“I’m pretty sure we’ve been to Longleat before,’ I said to fiancé, “but I’m not sure when. I know it was rainy though.”

Except I can actually tell you exactly when it was – it was the May half term in 2012. This, my friends, is the beauty of blogging. You can just Google your own life, and tada! Here is the post, should you want to see proof. My (weirdly small in the original post) photos show the effects of the rain quite clearly – we basically saw a lot of animals huddled under damp logs. There are a couple of monkeys in this picture, I promise:

Longleat monkeys

Second time around then, and I had high hopes for a slightly better safari experience. We had been invited to visit this time as Longleat is celebrating its 50th birthday, and there is a lot of cool stuff going on over the summer, like the pride of Longleat parade every day at 6pm in the main square. 

Happy birthday Longleat! View Full Post

Belle, bless her cotton socks, has always maintained a dream of having an elegantly co-ordinated bedroom, with furniture that matches, and accessories in beautifully soft pinks and greens. What she actually has is an old trunk that we’ve reupholstered about four times, a dressing table I bought on eBay, which Belle then painted white, and some old tin cans that she has painted with pink wood paint, to keep her make-up brushes in.

I call it vintage chic.

Belle calls it Mummy not caring enough to buy her proper furniture.

Life is subjective.

If you’re the kind of parent who really does want to do more than just shut the door on your kid’s bedroom and pretend it’s not there, then this is the competition for you my friends – step on up! 

I’m giving away £150 of your finest British pounds to spend with Ollie & Leila, a rather lovely online store specialising in children’s beds, mattresses, bedroom furniture and accessories. They sell the sort of thing that Belle is probably coming to realise, now aged 14, will never appear in her room, because instead I have spent all my money on house plants and mini-breaks.  View Full Post

Today I’m feeling mixed emotions.

Sure, it may only be officially less than four months now until Christmas, (hoorah!), but it’s also almost the end of our mini-break season. I wanted this year to try and get away for as many weekends as possible, and we accomplished it spectacularly – we’ve visited all sorts of lovely places, and had some lovely times, but the end of the summer holidays marks the end of the peak season. We have a couple of trips planned still, but mainly we’ll be hanging out at home. I’m kind of looking forward to this, but sad too, as I do like a hotel breakfast.

One of the last destinations on our mini-break calendar of fun was the Woodbury Park Hotel in Devon. It’s less than an hour away from us, but I actually kind of like to holiday nearer home, especially if you’re only going for a night or two. No one wants to spend half their allotted mini-break time driving there do they? Also, when you go somewhere relatively close by, you’ll often discover places you never even knew about, that you can then visit again.

That was the certainly the case with Dart’s Farm, where we headed after checking in, to hire bikes. Dart’s Farm is a massive farm shop, with a cafe, loads of food, drink, interiors stuff, an outside area, local fish and chips – I can’t believe that in the all the time I’ve lived in Somerset and been on family days out, we’ve never come across it. If you’re anywhere nearby, it’s definitely worth a visit, if only to go in the kitchen and bathroom showroom and gawp at the small glass bathroom shelf that’s on sale for £350. Seriously, it was about 10 inches long and maybe three deep? Bonkers. We started pricing things in shelves from then on – ‘Mummy, can I get this book? It’s not expensive – I could get 48 of them instead of a glass shelf.’ View Full Post

As a blogger, I get to do lots of interesting things, but I can’t say I ever expected anyone to ask me if I wanted to learn how to throw an axe. To be honest, I’m not even sure why you throw an axe, unless you’re a Viking or something. I imagine them chucking axes about and roaring ferociously. 

I have been challenged by the National Trust though, to do something outdoorsy – something that I might not normally think to do, and you get to choose what that is. 

NT SWOF Jo Middleton Adventures 1

It’s to celebrate the South West Outdoor Festival, a totally new kind of festival, being held in Devon from September 23 – 25. It’s being hosted by The National Trust, together with Cotswold Outdoor, Panasonic, Exmoor National Park and lots of local outdoor experts. It’s a festival for people who prefer rafting to raving, and who’d rather been foraging for wild food than queuing for a burger. View Full Post

September is a bit of a crappy month for parents. You’ve spent pretty much your life savings in Clarks, standing for hours with one of those deli counter tickets, like you’re queuing for cheese without even getting to eat any cheese*, which means nothing left to update your own wardrobe ready for autumn.

Perfect timing then for another competition from Lily & Me.

I’ve written about these guys before, and you know I love their bold patterns, and the thought they put into the quality and cut of their clothes. 

Here’s a little sample to give you an idea:

Lily & Me competition discount code View Full Post