About a week ago Belle and I went for our second visit to Symonds at Redwood, a lovely restaurant on the outskirts of Bristol – Clifton side – with a focus on seasonal, locally sourced food. Symonds is a slightly unusual offering in that it’s situated within a luxury retirement complex, but don’t let this put you off – it’s open to everyone and the service, ambience and decor is top notch. You’d expect nothing less from a luxury retirement after all.

The first time we went, about a year ago now, Belle was in a grump. I can’t remember why exactly, but I know it wasn’t a great time for her generally. She had GCSE exams looming, and wasn’t what you’d really call going to school, as she was finding it all a bit much. Being made to go out for dinner with me seemed to tip her over the edge, despite having her every whim catered for, including an off-menu side of dauphinoise potatoes.

This time around though she was in much better spirits and I was feeling more optimistic about conversation levels.

Redwood near Clifton

As I had been expecting, we were greeted by friendly and attentive staff, and settled down for a look at the menu. The food changes every three months, inspired by what’s in season and available locally, and if you go now you can choose from delicious sounding things like ‘Skate wing, celeriac puree, girolle mushrooms, braised fennel and beurre noisette’ and ‘Asparagus, petit pois and basil oil risotto, pecorino crisp and wild rocket’.

(You know a menu is fancy when every ingredient is listed don’t you?) View Post

single parenting tips

When you are the only one parenting your kids, it can be incredibly easy to devote all your time and energy to your children. To be frank, why would you not? However, it is also important to try to remember that you need to retain some aspect of yourself. Me Time (when you can grab it) is as important as anything you can do as a parent. Let’s take a look at why it is so important.

It’s a Bit of R&R

It is not good for us as human beings if we are stressed 24/7. As a single parent, you won’t have a partner to lean on like couples do and any extended family who helps out won’t be there all the time.

When major meltdowns happen, you are probably going to be the one who has to deal with the brunt of it and it can leave you feeling emotionally drained. Me Time is exactly what you need to de-stress and get ready for the new day and new challenges.

It Can Be Grabbed Whenever You Have a Moment

Me Time can take whatever shape and form you need it to be – logging onto your favourite online casino when the kids are all in bed and playing a few games; taking a long and luxuriant bath once they are all off to school. Perhaps it is even as simple as your morning cup of tea or coffee, grabbed before you wake them up for the morning routine.

You should try to grab a moment or two of Me Time whenever you feel like you have a moment. It really doesn’t have to be some big or extravagant plan. Just keep an eye out for when you have a moment to grab some free time when you can.

It Will Make You a Better Person

We rarely think about the effects stress has on us but, if we don’t address it, we may begin to see a negative impact on our health and well-being. Stress can also have a negative effect on the quality of our night’s sleep. Too poor a night’s sleep can leave you feeling drained and not in control of many different things.

Taking time for yourself can feel selfish but sometimes we have to be. Grabbing Me Time which does not impact on time with your children allows you to refresh yourself enough to be able to properly interact with them and give them your fullest attention.

While it can be easy to lose yourself in your children, it is important to remember that you are an individual and you will need to do the things which make you who you are. Your interests might end up being very different from your children’s, so grabbing a few moments to indulge in them when you can is key. Don’t be afraid to ask for some help if you need it, and be prepared to maybe not have as much Me Time as you would like. Nevertheless, be prepared to grab it when you can and get ready to see a difference in yourself!

Image: Pixabay

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easy homemade lamb burger recipe

Okay, I know, June this year hasn’t exactly begun with a barbecue vibe, but it’s only going to be a matter of time surely before the rain clears up and we all start rushing out to buy charcoal and burger buns at 4pm every Sunday?

I’m confident.

*looks doubtful*

To make sure you’re ready for the sunshine, I’ve been practising my barbecue skills by making some homemade lamb burgers. This is the latest in my series of lamb recipes to support the ‘Lamb. Try it, Love it‘ campaign, and if you haven’t already, do pop back and check out some of my other lamb posts, like a Green Eggs and Lamb breakfast recipe, (genius, if I do say so myself), and a Game of Thrones inspired rack of lamb, which I feel has to be seen to be truly appreciated.

The aim of the ‘Lamb. Try it, Love it’ campaign is to highlight the health benefits of lamb – lamb is rich in niacin and vitamin B12 and a fantastic source of protein, zinc, potassium and phosphorus – as well as show that cooking with lamb doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult.

In this vein, I’ve made what are quite possibly the easiest lamb burgers you will ever make. I came across a lot of recipes while I doing my lamb burger research that had long lists of ingredients – breadcrumbs, egg, vinegar even – but I just don’t think you need them. Lamb has a lovely flavour already, and lamb mince holds together really well, so all I’ve done is add a couple of ingredients to enhance the natural lamb flavour at the same time as keeping things super simple.

Also, who wants to be slaving away in the kitchen making breadcrumbs on a sunny day?? Not me. You want to be sat outside drinking beer and pretending that life is sunny and full of possibilities don’t you?

Quite right.

So, get the barbecue lit, crack open the beers and let’s go. View Post

I was on the brink of joining an amateur dramatics group and auditioning for a role in the Christmas production of Aladdin when I finally concluded that I am in the midst of some kind of midlife crisis.

I’d volunteered as a Brownie leader a month or so before, which I’d let slide because I actually like making peppermint creams and hanging out with children who still find joy in life, but pantomime? No.

The trouble I’ve had is that at no specific point do I feel like I am actually IN crisis. No switches have been flipped, I’ve not lost it in Waitrose and swept a shelf of artisan artichokes onto the floor or anything, and yet… for quite a while now something has been OFF.

When I tried to explain it to a friend at the weekend it sounded kind of lame.

‘I just feel kind of BLAH,’ I said, ‘like the stuff that used to feel meaningful just doesn’t. Every day is FINE – I get on with things and I enjoy stuff on one level, but I have no idea what I want to do or where I want to go. I kind of thought by now that I would KNOW, that something would have clicked in. But what if it doesn’t? I used to feel like I had time to decide things and make stuff happen, but what if this is it? I feel like I’ve trapped myself.’

I sighed a bit.

‘I don’t know,’ I said, ‘I just don’t know. I swing from the urge, albeit brief usually, to make a grand life plan and act upon it, to just wanting to run away in a mobile library.’

It sounded kind of whingy to be honest.

Midlife unravelling

Mood courtesy of Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

Luckily it turns out that I’m not alone in feeling like this. My friend confided that she’s felt the same for a while now, like she just wants to jack everything in and move to France and write novels and not think about anything. What I found really interesting is that although we are similar ages, we are at very different life stages with our families, and so it can’t be just about children growing up.

‘Maybe I’m having a midlife crisis,’ I said.

‘It sounds,’ she said, ‘like more of a midlife unravelling.’ View Post

Guest post from Wido

camping tips

Here at Wido, we’ll take any chance possible to go outside, breathe in that fresh air and enjoy the great outdoors. Whether we’re taking our morning coffee into our garden to enjoy, or going for a hike with the family on a weekend. Any excuse to be outside, you’d better believe that we will look for it.

When it comes to taking some time off from our busy lives when we’re in need of a break, the first thing that often comes to mind is to book a trip or vacation away. The school holidays are fast approaching so it’s best to get something booked and booked quick, but where to go?

The options for holidays are endless. You could book a long weekend at Disneyland Paris so the kids can enjoy all things princess and pirate related. Or maybe a 7-day break on the Costa-del-Sol is more up your street? You’re thinking of leaving the kids at the Kids Club so you can relax with a book around the swimming pool.

But, have you ever thought of holidaying without going abroad? That’s a thing, you know! The idea of a ‘staycation’ is nothing new, it’s essentially hopping in the car and enjoying something a little bit closer to home for a few days. A mini-break without the hassle of flying or buying a whole new wardrobe for the weather we rarely see at home.

Here is why the Wido-ers like a staycation:

1. MONEY – Those little pieces of paper that control everything. Having a staycation will often save you lots of your precious pennies as you won’t have to spend on flights, transfers, excursions and everything else that comes along with a package holiday. With the unpredictable stability of the Great British Pound and fallen strength to the likes of the Euro, you’re bound to spend less on a Staycation.

2. FAMILY – It’s possible for all of the family to come along. That’s right, even Winston the dog can hop into the car with you for this trip.. By choosing pet and child-friendly places to visit, you can really make this trip a family orientated one. There’s no reason why any man, or dog, should be left behind when you’re travelling an hour down the road! You can even take along a portable camp bed just for the dog!

camping with dogs

3. FUN – There is SO much fun to be had right on our doorstep. We certainly don’t have to fly thousands of miles to find it overseas. Packing up your car or caravan and heading down to your local (or not-so-local!) campsite can mean a whole host of activities. Whether it’s relaxing in a country pub, beer in hand or cooking up a storm on your portable BBQ surrounded by your whole family. If you’re more of an adrenaline junkie, why not try a new sport that a campsite has to offer? Maybe they offer paddleboarding or horseback riding. Perhaps you’re just happy playing good old fashioned Swingball!

4. PLANNING – It’s easier! Planning a week’s holiday to Portugal with a family of five can be stressful. You need to prepare lists upon lists of what to take with you and ensure that your chosen resort is child-friendly with lots of activities to keep the little ones occupied. All too often, it can only become more stressful once you’re there. Hang on, I thought this was supposed to be a break?! By being closer to home, it’s easier to handle the unexpected and well, you’re never too far from a supermarket if you need emergency nappies!

Staycations are definitely in. There is so much of our beautiful country to see and we’re excited to grab our sleeping bags and snooze below the stars. Are you new to camping life or in need of a kit refresh? We’ve got a whole load of Camping Gear to help you along the way.

Advertisement is association with Thicker Fuller Hair™

I’ve always had fine hair.

As a teenager I would read hair tips in Just Seventeen magazine and spend ages lying on my bed with my head hung backwards over the age, trying to encourage blood to flow to my scalp. At the same time I’d be reading the problem pages and looking at the ‘Position of the Fortnight’ in More and wondering what it would be like to actually have sex with another person. Like how would you even go about it? You’d have to actually talk properly to a boy for a start. I couldn’t get my head around it, hung upside down or otherwise.

(Funnily enough, not long after I drafted this post I found myself talking to some women about More and Position of the Fortnight. How is that feature the only thing people ever remember from the whole magazine?)

Over 25 years later and I do less of the head dangling, although I do still wonder sometimes about how to talk to (now grown up) boys, and my hair is still just as fine. In fact, if anything I probably have even less of it now, what with the impending *whispers* menopause. Hopefully I have few years yet, but I’ve definitely noticed my hair getting dryer, so it’s probably only a matter of time before it starts thinning too.

(Yay! Life is so kind.)

Fortunately there may be something that can ease the thinning hair crisis at least, if not help with the men thing – a new naturally-derived haircare range called Thicker Fuller Hair™. Clue’s in the name with this one isn’t it?

How to get thicker hair

If you have thin hair, or are worried about hair loss, you’re not alone. View Post