. For example, if you were to stay in an apartment instead, while you may pay a little bit more up front, you will be able to prepare your meals from your accommodation instead of having to rely on eating out. The cost of eating out at cafes and restaurants for 3 meals a day can soon start to add up. So by having an apartment with kitchen facilities, you can eat at home and help cut down your spending. 

 

Pack the right things 

 

It goes without saying that you should always try to pack light when traveling, you also don’t want to leave anything behind and be forced to then buy it while you are away. Many shops make a fortune on tourists leaving necessities at home, such as sunscreen, and therefore bump up the price. Don’t fall into this common trap, and instead take the time to make a list of everything you need and ensure that you have packed it all before you set off. 

 

It is a common misconception that travelling can only be enjoyed by those with a lot of money, and instead, just by being careful and planning ahead, you can save considerably while on your travels and still benefit from new and varied experiences.