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.

Creating Peace of Mind with Smart-Will

Did you know in England and Wales, when you die without a will, the law decides who gets your assets and how your possessions are distributed. Pretty scary, huh?

Having a will, even a simple one, can help ensure that your partner can continue to live in your shared home, your children are looked after by the people you desire, sentimental possessions are passed on to those you wish to have them and your assets and finances are distributed according to your wishes. Recently I’ve been thinking about the past, the future and the responsibilities of being a mum. Its a lot to think about, so anything that can make life a bit easier definitely has to be a good thing.

We have quite a complicated family set up being a very loving and close, but blended family. We have four children between us, three who are still dependent on us and will be for some time, so getting ‘our house in order’ was extremely important. I have a will but it is very out of date and lists people in it I would definitely now not want to benefit from my estate and my partner has never had a will. I kept meaning to do something, wrote notes for myself, wrote down some ideas but never seemed to find the time to actually do it.

But where do you start?

When Smart-Will approached me and asked if I would be interesting in trying their app based will writing service, after checking them out online and looking at their reviews I could see this could be an easy and simple way to get wills in place for myself and my fiancé.

The aim at Smart-Will is to take the stress out of writing a Will and enable you to take control of the process, allowing you to easily produce a legally sound Will that accurately reflects your wishes on what will happen when you die.

The app itself is really easy to use. Once you register you go through a series of questions and choices to create the Will you need. You can create a single Will or a Mirror Will (these are virtually identical Wills where one person in a couple leaves their estate to the other in the event of their passing away. The most common type are when one spouse leaves everything to their spouse and then to their children). This was the type of Will my fiancé and I decided on.

The app has simple drop downs and tabs to select to make each step very simple. For a Mirror Will you go through the process twice, once for yourself and once for your partner.

The app itself is easy to use and free of jargon. The Will you create can be tailored to suit your exact circumstances, giving you the freedom to appoint the executors of your choice and divide your estate between your chosen beneficiaries as you wish. Leaving gifts of money, specific possessions or gifts of money to charity, is made easy using the menus within each step.

Some of the questions might make you feel a little uncomfortable, as its not easy thinking about death and dying but all all know we need to think about them. As well as the financial details of the Wills themselves, you will also need to think about some big questions such as choosing a guardian for your children and if you want to be buried or cremated.

If your funeral is something you want to sort out at the same time, Smart-Will is able to offer assistance with funeral arrangements, and even offers clients the choice to indicate they’d like to have their ashes scattered high above the earth, at the edge of space!

Once all the steps are completed you view a summary and check you are happy with all your answers and choices. Their online app means once you’ve created your Will on your phone or tablet you can choose to utilise their free secure storage so that you can be assured that your Will is in safe hands.

As well as all this, the help they offer extends beyond simply helping you create a Will; when you appoint them as professional executors, they will obtain fixed fee probate quotes from local solicitors, to ensure your family and loved ones benefit from the best value services available at no extra cost. Within the process they explain how to choose an executor and why you may want to have a professional executor which is the choice I made.

With this being a modern solution for both creating and managing your Will, Smart-Will offer free updates to your Will for life. This was important to me as we all know that our circumstances change over the course of our lives, and I wanted a Will that was flexible and could grow and change as my life did. However if you need something bespoke or more complicated they can do that too – find all the fees here.

All in all I found the process simple and stress free. The Wills we have chosen are quite simple but work for us right now. Plus the peace of mind I now have knowing we have something legally binding in place protecting our family is a great feeling. I am waiting to receive my copy of our Wills but in the meantime I know they exist and are stored safely as part of the Will writing service. So that just leaves the question – are you looking for some peace of mind too?

The Smart-Will app is available for IOS here and Android here.

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

Love your Face & the Planet: I&G Eco Natural Make Up Remover Kit

Do you worry about the amount of waste you are creating? I definitely do, particularly within my beauty regime, from the amount of single use plastics in my products packaging, to using baby wipes that I know go in to landfill, to the minuscule plastic beads found in body scrubs. Like most women, I cleanse my face each night using cotton wool pads and throw them straight in the bin sometimes using two or three at a time.

Cotton wool is not recyclable and the disposable nature of it makes it not only wasteful but also harmful to the environment. Harmful pesticides are used in the farming of cotton and the cotton farming industry is a major source of environmental pollution using almost one quarter of all the world’s insecticides and 10% of all pesticides. During the production of cotton cleansing pads, chemicals are used that will eventually leach into the sea, rivers and soil when the pad is disposed of. The argument to not use cotton wool is a powerful one but for most of us with busy lives (oh hello full time job, blended family, part time business) it’s often hard to not take the easiest option.

Enter I&G Eco… A fantastic small brand aiming to do big things. They say – “We believe, looking after our planet is the responsibility of all of us and small acts multiplied by millions of people can transform the world. Join in and make a difference!”

The I&G Eco natural make-up remover kit is a great little set comprising of 16 x bamboo makeup remover pads, 2 x sisal soap bags and a cotton mesh wash bag all packaged in recyclable packaging.

So, what do you get in the box?

You get 16 super soft bamboo makeup pads. These are made of 100% bamboo fabric, great quality, biodegradable and according to the packaging, BPA and polyester free so it doesn’t impact the environment like ordinary single-use cotton wool pads. They are machine washable and can be washed up to 1000 times each.   

Also included are 2 sisal soap pouches meaning you can use your favourite soap and stop using single plastic use shower gel bottles. You simply put a bar of soap inside the pouch and gently massage your body to exfoliate dead skin. You can also use smaller bits of soap together as the bag holds them all together, making your soaps go much further.

The final piece of the set is a cotton mesh wash bag which you can place your used pads in as you use them ready for washing. I washed my pads weekly in the mesh bag and they washed very well. The bag also doubles as a storage or travel bag keeping everything neat and tidy.

There is a lot to like about this set – it is obviously a great idea and eco friendly but it also is a really nice beauty product too. The pads themselves are so soft, very easy to use and wash really well. I was concerned after using and washing them a few times they would start to feel a bit ‘scraggy’ and not fresh like a new cotton wool pad but I can honestly say they feel lovely every time I have used them. They are a larger size than I expected too and have 2 layers meaning you can use both sides during make-up removal and the pad still feels clean, soft and fresh.

After going cotton wool free for a few weeks now, I am really feeling the love with this set, the brand and its ideals. We have developed into a throw-away society, filling up our environment with rubbish that we cannot dispose of and something has to change. Doing my bit for the planet without comprising on everyday time-savers is what I strive for and by simply swapping to clever eco friendly and sustainable products like this can really help the environment, as well as saving a bit of money in the long run too.

This set is ideal for all types of skin, plus can be used on adults, children and even babies. The bamboo pads can be used for applying beauty products, such as toners and serums as well as the removal of all types of make-up, even really heavy applications.

I really liked the feeling of the pads on my skin and found they removed all my make-up while absorbing the Micellar water I use each night. They all washed really well and the additional soap bags made me consider my other toiletry usage and look at where I could be more eco friendly.

So, will I go back to good old cotton wool?

Its a 100% no from me!!! Using bamboo pads is definitely the way forward – they work great and fit in to my busy life really well.  And best of all – no waste and no guilt!

Want to try this fab kit for yourself?  The I&G Eco natural make up remover kit costs £12.99 and can be bought from Amazon here or directly via the I&G Eco website.

It’s time to start making a difference…

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

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.