Taking our 2020 family holiday: Covid19 style in Kefalonia, Greece

We have just got back from our family holiday…and this year it was quite different. After getting quite a few questions on my Instagram when I was doing stories while away I though it would make sense to write a blog on our experiences and what I learned taking a holiday during a pandemic.

Before I start it’s worth stating that these are just my thoughts and feelings and I am by no means an expert in travel, planning a trip and don’t have any more knowledge about coronavirus than anyone else – if you choose to go away this year make sure you do your own research and decide on what’s safe for you. And on that note…

Do your Research

Before we decided to travel we weighed up a lot of pros and cons. We looked at different locations and their R rates and the general behaviours of the countries (rule of thumb – if theres not a lot of Brits there its probably pretty rule abiding and safe – harsh but true!). We read travel websites. We looked at the governments advice. We watched what other people were doing. Taking all of that into consideration, and knowing the air bridges were on the verge of opening we took a chance a booked a week in a private villa on Kefalonia, one of the smaller and more remote Greek islands. We personally felt that this year, hotels were too risky for us as a family, not so much because of their cleanliness, more to do with the other residents (our local supermarket in the UK was a non socially distancing free for all so I felt an all inclusive hotel might be quite stressful with people drinking/ignoring the rules/letting their child run riot etc.) We also hired a car, picked the short stay parking at the airport and basically opted to keep ourselves in as much of a ‘family bubble’ as we possibly could.

We bought comfortable masks (as you cant fly without them and each country has its own rules about when they need to be worn) and made sure our youngest son who is 8, although he didn’t legally have to, had practised wearing one as we wanted him to wear it for the whole flight. I’d say for me the most stressful part of the whole trip was the flight – not because it was particularly hard or scary but because that was the bit I was the most worried about. I really didn’t need to be – Stansted Airport was extremely quiet, half empty in fact, everyone wore marks, the Jet2 team who we booked the holiday through were very helpful and calm and to be honest it was the best experience I’ve ever had there! On the plane everyone again was very calm and helpful and there were empty seats and rows although it was a little fuller than I would of liked – ultimately though it was a lot quieter than a usual holiday flight. Wearing a mask for 5-6 hours in total wasn’t that hard and when you know you’re getting a lovely holiday at the end of it, that’s quite an incentive!

Make sure you have your paperwork

Once we got to Greece we had to go through security and get a QR code scanned which was linked to a declaration form we had done a few days before we flew. Find all the details on what you have to do here. You must complete an online Passenger Locator Form (PLF) at least 24 hours before your arrival in Greece. Every traveller, including children, must have their details included on the form and if you’re travelling together as a household, the Greek authorities ask for you to complete one form with all adults and children included. Once you have completed the form online, you receive an email acknowledgement and in a separate email, you also receive a QR code. We saved this onto our phones and had it ready to show when asked.

We had to show this before we boarded our flight and when we arrived in Greece, where the Greek authorities scanned the QR code as part of going through passport control. We were told that they might require people to undergo temperature checks or even testing for coronavirus, but although we saw the teams there in their PPE we weren’t checked and didn’t see anyone else being checked either.

Our home for the week

We stayed in a large villa from James Villas with 3 double bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and a good size lounge and kitchen area. It was just perfect with a large pool, air conditioning, some low-fi wi-fi and lots of sun loungers and parasols. It was very clean but we bought our own anti-bacterial hand wash and sanitiser with us. The villa was located away from the main roads between the mountains and the beach and although there was other villas around it no-one could come into it so we could socially distance really easily. Mid week we received fresh towels and linens which were just left on the doorstep and each morning the pool was cleaned really early so we never even saw the man doing it. There was a supermarket close by and the beach and local tavernas were a quick car ride so its location was pretty perfect. When we booked it you could search the distance of things so we made sure we booked somewhere close to certain amenities as we knew we wanted an easy week.

To be honest though, 2020 is not the year for a bargain holiday (not that I’ve ever had one with 3 school age children having to always holiday at peak times) – we paid a bit extra to make sure we had the space, location and things we needed so we felt safe and happy. We opted for a shorter stay than we normally would as we just didn’t know what to expect and went self catering rather than our usual all inclusive so we could control when, where and what we ate.

In Greece it is mandatory to wear face-masks on public transport (including flights and ferries), at airports and in taxis. Travel in a private car or a taxi is limited to a maximum of 3 adult passengers per vehicle, in addition to the driver but any children in the vehicle do not count towards this limit. Face masks are also obligatory in public indoor spaces, including lifts, staircases and any enclosed venue providing goods or services (including supermarkets, which is wear we mainly wore our masks). All the restaurants are open air so we didn’t wear masks although all the staff either wore masks or visors when they served us.

The whole island felt like it was following the rules and to be honest I felt safer in Greece than I feel in the UK. The island was very quiet and on the few times we left the villa during the day to go to the beach and to visit a local large town it was very easy to keep a safe distance from people.

Eating In

As this was a villa holiday it was technically self catered so we ate breakfast and lunch mainly at the villa and then ate out each evening. The villa had a sandwich toaster which came in very handy and of course we ate the holiday favourites of foreign crisps, Haribo and Fanta Lemon! The local supermarket had a good selection of food with everyone wearing masks in there so we shopped every few days and then just made food and snacks when required.

Eating Out

In the area we were staying there were a lot of Taverna’s which we ate dinner at each evening. With it being so quiet we tried to spread our spending around and ate at as many different ones as we could. Safety wise it was amazing – all the tables were spaced out and we pretty much were always outside anyway. The tables all had disposable coverings, cutlery/napkins etc were delivered in sealed packets and they had even stopped having olive oil on the tables with it being replaced by single use sachets. All the waiting staff wore PPE, mainly a visor that covers just the mouth and nose that I haven’t really seen in the UK and we made sure we washed our hands often and used sanitiser gel. The people there were so friendly and it was clear that the pandemic is making things very tough for them. They couldn’t of been more accommodating and often we were given a free dessert or a Limoncello to drink after dinner to say thank you. We tipped everywhere we went knowing how much these businesses need the support.

Visiting Tourist Attractions

We didn’t know if we would visit anywhere ‘touristy’ as we wanted to make sure we were safe at all times. A few days into the trip we decided to drive up to one of the many mountainous peaks of the island which was easy to do in our hire car and there were only a few people around. We were already confident with eating out (see the section above) as the Greeks safety measures were impeccable. Nearer the end of the holiday we decided we were going to try and do one ‘big’ visit as the island has a world famous underground cave and lake – Melissani Cave which is often on travel bucket lists and not knowing if we would visit Kefalonia again didn’t want to miss seeing it.

Visiting the caves was a really great example of how the Greeks have adapted their tourism during the pandemic. For this attraction there was one pathway in and one pathway out, everyone we saw visiting wore masks of some kind and payment was contactless with sanitiser gel at the main contact points. The caves are accessed via row boat and there was only 2 ‘bubbles’ of people allowed on at any one time so social distancing could take place. All the staff wore masks and other PPE even those working in the gift shop. It was safe, well organised and everyone followed the rules. The caves themselves are amazing and I’m so glad we visited – even our 2 teenagers were impressed! The guide books are right – it really is a bucket list location.

Timing is Everything

Although we planned this trip carefully there no two ways about it – we were lucky too. We booked it at the right time while Covid19 cases were still quite steady but even while we were out there things were changing and Spain including the Balearics was put back under a 14 day quarantine. Its clear that at the moment nothing is certain when travelling and there are risks whatever you choose. We had had a trip cancelled in April but hadn’t booked a summer holiday before lockdown started which gave us the flexibility to create the holiday that best fitted the circumstances and it worked really well. Myself and my partner are key/essential workers and have worked continuously throughout lockdown as well as home-schooling three children so this break was much needed, both emotionally and physically. The week flew by and I can honestly say there is nothing I would change about it. Our Covid 19 holiday was a unique one but pretty damn awesome and I am so glad we did it!

See more on my Instagram here – http://www.instagram.com/blueskygirlie

Have you travelled this summer? Would you? Or would you rather stay in the UK this year? Whatever you choose enjoy yourself – this summer is a difficult one but life goes on (and economies need supporting or there will be no tourism next year) and with a few sensible precautions we can all enjoy doing the things we love with the people we love.

What did last year teach me?

I’ve been thinking about last year and what it taught me. Its already the end of February and the year is racing by, full of opportunities and unknowns.

So what did I learn in 2019? I learnt a lot but if I had to condense it down to 10 points I’d say…

Downs always lead to ups

In March 2019 I was made redundant (again) unexpectedly. The company involved treated me pretty shabbily and I limped away very low and anxious. I found a new role a few months later – one that pays a lot more and is a much bigger and better job and its a real reminder that theres ALWAYS light at the end of the tunnel.

Travelling is great but home is where the heart is

Last year I took some great trips with my favourite travelling companion – my fiancé Russ. Portugal, Turkey, London and some fab day outs too. But nothing beats getting home – it really is our calm from the storm and I love that this year we’ve also made our home even better (with more to come in 2020). Spending money on trips is nice but I truly believe improving your home and surrounding yourself with lovely things is the thing that gets you through the mundane day to day slog…

My body, my rules

I ran a lot in 2019. I dieted hard this year. I lost some weight and I toned up. I ran almost 950km. Its funny how lots of people have strong views on how we should look, what we should eat and opinions on other peoples bodies. I actually stopped posting my Strava runs on Facebook due to some snarky comments (and even an unfollow!) and made a rule for myself that no-one gets to tell you how to look and feel. The only person that matters in this is you. In 2020 I am relaxing this as I am finally starting to feel happy with myself – a lifelong battle for me.

Growing up is hard to do

So my son turned 13 in 2019. We’ve always been really close but I can feel it beginning. The gap forming. Theres a strange feeling, like experiencing a slow motion break up with a really loved boyfriend but you know it has to happen.

I look at him each day and can see him changing, growing, transforming into the adult he will someday become. Teenagers aren’t meant to be easy, and I’m sure it will get harder but for now I’m hanging on to all the cuddles and kisses I can get…

Know your worth

During my period of having no job in the Spring last year I suffered from a deep feeling of inadequacy. I have always been very hard on myself and when I was offered a job with a very (pretty much insulting) salary it hurt me deep in my soul. I suffer from low self esteem so any knock-back often makes me feel extremely agitated and critical about myself. I wondered if I should take it, try and make the best of it, almost thinking that was all I was worth but my ever supportive fiancé reminded me of who I was and what I offer. And you know what? A month or so later I was offered by current role on nearly double that salary!!!

Mental health matters

Exercise, self care, getting toxic people out your life and learning to recognise the behaviours that lead to repeated problems. Pretty standard but very hard to actually do. In 2019 I exercised a lot but also gave myself permission to relax which is something I find very hard to do. For me, little things really make a difference – having a good beauty routine, eating something yummy, reading a great book or just taking some time for myself away from the kids. I have started to learn I must always protect what is precious and my own wellbeing is key. It is not selfish to regular check-in with yourself and make sure you are feeling ok.

It doesn’t have to cost a lot to look great

I shopped a lot at Poundland in 2019…in fact I was borderline obsessed! This something that definitely wont change in 2020 – its an amazing shop! A zebra vase for £1 instead of £55 via Quail Ceramics? I’m in!!! Seriously though I’ve learnt that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to create a great look…

…which leads me to :

Creativity feeds the soul

In 2019 I let myself be creative again. I created craft projects, undertook DIY projects, made things for the children, watched documentaries and arts programmes and visited museums and art galleries. I didn’t always get it right, but I did have a jolly good go! The more I found outlets for my creativity the better I felt. It took my time and energy but I really did enjoy what I achieved.

Work hard, then work a bit harder

I had to really push myself in 2019 and worked very hard. I had to step up in to the biggest job I had taken since I had stepped back from my career to be with my son after my marriage ended. To be honest I always have been a hard worker and find it hard to rest but this year showed me to get what you want you have to work your ass off! I read a quote somewhere that said ‘theres is no such thing as luck, only hard work and perseverance’ and I have to agree… I have a lot of plans for 2020 so it looks like theres no relaxing for me yet!!!

Social media is a lie

One of the things that has caused me the most anxiety and ups and downs in 2019 is social media. As a marketer with a specialism in digital, I should know better but seeing peoples highlight reels constantly filled me with feelings of inadequacy, low self esteem and jealousy. I know much of this is photoshopped (often obviously) or faked but it still has a huge effect on me, especially when its via people I know. I know – stupid right? This year I started to manage this once and for all by unfollowing a lot of accounts on Instagram and blocking accounts I had a tendency to obsess on (exes, ex-friends, companies I used to work for, ones where the girls Facetune/Photoshop a lot etc). It hasnt been plain sailing, I’ve had some relaspes but I feel a lot better and am following professional advice I found on the internet about how to deal with unhealthy use of social media. Since I started talking about this, so many people have told me they feel the same/have been suffering from this too and I feel a lot less alone.

I dont expect you to agree with all of these, or even any of them, but these are some of the things I have come to realise over the last year. I personally don’t subscribe to the whole ‘new year, new start’ rubbish. No resolutions or a ridiculous idea to change my life because its January for me – I continue as I always do – pushing forward.

Ever forward. What an adventure…

Heres to 2020, the new roaring 20’s, a completely new decade… whatever it may bring!

Finding my body confidence with Playtex

So, anyone here truly love their body? Its a real challenge, right?

When Playtex contacted me to ask if I would like to pick an underwear set from their collection to try, I must admit I was a little torn. Their ranges were lovely but I knew to review it properly I really needed to show it on. And knowing that, was I ready for that level of blog…erm, openess? I thought about it and then realised I was being silly – I am very proud of everything I have achieved in the last few years and the changes to my body and fitness levels is one of the things I am proudest of (and have been the hardest to achieve).

So here I am, mum-tum, stretchmarks and all!!! Taa Daa!!!

I have been a fan of Playtex for a long time now, in fact my first bra was Playtex so its definitely a brand I have a warm affection for. These days however, fit is key for me with any lingerie I buy as smooth lines and a great silhouette can make all the difference as your body changes as you get older.

Playtex have some beautiful styles of lingerie currently and with that in mind I went for a set from the Perfect Silhouette range. I chose my normal sizes and went for the 34D in the bra and the small (UK10) in the knickers. This set came with high waisted shaping briefs which is perfect for me as I hate a low knicker that cuts across my tummy.

As you can see the fit is quite functional but with a sexy look to it still. The set is made from an innovative, dense, stretchy microfibre with detailing of transparent tulle panelling. The bra is underwired with dense microfibre cups that shape and lift your bust, creating a defined silhouette and the high-waisted briefs feature invisible stomach support for a flattening effect.

I found the fit really good – the bra was a perfect fit for me, offering the right amount of coverage and support and was smooth under my clothing. For a high-waisted pant briefs were a tiny bit low for me, but to be fair I like a really high pant in this kind of set. They still fitted me well, definitely smoothed my tummy (the area of my body I am most self conscious of) and were comfortable to wear all day.

I really liked this set, it fitted well and made me feel good. It looked great but was still the type of set you could wear for everyday use. Playtex have definitely lived up to my expectations but more than that I love the fact they want to feature real women wearing their products. As a woman over 40, its sometimes really hard to visualise yourself in products you see online and generally you don’t get to see real bodies with all their perceived imperfections. Beautiful lingerie is for everybody and its lovely Playtex recognise that. Taking these photos have really made me question why we are so frightened to show ourselves. My body is strong and healthy, has given me a beautiful son, is loved madly by my partner (his words), ran almost 1000km last year and lets be honest – is the only one I’ve got, so loving it is the only real choice there is. So, did I find my confidence? Well, if this blog is anything to go by I’d say YES!!!

Do you like this set too? Find the bra I am wearing here and find the briefs here. Not sure of your size? Find everything you need here.

*I was gifted this product but all views stated are my own. For more information please see my disclaimer section.

Skin Chemists Pure Collagen 5% Biphase Serum

Pure Collagen 5% Biphase Serum – not the catchiest name but Skin Chemists create products that aren’t created to just be pretty on the surface, they are products that work…and they work really well.

I use a lot of Skin Chemists products and picked this one as it is aimed at more mature skin…plus its pink – and who doesn’t want more pink in their lives? Collagen is a big deal in skincare and I wanted to see if it could make a difference to my 40 plus skin which is now starting to show its age.

The product itself is contained in a 30ml size glass bottle with pipette top for easy dispensing. It is pink in colour, almost glittery when you mix it and has no smell. A water based product I found it was easier to dispense it on a pad to apply it to my skin. You shake the serum for a few seconds to activate it and then apply 2-3 drops to cleansed skin before using any other creams or moisturisers. Its absorbs really quickly, doesn’t feel greasy and a little goes a long way.

This version of Skin Chemists Biphase serum comprises of two layers (the Bi, in the Biphase) which work in unison – the anti-ageing powerhouse that is Collagen with the freshness and versatility of water.

According to Skin Chemists, with its ability to promote skin cell renewal, Collagen is able to give a smooth effect on the skin’s surface to reveal a glowing complexion. Retaining a healthy skin barrier is essential in achieving a supple complexion, and Collagen has a high capacity for water retention, so helps to protect and maintain this for more youthful looking skin.

What the product claims to do:

  • Promotes glowing, vibrant skin to keep youthful appearance
  • Smooths fine lines and wrinkles to restore skin’s elasticity
  • Minimises and eliminates scarring

What Skin Chemists say are its key benefits:

  • Collagen in the skin is the key to building block to regain the structural integrity of a young face
  • Protecting and maintaining the skin’s natural oil barrier to achieve a supple, moisturised complexion

If you are concerned about fine lines or dryness, or want to improve the appearance of your skin’s texture, elasticity and firmness then this might be a product you want to add in to your skin care routine. I think this is definitely a product that works best for slightly more mature skins – on a more mature skin (I am 46) you can feel the difference within days.

The lightweight formulation means that is easily absorbed into clean skin and makes it feel smooth to the touch straight away. I could feel the wider effects quite quickly and after a week or so of using it, started to look forward to applying it each night!

So, is Collagen the miracle ingredient we have been led to believe it is?

I’d say its not far off – and this serum is an affordable way to start discovering its benefits. After using it for a week or so, the difference in my skins texture was clearly visible and made my face feel more supple and dare I say, slightly more youthful! I love the simple and effective vibe of this product – it doesn’t need gimmicks, flash packaging or advertising, it just works!!!

This clever little product costs £29.90 and is available here.

Find the full Biphase range here – I’m interested to see if the other two products in the range, Caviar and Hyaluronic Acid work as well as this one does.

I’m going to bet they do…

*I was gifted this product but all views stated are my own. For more information please see my disclaimer section.

Weekend Project: Upcycling a 1960’s Bar Cart

I have wanted to buy a bar cart for our lounge for some time but was put off by the prices. Even a basic one from somewhere like West Elm or Oliver Bonas was over £150 and I just couldn’t justify that kind of cost for what is really quite a frivolous item. I should also add I am 100% teetotal and have been for many years but that still doesn’t stop me wanting to make cocktails. It does however make me want to find a cost effective way to have a drink trolley in the house…

I couldn’t believe it when I was pottering in our local Emmaus charity furniture store and lent up against the wall I saw a 1960’s drinks trolley. It was a bit dirty and had onyx effect shelves which wouldn’t go with anything I own but it was a great size and had a fantastic gold coloured frame.

And the best bit? The man there sold it to me for just £5!!!

Once I got it home I started planning how I would upcycle it and decided a black version of the onyx effect shelves it had been designed with would look the best. The iconic Blue Peter staple – sticky back plastic (now rebranded as self adhesive film) – is an amazing way to change things as it is cheap, easy to use and comes in a huge variety of colours, patterns and sizes.

So, how did I do it?

What you’ll need:

Getting Started:

Firstly I cleaned the entire trolley making sure it was clear of dust or anything that would stop the film sticking. I then measured the surfaces I wanted to cover, loosely cut out the film I was going to use and then in stages adhered it to the flat surface working slowly and methodically. Every couple of inches I would use the scraper to make sure there were no air bubbles and the film was nice and flat.

Once the whole surface was covered I used a Stanley knife to cut into the carts metal edges and carefully removed the excess film. Top Tip: If you do get the odd air bubble take a pin and make a tiny hole in it. Then go over it again with the scraper. It will then disappear.

Once the top was done I repeated the process all over again to cover the bottom section.

A quick wipe down and a final hard scrape of the film to make sure it was well and truly stuck and I had finished my weekend project! And here is the finished item – I have styled it with a mix of 1960’s vintage and some new items and with the stylised mid century trolley design it makes for a great retro vibe…

Cocktail shaker/Dunelm Mill, bar tool set/Sainburys Home, smoked glass items/vintage, swizzle sticks/eBay

Fluted 1960’s glasses/Vintage, clear hi balls & tumblers/Amazon

Cocktail shaker/Dunelm Mill, bar tool set/Sainburys Home, smoked glass items/vintage

I’m really pleased with the way it turned out. What do you think?

The best bit is I have a real 1960’s version of what I wanted which fits in to my home perfectly and have also upcycled a piece of unwanted furniture which might of ended up at the dump otherwise.

I can’t wait for it to take pride of place in our lounge when it is redecorated. Now, who wants a drink?

Dinner Date: The Pearsons Arms, Whitstable, Kent

Last Friday I was very lucky to be asked to try the Pearsons Arms in Whitstable for dinner.

Located just off the beach in beautiful Whitstable in Kent, this cosy pub serves wholesome food with a seafood bias using locally sourced ingredients (the oysters are literally caught 100m away!), speciality ales and seasonal specials. They also have a great vegetarian and vegan menu.

We chose to visit on a sunny evening in late June for a rare parental event…a date night! Whitstable is always lovely to visit and the Pearsons Arms is perfectly located for a romantic evening meal…

So the important bit – what did we eat and how did it taste?

The Starters

To start we picked a selection of ‘small plate’ starters to share. The Pearsons Arms recommend two plates per person so we went for the mini chorizo sausages with a Worcestershire glaze, Baked Camembert and toasted baguette, Minted lamb meatballs in tomato sauce and mini fishcakes with Gribiche sauce. They all came out together on wooden platters and were utterly delicious! The servings were generous and we adored it all. If you are visiting and fancy just a drink and a snack I would definitely recommend these – there’s lots more to choose from including ribs, olives, squid, scotch eggs, oysters and prawns.

The Mains

Being so close to the sea, and seafood clearly being a speciality, we both decided to go for a seafood main course. I went for the half Lobster (my first time eating Lobster – exciting!) and Russ went for the Dover Sole.

Both were delicious – the Lobster was served either in a garlic or chilli butter (I went for garlic) and Russ’ Dover sole was served with new potatoes and buttered Kentish greens. Both arrived piping hot and tasted great.

And finally (of course) dessert!

For once we both went for the same option – Eton Mess. One of my all time favourites it was served with Chantilly cream, vanilla ice cream and a generous sprinkling of fresh mint – I ate mine so fast I forget to take a decent photo of it!!!

The inside of the Pearsons Arms is just as good as the food….think shabby chic, with a slightly nautical vibe and a cosy atmosphere.

And the view as the sun goes down is just perfect…

The Pearsons Arms also has some great live music on Tuesdays and Sundays, a Fish & Chip night on Tuesdays and a Steak Night on Thursdays so its worth checking the website to see whats on.

We loved our visit and will definitely be returning soon – I think it would be a great place to bring our boys too as the children’s menu looked great so maybe our next visit will be as a group of five!

*This meal was provided at no charge in return for this review but all views are my own. For more information please see my disclaimer section

Craft Project: Create an Easter Centrepiece

I love Easter. Whether or not you celebrate it from a religious perspective (I don’t) or as the start of Spring ( Easter with its eggs, flowers and rabbits has its roots from Pagan celebrations—particularly the pagan goddess Eostre – the ancient Germanic goddess of spring, just saying), just enjoy the bank holidays and love it as some special extra family time or just use it as an excuse to have a few chocolate treats, there is so much to enjoy about it.

This year I decided to make an Easter decoration display which I could place on our Easter dinner table and have displayed throughout Easter holding chocolate eggs.

I’m really pleased with how it turned out…

What you’ll need –

All these items were from Poundland and cost me £5.

Artificial grass runner/nest set/ceramic bunnies – all Poundland

The flowers cost me £2 a stem and the Easter decorations £1 each so in total I spent £12 on this project – plus the cost of some chocolate of course!

Large daisy stem – Wilkinsons/Wooden Easter plaques – Asda/Chick decoration – Tescos/Small daisy stem / eBay

Once you have all your parts (feel free to tweak to your own taste) you will also need a glue gun and scissors.

How to make your centrepiece-

Detach all the flowers from their stems and discard the green parts. Trim them tight to the flower part so they lay completely flat. Remove the pre-stuck polystyrene eggs from the small nest from the Poundland nest set and also discard – something much cuter is going in that!

Stick the two nests down in the centre of the artificial grass runner in a slight staggered design then add a mixture of cut artificial daisies to your grass runner and secure using a glue gun (you could use super glue if you don’t have a glue gun). I mixed the sizes to create a stylised effect and concentrated on the corners of the ‘grass’.

Once everything is dry, place your other decorations. With the nests in the centre, I added the larger wooden plaques with a ceramic bunny to one end and the 2 other ceramic bunnies to the other end.

Then place the chick decoration in the smaller nest. How cute is he?!?

To finish it all off, fill the large nest with chocolate eggs. I chose Cadburys Mini eggs but any easter treats will work! I also added a couple more daisies to the centrepiece.

And your Easter centrepiece is complete! Including the chocolate this project cost less than £15 and can be packed away and used next year. I love the idea of making traditions for our children and they love it and I’m sure will want to use it year after year!

All you have to do now is not eat all of the eggs at once! Happy Easter and enjoy!!!

Visiting the Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N experience – Excel, London

Ever dreamed of being recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D.?  We visited the Avengers exhibition at The Excel centre in London and tbh its probably the closest you’ll get! Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. (Scientific Training and Tactical Intelligence Operative Network), is an immersive and interactive experience that explores the science behind the Avengers and tests whether or not you yourself have what it takes to be an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D...

We visited with 4 12year old boys and its fair to say they loved it!!!

Located at the back of Londons Excel centre, in its own purpose built building, you travel through various themed rooms until you reach a 4D Interactive game at the end.

Although reviews were mixed we booked tickets for six of us (using a voucher website to receive a slight discount on the ticket prices). You can book a time-slot so waiting time is reduced and the nearby Excel centre has food and toilets.

The props and tech used in this exhibition are really good. The most famous Avengers have their own rooms and interactive games, and the lesser known ones are grouped together with lots of on screen information, costume displays and other interesting titbits!

Amongst other exhibits, you can hold Hulks hand, ride Captain Americas bike or hold his shield, Follow Antmans ants or try and lift Thors hammer! I failed 😦

One of the things I liked best about it was the level of detailed information. As a fan you can read the ‘science’ behind all the characters and their stories as if they were real, studied phenomenons. What to know how the Rainbow Bridge forms? How Wakandas communication devises operate? What each Infinity stone does? How Captain America went from skinny boy to super-soldier? Its all here waiting to be discovered!

The whole thing is immersive and everything presented as it it is real. The team working the event are there as SHIELD operatives and you are kept in this bubble the whole way round. You wont find any mention of comic books or actors names here!

We didn’t queue very long for anything apart from the interactive games in Tony Starks lab (which our 12yo’s loved) and photography is allowed and easy to do as there aren’t crowds as only so many people are let in per time-slot.

After slowly making our way through the exhibition (I’d give yourself at least an hour if you want to enjoy the interactive parts) you then get ushered into a final room, split into teams and all given ipods to play an interactive Avengers game. This is great fun and a really good way to end the experience.

There is also a large gift shop (no cash, card only) and an opportunity have have a souvenir photo done, digitally posing with the Avengers.

Me, my sons and their friends really enjoyed this experience and I’m really glad we went. I would say its best added to doing something else in London if you were coming for a day out as it doesn’t last that long but for any Marvel fan it is a must see!!!

Due to extra demand this experience is now running till the 28th of April. Book your tickets here. Able to be flexible? Find selected Groupon offers here.

What happened to Valentines Day?

Ok, lets get this out the way…I HATE the modern day version of Valentines Day.

I bet you’re thinking – well I guess she’s some super grumpy, unromantic person who hates all this love and fuss stuff? Ironically that couldn’t be further from the truth. Let me explain…

In an age before the internet, social media, Tinder, non stop advertising and the media trying to convince us we should all live/look/spend like the rich and famous whatever our income; a pretty paper card sent anonymously to a loved one was an adorable way to show that you loved/liked/wanted to court them. It was personal and coy and sweet and seemingly now something of a time gone by…Let me tell you a bit about me – I would describe myself as a very romantic person. I tell my fiancé lots of times through the day I love him (as he does to me), send romantic messages and notes, go on date nights, take time to look after myself and look nice/wear pretty lingerie etc (because it makes me feel good – making my boyfriend smile is an added bonus), spend time cuddled upon the sofa in the evenings and generally make time to do things that will make him feel loved, appreciated and wanted. I love being in love and couldn’t imagine living any other way. I don’t dislike the idea of Valentines Day…I hate what marketing and the media has made the day become.

I think because I am a romantic person who loves to make a fuss of the people I care for, it makes me hate the whole concept of the modern day Valentines Day even more. Let me tell you why…

Its fake – So who was St Valentine? The saint of Beekeepers and Epilepsy amongst other things. Why do we celebrate Valentines Day? Well that one is full of debate. One thing is for sure – the whole thing is a mix of other celebrations and twisted to fit in with a modern day event created to sell stuff.

It encourages people to spend money have on things they don’t need – Valentines Day is a marketing dream (I should know, its what I do!). Adverts begin weeks ahead, stores replace their Christmas stock with Valentines stock, magazines tell us instead of a £5 box of chocolates and a card, we should buy the person we love a £200 designer watch because bigger is better and we start to get brainwashed by it all.

A whole industry has emerged created fun ‘novelty’ gifts no-one in their right mind would want – Everyone loves a teddy with a heart on, pair of fluffy handcuffs or fabric rose don’t they? Oh right, they don’t. And don’t get me started on things like chocolate body paint…

There’s some women who use it to make other women feel like lesser beings – There’s always those people who want to show you their huge bouquet of roses, heart shaped balloons, diamond earrings etc. Good for them…but show offs are never fun to be around and there’s a competitive, nasty side to it that I just don’t like. Ladies we don’t need to be like this!

Men generally don’t like it – You know when another ‘special’ day exactly a month later is created (it involves steak and other things men love – see the cheeky details here) by men for men, that Valentines Day is not a thing men on the whole want to be forced to do. There is of course, lots of romantic men out there but who wants to be told when and how you should be romantic?

Its creates ‘the pressure’ – The pressure to buy gifts, the pressure to book an expensive restaurant, the pressure to send flowers, the pressure to have sex that night whether you want to really or not, the pressure to out-do your friends. If you’re single there’s pressure to be in a relationship as that’s what society tells us will make us happy…well, I know quite a few people in relationships who seem utterly miserable. Anything to do with love should feel free, not forced.Whether you are single or in a relationship we all know the truth – we are being manipulated. Don’t be told when to be romantic – in fact if you’re anything like me make an effort of be romantic EVERY day…and don’t expect a present because of it. Do it because you want to. Do it because being in love compels you to do so. For me that’s what true love should do…and the rewards are much better than getting a gift you’ve guilted your other half into buying you.

Personally this Valentines Day, I will choose a card, write a heartfelt message and that night have dinner, watch TV, kiss and cuddle and then go to bed with the man I love just like I would any other night.And you know what? Life is about freedom of choice – if you truly love the whole idea of Valentines Day then go for it – the candlelit dinner, expensive gifts, rose petals on the bed, slow-mo sex; whatever says ‘love’ to you!

But do it because you want to…and don’t share it all over your social media for the attention and likes – the odd pic might be cute but your whole evening?  Intimate moments of love should be for 2 not 200. True love is the most precious thing we can have in our lives – lets not cheapen it – its worth far more than that.All photos via my Instagram – to follow me (its not all romance I promise!) click here.