Festival Party Inspiration • Livestock Festival 2016

There's so many reasons I adore Ollie, my smallest boy, but reason 47956398 has got to be the day he asked for a festival birthday party.

In his whole life he's only ever had one experience of a proper festival at Livestock in Longdon last year. Not quite the tiniest dancing around the hay bales but definitely one of the most enthusiastic! I'd always had in my mind that festivals would be difficult with children, but I couldn't have been more wrong. The scale of some of the huge events totally overwhelms me but our day up in Gloucestershire was the perfect introduction. 

Decked out in our brightest colourful clothes we headed north for a day of music, good food and entertainment for the boys. I'd read up online beforehand about the children's tents and was so impressed at how they had been so well thought of. A science demonstration, animals to pet and learn about and the highlight for Ollie - a circus skills area. His little determination trying to balance the diabolo under his chin made my heart melt.

We timed our day trip perfectly, heading up for the last day of the festival on the Sunday. The staff seemed relaxed, a mix of pride that the event had gone so well and relief that it was drawing to a close, there was banter at the bars and you could see they had worked their socks off for days. We found it far less busy than we expected which was a good thing as I know our boys would have been overwhelmed in a huge crowd. We whipped around every section of the kid's tents, barely keeping up with our excitable boys who were desperate to try it all!

Face painting, pottery, crafts, a science demonstration - you name it we did it! They LOVED the circus skills area as did Rich and I wandered off for 15 minutes to snap some photos and people watch. There was a complete mix of families, couples lying on picnic blankets with their heads resting on a hay bale, groups of younger music fans, retired seasoned festival goers and everything in between. It really made us smile seeing this eclectic group come together, dancing, cheering and clinking plastic cups full of cider. 

I think we managed to eat everything on offer that day, mooching from the pulled pork stand to the Mexican burritos and stopping to pick up a pizza for the boys which they balanced on their knees, pausing every 3 minutes to run and jump around to the band. There was plenty of choice and everything was really reasonable, and by the end of the day you could feel that sense of real achievement around the field. 

We sauntered back to the car park, passed the circus entertainers leap frogging each other and the bouncy castles who were getting ready to head home. It was a wonderful whirlwind of a day and we couldn't have asked for sunnier skies. 

A perfect start to a new love.

The only slight downside with festival weekends is it's like the weather just knows you want it to be dry and sends you all the rain it has stored up in the clouds for winter. I'm hoping that we get a gorgeous day like our visit to Livestock last year!

We've managed to sort a disco dome bouncy castle, I've found a DJ who isn't afraid of setting up under the pergola and I've briefed all the mums and dads on the colour run finale! Now you see why we need sunshine! I love the rainbow colour theme and now need to think just how much bunting I need to make and buy to bring a multi colour extravaganza to the garden! 

I'm thinking hot dogs and burgers, a make shift cheeky bar for the grown ups and party bags stuffed with temporary tattoos and wristbands. I think I love the planning as much as the party itself! Come and follow my Pinterest board to see what crazy ideas I have in mind...

If you are local to Gloucestershire and are looking for a great day out as a family or a group of friends wanting to camp at a festival over the weekend then check out the ticket details for this year's Livestock. This year it's like a blast from my pre teen past. Jason Donovan and Chesney Hawkes are playing! I guarantee the whole of Tewkesbury will be able to hear the crowd singing "I am the one and only!"

We were given tickets to Livestock 2015 and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. 

Jet Set Sail • Celebrity Cruises • Barcelona

There have been a handful of times in my life when I have felt like a very important person. Swishing around like a princess in an ivory wedding dress, even as I got out of the car to droplets of rain outside the church, I felt like someone very special as I lifted the tulle netting underneath the skirt and gathered it up into my arms. I can remember walking down the steps built into the rocks at The Cliff restaurant in Barbados on a pre baby holiday, passing Gary Linekar on the stairs and gasped when I saw the flaming torches lighting up the beautifully laid tables over looking the Stingrays gliding through the lapping shore. I can vividly remember thinking wow, I feel so lucky to be here. And stepping out of the taxi to the private jet terminal at Stansted Airport a few weeks ago set the tone for another special experience. 

I'd been invited to join the inaugural Jet Set Sail flight to Barcelona with Celebrity Cruises, a brand new initiative to start your holiday with Celebrity as you mean to go on. There was a sense of calmness and measured excitement given the early hour, with everyone almost gliding around the plush carpet and holding glasses of Prosecco in their hands. No harsh "Bing bong flight number..." announcements over the tannoy making you wince at 6am, just an array of smiling faces, elegantly dressed Celebrity staff gently asking if the soon to be cruisers needed any help with their hand luggage or paperwork. There were no frantic dashes to the check in desk, no other halves waiting anxiously at the terminal doors looking out for their partners who had taken the car to the airport parking, everyone had driven right up to the hanger, parked and breezed onto the red carpet. Literally.

The trouble is when you know this is how you can travel, it makes you never want to go back! No long queues at security, streams of people corralled towards the scanners like sheep about to be dipped, no trek to the departure gate which you just know always happens to be the furthest away leaving you a little breathless when you hand over your boarding card. Oh no, this is the way to travel and for much less than you'd think. 

I am a girl with impossibly high expectations and the difference between the private jet terminal and the norm that I have experienced was quite remarkable. There was plenty of seating in the contemporarily decorated departures lounge, magazines and papers to read, a mezzanine level for those wanting a quieter space and spotlessly clean floors with coffee, tea and pastries on tap for anyone feeling peckish before a two course breakfast on board. People pottered up to the refreshments bar and could help themselves or be served by one of the well presented terminal staff. 

One of my favourite things about airports is people watching and I loved looking around at groups of friends chinking their glasses of bubbly toasting the beginning of their holiday and others thumbing their slightly dog eared brochures from their hand luggage, that have obviously been excitedly flicked through over the last few months.

The very best thing for me about jetting off from the private terminal is the difference in time. No two hour mooch at what feels like the crack of sparrows around half empty shops, meandering in a sort of zombie like state looking for mints and a bottle of water to fling in your handbag, that's already stuffed with expensive children's magazines that come with an unnecessarily large free plastic toy, just a very civilised hour from arriving to boarding the aeroplane. 

I was in a lovely group of travel bloggers and cruise journalists and we hung back letting the other passengers embark the plane first and settled into our seats. There's allocated seating so no jostling or splitting families, 31 inch rows of seats slightly larger than your standard economy flight and a bottle of water on the seat waiting for you. Aeroplane food can be notoriously bad, especially scrambled eggs I find, but the breakfast was delicious and before I remembered to reach for my camera I'd eaten the lot! 

The flight to Barcelona felt quick and easy and as we all chatted non stop throughout the flight, I had to admit that I'd never really considered a cruise holiday before and felt a little intimidated by this great hunk of metal on the sea.

Luckily the Celebrity team from the Marketing Department who joined us for the trip are the experts in the cruise way of life and instantly put me at ease. To be honest I had never stood next to a ship, only ever seen them in photos or online and heard about what they are like inside from family who regularly book. We landed in almost the same soggy weather I'd been drenched in on our wedding day but our great British spirit wasn't to be dampened and we oohed and aahed through the coach windows as we headed to the port.

It sounds like an obvious thing to say but the ship was vast. It made me feel like a tiny ant scuttling along the rope line to the security point at the entrance to the ship. As you stand on the dock and crane your neck backwards to take in every floor right to the top of the open deck, it makes you feel almost childlike, and I instantly remembered that feeling of being dwarfed by the giant sixth formers at school. 

There was a dedicated queuing system for those who had booked the Jet Set Sail experience as as our line tootled past the other passengers one remarked in jest that they had picked the wrong queue, to which I explained that we had arrived in style from Stansted and she elbowed her husband and said next time we need to book that. You can board the ship for most of the day before the 4pm sailing time. But I suspect the dreadful weather meant that more passengers chose to arrive a little earlier rather than stop for lunch in Barcelona en route and we all made our way through the gift shop and supplies stands to the gangway.

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We waited at one of the crew boarding points and it was fascinating to see the change over in staff as we cleared security with the personnel on duty. It's a multicultural word on board, so many languages, ages and loyal staff who have worked on the Celebrity liners for years. The staff fly into Barcelona which is the home of the Equinox when not at sea from all over the world. The operation beneath the cabins is extraordinary. I got a very sneak peek on a whistle stop tour of the main facilities on board at the staff quarters and you cannot believe the hustle and bustle compared to the more serene atmosphere in the rest of the ship. Luggage trolleys on auto drive delivering thousands of suitcases to individual cabins, crisp white polo shirts darting in and out of doorways in contrast to the soft music transcending throughout the upper decks with the glass elevators giving you a real sense of scale as you hop between levels. 

The main atrium is grand but not gaudy and the ship in it's entirety was elegantly decorated with each bar, restaurant and lounge area having it's own unique identity. The sound of the musicians flooded the main staircase and you couldn't help but stop to take in the beautiful orchestral music. 

The upside to a rainy departure day is that everyone mills about inside. It was heart warming to see couples sat with their feet up, paper or book in hand, drink resting on the table beside them, tiny droplets of condensation from the freezing cold ice slowly dripping down the side of the tumbler. People relaxing. Friends at the bar, perched on bar stools exchanging banter with the barmen and watching their cocktail shaking and making skills.

We headed straight to the Luminae restaurant for lunch which is open for Suite Class passengers, which was much smaller than I expected. In a good way! I was under the impression that cruise ships is all about scale and size and it was a pleasant surprise to sit in a much more intimate setting. It's fine dining that fills you up. Exquisitely presented dishes from an ample choice of menu and the simple white decor had a romantic and serene feel about it. All three courses were delicious, the portions were very generous and we passed around dishes to snap our blog photos. We raised glasses full of wine to a happy 24 hours and spent the next hour learning more about what life is like on board.    

The challenge with just 24 hours from start to finish is that we wanted to see as much as possible in as short a time as possible! And a few of us who hadn't been on board the Equinox before whizzed through the main decks led by the Marketing Director who knew every inch of the ship and put passengers at ease with welcoming hellos and good afternoons as we raced through the lounges, main restaurant, lawn club and spa.

There was a ripple of excitement and anticipation, you could tell those who were seasoned cruisers who had settled into life at sea within minutes and those who were getting more familiar with the ship's layout and flicking through the on board guides, discussing the first stop. We snuck into the theatre where a guide to all the destinations on the cruise was being held and walked at pace through the casino, slipped around the back of the jaw dropping glass wine rack, the highlight of the main dining room, which offers flexible dining options from 6pm to 9.30pm. It was good to know that you could chose whether you wanted to share a table or whether you preferred to eat just with your travel companion something I assumed was just a given. That shared tables were standard cruise practise. But you could see people making friends in those first few hours and why the split level dining area works so well. 

There are times when you wish it was sunny and times when it's quite handy it's not and for me heading out to view the pool ad jacuzzi area was one of those. The fierce rain meant the pools were empty and I got to capture just how beautifully laid out the loungers are, the perfect symmetry in design and I loved wandering down into the indoor pool and spa seeing the uniform X's on the wooden loungers. There's almost military perfectionism and style to the pool areas and passengers were already taking full advantage of the Canyon Ranch spa with acupuncture treatments to one side and massages to another. It made you want to strip to your bathers and join them!

Dotted around the indoor pool are heavenly pods and hammocks overlooking the ocean. Room for two, a good book with a glass of something at the ready. It was something out of a picture perfect glossy brochure except it was real. And I kept thinking about the lucky people who would be whiling away a few dreamy hours gently rocking as the ship powers through the waves of the Mediterranean. 

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I managed to see the bright lights of the on board nightclub, get a proper look at the children's club areas which were immaculately clean and well designed for the different age groups. Quite frankly they would be as spoilt in the kid's club as you would be having dinner by yourselves!

We all met back at the gangway and gathered our overnight bags to head into the city. I had grand plans to take in as many of the streets and sights of Barcelona as possible that afternoon but the weather had other ideas. And it actually worked brilliantly. Because instead of everyone splitting up and heading in different directions we all sat in the hotel bar for the next 4 hours, chatting, laughing and getting to know each other over Barcelona's best G&Ts. I got to really pick their brains about what makes a Celebrity Cruise different to their competitors and why people travel with them over and over again. 

The team were so open to our feedback from our early morning flight and I got this overwhelming sense of pride from the manager behind the whole Jet Set Sail vision and execution. They have worked hard to get to know their customer so well, they want to offer unrivalled customer service and I felt it in spades. 

The drive to hone the service so it works like clockwork and each passenger gets the sense of their modern luxury ethos from the moment their holiday starts as they empty their suitcases from the boot of the car. 

We waved a number of the Celebrity team goodbye who were catching the last flight home to London and had an hour as the rain eased off to take a stroll through the streets near to the hotel before changing and heading off for a wonderful dinner at a renowned local restaurant. Sometimes you just click with people and that evening I felt as though I was among very old friends.

We woke up bright and early to rays of sunshine and I darted up to the rooftop to snap the incredible view of the city. Barcelona has a magical almost mystical charm at that time in the morning. It was so quiet it felt as though the electricity of the cosmopolitan city had been dialled down to zero before 8 am. There was a smell of Jasmine in the air, shadows on the deck and I could hardly bring myself to leave, wishing I had time for a quick swim but the taxi was waiting to take us back to the airport. 

 

I kept thinking on the flight home that it hadn't felt like I was on a ship, as silly as that must sound to read. It felt like you were in a new town that just so happened to be floating on water. I hadn't appreciated the mix of people on board, the opportunity that a cruise gives you to take in so many different destinations in just one trip, until I actually saw it for myself. I may or may not have fallen in love with the idea of the Adriatic holiday! Seeing the ship with my own eyes made me realise how much Rich and I would love the cruise experience, the world class food, the quality entertainment and facilities that evoke a more intimate Las Vegas hotel and the like minded passengers with a passion for travelling in contemporary opulence. 

It's the people that make the Celebrity experience, little touches that make you feel more welcome which assure you that you are going to be well looked after, the modern luxury that starts from the moment you drive up to the private terminal.  

You can find Celebrity at Taste of London this weekend so if you are visiting make sure you stop by at their Lawn Club. 

Check out all the current offers on board the Equinox. Prices start at £599 per person for an interior cabin setting sail from Barcelona on 25th June 2016. 

Thank you to Celebrity Cruises and their team for the very kind invitation to Jet Sail Sail to Barcelona for an eye opening 24 hour experience.

Minecraft Birthday Party • Once I was 7 years old, my Mama told me...

Every time I get in the car and start the engine the radio shouts at me. See we like the music loud in our family, car discos, sing offs, they are all part of a normal school run at 8am. But over the last few weeks all I seem to hear is the same song. "Once I was 7 years old, my Mama told me..." you know the one, the one that if you really listen to the lyrics makes you feel so sentimental about your childhood, well it does for me anyway!

I look at Sammy, a boy who went through 3 schools in 3 years and can't believe he's been so lucky to find these friends. It's like he was meant to be at this school, found his tribe of traditional boys, who want to get muddy, climb trees and who are in such a bubble. He may not be as streetwise as some but honestly I am quite happy with that. He's not conforming to any stereotype, he's his own boy. Tonight he told me about the sewing club he wants to join and in the next breath begging me to look into karate lessons and a pet tortoise. 

Turning 7 feels like a big leap, a real turning point in his short life. He tests boundaries everyday, wants to reason with us which can often feel like arguing and is fighting against wanting more independence, while still creeping down the landing to sleep in our bed 3 nights a week. Our still love being carried upstairs for a bath and he's got to the point where he's such a weight that he hops on our backs, these great long gorilla length arms flopping over our shoulders and securing around our necks in a suffocatingly adorable bear hug. We duck as we go up the stairs to their attic room and I wonder how long it will be before we can't quite squeeze under the low ceiling.

I was thinking about all the things I want to tell him as he begins his 7th year, about how living for today is all he needs to worry about now. When he's been particularly challenging we say let's start again in the morning and we mean it. That tantrums can be forgiven and forgotten the next day if he wakes up with a positive attitude. Tonight he's gone to bed ridiculously excited about moving up to Year 3 this September, asking me 100 questions about the presentation to the parents that I went to while he was meant to be sleeping. But how can you be cross? I tucked him in and could just about see the twinkle in his eyes in the last light of the day poking through their curtains. 

I wish I could bottle that innocent enthusiasm, and bottle the same genuine disappointment when I told him that Year 3 starts in 10 weeks. 5 seconds of raw emotion right in front of my eyes, the realisation that he'd miss his best friends over the summer, even though he knows he will see them, just not every day. It was so humble and I could have hopped in bed next to him and cuddled him all night!

I tell my 7 year old that you need good friends. People who you choose to know, to have in your lives and share your adventures with. That having a group who you can rely on, who rely on you in equal measure will set you up for life. We watched the film Inside Out at the weekend and I keep thinking about what will our boy's core memories look like? What will be the defining moments of their childhood that they remember. 

And I hope this day might be one of them. Best pals in the sunshine, at home.

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I searched the internet and thought it would be handy to list where I bought all the party ware, party bag prizes and square balloons, which went down a storm with my Minecraft loving boy.

Party Bags

Party Ware

Party Food Ideas

  • Warbutons Thins for square sandwiches
  • Crispy cake cluster "blocks"
  • Chocolate brownie "blocks"
  • Cathedral City Nibbles for cheese "blocks"
  • Squares salt and vinegar crisps
  • Meat "blocks" aka a party favourite sausage rolls!
  • Rice Krispies Squares bars cut into lollies. Use a lolly stick and add an icing block to decorate

I served bowls of fruit and cartons of apple juice and used small paper green cupcake cases for the clusters and brownies and added a leftover icing square from the cake toppers order!

I raided all my grey and green crockery and used black pieces of card as platters. Simple but it all looked really effective laid out together. I bought some plain green cups and dug out some old green and black striped starts left over from Halloween for extra drinks as they were all roasting running around and jumping on and off the bouncy castle. 

Even just of the 6 of them was wild! They raced around the garden, the fort became the secret hideout and the slide the escape route and Rich's wheelbarrow run ups and dives onto the bouncy castle was the highlight. He was exhausted at the end!

Have you got any parties coming up? We had the most amazing weekend for Sammy, with his Horrible Histories party on the Saturday afternoon which I can't wait to share with you. And now we are onto planning a festival in the garden for Ollie.

My google searches are jam packed with neon, colour run powder paint and how to make flags for the garden. Now all we need is a nice sunny long range forecast ;)

#HouseGoals • A finished home

Over the last 8 weeks I feel like I have lost my voice. Not literally but digitally. And I wanted to give you a little update if you've noticed things have been rather quiet on the blog and being generally behind on every thing else! I have what feels like months and months worth of posts that I am desperate to share, but the house we saw and fell in love with almost exactly two years ago has well and truly taken over our lives since before the Easter break. I've been sort of fighting against it, wanting to rush posts out that are not quite finished, worrying about traffic dropping, tempted to blast out some "traffic friendly" posts I can share to the American foodie sites for a quick fix and feeling like a bad blogger for not scheduling old content if I haven't got anything new to share but after a weekend away at the Sisterhood Camp and endless chats with blogging pals, I'm starting to feel more comfortable with the temporary slower pace, more confident that when you post from your heart, with your voice, about the things that interest and inspire you, hopefully your readers will come back again for the next post. I know it's not forever and soon things will calm down. That and fast internet is finally coming to the village hoorah!

While every slow little step we take towards finishing each room feels like a mini milestone in itself the reality of living and working through a renovation project has been so much more distracting than we thought. All four of us have felt the unsettledness, the time that a house project demands of you and how it restricts you. Evenings need to be spent sorting, moving, preparing for the next day and you feel frustrated and elated all at the same time. That and birthday season with boys who don't really understand the nights spent until gone midnight creating their elaborate ideas for invitations and making up party bags. It's my fault really, I've nurtured this insatiable enthusiasm for birthday parties, I only have myself to blame when Sammy's eyes lit up as he drew out his idea for scroll invitations. With a wax seal of course! 

I've been frustrated that you can't give your all to a blog like you want to, but relieved that the walls feel warm for the first time in a long time. We keep joking that the promise of a new bathroom will make it all worthwhile! And then there's that fear of missing out that creeps in, that you are not at some of the lovely events you see popping up on Instagram and twitter and then slow to post about the ones you do make it to. What is it the wise old owls say? Comparison is the thief of joy? Yep so so true. It's ok if you can't keep up everything, if you don't have superhuman powers. 

The thing we have learnt about an old house is there is often surprises lurking behind the walls. Not anything scary or sinister, we did think the house was riddled with bird's nests until we realised it was actually a paper type material they must have used for insulation, but floor joists aren't where you expect them, there are masses of impenetrable stone where you least expect it and where you most want to fit new wall lights or plug sockets and nothing is level!

But that's really what we completely adore, the old beams across the living room ceiling, the stable cracks in the walls that you can't help run your fingers along as you walk upstairs. I just will love it a little more when the dust settles... and I can clean it away!

For anyone having gone through or going through the same thing you will know it really tests your love for a building when your clothes come out of a sealed plastic box covered in dust (HOW do it get in there?!) and when you know there is a lot more to live through before you can re carpet and the images of holes in the walls and wires out of the ceiling will become distant memories. 

Over the Easter holidays we were a family of nomads moving between family and letting the team of plumbers and electricians rip through the house. To say they destroyed it would be an understatement and I am so grateful to our family who put up with our piles of shoes at their front doors and wet towels over the banisters. I don't know what I expected, I knew replumbing and rewiring was a big job but when you actually see the walls with great huge channels ripped out of them, floor to ceiling grooves 5 inches thick it makes you clutch your face in disbelief. The contractors were brilliant and had warned us there was no way we could live in the house during the main part of the job and joked when we started unloading the cars the day before the boys went back to school (yep I said they were brilliant, a whole team worked the weekend till gone 9pm to get us back in) that I would have been in tears if I had visited and seen the horrendous state of everywhere earlier in the week. 

It's funny in a way because that complete destruction has in fact been less of a distraction than putting it all back together. Something I wasn't expecting at all. I'd forgotten about plastering, patching over the new pipework, undercoating, skirting boards and the fact that absolutely every wall in the house would need redecorating. There was one wall, that wasn't to be touched, going up the stairs but unfortunately one of them had a slip with the drill from the other side and left a great jaggedy hole coming through to the staircase! But having seen the mucky fingerprints it was no bad thing that this area got added to the never ending list.

Renovations aren't pretty but they are clever. We know the fabric and foundations of the house need to be fixed first and the fun stuff like floor tiles and kitchen cupboards have to wait. It's like investing in the house all over again and protecting it for the next generation. So here's a little update of where we are...

Living out as opposed to in boxes still! Most of our clothes are still packed away but thanks to my lovely mum who came to dog sit for us I now have an old rail from my brother in law's shop with a load of summer dresses rescued from a dusty holdall and we've used Ollie's old nursery chest of drawers for our everyday bits like underwear and pjs.

Our lounge still looks like this... But with a fresh coat of paint. We chose a beautiful pale grey colour called Dimpse from Farrow and Ball, a slightly warmer tone than this original Blackened which has more of a blue undertone. I am DESPERATE to remove the mattress that is out of shot and put the room back together. Over Sammy's birthday party weekend we had to just shut the door on all the mess and sleep amongst the chaos on the mattress on the floor. I know it sounds awful having a bit of a moan when we are so happy and lucky to be doing all this work to the house, but you know that feeling when you have been away on a wonderful holiday but coming home to your own bed feels so marvellous? It's a bit like that. I just want to be back in our bedroom, in our bed. 

The master bedroom sits directly above the lounge and the space mirrors the size of the room downstairs. A third of the room behind the wall with the head of the bed is where the ensuite and wardrobe area is. Well was... Rich and my brother in law Andrew spent a whole weekend tearing it to shreds! 

We want to make the space more usable, the ensuite was originally fitted with a bath and for us we would much prefer a lovely big shower. I adore having a bath in an evening but we are morning shower people! When we first moved in I ripped up the carpet which in hindsight was a big mistake - my best advice for anyone who is taking on a house that needs work - live with it! Just for a while anyway. Because the windows are so bad and draughty the room was exceptionally cold over the winter and after 2 harsh freezing seasons I realised just how much of a difference it would have made to have left the carpet. To help preserve some heat and also the difference it might have made the the boys' attic room above. Our bedroom has 3 outside walls so we weren't helping them above us either!

My sister came down for a weekend and we cleared the room - which is why it looks so empty in this picture! I have totally fallen out of love with the dark wood furniture and think my best bet is to give it a chalk paint makeover when we are ready to move all the furniture back in place. The ugly surface pipes have now all disappeared and we have moved the radiators under the windows. When we came back to live in the house it was like walking into a sauna we couldn't believe the difference!

I am so so tempted to sand and paint the floorboards but wonder if carpet is a better option now we have lots of lovely heat to saviour. 

It's a bit of a mess as you can see. With random Christmas decorations still not moved back into the loft after they ripped out the old tank. We have built the space for a new ensuite in place of the old one, moving the whole room back about a foot, lost the old wardrobes and instead are going to build storage behind the beam on the opposite wall. It will feel cosy but we are a family with a lot of stuff! I have a love affair with tongue and groove panelling and think we can make the frame and router plain doors to give us that effect. I'll let you know how we get on. As much as I'd love to make the room feel as big as possible this is a country cottage house and storage space is one of our highest priorities. The boys share a room and already their wardrobe is bursting with school uniform and weekend clothes, and they are only going to get bigger and the clothes will get longer and bulkier!

The ensuite is, well pink. Peachy pink to be correct and was looking very sorry for itself. But the space is great, we have enough room for a double shower tray and we think we can transform it into a modern bathroom. It still needs to feel traditional but I can't wait to have a sparkly new white suite and get planning on tile choices and accessories. 

I am going to collaborate with Wholesale Domestic on this project and can't wait to show you our inspiration and ideas. Why is it that the smallest rooms in the house are the ones that often get you the most excited?! It's a room that has very limited wall space, has a limited number of configuration options but I literally am counting the days until it is finished! To have a beautiful tiled floor to step into, clean fresh grout on the walls and bright lighting will be incredible. 

So what do you think should we keep a sink unit or go for a free standing basin and toilet? I really like the idea of opening the room up as much as possible and thinking about some kind of shelving above the sink instead of a big cabinet... hmm decisions decisions. 

Ok so these photos are nothing short of ugly ugly ugly but I love that we will have a record of all the progress. I have dreams about a gorgeous fabric window seat pad opposite the bathroom door and there is just enough room in the space infant of you in this picture, under Sammy's very helpful measurement note to the builder to fit a small chest of drawers or chair. 

By starting again with the internal walls we have the chance to wire in sockets where we really want them and Rich has a thing for hotel room light switches. Wiring lamps into the sockets so they turn on and off from the wall, bed height level switches and usb plug sockets for our phone chargers. 

At the moment we are heatedly "discussing" the options for bedside lamps. I have my heart set on scissor style lamps that you can push and pull out from the wall, like the old fashioned round bathroom mirrors but Rich thinks they are quite a permanent option. On the basis that this is meant to be a forever home I think we are safe to make a big commitment to wall lights don't you? He bought the old little cream ones as a stop gap when we moved in and I can't stand them! They are not really offensive but would look much better on a window ledge or smaller side table. Tell me you are with me right?

The utility room is the next big project. The kitchen is a mammoth, humungous task that is many years away but we use the back door every single day so it's a good place to start. We use it as a laundry room, pantry, boot room and general dump these bags of rubbish that don't belong anywhere room. But it needs proper storage, a new ceiling, the new boiler has gone in where the old shelves were which we used as a larder and we are planning a proper fitted unit system to tie it all together. 

I may or may not have been one of those mad customers in the kitchen showroom who squealed at the thought of finally owning one of those spice racks that get fitted inside a pantry door. Something all little girls dream of I'm sure! 

It's a really good size but we need to use it wisely. My priorities are to fit as much as possible in without closing the space completely up as it's a galley shaped room. How we have managed to amass so many coats is beyond me, but we need somewhere to hang them. So ideally in the gap where Rich is standing I'd like to have a run of coat storage with shoe storage underneath, because the wicker baskets we currently have are overflowing and you end up wearing the same pair over and over because your others are buried!

There's a window on the wall behind the washing machine so it is a light room but I really have a thing for slate coloured floor tiles so am currently on the hunt for some large square ones that aren't too thick as we can't change the height of the back door. And although this will be replaced (you can't really tell from this photo but the bottom of the door doesn't sit flush so there's a huge draught coming through all the time) when we have finished, the concrete floor means we need to choose relatively thin floor tiles as opposed to heavy real stone.

So inside looks a little white and empty. Everywhere has had a new coat of paint, the skirting looks fantastic, who knew new freshly painted skirting could make a room feel so alive again, and outside looks a little something like this. All the windows you can see at the back of the house are being replaced next week for new wooden windows with lovely brass window furniture and will be painted in our favourite Farrow and Ball Purbeck Stone. Because the house is Grade II listed we had to make a decision right at the start as to which colour all the outside woodwork would be painted in. We needed to repaint some of the very old windows just to see them through one last winter and had to submit a planning application fairly soon after we moved in. 

The listed building officer has been brilliant, really open to our long term ideas for the conservatory (which if I won the lottery would knock straight down) and processed all our applications promptly. We were granted permission to replace the plastic windows you can see with the hatched effect with timber windows in the same style as the old french doors. So everything will match in together and I think it will make a huge difference not only to how warm we can keep the house but also the look and feel of it too. 

So this is why my posts have been delayed lately, and this week it will probably feel like waiting for a bus because I have a couple of posts ready to share in the next few days! It's been quite an incredible few months, I've met some inspirational people, been on surreal trips and have a photo library bursting at the seams. 

So pop back tomorrow and see what I have in store.

And as I type this my prototypes for my backdrop product idea are at last being printed! I really hope that the phrase good things come to those who wait is true and that when I share them you will like what you see! 

Thanks for sticking with me :)


I'm working with Wholesale Domestic on our ensuite renovation project and will be sharing our ideas and our progress over the next few months.

Colour Run 2016 • Me & Mine Project • May

The end of May is one of my favourite times of the year for our family. Birthday fun for Sammy, a party weekend and lots of family and friends at the house. I love it when all I can see through the windows as I walk through the house, is people in the garden, some on the patio chatting over a drink, some chasing the kids through the long grass that has suddenly sprung up from nowhere and the haze of colours with all the flowers coming back to life after a long winter.

I love the noise, the balloons, the build up and ironically most of all the after party, as I like to think of it. Where we all sit around with left over party food, plastic boxes filled with drinks that have been lugged from boot to boot, no picture perfect set ups just happy faces surrounded by post party chaos. 

Sammy starts getting excited for his birthday almost 364 days in advance. Our boy who has the most enthusiasm for a party theme in the world lives and breathes it for weeks beforehand, like the absolute highlight of his young year. For the first time since starting school his birthday fell on a weekday and not in half term, and begrudgingly he went to school in a birthday badge, willing the day to end until his best pals came back for a party tea and it was finally the weekend. His teacher actually commented that it was like his head was spinning off with excitement and as we’ve only been at this school since last September I had to warn her that this was classic Sammy and worryingly we have 2 more years until we get to wake up and say happy birthday on a Saturday!

I have so much I want to share about his party celebrations but today I want to share our Sunday. The most colourful Sunday we’ve ever had.

Colour Runs are quite frankly amazing. It brings an enormous amount of people together, people who are there because they’ve lost or are losing someone they love and people who want to do something extraordinary on an ordinary Sunday, raising lots of money for an incredible local charity.

We took part in the Somerset Colour Run for St Margaret's Hospice last year and loved it, the atmosphere, the energy and the positive force that carried you over the finish line and into a rainbow cloud of powder paint. And this year the boys were old enough to take part. We left Yasmin and Logan in the arms of their very capable Granny and headed off in our tutus and neon glasses to join 1200 other runners in the 5k Colour Run 2016.

We laughed, we carried boys on shoulders and we walked/jogged and ran around the course in the hot bank holiday weekend heat along with lots of others who took the chance to take in the incredible views of the Somerset countryside. 

I was so proud cheering on Ollie as he sprinted under the inflatable arch at the end of the course, his little legs so determined to finish the race. 

The trouble is when you have a sweet 3 year old cousin at home, waiting with ice lollies, you want to share the experience with and she's too little to run, you have to find a way to bring the colour run to her. 

So we did. Warm up and all. 

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I wish we had bought enough paints to have made their mini run through the buttercups and cow parsley have lasted an hour. They couldn't have loved it more, racing through the paths Rich has mown up and down through the fruit trees. 

And the best thing of all is that every penny we spent at the colour run, at the powder paint stand all went to St Margaret's Hospice. If you get the chance to take part in one near you sign up as quick as you can. 

Come and join in with us and share your family photo. It doesn't have to be a perfect capture, it just needs to be you and yours.

We love seeing your family photos, seeing your babies grow and change. Pop over and see what Lucy, Fritha, Alex, Katie and Jenny have been up to with their broods this month. And if you join in on Instagram remember to tag your photos with #meandmineproject.

I've got this cheeky chops staying for a couple of extra nights, I can't tell you how much I adore that my sister and brother in law trust us to have her but also that she feels completely at home with us.

She totally feels like one of mine.