Wednesday, 30 July 2014

It's Camp Bestival Time

Camp Bestival 2012

Roll up, roll up, the best circus this summer is in town! The car is packed, I'm not quite sure where the children will be sitting?! Early tomorrow morning we will be heading to Lulworth Castle in Dorset for Camp Bestival.  We are all very excited and I am sure there will be little sleep had tonight.  With so many things to see and do this weekend we have each chosen specific things we really want to do or bands/acts we want to see.  Personally I am looking forward to watching James on the Castle Stage on Friday night and of course De La Soul on Saturday night, reliving my sixth form and uni days.  A visit to Dingley Dell for activities with Project Wild Thing and The National Trust is a must and Kitty won't leave without seeing Ben & Holly.  I am also really excited to meet up with some of the other Camp Bestival bloggers and enjoy a drink, laugh and dance.

But for now I am off to get Lucys glasses fixed, one of the arms fell off this morning, then I may sneak in a cheeky cold beer in the garden before tea, well it is almost holiday time!

Until next time, take care.

My Sister is Getting Married

A couple of nights ago I had an excited phone call from my sister to tell me she is getting married! I am so happy for her and her partner.  So now she has months of fun, planning a wedding and of course a hen do. Time for me to introduce her to Pinterest and send her the links to my favourite wedding blogs from my previous work as a wedding and party blogger.  Of course we are all very excited, thoughts of gorgeous dresses, new suits and shoes as we look forward to a winter wedding in 2015.  

Congratulations Fay & Matt, we look forward to celebrating with you very soon.

Until next time, take care.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Ice Lolly Recipes

Even though the sky has clouded over here in Suffolk, being ever hopeful of a long, hot summer I thought I would round up my favourite ice lolly recipes.  I haven't as yet had time to try them all but as usual Pinterest has provided ample inspiration to tempt my taste buds.

Recipe from Jelanie

Recipe from Two Loves Studio

I hope some of these help cool you off this summer, be sure to share over on Instagram if you try any of the recipes.

Until next time, take care.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Summer Sounds On The Go

There are times in our busy house that you just want a little space to listen to your music choices, not everyone elses, to watch just one more episode of Homeland or Frozen for the umpteenth time.  The solution of course has been headphones.  Giving everyone the chance to watch or listen to whatever their latest favourite may be, without the rest of the house being subjected to it again and again.  Plugging themselves into their phone or tablet has meant fewer arguments, especially in the last year or so.  So when Coloud asked if we would like to test their range of headphones we were delighted.  Personally I loved the bright colours, knowing that they would brighten up a run on a dull morning, when I didn't really want to head outside, but I was intrigued to see if they actually delivered a decent sound too.

The Pop

These neatly designed little headphones pop into you ears, with covers in three sizes to prevent them falling out, unlike other brands that aren't so snug.  Lucy regularly watches her favourite vloggers on You Tube and prefers in ear headphones, so she has willingly tested The Pop.  She loves that the wires don't get tangled due to the flat design but most importantly the sound quality is excellent.  Lucy has said there is little disturbance from external noise and whether she is watching a video or listening to her latest music choices these little headphones deliver fantastic sound.  Aswell as the excellent sound quality she was interested to see there were different colour combinations available, which is important to every fashion loving teen.

The Knock

These were our least favourite pair that we tested.  Lucy and Jack compared them to being similar to school headphones and found external noise was heard more with this pair.  However The Knock are a lightweight overhead design which both Kitty and Amber liked as they didn't feel heavy on their head.  Again the flat cord was a hit, meaning the headphones could be worn quickly without having to unscramble the cords first.

The Boom

The Boom had the majority vote as our family favourite.  The closed construction design meant interference from external noise was virtually non-existent.  Jack regularly watches movies and listens to music on his laptops and has tried various sets of headphones over the past few years.  He was very impressed with The Boom and was surprised when I told him the price (£20), as he thought they would be much more expensive considering the quality of sound produced.  Connor was equally impressed with these and they also get mine and Andys vote.  Similarly to the other two pairs The Boom has flat cables, which really impressed us all, yet Andy and I are interested to see how this lasts in the longterm, knowing that cables do work loose with time.

The Pop, The Knock and The Boom are all available from Coloud's website.  Each design is available in various colour choices, allowing you to personally style your perfect set of headphones.

Until next time, take care.

Disclaimer - Coloud generously provided us with a pair of each headphone design, however as always all opinions are mine and my family's own.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Packing List For Camp Bestival

Camp Bestival 2012

Continuing from yesterdays post celebrating a good list, I thought I would share my list for top things to take to Camp Bestival.  With only nine days until we head to the beautiful Dorset coast, I am starting to check we have everything and that it's still in working order.  Batteries are top of my shopping list this week, torches and tent lights need them, also our phone charger needs some, aswell as the cameras.  So apart from plenty of batteries what else do I consider essential?

Loo Rolls - there are none provided, DO NOT forget these!

Hand Sanitiser and Baby Wipes - there aren't sinks in the porta loo's. Baby wipes also come in handy when ice creams get drippy and coke cans explode! (The toilets are cleaned regularly and we have never had a problem with them).

Sunscreen, sunhats, wellies and raincoats - this is England, be prepared.  Also wellies are handy for those early morning trips to the loo, across the dewy grass.

First Aid Kit - plasters, paracetamol - adults and childrens, insect bite cream or spray, antiseptic wipes.

Sleeping bags, warm PJ's, socks and a hat - the nights are chilly under canvas. Lucy brought her woolly hat last time to wear to bed, I wish I had as I slept with my hoodie on, hood up!

Jumpers - I always take a hoodie camping and a lightweight cardi.  First thing in the morning and later in the evening can be chilly and you will be glad of the extra layers.

Matches or a lighter - always handy for lighting your stove.

Teabags, Coffee, Hot Chocolate and UHT milk - that first cuppa of the day will be the best. Just remember no glass containers, so buy instant coffee in the refill bags.

Wine in a Box - again not glass - Helen of Knackered Mothers Wine Club shared some top choices in this blog last month, read them here.

Lots of Snacks - all that fresh air makes you hungry - for more food ideas read my post here.

Bubbles - of course I would prefer the fizzy champagne kind but children everywhere seem to have bottles of bubbles! There are stalls that sell them but taking some with you saves a little money.

Washing Up Bowl - this can double up as your sink for washing your face and brushing your teeth.

Water Bottles - there are ample taps around the campsites and in the festival too for you to fill up for free.  We take our camping water container and each have a water bottle to refill.

Air Beds and Pump- yes I know this a luxury, but a good nights sleep is essential to make the most of your time at the festival.  However my sons are a bit more hardcore and just have roll mats!

Picnic Blanket - we take a couple that can be used outside the tent and can be used in the festival too.

Bunting and Flags - there are hundreds of tents so personalise yours to make it easier to find.  We will have a flag and bunting, infact I've just found the circus bunting from Kitty's birthday party, perfect for this years circus theme.

Well I think that's the essentials.  One last thing is take some cash, there are cash points and some stall holders probably take cards but cash is king. Right I'm off to check all the sleeping bags zips are working and to find our flag pole!

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.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Lists, lists and more lists

Notepad available from The Green Gables

The impending summer holidays mean I need to be organised.  With five children to feed and entertain life becomes even busier than normal. So this is the time of year I actually depend on lists. Oh I do love a good a list, just sitting quietly to write it is fun. Now I know I am not alone in this love of list making and like many still favour handwriting my lists.  Although I do have a memo app on my phone and am seriously planning on using One Note properly....let me just add that to my list of things to do this summer! 

Yesterday the girls and I popped out to buy new notebooks for them to create summer journals.  With another storm and a wet afternoon putting paid to plans of outdoor adventures, the three of them sat and each wrote a list of '25 things to do in the summer holidays'.  Obviously I wasn't sure what they would list and hoped it would not include extravagant and expensive adventures.  Thankfully their lists are realistically affordable, including a trip to a museum in London, days at the beach, lots of sewing, writing stories, learning a foreign language, baking, learning to play the guitar and camping sleepovers in the garden, to name a few.  

So hurry up the end of term, my daughters have memories to make and I need to write a list of what to take to take on holiday and of course that dreaded new uniform list.  But for now I need to think about making my own summer journal.

Until next time, take care.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Three Hungry Teenagers at Camp Bestival

Yes that's right, we will be taking three hungry teenagers to Camp Bestival, nevermind Kitty (aged 7) who has the fastest metabolism I know and Amber who is teenager in training at eleven years!  So thinking about food and starting to buy supplies for Camp Bestival is taking some planning.  With just two weeks to go *excited squeal* I am giving food for the weekend some serious consideration.  Hungry children does not bode well, as we all know hungry children means grumpy children.  Therefore I am planning some easy camp stove meals, that do not rely on me having fridge access.  Ideas so far are pasta with stir in sauces, pasta and tuna, beans and hot dogs in tins.  Yes I know these are not my first choices when planning family meals but needs must and all that!  Whilst some may avoid bringing eggs camping I like to take risks, especially as they are great protein options for hungry teens and means I can rustle up some french toast crumpets (recipe can be found here) for breakfast.  As for snacks I will of course be bringing crisps, fruit, biscuits, rice cakes, breadsticks, bread and croissants and making several cakes, scones and flapjacks to bring with us.  Our plan is to eat breakfast at our tent, have lunch out at the many, many choices around the festival and then dinner will be back at the tent before returning for more festi-fun in the evening.

Hindsight is a very fortunate thing this time when planning food, with Connor, Jack and Lucy regularly checking the bags I am starting to fill with foodie purchases.  Have you started planning your meals for Camp Bestival yet? Any extra tips are always welcome! Also remember no glass is allowed on the site, so decant jam, choc spread, marmite, wine, Pimms, etc into plastic containers and bottles before you go.  

Have a wonderful weekend and 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.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

What Does A Therapeutic Radiographer Really Do?

This is a question I get asked alot, people seem genuinely intrigued by my new career choice.  Many assume I am a nurse specialising in something or more often a diagnostic radiographer.  Well I thought it was about time I explained the what I do as therapeutic radiographer and why it is very different to my collegues role in diagnostic radiography. Whether you or a member of your family has ever had to have an xray, a CT or MRI scan, you would have met a diagnostic radiographer.  Their role is similar yet very different to mine and they can be found in several departments in the hospital, however you will only find therapeutic radiographers in the oncology department.

Radiotherapy is a key and often primary treatment for many types of cancer.  Using targeted megavoltage xrays we kill tumour cells, pinpointing treatment within millimetres to avoid damaging normal tissue.  This is a very simple explanation and my training has included whole modules on radiation physics and how the treatment works biologically as well as how the machines work. My role is varied but very specialised as theraputic radiographers plan and deliver treatment as well as managing patients side effects throughout treatment.  From the first visit to the radiotherapy department for a planning CT scan, to a patients treatment plan being created and then actually delivering the treatment, no two days are ever the same.  When I qualify I will quite possibly become more specialised in either pre-treatment or treatment, as this seems the normal path in most departments. 

One the best parts of my job is that I get to know the patients, seeing them every day for four to seven weeks.  Over that time you get to know them, can help them on days when treatment is taking its toll, to just being there to ask if they are ok or greeting them with a smile.  This is the reason I chose therapeutic over diagnostic radiography, I wanted to be able to offer continuity of care.  Although people often wonder if my job is depressing, cancer isn't normally a cheery subject.  Yet I can assure you my job is far from depressing, patients amaze me every day, just because they have cancer it doesn't mean they lose their sense of humour. They are incredible with the way they cope and their determination is inspiring.  Admittedly there are some days that are tough, but I didn't go into this job because it was easy, I chose it because I wanted to care for people.  

So there is a little insight in to the role of a therapeutic radiographer. In the next few weeks I will write in  more detail about the actual degree course, just incase any of you are considering a career change.  In the meantime you can find out more about the role of a therapeutic radiographer on the Society of Radiographers website and find out more about radiotherapy on the Cancer Research website.

Until next time, take care.

Monday, 14 July 2014

The Den at Camp Bestival

At the end of last week Camp Bestival finally released details of their new teenage space, The Den.  Earlier this year my three teenagers completed the survey from Camp Bestival to help shape this new arena and I can report they are delighted with the line up.  Lucy is especially thrilled to see that there is a fashion journalism 101, as she is an aspiring fashion blogger.  Of course my very own comedian, Jack, is tempted by the open mic session and Connor is intrigued by the independant film screenings.  Nevermind the music, including Coco and the Butterflies, Nathan Ball and DJ's Pharaoh K & Absynth, alongside comedy, The Roundhouse Brass Ensemble and disco yoga to name just a few. For the full line up visit the Camp Bestival website.

Are you heading to Camp Bestival at the end of the month with teenagers in tow? I am sure The Den will be the place you will find them this summer!

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.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Health - Obesity and Gastric Band Surgery

Today has seen NICE announce their recommendations for gastric band surgery to be used for possibly tens of thousands of people, to hopefully alleviate the health problems caused by obesity.  Type 2 diabetes is the biggest concern, with a sharp increase in cases, which adds strain on to our already buckling healthcare budgets.  However I do not see this as the best way forward and will only create a short term fix.  People need to be educated not given expensive surgery that will hold higher risk than normal due to the patients being obese.

So what can we do to help these people?  Education is key, teaching people about healthy eating and quite possibly how to cook a meal from scratch.  Sadly home economics, or food tech as my children call it, is no longer a part of the weekly timetable.  Children and young people are not being taught how to cook at school often enough to make a major difference in their eating habits as adults.  My husband and I have taught all of our children to cook from a young age, starting with chopping veg for a meal,  to baking treats and actually preparing and cooking a family meal.  In our ever busy worlds I know many people reach for ready meals at the end of a chaotic day, no longer preparing a meal from scratch, not teaching their children how to cook.  Personally I think skills like this are essential and should be taught from the age of three in nurseries, throughout primary school and high school and not reserved to a once a term occurance.  Cooking and meal planning should be taught every week or once a fortnight.  I am sure our children will benefit far more from this than the endless testing they endure to prove to the government that they can do times tables, quadratic equations and spell words they rarely use.

Another contributory factor in the rise in obesity is our sedentary lifestyles.  I regularly see people in the village driving to the village shop, to take their children to cubs or brownies, to pop to the post office.  Maybe it is because I only passed my driving test six years ago and used to walk the children a mile to school when we lived in a nearby town, walked to the town centre, to nursery, but I find this ridiculous.  Nevermind trying to be greener, this quick walk would help their heart, their well being.  Just being outside can have positive benefits, I know I feel better after a brisk walk, however short.  Andy and I have a rule since moving to our village, we only drive to somewhere in the village if we are going to be very late, it's absolutely pouring.  Further impact on this sedentary lifestyle we see in the world is people are too busy.  No longer do people pop out at lunchtime, take a proper break but eat lunch at their desks.  They then leave work late or have a long commute and are too tired to cook a meal, favouring a quick snack or ready meal.  Now I am not saying all ready meals are bad for us, I have been known to eat them!  But maybe it is time to make sure we take our proper breaks, take a walk at lunchtime and make sure we leave enough time to walk to drop the children off at Brownies or to the gym, if it's possible.  I know sometimes driving is the only option.

Perhaps these ideas are just pie in the sky and I know it is not always easy to make healthy choices or to walk.  I am not stick thin, more a healthy size 12-14, yes I eat cake and drink wine, I am not a healthy saint.  But I do exercise and make healthy food choices most of the time and cook everyday.  Heading towards my forties and the menopause and my new profession makes me worry about my body shape more than it used to.  I know if I am overweight heading in to the menopause it is harder to lose weight when I reach the other side and being overweight post menopause will increase my chances of getting breast cancer.  Therefore if nothing else standing on my soapbox today has reminded me that I need to make sure that I need to exercise more regularly than I have been recently.  But for now it's fat Friday and tonight I will drink wine and eat crisps....well we all need a treat once a week.

Until next time, take care.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Baking - Triple Chocolate Cookies

Since finishing for the summer I have revisited my love of baking, indulgently perusing recipe book pages and baking treats for my children.  After a morning of gloss painting the staircase I decided to make a batch of cookies.  For the past couple of years Andy and I have been using a favourite recipe taken from The Australian Women's Weekly Chocolate cookbook.  So having teased some of you earlier on Instagram with photos of my baking I thought I would share the recipe with you.

125g butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
250g light muscavado sugar or soft brown sugar
1 egg
150g plain flour
35g self raising flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
35g cocoa
85g raisins
200g of chocolate, chopped coarsely (you can use dark, milk or white all three!)

1. Preheat oven to 180C / 160C fan oven.
2. Lightly grease two baking sheets.
3. Beat together the butter, sugar, vanilla extract and egg until smooth.
4. Stir in the flours, cocoa and bicarb.
5. Stir in the raisins and chocolate.
6. Put dessert spoonfuls of mixture on a baking sheet. Leave a space as they do spread out.  Also you can make smaller cookies by using a teaspoon or huge cookies using a tablespoon!
7. Bake for 10 mins. Leave for 5 mins after getting out of the oven then transfer onto a cooling rack.
8. Enjoy!

I am going to play with flavours over the next few weeks, but using the basic recipe.  Perhaps orange and cranberry, chocolate and ginger, tropical fruit (using dried pineapple, mango and papaya), lemon and raspberry.

Have fun baking and until next time take care.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

The Year in Books - July

With the promise of long, lazy summer days looming I have been stock piling books from the library.  There are several that I really want to read, having read reviews from other bloggers taking part in The Year in Books and also from reviews in Red.  Infact there are so many books I want to read at the moment that I wish there was such a job as professional book reader! 

June was a bit of a miss for me regarding my book choice.  I managed about the first third but to be perfectly honest I wasn't enjoying it.  It was well written but didn't really capture my imagination.  So having promised myself that if I'm not enjoying a book after the first quarter to waste no more time on it.  Long gone are the days when I had to read books for my English A level or the English Literature part of my first degree.  Life is too short to be wasted on books I am not enjoying, especially when there are so many books I really want to read.  Therefore I have spent much of June catching up on favourite magazines (Red, The Simple Things and Country Living) and have almost finished Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff as recommended by Lucy, my thirteen year old daughter.  I have to admit Meg Rosoff is fast becoming one of my favourite authors this year.  Even though her work is aimed at young adults and my greying hair and fine lines suggest I no longer fit this category, I am enthralled by her stories.  I adore the way she writes and have yet to find one of her books that I don't devour with great zest.

Already part way into July I have a little pile of books aligned, ready and waiting for my attention.  Dear Life by Alice Munro, Five Days by Douglas Kennedy and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson are on my list this month and I still have Gone Girl waiting in the wings.  However I am not sure I will get through all of these this month but I am hoping for plenty of reading time.  So now I am just hoping for the sunshine to return so I can lay out in the garden and enjoy many happy hours with a book.

What are you reading this month?  Recommendations are always appreciated and be sure to see what everyone else is reading for The Year in Books project.

Until next time, take care.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

End of My Second Year

Endless blue sky - A view from my village.

Well that's it, I have finished my second year.  To be perfectly honest I can't quite believe how quickly this year has gone.  Last September I felt like I had a huge mountain to climb and then in January I actually wondered if I would make it to the end of this academic year.  But yesterday I completed my last shift for my second year, handed in my practice portfolio and drove home too tired to feel elated.  This morning I am still feeling a little emotional and incredibly tired, having climbed the mountain but am left impatiently waiting to know if I passed and can climb down the other side.  Exam and assignment results aren't due until later this month, so until then I will keep my fingers and toes crossed!

So I now have eight and a half weeks to rest, enjoy and just be.  The best part of course will be having time at home with my family.  I miss my children and husband when I am on placement as the long commute and funny hours mean that normal family time is limited.  Weekends become precious but during school terms these are often filled with sports clubs and matches, concerts, play rehersals and performances and birthday parties.  Therefore the summer holidays are even more precious, no commitments, just endless days to enjoy.  Of course I am hoping for many sunny, blue sky, warm, hazy, lazy summer days.

Until next time, take care.