Saturday, 2 September 2017

Summer in Suffolk

 The changeable weather....coats required on this trip to the beach!

With no big plans for a family getaway due to Andy and I struggling to get the same annual leave this summer we decided to make the most of fabulous county.  Suffolk has so much to offer, mostly budget friendly and within a fairly short car ride away from our home.  Days have been spent on our favourite beaches, including Aldeburgh, Southwold and Felixstowe. Milkshakes at the diner down at Felixstowe Ferry, numerous 2p's fed into the slots of brightly lit machines in the arcade on the newly renovated Felixstowe Pier.  A stroll along the prom at Aldeburgh with a trip to the RNLI and of course the ice cream parlour.  Paddling in the sea at Southwold after picnicking on the beach then giggling at our reflections in the funny mirrors on the pier.  Walks through Rendlesham Forest, around our village and trips to great parks tucked away in nearby villages and Christchurch Park in Ipswich.  A visit to Jimmy's Farm on Andy's birthday.  Not forgetting cold coca cola drunk through straws (or trying the gin menu for the grown ups!) in our village pub, where we also celebrated Jacks 18th birthday.  

This summer has reminded us how much fun we can have without going on holiday and this September we will be celebrating living here, in this beautiful county, for seventeen years.  Have you been pretending to be tourists in your town or county this summer?  It's so much fun isn't it!

Until next time, take care.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Outfit Welcome a New Addition to Their Family

Today sees the launch of Outfit Kids, a brand new label from Arcadia, offering on trend clothing, footwear and accessories for children in their Outfit stores in retail parks around the country.  A couple of weeks ago we headed to London for the press launch of this new collection and were excited to see what they had to offer.  Teaming up with some designers from one our family favourites, Boden, I was expecting style, quality and colour.  Of course I was not disappointed and neither were Amber and Kitty.  The girls collections seemed to be tailored to both of their styles, boho aesthetic for Amber and a strong monochrome led style for Kitty.  However the fun of sequins, silver puffer or feathery jackets in the partywear drew most of their attention!

For a full list of stockists visit the Outfit Kids website here.  As part of the launch you can enter their competition to win tickets to see School of Rock.  This is currently a favourite in our house, after Amber performed in her school production of School of Rock last term and we were thrilled to be treated to a performance from the West End cast at the Outfit Kids press launch.  

My only disappointment is that unfortunately this fabulous new collection is not available in a town near to me, but any excuse for a trip to London! 

Until next time, take care.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Back to School - Styling Up The Grey

Back To School

Coats, bags and shoes available from Debenhams
Happy Jackson Lunchboxes available from John Lewis

Grey has featured alot in my life over the past few years, especially in the month of August when my days should be full of colour as the summer sun shines.  Most school uniforms seem to be led by grey or navy these days, no groovy brown and yellow mixes that my primary school days dictated.  But as my youngest daughter has said at least once a week for the past few months, grey is sooooo boring.  So what can our children do to mix things up a bit, stamp some style onto the necessary melancholy of wearing school uniform?  When my children were younger the latest favourite cartoon character or Disney princess adorned their backpack, lunchbox and water bottle.  But with my youngest child heading into the last year of primary school Disney princesses and cartoon characters are no longer the prerequisite of our back to school shopping trip.  Infact these days they tend to just email me links or send me screenshots of the items they need/want/absolutely must have.  Colourful bags, black patent t-bar shoes, warm but stylish coats and Happy Jackson lunchboxes seem the order of the day.  Lets just hope the trends don't change again until next Summer, as stamping their own style on the grey is a bit more expensive than those younger years of everything being Disney merchandise!

Until next time, take care.

Disclaimer - Debenhams kindly sponsored our back to school shopping trip.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

An End to the Blogging Hiatus

At the end of last summer I made the decision to stop blogging for a little while.  Well life took over, things got busy and that little while became several months.  To begin with I didn't miss popping in here to share my thoughts, as quite frankly I wasn't sure what I wanted to write about anymore.  Time was limited and the plan was to make time for other creative outlets.  Then in recent weeks I started reading other peoples blogs again and I knew I needed to return to writing.  Whether I return once a week, or more or less often, I am going to make time for this little corner of my life.  In the past I would create a plan to create a certain type of blog, make big plans, but this time I am just going to with the flow....well a little bit!  Of course I will continue to write about being a parent, any parent of teens will know it's good to vent somewhere, but I promise not too many moany mum posts.  Also I hope to share some recipes, my adventures into growing a cutting garden filled with vibrant floral sights and scents and of course health and wellbeing will feature.  So there we have it, a new outlook for an old seasoned blogger.  

Now I am off to facetime my eldest as it his nineteenth birthday, but sadly he is not here to eat endless cake as end of year exams are keeping him at uni for a couple more weeks.  But don't worry we will still be eating cake, just in different parts of the country!

Until next time take care, 

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Could The New Postgraduate Study Loans Help The NHS?

Post grad study seems to constantly be at the back of my mind the past few weeks. Shall I start my Masters?  Which course shall I undertake?  Do I really need a MSc to progress in my career?  So many questions and numerous answers.  Having investigated a few options I felt a little restricted, especially as I was looking to my employer to fund any postgrad courses.  Therefore the course has to be completely relevant to my job description for any funding application to be considered.  Furthermore with increasing pressure on NHS Trust funds there are huge reductions in funding for post grad study, whichever profession you are.  

Not one to give up easily and as SoR Learning Rep I am keeping an eye on opportunities for CPD and study options.  Initially not paying a lot of attention to the announcement in the Budget earlier this year that there would be new Postgraduate Study Loans available from this September, I decided to investigate a little more whilst on annual leave this week.  These new loans are available for post grad courses that lead to a Masters qualification.  The course you undertake must be provided by a UK university, including the Open University, can be a taught or research based course and can even be used to fund a part time course and by distance learning.  This creates numerous possibilities for those of us looking to gain a Masters qualification.  Imagine the possibilities this could create for NHS employees in improving their own knowledge and the service and care that they deliver.  No longer restricted to study certain courses we could enhance our knowledge which in turn will improve service delivery and more importantly improve the standard of care delivered.  Obviously it is important that we complete courses that are specific to our jobs aswell so that we can continue as individual departments and Trusts as a whole to raise standards.  Also as staff would repay the loans themselves there would be no extra strain on Trusts finances.

But lets think outside the box for a moment.  What if I decided to study the MSc. in Mental Health Science with the OU?  Whilst it is not directly related to Radiotherapy, Oncology or Radiography, which my job is, lets stop and think.  Actually this course would be related to all of these and could be very beneficial to the care of my patients, for staff and the department.  As part of this course I would develop knowledge and understanding of stress, anxiety, depression, psychosis and dementia, aswell as developing a critical understanding that could help me improve clinical practice.  With the final module being a research project in an area of mental health science I could tailor this for radiotherapy patients.  

So maybe it is time we explored different options that improve us as radiographers and continue to help us raise standards of care.  Could these new Postgraduate Loans be the answer?  I would love to know what you think.

Until next time, take care.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Enjoying Wine from the Virtual Vines of Brancott Estate

Arriving home from my last shift for July I was delighted to find an invitation from Brancott Estate, for the following evening, to join them for the launch of their Virtual Vines experience at Camp Bestival.  No stranger to the use of virtual reality (VR), having used VERT as part of my radiography training, I was intrigued to find out more about this new VR experience and looked forward to being transported to the vineyards thousands of miles away in Malborough, New Zealand.

After a busy day of travelling and setting up camp, Andy and I were in need of a chilled glass of wine.  So we headed to Brancott Estate's Red Barn whilst Lucy 'babysat' Amber and Kitty with a wander around the stalls and sights in Castle Field.  Greeted by the friendly team, smiles fresh as the festival weekend was only just beginning, we were directed to the bar for wine tasting before trying the Virtual Vines experience.  Met by a very knowledgeable 'barman' both Andy and I chose to start with Sauvignon Blanc, a firm favourite for many years.  Questioned about flavour and then gaining a greater understanding about this wine as we tasted three wines of different price brackets. Whilst we enjoyed our favourite so far that evening, we awaited our turn to pop on the VR goggles.

Sat at our own little stations we were assisted into the goggles and headsets before we headed off into the world of Virtual Vineyards, transported to the vineyards of Brancott Estate thousands of miles away.  To begin with it was a little unnerving as I looked around and not see Andy and other bloggers but to be in a barn!  However I quickly adjusted and found the story captivating, learning a little of the history of the vineyards and the development of the flavours in creating their different wines.  This truly was a novel way of gaining an insight in to Brancott Estate and I love it when a brand can tell a story, making me feel part of this story.  Having taken this virtual trip to the Malborough vineyards, both Andy and I were keen to learn even more and returned to the very knowledgeable barman/sommelier who taught us how to appreciate every glass of wine.  Pedro, you can be sure we now use these tips every time we drink wine!  

Whilst the Virtual Vines experience is not available everywhere, if you get the chance be sure to pop on the VR goggles and learn more about Brancott Estate.  I know that they will be at The Big Feastival at the end of the month.  Sadly we are not attending this festival, but I can safely say we will be continuing to enjoy Brancott Estate Sauvignon Gris this summer, as it has now become a firm favourite in our fridge, especially the Letter 'R' Sauvignon Gris from the Letter Series.  Andy and I are also very keen to develop our knowledge and are looking into courses closer to home.  So a big thank you to Brancott Estate for taking us on a virtutal visit to your vines and improving our appreciation of good wine.  

Until next time, take care.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

A Weekend of Festival Family Fun

Last Thursday we packed the car to the gunnels, leaving just enough room for us and the girls and headed south for a weekend of festival family fun at Camp Bestival.  Excitement levels were high as we travelled over 250 miles to Lulworth Castle, so even after an early start nobody was catching up on sleep.  The further south we got the brighter the sun shone and bluer the skies became, which was welcomed as there is nothing worse than heading to a festival when the weather is damp and cold! 

In record time we had pitched the tent and collected everything from the car.  Best decision so far had been choosing a pitch in Camping Plus that was closer to the car park, having last year been closer to the festival entrance.  This made it easier for unloading the car of all the 'essential' kit we had brought.  Later this decision was also very welcomed in that there was less noise from the festival late at night.  Thankfully we were pitched before the rain set in, so making the tent more homely with bunting, lights and garlands was delayed due to the weather.  But within a couple of hours the rain moved on along with the fog and the tent was looking much more stylish.  So off we went to explore the parts of the festival that were open.  For me this first glimpse, late in the afternoon on Thursday is in some way magical.  Captivating the true essence of the festival as smiles beam on childrens faces as they see things for the first time or revisit another year older, seeing things with fresh eyes.  The huge flags sway in the breeze as the clouds separate to reveal a deep blue, sun sparkled sky.  Yes this is the moment I treasure most.  

So with the tent feeling like home for the weekend and the sun returning there was much fun to be had.  Here are some of our favourite moments from the weekend.

Fat Boy Slim
For me this was the highlight of the whole weekend. Katy B had been the perfect warm-up, taken back to my clubbing days with her cover of Let Me Be Your Fantasy.  Then he arrived, the amazingly talented Fat Boy Slim.   Sounds of those hacienda days of my youth filled the air as I danced with the sun setting across the hills and the castle lit up, reminiscing of my clubbing days.  This was a moment I will never forget, thank you Camp Bestival.   

Jess Glynne
With the line up announced several weeks ago, the girls were very excited to see that Jess Glynne was headlining on Friday night.  A firm favourite in our house, her album on repeat for weeks, this was a moment that we would not be missing.  We sang and danced the night away and Jess certainly did not disappoint with a brilliant set.  Obviously the following morning I was asked to tie Jess Glynne plaits for Kitty, who had spotted how her favourite singer had her hair tied the previous night!

The Science Tent
Every year this just gets better.  Workshops aplenty, which adopted the space theme of the festival and performances to captivate the most unlikely scientists.  Kitty especially loves the science tent, getting to be hands on and exploring ideas.  Of course this gets my stamp of approval and love how families can get to explore science together.

Kitty - Think I may need to grow before I use this fork!

Even in the evening, the vibe was cool at the Feast Collective, 
with DJ BBQ providing the music and entertainment.

The Feast Collective
Again this did not disappoint and the food is delicious, exciting and quite frankly amazing.  With aromas to captivate the senses, tunes from DJ BBQ that seem to fit just perfectly with the vibe of this street food market.  Whether you wanted an ice lolly made from fruit and veg, a naan bread packed full of spicy chicken and salads, fish burgers that you can almost smell the sea in every bite, goat spiced of flavours that take you to streets in Africa, burgers loaded with melt in the mouth pulled pork or just an Americano.  Bursting with flavour, the Feast Collective is definitely our favourite part of Camp Bestival.  

Dingly Dell
When you need to escape the chaos, noise and sun for a little while, Dingly Dell is the perfect place to go.  With pathways to explore, hidden delights in Lizzie's Way and fun activities from the National Trust, there is still plenty to do.  Yet in Dingly Dell I always feel the pace has slowed, there is time to just be, moments to reflect.  Even though our daughters love the craziness, the noise, the bustle of the festival they also love to escape to Dingly Dell.  Just pressing pause here for a little while, recharging before we head back into the warmth of the sun and the bustle of the weekend.  

Finally the big marquee that housed Bollywood in previous years was left unpacked and this whole area was amalgamated.  Having seen in previous years the split between inside and outside of Bollywood it just seemed 100% better this year just being outside.   A party atmosphere took over in the evenings, with a top line up of DJ's every night, especially as Trevor Nelson brought the Rhythm Nation to Bollywood on Friday night.  Perfection!

Brancott Estates - The Red Shed
Showcasing their brand new virtual reality experience, Virtual Vines, at Camp Bestival, Andy and I had the privilege of joining Brancott Estate on Thursday night for the launch.  I will be posting a full write up in the next couple of days, but the Red Shed was a great addition to the Castle Field.

We also spent time learning circus skills, in Art Town and saw some amazing bands and artists perform. I especially loved catching Ward Thomas late on Saturday afternoon and Amber loved Alice Jemima in the Big Top on Friday night.  There is so much to see and do at Camp Bestival and we never seem to manage to do everything we plan to.  Sadly this year we left early due to myself and Lucy becoming sick, perhaps due to the not so clean toilets, lack of running water for the taps and no soap in Camping Plus, as several people in the Orange zone were also ill on Sunday morning.  I know that all these things sound a little bit too luxurious for a festival campsite, but these are some of the reasons we have chosen to pay the premium and book a pitch in Camping Plus for the past two years.

Even though we left early we had an amazing weekend.  Every year the line up at Camp Bestival gets better and better, but so does everything else.  Whilst we have come to expect old favourites, there is always something new, something exciting, to be discovered.  A different theme every year obviously helps refresh the old favourites but I truly believe that there is something for everybody at Camp Bestival.  

So thank you Camp Bestival for an amazing weekend, where memories were made that we will cherish forever.  

Until next time, take care.

Disclosure - This year I am one of the official Camp Bestival bloggers, working with them to share my top tips and reviewing the festival.  They have kindly given us a family weekend ticket, however all opinions are my own.