Friday 31 January 2014

Thursday 30 January 2014

Reasons to be Cheerful week 5 - 2014 #R2BC

This is my last week as host for a month as I will be handing over the reins to Jo at Ojosworld for February. I know the blog hop will be in safe hands! For me it's been a rollercoaster week so I need to shout about the positives:

1) Friends and family

When things aren't so good it's wonderful to know that I have such a lovely and supportive family and friends. Whether its for advice or practical support there is always someone there to come to my rescue!

2) Proud mummy

My son came home with a headteacher's award for maths. He had spent ages mentally doubling numbers well into 4 digits when only in year 2. A proper little mathemagician.
Big sister has also moved up a level in maths as she needed harder work. I used to love maths at primary school so glad they do too.

3) Operation House

Not managed a lot this week but my daughter helped to sort out the front room a bit. Also reclaimed floor space in my bedroom and the kitchen. We will get there in the end!
4) Girl time

My daughter and I got to spend a huge chunk of the weekend without her little brother. He went on his first sleepover (a great success!) so we had a girlie Saturday night. It was a lovely simple evening snuggled on the sofa watching girlie movies: Three Muskeeters, Jane Eyre and Les Miserables. Apparently it was her best Saturday night ever!

Why are you smiling this week?

Reasons to be Cheerful

Wednesday 29 January 2014

#TeamHonk Kendal updates

Team Honk 2014 blogger Relay

Some exciting news from Kendal Team Honk this week! First up we are in our local paper the Westmorland Gazette. There is even a photograph of the three of us in our Sport Relief onesies (cover your eyes...). The article also mentions the mad things that Family on a Bike are doing to get the baton to Kendal.

Secondly the lovely people at Mountain Goat Tours are providing us with transport on the day and one of their drivers is donating his time! So we will be travelling in style between runs:

Just have to hope the weather shines on us on the day... To sponsor our efforts please go to our Sports Relief Page

We have an official text donate code! Text HONK to 70005 and donate £5 to Sport Relief If you are a brand or business who can help then please take a look at the TeamHonk site for information about what you can do for us.

The first ever Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Games take place from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd March 2014. The public can join the fun and games by running, swimming or cycling their way to raising cash at over a thousand venues around the country, including the landmark events at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

As one of the biggest fundraising events, Sport Relief brings the entire nation together to get active raise cash and change lives. The money raised by the public is spent by Comic Relief to help transform the lives of some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people both at home in the UK and across the world.

For news on how the relay is going so far check out the official Team Honk page there has been so much madness going on!

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Tick Tock: in memory of watches

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I look back with fondness on the memory of getting my first proper watch. It was new technology as my parents got me a digital watch a bit like this one:

Being able to tell the time gave children so much more freedom as we knew at what time to come home. There was also the fun of using the stopwatch function when playing games!

I was sad in the 1980s to miss out on the Swatch revolution with all their funky colours. Instead for my 18th birthday I got a sophisticated and elegant analogue watch. This was a special occasion only watch as it wasn't waterproof. Unlike my first digital watch though I do still possess it though I never seem to remember to put a new battery in it..

When I got engaged a friend gave us matching his and hers watches - though I guess they probably fell off the back of the lorry as they didn't work for very long... So I bought myself a kinetic watch so that I didn't need to worry about batteries all the time. This one I do still wear sometimes though I have to take it off to use a laptop and then frequently forget to put it back on...

So the timepiece I most often have gracing my wrist is currently my running Garmin which is rather too bulky and a bit too pink for every day use. I do think I need to invest in something that I can wear all the time so I don't have to rummage for my phone... 

It would have to be something that I didn't have to worry about getting wet or being knocked so perhaps a Casio Baby-G Shock Watch:

Do you have memories of special watches that you have been given or bought over the years?

Monday 27 January 2014

The Dating Game #3Dates3Mths

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The nice people at Just Singles have challenged a few of us single bloggers to try and get ourselves 3 dates in the next 3 months! They appreciate it how hard it can be as a single parent to get out dating so they want us to try 3 different methods - 1 each month - to see if any of them bear fruit.

First up I will be making use of the free membership they have given us on their site. A chance to browse the selection of fellas who are looking for the right woman! There do seem to be quite a variety to chat with online and maybe meet up with...

For the second month I'm planning on seeing if a 1 month gym membership at a local gym can produce anything other than a slimmer more toned me! I will have to go and check out a couple of the choices of gym first though to see which one I fancy trying....

The question is what to try for month 3? If you have any constructive ideas as to where the nice available men hang out in South Lakeland then let me know! Maybe on a one day course or a beer festival or an art exhibition - I need your inspiration...

Saturday 25 January 2014

Calling all school teachers! Usborne Reading Programme

Are you reading books looking a little tired?

Did you know Usborne Books offers a Reading Programme that fits in with the National Curriculum Book banding?

Check out what we can offer you through the scheme.

One of the available books

Our Very First Reading section alone, offers 26 titles.

Remember with Usborne we can also offer up to 60% free books too, so we really can stretch those budgets, and if you have already exhausted your budgets how about letting us tell you all about our Ready Steady Read programmes where we can gets lots of lovely new books into your school for FREE.

Should you wish to see a full catalogue or just find out a little more information, please e-mail me with your questions.

We are continually expanding our exposure in schools and would sincerely like to help with your literacy requirements.

Friday 24 January 2014

15 minutes of fame!

Back in October I was asked by Sizergh Castle to review their new Woodland Play trail. This week our local National Trust members letter popped through the letter box and we were in it:

Nice to have been put into print!

Thursday 23 January 2014

Reasons to be Cheerful Week 4 - 2014 #R2BC

Gosh where has this week gone it doesn't seem 7 days since I wrote last week's post! So why am I smiling this week as January goes whizzing by...

1) People joining in

Last week was one of the busiest one yet for me on the linky. Just wonderful to read so many positive things that people were finding in the lives. I know how much thinking positively helped turn my outlook around so I'm glad so many other people are able to get the same boost.

2) My daughter's health

This time last week my daughter was very poorly and running a fever which was very distressing. Thanks to a speedy appointment at our out of hours doctor service and some antibiotics she is now fully restored to her normal self:

monekying around at the park

We are so lucky to have a free health care service and access to medicines that help our children when they are unwell. To prove how well she felt she baked a couple of batches of yummy cakes:

3) Operation House

Not huge progress but things like getting my daughter's Christmas present decal on her bedroom wall after she and I did some more sorting of her room felt great:

4) Proud mummy

My son loves his swimming lessons and always wants to be first when they do their turn at lengths. Tonight he was learning butterfly arms for the first time aged only 7! He as also asked to demonstrate to the rest of the class how to turn a mushroom float in to a submarine by blowing out bubbles. So glad he loves swimming as much as I did when I was a child, long may it continue.

Why are you smiling this week?

Reasons to be Cheerful

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Workout Wednesday Week 3: Fitting in the Fitness

I am pleased to have drawn the winners of my competition with Thinking Slimmer so I do hope that they have great success with their new Slimpods! I have been listening to mine and trying to remember to focus on the positives... things like not wolfing down everything on my plate once messages come back from my stomach to say enough.. The clothes that were a bit tight after Christmas are all much more comfortable now. 

This week I wasn't tempted to drink alcohol and was happy with my booze free beer. Bit bored of being stuck with one beverage though so may need to get more variety for the last week and a bit.

As for exercise it was a relief to be able to get out on Friday after not being able to run much earlier in the week due to illness of one or other of us. Not only did I manage 10 km in the rain but I ran the fastest official one too:

That made up for getting wet! At the weekend I had to squeeze in some mini runs with my son as we went out and about:

Better a little bit with a total of 5km than nothing. On Monday I did my first Staveley to Kendal run for a while. I added a loop around the village first to extend the distance. My leg was niggling at me but I thought that was just the cold and thought I could run it off as I went along:

I did manage to complete the 10 km in my second best time but unfortunately I've been limping ever since.. So that's no run today then. Just hope its recovered in time for Friday though I doubt it. Onwards and slimwards next week...

Tuesday 21 January 2014

100 Days of Happy #100daysofhappy

As regular readers know I like to focus on the positive things in life especially with the reasons to be cheerful linky that I now co-host. To boost this I've joined in with 100 days of happy to try to post a photo of something that's made me happy each day. Here is what I've done so far:

A new 10km official personal best


The latest in one of my favourite book series:

A glimpse of blue sky:


A good run:


A beautiful sun rise:


Why don't you try?


Monday 20 January 2014

75 Books in 2014 Challenge

Time for an update on how this is going! Hopefully this year I will succeed having failed last year.. so I reduced the challenge from 100 to 75..

1) First up a Christmas present introducing me to a new fantasy author:

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1)The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The opening book in a series so it has to establish the main characters and the background to the plot. Had me finding it hard to put down at times despite the high body count. Leaves me wanting to go out and get the next one to find out what happens next..

2) Then revisiting an old favourite but in audio form from audible:

The Colour of MagicThe Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have always loved this book and having listened to one Discworld CD I was keen to start using my Audible account to get more. Great story but not as keen on Nigel Planer as narrator..

3) Next the latest in a children's fantasy series:

The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus, #4)The House of Hades by Rick Riordan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We have been waiting to see what would happen after Percy and Annabeth fell into Tarturus after defeating Arachnae and saving the Athena Parthenos. The 5 remaining demi gods and a satyr on Argo II must get to Greece and the House of Hades to reach the Gates of Death. They hope to stop Gaia releasing more monsters into the world and save Percy and Annabeth. They will each have to learn how to harness their various talents and powers in order to succeed as they battle a range of monsters and gods whilst meeting some intriguing allies.

Meanwhile Percy and Annabeth have to safely cross Tarturus facing enemies old and new plus an unexpected appearance from an old adversary turned friend... Will they make it to the Doors of Death...

Plenty of fascinating mythology, battles plus each individual has plenty of story to keep you reading. Another ending leaving us waiting until October 2014! Great part 4 of the series.

4) I waited to spend my birthday book token in the sales to get the latest book from one of my favourite historical fiction authors:

The Pagan Lord (The Saxon Stories, #7)The Pagan Lord by Bernard Cornwell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Uhtred is a far from ideal hero but he always stands up for his adopted kingdom even after he has been exiled and threatened with execution.

This part of the series covers a huge swathe of what is now England from Bamburgh (Bebbanburg) in Northumbria across to Chester, down to Gloucester and London. Facing his old enemies Cnut and Siggurd, the uncle who stole Bebbanburg from him and angry Christians in Wessex it's another epic story.

A great insight into history in the dark ages. Plenty of minor skirmishes and then a huge battle at the end - it's not a book for the squeamish.

Cornwell is a marvellous story teller and this is another brilliant book. Can't wait for book 8!

5) A browse in the fantasy section of the library to find something new:

Drakenfeld (Lucan Drakenfeld, #1)Drakenfeld by Mark Charan Newton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is an intriguing mix of fantasy and murder mystery. Lucan is summoned back to his home city following the death of his father. He replaces him as the local agent for the Sun Chamber. He finds his birthplace much changed from when he left it.

Summoned to investigate a royal murder he is also being attacked by local villains. With a rising body count he must solve the murder before someone kills him.

There were plenty of twists in this book and I enjoyed reading it. The last few chapters don't seem quite as well written as the rest of the book though.

6) My daughter loves having some proper books at bedtime so we enjoyed this one together:

Demon DentistDemon Dentist by David Walliams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another brilliant book by David Walliams. Loved reading it to my daughter at bedtime.

Had us laughing at times and scared at others. Why does know one believe the children that the new dentist is a witch?

A bitter sweet comedy that runs you through a gamut of emotions. Some great characters and once again with Raj the newsagent.

7) I realised that I hadn't read the last Game of Thrones paperback and it didn't take me long to make up for lost time:

A Dance with Dragons: After the Feast (A Song of Ice and Fire #5, Part 2 of 2)A Dance with Dragons: After the Feast by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great to realise that you hadn't quite finished the most recent book in a series! This one has strands relating to all the main surviving characters.

Jon Snow at the Wall dealing with the conflicting needs of the Black Watch, the wildlings and King Stannis. Stannis himself facing harsh weather in his attempt to take Winterfell and free the girl they believe is Arya Stark. The real Arya still in the house of the god of many faces and learning their ways. Theon Greyjoy battling his internal demons and his fear of the Bastard of Bolton.

Down at King's Landing Cersei is being held on charges of fornication and treason as is Margarey. The power struggle round young King Tommen will claim more victims yet. His uncle Jaime and Brienne are searching for Sansa Stark who is masquerading as Littlefingers daughter.

Over the sea will Daenerys marry for passion or politics and master her dragons? Tyrion is now a slave so how can he regain his freedom. Other kingdoms send their princes to claim the hand of the dragon queen. Meanwhile is the true heir Aegon returning to the 7 kingdoms with a company of exiled mercenaries.

Lots more blood and intrigue in this story. Plenty of twists and turns. And we have to wait over a year to find out what happens next!

View all my reviews

Saturday 18 January 2014

#CountryKids An afternoon out in Kendal

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Some days even when you feel everyone needs to relax there comes a point when you just have to get the family out the door to save your sanity! Today was one of those days with the children starting to get on each other's and my nerves an excursion was required....

So we dug my daughter's bike out from the shed and I pumped up the tyres:

girl on bike

Her little brother prefers 2 feet to 2 wheels so he opted to "jog" and I had to put my running shoes on to keep up:

boy running

Friday 17 January 2014

Friday Review: Slick Grip 5-in-1 Tablet Case

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When I was first given my iPad it came with a protective case and stand. Unfortunately this case fell apart when the silicon edge became unattached from the rigid back. This left me with a very vulnerable iPad... So when I was offered a chance to review the Slick Grip 5-in-1 tablet case I immediately said Yes.

Unfortunately before it arrived there was an accident and the iPad slipped from my son's hands and smashed:

smashed ipad

So off it went to be mended which cost me £45... ouch..

Luckily the day it was fixed the Slick Grip arrived:

slick grip 5-in-1 iPad case

At £29.99 this would have been cheaper than the repair job! The silicon case's Shockproof grip is easy to hold for my son (I'm not risking testing the dropping...):

child holding Slick grip case

We also loved the Amplify feature which made watching movies and TV a much better experience:

watching a movie on an iPad with Slick Grip Amplify

A great feature for me is that the iPad can now stand upright on its own. This means that when I am doing the washing up it fits on the window sill and I can watch a TV programme. It is very stable and I was never worried that it was going to topple over into the sink..

If you flip the iPad round then the case angles perfectly for typing. In fact I was going to write this review on it but my son has stolen the iPad to play a game on....

  • Tough silicone case for iPad 2/3/4, iPad Mini, Kindle Fire HD 7″ and Kindle Fire HD 8.9″
  • Built-in ‘VIBE Sound Booster’ amplifier, requires no batteries.
  • All ports, buttons, sensors and cameras remain accessible.
  • Stand tablet in landscape orientation, perfect for watching video.
  • Non-slip, high quality silicone case feels great in hand.
  • Provides an ideal angle for typing, surfing and working.
  • Air filled pockets for enhanced protection against shocks and drops.
We are loving this case and the only thing I am not sure about is when you have to use apps that work in vertical mode only. That's when the grips get a bit annoying. However I think this is an excellent way to protect your device especially if you let your children use it.
We're going on an adventure

Thursday 16 January 2014

Reasons to be Cheerful: Week 3 - 2014 #R2BC

Gosh so many link ups last week which was wonderful. So glad lots of people are starting 2014 so full of positivity. Here are my reasons to be cheerful this week:

1) The beautiful county of Cumbria

This weekend I got to see this county looking especially stunning. I loved sharing some of this on my Silent Sunday and some other posts this week. But I have to share another one:

Castlerigg Stone Circle at sunset

2) Walking to and from work

I have been turning the disadvantage of major roadworks in town into an excuse to walk to and from work. I have had some beautiful views of the river Kent on the way and the children seem to have enjoyed our walks to. In fact my son got upset tonight when I said we were in the car!

River Kent, Kendal, Cumbria

3) A night at the panto

It was our annual trip to the Burneside panto on Friday. This local group always puts on a good traditional show with some very funny lines and audience interaction. We all had a lot of fun watching Cinderella and can't wait to see what they do next year! My daughter loved getting an autograph from Steven Hall of Britain's Got Talent fame. No photos allowed in the theatre during the show, so this is the best I could do:

Burneside Bryce Institute

4) Overcoming fears

Since we got guinea pigs at the end of half term my son has been petrified of holding his one Bubble, he hated him scurrying around. This weekend we had a major break through and he held Bubble on his lap:

stroking a guinea pig

5) Return of my iPad

My son accidentally dropped and shattered my iPad before Christmas and I had to get it repaired. Having it back this week was just wonderful. And in a timely fashion we received an iPad case to review too:

watching a movie on an iPad

What is making you smile this week?

Reasons to be Cheerful