In association with Jimmy’s Iced Coffee

Seriously, where have you BEEN?? No one drinks their coffee hot anymore. That’s so 2012. Also, it’s the summer. Keep up.

Iced coffee though? I’m a big fan. I even make my own sometimes, although it’s a bit of a faff setting up the coffee machine and my homemade ice cubes always taste a little bit of fish fingers. Much better to have an expert make it for you and package it up in a handy, well designed carton.

Oh hey there Jimmy’s!

Jimmy’s iced coffee

This is their hot off the press new family. Pretty sassy yes?

I’ve been a fan of Jimmy’s Iced Coffee for a couple of years now, so I was more than happy to share my thoughts on why iced coffee is way better than hot. View Post

Belle is currently in the middle of her GCSE exams. They started around mid-May and her last one is on June 19th. There seem to be a LOT of them.

Her revision programme has gone something like this:

  • English literature: watching a rap about Macbeth on YouTube in the car on the way to school
  • English language: me saying ‘don’t forget to use your wow words’
  • Music: eating some pulled pork and watching Vampire Diaries

Now I know school has changed a lot since I went, but to me this doesn’t feel like your classic exam revision strategy.

But what am I meant to do about it?

How to make teenagers revise

Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash

I guess the question probably isn’t ‘should I make my teenager revise for exams?’ and more ‘HOW do I make my teenager revise for exams?’ View Post

We were invited to visit NAUSICAA as guests for the purposes of this review. All opinions my own.

As a single parent of two kids with a seven year age gap I have spent my fair share of times in aquariums. There aren’t a great deal of activities that both a 13 year old and a 6 year old will enjoy, but looking for fish that look like Dory and then saying ‘I found Dory!’ is one of them.

That said, my aquarium experiences to date have always been disappointing. You pay about £40 for three of you to enter what promises to be an ‘under sea adventure’, to spend around 25 minutes, if you’re lucky, wandering around a dank basement that feels like it could do with a bit of a scrub down. You see some jellyfish – check, you spot the clown fish – check, and then suddenly you’re in the gift shop and both children want you to spend another £40 on a plush starfish.

NAUSICAA is NOT like that.

Imagine an awesomeness scale of all the aquariums I’ve ever been to. At one end of the scale is a sad looking goldfish and at the other end is a hammerhead shark. Most aquariums hover around the small, solitary octopus level. NAUSICAA is basically a mermaid, sat on a rock brushing her long hair while dolphins leap out of the water and a group of sardines performs a barbershop quartet style rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Do you get what I’m trying to say?

It’s really good.

Visiting Nausicaa

Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s in France as it’s really easy to get to. We took the Eurostar from St Pancras to Calais, which is only an hour, and then it’s around a half hour drive to NAUSICAA.

If you’re within a reasonable distance of London then it’s totally doable as a day trip, or as an excuse for an easy family weekend away. If you’re heading to a different part of France for a holiday it would make a great stop on the way – maybe spend a night or two and explore the area? (I’ll be doing a follow up post about other things to do nearby.)

So then, the fishies.

Even from the outside NAUSICAA scores points – the addition of the new extension was designed especially to make the whole building look like a manta ray. It’s tricky obviously to see this unless you’re in a helicopter or something, but keep it in mind.

View Post

This was a review trip. All opinions my own.

You know I love a mini break.

They’re slightly more complicated now we have the kitties, as I have to arrange for someone to be in charge of meaty chunks, (theirs), and then deal with the separation anxiety, (mine), but I have about 1,329 pictures of them on my phone, so I do my best to be brave.

*sigh*

I was really looking forward to our weekend at Oakdown in Devon though, as knew it was a couple of weeks into GCSE exams and that I was definitely going to need to lie in a deckchair drinking cider out of a camping mug for a while. And yes, Belle is stressed too, but this is MY blog, so I get to complain about ME.

Oakdown camping review

One of the things I’ve found about parenting is that there is a definite trade off as they grow up between responsibility and control. When they are small you long for the days when they are able to take themselves to the toilet and you’re not required to watch a dance every ten minutes, because you imagine that this passing on of responsibility will take the pressure off you.

It does not. View Post

Yesterday was Belle’s last day of secondary school.

It’s weird, because although we’ve been counting down to this moment for literally years (‘I know you hate it, but only two and a half years left!’ ‘Just 27 more weeks Belle, you can do it!), it has also flown by.

Belle was only seven when I started writing this blog. At that age she was easily impressed with life. I remember writing this post in my first six months of blogging about her getting excited by the fact that bread sometimes comes pre-sliced.

Looking back through old posts I also found this picture of her first day of secondary school, nearly five years ago:

First day of school

(The post wasn’t about school itself, more me complaining about getting back to work after the summer, but this is MY blog remember. Belle needs to write her own if she wants it all to be about her.)

And now here she is, nearly 16 years old, with almost half of her GCSE exams done and dusted.

I can’t believe how much she has changed. And how much better my photos are. (We took this one when we did our own mini photoshoot in Bristol, which you can see here if you want to check out how tall she has got.)

Also, I wonder if I will ever get this jumper back? Probably not.  View Post

In association with Bella Italia. All views my own.

Although we have about 47 different Italian restaurants in Taunton, we don’t have a Bella Italia. We have been to Bella Italia in Bristol in few times, but about four or five years ago I had a slightly odd experience with some goats cheese bruschetta and I’m not sure we’ve been since.

My general impression, a few years ago, was that the food was FINE. Nothing more though.

What I’m saying is that if you’re seeing ‘Bella Italia’ and wrinkling your nose up a bit because you’re not 100% sold then I hear you. I felt exactly the same until this week.

BUT….

(And this is a big but)….

WE ARE BOTH WRONG.

I took Bee and Belle along to Bella Italia in Baldwin Street in Bristol this week to try out the new menu, which launched this month, and I honestly could not have been more impressed. Bella Italia has clearly come a long way since the goats cheese incident, and we stuffed ourselves silly (in the name of research) trying out a whole host of fantastic dishes.

Bella Italia totally exceeded my expectations and all three of us said we would definitely go back again. Every single thing we tried was delicious, plus I learnt a lot of things that I didn’t know about the restaurant and their ingredients.

Next time you’re going out for a meal, do think of Bella Italia.

Here are SEVEN reasons why:

They serve lovely cocktails

I know, this one isn’t about food, but cocktails? Come on. You know you want one.

I tried a ‘Sicilian Southside’, which is prosecco, limoncello and mint. It’s not a combination I’ve tried before but I will definitely try it again. There’s also a mocktail section on the menu – Bee had a passionfruit cooler.

Bella Italia cocktails View Post