Christmas at Bluestone National Park Resort in Pembrokeshire

This is a two part review.

First off I’m going to tell you a little bit about Bluestone National Park Resort and what they’ve got going on over Christmas, then Bee is going to add her two pennies’ worth as a pay-off, as she mentions, for getting the double bed for a night. I thought this might give you a nice perspective on what teenagers are really thinking when they are made to go on family mini-breaks. (It’s not what you might be expecting, although Bee may not be a typical teenager.)

My bit first then, as I am the tallest. (Bee once said she just always thought of me as being in charge of the family as I am the tallest. God help us when Belle grows.)

Bluestone National Park Resort in Pembrokeshire was to my mind a kind of mini Centre Parcs without the forest. (I don’t know if every Centre Parcs has a forest, but the one I have been to did.) I’m not sure if this is a comparison Bluestone like, but given that Centre Parcs is rather lovely, I hope they would take it as a compliment.

The general format is similar in that you stay in self-catering lodges and chalets in beautiful surroundings, get to enjoy a well-equipped water park, and then can book extra activities on top depending on your own interests. There is also a rather luxurious spa. In the middle of the park is the ‘village’, a small cluster of shops and restaurants, plus a play area. The Christmas lights are up now, so in the evening it’s very pretty and has a nice festive feel to it. The benefit of it being smaller is that everything is within a sensible walking distance so you aren’t forced to hire bikes, although bikes and golf buggies are available should you want a little extra help getting around.

As well as lights to get you into the Christmas spirit, Bluestone are also running the ‘Kingdom of the Elves Elf Workshop‘, an interactive festive journey, where children get to meet different Christmas characters, take part in mini challenges and games and collect items for their elf aprons. I have to be honest and say that there was a certain amount of reluctance on Belle’s part to don her elf pinny but she is 12 and the average age of the other elves was about 6, so perhaps it’s to be expected. The experience was really well thought out though and the small children definitely enjoyed being spun around on a giant penny, collecting coloured snowballs and getting squirted with bubbles. Read more

How do you compare to Mr and Mrs Average?

A while ago you may remember I asked you how often you had had sex in the last month after reading a report that showed the average to be far fewer than I had thought. It’s kind of comforting, being able to see how everyone else is (quite literally) making out and realising you’re doing alright really.

Today then, in the definitely very healthy spirit of seeking personal validation by comparing myself to others, I took a test to see how my lifestyle matched up to other women.

You can take it here if you fancy it.

The test highlighted a few issues for me, issues I’m very aware of but basically too lazy to do anything about.

Firstly, I do very little exercise. I’ve been to a few netball sessions in Taunton since I moved but have found it hard to stick with. Work and other things have got in the way and I don’t feel the same sense of camaraderie as I did with my team back in Bristol. I know that takes time though, so this is definitely something I need to make more of a commitment to.

I do try to make the effort to walk more than I might normally feel inclined to do, but I need to get sweaty. Read more

Conversations about pizza and pensions

“Can we have delivered pizza for tea tonight?” asked Belle on Saturday as we walked past Papa Johns. Delivered pizza is her favourite meal. Normal pizza is second.

“No,” I said.

“But we haven’t had pizza for aaaaages!” she complained.

“We had Domino’s on Wednesday,” I reminded her.

“Exactly,” she said, “that’s ages ago!”

“No,” I confirmed, “we aren’t having pizza for tea.”

Pizza

She was quiet for a little while. I thought she might be hatching some sort of bribe based plan where she would try to negotiate pizza in return for doing a chore that she should be doing regardless, but I was wrong. Read more

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REVIEW: Bee tests out a Hudl 2 wireless Bluetooth tablet keyboard case from Gearzap.com

This review is from Bee. Enjoy!

I’m sure you all remember my breath-taking review of the Hudl 2 I did recently.

Well as soon as I got it I was hunting around on the web for accessories and a case because I always drop/break/spill something on/loose things basically as soon as I get them.

However the only place I could seem to find any was the official Tesco Hudl accessories page and all of the cases on there were a) not really my style and therefore b) a bit more than I was willing to pay for something I hadn’t really chosen the look of.

Then, as though they had READ MY MIND, GearZap.com asked me if I wanted to review their Hudl 2 wireless Bluetooth tablet keyboard case!

“Yes please!” I said.

This thing is the COOLEST. For starters, it’s a great case made from a posh and important black leathery material which makes me look like I’m doing something businessy on it, e.g. a pie chart. It fits around the Hudl 2 with room to spare so it keeps it safe, even from clumsy fools such as myself.

I’ve never had a case that flips open before because I thought the front part would get in the way all the time but I actually quite like it. You can flip it open dramatically as though you’ve just been sent an important document that you must look over immediately and not at all that you just fancy a go on Kim Kardashian Hollywood. The only thing I wished the case did was automatically lock the Hudl 2 when I close it, like the iPad mini case does. Although I’m pretty sure that’s more to do with the features of the tablet. A girl can dream. Read more

REVIEW: Juci Wellbeing detox

I know only too well that if I go for even one day without eating that I will fall over, so I got my new boyfriend to test out the Juci Wellbeing detox for me. This is how he got on…

Juci Wellbeing

If Gillian McKeith is to be believed, and you really are what you eat, then I’m in a lot of trouble. Last year, I lost a whopping three stone by doing all the right things – a healthy diet, plenty of exercise and only a moderate intake of alcohol. I felt (and although I say so myself, looked) fantastic. I bought an entire new wardrobe and reveled in the ability to wear slim-fit tops and skinny jeans. I never grew tired of the unadulterated joy I encountered over the next three months at being stopped by everyone I knew so that they could tell me now wonderful I looked. I know that sounds horribly vain, but if you had spent the preceding five years looking like a darts player, you’d understand my situation. My confidence went through the roof, and all was very much right with the world.

Well done me.  Read more

Underage drinking – talking to children about alcohol

Whenever I am nursing a hangover, moaning and groaning and complaining about feeling sick, I like to think that I am teaching my children a valuable lesson about what not to do when it comes to alcohol. I am kidding myself of course, but with a hangover you need something to feel good about.

Is seeing me lying forlornly on the sofa going to be enough to put them off underage drinking though and if not, does that really matter?

There is a bit of a misconception that underage drinking is just one of those things that all teens go through, a silly and often messy phase that although worrying as a parent, is relatively harmless in the long term. When I look back on my teenage drinking experiences I certainly don’t do it with a great deal of angst. If anything, they are fond memories; ‘Ah, remember that night when we thought it would be fun to see if we could drink ourselves into a coma?’ Happy days.

My teenage drinking years were curtailed by becoming pregnant at 16 – not a drinking related accident – but nothing awful ever happened to me. Sure, I did ‘accidentally’ get off with a second cousin, I may have wet myself in a field once, and I’m sure my teeth have never really recovered from having me open Diamond White bottles with them, but in the grand scheme of things those are hardly disasters.

As Belle approaches the dreaded teenage years then I’ve been thinking more about all of those new things I’m going to have to worry about and I decided to talk to her about alcohol and what she perceived as the risks. I knew she would be pretty savvy as she has been known to raise the odd eyebrow when I’ve dared to pour a second glass of wine of an evening. Read more

Coca-Cola Life + healthy living initiatives from Coca-Cola

Have you tried Coca-Cola Life yet?

We have.

See?

Coca-Cola Life

Such a pretty :-)

In fact I recently got the chance to learn all about Coca-Cola Life, as Coca-Cola were my sponsor for Blogfest. I met up with them for breakfast before the conference to find out more about stevia and the initiatives Coca-Cola currently have running to help people lead healthier and more active lifestyles. Read more

The Slummy single mummy super dooper Christmas gift guide

There are very few things I love more than Christmas.

My children obviously, just about, and Millionaire Matchmaker if it’s an episode I’ve not seen before and I have a bottle of wine and bag of cheese and onion crisps open, but apart from that, not much.

Things I love about Christmas include:

  • Being able to eat Roses for breakfast without fear of judgment
  • Collecting piles of Christmas catalogues and imagining what I would buy everyone if I won the lottery (and by everyone I mean myself)
  • Watching Love Actually on Christmas Eve whilst frantically wrapping presents and guzzling Harvey’s Bristol Cream
  • The pre-Christmas shopping trip to Marks and Spencer where I let Bee and Belle put anything they like in the trolley
  • Buying presents

Buying presents is my Best Bit. Good presents mind you, none of your tat. There is nothing that makes me want to poke myself in the eye with a sprig of holly more than those nasty gift box sets you find in places like BHS where someone has thought that a miniature jar of Marmite and a cheap, branded butter knife in the large box makes for a considerate gift. I like Marmite, but come on, just add it to your Ocado shop like a normal person.

To help you escape the horror of the Marmite gift set I have picked out some of my favourite gift ideas for all the family: Read more

Has Christmas become too electronic? 4 low tech gift ideas for children

Belle has been writing her Christmas list over the last few weeks and it has been very heartening not to be presented simply with a request for half a dozen different electronic devices. Of course this could be because she already has half a dozen electronic devices, but I’m going to pretend it’s because I have brought her up to be wholesome and traditional and to enjoy life’s simple pleasures.*

To be fair to her, although she likes the internet as much as the next 12 year old, she does enjoy a lot of non-internet based things too. She is really into dance for instance and I am quite happy to spend a few minutes every day watching her perform her latest dance routine if it means she is at least moving around for part of the evening and not just designing virtual cheesecakes for me on the iPad that I then have to pretend to eat and, worse, enjoy.

Even better of course is that low tech Christmas gifts tend to be much cheaper and bulkier, so they fill up the space under the tree nicely and make it look like you have been really very generous indeed.

So if you can’t bear the thought of a small pile of tablets under the Christmas tree this year, what can you buy instead? I’ve been browsing at The Works for some ideas:

Board games

Board games are a Christmas classic and I personally think that everyone should be made to play at least one board game on Christmas Day, whether they want to or not and regardless of how drunk and/or full of Elizabeth Shaw mints they are. If I was Prime Minister I might even make it a law.

I suspect Belle might rather enjoy the QI board game as she is always regaling me with ‘fascinating’ facts that she has picked up from Horrible Histories and the like.

QI board game

Books Read more

COMPETITION: Win £100 to spend on luxury gifts for little people and their mummies at Lucy and Belle

Now I’m not saying I want another baby, I promise I’m not, but I do miss buying adorable baby stuff, especially with Christmas coming. Things are just so much cuter when they are small and squishy aren’t they? A pair of jeans for a 12 year old really isn’t the same as a velvety soft pair of dunagrees in size 0-3 months.

*sigh*

In lieu of my own bundle of writhing, screaming, never-let-go-of-your-nipple joy then, I am going to live vicariously through you reader and assume that you have someone small in your life to buy gifts for. And where will you buy said gifts from?

Lucy and Belle of course.

Lucy and Belle

Lucy and Belle is a lovely new site full of fabulous gifts for babies and generally small personages – it’s all things adorable, luxurious and velvety soft. Seriously, I challenge you to put a baby in these rabbit booties and not want to gobble them up on the spot. Read more