Fabulous At Fifty – 10 Expert Tips Inspired By Cindy Crawford & Halle Berry

As I approach my 53rd birthday at the end of May, I know that the 50s can be a worrying time for many women. With the slowing in metabolism, the fading elixir of youth and declining energy levels, achieving a glowing body can seem like the pure impossible.

Woman in a grey sweater sitting crosslegged on a seafront with her arms stretched skyward

However with inspiration from those such as Halle Berry (50), Elizabeth Hurley (52) and Cindy Crawford (51), here are 10 expert tips that will help rejuvenate your mid-life glow, with health hacks followed by the celebs themselves.  Certainly worth a try!

1. Strengthen your core with Pilates

Cindy Crawford’s Top Trick:

Celebrities such as Courtney Cox and Cindy Crawford are both big fans of Pilates for retaining their core muscle strength and in turn their fabulous figures.

Why you should try it:

As we get older we can find our energy levels tend to drop but this doesn’t mean we should stop exercising. Instead of doing as much exercise as you can it is better to do the right exercise for your body. Pilates gives you the ability to build lean muscle tissue throughout the body, thus enabling us to burn calories even when we’ve finished our exercise session. Perfect for those who want to exercise effectively without running out of stamina.

I have tried pilates and it’s wonderfully gentle in comparison with other more high energy forms of exercise such as Zumba.  Ideally you need a combination of different kinds of exercise but if you haven’t exercised for a long time and particularly if you have back problems, pilates is a great place to start.

2. Pick Me Up Protein Shakes

Halle Berry’s Top Trick:

To keep her energised and looking radiant on set all day, Halle Berry always starts her day with a protein shake. She includes plenty of vegetables such as spinach, which is rich in iron, to make sure she keeps her energy levels are supported throughout the day.

Something to try:

Make like Halle with Nature’s Plus Pea Protein Powder [RRP £22.50, naturesplus.co.uk], particularly perfect for those looking to increase their protein while following a vegetarian or vegan diet.

3. Drink plenty of water

A common sign of ageing is often a dullness in our skin, however retaining a healthy glow may be a lot easier than you think. Nutritionist Shona Wilkinson from Superfood UK, the online shopping destination for al thing health and wellbeing (www.superfooduk.com), says, “I know that we hear it over and over again but staying hydrated is one of the best steps you can take towards a glowing complexion. Our skin not only contains plenty of water, but it also functions as a protective barrier against excess moisture loss. Support your hydration efforts even further by using a moisturiser as a physical barrier to lock all that moisture in.”


Something to try:

If you find yourself struggling to drink the recommended 2 litres a day, why not jazz things up a bit and add some fresh lemon, cucumber or mint to tempt you into drinking more.

4. Indulge in a Rainbow of Fruit and Vegetables

Christine Brinkley’s Top Trick:

Christie Brinkley, 63, has revealed that one of the golden rules of her diet is to eat a range of different coloured fruit and vegetables throughout the day.

Shona explains why we should be eating a rainbow of fruit and vegetables ourselves, ‘’You need to consume a wide variety of foods daily in order to provide yourself with all of the vitamins, minerals & phytonutrients necessary for optimum functioning. Aim to consume a rainbow of variety of fruit and vegetables per day, ideally between 8-12 servings. Include some raw foods in these servings daily as they are full of enzyme activity!’

Something to try:

An easy tip to get you grazing on more veg, is it to prepare a selection of different crudités, such as celery, carrots, apple and cucumber the night before. Pop it on your desk at the beginning of the day and then when you find yourself getting hungry simply reach for a one of those instead of the dreaded biscuit tin!

5. Natural Alternatives to sugar

Davina McCall’s Top Trick:

Halle Berry and Davina McCall have both spoken about how they have gone sugar free in order to improve their diets as they hit their fifties. They both make sure the only sugars in their diet are natural ones.

Why you should try it:


Sugar can play a huge part in the premature ageing process, affecting your teeth, skin, weight and can even be linked to memory loss and Alzheimer’s. If you’re trying to stave off the effects of ageing it is worth either reducing or cutting sugar out of your diet. Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Women’s Natural Health Expert (www.marilynglenville.com) and author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar, explains how we can replace sugar with naturally sweet alternatives “There are many good natural sweeteners on the market that you can use instead of refined sugar. You can also add sweetness to foods in other ways. For example, you could add carrots, raisins, dates, figs or bananas as natural sweeteners. Many people now make wonderful cakes from naturally sweet vegetables such as beetroot and carrot.”

6. Eating early in the day

Liz Hurley’s Top Trick:


Sometimes it’s not just about what you eat but also when you eat. Liz Hurley swears by eating the majority of her calorie intake early in the day and only eating lightly in the evening.

Something to try:

If you do find yourself craving something sweet in the evening try curbing those cravings with Slissie (£39.99, Slissie.co.uk). Slissie is a lipstick-sized slimming aid that helps to deliver appetite-suppressing flavours to the olfactory receptors which convey messages to the appetite control centre of the brain, leaving you feeling as if you’ve eaten without any calories passing over your lips.

7. Go Sober

Sadie Frost’s Top Trick:

Celebrities such as Halle Berry, Davina McCall and Sadie Frost have all cut alcohol out of their diets, and for good reason.

Shona explains that as well as helping to protect our liver and optimise nutrient absorption cutting out alcohol can also help us avoid excess weight gain, especially around the middle – “Alcohol prevents the release of glucose from the liver and can cause hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels). This drop in blood sugar often produces a craving for foods, especially foods that raise blood sugar such as more alcohol or sugar – not good for anyone, especially those concerned about weight gain, especially fat around the middle!”

Something to try:

If you’re going out for a special occasion or celebration, and know you’ll be drinking, Shona recommends going for a low calorie tipple. Opt for single shots of spirits such as gin, whisky or vodka with a sugar-free mixer.

8. Barefoot Running

Elle MacPherson’s Top Trick:

To maintain her toned physique, and her everlasting legs, Elle MacPherson swears by barefoot running on the beach. Although not all of us may have the opportunity to hit the beach everyday as part of our exercise routine, it can easily be done in the garden.

Something to try:

If you do follow in the barefoot footsteps of Elle MacPherson’s Podiatrist David Wain, from Carnation Footcare (http://carnationfootcare.co.uk) advises, “Stretch your Achilles and calf muscle every day, e.g. hanging your heels over the edge of a step, raise up quickly onto the balls of the foot then lower the heel slowly until it is at a level slightly below the step, repeat with the other foot. Additionally keep massaging the skin on the underside of your feet using a simulating rolling device, such as Carnation PediRoller (£9.99, firstaidfast.co.uk) to reduce the potential for painful soles”

9. Hit the gym with your husband

Nancy’s Top Trick:

Nancy Shevall, aka Mrs Paul McCartney, has shared her number one fitness tip; she always hits the gym with her husband. So if you’re looking for a new workout buddy, to motivate you, why not make like Nancy and bring your guy along to the gym with you for that extra push?

10. Naturally Detox with Lemons

Liz Hurley’s Top Trick:

Liz Hurley is known for her love of lemon infused hot water for staying in shape, and she maybe on to something. Shona explains, “Lemons are great to add to a glass of water and are often recommended for helping digestion. This is due to lemons helping the liver produce bile which helps keep food moving through the digestive tract. Lemon water stimulates the liver which is responsible for flushing out toxins”.

Something to try:

Try replacing your normal cup of tea with a cup of lemon and hot water for a natural daily detox.

New Releases, Free & Bargain Books Link-up Week 18 2017

New Releases Free & Bargain Books Link-up Badge

 

How are you all this week?  It’s a bank holiday weekend and we’re crossing our fingers that we don’t get the usual British bank holiday weather. We’ll be going out and about exploring some of the fabulous places near to us here in South Wales.

Still, if it tips down, at least you can stay inside with a good book.  Look out for my upcoming review of  In Doubt by the incomparable John W. Mefford. This is an Ivy Nash thriller, a new detective for me and in this one, Ivy must protect a little girl from a wealthy egomaniac hell-bent on revenge. I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts.

As usual, there are some great books on the linky – and don’t forget you can always add your own to spread a bit of the book love.

Don’t forget that I still have plenty to be won on my competitions page and don’t forget my problem page here.

Happy bargain and freebie book hunting on this link.

Have a great week!

Sharing the Love of Books
Enjoy our selection of New Releases / Free & Bargain Books this week

Authors please feel free to add your own books
Readers please free to add your own finds
(any genre except erotica welcome)

This weekly link up is hosted by Beck Valley Books & these awesome book loving blogs…
Monday
Life as Leels | IrishdaisylovesRomance | Book Babble | All Romance Reader
Tuesday
It’s My Side of Life | Celticlady’s Reviews | First Time Mommy Adventures
Wednesday
Beck Valley BooksCinnamon Hollow Reviews
Thursday
Miki’s Hope | Nicki’s Nook
Friday
Ebook Addicts | I Love Romance | Colorimetry | The Ultimate Fan Blog | Mother Distracted
Saturday
Totally Addicted to Reading | 3 Partners in Shopping | Angie’s Angle | I Create Purty Thangs | Wishful Endings
Sunday
Lynchburg Mama | LibriAmoriMieiAli – The Dragon Slayer | Wondermom WannabeDeal Sharing Aunt | Rambling Reviews

For Pre-orders post – PRE-ORDER / genre / title /author

For New Releases post – NEW / genre / title / author

For Free Books post – FREE / genre / title / author / end date

For Bargain Books post – SALE / price / genre / title / author / end date
(Strictly no Erotica please.  Steamy romance is fine but watch those covers people, incase any underage child is viewing it!)

Click here for this weeks awesome selection!

*this post contains an affiliate link

Why Do I Keep Getting Friend Zoned? Problem Page

This week a reader asks “why do I keep getting friend zoned”, whether asking someone out two nights in a row is desperate and how much advice is wise before it causes trouble between a warring couple?

Man in grey jumper and woman wrapped in grey blanket on a beach - why do I keep getting friend zoned

If you would like any advice, feel free to treat me as your agony aunt. Just message me or pop a comment in the comment box at the end of this post. I promise to be gentle.

In this edition:

  • when he tells you to smile more
  • is asking someone out two nights in a row desperate?
  • why do I keep getting friend zoned?
  • when she asks you if she should split up with her boyfriend
  • when she wants you to be proud of her for quitting smoking?

Question: My guy friend always pressures me to be more social or smile more, is this too controlling or does he just really care for my social well being?

Answer: I’m not clear whether you mean a boyfriend or just a friend who’s a guy. And I’m curious why this man feels you have to smile more.

Are you shy and introverted? Are you unhappy? Shyness can make us come across as miserable in social situations when actually all we are is anxious. And that’s very, very normal you know.

I have to say it does sound a little controlling, depending on HOW he is pressuring you.

There’s a saying in the UK “cheer up love, it’ll never happen” where blokes who consider themselves to be witty incite women who won’t return their attention to smile and acknowledge them.

Do you think there’s a little of that going on here?

Do you look as if you really don’t enjoy this man’s company? That won’t reflect well on him you know. And if you really don’t enjoy his company, why are you hanging around with him?

I get the feeling this ‘friendship’ has run its course and you either need to tell him to shut up and that you’ll behave as you see fit thanks, or find people to hang out with who are kinder, more supportive and accept you as you are.

I also suspect this man may want more than friendship and gets narky when you don’t seem to be having a whale of a time with him.

Time to stand up for yourself and be honest.

Question: I had a great time and spent the night with a girl I just met. Is it too desperate to ask her out for a second consecutive night?

Answer: It depends on what type of relationship she thinks you’re having.

If it’s just no ties sex then there’s no problem but if she is looking for a longer term relationship, I think she might think you’re treating her as a booty call.

Equally, if that’s all you’re looking for you need to be upfront about that as well.

In general, though, I think too much too soon can be the kiss of death for many relationships.

Why not take the time to get to know each other properly and enjoy the dating stage?

Question: I’m a normal girl. Why do I keep getting friend zoned every time by every guy I have a crush on? What should I do?

Answer: I think you need to relax and take a step back.

It may be that you are coming across as too keen and scaring the guys off.

Are you picking guys who are unavailable because, at heart, you don’t really want a relationship?

You don’t HAVE to be in a relationship you know. If you are living life your own way, being happy and enjoying your own company you will be far more attractive to guys than if you come across as desperate for a boyfriend.

Are these guys already attached? This may make them seem ‘safe’ because there’s less of a chance they’ll hook up with you.

Crushes are pretty immature things – it’s what youngsters tend to feel when they are testing their feelings and finding their way in the relationship jungle.

Why not give yourself a little more time and think about the type of guy who is right for you.

Whilst you’re doing that build your confidence, go out and enjoy yourself and you’ll probably find you’ll find a guy who is right for you.

Question: Why would a female friend ask you if she should break up with her boyfriend because she is having problems with him?

I’m one of her platonic guy friends and she often confides in me with her problems with her boyfriend. She says that he is very jealous but she is just as jealous with him. We’re good friends though and she has asked me outright what I think she should do.

Answer: If she has a number of platonic guy friends it’s not totally surprising her current boyfriend isn’t too happy about that, is it?

It sounds to me like she enjoys male attention and is probably quite happy with her current boyfriend.

If I were you I would avoid wading in with advice and just be quietly supportive.

Tell her that if he doesn’t make her happy, then she doesn’t need to stay with him.

But it’s not your place to make that decision for her and that’s really what you should be telling her.

Don’t you have a relationship of your own to concentrate on?

Question: A girl I know asked me, “Are you proud of me,” because she quit smoking. Why?

I’ve been friends with her for a while now, We kind of dated when we first met, we talk to each other about very personal things. I know she’s been trying to quit smoking, about a month ago she finally did. We stopped talking as much recently, she asked me the other day, It just seemed weird to me.

Answer: Why would it seem weird? You surely know how difficult it is to give up smoking.

All she is doing is looking for some sort of recognition from you and a simple ‘well done’.

It may be that she is looking for more of a relationship than you are prepared to let happen, in which case, you need to set her straight, rather than let her build up her hopes by trying to impress you.

How would you have responded to these questions? I’d love to know. You can find more advice on my problem page 

Disclaimer: All materials included in this post are intended for informational purposes only. This post/information is not intended to and should not be used to replace medical or psychiatric advice offered by physicians or other health care providers. The author will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages arising therefrom. 

How To Find Honest Reports On Care Homes In England

We all know how important it is for the quality of health and social care to be monitored at all times.

So today we’re going to look at what the Care Quality Commission (CQC) does in England, and how they’re an essential source of information for anyone deciding which care homes to approach. Note: in Wales the relevant body is the Care and Social Services Inspectorate.

In an earlier post, we looked at ‘How To Talk To Ageing Parents About Retirement Living & Care’, so here we’re going to look a little further in-depth regarding how to source information.

A good point here before we get started, is that it’s ideal if you can do this type of research together with the person who is considering moving. Although this may not always be possible, if it is, it’s a good way to help develop further trust with your family member.

Seated old man's hands on a walking stick
Image Credit

Helping you decide

The Care Quality Commission provide us with an independent service, that has easily accessible information on health and social care groups across England.

They provide an essential transparency when it comes to the standard of care being provided, and most importantly: their findings are always published.

From here you can view and download the entirety of their inspector’s report, and or just review how the service has rated across five main categories which are:

Safety
Effectiveness
Care
Responsiveness
Service leadership

These categories are then rated on four levels – “outstanding”, “good”, “requires improvement” and inadequate. There is also a fifth ‘no rating/under appeal/rating suspended’ level, if the inspection is under review.

Magnifying glass on multicoloured card
Image credit

Informative and honest

The regulator covers a wide range of care homes, from those that have been running for many years, to those who are more recently established, like Porthaven, who have been providing care since 2010.

In cases like this, the care home group work together with the Care Quality Commission, even providing details on the accountable people from the inspections, so it’s easy to reference names and possible contacts.

In touch with NHS practices

Another important part of what the CQC does is link their inspections with current trends in NHS trusts.

Their 2016 report on these services, called: Learning, candour, and accountability, provides an excellent insight into how thorough their approach is when it comes to relaying objective, and unbiased reports.

Two elderly men shaking hands
Image credit

Face to face advice

If you’re considering any type of health care, there can often be many questions that you’d rather just ask in person. However, many of us are familiar with how this can be easier said than done.

The CQC understands this well, and provides an extensive list of local groups that you can get in touch with, as well as the further option to join their online community, depending on which ways you find it most convenient to communicate.

So the good news is that it’s now easy to source a range of information on a care home, from the service themselves, as well as the people who inspect their work.

This can help to create peace of mind when it comes to making important decisions with your loved ones, and getting the most balanced point of view.

Getting Divorced – Is Your Partner Spying On You?

Spying on your ex.  Would you do it – or would your ex or soon to be ex-spouse do it to you?

If you’re getting divorced, you are doubtless stressed and upset.  You have a divorce lawyer who is your confidante, your sounding board and your ally. You can tell them anything, certainly things you wouldn’t tell your husband or wife, and together you are forging an escape plan – whether your situation is amicable or no longer friendly.

Sad woman in an office sitting in the shadow cast by venetian blinds - spying on your ex

Your correspondence with them is confidential – or so you think.

Let’s be honest, the last thing you want is for your soon to be ex to discover your plans. You are under enough stress without the additional worry of your partner getting hold of confidential information which could jeopardise the outcome of your case.

But Nicola McInnes, head of family law at Gorvins Solicitors has issued a stark warning about the rise of what she terms ‘spousal hackers’ – Those who think spying on your ex is justified when it comes to a break-up.

You may have read recently about Anthea Turner’s confessions that she turned detective to prove that her husband Grant Bovey had rekindled his affair with a much younger woman.

Bovey was unaware, she writes, that his seemingly technophobic wife had in fact garnered enough IT knowledge to track him via PC, SatNav and this bicycle computer.

Says McInnes “people planning to get divorced should change their email addresses as soon as they have separated in order to prevent spouses hacking into their account and finding information which can be used against them”.

She is finding an increasing number of clients are complaining that their divorcing partner has broken into their email accounts and social media sites such as Facebook.

Be too chatty on Facebook and you may find you’ve given any advantage you might have had away. Make sure you change all your social media passwords as soon as possible.

Hard though it is, now may be the time to unlike your spouse’s Facebook page and to stop following their other accounts. Once the dust has settled you can always re-establish contact but for now, you don’t want your private thoughts and emotions broadcast to all and sundry. Particularly when divorce seems to send shock-waves through your friendship network and may even lose you some friends.

Says Nicola “We`ve found that hacking spouses are particularly keen to find any emails we may have sent which contain advice as to our client’s entitlement or because they believe their divorcing spouse is hiding income or assets. I had one case when we felt the husband was always a step ahead and my client was convinced that he had read emails we had exchanged”

“Facebook profiles are also targeted because they may contain information that can be referred to in court papers. Some clients have told me that their exes have even threatened to disclose the private photographs they`ve found on social media accounts as a way of getting what they want.”

Studies suggest that 20% of all couples in the UK argue regularly or consider separating which seems like a conservative estimate to me.  Interestingly, the last figures released by the Office for National Statistics in December 2016 showed that divorce had fallen to the lowest level for 40 years in 2014. That said, there were still 111,169 couples in England and Wales who divorced in that year.

And hacking someone else’s email account is a criminal act, even if it is done as a prank. Falling foul of the 1990 Computer Misuse Act by doing this can lead to criminal charges and a possible 2-year prison sentence.

It’s not surprising that, at such a difficult time, people resent having to change their passwords and email accounts but not doing this could put them in a vulnerable position.

So if you are in the process of getting divorced, it’s time to change all your passwords and be very careful about what you confide on social media.

Make More Of Your Space With Kids’ Bean Bags

One of the most popular seating options with children is kids bean bags which not only provide more comfort than a chair, but can be shifted around the house with ease – making them the perfect solution for when extra seating is needed at larger family gatherings.

Kids can use bean bags for gaming, playing, chatting, reading or just relaxing after a busy day. They’re great to have when the kids’ friends come over and are a lot of fun heaped together.  These days they come in a range of styles which makes co-ordinating them with kids’ bedrooms and bedding a breeze.

Bean bags can be a lower cost option to flexing your seating arrangements and are also useful to make the most of smaller spaces.

Here are some of my favourites from family run business Children’s Rooms who stock everything you need to fully kit out and personalise children’s bedrooms and playrooms.

Batman VS Superman Beanbag (£21.95)


An incredibly popular film with many little boys, this Batman VS Superman Bean Bag would take pride of place!

Batman v Superman Child's Bean Bag

Blue Cotton Beanbag (£14.95)


A more neutral bean bag to weather the common changes in ‘favourites’, this is a good quality bean bag which, with its plain styling, should give years of service.


Marvel Avengers Bean Cube (£21.95)

Something a little different, this Vibrant Bean Cube features Spiderman, Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man and Thor.

Vibrant Bean Cube featuring Marvel superheroes

My Little Pony Bean Bag (£21.95)

Ideal for little girls and a past firm favourite of Caitlin as it features Rainbow Dash.

My Little Pony Bean Bag Featuring Rainbow Dash

Peppa Pig Bean Bean Bag (£14.95)

And another firm favourite with the little ones….

Peppa Pig Bean Bag

Whilst bean bags may not be the best choice for long term seating in terms of posture and back support, there’s no doubt that they can be incredibly useful to have about.

Particularly when you consider the cost of upgrading the family sofa instead!

*collaborative post

Review: Amazon Fire TV Stick With Alexa Remote

You wouldn’t expect Amazon to offer a product that wasn’t a) innovative, b) well made and c) reasonably priced (eventually –  the launch price of the latest Kindle Fire was a bit of a shock). And so it is with the very nifty Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote.

Amazon Fire TV Stick With Alexa Voice Remote

We opted for the Alexa Voice Remote version as we have recently purchased an Amazon Echo Dot and have been impressed with it.  Plus, not only have the kids had fun with it, it’s company for me when they’re at school and far less trouble than a pet.

Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote Box Cover

I should explain here that you don’t need an Amazon Echo or Dot for this as the Fire TV Stick already has Alexa installed.

What does it do?

The Fire TV Stick is a plug in and go way to access on-demand TV and stream your favourite subscription TV shows and movies.

This is the second generation of the Fire TV Stick and with it you can access over 7000 apps, games and Alexa skills.

It has 8 GB of storage and 1 GB of memory for apps and games, a quad-core processor, plus 802.11ac Wi-Fi for fast streaming and smooth performance.

You can give Alexa commands such as “Launch Netflix” or “Skip ahead 5 minutes” and of course other commands such as “search for local restaurants” and “remind me why I had children again“. Actually, Alexa doesn’t seem to be able to answer that one. She will, however, tell you a joke if you ask.

You can even pick up where you left off and bring hit shows and movies with you when you travel. All you do is plug your Fire TV Stick into a TV’s HDMI port, connect to Wi-Fi and continue watching.

And you can quickly play your current favourites or find something new to watch from the home screen.

Connection

The Amazon Fire TV Stick connects via a USB cable to the HDMI port on your TV and the box contains a handy HDMI extender to improve Wi-Fi and remote performance.

Power up your Alexa Voice Remote by simply inserting the batteries and then complete the on-screen set up by selecting your Wi-Fi network from the networks displayed on the screen. You’ll need your network password to hand.

Contents of the Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote box

There’s a little voice button at the top of the Fire TV stick which allows you to ask Alexa to find your favourite TV show or movies.

And that’s it. Simple, speedy and easy to understand.

Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote Home Screen

It’s better with Amazon Prime

We have been members of Amazon Prime for several years now and not only do you get the unlimited one-day delivery, but you can watch thousands of movies and TV shows with Prime Video, listen ad-free to hundreds of hand-built playlists and access two million songs with Prime Music. You can also safely store an unlimited amount of photos. (Current fee is £79/year).

Trailer poster for Star Wars Rogue One

The Amazon Fire TV Stick has obviously been designed to complement this service and we found that whilst on-demand TV is free and services such as Netflix would obviously be covered by a separate subscription, lots of the Amazon programmes are free to Prime members but otherwise incur a charge (albeit generally a very reasonable one).

What if you already have a Freeview Digital Recorder?

Now if you have a Freeview Digital Recorder (we have a Humax) you might think you won’t need one of these and, if all you watch is on-demand TV to catch up with your favourite shows with the occasional Netflix movie, then it may be a bit of a duplication.

Even so,  I found accessing programmes via the Fire TV Stick far quicker and easier than using the Humax remote.

DC Legends of Tomorrow Trailer Poster

Take your favourite shows and movies with you

It is surely the portability of the Amazon Fire TV Stick that is one of its greatest strengths and for parents the ability to take their little ones’ favourite shows with them will be a great help on holidays (you know on those rainy staycation days!) always assuming there is a compatible HDMI TV.

However annoying Spongebob Squarepants may be, he beats the sound of children bickering any day.

Or it’s great if you work away on business or to make your uni digs feel a little more like home with the familiar films you love.

I was really impressed with the Amazon Fire TV Stick. It’s simple enough for even the most technophobic to use. The instructions were clear and the buttons big enough for less agile fingers to cope with and there really is a vast choice of entertainment to choose from.

And for £39.99 it’s a bit of a bargain.

Key Spring Interior Design Trends For Your Home

This Spring, say hello to geometrics and exotic motifs.

Spring is finally here and with it the feeling that better weather is about to come, and with that, Summer! Colour, pattern, and plants are the key to giving your house a new look to welcome the season.

Spring flowers in a white pot on a wooden table

There is a whole new generation of graphic artists taking the design world by storm right now, and they are drawing upon influences that range from geometrics and primary colours to the 80s design movements. Think pop-art, and colours.

When it comes to colour a favourite trend of 2017 is the rise of rich jewel tones. These jewel tones go hand in hand with soft pastel colours. Vibrant greens, purples and ruby reds mixed with soft pinks and blues.

Pastel shades are a great way of introducing subtle colour into a room, they’re brilliantly minimalistic and set the tone for a Bohemian, Romantic style. If pastels aren’t your thing you can always for the bold side and choose earthy colours like powdery pink, terracotta, sand, ochre, or olive green. They will give a great exotic feel to the room and will go great with spring trends.

They provide a great way to introduce subtle colour into muted schemes, so they work brilliantly in minimalist, Scandinavian-inspired homes where brighter shades might jar. They’re both warming and calming, and they look wonderful offset against neutrals. They’re incredibly versatile, too: you could start small by introducing a few earth-coloured ceramics, or go bolder and paint the walls. The mood is all about fun and glamorous escapism.

Introducing Geometric Patterns

To meet the geometric trends of 2017 spring here are a few easy additions to the home that will change the feel without too much hassle.

Two geometric shaped mirrors hanging on a wall

I particularly like these geometric mirrors by Lisa Angel. With a minimalistic geometric design, they provide the perfect start to a spring refresh. These hexagonal mirrors can be easily hung in your living room by their attached sting and are available in multiple sizes. Plus, their simple design means you won’t have to change up your room massively to accommodate it.

Glossy black table and chairs in a dining room

If you’re looking for a bolder geometric piece to add to your home, consider lighting. For example something like this statement lamp by Fabbian which comes both with or without suspension and is a great way to add some personality into the room.

Suspension lamps are back, and personally, I find they tend to give more style to a room than surface-mounted lamps. This design, in particular, is a bit pricey but there are plenty of luxury lamps to choose from at LampCommerce.

 Exotic and Botanical Themes

This is another favourite spring trend because it is bringing some great patterns with it, I’m especially excited by the Banana Leaf Patterns. I absolutely love tropical wallpapers. I think, when used properly and only for details, they can really change a room massively by brightening it up and giving it life.

Choose a wallpaper that has colour, but be careful with a heavy pattern. Bold choices can be good for a while but a simpler design with fewer colours or less clutter will last longer.

Banana leaf wallpaper detail over a wooden bed with white bedding

If you don’t want to change your walls but like the pattern, why not frame it and hang it in your living room? Or consider instead pillows. Pillows are a great way to contrast colours, especially in living rooms.

There are plenty of Banana Leaf Design pillows to choose from in vtwonen and Etsy and come in different sizes and patterns. Framed patterns or pillows are a great quick and easy change to make to your home decor which will make your room feel new without making an entire project out of it.

White sofa with green banana leaf detail cushions in a living room

A tip I would say is keep to a simple palette with accents, but be brave with texture and layering. Remember, you don’t have to make massive changes to your home to give a spring makeover.

Collaboration with Max Lami

Review: Sk:n skincare – Skin Products From A Leading Skin Clinic

I was recently sent some new Sk:n skincare products to try from leading skin clinic sk:n.  I am always on the look-out for products which will help my mature skin look a little brighter and which don’t irritate my sensitive patches,

sk:n Anti-Ageing Age-Delaying Cream for younger skin and sk:n age-defying brightening & firming eye cream

Sk:n has 42 clinics nationwide and offers a range of specialised skin treatments including laser hair removal, tattoo removal, anti-ageing injectables, dermal fillers, facial treatments including micro needling, a range of peels for rejuvenation and a range of treatments to combat acne.

You would expect naturally, therefore, that their own range of skincare products would do the job well.

After describing my skin type, I was sent three Sk:n skincare products to try:-

Sk:n Cleanse: Vitamin-Rich Cleanser for oily skin containing glycolic acid, Evening Primrose Oil and Vitamins A, C & E (RRP £17.50).

Sk:n Anti-Ageing: Age-Delaying Cream for younger skin containing clinically proven anti-ageing peptides, Vitamins C, E & A and Shea Butter. (RRP £35)

Sk:n Age-Defying: Brightening & Firming Eye Cream containing clinically proven anti-ageing peptides, Vitamin B3, Caffeine, Glycerin and reflective optical particles (RRP £25).

All ingredients which you would expect to find in a range of skincare products designed by a company who understands skin.

Sk:n Skincare products I tested

Sk:n Cleanse: Vitamin-Rich Cleanser for oily skin

sk:n Cleanse: Vitamin-Rich Cleanser for oily skin
Sk:n Cleanse: Vitamin-Rich Cleanser for oily skin

Unfragranced and effective at removing oily residue after a long day, I found this light gel cleanser pleasant to use and it came in a generous size (200ml).  I did find, though, that it was slightly too strong for my skin as whilst I have an oily T-Zone, the rest of my skin is quite dry.

Interestingly, I can no longer find this product on Sk:n’s website and it seems to have been reformulated for Normal / Combination skin, which I suspect would have suited me far better.

Sk:n Anti-Ageing: Age-Delaying Cream

sk:n Anti-Ageing: Age-defying cream for younger skin
Sk:n Anti-Ageing: Age-Delaying Cream for younger skin

This was a lovely light and easily absorbed cream which my skin seemed to drink in, leaving it smooth and hydrated.

Sk:n Age-Defying: Brightening & Firming Eye Cream 

sk:n age-defying brightening and firming eye cream
Sk:n Age-Defying Brightening & Firming Eye Cream

This was my favourite of the three products because not only was it gentle on the delicate under-eye area, it didn’t sting (always a risk for contact lens wearers) and it did seem to make the area brighter.

Each product contained a leaflet offering a free facial skin analysis plus £25 off any treatment at Sk:n’s clinics.

Whilst I found all the products pleasant and at least as effective as other anti-ageing products I’ve tried, I think that Sk:n’s strength lies in skin analysis and the prescribing of tailored treatments, including skin care.

You really can’t assess someone’s skin via email after all.

Every Sk:n consultation includes a skin assessment, discussion of your particular areas of concern, treatment fact sheets, tailored recommendations and treatment plans. They say they always make sure to advise you on the right treatment, with the best practitioners to meet your needs.

You can find out more at the Sk:n website where you can discover their full range of treatments, the clinic nearest to you and also book online.

New Releases, Free & Bargain Books Link-up Week 17 2017

New Releases Free & Bargain Books Link-up Badge

 

How are you all this week?  The Easter school holidays are drawing to a close here in Wales and we’ve just returned from a fabulous short break courtesy of Butlins.  The weather was typically British but so was the fun!

I hope you had a great Easter and enjoyed your fill in chocolate.  It’s back to ‘healthy’ eating in the Hobbis Household which means the Husband is going to have to back away from the Monster Munch and I am going to put my new running shoes on. Heck, I may even leave the house in them.

I’ve just read a great thriller by Carolyn Arnold – Remnants (Brandon Fisher FBI Series) with a serial killer whose actions are beyond grisly.  It’s a real page turner and I’m looking forward to reviewing In Doubt by the incomparable John W. Mefford. This is an Ivy Nash thriller, a new detective for me and in this one, Ivy must protect a little girl from a wealthy egomaniac hell-bent on revenge. I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts.

As usual, there are some great books on the linky – and don’t forget you can always add your own to spread a bit of the book love.

Don’t forget that I still have plenty to be won on my competitions page and don’t forget my problem page here.

Happy bargain and freebie book hunting on this link.

Have a great week!

Sharing the Love of Books
Enjoy our selection of New Releases / Free & Bargain Books this week

Authors please feel free to add your own books
Readers please free to add your own finds
(any genre except erotica welcome)

This weekly link up is hosted by Beck Valley Books & these awesome book loving blogs…
Monday
Life as Leels | IrishdaisylovesRomance | Book Babble | All Romance Reader
Tuesday
It’s My Side of Life | Celticlady’s Reviews | First Time Mommy Adventures
Wednesday
Beck Valley BooksCinnamon Hollow Reviews
Thursday
Miki’s Hope | Nicki’s Nook
Friday
Ebook Addicts | I Love Romance | Colorimetry | The Ultimate Fan Blog | Mother Distracted
Saturday
Totally Addicted to Reading | 3 Partners in Shopping | Angie’s Angle | I Create Purty Thangs | Wishful Endings
Sunday
Lynchburg Mama | LibriAmoriMieiAli – The Dragon Slayer | Wondermom WannabeDeal Sharing Aunt | Rambling Reviews

For Pre-orders post – PRE-ORDER / genre / title /author

For New Releases post – NEW / genre / title / author

For Free Books post – FREE / genre / title / author / end date

For Bargain Books post – SALE / price / genre / title / author / end date
(Strictly no Erotica please.  Steamy romance is fine but watch those covers people, incase any underage child is viewing it!)

Click here for this weeks awesome selection!

*this post contains an affiliate link

Problem Page Edition 16 2017

This week – handling commitment issues, spotting the signs of pregnancy and what to do when you can’t stop sleeping with your ex student.

Couple on a boardwalk looking over a lake and surrounded by mountains

If you would like any advice, feel free to treat me as your agony aunt. Just message me or pop a comment in the comment box at the end of this post. I promise to be gentle.

Here are this week’s questions.

Q: Should I stop casually dating this single mother all together? 


We’ve been having consistent casual sex for over a month ever since she moved close by. She has a 2-year-old toddler (boy) whose father isn’t involved much. What I don’t like is that she continually brings up step-dad talk even after I reject the role. She’s a cool person, but should I drop her?

A:I’m intrigued that you are ‘rejecting the step dad talk’ after just a month. 


Has she specifically mentioned this or are you just cheesed off that she rightly prioritises her son and his needs? 


This doesn’t sound as if it’s going anywhere and frankly if it’s just sex you’re after I’d move on before you mess with her, and her son’s feelings. 


If you date a woman with children, you can’t expect the child to take second place.



Q: I haven’t been in touch with my ex for a month (We just broke up) seems like he has had a new date already. Should I wish him happy birthday?

A: If you were the dumper as opposed to the dumpee and your ex took it badly, or you think there may be a chance of getting back together, then I would say absolutely. 


If you are hurting or want to send him the greeting to cast a little shade over his new relationship, I’m not sure it’s a good idea. 


Of course, after a little more time has passed, wishing your ex a happy birthday if you are on amicable terms is the mature thing to do, but this all sounds a little too soon and ever so slightly raw. 



Incidentally, the fact that he has a new date doesn’t mean much. Some men can’t stand to be on their own for two minutes. 


Without knowing the exact circumstances of your break-up it’s hard to advise more fully but I would let things lie this year and if he wants you back let him do the running.

Q: How soon will I know if I am pregnant?

A: Missing a period and possibly more than one period is the most reliable way to find out – although an over the counter pregnancy test will be 99.999% accurate and you can do a test after your first missed period. 


Some women do just know though – I had strange cramping in my uterus and felt tired and weepy.

It’s easier to know on the second pregnancy though. 


There are plenty of other signs – tender breasts, spots, frequent urination, increased discharge, light spotting (as opposed to the fuller flow of a period). 


If you are trying to get pregnant, make sure you are making healthy changes to your lifestyle and not stressing to give yourself the best chance – no booze, cigarettes, more exercise…. the usual common sense advice. 


And don’t expect to have sex once in a blue moon and then get pregnant first time. It may take a year or longer to conceive. It’s not necessarily the automatic process you think it is. 


If you think it is taking too long, see your GP to make sure you and your partner are in the fullest of health and whether any further investigation is needed.


Q: How do I handle a girl with commitment issues? 


We’ve been seeing each other for nearly 2 months. We’re exclusive and lately she’s been very intimate and likes to cuddle a lot and kiss more in public which she didn’t like to do before. However, she doesn’t want to label anything and would rather take things slow. How should I handle this?

A: 2 months is really a very short time and you probably don’t yet know each other very well beyond the initial attraction. 


You sound very keen and desperate to announce your relationship to all and sundry. She, on the other hand, does not. 


I think she is perfectly sensible to want to take things slowly. Perhaps she has been hurt before or she is mature enough to know that the initial passion can fizzle out leaving the relationship dead in the water if there is no solid friendship behind it. 


If, on the other hand, she won’t acknowledge your relationship to at least her family and closest friends, I would be a little suspicious. 


You use the term ‘exclusive’ – are you sure she’s not just trying to keep her options open? 


The only thing you can do is have a frank and open conversation about whether you really are exclusive but at just 2 months in, I don’t think you should be pushing for a firm commitment. 

Q: I slept with my ex student. I am married with kids. My body really craves for him. Is it normal?



A: I’m intrigued that you seem to ask completely the wrong question. 



Is it normal is really not the issue. Infidelity happens all the time. We know this and it does not excuse it. 


What you are really asking is can you justify sleeping with your ex student because your hormones are talking louder than your brain.

And the answer to that one is no.

But you know that, don’t you? 


To potentially throw away a marriage and embarass the hell out of your kids for a brief moment of passion doesn’t seem like much of an exchange to me. 


And as a mature woman, using the ‘my body made me and I can’t help myself’ card is a little lame, don’t you think? 


I sense that you are really miserable but unless you want to make things far worse (surely there’s a lack of professionalism in sleeping with an ex student too), I would quietly say goodbye to your fling, hope your husband doesn’t find out and focus on what you would lose if this all came to light. 


You’re human – of course you are – but if you’re looking for validation that you are still attractive and sexy, it’s your relationship with your husband that needs working on.

Don’t judge yourself too harshly but for heavens sake take a moment and think.

How would you have responded to these questions? I’d love to know. You can find more advice on my problem page

Disclaimer: All materials included in this post are intended for informational purposes only. This post/information is not intended to and should not be used to replace medical or psychiatric advice offered by physicians or other health care providers. The author will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages arising therefrom. 

Review: Butlins Minehead – Fun Stands The Test Of Time

When I was a child in the 1970s, my sister and I were taken to Butlins Minehead several times by our grandparents.

Those were the ‘Hi Di Hi’ days when accommodation was a small but comfortable prefab chalet with a tannoy to summon campers to their meals with gusto at 7 am in the morning.

Linda Hobbis, Sarah Jasper, Harry Setters & Phyllis Setters at Butlins Minehead circa 1974
My sister Sarah and I with our grandparents, Harry and Phyllis at Butlins Minehead circa 1974

There was an impressive network of cable cars which seemingly floated over the camp as well as a Gaiety Ballroom and a Gaiety Theatre.

Sarah Jasper & Linda Hobbis plus large monkey at Butlins Minehead circa 1974
Sarah and I – gran always dressed us as twins!  Can you tell I’m shattered?

Food was everywhere, particularly, I recall, freshly made mini doughnuts.

The fairground was free and when we weren’t there or in the arcades playing slot machines for a penny, we would religiously attend the Donkey Derby, the Glamorous Grandmother competition, It’s A Knock-Out and I think there was even the traditional Knobbly Knees competition.

The Red Coats were friendly, glamorous and talented.

We ate ourselves into oblivion, attended a show every night and stayed up far too late dancing in the disco.

Fast forward almost 40 years and I’m back at Butlins’ kind invitation holding on tight to my memories and wondering how the camp would have weathered the passing decades.

Promotional leaflet advertising the return of the chalet to Butlins Minehead

And this time I’ve got two kids with me who are roughly the same age as my sister Sarah and I were when we visited.

ARRIVAL & CHECK-IN

Our initial impression on arrival was a sense of overwhelm.  I had forgotten just how big the site is and finding our way to West Lake Villages where we had a lake view chalet involved a little too-ing and fro-ing up and down the car park and a little heated marital discussion on the basis that the Husband had a map.  Give a man a map and he automatically becomes Roald Amundsen.

We had a Lakeview Chalet in West Lakes Villages

But everything is signposted and eventually, we found the chalet accommodation office where we were required to book in.  If you do get lost return to the large Guest Check-In centre at the front of the complex and they’ll be able to help.

The site is a collection of ‘villages’ with designated check-in points so you have to make sure you go to the right place.  You park your car, check in and then drive round to your accommodation where there is a designated parking place and you can unpack.

Our tips: if you get lost, return to the central Guest Check-In and they’ll direct you.

ACCOMMODATION

We were based in West Lake Villages, a complex of new style chalets built surrounding a man-made lake with a fountain.  Everything was well laid out and pristine – and incredibly peaceful. You pay an extra supplement for a chalet right by the water but ours, with a lake view, was very pleasant.

Our chalet was on the top floor.  The chalets are built in small runs of one-up, one-down and entered via a contactless key card.

Butlins Lakeview Chalet interior, bedrooms, bathroom and sofa
The bedrooms, bathroom and comfort family sized sofa

There was a double and a twin bedroom, a bathroom with a toilet, a combined bath and shower and a generously sized lounge/diner with a fully equipped kitchen including a fridge and a microwave.

Kitchen and retro detailing - Lakeview chalet, Butlins Minehead
A generously sized kitchen and lots of retro detail

A balcony looked over a green central area towards the lake and was visited by ducks, geese and rabbits.  There was a table and chairs on the balcony so you could just relax whilst the kids played football in the green space below.

Kids being kids, it didn’t take long before they were out making new friends.  Top tip – take a football.

Our chalet also had housekeeping and towels were supplied. The bathroom had a small pouch with toiletries but you would need to bring your own and particularly a bar of soap.

I was really impressed with the quality of the chalet’s fixtures and fittings.  The chalets are, of course, reasonably new, but the accommodation was a world away from the prefab days of the 1970s.

There were several clever little touches too – a chalkboard with chalk for the kids to play with, coat hooks running around the rooms for all those towels and coats and when we arrived our towels had been turned into an Easter bunny.

We didn’t take food with us, although we did take teabags and biscuits plus a bottle or two of wine. The site is well equipped with supermarkets which carry all the basics you could possibly need.

In any case, you will find you are amply fed if your package includes dining, with only lunch and snacks to provide for.

WiFi was free for us for two devices, however, depending on your package you may only have 30 free minutes a day and need to pay for top ups.

Our tips: bring soap, tissues and toiletries. If you don’t have housekeeping with your package, don’t forget towels and bring extra ones for swimming. Caffeine addicts should bring their favs with them plus some milk if you don’t like milk capsules.  And there was a corkscrew, but a spare never hurts. Bring a ball for the kids (although you can buy one on site)

Butlins Minehead site map
There are plenty of maps and information leaflets to help you.

DINING

We had the Premium Dining package which meant that breakfast and dinner were all in and we could choose between two restaurants, The Deck or The Yacht which were situated in a block a short walk from our chalet.

Caitlin and Ieuan enjoyed the food at The Deck, Butlins Minehead
Caitlin and Ieuan testing the food at The Deck

The dinner menu changed daily and for the duration of our stay, we dined in The Deck which is the bigger of the two.

Both restaurants are on the ground floor with a bar situated just outside and toilets inside.

The food is served buffet style and there are stations for grilled food such as steaks and burgers, wok-based food and pasta.  Dishes are cooked fresh for you if you want to wait or you can help yourself from the dishes already laid out.

The Yacht & The Deck Premium Dining Restaurants at Butlins Minehead

There is also a large well-stocked salad bar, various soups in tureens and cabinets full of desserts, primarily cheesecakes or if you’re quick, cheese & biscuits.

The children’s buffet food is laid out separately and I would say that it is geared for kids much younger than Caitlin and Ieuan.  There are plastic plates and knives and forks available and the menu is pretty much chips, nuggets, sausages and standard kiddy fare.

My only gripe with the food we had is that the temperature of the children’s food could have been much hotter and the chicken dish laid out one evening had gone completely cold.

My suspicion is that given the number of adults to kids, the adult food gets replaced far quicker and far more frequently than the kids’ food does.

The temperature of the adult food can also be a little hit and miss depending on what you choose. One evening we had freshly cooked chicken, noodles, veggies and soy from the wok station which was lovely but on another, we had a vegetarian Jalfrezi curry which was just hot enough.

Dining runs from 4.30 – 7.30 pm so you take pot luck depending on when you choose to dine. Sunday night seems to be the night for early dining as there was a pool party starting at 7 pm in Splash Waterworld.

But the desserts…… apologies to Butlins at this point for Caitlin and Ieuan emptying the ice cream machine and the cheesecakes were lovely.

Teas and coffees are available from a self-serve machine as squash for the kids and these are free of charge.  Alcoholic drinks are available from the bar outside and have to be paid for by cash or card – you can’t add the cost to your room.

Occasional fluctuations in temperature aside,  the food was lovely, great quality and varied enough so you didn’t have to eat the same thing each meal.

Breakfast offered pastries, fresh fruit and yoghurt, cereal and a buffet style full English with the works – including fried bread and kippers.

Breakfast is served from 8 am up to the very reasonable 10 am but, again, towards the tail end of the time period, you may find some of your favourites have gone.

Caitlin and Ieuan loved going off to get their own food (particularly the ice cream and squash) and of course, you can refill your plate if you are extra peckish.

Our tips:  come early for the hottest food and biggest choice and don’t forget cash/card if you plan to buy drinks from the bar.

ENTERTAINMENT & ACTIVITIES

As I child I remember being so tired getting back on the coach to return to Plymouth that I could barely speak.  (The Husband can only dream of this now).  I was expecting a jam-packed few days and there are certainly plenty of things to do.

The central hub of the camp is the Skyline Pavilion – a massive white tented structure which houses a shopping mall, the stage areas, numerous cafes and restaurants, arcade type machines, a pool and bowling hall and more toilets.

Collage of pictures in the Skyline Pavilion Butlins Minehead
The Skyline Pavilion is the hub of the camp

There is also a handy information desk which helps you get your bearings and tells you the day’s available activities and what shows are available at the Skyline Pavilion (which has a large stage area surrounded by seating), Centre Stage and Reds.

The Skyline Pavilion stage is home to the Skyline Gang (a Butlins version of Lazy Town) and Silent Cinema.  Centre Stage hosts the bigger, music based shows, for example, The RollerBoys and Freddie In Concert (A Freddie Mercury tribute act) whilst Reds hosts shows for the little ones such as Justin Fletcher’s Just Sing & Dance and Billy & Bonnie In The Wizard.  Billy and Bonnie are Butlin’s resident bears.

We saw three shows, wrestling, Sam & Mark On The Road Show and the Teletubbies.  I say we,  I watched the Teletubbies whilst Ieuan muttered: “I am SO too old for this”.  I enjoyed it.  Both the Teletubbies and the wrestling were in the Skyline Pavilion where, again, the noise levels were an issue for me.  I much prefer the Centre Stage venue which, though spacious, is more intimate and hosts fewer visitors.

Our tips: plan your shows in advance so you can use your B-Line passes if you have them and secure early entry and better seats.  Some of the shows don’t start until around 8:30 pm.

DAILY ACTIVITY SCHEDULE

Each day has a full timetable of activities included in the price of your break, details of which are available on the leaflet “Butlins When And Where”.

In it, you’ll find lists of daily activities and shows all handily designated with the age range these are best suited for.

On first sight, these are primarily geared towards tots and I was initially worried that there would not be enough for Caitlin and Ieuan’s age group to do.

I needn’t have worried. For example, there is archery, shooting and crafting for the over 9s.  There’s also a circus school, drum workshop, magic workshop and numerous science workshops.

The Husband took Caitlin to the code-breaking workshop hosted by Bletchley Park.  In this, they had to crack the code by breaking into three safes to assemble a six digit code to break into the master safe.  They also wanted to go to the Bath Bomb workshop hosted by The Royal Institution and L’Oreal UK & Ireland to investigate the science of fizz but it was fully booked.

As it was Easter, there was also an Easter Egg Hunt where youngsters had to crack the code by finding crates in secret locations around the camp and solving the puzzle to get part of the code.

There is something on right throughout the day, whether it’s a sporting activity, crafting or a show and the programme spans from 8 am through to 12:30 am with live music in one of the complex’s pubs, Inn On The Green.

Not everything is free, however, for example, the Adventure Golf, Ten Pin Bowling, American Pool, Go Karts and Bungee Trampolines all have a charge.  The golf is £3.50 per person and go-kart hire is £9.50 per half hour per kart.  It’s worth getting an All Action Pass which includes all these activities a £17 per person.

Caitlin, Ieuan and Mathew Hobbis at Butlins Minehead
We loved the go karts

You can also buy B Line fast passes from £20 per person for 3 nights which allows priority access to Centre Stage, Reds and Splash Waterworld.

We absolutely love the Go Karts which we hired twice and which brought home my dismal level of fitness quick nicely.  Cycling round on these is a great way to get your bearings and to appreciate just how big Butlins Minehead is.

Our tips:  get there early to get your pick of the best go-karts.  The outdoor activities get busy early. Plan your day to make sure you get everything in!  

EATING AND DRINKING

Because we have breakfast and dinner in our package, the only thing we had to provide for was lunch, snacks and drinks and there is plenty to choose from.

There’s Ludo’s Restaurant (Italian), The Diner (50’s themed burger joint) and the Firehouse Grill as well as the Sun & Moon family pub, Soho Coffee Company and Inn on The Green (drinks only).

We ate in both the Sun & Moon family pub, the Firehouse Grill and the Soho Coffee Company and found the food in all three good quality and good value.  The children’s menus were adequate and the portion sizes generous.  In fact, after a full breakfast at The Deck, we didn’t have all that much room for lunch!

Children’s menus are priced around the reasonable £6.50 mark for a main, dessert and a Ribena Mini.

Our tips: we found the Sun & Moon to be quieter and more relaxed than the food venues around the Skyline Pavilion.

THE POOL

The outdoor lido with the fountain I remember has been replaced by the huge Splash Waterworld, an indoor heated pool complex with a wave machine, a disco beat and a number of very long and exhilarating water slides.

The queues to get in were long although given that it was Easter weekend this was not surprising. (so a B Line pass is a good idea). Once through the door, you are given an allotted time frame (we had an hour and a half) and a coloured armband in the good old fashioned British style.  (Yellows out of the pool now!!!).

retro Butlins postcard

There are multiple changing areas with cubicles and lockers which require a pound coin to get your key out.  Due to the number of people who had already been there that day, the changing area we chose was a little less than fresh but this is a common problem where there is lots of nappy changing going on!

The Husband took Ieuan on the waterslide but, again, there was a queue.  There are three slides of varying length and Ieuan waited 20 minutes to get on his.  A lady in the queue behind him had waited 45 minutes to go on another of the slides so she was clearly earning her mummy stripes.  Despite the wait, haring down a waterslide with his dad in a small inflatable boat was one of the highlights of his holiday.

I stayed with Caitlin in one of the three smaller pools.  The main pool has a continuous current and a wave machine and is definitely not suitable for non-swimmers.  We were in the second pool, smaller, no current and well manned by lifeguards.  There is a third kiddy pool nearby.

I was really impressed by the lifeguards who were really attentive and not afraid to usher swimmers back into the shallows if it looked like they were not confident swimmers.

On a personal note, as a tinnitus sufferer, I found the volume of the pool absolutely deafening – not helped by the disco music played to encourage swimmers to circle round the wave pool but this is not a criticism of Butlins.  If you do suffer from tinnitus I would suggest you take ear plugs.

Our tips:  be prepared to queue, both to get in and to get on the waterslides; don’t forget pound coins for the lockers and if you are a tinnitus sufferer, take your earplugs.  Parents of non-swimmers – make sure you stick to the designated non-swimmer areas.

The Fairground

Again, this is free.  It’s smaller than I remember and I was hoping for a ghost train but there is a carousel, a helter-skelter, dodgems, waltzers, go-karts. Chair-o-Planes and the Rockin’ Tug.  Kids have to be tall enough to go on each ride and if you don’t like fast rides you are rather limited to the safer choices of the helter-skelter and dodgems.

Carousel and helter skelter at Butlins Minehead
You’re never too old for a carousel

The fair closes at 5 pm during the week but is open till 8 pm on Friday nights which coincided nicely with our arrival.

Little ones have their own Little Stars Fairground.

OUT AND ABOUT

Should you find the time to actually leave Butlins, Minehead beach is literally just across the road and is a lovely soft sandy beach.  Nearby there is Dunster Castle and Somerset Valley Railway sends its steam trains along the perimeter of the camp.

Collage of Minehead Beach with Caitlin
Minehead beach is literally a stone’s throw away – shame about the lack of sun!

BOOKING YOUR NEXT BUTLINS BREAK

The kids absolutely adored our 3 days at Butlins and were shattered by the end of it.  I asked Ieuan what was his favourite bit and his response was “there’s so much to do.  I’m struggling”.  Both Caitlin and Ieuan asked to come back and, not surprisingly, Butlins Minehead is pretty fully booked for the rest of the year.

Caitlin & Ieuan with Butlins Easter Eggs

There is, however, an on-site Holiday Accommodation office where you can book your next Butlins break with an up to 40% discount.  You can also secure your next booking for just £10pp.  This makes subsequent bookings even better value if you rebook whilst you are there.

Front cover of Butlins booking folder

We have a 3-night break on the same basis (lake view chalet in West Lakes Village and the premier dining package) for just over £800 – with a significant saving of around £400.

Our tip:  if you want to come back, secure your next break for the minimum deposit of £10 per person.

So, did Butlins Minehead 2017 compare favourably to the Butlins I remember in the 70’s?  Yes, it did – it’s a lot more comfortable and nobody shouts at you over a tannoy to get you up for breakfast. Come to think of it though, that tannoy might be very useful on school mornings.

Big thanks to Butlins for our break and for giving the Husband a chance to laugh at my rubbish cycling abilities.

Things will be different next year.  You’ll see.

Find more information and to book your break go to  www.butlins.com.




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