Saturday 31 December 2011

Family Fun: A Walk on the Lancaster Canal

This morning I went with the family to join in a walk with the South Lakes Walking Club and Kendal Ramblers. We met up close to the Hincaster Tunnel on the Lancaster Canal which is currently disused. 

To get to the actual start of the tunnel it is a minor detour from the footpath as there is no access through the tunnel (345.6m) but you have to take the path over the top original used by the horses used to pull the boats.

Tunnel entrance

Friday 30 December 2011

My blog year in review: Part 1

It's been an amazing year for my blog which I started back in 2008. This was definitely the year that the blog switched from being purely personal to including reviews and actually started earning me some much needed income.  So much has happened over the last 364 days that I'm breaking this review over 2 days to make it more manageable. 

Part one is the first half of the year from January to June and how I saw it from my blog:


This was the month for resolutions and new challenges. These included:

  1. 100 Books in a Year - hoping that if I add all the books I read to the children at bedtime I'll have completed this!
  2. Fitness Friday - this was a great supportive blog hop that unfortunately dwindled as the year went on but it did help me do really well getting in shape at the start of the year. Lots more work to do! As part of this I became an ambassador for Change4Life
  3. I also pledged to work on becoming self sufficient. I haven't 100% succeeded in this but things have improved
  4. This was the month I joined Reasons to be Cheerful for the first time. A great blog hop that helps to focus on the positive not dwell on the negative.
The high point of the month was appearing on BBC Radio Cumbria. Amazing where blogging can lead you! The low point of the month and indeed the whole year was the loss of my Granny at the age of 98. A much missed lady she will never be forgotten:


I have really tried to use this year to showcase my photographs. Not only through The Gallery and Silent Sunday posts but through stand alone posts such as this one from Bowness. I carried on my great relationship with Treasure Trails Cumbria with their fabulous murder mystery walks.

Karin started a Flashback Friday hop which I really enjoyed taking part in. This was the month I started reviewing iPhone apps with a debut from Peppa Pig. I did also manage a rant about the National Health Service. After signing up to the Become a Mumpreneur course I was quite happy to promote it.

Thursday 29 December 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful XXXI ( #R2BC )

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Nice and easy this week to find reasons to be cheerful!

1) Christmas

Well it has been a Happy Christmas for me so that is the first reason to be cheerful. I started the day with my children opening their stockings on my bed, then a trip to church and then spent the rest of the day with my parents. My children were the best behaved they have been for a long time and it was a pretty relaxed day.

2) Family

With it being Christmas I have seen more of my wider family with cousins travelling up for part of the festivities, seeing my Granny on Christmas Eve and a southern aunt and uncle yesterday. Seeing family is one of the most important bits about Christmas for me.

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Family Fun: A walk from Elterwater (part 2)

This is a follow on from yesterday's post. We had walked down to the river through the oak wood and now came up to the second set of falls at Colwith Force:

sideways sorry!
Then we crossed more farmland and some small roads before coming to Cathedral Quarry. This was created by slate quarrying and is an incredible if slightly dangerous place to visit:

We ate our sandwiches sitting on rocks by the pool which made for chilly posteriors! Another young visitor spotted 3 goldfish swimming in the water - apparently climbers sometimes introduce them to the pool..

After exiting the quarry we went down the Little Langdale valley and crossed over the magical looking Slater'bridge. As we traversed the bridge a rainbow appeared in front of us as the sun finally started to come out:

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Family Fun: A walk from Elterwater (part 1)

Despite the inclement weather I headed off to Elterwater with my parents and children for a day's hike. It was definitely a day for full waterproofs and even an extra umbrella and there was plenty of mud and huge puddles to avoid (or in the case of my son jump in!). This was the first time the children and I had been to the area so we took great delight in taking in the sights.

The route started with a walk along the river and then by the shores of Elterwater itself:

The path here has been gravelled but was so heavily waterlogged in places that we had to meander a bit. Eventually we came to a lovely modern bridge which spans the river:

A bit further down the river we came to Skelwith Force. They looked and sounded quite magnificent due to all the recent rainfall:

Monday 26 December 2011

Blowing away the cobwebs

We took a walk up the Helm near Kendal today to blow away Christmas cobwebs and make room for leftovers:

A knight to protect us from dragons

Strange trees
Our knight attacking strange tree!

Sunday 25 December 2011

Happy Christmas

Hope everyone has a lovely Christmas. Here is another little video from me for the festive season:

Friday 23 December 2011

Festive Friday

Feeling rather festive today so here are some photographs to help build the mood:

My daughter decorated this with Granny

This says ho!

Tree in the daylight

Add caption

Thursday 22 December 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful XXX ( #R2BC )

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Think my numbering gone awry but this may actually be my 30th R2BC post! Thanks Michelle for helping me stay optimistic in 2011 :-) Here is why I am smiling this week:

1) Family

On Saturday I as able to catch up with my brother and sister in law whilst I was down in Reading.  My Silent Sunday post showed how delighted my son was to see his uncle for the first time in over a year. It is great that I am still friends with my ex husband's family even though he is out of the picture. Spending time with them is always a pleasure.

2) Friends

The rest of the weekend was spent with my old high school friends. With a total of 9 children between us and 3 husbands its hard to get us all in the same place at the same time but we manage it a few times a year. I am very lucky that we can get put up for a couple of nights so that its not a rushed trip down. After being friends for 28 years its always great to get together. One day I hope to be able to have everyone to come and visit us again...

3) Winning things

Back in November I entered a competition on Knees Up Mother Brown and then completely forgot about it. I was delighted to receive in the post a gorgeous necklace handmade by Innocent Charms

I also loved the day out we won to South Lakes Wild Animal Park at Dalton. A great way to get in the mood for Christmas with visits to Santa included!

4) My son

Having completed his first term at school my son is now keen to practice his writing on things like present labels. When it came to writing mine he said he had to write "Love you" first as the most important thing:

Wednesday 21 December 2011

#TheGallery Christmas past


Me in the 1980s! In our traditional smart party gear and trying on my christmas present slippers.

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Christmas at South Lakes Wild Animal Park

It's been just over a year since I first went to the South Lakes Wild Animal Park so I was very pleased to win a full Christmas Experience visit there from my local free paper The Citizen. If we had been able to go on a Saturday then it would have started with a breakfast with Father Christmas but on a Tuesday this wasn't available.

So we started off with taking our free animal feed to the emu and wallaby enclosure. As you can see on some of the photos below my children took great delight in feeding the permitted animals:

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Then we partook of a much needed free hot drink in the Maki restaurant before exploring more of the Park. It is full of a wide variety of rare and endangered breeds that the Park are captive breeding. Despite the cold plenty of the animals were out and about for us to see. 

We had a couple of attempts at trying to go skating and had to retreat to the restaurant for our Christmas lunch. Unfortunately there was a a big rush due to the one and only downpour we had all day. This meant we had to wait quite a while to be served but once it arrived it was delicious. It was extra festive to get a cracker to pull whilst enjoying it! There was a little gap until we had a confirmed skating spot so we headed off to see the giraffes and reindeer. My daughter enjoyed feeding both species and my son just fed the reindeer (got to make sure Santa's sleigh gets here on Xmas Eve!). 

Monday 19 December 2011

Merry Christmas

I just want to wish all my lovely readers and companies I've worked with this year a Merry Christmas. It's been an amazing year on my blog and I've been able to review some amazing products and days out. Hopefully I'll do a blog review before the 31st but in the mean time I give you the sound of my children's Christingle service alongside some of my Advent photos:

Saturday 17 December 2011

Herdy Heads for the Hills

I heard about this on BBC Radio Cumbria on Friday morning and immediately Googled it to see for myself. A great bit of fun to give publicity to the Lakes by David Browne ( the iconic Herdwick sheep available from

If you love that then check out this:

Dear Santa I'd love to find any Herdy products in my stocking this Christmas ;-)

Friday 16 December 2011

GCSE Online Maths Tuition: Get Your Child Up to Speed in 2012

Sponsored Post

As a parent with a teenage son or daughter looking to take their GCSEs in May 2012, the prospect for both parent and child can seem daunting. More families are weighing up their options for supporting their children, and many are seeking extra support with the more difficult subjects, such as maths.

In the last 10 years, home tuition has become increasingly popular, with students visiting the homes of retired teachers for private maths tutoring to try and cram some extra study time in before GCSEs get underway.

The iTutorMaths online maths tutor service is quite simple; a maths tutor will work with small classes and all the students need is a broadband internet connection and a microphone or headset. It’s quick and easy to set up and allows students to study with a teacher, from the comfort of their own homes.

The virtual classroom concept is proving popular with parents too. Their child stays at home and is able to work more closely with the parent and the online maths tutor at the same time, encouraging greater parent-child involvement and interaction. Here’s a couple of other great reasons why online maths tuition is the way forward:

·       No embarrassment – children might be afraid to speak up in class when there is something they don’t understand, but studying online with a personal maths tutor eliminates this fear, as class sizes are so much smaller.

·       Greater understanding of core modules – at school it is easy for teachers to run through a particular subject and some students miss out on the extra details, such as why it is like it is and how they came to that conclusion or maths sum. With a private online maths tutor, students are more likely to grasp methodologies with a deeper understanding rather than skimming over a topic.

So why is this important to consider now? Well, if your child is looking to take their maths GCSE in 2012 or beyond, now could be the perfect time to look at getting your child enrolled with an online maths tutoring service, giving them that head start they need before exam time comes around.

Thursday 15 December 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful XXIX ( #R2BC )

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Well its just over a week to go until Christmas so we all ought to be cheerful I suppose - unless you are completely stressed out and worn down by the whole thing! Been a lot ging on yhis week so here are the main reasons for me to be cheerful today:

1) Son's first primary school nativity

At my children's school the whole of the infant school put on a traditional nativity. Every child has a part with the Reception class such as my son being animals (he was a sheep!). Talking parts are done by the year 2 children and the Year 1 children are angels/stars/shepherds etc. There are only around 50 of them altogether this year and they did a brilliant job.

2) Makeovers and night out

On Friday morning I had a major hair restyle at Lavella Hair in Kendal. After over 6 months of not having a cut my hair was blooming awful and only fit for tying in a pony tail! Now its in a proper graduated bob and looking in tip top condition. As I was going out that night I nipped into Boots and got a free makeover so that it looked better than I can do. As I was wearing contact lenses and not glasses I confused so many people with my new look including my parents and my children. It's hard to do a self portrait but here was my attempt:

The night out was with 100+ ladies who attend Rosemary Conley classes in the local area. A really good fun time at Kendal Rugby Club as we all let our hair down for a great party.

3) Family

On Saturday the children and I day tripped to Birmingham to see their half sister for the first time in a year. She is a lovely lass of nearly 14 and we had a fun 4 hours exploring Birmingham's German market and funfair. Shame we live so far apart that we can't see her as often as we would like.

4) School choir

My daughter is in her school choir and on Monday night I went with my mum and aunt to see her perform at the Staveley Choral Society Christmas Concert. It is not a huge choir but they sounded delightful as they performed. Hopefully I can work out how to get the audio I recorded on the night on to my blog - only 14 seconds but it will give you a taste.

5) La Posasda

Once again we have been a host to our church's Posada. It is a great way to remember the reason for Christmas and also to think about people who are homeless or refugees as was the case for Mary, Joseph and Jesus even for a short while. Having another church family round to share was also a lovely part of the experience:

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Stocking Filler Ideas for Adults

Sponsored Post

For a change I am going to review some products for adults - it was nice to get sent things for me instead of my children! All of these are stocking filler prices.

Dustaway Keyboard and Screen Cleaner

This was sent to me by who provide corporate gifts. It is a neat little tool that I used to give my laptop a clean up! It did actually make quite a difference as I'm terrible about eating etc whilst using the computer so it was a bit dirty... An idea for the computer type in your life.

Hot Water Bottle with Heart Knitted Cover

A lovely little gift for a lady in your life especially one that is often out and about in the cold.  This was sent to me by Find Me A Gift and is currently £4.99 on their site. The first time you use it you activate a little metal disc and after that you can recharge in boiling water. It is small enough to keep in your handbag or coat pocket.

Monday 12 December 2011

Haba Toys: Charlotte Doll raindrops outfit

Sponsored Post

This is a follow up to our review of the Haba Charlotte Doll we did earlier this year. This time we were sent some extra clothes for the Charlotte Doll to wear. The ones we were sent were very suitable for living up in Cumbria as they were a rain coat and welly boots! 

My daughter found it pretty easy to put the new outfit onto Charlotte as the boots have velcro up the back. The coat itself has a proper zip:

using a stock image as my camera broken.

It is great to have an additional outfit for Charlotte. Like most girls my daughter likes to vary the way her dolls look. The fastenings make good practice for younger children at doing up their own clothes. My daughter is quite caring for her dolls and so likes to know that they are not going to get cold or wet if taken outside to play. This outfit allows Charlotte to be taken out in more inclement weather.

We haven't actually tried to see how waterproof the boots and coat are but I'm sure it won't be long before we can try her out in the snow or some shallow puddles. Once again the attention to detail and the finish on the outfit matches the standards we have come to expect from Haba.

Whilst looking for stockists in UK I have found the same set on Amazon for £15.95. This would make a great addition to the wardrobe of any Charlotte or other 38 inch Haba soft doll.

Saturday 10 December 2011


I had such fun yesterday after a radical new haircut, a temporary swap to contact lenses and a free Boots makeover had even my own family confused:

A wee bit blurry but think you get the idea!

Friday 9 December 2011

Sudocrem All Babies Count

Sponsored Post

Sudocrem nappy rash cream are running another fabulous competition on Facebook they really do like giving things away! Not only that but Sudocrem is currently supporting ‘All babies count’, an online campaign which will support the NSPCC’s work to prevent the abuse and neglect of babies.

Sudocrem are seeking your help to drive as much exposure to the campaign as possible and in return will be giving up to £25,000 to the NSPCC.

This is how you can get involved:
  1. Sudocrem will donate 50p for each new ‘like’ on Sudocrem’s Facebook page (Visit
  2. For every tweet using the #allbabiescount hashtag Sudocrem will donate 25p.
  3. Sudocrem will also donate 50p for every comment on the NSPCC Facebook campaign page: 
Visit for more information about the “All babies count” campaign. The campaign runs until February 2012

Thursday 8 December 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful XXVII ( #R2BC )

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Welcome back Michelle after your break - hope all of us guest hosts looked after this OK for you!

1) Cars

The fact that my Skoda may have completely packed in on Friday could have left me in a complete state. Luckily my lovely mum bought me a Saxo off a friend on Friday morning so I am mobile again. It's going to take some getting used to having a little car and not an estate (plus no power steering) but I have re-gained my independence.

2) My daughter

Last night I went to see my daughter perform in her school's KS2 Christmas musical. I was very proud of the dance routine she performed with a group from her class. She was doing it again tonight with her grandparents watching.

Checking out her rock star pink mohican!

3) Getting festive

Despite the downbeat post earlier this week I am feeling more festive. Our decorations are up - just outdoor lights awaiting the end of the rain! The brief flurry of snow made Christmas seem closer. Tomorrow is my son's nativity play - wonder if I'll cry at sight of him as a sheep!

4) Winner!

I was so tired I forgot one of my biggest reasons to be cheerful! I have won a family Christmas Experience Day at South Lakes Wildlife Park. The park is free at the moment to everyone but all the extra Christmas bits still cost. We are getting a free lunch, a ride on the train to visit Santa and a chance to feed Santa's reindeer - not sure who is most excited me or the children ;-)

5) Kindness of others

Another late breaking one was the arrival tonight of an unexpected hamper from Christians Against Poverty. It is so kind of the people at Parr St Church in Kendal so send my children and I a box of Christmas goodies that we can't afford to buy ourselves.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

#TheGallery: My Awesome Photo


Another competition from Tara this week on the gallery. Hard to choose which one to use but this is what I'd love to have made into a canvas print if I win:

It was one of those fluke moments when you spot something unusual and are glad you have your camera phone on you!

Tuesday 6 December 2011

The joy of Christmas

I have always been a big fan of Christmas. Until I met my ex husband it was always the time we got together as an extended family either at my family home or with our relatives up near Manchester. It was always such a fun time as far as I can remember!

When I met my ex things got complicated as he came with 3 part time children. Christmas became a bit less relaxed as we had to negotiate where the children would spend Christmas Day and this meant we saw less of my extended family. Having my own children did restore some of the magic as they found it all so exciting.

Since my marriage broke up it seems that Christmas has been a lot more stressful! The first one I had a tricky drive up from the south coast to my parents' new home in Cumbria. En route I decided to quit my job as it was just adding to the stress in my life without providing material benefit. On Christmas Day I woke feeling ill and spent much of the next 2 days lying down - I was diagnosed with mastoiditis and needed double antibiotics to fix it! Due to the snow most of the family was unable to join us so it was a very quiet Christmas.

Last year we got caught out in the snow whilst driving down to visit friends in the south. After some horrendous driving we ended up in a hotel on the A43. This made for an unexpected large expense although the children thought it was a great adventure! This year we are going down by train - more expensive than driving but less stressful for me.

This month the stress of my car issues is not exactly putting me in the right frame of mind to get all excited and festive. My children are a combination of over excited and worn out. With all the school production rehearsals its a very busy time for them. However due to the excitement they have lost the ability to go to sleep at night and in consequence are tired and ratty during the day.

I am hoping that watching their respective productions this week will restore my Christmas excitement! There is lots to look forward to with catching up with family and friends over the next few weeks. Ask me again on December 25th whether Christmas is a joy or a pain!

Last Christmas

Monday 5 December 2011

Top That Publishing: Time for Dinner/Little Penguin Learns to Swim

This is my fourth "Yummy Mummy" book review for Top That Publishing:

It is always a pleasure to open an envelope from Top That Publishing as they have such delightful books in them. This time both the books were aimed at my 5 year old to review.

First up Time for Dinner by June Morley:

Yum, yum,’ said Fly. ‘I do love dinner time!’
It’s time for dinner and all of the animals are very hungry! But, with the cat looking hungrily at the bird, the bird looking hungrily at the spider, and the spider looking hungrily at the fly, will anyone have dinner at all? This humorous picture storybook with a comic twist is bound to amuse new and emerging readers time and time again!

This is a beautifully illustrated picture story book which was a delight to read with my son. There is a little bit of a repeat on each section of the story so your child can guess a little bit of what happens next. A series of animals in turn attempt to eat another animal for dinner but which will be successful? An enjoyable read whilst snuggled up on the sofa together. My son has learnt enough since starting school in September to be able to read some of the book himself and the font size is perfect for early readers.

It is available direct from the publisher RRP £5.99 but currently £5.39 or as an e-book (PDF) for download at £1.79.

June Morley
Marina Le Ray
9 781849 564397
Publish Date:
1st September 2011
  • Book size: 254mm x 254mm
  • 32 pp
  • Full colour throughout
  • Paperback
  • Ages 3 to 5

Together for Short Lives


Together for Short Lives, is the chosen charity for this year's X Factor charity single. Together for Short Lives is the only charity representing the estimated 23,500 children and young people across the UK who are unlikely to reach adulthood and their families. All net proceeds from the single, which features the finalists as well as JLS and One Direction, will go towards providing care and support to families so that they get the help they need. 

Providing care - often 24 hours a day, seven days a week - can place families under enormous emotional, physical and financial strain. Relationships can suffer; careers may have to be abandoned; well brothers and sisters can feel left out; and normal family activities become almost impossible. 

Many remarkable organisations, including children's hospices embrace not only the physical, but the emotional, social and spiritual elements of care, focusing on quality of life for the child or young person, and practical support for the family. 

However, while there are some excellent services available, many families struggle to access co-ordinated care when and where they need it. 

Together for Short Lives is here to help. It could be as simple as signposting a parent to a place that can take care of their ill child while they take their well sister to Brownies, or providing them with a ‘family companion’ booklet to help families work through what to expect, and where they can find help. 

Together for Short Lives:
  • Helps families know about care available to them
  • Works with organisations so that they continue offer the highest standards of care 
  • Raises and distributes funds to essential care organisations.
  • Provides a voice for children, families and providers, ensuring they are heard by Governments.
  • Highlights the needs of children, young people and their families requiring support.

The profile and funds generated by the X Factor will make such a difference to this critical work.