Tips To Help Your Kids Stay Safe In The Sun

Now that the hot weather has arrived and, while we finally have the barbecue summer we’ve been promised here in the UK, it’s worth reminding ourselves of what we should be doing to help our kids to stay safe in the sun.

Below you’ll find quick tips to help the family make the most of the glorious weather and stay safe in the sun without succumbing to the dangers of sunburn and dehydration.  Yes, they are all basic but it’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of security when the sunshine hits.

If you’re like me, you haven’t been sleeping too well in the heat which I find tends to make me less than fastidious sometimes.  Incidentally, you’ll find my tips for helping your little ones to sleep in the heat here.

stay safe in the sun - little girl applying suncream to her face on a beach

Stay safe in the sun with these tips

Stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day

There’s an old song which goes “mad dogs and English men go out in the midday sun”.  I’m not sure that’s too politically correct any more but the NHS advises that in the UK you should avoid the sun between 11 am and 3 pm if possible.

Head for the shade, particularly with prams and pushchairs.

If you can’t avoid the sun then at least head for the shade.  Don’t leave tots in pushchairs out in the full glare of the sun, especially without sunscreen and a hat.

On the other hand, do not cover a pram or buggy with a blanket because it will restrict the flow of air and heat the pram up really fast. 

stay safe in the sun - two little girls playing in a rockpool on a beach

Photo by Brad Halcrow on Unsplash

Dress your kids to protect against the sun

Make sure your kids are properly covered and wearing a hat which is wide-brimmed enough to protect not only their face but their ears and neck too.

Invest in decent quality sunglasses for your children and make sure that they offer full UV protection.  Don’t forget that, over time, sun exposure can lead to cancer and cataracts. 

If you’re heading for the beach, consider UV swimsuits and beachwear.  These keep your little ones cool and protected from the sun both in the water and out.  Note that these are UV resistant so you’ll still need to apply the other precautions listed.

Use Sunscreen Properly

Get the right factor

When you buy your sunscreen, check the label carefully because it should not only have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 to protect against UVB but also at least 4-star UVA protection.

Chuck out the old stuff

Don’t think you can just rely on that old bottle lurking in the bathroom cabinet either, because most sunscreens have a shelf life of two to three years.  I like to be safe by buying new sunscreen every year but it’s just not worth risking skin cancer caused by sun exposure.

Make sure you apply enough

Most of us don’t apply anywhere near enough sunscreen either.  Adults should be using two teaspoons of sunscreen for your head, arms and neck but two tablespoons for your whole body, particularly if you’re wearing swimwear.

There doesn’t seem to be a particular recommendation for children but make sure that all exposed areas are covered – for example, ears, tops of feet, backs of knees and hands.

Make sure you reapply frequently

Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before your child heads outside so that their skin has time to absorb it. Reapply at least every two hours, more frequently if your kids are swimming, playing in the water, or sweating.

You shouldn’t put sunscreen on children under 6 months due to the sensitivity of their skin.  This means you’ll have to use clothing to protect your baby. Keep them out of the sun as much as possible, use a stroller canopy; dress them in lightweight clothing to cover arms and legs and remember a hat!

Stay safe in the sun - two little children playing on the sand

Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash

When in the water …

If your kids are going swimming, the NHS advises that you reapply sunscreen straight after they come out of the water, even if the sunscreen is water-resistant – and also after towel drying which might rub it off.

And on the subject of swimming, if you are planning a beach holiday or are planning to spend lots of time around the pool, it’s worth investing in swimming lessons for your kids before you set off.  Every single year there are tragic cases of tots who lose their lives in pool-related or beach accidents.

Stay hydrated

You’ve probably read that if you’re thirsty you are already dehydrated and, of course, it’s very easy to succumb to dehydration in hot weather.

You should encourage your children to drink water before, during and after exercise.

Here’s how much a child needs to drink each day.

If your child starts feeling dizzy, sick or weak, then bring them inside or find some shade. Give them a drink of water (a sports drink would also be OK) and cool them down with a warm shower or sponge bath.  If their symptoms worsen or last for more than an hour, seek immediate medical advice. Here’s what the NHS advises for heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Check your hose pipe water temperature before turning it on your kids

Hose pipes left out in the sun can get extremely hot and cause terrible burns.  Never turn the water on your kids without testing the temperature first.

Avoid bouncy castles

This is a personal choice but since there have been at least 2 recent cases of children losing their life through bouncy-castle related accidents, I’d avoid them.  There needs to be far greater regulation in place and formal safety procedures to ensure that cases like this never happen again.

On the road

If you’re travelling by car, it’s a good idea to apply sunscreen to exposed skin as the sun’s heat can be very concentrated through glass windows.

Make sure you have the sun shades on the children’s windows and that your car’s air conditioning is in working order before you set off.

Take regular breaks for drinks and light snacks.  Pure water is always best to keep hydrated rather than sugary sodas and energy drinks.

If carsickness is a problem – even worse to deal with in hot weather – try my tips here.

And I’m sure I don’t need to tell you this one – children should never be left in parked cars as the temperature can get dangerously high very quickly.

It is possible to stay safe in the sun and still enjoy yourself but, as with most things parenting-related, some advance planning and investing in the best sun products you can afford will make things a lot easier.

Make The Most Of A Rainy Day With Kids

The British weather can be wonderfully unpredictable. You can bet that whenever you decide to have a family outing in the sunshine, it rains! Every parent knows the value of a backup plan. So here are some great suggestions for not letting rainy days dampen the family fun.  Read on for some great rainy day activities.

Photo by Xavi Cabrera on Unsplash

Rainy day activities for kids

Dig Out the Board Games

Every family has a hoard of games. They’ve probably been neglected in favour of smartphone apps, but now is the perfect opportunity to dust off the old-school games! Nothing quite brings a family together like a game of Monopoly or Connect 4. A board games championship provides a new twist and can easily occupy the family all afternoon.

Great Family Bake-off 

There are lots of cake recipes which do not require kids having to use a hot oven. Rocky road, for example, is delicious yet very easy to make. Bring out your best Mary Berry or Pru Leith impressions for the taste test. The losing side has to wash up! Adult supervision will be required for cutting and heating ingredients.

Get crafting!

Arts and crafts are the most popular choice for beating boredom on a rainy day. You don’t need a particularly extensive craft box. Just a few essentials that can be re-used for lots of projects. Make sure you have plenty of crafting staples such as crepe paper, paints and crayons for some no-sew crafts.  You might want to invest in a glue gun too.

Family Scrapbooking

There’s never usually time to organize family photos. Have a good sort through all of your albums and loose photos. Have everyone pick out their favourite snapshots to be featured in the scrapbook. All you need is a plain notebook, scissors, glue and pens. Get everyone involved in the decorative process. The kids can draw illustrations while the parents add written quotes.

Make a pillow fort

Watching a movie on the sofa is so overrated! Set up a pillow cave for a cosy home cinema experience. If the rain is particularly persistent, get kids to organize a mini-film festival. Handmade posters and popcorn are essential! You could even encourage children to write a film review after viewing. This will ensure their handwriting and literacy skills are being practised during the holidays.

Photo Credit Seamus McCauley

Get a head start on gifts 

Got a birthday or special occasion coming up? Check out these low-cost gift ideas. Even if you don’t make anything, planning the family schedule will keep everyone organized for the next few weeks. Pull down the calendar and write down everything you need to do before the kids go back to school. Remember to make time for more family fun too.

Have a jam session

Most homes will have a musical instrument lying around. If not, make your own! Pots and pans can be used as percussion. Rice in a cardboard tube can become an impromptu rain stick. Singing requires no accessories. You could even have a free karaoke session and use instrumental clips of popular songs from YouTube.

Rainy day activities for kids need not be complicated or expensive – and just think, you’ll be spending some much-welcomed quality time with your little ones.  If all else fails, just don your wellies and waterproofs and head outdoors for some puddling jumping!

Summertime: How To Do Your Makeup In The Heat

So, ladies, we all know the nightmare of trying to put on a full face of makeup while you sweat in the heat, trying to find the coolest area in your house to apply everything.

Sometimes going bare is the only way, but what if you have something important coming up, or just want to make an effort when leaving the house?

Well luckily for you, there are some super easy tricks that you can do to help with this dilemma, while still looking hot (literally…)

EYES

You don’t need to go overboard on the eyes, especially if it’s sunny out because you will most likely be wearing sunglasses anyway! So just give your lashes a curl and apply a good coating of mascara. That’s really all you need, but if you feel your eyes are still looking pretty small, you can either stick some false lashes on to open them up a little bit more and add that hint of drama. Or you can create a little wing with eyeliner to alter the shape of your eye.

If you do go with the lashes, make sure you have a decent glue that holds strong throughout the heat and sweat.

If you suffer from hooded eyelids, then you may want to incorporate some eyeshadow, but merely for illusion purposes. A great trick that you can do is take a shade slightly darker than your own (how you would when contouring), and create a crease above your usual one. This will give the illusion of having wider eyes, even with hooded eyelids and no one will be able to tell.

LIPS

Products like Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Lip Protectant Stick will give a sheer berry colour with an SPF15 too. You’ll be able to add a subtle pop of colour to your lips, without having to worry about a hard colour bleeding. (See also my review of Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream All-Over Miracle Oil – a multi-purpose product you’ll love).

There is an alternative though if you like to stand out. Line your lips first (to hold everything where it should be.) Take your favourite red lipstick, or whatever colour you prefer, and apply it as you normally would. Then take some loose translucent powder and lightly pat it over your lips with a finger. Not only will this turn your lipstick into a delicious matte one, but it will also work as a great shield to keep it lasting throughout the day, no matter how hard the sun is blazing down.  I’m a huge fan of Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks and lipliners, or there are famous MAC red lippies such as MAC Ruby Woo or Russian Red.

FACE

Skin Care

Before you do anything, you first need to make sure your skin is clean and hydrated. So wash your face well to ensure you get rid of any dirt and sweat-clogged up in your pores and then apply a moisturiser containing at least a SPF 15.  If it does not, add a sunscreen on top and don’t forget neck, ears and decolletage.  You need to protect your skins from the harmful UV rays.  Don’t forget a good pair of sunglasses and even a sunhat either.

If you want the key to getting flawless skin throughout your lifetime – then apply sunscreen every single day for the rest of your life. Even in the wintertime when it’s dull, rainy and cold.

Believe it or not, you are exposed to damaging UV rays through things like your computer screen and lights in your home, and those will eventually take their toll on your skin in the future – so don’t be a victim of this!

For everything you need to know about skincare, check out Caroline Hirons great guide – Skincare: The Ultimate No-Nonsense Guide.

Foundation

If you’re used to using a full coverage foundation such as Estee Lauder’s Double Wear (a longtime favourite of mine), then it may be a bit of a shock switching it up, so if you feel you really need something as heavy-duty as that – maybe you suffer from acne scars or hyperpigmentation – stick with what you have.

Otherwise, switch out the regular foundation for something a lot lighter, like a BB cream. These are great because they still blur your face with your required shade, but lets your skin breathe a lot easier.

Extras

Once you’ve done all of this, instead of going all out with the contouring and sculpting, use a little bronzer instead to contour the areas like your nose, cheekbones and around your face and forehead. This will still do the job you want it to do while adding a beautiful sunkissed look. Follow that with a light dust of blush on the apples of your cheeks, and finish that with a golden sparkly highlighter on the highest points of your face, and you’re good to go!

Quick & Easy Thirst-Quenching Watermelon & Feta Salad Recipe

So, it’s official.  This unprecedented heatwave is predicted to last for the rest of summer and if you’re struggling to cope with the heat like I am, you’ll welcome this gorgeous recipe for a light, cooling salad – water-rich, stuffed with vitamins and containing one of my favourite cheeses, feta.  What’s not to like!

watermelon and feta salad from Sopwell House

Cool Watermelon and Feta Salad from Sopwell House

Even better, this watermelon and feta salad recipe was created by none other than Gopi Chandran, Head Chef of luxury hotel in St. Albans, Sopwell House.

Set in 12 acres of beautiful gardens and just 20 minutes from London St. Pancras, Sopwell House is a stunning 18th Century Georgian house which boasts a 2AA Rosette restaurant, a vibrant Brasserie, an elegant cocktail lounge, and conservatory bar, all of which look out on the gardens.  You can bet it is on my bucket list of fabulous hotels to visit.

watermelon and feta salad at Sopwell House, St. Albans

Sopwell House, St. Albans

But I digress.  This watermelon and feta salad is a great way of reinvigorating your usual salad staples and wowing your guests at your next summer BBQ.

Watermelon and Feta Salad Recipe
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • ¼ Watermelon – Skin removed and diced 1 inch thick
  • Feta – 200g diced or crumbled
  • Kalamata olives – 50g pitted
  • Red chilli – 1 finely chopped
  • Olive oil – 10ml
  • Garlic clove – 1 clove
  • A sprig of thyme and rosemary
  • ½ large lemon, remove rind and julienne (slice rind into thin strips). Juice the flesh
  • Basil leaves – 10g
  • Mint leaves – 10g

Method

  • To make the dressing, slowly and carefully heat olive oil, adding the garlic, chilli, thyme and rosemary, lemon rind.
  • Gently heat for 3 minutes, add lemon juice, salt and pepper. It’s important to do this slowly to avoid burning any of the added elements.
  • Set aside to cool
  • To serve, spread the diced watermelon in the desired dish, sprinkle the feta on top, spoon over olives and distribute the dressing evenly.
  • Finish with a fine chiffonade of basil and mint – this will bring out all the flavour.
watermelon and feta salad - served in the gardens at Sopwell House

Make the most of al fresco dining whilst this glorious weather lasts

Sopwell House’s delicious recipe is best served on the hotel’s terrace in the sunshine with a delicious Gin Experience Cocktail or glass of Champagne on the side. Failing that, out in the back garden with friends, family and a chilled glass of vino.

You can find some more easy summer salads in this post and click the link for a great recipe for Tuna, Pineapple and Passionfruit Salad from renowned food blogger Kacie Morgan.

What To Take To The Beach With Kids

We get so little sun in the UK that, often, going to the beach is a spur of the moment decision.  Just chuck the swimming costumes in the car boot and go. But some parents are beach ninjas and are always fully prepared for a trip to a sandy bay or even a shingle beach. They know what to take to the beach with kids to spend the day in comfort and with the minimum of accidents!

Since this heatwave is predicted to last until August, here is my list of things you might want to keep assembled somewhere to throw in the car boot now that the long summer school holiday is in sight.

What to take to the beach

Stake your territory

We recently invested in a little pop-up tent which offers just enough space to cram 3 of us in and becomes my shady hidey hole when the kids are off playing in the sea. It’s a safe space for leaving clothes, cool boxes and towels.

Obviously one of us has to stay there but it’s great to have a base if you’re spending a few hours on the beach.

If you have little ones and the tent is open to the air, it is a good place to let them nap.  Never leave them in a pushchair out in the sun, particularly between 11 am and 3 pm.

At the very least make sure you have a shade for your stroller and ensure you don’t cover it with a blanket which will make the pram extremely hot in a very short space of time.

Another great idea is to use a fitted sheet with elasticated corners.  Simply wedge a picnic box or bulky item against each corner and you have your own sand-free area for plonking toddlers in.

Picnic blankets will also work as they are generally waterproof and comfortable to sit on – especially on stony beaches.

Don’t forget that sun protection is very important though – here are my tips for staying safe in the sun.

If you’ve not got too far to walk, or at least have a spare pair of hands to help you lug stuff from the car park down to the water, a comfy beach chair can make all the difference.

A windbreak will offer valuable protection from the breeze when you’re wrestling with sandwiches and also helps create a focal point for your kids to find you, should they get lost on the sand.

Why not add a colourful flag or two or perhaps one of those windmills so that it’s obvious for your kids exactly where you are situated.

what to take to the beach - woman in a straw sunhat sat behind a multicoloured windbreak on a beach

Stay cool

It all depends on how much you can carry, of course, but if you have kids with you, you must take precautions against the sun.  Beach hats, beach umbrellas, sunhats and sunglasses will also help.

Make sure you take enough sunscreen and reapply frequently.  It’s also worth taking a cooling aftersun lotion for the journey home.

Take plenty of water to drink and a couple of sports drinks just in case the kids find the heat too much.

A great idea to keep little ones entertained is to take along a small paddling pool.  This means they can still play in the water like their bigger brothers and sisters but you can keep an eye on them.

Food and drink

Lots of beaches offer places to eat.  One of our favourite beaches, Bantham Bay in Devon has its own gastrobus!

If you’re staying all day though, you may find this expensive and the queues prohibitive so it’s best to invest in cool boxes and to bring your own food and drinks.

Make sure you take along plenty of bin bags to take your litter home with you.  There’s really no excuse for leaving it.

The temptation for the grownups is to take along some beer or wine but don’t forget that alcohol and the sun don’t mix well – and somebody still has to drive home!

Take along plenty of change for ice-creams and car park fees.

A big bottle of water is useful not only for drinking but for washing off sandy feet before you all get back in the car.

Another great idea is to take frozen bottles of water to use as ice packs for your sandwiches.  When they have melted you’ll have extra water for drinking and washing.

You’ll probably need lots of wet-wipes too for sticky hands and faces. Or, more environmentally friendly, use your bottled water and take along a flannel in a ziploc bag.

Ziploc bags are also really useful for collecting bits of rubbish in as well as portioning up sandwiches and other snacks.

It’s child’s play

Buckets for collection shells and spades for digging sandcastles are vital pieces of kit, of course, as are beach balls and beach cricket and tennis sets. If there are rock pools, take along some fishing nets.

If your kids are as accident-prone as mine are, though, you’ll want to take along a first aid kit or at the very least some Savlon and some plasters.

It’s worth investing in some beach shoes for your kids to protect little feet from sharp stones.

Take enough towels for everyone – hooded towels are especially comforting for tired, wet little ones. You can even just wrap your child up in one and let them travel home that way.

I keep hearing that talcum powder is a great item for getting rid of sand.  Whilst that may be true, personally, given its recent links with ovarian cancer, I don’t keep it in the house. A soft bristled brush might be a better option.

Lifting and carrying

It’s worth investing in a decent rucksack to carry everything.  If you are trying to wrestle small children up a sandy beach to a busy car park, having your hands free is a very good thing!

If there are loos, make sure you’ve got some toilet roll, both for loo trips and drying hands.  Rest assured after 10 am on a busy day there won’t be any left!

Going home

It’s nice to have a clean, dry change of clothes for travelling home in.  Give everyone a cool drink, slap on the aftersun and head off tired, happy and hopefully sand free.

If your little ones suffer from car sickness though, don’t forget you’ll need to give them their travel tablets at least 30 minutes before you get back in the car.

Is there anything you would add to my list of what to take to the beach?

 

Quick Tips To Freshen Up Your Living Space This Summer

Everyone wants to stamp their individuality on their living space, don’t they? And there’s something about the reappearance of the sunshine that makes you want to freshen up your living space for summer.

But how do you do that without spending a fortune or resorting to homeware items from the major retailers which, although lovely, might appear on many a coffee table, shelf or nightstand?

freshen up your living space for summer - hammock with a cushion in a living space

Making the most of your budget has never been more important and, whilst we might not have the cash to completely overhaul our living space, there are cost-effective ways to add a bit of verve and pizzazz.

Sometimes a bit of shopping around is all that’s needed and with a bit of ingenuity, you can completely transform your space and incorporate your own decorative style.

Here are some quick hits to freshen things up.

Freshen up your living space for summer

Change your bedding and curtains

New bedding and curtains can make such a difference and give a room a fresh new look. Now that the weather is hot, crisp white linen or bamboo sheets are best to wick away sweat and keep you more comfortable.

Curtains with a thermal and black-out lining will help your sleep because not only will they keep the room dark, but they will help keep the room cool during the day.

Change your artwork

This doesn’t have to cost a fortune.  Why not find some quirky postcards and frame them in ornate photo frames?  Or how about using wall vinyls to create your own, unique, feature wall.  You could use family photos or if you’re a keen photographer, some of your favourite nature or holiday snaps.

If you’re artistic yourself, you could create your own artwork – why not try using acrylics to create a textured canvas or get the kids to create a collage.  If you don’t mind a bit of mess you could even create your own artwork featuring the children’s hand and footprints.

freshen up your living space for summer - A colourful graffiti mural

Change your living room soft furnishings

A very easy way to reflect the new season’s trends without blowing the budget is to change your cushions, throws and rugs.

For example, you could change your throw pillows (or even just the covers) to reflect the new season’s colours and textures.  I am particularly fond of doing this at Christmas when we go all Hygge with festive cushions, candles and faux fur throws, although that doesn’t really bear thinking about in this current heatwave, does it!

You can even invest in new mats for the front and back door to add a bit of quirky fun – although I’m not sure I’ll be getting the one with the Batman insignia Ieuan has his eye on.

Go vintage

You don’t have to buy new of course.  Scouring flea markets and antique fairs are lovely ways of passing a Sunday afternoon and you may find some fabulous new treasures.

Adding a vintage throw to your bed or an antique vanity set to your dressing table can make your bedroom look really special.

Again, you could find vintage or retro prints and frame these too.

Change your colour palette

Sometimes a complete change from one end of the spectrum to another can really ring the changes. An easy to way to lighten and brighten is simply to repaint in a white (or a tinted white) or a neutral and add accents of colour via soft furnishings.  This will make your rooms look bigger too.

Or a beach theme is quite easy to do – bright white, navy and shades of pastel blue in stripes.  You could use your favourite seaside souvenirs or even if your kids are like Caitlin, their vast and ever-growing shell collection.

freshen up your living space for summer - Collection of lavender stems in a small glass

 Don’t forget flowers

As you know I am a huge fan of fresh flowers and tend to avoid fake ones as they tend to collect dust. There are great bouquets to be had from the major supermarkets these days – and we usually find a bargain bunch or two at Aldi or Lidl.

Make them extra special by using a quirky vase or ornament and don’t be afraid to try a row of single stems rather than the more traditional arrangements.

Decorate the garden too

In this hot weather, your garden becomes an important part of your living space so it’s worth investing in some exterior decorations to create a little outside idyll.

Create atmosphere with strings of lights, either battery operated or solar, cute statues and even a fairy garden.  Caitlin has been asking for one of these for ages.  If you have room, the sound of a water feature is always calming and soothing.  You could even create your own meditation corner with a Buddha statue or just a lovely sculpture that talks to your mood.

freshen up your living space for summer - Face of the Buddha status covered in pink flowers

If you are looking for something a little more unusual, take a look at an online retailer, uncommongoods.com who offer unique jewellery, designer decor, tabletop items and handcrafted gifts.

They offer a great platform for artists and designers and each item listed has a link to information about its creator so you understand the thinking behind the piece. And over a third of their collection incorporates recycled or upcycled materials.

I think we’re all a lot more thoughtful about our global footprint these days, aren’t we?

How will you freshen up your living space for summer?

8 Quick & Easy Summer Salads You’ll Want To Try

It’s too darn hot and frankly who feels like cooking?  My blogger friends have come to the rescue with some quick and easy summer salads you’ll be able to throw together in minutes.

There’s plenty of ideas here so why not indulge in some fresh seasonal produce which will do you – and the family – good.

Quick and easy summer salads

Just click the link to be taken straight to the recipe…

Smoked Salmon Nicoise with Marks & Spencer  – Leanne at A Slice Of My Life

quick and easy summer salads - smoked salmon nicoise salad

Image credit:  Leanne Cornelius, A Slice Of My Life

Smoked Salmon fillet combined with olives, tomatoes, Cannellini beans, fine French beans, Pembrokeshire Early potatoes and a honey and mustard based dressing, all whipped up in around 15 minutes.  Less, if you’ve got a couple of already boiled eggs in the fridge.

INGREDIENTS: [serves 2]

For the salad:

50g fine French beans
80g Santa tomatoes cut in half
20g olives
2g fresh parsley roughly chopped
150g smoked salmon fillet
50g tinned washed cannellini beans
2 fresh medium eggs
280g Pembrokeshire Early potatoes, washed and sliced
200g mixed leaf salad

For the dressing:

1tbsp olive oil
1tsp wholegrain mustard
Squeeze lemon juice
pinch salt
1tbsp white wine vinegar
pinch cracked black pepper
2g fresh basil
1tbsp clear honey

METHOD:

Whisk dressing ingredients and set aside.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and blanch fine beans for three minutes before refreshing in ice cold water.

Cook potatoes until tender and allow to cool before slicing.

Soft boil an egg and cool in a saucepan under cold running water.

Once chilled peel egg and cut in half.

In a large mixing bowl gently toss tomatoes, the cannellini beans and the French beans, olives, potatoes, parsley & dressing.

Divide tossed leaves between two large bowls.

Flake peppered salmon on top and carefully place the soft boiled egg on top.

Leanne is a photographer, blogger and mother from the South Wales Valleys, blogging about her family’s loves, likes and life in general at www.asliceofmylifewales.com.

Roasted Butternut Squash SaladCathryn at Cardiff Mummy Says

quick and easy summer salads - roast butternut squash salad

Image credit: Cathryn Scott, Cardiff Mummy Says

As Cathryn says, this recipe features super healthy butternut squash full of protein, iron and vitamin C.  It also has plenty of feta, olives and pine nuts.

INGREDIENTS: [serves 2]

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into bite-sized chunks
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp of dried sage, or a handful of fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 bag of baby spinach leaves
1 block of feta cheese, either cut into chunks or crumbled
a handful of pine nuts
a handful of black olives, sliced
extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to drizzle

METHOD:

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees, gas mark 4.

Put the butternut squash chunks into a large roasting dish, drizzle with the olive oil, crushed garlic and sage, and roast for about 45 minutes, turning once mid-way through.

When the squash is almost done, steam the spinach leaves for a couple of minutes. You want them to be warm, not wilted, so be careful not to overdo it. Alternatively, place them in the microwave for around 30 seconds.

Put the leaves into bowls, add in the roasted squash and a handful of pine nuts (toasted if you wish, by dry frying them for a minute or so), the cheese, the sliced olives, the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.

Cathryn writes Cardiff Mummy Says is a lifestyle blog for parents living in Cardiff and beyond. She is the mother of three children aged six and under and a journalist and editor with more than 15 years of experience.

Cool Citrus ColeslawDebbie at My Boys Club.co.uk

I suspect the eating is a bit more adventurous in Debbie’s household as she says they have already enjoyed this summer’s slaw with jackfruit burgers, carrot and chickpea burgers, aubergine katsu curry, with mushroom quesadillas and as part of a family pizza night.

This Cool Citrus Coleslaw would be a great accompaniment to a traditional green salad or indeed any main dish.

Ieuan’s ‘fear of green’ is going to have to be conquered!

INGREDIENTS:

For the salad:

1/2 red cabbage
1 red onion
4 carrots
1 clove of garlic chopped
pinch of chilli flakes
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil

METHOD:

Finely slice the onion, shred the cabbage, grate the carrot and mix all these together

Add the chopped garlic and chilli flakes to the oil and lemon juice together and shake before pouring over the vegetables.  Mix gently, but well.

Place in fridge for 30 minutes to let the flavours combine before serving.

Debbie’s blog www.myboysclub.co.uk  is a family lifestyle, food and travel blog about enjoying life with her family of boys in North East England and on their travels.

Strawberry & Feta SaladWendy at Daisies & Pie

quick and easy summer salads - strawberry and feta salad

I recently posted about making the most of the strawberry season and Wendy’s salad certainly fits the bill nicely. This one looks as good as it tastes.

INGREDIENTS: 

1 bag mixed salad leaves (such as rocket, watercress and spinach)
200g strawberries sliced into quarters
60g feta cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper

METHOD:

Scatter the salad leaves onto the plates

Scatter over the strawberries and crumble over the feta cheese

Make up a quick salad dressing by mixing the balsamic vinegar with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Drizzle over a little dressing and serve.

Wendy’s blog www.daisiesandpie.co.uk is a family food, home and lifestyle guide for real people, offering lots of easy tips, cheats and timesaving ideas.

Avocado, Bacon & Chickpea SaladCharlotte at Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen

Avocado, Bacon & Chickpea Salad from Charlotte's Lively Kitchen
Image credit: Charlotte Oates, Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen

The UK has apparently gone ‘avocado mad‘ so it only seemed right to include this gem of a recipe from Charlotte.  Plus we always stock up on Chickpeas when we go to Costco so the Husband will be pleased that we can make a small dent in my slight over-stocking.

Charlotte describes this as “a lovely combination of sweet cherry tomatoes, salty bacon, sharp lime and slightly bitter toasted sesame seeds, all pulled together by the super nutritious chickpeas.

It also has the benefit of being high in fibre keeping you fuller for longer and less likely to snack. Might keep me away from the Welshcakes!

INGREDIENTS: [serves 2]

400g chickpeas
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 rashers streaky bacon
60g cherry tomatoes (roughly 6)
1 avocado
juice of half a lime
salt

METHOD:

Drain and rinse the chickpeas (1 can) and place into a large bowl. Season with salt.

Roughly chop the avocado into bite-size chunks.  Chop the streaky bacon (2 rashers) into thin strips and cut the cherry tomatoes (60g) in half. Add the chopped avocado to the bowl of chickpeas.

Heat a small frying pan on a medium heat, add the sesame seeds (1 tbsp) and cook for a couple of minutes until they have just turned light brown, occasionally shake the pan to help them cook evenly (do not overcook the sesame seeds as it will give them a bitter flavour).

Once browned, remove the sesame seeds from the heat and add to the chickpeas and avocado.

Add the streaky bacon (2 rashers) to the pan and fry until cooked and crisp around the edges.

Towards the end of the cooking time, add the cherry tomatoes and fry for about 30 seconds to soften slightly.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the bacon and tomatoes to the chickpeas, avocado and sesame seeds.

Squeeze over the juice of half a lime and toss to thoroughly mix.

Serve immediately.

Charlotte’s blog www.charlotteslivelykitchen.com is a blog dedicated to her experiments with food, recipe creation and cooking delicious and (mostly) healthy food for her family.

Low Cal Chicken Salad Made In MinutesNicole at The Mum Reviews.co.uk

Low cal chicken salad made in minutes from The Mum Reviews
Image credit: Nicole Edmondson

A simple but tasty low cal salad you can put together in minutes.  Ideal for those weekend teas when you’re rushing to sort out homework and ironing and have forgotten to get something out of the freezer again!

INGREDIENTS: 

1 skinless chicken breast, pre-cooked
A large handful of broccoli or other leftover green vegetables
5 cherry tomatoes or half a normal tomato
1 spring onion or a sprinkling of normal onion
About 2 inches of cucumber
1 tsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
A sprinkling of chilli sauce to taste

METHOD:

Use your hands to pull the chicken breast into thin strips, then throw it in your salad bowl.

Add your green veg. It’s best to have smallish bite-sized pieces so you don’t have to make much effort once you’re eating.

Halve the cherry tomatoes (or dice your larger tomato) and throw that in. Dice up the spring onion – chuck it in. Dice your cucumber.

In a little bowl, vigorously stir together your fish sauce, lime juice and sesame oil. Then pour it over your salad and toss it up.

Sprinkle your chilli sauce on top if you’re into that sort of thing. You can also add salt & pepper, but fish sauce is already salty, so taste it first.

Nicole’s blog www.themumreviews.co.uk is a blog about doing stuff as a mum and then writing about it!

 Stilton Cheese And Red Cabbage Salad With AppleEva at Captainbobcat.com

Stilton Cheese & Red Cabbage Salad With Apple from Captainbobcat.com
Image credit: Eva Katona

This looks fantastic, doesn’t it?  Not everyone likes the pungent aroma and strong taste of Stilton but the crunch of the cabbage and the sweetness of the apple combine wonderfully.

 INGREDIENTS:

1/4 red cabbage shredded

2 sweet apples cored and chopped

150g Stilton cheese crumbled

2 sticks of celery sliced

100g walnuts roughly chopped and toasted

3 tbsp of olive oil

freshly ground pepper to taste

METHOD:

Remove the outer layer of the cabbage before cutting and shredding it.

Slice everything and add them to a bowl. Chop the apples the last, so they don’t go brown. (Once they are covered in olive oil they won’t.)

Eva says that she never adds salt to this salad as the cheese gives a salty taste.

Serve with wholemeal toast and butter.

www.captainbobcat.com is written by former hotelier and travel expert Eva Katona.  She writes about her journeys with her son, nicknamed Captain Bobcat and offers great advice on baby, toddler and family friendly travel.

 Super Summer SaladHayley at Devon Mama

Super Summer Salad from Hayley Jones at Devonmama.com
Image credit: Hayley Jones

Another gorgeous summer salad which is so much of a meal Hayley even suggests substituting it for your Sunday roast if you want to feel particularly virtuous.

INGREDIENTS:

For the salad
Sun-dried tomatoes (a handful)

Cherry tomatoes
Cucumber
Mixed lettuce leaves (whichever you have in the fridge!)
Half a red capsicum pepper
Half a yellow capsicum pepper
Feta (cubed)
Garden cress

For the croutons
1 slice of white bread (slightly stale suits this to perfection!)

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
Sea salt to taste

For the dressing
50ml olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I prefer white but regular is fine)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard

METHOD:

Making the croutons

Remove the crusts from your slice of bread and cube the bread into roughly 1cm cubes

Place your cubes into a container (I prefer a freezer bag for ease but anything with a lid is fine)

Add the oil and shake well to ensure complete coverage

Spread the bread cubes onto a baking sheet and sprinkle sea salt over them

Bake at 180º for approximately 10 minutes, checking and shaking regularly to ensure even coverage.

Remove, allow to cool and store for up to 1 week.

Assembling your salad

Rinse and tear the lettuce into small pieces and place in the bowl

Quarter your cucumber slices, halve the cherry tomatoes and thinly slice the capsicum peppers before mixing them together and adding them to the lettuce.

Place all your dressing ingredients into a bowl and stir well to mix.

Add your dressing to taste (you won’t need all of it) and using your hands mix with the salad to ensure even coverage.

Scatter feta cubes and garden cress over your mixed salad

Pat the sun-dried tomatoes lightly with a kitchen towel to remove excess oil and arrange these on the top

Finally, add your croutons and serve!

Hayley’s blog, Devon Mama is a parenting, food and lifestyle blog and Hayley describes herself as “a thirty year old mama, wife and recovering sleep addict”. Hayley worked as a company director prior to maternity leave but gave it all up after maternity leave to concentrate on raising her son – and blogging.

 So there you have it – some wonderful quick and easy summer salads – and check out the girls’ blogs for more recipes and great advice by the ton.

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Get ready for the great outdoors this summer with Milton

Festival and camping season is approaching as is, hopefully, the warmer weather. And if you are taking your little ones with you, hygiene is even more important.

Milton, the UK’s number one sterilising and hygiene expert has a great range of travel essentials and read on because there’s a giveaway coming up.

woman camping blowing bubbles outside her tent

It can be a nightmare ensuring that your kids’ feeding equipment is properly sterilised but it’s easy to use the trusted Milton Cold Water Method even away from the safety of your own home. Milton is clinically proven to kill 99.9% of germs, including bacteria, fungi and viruses, leaving items sterile, and keeping nasty bugs at bay.

Here’s what you can use.

The Milton Solo Travel Steriliser is 2-in-1 microwave or cold water steriliser, ideal for sterilising when on the go. It cleans and sterilises bottles, teethers, plastic toys, breastfeeding equipment and other small baby equipment from 2 minutes in the microwave and in 15 minutes for cold water. RRP: £10.99.

Milton Combi Steriliser

 

The Milton Combi Microwave or Cold Water Steriliser – not only will this clean and sterilise bottles from 2 minutes in the microwave, you can also take it camping because it can be used for cold water sterilisation, killing up to 99.9% of bacteria in just 15 minutes.  Back home, it’s small enough to fit into most microwaves but will take up to 5 bottles from any brand. RRP: £24.99

Practical and portable, Milton Sterilising Tablets are ideal to use when travelling. Made up with regular tap water, items are sterilised in just 15 minutes and stay sterile in the solution for 24 hours – meaning you can sterilise baby’s feeding equipment again and again. RRP: 2.46/ 28 tablets.

Milton Sterilising Fluid (500ml/£2.35) is a camping essential, as not only can it be used to sterilise baby’s feeding equipment, but you can also use it to clean the following:

· Outside of tents and gazebos
· Caravans inside and out
· Camp kitchens, even the outside kind exposed to all weathers
· Paddling pools

Camping is tremendous fun but let’s face it, it can get pretty messy so keep you family safe and well with Milton’s range of hygiene products.

Banish mucky fingers with Milton Antibacterial Hand Gel. Ideal for keeping hands clean and fresh when you are on the go and even when in the middle of a field! Kills 99.9% of germs in seconds, non-sticky and dries quickly. With an added moisturising agent to protect the skin, the gel is gentle, with a pleasant fragrance. RRP £2.20/100ml.

New and improved Milton Antibacterial Surface Wipes with ‘no rinse’ & food safe formula means parents can use them to wipe clean soothers, teats, teething rings plates and cutlery without worrying about the need to rinse afterwards. The formula is bleach free, preservative free and fragrance free, they kill germs quickly and leave no residue or odour so they are perfect for disinfecting babies’ small accessories as well as their general environment including high chairs, potties, changing mats, car seats, and buggy chairs/handles. RRP £2.19.

If you go camping it’s good to know you can keep everything hygenically clean with the minimum of fuss.

Milton Hygiene Kit

 

Summer Bank Holiday Fun On A Budget With Ideal World

There’s something equally poignant and special about the last bank holiday before autumn sets in.  

It’s our last chance to pull out all the stops and ignore the fact that it has been raining for weeks, the Husband’s locked himself in the shed and the kids have been rendered mute by iPads.

Many of us have blown our budget on days out around the UK, not to mention the fact that our offspring have eaten us out of house and home.  We are still trying to dig our way out of a crisp packet mountain having naively thought it was actually possible to win a holiday on that Walkers’ Spell & Go promotion.

So, are there ways you can have fun cheaply without forking out another £100+ on a theme park family ticket for the privilege of inspecting the motorway tarmac as you roast in a traffic jam and then spend 2 hours queuing for a ride which lasts less than 5 minutes?

Well, possibly – but it might involve a bit of fibbing and a lot of “well that’s what we used to do in the good old days”.

Nothing like a good old fashioned game of  “hunt for the rusty bicycle”

If you’re all out of bribery tactics and wine o’clock is now commencing when the sun is over the yard arm anywhere in the world,  here’s some budget friendly suggestions for the last ‘blow out’ of summer.

*  plan ahead – you can save money by booking attraction tickets online in advance and there may be some last minute hotel bargains to be had from sites like lastminute.com.

* save on train fares by investing in a Family & Friends Rail Card which gives you 1/3 off fares and 60% off the kids’ fares 

Thankfully the kids haven’t noticed that the sea is approximately 5 miles away

* check for offers on your loyalty cards, such as Tesco Clubcard and dining cards like Tastecard which for a small annual fee gives you up to 50% off in over 7000 restaurants across the UK, plus a range of other attractions and cinemas.

*If the weather’s fine, just pack a picnic and a football and head off to your local nature reserve or the beach (but be prepared for queues as usual).  Don’t forget the suncream

*Of course there’s the standby of the Great British Barbecue, even if it’s raining!  

*Or what about a movie afternoon with popcorn for the kids and something made out of grapes for mum?  

* If it’s raining, a family boardgame challenge will pass a couple of hours – the old favourites are best – Monopoly, Cluedo or how about Kerplunk or Mousetrap?  

If all else fails and the kids strop off to their bedrooms with their gadgets, you could always catch up with a bit on online shopping and snap up some of the bargains to be had.  

Why not join the fun with Ideal World (Sky 654, Freeview 22, Virgin 747, Freesat 812 and at www.idealworld.tv) who are giving free postage and packing on everything until 9 pm on Monday 29th August.  

They’ll be running lots of fun competitions throughout the bank holiday weekend with some fabulous prizes on offer.

No queues, no public transport, no stroppy kids.  

Actually that sounds like quite a fun bank holiday to me……

10 Ways To Give The Gift Of The Great British Summer With Buyagift.com

In 2016 it seems that we are living in turbulent times and whilst the political climate is so unsettled, I’m sure some of us would prefer to holiday here in the UK.

Despite the fact that UK Staycations have a reputation of being rather pricey, there are bargains to be had and here is a selection of great value days out and short breaks from Buyagift.com.  Needless to say, they all make great gifts too.

Days out in London

1. The ArcelorMittel Orbit

The ArcelorMittal Orbit

London is home to some of the biggest and best tourist attractions in the world but this is something really different and not for the faint-hearted.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit was a major icon of the 2012 Olympic Games and is now home to the world’s longest and highest tunnel slide.

You can enjoy entry to the upper viewing platform and external balconies where you can take in the awesome 360-degree views of the city before plummeting 178m towards the ground!

You will be able to see some of the world’s most iconic sights as you twist and turn 12 times around the structure before a final 50m straight run back down the earth!

The Slide at The ArcelorMittal Orbit for Two, £33

2. The View From The Shard

Only recently built and already an integral part of London’s iconic skyline, The Shard points up to the clouds, reaching an incredible 308m which makes it Western Europe’s tallest building.

Designed by Master Architect Renzo Piano, the Shard has redefined London’s skyline and it has become a dynamic symbol of the capital.

You can visit London’s highest viewing platform situated at the top on floors 68, 69 and 72. At almost twice the height of any other viewing platform in the city, you’ll get unparalleled 360-degree views for up to 40 miles.

Needless to say for photographers (and selfie-lovers!) this is a fantastic camera-ready opportunity which you can follow with a meal in the Michelin recommended restaurant, Latium.

The View from The Shard with 3 Course Michelin Dining and Bubbles for Two £99

3. The Houses of Parliament

Why not visit the Houses of Parliament where you can see both the House of Lords and the House of Commons. An audio tour will describe the incredible medieval structure of Westminster Hall, the Queen’s Robing Room and the Royal Gallery, featuring leading parliamentary figures such as The Speaker and Black Rod.

Buyagift.com’s package also includes a pass for to 24 hours unlimited travel on Thames River Cruises and afternoon tea at the Park Plaza County Hall.

Tour of Houses of Parliament, Afternoon Tea and Thames Cruise for Two, Was £113.90, Now £108 – note:  this tour is no longer available (30/01/2019)

Royal Palaces

4. Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace – Always Stunning No Matter What The Weather

Blenheim Palace, just outside Oxford, contains one of Europe’s finest collections of antiques, inimitable 18th Century Baroque architecture a 2000 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds.

With an ever-changing array of exhibitions at this UNESCO World Heritage site and home of 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, there is plenty to see and enjoy.

The birthplace of Churchill, the palace has an interactive experience that guides you through all 300 years of its history, as well as a special gallery paying homage to Churchill himself

Annual Entry to Blenheim Palace with Afternoon Tea for Two, £75 (note: currently unavailable as at 10/04/2019). 

5. Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

The royal palace of Hampton Court is situated in Richmond upon Thames in Greater London.  Its most famous resident was King Henry VIII.

Redevelopment of the manor, as it then began in 1515 for Cardinal Wolsey but when he fell out of favour with Henry, the King seized the palace for himself in 1529.

Visitors can take a free audio guide around the stunning palace, wander around at their own pace or even be accompanied by a costumed guide as they explore the many rooms and artefacts including the Tudor Kitchens, the crown of King Henry VIII and more.

The Palace continues to display a large number of works of art from the Royal Collection and, apart from the Palace itself and its gardens, other points of interest for visitors include the celebrated maze, the historic real tennis court and the huge grapevine, the largest in the world as of 2005.

Hampton Court Palace Entry for Two, £64 

Family Days Out

6. Harry Potter Studio Tour

Harry Potter Studio Tour

Probably top of many parents’ day-trip bucket lists (and certainly ours), is the Harry Potter tour where you can discover the magic behind the spellbinding special effects and explore the behind-the-scenes secrets of the Harry Potter film series.

You can tread the original stone floor of the iconic Hogwarts Great Hall, encounter animatronic creatures and wander down Diagon Alley.

Located at the Studios where all 8 films were produced, the Studio Tour showcases the incredible British talent, imagination and artistry that went into making the impossible a reality on screen.

Harry Potter Studio Tour, £128

7. Ripley’s Believe it or Not!

Ripley’s Believe it or Not!

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! is one of London’s top attractions and features an astounding collection of over 700 artefacts over six floors.

You can explore everything that the museum has to offer from a mirror maze and graffiti wall to a toilet paper wedding gown!

Located in the heart of Central London at the infamous Piccadilly Circus, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! guarantees a day packed with interesting facts and some weird but wonderful displays that’ll you’ll remember for years to come.

Family Entry to Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Was £79.95, Now £68 (no longer available 30/01/2019)

Sports

8. Family Wimbledon Tennis Tour


Your tour will take you behind the scenes for a tour of the grounds. You will visit court number one and centre court, the site of some of the greatest matches in the history of the sport.

Your guide will lead you through the beautiful picnic terraces and up to the water gardens with amazing views of London before heading to the marvellous interactive Wimbledon Tennis Museum.

Here you can discover the history of tennis, viewing all the trophies and even meeting the “ghost” of John McEnroe!

Family Wimbledon Tennis Tour, £75 

9. Tour of Stamford Bridge

Stamford Bridge

This unmissable tour of Stamford Bridge, home of FA Cup Winners and European Champions, Chelsea Football Club is a fun, informative and unforgettable experience, enjoyed by sports fans of all ages from all over the world.

The fully guided tour takes you behind-the-scenes of one of the world’s greatest football teams, giving you access to areas normally reserved for players and officials.

Chelsea FC pride themselves on having guides who are both knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the club and they believe it’s their passion that makes their tours a truly memorable experience!

https://www.buyagift.co.uk/days-out/stadium-toursFor details of all stadium tours click here.

10. Explore the UK’s National Parks

Exmoor

From lakes to moors, woodlands to mountain peaks, the UK’s National Parks encompass some truly breath-taking scenery and are a pleasure to explore, whether on foot, by car or bicycle or on horseback.

Fish in the Lake District, see the wild ponies of Exmoor, explore the quaint villages of Cumbria or whatever takes your fancy, and know you will have a warm welcome, comfortable room and delicious breakfast to come back to.

Overnight National Parks Escape for Two, £89 National Park Minibreak, Was £189, Now £139.99

Which would be your first choice?  I’ve already got a couple at the top of my bucket list.  I’ve put The Husband on notice.  And if it rains, we’ve got our kagools.

Buyagift.com is the UK’s leading online provider of gifts and experiences, and offers over 4,000 unique and exciting gift ideas for all occasions. For more information, visit www.buyagift.com. Prices and product details correct at time of distribution.

*collaborative post

The Hobbis Family Summer Holiday Bucket List

Caitlin and Ieuan break up from school on Wednesday and, as usual, I have managed to leave it to the last minute to compile a list of things for us to do – not that there aren’t oodles of ideas from my fellow bloggers to keep us busy all year long!

How hard can keeping them occupied be?

I asked Ieuan this morning what he fancied doing (Caitlin just wants to play with Shopkins) and he gave me his best 7-year-old shrug and said something which sounded suspiciously like ‘iPad’.

Anyway,  I have started the list with the proviso that, since the Husband and I have not become millionaires since last summer, the kids will actually have to use some brainpower and do that radical 1970’s thing of entertaining themselves from time to time.

This means they may even experience that character-building thing called boredom but it didn’t kill us, did it? And I still maintain that having to make your own fun is the best way to stimulate creativity in any age group.

Superheroes are now so last year

Practically speaking, no parent has the time, energy or money to take the kids out every single day so it’s going to be a compromise between the odd day trip here and there, our week sojourn to Devon and passing the time at home without killing one another.

I love the summer holidays, don’t you?!

Have kagool, will travel

Here’s where I’ve got to so far on the list and if you can think of anything an eight and a seven-year old might enjoy, please tell me in the comments below.

  1. Biking around Cosmeston Nature Reserve and exploring the medieval village
  2. Getting Caitlin to finally get the hang of her Heelys
  3. Picnic at National Trust Dyffryn Gardens
  4. Go to the funfair at Barry Island (there’s a ghost train!)
  5. Put the paddling pool up (and kiss the lawn goodbye for yet another year!)
  6. Eat ice creams on the pier at Penarth
  7. Explore the beautiful Westonbirt Arboretum
  8. Go sand-dune surfing at Merthyr Mawr
  9. Explore our local castles at Cardiff, Caerphilly and Raglan
  10. Walk up The Garth (and then progress to Pen-y-Fan)
  11. Hire tricycles and cycle along the Cardiff Bay Barrage
  12. Search for sea glass at St. Mary’s Well Bay, Lavernock
  13. Sign up for our local library reading challenge (this was Ieuan’s suggestion – amazing!)
  14. Bake bread with Taid (my dad loves impromptu cookery sessions with the kids)
  15. Visit our local museums at Cardiff and St. Fagins
  16. Stick a two man tent up in the garden and have a camping dummy run
  17. Go to Bath on the train and then take a boat trip on the river
  18. Bake a cake (with me this time).  I’m OK with cakes…ish.
  19. Visit Rest Bay at Porthcawl and the fair at Coney Beach
  20. Play football on our local common
  21. Go on an expedition to find Dinas Powys Castle.  (Yes we have one).
  22. Go pond dipping at Porthkerry Park (supervised by the wardens of course)
  23. Play crazy golf in Cardiff St. David’s Centre
  24. Pick our own strawberries at Hendrewennol Fruit Farm and the Maize Maze
  25. Hold a movie night with popcorn and hotdogs
  26. Host a sleepover (never done this before so will have to check my nerves will hold)
  27. Explore Llandaff Cathedral and have tea and cake at the local teashop
  28. Visit Bristol Zoo – the location for most of my school trips
  29. Go bouncing at Go Air trampoline park
  30. Get the kids rock climbing at Boulders Indoor Climbing Centre
  31. Get the kids to earn some pocket money by setting up their own restaurant and charging the Husband and I to eat
  32. Helping with the housework (nothing wrong with learning a few lifeskills)!
  33. Washing the car
  34. Making jewellery – I’ve promised Caitlin will get some jewellery making tools and restring some of my old necklaces
  35. Watching Harry Potter, Lord of The Rings, The Hobbit and Star Wars.  Probably on repeat.
  36. Have a games night – Junior Monopoly, Cluedo, all the old favourites
  37. Ieuan wants his bedroom repainted so he can help his dad with that
  38. Go skimming stones at The Knap Beach and have fish and chips on the way home
  39. Practising our videoing skills by recording another gripping episode of Caitlin and Ieuan’s “The Hulk & Puppy”.
  40. Playing hide and seek.
  41. Oh, alright, Pokemon Go IF THE DAMN THING LOADS!!!
  42. Visiting their Aunty Judy’s new kitten, Willow.
  43. Making home-made birthday cards with Nanny
  44. Going to Clearwell Caves in the Forest of Dean
  45. Taking a boat on the river at Symonds Yat
  46. Reading some of the children’s classics like Black Beauty and The Wind in the Willows
  47. Making home-made ice lollies
  48. Helping with the garden, collecting leaves and weeding
  49. Vacuuming. (What do you mean it’s not fun?)
  50. Playing the piano with Taid – and me if I can remember how to sight read

So, there’s quite a few things on my list already this year and I’m hoping we tick off quite a few of these.  I’ll buy the kids a scrapbook each so that they can record their adventures and they can make a memory box to keep any special souveniers they collect along the way.

 

Do you know, I’m actually quite looking forward to it.

 

What’s on your family summer holiday bucket list?

Confessions Of A Summer Parent – It’s A Wild Life

I must confess that I always view the approaching long summer school holiday with a mixture of relief (no more school runs) and dread (endless Harry Potter reruns).

Generally by about 10:15 am on Day 1 the kids are already bored and, having exhausted the huge and completely random stock of craft materials lurking in our dining room, are demanding ice lollies and entertainment.

Telling them that, in their parents’ youth entertainment was a day spent running amok in a quarry, a woodland or a field cuts no ice with them. We’d take packed lunches of crisps and cheese sandwiches which would keep us going until tea.

My friends and I made our own adventures without anything digital in sight.

I remember returning home from a day on my bike warmed with sunshine, pleasantly tired and ready to fall into bed.

Falling asleep in the summer was a lengthy process because it was the 70’s and mum had installed day-go orange curtains which meant my bedroom was lit up like a disco until the sun had long set.  Black-out curtains were for wimps.

So what do we parents do?  Although there are loads of places to go, things to see and local summer activities, the whole ‘keeping your kids from killing each other’ thing can be rather stressful.

Unless you have unlimited time and money, you can’t take them out every single day so you have to box clever.

We are firm believers in, er, developing a love of nature.

It worked for David Attenborough, didn’t it?  Who knows what previously undiscovered species Ieuan is about to find… eventually.

This post is an entry for the BritMums Confessions of a Summer Parent Challenge, sponsored by Anchor.